Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 recap

I did a similar post on 31st December last year so I thought it'd be a fun tradition to carry on with. Here's last year's post if anyone's even slightly interested.

In 2013 I...

... Finally moved into our new house. Definitely worth the wait! I love my little house.

... Visited Paris for the first time with mom and it was just as cosy as I expected it to be.

... Passed my driving test (second time around, the first time I nearly crashed into a car ahem).

... Graduated from my Psychology course.

... Had my family over to visit (and for my dad it was the first time!)

... Went on my first proper "sunny holiday" with Steve, to Malta.

... Worked in three different jobs in the space of a month.

... Cut my hair short.

... Lost someone very important to me.

... Visited Sweden once (contrary to my goals last year) and only for four days.

... Got through a very important application process. Hello again university!

In 2014 I'm looking forward to...

... Starting a whole new chapter of my working life.

... Visiting London with Steve over Valentine's Day.

... Having my mom and my brother over to visit again.

... Definitely, definitely visiting Sweden twice this year. Christmas 2014 in Sweden, it's happening.

... Hopefully visit a festival this year before I get even more 'too old'.

I am just going to continue on with last year's vague resolution of being positive and grateful etc. Always good goals to have. Happy new year!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Week 51 & 52 - christmas

All images from my Instagram.

The past two weeks have gone from incredibly busy to... not busy at all. I finished up my previous work (and hello never ever having to get up at half six on Sunday morning. At least not in the foreseeable future) then spent my time intensely getting into Christmas spirits. This was done by making too many gingerbread men for any sane person, wrapping Christmas presents and cramming as many Christmas movies as possible. I even managed to do every single thing that was on my Christmas list (apart from finishing Lost - but that wasn't really a very Christmas-y goal anyway).

On Monday I went to Belfast for a haircut (which was necessary to avoid The Animal from The Muppets-stage), a few more gifts and then dinner with friends. At that point my cold had returned with vengeance and I was miserable enough to spend my night at the out of hours clinic in order to get medication for it. (Which I fortunately got). The rest of Christmas was just as calm as I had wished for it to be and I have done literally nothing the past few days. In fact, I have left the house twice in the past three days. Once to get eggs and milk and once to steal shortbread from Steve's parents' house. Because of the Steam sale I also have no reason to leave the house for the next week or so... Whoops.

Friday, 27 December 2013

The best things about Christmas 2013...

Image from my Pinterest.

... Starting it in my own house with Steve for the first time.

... The huge amounts of delicious food.

... Hogging the remote controlled airplane and playing with it all Christmas Day. The children can play with it after the holidays.

... The fact that I'm eating leftover pecan pie right now.

... Spending Boxing night dancing to Little Mix. When did they get good? Should I just blame alcohol?

... The fact that I'm not hungover. Seriously, it's a miracle.

... Playing board games and being so crap that I'm paired up with another adult to give my team a chance.

... Receiving amazing Christmas gifts (a couple of highlights; a nespresso machine from Steve, lots of Soap & Glory products from Steve, the Naked 3 palette also from Steve, my favourite makeup brushes from a friend and a Cath Kidston wallet from Steve's sister).

... Making dinner on Christmas Eve and discovering that I can make nice roast potatoes. I'm basically British now.

... Watching the crazy videos that my family posted from Sweden.

Now, on to January. To new beginnings (like actual new beginnings for once) and to hoping that Christmas 2014 is even half as good as this one was.

Friday, 20 December 2013

How I decorate for Christmas

Three posts in one week?! I am clearly on a roll here. These pictures were actually taken last weekend and then I was busy working and didn't have time to transfer them from my iPhone to the laptop etc etc. Yes, count yourselves lucky being the audience of my wonderful iPhone photos. Truth to be told, this is a post written to my mom. She's the one who'd like to see this stuff, the rest of you might not.

I have a tree. It's dear to my heart. I didn't buy any new tree decorations this year (can people afford to buy new stuff each year?) so I just made do with the stuff I bought last year and I love how whimsical it is. Obviously there's plenty of more grandiose trees out there but these one is grand enough for us. Also see my Christmas wrapping paper for this year. Snowflakes!

A couple of the decorations that I'm extra fond of; Christmas robots, candy canes, hearts and also a gingerbread man that I received from my family a couple of years ago. I think it might be edible (?) because it sure feels gummy-like but I wouldn't like to try. Hooray for rotting Christmas decorations.

My open fire has a festive touch (crooked picture as always - were you expecting something better? In that case, sorry) with a snowflake-inspired garland made of my late granny's doilies, some fake greenery and four advent candles, a wire heart and mine and Steve's stockings that won't be filled due to health and safety issues with their fastenings. Also, a Christmas penguin and a ram. 

These last pictures are from my kitchen. I have my nativity scene from my childhood to which I have added lanterns and tiny trees and I also have a smaller Christmas tree in the corner. This tree is the one me and Steve had in our first flat together (because we couldn't fit a bigger one in there) but is completely decked out in silver baubles and silver packages due to insufficient Christmas tree decorations in any other colour. Oh well. Around the house I also have an unusual amount of candles that smell like Christmas plus one or two Santas (not real) in the bedroom but they weren't caught on camera. And now I need to do some cleaning and then some gingerbread dough. 

P.S. How long can I keep posting pictures of my house and tagging them as "new house"? How long is it new? 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

10 reasons to smile 19.0

Image from my Pinterest.

one - I finished work today! I will never ever have to go back to this place and it hasn't properly sunk in yet.

two - I am off for two weeks now. Christmas holidays and all that jazz. First on my list of things to do; have a super long lie-in, clean this house and bake.

three - There's less than a week left until Christmas. Enough said.

four - My "main" Christmas gift to Steve is basically a gift to myself (but that he has explicitly said that he really wants, so it's okay. I'm not a horrible person) but obviously we're still pretending that it's a surprise so I can't say anything about it yet.

five - When I was in Sweden my mom gave me a book (with a free insult as she implied that I needed to "practice my Swedish". Thanks mom.) about an unlikely romance. Because I was busy reading multiple books at that point I only started reading it the other day. I love when you randomly find a book that's actually pretty good.

six - Christmas Eve dinner menu is coming along nicely. (Can you tell that me and Steve plan this type of stuff way too much?)

seven - This morning there was definitely snow falling from the sky. In the land of everlasting rain a two minute pseudo snow storm is the definition of two pretty good minutes.

eight - My mom told me that she has sent a package from Sweden and I am a sucker for surprises. Obviously I have blown it way out of proportions and now I think it'll be something absolutely amazing (my brain: SHIPPING KITTENS IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE) but part of the anticipation is just the thrill of opening packages I think.

nine - Because of sickness I haven't actually exercised in about ten days (last time I took a break as long as this my family was over visiting) so I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things now that I am off. I never thought I'd get to the stage where I miss exercise, but I kind of do.

ten - My mission at the moment (I clearly lead an interesting life) is to drink less coffee and more (decaf) tea. This is mainly to calm my body which goes insane as soon as I have anything slightly unhealthy a little bit too often but an unexpected bonus is that I can have a hot drink right before bedtime. I am a believer in routines (morning routines, winding down routines, they're all important) and a cup of tea at bedtime is an obvious winner for cosy nights in.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Random thoughts

1. I have a list of things to do before Christmas Day. This working full-time thingy is proving to be really time consuming. So from Friday until Monday evening I have to a) post the rest of the Christmas cards, b) bake four types of sweets/cookies (I just may force Steve to do half of this baking because there is only so much flour-based fun I can take in one day), c) buy the last few Christmas gifts, d) buy groceries for Christmas, e) wrap the last Christmas gifts and f) get a haircut so that I don't look like a Muppet in all Christmas photos. (And so that I don't have to wait until 2014 to get it cut. A two week delayed hair cut is lethal when you have short hair.)

All images from my Pinterest. Not Instagram prints but inspiring nonetheless.

2. I've planning to do that fancy order-instagram-prints-online thing for ages. And then stuff happens. (Why does stuff always happen?) First, I didn't have enough Instagram pictures because I only got a smartphone last year. Half a century after everyone else. Then I had no money. When I did have money, I couldn't find a good website for printing them. And now I'm back to having no money. But my plan is that I would like a fairly decent-sized frame with a bunch of tiny Instagram photos in it. My next issue is that I have very few pictures from the start and the end of 2013 because it's too damn dark. I've been drooling over all my summer photos tonight. Such happy, bright photos. (Which is ironic because the summer is when I'm at my absolute worst. Personality-wise.)

3. This was a really random post. I don't know what happened but I had a cup of coffee tonight for the first time in four days and it really got to me. Suddenly I felt the urge to write a little blog post and then this mess happened. I believe it's time for me to get into bed and watch an episode of Lost. (One last twelve hour shift tomorrow before I never have to do twelve hour shifts again - I think! At least not in this line of work.)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Week 50 - third of advent

All images are from my Instagram.

My week can be summarised like this: Christmas market, sick, sick, work, work, Lost, work.

The Christmas market in Belfast was exactly what every market should be. Stuffed to the brim of food. I had bratwurst, a cone of churros, super chocolatey hot chocolate and then we bought bread and cheese to take home. Plus me and Steve were off work which automatically makes a day great. Unfortunately the day ended with me getting sick and then spending another two days watching my body break down. The accompanying pain is a nuisance when you're sick but do you know what's worse? That sneaky suspicion that your body no longer fits you. Like a pair of jeans that were washed with the wrong settings. That is exactly how I feel when I'm sick.

On Thursday and Friday I was at the company which I will be spending so much more time within the next few years and I am starstruck. Yes, it's possible to become starstruck with a location. Especially if that location has movie quotes on their walls and free tea and coffee all day every day. I don't want to say too much but... Marry me, office. Obviously the sickness was still lingering and so on Saturday pretty much everything I did revolved around watching Lost. I've had worse Saturdays. Today I worked and I'm about to go to sleep becaaaause.... Five days. 52 hours of work. You do the math.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas list

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a lover of lists. And although the thought of having a bucket list is far too much pressure for me (what if I fail to succeed one or two of the items on the list? Talk about major extra anxiety over death that is already a pretty grim subject you know) I do like having small, seasonal lists of things that I would like to do. Especially if they're Christmas related when there's so many things that I cannot even remember everything that I want to do.

Image from my Pinterest.

1. Visit the Continental Christmas Market. This is done! And it was lovely.

2. Watch a whole bunch of new and old Christmas movies. The movies that I want to watch deserve a blog post of their own, but we have already watched The Polar Express and White Christmas this year.

3. Bake something seasonal. My ideas include gingerbread and peanutbutter cups so far, mainly because they're quick and delicious. 

4. Add more songs to my Christmas playlist. Obviously I have a Christmas playlist. Don't you?

5. Send Christmas cards. They are signed and lying ready on the hall table... I just haven't gotten around to sending them. Maximum laziness.

6. Finish Lost. Okay, so this is not a typical Christmas activity but I start my Christmas holidays on the 19th. That leaves me with about ten unplanned days in which I can watch as much Lost as I want. And that amount is a lot.

7. Invite Steve's parents over for a Christmas-sy dinner. Last year me and Steve made dinner for his parents on Christmas Eve and we plan on continuing this tradition. Considering how much time they spend on preparing the meal for Christmas Day we might as well make life easier for them the night before so they don't have to make yet another meal. Then we kick them out because we have Christmas Eve parties to go to.

8. Take pictures of lots of corners of my home. And hopefully post them here. This is mainly because my family (mainly mom) won't see my first proper house decorated in person. So I'm just gonna bring that little part of my life on to the internet... 

Christmas Day is a very small part of Christmas for me. I prefer the time leading up to it. Is it the excuse to eat more sweets than usual? An unhealthy love of fairy lights? Or cheesy movies and music? A little bit of everything, I believe.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Week 49 - second of advent

All images are from my Instagram. 

A Sunday update that is actually posted on a Sunday! I deserve an applause. Especially since I finished the last episode of season 4 of Lost last night and I am dying to start the fifth season. (I was at work from 8am to 8pm, otherwise I would have indulged in intense Lost-watching several hours ago.) But for the sake of this blog, Lost can wait another twenty minutes. Also, I'm off work tomorrow.

This week was quite busy and full of work but a couple of highlights include; visiting Hog & Hoof (a new local "smoke joint". Massive portions of pulled pork with Kansas City Sauce? Yes please), having a night on my own as Steve left me for sweaty boys crammed into a small apartment with gaming computers (obviously I like having Steve around but I definitely enjoy a lonely night now and then), going to Steve's nephew's birthday party and after that out to the Argory for Santa's Grotto. I love the Argory, it's basically Downton Abbey in Northern Ireland, minus Lady Mary etc. To top this very festive week off, me and Steve watched White Christmas last night. This year's first Christmas movie (the list is very long.)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

November favourites

Image from my Pinterest.

favourite on tv/movie: I have gotten obsessed with Lost. I know, I'm a decade behind the rest of you. And no, I still haven't watched Breaking Bad. Keep your Breaking Bad-related references to yourself.

favourite purchase: My Zara coat that it took me ages to get. Well worth all the trouble.

favourite music: I've found myself listening a lot to Big Scary. And obviously Christmas music. (I prefer the Christmas songs from the 50s and the 60s. Or Christmas carols.)

favourite beauty item: Before my trip to Sweden I went through my secret sample stash so that I wouldn't have to bring full-size skincare items and I found Premae Harmony Creme Balm. Moisturising to the max.

favourite blog: For festive occasions, you've got to love a crafty blog. The Sweetest Occasion is my latest favourite read.

favourite event: I went to Sweden which I'm sure you haven't missed.

P.S. This is short because I just finished my dinner and soon I have to go to sleep so I can get up and work another day. But then I'm off! For a day. Also I have no food and drink favourites because my brain has stopped working.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Week 48 - first of advent

All images from my Instagram.

Here I am, the world's worst blogger. I'm not entirely sure what's happened to me, I used to be unbelievably organised (even I would admit to being weird) when it came to my very unknown blog. Planning out posts and posting a little bit about my life every single week. Even the weeks during the summer when I was unemployed and I did absolutely nothing. Actually, I do know what has happened. I started working twelve-hour shifts every single Sunday. And obviously I spend the Mondays recovering. Luckily for my sanity and for the sake of my eager readers (ha) I only have another three Sundays to go before this part of my life is over.

I'm not going to get a baby or buy a horse or anything drastic, but my career (ha, again) has changed direction. In a good way.

Last week I came home from Sweden and I'm not gonna lie. It's tough to go on a trip that lasts for basically no time at all. So to cheer myself up I had decided to decorate my house before the big weekend of work-weariness. This all went to plan until I brought our (fake) tree down from the attic. I bought it last year and ended up never using it as we didn't get our keys before Christmas as we originally planned. So to say that I was excited to get it up is an understatement. Unfortunately it is difficult to assemble a tree which has half a tree stand, no bottom part, one middle part and three tree tops. That tree had to deal with some serious verbal abuse from me that night. (I take these things very seriously.) Luckily Steve's mom has a shopping issue when it comes to Christmas trees and so there is about a million spare ones in her garage of which I chose one.

The tree is now decorated and it looks wonderfully whimsy. There are a lot of hearts, stars, a couple of robots and one gingerbread man. But only four baubles? I don't really know how that happened but I've decided to love the tree-situation anyway. Once the house was decorated I went off to cram in 30 hours of work in one weekend. It went well as I managed to go to work as well as squeezing in a (sober) birthday party on the Saturday. You can see now why I was basically in a coma once Monday happened. Work and a tree-catastrophe in one week is all just too much for me.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Week 47 - brief sweden trip

All images from my Instagram

I went to Sweden! It was a surprise visit for my brother who had an important birthday to celebrate. I told my mom that me and Steve wanted to go to Sweden about a month ago and I mentioned that this was the only weekend that the tickets were cheap enough for us to go. She then told me that she was organising a surprise birthday party for my brother and so I decided to invite myself to it. It was difficult to keep it quiet (mainly because we worried that others would take about it on social media) but somehow it worked and he had absolutely no idea what was happening. It was approximately the best thing ever. We all had wine and beer and it was a great evening.

We arrived late on Thursday night and left around noon on the Monday so I really tried to cram in as much as possible during my trip. I visited my granny and then I took a little trip up the country to my late granny's flat and to see all my cousins. It was nice. A less nice event was when we hit a deer on our way back and got stuck on the motorway for ages. There was nothing we could do to avoid the collision but thankfully no one in the car got hurt. I'm thankful to now be back in the land without deer. These next few days I'm planning to get a little rest, do some cleaning and then get my Christmas decorations up. Just in time for working the entire weekend. Bring on Monday next week...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Week 46 - IKEA trip

Images from my Instagram.

I'm not entirely sure why I decided to write a weekly update, seeing as I can barely keep my eyes open at the moment. (I can also feel the next episode of Lost calling for me on Netflix.) But it's tradition and I am nothing if I'm not the ultimate creature of habit. So here we go. Since my last update I've mainly been at work, working up time so that I can get a week (and maybe more) off to look forward to in the nearest future. On Sunday I went to IKEA with my friend (second picture) and spent mine and Steve's last IKEA voucher that we received for Christmas last year. It was amazing, I bought a whole bunch of Christmas things and I definitely felt festive. Prior to visiting IKEA we also went for brunch and I had a peanutbutter latte. I don't even need to tell you how good it was. You know.

Over the week I've also reorganised a little at home in order to make room for the soon-invading decorations. I've wrapped the first batch of Christmas gifts that have been bought. A nail has been put in the door so that a wreath can be hung (nail hammered in by yours truly, with all fingers intact and no crumbling walls for the first time ever) and apart from a few minor things, I'm pretty much set for maximum Christmas mode. Which is obviously the only mode I have around this time of the year. (Do you have a Spotify Christmas list prepared for when December hits? You better get working on it.)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

How to decorate a Christmas tree (sort of)

Can we just take a moment and appreciate Christmas trees? We are halfway through November after all. Alright? Alright.

All images are from my Pinterest.

After receiving a whole pile of baubles from Steve's parents as well as a stash of baubles with our Christmas tree from Tesco (we didn't order the baubles - my guess is that the delivery guys just shoved a display tree into the box and didn't care about the fact that it already had baubles on it) we've managed to collect a decent amount of Christmas tree decorations. At least considering how little money we've spent on it. Christmas tree decorating is one of my favourite things to do and I cannot wait.

How to decorate a Christmas tree:
1. Put Christmas music on.
2. Light a lot of candles.
3. Make a cup of hot chocolate.
4. Gather all of your decorations on the floor.
5. Put the lights on the tree. (There are various controversial methods - I'm not gonna start a debate here.)
6. Decorate the tree whilst sipping on your hot chocolate.
7. Enjoy the holidays.

And while we're on the subject - I consider putting a tree up is fair play as soon as the 25th (of November) has passed. If you want to wait until December, fair play to you but I would never leave it longer than until the 1st. Christmas only comes once a year and I want mine to last as long as possible!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Week 44 & 45 - back to blogging

All images are from my Instagram. 

I can't believe that we're almost halfway through November and I haven't even uploaded these last few pictures from October. About two weeks ago I celebrated getting my first full salary in aaaages by spending a full day in Belfast. I bought two new mugs, as you can see, two knitted sweaters, a dress and some makeup. Plus socks, face cloths, christmas presents etc. I also tried on the gray coat above from Zara which was a complete bargain (only £30). I've wanted a gray, slightly over sized coat for a while now and I got as far as standing in line at the till (...) when I buckled and put it back. Got home, instantly regretted it and went on to their website only to found out that it was sold out in my size. Yesterday I went back to Belfast, went to Zara and found out that they don't have the coat left in my size there either! The sales assistant told me that it was okay and that the online shop had gotten stock back in. I went home. There is no sign of the coats online. I am crushed. That coat is haunting me, please just give me that coat.

Rant about coat over.

Halloween has been celebrated (Steve went as Pikachu and I went as his Pokemon trainer, Ash. It was a nostalgic nod to our long-lost childhoods), I've been working a lot as per usual, the first few Christmas gifts have been bought and my brain is in full Christmas-mode. I can't look at a corner in my home without instantly imagining it with Christmas decor. This is obviously accompanied by the usual holiday tradition tension between me and Steve regarding our Christmas decor. I believe that decorating the house is to make it Christmas-sy and nice. Steve is of the opinion that it's supposed to look tacky and sort of ugly (and not in the trendy way, his own words). What is wrong with that man? Luckily I'm going to win by simply decorating the house when he's not home and hiding the leftover decorations. He's too lazy to redecorate it himself (who knew laziness was a perk in boyfriends!)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Week 43 - a little break

Images from my Instagram from the past week.

Sometimes sad things happen and that's why I'm taking a little break from blogging.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Three fall clothing items that I want

There's nothing like finding out things about yourself through Pinterest. For a few months now I've incorrectly assumed that I've lost my interest in buying clothes (especially since my brain is dreaming about makeup and home decor 24/7) and I put it down to spending most of my time in a work uniform or in pyjamas. How little I know myself. I took one look at my clothing-based Pinterest board and realised that I'm pinning more fashion related things than ever. I've compiled a list of three things that I now know that I want because of Pinterest:

1. A leather jacket. Nevermind that I have a cheap and bulky one from H&M a few years back. I now want a more fitted, black jacket, preferably with lovely details like the ones above. They definitely look best paired with floral details or pencil skirts, don't you think?

2. A plaid shirt that peeks out from under thick sweaters. I've wanted a nice plaid shirt for ages now, and I just can't seem to find the perfect one.

3. A gray coat. It's been a couple of years since I bought my trusty navy Topshop duffel, but I'm starting to feel like branching out might be a good idea. Unfortunately coats are ridiculously expensive, so this is not looking like it's going to happen soon!

All images can be found on my Pinterest clothes board. Feel free to take a look at my other boards while you're there. (I am an avid pinner.)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Week 42 - The Rocket and buns

All images are from my Instagram.

I have uploaded the worst photos on Instagram the past few weeks.  There was a time (when I had no job) when I uploaded almost a photo a day on Instagram but now I'm lucky if I manage even three. What can I say? There's just nothing to take photos of. Most of the time I'm in a work uniform or I'm recovering from work in pyjamas. Trust me, you don't want to see either. Oh, and this is uploaded on a Monday because I've been busy.

This week I worked, watched Steve's nieces for a little while (the first photo shows homework for the ten year old. I had to make up fractions that she'd then put into whole numbers and fractions. I was struggling more than her!) and had to walk around in pouring rain whilst holding a box of buns and therefore I went into Tesco and bought a mascara. I shouldn't have but... you know. I had to. It's the Maybelline The Rocket Waterproof mascara and it really is very good. Although the wand is huge and could potentially poke your eye out. (But until that happens you'll have great lashes.) On Saturday me and Steve went to a tiny bakery and had a fry and coffee for breakfast. Only in Northern Ireland can you get a crazily big, unhealthy but delicious meal for £4. It's exactly the type of thing I prioritise when living abroad.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Another (geometric) Etsy wishlist

... Because you can never have too many of them, right? I feel like I've rediscovered Etsy. It's kind of true. I've discovered that you can click on a shop and see what they have favourited. (I know, I'm slow.) It has opened up a whole new world to me. And so tonight when I felt like compiling a little list on this blog (such as 'sale items from Topshop that I really want' or 'types of christmas trees') I thought I'd share a little Etsy-love instead.

1. How wonderful is this necklace from Nest Pretty Things? It's the perfect marriage between trendy and classic and I can so see this on a wintery night with a black dress.

2. Lately I've been nurturing an obsession with tea towels, which are unusually difficult to fit into our kitchen because of our colour scheme (in my opinion). But this towel from Avril Loreti has a lovely combination of soft colours and with loads of triangles that I may be addicted to.

3. It's not that I don't like our plain white mugs from IKEA. I just want prettier mugs to drink my coffee from and this mug from Alice Potter is so cute. (Triangles, check.)

4. I love a good print and recently I've been feeling all kinds of things for photography, which Etsy has loads of, fortunately. I imagine this print from Calm Shores next to a second print on our bedroom walls where black and white would look particularly good. Plus... you know how I feel about that shape by now.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

10 reasons to smile 18.0

one - I somehow managed to get all my work clumped together so that I'm off three days in a row, which is possibly the best thing ever. Obviously this means that I have to work this weekend, but that's okay.

two - there's less than two weeks left until I get my first pay. And this pay is actually for two months' worth of work, so it'll be gooood. The list of things that I want is bordering on disgustingly long.

three - there's only 70 days left until Christmas! I love Christmas so much. Don't tell anyone but I've already pulled out the Christmas box once and briefly sniffed the lid once. Okay, twice.

four - I'm hoping to be able to make a short visit to Sweden very soon and I can't wait to see my family + go shopping at Lagerhaus. If you haven't been to Lagerhaus, you haven't lived.

five - I have somehow lost all interest in buying clothes (I have a sneaky suspicion it's because I have a set uniform that I work in) but this means that there's so many more beauty and home items that I can get.

six - Seven out of 12 Christmas gifts have already been planned. Obviously I can't actually buy them until my pay comes in but I still think that having them planned out is half the battle won. Kind of. 

seven - Tonight me and Steve are eating ice cream and watching the Great British Bake-Off, followed by some Star Trek. It's just nice to know that there is food and good TV waiting for you. And Steve, obviously.

eight - For Halloween I may have managed to convince Steve to dress up in a couples' costume with me. It's like a dream come true. (How likely is it that others will hate us?)

nine - I've been driving at least once a week for a while now and it's definitely getting less terrifying. By this time next year maybe I won't be getting heart palpitations everytime I'm behind the wheel.

ten - I've successfully managed to avoid nail polish for six weeks, leading to much nicer nails than previously. Two more weeks to go. How will I celebrate? By buying a new bottle of nail polish, obviously. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Week 41 - first ever p.s.l.

All images are from my Instagram. Yesterday was Sunday and I never wrote my weekly update because I was too tired after working a long shift. Le horror. Does anyone even care? My dad probably does. This is for you, Dad.

So, the recap of last week is necessary. Monday, I worked. Tuesday, I worked. Wednesday, I slept and watched TV. Thursday, I worked. Friday, I worked. On Saturday I decided that it was time to do something fun so I forced Steve to come with me to the shopping center so that I could pretend shop (two weeks left until payday, people!) and also try my first pumpkin spice latte (aka P.S.L among people in the know. Including me since I googled it two seconds ago). Not too shabby. Then I went to a friend's house and watched X Factor whilst eating copious amounts of sweets. Sunday, I worked. Me and Steve have also managed to finish the first week of the second month of Insanity now and it is torture packaged into a seductive promise of muscles and toned abs. Three more weeks to go!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Insanity Workout - 5 week update

You may have seen me ramble on about the Insanity Workouts which me and Steve do six times a week. Insanity is created by Shaun T (does anybody know his actual surname? Does he have one?) which claims that you will get "insane" results in 60 days. You receive a DVD with a bunch of workouts and a schedule to follow. The first month you do around 40 minutes of exercise per day, then you have a week of "recovery" workouts followed by your second month in which you do an hour of exercise per day. Me and Steve just finished our recovery week so we have four weeks to go and I thought I'd give you a little update on what I think so far. (OBS! I'm not posting any before/after pictures because... I don't want to show body to the entire Internet. Maybe at the end of month 2, we'll see.)

Insanity video from the Beachbody channel.

Doing exercise six times a week feels like it should take up a huge amount of your time but it's actually not that bad at all. 40 minutes of workouts slots in quite easily into my evenings, even on the days when I get home after 8pm. Shaun T is a pretty good coach despite overusing words such as "power!", "use your core!" and "force!" constantly (the amount of times me and Steve have looked at each other mid-workout and burst out laughing are too many). During a workout you mix bursts of high (and I mean high) intensity training (for three to four minutes) with 30 seconds of rest. I'm used to the exact opposite type of exercise. During the first week of Insanity I was sure that I'd never be able to complete any of the workouts without taking any unauthorised breaks but your fitness level rises a lot quicker than you'd think it would. It's a lot more noticeable with Steve who didn't exercise at all pre-Insanity (whilst I had been running for a few months). He started off taking a lot of extra water breaks and struggled doing any exercises which had a high impact on his knees. Now he can do most exercises for the full interval and at a high speed too.

When it comes to visible transformation, I've noticed a few things. First of all, my calves have become pretty huge (at least to me). I knew that they would since I seem to always have an easy time building muscles there and so it wasn't a big surprise. However, I have always had incredibly weak arms and although I notice an improvement in my arm strength I still struggle with most of the push-up activities. But I have visible arm muscles now! They're not incredibly lean (which suggests that flabby arms is hereditary) but if I tense my muscles they are definitely there. My thighs have also toned up quite a bit. The only place that I'm a little disappointed with so far is my belly. If I tense my abs I can feel them but there's definitely no signs of a six pack. (Not that I'd want a six pack but a little more definition would be nice.) Whilst I mainly wanted toning up, Steve also wanted to lose extra fat, mainly around his belly. Similarly to me he has gained a lot of muscles but I'm not sure if he's lost any fat yet (we don't weigh ourselves and he hasn't checked his measurements since the start of the month). If you're doing Insanity to lose weight I'd suggest looking into changing your diet too because a little googling tells us that a healthy diet mixed with cardio is the best way to lose belly fat.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Budget makeup wishlist

It has officially been ages since I posted my last makeup wishlist (of which I was birthday-gifted the Clarins primer, the Real Techniques brush and the Rimmel lipstick in case you're interested) and I feel like this is misleading. It is certainly not the case that I haven't been lusting for makeup because believe me, I have. I've just kept quiet about it. Now that a giant payday is on the horizon, all I seem to do is dream about the stuff that I want to buy. Also I'm going to work in an hour and I need to think of money to keep myself sane. Obviously my total makeup wishlist is longer than this and so I've narrowed it down into only budget items.

1 from Maybelline.
I was so close to buying this before going on holiday but I didn't and now I am battling regret-induced depression. My friend says that this is amazing, one of my favourite beauty bloggers uses this... Plus it's autumn and I need another waterproof mascara in my life. Enough said.

2 from Soap & Glory.
During a Saturday night when I spent too much time socialising with people and not enough time making sure that everything in my bag remained in my bag, I lost my face powder. At the time I didn't think I'd be able to go on living but now I have embraced the idea of trying a new one and everyone goes on about Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot. Naturally, I want it.

3 from Rimmel.
I have decided that this will be the season when I finally get good eyebrows rather than the unruly disgrace that they currently are. Hello future (hopefully) symmetrical eyebrows.

4 from Vaseline.
This is a moisturiser dries immediately after being sprayed on and I just can't believe that this hasn't been talked about more. There is also a cocoa fragranced version that is possibly even better.

5 from Barry M.
No wishlist would be complete without a Barry M nail polish mention. I've been on a mission to get my nails strong and healthy again after the past two seasons of nail polish mania and I think I will reward myself with a new nail polish. This has a matte finish and an autumnal/winter colour which I love.

6 from Soap & Glory.
The issue with work is that I don't have time to touch up any unevenly wearing lipstick and this makes me so incredibly sad. Instead I need something which gives me colour on my lips, yet isn't high maintenance. Hello another lip crayon (I want the shade Raplumzel. Cheesy name.)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Week 40 - happy cinnamon bun day

Images from my Instagram.

Ugh. That is how I feel right now. My mood is just 'ugh'. Partly because I've worked today and I'm working tomorrow. Not that work is particularly terrible but I had to work for twelve hours on a Sunday (how is that even legal) and I have to work for another twelve hours tomorrow. Plus I couldn't fall asleep last night so I was ridiculously tired this morning and another girl was sick so I didn't get a moment to relax today. Rant over and now that I'm lying in my comfortable bed whilst practicing the art of balancing and typing on a laptop on the stomach, life feels a lot better. Let's just recap this week.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I worked. The other weekdays I babysat Steve's nieces and I also made cinnamon buns (Swedish kanelbullar) which was more fitting than I realised as yesterday was actually Cinnamon Bun Day! A holiday that the rest of the world really should acknowledge. On Friday night I had a friend over for tea/coffee plus massive amounts of buns and things. On Saturday me and Steve lazied about and then we went for lunch and got cupcakes afterwards as a treat. Sometimes you just need to treat yourself and when your weekend shrinks into one day, treating yourself is even more essential. Time to go to sleep so that I'm ready for another insane day...

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Short hair evaluation (week one)

I've had time to write two blog posts since I got my hair cut and somehow I've managed to already mention my new haircut in 100% of them. In other words it was inevitable that I was going to take pictures of it and then write an essay, analysing the pros and cons of having short hair. 

A bit of background story: I've had hair that reached down to my hips. I was thirteen years old and my mother refused to let me see a hairdresser. Obviously, that is not a sustainable situation when you're a semi-rebellious teenager and I eventually got it cut to almost mid-back length. Since then my hair has varied in length (and colour - oh dear, there is a large amount of horrific pictures of me with red stripes in brown hair) but it has never been shorter than collarbone length. The idea of having short hair always enticed me but I never seriously considered it because 1) I'm a wuss and 2) I didn't think my facial structure would suit it. About a year ago I started discussing it with random people who thought it would suit my hair and it only took me a year to book a "spontaneous" appointment with a hairdresser. I told very few people about it beforehand but I have received so many compliments from friends and acquaintances since! 

Cons - Starting with the negatives (because I like ending things on a high), there's obviously not a huge amount of things you can do with this hair. So far I've thought of three hairstyles; wavy, straight and messy. It honestly doesn't bother me at all since I was never great at doing my hair anyway (it pretty much always looked like some version of "messy") but in the interests of being fair, that is a con of short hair. Secondly, when I wake up my hair has giant tufts sticking up at the back of my hair! I never thought that me and Steve would share hair problems, but now we do. Tuft-related issues. Luckily, water and a comb sorts it out. If you have your natural hair colour you may be exasperated by the fact that you're gonna have to go to the hairdresser every 6-8 weeks now to maintain your cut but I had to do that anyway to highlight my roots.

Pros - I better keep this short but I could go on forever about the pros of short hair at the moment. Firstly, ignore any websites that say that you can't have short hair if you have any "big" facial features, as they may stand out more. Embrace those big noses, people! (Written by a fellow big-nose, the third picture is particularly unflattering.) If anything, I feel like short hair has made my face more interesting. Secondly, I've heard a lot of people say that short hair is more time-consuming than long hair but I've found it to be the opposite. Washing my hair takes five minutes (instead of 15), blow drying my hair (entirely) takes five minutes (instead of 20) and styling my hair takes two minutes (instead of anything between 10-50 minutes). The main difference is that I now have to blow dry it straight away since I'm conscious that letting my hair air dry might result in some pretty interesting hairstyles. It's still quicker than when I had long hair. Third, I hardly have to use any shampoo or conditioner (£££) and my stash of hair oils, serums and salt sprays have whittled down to two products; heat protection and a texturising spray. (Technically I only needed a heat protectant but Tresemme offered two products for £7 and so I bought the texturising spray as well.) A fourth pro of having short hair is how healthy my hair feels now. Gone are the days of having so many split ends that you're embarrassed to go to the hairdresser (oh yes, that is a true life example). Pro no five, I feel much cooler now. Obviously this may only apply to me but I still feel like it's a valid pro. 

Some last-minute advice if you're cutting your hair short: Use a website that lets you upload your photo and try different hairstyles if you're unsure of whether you suit short hair or not, bring lots of pictures to the hairdresser and be specific regarding your new style. (I explained that I wanted my hair to be a boyish, longer pixie cut with more hair on the top of my head and I got exactly what I wanted.) Also, the most important thing is that you like it so don't listen to other people too much. E.g. my boyfriend was convinced that he'd hate it but he doesn't. If people don't like it, it's not a huge deal as long as you love it. Some of you may think that it's unnecessary to think about a haircut as much as I have... But I'm also sure that there's others who are just as analysing and cautious when it comes to hair as I am, so this post is for all of you!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

September favourites

favourite on tv/movie: If you haven't been part of the greatest thing to happen this year, stop whatever you're doing right now because Downton Abbey is back on TV. Two glorious episodes have already been aired and I have cried about five times (four times the first episode, once during the second so I'm definitely improving). Also New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, The Great British Bake-Off and (soon) Homeland are back. Oh Autumn TV, I love you so.

Image found here.

favourite purchase: I dare say that I haven't actually bought a single thing this month. How depressing. (When I get my first full pay there will be some serious shopping.)

favourite music: I managed to give myself a small addiction to Arctic Monkey's new album which is causing people to hate me. But it's just so very catchy that I'm willing to lose my friends and boyfriend.

favourite food: This month I've been on a baking spree. Let me rate these from 1 to 10; lemon drizzle muffins 1, chocolate chip cookies 9 (I really love cookies), baked cheesecake 7 and apple pie 3. The fact that my first ever baked cheesecake got that close to my beloved cookies is definitely insane and proof that it turned out well.

favourite drink: I haven't had any particular sensational drinks this month. Coffee is still going strong during the days, I ventured into the hot chocolate world one or two cold evenings and I had some caramel syrup in my latte during a coffee date with friends (which is far too sweet). I need something new in my life.

favourite beauty item: My friend gave me a sample of her Steamcream and I have completely fallen in love with it. Ever since I got it I've been using it every single night and now I'm almost out of my sample. It also has this amazing smell which reminds me of the Lush hand creams. (What is that smell? It makes me think of vegan topknot-bearing hipster girls but that's obviously not what it's made of.)

favourite blog: A Beautiful Mess has been one of my favourite blogs for a really long time but it really steps it up during these months of the year. I'd recommend anything to do with fashion, food and home decor. Okay, so basically the entire blog.

favourite event: There has been a bunch of smaller, lovely events such as my weekly tea and cake nights but one main event that I really enjoyed is getting my hair cut. Going from hair that reached halfway down my chest to a shaggy pixie cut was one of my more dramatic hair changes but luckily I love the new look.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Week 39 - work and new haircut

Exciting things happened this week because I had a bunch of things to do at the start of the week and then before I knew it I was starting a new job (which is shift work) on Thursday. 8am-8pm both Thursday and Friday. I didn't think I could possibly be more tired when I got home on the Thursday, but I was wrong. After doing the daily 40 minutes of Insanity after a 12 hour shift, that's when I couldn't possibly have been more tired. Other than exhaustion, it was nice to be back to working again. Insanity is also still going strong and me and Steve have done four out of nine weeks now. (Now it's time for a recovery week and then we're thrown into the second month which all reviews promise is simply terrifying.)

On Saturday morning I got up early, drove to the hairdresser's and got my hair cut off. It wasn't as spontaneous and exciting as I just made it sound as I had pondered it for at least a year or more. I only told my boyfriend, one of my brothers and a friend that I was definitely doing it (just in case I'd mention it to someone who'd talk me out of it) and I have now gotten so many lovely comments from friends and family who've seen the first picture I posted online. I like it too (although not quite satisfied with the weird squirrel colour I've got going on) and it's so exciting to brush and wash my hair. It takes no time at all! Not too mention the speed with which I blow dry it. It's actually fully possible to wash my hair in the mornings now rather than sticking it into the category of "things I need to do for two hours in the evening before going to bed". So very pleased with this new lack of hair thing I've got going on...

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Week 38 - making home "homey"

Images from my Instagram. 

So this was the first week of being at home again and my god, it's boring to be home. Having a lie in is no fun if you can have one everyday. (And precisely because I can have a lie in, I obviously can't. Instead I'm awake at 8am and eventually get up out of boredom.) Since I was home more I also ended up spending more time trying to make our house comfortable and ready for the new season. I ended up stomping around the trees behind Steve's parents' garden, looking for pine cones that were an appropriate size and not too dirty. I then painted them with some gold and metallic nail polish and put them in a vase. Voila. Totally autumn-esque. I also found out that on Monday there was 100 days left until Christmas and in this blog post the idea of saving £1 a day was suggested. Obviously I'm all over having money during Christmas so I found a little jar and I now put £1 in it, every day. We'll see how long it lasts because I am the worst at saving money.

I've also minded Steve's nieces and nephews, spent time with friends, cleaned the house and baked a cheesecake. The third week of Insanity is now over (it's still insane, people) and I'm still listening to Radio 1's live acts every weekday. There is clearly no such thing as too much routine for me. On Friday me and Steve babysat another pair of nephew + niece and watched the latest Star Trek movie as well since we had nothing better to do. (I thought the first half was so-so, but the second half was surprisingly good.) Last night I was out with friends as the designated driver and yet today was miserable. Instead of waking up with a slight hangover I woke up with a raging cold. Just my luck. Luckily Downton Abbey is back on TV as of today and I cannot wait for next Sunday. I've already cried four times during the first episode* and if that's not a good sign I don't know what is. *Not exaggerating, unfortunately.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Reading The Red Book

Third and last book review from my summer holidays. Enjoy (or not, it's totally up to you!)

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan intrigued me because the book is based on a real thing, a book which keeps all Harvard graduates updated about each other. It's like Facebook, but in a real book. And also with a slightly snobby undertone, obviously. How exciting. The story is actually set 20 years after the four main characters have graduated and the twentieth reunion for the class of '89 is approaching. Four friends and their families have met up for this major event and obviously the reunion brings back (hilarious) behaviours and desires for a lot of things that they had forgotten about.  Intervening the story are the small paragraphs describing each graduate's life (in their own words) and is ultimately a record of how successful you've been. As the story goes on you become more and more aware that although the surface can look perfect, there is a lot of things going on beneath.

This may sound like a really boring book that only caters for middle-aged women. It's not. Or maybe it does suit that group but I'm most certainly not that age group and I really liked it. Ultimately, it's about four very different friends and the different paths that they have chosen throughout their lives. It's also about acknowledging mistakes that you are making right at this moment and trying to do something about it before it's too late. There is a lot of hilarious moments when these characters come together and a sense of relief when you realise that these perfect lives aren't always what they seem. The posh artist has no more money and the perfect mother misses the stage. However, this is not a book about fairness. There is not an equal amount of tragedy and sorrow dished out between the graduates and that is what makes it so much more realistic. And sad. I bought the book because I loved the idea of the real Red Book, but I ended up loving the characters a lot more than the original idea.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

10 reasons to smile 17.0

Home on a Tuesday which started with me wrestling with the fire alarm for 90 minutes this morning ---> Happy post necessary, obviously!

Image from here.

one - I found peanut butter ice cream in the freezer, which I am now eating. Straight from the tub. Steve will never know so there's no point in being classy here (is there ever?)

two - Have you heard Arctic Monkey's new album AM? If not I'm going to do you a massive favour and point you towards the Monkey direction because this album is amazing. Spotify-link. Such a good sound that will make any hip sway. 

three - Speaking of music, I'm still loving More September over on Radio 1. Around noon every day I have to listen to radio. My favourite part is the covers that the bands do rather than when they play their own music (what can I say, I am a sucker for indie bands singing Rihanna songs). Favourites so far include Bastille covering Miley Cyrus' We Can't Stop, Imagine Dragons - Not Giving In (originally by Rudimental) and Arctic Monkeys - Hold On, We're Going Home (by Drake originally). 

four - On Thursday I'm seeing friends and I need social contact.

five - Me and Steve started doing the insanity workouts two weeks ago and there's definitely some serious results showing up here. Not so much from an aesthetic aspect but I can do a lot more jumping jacks a lot faster now. Tonight we'll be doing the Fitness Test for the first time since we started and I cannot wait to compare my fitness level. In general, I'm really liking exercise lately (clearly I am not the same person I used to be.)

six - It's 99 days left until Christmas. (We're down into double digits people!) I've even decorated a little jar in which I put £1 in every day until Christmas. The aim is that I should have saved up £100 around Christmas time and then I don't have to worry about not being able to afford fancy Christmas biscuits and such when that time rolls around. 

seven - And it's September. Do I need to say more? Fall/Autumn. I'm a blogger cliche, complete with scarves and hot drinks in my iPhone selfies.

eight - I've been thinking a lot about my home lately. Obviously in an ideal world I'd be able to go out and buy lots of stuff that I want. That's not going to happen anytime soon, so instead I've been shopping around in my home instead. On Sunday I went out and picked pinecones that I have now painted gold with nail polish and put in a vase. I'm also planning on getting a few things up on the walls. It only took me 7 months of living here (I'm speedy like that). 

nine - Downton Abbey starts on Sunday. Everyone, lets get ready to never make any plans for Sundays, ever.

ten - September seems to be a baking month. I made (horrific) lemon muffins the first week, cookies the second week and this week I'm making a baked cheesecake. Get ready for some more food Instagrammin'.

Woah. I feel better. (Last year's September happiness post.)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Week 37 - it's basically fall now

Images from my Instagram.

This week I feel like it's become fall in a proper way. Possibly because I've spent my mornings waiting for the train and walking through a park in Belfast in the most drizzly, gray weather (see first picture) it's become more apparent than if I had been at home. Not that I mind in the least, I'm sure everyone here knows how obsessed I am with fall. And everything that comes with it, in particular; wearing boots, heating up my hands with a cup of coffee, listening to More Music September on BBC Radio 1 (which I'm usually not so fussed on but oh my god Imagine Dragon's cover of Not Giving In and most other live artists have been amazing), watching the Great British Bake-Off and counting down the days until Downton Abbey starts again, lighting the first fire of the season (eh yes, I lit it in June but it doesn't count) and seeing the Christmas scents stocking the shelves in department stores. I'm now looking for a simple way to make my house a bit more... fall-ish. I'm sorry that I become such a cliched nightmare during the change of the seasons. Or not.

On Thursday I made cookies for Friday night, which was spent with a friend drinking tea/coffee and a particularly delicious chocolate cake that she brought as well. Steve was in Belfast for a gaming night (which is basically just another word for 'an all-male, adult sleepover') so I had the house to myself all evening. The bed sheets were so neat when I woke up without Steve next to me that I'm considering never letting him sleep in the bed again. (So much time saved making the bed!) On Saturday I went out for lunch with the same friend again and then we walked around and dreamed about the stuff we would buy if we could. Orla Kiely's kitchen products tend to make me swoon. I also got two presents, a sample of Steamcream (which I tried last night and love) and a really nice peach lipstick/lipgloss. Me and Steve had an evening in with a take-away and tonight I'm seeing friends again. Insanity is still going strong but luckily for us, Sunday is a rest-day. (I don't think I could take a seventh day of doing exercise anyway.)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Reading The Devil Wears Prada

Hello second book review (only one more left, I promise)!

Can I start by explaining that I have a tendency to be a bit snobbish when it comes to books and that is why when I heard of this book the first time I refused to read it. Because I don't do chic-lit. And then I read about the sequel and people were so excited about it, coinciding with the fact that I have matured (a tiny bit) and realised that it's okay to not always be a wannabe-intellectual. So I read the sample, laughed a lot and then I bought the book. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger is about Andrea, a young graduate who wants to write for the New Yorker (obviously) but accidentally attends an interview for a personal assistant job, which she then accepts as it is for a major publishing house. Unfortunately, her boss turns out to be a complete nightmare. Andrea stays as she has heard that if she can stand to work there for a year she will be able to move on to a more lucrative job after that. Her constant working, her nightmare boss who demands the most impossible things and the fashion world that is slowly turning her into one of "them" starts to affect her friendships and her long-term boyfriend.

This is not the most brilliantly written book, ever. And the story is so-so. But it is really funny and it makes for a very good read when you're on holiday and you'd rather not deal with sobbing into the pages of your book because it's so deep that your forehead is hurting from all the frowning. It's also nice to read a book which deals with someone who's in your situation; you've got a degree of varying level of importance and although you have a dream job, it's not looking like you'll be getting it anytime soon. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded that a lot (or the majority maybe even) are in that situation right after university. This is not a book which deals with any amazing character development. I will probably not remember a lot about it in a year's time. But it is definitely funny and the ending is actually really good.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Living room wishlist

You may remember the sad tour of my living room? There's so many things missing. And somehow it's still the most finished room in the house, which says a lot about the rest of the house I guess. In preparation for actual money earning (ha!) I have decided that I have to finish one room at a time. No hopping in between projects. Therefore I have made an exact list of the things that I want for the room that I will tackle first, which happens to be the living since it's the closest to being finished. (The least finished room is the computer room/guest room. I shudder to even think about the fights I have to have with Steve when I explain to him that his computer chair is the most gross thing I have ever laid my eyes on.) Obviously I'll only be able to buy one object at a time and it will most likely not be any of these things as I do not have a ridiculous budget. But a girl can dream, right? 

The first and most important thing is the little sideboard that I want. Oh, how I have dreamt about a sideboard. Technically, the space in which I want to house the sideboard that it's not even a sideboard. Just a... cupboard. But this little beauty from MADE would look oh so good next to my fire place. (And they make it in gray too. Someone restrain me.) The sideboard (or whatever-board) would house our DVDs and other unsightly but necessary objects. On top of the sideboard I would keep little lights and these light holders from Graham & Green are perfect for my autumn dreams. (By the way, £12 seems okay for six light holders, right? Oh no. They are £12 individually. Shoot me now.) Over the sideboard I would keep three white shelves but there is no need for photos of them. They are in every corner at IKEA, obviously. 

I also dream of a chair to put in my corner, which would allow a fifth person to sit down in our front room. A chair is particularly difficult to choose because 1) there is literally no limit on how much a chair can cost apparently, 2) I'd like it to have a weird mixture between 60s and funky modern yet 3) be comfortable. I'm not sure this chair, also from Graham & Green, is comfortable or in my price league but it's definitely cool. (Speaking of Graham & Green, they have got an excellent autumn collection, full of weird and quirky and AWESOME things. E.g. a round glass sidetable with golden legs shaped like twigs. Whaaat.) Although I am strangely fond of our gifted floor lamp I would like some type of lamp that looks a little bit like a spaceship and this lamp from West Elm does. Last but not least, I want a giant, soft rug. I wrote about rugs six months ago and mentioned rugs that look a lot like this one from Heal's. Since then I have seen this type of rug show up in a lot of different places (on Pinterest, where else would I be seeing these things 'pop up'?) and for a while I wondered if that had put me off this rug. No, it hasn't. Please buy me rug like this.
(Audible sigh.) Why is my taste so expensive at times? 

P.S. Affordable version of this wishlist found on IKEA here, here, here, here and here. I know. It's not the same...

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Week 36 - insanity and hot water bottles

Images from my Instagram.

Another week of working (in the top left picture you can see the view from my office. Not too shabby!) This week was pretty good and I got a lot of work done. Work has been a bit lonely since I'm alone nearly all of the time in an office but I went out for lunch with an old classmate on Wednesday which helped. Me and Steve also started the Insanity workouts on Tuesday. (As if we didn't have enough to do.) For anyone who's not familiar with it, it's about 40 minutes of very intense cardio, six times a week for 60 days. Sounds right up my street (or not). Surprisingly enough, it's actually quite fun and exercising with a buddy (or sweaty boyfriend) makes it worth it. Despite the fact that it means sacrificing my running for a while...

On Friday I had friends over for biscuits and tea and late night chats. I also made lemon drizzle muffins which turned out horrible. I couldn't eat even one of my muffins, that's how bad they were. Obviously my guests were too polite to say so. Instead they claimed that they were too full to eat it all and brought the rest home in a napkin. Presumably straight for the bin. Overall I haven't been feeling to well this weekend and apart from a short outing last night with friends for drinks and dancing, I've spent most of the time on the couch with a hot water bottle and all that the internet can offer. The knowledge that there is less than a month left until salaries are paid is starting to make me more and more greedy. I want to start buying Christmas presents! Stuff for my house! Makeup and clothes! There is no end to the things I want. Poor Steve, it's gonna be a lean Christmas for him.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Reading May We Be Forgiven

Let's talk about books, because I read three of them in the space of one week on my holiday!

May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes is a book that causes you to choke on the snack during the first few chapters. It starts off quite funny (I myself bought the book thinking it was a funny novel about a dysfunctional family - which it sort of is) and then bam! Car crash, death, mental institution etc. The book follows Harry who never gets very emotional ever and who prefers to live his life with as little disruption to it as possible as he pretends to work on his book about Nixon. This works until he moves in with his aggressive brother's family following a fatal car crash caused by said brother. One thing leads to another and suddenly he finds himself being the sole guardian for his niece and nephew and the family dog and cat. Harry tries a number of different ways to deal with his new situation, with varying results of success. I can't say more without spoiling the book.

Don't get me wrong - this is a funny book. Incredibly funny, even. Harry as a character has the funniest, random thoughts and reading about the events from his point of view is hilarious at times. But the story is also very dark and it makes your stomach churn more than once. More than any of those things it is incredibly touching and while reading it a certain love for each one of the characters - with all their flaws - grows and you can't help but get emotionally invested in Harry and his new family. As if that wasn't reason enough to read it, the writing by AM Homes is wonderful and has an original, witty undertone throughout the entire book. I had to ration this book out so that it would last for a full two days. If that isn't a sign of a good book I don't know what is.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

August favourites

favourite on tv/movie: I saw 50/50 early on in this month and it is definitely up there in my B+ Category (for reference I don't just put movies in the A category on a whim. This is serious business.) Joseph Gordon-Lewitt gets cancer, which sounds like my worst nightmare but luckily it's his character, not him. And it's funny and sad and just heartwarming. I feel like watching it again.

50/50. Image from here.

favourite purchase: Shocking revelation: I almost didn't buy a single thing during entire of August, until the last day of August when I bought an office skirt (£5 from Primark, couldn't say no). So obviously that has to be my favourite purchase. The only purchase.

favourite music: I have been loving Lana Del Rey's album from last summer the last few weeks and HOW have I missed out on it before? Especially loving Blue Jeans and Radio (go listen!).

favourite food: Banana oat muffins are a thing, I swear. This takes literally no time to make (grab a bunch of ingredients, throw it in the blender and pop it in the oven) and is perfect for bringing to work. Plus it's banana so it must be healthy.

favourite drink: During Malta I became obsessed with ice tea and I'm now having withdrawal symptoms. I suppose I could just buy ice tea here but it's just not the same when it's not hot outside.

favourite beauty item: This is unusually tricky as I've been working (no time for experimenting) and on holiday (no point in wearing makeup) most of this month. I have to say that after I came back from my holiday (with a tan) I've been using my Revlon Nearly Naked foundation and it looks better than ever now that my skin is definitely tan enough for the 'sand' shade. Can I also say that not wearing foundation seems to be a definite no for me at work since about halfway through I start looking like a zombie. Is this common?

favourite blog: Two With Seven is new on my blog reading list but just so lovely. Beautiful pictures and I love her way of writing.

favourite event: How could I pick anything but our holiday to Malta? I cannot wait to plan our next trip away. (Like, in four years or so.)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Week 35 - four years with Steve

Images from my Instagram. 

It's 1st of September! Which happens to not be my favourite month, but the month right before my favourite month. And it is officially fall now (according to me), which definitely my favourite season because I love fall so much. I am definitely one of those people who overdose on the general snuggly atmosphere involving hot drinks, warm sweaters and apple pie. Feel free to hate me but I will never change. As if all those good things weren't enough entire fall is one long countdown for Christmas season. I love Christmas time. More than the actual Christmas Day, to be honest. I'm going to stop talking about seasons now before this turns into an essay.

So I have worked for another week and it was great in every way. Monday happened to be a bank holiday and I met up with a particularly amazing friend for coffee and a shared bun. (Yes, I shared a bun. What has happened to me? Of course, to counter that one healthy act I then bought two buns to go for me and Steve.) Work was good but stressful because there was a lot to do and I ended up working until half eight in the evening on Thursday which is not common for me. I have a lot of respect for the people who manage to work 12 hour shifts on a regular basis. The work itself was not hard at all (quite fun actually!) but the tiredness set in when I got home and entire Friday felt like it should have been substituted by a good nap.

Yesterday we went to a leaving due for two friends who are going away travelling for a few months, which is a bit sad for the rest of us. The party itself was good however. Today I've felt horrendous, partly because I may have had too many drinks last night (note to self; do not drink Bacardi and tropical juice) but also because I did a kick boxing routine yesterday morning. I am rarely sore after exercising nowadays but today I can barely move my arms. Today is also mine and Steve's four year anniversary! This day, four years ago, we became a couple and I don't want to be cheesy but he's pretty great. Because of budget restrictions we couldn't go out for a fancy meal so we chose the next best option; driving to Belfast for a burrito. Seriously, these burritos outclass a lot of fancy meals that I've ever had. We may have bought a third one to share later tonight...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Malta part ii

Welcome to the second post about Malta which will feature very few words and a lot of pictures of good ol' H2O. Really, this is basically not a post about Malta, just sea.

The one thing that I actually wanted to do was to visit Comino, a little island between Malta and Gonzo. Apparently there's basically no people who live on this island, apart from a priest and three more. And Cast Away was filmed there. For some reason that's all I needed to hear. (Because it seemed plausible that the island would be empty but Tom Hanks would still be sitting there with Wilson, waiting for me.)

Steve somehow managed to convince me that we'd be better off taking a boat tour that travel around several lagoons and then stops at Comino for a couple of hours. He's a smart man, that Steve.

Unfortunately the boat was completely full and so the company offered to take us and another twenty people on board a little speedboat. Obviously I counted the number of passengers on the boat and we were most definitely over the limit. But no one else said anything, so I played it cool. I can risk my life just like everyone else.

The lagoons had ridiculously clear, turquoise water. It was made for picture taking.

But the caves were dirty. (This may have been Smuggler's Cave.)

Elephant's head, some random girl's head and the Santa Maria Caves.

A port in Gonzo that I can't remember the name of but it was cute. And I liked the little boats too, it reminded me of Croatia. (I kept getting weird smell-sensations, a mixture between memories from the coast by Croatia and also sometimes Saudi-Arabia. Weird.)

The Blue Lagoon at Comino was, as promised in every brochure, stunning. When I took this picture I actually tried capturing the many fish that swam about but that wasn't possible.

What the brochures didn't tell you was that there was a lot of tourists. Like a lot. So many that there was no space left on the beach or the cliffs to actually sunbathe and instead we just stayed on the boat and went into the water from there. Even the water was cramped a lot of the times. (How can a sea be cramped?!)

It was obviously still pretty to look at. (We couldn't swim out further than the people are in that picture because of boats that were constantly coming in and out of the lagoon.)

After three hours we left Comino and the water was beautiful in the soft late afternoon light.

Crystal Lagoon. I wish we could have stopped here for swimming instead, it was almost empty of people.

The last night before leaving Malta we walked around in Mellieha after dinner and just enjoyed looking at the buildings and the people. I especially liked the church, its courtyard and the funky streetlights that were everywhere. Not to mention that because Mellieha is situated on a hill and the church is at the very top there was an amazing view. Overall I had such a great time in Malta and I'd love to go back some day in the future.