Thursday, 2 August 2012

What feels like forever

Hi guys and dolls, 

Firstly please accept my millions of apologies for not posting any new content in what feels like forever. I've been super busy with so much it's sometimes hard to sit and centralise yourself. 
Just lately it's felt like I've been spinning so fast I'm forgetting to stop and smell the flowers, y'know? Well anyway. To apologise and make up for my absence I thought I'd update you on what I feel are the more important events and news from my humdrum life. 
So. Since the last time I popped my head into the world of blogs...

  • The Olympics came to England (London 2012, woo!) and I've surprised myself by becoming obsessed with it! Beach volley ball to be precise - if you've watched and heard the dude with the Spanish trumpet, yes that was the beginning of the obsession.
  • We've invested in an iPad. Which I'm using to construct this very blog post. When I say "we" I mean Rob and I purchased together, yet iPaddy lives with me and has only been used by Rob once. 
  • I have worked my socks off with plenty of overtime chucked in to be able to afford said iPaddy
  • We've booked a holiday cottage down in Devon. Super duper excited for this because not only do we get away for a whole week and get to do all those couple things we don't get to do so much of during term time (dating a primary school teacher can have it's downers) the cottage also had wifi which means while Rob surfs, Hannah can blog on the beach. Voila. 
I am pretty sure there's a lot more that's transpired in my absence, but right now they're all that has popped to mind. I'm still very new to creating blog posts with the iPad - I'm not altogether sure if it's possible to upload photos and whatnot via iPad but if there is I'm sure I'll figure it out in time. Please bare with :) 

I guess the purpose of this post was to reassure you that I'm still here. And I have plenty of plans for some posts when I have the time to construct them in a lovingly and beautiful way which you deserve. Afterall, you're kind and wonderful enough to stumble upon It's A Blissful Life and take a peek. The best I can do is try to make that click worth while.
I'm thinking DIY personalised tote bag (so many ideas for this I think you guys will LOVE), recipes for jams, tips on foraging and of course a fair few iPad and iPhone apps and book corners! 

I hope you're all enjoying your Summer and get behind your country at the Olympics. If you're not so into sports, take my advice and just check out the beach volley ball. If anything the comedy moustache wearing guy with the trumpet will put a smile on your face and cheering for nothing in your living room. 

Lots of summertastic love, 

H xoxo

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Goodreads Love

It's been a while since I've shared my love for an iPhone app, and since I've made a fair few references to this one - and gone as far as to add a widget to my blog (see right), I thought it's time to share my love for Goodreads. 

Goodreads is an app for fellow book lovers and bookworms worldwide. You can read, rate, download and share your love (or dislike) for any book in the whole world on this handy little app. You can scan books to get their ratings and other people's reviews instantly (this I love: very handy when I'm perusing the shelves of book shops) and see what your friends are reading. 

You can organise your books into as many different lists can you like. I like to keep mine simple. 

  • Read
  • Reading
  • To-Read
Simples! What I particularly love about this app is it allows you to browse through reviews (you can choose to view it with spoilers or without, your choice) of any book you stumble across. You can also snoop at what your friends have read and rated. Really enjoy that feature because a fair few of my friends have the same tastes as me, so finding out what they really enjoyed (or not so much) is always helpful! It's actually how I found The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (read my Book Corner on this here) and The Book Thief (read about this here). 

Enjoy the app, fellow book-lovers! It's free so why not give it a bash? Find me on misshbliss and let's been Goodreads buddies!

H xoxo

Book Corner: The Book Thief

Just recently I have been on a reading frenzy! I finished The Book Thief last week and those of you who follow me on twitter will know how crazy I am over this book. 
It's saturday afternoon and I figured now is a good a time as any to post another Book Corner. 
So here's BC#3 - The Book Thief.

It's so hard to put into words how much you love something.
And that is exactly how I feel about this book. I love it. I am a massive reader, huge glorified self-acclaimed bookworm, and I have loved a lot of books. But I have never, ever loved a book so whole-heartedly that I'm willing to go out and buy ten copies of a book and just hand them out to people. This book is fantastic.
I was engrossed from the moment I picked the book up and read the blurb:

This novel is narrated by death.

it's a small story about;
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.


The book is set in Nazi Germany and is centred around Liesel, a 9 year old girl sent to live with foster parents on Himmel Street after her parents are taken to a concentration camp. It follows her life as she begins life on Himmel Street with her foster parents, the residents of the street and the families she encounters.
I laughed to the point of tears; The Jesse Owens Incident is all I'm saying. I cried to the point of sobbing. 
Beautifully written, amazingly narrated and captivating from the first page right up until the last. It's made me re-evaluate how I've rated other books in the past, both in my head and on Goodreads (iPhone app I'll blog about soon). 

For all book-lovers out there, I urge you to pick this book up. Buy it, borrow it, download it. Just experience The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's breathtaking and altogether one of the best books I've read in my life.

Happy weekend reading! 

Love love, 

H xoxo

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Kindle: Friend or Foe?

The Kindle vs. Books. 
It’s an argument that I admittedly had a big opinion on, in the past. I was all about the books. I’m one of those weirdos that love everything about books - especially old ones! The feel, look and even smell of a book, I think it's great! I was given a copy of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman when I was younger, I don’t think I was older than 10. I still have it, and being one of my favourites I can read over and over again, it’s got some wear. And in some ways, I think having the physical form, and seeing the batter it’s had around the edges, the brown corners showing the age of it, gives a book its magic.
But now, introduce the Amazon Kindle. I’m not excluding other e-readers in this post because I think the Kindle is superior or anything, I just don’t have any experience with any other, and think it’d be unfair to group them all together. So yeah, in comes the Kindle. I’m not going to talk about spec, it’s capabilities and it’s screen. That’s not what the argument is, the argument is - is this little small handheld technology, going to be the end of books? 

My opinion: No. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Kindle owner, Kindle lover. But there’s always going to be a market for physical hardback, paperback books. Yeah the Kindle screen looks like paper, and can hold 35,000 books - but sometimes it’s just perfect to peel back the papers with your hands, not a button. Sometimes it’s great to fold that page over or buy a cute bookmark (or in my case, use an old train ticket, cinema snub and on more than one occasion, an odd bit of ribbon). Kindles are great for novels or big books you can’t fit in that new and tiny handbag. They're fantastic to discover old classics for free. They're revolutionary for holidays when you want to fit all 10 new books into your carry-on.

So I guess what I wanted to say, was I am totally on the KINDLE FTW side. What lit-lover would turn down the chance to have thousands of books in one little transportable pocket book? 
But I’m also a huge BOOKS FOREVER side (yes, they are actual argument groups, don’t believe me - google). I guess it's where my heart lies. 

In the famous words of John Green:
I don’t care how they read, I care that they read
Happy reading!

H xoxo

Growing Up... Sort of

I had a whole two days off this week, together. It's been wonderful. Monday was spent mostly in my PJ's and catching up with sleep - lots of snoozing, napping and general doziness on that day. Then Tuesday I got down to business and gutted my room.
I have to do this every 6 months because I've become something of a hoarder. I pick up things from my travels - everyday travels, travel adventures, new places, regular places - and keep them. In short; I collect junk. It's a problem. 
Anyway. So I cleared out under my bed, my cupboards, my desk and got rid of so much stuff that I just don't want/need. It was tough, I was tough, but it was necessary. 
In my determination and while I was on a roll, I decided to face the wardrobe and chest of drawers that are rammed - and I mean rammed - with clothes and shoes. Really embarrassingly rammed, too. Even Rob doesn't get a look in there because it's mortifying how I've kept them for the past months. 
I took this opportunity to have a good clear out. Good for the soul, or so I've heard. It was a fantastic time to play dress-up too ("I need to see if this party dress still fits..."; "I haven't worn these jeans in forever..."; "Now this is a combo I'd never thought of..." and so on. It was a long process). 

During this time I learnt a lot about myself. 

I had so many clothes that I'd purchased because I loved, but in the wrong size. It baffled me at first. I was like; 'what on EARTH possessed you to get it in a size 8?!'. But then I woke up and smelt the denial. I'd deliberately picked up clothes too small simply because I refused to buy or wear anything above an 8. RIDICULOUS. The only time I've been an 8 - in jeans! - was after a pretty horrific breakup and we all know that's never a good and healthy weight-loss. I had brought these things wishing, hoping and praying I'd wake up and be able to fit perfectly into these things. Denial. And what a waste of bloody money!

Don't get me wrong, a lot of these clothes were put-on-able (not a real word, I know), but it took a lot of tugging, yanking, breathing in, wiggling and discomfort to say the least. 
I was stupid, and at the precise moment of being paralysed by the hem of a TopShop size 8 pencil dress from 2009 stuck around my size 10/12 backside, I felt embarrassed for myself. 

I guess I'm blogging about this because Tuesday was a bit of an awakening which made me feel mature and just a tad grown up. 
So I'm not a size 6-8. So I probably will always be an awkward shape for trendy Topshop (I'm an 8 on top, 12 on bottom, 10 in dresses and small in leggings/tights). SO WHAT? It's me. 

I'm proud of my little revelation, even if it came later than expected at 23. Magazines and adverts and airbrushing can suck it. No more uncomfortable can't-breathe-but-look-skinny for me. The 'ouch it's pinching' look is SO last year. 

Oh I sound like a feminist. Sort of. 

Girl Power! 

H xoxo

Sunday, 24 June 2012

How To... Make my Mom's Cakes

Happy Sunday, blog lovers!

Today I worked and came home to news that 1. my man is coming home; 2. we're having a gathering at home for the England game; and 3. my mom is making cake. Good news! Good news!
My mom makes cakes quite rarely these days. We're all trying to be good - cakes are naughty - and since all her babies are grown up, there's not many people around to scoff the delights. 
She got the recipe from my grandmother, who got it off her mother, who got it from a really old cookbook they have in the 40's. Since the book is discontinued and god knows where, it's now known as 'Mom's Cake Recipe'. Maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to share it with my own kids - maybe. But in the mean time, I thought it'd be fun to share it with you. Plus it tallies up the 'How To' feature to a whopping 2! Today is all about the good news.

You will need:-

  • 4 Ounces of caster sugar
  • 4 Ounces of flour
  • 4 Ounces of butter
  • 2 eggs
Put the butter and caster sugar into a bowl, and cream together until it's well formed together and looks like really thick but smooth cream - as seen in photo.

Beat in one egg, and half the flour. 
Once it's all combined beat in the second egg. 
Fold in the rest of the flour. 

**Handy Tip** Make sure you fold in the flour gently. The best thing about my mom's cakes is the light and fluffiness. Absolutely divine. 

And there you have it. A Bliss family recipe for cake mix. You can do whatever you please with it now. Make cake pops (my 'How To' can be found here), make cupcakes, Victoria sponge, whatever you fancy. 

Today we're making cupcakes with chocolate and smarties. An old fave! Hope you enjoy your Sunday as much as I'm going to! Now to decorate the cakes, eat some food and wait for the England v Italy football game to start...

Go England!
Lots of patriotic love,

H xoxo

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Book Corner: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Hi Pals!

Let me begin by saying 'Happy Weekend'! I hope you're all enjoying it and doing fun weekend-type-things. I usually spend my weekends working (Boo!), and spending quality time with my love. But since this weekend he's away in London I thought I'd spend my Saturday night blogging about a book I've just finished and launching a new feature for It's a Blissful Life - Book Corner!
The title came from my old primary school, where it all began! (PS.You can read about my love of words here)
So a few weeks ago I decided to head to my local bookstore and spend some hard-earned cash on some new reading material. This week I completed one of those books. Book Corner is all about book reviews, recommendations, opinions and love! I hope you enjoy and take part.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has been on my 'To-Read Radar' for quite some time. I've heard some lovely reviews from word of mouth, the internet and my Goodreads iPhone app. I'd heard it was a loving story which will make your heart swell, so I picked it up this week when I felt I needed a little love. 
I was not disappointed. 
The story centres around Harold. A retired gentleman who lives with his wife, Maureen. They live in South England and sleep in seperate bedrooms. They've hardly spoken in 20 years. 
One day Harold gets a letter from Queenie, an old work colleague who Harold hasn't seen in two decades, saying her goodbyes as she has terminal cancer. This is the story of Harold's journey from one end of England to the other in order to 'save' Queenie. 

The book is beautifully written. Each character has so much depth, and you end up feeling for each of them, and wanting the best for them. I cried out of love, sadness and happiness throughout this book and I am not a crier. 

I don't want to go too much into the story because if you're anything like me, you'd read spoilers if they're there and ruin the book for yourself. 

But I will say that I haven't spoken to anyone yet who didn't enjoy this book. It was so moving and real. Rachel Joyce is a talented author, and has a knack for portraying life, love and relationships in her writing. I would strongly recommend this book to anybody with a heart - it's just so touching. This was definitely a read that'll stay with me, and I'd like to think there's a little bit of Harold in all of us. 

We all need love, and a little faith. 

Happy reading! 

H xoxo