This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

Hello from a glorious and sunshiny Buckinghamshire. I hope you’ve all been loving the weather we’ve recently been having?

I’m aware that by the time this post publishes, we could be sitting in jumpers and staring into the grey abyss, but as I write this I’m soaking in the sunshine, enjoying the cool breeze and sipping on an iced coffee.

I didn’t realise how much the weather affected me until a few years ago. Up until about 3 years ago my favourite season was always Autumn – not too cold but nice and crisp and you could wear cute jumpers and feel all cosy wrapped up and snuggly. And then I went to Florida and it broke me – in the best possible way. The sunshine, the humidity, the heat. Being able to whack on a summer dress and sandals and fly out the door. The wide open skies with only fluffy white clouds.

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Everyone is happy, everyone looks healthy. My skin was smooth and tanned, my mind was calm and I was getting so many important vitamins into my system. From that point I was a summer person. This year’s winter felt colder than ever. My joints hurt, everything felt dark and dull. Even this heat wave hasn’t been hot enough. I need at least 30c and humid…. I’m ruined!!

So needless to say I’ve been enjoying this taste of summer, and I can’t wait for it to return soon.

Other than soaking in the weather, I’ve been busy doing other things. At my job we celebrated 10 years of the business and all headed to Alton Towers.

It was my first time there, and since it was a chilly grey day we were able to ride every ride with no wait times on the majority. It was an epic day. My favourite rides were Oblivion, Thirteen and the new coaster The Wicker Man (UK’s first wooden rollercoaster in 20 years). Alton Towers is on a massive site. I was very impressed!

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I’ve also been cracking on with my calligraphy course. I’m nearing the end of the second module, learning minuscule (lower case) letters. I’m actually really impressed with how much I’m improving. This course really suits my learning style and I’m brimming with inspiration of how I can put it to use as I continue to learn. I’m waiting until I’ve learned both minuscule and majuscule letters (and possibly how to connect them!) before I start being too creative, though!

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We recently went off to London and to a restaurant we’d seen on Masterchef called Eneko, and had an amazing dinner there. I’m posting a separate review all about it, so keep an eye out for that.

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As you’ve no doubt seen, I’m still completing my 52 new recipes challenge and I’m really enjoying putting the effort in to discover and then make the recipes. If you want to see what I’ve made so far, you can do so by clicking this link. I’ve got a few ideas of recipes I want to try in the future but I’m actually enjoying looking up what I fancy on a weekly basis.

So, without a crystal ball I can’t predict what the weather will be like as you’re reading this post. I hope with all my heart it’s sunny. Even if it’s not in the mid to high 20’s like it has been, I hope it’s still sunshine!

Until next time…

Where Do You Want to Go Today? An Ode to a Podcast.

As a person born in the 80s, I remember it well when Microsoft launched Windows ’95 and asked ‘Where Do You Want to Go Today?’. I remember along with the internet appearing in homes, and being able to ‘go’ where seemed like literally ANYWHERE via your computer and I remember that feeling still. I hadn’t had that kind of feeling since then, until I started listening to the Beautiful/Anonymous podcast.

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I started listening to podcasts as a means of keeping me interested in running on a gym treadmill for a full hour without losing my interest. I started with Serial (didn’t we all?) since that was what everyone was talking about at the time. I then added This American Life to my subs list, and it was during one of these episodes that I was introduced to Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (or Beautiful/Anonymous).

Living in the UK, I’ll admit I’d never heard of New Jersey born Comedian Chris Gethard. But I immediately liked his conversational style, his use of friendly banter and (of course) his accent. The premise of the podcast is that the producers of the show will periodically put out a telephone number, people will call and if they get through they can talk to Chris, totally anonymously, about anything of their choosing. The caller can choose to end the call whenever they want, but Chris can’t. Then at 60 minutes the call is disconnected.

It’s a great idea. But how does this remind me of Windows 95? It all goes back to ‘that feeling’. I adored being able to instantly find out about people’s cultures and lives in other countries. I could watch a webcam of Times Square or a beach in Hawaii. I could see photos of someone’s quinceañera and feel like I was there. I could live chat to people in other countries in chat-rooms, and learn all about their lives! So when I started listening to Beautiful/Anonymous I started to get similar insights into people’s worlds. Where else could I listen to the story of an Australian Bushman? How else would I get to hear fun, disgusting, heartbreaking and sometimes very dark stories?

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And it’s not just American people featured. Chris recently put out a number for UK residents to call, and that call was just as insightful as the others. And obviously there’s not just Americans who can make a call from America.

But it’s not just the content of the caller’s stories that make Beautiful/Anonymous so engaging. Chris, the host, is fantastically natural and just as engaging on the calls. As a huge advocate of therapy and taking care of your mental health, he relates to a lot of the callers. He’s in a position where, even though he’s loathed to give the kind of advice you might consider counselling, he is a fantastic listener. He knows how to keep a balance between entertaining and prying – a skill I feel he has honed during the period of the 100+ episodes that have been put out.

But coming away from the podcast itself, we should also talk about the BA Facebook community. A community which is currently at 26k members and growing at quite a rate. I’ve never been part of a large community that’s so understanding, welcoming and diplomatic. That’s not to say that everyone agrees all the time, but with the help of some awesome moderators, conversation is just that – a conversation. A meeting of minds. It’s a respectful community where people celebrate differences of culture and opinion, bred from an environment of just that on the podcast.

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I have often recommended this podcast to people I know. People who I feel are interested in other lives and cultures and ways of doing things. But I have had a 100% decline rate on it. And here’s why I think that is – the people I’ve suggested it to, I’ve chosen being that they are all of the above – interested in other people’s lives etc. However, I have a theory – everyone who loves BA, loves it because they’re on a journey themselves. They’ve accepted their Self, and even if they’re still a work in progress, they’re willing to listen to other people who are also works in progress. They might be listening to stories that could challenge their own wellbeing and make them ask questions about themselves. And this is too much of a challenge for some, understandably. Because who can judge others when they’re not without judgement themselves?

It’s a theory, but it seems to fit for now. These stories aren’t gossip, they’re not going to make you feel better about yourself. But you will come away from each of them with something – a sore stomach from laughing, a heavy heart, maybe tears in your eyes, inspiration, admiration. Awe.

If you, like me, are genuinely interested in people, you might just like it. I’m subscribed via Apple Podcasts and I’m so glad I was there from the very start, to hear the journeys of these 100+ people. I hope to be able to attend a live show eventually, as they tape them from time to time.

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If you decide to listen, or if you listen already, please let me know. I’d love to know there was a fellow BA fan in my midst!

 

Meeting The Makers – Jewellery Crafting Masterclass with The Goldsmithy

This weekend I did something I never thought I’d have the chance to do. I attended a masterclass in jewellery making with a group of MK Bloggers at The Goldsmithy in Stony Stratford.

I love jewellery and though I don’t always wear a heap of it, I do wear quite a few rings on my fingers every day.  But (shame on me) I’d never really considered how they go from molten metal to something pretty and shiny. Despite a good friend being in this business, I’d never thought long and hard about it and had no idea what all the tools and such on her instagram bench photos meant. But today I was going to find out!

The Chapman family of Stony Stratford really opened my eyes to the art and passion of those doing it right. We arrived at their workshop bright and early, and after being introduced to Paul and Glenn, Paul started telling us about the history of their business.

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Glenn started his training in 1972, with Cartier, and down the line went into business himself, creating intricate bespoke pieces for people – their main focus being to create long-lasting, great quality, unique jewellery that people will want to wear every day. Paul, his son, is 3 years into his 5 year apprenticeship and you can tell he shares the same passion as his Father. You know each piece is a labour of love, just by hearing them talk.

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We started the class with Paul melting some silver down and telling us we’d be creating a ring from this. The raw metal seemed so dull and not like anything you’d want to put on your finger!

Being VERY accident prone, I was intrigued as to how I could possibly have a go at this, but hearing that ‘slow and steady’ is the general rule of thumb set my mind at ease a little!

At each stage, the whole group had a change to give creating this ring a go. From shaping, to filing, smoothing, to polishing.

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After the molten metal was moulded into a stick shape, it was stretched out using this mangle-like contraption. Paul stretched it to the point where it broke, just to show us how NOT to treat metal. These guys really take care, and using science and maths are able to create a piece of jewellery that really lasts – and the only way to do this is by knowing what mistakes can be made and how to avoid them!

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Filing, shaping, smoothing. So many tools, all with a purpose!

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I even had a go myself!

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This is tough work – slow and strong pressure filed down the tiniest amount of metal from this ring. My hand hurt very quickly and I barely scraped the surface!

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Within the space of an hour or so we’d created a rough ring. A little more shaping and filing and it was time to polish.

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And there it was! Nice and shiny! You can see the bottom edge has been left raw, to show the difference between the side we filed and how it started.

The most important thing I took away from this class is the passion Paul and Glenn have for gold smithing. They do this properly. They want you to bring in your heirlooms or your bespoke ideas and together create something unique and sentimental. They’ll work with you to ensure that family piece you keep in the drawer is created into something that still holds a huge place in your heart. And with 60% of their customers having a go at the bench, they’re allowing the wearer to have an amazing bond with the finished article.

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Using their extensive knowledge of gold smithing, they’ve even created a solution for arthritis sufferers, by adapting your ring to have a hidden hinge and clasp so you can pop it on your finger comfortably and securely and avoid any pain you might ordinarily get from putting your ring on or taking it off. Amazing! As well as offering cleaning and polishing services, these guys have such skill, if you have an idea for a piece you want, they’re the guys to go and speak to.

During the class we had the opportunity to sample some brunch foods from the fantastic Cameron’s Kitchen in Stony Stratford.

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We also went away with an amazing goody box with bits and pieces from local companies, including The Goldsmithy, Whitespace Studio, Popaball, Beeswax Wraps, Giraffe, Peel Juice Bar, Hello Stationery, Pasha Turkish Bar & Grill, Beauty Box By Alyson, Revolucion De Cuba, Rocky Road Treats and Maaya!

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It was a truly awesome experience, and meeting Paul and Glenn from The Goldsmithy was such a treat. These guys know their stuff, and instead of picking up something from a chain jewellers that isn’t made as well and could be found on anyone’s finger, why not visit your local gold smiths? They will work with you to create something unique and meaningful – and if you visit The Goldsmithy there’s a good chance they’ll let you have a go at making it yourself!

 

Thanks to The Goldsmithy, MK Bloggers and Brand Mission for this amazing opportunity!

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

Hi guys, I thought I’d take the opportunity to check in, as it’s been a little while since I posted one of these. I didn’t expect to be sat here writing this post, whilst outside the place where I live is covered in snow AGAIN. It’s mid-March! I need some Spring now. I hope you’ve been enjoying the food and beauty posts that have been coming up. I even posted a book review!

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These past few weeks I’ve been a bit quiet on social media. Well, specifically on Twitter, I’ve been loving instagram. I just haven’t had anything to say on Twitter to be honest. I like to follow the rule of ‘if you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all’. I feel like I’ve had to hold my tongue a lot in the past but for a few reasons the past couple of weeks have been particularly tough. I don’t want to start becoming part of the problem. And then twitter drama in the blogging community this past weekend, cause a LOT of angst amongst people I follow and it’s meant some people have shown their true colours, even though I pretty much always know where to look when it comes to the drama. I fear the twitter community, for bloggers anyhow, creates a fake level of self-importance. I mean, the whole industry is based on the assumption that people want (and need) to hear what you think, so when it’s done in 280 characters, it can cause confusion and conflict. Anyway, I stayed out of it, but managed to put my two cents in with a tweet which covers both sides of the argument;

“Don’t be a dick. The end”

I didn’t need 280 characters to make my point.

Speaking of social media – does anyone remember Vero…..? That lasted all of 20 minutes didn’t it? I suppose if they’d made it so that you could actually use the app when the big rush happened, people might have bedded in, but I forget it’s on my phone. After 3 days of not being able to login, it didn’t really make an impression and so to me it’s another dead platform….. I might be wrong in the future, but for now buh bye Vero.

The past few weeks have been tiring! Work has been busy, I haven’t been getting good quality sleep and I’ve been feeling run-down and not entirely well. I need Spring to happen now. I long for the sunshine, and the warmth, and not having to wear all my clothes in one go. Unfortunately, I think my hayfever season has started, so even though there’s currently snow on the ground, I’m taking antihistamines, and they’re making a difference…. I swear I should have been put down a while back.

I’ve got an exciting event to attend at the end of this week, and that involves meeting some new people. Something I’m always nervous about, but feeling (at time of writing) fairly okay with. It’s local, and it’s doing something I’ve never done before, so I’m excited. All part of trying new things this year!

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I’m still plodding away with learning calligraphy (which you can follow here on instagram) and I’ve been reading a lot more than I usually do. The first book from the Slow Sunday Book Club has been read, reviewed and discussed (see start of post for my review link) and the second book has been announced: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella. It’s not my usual choice of reading material so I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be joining in this month, but I did pick up another book on recommendation from Amyleigh at Northern Blood. It’s called A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. She’s got great taste in reading material so I’m looking forward to diving into it.

G-Man and I have just completed watching the 3rd and final season of the Netflix show Love. It’s a Judd Apatow show, and I love all his stuff, so if you do too and you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. It’s really really good. I’ve also been watching Crashing, after being told by Gary I had to. And he’s right, it’s a good show (which also Judd Apatow’s involvement) based on the true story of the main actor, who is trying to make it in stand-up. I’ve been really enjoying TV and films about stand up recently!

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So for now, I’m still stuck in my state of hibernation, which really isn’t helping my mental state of ‘let’s stay in bed and sleep until summer’, because really I’m eager to actually get up, go out and do stuff. But the weather and the coldness is making me feel slow and lethargic. I just want some sunshine! Maybe, if we all wish for it hard enough, it might just happen? Ready…….. GO!

 

 

Slow Sunday Book Club: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I really enjoy reading, and I just don’t do it enough any more. So when I saw Allie at Rush and Teal introduce the Slow Sunday Book Club to her newsletter ‘Slow Sunday Club’, I figured what a great opportunity to start reading again.

I find the hardest part about reading, other than finding the time, is choosing a book. And when it’s chosen for you, you often find you’ll read something you wouldn’t otherwise select.

The idea behind this book club is to deliberately find a reason to put down your phone, switch off the tv and take some time doing something more relaxing and a little less taxing on your brain and your eyes. I’m all for it!

So the first book chosen was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I’d not heard of it, but found it available cheaply on Amazon so I figured I’d go ahead and jump in.

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As much as I’m not going to describe the plot of this book, I’m going to be discussing parts of the story and my thoughts on the writing throughout this post, so if you haven’t read this book and don’t want to be spoiled then I’d suggest clicking off here. I’ll see you in my next post.

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Firstly, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It’s an easy read, despite my having to google the meaning of quite a few words used. Eleanor has quite the vocabulary.

Since I didn’t know anything at all about this book before I started reading, I actually found the reading process very similar to when I read Room. I went into that story blind too. I enjoyed the process of learning things about the character that they already know, but you don’t, as I read. I find that usually you discover new things in a story as the characters learn them themselves, but in this story it’s different; you discover little nuggets about Eleanor as she reveals them slowly to you, much in the way that she starts to remember things about her past during the second section of the book.

This is a very well-written, and delightfully funny book, despite it being truly heartbreaking in parts too. I found the story very relatable in parts (due to recognising the human condition, and not because I’ve been through any dramatic turmoil in my life), and also could see traits in Eleanor and the characters around her that I’ve seen in others during my life.

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It took me a while to realise this was set in Scotland, and I suppose this was deliberate as the author fed you little bits of information along the way, and accents started appearing on the page.

This is a heavy-going book, and if you have any sensitivity to abuse or addiction you might want to steer clear. This is, however an amazing story of human kindness and how the mind can both harm and heal. There’s a few twists and turns along the way, and reading as an outsider to Eleanor’s story allows you to both analyse and sympathise with her plight.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. According to the notes at the end, the film rights have been bought by Reese Witherspoon and I’d be interested if a movie does come out of it. If it does, I hope they leave in the Scottish aspect. I have one question at the end of all of this though. One little loose end I need answering – do pubs in Scotland really serve Dr Pepper?

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

The last few weeks have been quiet but busy all at once. I’ve been keeping myself busy with bits and bobs.

The country celebrated both Pancake Day and Valentine’s Day. I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, as a rule, but we definitely celebrate Pancake Day. Sugar and lemon is my topping of choice – call me a traditionalist.

I’ve also been keeping up with my calligraphy hobby – I apparently have a pen purchasing issue. As of today I don’t need any more pens, however I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before about lipsticks and mascaras, and here we are….

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To start off our weekend we headed to KFC for our Friday night junk food fix, only to be met with ‘closed’ signs at every shop we went to. As you’ll probably know now, KFC had a distribution issue and as a result were unable to serve both chicken or chips. As such we ended up in Five Guys, and you know what? I think the Five Guys magic has worn out on us – I really wanted chicken I guess.

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This weekend we saw both I, Tonya and The Florida Project. I really enjoyed them both. Having been to Florida a couple of times and visited and been into some of the buildings they shoot in during the movie, I was really interested to see what the film was all about. I wasn’t disappointed, and though the film was just going through the motions of the everyday life of people during Summer break, it was a really interesting and amazingly acted movie (especially due to the age of the main actors). I, Tonya was brilliant too, with fantastic acting from Allison Janney (I love her!). The movie was funnier than I expected too!

It was President’s Day weekend this weekend in America, which reminded me it has been 15 years since I visited with Gary. Our first holiday together, and my first time on a plane, first time in America and first time being snowed in another country. We had an extra day in the snowy city (New York snow I the most beautiful in the world) which gave us plenty of time to play in the freezing temperatures.

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But still, 15 years ago. That’s a whole lifetime ago. So much has changed since then – and all for the better!

So, this week I have some time off work, which means blog planning, cleaning, seeing family and friends, and hopefully lots of rest. I’ll also be catching up on tv.

In fact whilst I type this I’m watching episode 3 of the new season of The X-Files. If we forget the first episode, I’m enjoying the season so far. I have no memory of how the last season of, what I would call, the proper series ended (you know, before the reboots) but I’m loving the sparkage between Mulder and Scully.

Anyhow, enough of that. It’s time to get busy doing all the relaxing! See ya real soon!

Learning Modern Calligraphy – One Month In!

For those who read Musings regularly, you might remember me mentioning I was going to start a modern calligraphy course, as part of my Learn New Skills 2018 challenge? You’ll have no doubt seen my food challenge posts dotted throughout the past month, however I haven’t really mentioned my calligraphy progress.

We’ll, here goes! I’ve been taking The Happy Ever Crafter’s basics course over the 4 weeks of January, and I’ve really really enjoyed it.

Her new semester of modules actually starts in March, so I’ll be starting along with everyone else when that begins, but I really wanted to give myself a head start, so I’ve completed the first module (which is free) already, and I’ll then have a couple of months to practice and work on the areas I’m still struggling with.

The basics course gets you working on the strokes that make up all major parts of forming letters, and allows you to work on holding the pen, getting the correct pressure to form the strokes and what kind of brush nib you prefer.

Each day you work on a different type of stroke, and over the weeks you move from tracing every stroke, to totally freehand by the end.

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I set up a dedicated instagram account, so I could follow my progress and the progress of others during the modules, and I’ve really enjoyed connecting with people who have been doing the same! You can follow me on instagram at @letterbygroggits if you’d like to see my progress along the way.

So, now the 4 weeks is done, let’s see how I did!

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Monday was upstrokes and downstrokes. Simple lines, downstrokes with heavy pressure, and then a combination of the two. I struggled with the downstrokes for the whole 4 weeks, but think I started to get the hang of it by the end. They were looking less like S by the end too!

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Overturn strokes on Tuesday, and these started off too pointy at the top, but by the end of the month I’d managed to maintain the correct pressure and size and found these fairly easy to create.

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Similarly, Wednesday’s underturn curve became easier as the weeks went on, and I was able to create uniform shapes. But it took some practice!

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Compound curves on a Thursday became my favourite day. These are such fun to draw – not easy but I became more confident as the weeks went on, and really enjoy working on them!

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On the flip side of that, Friday was my least favourite day. Ovals I just cannot do yet and I’ll be continuing to practice these for a while I feel. I just can’t seem to get the pressure correct no matter how I hold my pen. These are going to be integral to lots of letter shapes, so I know I need to get them down!

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Saturday brought ascending loops, and again these are tricky little blighters. I’ll need to practice these too, but I think when I concentrate and take it really slow I can almost draw these!

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And then Sunday was descending loops, which were just as hard, if not harder. Again, it’s hard to work out the pressure when starting from the top and get my wrist in the correct place!

I’ve got a few months to practice these before the next module starts, so I need to make sure I do actually practice so I get a head start on the next work book.

I’ve really enjoyed working through this work book. I found my confidence increased week by week, which is something I really love about learning brand-new skills. I didn’t expect it to be so therapeutic, and I’ve actually learned to slow down and concentrate on forming each and every shape carefully – not something I’m used to. But completing this module has actually taught me something about myself – I need to stop rushing. Things will end up better if I actually take the time over them and slow down. I think this course is going to be good for me!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

It’s been a while since we had a little catch up, hasn’t it?

So in the past few weeks we’ve had Christmas and New Year! I hope your’s was good.

Mine was low-key and I didn’t do a huge amount, but it was just what I wanted.

I’m lucky enough to get the time between Christmas and New Year off from work, so if Gary’s off work we’ll take little day trips and such. But this year, he was very busy with work, so nothing was really planned.

Christmas Day was lovely and I got to see both sides of the family. From that point on my mind went into a little relapse and I didn’t want to do anything but curl into a ball and not see anyone. So that’s pretty much what I did. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I got up to because it’s all of a blur. That was until my bff (sister from another mister) got me over to see her lovely newly renovated house, and with her and another of my best friends we had a lovely normal morning chatting. It was lovely to get out of the house and be in a safe space with people I trust and can talk about these things with. And they don’t make a big deal over how I’m feeling – they just let me feel that way, make sure I’m okay and if I want to talk about it I can. And they know me well enough to be able to suss out whether I want to talk or not.

On New Year’s Eve Eve I attended a singing workshop with my Mum, where we learned two songs as a choir and then in the evening had a party and Bandaoke. My Mum and I had both signed up to sing with the band (scary) so we were both fairly nervous, but when each of our turns came up we were fine. I sang Young Hearts Run Free and people said I did well after I came off stage, which was a relief!

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New Year’s Eve was a quiet one spent at home with Gary. I normally spend my New Year this way, and it’s the way I prefer it! I can be in bed by half past midnight!

On New Year’s Day I began working on the first of my 2018 challenges – learning calligraphy. After seeing a friend taking part in this course throughout 2017, and seeing the progress she’s made, I decided I would give it a try myself. I’m already finding I’m learning things about myself as a person as well as my penmanship during this challenge – who knew?!

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Then it was back to work, and by the time we returned to the office I was very much looking forward to it and wanted to get back into a routine!

I didn’t find it hard to get back into the swing of things, and it was nice to see my colleagues again  – it’s great when you enjoy being around the people you work with!

During the first week of January I also had to kick off my second 2018 challenge – a new recipe every week for the entire year! I’ve already posted about my first recipe here, so take a look. I’m enjoying looking at recipes in a new way, this year. I’ll happily trawl through tons of books and Pinterest recipes, marking the ones I like the look of to make one day, but this time around I need something I’m ACTUALLY going to make! So I’m thinking more practically about them!

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I’ve also been reading a lot of blogs related to New Year and resolutions (well, more those that gear towards self-improvement, since that’s what I relate too) and I’ve been very inspired by the positivity and how practical people are being. There’s less fad and more mind involved in what people are aiming for this year. It’s fantastic.

I’ve made a pledge to myself to be more active on social media – and by that I don’t mean posting more (although I feel like I will be posting more blogs this year just by default!) – I mean commenting on other people’s posts, sharing their stuff etc. Not just scrolling through instagram and double tapping then moving on – I’d like to comment on all of the photos that have meant something to me. Because it’s what we’d want for our own feeds, right?

I’m enjoying feeling the fresh positivity that’s come along with this year. In a time of uncertainty and bafflement, coming from a couple of years that were very trying for many people, we appear to be collectively coming together and finding our feet again. The ground seems a little more solid, and I’m personally enjoying how it feels.

 

Goodbye 2017

And so we’re here again. I can’t quite believe I’m sitting here, preparing to take you through my year, once again.

It’s been a very hard year but also amazing in many ways. I feel like I’ve changed and grown as a person, and also seen those around me change in many ways.

Sadly, I’ve not seen as much of some of the people I love this year, but I’m hoping next year that will change. But I know these people still value me in the same way, as I value them still, despite not seeing them so much. You guys know who you are!

I know a high proportion of my readers head over here purely for the beauty stuff, and I’m going to post up a separate piece about my beauty picks for 2017, so if that’s what you’re after you have my permission to skip this one altogether. Though, if you do decide to carry on you might find there’s more to Musings than just beauty reviews, and I’d like to welcome you into the world of Musings lifestyle articles.

At the end of 2016 I set myself two resolutions (well, more like goals to be fair). By the end of 2017 I wanted to have attended at least one blogger event, and I also wanted to have become less judgemental.

Two very different goals. I achieved the first only this month. I had actually forgotten about my resolution and when I remembered it a couple of weeks ago, I was very pleased to have achieved it.

I also feel I am well on my way with the second goal. A very personal journey, and one that I won’t go deep into here, but I honestly feel like I am much less judgemental now than I was. I just have to work on being more tolerant of those who have not gone on this journey. I can only take control of myself and my own responses, but it’s hard and frustrating when other people appear bitter and judgemental  – I can see now it only hurts themselves.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get all deep in this post! I’m going to give a month by month run down of what I got up to this year, which is much less intense! Each month title is a clicky link, so if there’s a post you’re interested in reading, click there and you’ll be taken to that month. So here goes :

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January

  • This year started with the celebration of 50 years of Milton Keynes! My home town since I was born (I may have strayed for a couple of years in the middle somewhere!)
  • Gary and I went for a little bit of culture at the end of this month and saw a play! Gaslight at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. One of my favourite films, it was great to see it on stage. Gary, who didn’t know the story at all, was very pleasantly surprised. It’s nice to do something a little different sometimes!

February

  • I started posting a little more on my YouTube channel, and a few people seemed to be watching!
  • I got taken in by ColourPop’s weekly product releases, and spent probably too much money on lipsticks (that I still love btw)
  • I told you all why I reverse wash my hair, and actually it’s something I still do and feel the benefit of.
  • I wrote my first proper post about mental health and touched on my experiences with struggles I face.
  • I saw La La Land for the first time and wanted to hate it, but fell deeply in love.

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March

  • I told the world why I’d stopped wearing bras, for some reason….
  • I did something that years back I would never have been able to do – I went on a shopping trip to London on my own.
  • I finally met up with Sophie Kate, when she took me as her plus one to the Glamour Beauty Festival.
  • I discovered the music of Childish Gambino and proceeded to not want to listen to anything else ever.
  • I went to Rome!

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April

  • In April I attended Secret Cinema’s presentation of Moulin Rouge – which incidentally I have never written up. I always wait until they put up their event video, so as to not spoil anything, however their video only went up the other day (so many many months later) and now I feel the moment has passed. If you wish to see this post, let me know in the comments, or else I will simply allow the memory to fade in my brain. Anyhow, it was a great night!

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  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer celebrated 20 years since its first airing, and I felt old…
  • I decided YouTube might not be for me, but also decided that the occasional dabble when it felt right was how I would move forward.
  • I went to see Bruno Mars and he was epic!

May

  • Ooh this month I shared my tomato linguine recipe – and boy is it yummy!
  • I watched a LOT of TV
  • I shared a much requested post, about why I decided to get married at a young age.

June

  • I wrote a post about anxiety and my experiences. It was probably the most personal post I’ve written on the subject to date.
  • Our trip to London to see Ariana Grande was amended slightly due to terrorist activity in Manchester, however we decided to press on and continue with the rest of our plans.
  • Musings celebrated its 8th birthday!

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July

  • I was given the chance to see London from one of their amazing Ducks!
  • I spoke about growing up and old and the secret adults never tell you as a child.

August

  • I posted my most viewed YouTube video to date (2.2k views so far!)
  • I spoke about my quest for positivity.
  • I turned 34 years old!
  • I started planning my trip to Orlando

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September

  • I did a little photo shoot with my Niece in the last of the summer sunshine.
  • I moved house! This took up most of my free time!!

October

  • Halloween month. I was all about sharing my favourite Halloween movies, and getting ready to go on holiday to Florida!
  • My Florida holiday was epic
  • I spoke about striving to be more tolerant.

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November

  • And as soon as you can say ‘Halloween is over’ it was Christmas season!
  • I shared a post about my holiday and all of a sudden the weather was crisp and frosty and we were all thinking about the festive season!

December

  • And here we are!
  • December was about sharing meals with family and friends and unexpected snow!
  • I went to my first blogging event, the Blogosphere Christmas Festival.
  • And now here we are – you’re reading the final piece!

So what’s in store for next year then?

Well, I always say this, but I’d like to learn a new skill. I’d like to feel a little less restless in my skin. I’d like to continue on my quest for positivity, in becoming more tolerant and less judgemental.

I’d like to continue to better myself.

So here’s to another year! If you blog and you’ve written an end of year round-up post, I’d love to read it. Pop your link in the comments and I’ll have a read 🙂

 

 

Merry Christmas from Musings!

I just wanted to drop in quickly, and say Merry Christmas to you from me and Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug!

By this time in the day you should be as stuffed as the turkey and a little half-cut, if you’re so inclined.

You might have just watched The Queen, or if your family is anything like mine, you might be trying to hear the TV over the sound of the man of the house snoring loudly in his chair!

Whatever your Christmas scenario, I hope it’s full of family and love.

I’ll see you on the other side!

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