Sunday, 29 June 2014

Week 26 - afternoon tea

All images are from my Instagram.

About a year ago me and my friend went for afternoon tea to celebrate my birthday and because it was such a roaring success (we roared) we decided to repeat it this year + invite a third friend. We went to Maryville House off the Lisburn Road in Belfast and it was just brilliant. The building is decorated in shabby chic and although it is not the style I generally go for I am partial to a giant gold mirror or two... A major plus for the choice in gourmet sandwiches. Well done, Maryville House. We then went to the city centre and the whole day I only bought a Nars concealer (which was a repurchase and frankly, I count it as an essential) despite all the sales. Well done, Nicole. (Or maybe not, because I got paid on Wednesday and within 24 hours I had placed an Asos order, cut my hair and spent waaaay too much in Topshop.)

Healthwise, this week has been pretty good. I've been so busy at work that I haven't even had time for snacking and we've been doing a little bit of abs/arms exercises and walks on our rest-days. Yesterday morning I also went running and I improved my time from last week's run. I'm assuming that my body was put in shock from getting up before 8am on a Saturday and that's how I ran faster. Last week I mentioned my calves hurting and oh my, did they hurt... It wasn't until Thursday that I could walk without my thighs screaming for my life to end. Lesson learned, I rediscovered my old stretching routine (specifically for runners) that I used last year and so far my body feels fine. Knock on wood.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Reading Eleanor & Park

This was another one of those books that I heard whispers about on the internet and maybe that's why I got my hopes up, thinking that this would be a John Green-style YA book which leaves me weeping and wondering why I'm not one of the characters in the book because I'd really blend in with the 16-year olds. (Why are all main characters in YA books 16? It's the magic age, it seems.) When Eleanor sits next to Park on the school bus neither of them wants to acknowledge the other at first but what starts off as Eleanor sneakily reading Park's comics turns into a unique friendship and later into that type of first love which seems unbreakable. Unfortunately, the match is not as appreciated by the people around them and the couple are particularly worried about Eleanor's cruel stepfather finding out about Park. 

So this is a YA story about young love and I do see the lovely qualities mentioned by everyone else. I feel like there is a nice progression from strangers to friends to boyfriend/girlfriend. The author, Rainbow Rowell, deserves an applause for not having a typical Barbie as her main female character. There are (unfortunately) few books where the main character is genuinely loved by someone and simultaneously described as "fat". So that's all good. However, the book is a little bit too simplistic for me. I get that there's a lot of love in the air but I feel like there's a limit to how many times a person's skin or freckles are allowed to be described. The character progression feels slightly uneven (don't get me started on Park's dad) and some of the relationships felt unoriginal. That said, I didn't dislike the book. Maybe it's just one of those pieces of YA fiction which is actually more suited for teenagers.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

10 reasons to smile 25.0

Random cat picture. It's Tuesday!

From my Pinterest.

one - I feel like I'm on the ball this week. Actually getting everything done and having time to relax after work. This is the only thing I want from life right now because I'm an old lady.

two - It is light outside and my feet are never cold = sweet sweet summer.

three - Five bean salad. Why has no one told me about this before?! (I'm such a sad person.)

four - Nerd-alert; I'm reading comics. I have nothing else to say. 

five - I'm still on a high after my run on Sunday. Despite the fact that it decided to kill my thighs.

six - In less than two weeks I'm getting a (very delayed) birthday present. All I know is that I'm getting a day off on a Monday, which would almost be a present in itself.

seven - Payday is soooo close. I do that thing where I've planned out how to spend my entire pay before I even get it.

eight - Currently reading The Virgin Suicides and it is brilliant.

nine - I can put my hair up into a ponytail. A pretty ugly one, but still.

ten - Although Steve didn't come with me on my run on Sunday he has been joining me in doing exercise the rest of the week. There is nothing like forcing someone else to suffer alongside yourself.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Week 25 - summer exercising and IKEA

All images are from my Instagram.

This has been a very nice and comfortable week. Not a very exciting week perhaps, but then I am partial to weeks where nothing out of the ordinary happens anyway. I felt like I was productive at work (apart from Friday when me and Steve both took a half day and left the office around lunch - genius) and I'm almost looking forward to getting back tomorrow morning. Almost. It's been warm and sunny outside and I've been trying to cram in as much eating outdoors as possible because for some reason eating food outdoors always tastes better.

I've also been focusing a lot on my home. On Thursday I finally (!) got all my Instagram pictures up on the wall. Although I feel like I might need a few more pictures so that it's not so awkwardly square-like it's still quite an improvement from the empty wall before. Yesterday me and Steve went to IKEA and bought ourselves a little cabinet. I am one of those people who get this weird satisfaction out of having things organised and now all our DVDs, games and CDs (which were previously spilling out from our TV bench and making my eyes twitch) are finally neatly hidden away. Next step: shelves in the little alcove above the cabinet. Oh, the home decor dreams I have...

Exercise has also gone fairly well and it's particularly fun now that I have forced Steve to get involved. Twice this week we did exercise videos and the other nights we've taken a brisk twenty minute walk. Since we both spend 9-5 sitting at a desk a little bit of walking could do a lot of good. This morning I also got up at 9am and went out for a run. First proper run of the season AND my first run in my new shoes. I felt great, then like I wanted to die and then pretty great again. In other words, a standard run. My calves are going to hurt tomorrow...

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Reading The Goldfinch

It has been two weeks since I finished this book and I just cannot. stop. thinking. about it. Apparently some people hate this book for being overhyped and not "high-brow literature". I have no idea who these people are and I don't think that I want to know them. This is my favourite book so far this year. (Bold claim since I just two weeks ago thought that Perks of Being a Wallflower was my favourite book so far but this is better.)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a coming-of-age novel (it's like I'm addicted) revolving the events after Theo Decker's mother tragically dies in an attack at an art museum when he is at the age of thirteen. Now that his only port of safety is gone, Theo finds himself thrown into the hands of others, unable to control his own circumstances. A lot of the remainder of Theo's childhood is about trying to cope, first with the family that takes care of him shortly after his mother's death and then later when his father shows up and brings him to Las Vegas. Missing his mother and finding that almost nobody understands how he feels, he turns to anything that will keep him from reality. This is one aspect to the story. The second aspect is that the main character has also ended up with one of the most valuable paintings in the world, The Goldfinch. Although he never intended to steal it, he has no idea how to return it without being convicted for art theft and so he chooses to keep quiet, constantly living in fear that someone will find out his secret.

This novel is almost 800 pages long but I didn't even notice it. The story is unfolded slowly without ever getting tedious or dull but always keeping the reader interested and yearning for more. Theo is an interesting character and it seems like once he had committed one bit of mischief which caused him and his mother to be at the location of the attack in the first place, there was no turning back. It is as if he has decided to accept that his life will continue in a self-destructive spiral until it ends. I never stopped finding him fascinating, not to mention Boris who is his best friend and the enabler of much of Theo's problems. Finally, who doesn't love a book which intertwines art history in the main story? It was the icing on the cake for me.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Summer list

Image from here.

1. Have a barbecue in our garden in Steve's new green grill-cone.

2. Buy plants, possibly fake. Fake it 'til you make it etc.

3. Read books outside in the evenings.

4. Make ice coffee that no one else likes.

5. Paint the other half of the fence. I painted the first half last year.

6. Go to a car boot sale and buy junk/treasures.

7. Play games with Steve in a caravan with no internet.

8. Try s'mores.

9. Go running without a specific goal.

10. Visit a beach. Swimming not compulsory due to common weather issues here.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Week 23 & 24 - birthday and lego

(It's been about two weeks and I've taken these three photos. It's like I've realised that I'm just not that great at taking photos and that even if I was there's not many interesting things happening in my life at the moment.) 

Last Sunday it was my birthday and I spent most of my day in bed, desperately trying to figure out whether it was the cold or the hangover that was killing me. (Not knowing is the worst part.) The night before we went to a houseparty rather than organising a night out for my birthday. It was an excellent decision - no cost on my part nor did I have to worry about who was going or if people were having fun. I just enjoyed spending time with my friends. We didn't even go out for dinner the day of my birthday since I was worried about getting thrown out of the restaurant due to excessive sneezing and instead we stayed at home and watched a movie with take-away. (But the day before we went out for breakfast and on my birthday I did make these amazing bacon-brie-avocado-ciabatta rolls, so it's not like I wasn't living the life of a queen anyway.)

I've been slowly getting back into my routine after the Sweden trip. Eating healthier, regular exercising, writing endless to-do lists for both work and my spare time. Yesterday me and Steve went to Belfast for a Lego exhibition (72 iconic monuments in Lego sounded interesting - it wasn't. Only two of them were detailed enough to be impressive) with some friends followed by dinner at Bubbacue and then we went to the cinema and watched X-Men. Cue me getting back into reading comic books. Everytime I think I'm finally a grown-up I ruin it by spending a day with Lego and comics. Shame on me...

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Reading Det handlar om dig

A review of a Swedish book! If you're not Swedish I'm sorry, I don't think this book has been translated to English (yet). 

Screenshot of Sandra's blog

Det Handlar om Dig is Sandra Beijer's (also known as the nio till fem blogger) first book. I wouldn't be able to tell if I didn't know and I'd assume that's because she's been writing her hugely successful blog since the dawn of time. Or dawn of blogs. The story is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old girl who falls head over heels for a boy with dark hair, a Russian accent and scrawny shoulders. (Only Sandra is capable of making scrawny sound like the most attractive physical attribute in the world.) Love is never easy, particularly not when you're fifteen and you feel like an alien in your own body. When you're equally terrified of losing and loving someone there's not much to do apart from drowning your sorrows in blurry houseparties and accepting the inevitable mistakes you make.

Sandra Beijer has always seemed like somewhat of an expert on love and being young. I don't know where she gets this insight from but if anything, this book just confirms her ability to travel back to that age. The story is written similarly to her blog; the language is short and sweet and goes straight for your heart. It is not my favourite type of writing but it does work in this context. In this story the characters aren't in focus (we don't even know the names of the main characters), all that matters is the complicated situation of being a bundle of feelings and having no control of yourself. I'm sure we've all been there. It's a touching story.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Reading The perks of being a wallflower

I don't know what I can say about this book that hasn't been said before. As an avid lover of YA fiction I'm not sure how the book surpassed me before. (Or maybe I do know - it's difficult to love a book that is so hyped up by teenage girls around the world and so I just stubbornly avoided it.) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is about Charlie, a teenage boy with some emotional difficulties on top of all the usual difficulties of going to high school and finding friends who matter more than life. When reading this book I think it's important to keep in mind that 1) Charlie is not an average teenager and 2) this book is fiction. Charlie is a very unique individual and so is the story in this book. If you, like me, struggle with the concept that Charlie is abnormally intelligent and simultaneously more naive than children half his age; just bear with him. It is fiction. It is hardly a text to read in which you will recognise yourself. (Or at least I didn't.)

However, it is beautifully told and the family and friend relations are so on point. Even if the events are completely surreal to a lot of people, the essence (lacking a better word) of what it feels like when you love someone are illustrated in such a faultless way. Language and relationships are the two pillars in this book and together they overcome all the flaws that I would normally have trouble ignoring when reading a book. I may buy a copy of this book and keep it until my future children are of Charlie's age when I will present them with this story. Keep the cult following going for another generation or so.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

May favourites

Image found here. There is no logic behind why I chose it.

favourite on tv/movie: Well, Game of Thrones is still on TV and there is truly nothing better in this world (nothing!) but for the sake of variation I have to mention that 24 is back. And it is good. When I was in Sweden I also watched a movie called Incendies which I highly recommend. It's quite heartbreaking though.

favourite purchase: My Topshop silky shorts! I may have bought them at the very very start of the month (or maybe even at the end of April) but I have been wearing them far too much.

favourite book: The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, there's no doubt about it. Best book of 2014 so far in fact. Keep your eyes open for a little post about it later this week.

favourite music: The "April 2014" has been a firm favourite this month as well, but now I'm obsessed with The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather (aah, rainy summer days) and also Route 94 - My Love (I have no explanation for this). Luckily for me and anyone who happens to share a house with me I'll start switching up my music choices for June.

favourite food: You know what the best type of food is? Unhealthy salad. When I was in Sweden my mom introduced me to the salad bar (basically lots of different types of salads that you put in a box, working on the same premises as Pic N' Mix - genius) and there is just nothing better than when someone who is actually good at salad has made you your salad. Who knows what dressing they were drenched in.

favourite beauty item: I bought a Mac lipstick in See Sheer at the airport and I am obsessed. So perfectly naturally red.

favourite blog: Due to work and then travelling I really haven't been able to keep up with blogs this month. Who knew I'd ever be too busy for blogs?!

favourite event: I enjoyed celebrating Steve's birthday but I have to say my ten day trip to Sweden tops it all. Sun, family, friends, all the usual holiday stuff.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Week 21 & 22 - sweden

All images from my Instagram. P.S. The one of my brother may be one of my favourite uploads ever. 

So I've spent the last ten days in Sweden and I only arrived home yesterday (when I promptly went out for food with Steve and then took a long nap before going out for the night). It was a trip during which I had to do work but somehow it still managed to snatch the award for best Sweden trip ever. The weather was glorious, I saw my friends (most of them for the first time in two years!) and met some significant others too, I had plenty of time with my family watching movies or basking in the sun... Summer in Sweden is something totally different to my current life, although obviously a holiday somewhere is never the same as actually living there. Still, I was sad to leave yesterday morning.

I am looking forward to going back to an actual office tomorrow. And to get back into my regular eating habits because my stomach was not pleased with the food lately (so. much. bread.) as well as regular exercising. My muscles are fading! (And I bought my first crop top for the summer.) Game of Thrones is still on TV, I have books to read and I received a few birthday presents from my parents that need to be incorporated in my home environment stat. Plus my actual birthday is coming up! So all in all, it's not too bad to be home.