A hand holds a hot chocolate with marshmallows next to an open book.

The Best Book Genres for a Cosy Night In

What do we want? A cosy night in! When do we want it? Now!

Oh yes, I am in full-on cosy mode. It helps that I’ve been ill this weekend so I’ve been wrapped up in bed most of the time anyway, but I am really in the mood for a long evening spent with a hot chocoloate, a fluffy blanket, and a good book.

A hand holds a hot chocolate with marshmallows next to an open book.
The three perfect ingredients: hot chocolate, fluffy blanket, good book.

Personally, I think there are some book genres that lend themselves to cosiness and Autumn evenings more than others, and in this post, I’ll be sharing my top 3 suggestions of genre, along with a few book recommendations.

All book titles are linked to their pages on the Book Depository website. I love the Book Depository and would always recommend it over other online book retailers. For full disclosure, please note that all links to the Book Depository in this post are affiliate links. This costs you no extra money, but means that if you buy the book I earn a small commission. 

1. Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is, for me, a go-to autumnal genre. Something about lavish castles, royal courts and family drama just gets me hooked for a long evening reading session. My favourite historical period to read about has always been the Tudor period, or the Elizabethan era. For that reason, my number one recommendation for a historical fiction read this Autumn is the Philippa Gregory classic, The Other Boleyn Girl. Far superior to any of the film adaptations, Gregory’s book is a romantic and mysterious read that will keep you turning the pages for hours on end. (Bonus TV recommendation: The Tudors! Who remembers that show? My absolute favourite!)

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2. Fantasy/High Fantasy

Much in the same vein as historical fiction, the vast settings, sword fighting and elfish charm of fantasy is perfect for a cosy night of reading. Sometimes you can’t beat a dwarvish quest or a battle for the throne, and there’s something about classics such as Lord of the Rings that have that wintery feel to them. Plus, fantasy novels are usually quite lengthy books, which means you need the long winter nights to get stuck into them!

I would of course recommend the  Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Hobbit. (How gorgeous is this box set?! I’ve got my on this for sure!)

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Boxed Set

I would also recommend reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series, aka ‘Game of Thrones’. If you’re brave enough that is! These are weighty books, packed full of detail, but well worth the commitment if you can stick with them. Let’s just hope George R. R. Martin eventually gets round to writing the next book!

3. Chick Lit

As much as I have a few fundamental issues with the term ‘chick lit’ (perhaps a discussion for another day!) I do think that this lighthearted, feminine genre has a place on this list. When the cold dark nights are drawing in and the balmy summer evenings filled with mojitos are long behind us, a feel-good romantic comedy can be just the remedy.

The summer holiday reads you see advertised everywhere in July and August aren’t my first choice for a September read, but there are a lot of great ‘chick-lit’ titles out there that I like to reach for when I want a relaxing night in with a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate. My recommendation would be the ultimate in funny-girl icons, Bridget Jones.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

There they are, my recommendations for a cosy night in of reading and relaxing. What would be your number one recommendation?

hugs

 

The Self-Care Sloth
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10 Quotes To Brighten Your Day

Some really great uplifting quotes in this post. I would recommend giving it a read if you need a boost today.

Keeping it Karen

Sometimes we all need a bit of a pick me up. We find ourselves in a slump and it feels like nothing is going right. Sometimes, when we’re feeling this way, a bit of self-care can help to lift our mood. Taking a long shower, slapping on a face mask and reading some inspirational quotes can often do the trick and raise not only our spirits, but in many cases, our motivation as well.

Here are 10 quotes to brighten your day!

1. “The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique”

– Walt Disney

2. “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one”

– Hans Selye

3. “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you”

– Nathaniel Hawthorn

4. “Perfection…

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autumnal leaves

My Autumn Bucket List

Yes – it’s that time already!

It’s the beginning of September, I’ve already posted my August Favourites, the weather is threatening to cool down and I’m back at school. I could feel down, depressed and generally a bit miserable about it all, but instead I’m feeling energised! (Okay, I’m not necessarily energised by being back at school and teaching Maths every day, but work with me!)

I, along with probably every other lifestyle blogger out there, love Autumn. I love the fact that the weather cools down again and I can wear most of my wardrobe again. I love the colours that appear outside all of a sudden. I love wrapping up warm and going for long walks. I love Halloween. It’s all just fantastic!

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Don’t get me wrong, I loved the summer and thoroughly enjoyed that sunshine, but I’m also ready to wind down a bit, cool off, and enjoy the Autumn months. So I sat down the other day and start thinking – what do I want to do this Autumn? How can I make the most of it? I came up with a bit of a bucket list for the next couple of months, which I hope you enjoy. If you have any ideas for activities I can add to my list, or anything you’re inspired by – let me know!

  1. Buy a pair of wellies. (I know, it’s crazy – I don’t own a pair of good old wellington boots. If anyone can recommend a good sturdy pair that won’t bankrupt me, please leave a comment!)
  2. Go for a long, muddy walk in those wellies.
  3. Make a proper hot chocolate with whipped cream and (vegetarian) marshmallows.
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  4. Spend a whole day curled up in a blanket and reading.
  5. Celebrate Halloween. (I haven’t been to a Halloween party since I was at University, and I doubt I’ll be doing so this year either, but I would like to mark the day somehow. Even if it’s just a quiet night in with Chris, carving a pumpkin and watching some scary movies. Actually, that sounds pretty perfect.)
  6. Read a historical novel. (I don’t know why, but it just feels like the right season to go on a romp with some Tudors. Just me?…)
  7. Read a horror novel. (I really recommend Stephen King.)
  8. Stay on top of self-care. (I wouldn’t be the Self-Care Sloth if I didn’t at least mention this! As I said, I’m back to school this month, back to teaching full-time and having a very full diary! Which means I need to remember to slow down, take some time out, and look after myself every week. So I’m adding it to my bucket list – that way I can’t forget it, and it sounds like an indulgence! I will be eating healthy, washing my hair, having hot bubble baths (I know I said self-care was more than just bubble baths, but sometimes you need it!), and taking time to stretch and breathe. Never let a change in routine mean a lack of self-care!)

 

What would be on your Autumn bucket list? I’d love to know 🙂

hugs

The Self-Care Sloth
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August Favourites

I love reading about other people’s monthly favourites, or watching favourites videos on YouTube, so this month I thought I would share my own.

As I’m not a niche fashion blogger, or strictly a book blogger, any favourites post from me will contain a real assortment of things! From TV shows I’ve loved, to products I’m using, hopefully there will be something in here that catches your eye. If you have any questions, or something here is your favourite too, then drop me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Now, without any further ado, my favourites for August 2018:

My Favorite Murder (podcast)

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Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered.

This podcast has been a firm favourite of mine for the last few months. I learnt of it through Youtuber Katie Snooks and I’ve been a little bit obsessed ever since! MFM is a true crime podcast that covers some quite horrible murders or crimes, but the presenters (Karen and Georgia) are absolutely hilarious and honestly it can be quite  a comforting listen. True crime podcasts might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I would recommend My Favourite Murder to almost anyone. Karen and Georgia talk crime, comedy, mental health and much more, and they are a joy to listen to. They release episodes on Mondays and Thursdays and all through August I’ve been impatiently opening my podcast app every half hour on those days waiting for the next episode – I love it!

My Nutribullet

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Nutribullet – photo credit http://www.yourbestdigs.com

For my 26th birthday earlier this month, I was lucky enough to receive a shiny new Nutribullet from my in-laws-to-be. I had been eyeing up Nutribullets for years and I was instantly hooked! I love having a smoothie for breakfast, particularly during my recent health kick and weight-loss journey. (If you’d like to hear more about that journey in a blog post, let me know in the comments.) I love experimenting with different flavours, having sneaky chocolate shakes for breakfast and sneaking plenty of greens and lots of protein into my breakfast. The Nutribullet is so powerful, it easily blends ingredients like frozen banana without trouble, and chops spinach so small you can’t tell it’s in the smoothie at all. If you like a smoothie or smoothie bowl for breakfast, I would 100% recommend getting yourself a Nutribullet over some of the bigger, more traditional blenders on the market. Mine also came with two cup sizes and a mixture handy lids for travel.

Regal Rose rings

A silver chevron ring and a silver knuckle ring.

One of my lovely friends is always wearing gorgeous jewelry and every time I ask her where it’s from, she says Regal Rose. I finally got round to looking at the website and found a very long list of beautiful silver rings that I told everyone I wanted for my birthday! I was very luckily given both this silver chevron ring and thin knuckle ring, both of which I love. I want to wear more rings, and I love thin silver rings, of which Regal Rose have a really wide range. There are loads of quirky accessories on there, so if you’re on the hunt for some new jewelry, definitely give their website a look! 

Mustard rucksack

mustard rucksack on dark background

At the start of the month, I bought this mustard rucksack/backpack from Clarks. I’m not 100% sure if it has a brand other than just being Clarks, and I can’t find it online, so I’m really sorry that I can’t link it for you! I’m sure there are loads around though, mustard is always big in the Autumn. I love mustard clothes and this bag was just too pretty to resist. It’s big enough to fit an A4 folder, so perfect for work or school, and it’s really roomy so great if you have loads of daily must-haves. (Which I do!) This is definitely a staple of my wardrobe now, both casual and for work.

Disenchantment

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If you’re a regular UK Netflix viewer, I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer for ‘Disenchantment’. This is the new show by Matt Groening, creator of ‘The Simpsons’. If you like ‘The Simpsons’ or particularly ‘Futurama’, then you will probably appreciate the humour of this show.  It follow Princess Bean, her new friend Elfo, and her personal demon Luci, and it’s totally bizarre and random, but good fun. It’s a little slow-paced, but an easy watch and it’s been a firm favourite for cosy, relaxed viewing this month.

Hello Happy foundation by Benefit

hand holding Benefit's Hello Happy foundation on striped background
hello happy – shade 2

If there is one topic I didn’t think I’d ever be blogging about, it’s beauty! I actively avoid wearing make-up because I’m honestly just too lazy to learn how to do it all properly! However, being a teacher means that I am standing up in front of a full classroom all day, every day. Although I’m 99% certain that my pupils don’t notice if I have pimples or big pores showing, it does help my confidence to wear a little bit of make-up and make myself look presentable. ‘Hello Happy’ by Benefit is exactly the foundation I’ve been looking for for years. It is really lightweight, gives a nice even coverage, and can be built up on areas that you feel you want to cover up a bit more. It’s really breathable, I don’t feel like I’m wearing foundation when I wear it, but I know that my skin is looking more even and my blemishes are concealed. It gives a nice glowy finish, but without looking shiny. Personally, I prefer a matte finish, but this is a nice glow doesn’t leave me feeling oily. Also, shoutout to the friendly Benefit lady who did my make-up for me and helped me understand what to do with primer and bronzer.

So those were my favourites for the month of August 2018! This month I had my first Summer holidays, I pet-sat a cat and a tortoise, and I turned 26. And this selection of items helped me kept me feeling happy along the way. Here’s to a fantastic September, I hope you’re all doing well, and do comment below if you liked this post.

hugs

The Self-Care Sloth
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Disclaimer: All of these opinions are my own, none of this post is sponsored or part of a promotion, and any links provided are not affiliate links.

relaxing shower head with water

8 Low Energy Self-Care Activities

In one of my recent posts, I discussed how I think that ‘traditional’ or ‘mainstream’ self-care suggestions aren’t always accessible. A long evening that starts with a bubble bath, moves on to a manicure and ends with a big nourishing salad eaten in peace sounds idyllic, but also isn’t something I have the energy or resources to do on a day when my depression or anxiety is biting me in the backside.

So what can we do to take care of ourselves when we’re having a bad mental health day, we’re low on time, or we just don’t want to go down the traditional pampering route?

Here are 10 ideas for simple activities or tasks that are 100% examples of self-care, should help you feel better, and don’t require you to have a ton of energy, time, or money:

  1. Get out of bed. Just roll out from under the duvet, slide your feet into a comfy pair of slippers if you have them, and stand up. That’s all you need to do to start a day where you feel better. Bonus points for making your bed, so you’re less tempted to climb back in.
  2. Wash your face. Whether it’s a splash of cold water, the old reliable face wipe, or a full five-step skincare routine, this will make you feel more awake and just a bit more human. And on that note…
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  3. Have a shower. Even if you all you can manage is to stand (or sit) underneath the water for 5 minutes, that’s okay. Again, human feelings will commence shortly.
  4. Put on comfy (but ‘outside acceptable’) clothes. You know the ones I mean. Not pyjamas, but in many ways, even better. You could pop to the shops if you needed to, but you’re just as comfy as you need to be for a day at home.
  5. Make yourself a drink. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, your favourite cup of coffee, a fancy mocktail, a green juice, or simply a tall, cold, glass of water. Get yourself a drink that will hydrate you, calm you, comfort you and refresh you. My only advice? Stick to non-alcoholic if you’re trying to look after yourself.
  6. Talk to someone. Pick up the phone and call your mum. Text a friend. Talk to your cat. Do whatever you can to just share your brain with someone. You don’t have to tell them what’s bothering you, just ask them about their day and get out of your own mind for a little while.
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  7. Watch something comforting. For me, it’s usually The Simpsons, Friends, QI or Booktube videos.
  8. Eat something colourful. Whether you take colourful to mean a big bowl of fruit or a handful of jellybeans, do what makes your soul feel good.

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Hopefully these are simple enough that they can help you on a low-mood, low-energy day. What are your go-to activities to make you feel better?

And if it is a bubble bath and a manicure – go for it!

 

hugs

The Self-Care Sloth
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26 Things I’ve Learnt In 26 Years

It’s my birthday!

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Yep, today I turn the grand old age of 26. Officially closer to 30 than 20… but I’m okay with that.

I love watching videos and reading blog posts that in this ‘XX Lessons I’ve Learnt in XX Years’ style, so I thought I’d add my own to the mix.

So without any further ado, here are 26 things that I have learnt in my 26 years:

  1. It’s always okay to start again from the beginning. – Last year, I made the huge decision to quit my job, start from scratch and train to be a teacher. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and I’m so glad I took that risk. Never be scared to start fresh if you need to – do what you need to do to be happy.
  2. Clothes don’t have to ‘go’. – If I like a top and a like a skirt, I’ll wear them together. Ignore fashion rules – wear what makes you feel good!
  3. Pets make me happy.
  4. 26 really isn’t that old.
  5. Taking the time to find the right career for you is worth it.fitness-1677212_1920.jpg
  6. Getting active really is good for you. – My twenties have been a very slow journey towards getting healthy for me, and I now make a real effort to be active every day if possible. I have learnt that I love to walk, I love to hit the gym, and it really does make me feel better, both physically and mentally. I should have listened to all those gym ads earlier! 
  7. Chocolate porridge makes the best breakfast.
  8. Getting outside is such a mood-booster. – Again, if I can get out for a walk in a day, that day gets so much better.
  9. The more ‘yourself’ you are, the more comfortable you will feel. – Ignore what you’re ‘supposed’ to do!
  10. Thigh gaps basically don’t exist. – I’m just not built that way.
  11. I need a lot of sleep. – This has been a really important realisation for me and my health. I have completely accepted the fact that I need more sleep than some other people. Between my anxiety, the medication I take, and a long-standing B12 deficiency, I need a good night’s sleep to function properly. And that’s okay. In fact, I’ve grown to love it!
  12. B12 is hella important. – See number 9! If you are feeling nauseous, groggy and constantly exhausted – go get that B12 level checked. You wouldn’t believe how much of an impact it can have!blur-1283865_1280.jpg
  13. It’s okay to love reading. In fact, it’s bloody awesome to love reading! – I love books. I love reading. I always have, and I always will. When I started secondary school, I started to read my book on the school bus and an older friend told me to never do that because people wouldn’t like me. I didn’t read in front of people for such a long time after that… which sucks! I love my books and I’m proud of it now. I just wish I could have this conversation with 11 year old me.
  14. It’s okay to not like going ‘out out’. – You can and will find friends who will stay in with you, drinking gin and playing board games.
  15. You will never feel like you’ve got it all together.
  16. You will never feel like you’re a responsible adult – even if you teach children every day!
  17. Finding a work-life balance is really important. – This is a new one for me. As you’ll see from the rest of my blog, I am really trying to keep a work-life balance right now. I have learnt in the last few months that it is very important to me that I am able to put my work down at the weekend, get out for a walk, see my friends and family, and just reset when I need to.
  18. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a huge circle of friends. – Just make sure you have a few reliable ones.
  19. Peanut butter is worth the hype.window-593364_640
  20. I cannot keep a house plant alive.
  21. Living somewhere you love and feel comfortable and safe is worth the extra rent.
  22. No one really cares what you’re doing. – I mean this in the most encouraging way possible! I have definitely learnt that no one cares as much as I think they do. Working out in the gym feeling sweaty and unfit? No one’s looking! Got no makeup on when you go out? No one’s noticed!
  23. Feeling content is better than feeling happy/excited.
  24. Drink water.aqua-3543817_1280.jpg
  25. Drink more water.
  26. Just do what makes you happy.

 

 

hugs

The Self-Care Sloth
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Why Self-Care Isn’t All About Bubble Baths.

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I think that there is a misconception about self-care, that it is all about indulgence, pampering sessions and long, hot bubble baths. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a bubble bath as much as the next lifestyle blogger, but that isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to self-care.

Let’s take a quick look at the term ‘self-care’. All it means is to take care of yourself.
That’s it – no compulsory bath bombs, no minimum time allocated to it, no deadlines – just look after yourself.

The new push towards self-care in popular culture is amazing. Books, magazines and bloggers everywhere are encouraging people to take time out of their day to have some self-care time. (Me being one of them!) However, I think that the way it is described or ‘marketed’ on the whole, can be quite alienating to some people. That sounds a bit extreme, but let me explain:

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The stereotypical ‘self-care evening’ starts with a bubble bath and ends with nail polish and face masks. That doesn’t suit everyone and I don’t believe that is the self-care that everyone needs. For example, I’d imagine there are a lot of men out there who aren’t totally comfortable with this picture. A busy mum who can only carve out 20 minutes to herself might find a long relaxing evening quite inaccessible. And as someone who suffers with bouts of depression and anxiety, I know that sometimes that perfect, relaxing evening is actually too much effort. What I need is a basic level of self-care; something accessible and easy that will actually help me, rather than just fulfilling a cliche of what I think self-care should look like.

So if you’re ideal night of time to yourself is filled with Lush products and skincare, Netflix and ice cream, go ahead! But if you need to take care of yourself in a much more basic or simple kind of way, then just know that’s great too. Small acts like getting out of bed, splashing water on your face and having a bowl of porridge can be just as much acts of self-care as any hot bubble bath. (Again – I don’t hate bubble baths, it’s just the cliche image that keeps coming to mind!)

I’ll be posting next week a few ideas for simple self-care activities or tasks that can help you to look after yourself, when perhaps you are depressed, anxious, or just really short on time. In the mean time, let me know in the comments what you consider to be self-care that perhaps the mainstream magazines or vlogs just aren’t covering.

hugs

The Self-Care Sloth
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