Jess & The Bee

Well, it has been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog. So many things have taken up my time lately, and more and more I found myself distanced from the blogger I felt I had to be to be ‘good at it’.

I’ve rebranded my blog to reflect that it’s a space just for me, though if anyone is interested in my ramblings, then they are welcome too. So, I hear you ask, Why Jess & The Bee?

Well, bees are just cool. They’re our biggest pollinators, symbols of hard working across the globe, and are the official mascot of the city I live&work in, Manchester.

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Female White-tailed bumblebee worker, with very full pollen sacs!

I moved into my home in August last year, too late to do the garden for summer, but this year I got my sleeves rolled up, planted a load of bee-friendly plants and I was gifted with the daily presence of bees of many species from thereon in.

I’ve seen (but never managed to photograph) honeybees, Carder bees, tree bumblebees, Early bumblebees, and of course the recognizable white-tailed bumblebee.

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A male Early Bumblebee
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Tree Bumblebee resting!

it’s not just because of bees (honestly).

I didn’t just want to blog jewellery or fashion or beauty. I want to blog about whatever makes me happy. So it seemed only right that my new blog reflected something that does just that.

looking forward to posting more soon.

For more bee snaps find me on Instagram – @iamjessicajj

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Rosie for Autograph Lipstick

Hi everyone!

This is my first post for a while as I’ve been super busy and not found time to take, let alone edit my photos!

For me, Marks and Spencer growing up was the place my grandma bought her clothes, my Mum happily shopped for herself, and I was happy enough to wear the children’s clothing lines! It was a brand built on trust, a family business that generations remained loyal to.

Since those days it has constantly been shifting and changing to adapt to the times – I’ve been a HUGE fan of their Limited Collection (now rebranded to Limited Edition) for some years now, the younger, edgier sub-label of M&S. I’ve grown to love Autograph and it’s tailoring, though not necessarily it’s price tag! It’s a place where I go when I need a staple item I know will last and won’t cost the earth.

They’ve made huge leaps too in their beauty ranges, expanding stores to include almost John Lewis-esque skincare and makeup stands. I was wandering through the other day, actually on the hunt for a decent pair of stockings, when I found Rosie Huntington Whiteley’s beauty range, Rosie for Autograph.

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I was stalled by the Chanel-style packaging, glossy black with Rose Gold (I scorn Mac’s matte black and silver for this!) with a solid rose gold bullet for the lipstick tube itself. I immediately reached for Lady Rose, a neutral, brown-toned tea rose shade. It glided smoothly on the back of my palm, and a testy sniff revealed the same tell-tale scent of Mini eggs as Soap and Glory’s lipstick range.

If I had to wear one shade for the rest of my life, it would definitely be this.

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It wears well, applies smoothly, and I feel as if my lips are being nourished by the formula.

The one thing I would mark it down on, is the price. £14 to Soap & Glory’s £9-10 per lipstick (even that is a bit steep). I noted that in the range there are a number of other products, for lips, eyes and face! My positive experience with this lipstick means I’ll definitely be interested checking out the other items, namely the blushers and eyeshadow pallettes, encased in the lovely rose gold metal. Shop the collection on the M&S Website!

Because I would never review a lipstick without posting a photo of me wearing it, here you go! What do you think?

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me in Rosie for Autograph Lady Rose lipstick

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ignore my weird lip shape – you’re here for the damn colour!!!!

Gig Review : Cattle & Cane at Gulliver’s Mcr

This is something I normally post about, but actually I don’t care! It’s my blog (ner ner!)

Cattle & Cane were a band that I had been peripherally aware of for a number of years, but had never, for whatever reason, explored in any great detail. Purchasing three tickets was a reaction to finding their gig pop up into my email account from a music events round up mailing list, and with it being close to Christmas. The tickets were for my Dad, you see, as a gift!

I’d plonk them into the folk camp (if forced to by my own self-inflicted rigid Spotify categorisation laws) though that in itself would be a gross misjustice. They’re so much more than that.

The band is made up entirely of the Hammill siblings (except the drummer) and their close ties as a family drives perfect synchronous harmonies across tracks like ‘We were Children’ and ‘Home’ and the off-album track ‘Infant Hercules‘, penned about the industrial rise and fall of Teeside (their home county).

Their debut album ‘Home’ contains a mixture of uplifting and foot-stomping tracks that will have you imagining you were driving along a dusty track road in central America, not Teeside or Manchester!

Cattle & Cane were captivating, energetic and perfect in their harmonies, comfortable on stage and engaging with their very close knit fan-base (it seemed many had followed them from Teeside to Manchester!).

The venue was Gulliver’s, on Oldham Street, a renowned indie venue in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

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Top marks, I look forward to tracking this band and watching them perform again soon. Learn more about them here.

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Pinterest Favourites!

Good morning!

Hope that you are all motivated and prepared for the week ahead!

I thought I would write a post to give a little bit of indulgence to one of my favourite tools – Pinterest. I love Pinterest! What’s not to love? It’s the perfect way to capture all of your mood boards, wishlists, makeup and fashion ideas and inspiration in the one place.

Colour

I have about 5 colour boards on the go, with one of my favourites being the mint colour board – featuring beautiful images themed around mint, duck egg, turqouise and Aqua!

Doors

What’s not to love about a beautiful front door? I always love to see a brightly painted door or an ornate glass window, and even pretty door knockers! They imply entrance to a place of intrigue and adventure, and some imaged I’ve found look as if the door could transport back in time!

Tea

I am throroughly British, and enjoy a good cup of tea. The finer the china, the finer the experience! I’ve got serious envy over some of these teacups and teapots – Mad Hatter eat your heart out.

Bees

As a bit of a nature nut, and a proud Manchester-dweller, I’ve taken on the bee as a sort of moniker and symbol of hard work and pride. Bee’s are beautiful and are suffused in imagery around not only Manchester, but the world around us.

Amazing Humanity

Sometimes we forget, in the midst of all the horrible things than are going on in the world, that there is some good in it, too. I created this board to remind me of that, and from time to time I do go on here and I smile and sometimes get a little teary, because Humanity can be beautiful.

I have many other boards as well, so fee free to come and check those out.

Keep up to date with my posts by following me on bloglovin, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Book Review : Three Sisters

Hello everyone. Apologies that this has been the first post in a couple of weeks, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a decent camera so I can post again! I thought I would write a book review today, for the first time – feedback is much appreciated on these types of posts!

I posted in December of the 25 Novels I read in 2015, and again in January including some of the novels and titles on my radar for 2016 as part of my New Year’s resolution to read 30 novels!

The Book

Three Sisters is a novel written by Bi Feiyu, and marks the first milestone in my journey of 30 novels. A short online synopsis I found described Three Sisters as [the] story of three very different young women struggling to find a place in Mao’s Communist China. Yumi, Yuxiu and Yuyang are in fact blood sisters, rather than sisters formed of bonds of friendship like the synopsis might imply. They belong to the Wang family village, where at the beginning of the tale focusing first on Yumi, their father, Wang Lianfang, acts as party secretary.

I purchased this book on kindle and had not given the synopsis a read prior to beginning, and so at first I thought the book was set at a time much longer ago than it actually is [1980s], which gives you a sense for how isolated and far behind in terms of social progress the People’s Republic of China truly is.

Marriages are still arranged as means of advancement of status, both economically and politically. Girls are considered devalued should their virginity not be intact at the point of their betrothal – an issue which rears it’s ugly head in different ways for each of the three young girls; and women are viewed as subservient and Children of little value unless born male.

The Plot

The book is split into 3, one book for each of the three sisters the story centers around.

Yumi, the eldest daughter, is strong minded, intelligent, and considered very highly in her village, especially after the birth of Hong Bing, her father’s 8th child and only son. Yumi steps up to the plate taking care of her little brother, also known fondly as little eight (Wang Lianfang had 7 daughters with his wife prior to the birth of his son).

The Family’s story begins with a match being made for Yumi to a young aviator, and thought not from a wealthy background, he is considered highly as he can conquer the sky. Yumi rapidly falls in love with him through writing to him, though she struggles communicating as she has not been to school to learn how to write and read properly.

Unfortunately, the family is thrown into chaos, as Party secretary Wang Lianfang is caught sleeping with the wife of another party member, and cannot be allowed to remain in his post. Shortly after this, two of her sisters, one of them Yuxiu, are snatched by some of the villagers and raped.

These events contribute to the termination of her engagement to her Aviator, and Yumi’s fate is redirected.

These events act a catalyst for Yuxiu and Yumi’s tales to split, then intertwine once more, as they face each other in a battle of wills and temperament.

Aside from the tale of Yumi and Yuxiu, we follow Yuyang, their younger and more intelligent sister (intelligence by the logic of the Communist party is the ability to memorise information, and recite it). She attends a boarding school with other girls, and there are tensions displayed between the girls thought to be ‘country’ and girls from the city.

What I thought

Once the realisation dawned that the novel was set in the 1980s, I was amazed at how easy it had been to mistake the era and setting for much earlier, if not even the century before.

Bi Feiyu’s writing style is very clear and unclouded by complicated imagery, yet manages to capture perfectly the sentiments, hopes and dreams of the women the narrative centres upon.

Whilst I initially admired Yumi, I felt that she had a tendency to be rather naive. Yuxiu irritated me initially and came across as manipulative, however as her tale ‘concludes’, I am left feeling sorry for her. Yuyang, likewise is a very naive young woman and yet is very level headed and the most relatable of the three.

I was disappointed that Yuyang’s tale did not overlap with Yumi’s or Yuxiu’s, as it in fact developed in it’s own right with no mention of Wang family village at all.

The novel is almost a snapshot of a short year period into the lives of these women at a strange and turbulent time for China, and we are left without knowing the fate of Yuxiu, Yuyang and Yumi, along with answers to the many dilemmas they faced during the novel. In spite of this, the novel was an engaging read, and I would recommend to people who have an interest in Eastern Literature and enjoy reading about the lives of women through the ages and through different political and socioeconomic lenses.

I hope you enjoyed my book review, and keep following for more as I progress through my list this year!

Keep up to date with my posts by following me on bloglovin, Instagram and Twitter.

Follow my Pinterest board to keep up with the titles I’ve got my eye on, too!

2016 Reading List

Hi Everyone!

I posted just before Christmas summarising the novels I had read in 2015. it was my 2015’s New Year’s Resolution to read 25 novels in the year to come; why? Because I love reading, and books, always have. But with the easy distraction of social media (i’m addicted to Instagram and Pinterest…) I can find myself wasting chunks of time that would otherwise have been spent getting into a good book.

Read all about my 25 novels of 2015, featuring some thoughts on my favourites and pretty paperback flatlays!

I tried reading in bed before going to sleep, on public transport on the way into and on the way home from work, and sometimes, if I was lucky enough to get one, on my lunch break.

With all these chunks of time, plus time at weekends, 25 novels wasn’t really hard to achieve, and there were often up to 5-7 days at a time when I didn’t read at all and had a bit of a break.

This year I think I might aim for 30!

Any self-respecting book lover can have way more books at any given point than they can read at once, and I am no exception. I have a backlog of novels on my kindle, mainly the free classics or the 20p each novels that Amazon occasionally feature. I also have a stack of paperbacks I buy with all the right intentions.

I’ve pinned the book titles that I have so far on my list for this year onto my 2016 Reading list board- do you have any recommendations? Have you read any of these novels already? I’m nowhere near 30 yet, and as you can see they’re a real mixed bag! Help me out by making some suggestions in the comments below!

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Manchester Restaurant Launches of 2015

Good morning readers. This post is a brain dump all about food blogger events –  please bear with me as I have a slight rant! It’s a bit of a round up of all my thoughts following a good season of foodie events to attend in the back half of 2016.

Manchester has been blessed with the arrival of a lot of new eating establishments recently, whether it be UK chains setting up shop here or Local Manchester restaurants branching out into new city locations. This is all positive stuff. A more competitive space and prices, more jobs in Manchester…

But one thing has been bugging me for a while and I have to get it off my chest.

Launch events.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ve been to them all.

I’m always grateful to be invited to events held by restaurants opening in a new area, and they’re enormously important for getting the word out.

However execution is the key.

What do I mean? Well first, if you’re inviting people to experience a cuisine they’re never tried, or if your restaurant is supposed to have an exclusive,  VIP vibe, then to me there are ways that you can present the experience in its best light.

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Vapiano in the Mcr Corn Exchange

I’ve been to a restaurant launch  where they made bookings open to people who had registered interest, and the bill was completely covered. This meant people got the full dining experience intended by the restaurant, whilst allowing the staff to iron out any teething  issues in the service. The atmosphere was relaxed, the menu was fully observed and explored by visitors… The drinks menu was actually narrowed down to their house beer, which I ended up loving!

(I reviewed my full experience of Pho, Manchester’s Vietnamese Street food joint, here).

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A bowl of Pho!

This was done really well,  and I speak very highly of the restaurant in question to anyone who asks me about it.

Another couple of launches were free affairs too, but the focus was less food more drink. And I mean a lot of alcohol. I enjoyed my visit to Cabana Brasil, because who doesn’t like caipirihnas?

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Cabana restaurant front

Food was carried around on plates like canapés and whilst it was delicious I cannot help but think that this isn’t really the best way of presenting the restaurant and it’s ambience on a normal day. Not to mention the fact that I had attended with every intention of reviewing the food, and didn’t have an opportunity to photograph any food (unless it was on a cocktail stick…)

although I did take a moment to snap my Caipirihna before I drank it all!
although I did take a moment to snap my Caipirihna before I drank it all!

The party at this place really kicked off, people were dancing on tables…  They most likely had a great time, sure, but are they expecting that on a Tuesday lunch? Or a Saturday dinner service?! Not likely.

Another restaurant launch crammed the place full of so many people it was impossible to get anything to eat! What I managed to get seemed tasty, but I wasn’t won over by the ambience of the place as it didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. Again, I was unable and unwilling to review this place and this visit, as it wouldn’t be a true reflection of a normal evening service.

Lastly, I wanted to mention the exception that proves the rule : Bakchich. Bakchich is a Moroccan & Arabic street food restaurant that was founded in Liverpool and has recently opened a branch in Manchester – (see blog post here for a more in depth review.) They cited the event as being specifically fo bloggers and would be themed around Afternoon tea, but Arabic Style. They looked after us really well, the service was excellent, and it delivered exactly what it said on the tin, in spite of this not being their normal style of serving up food, it gave me a great sample of the variety on their menu, and most importantly I didn’t go hungry!

Bakchich "spread"! As you can see we were well fed and not overcrowded!
Bakchich “spread”! As you can see we were well fed and not overcrowded!

In summary, if I was to advise a restaurant on a launch event I’d give them this check list.

  • know your audience : who are you targeting?
  • ambience : what vibe are you creating and how can you keep this as contact as possible.
  • Bloggers or public : if you invite a few bloggers, be prepared to compensate them, even if it’s covering the bill. If you’re event is public don’t always expect content to be pushed out automatically covering your launch!
  • Set up : if you’re going for a party vibe, make that apparent so less people leave disappointed (and hungry!)

Thanks for indulging me! We’re you able to relate to any of this? Leave me a comment below!

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me at Bakchich enjoying an Arabic coffee

Rose Gold Nails

Hi everyone!

A short and rather indulgent post today for you all about one of my shameless obsessions : nail polish.

I’ve been coveting a really good Rose Gold for a while now, which is unusual for me. For a long time I veered away from metallic polishes all together,  convinced they didn’t apply as well and we’re outdated (clearly my perception had been poisoned by a few poor products from my younger  years).

Rose gold/copper had been hot on trend for a while now,  both in the home, in our stationary collection and now in the makeup we apply. Its beautiful, classical, and so flattering for I imagine most skin tones.

I selected this shade Gold Rose from Model’s Own, at £4.99 a bottle.

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It applied gorgeously with only one coat (however I committed a lazy beauty sin and applied over the top of my existing nude polish so it had a good base).

The bottle isn’t a fair representative of the colour within but it is beautiful all the same.

I’m keen to experiment with more bolder Metallics now, but there definitely room for another rose gold shade in a deeper hue –  does anyone have any recommendations?

Love,

Jess
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25 Novels in a Year

Who doesn’t love reading? I’d wager that the sort of person who does not credit the merits of a good book isn’t worth wasting time on!

I made a New Year’s resolution last year to read 25 novels. Surprisingly, 2 books a month wasn’t really a challenge, and there were periods of up to a week where I didn’t read. Below are the titles of the books I read, including any opinions some might have sparked off.

The Silver Smith’s Wife 

an enjoyable read without any real depth. A murder mystery of sorts, but tangled up with social intricacies of Victorian London, class struggles, and a touch of supernatural that didn’t seem to sit right with me. 3/5

Outlander

This book was magical! Claire, a nurse who served in France on the battlefields of World War II, is transported back in time and thrown into the path of Jaime Fraser, some 300 years earlier. Scottish Clan feuds, fights, sex, romance… it has it all. I loved it so much I followed it up with the sequal. (There are 5 books in the series I believe) 5/5

Outlander: Dragonfly in Amber 

Picture of Dorian Gray

The Wizard of Oz

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When God was a Rabbit

A wonderful tale of a troubled family coming together through adversity. As a reader, I was a person stuffed into a cupboard and watching this beautifully complex family interact with one another whilst I held my breath as I peered through the key hole. 5/5

The Miniaturist

A bit of a let down for me. This book tried to take on so many issues in 15th century Holland – Homosexuality, Race, Mixed race children, Religion, social conduct… but dealt with them all in a poor conclusion. The imagery is beautiful, however the real question of the identity of the miniaturist is never satisfactorily answered, and the main character is a little irritating. 3/5

Frankenstein

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Matilda

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

A beautiful follow up from the writer of “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared”. Similar in style, and no less delightful. 4/5

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The Fault in Our Stars

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H is for Hawk 

I ADORED this non-fiction book, capturing the author’s struggle with her grief following her father’s untimely death, and with her newly adopted Goshawk. It’s because of this book that I am adding The Goshawk by T H White to next year’s list.

The Earthquake Bird

The Remains of the Day

Eastern Jewel

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The Gospel of Loki

A great easy read if you’re into the Avengers. Loki is given a new dimension, though none so much as Thor. A good short read that is sure to bring a chuckle or two. 3/5

Mendelsohn in on the Roof

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Far From the Maddening Crowd

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 The Bees 

This was so interesing. I love bees anyway, and this book brought their world of the Hive to life in a way I could never have imagined. A must read for anyone wanting to try something a little different, and for any self-respecting Entomologist!

Clariel

Prequel to the much loved Abhorsen Series. A quick read, mainly because this is still teen fiction, and I am no longer a teen! Reawakened my love for the original tales so much more. Great story, but not quite there. 4/5

1984

Only read this for the fist time, and I was stunned by it’s relevance even today. This book should be on the mandatory reading list for society. 5/5

Sum

Talk to the Tail 

Tom Cox, creator of the well loved @MYSADCAT account, has written 4 books about his adventures with his many cats. Laugh out loud funny, easy to read, and so relatable for anyone who has cats of their own or even knows anything about the cats exploits from following on Twitter. 5/5