February Feats – What I’ve been reading #3

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe we’re already on episode three of this series. You know what that means? One more episode to go! I genuinely hope you’ve been enjoying the series and checking out the books I’ve been sharing.

I went through my kindle the other day and noticed that I’m a creature of habit when it comes to the books I read. Not only are most of them a particular genre, but if I come across an author that I absolute adore, I’ll read all their books. My top three authors, according to my kindle, are Val McDermid, John Boyne and Cecelia Ahern. It’s a pretty accurate representation of my top three authors.

Lately I’ve been trying to explore other authors and discover new favourites. I think this is reflected in the books I’ve been reading list. It’s definitely a good experiment because I find myself revisiting the author of the books I’ve enjoyed. A prime example would be Michael Robotham. I’ve now read another two of his books and yeah, I’d say they were hits.

Anyways, as usual, I’m digressing. Here’s this weeks what I’ve been reading lately…

  • ‘Lies’ by T M Logan

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This book appeared in a recommendations list that Amazon emails to me every week. I read the synopsis and it gripped me. I sampled the book and the next thing I knew, I bought it.

The book is based on the main character, Joe Lynch, who stumbles across his wife’s car heading into a hotel car park. He decides to follow her and sees her having an altercation with her best friends husband, Ben. She leaves and he follows Ben out and confronts him and there’s a bit of a scuffle and Ben gets knocked out. Joe’s son is with him and he has an asthma attack so they bail to go get his inhaler and leave Ben alone on the ground in the carpark but when Joe comes back later, Ben is gone. And that’s when weird stuff starts happening…

An obvious theme for this book is social media and how easy it is to deceive and hide secrets (and to an extent, discover them) from our loved ones. Technology is another big theme as well. It’s an interesting book and there is quite the plot twist at the end – one that I didn’t see coming at all. I was already convinced in my brain of how the story was going to end but it didn’t go the way I expected it to go. Personally, I felt like the ending in my head would’ve been more interesting than the actual ending BUT that’s just my personal opinion. I’d score this book a 7 out of 10.

  • ‘Ragdoll’ by Daniel Cole

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I remember seeing the cover of this book at Whitcoulls and thinking to myself, I must read it; a very similar scenario to Stephen King’s ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’. So I went home and I downloaded a sample on my kindle and started reading.

I think you may have guessed from the title and the cover that this book is an investigative crime/thriller. It’s centred on Detective William Fawkes aka The Wolf who comes across a gruesome, stitched together corpse made out of six different bodies. So he ends up in a race to try and uncover whom the twisted murderer is before he claims more victims. To top it off, Wolf has his own personal troubles given he’s only recently been reinstated to his role and there’s an ex-wife in the mix.

I was actually quite hooked by the sample so I bought the book. I think I spent like $15NZD? Anyways, after a few more chapters, I think my interest just slowly waned. The premise of it was good and it has a lot of potential but it sort of just dragged on. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Wolf and given he’s the main character and the book revolves around him, it made it difficult to really enjoy the book. It’s like hanging out with someone you don’t like and trying to find ways to like them but then realising and accepting that no matter what, you’re not gonna like them. Again, that’s just my personal opinion.

If you’re a fan of gore and crime thrillers then give this one a go. Don’t let my thoughts influence your decision because I know this book has done pretty well out in the world. It’s also Daniel Cole’s first book and fun fact, he’s an ex-paramedic! I was quite fascinated by that. I score this book a 5 out of 10.

  • ‘Flawed’ and ‘Perfect’ by Cecelia Ahern

I must admit I didn’t read these books recently. The first time I came across ‘Flawed’ was over a year ago and then I read the sequel, ‘Perfect’ mid-last year when it came out. When I finished ‘Flawed’, I was so pissed off to find out that I had to wait a few months for the sequel. But like the good person that I am, I bit my tongue, hit the ‘pre-order’ button, set the release date in my calendar and read other books to fill in the empty space while waiting patiently for ‘Perfect’s release. I think that write-up speaks volumes on what I thought of the book.

‘Flawed’ is a dystopian novel and tells the story of Celestine North, who lives in a society that demands perfection, no matter what. Those that aren’t perfect or considered morally flawed are branded like cattle with a large F in different areas of their body, depending on their crime of imperfection. Celestine lives the perfect life that’s demanded of her society; she’s well-liked by her peers and teachers and she’s dating a popular boy who’s father heads the guild that runs the Flawed system. One day, Celestine makes a decision that sees her getting branded. The first book is about her journey on discovering that the Flawed system is in fact flawed itself. The second book covers her journey to challenge the system and society’s ideas of perfection.

I wanted to bring it up because I thought it was an interesting genre for Cecelia Ahern given that she’s known for her romantic novels or light-hearted reads with sweet endings that teaches you a bit about life. While the book is targeted for younger adults, I think it’s actually quite enjoyable… this is coming from someone in their late-20s. Obviously there was a cliffhanger that kills in the first book so if you’re gonna read it, I suggest you mentally make a note to yourself that you will be shelling out for the second book. This isn’t one of those ‘just read the first one and leave it’ books. So if you like a bit of dystopia and want to escape to a world where you can’t tell if it’s in the past or future or if you should visualise the area as being Ireland (I did based on pictures I’ve seen of Ireland but it looked pretty strange in my brain), then I highly recommend these two books. I score these books a 9 out of 10.

So there you have it folks, this weeks ‘what I’ve been reading’ done and dusted. I hope you enjoy it. I know it’s coming across as a typical Michelle-Rose booklist but I am going outside my comfort zone and reading other genres. In fact, I’ve started reading ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern and I’m aiming to have it done by the time the next list goes up. I have no idea what the genre of this book is or what it’s even about but I’ve heard it’s a good book to read so I thought I’d give it a go. So far, I’m enjoying it.

What are you currently reading?

February Bakes: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve been on fire with this whole baking thing. I feel like it’s now such a huge part of my week that it’d be weird to just stop baking next month. Even though it started out being something I wanted to do (and needed to do for the February bakes series), I think I might actually continue to bake at least once a week.

I keep forgetting that baking is something I enjoy; I’d be reminded of it when I feel like making something so I would and then I’d wonder why I don’t do it often and then suddenly it’s months before I get my bake on again.

This week, I’ve been testing a few recipes – some came out good and some, well, needed a bit more work. I also found my grandmother’s box of recipes. It’s a cute wooden box where she keeps all her recipes and they’re all handwritten! Ingredients, methods and all! There’s a recipe that I’ll share with you in the next February Bakes because it’s a family fave and the first time I trialed it, it came out perfect but I didn’t take photos. The second attempt resulted in a burnt slice (lol) so I’ll try again next week.

So for this weeks recipe, I wanted to share something that I tried and it came out rather delicious. It’s not too sweet either which I absolutely love because it makes it less of an indulgence. It’s one you can also freeze and thaw out when you’re having a sweet craving or for when unexpected guests turn up. Not gonna lie, I’m having my second one for the day with a cup of coffee as I’m typing this out. So naughty.

I’m going to list the ingredients as it was on the recipe card but I had to tweak a couple of the ingredients because I didn’t have them. What I used as alternatives, I’ve placed beside the ingredient list. So yeah, let’s get into it!

Ingredients

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2 eggs

¼ cup of plain, vegetable or canola oil (I used coconut oil because I ran out of canola)

2 riped bananas (I used 3 because I figured I might as well use up all my bananas)

1 cup of milk

¾ cup of brown sugar (any sugar will do but I prefer brown)

2 ½ cup plain flour

4 tsp baking powder (I only had baking soda so I used 1 tspn)

1 cup chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Lightly grease your muffin/loaf/cake tin with cooking spray, oil or butter.

In a large bowl, mash your bananas. Add the egg, oil, milk and sugar and mix lightly. You know you’re doing it right when it looks like mushy, yellow goop.

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Add the flour, baking powder/soda and chocolate chips. Mix them all together until just combined.

Add the mixture into your tin of choice. If you’re like me and you use an ice cream scoop, it works out to about 1 and a half scoops per muffin.

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Chuck them into the over for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

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Remove from tin and let cool. Next step, ENJOY.

These muffins are moist and so enjoyable. If you’re not a huge fan of bananas, fair enough, I can understand why you’d think this is gross. But did you know, if you use the same recipe without banana, you could actually make chocolate chip muffins? Amazing.

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If you give this recipe a go, let me know how it turns out. Better yet, share it with me @michellerosewrites or comment below. I’d love to hear to how it goes!

Being motivated to keep fit in the heat

Do you know what I’ve been finding rather challenging lately? Having the energy to keep moving and to be fit, especially after working long hours and coming home to a sweltering hot house. But as humans, we’re designed to keep moving although in this day and age, it’s hard to believe that’s the case since we spend most of our time sitting on our butts, playing games, reading books or binge-watching movies/tv shows.

I used to go on weekend hikes and evening/early morning runs and I’d walk long distances and it never phased me how far or how long it took. But then I stopped for a variety of reasons and then I felt myself getting fatter… and fatter… and lazier… and lazier… and the thought of walking anywhere got my stress and anxiety levels going.

Now I want to change that and get back into the zone and claim my enjoyment for long walks, short runs and weekend hikes because if you’ve read my posts from last year, you would know that I really enjoy these things. Maybe not at the time of doing them, but the satisfaction of reaching a destination or achieving a goal is a feeling you just can’t beat.

There’s also heaps of other benefits to moving and getting out and about – you improve your stamina, burn more calories and it positively affects your mood and mental wellbeing.

It can be extra hard to motivate yourself to move especially in the deep heat (yes I’m talking about you you awful average 23 degree muggy New Zealand heat) so I thought I’d share with you four things that I do to motivate myself to get out and about even though I would rather sit in front of a fan and read a book.

Go for a swim

I think this one is an obvious way to cool yourself down while also getting in some physical activity. I used to hate swimming in summer at the beach just because everyone else had the same idea so parking was a nightmare and finding a decent spot in the ocean within the flags was torture. But now, I just embrace it. And if you live in a place like New Plymouth, there’s more than one beach and the further out the beach is, the less people there’ll be. My favourite beach happens to be Oakura beach, where the waters are usually calm and there’s less people.

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If you’re not a fan of salt water and waves crashing into you, head down to your local pools. The ones in New Plymouth mark down their prices in the evening (I think an hour or two before they close?) which is pretty cool. I’ve never actually swam at our local pools but I know I definitely would if I wasn’t such a fan of the open-air ocean. Feels funny saying that because I’m actually deathly afraid of everything that lives in the ocean…

Evening/early morning strolls

This is my fool-proof way of motivating myself to keep moving. I’m a fan of early morning runs or evening runs because there’s no sun and usually the heat is not so bad. Sometimes it can still be a bit muggy but it’s way more manageable than going in the middle of the day when the heat is in full force. And if you do your exercise in the morning, at least it’s out of the way and you can spend your evenings just chilling and feeling super proud of how productive you’ve been with your time! thumbs up yo

And you also end up catching some incredible shots of the sunset/sunrise. Here’s one I snapped last week on an evening run:

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Go for a wander in the bush

lol that heading made me giggle a little. What I mean is going for a run/walk in a shaded area like a bushy walkway or an area in a park where there’s bound to be heaps of trees.

There’s a walk that I personally really enjoy in New Plymouth. It’s by the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and you can get a good 7km in just walking to Bell Block and back.

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But doing this walk in the scorching heat is a killer because it’s very open and there are no trees to shade you. So this walk is best done in the evenings or early in the morning. For other times of the day, a walk in a place like the Te Henui Walkway or Pukekura Park is ideal because of all the trees that shade you throughout the day. Of course if you’re not from New Zealand, I’ve linked the places above via Google Images so you get an idea of the type of trek those places are. I’m sure there are similar parks/walkways wherever you are 🙂

Get into your active wear

You know how in winter when it’s super cold and wet and you come home and get straight into your PJs because you’ve been miserable and you just want to be warm and comfy? In summer, I usually come home and tear my clothes off and get into shorts and a tee. When I know I need to get out and about, I’ll get into my active wear and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like being in their cosy, comfy active wear?

By being in it, it reminds me that I need to get out and about and get some exercise into my day (FACT: I’m wearing my active wear right now as I’m writing this). Even if I’m in it for a couple of hours before I actually leave the house, it’s one less excuse I’ll have (because apart from “it’s too hot”, there’s “i’m too hot to change into my active wear”).

And if you want to run/walk in the morning but you know you’ll wake up and tell yourself “i can’t be bothered changing into my active wear”, leave your workout gear and shoes somewhere close. Hell, if you need to tie your hair up, make sure you’ve got a hairband around your wrist and have your hairbrush close by. What excuse will you have now?

So there you have it – the top four things that I do to keep moving and motivated during the summer. I’m not saying you should follow these ideas but they’re what I do to make sure “it’s too hot” is not an excuse for not doing any form of exercise or to not fit in at least a 20 minute walk into my day.

There are also other things that you can do to keep moving, such as, joining a class or going to the gym. You can also indulge in the many free workout videos on Youtube and work out in the comfort of your own home (this is something I do as well but not often hence why it didn’t make the list). I’m a fan of being out and about and keeping things very cheap so these things work for me.

By the way, I don’t exercise every day. I do have my lazy days but I try to aim for at least five days a week of movement. Next challenge is definitely going to be making sure I continue to exercise in the winter without using the excuse “it’s too cold”.

What do you do to motivate yourself to exercise during the summer? I’d love to know!

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #2

I know, I know I’m a day late posting this and I’m sorry. There was a death in the family recently, which resulted in Mum having to leave for Malaysia earlier than expected. So I spent Wednesday in a car driving her up to Auckland and then driving back. Today I feel absolutely shattered and I’m ready to crawl into a hole and stay there for a while because I don’t have the energy to deal with life. But life has to go on!

I felt it was necessary to spend as much time with Mum as possible, seeing as there was only 24 hours left with her and with me leaving for London, it would be a couple of years before I saw her again. I was a quivering mess before we even took her up to Auckland but being reminded of the many ways I can keep in touch and the thought of her and Dad spending Christmas with me in the UK next year made me feel a lot better.

So, little life update aside, I hope you’re all doing wonderfully! Seriously, where has the week gone? Feels like only yesterday I was writing up my first ‘What I’ve been reading’ list and posting it.

Anyways, here we go folks, week two of what I’ve been reading…

  • ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green

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To be honest, I bought this book because it was everywhere. In book reviews, book recommendations, hell, even my kindle was recommending it to me. So I thought to myself, I should buy this book because the gods want me to, not because I had any interest in what it was about. In some way, it was like I was being subliminally peer pressured.

The book is based around Aza, a 16-year-old girl who I suppose is a bit troubled. She’s under pressure from her family and friends to be a good daughter, a good friend, and an all-round good person. The death of a prominent billionaire and a reward worth hundreds of thousands of dollars takes Aza and her best friend, Daisy on a wee adventure where they look to solve the mystery of the billionaire’s death. I think this sums up the book.

I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and I wasn’t really engaged in the story but because I had invested time and effort in reading the book, I hit the ‘Buy book’ button when the sample was over (this seems to be a terrible habit I have btw). I think I must’ve paid about $15NZD for the book… which is the most I’ve ever spent on a book on my Kindle. I continued to read it but I wasn’t fully engaged in the story. I wasn’t invested in the characters (and I usually am way too involved with them and have to remind myself that they’re not real people) and I found myself getting annoyed with them way too often. I know I’m probably gonna get a lot of “wtf” for this but I still don’t understand the turtles all the way down reference. I read the explanation about three times and still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I might have to go back and read the explanation again and see if we’re fourth time lucky.

I think if you’re a die-hard John Green fan then you’d probably enjoy the book. The only book that Green has written that I’ve actually enjoyed was ‘Paper Towns’. I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I did the book but yeah, hands down, fave John Green book. I’ve read ‘The Fault in our Stars’ a couple of years ago and I think I’m about a chapter away from finishing and I just never picked it up to complete it. I don’t know why. I like the idea for the story and the movie brought tears in my eyes but I remember thinking to myself that this could’ve been written better (I know I’m being a critical cow but it’s just my opinion and I’m not saying I’m the one to write it better!). I downloaded a sample of ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I think I read it a few months ago but I was still debating on whether or not to buy it because I’d be spending about $15NZD on it and I wasn’t sure if I actually enjoyed it. I might go back and reread the sample again.

So there you go, my honest thoughts on ‘Turtles All the Way Down’. I’d score this book 5 out of 10.

  • ‘The Missing Ones’ by Patricia Gibney

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This book was recommended to me by Amazon and I thought heck, it’s a crime thriller; it has murder, serious harm, mystery, a strong female lead who’s falling to pieces, gore, history, broken minds and it’s set in Ireland so I’d be silly not to sample it.

I read the sample in about ten minutes and didn’t hesitate to click the ‘Buy book’ button. It took me about a day and a half to finish reading the entire book. It’s one of those ‘But I have to know who did it!’ books and I just couldn’t put it down.

The book is the first of the Detective Lottie Parker series. There are two more after this and yes I’ve read them all. The fourth one is scheduled for release on 22 March and yes I’ve preordered it. The story opens with a dead woman found in a church. The woman seems to have no history and no friends and Detective Parker is already hitting brick walls with no clues and no leads. When the death of a man is reported soon after, the deaths seem to be linked but Detective Parker can’t seem to work out how… and that’s where the excitement begins.

It’s probably not the best description of what the story is about but it’s a mystery. If you google it, you’d probably get a better description… and hopefully no spoilers. If you’re a sucker for a good crime/mystery/thriller with a twist to die for, then look no further. Gibney has definitely outdone herself with her debut novel. Also, I think I spent about $2 NZD on this book? Incredible. I’d score it 10 out of 10.

  • ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ by Stephen King

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I’m gonna put it out there – I’ve never been a fan of Stephen King’s writing. I’ve been a fan of his book ideas, the movies and reimagining’s and the synopsis of his books but I find it difficult to get through his writing. I’m still trying to work out why because I’m a fan of horror books and his book ideas are just marvellous so naturally you’d think I’d be his biggest fan.

When I saw this book in Whitcoulls, there was this feeling inside me that felt like I just had to have this book and read it. So I took a photo of it, rushed home and bought it.

The book is made up of 20 short stories, all with a different type of ‘scary’ theme. There’s monsters, ghosts and even psychological fears – the ones you don’t really think about. Before each story starts, King provides us with a commentary on how he came up with the idea behind the story. Normally I don’t care much for these blurbs but I found the ones King wrote to be fairly interesting.

Typical of short stories, there’s always going to be the ones that you love and the ones that you hate and just really want to skip but feel compelled to finish. My favourites in the collection are ‘Bad Little Kid’ and ‘A Death’. I think I enjoyed this book more than his novels because there was something to suit different tastes. With a novel, if you don’t enjoy the premise or the writing, you’re kind of just stuck with it. Overall, I’d score this book an 8 out of 10.

I really enjoy writing this list. I find that I’m more aware of what I’m reading and my feelings towards the content of what I’m reading and that’s because I know I’m going to be writing about them for this series.

Oh oh I’ve also been listening to an audiobook! Only reason I’m doing that is because I want to reread the Harry Potter series and I’ve ran out of enjoyable podcasts to listen to while I’m doing some mindless data entry at work so voila, solution! I’ve actually been enjoying it and the book is narrated by Stephen Fry and boy is he amazing. I get my audiobooks from Audible, just in case you’re wondering. No, this is not an ad lol. They offer a free one-month trial so if you’ve always been interested in trying out audiobooks, definitely take advantage of this opportunity!

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this. Until next weeks list!

What have you been reading lately? I’d also love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks!

February Bakes: Carrot Cake Muffins

Baking is one of the activities that I enjoy a lot. It’s relaxing, fun (especially when everything turns out the way it should) and the end result, be it good or bad, always gives me a sense of satisfaction and leaves me with a smile on my face.

As part of February self-love, I wanted to do more baking and I’m aiming to bake at least once a week. I thought I’d share with you, dear reader, a simple baking recipe a week.

This week, I made carrot cake muffins. You can actually make a cake version instead of a muffin version but our house lacks a cake tin so I thought I’d be creative and create muffins instead.

The first time I made this carrot cake was for my sister’s 20th birthday. She absolutely loves carrot cake and I’d never made it in my life so I thought I’d give it a shot. The verdict was 10 out of 10, which is awesome. And if memory serves me right, I baked it in a loaf tin because we didn’t have a cake tin. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever baked this cake in a cake tin. But at least you know that no matter what you put it in that’s oven proof, you’re going to get the same results!

What I love about this carrot cake recipe is the flavours and textures you get. It’s not just a plain and simple cake; it’s got walnuts and sultanas in it and for the icing, I tend to use vanilla flavoured. Plus, it’s incredibly moist and doesn’t seem to dry out even after a few days.

It sounds very more-ish and that’s exactly the point. It’s not something you’d want to eat everyday, but something you’d want to enjoy every once in a while. If you’re not a fan of sultanas, walnuts, raisins, feel free to either omit these from the recipe or replace them with your dry fruit and/or nuts of choice. I’m sure it’ll come out just as spectacular. With the icing, you can also go plain or even use a lemon flavouring which I’ve tried and loved. If you don’t want icing, that’s completely fine as well as it still tastes delicious (yes I’ve tried it without icing). You do what works best for you.

 The best more-ish carrot cake ever

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

baking ingredients

¾ cup self-raising flour

¾ cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking soda

I cup raw sugar or coconut sugar

¾ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups grated carrots (approx.2 large carrots or 3 medium carrots)

½ cup sultanas or raisins

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

3 large eggs

1 cup rice bran oil or canola oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

Cream cheese icing ingredients

50g butter, softened

125g cream cheese, softened and chopped

1½ cup icing sugar

Method

Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees celcius (160 if your oven is fan-forced). Grease your muffin/cake/loaf/whatever tin with spray oil or butter. You can also use muffin cups if you’d like or add baking paper.

Sift the self-rising flour, spices and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the wholemeal flour and sugar on top.

Add the walnuts, carrots, raisins/sultanas and coconut and stir all the ingredients until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, oil and vanilla. If it comes out all gloopy and gross like this, don’t panic; it means you’re doing it right.

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Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into your tin of choice. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until cooked (you can tell it’s ready when a skewer/chopstick inserted into the center comes out clean). Remove the muffin/cake from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

To make the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined. You then want to stir in the icing sugar, then beat the mixture on high speed until it comes out light and fluffy.

 

When your cake/muffins have cooled, swirl the icing over the cake. I like to add pumpkin seeds and any remaining walnuts and grated carrot over the top to make it look really pretty. In this instance though, I didn’t have anything left except pumpkin seeds.

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I must admit, I’m not the best when it comes to icing anything but I try. I’ve always believed in the saying, it’s not how it looks but how it tastes.

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… and trust me this bad boy is effing delicious (lol my hand looks funny).

I hope you give it a try! I’d love it if you’d share your recreations with me by tagging me on instagram (@michellerosewrites).

Do you bake? What’s your favourite thing to bake?

Getting hygge with the heat

I was recently introduced to a new word/concept – hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hee-gi as I keep thinking it as). It’s a Danish word that can’t be described using one English word. It’s probably best described as a feeling of cosiness, content, satisfaction; a moment that’s just plain special from enjoying the simple things in life. It even gives me fuzzies just saying the word. But it’s not just confined to a feeling – it’s also about your surroundings such as your home décor and with loved ones.

We’ve all experienced hygge in some way, shape or form without realising it; reading a book under the tree, enjoying a hot chocolate in warm, fluffy pjs in the middle of winter and even just watching TV and chillaxing are all examples of hygge moments. While I would describe it as ‘hygge moments’, to the Danish people hygge is their way of life. Research* tells me that the word hygge was made famous in the UK in 2016; so famous that it earned a spot in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016. Soon after, the Americans started raving about it. So I guess it’s fair to say that hygge is quickly making headways around the world (although it makes me wonder why it took me so long to get acquainted with the word? Maybe it’s because I’m from New Zealand and it takes a million years for things to get down to this corner of the Earth…).

While the words ‘cosy’ and ‘fuzzy’ are usually associated with wintertime, I think hygge can also be experienced in the summertime. No I’m not asking you to break out the fluffy polar bear PJs and wear it in this 24 degree heat or start a fire in the scorching warmth and sit next to it while attempting to enjoy a book and also trying not to melt. There are lots of different ways to experience cosiness and well, hygge, even in the heat.

Here’s are my top six ways of creating and experiencing a hygge atmosphere in the hot weather: 

Have a bath

Don’t scream or panic. I promise you the heat hasn’t got to me and I’m not crazy. Yet. You know how we have warm baths in winter because it’s relaxing, warming and oh so comforting? Well, why not have a cool bath in summer? It produces the same effects – relaxing, warming and comforting without sharing your water space with others a la the beach or the public pools. Plus you get the added bonus of adding a bath bomb to create your own little galactic and glittery cocoon with bubbles. Delightful.

To create a more comforting and cosy atmosphere, why not light a candle, pour yourself an iced tea and read a book? I promise you won’t die of hyperthermia if you stay in the bath for hours. Here’s a pic of the last cool bath I had:

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Plant it up

Summer makes me think of bright colours and light, airy spaces. Adding succulents and/or flowers in a room is guaranteed to create a summery atmosphere – I guess in some ways it’s like bringing the outside to the inside (if that makes sense). Just being near flowers makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

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I love the aesthetic of succulents and the fact that they’re low maintenance. Its unique and pointy leaves adds an edge to wherever you place it. I got these at the farmers market and absolutely adore them. If you’re in New Plymouth, it’s from the Saturday markets behind the old Mill.

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Enjoying a cuppa

I love tea. Earl grey, jasmine green tea, lady grey, chamomile… I could go on. But when you’re hanging in average 25-degree weather, the last thing you want is a hot drink. Nah uh. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to give up your comforting beves…

Why not enjoy them chilled by throwing in some ice cubes? I particularly enjoy a cuppa cold chamomile.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the tag on my teabag #preach

Relax under the shade

 I think I’ve made this pretty clear in heaps of my posts but I love reading. While I never mind my surroundings when I read, I always find it more enjoyable when I read in a cosy, chilled spot.

In summer, it’s hard to find a cool spot indoors… unless you have air conditioning or are sitting directly in front of a fan. I don’t have the pleasure of either of these luxuries so I like to sit outside and pray for a breeze.

In particular, I love sitting under the trees to get a bit of shade.

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My parents’ garden is set up pretty nicely. It’s like a little wonderland and I spend a lot of time reading in the hammocks. I always find myself with a smile of my face when I’m swinging in the hammocks with a book or kindle in my hand. I know we’re not all lucky enough to have a set up like this but I’m usually quite content with lying on a blanket under a tree. Pure bliss.

IMG_3734Even my cat Stanley enjoys a bit of under tree relaxation.

Breaking out the summer sheets 

In wintertime, I usually break out the dark coloured duvets and bed sheets. To me, the darker shades are comforting and warm and it makes me want to dive into the sheets and I know I’m going to be nestled in fuzziness. In summertime, it’s quite the opposite. To achieve the same feeling, I break out the bright, light and airy sheets.

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I love these sheets. If you’re in New Zealand, you can get them from Briscoes. They have a cool, hippy vibe to them and the flowers, leaves and bright colours makes me so happy. Plus its so cool that after a long day, all I want to do is just dive into bed and unwind and enjoy the moment of being relaxed and joyful.

Have a picnic

There’s nothing like embracing summer by heading out into the great outdoors and taking in some sweet fresh air. Enjoying a wine/beer/alcoholic bevy of choice with a fruit and cheese platter under a tree at a park and enjoying a gorgeous view is one of life’s simple pleasures. And guess what? You can do this with family and friends as well. This is sharing a hygge moment with loved ones at its finest.

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So there you have it folks; my list of six things you can try to get hygge with it in summer.

Are you into the hygge life? I’d love it if you shared your hygge experiences and thoughts! In particular, what you do to hygge in the summer!

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #1

Welcome, welcome, welcome to my very first weekly spread that’s part of my February self-love series!

BOOKS. Books. books. I friggin’ love books. If I could spend the rest of my life doing one thing, I can confidently say that reading would be my pick. As long as I get an unlimited supply of books that is. And for free. I’ve got a list of books that are absolute classics to me and I’d recommend them to the world but I think I’ll save the ultimate book list for another post.

I haven’t been reading as much as I used to or as much as I’d like to. I used to always have my head buried in my kindle, even when I’m walking. My favourite Disney princess is Belle because she embodies compassion and intelligence and the library that’s gifted to her by the Beast is one that I dream I’ll have in the future.

Anyways, you get my drift. Reading is one of my passions and I’m planning on doing more of it in February. I think it’s definitely one of those self-love things you can do because reading fuels the imagination and transports you to a different world. It’s so comforting to be able to sit in a cosy corner, with a cup of tea and just read. To others, your surrounding is just silence but to you as a reader, your surroundings are vivid, loud and busy – and they’re all fuelled by the power of words.

I’m a HUGE fan of crime/thrillers/mystery. I think it’s because I have this weird fascination with the broken mind, the abnormal and the “why” behind why people do the things they do. I also like the idea of being an investigator/detective/psychologist but I don’t know if I’m passionate enough to follow those career paths. I’m sharing this because you’ll soon find a theme in the genre of books that I read.

So if you find reading a comforting activity and are looking for book recommendations, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading lately:

  • ‘The Secrets She Keeps’ by Michael Robotham

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This was the last book I read and I tell you, it was so gripping I couldn’t put the damn thing down. It took me two days to read, probably could’ve been one if I didn’t have life and responsibilities to tend to.

The book is about two women, Agatha and Meghan, who live really different lives; Agatha works in a supermarket stocking shelves and Meghan is a stay-at-home mum who lives a seemingly lavish lifestyle consisting of mummy lunches and yoga. However, they both share one thing: they’re expecting babies around the same time. Something happens and their paths cross and an unlikely friendship form but they both have secrets that threatens to expose itself after a life-changing event occurs.

Wow that description sounded dramatic (lol) but I tell you it’s a really good book. If you’re into high suspense that keeps you on your toes and an unexpected turn of events, definitely check it out. I particularly enjoyed the way Robotham crafted the two women and the way they express themselves. I found them so believable and could actually picture them in my mind. Definitely a 10 out of 10.

  • ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ by Mark Manson

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This one is a bit different from the last book I read. I actually read this one over the Christmas break but I wanted to bring it up because I did enjoy it and it’s little nuggets.

I guess this is a self-help book without being preachy, if that makes sense. I’ve never actually read self-help books so I can’t really compare them but I enjoyed this book because it was kind of relatable. What I enjoyed the most about the book is the way Manson uses real people, like musicians, as examples and you learn a lot about the success and failures (that inadvertently turns into success) of others. He also uses humour and he tells it like it is which I love. I found myself laughing quite a bit because of how he describes situations. The book is also filled with quotable quotes and one of my favourites is “The path to happiness is a path full of shitheaps and shame”. Oh! And another favourite is “The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important”.

My father asked me once to explain Generation Y because he just doesn’t get them. I told him to read this book to unlock the secrets to why Generation Y’ers think, breathe and live the way they do. So yeah, I guess that’s another way I would describe this book. I didn’t think it inspired me to want to get out there and make significant changes in my life but it did make for a light-hearted, eye opening and somewhat educational read. I’d score this book a 9 out of 10.

  • ‘Uncommon Type: Some Stories’ by Tom Hanks

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I love Tom Hanks. Hands down I’d say he’s one of my favourite actors. So when I was in Whitcoulls one day and saw that he’d written a book, I knew I just HAD to read it, even if it was a how-to on soiling your underpants.

The book is a collection of seventeen short stories and they’re all linked in some way by a typewriter. Not the same typewriter, but just a typewriter. The stories cover different genres and characters from all walks of life; from children, to adults, to immigrants, and there’s bound to be a loveable character for everyone. There are photos of different typewriters in all the stories as well which I really liked because I love typewriters! One day, when I’m settled and have a permanent-ish home, I’d really like to own one.

All-in-all, I did enjoy the book but like many collection of short stories, I favoured some more than others and I don’t have a particular favourite. I thought that Hanks’ writing style is somewhat typical of him – adaptable and comical. I must admit though, I just read the whole book in his tone of voice with a slight Southern drab. This could be interpreted as a good or a bad thing but for me, I like giving characters a voice. If they’re from Scotland, I like hearing them speak in the Scottish accent in my head. Is that weird? Maybe it is but its kind of hard to imagine these characters if they all just sounded like Tom Hanks. If you are a fan of listening to the characters in Tom Hanks’ voice, you should check out the audio book because he actually narrates it!

So there you have it; a list of three books that I’ve read. I know this post is pretty darn long but it felt appropriate to give you a bit of a background on my passion for reading and the types of books that I enjoy reading.

Thank you so much for sticking around if you made it this far! I hope this wasn’t too difficult a read and that you’ll check out at least one of these books!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Watch out for next weeks book list!