My 2018 Resolutions

Yep, as you can see from the title of this, this is one of those posts – an overly optimistic goal-setting for the year ahead in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

For the first time in years, I had a pretty good year in 2017 in terms of resolution fulfilling. I finally stopped just saying I’d do things and actually did them. This was all in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth was and a just do it attitude. I think this was the secret to this year’s success, along with a healthy realisation that life is too fucking short and you can’t take it with you, this is it, this is life, so if you have the chance to live it and to do something, do it, before you can’t.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Realising it and enacting it are two very different things though… and in that spirit, I’m going to continue into 2018 and hope that the upcoming year is as successful. Let’s get to these resolutions and goals which, I warn you, are probably far too numerous… buckle in, guys!

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Happy Holidays

As I sit here, having watched the traditional Christmas film with my mum (the 1994 Miracle on 34th Street obviously), my mind wandered to what topic I should choose for today’s blog post, the post that I’ve decided will be my final Blogmas post of this year.

There’s considerable pressure to make such posts perfect and reflective, wrapping the project up with some kind of retrospective of how the experience has changed your blogging and also provide a nice sense of closure to the affair.

Right now, I’m saving those thoughts for New Years, for 2018. Because the year isn’t quite over yet, and Christmas isn’t the end of anything. For me, it’s a time for friends and for family, a time to appreciate what you do have, and to remember those you no longer have in your life. It’s a time to just take a much-needed moment to just… be.

Obviously, my Christmas and family aren’t a perfect holiday card image of the day, and what I prioritise in the festive season might not be what you prioritise. But I’m grateful for what, and who, I do have in my life and Christmas provides a stark yearly reminder of just how lucky I am to feel safe and loved every single year. To have somewhere to call home and, soppiness be damned, to have somewhere to return to where I know I’ll always be welcomed back for Christmas.

For those of you who celebrate something during this holiday season, I sincerely wish health and happiness to you and your loved ones. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. And thus “ends” my Blogmas…

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London Trip 2017 | Day Two aka the snow taketh with one hand and giveth with the other

Welcome to the second post in my wrap up on my recent trip to London – take a look a day one here if you haven’t already.

After a double musical day of emotional musicals, I think both Liz and I were happy at the prospect of getting out of theatres and heading out of London for our planned activities on Sunday but, as you will see, things didn’t go quite as planned. I know how to do suspense, don’t I?

We woke bright and (reasonably) early, excited for our day at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Watford, and donned our Harry Potter related clothing, also bundling up with scarves and gloves after a quick peek at the snow (!) falling outside. Sunday mornings in London are weird, to say the least, because there are so few people on ordinarily busy streets and the snow was also good encouragement to stay indoors if you could. Even so, the snow wasn’t settling as the ground was already wet, so we decided to walk the twenty-minute walk to Euston. I wouldn’t presume to speak for both of us but I believe that we quickly regretted this decision to walk when Liz discovered her Vans weren’t quite as waterproof as we first hoped and my Chelsea boots, whilst pretty, had no grip to speak of on the soles. This makes for a very interesting walk on slippy streets.

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DC/NYC Trip 2017 | “Getting There is Half the Fun”

“Getting there is half the fun”… or so the saying goes, and to paraphrase the Ed Byrne joke: “If getting there is half the fun, surely getting home is the other half, you’re having no fun on your holiday, go somewhere else next year”. Well, for once, getting there was indeed half the fun for me. Until this year, I had never travelled outside of Europe before, I had never been on an plane for longer than 3 hours, I had never travelled with anyone other than my family – my recent trip to DC and NYC with my friend/housemate, Liz, back in September changed all three of those statements. Because my memory is terrible, I want to keep a record of all the things we did on the trip, from the interesting to the mundane, and since I have a blog, it seems the perfect place to record said memories before I (inevitably) forget most of them.

Disclaimer: If you’re here for useful travel tips, you’ll be disappointed, go find an actual travel blog. If you’re here just because you read my book blog anyway, I can promise some mentions of books amongst all the tourist things and self-indulgent musings.

Because getting to DC was a relatively painless journey, but interesting (at least to me!), for posterity’s sake I kind of wanted to record even the “getting there” because it was a new experience and, in some ways, genuinely fun. Don’t worry, in future blog posts, I fully intend to cover the actually interesting bits of the trip, maybe with some added photos because I took a lot of those. So if that’s your bag, stick around for my not-so-intelligent insights!

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In Five Years’ Time | Thoughts on Goal Setting

So, I haven’t written anything in just over a week, which doesn’t seem like a long time but I was on something of a roll back there and it was nice whilst it lasted, wasn’t it? You will have to indulge my self-centred nature for a post (or two) because the topic at hand is something that has been playing on my mind lately, mostly prompted by the fact I recently turned 25 (I know, just typing that makes me feel faintly sick) and partially prompted by Rosianna’s video about life plans, both of which have been urged onward by the fact that I now can’t for the life of me get this damn ‘5 Years Time’ song out of my head – thanks Noah and the Whale.

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Musings | On Feeling Goalless

I’ve been doing some thinking lately (a dangerous start to any blog post, I know), mainly inspired by productivity videos I have seen on Amanda aka shesomickey‘s channel and Leena’s recent ‘How to Slam Your Competition (kind of)’ video. Both of these women are amazing YouTubers and inspire me to think a little more about myself and my own life, sometimes in a flippant way and sometimes in a “deeper way”.

(Yep, you’re in for one of those blog posts, so strap yourself in and get ready for some self-involved and (mostly) selfish musing that is particular to my own experience and in no way informed enough to speak to anyone else’s experiences or priorities. Disclaimer over…)

Both Amanda and Leena have recently discussed life goals and career goals, seeing that next step you want to make in your life, and the skills or experience you need to acquire in order to reach it. Last year for VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April) Amanda specifically made a video about 100 Life Goals, a tool to get you thinking about yourself and your priorities and do a little self-audit of where you are and where you would like to be “at the end of the day”. It is exactly what it says on the tin – you take out a pen and paper (or a blank Word document if you so prefer) and list out 100 goals. These can range from “visit Japan” to “write a book” to “work for a non-profit” to “learn ASL”. They can be a mix of travel, personal, or career-focused goals, in fact I think the best lists probably are a mix of those things. The key thing to having goals, though, is making them achievable, phrasing them so that they are a clear Thing to aim for, whether that is to visit a certain place or to live in a certain city or learn a certain skill. Although skeptical I could come up with 100 distinct goals, I was nevertheless encouraged by Amanda’s video to get out my own pen and paper and draw up my list…

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Bullet Journals | My Rationale & Initial Thoughts

Yes folks, you saw that right – I started a bullet journal because I’m just one big cliche.

I’d previously half-heartedly tried it in squared notebooks and found it did help my productivity, for as long as I kept up with it. My main problem was that I didn’t keep up with it, or invest enough time in it, or make it enough of a priority for it to be the first thing I turned to when planning anything. I’m trying to change that, so at the beginning of the year I bought kind of an expensive notebook (a black leuchtturm1917 with dotted pages – yes I’m that much of a cliche) and I invested money as well as time because if I’ve spent £10+ on a notebook, I tend to at least want to see it through to the end, you know?

Using my bullet journal to help track progress during the 24 in 48 Readathon

Well, so far it has worked reasonably well and I’ve ended up utilising the journal for my reading/blogging purposes. As it came up to the end of January, I hadn’t completely forgotten about it, though it is far from integrated into my daily life as an instinct. However, this is progress (Rome wasn’t built in a day etc. etc) and I thought it might be fun to share with you my bullet journal and my progress with it so far this year. It will also be a good way for me to keep track of how I’m doing with my bullet journal and which areas of it I need to keep and which I can just ditch-

*record scratches*

No, I must be honest now. I drafted this post, fully intending to share with you my yearly spreads and monthly spreads and how I track things and my weekly layouts and all that jazz, but the truth of it is between starting to draft this post and finishing it, I accidentally didn’t bullet journal for a few weeks. ‘Why’ you ask?

Well, I’m beginning to question the entire rationale behind bullet journaling and if it is really for me.

You see, I work standard hours Monday to Friday and I can’t really use my bullet journal during work to scribble to-do lists because a lot of the student information I deal with is personal stuff I can’t then remove from work. I get the same train every morning/evening so travel isn’t something that needs planning. I don’t have a social life to speak of and the most wild my plans get is to go to the cinema or maybe to do a grocery shop. My blogging and social media use isn’t professional or regular enough to require a schedule. I’m not a freelancer who has a great online shop or lots of projects with different deadlines. But admittedly I have found a use for the trackers in bullet journals, especially tracking reading progress during readathons or to keep track of what books I’ve read in the year, and I enjoy using the monthly trackers to track habits such as going to the gym or doing laundry. It’s just the weekly log/daily to-do lists bit that I don’t really use to its full potential – more often than not, days are mainly full of a list of tasks I optimistically hoped to get done but inevitably end up ‘migrated’ to the next day and then the next day and so on and so forth…

An example of my monthly trackers

This is a classic case of ‘do I not use a bullet journal daily because I’m just not yet in the routine of using it?’ or ‘does not having a routine of blogging mean I don’t use a bullet journal daily now but it would improve my blogging if I did?’. Because, let’s face it, my productivity probably would improve if I kept a better track of what I get done in a day outside of work. In a way, it would guilt me into doing something because I’d want to do things so that I would be using my bullet journal to its full potential. Which is possibly not really what bullet journaling’s noble mission is but hey ho, we get to the same outcome, regardless of rationale.

I’m not really sure if this blog post about bullet journals has a point. Basically, I bought one, I used it quite well in January and then my use of it tailed off and I’m trying to identify why that happened. Is it me or is it the bullet journal? I’m not sure, but maybe we need to give each other another chance.

Do any of you lovely folks use a bullet journal regularly? Or have you tried and decided it’s not for you? Or maybe you haven’t ever tried it and don’t want to? Please do comment below because I’d really love to hear about your experiences with bullet journaling, regardless of whether they were positive or negative – maybe they will help me form my conclusions about the whole thing.

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Life Update 3.0 | Decorating

Hello, hello, hello. I thought I would come back to the blog today with another Life Update. I quite like writing these posts, simply for posterity’s sake if nothing else, and it’s always nice to see some progress in your life.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have got a job and moved to Liverpool to live with my friend, Liz. Since then I have been staying in the guest bedroom whilst my bedroom was pai16nted, carpeted, and furnished. Although there are still odd bits of painting here and there, I’ve mostly moved all of my things into the room now since it is officially decorated and furnished. I am officially sleeping in a double bed again and, god, it’s comfy. For the first time in my life I also have proper bookshelves in my room (something I’ve always wanted) and a desk (a beautiful one at that) so I’m very pleased with how it looks. This has also given me the chance to work out what I do and don’t like when it comes to painting and carpets and furniture preferences and colour schemes – I’m making it sound like a truly thrilling ride, I know. I never thought I’d get excited about wardrobe storage system options but, yeah, that happened. I decided to share a quick ‘before’ and ‘after’ because why not?

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So, as you can see from the panorama below my bedroom is definitely coming along really nicely. I raided IKEA, it seems, since practically every item of furniture in my room was acquired from said store. Not that I mind – everyone loves a good IKEA trip, right?



Mind you, acquiring my desk, bookshelves, clothes rail, cube shelves, bed, mattress, pillows, bedside table, lamp, and even bedding from one place seems a bit like I might have sold my soul to the IKEA devil… or else it’s just really convenient and reasonably priced – I’ve leave you to decide which it is. I still need to find some storage boxes (I’ve got my eyes on drona) and a stool/chair for sitting at my desk (hello, nils) so something tells me I have not yet stopped being entranced by that shining store.

So, that’s about where I’m at with life in general. I’m still finding my feet in my job but I think it’s going really well so far – I haven’t had any complaints at least so I can only assume it’s going well. And I’m just continuing to buy little bits and pieces to make my room absolutely perfect so I’m sure there are bound to be more Life Update posts in the future, maybe with less IKEA!

Until next time!

PS – Many, many thanks must go to Liz for helping me put up an insane amount of flat pack furniture. And for persisting when trying to fit the flat pack boxes into her car even though it seemed logistically impossible.

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Life Update 2.0

Well, my friends, I am officially living in Liverpool. I am officially working in Birchwood, meaning I have the delight of a 20-minute busy train journey every morning and evening. Fun! But, hey, standing up for that long and walking 20-ish minutes to/from the station must be doing me some good.

As far as moving goes, I moved as much of my stuff as I needed/could fit in Liz’s car on Tuesday 20th. I started work the very next day so that was an adjustment and a half! Our journey from the North East to the North West went really smoothly – we enjoyed ourselves listening to Now That’s What I Call Music songs on the drive over and the brief shudder of distaste when we reached Manchester was the only bad point of the drive for Liz. (She’s a Scouser so… I’m pretty sure it’s an ingrained and involuntary reaction.) My parents brought over the remainder of my stuff this Friday just gone.

Let me tell you – I have somehow accumulated a tonne of crap over the years. Despite having a box room at home (and so limited about how much I could actually keep in it), I expanded my collection of extraneous crap in my four years at university – I’ve accumulated way too many mugs, for example. But now they have a happy home in the house in Liverpool. (If there’s one thing Liz and I will never be short of, it’s mugs!)

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Life Update

So… I didn’t know what to title this or if this was something people would care about because, let’s face it, if you’re here, you’re probably here for the books. But this life update does concern my books (and blogging) on some level so… stay with me on this.

As of next week, there will be no more staying for a couple of days here and there at Liz’s house when I have an interview. Because I’m moving. There. Properly. It’s actually happening. So now my hours of getting lost on the IKEA website finally have a purpose rather than just acting as mere aimless procrastination!

I do have a good reason for moving – I’ve landed myself a clerical/administration job at a university in the North West so I now need to move to Liverpool, it’s not merely a desire anymore, it’s a necessity. And let me just say, the relief of finally finding a job is also mixed with the unbridled joy that I don’t have to job hunt or attend the delightful Job Centre any more. I hope it stays that way for many months and potentially years to come.

With the job comes this necessary change of scenery as I currently live in the North East of England. I say currently live, I have lived in the same house (hell, in the same room, same box room of tiny proportions) for all my life, excluding my time spent at university in Lancaster. But even at university, though I started to feel at home in that city and campus, my permanent address was always still in Teesside, in my parents’ home. Now that’s changing and it’s kind of terrifying, but the good kind of terrifying, the terrifying where I know I’m nervous about this and will miss my family but I need this stepping outside of my comfort zone because it’s good for me in the long run, even if the comfort zone is still only like 3 hours away by train.

I never thought I was the city kind of girl, ever. I come from a place that isn’t a large town by any means – it only takes a 15 minute walk to get to the town centre and that consists of about 30 shops, if that. So moving to Liverpool is an adjustment, to say the least. But every time I’ve visited Liverpool, I’ve felt comfortable, like I could maybe possibly see myself living there somehow. I don’t know how much of that comes from knowing someone who hails from there but the feeling remains regardless.

Speaking of which, the ever kind Liz is letting me take up her off of moving into her house with her. (If you don’t know Liz yet, go check out her blog!) We’ve never actually lived together in our time at university but we did spend an interesting few days when she temporarily moved into the house I lived in after our respective housemates had vacated the premises ahead of us. We just watched a lot of tennis, if I recall correctly, and made it our noble (and foolhardy) mission to use up all the remaining food – it was so good there’s photographic proof of the faji-ttos and Terry’s chocolate orange topped flapjacks served with Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, naturally. I foresee many food collaborations in our future. I’m also like 98% sure we won’t kill each other when we actually do live together.

‘Wait, so how does this concern your books?’ I hear you say. Well, good question. My books will be carefully packed and moving with me, hopefully onto some proper bookshelves. At some point. Because the thought of having to wait two weeks for my dad to bring them over when he does the bulk of my move is horrifying to any book lover, myself included. Now, realistically, I know from previous experience that even if I take 30 of my most precious books with me, I probably won’t read them all, if any. I’ll be too busy internally panicking about my new job to read. But having my books nearby is an odd sort of comfort blanket, so I’m bound to at least take a few over on my initial move which will be happening in this upcoming week.

Speaking of the week, whilst I will endeavour to have something queued up for the blog, in reality, I’ll probably forget and/or be too busy frantically packing my things because I never learn and will leave it until the last minute to do so. See, I told you I’d eventually bring this blog post back around to my books (and blogging!). So, I suppose this is just my way of saying hopefully by this time next week I will be semi-settled in Liverpool for the foreseeable future. Wow, that feels weird to type. Not a bad weird, by any means. I’m nervous and part of me still can’t quite grasp it’s happening but it is and I’m excited.

I’ll see you on the other side, folks!

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