Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Blog Post of the Month - October 2015

Hey guys!

If you're new to my blog - welcome! This post is dedicated to my favourite blog post of the month: a post which has inspired and touched me that I want to share on my blog. I've been doing this series for a couple of months now and it is fast becoming one of my favourite posts to write. I love being part of the blogging community!

As I've had some 'eye drama' this month, I haven't had the chance to read as many blogs as I would normally. Nevertheless, there was one blog post that stood out from the rest: Can We Be Modern Day Suffragettes? by Teri-May over at A Cup of T. Being a history tutor myself, I teach a lot of pupils about the Suffragettes and Teri-May's post truly captures how much these brave women did for us (which sadly, I think we are all too quick to forget but that's another story!). I wholeheartedly agree that we have to keep on fighting as these women did. 

I first 'met' Teri- May during an #ltbloggers chat and I her tweets never fail to make me smile! I hope she won't mind but I'll be sharing her post with the pupils I tutor. So many of my pupils believe that this is 'old, forgotten news' and what I love is that Teri-May's post highlights exactly what I am trying to teach them: it is very much relevant today! It's one of those posts that I thought, 'Damn, I wish I had thought of that first' but that's okay, haha!

Let me know in the comments below which blog posts you have been loving this month and why! Or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

More #BloggerSnailMail!


How are we all? I've not been feeling very well so I decided that a few days away from life was in order! I literally locked myself away from the world, made lots of cups of tea, wrapped myself in a huge blanket and watched horror movies. I feel a lot better now that the headache is gone! Hope you all had a better week than I did! 

Do you remember the last #bloggersnailmail I took part in with Julie from Jewels Wondering? I had such a great experience first time round that I decided to take part again! Like last time, it is run by the lovely Gemma from Lipsticks and Lashes who pairs you up with another blogger! Over the weeks you get to know each other and then send each other goodies to the value of £5.00 (oops!). It is a great way to meet new bloggers and runs quarterly. If you fancy joining in - look out for the hashtag on Twitter!

This time round I was paired with Rachel from Sunshine, Smiles & Fairy Dust and I couldn't wait to have a nosey at her blog! Her blog is so adorable (I love her header!). Rachel writes lots of beauty reviews that are not only helpful, but add a little sparkle to my day! Her blog is definitely worth a read.

As I mentioned, the budget was £5.00 but we both kind of went over that, haha. But wow...did this girl spoil me! Honestly Rachel you got me far too much stuff! It was lovely because the parcel arrived at a time I was feeling really down so it was the perfect pick-me-up! I love everything but I especially love the eyeshadow palette, the nail polish and the body wash! I love face and hair masks too so I'm really looking forward to trying these. There was some chocolate but I may have eaten that....haha! Oh, and there was some gorgeous Satsuma Shower Gel from The Body Shop too which is gorgeous and is currently on it's way to Belfast with me! I would never have picked it up for myself but I love the smell so much so it might just be included in a review or favourites soon! Thanks so much Rachel! 

As much as I love all the goodies, I'm so glad that I 'met' Rachel. She is such a nice person and it's been lovely getting to know her better over the weeks.. She's always there if I need to talk and from the goodies I got...this girl has great taste in make up so I know where I'll be going now for make up advice! You've been warned lovely!

Thank you so much to Rachel (and Gemma!) for making this another awesome #bloggerssnailmail experience for me. I'm already excited about the next one!

Monday, 2 November 2015

My Cornea Transplant Part Three - Waiting on a Donor (1)


I've put off writing this particular post for some time if I'm honest. I guess out of the whole part of my transplant journey this period was the most difficult because my life really changed. I had gone through the first day and then the diagnosis (make sure you read them before continuing if you're new to my blog), but actually living day to day was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I've never spoken to anyone about this before but I want to share this with you. I hope by the end of this if you are not currently donating your corneas you seriously think about it because I hate to say this: it could be you in my shoes one day

By this stage as you'll know my left eye was useless and everything was literally a blur. My right eye had the condition - at that time not as severe - but it was heavily infected and under a lot of strain. I was literally living in a blur and nothing could be done. Have you ever woken up in the morning, looked around your room and not been able to make out a single object? Have you ever picked up a book and not been able to read a single word? Have you ever walked down a street and not been able to read a single shop sign? 

I remember opening cupboards and just seeing a wash of colour before me. There were certain colours I could recognise - say a tin of Heinz Baked Beans -  but other than that I found it really difficult to pick out the items I wanted. My mum did all of the cooking for me because I was literally a danger to myself (and others) being let loose in the kitchen! This might sound dramatic but imagine living in a constant blur and not being able to focus on anything. I've now learned how much I took for granted. 

I remember the day I got large cardboard boxes and threw every single book, ornament and photo into them. I did this for two reasons: 1. They were no bloody use to me! I couldn't appreciate them in the slightest and 2. It just cut down the amount of blurred colours that surrounded me. The less that I had around me, the better I felt. I cried at the time but I felt a sense of relief too because I didn't have these items around me anymore. The boxes were then placed on top of my wardrobe and I never thought about for a long time. 

Stairs were a nightmare for me and still freak me out a little bit if I'm brutally honest. I know that seems silly but I just hate stairs! I couldn't tell one stair from the next and I've lost count at the amount of times I fell down the stairs, haha. I can laugh about it now but it wasn't that funny at the time! I learned how to use banisters more effectively (holding my arm further down the banister and kind of using it as my guide) but every time I faced a flight of stairs I got this knot in my stomach and my heart would start racing because I was so scared I would fall. 

I was given a symbol cane which I was told to use to let others know that I had a visual impairment. I hated that bloody cane. To be honest, I didn't use it that much because I didn't want to draw attention to myself or be known as 'the blind girl' because I wasn't blind and I wasn't going to admit defeat. When I used it, people did give me space which helped (gave me a seat on the bus which was a relief) but there were some that tried to help me too much. I remember I was standing at the traffic lights once (not that I could see the green man) and this gentleman grabbed my arm and pulled me across the road! Looking back, I know he did it out of kindness but at that time, I felt like I had hit the lowest point I possibly could. I thanked him and I stopped using my cane soon after that. (Oh there are kind of like little 'thimbles' underneath most traffic light buttons that you can hold and when they spin, you know it's safe to cross).

That is what really got on my nerves: the amount of people that wanted to help me. Everyone wanted to help out and everyone seemed to know what was best for me (even though they had no idea what it was like). I'm not a horrible person (I hope, haha) but I was a bitch back then. I didn't want to be a charity case and it was difficult finding that fine line between helping me, and taking over.

I had friends that were great and really understanding. They would help me read menus/the specials board and help me down stairs or pick me up and take me for a drive somewhere. I really appreciated those times but it was insanely difficult for me because there were some things that I just couldn't do anymore; going to gigs was beyond difficult because more people = more blurriness. Stand up comedy went down well because I could appreciate it but not seeing facial expressions on anyone broke my heart constantly.

I don't know if any of my friends will read this (and if they do, I know they'll have something to say to me about it!) but I did something they would be so annoyed about. One of the most difficult things for me was finding the toilets in public places (and making sure I went into the FEMALE toilets!). I bet that is something that you take for granted but please think about it the next time you go out with your friends and casually stroll off to the loo without a care in the world. I couldn't see where the toilets were in any place I went to or distinguish between which was male or female. If my friends went and I had to go that was great but if they didn't then well...I wouldn't ask. There were so many times I would sit there and be literally bursting and I didn't say a word. It might sound silly (perhaps it is) but I didn't want to be the 'visually impaired girl' and depend on people. So yeah...that was fun!

And every single day, I begged for a donor. How weird does that make me hoping that someone dies??!! Obviously, it wasn't like that but I just wanted my life back because for me, it wasn't just my vision that was taken from me: it was a large part of me that was fading away.. There's still a lot more to share about my life on the transplant waiting list but I really hope this has opened your eyes about how important it is to donate your corneas. Wouldn't you have wanted someone to help you if you were in my shoes?

As always, thanks so much for reading and following my transplant journey! If you had any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Ryan Mark's Fracture & an Interview with Ori!

Hey everyone!

It's Saturday!! Hope you are all having a good weekend so far. If you remember back to my review of Ryan Mark's Tremor, you will remember how much I loved this book and I couldn't put it down (Took me a day to finish it, haha!). So you can imagine how thrilled I was to not only find out that the next instalment, Fracture, was being released but that I would have the chance to put questions to one of my favourite characters.

First of all, let me tell you a little about Ryan Mark himself. He lives in Cumbria, on the outskirts of the Lake District (which is a gorgeous part of the world).  Ryan is the author of The Tremor Cycle, a Dystopian Cycle that is set in a world devastated by war. The first instalment, Tremor, was published in 2014 and the next, Fracture, in 2015.  Ryan has worked within the education sector for several years. In his most recent position he has worked with pre-school children before they make their first big leap and begin primary school. 

Tremor Synopsis (provided by Ryan Mark)

The life William knew has gone. His world has been left devastated by the Fossil War. All major governments have been wiped out and the land is now under the control of the company Terrafall. Although Terrafall's intentions seem honest, William wonders if the company will live up to its promises and stop the tremors, which have been plaguing the Earth since the end of the war. And can Terrafall really find out who is behind the recent wave of abductions?  

When someone close to William disappears, he decides it's time to take matters into his own hands. But in a land that is on the verge of tearing itself apart, is it a life worth fighting for? If your world was falling apart, how far would YOU go to save it?

Tremor is definitely one of the books that you can't put down until you've read the very last page! That's the effect it had on me and caused me to finish it literally in a matter of hours. My full review can be found here: Ryan Mark's Tremor.

You have no idea how excited I am that Fracture has been released because I can honestly not wait to find out what happens next. As I have not read Fracture yet, Ryan provided me with a brief synopsis: 

The Earth is starting to recover from the onslaught of destruction left behind by the tremors and Terrafall. William’s life is settling and he has finally found a place where he feels he belongs. With the opportunity to flourish, the Haven Development has been able to secure the future of its lands and people, bringing forth a period of peace and stability.  

Yet something sinister quakes beneath the surface, hiding in the shadows, unknown to William and the Haven Development. Not a tremor, but a new enemy who threatens to tear apart everything William and his friends have fought so hard to protect. The peace is about to fracture…

Interview with Ori

Whenever I read a book there is always a character I'm drawn to and when I read Tremor, that character was definitely Ori. Whilst I was in awe of his strength and determination, I also wanted to take on the big sister role and reassure him that everything was going to be okay (there are so many twists and turns though that I didn't know if everything was going to be okay!). I've always wanted to interview a fictional character and I was eager to find out the answers to my questions from Ori..

      Living under Terrafall and looking after your grandfather must have been really difficult. Can you describe was a typical day was like and how you coped?

My day, hmmm, well, I can’t really remember much, but I remember helping Grandad a lot, and I enjoyed it. I learnt a lot from him, mainly gardening and how to grow food, which is really important because we all need to eat, don’t we! I didn’t really go to school back then though… Althea didn’t like me out in Kentvale by myself, said it was too dangerous and I don’t blame her. Grandad taught me loads anyway, so don’t think I could’ve learnt much in a school back then. Things are much better now though, I mean I do miss things… I miss my parents.

      Toasting your grandfather was understandably really important to you as he didn't have a proper burial. Did you ever get round to having that toast?

Kind of, we had a little memorial celebration in a place called the White Hart Tavern when we were in Haven’s Hollow, celebrated the memory of lots of people we’d lost, not just Grandad.

      What were you told initially about what happened to your mother and father before you discovered the truth?

I was told that the farm they’d been working on had been hit by bandits. It was happening all over the place and often, so I believed it.

      From leaving Kentvale, you meet a variety of different people on your journey. Who had the most influence on you and why?

William of course! I mean, I’ve known him for ages and he’s like a brother to me. I learn things off him all the time. But if you mean new people, then I’d probably say Igraine, she’s like a mother figure and teaches me all sorts!

You always seem to cling to hope, even in the most desperate of situations. How do you do so?

That’s hard to say, I just do it, I always try and think of a positive that’s bigger than the negatives in hard situations. Like if you’re thirsty, just try and think about it raining soon, something like that.

      Do you finally feel free?

A little, more than some people, anyway.

I want to give a huge thanks to Ryan Mark for giving me the opportunity to work with him again. Now I'm off to pop the kettle on and sit down with Fracture

All the links for Ryan Mark are below, along with the Amazon/Book Depository links for both Tremor & Fracture:

Ryan Mark: Website. Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads.

Tremor Links: Amazon UK, Amazon USA & Book Depository

Fracture Links: Amazon UK, Amazon USA & Book Depository.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below (or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves). Have you read Tremor? Have you been eagerly awaiting Fracture? Are these now on your Christmas wish list? What books have you been loving recently? 

Ryan was kind enough to send me copies of these books for review. Nevertheless, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos in this post were provided by Ryan Mark.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Perfect Stationery if you're a Busy B!


Like most people, I LOVE STATIONERY! I'm a bit of an organised freak (seriously, with my Latin, Classics, History and Law books I have two copies of each: one for just reading and the other for annotating/note making) and I love to write lists. I've always kept a diary and there is literally nothing more satisfying that writing a to do list and ticking every single item off. It is one of the best feelings in the world!

You can therefore imagine how excited I was when Busy B gave me the opportunity to review some of their stationery. Busy B are a company based in Edinburgh (supporting another Scottish company - yay!) that offer the cutest stationery I have ever seen! Their website is crammed with calenders, desk pads, diaries, notepads, gifts and basically everything you need to keep yourself organised if you are a busy little bee! There are so many designs to choose from that you will honestly have no problem finding something that you (or someone you know) will fall in love with. 

The floral desk pad (45 sheets, £7.99) is oh so pretty!I love that the design is eye catching yet very subtle. There are four separate sections for writing notes whilst I'm at my desk which is so handy. One thing that really annoys me about other desk pads is that they include dates/days which limits what I can use them for (I'm a bit weird like that, haha) but these sections are all blank so I can choose to use them however I please! I love the 'Don't Forget' section on the right is the one I am in love with! I've been using this to write my shopping lists and any important stuff that needs done (giving each of the circles a satisfying tick as they get completed - YAY!!) The list section also has a perforated edge so I can take my lists with me on the go which is amazing (keeps the rest of the desk pad pretty too as I hate tearing paper that does not have a perforated edge - looks untidy!)

And staying on my list making obsession, Busy B were also kind enough to send me a large floral list pad (60 sheets, £6.99) which I pop in my bag and take on the go with me. This pad consists of 60 tear off sheets over three different designs: Things to do, Notes and Checklist which all have a cute floral theme. I use these for shopping lists/appointments and to write down anything important that I need to whilst I'm on the go. You also never know when an amazing idea for a blog post might pop into your head so this pad is my new handbag essential!

I love the quality of the paper because one thing I am incredibly fussy about is the paper that I choose to write on (please tell me you are like that too!!). I just don't like really thin sheets of paper where the ink seeps through because it is such a waste. Thankfully, I did not have that problem with either of my Busy B items. The paper is of a very high quality and I could tell this by simply touching a sheet (again, does anyone do this when they are shopping for notepads etc? Haha!). The only problem I have is that the items are so pretty I don't always want to use them.

Thank you so much Busy B for giving me the chance to feature your beautiful items on my blog! I definitely recommend that you have a look at their Savvy Saver Sets where you can purchase multiple items at a discounted price. They also have a great Christmas range and I personally love the Christmas Planner - so adorable! Oh, it's also worth noting (get it?! Easily amused here..) that items from the Busy B range are sold in John Lewis too. 

And here are all the Busy B links you need:

Busy B Website, Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest

Are you as obsessed with stationery as I am?! What are your stationery essentials? Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves.

Busy B were lovely and sent me these items to review. Nevertheless, all opinions and comments are my own.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Miraclesuit Swimwear Review


Hope everyone is doing well! If you've been reading my blog for a while you may know that I went to Lanzarote and one thing that I loved was taking a dip in the pool! I love swimming in general and for so long, I've been looking for a good swimming costume that I felt comfortable and secure in (any girl who has a larger bust will understand this!) so when I was given the chance to review a swimming costume, I was interested to see if I would finally find one that ticks all my boxes. 

The Miraclesuit claims to make you look 10lbs lighter, which in all honesty I didn't believe! It's a pretty bold claim to make and being truthful, I don't particularly like it. As women, we should want to feel confident within ourselves (body confidence is something I am very passionate about) but why does that mean having to look as if you weigh less?! Being thin doesn't mean you are confident (nor does it guarantee that you are going to be viewed as 'attractive', despite the message the media portrays!)  I understand why this 'selling point' is used (and would be popular) but I honestly don't think it is needed and let me tell you why..

The polka dot Miraclesuit is gorgeous and I was immediately impressed with the quality. Having a larger bust, I was surprised with how secure and comfortable I felt wearing this costume. I imagined it would feel really tight and uncomfortable but I was so relieved to find it didn't feel like that at all! I love the 'layered effect' it created across the tummy area which was extremely flattering and created a gorgeous silhouette. Did it make me look 10lbs lighter? Being brutally honest - no. But did it make me feel more confident in the body I have poolside? Definitely. And that is the point!  This costume and my body shape were a marriage made in heaven! The swimsuit worked with the curves I have (and love by the way) which is good enough for me! For those reasons, I LOVE this costume!

The Miraclesuit doesn't come without a hefty price tag (£120) but it is like the saying goes: you get what you pay for. For the sheer quality, it is worth it alone (I'm very fussy when it comes to swimwear). There is also an array of different colours and designs to choose from so you will be able to find one you love! A costume like this is definitely an investment and I know it will last me for years to come which I'm more than happy with! The only thing I would personally change is the marketing campaign cause 'Look 10lbs lighter in 10 seconds' just doesn't sit well with me at all...

For more information and UK Stockists: Patricia Eve and find them on Twitter: @patriciaeveltd

What do you think? Do you own a Miraclesuit? Is it something you would consider investing in?  I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Brewers Fayre at Bellziehill Farm

Hey everyone!

Hope you're all having a good weekend so far. I was recently invited to the newly revamped Brewers Fayre at Bellziehill Farm to try some food and have a little nosey around the place. I will be the first to admit that I have not been in a Brewers Fayre for years (back in the days when we were all packed into the car and taken for Sunday lunch) and I had no idea what to expect. I invited my mum to come with me and let's just say it has certainly got me 'daughter brownie points' so I'm expecting some amazing birthday presents, haha!

On arrival, we were greeted by Kelly who was lovely and directed us straight to our table. The manager, Steven, popped over to say hello and tell me a bit about the place.  The setting was lovely (loved the exposed brickwork and fireplace) and it felt really cosy which is perfect for an autumn evening. Our drinks orders were taken promptly and now I get to tell you all about the best drinks machine ever - it's touch screen!! Seriously, I want one of these for my house!

How does it work? Well you choose your drink option (I chose Irn Bru because well...why wouldn't you?! Haha) and you have the option of adding a flavour to your drink. I chose not to but I love this idea! I think lemonade with strawberry (and/or lime) would taste really good. Unlike other drinks machines, this is sleek, stylish and gives you the option of creating your very own soft drink! It's a great thing that the soft drinks are unlimited, haha. I didn't go crazy though and stuck to Irn Bru. It is the original and best after all! After all that excitement, I finally decided on my order and went to the bar area to order our food..

To start, I went for the tomato soup with bread which was lovely. The tomato taste was very subtle, but I actually really enjoyed it! I loved the fact that the bread was toasted and it was like having two giant croĆ»ton slices which is always going to go down well. My mum went for the piri piri chicken wings which I could tell she enjoyed when I told her to wipe her face clean, haha! Overall, the starts were a hit! 

For mains, my mum went for the Thursday Curry Buffet which was on offer and there was a great selection of dishes available. It was interesting to find out that every single night there is a different themed buffet on offer. I'm personally really keen to visit on a Tuesday as that is Mexican night! Anyway, the curry buffet had so many dishes to choose from she really was spoilt for choice! Everything was warm, fresh and there was a great selection of vegetarian dishes available too. 

My mum was really impressed with the  Saag Aloo (a curry dish made from spinach and potatoes) and the mouthful of Beef Madras I stole from her plate was delicious! I decided to order from the main menu and I went for the lamb shank with cabbage and mashed potatoes. The lamb was tender but the gravy stole the show for me! I think there was mint put in the gravy which tasted DELICIOUS. Seriously, I had never thought about doing this but it worked so well. I would have licked my plate if that wasn't frowned upon in public, haha!

The desserts were so tasty and I'm still dreaming about mine if I'm honest! I told my friend about it and we are already planning a little visit because anyone who loves Oreos needs to try their Oreo Cookie Pie! The chocolate biscuit base and Oreo topping tasted like heaven! My mum went for the lemon meringue pie which she really liked (I managed to sneak a bit too!) and then we finished with tea and a cappuccino. Perfect end to a lovely meal!

Overall, we really enjoyed the meal and it was lovely to spend some quality time with my mum which we don't often get the chance to do.  The Brewers Fayre at Bellziehill Farm is definitely worth visiting! Watching the staff interact with customers, they really don't mind going that extra mile which really impressed me. The restaurant has a lot of offers going on Monday - Friday(12 noon until 6pm) which are really good value for money. I'm already planning a return visit with my friend who is desperate to try the Oreo Cookie Pie! I guess those Sunday lunches at the Brewers Fayre are back on the menu...

Disclaimer: Although I was invited as guest, all views and opinions are my own.