Likes & Loves | February 2020

February has been a good month. We heard that Blake has got into the local specialist school and he has now started there.  We've also spent some time over in Milton Keynes during half term, visiting my family. It was lovely meeting my nephew Harry and being able to spend time with my mum and sister.

Jumping into my likes and loves for February.
Don't forget if you love books you can read my February Reads post.  

Any items that are gifted to me for a possible mention within this feature will be clearly marked with a * and any affiliate links will be marked with a #.

Imperial Leather Shower Gel
I picked up the Narwhal always love you shower gel which is part of the Icons range. I've tried a few different ones from their range last year. This one I spotted for the first time in poundland. Scent wise it's a pleasant sweet scent that isn't over powering. Have you tried out any of the icons range?

Netflix this month has had some amazing shows released and I've been binge watching quite a few. 

The Stranger 
The Stranger is based on the book also of that name which is written by crime/thriller author Harlan Coben. I've not actually read any of his books myself which needs to definitely change. This was such a gripping watch and I've heard quite a few people mentioning it, so you may have heard of it or even maybe already watched it yourself. If you haven't definitely get on Netflix and do so.

October Faction 
My sister reccomend this one to me and I loved it. I pretty much binge watched it in the space of a day. It's a supernatural drama based on the comic books by that name. 

Locke and key
I saw the trailer for this and knew I had to watch and started binge watching the series on the day it came out. All 10 episodes are amazing and I so want another series! It's again a supernatural drama based on comic books. 

To all the boys i've loved before: ps i still love you.
If you love cheesy chick flicks and especially loved the first film then definitely watch this one. It's based on the books by Jenny Han.

Book thong from Beckyandvince 
I recently come across a lovely little business who sells book thongs and other beautiful beaded items such as earrings. I fell in love with the blues in her Australian range and so ordered myself a book thong. Its absolutely beautiful and made with love and care.

I needed a new everyday handbag after the zip breaking on my other. I took to Amazon to see if I could find a reasonably priced bag and found this one. It fits alot in it and has many pockets which are handy.  I love that it can be worn as a backpack as well as a shoulder bag. They also sell it in many colours and my mum took a liking to it so I've treated her to one in the grey colourway which is more like a beige. 

#Rallegra ladies credit card wallet purse
I also needed a new purse and opted for this one from Amazon. I like that it's not too big or bulky and I can fit all my cards in. It's also has RFID blocking technology which is a bonus.

 *Creative Steps Magazine 
I was sent copies of the magazine for review purposes and love them so had to feature them in the post too. They are filled with so many great activities to do with children and you can read my full review here.

You cant beat pancakes on strove Tuesday.
My go to are lemon and sugar or Nutella and Strawberries.

Lent: Giving up Spending on Things I Don't Need

Yesterday was the first day of Lent. Lent is a time when Christians are encouraged to reflect on their relationship with Jesus and to make more time for him.

Lent means giving up something for 40 days and 40 nights (Sundays dont count in the fast). Lent begins Wednesday 26th February until Thursday 9th of April this year

 I don't usually and I'm not particularly religious. However this year I've decided to give up spending on things I dont need. So if i can live without it than i wont buy it. I'm not going to lie its going to be extremely hard for me to do.

First of all I want to say it's not a spending ban. For me it's about getting me to think "do I really need this?" before I buy something.

Here are some examples of things I don't need:
- More Books 
- New clothes
- A tattoo
- My hair to be dyed
- Takeaways
- Random items such as homeware
- Toys for Blake 

There are of course things that I do need though such as:
- New bras
- Days out to keep Blake entertained - although we will be looking into free ideas too.
- Travel costs
- Gifts/cards for birthdays and mothers day 

I've already had plans to get my eyebrows done and for a meal out on Friday before I had decided to do this so these are things I'm still getting done.  I've decided the best way to help me to stick at this is to remove apps from my phone such as Amazon as the temptation wont be there  especially as I'm a serial online browser.

Do you celebrate lent? Will you be giving anything up? 


February has been another great reading month. Even though I've read 6 books only 2 of them have been for the popsugar reading challenge prompts and a further 2 were for book tours I've been involved with.

Alot of the books are crime/thriller types with a fun read to break it up a bit too.

The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bently 
Not my favourite book of the month. I gave this one 3 stars as it didn't really wow me. You can read my review for the book tour here.

The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter 
This was the second book tour read. There were definitely some suspenseful moments but it didnt keep me on the edge of my seat. You can read the book tour review of this one here.

Why Mummy Swears By Gill Sims
I picked this one off my bookshelf as I needed a more light hearted read after the last 2 thrillers. I've not read any of her other books but I wasnt overally keen on this one and didn't find it as funny as I had hoped to.

The Holiday by T.M.Logan
I had heard quite a bit of hype about this one. I picked it for the prompt a book that has the same name as a film but isn't related. After a bit  of a slow start I'm glad I carried on as it picked up and was such a thrilling and enjoyable read. I can see why alot of people enjoyed this one.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This one I picked for the prompt a book that won an award in 2019. Orginally i was using it for the medical thriller prompt but chose to change it as The Donor works for that one. Incase you are wondering The Silent Patient won the Goodreads choice awards on the mystery and thriller category. 

This was again a book I had heard quite a hype about in some of the facebook book groups I'm in and I can see why. I absolutely loved it, for me I was gripped from near enough the beginning and couldn't put it down. I managed to read quite a chunk of this one whilst travelling home from visiting family. 

The Donor by Clare Mackintosh  
Clare Mackintosh is an author who's every book I've read from her so far I've loved. I actually have another of her books on my tbr pile. The Donor is part of The Reading Agency quick reads. It's only 100 pages and so raced through this one. I've decided to use this for the medical thriller prompt in the Popsugar reading challenge.

Review | Creative Steps Magazine

*Ad-gifted: We received some copies of Creative Steps Magazine in exchange for this review. All thoughts however are my own.

Creative Steps
Helping kids learn through creative play

I've always loved being creative since being a child and as an adult I love creative hobbies such as filling in my sketchbook and calligraphy for example. Having worked previously in childcare way before having Blake also has meant that arts and crafts are something that I enjoy doing. 

Creative Steps magazine got in touch and kindly offered me the chance to receive some copies of the past years magazines. I love finding fun ideas of arts and crafts to do with Blake and I'm often on pinterest looking for ideas.  So creative Steps magazine is definitely my kind of thing.

 Creative steps magazine is a magazine that is published 4 times a year in both print and digital form.  It's a magazine suitable for those involved in early years education -including childminders, nurseries, primary schools and home educators. Creative Steps provides fun craft projects and activity ideas to encourage learning through creative play, many making use of recycled household products.

The annual print subscription is £29.80, which includes postage and free access to the online editions too.

My thoughts:

The magazine is jam packed full of creative fun ideas. I love that it's a quarterly magazine which include season appropriate activities.  The activities featured will definitely keep you busy until the next magazine is released. 

It's not just filled with fun activities to do but there are also competitions and other special features such as it's a gift where you can find some wonderful toys, games and book ideas that make fantastic gifts and the reading corner with book suggestions.

As you can see on the contents page featured above the crafts are divided into age groups. 0-5 years, 5-7 Years and 7 to 11 years. I find this really helpfully as I can look at what's going to be age appropriate for Blake. Plus you can keep the magazine so you can go back for when your child reaches the next age bracket. 

All the activities that are featured in the magazine are easy to understand and explained in detail with what you need, a step by step guide and a colourful photo of the finished activity.

I like that they include extra information such as what it helps child to learn. An example is the paper mosaic name activity you can see above. It mentions that it teaches name recognition and spelling as well as being good for fine motor skills. 

You will find that most of the bits you need to complete these activities are found around the home.  I also love that some activities feature fun facts such as the rainbow cloud activity we did. There is an area that tells you about rainbows such as how they are made and what they are.

Projects that are suitable for group activities are highlighted meaning that thouse who are involved in early years education such as childminders and home educators are aware.

Over all the magazine is fantastic at providing a wide range of activities and crafty inspiration for adults to do with young children. My opinion is that as a parent it's always a good idea to have some art and crafty inspiration on hand especially for the rainy days or the days your child comes to you saying they are bored.

LITTLE MOMENTS 2020: 8/52 : February half term

Half term hasn't been too busy for us actually. Monday we were still visiting family we popped around to my nans where Blake loved playing with the car garage she had got out for him. We also popped to the hall where I am having my birthday party in June so I could get an idea of the layout. Then we nipped to McDonald's followed by grabbing a few bits and bobs in Tesco.

Tuesday we ended up heading to Leighton Buzzard for a flying visit. The 3 of us ended up in costa after browsing in a few shops and then once Blake was in bed Stuart and I headed out to the pub for a few drinks whilst the in laws heard out for Blake.

Wednesday was a day of travel. If you follow me over on Facebook you will have probably seen me mention that one five minute train delay resulted in missing our 2 further trains resulting in getting back home 2 hours later than we should have. On the plus side I had a good book to get through and Blake was good as gold and cope well with having to wait for different trains.

The rest of the week has been mainly spent catching up with washing, putting up a shelf along with garden related stuff.  Blake's been getting the slime out, playing with his countless pj mask toys and just general playing with other toys he's decided to get out.

Little Moments 2020: 7/52: Meeting Baby Harry

This weeks little moment has to be meeting my nephew Harry for the first time. He was born at the end of December and as we don't live nearby, Friday was the first time we got to see him.  We are currently spending time with my family for part of the half term so I'm going to be able to see him again and get more cuddles. 

Next time we see them will most likely be for a weekend in June for my 30th birthday celebrations. We do however do weekly video chats so that we can see him that way.

Book Tour| The Woman Downstairs By Elisabeth Carpenter

Ad – review. I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes and all thoughts are my own.

Today I am involved in the book tour of The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter.

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She completed a BA in English Literature and Language with the Open University in 2011.

Elisabeth was awarded a Northern Writers' New Fiction award and was longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women's Novel award (2015). She loves living in the north of England and sets most of her stories in the area, including the novel she is writing at the moment. She currently works as a bookkeeper.

About the book

Can you ever really know your neighbours?

When human remains are found in a ground floor flat, the residents of Nelson Heights are shocked to learn that there was a dead body in their building for over three years.

Sarah lives at the flat above and after the remains are found, she feels threatened by a stranger hanging around the building.

Laura has lived in the building for as long as she can remember, caring for her elderly father, though there is more to her story than she is letting on.

As the investigation starts to heat up, and the two women become more involved, it's clear that someone isn't telling the truth about what went on all those years ago...

The Woman Downstairs wasn't as thrilling as I had hoped. It took me longer than usual to get into. There are definitely some suspenseful moments though but definitely not an edge of my seat and keep me up to 1 am read.  I did find it a bit confusing the flicking between the 2 characters Sarah and Laura. It is a well written a descriptive read just not as suspenseful as other thrillers I've read. It's ideal if you love a crime/thriller and just want something  that is slow paced

Book Tour | The Wreckage By Robin Morgan-Bentley

Ad – review. I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes and all thoughts are my own]

Today I'm involved in the book tour for The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bently.

After graduating with a First Class degree in Modern and Medieval Languages, Robin worked for five years at Google. Since 2014, he has worked at Audible, where he runs their podcast, Audible Sessions. The Wreckage is his debut novel.

About the book:

Things will never be the same again...

Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben's car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher's world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam's widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night...

I have mixed views on The Wreckage. The plot was promising but I definitely feel it could have been better but it wasn't awful. The characters I just didn't like Ben was certainly annoying to begin with and then got disturbing because of his obsession with Alice and her son Max. As for Alice I couldn't sympathise with her at all with the way she treated her son and her actions. I'd say the last 100 pages were when it picked up and I was definitely surprised by a twist I didn't see coming. Unfortunately this book just didn't wow me.

LITTLE MOMENTS 2020: 6/52 : Our Anniversary

On the 4th February it marked 8 years since Stuart and I got married. To celebrate we went out for a meal at Prezzo along with Blake.

Yes it wasn't romantic but we all had a lovely family meal. When Stuart and I have the rare date night we find we mainly talk about Blake anyway. 

As for gifts you wont see anything designer or expensive here . You certainly won't  find useless items that we don't need. Instead you will see gifts of things that we want that are reasonably priced. 

This year I gave Stuart money so he could buy a retro console to add to his ever growing collection. For me he picked out some books from my amazon wishlist.

I love that when it comes to books Stuart always picks the ones that get me out of my comfort zone. He could for example of picked out thrillers or a romance for example but instead he opted for the ones pictured above. The creativity one btw is a fun journal. 

Book Tour | Never Look Back By A.L.Gaylin

Ad – review. I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes and all thoughts are my own.

Welcome to the first book tour I'm involved in for 2020.  The book tour is for Never Look Back By A.L Gaylin. 

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed, Heartless, What Remains Of Me and If I Die Tonight; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York.

Admittedly this is my first book I've read by her and I'll definitely be checking out more of her books in the future.

About the book:

She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother...

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it's a business matter. It's not. Quentin's podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin's own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin's claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin's beloved parents are the one absolute she's always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn't know the truth at all...

I found Never Look Back to be a bit of a slow starter but definitely a read to stick with. I actually finished this book within 24 hours.
Never Look Back is one of them books you think that you've worked out the twist early on but you turn out to be wrong. I like that the book flicks between what is currently happening and the letters written by April Cooper to her daughter in the future as the events are happening. 

Little Moments 2020: 5/52 : Beautiful View Of The River Trent

This week has just flown by. My little moment of the week is the beautiful view of the River Trent. 

Tuesday we actually had blue skies and sunshine although was very cold and I had to wrap up warm. 

I had a meeting at a cafe that was by the river so I decided to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the view on the way.

It was also lovely to just go out by myself as with Blake I'd have not been able to enjoy the view as much.  

I ended up having Eggs Benedict in the cafe for lunch and decided to pop into B&M and got a few bits.