Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 recap

I have this obsession when it comes to documenting my own life. The thought of not doing a "2014" recap actually hurt me a little bit, so I'm doing one. For the sake of looking back and reading next year, if nothing else.

In 2014 I...

... Successfully survived my first year of my PhD course. It's been ~ million times harder than I thought but also really fun.

... Read 52 books in total over the year. I'm so happy that I succeeded with this goal! I'm never doing this again!

... I spent a full 10 days in Sweden in May + another week in Sweden this Christmas. (I haven't had this much time in Sweden since I moved away and it felt amazing.)

... Apart from Sweden I also spent a day in Copenhagen, two days with Steve outside Dublin and a weekend in London. No festivals despite my goals last year. I've given up on them now.

... Exercised regularly through-out the entire year, ran my longest run ever (not to mention my earliest and coldest) and joined a gym for the first time ever.

... Presented my study twice and won best poster at the second conference.

In 2015 I'm looking forward to...

... Getting a cat! Crazy Cat Lady identity, it is finally happening.

... Visiting someplace new this year, I'm thinking Manchester or Edinburgh.

... Presenting a full talk on my study at a conference.

... Getting curtains for the bedroom and the office. Important life goals.

... Hopefully save up enough to buy the least expensive car in the world.

This year's achievements were a lot less tangible than last year's but... I feel like this year was all about getting myself organised whether it's work, exercise or personal economy. My real goal is to become one of those insufferable people who has everything together in life. Happy New Year! (Here's my 2013 and 2012 recap.)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

10 reasons to smile 30.0

Image by Waldersten, on my Pinterest.

one - Five weeks until Christmas! Five weeks minus a day from now I will be sitting on an airplane to Sweden and Steve will be there too, hooray. I've grown quite accustomed to travelling back and forth so the journey is not particularly exciting to do on my own. Together with someone else it's still quite special however.

two - I am obsessed with the gym. I don't feel that way right before I have to go to the gym, but the day in between the gym-days - that day is full of sore muscles and post-gym-smugness.

three - There's blue cheese, hummus and twelve servings of soup in my fridge. (Not to be eaten together.)

four - Against all odds, I'm up to date with my one-book-a-week-all-2014. I stopped doing the book reviews, partly because I was too busy but mainly because they were boring me to death. (Not to mention how everyone else felt.) Anyway, forcing myself to read a book each week meant that I've read a huge amount of great books plus a bunch of classics that I've wanted to read forever. Will I do the same challenge in 2015? Never.

five - I'm in the office tomorrow. Free lattes all around.

six - Last weekend we put up a picture and a wall clock (a new clock! The best clock in the world!) and it made a huge difference to the bedroom and kitchen. I'm now on a home-improvement roll. Not ideal right before Christmas.

seven - I have a lot of my gifts sorted already. This year me, Steve, his sisters and their husbands are all doing secret santa rather than spending a fortune buying for everyone. I love secret santa!

eight - It's been about nine and a half months since I started growing my hair out and I'm finally at a place where I'm happy with it. I could easily keep at it this length for a while if I wanted to (but I don't). Either way, it's nice to finally feel like when people comment on my hair I don't have explain that I haven't actually chosen this hairstyle myself.

nine - In about a week and a half I will allow myself to decorate the house for Christmas. So much decorating to do, so little time.

ten - I'm halfway through my autumn capsule wardrobe and I'm not even slightly bored with it yet. Does this mean that I won't have to spend a fortune in January for my winter capsule? Probably not.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Easy Christmas decorating

If I could do whatever I wanted with an unlimited Christmas budget, I would spend a fortune on Christmas decorations each year. New tree, new baubles, the whole shebang. Alas, I do not have an unlimited Christmas fund and I also don't have unlimited amounts of time to craft together masterpieces. (Although I wish I had - I'm dreaming of a Christmas tree entirely decorated in intricate origami-creations.) So I thought I'd scroll through my Pinterest and pick out a couple of things that are totally doable for me. 

1. Candles in a little mugs with moss etc. There is something about the addition of moss that screams "childhood" to me but I'm not sure why. Either way, I have a topped up candle storage all year round, nuts will be bought for Christmas anyway and there are cinnamon sticks in the cupboard somewhere. All I need is moss and suddenly - cute little table decorations.

2. I already have a (less fancy) coffee station but I imagine that adding a few cups or mismatched jars of cinnamon sticks and candy canes will make it even better for the holidays. Unless someone actually wants candy canes in their coffee, because mine are fake. Whoops.

3. Somewhere in the depths of my Christmas decoration boxes is a mountain of bells meant to decorate our Christmas tree, given to me by Steve's mom and never ever used because it just doesn't go with the rest of our tree decorations. I now finally know what to do with them.

4. This picture actually offers two tips in one. First of all, I'm planning to have a nice little arrangement of branches on my kitchen table (rather than a Christmas tree in the corner) this year. There's just not enough space, people! Plus branches are free from the park. Secondly, I do love hyacinths but this is a nice updated version which is less "in your face". I also have stacks of glass candle holders just waiting for something like this to happen.

P.S. Before any of this can happen I need to sort out a couple of things which has been on my to-do list for almost two years now. Like curtains in our bedroom and office. Yes, I'm ashamed of myself...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Week 45 - gym and Interstellar

Another week has passed! This time without any pictures. I guess I just took far too many the week my some of my family was over. This week was busy but good, so I'm just gonna casually list the good stuff (because I should really be in bed but instead I need to listen to the main theme of Interstellar for the millionth time).

  • So I got up this morning and told Steve that I really wanted to do something and he suggested going to the cinema to watch Interstellar. I think daytime cinema is my favourite type of cinema-excursion and I really wanted to see that particular film. It is really, really good. The music is stunning and obviously Matthew McConaughey is <3
  • Last night I was home alone and somehow I managed to watch nine episodes of The Office (the US version), many of them while I was lying in the bath tub. As you'd expect, it was a good Saturday night. 
  • Me and Steve have also joined a gym this past week and I'm surprisingly happy to go there. I like doing the strength training and I'm ready to get that inner body builder out. (Ha.)
All in all, a good week!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

October favourites

Tonight I got home late, tripped over a bathroom hose, dropped a yogurt on the floor and then dropped a whole dish of casserole. It was one of those moments where I had to swear and then take a couple of deep breaths. I feel better now. And it's November!

Image from my Pinterest.

favourite on tv/movie: Me and Steve are back in that dark place of zombie-worshiping. E.g. we're back to watching The Walking Dead. (Still only on season 4!)

favourite purchase: October was the month of clothes shopping and I am so pleased with my autumn wardrobe, in particular a burgundy leather skirt and a pair of brown Chelsea boots. (I never claimed to be interesting in my fashion choices).

favourite book: Without doubt, The Secret History. So dreamy, romantic, intriguing and haunting, all at the same time.

favourite music: For the first time in months I didn't do a specific playlist buuuut... After watching a Swedish TV show called "Modellpojkarna" (about male models) I downloaded the playlist and I'm loving it.

favourite food: Brunch in Belfast a couple of Sundays ago.

favourite beauty item: I've rediscovered the Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation. A foundation, I know. It's not very fun, but it's the truth. I've also liked the Soap & Glory gloss sticks. All are quite old favourites!

favourite blog: Due to the non-existent free time this month I don't really have a favourite blog.

favourite event: Definitely my family visiting which was so unbelievably cozy and I'm not quite over their departure yet because they only left two days ago.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Week 44 - halloween + family

All images are from my Instagram.

I have missed my weekly Sunday update several weeks in a row - which is definitely a first. Unfortunately, even if I did have time to write them I would have nothing to write about because all I've been doing is WORK. Apart from a dinner party which Steve made profiteroles for, a break for IKEA and ever since Monday when my mom and my little brother arrived to stay for a full week. They're still here, so I'm gonna make this short:

During the week I have bleached my brother's hair, gotten my own hair cut shorter again (it's all one length, finally!), attended a birthday party for Steve's niece, paid money to walk through a forest trail with my friends while actors pretending to be serial killers chased us (I am also wondering why I decided to pay to get scared), carved a pumpkin, handed out sweets for trick-or-treaters and went shopping with my family. It has been an amazing week off and I haven't missed work one bit...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Reading The Secret History

Guuuuyyys.... I'm not sure where to start with this book. I can't believe that I haven't heard about it until after reading The Goldfinch earlier this year. If you haven't already figured it out, this is another review of a Donna Tartt book.

The Secret History follows Richard, a Californian who feels suffocated by his family and decides to study at a college in New England to escape his current surroundings. When he gets accepted into the highly eccentric Greek class, at first he feels alienated from the other five students who are brilliant, arrogant and wealthy but they soon become his closest friends. However, the others have a secret and when Richard finds out about it he realises that it he is unavoidably part of it too...

The story is presumably set at some point in the late 80s when the book was released, but in almost all aspects it feels timeless, possibly because of the dreamy feel through-out the book. I am well aware that it won't be everyone's cup of tea - some may feel like it is a pretentious novel, written so that the author can show off her obscure knowledge. Personally, I love that. And the characters are pretentious, in an obvious and humorous way. They spend all their time drinking scotch or wine and discussing ancient Greek phenomena. Of course they are supposed to be pretentious. However, what gets to me is the beautiful way that it's written and how the characters were so easy to like, yet they also scared me. It's a wonderful and simultaneously haunting story to read. One of my best reads this year, without a doubt.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Reading NPCs

Continuing in the same style as last week; I read yet another nerdy book, this time taking it one step further by reading one that centers around a board game. Please don't judge me.

Drew Hayes has written a book in which we find out that when a tabletop game ends, it doesn't necessarily end the story for the NPCs in it. When four geeky boys lose their characters to poisonous mushrooms, four NPCs decide to take on their roles and carry out the quest found on dead adventorous. A gnome, two humans and a half-orc with little to no experience of adventuring, they know themselves that they hardly stand a chance but somebody needs to answer the summoning of the king. During the journey they get to know their roles, do a bit of swapping around and also stumble into vicious and unexpectedly strategic demons along the way.

This is like Toy Story for (nerdy) adults - your game is actually real and the NPCs have their own lives. Except for that the parts that actually include any references to the tabletop players are the least enjoyable parts and for the most of the story it just feels like any light-hearted fantasy novel. And not a bad one at that. The characters are likable and with realistic personalities. I also appreciated that it didn't conform to traditional gender roles (although how the NPCs related to each of their role didn't necessarily satisfy me). It's not badly written either and the story is interesting and funny. I am looking forward to the sequel!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

10 reasons to smile 29.0

Image from here.

one - it's not even 10pm and I'm in my bed. In pyjamas. With home-made eclairs in the fridge.

two - directly related to the first point; my boyfriend is the type who decides to randomly make homemade eclairs. HOW CUTE IS THAT. (soppy but true)

three - there's less than two weeks until my mom and brother arrive!

four - although I feel like I'm working myself to death or maybe a small coma I'm so happy with what I do.

five - my autumn capsule wardrobe is complete! Eleven new items and I'm £40 below my original budget.

six - I finished The Secret History last night by Donna Tartt and it was so good. So good if you (like me) enjoy novels set at colleges in forgotten towns, with main characters who wear ties, study Greek and drink far too much. All described as romantic as it possibly could be.

seven - I'm so excited for Christmas. Excited to be off at the same time as Steve for two weeks and excited to be going to Sweden for one of them!

eight - a while back I mentioned the app "Spending" and it has been a complete lifesaver. Adding every single purchase that I make means I keep track of my money (and I have never been good at that). Plus when I feel like my pay just disappeared and I have nothing to show for it I can just check my app and ask myself why I spent another £20 on books. Revelations.

nine - yes, I realise I'm talking about Christmas twice in one post but Christmas stuff are in-store and I have converted from hating anything Christmassy before December to being a firm believer that there is no such thing as too much Christmas.

ten - me and Steve have decided to start going to the gym. I'm looking forward to being able to run on a treadmill rather than in the pitch black at 6am, wondering if monsters really do exist.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Week 41 - working and baking

All images are from my Instagram.

It's 5pm and I just closed my notebooks and decided to stop working for the day. On a Sunday. I continuously ask myself where this motivation comes from and how far will I fool myself into keeping up with this PhD malarky before I realise that I am far too lazy? It's an exciting experiment in itself. The two pictures above certainly say everything about what my weekend has looked like; baking American style cinnamon buns and doing work from home. (But I was also out yesterday to run errands/have lunch with Steve and today we went shopping for a long-sleeved running top and high-vis vest for me and copious amounts of Vanilla Coke for him. Can you see a pattern here?)

Speaking of buying workout gear, I have only done two workouts this week. At the start of the week I had the best intentions and my first two workouts were done by Wednesday - and then it dropped. I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning doing everything to convince my body to stay in bed and unfortunately I'm very persuasive on that matter. I'm hoping the allure of a high-vis vest will get me out and running tomorrow morning because surely the prospect of not facing near death while running on country roads is all that it takes to get motivated again? It remains to be seen.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Reading the Magic 2.0 series

These two books are just as ridiculously nerdy as they sound and I stumbled upon them when looking for something similar to Ready Player One.

The Magic 2.0 books are about a young man named Martin who isn't interested in using his hacking talents to do anything particularly rebellious beyond wasting his time on lonely weekends. However, one night Martin finds a file with his name in it, a file with a code which seems to run everything in this world. By changing the code the real world also changes - including Martin's bank account. Unfortunately it doesn't take long before two agents from the US treasury department find out about money mysteriously appearing in Martin's bank account and he is forced to use his escape plan; traveling back in time to England in the Middle Ages and pretend to be a wizard through the use of the file. 

One of the best things about this series is that it allows a marriage of sci-fi and fantasy. There is a Matrix-like premise of the plot (reality can be altered), there are constant nerdy pop culture references but also spells and wizard hats. What's not to like? The dialogue is funny for the most part if you are into that type of humour and the characters are all likable (although it's not a deep book, there's not much development). Sometimes I felt like the way in which the author dished out his jokes became too repetitive but it didn't stop me from finding the books really entertaining. However, it is definitely a niche book - I don't think it would be as funny if you haven't embraced your inner geek and show a love of video games, comic books or board games.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tuesday October wish list

Random things that I would like right at this moment.

- Plants all over my house. Usually plant-focus makes a reappearance around spring-time but I feel like it's a definite trend this year. Plants all the time. P.S. I endorse fake ones.

- New baubles for Christmas. I've got ideas. Copper, rose gold and plain gold in frantic amounts.

- A cat. Now that cats are being discussed in my household of two, I cannot stop thinking about them.

- A nail polish which succeeds in being gray without making my hands look dead. Because they do that un-painted already, thank you very much.

- Decaf coffee, which isn't necessarily what is shown in the picture. Hey ho. I just want coffee but it's too late to drink the ordinary kind. I'm happy to keep my legs covered though, it's freezing outside for god's sake.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Week 40 - rain and work and other not so thrilling stuff

I was so busy in work last week. And it rained as if the world was ending. But good news is that I managed to get back into exercising (at least a little bit), I went to a house party on Saturday (which was fun) and I've got all my meals planned for the week. Don't mock me, these are the type of things that I live for. Almost every evening I've been playing online games with my little brother which has also cheered me up to no end <3

Less fun things include that all my money that is kept aside for "fun stuff" this month is pretty much gone after buying the last pieces of my capsule wardrobe. Eleven items and I'm done with clothes shopping until January! I'm quite proud of myself if you can't tell. Spread out over three months it means that I've spent a lot less than my allocated budget for clothes and shoes but the overall quality is a step higher. A more detailed description of what I've bought will show up on the blog, eventually. (Is this pointless? I want to look back at this type of stuff when I'm old because I hope that I will still care about my organisational habits at the age of twenty-four.)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Reading The Bone Clocks

I have been waiting for David Mitchell's new novel to come out for so long that it was impossible to not have high expectations. As soon as the release date was out I had it saved in my calendar. Some of my favourite books have been written by him. This book had a lot to live up to.

The Bone Clocks follow Holly Sykes from the 1980s in England to a post-apocalyptic future in rural Ireland. At the age of sixteen Holly decides to run away after finding her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. She thinks of herself as a typical teenager but as visions and supernatural events occur it becomes clear that Holly is someone much less ordinary than you'd expect. The phenomena follow Holly throughout her life until she becomes directly part of a bloody war which has been going on for centuries without anyone being aware of it.

The narrator starts of being Holly herself but then there is a shift and her story unfolds through the narrative of people around her before returning to Holly again. In previous books by David Mitchell, the constant shift in storytelling was my biggest issue (I don't like saying goodbye to characters) but because the story remained structured around Holly, it worked very well even for me. It added to the richness of the story, to be allowed to see things from other people's viewpoints. The supernatural events start off taking a backseat and although in later chapters it becomes very much a novel with fantasy elements, it mainly feels like a book about a woman's life. (A fairly extraordinary life.)

David Mitchell often rewards returning readers by alluding to little objects from his previous books but in this book he has a whole previous character narrating and it happened to be a personal favourite of mine as well. Although the story is about a woman with psychic abilities there are many more levels to it, the most apparent being our treatment of the environment which is of direct importance in the post-apocalyptic part of the book. Of course, it's beautifully written (that goes without saying) without ever feeling superfluous in its description of places or events, and there is always a sense of vulnerability coupled with the familiar humorous tone embedded in the (at times quite dreamy) story line. 

The Bone Clocks lived up to all my expectations.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September favourites

It's October tomorrow?! I'm so content with life right now.

Image from my Pinterest.

favourite on tv/movie: Downton Abbey recently started again and is it really too much to ask to be the lady of a manor somewhere in England?

favourite purchase: I'm quite partial to our shelves in the living room because I have waited for so long for one of my rooms to feel complete and now it kind of does. It only took 18 months. (Speaking of rooms that feel complete, the guest room actually feels like it might be on minus towards completion.)

favourite book: It was always going to be The Bone Clocks and we all knew it. (Review coming soon!)

favourite music: In my September playlist I've loved FKA Twigs (which is not at all like me) and also Engineers (which is exactly like me).

favourite food: Probably the food at the little Italian restaurant which me and Steve went to at the start of the month. Overpriced, but so good.

favourite beauty item: Not strictly a beauty item, but I did buy the Origins Energizing moisturiser and I have no idea how I survived without it. My skin instantly looks better after I've used my moisturiser and yes, I realise it's some type of shimmer in the cream which tricks me into believing that my skin glows but I don't even care!

favourite blog: I've really been enjoying Marias Beautybox lately, which is a Swedish beauty blog. I feel like the Swedish blogging scene has been severely lacking in beauty blogs and way too full of fashion blogs so it's nice to find someone who is so knowledgeable when it comes to beauty and writes in my native language. (Which I seem to have forgotten how to speak lately.)

favourite event: Me and Steve had a weekend away since it was our fifth anniversary and the night included huge amounts of pasta and falling asleep in front of a movie. The telltale signs of a very good night.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Week 39 - babysitting over the weekend

All images are from my Instagram.

I've had a busy week. My cold is still lingering. I need to be asleep in a few minutes. In other words, I'm going to make this a quick post.

  • There was a conference at my university on Friday and I won an award for my presentation. (Out of eight people... but still.)
  • I haven't exercised all week and I've been so unhealthy too. 
  • We were babysitting Steve's nieces all weekend and so there's been a lot of video games, baking and watching classics such as "The Parent Trap". 
  • Steve's sister got me a lovely print as a thank you for helping out this weekend!
  • Autumn clothes shopping has begun. Oh yes. Seven out of my eleven pieces have been bought. 
  • I can put my hair up in a tiny, weird ponytail.
That is all for this week. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Reading Running Like A Girl

Things have been a little bit hectic/sickly lately. Hence the severe lack of blogging. However, I will remedy that and I'm starting it by typing a blog post at 1am in the morning. Prioritisation, I know all about it.

I am definitely that person who doesn't read many non-fictional books. Mainly because I feel like what is the point of non-fiction unless it's definitely fact and most non-fiction books will state all kinds of things without any type of source. (Where is the peer-evaluated study people?!) But I had heard such good things from my friend and various blogs about this book that I decided to pick it up anyway. And it was good.

Alexandra Heminsley takes you through her journey from a complete beginner runner, to someone who's done more than a handful of marathons. That enough is awe-inspiring but she does it with such an honest voice, never shying away from discussing the many times that she lost motivation, mentioning both good runs and bad runs and consistently doing so with a hilarious narrative. I ended up having it on my bedside table and reading it a little bit each night before I was going on a morning run, it was that inspiring. On top of her journey, you also get a whole bunch of useful tips and tricks. Finally, although the title originally had me worried I found none of that "working out to get skinny"-hype. Instead it was all about setting yourself a goal, pushing through it and becoming a stronger, more healthy person in the process. It was a refreshing book to read and now I want to read more books about running!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Week 37 & 38 - surviving a cold

There was no weekly update last week because I was feeling a bit under the weather. Anyone who knows me also knows that I'm a bit of a hypochondriac and I have a tendency to whine a lot. I felt better at the start of this week... And then the cold came back. In other words, I have done very little apart from surviving work. I finished the book The Bone Clocks (and it was just as good as I expected it to be) and yesterday me and Steve went to Lisburn to buy a couple of small things for the house. (Essentials like toilet brushes and yankee candles, obviously.) Today we visited Steve's sister and then we made French toast when we got home. All in all, a good Sunday.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

10 reasons to smile 28.0

Image from Pinterest.

one - I'm currently in the middle of a phase where I do a lot of just typing in my study, which I can do from home. In other words, I'm going to set my alarm for 7am and then just spend an hour in my bed, reading. (Don't hate me.)

two - Our new bed linen from H&M arrived and our bed is looking so fresh in its plain gray hue.

three - Running at 6am and then going into work is the latest thing. I can't decide whether it's gratifying or just purposeless and stupid.

four - I had a great work-related meeting today. As a PhD student getting even slight attention is like taking drugs. Cool drugs.

five - Currently I'm reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and it is so good.

six - I love this time of the year, students are back in class, everything's so pretty around the university area and I feel so revived and Downton Abbey is back on Sunday <3

seven - There's only a week left until payday! I'm excited for my autumn capsule wardrobe now. (Yes, I think of very little other.)

eight - In less than six weeks my mom and Elias are visiting!

nine - My hair is slowly growing. So slowly. But it's growing at least.

ten - I finally got Steve on board with getting a cat! Problem is, now he's really enthusiastic and I have to be the sensible one who wonders if we really can justify having a pet when we both work so much and are saving money for other things. This is why being an adult is just no fun.

P.S. September 2013 and September 2012. My favourites do not seem to change whatsoever.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Reading The Road

This week's read was a depressing one.

If you have seen the movie version of this book by Cormac McCarthy, you'll know that it's not a happy story. We follow a man and his son (known only as the man and the boy throughout the story) as they walk through a post-apocalyptic America, with the goal of getting to the coast. There are few people left and the ones that have survived are dangerous. Constantly battling starvation and trying to not be found by others, it is a grim world to have survived in. 

This is definitely not a book if you're feeling even slightly down and if you thought the movie was gruesome, this is even worse. It's a book that makes you lose all faith in humanity. But it's also interesting and beautifully written at times. (I say at times because it's quite disjointed and sometimes the narrative feels like reading off cooking instructions, but other times the expressions flow beautifully.) All in all, I think it's something quite different and well worth reading. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

More capsule wardrobe planning

I'm so tired.

Less than three weeks until purchasing for autumn capsule wardrobe 2014 begins! I can't believe I've made it this far. (I don't know why I'm acting as if I've won an Oscar... but for me, not buying clothes in three months kinda feels like I'm eligible for some type of award...) Presenting six things that I want:

1. Printed trousers for work. (Or maybe just gray.)
2. Colourful trainers now that I'm a super-sporty person. I own a book about running and everything.
3. A tartan scarf because I'm all about accessorising.
4. Warm headwear. My hat from last year should be burnt (I hate it so much) and instead I am taking my time and picking a nice hat this year.
5. A flannel shirt for a wood-chopping look. (Or chambray?)
6. Plain gold bands.

Accessories aren't included in the capsule wardrobe limit so I might go ahead and buy the scarf at some point soon. Like an appetizer for my grand shopping award at the end of this month.

All images are from my Pinterest.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Week 36 - anniversary and home stuff

This felt like a very busy week. I had a good and productive Monday at work (which absolutely flew by!) and it happened to be mine and Steve's anniversary. Unfortunately it was also a day during which Steve had to go for a work trip and he ended up arriving home after 8pm although with flowers and chocolate. The other nights I saw friends, attended a wedding reception and then yesterday me and Steve drove up to Enniskillen to have a more "proper" anniversary celebration.We went out for candlelit dinner at a ridiculously nice Italian place with napkins that cost more than our food and today we did absolutely nothing apart from take a walk down to a local ice cream place. (The only reason to ever leave the house on Sundays, if you ask me.) I finally got my shelves up earlier this week and I love it! The only thing missing from my front room is a rug and a small cushion for my armchair. Apart from that, I feel like I can finally call one room in my house "complete". 

I also went running twice this week, both times before work! The long run was on Friday and I managed to run 5 miles (8 km) which is the longest run I've ever done. My pace was 10.22/mile so I was happy with that too. Before you start applauding me... Those were my only two workouts apart from a couple of walks and I've been incredibly unhealthy all week. Happy, but unhealthy. Take-away on Wednesday, buns with my friend on Thursday, pulled pork burgers at the wedding on Friday and a giant portion of pasta carbonara yesterday. And I'm pretty sure we're having take-away tonight because I'm exhausted after all this relaxing... Eh, tomorrow is a new day.

P.S. The red mail box is a picture of me sending my vote for the Swedish elections. And then realising that I hadn't put a stamp on it. Only me.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Reading The Great Gatsby and The Bell Jar

Another two (short) classics!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'm going to be completely honest here. I only read The Great Gatsby because the book was free in the Amazon Kindle store. Don't judge me. The book has been very hyped lately because of the movie and the world's general revived obsession with the 1920s. I'm all about the twenties, I get that. We follow Gatsby who every Saturday holds the most extravagant and indulgent parties in the area, through the eyes of his neighbour Nick. To him Gatsby is a mystery, a man without a background who appeared out of thin air and made himself a fortune. Through Nick, Gatsby is reunited with his long lost love who has since married another man and it is through the love story that we solve the mystery.

I can definitely see why this book is so well-liked. The characters were interesting and I became just as fascinated by the love story (which at the time was probably not as cliche as it is today) as the book had set out for me to be. It is also well-written in quite a dreamy way. However, it wasn't until halfway through the book that I actually got sucked into the story! Nevertheless, a good read.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Contrary to my reasons for reading The Great Gatsby, I had been planning to read The Bell Jar for a long time. Not that I knew much about it other than that it was about "the decline of a young woman's mental health", which sounds exactly like something I'd be interested in. The young woman is Esther Greenwood and we join her in the story when she temporarily lives in New York and for the first time becomes unsure of what she wants to do in her life. During the summer she experiences a breakdown due to her worries about her future, the pressure of the expectations on her both in her writing and personally as a woman.

I really liked this book! Many people have criticised it for being depressing to read (and oh my god, it is depressing) but surely a book about depression cannot be anything but depressing. There has also been complaints about the main character but I found her refreshing, not content with living life typing shorthand and marrying a successful man which is what everyone else wants. I was amazed at how current the book was despite it being written in the 60s (and how it focused on women's issues that are being debated today) but most of all it was beautifully written. The only criticism is that there was a number of events in the story that felt like they were left unexplained and never properly hashed out which is frustrating, but I would still recommend people to read it, especially if you only read up on Sylvia Plath after you've finished the book.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

August favourites

Welcome September! (I love this time of the year so much.)

Image from my Pinterest, via Augusta Jeorgia.

favourite on tv/movie: I went to see Boyhood in the cinema with a couple of friends and it was a great movie.

favourite purchase: I finally bought a little chair for my living room! I am so pleased with it, it's the perfect size and just makes the room slightly more interesting. Towards the end of the month I also bought shelves but as I'm typing they have yet to be assembled.

favourite book: I managed to squeeze in quite a few books during the month of August, about seven of them in fact. Although The Bell Jar (review coming soon) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time were both strong contenders, I especially loved We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. My type of book, down to a T.

favourite music: I have really enjoyed Phantogram's electro-pop music (especially Black Out Days and Fall In Love) and as a polar opposite, Real Estate which is a dreamy indie-band. Special mentions go to Talking Backwards and Crime.

favourite food: We have been eating out quite a lot lately! I'm not entirely sure when it happened (possibly right after my hair disaster) but one of the days me and Steve went out for breakfast at one of our favourite places and I had pancakes with blueberry jam. Quite possibly the best pancakes and the best blueberry jam I have ever, ever tried.

favourite beauty item: The first day of August I bought the Stila eyeliner and I haven't looked back yet. This eyeliner is so easy to use and has the perfect black shade. So as you might already have guessed, I have been wearing the exact same eyeliner look all month...

favourite blog: As we're approaching autumn I have rediscovered my obsession with Augusta Jeorgia and her tumblr. So. Much. Fall.

favourite event: I loved being off for a week and being able to do weekend-type of things with Steve everyday. I had a great weekend where we went to a wedding in Enniskillen and then we went up to the north coast the day after. It was a good few days.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Week 35 - bank holidays and DIY

All images are from my Instagram

A four day week to make life so much easier! Unfortunately it is over now. On the Monday I got up early, went out running and then I had breakfast with a friend. (Going out for breakfast is quickly becoming one of my favourite things ever.) I had french toast with maple syrup because I don't believe in avoiding the most sugar-laden things from menus, even at 9am. I also baked focaccia bread. Hooray for bank holidays! The rest of the week I worked. On the Wednesday evening me and Steve's dad went to B&Q and bought shelves for our front room. It is all slowly coming together after 20 months of living here..

Yesterday I went out running again and I ran 4.2 miles, which is my longest run ever. (I'm quite pleased with myself.) Those two runs were my only two workouts this week because I felt really tired after work; I fell asleep at 10pm one night. Granny-life over here. The original plan was to do another workout today but I went out last night and didn't get into bed until 3am... As you can imagine after the previous sentence, my poor old body is not used to that type of nonsense.

Today I have done absolutely nothing, apart from lounging on the couch. I considered putting up my shelves but decided that it would be a bad idea to do it on my own and instead I just cleaned all the parts so that they'll be ready for Steve's dad to put up tomorrow. In a moment I'm going to prepare lunches and dinners for this week and then figure out what me and Steve should do for our anniversary tomorrow. Tomorrow marks five years since we became a couple! <3

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Guys, I have almost caught up with my "Read 52 books in a year"-challenge. By the time that this review goes up I should be reading my 34th book. I'm not quite there yet because George RR Martin killed any chance of finishing the third A Song of Ice and Fire book within a week if you also have any other commitments. (Like a job...)

I'm going to jump ahead in this review and tell you that I gave We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler five stars. (Really, this is all you need to know.) Rosemary Cooke decides to start her story in the middle, in 1996 when she's at university in Davis. Her sister is long gone and her brother left the family ten years previously. The disjointed narrative pieces together the puzzle of what it was like to grow up in Rosemary's unique family and living in the conditions placed on them by her father who is a psychologist. I would urge you to not look up anything else about this book.

I loved this book. As I don't want to spoil the story, I can't tell you what the plot is. But on a more general level it's about family dynamics, about going through life trying to suppress something very unique about yourself and about not thinking about loved ones. The story is told with a wry wit and (for me at least) it is obvious that the author grew up with a researching psychologist. I hope the anecdotes about Rosemary's father are as amusing to everyone as it is for someone who does research in psychology. I can think of several people who may receive this book as a Christmas present from me...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

How to make a capsule wardrobe more exciting/expensive

You may remember that I've been doing a capsule wardrobe thing for a while. (I haven't bought a piece of clothing - apart from a dress for the wedding which I was gifted - for almost eight weeks, wooo! Five to go.) Luckily, the capsule wardrobe rules say nothing about accessories which I have always been pretty crap with and this is the right time to get savvy about accessorising. (P.S. Everything is sold on Asos - how very handy.)

1. A ridiculously expensive watch from Daniel Wellington that I saw on Pinterest a few months back and then fell in love with. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd fall in love with a watch - but of course the price is almost on par with what I pay for housing. 

2. A scarf that looks like it would be really really soft. I've never understood scarves but I've always admired those who know how to artfully drape one around themselves. I want to become one of those people this fall.

3. A pair of arrow earrings from my new favourite jewellery brand, Orelia. And the one and only thing that is actually affordable on my list of accessories that I currently want. Oh, cruel life.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Week 34 - first four mile run

All images are from my Instagram.

I was back to work this week and it was bittersweet. Although Steve was off and I worked from home for three of the days so it kind of felt like it was a weekend but with a deadline that forced me to do work from 9-5. There are many good things about working from home, like the fact that I can half-lie on the couch and I can sleep an hour longer or fit in my exercise before work. If I wanted to go for a run before commuting into Belfast I'd have to get up around 5am. Not fun. However, working from home also drives me a little bit insane. I need to see the other students in my office and to be honest, it's no fun working from home when the other person in the household is off and he goes out and has fun. I'm that selfish.

It wasn't all work though. On Wednesday me and Steve went out for cinema (Dawn of the Planets of the Apes) and then dinner afterwards (this is our new thing - early cinema viewing and then eating afterwards). On Thursday I had a friend over and we ate loads of unhealthy stuff. On Friday I was supposed to go to a work due thing in the evening but cancelled last-minute because I wasn't feeling well. Yesterday me and Steve ran some errands, went for lunch (two food-based dates in a week is NOT okay for our budget or waists) and then I went through all of our paperwork and filed it. Bank statements, pay slips, student loan repayment schedules - you name it, it has a file. I feel very zen now that it's done. Today I haven't even left the house. I've done some reading, a little bit of exercise in front of the TV and I also made some dough for focaccia bread so that's happening tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a bank holiday and I'm going for breakfast with a friend - but first I'm going for a run. On Friday morning I ran my first consecutive 4 miles, hooray! I have run further before but that's been with two walking breaks of about two minutes each, so I'm very pleased with my result. Tomorrow is also payday and I've got soooo many dreams for this payslip to fulfill...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Reading We Were Liars and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I needed to get back down to my usual self after reading serious books for grown-ups for a week. 

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Year after year, the Sinclair family spends their summers at their private island where cousins Cady, Johnny, Mirren and their friend Gat spend all their time together. They are known as The Liars. The story follows Cady, who returns back to her grandparents' island when she is eighteen for the first time since her accident two summers previously. She is reunited with the other Liars but quickly finds out that no one will tell her the truth about what actually happened... You're best off knowing as little as possible before reading this book.

There is a recipe for disaster when writing about boring characters (rich teenagers) with unoriginal love stories (rich teenager falls in love with the outsider, poor boy) but I think the dark and moody family relationships among the adults make up for the shallow love between Cady and Gat. I really didn't like the writing style (short, dramatic sentences) which obstructed the flow of the story and honestly, it just felt pretentious. Her way of describing other characters ("he was bounce, snark and effort") was presumably meant to be "deep" or metaphorical but it just made no sense to me. The mystery aspect of the story was great and I genuinely liked the ending but overall I was disappointed when I finished reading, especially considering the hype that this book has.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
When Christopher finds his neighbour's dog dead he decides to solve the mystery and use the plot when writing the story that his teacher has requested. This is because Christopher has trouble imagining things that haven't actually happened despite having an incredibly advanced understanding of maths and logic. However, finding out who the killer of Wellington is leads to a bigger mystery than he ever thought and soon his life has turned upside-down.

I absolutely loved this story. The narrator has some form of ASD (although there are no specific details about it) and reading a book from his point of view meant looking at things in an entirely different way. The difficulties when interacting with other people, such as not understanding metaphors, not being able to lie and not understanding jokes are few of the many issues that arise in the daily life and were fascinating to read about. The story is really about Christopher (and he is a charming character) but I never saw the "mystery" coming. I also found the book well-written and the characters were realistically flawed. This book was so good that I read it in one sitting and then I spent the next four days wanting to talk about it with everyone else. Read it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

10 reasons to smile 27.0

Image from Pinterest.

one - I am lying in bed right now. Better appreciate the simpler things in life.

two - We're halfway through August and autumn is my absolute most favourite time of the year. Plus I bought the first Christmas present the other day. (Yes, yes. Go ahead and judge me.)

three - My mom and my youngest brother are visiting me at the end of October <3

four - My high school friend and her boyfriend are visiting me in December!

five - ... And then I go to Sweden for a week over Christmas! So much of Sweden and its people in only two months.

six - I bought an app called "Spending" in which you put in every little penny that you spend. I have never been so in charge of my money and it feels awesome. (You can tell I don't get out much.)

seven - I have already planned my most important purchases for September; shelves for my front room (the plans I hatched over a year ago are almost complete) and moisturiser. Priorities.

eight - This capsule wardrobe thing is going a lot better than I expected. It's been almost seven weeks and the urge to buy clothes has become a lot less uncontrollable. Another five weeks to go before I'll do my autumn clothes shopping.

nine - I want to convince Steve that we should go hiking. I want to be that kind of person, please?

ten - I beat my running record a couple of weeks ago! I can now run 3.1 miles in less than 30 minutes and my average pace for a 2 mile run is 9.26 min/mile. Considering how lazy and unmotivated I am, this is a miracle.

P.S. Last August's happy-post. And the year before.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Week 33 - week off plus weddings

Seven days have passed and it went waaay too fast. My one week of holidays is over?! I'm lucky that I love what I do but I am not looking forward to those early mornings again. I wish I was the type of person who loved getting up in the mornings. 

Quick recap of what I have done this week: On Monday I started and finished a new (brilliant book). There is nothing better than spending an entire day reading. On Tuesday I went to Belfast and bleached my hair back to blonde after the brunette-weekend fiasco. Remind me not to make important hair-related decisions in the middle of the night because my hair is crying for help at the moment. We went back to Belfast on Wednesday to go for food in Alley Cat (++) and to buy a couple of last minute things for the wedding. On Thursday we drove to Enniskillen where Steve's parents have a static caravan and it is also next to the hotel where we were attending the wedding. It's a beautiful place although it may be difficult to believe considering that I only have one picture and all you can see are the caravans. 

However, the wedding was beautiful and I had a great day/night, much due to the company of Steve's 80-year old great aunt and her sister who also stayed at the caravan. My kind of people. A little worse for wear we got up on Saturday and went for an amazing hotel breakfast (+++) before getting back in the car, this time heading for the north coast to celebrate a friend's birthday. Although I had a great weekend, I am so happy to be back in our house. I need to relax after being social for several days in a row. There is also a dire need for vegetables and some light exercise after these few days of ridiculous indulgence... 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Reading The Stranger and Slaughterhouse-Five

Last week my friend lent me two books. Clearly insinuating that I need to step away from the books written for teenagers... Embrace the pretentious one within me. 

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Meursault is a very different from other people in our society. The novel starts with the death of Meursault's mother and he does not seem to be very affected by it. He is on the whole not very interested in people around him, although he is happy to do what is asked of him. His life is fairly uneventful, right up until the point where he commits a murder and is put on trial - more for his indifference than his act.

So. I get that this is a great existential novel which is supposed to really make you think. I'm not sure what's wrong with me but for some reason it doesn't seem to affect me that much. Yes, Camus had some fascinating ideas on the philosophy of life but they just don't resonate with me at all. As a book to read purely for enjoyment, the simplistic writing in the book made me detached and I felt like the best part is the last chapter. This is where Meursault actually says interesting stuff. And then it's over. (This is why I didn't do a degree in literature.)

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This story begins with the perspective of a narrator who has decided to write a book about the bombing of Dresden and does so through writing about a fellow soldier, Billy Pilgrim. Billy is an American soldier who becomes un-stuck in time. We follow his life as he jumps between his war experiences, post-war life as a successful optometrist and the kidnapping by aliens from Tralfamadore. The aliens explain to him that humans do not understand time, that it is not a continuum and that he is simultaneously dead and alive.

I quite enjoyed this book. The disjointed narrative (which may or may not be because of Billy Pilgrim's actual time-travel) adds to the surreal feel which works very well for a novel about such a difficult topic as war. And there is an important message about how utterly unnecessary war is. (On top of that there are some wonderful character descriptions.) I would highly recommend anyone to read this novel.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Autumn 2014

All images are from my Pinterest.

I read about a contest in Elsa Billgren's blog in which she asked for autumn collages and in return someone may win a signed copy of her new interior decor book. There's two reasons for why I decided to participate:

1. I really want a copy of her book. 

2. I make collages all the time - surely this is the one time they might come in use?!

I host vill jag prova mangder med nya sorters te eller kaffe i sallskap av bok/Downton Abbey. Jag ska byta ut mitt tunna sommartacke till ett tjockt och dunigt sa att man har ytterligare en anledning for inte stiga upp. (Speciellt bra om man har sallskap av manniska/katt.) Halva garderoben ska packas ner och gommas under sangen i atminstone ett halvar och nogrannt utvalda hostplagg ska kopas. (Jag ska bli minimalist i host! Kanske…) Jag tanker baka kakor med varierande success rate som man kan ta med sig till jobbet och valdigt langsamt bli popularast under kafferasten. Och sa ska jag ta tag i mitt hemmakontor. Alltsa, ata hela tiden och organisera mitt liv. Inte alls klyschigt.

This autumn I want to try massive amounts of tea and coffee, preferably accompanied by a book/Downton Abbey. My summer duvet is being exchanged for my thicker one, giving me a reason to stay in bed longer. (Especially good if you have a person/cat nearby). Half of my wardrobe is being stowed away for at least six months och carefully chosen autumn pieces are being purchased. (I'm becoming a minimalist this autumn! Maybe.) I'm going to bake cakes and traybakes with varying rates of success and I'm bringing them to work in my quest to slowly become everyone's best friend during the 3pm coffee break. And I'm sorting out my home office. In other words, I'm planning to eat lots and organise my life. Not an autumn cliché at all..

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Week 32 - important life lessons

All my images are from my Instagram.

This was my last week at work before my summer holidays! A whole week of just lying about and doing nothing... And then work starts again. Remind me of this one (hopefully) sweet week the next time I complain about being tired from working too much. Apart from working I went out for food and cinema with my fellow PhD students on Wednesday. We saw Boyhood and I loved it! I have a thing for long movies with a story in which very little actually happens. Plus it was a coming-of-age story. Plus I really like Patricia Arquette. Plus there was some good, underrated music from the noughties (why does no one like the noughties?) Last night me and Steve went to our friends' house for dinner and then we decided to watch a classic movie; The Breakfast Club - another coming-of-age story with excellent music in which very little happens. Also with some seriously dodgy life lessons.

You may remember that I complained about my neck last Sunday. It is much better although it's still sore, especially when I'm trying to get to sleep or when I've been sitting in the same position too long. I went out running once but I ended up cutting my run short after my neck started aching. Obviously, not doing exercise means that I go straight for the sugar to cheer myself up. It's not a great reaction, I'll admit. In completely unrelated news, on Friday night I was waiting my cheesecake to finish and I decided to dye my hair brown. Because, why not? And I did and it turned out way too dark. And kind of uneven. I ended up going to my hairdresser the next day to get it lightened slightly and get some highlights put in. It still looks quite strange but it is a lot better then it was. What have I learnt? Don't make important decisions re your hair late on Friday nights.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Reading A Storm of Swords

It took me about two and a half weeks to finish this beast of a book (with a short break to read Gung Ho! in the middle) and although I struggled to get into it during the first third of the book (which seems to be a common theme with me and the A Song of Ice and Fire series) I then got hooked again.

If you watched the third and fourth season of Game of Thrones on TV and thought "This is far too bloody and gruesome for me" then I would not recommend the third novel because somehow the TV show pales in comparison. The battles are more brutal, the deaths are more brutal and the sex... is also more brutal. There's a theme here, people. If the last book scattered the characters to different parts of the realm, this story has brought them back together, in new combinations with unpredictable consequences that follow.

This has so far been my favourite book in the series and despite the fact that I knew of some of the biggest events I still found myself just as gripped by the events (and yes, I have spent numerous train rides to/from work, bawling my eyes out. You know which events I'm talking about.) On top of that, there were events that I was not expecting and I feel the need to read the fourth book right now. Stay tuned and we'll see how long I can restrain myself.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

July favourites

July is over and I'm in "let's get August over with and get to the absolute best time of the year"-mode. But I'll try to slow down and enjoy the last bit of summer for 2014. 

favourite on tv/movie: Star Trek: Voyager all the way. (We just finished the third season.)

favourite purchase: This was the month when I decided to start with the capsule wardrobe and so I haven't bought any new clothes since the very start. Yes, I'm in shock as well. But I did buy a new black satchel at the start of the month. I feel like it took me a long time to accept that I needed a satchel for all my notebooks and folders. However, once I did I somehow managed to find the perfect, "grown-up" satchel from French Connection. (And on sale too.)

favourite book: A Storm of Swords, no doubt about it. (Review coming soon.)

favourite music: I have actually discovered some new music this month and at the moment my favourite music has been by Glass Animals, especially the songs Pools and Gooey.

favourite food: Despite the fact that I have eaten out (at fancy and less fancy places) quite a few times this month, my favourite meal was at the start of July. A small pub in Moira offered two courses for £10 on a weekday. Me and Steve both had the steak sandwich and we would've happily died that evening. It was that good.

favourite beauty item: Lately I have been in awe of the L'Oreal Colour Riche nail polish in Peach Neglige. I actually picked this up on a whim right before I was attending a wedding and my nails had been forgotten about (yes, this was done in a moving car while I was still recovering from being sick) but I've ended up loving it. It's a little bit streaky and requires two coats but it lasts two or three days (which is good for me) and it's perfect for work.

favourite blog: The blog which caused me to throw out three quarters of my wardrobe - Unfancy. A minimalist fashion blog. 

favourite event: My trip to Dublin with Steve was definitely the highlight of the month. Fancy hotel, fancy food, complete control over every shop and cafe that I wanted to visit in Dublin... It was such a good weekend. (A slightly smaller bonus highlight was beating my running time on the last day of the month!)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Week 31 - the danger of crunches

This is going to be a very very short post because I was doing crunches this morning and somehow stretched my neck the wrong way. Cue lots of pain and I can't turn my head to the left... Even using my left arm is painful. (This post comes to you through the painstaking effort of only typing with one hand.) My plan for the day is therefore to abandon the crunches and just lie very still.

There's been a lot of rain the past few days which is actually quite nice when you have to do work anyway. (So. Many. Meetings.) On Thursday night I had a friend over and on Friday I stayed in Belfast after work to meet up with friends for dinner and then cinema. The dinner was so-so but I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy. A very spacey superhero movie with an excellent soundtrack. Next week is the last week before I am off for a little while and I could not be more ready for a break.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Bathroom wishlist

As I am currently in the midst of this capsule wardrobe adventure which inevitably means that I have to ban myself from looking at clothes online otherwise I will succumb to my primal urges and just BUY ALL THE CLOTHES, I have decided to distract myself by looking at other things instead. Like stuff for my house. Which is probably just as dangerous. And although I had decided that I am not allowed to start dreaming about the next room of the house until I am done with the first one (our living room), I can't help myself. Our bathroom looks so sad. It needs a little bit of financial TLC. 

1. This ceramic tray from The White Company (which I just realised is sold out. My life is over) to put a little candle in. And by all means, if you keep spare lavender twigs about, throw them in as well. £14.

2. A concrete planter from Roughfusion on Etsy, with a suitable green plant in it. I never think about putting plants in bathrooms but really, it would look very well I think. £7.26.

3. A makeup bag from Maggs London which is apparently called the Henley bag and it is beautiful. £19.95.

4. A copper storage box for holding jewellery from Rockett St George (an old favourite of mine). My jewellery is currently strewn all over my desk but I never even cared until I laid eyes on this. £16.

5. A clear glass shade from Not on the High because I need as much light as possible from our lamp but I wouldn't mind it looking slightly prettier than it does right now (just a naked eco friendly light bulb). £29.95.

The total comes to £87.16 and that's pretty much my bathroom transformed. Let's see how much self-control I have... P.S. I have a wish list on my Pinterest.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Week 30 - melting away in work and sunshine

All images from my Instagram.

Oh, this week. This week has been full of work. You know those weeks where you feel relaxed and on Friday night you have a full, long weekend ahead of you, filled with just goodness? This was not one of those the weeks.

Saying that - it was not a bad week, just a busy one. The weather was so hot that we were all melting away and both of the times that I went out running I opted for a 6am start - I just couldn't face the melting mixture of sunshine and humidity that this country offer at any point after work. (If you want to feel super-productive I would recommend running at 6am when no one else is out. THE SMUGNESS.) On top of that I had quite a few meetings this week but I organised them all so that I would have my Thursday free anything requiring my office and instead I did my work in my garden. Why not take advantage of being a PhD student? My entire weekend has been spent working on an important deadline for tomorrow apart from a quick break when me and Steve went to the shopping center on yesterday. I restocked my bathroom cabinet (psst, Boots have got a 3 for 2 offer on No7 products at the moment and you need it all), bought lemon tart and take-away coffee because there is really no excuse not to treat yourself if you have to do work and you just got paid.

Healthwise, this week has been pretty good. I squeezed in two running sessions and two fitness videos over the week + a couple of short walks with Steve. Once I had finished that lemon drizzle cake from last Sunday my eating markedly improved as well. Not counting this weekend of course. (Never count the weekend - it makes healthy eating miserable). And also not counting Friday because I may have bought a burrito so that I would feel slightly better about work... Which I am almost entirely done with for the night. Two more weeks until I'm off for a week!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Reading Gung Ho!

People, I read a non-fiction book. What? As if that wasn't already totally out of my comfort zone, it's a business book. (I don't even know who I am anymore.)

So, everyone in my office at the company are huge fans of this book. As a very value-driven business (which is nice indeed!) I can now see that the type of book which is all about managing people through self-worth was appealing to them and that's great! Enough about my worklife, I need to try to describe a book about business when I know nothing about business. So the point of this book is to point out the key steps towards having a business where employees thrive and productivity is increased. How nice. The book is written in layers, starting with easy basics such as work being worthwhile (you make a difference in the world!), to allowing employees to set their own goals (you are in charge of this company!) to cheering each other on (you're doing a great job!). The book calls it Gung Ho! I don't know if there is any type of scientific research to back it up but I am sure that it works based on self-efficacy and social support theories etc. 

The values are delivered through native American inspired symbolism, using squirrels and beavers etc. I get it, it makes it easier to remember the actual principles that they are trying to convey. However, the book is written as a supposedly true story about a business ready to fail but it is saved through implementing Gung Ho! and it is so cringeworthy. I couldn't read it without getting the feeling that this was originally a really bad movie script. Woman gets doomed factory, fires racist and stupid department head, befriends man with native American roots, together they watch squirrels in the forest and then implement their findings in the company etc... Read the first chapter and you'll see what I mean. Despite this, the book has good ideas and if every book about business was this easy to read I'd be buying a lot more of them. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Summer makeup and six months pixie cut update

Lets ramble about summer makeup and the perils of growing out a pixie cut, shall we? Prepare for a gigantic picture of me.

Disclaimer: I found a "remove mole" tool (yes, that was its actual name because they sure know how to lure moley people in) in the photo editing program I use and I got so excited that I removed two of them straight away. Then I decided to restrain myself. Because it's one thing correcting the colours of your selfportraits and it's a totally different thing to DELETE moles.

So first of all; makeup. It's funny because I had a routine back in April, then it changed entirely and then it slowly and sneakily changed back to the original routine. So basically, my routine is almost the same as previously. In this photo I am wearing the Revlon Nearly Naked foundation but foundation is a rarity for me during the summers. Aint nobody got time for that. For everyday wear I would normally wear Dr Jart BB cream which I have recently fallen back in love with or go straight to my Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. After that I have included a new step: bronzer. The Bodyshop Honeycomb bronzer is subtle enough to warm up your face OR if you fancy looking like you've magically gotten a bit of sun, it can do that too. Over the bronzer I place a little of my Rimmel blush in Santa Rose (which has been mentioned to death on this blog) and then some of my No7 highlighter. Boom, your face is looking fresh.

My Urban Decay Naked 3 palette is still going strong and I place a little bit of Stranger in the corners of my eyes as well as on my brow bone and then a little all over the lid for good measure. (I am pleasantly surprised that I haven't yet hit pan on any of the shadows in my palette.) I then sweep some of Burnout over the outer half of my eyelid and out towards the edges of my eyes. Cue blending until it's just a subtle shimmer. If I can be bothered I'll then make a very subtle cat flick with my Rimmel Flash eyeliner (which is ridiculously easy to use but mine is drying out and it has a tendency to smudge. I would definitely recommend a felt tip eyeliner in general but possibly not this one. I may purchase the Stila one when I get my pay in a few days. Tangent over) and that is all. This makeup routine will not take longer than 10 minutes unless you go for a foundation/BB cream which requires lots of buffing and why would you?

Hair at two, three, four and five months after last cut (you can see the mullet flourishing towards the end.)

On towards talk about my pixie cut. I am a couple of days away from six months of growing my pixie cut out and I have learnt a thing or two. First of all; just accept the fact that you're gonna have to get your neck hair cut to avoid the mullet. I refused to go to the hairdresser for the first five months because I thought I could power through the awkward mullet phase. Spoiler alert; I could not. (If you can, you have nerves of steel!) You may want nothing more than to be able to pull your hair back into a ponytail but I am here to tell you that it's not worth it if your ponytail consists entirely of neck hair. It's mainly weird. Secondly; let go of your hair worries. It will do what it wants when it wants to, okay? I'm not saying that I haven't had a few hair-related breakdowns and I am completely incapable of accepting compliments regarding my hair at the moment without going on a rant but it's important to chill. Nobody else cares as much about the state of your hair as you do.

I wish I had taken better pictures of my hair as I grew it out but I will do better until my next update at the (hopefully) massively different eight month update.