The Sunday Catch Up & Current Lifestyle Favourites #8

The past few weeks have felt seriously hectic - not least with Christmas just around the corner! I knew it would come around quickly but I can't believe how much time has flown since summer and I'm really glad I've still had so much to do. I'm currently trying to get all of my present shopping done and my blog posts scheduled well in advance for the Christmas and New Year period. However, life has been pretty good recently - of course there are always going to be moments that aren't so great but sometimes, I just think you have to let yourself enjoy the good parts without feeling as though there has to be a downside...


For the weekend before Halloween, a couple of us went to see my friend who was up in York for a few weeks. It's such a pretty place so of course we went for afternoon tea and had a look around the incredible York Minster. We then hopped across to Leeds for a Halloween night out with another friend from university and did a bit of a group costume as zombie cheerleaders and American footballers. I couldn't tell you where we went (somewhere in the gay village...?) but we had such a good night!

Just a couple of weeks later it was my turn to host in Birmingham for a friend's birthday. I always love having the girls over and we also met up with a load of people from university that I haven't seen in YEARS. On the Friday night we went to a tapas restaurant in Moseley called La Plancha - which is really affordable and very good (though definitely book if you ever go there!) followed by a very nostalgic night out in Arcadian. The next day we had a few more people over for brunch at mine, played mini golf and then headed to the birthday party. We actually ended up at Gales - the main club in the gay village here. I've not been since university but it was great as always! The next day we did our classic 'morning after' brunch at Damascena - a really great Middle Eastern coffee house with amazing vegetarian and vegan options.

It's been a bit of a throwback month because I had a reunion with some of the girls I lived with at university. I'm still in touch regularly with two of them however I hadn't seen the others in a while so it was great to just catch up over some drinks and good food. We went to Zindiya, an Indian street food restaurant in Moseley. I always leave there full without feeling like I've spent very much! It's really good and there's a great selection for vegetarians - you just order a load of dishes and share. We also had a team night out with work that week and went to the Glee Club. I've been to a few comedy clubs back home in Manchester but this was my first time in Birmingham. I actually really liked the venue because of how social it felt as opposed to sitting at a theatre. Of course the comedy itself is always a big mix, so not everything is going to be to everyone's taste, however it does mean that you'd be in stitches over at least one of the acts!

I actually had what felt like a really brief trip home last weekend too. It's just always nice to be back in the cosy comfort of my mum's house and to see her and the cat! We braved a trip to the shops on Saturday and had lunch at this new indoor market place called Mackie Mayor. It's essentially a bunch of food stands with a whole range of cuisines all in one place - think a fancy food court of independent restaurants! I really enjoyed my food and it's in a convenient location, just outside the Northern Quarter. On the Sunday we went to see Murder on the Orient Express. We're old school Poirot fans in my family but I actually couldn't remember the ending to this one! It's obviously great to see the incredible scenery and locations brought to life with modern cinematography. I'm not sure it was enough to win round people who aren't already a fan of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective and classic murder mysteries, however I enjoyed it!

Lifestyle Favourites

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche | I just don't know where to begin with how much I loved this book! Ok, time to compose myself... It's essentially a coming-of-age story with a romance element set against the backdrop of the immigrant experience and social and political change in Nigeria. The main character is Ifemelu - an intelligent, strong-willed young woman (though she's by no means perfect). The narrative jumps between the present day, as she prepares to move back to Nigeria from the US, and the events that led her to that point. She goes from a teenager in Lagos (which is under a military dictatorship) falling for her childhood friend Obinze to moving to the United States for university and all the highs and lows and loves and losses she experiences there whilst Obinze illegally heads to the UK. This story tackles so many issues in a way that resonated deeply with me, from racism in the US (whether subtle or overt) to misconceptions of Africa (always treated as a monolith by the clueless people Ifemelu comes across) to the different kinds of love we experience during our lifetimes. It's just so well-written and the narrative comes together  in such an effortless way - I feel the author has an incredible knack for finding the beauty and meaning in the everyday. 

Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine by Derren Brown | I've not actually finished this one yet (I'm listening to it on Audible) but I'm a good halfway through and I've already found it so helpful in my everyday life! Don't let the fact it's by Derren Brown or that it kind of looks like a self-help book turn you off; it's a journey through the history of the philosophy of happiness that suggests ways of applying these ideas to your everyday life. It really unravels society's obsession with being happy and seeming happy all the time and the way in which we try to banish negative feelings instead of accepting that we're human beings feeling the full spectrum of emotions that brings along with it. It's also really helping me see the difference between things I can and can't control in my life (a bit of Stoicism for you). So far, I'm really enjoying this book and have been recommending it to everyone who'll listen...

Skin Deep by Bee Shapiro | If you enjoyed books like Sally Hughes' Pretty Honest and Pretty Iconic, then I really recommend picking this up! It's by the beauty columnist for the New York Times and features a variety of famous women talking about their beauty routines and the products they can't live without. There's something I really love about taking a peak into people's makeup bags and finding out what its contents mean to them and that's what this book is all about. It's interspersed with features and beauty tips too, so it isn't too much of the same format. It's a great coffee table book that you can pick up, read a bit of and come back to later. It's very much a feel-good, easy read.

Blade Runner 2049 | I actually only saw the original Blade Runner earlier this year and I'd definitely recommend watching that first - you will be able to follow 2049 without it but understanding the background will enhance the experience. I actually enjoyed 2049 more, which I know is sacrilege! It stars Ryan Gosling as a replicant (a bioengineered human) who hunts down other, older replicants. The police department he works for discovers evidence that a replicant child has been born, so they task him with hunting it down to destroy it because of what it could represent for the replicants. Those in power are scared this could completely upset the established order. The narrative has enough depth and twists and turns to keep people who don't love 'action' (like me) interested. Obviously the setting and cinematography are incredible - this sort of neo-noir science fiction vibe was created by the original and 2049 delivers it again. I think huge fans of the original will find this a worthy sequel and there's enough in it to hold the interest of casual viewers. 

Alias Grace | I'd actually never heard of this novel by Margaret Atwood and came across the TV adaptation on Netflix by chance. It tells the story of an Irish immigrant and former maid, Grace, who has spent the last 15 years imprisoned for her part in the murder of her superiors. The story is set in Canada in the 1800s and alternates between Grace telling her story to a psychiatrist in the hopes of being pardoned and flashbacks to her life before and the events leading up to the crime. As you watch it, along with the psychiatrist, you'll swing between thinking she's guilty and thinking she's innocent. Thematically, it deals with various forms of oppression, including class and gender.

My Favourite Murder | I've long been a fan of true crime - I suppose it's a mix between my fear of dying in some painful and unusual way and some sort of need I have to understand the psychology of people who kill (which obviously is quite an unsatisfying obsession...) This podcast isn't going to be for everyone however I personally love the mixture of telling crime stories mixed with a kind of anxious humour! If you want facts and details, you may be disappointed, however if you're looking for terrifying stories then definitely check it out. I love how the hosts bounce off each other and there are so many quotable moments! I also like how it's normalised being interested in true crime.

Have you discovered any new lifestyle favourites over the past few weeks?

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Disclosure - products marked * were sent to me for consideration however all opinions remain my own. 

Read more posts from this series here!


  1. I love makeup books, not only are they so interesting to read but they're really pretty to look at on the shelf a well haha!

    Kerrabella | xokerrabella.blogspot.co.uk

  2. You sound like you have had such a good month! I love girly weekends and nights out, so it sounds like you have had a fantastic time :) I honestly wish I had time to read again, but my life is chaos at the moment, so I just don't have the time :(

    Erin || MakeErinOver

  3. Great post. I really want to see Murder on the Orient Express x


  4. What a busy month! Sounds like you had a lot of fun though!

    Dena | The Dena Edit | Bloglovin xo

  5. What a great month! Sounds like you've had lots of friends re-connecting with friends!


  6. I really enjoyed Blade Runner 2049! Emily xo

  7. I studied Criminology so I find the whole concept of murderers and crime so interesting. It sounds like you had a busy but fun month xx


  8. Those books you read sound fantastic I really need to get back into reading now that I have a bit more time so I need to check out those book reccomendations.


  9. Hi Jasmine! I've been trying for the past half hour to figure out a way to post a comment with my wordpress account but nothing seems to work! (Something about wordpress/blogspot/openID credentials or so) Would you consider enabling the URL/username comments option please?


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