It’s day three of the 30 day song challenge. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out my Day 1 post which explains the challenge and has the schedule.
Day 3: A song that makes you think of summertime
This song doesn’t just make me think of summertime, but of one specific summer in particular…
Counting Crows: Mr Jones
When I hear this song, I am instantly transported back to the summer break after finishing high school. It was a weird in-between time – waiting for exam results, on the precipice of adulthood, but with 6 weeks of idle time stretched out in front of me. I spent a lot of this time with the friend who introduced me to Counting Crows, and this song in particular. The lyrics speak of wanting to be something, but not knowing quite what, or how. That I feel is a perfect summation of that summer for me, and this song always gives me that exact feeling of uplifting potential.
We all wanna be big stars
But we don’t know why and we don’t know how
But when everybody loves me
I wanna be just about as happy as I can be
Interesting, I now realise the album title also has appropriate connatations. Mr Jones is from the wonderful (seriously, if you’ve never listened to Counting Crows this is a good place to start) August and Everything After. And I guess that summer, August and everything after it was exactly what I was waiting for.
Do you like Counting Crows? What is your summertime song? Do drop a comment
It’s day two of the 30 day song challenge. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out my Day 1 post which explains the challenge and has the schedule. Lots of people liked my choice for day one, and I hope today’s song strikes a chord too.
Day 2: A song you like with a number in the title
I think everyone could guess what I’m going to choose for this one. Tim had worked it out before I said anything…
Dolly Parton: 9 to 5
It’s got to be Dolly! I love Dolly Parton (of course), I love this song, and the film behind it. On days when I’m finding it hard to get up, I can motivate myself by singing the opening to this song alone:
Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawn and stretch and try to come to life
I practically act out the song to get me through the painful process of waking up, and by the end I’m always raring to go! Are all my readers out there Dolly fans, or am I alone in this one? Let me know your choice for today’s theme in the comments, and I’ll see you tomorrow for Day 3.
First go and already a tough one. First songs that sprung to mind all had black in the title – Paint It Black, Back to Black, but I’ve decided to go for a brilliant song with my favourite colour in the title:
Prince: Purple Rain
There couldn’t be any other choice, could there? The songs has its best context within the film of the same name, of course, but it is still always one that’ll make me stop, listen, and sway along when it comes up on shuffle or something.
I’ll leave you with today’s stand out lyric
Honey, I know, I know I know times are changing It’s time we all reach out For something new, that means you too
Let me know in the comments your choice for today. Are you going to play along with us on twitter? Come back tomorrow to see my choice for day 2. TTFN folks
Well, that was a year, wasn’t it? In all honestly, I could easily sit here and trash 2017 as terrible year and in a lot of ways – personally and in the world – the past 12 months haven’t given us much to smile about. However, I am eternally driven to look on the bright side of life and that is what I am doing here. I started the year with a list of goals, and I’ve not ticked many of them off, blaming my health and various things outside of my control. However instead I’ve achieved a whole bunch of things I’m really proud of that I didn’t even consider would be possible 12 months ago. So in the spirit of optimism and celebrating successes, here’s my 7 achievements of 2017.
We bought a house! More on this in future posts I’m sure, but with some determination and help from family, we have managed to break out of the renting cycle and are happily settled in our new home now. We’ve already done quite a few DIY jobs to spruce the place up and really make it our own, and it’s just nice to know we can settle here and put down roots.
I tried wall climbing, and didn’t freak out (too much). Given my fear of heights and my tendency to vertigo this was a really personal physical challenge and I’m ridiculously proud of myself. I’ve been to the indoor climbing arena a couple of times with friends from work now and actually made it to the top of a wall my first day. Further trips took a back seat thanks to the above mentioned house-buying and the onset of winter, but I’m hoping to pick this up again this year as I genuinely enjoyed myself and would like to improve. Plus – I learned how to tie myself in to my harness and that’s not a skill I want to waste.
We’ve gone vegetarian. It’s something I’d wanted to move towards for a while, but it was much more achievable once Tim decided he wanted to make the switch too. So, one day in April we decided no more meat, and managed to keep that up. And yes, you can expect more vegetarian recipes and recommendations on this here blog in the future.
I’ve been much better with my self-care – I’ve actually made a tangible dent in all my lovely bath time goodies with my regular(ish) bath nights. I’ve taken the opportunity to whack on a face mask while watching YouTube ‘just because’ and have even broken out my extensive nail polish collection and given myself the occasional home manicure. This is definitely one I want to keep up and even do more of in to the next year.
I swam in a loch you guys! A long term dream has been to try open water swimming, and I got a shot during a team building day at Loch Lomond. We were actually paddle boarding and canoeing (also amazing new experiences) but after a few deliberate and accidental capsizings I decided to swim in to shore. The life jacket (safety first!) did impede my progress a bit, but this is definitely an experience I’d love to repeat. However, don’t know where I’m going to find a wet suit that fits me properly as the borrowed one I was in had to have the sleeves and legs rolled up, which contributed to me getting a bit too waterlogged!
I had an amazing Halloween run of performing Rocky Horror stuff. One brilliant show with Denton Deviants in Dumfries and two shows providing live singing at BAAD. There’s already some exciting potential Rocky shows on the horizon and I’m hoping for plenty of opportunities to take to the stage in 2018.
I. SAW. HAMILTON. Having booked the tickets in January 2017, and following many months of anticipation, a delay due to the theatre refurbishment running over, and a few changes in attendees, I took a road trip to London with some friends at the beginning of December and finally saw Hamilton actually live on stage in front of me. I did worry that having played the OBC recording to death that the show might lack a bit of impact but I was thankfully very wrong. I’m already planning for when I can go back – there’s so much to take in and I just want to be in the room where it happens once more.
There’s been some more things I’ve achieved and plenty I didn’t get around to, but reading all that back, it seems 2017 wasn’t such a dumpster fire of a year after all. And now the calendar has turned, I’m hoping I can keep going on to better and brighter – and more fun – things.
Harking back to my post about taking better care of myself, I thought I would walk you through my current bath routine, including the products I’m currently using. Most of these is me using up things I already own rather than buying things specially in. I’ve been given or otherwise acquired loads of beautiful smellies, but tied in with my feelings of waste and worth, I kept saving them for a ‘special occasion’ which is ridiculous I know. So I’ve decided every Sunday night is my bath night and is a special enough occasion to warrant using all my lovely bubbly stuff.
Our bath takes ages to fill, so while it’s running (I like mine as hot as I can take – it’s not a good bath unless I’m pink when I climb out) I’ll get everything ready; a towel, dressing gown and slippers to get in to when I’m done, my music and book to enjoy and if I’m feeling decadent I’ll light the candles – though this makes it difficult to read. If I remember I’ll put on a face mask. I’ve finished off my last pot of Brazened Honey from Lush, and my Rose Plumping Mask from The Body Shop can melt off a bit from the steam, so I’m after something new for my face. My friend Katie did bring me some proper sheet masks back from her trip to Korea so I’ve been enjoying those as well.
I bought a bunch of bath bombs and bubble bars in the Lush Boxing Day sales so one of those goes in the bath. I love their bubble bars especially, these really do deliver on the movie star bubbles as promised and I feel properly good luxuriating in a huge pile of foamy bubbles. Last weekend I used the Star Dust bath bomb and even Tim was commenting on how lovely it smells, plus I loved the turquoise blue it turned the water. I’m definitely a bath reader. I’m currently working through my TBR pile, which I think I’m going to do a whole separate post about. I’m also reading *that* biography of Hamilton by Ron Chernow but it’s far too hefty for the bath unfortunately. I sometimes hook my iPod up to a water safe speaker and have some music on. I don’t feel the need for specifically ‘relaxing’ music, and lately I’ve had various musical soundtracks to keep me and my bubbles company.
I always think I’ve only been in the bath for 20 minutes or so before I realise an hour or more has flown past, so I think that means I’m relaxed. Before I get out of the bath, I’m giving myself an all over scrub with a sea salt scrub from the Body Shop to slough off all the rough skin, then I’m doubling the treat with a body conditioner. I step out of the bath and in to my fresh (hopefully) dressing gown and slippers. I often put talc in my slippers – making sure I dry my feet well first because I don’t want soggy talc caked on my toes – which was an inspired idea from my husband, and I love how silky smooth it leaves my feet feeling.
Yup, that’s me looking all fresh and relaxed after a bath. I try to make that feeling last as long as possible after the bath by having plenty to drink (the hot bath is a little dehydrating after all) and getting in to a freshly made bed with a hot water bottle. Okay, sometimes that just can’t realistically happen, as things need to get done and kittens need attention, but a girl can dream!
I read an article in the Guardian last week that said millennials waste more food than their grandparents generation. The article lays some of the blame on Instagram (which if you remember from an earlier post of mine is also apparently the reason none of us read any more), but whatever the cause I don’t find it surprising that we are wasting more food these days. In fact, the most surprising thing in the article was the revelation that apparently I count as a millennial!
So why do so many of us waste food? There’s definitely a lack of education when it comes to cooking. I know I’m fortunate in this respect as not only did I grow up with two parents who cooked – and had both done so professionally at various points in their lives – but my school offered a well rounded food technology syllabus. We had fully equipped kitchens at our disposal and I was even able to achieve my basic food hygiene certificate as part of my GCSE in the subject.
Not only are many of us not taught how to cook, we’re also not shown how to manage a store cupboard; my dad always taught me to move old tins to the front and put the newer ones behind for instance. There’s also lots of bad information out there on use by/best before dates, and many people are overly cautious or afraid of eating something that will make them sick.
I think the final issue is a timing/planning one, and I know this is where I often fall down. Living with a spoonie makes it difficult to make a plan and stick to it at times. I know the virtue of meal planning, making sure everything gets used while it is fresh and incorporating one ingredient over a number of meals to use up whatever I’ve bought in. I do this to an extent, but try and reach a compromise where the mental health of those in the house comes first of course. Luckily I can afford to do this, but it still niggles at me when I have to throw something out because our plans have changed.
Here’s some of my top tips for reducing waste without sticking to a rigid or unimaginative menu like The Guardian suggests our grandparents did (Tuesday was always gammon and eggs, Friday was always fish etc).
Learn to love leftovers: I’ve talked before about my love of leftovers, and being prepared to eat whatever I had for dinner again for lunch the next day has served me well. It’s obviously important that you store leftovers properly and reheat anything thoroughly before eating if you’re having it hot.
Have plenty of recipes at your disposal: I have at least 10 recipes I love to make with butternut squash, so if I have one that needs using up, but I don’t fancy butternut squash lasagna, I could make soup, or curry, or roast it whole and top it like a jacket potato. This means I’m less likely to waste something because I wasn’t in the mood for a particular meal that day.
Be soup-er inventive: Almost anything can be turned in to soup. I definitely feel like I’m ‘hashtag winning’ when I look in the kitchen to find a solitary carrot, some wilting leeks and a sad potato and – voila! – 30 minutes later we are enjoying the warm hug of vegetable soup.
Be conservative: No, not politically or morally. I mean making conserves, preserves, jams, pickles – whatever. I’m yet to try pickling anything, but I did recently turn some sorry looking apples in to a jar of delicious apple sauce for my morning porridge.
Know how to store leftovers properly: okay tiny confession – I often eat leftover rice, reheated the next day. I know I’ll have some friends gasping in horror at this. There’s a lot of bad experience about rice – incorrectly stored and reheated rice can make you very sick, I know. But I also know how I should prepare things properly, how to store them, and to make sure things are reheated adequately. And it’s not make me ill yet. Read up, understand about temperatures and bacteria, and make wise decisions. Just maybe stay away from nuking that leftover egg fried rice until you know what you’re doing.
Plan for leftovers: We’ll have ‘rubber chicken‘ weeks – which I’ve mentioned here before. I’ll roast a chicken on the Sunday and we’ll have that in the traditional way, then the next few days are meals made with the leftover meat, usually culminating in chicken noodle soup to use up the carcass.
So there you have it. Do you have any recipes or meals you like to make with leftovers specifically? Please let me know in the comments.
The Chinese New Year was last week, and although they’ve named it the year of the Rooster, for me 2017 is definitely going to be the year of the cat. As you may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, we adopted two kittens towards the end of last year and it’s no surprise that they’ve taken over our flat, our hearts and now I suspect they’ll take over my blog (they have tried to monopolise the keyboard even as I type this).
We adopted two littermates; Ginny, a tortoiseshell, and Whisky a sleek black cat. We thought we were getting two sisters, but on our first visit to the vets we were informed that, although he kept his secret well hidden, Whisky was indeed a tom. Let me introduce you to them both and tell you my favourite things about them.
When we adopted Ginny we were told she was the shyer of the two, and this is true. She is more cautious of new people, although she is the bolder kitten when it comes to exploring new things and never misses an opportunity to climb to the highest perch in any room. She has adopted Tim as her main human and her favourite place is curled up in his lap to sleep. He’s trained her to sit on shoulders, which she does with great pleasure – launching herself off the floor or any other surface on to my shoulder without any warning. And I have the scratches to prove it.
My baby boy! Whisky is me in cat form – he sleeps like a log, doesn’t like being on the wrong side of a closed door, and has great enthusiasm for his food – even if he does make a mess when he eats. He shadows me when I am home, even sleeping at night curled up in the crook of my knees. Whisky has developed an endearing habit of flopping down wherever he is, limbs akimbo – he’s the definition of chill. I think through my influence he is also very affectionate, and I’m regularly treated to a barrage of head bunts and nose kisses… and the occasional chin nibble.
I’m thinking I’ll do more blogs about the cats in the future – what we feed them, kitten essentials, reviews of cat products that sort of thing. But for today I’ll leave you with this brilliant picture of my duo showing how perfectly in-sync they are with each other <3
If you love these two as much as I do, please feel free to leave them a comment!
Happy new year everyone! Is it too late to say that now? Ah well – my blog my rules. This is my obligatory January blog where I tell you I don’t make resolutions. The problem with resolutions is they are so easily broken, right? But the enforced ‘time out’ over Christmas and New Year – I had 11 continuous days off this year – plus my birthday falling in the middle of that, I definitely find myself taking time to look at where I am in life, what I’m doing, and what I’d like to do over the next year.
Something that came from a revelation I had last year is that I need to take better care of myself so that I don’t burn out. The crux of this was actually mildly comical/hysterical, and involved me in the middle of Lush forcefully talking myself out of buying a bath bomb because how could I think about spending £4 on one bath? It’s not worth it*… I’m not worth it. Yup, that is where my brain was going, and I know now I was being daft.
As most of you know, I’m currently working full time and running a household of two adults (and now two cats) while my husband deals with an anxiety disorder, and I guess there’s an element of caring for him in there too. I expend a lot of physical, mental and emotional energy and I continue to plough on no matter what and that has inevitably led to me hitting breaking point more than once in 2016.
Now fortunately I consider myself to be in good general health – yes I still get my periodic migraines, but I eat well, sleep well, walk 5k most days, my allergies are under control and don’t find myself catching bugs all that often – so I am robust and bounce back from these brain melts fairly quickly. But I don’t want to take my health for granted, so in 2017 I’m definitely going to be taking better care of me. Some of my initial thoughts on how to achieve this are:
Me time and nights off: this is where the Lush baths come in. I had started a tradition of giving myself Friday nights off; passing on the responsibility for cooking dinner, not worrying about laundry/dishes/tidying/running around after people, and I would take a good book and a nice gin with me and go have a nice bath. I’m struggling with alcohol at the moment, so I’m having to forgo the gin, but I’m still trying to take time off from worrying about what I ‘need’ to get done.
Hobbies: I’m desperate to sort out my craft supplies, I’ve got some tat that’s been kicking around for ages and needs gone then I’ll better be able to use what is left. I need to get back to the joy of creating for its own sake. I sort of keep putting myself off because it has no purpose or I’m not good enough at it or whatever – very bad brain behaviour there I know.
Get out: I ‘m embarrassed by the number of days I find myself doing nothing but sitting on my sofa, television mindlessly on, phone in hand. Honestly – I enjoy spending an evening like this, but not every time. A change is as good as a rest and I need to get myself out of the house a wee bit more – spend time with friends and do things. This will be hard at the moment, not just because of the wintry weather but also because of the kittens being at home and needing me/me wanting to cuddle them, but I’m going to commit to some events and bloody well get out to them.
I hope you all manage to take some time this year for yourselves.
*Of course, these sort of things are only worth it if you can afford it and will use it. Don’t get in debt just for an extra nice smelling bath!
I moved house a lot as a kid. By the time I was ten, we had lived in 6 town and I was starting my 4th school. This means I never put down deep roots and formed those childhood friendships that many people do. Don’t get me wrong – I come from a large family so there were always siblings and cousins for company and I was never lonely. And we moved to Luton when I was ten and stayed there for 9 years, so I formed a solid friendship group through high-school and college.
Then the Internet happened. We got our first dial up connection in 1999. I was 15 and really developing my own interest in music (Queen) and movies (Rocky Horror) so I joined first Usenet groups and later online message boards and began to talk with people who also loved these things. Friendships blossomed and suddenly I had far-flung group of mates, some of whom I still count as my closest friends today. And one of whom is now my husband!
As social media came to the fore of online interactions, I joined Twitter with gusto and began to follow new people who said interesting things, were retweeted by friends, or were part of local interest groups. I’ve met dozens of these people in the offline world and its been wonderful. Towards the end of my 20s I had a group of local friends who I could go on nights out with, or to galleries, theatres and films. All the things that are more fun with a friend by your side. Then I went and ruined it all by moving 400 miles away from most of these wonderful friends. Sure I had my sister and husband nearby, but I needed to start all over again in a new city. And making firm friendships anew in my 30s isn’t coming naturally to me.
Enter Huggle. This is a new social app to help you find people who hang out in the same places as you. As sociologist Dr Alex Huges praises:
“From the very first moment of meeting someone, how similar you are to that person plays a huge role in future interactions. Whether it’s romantic relationships or friendships, people are naturally attracted to similarity rather than appearance. Therefore sourcing a relationship based on appearance is not credible when looking for a long-term partnership. Individuals need to have shared interests, attitudes and values, for any relationship to work.”
The app is very easy to install and set-up and I’ve already been able to see a handful of other using the app near my home and place of work. Huggle boasts some decent safety features including a one minute photo verification, and because it uses your location, you can’t check in to places you’ve not been. I just need to use the app out and about now to see if I can find some like-minded people. I’m hoping to use it to find a cinema buddy (why waste a Meerkat movies code after all?). You can pop over to https://huggle.com/ to read more and download the app. Here’s to new friendships!
* This post was written in collaboration with Huggle and BloggerRequired. All content and opinions are my own. I have not been paid for this post.
This has been a mixed bag of a week for me. In fact, even the individual days varied wildly – for example walking in to work on Wednesday I got caught in the thunderstorms and was soaked through (even my undies were wringing wet!) and had to get a kind colleague to drive me home so I could change. Yet walking home again that afternoon, completely unprepared for the change in weather, I caught the sun a little bit on my neck!
Anyway, no better way, as always, to see out the week than with my five favourite things right now.
I’m off to see Beyond Broadway Productions do Bring It On The Musical tomorrow evening and I’m super jazzed. My sister and I share a love for the movie this is loosely based on and I wanted to see the musical when it first came out – before had even heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now knowing he is (jointly) behind the music, I just know this is going to be such a fun night out. Cheerleader costumes at the ready!
My love of Rocky Horror has left me with a lifelong urge to buy anything with a lips print on it. This top is cute though, and looks nice and light for summer (where long sleeves will help keep the sun off my delicate skin). Plus, it’s currently only £2 (!) from TennerStore.
Yes – I have taken to Pokémon Go like a MagiKarp to water. Or to floundering on my desk like the one above! I think it’s a great app for encouraging people to get outside, and now that the initial server issues seem to be settling it’s been great fun altering my walk home to take my via as many Pokestops as possible.
Because apparently what I now like to do with my evenings is watch TV shows about maths I settled down to Wednesday evening to catch The Joy Of Data on BBC4. It was a brilliant look at how data is the ‘bridge’ between the ordered mathematical world and the chaotic real world. I’m pleased to note there’s been some other shows in this series, including The Joy of Logic and The Joy of Stats, which I’m going to have to catch-up with this weekend.
We’ve had something resembling a summer here in Scotland this week (sudden thunderstorms aside) and I’ve more or less chomped my way through a whole watermelon. So refreshing, and having it sliced up and ready to eat from the fridge was a genius idea. We also stuck some in the freezer, so I’m thinking it’ll form part of some sort of blended frozen (alcoholic?) drink this weekend!