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!

Smiling mother and daughter

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?!

pens with notepad

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!

onion, dill and new potatoes on a chopping board

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.

 

2018: A Year of Self-Improvement

Every new year we sit and think about resolutions. We look back over the year past, and wonder what will face us in the coming 12 months.

I’ve never been one for setting new year’s resolutions mainly because I either forget I’ve set them or I fail early on and get annoyed at myself.

So this year, I’ve decided to set myself two challenges, partly because I hope if I fail at one I’ll still achieve the other, and of these particular challenges one I know I am already partially skilled at and the other is something I’ve wanted to do for many many years.

The first challenge came to me during a period of new film watching. As a huge Nora Ephron fan it seemed bizarre that I’d never seen Julie and Julia. The film is based on a true story about a woman who lives in NY and decides to make her somewhat dull and frustrated life a little more exciting by cooking each and every recipe in her classic Julia Child cookery book – all 524 recipes. And every time she makes one, she blogs it. I had no idea this was a story about blogging either, so I was very pleased to see a mix of my love of Nora Ephron, food and blogging all in one film. (I very much enjoyed the film by the way!)

Anyhow, it made me want to start some kind of food challenge. So I decided that I would set myself the task of cooking at least one new recipe for every week in 2018. I know this could be a massive task, since I sometimes run out of time in a week, and if I’m on holiday or sick this will also be impossible. So I’m allowing myself the occasional skip-week. And I’m also including recipes like sauces or new variations of old favourites.

recipe books

And then the idea is that I will blog the recipes, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have at least 52 new things under my belt, will have hopefully increased my skill set in cooking, and with luck will have tried new foods and found new favourites!

I have so many cookery books and Pinterest at my fingertips so hopefully the hardest part will be choosing what to make next!

IMG_2247

My second challenge is a skill I’ve wanted to learn for some years, and I think I even mentioned it in my New Year roundup last new year! I’ve taken the first steps in beginning to learn calligraphy. A dear friend went for it last year, when I was toying with the idea, and seeing her coming on leaps and bounds has really inspired me. She has warned me it’s not as easy as it looks and to preserver, and I intend to! I’m hoping by Christmas 2018 I’ll be writing beautiful envelopes on my Christmas cards! Here’s hoping!

Anyway, I’ve bought some pens and a new notepad (you need special paper don’t you know) and I intend on sharing pictures of my journey on instagram, and here, as I go (if I’m any good!) Fingers crossed!

So those are my two challenges for the year. I have one more up my sleeve, but that’s more of a thinker so maybe I’ll share that down the line.

I’d love to hear if you’ve set yourself any challenges or new year’s resolutions for this year? What do you want to achieve by January 2019?

Good Reads of 2012

For those who have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I took part in the Goodreads book challenge throughout 2012. (Here’s part 1 if you didn’t see any!) I have pledged 40 books again for the 2013 challenge. I found this number to be comfortable and not over the top so I went for it again, but I intend to exceed it. I promised at the end of the final part that I would write some reviews of my favourite and worst reads from last year, so here it is!

My reads of 2012 included a huge variety of books. Books, like Harry Potter, which were a re-read I will not be reviewing because everyone knows these books. They deserve mention (which I have done in my previous blogs) but even though I love them I won’t be reviewing them today. I hope you understand. Click on the book titles for the Amazon.uk link where you can read each book’s synopsis for yourself.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Having seen towards the end of 2011 how so many people had read these books and hadn’t been able to put them down, I decided to give them a crack. I was rather pleased when I managed to find all three books in a 3 for £5 promotion at The Works. I love a good bargain, me! I have to say I really enjoyed these books. They were well written and had cliff hangers. I knew that the movie was coming out so wanted to get them read pronto, but they were very easy reads. I wanted to re read them pretty much straight away, but couldn’t get them to count twice in the challenge so I didn’t. Maybe I’ll add them to the 2013 challenge! I won’t write what these books were about because chances are you’ll already know. But if you’ve seen and enjoyed the movie, please read the books – there’s more detail and seem a little more grown up.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: I was really excited to receive this book as a gift at the start of the year. I’d read the blurb and reviews and the idea behind the story intrigued me.

“On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. All at once her cheerful, can-do mother tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal.”

I really enjoyed the idea of the story and it was well written. But as I got towards the end of the book it began to get a little weird. I started to find myself saying “what?” as I read and flicking back through pages to make sure I hadn’t read wrong. My Mum was reading it at the same time as me and had the same opinion. In fact we had to summarise to each other afterwards to make sure we’d both understood correctly. I’m still not sure we did. Such a shame.

Happy Accidents: This book is the autobiography of actress Jane Lynch. It spans from childhood to Glee and was a joy to read. It was a wonderful insight to an actress who features in so many of my favourite movies and tv shows portraying characters so different from her self.

Me Before You: I don’t like Chick Lit. I think this book is the closest I could get to Chick Lit without wanting to remove my skin afterwards. The story is set in the UK and the characters aren’t insipid or brain-dead. They are well written and well-rounded. I had seen it recommended by a few people over the months and wanted to see what the fuss was about. This book was an easy read and was emotive and satisfying. If you want a book to read on the beach the I’d say this was a good one. Not too hard but engrossing enough.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened: This was one of my favourite reads of the year. Written by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess, this is a memoir through her childhood to pretty much present day. It’s laugh out loud hilarious in parts, darn weird in others and just bloody entertaining. So much so that I had to immediately find her blog and Twitter and I still read them today. If you’re not easily offended and find the fun side of weirdness then I’d say you have to read it. Just be warned if you read it on public transport you’ll get funny looks because you’ll be laughing so much….

Room: This book showed up in one of the Kindle daily deals for 99p. I read the synopsis and downloaded it. Months later I started reading it, forgetting what it was about but trusting my initial judgement. I was so glad that I went into this book blind. It meant I was thrust into the story as the author intended it. Not knowing the environment I was entering and having to take each bit of new information as I was fed it – piecing the story together and creating a bigger picture as I read. The pay off in this heart-wrenching book was worth the work at the start. I was gripped from the get go. Another of my favourites from the year, and a definite recommend for your 2013 list.

House of Leaves: I like weird books. And when I heard about this book (a 700 page tome with appendices, footnotes and a cult following. Pages with codes, colours and sometimes you have to turn the book upside down or use a mirror to read it) I HAD to have it. This book was an effort to read. Lots of people have given up because they couldn’t handle it. But I managed to complete this book in a little over a week. I didn’t want to put it down – despite it’s weight! There are 3 stories going through it. Codes and clues. Pictures and letters. It was my kinda book. And I loved it. Shelved in the horror section of the bookshop, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it definitely was my blend of Earl Grey.

So those were my highlights and low lights of the year. There were plenty more that I enjoyed so please take a look at my Goodreads page and flick through the books. You might find a gem! Also keep your eyes peeled for my future posts of my 2013 challenge reads, and feel free to send me your recommendations or blog posts!

My Reading List pt 4 – the final!

I did it guys! I completed my 40 book reading challenge and I’m so pleased with myself! I stopped at 40 to give myself a little holiday break 😀 If you haven’t seen the other parts to this saga – here’s part 3!

So straight on with the final 5:

35. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

36. Through a Glass, Darkly by Jostein Gaarder

37. The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

38. Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

39. Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens

40. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I wanted to finish off with something Christmassy! One of my favourite Christmas presents this year was a Moleskine Book Journal – alphebetised and categorised – I’ve almost filled it already! I’ll be getting another one soon so I can carry on writing my books up. I will be writing another blog reviewing my favourite reads of the past year, so keep an eye out for that. And I intend on taking part in another Goodreads book challenge next year, as soon as they set it up on their website.

The Challenge certainly pushed me from book to book and it’s amazing the journeys I have been on reading all the different kinds of stories that I have over the year. The world certainly is widened just by opening up a book.

My Reading List pt 3

I’m almost at the end of my reading challenge to read 40 books by the end of the year. I’m 34 down! Here’s part two if you missed it.

I’ve changed jobs and had holidays since part two so I feel like I slowed down my reading speed but I seem to still be on track! So, I’ll start from where I left off last time:

30. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

31. Paper Towns by John Green

32. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

33. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

34. The Small Hand – Susan Hill

I have to say I enjoyed all these books in their own way. House of Leaves was epic – by the end you feel like you’ve achieved something (it’s 700 pages long!) The rest were good and enjoyable but not life changing. I’m really enjoying reading for this challenge and with only a few books left, I wonder whether I’ll want to complete another one next year!

Stand by for the 4th part!