Checking in With my New Year’s Resolutions!

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I set myself the New Year’s Resolution this year of learning new skills.

I set two very specific new skills, a food challenge where I was make 52 new recipes over the course of the year, and to learn modern calligraphy. And I’m very pleased to say I’m now half way through the year and I’m STILL DOING THEM!

I’m really very pleased with myself!

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The food challenge has been great. It’s hard sometimes to find a recipe or fit it into the week, but that’s the part that makes it a challenge, right?

I’ve already gone out of my comfort zone with methods, pushed myself to use ingredients I wouldn’t usually use, and try different combinations.

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It’s also allowed me to find meals and treats I know I’ll be making again! I’m away later on in the year, so instead of doing one recipe a week, when I can I’m trying to fit in a couple so that when it’s impossible for me to be in the kitchen, I know I’m not lagging behind.

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Not all of the recipes have been as successful as I’d hoped, but that’s all part of the process! I’m loving completing it, and next year I’ll have a whole handful of recipes I will have found and hopefully will feature in our staple list of loved meals.

Follow this link if you want to see all the recipes I’ve made so far!

The second challenge I set myself was to learn modern calligraphy. It’s something I’d wanted to learn for years, and then when I saw a friend learn last year via The Happy Ever Crafter, I knew I wanted to go for it, for real.

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The first month was practicing the shapes and strokes that would eventually make up individual letters (known as Drills), the second month was learning the lower case letters, third was upper case, and now we’ve just finished learning how to correctly connect them together to form words.

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It’s amazing how quickly you learn and gain confidence, but a lot of practice is needed to actually get good at it. The online community surrounding the course is incredible and we’re encouraged by each other, mentors and Becca who runs it, via instagram and a FB group.

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I was also given, as a very early birthday present, an iPad and Apple Pencil to use with the Procreate app, so I can learn iPad lettering too. Again it’s tricky and I’m going to be spending a lot more time practicing and watching tutorials on what you can do with the apps, but it’s been so much fun so far!

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I can see my progress improve week to week. It’s amazing looking back at what I wrote even only a month ago, in comparison to now. The improvement is steady and vast. I can only get better!

If you’d like to take a look at my progress, and track future improvement, you can follow me on my dedicated calligraphy instagram account.

I’m really pleased I’m sticking these resolutions out, and I’m enjoying them so much!

Are you still working on your New Year’s Resolution? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear what it is, and how you’re getting on?!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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Another catch-up post? I know – this is a good thing. It means things have slowed down to the point, where I have some time to reflect on what I’ve been up to, rather than just go with it!

I have been LOVING this warmer weather. I really do feel like we’ve gone straight from Winter to Summer, leaving Spring behind. I also love thunder storms, and we’ve had a few corkers! I’m enjoying seeing all the plants coming up in my garden – so many different colours and shapes popping up out of nowhere – I have no idea what any of it is!

I’ve been busy planning things for my upcoming holiday to Florida, in September. We’ve booked in some really fun things, lots of places to eat, and my shopping list is well under way. We’re there for two weeks this year, and I’m pretty sure we’ve already filled each day!

I’ve also got my Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party costume sorted, for this year. Even though this isn’t a Disney World holiday (same as last year) we’re still going into the Magic Kingdom park for one evening, for the Halloween party.

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Can you guess who I’m going as? Hmm….

Aside from this, I’m still really enjoying my calligraphy course, and have started doing a few mini projects. I’m not pressurising myself to get them done in a certain time frame or in a certain way. I’m letting them happen organically, which works well for me.

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They mainly happen to be Disney themed, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone really….

I’ve also been adding art to my office walls. Again, I want this to happen organically, and we visited Homesense recently, and their selection of framed art was really great. We ended up getting three pictures for my office, and two for around the house. I happen to have chosen all illustrated pieces for my office, and these two look great on my wall.

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Lastly, I’ll just mention that the jewellery making masterclass I attended with the MK Bloggers group earlier in the year, was featured in the events supplement of Blogosphere Magazine this quarter. It was fun to see my face in print!

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So that’s it for now. I have a week off coming up, and some fun things planned for that, and stay tuned for more recipes too. Are you enjoying seeing my 2018 food challenge recipes each week? Let me know what your favourite recipes have been so far – I’d love to know!

Until next time….

Shock, Horror – It’s my May Favourites!

Yes, I know I haven’t done one of these in a LONG time, but I thought since I have been enjoying a couple of things this month and seen some awesome TV I wanted to share, I might as well do this!

I’ll start with a few beauty items I’ve been liking, all of which are re-purchases from some time or another, but I’m so glad I re bought them!

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I earned some Body Shop points I needed to use up, and being the skin-flint I am, I didn’t want to spend over the £5 I’d earned. So I decided to pick this shower gel up. When I was a kid I was given one of those Body Shop minis sets for Christmas, and all the items were Satsuma scented. I loved it but for some reason have never gone back to the scent. Now I have this shower gel, I’m loving being transported back to that time when I was a child. It’s the exact same smell, and it’s so fresh and citrusy, but also comforting! Perfect for the milder weather, too.

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I re purchased the NYX Dark Circle Concealer Corrector, since the pot I’d been using was about 2 years old and I wasn’t near finishing it. I figured it was a bit gross to keep using it, and at £7 it wasn’t going to break the bank to buy a new one. I’ve actually been wearing this exclusively under my eyes in the warmer weather. It covers my dark circles enough, but since I’m no longer wearing foundation it works well with the natural skin look and actually looks like I’m not wearing anything under my eyes. It creases ever so slightly, but barely and not every time I use it.

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I use the second lightest shade (I suggest you go one darker than you would normally for concealer) and the peach tones work against the shade of my under eyes perfectly.

My only gripe is that the pot is near impossible to get your fingers into if you have any kind of nail growth…. but we persevere!

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This Vaseline spray moisturiser is something I used to use a few years back, and is perfect for a quick top-up of moisture on the legs without the stickiness or heaviness of a cream moisturiser. I re-purchased it for this summer, since I’d noticed my legs were feeling a little dry when I jumped out of the bath. I love how easy this is to spray, rub in and go. The can works upside down too! The cap also has a convenient lock so you can pack it, without worrying it will spray in your bag. And it smells amazing!

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The Too Faced Peaches and Cream range launched last year in the US (around September) and was meant to launch here in November. When I was there last October I picked up a couple of bits from the range, and my primer decided to run out last week. Which was handy since the range actually only launched here this month, for some reason!

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The range is a Debenham’s exclusive at the moment, and our local store didn’t stock it but thankfully the Birmingham one does, so my husband picked this up for me when he was there for work! This Primed and Peachy primer is very expensive – £27 for a primer is crazy. But it’s so good I will pay it….. This primer is cooling, smoothing and mattifying. It keeps my skin matte all day, which is impressive as I am oily and usually need to blot part way through the day. The smell is nice, peach and sweet fig, and it comes out tinted but that pretty much goes away as soon as it’s smoothed on the skin.

The packaging is a tube with a pump, which means you can control how much you use, but also means you don’t know when it’s about to run out, which is annoying. I’ll be picking a backup of these up, when I’m in the US later in the year!

So, that’s all for the beauty bits, but I wanted to share a couple of TV shows I’ve enjoyed this month.

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If you enjoyed watching Girls then you’ll most likely enjoy SMILF. It’s an 8 episode series, each episode is about half an hour, and it’s very good. It’s a humorous drama about a young single mother and her life in Boston. The cast is great, the kid is an amazing actor and it’s just very interesting. It’s also fairly explicit so don’t watch it if you’re easily offended!

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The other show I’ve been really loving is Barry. Bill Hader has written, directed and stars in Barry about a hitman who discovers acting and becomes conflicted. This is dark and funny and I’m really enjoying watching it!

So that’s everything I wanted to share with you! I can’t guarantee another favourites post any time soon…. but who knows!

A Romantic Getaway to Chicheley Hall

I love my new home. Having been in it less than a year, there’s nothing I like more than to soak in the air and atmosphere I’ve created. But from time to time, I feel it’s important to get away, even if it’s to somewhere pretty close to home, so you can relax and enjoy a slower pace.

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Enter Chicheley Hall. When I was asked whether I’d like to spend a night away at Chichely Hall, I’ll be honest, I’d no idea where it was. It’s actually incredibly close to the office I work in, and located in 80 acres of stunning Buckinghamshire countryside close to Milton Keynes and the M1.

Offering 48 individually furnished bedrooms, this Grade I listed Georgian mansion oozes British history, but also offers comfort and beauty.

We arrived just after 3pm, eager to start our relaxing, romantic night away. Having watched the Royal Wedding only hours before, we were reminiscing about our own wedding almost twelve years prior, at a manor house in Hatfield (which sadly no longer hosts weddings). The feel of Chicheley Hall only helped to bring these memories back. As an amazing wedding location, Chicheley Hall would have definitely been on the wishlist of locations, had I been planning a wedding now.

Nevertheless, we felt incredibly lucky to be told we would be staying in the Bridal Suite during our stay.

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The Blackett room, named after Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1948 (all of the rooms are named after notable scientists) was found on the top floor, down a corridor, through another private door and across from its own spiral staircase.

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A huge super-king bed, comfy chairs and beautiful windows welcomed us. The views from this corner room of the Hall grounds were breathtaking.

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There were so many touches in this room, which screamed history; the wardrobe door:

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Inside there was a tea-making tray, teas, coffees, biscuits, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, safe, bathroom and slippers (everything you need)

The carvings above the bed:

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and other touches like stunning mirrors and a huge fireplace.

The bathroom was in keeping with the room but lovely and modern

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And offered another lovely view

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Once we’d unpacked, we were eager to get outside, enjoy the weather and have a look over the grounds.

Chicheley Hall is steeped in history. Built between 1720 and 1724 for Sir John Chester, it is regarded as one of the finest examples of early 18th Century architecture in the country. It’s now home to the Royal Society, which has been at the heart of scientific discovery for over 300 years, and whose fellows include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking. During World War II the house was requisitioned and used by the Special Operations Executive. A small-scale version of the bouncing Bomb was tested on the lake. With this much history coming from one small space, we wanted to soak it all in!

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On the first floor, after descending our spiral staircase, we saw a tea and coffee bench, where I assume you can help yourself to refreshments as you enjoy the Hall and grounds. The large staircase to the ground floor screams out for a bride and a long train to swish all the way down. A stunning tear-drop chandelier hung from ceiling to floor and pillar candles lined the stairs.

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Out the backdoor and we were greeted by a stunning path and topiaries, with a lovely sundial at the end.

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Lakes, complete with swan and geese, a couple of amazing old trees, so tall and old no photo could do them justice and some amazing colours from the various flowering plants – put together with the stunning weather – we were in our element.

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The grounds were kept immaculately. Guests were having afternoon tea on the lawn, and we occasionally heard the cry of George the resident peacock, though I didn’t get a glimpse of him during our visit.

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We worked out our room was the four corner windows on the top floor.

And then it was time for dinner.

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The small, and wonderfully furnished dining room was light and airy. A lovely and traditionally British menu was offered.

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I started with a warm Mediterranean vegetable and feta tart, served with a basil vinaigrette and rocket salad. This was lovely, and the flavours complemented each other perfectly. It was also just the right size.

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Next I had beer-battered haddock, with chips and mushy peas. The fish was lovely and the batter light, but the star of the dish was the chips. They were epic, cooked wonderfully and seasoned just right. I could have eaten another plate of them!

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For dessert I chose the tarte au citron, which was lovely, but very rich so I couldn’t eat the whole thing! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’m glad I gave this a try.

The dinner service was excellent, attentive and brisk. Our waitress was really lovely and made sure we had everything we needed.

After dinner we decided to take in more of the room, have a relaxing bath and watch some Netflix on our iPad.

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The next morning we awoke bright and early. That’s the only downside of having a corner room – so much window and so much light as a result. The gardens were stunning in the hazy morning light, promising another beautiful day. And what a way to bring in the morning than seeing those views!

Breakfast was a self-service affair, and I have to say it was one of the most impressive breakfast buffet turn outs I’ve experienced. The cooked breakfast options were great and plentiful. All well-cooked and very delicious. As well as cooked breakfast options were pastries, bread for toast, cereals, cheese and cold meat. Juices were available too, coffee (damn fine) and tea was made to order and brought to your table.

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I’m a full-English kind of girl so I chose my fill from the chafing dishes.

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Before we checked out of our room, we had a little peek into the library, adjacent to the dining room. All the books we spotted on our visit were about science, so if you were that way inclined you could get your brain cells ticking over with a quiet spot of reading in this room. So tranquil!

Our visit to Chicheley Hall was so relaxing. The staff were welcoming and friendly, and every guest we encountered was relaxed, slow-paced, and seemingly enjoying their time away from the hustle and bustle. Being so close to Milton Keynes, this is a perfect location to lay your head if you’re visiting the area for a concert, event, or convention. Its surroundings offer the perfect home away from home, and it reminded me how lucky I am to live in Bucks so close to both urban and rural life.

I can aslo see how it would also make an amazing and welcoming location for your small wedding, whether it be the whole ceremony and reception, or just the reception. The sweeping staircase, decor and grounds would make for stunning photos too! Maybe I’ll think about a vow renewal!

I was honoured to be welcomed to Chicheley Hall to experience such a relaxing and comfortable break away from it all. Both Gary and I felt tremendously refreshed after our night away, and so glad we know this treasure is there!

For more information on Chicheley Hall, its history, accommodation and weddings, visit their website.

Thank you to Chicheley Hall, who invited us to stay with them for a complimentary stay in exchange for an honest review. 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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I’ll be honest – this week I have been mostly TIRED! The past heatwave created a ‘pollen bomb’ and so many people have been suffering with hay fever symptoms despite not having normally suffered.

As a big sufferer of hay fever I have been struggling BIG TIME and after mowing my lawn a couple of weekends ago, it seems to have been a downwards spiral. I’ve been suffering with a sinus infection which is causing a lot of pain, headaches and I just want to keep my eyes shut all the time to relieve the pressure.

Despite this, I’ve still been busy at work and at home. The recent bank holiday was glorious. It was amazing to soak in the sunshine and kick off what seems to be some more settled spring-like weather. I saw family and spent time on hobbies and just relaxed a little.

The following weekend I was sent to a newly opened local Escape Room to cover for About Milton Keynes, a local information website. You can read my article here, and see how I got on! I’d never done an Escape Room before, but I’m certain I’ll be trying out more in the near future!

I also got to spend some time with some good friends, and continue planning our impending trip to Florida in just 4 months time. It’s getting nearer and we’re super excited. With some great things planned, places to visit, and so much new stuff. There’s never enough time to do everything in Orlando, hence the multiple visits. I swear you could live there and still visit somewhere new each week.

Between now and then, we have tonnes of exciting things planned, overnight stays, visits to London, concerts and events to attend. I’m sure the time will just whizz past and before we know it, it’ll be Christmas again (OMG!)

So that’s what I’ve been up to in the past week or so…. I’m now off to tend to my poor painful head…. maybe a nap is in order!

Calligraphy Update: Module 1 Complete!

I’ve done it! I’ve completed workbook 1 of my learning calligraphy course and I’m loving it.

I feel like I have come on leaps and bounds since beginning this journey. If you haven’t read my last post all about learning calligraphy drills then head over.

So this module was learning minuscule letters (did you know minuscule letters began being called Lower Case letters, because that’s where Printers used to keep them… in the lower section of an actual case full of individual letters?) .

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Each week we would learn how to form the letters using the standard drill shapes we’d previously learned, and seeing how they would fit together to create actual letters.

And then we would practice practice practice. Every week I would go back and write the whole alphabet ‘so far’.

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I would do this from memory as much as I could, and then try to write words that only included the letters I’d learned so far! I haven’t learned how to link the letters properly yet, but I improvised where I needed to!

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Not only was I learning brush pen lettering, but I was able to use the skills I’d learned to write simple lettering too.

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Trying to fit it all on one page began to get harder, so I squidged it all in!

At the start of the process we were asked to write the whole alphabet out, ahead of learning how to form the letters properly, and not refer to any learning materials we already had. Then at the end write out what we knew the alphabet should look like, so we could compare.

Here’s mine!

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I’m very pleased with how I’ve improved, and obviously I’ll continue to practice! I am being inspired to create some exciting stuff, so I can only get better!

I’m really enjoying learning this new skill. The next module is majuscule letters (or Upper Case – these were kept in the upper part of the case by Printers….) so soon I’ll be able to write names properly (lol!)

Onwards and upwards!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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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!