Wednesday, 31 December 2014

FILMS: What We Watched #5

Our weekend routine usually consists of watching a couple of films. There's nothing we like more on a Friday and Saturday evening then getting in our pj's, grabbing some snacks and a drink (or maybe just a hot chocolate!) and watching a film. We have quite a Blu Ray collection these days but the same thing happens every weekend in that we can never decide what to watch. 
We thought we'd share with you what films we watch each month and our thoughts on each film.
Elf
2003 | 97 min | Christmas / Comedy
J: Gotta love a good Will Ferrell film (he's done a lot of em), but Elf is up there with the best (who'm I kidding, all the films starring him are the best!) Anyway, the story is unique, fun and hilarious yet very Christmassy. And while there's a lot of Christmas films out there, this has got to be one of the funniest! Also the woman is quite hot, so...jingle bells!
L: The perfect Christmas comedy. What's not to love about Will Ferrell dressed as an elf? Light-hearted, easy to watch and a little silly, Elf is the perfect film to kick start the festive season. So it's not up there with Christmas classics such as Santa Claus the Movie and Miracle on 34th Street but to me watching Elf really marks the start of Christmas. I think it'd be great to live in Buddy's happy world of sugar, revolving doors and general Christmas cheer.

 Arthur Christmas
2011 | 97 min | Christmas / Comedy
J: Not many good Christmas films have come out in recent years, but Arthur Christmas is a really great one. The all star cast bring it to life (with the show being stolen by Bill Nighy's Grampa Christmas), and there are plenty of chuckles to be had. It also provides a good explanation as to how Santa can do everything in one night...it's a HUGE military style operation with headquarters in the North Pole and his vast aircraft the S1. Some parents complained about that on Amazon. Seriously, go look at the 1 and 2 star reviews. Anyway, really good film. Watch it!
L: The last good Christmas film to come out over the past few years. Arthur Christmas modernises Christmas with the use of a large aircraft rather than a sleigh, Santa is a little past his prime leaving Christmas operations to his eldest son, Steve. When a child is left without a present, Arthur, Santa's other son steps in to save the day. Although this really is a more modern take on Christmas it's still and excellent film with some humorous and heartwarming moments.


A Christmas Carol (Disney)
2009 | 95 min | Christmas / Comedy-drama
J: One of the absolute best animated films I've seen, Disney's A Christmas Carol finds the inimitable Jim Carrey portraying Scrooge. His voice acting is top class, emotive, expressive, funny...and undoubtedly Jim Carrey. Obviously I can't knock the story, old Charlie Dickers penned a winner right there, but this version is one of the best accessible to both adults and children.
L: I love the story of the Christmas Carol so much and this version has been done excellently. It sticks closely to the book and the animation is spot on (some of the best I've seen). Jim Carrey plays the perfect Scrooge (as well as all the ghosts). Each year I watch this I'm still blown away by how good it is. If you've never seen it you seriously need to get it for next year!

















The Snowman and the Snowdog
2012 | 24 min | Christmas / Animation / Short Film
J: Some classic animation going on here, but it's a pretty good short film to pass a bit of time. The story is fun and uplifting, however it ends on a pretty harrowing note. This whole thing can be made a million times better though, as their is no dialogue at all, which means you can provide your own hilarious commentary filled with puns, witticisms and astute observations at the Snowman's suspect behaviors. I had fun doing that anyway!
L: I'm not really a fan of the original Snowman, to be honest I think it's the whole Walking in the Air song that puts me off! The Snowman and the Snowdog though is so adorable even if it is little sad at times. I actually want a little Snowdog of my own! Oh and the featured song in this one is much better than the original!

















The Muppet Christmas Carol
1992 | 86 min | Christmas / Comedy / Musical
J: If you don't know each and every song on the Muppet Christmas Carol (except that slow, lovey one in the middle) then there is something wrong with you. Seeing the Muppets put their twist on the old Charlie Dickers classic is great and there's some comedy gold in there. Though they never included a great song in the final edit. But it's on the soundtrack so I'll let you skip off to YouTube and discover that one for yourself!
L: It's not Christmas without this film and its catchy songs. I've always loved this film. Some parts stick to the book quite well and other parts are completely made up just for the film but I don't actually care with this because it's so good. I find myself singing the songs for days after watching this. Even after all these years I still laugh at the amazing double act that is Gonzo and Rizzo.


















The Polar Express
2004 | 100 min | Christmas / Fantasy
J: A magical film, The Polar Express gives the whole idea of Christmas and believing in Christmas an extra magical quality. The animation is magical, Tom Hanks puts in a first rate performance as several magical characters (though he's always be Woody to me) and the story has a warm and tingly sort of magical feeling to it. It's magical. Magical I tell ya! "All aboooooard!"
L: This has to be one of the most beautiful Christmas films. I don't really know what to say about this film to do it justice. I just love the whole idea of it. It brings back the magical Christmas memories for me of when I believed in Santa. This film is about so much more than receiving presents it's about friendship, holding onto childhood innocence and letting yourself believe in a little bit of magic. If this doesn't leave you feeling all warm inside I don't know what will.

If you only watch one of these films it should be:

J and L: we couldn't just pick one, it's Christmas and we love all of them. Watch them all!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Favourite Books of 2014

 This year I took part in the Goodreads reading challenge again. I set myself the target of reading 20 books, I managed 19 so I didn't do too bad. I need to better manage my time when it comes to settling down with a book. I love nothing better than reading before bed but I often find myself wasting time scrolling through social media instead. I may set the challenge of 20 books again for 2015. This year I tackled re-reading the Harry Potter. I only have the final book left to go and I'm kind of disappointed I didn't get them all read.

  1.  One Day - I didn't really know anything about this book when I picked it up as I'd never watched the film either. I raced through this on holiday and loved every page of it. It was such a beautiful, simple book that left me a little teary eyed in places. With not knowing anything about the plot the twist at the end certainly came as a shock to me.




 2. How I Live Now - I'd never heard of this book until I was sent it in a book swap at the start of the year. I doubt I would have ever picked this up myself but I'm so glad I read it. It's a young adult novel but it's perfect for adults too who I think would read it a little differently to a teenager too. Meg Rosoff's other novels look pretty interesting too.
  
 3. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Josh bought me this after seeing it reviewed on tv, he promised me I'd really enjoy the twist. I didn't give much away in my actual review of this book and I won't here either. But what happened I completely did not see coming. The big twist happens around a quarter of the way in and I really didn't know what to make of it. It didn't feel like it has peaked too soon though and the rest of the story kept me interested.
4. A Monster Calls - I'd seen so many reviews of this book and just knew I had to check out out for myself. It's an amazing book that I would recommend to anyone. It's so cleverly done and the dark images accompany the story perfectly so if you can pick up a copy of the illustrated version you definitely should. Another book that left me in tears.






Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Well my favourite day of the year is over for another year. I know lots of people think Christmas ends on Boxing Day but I personally like to drag the whole thing on until New Years Day!
This year, for the first time since we got together seven years ago, Josh and I actually got to spend Christmas together which I was extremely happy about.

We both went to my mum's house on Christmas Eve for a buffet and some games before going on to Josh's house at night where we snuggled down to watch Polar Express, it was so great to get to stay with Josh on Christmas Eve, it made a real change from having to go home then like I have done in previous years. We spent Christmas Day and night at Josh's, drinking, eating, opening presents, chatting and playing games. We finally fell into bed very late and talked about the day and our presents. On Boxing Day I headed home for a second Christmas with my Dad and stepmum. 

This has been the best Christmas I've had and I can honestly say I've never felt as happy!

I love a good nosey at people's Christmas presents so I thought I would share with you what I was lucky enough to get this year and a couple of other festive photo's. 

Opening our presents from each other

 Christmas outfits

 All our presents to each other

 My presents from Josh: blu rays, chocolate, Baileys, Cola movie night in set, Tauriel from the Hobbit, original storyboard from a scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and an iPod Nano engraved with my favourite Harry Potter quote























Presents from others: Beatles calendar, Beatles books, Yankee Candle Christmas set, Paperchase organiser, Soap and Glory sets, Yankee Candle large jar in Soft Blanket, Monsters Inc and Monsters University, Lush stuff, The Book Thief blu ray, Victoria Secrets body spray and money (to spend at Harry Potter studio tour!)

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Christmas Weekend Away

At the weekend we headed back to Coventry, those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that Josh and I lived in Coventry for three years and went to uni there. It was very strange going back but it kind of felt like we'd not been away either. It made me miss my life down there though and living with Josh.
As we both work in schools we finished work last week so going away for the weekend was the perfect way to relax just before Christmas. We spent the whole of Saturday day and night in Coventry, wandering around and visiting a cosy little pub for mulled wine (for me) and real ale (for Josh). At night we went out for food then back to the cosy pub before heading back to the hotel to relax and chat. 

On Sunday we went on to Birmingham for the Christmas Market, we visited it every year that we lived down there and it really is a good market. It was super busy but we enjoyed it anyway. We visited one of the many German beer huts and got settled in there for quite a while as we spent the afternoon chatting and enjoying the beer, Josh had to try a two pint one! After looking around all the stalls I tucked into a Bratwurst, which has to be done at a German Market, then we finally headed home. 
It really was the perfect weekend, it was nice to be back in the place we called home for so long, it was really great to relax and get even more into the festive spirit and spending some proper time together was the best. We've already talked about doing it all again next Christmas!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

7 Years

Happy 7th anniversary to my best friend and taller half. So maybe things didn't turn out as I'd hoped since last anniversary, after all we still don't have our own place but that doesn't really matter because we still do so much amazing stuff together. 
I've had the most amazing 7 years thanks to you and I can't wait to for all the other wonderful years to come.


I love you xxx

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014: Our 5 Favourite Things About Christmas


We could properly list bout 100 things to do with Christmas but we thought for everyone's sake we'd keep it nice and simple and condense it down to our five favourite Christmas things.

Lauren:
  1. Food - nothing in specific just all the food! I love a good Christmas dinner, bubble and squeak the day after, chocolate oranges, party food...OK I'll stop now.
  2. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney - long before I was a McCartney fan I loved this song, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear it.
  3. A Christmas Carol - I'm a bit of a nerd and I love anything to do with the Victorian Era, for the past few years it's being a little tradition of mine to read this book in December. I also really enjoy watching the Disney version of it and of course Muppets Christmas Carol.
  4. Giving people presents - I love the whole thing surrounding presents for others. From planning what to buy people, going out shopping, wrapping them (even though I cannot wrap to save my life) and finally handing gifts over to people.
  5. Putting up the decorations - although Josh and I don't leave together we always put a little tree up in his room, over the post couple of years we've been adding some nice decorations to our collection ready for when we have our own place. 
Josh:
  1.  Christmas dinner - eating far too much until you're far too full...then going back for seconds. Enough said.
  2. December - I love the run up to Christmas. The decorations go up, it becomes acceptable to drink earlier and everyone generally gets into the swing of things.
  3. Wonderful Christmastime - I love all Christmas songs, from The Fairytale of New York to Little Drummer Boy, but this Paul McCartney classic has always topped the list.
  4. Polar Express - similar to Christmas songs, I love all Christmas movies. But as we always watch Polar Express quite late on Christmas Eve, I always associate the magic movie with the excitement of the day.
  5. Seeing the family - it's not often that I see or spend time with much of my family so getting to see everyone and spending time with them is nice.
 

Friday, 12 December 2014

HAUL: Primark November/December 2014

Christmas Reindeer Lights £3.00

PJ Top £5.00 / PJ Bottoms £6.00

 Christmas Jumper £12.00

 Despicable Me Christmas Socks £2.50

Pug Eye Mask £1.50


PJ Set £7.00

Things got a little festive on my last trip to Primark! I'm in love with my new festive jumper, it's so thick and warm and it plays music too!
Primark pj's are the best aren't they? I really wanted some red tartan ones and these are just perfect and super soft. I'm a big fan of the fleecy pj's in winter and I needed some new ones, these reindeer ones are super cute.
The reindeer lights are now up in my room and I have to say they look pretty good, there was a box of green Christmas tree ones as well and I wish I'd picked those up too.

What have you bought from Primark recently? If you have a haul post or video leave me the link in the comments.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Decorating for Christmas

Josh and I have always decorated a little tree in Josh's room. We've built up a small collection of nice decoration for both on and off the tree now so we thought we'd film a little vlog of us putting up our decorations. I really can't wait until we have a place of our own to buy a huge, real Christmas tree! There's nothing cosier than watching a Christmas film in the glow of the tree lights (and maybe munching on that tub of chocolates too!)



Friday, 5 December 2014

Happy List #109 The November 2014 Edition


So November was a quiet one and the things I was looking forwards to never really happened. We didn't end up going to a firework display as the weather was really bad here and we still haven't got around to booking the Harry Potter studio tour but hopefully we will be doing that pretty soon. It was also a very expensive month but I think I'm finally almost done with my Christmas shopping now. I almost forgot the big news of the month...I landed a new job sort of. I was doing some long term supply work and interviewed for the permanent job and got it! Because I was already doing the job before nothing has changed but I am really happy just to be staying in one place now rather than going all over for supply work. I'm really enjoying my job but I'm sooo tired all the time at the minute. I'm super ready for a rest over Christmas.

Things that made me happy in November...

  1. My new job - OK so I've already mentioned this but it did make me happy as did going out for a celebration meal after I found out I'd got the job.
  2. Christmas jumpers - I've bought a new Christmas jumper which is going to be on a haul post soon. I love a good Christmas jumper and this one even plays music.
  3. Christmas shopping - I love buying presents for people. Even though I've found Christmas shopping pretty tough this year I've still enjoyed it. 
  4. Festive drinks - hello Costa Christmas menu! The orange hot chocolate is particularly good. A white hot chocolate could be on the cards next.
  5. Spending the day in York - Josh and I had a lovely day in York at the end of the month. It was very festive and we even vlogged a bit of the day which you can see here.
In November I...
Listened to: I'm going through a phases of being bored of my music at the moment but Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds was played a lot
Read: Still on Harry Potter, I never seem to have time to read properly at the moment.
Watched: Apart from films we didn't watch anything else in November
Ate: I really good slice of ginger loaf from Starbucks 

Things to look forwards to in December: Finally booking the Harry Potter studio tour,  17 days off work over Christmas and the New Year, oh and Christmas of course!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

CHRISTMAS: York Christmas Market

Last Sunday Josh and I spent the day in York, wandering around the shops, browsing the Christmas market and sipping on mulled cider. It was the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. If you've being reading this blog a while you'll know we love York and we never pass up on the opportunity to visit there. York at Christmas though is even more magical.
It was a beautiful sunny day with bright blue skies, we couldn't have hoped for better really. We may have made a couple of completely age inappropriate purchases in the Disney store sale too, cough a huge Lotso and a huge Bullseye from Toy Story cough. Anyway...we visited the quirkiest pub too, you know just to feel like adults again, it's above a beer shop and it sold the best mulled cider I think I've ever tasted but god was it strong stuff! The pub is called The House of Trembling Madness if you're wondering. 
As it got dark we looked around the Christmas market as it had been way too busy to look properly earlier on, there was some nice stuff there and the little wooden huts looked lovely lit up. Unfortunately though we didn't manage to find a new Christmas decoration to add to our collection. Down by Fenwicks there was the prettiest Christmas tree I think I've ever seen. I could have stood watching it change colour for ever! 

We decided to have a go at vlogging a bit of our time in York, although I don't want to get back into sitting down and talking to the camera again I do like these little vlogs so we're probably going to do more in the future. As this was our first time it isn't perfect but I still wanted to share it anyway so I hope you enjoy it.



Monday, 1 December 2014

FILMS: What We Watched #4

Our weekend routine usually consists of watching a couple of films. There's nothing we like more on a Friday and Saturday evening then getting in our pj's, grabbing some snacks and a drink (or maybe just a hot chocolate!) and watching a film. We have quite a Blu Ray collection these days but the same thing happens every weekend in that we can never decide what to watch. 
We thought we'd share with you what films we watch each month and our thoughts on each film.
Antz
1998 | 84 min | Adventure / Animation
J: The movie to rival A Bug's Life! Both about ants, both with the same kind of animation, both designed for kids AND adults. Antz has a slightly more grown up sense of humor that takes away some of the magic that A Bug's Life has spades of, so for me while Antz is a great move, A Bug's Life still wins!

L: This was quite an enjoyable film to pass some time on a rainy Saturday afternoon however it was a little too much like A Bug's Life for me and in a battle between the two A Bug's Life is always going to win. It's definitely worth a watch but it isn't a film I'd reach for again like it's Disney counterpart.

The Human Centipede
2099 | 92 min | Horror
J: I'd heard a lot about The Human Centipede: It's sick, it's perverse, it's all kinds of wrong...but when it comes down to it it really isn't explicit enough to be gross and sickening at all. I mean, once you realise they've only got their faces pressed against someones underpants some of the terror and horror is lost. You know what I mean?! Quite a basic, mundane scary movie. Passed an hour and a half though.

L: Where do I even start with this film?! I was adamant that I didn't want to watch it, I mean we've all heard what it's about right? I figured this film had reached a level of depravity that I didn't want to view. However I caved in an watched and my god this isn't half the biggest pile of sh*t I've ever watched. I don't know if I should be slightly worried that I didn't find this film sickening or disturbing at all or if it was really that bad. How two more films have being allowed to be made after this (just based on the terribleness of this one) I don't know. But seriously don't waste your time on this.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Original)
1974 | 84 min | Slasher / Horror
J: Now this is a much better scary movie! While I prefer the 2003 remake, the original is still a suspenseful, weird and gory offering that sees old Leatherface carving out a name for himself. All be it with a chainsaw. Watch this movie through undesensitised and unjaded eyes and you can totally see why this is considered an absolute classic of the time!

L: After our last disappointing encounter with 1970's horror in the form of Halloween, I was reluctant to watch this. But surprise surprise this was actually really good. I've seen the remake quite a few times and although the original isn't as jumpy or explicitly gory I think it's much more darker and twisted especially towards the end. Being used to the modern horror film coventions made it a little difficult to settle into this film at first but I quickly found myself getting used to the (slightly dodgey) 70's actors and I really enjoyed this film.

Bee Movie
2007 | 91 min | Comedy / Animation
J: The third movie in out insect-based childrens movie run, and Bee Movie is a genuinely funny and action packed affair! Bees have feelings and feel robbed and used by humans so sue the human race?! Sounds like the bashings of a madman, but it provides plenty of laughs from start to finish! And massive props to Jerry Seinfield and his great voice acting! Though I still can't get past the guy that sounds like Joe Swanson from Family Guy!

L: I've actually seen Bee Movie quite a few times now and it's perhaps one of my favourite none Disney kids films! I can't place what it is exactly with this film but it's really good. The idea of a bee and a human understanding each other and working together is great.

Toy Story
 1995 | 81 min | Adventure / Comedy / Animation
J: The original and best Disney Pixar movie, the premise of Toy Story is amazing: What if toys came to life when humans weren't around?! To say this was made aaaaall the way back in 1995, the animation still looks amazing and the acting (and micro-acting) really sells the characters and the story to you. Love it. But no matter when or where I see Tom Hanks...he's always just going to be Woody to me!

L: Ok so I love Disney but I've being a huge Toy Story fan and I don't no why because the idea is actually a pretty good one and I can appreciate the great ideas behind it and the brilliant animation but it just doesn't hold my interest in the way that so many other Disney films do. Also I have to admit Buzz Lightyear annoys me a little bit!

 Ratatouille
2007 | 111 min | Comedy / Animation
J: A rat...that wants to be a chef? Controlling a largely useless human by pulling his hair? Only Disney could dream up of Ratatouille! A lovely film that humanises one of the worlds most hated animals, you really find yourself rooting for Remy the rat and Linguini. Oh and my favourite line? Thanks for asking. It comes from hard to please food critic Anton Ego: "If I don't like it...I don't swallow." Yeeeah.

L: Back to the good Disney stuff! I just love Ratatouille and the why it creates and loveable, funny, strong character out of a rat, a creature typically seen as vermin. I also love the Parisian setting. Even in animated form Disney/Pixar have managed to create a dreamy, romantic setting out of a city I'm dying to visit. I could watch this film over and over again and still laugh at the jokes and still be amazed at the animation.

 Toy Story 3
2010 | 103 min | Adventure / Comedy / Animation
J: The most recent Toy Story movie, Toy Story 3 sees Andy preparing to leave home for college. Buzz, Woody and all the other toys mistakenly get donated, and after a brief encounter with a daycare centre, endeavor to get back home. NEARLY as great as the original Toy Story, if Toy Story 3 doesn't leave you with a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat at some point...well...what are you playing at?!

L: Despite the fact I'm not a fan of the first Toy Story film I actually really like Toy Story 3. I found myself laughing at all the jokes and again, unlike the original film, I was actually much more drawn in by this one. I also find myself tearing up a little at one point too. Maybe the whole Toy Story thing isn't so bad after all.

If you only watch one of these films it should be...

J: Toy Story 3. Although I think the original Toy Story is better, I haven't seen the 3rd installment nearly as much so it's fresher to me!

L: Ratatouille definitely!