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...