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    My Reaction To Gone Girl

    Growing up, I was an avid reader. I would easily get through a minimum of one book per week, but that all changed when I started my A Levels. I’ve had almost five years of not reading, and I hate it. I just don’t have the time though! But when I was on holiday, I knew this was my chance to read.

    Gone Girl

    Unfortunately, I get travel sick so I couldn’t read in the car and was too knackered whenever we got to where we were staying to stay up and read. However, a couple of weeks ago I finally finished the book I started on holiday, and that was Gone Girl. I’m not going to say I’m great at articulating my views on a book, but I am going to tell you my final reaction.

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    #Fitmas 2015

    Since I moved back to uni in September, my boyfriend has been going on at me to get fit with him. He’s even promised to pay for my gym membership just so that he has someone to go with. But after Rihanna mentioned that she was doing #Fitmas on twitter at the start of the week, I thought it would be something that I would look into. I used to spend hours every week in the ballet studio, and since I started university in 2013, my exercise has been lacking. And being totally honest, I need a head start on my boyfriend.

    FITMAS

    What is #Fitmas?

    #Fitmas is a Christmas fitness challenged set up by Corinne which runs for the five weeks remaining of the lead up to Christmas. It begins tomorrow and ends on the 20th December, giving you the full Christmas period to relax and know that you’ve done a bit of good before the binge which will inevitably happen over the following week and a half. There are three compulsory workouts to take part in each week, and one optional, with each one targeting different a different area, giving you three or four rest days a week (score for the exercise-phobes like me). There’s also a weekly challenge, so you can really see how your body is improving on a regular basis.

    As well as doing this alone, there is a blog link up which you can sign up to so you can see how other people who have set themselves the challenge are doing, and you can follow the hashtag on twitter too. You can read Corinne’s post and the eBook for further information.

    My Goals

    This isn’t about me losing weight (although that would be a positive because my little tummy isn’t going to shrink by itself); this is about me getting fit. My main goal is to get into a routine where I can exercise and not be in physical pain for three days after. Okay, I’m not that unfit, but it’s been a while since I’ve done any real exercise. I want to climb the three sets of stairs between the lab and the office I leave my things in at uni without a hint of breathlessness. Towards the end of the challenge, I hope to be exercising daily, even if that means just a 5 minute HIIT workout twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed). I’m hoping that by taking part in #fitmas, I’ll be able to join the gym in January without going into panic mode that I’m the least fit person in the room.

    I probably won’t be posting an awful lot about #fitmas on here but you’ll be able to follow my progress on twitter. I will be writing a big summary post at the end of the challenge so you can wait for that, or if you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot them my way. Let me know if you’re taking part in #fitmas so that I can follow your progress (personally, I think getting fitter is a lot easier when you’re being helped along by other people), and I’ll see you on the other side – hopefully a few inches trimmer, and a whole lot fitter!

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    Blog Signature

    Have you followed me on bloglovin’ and twitter, or checked out my instagram? Make sure you follow me over these for little blog extras. And don’t forget I’m giving away Urban Decay’s Naked Smoky palette so check that giveaway out. I’m also hosting the #askablogger chat on Tuesday so pop by between 7pm and 8pm if you get the chance.

    How I Celebrate Bonfire Night

    Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot

    With bonfire night being on Thursday, I thought I’d let you in on how I celebrate the day. For me, nothing signifies winter more than wrapping up warm, eating jacket potatoes and watching beautiful colours fill the sky.

    For those who don’t know what bonfire night is, it’s the day which remembers when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the 1600s. Gunpowder is what fills the sky in fireworks, and a ‘Guy’ (or dummy) is burnt on the bonfire which signifies the safety of the King. We’re a twisted little country really for celebrating this, but it makes for fun I suppose.

    I start each bonfire night in the same way every year, and that’s by eating a particular meal: a jacket potato with the crispiest skin, tons of butter, baked beans and as many sausages as will fit on my plate. And rice pudding for dessert. This has always been the go-to meal on bonfire night in my family. My boyfriend thinks that jacket potato and sausages is a weird meal, but I think it’s delicious. It’s taken me a few years to learn how to make the perfect jacket potato, and if you’re interested I can write a post on how to make it. An alternative meal is a burger or a hot dog at the display that you go to, which my boyfriend though was a much more logical meal.

    I went to a firework display very early this year, but I’ve missed out for the last two years since we always left it too late to find a display. They set it to music and a lot of people said it was like a Yorkshire Disney park (which made me laugh). Going to an organised firework display is a great way to contribute to charity, as well as being able to stay safe whilst watch fireworks. Just don’t forget to wrap up warm!

    If you’re going to a firework display, you should definitely check if you’re allowed to take in sparklers. As a child, I used to love standing in the garden writing my name with a sparkler. I would make beautiful patterns, and my mum would take awful photos. It was always how we would spend bonfire night if there were no displays on that night.

    Wrapping up warm is my favourite thing – scarves, hats, gloves and thick coat mean winter to me. But my absolutely favourite thing is pushing to the front if there is a bonfire and staying really warm. I love spotting the Guy, and my favourite one I’ve seen so far is Spongebob Squarepants a few years back.

    Whatever you do, try to stay safe. If you light a firework and it doesn’t go off, stay clear of it. Wear gloves when handling sparklers.If in doubt, go to a properly organised display instead of risking lighting your own fireworks. You know the drill, but remember to be safe.

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    Halloween Treats

    Disclaimer: I am no way a chef or top baker but I enjoy cooking so I wanted to make a Halloween post. Any future bakeoff candidates need not to worry about me stealing their thunder.

    On Tuesday I discussed what to do if you’re not celebrating Halloween by going out, so today I want to talk about the treats you could make if you’re staying in. Although Halloween is an annual thing, it always catches me by surprise. I’m going to a party tomorrow and I still don’t know what I’m going as (I’m thinking spider or zombie), and all through the week my boyfriend has been requesting my ideas for him. So although my costume is still up in the air, on Sunday I baked some treats for Halloween, and tomorrow I plan to take some to the party I’m going to.

    Strawberry Ghosts
    These ghosts are delicious and super easy to make. All you need is a punnet of strawberries, a bar of white chocolate and some black writing icing.

    1. Melt the white chocolate. I melted mine in a bowl over a pan of hot water because I don’t own a microwave at present, and the chocolate is less likely to catch and burn this way. If you’re like me, you’ll probably eat some too (it’s just so delicious!).
    2. Coat the strawberries in the chocolate. I found it was easiest to roll the strawberries around in the bowl and holding them by the stem.
    3. Leave to set on a plate. They set pretty quickly at room temperature, but if you’re impatient, they’ll set slightly faster in the fridge.
    4. Draw on eyes and a mouth. I used black writing icing for this as it was easy to handle.

    Then all you have to do it leave it to set then you have a naughty-and-nice treat for Halloween.

    Halloween Shortbread
    Drawing inspiration from the lovely Kat, I wanted to bake some Halloween shortbread. I followed her recipe to a T, but just didn’t add the cinnamon that she did. They taste incredible, and my boyfriend ended up taking some home to his family in the week so I think I did a good job.

    However, if you’ve got me on snapchat you’ll have seen the mess that I made and it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say that my kitchen looked like someone had dropped a flour/icing sugar bomb. Seriously, if you want to see how to make this properly, look at Kat’s post.

    Tomato & Mozzarella Eyeballs
    If you’re about the savoury life, these tomato and mozzarella eyeballs are perfect for you (and super easy to make). For this you need cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls and black pitted olives.

    1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and scoop out the insides. The easiest way I found to do this was to cut around the inside with a knife and the seeds just popped out.
    2. Cut a mozzarella pearl in half (or leave whole, depending on the size of the pearl – I used Sainsbury’s pearls but I think the Tesco ones tend to be a little smaller) and stuff it into the tomato half.
    3. Cut a small whole in the front on the mozzarella pearl and chop up a little piece of olive to fit in the whole. This functions as the pupil.

    So easy to make, and really tasty.

    French Fancy Ghosts
    These are so easy but incredibly effective. All you need for these ghosts are French Fancies (I bought the Witches Hat ones so they’re green inside for extra Halloween goodness), white fondant icing and black writing icing.

    1. Roll out the white fondant icing into a square big enough to cover the French fancy
    2. Take the French fancy out of the case and lay the icing over the top. You could cover the cake in jam to make it stick better but it works fine without.
    3. Push the icing into the shape and trim the edges. You can scrunch up the icing a little around the base so that you get that floaty look. Just play around with it to see what works the best.
    4. Draw on little eyes and a mouth with the black icing.

    These are really for the lazy host in all of us but they taste pretty good and are worth giving a whirl.

    So there are four Halloween themed treats you can make in an afternoon (I managed it) and still have time to get ready for however you’re celebrating the day. If I can make them, anybody can.

    Have you done any seasonal baking this year for Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.

    Thanks for reading

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    Small Halloween Celebrations for Big Fun

    Not everyone wants to go mad on Halloween, but even if I’m staying in, I love to celebrate somehow. Since I’ve been a student I’ve gone out every Halloween, but I know that’s not for everybody. So just for you I’ve decided to compile my favourite ways to celebrate the holiday without needing much more than a laptop and a little bit of creativity.

    Treats
    When I was still at school, my friend’s grandma used to throw us a little Halloween party. She would make scary snacks like Witches Fingers (frankfurter sausage with knuckles sliced into them and false nails at the tip), Banana Ghosts (halved bananas with an ice lolly stick at the flat end and eyes drawn on), and Jelly Eyeballs. There are hundreds of recipes for Halloween treats out on the internet, and I recommend checking out out Kat‘s recipe for Halloween Shortbread because they look divine (I’m making these on Thursday and I can’t wait!). Don’t forget that shops such as M&S sell Halloween crisps which always look adorable as well. Top it all off with blood orange juice for extra spookiness. I actually have a post about treats coming up on Friday so don’t forget to check back!

    Decorations
    Last year, we decorated on the cheap. We were poor students and couldn’t afford all singing and all dancing decorations, but it didn’t stop us trying. Cotton wool can be used as spider webs, black paper (or white coloured in with a Sharpie) can create spiders, and you can pick up a pumpkin for a pound or two. Carving pumpkins is my favourite thing about Halloween and I’m so excited to do it on Friday ready for the big day! Pound shops are also a dream for Halloween decorations, and I put up little ghost fairy lights and skull tinsel each year.

    Films & TV
    No Halloween night-in is complete without a few screams. My favourites to watch are Dead Set, American Horror Story: Murder HouseMonster House, Orphan and Zombieland. And you can’t go wrong with a bit of my favourite wizard – Harry Potter! Okay, so a few of those aren’t that scary but you need some comedy in your lives as well!

    So what are you waiting for? Invite a few other people over who don’t want to head out either, and you have got a night in to remember. Just don’t forget to buy in some sweets for those Trick or Treaters who come a-knocking.

    What are your favourite ways to celebrate Halloween?

    Thanks for reading

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    What’s In My Loyalty Card Stash

    The other day, I was having a sort through of my purse and whilst binning endless receipts (I hate having to save receipts because I hate seeing how much money I’ve spent), I thought I could make a blog post about it.

    Loyalty Cards Collection

    My purse is a sort of Aladdin’s cave of loyalty cards, many of which have expired, but I always like to see what other people have to see what I’m missing out on. Most of mine are actually loyalty cards to bars, but I swear I don’t have a drink problem!

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