Weekly Witterings – 2nd Edition

To Witter: to chatter or babble pointlessly or at unnecessary length. n. pointless chat; chatter.

Presenting my weekly roundup in order to spread the love and keep you updated with my adventures. This is a way of sharing my inspiration, music, books, and thoughts that have been a part of my week in addition to my blog posts. Think of it as a coffee and a quick natter with an old pal.

Website of the Week

I have to be biased here, because this week I have been working really hard on a new blog that I have created, Luxury Backpack. Its a BRAND NEW concept that I dreamed up whilst on my road trip around Florida as a way of sharing my travel hints, tips and tricks (I’ve got thousands!) which make a budget trip feel more luxurious. Read all about it here, and of course follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Insty.

Enough plugging, but on the same theme of budget luxury travel, I found this great website Budget Traveller which is a great website for finding the best experiences for your buck; such as alternative budget travel experiences, cheap eats, and money saving tips from the experts. Highly recommended!

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Song of the Week

This week brought us The Grammy’s, and exhausted from our day of travelling, our first night in Miami was spend eating sushi and watching the whole ceremony. So after watching it I couldn’t get James Bay out of my head. Have a listen to Let It Go here.

Book of the Week

It’s been such a busy week on our road trip that I have hardly had time for reading, and am still gripped by Valley of the Dolls (nearly at the end now). I have just completed my review of the book I have been reading for my Cup of Coffee Book Club on Goodreads which you can read here. The next book for March is Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders which I can’t wait to start! On my travels I found the cutest book which I am dying to get started on called Chomp by Carl Hiaasen which is set right here in Florida. It is about Wahoo Cray and his father, Mickey Cray, both professional animal wranglers, who are hired to assist with the latest episode of a reality series titled Expedition Survival! Mickey is injured by an iguana falling on his head (only in Florida!) and so Wahoo takes it upon himself to accept for both of them. I’ll review it once I’m finished!

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Food of the Week

We found the most amazing little farm shop style food markets on the road, where we bought local honey, bee pollen (which I’m now raving on about to anyone who will listen!), and fresh fruit and veg which I’ve been whizzing up in my blender.

 

Working Out this Week

This week we didn’t have too much time to work out, but we spent a lot of time wandering around Miami beach and watching everyone else doing active things! I did have a few minutes of my day that weren’t jam packed, so I’ve been doing 7 minute ab work outs. I call it the Miami Beach Workout! 1 minute of each ab work out back to back for 7 minutes:

Sit ups – flutter kicks -bicycle kicks – crunches – scissors – leg ups – plank

Now tell me you don’t have 7 minutes to spare?

Film of the Week

I recently watched the comedy Trainwreck. I wasn’t looking forward to it as I really can’t stand these stupid American comedies, but it was pretty funny, and now I finally get the whole Amy Schumer girl crush everyone has got going… she’s basically me and every girl friend I have ever had rolled in to one!

Adventure of the Week

This week I’ve been to Miami, the Florida Keys, and through the Everglades. The Everglades were so intriguing, and learning all about the history and wildlife there was really interesting. I couldn’t get over the colour in Miami. So many candy colours, from the buildings to the ocean to the sky. I really haven’t seen anything like it before. Have a look on my Instagram for lots more pictures from my road trip.

 

Shopping of the Week

Please Santa, I know it’s early, but I would LOVE something from this beautiful marble crafter Allegra Stone. I am in love with her designs, especially the trays. Check out images of her pieces here.

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Love, Emily  x

February’s Book Club Review

Hi All,

As you know, for our February book of the month we have been reading Where’d you Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. It’s not quite the end of the month if you are still reading, but here is my review to get us started on the discussion. I have tried not to include any spoilers, but you might not want to read on if you are still not finished with your copy!

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When I finished this book I was left with very mixed feelings. Firstly, happiness; because I could rest assured the characters were going to be okay, and because finally I knew what had become of Bernadette; and lastly, a great sadness, because I was no longer in the throngs of an exciting journey in Antarctica. Compelling, entertaining, and satirical brilliance; this novel was both heart-warming and witty.

I am a great lover of character over plot line: I would read five hundred pages about paint drying if the characters watching it dry were well composed, and in this novel the characters do not disappoint. Bee is our main narrator, a sweet “Grade-S” student, who we see teeter on the edge of stroppy pre-teen and childlike innocence over the course of the novel, giving her an edge to accompany her sharp wit.

Her narration is cut  between the varying correspondence between the other characters. It is through these letters and emails that both Bee and the reader piece together the events that lead to the disappearance of Bernadette. The letter-writing style took me a while to get my teeth into, I must admit, but what begins with a lengthy introduction to our characters through short snippets of correspondence becomes a complex, interwoven storyline. Just after half way through the book you enter cannot-put-down territory, and the reader begins to assemble all of the emails and a story is built from the fragments.

In using varying narrators through the form of transcripts, the entire novel is a tapestry of voices and tone. The techy-intellectual narrations of Elgie and Soo-Lin (I want to slap her) and the youthful tone of Bee are cut by the dazzling, intellectual narration of Bernadette. When her dialogue comes it is refreshing, and leaves you with beautiful phrases that linger long after she has one again disappeared. She talks about Seattle with great dislike, and refers the other parents as “gnats”. A recluse, who only leaves the house in dark shades and a headscarf, she appears rather crazy from the start. However, as we learn of her more obscure actions and it transpires that she may well actually be so, you are left believing, along with Bee, quite the opposite. Whether she be present in the novel, assumed to be dead, crazy, or sane, Bernadette has the strongest presence throughout the book, and one that is most welcome.

The satirical nature of this book means that it is crushingly funny, and yet despite tongue in cheek approach, Semple’s characters are exceedingly intelligent, and the jokes are sharp witted and well devised. It is clear from the prose that the writer, Maria Semple, is a television writer (“Arrested Development” and “Mad About You”), and this brings us something that is probably different from anything you have ever read, and this is a very good thing!

So lets get started with some discussion!

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Head over to Cup of Coffee book club on Goodreads to join the conversation, or comment below!

 1. Which character did you feel developed the most over the course of the novel?

2. Do you think the structure worked well? Have you read any other novels that used a similar correspondence-driven narration?

3. Bernadette’s journey and disappearance was both literal and metaphorical. Which do you feel was the most significant for her?

4. Which did you think were the most significant relationships in the novel?

5. What did you make of the roles the “gnats” Angela and Soo-Lin played in the story? How did they affect the family relationship between Bernadette, Elgin, and Bee?

6. What do you think Maria Semple is trying to convey about human nature?

Happy discussion! And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott for our March review!

Weekly Witterings – Valentines Special

To Witter: to chatter or babble pointlessly or at unnecessary length. n. pointless chat; chatter.

It’s February, and I am currently wearing shorts. Not with 100 denier tights and a thick coat – just shorts and a t-shirt. That’s the joy of Florida for you; it’s pretty much sunny all the time. I am all set up with my writing desk and a room to call my own which is kind of a room-come-conservatory, meaning I get to enjoy that glorious sunshine all day long and  overdose on vitamin D whilst writing. I’ve managed to complete 5 chapters of my novel (hurrah!) which I’ve been celebrating by drinking several G + T’s as soon as the clock strikes 5pm each day (that’s 10pm in London so quite conservative if you ask me). I’ve also been working on some great travel posts which I will be putting up over the next few weeks and am excited to share.

So, I have decided to start doing a weekly roundup post in order to spread the love and keep you updated with my adventures. This is a way of sharing my inspiration, music, books, and thoughts that have been a part of my week in addition to my blog posts. Think of it as a coffee and a quick natter with an old pal. I’m intending on posting these round-ups on Wednesdays – as no one likes a Monday, and Fridays are for adventuring (and drinking), so slap bang in the middle of the week sounds good, plus it might even get you revved up for a weekend adventure of your own. As tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought today would be a great day to start my ‘Weekly Witterings’, so here is the first addition – Valentine’s Style.

So I hope you enjoy, and would love to hear your comments! My first ever Weekly Witterings. Enjoy!

Website of the Week

My sister Charlotte got married last year, and her wedding has just been featured on the Rock My Wedding blog. Have a read of the article here, and immerse yourself in dreamy wedding day love.

 

Song of the Week

One of my favourite artists James Blake has finally dropped a new song, and i am in love! Listen here.

Book of the Week

Not so much of a romantic read, but this week I am glued to Valley of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. Its sure got the sex, and the drugs and rock and roll to go along with it. Buy it for it’s cult following. Finish it for its audacity.

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Shopping of the Week

I have been extra creative this Valentines and have had made a present and a card using old maps and travel as the theme. These hand painted maps by Milk N Sugar Art are a gorgeous gift for Valentine’s or for an anniversary, available on Etsy. A great reminder of where you met or a special place in your hearts!

I also love these.

And these.

Working Out this Week

In true Valentines style, this week I’ve been literally punching my boyfriend. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, he has been training me to punch him, and by him I mean the pads that he holds up for me. Yup, I’m learning how to kick-box. I have my own little ex-US army trainer to hand (whilst I take water breaks he does upside down press-ups in a handstand, and that kind of annoying thing) so there aren’t many excuses to get out of exercising. Because I actually enjoy smacking him, I’m getting quite good! Plus my gloves are pink so it keeps me interested. For all you ‘active’ couples out there, I very much recommend giving it a try. Get yourself some pads, and some gloves, and get punching. It’s a great work-out; is quite a healthy thing to do in a relationship where you can get your frustrations out by literally fighting one another; and I also feel a lot stronger and able to defend myself if a real-life situation were to occur. Need any more convincing?

Film of the Week

Yesterday the Notebook happened to be on TV, so yes I watched it, and yes I weeped a little. It’s certainly a good Valentine movie, but my loved-up movie of the week is True Romance. Its got guns, its got violence, but its also got a damn sweet love story running throughout, and it has heaps of eye candy via both Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette’s sheer gorgeousness. In case you missed it, the pair got together in December and did a live read… find out more here.

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Beauty Product of the Week

One of the most exciting things I discovered since being in the states is that they sell awesome make-up at TARGET. I stocked up on some essentials from Pixi, and am loving trying them out. The ultimate girly brand, with pretty pastel packaging and hardworking products that work wonders. Pixi has suddenly got a huge following in London, available at Liberty and at their store on Carnaby Street. I am crazy about their Glow Tonic, which is now a bedside essential. For a beautiful doe-eyed Valentine’s look, try their Brown or Blue Eye Intensify Endless Silky Eye Intensify Duo, and make your eyes POP. Watch the tutorial here.

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My Bedtime Essentials

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Pixi Endless Silky Eye Intensify Duo

Food of the Week

Valentines Day is just yet another excuse to eat cake. (As was the Superbowl last weekend, and the weekend before that as it was a weekend, etc.) I have a new favourite obsession of searching for beautiful sweet treats on Instagram, and even feel inspired to try and bake my own (someday, I’m currently too busy eating cake). This hobby actually burns calories, what with all the double tapping, so this is by far the healthiest way to gorge. I did find the extra cute owl cupcakes below for our Valentine’s treats. Check out my favorite food porn pages here and here.

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My Valentine’s Cakes

Adventure of the Week

We went to the Homosassa Spring Wildlife Park this week and it was really fun. If you are a nature lover, Florida is the place for you, with manatees, flamingos, eagles, alligators, bears, and even a hippo calling Homosassa their home. Plus there was some interesting looking people about, too!

 

Style of the Week

Perfect for my Miami road trip, this lovely bikini by Monday Swimwear is on my wish list. The shape is super flattering, and as soon as I have a tan to go with my new ‘kick-boxing’ body, I will be certainly getting my hands on one of these. For all you Instagram lovers, check out their page  (Note – it is not for the faint hearted –  do not look whilst eating cake – too many gorgeous bodies in tiny swimsuits).

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Happy Valentines!

Tomorrow morning my American and I are heading off on a road-trip; first stop Orlando and then on to Miami and the Florida Keys: him at the wheel, me doing my best to take photos as we drive and sing along to the radio as loud as I can. A Valentine’s road trip is just what we need to have some time to ourselves, and to explore Florida a little bit more so I can’t wait. (If he finds out I’m referring to it as a ‘Valentine’s Road Trip’ he might call the whole thing off so best he doesn’t read this until afterwards).

Wishing you all a beautiful, loved-up, kick-ass Valentines weekend. Whether you be sipping cocktails with your best pal or punching your other half, I hope you have your own  adventure!

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That’s me and my Valentine in the local paper this week taking a selfie at a local music festival.

Love, Emily  x

Illustrations Of Our Daily Struggles

Last night I couldn’t sleep. It’s not like insomnia is a new phenomenon, but for me it is. I usually sleep like a baby, or like my brother after a Friday night in the pub; you get my drift. But drift I did not, and it was horrendous. It would appear that I don’t have as much to worry about at the moment, since I quit my job, left the frantic insomniac that is London and moved to this sunny, slow-paced place to become a writer. But this is the very problem. I am now consumed by trivial worry; the ironic kind of worry that busy people don’t have the time for. Along with this new worry however, has come a solitude in simple things, and one of those things is sketching. I sketch day and night; through the entire Super Bowl, much to the delight of my man; and through my insomnia. But in Googling inspiration for my sketches (my drawing hand works at 3am, my brain does not) I have come across some wonderful illustrators who speak to my heart and my funny bone, and summarize my midnight-sketching woes in their own work.

Genevieve Santos‘ work is just adorable. Yet despite her little sketches being so sweet, her people really carry so much weight and emotion. Plus her chickens are pretty good too. Have a browse through her website and try not to smile.

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Oh Genevieve, I know this feeling all too well.


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Sketches by Genevieve Santos from her Instagram page: lepetitelefant

 

Slightly darker, less whimsical illustrator Gemma Correll depicts anxiety and depression in her work, and in doing so makes light of hard hitting subjects, giving you the feeling that it really is okay, and most importantly, that you are not alone. You might of seen her work on greetings cards, such as ‘Pugs Not Drugs’. But now you can own a whole book full of her work with her new book The Worrier’s Guide To Life.

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By Gemma Correll


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By Gemma Correll


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By Gemma Correll


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By Gemma Correll

So if you have ever had insomnia, or felt anxiety or depression, know you are not alone. If someone can depict it so well in a drawing it may just mean that they feel it just like you do. Why don’t you try sketching how you feel? You never know, your drawings might help someone else one day.

Emily