Wednesday, 24 April 2019

LIFE: 5 Things I've Been Loving Lately and My (Very Late!) 2019 Goals

It's been a while...

I've missed my little space on the internet and am feeling the need to get back into the swing of things.

I needed a bit of time away from writing as I found that blogging had moved on so much and so quickly that I wasn't sure what I was posting here was being read or even relevant to anybody anymore but over time I've come to realise - I started this blog for me, to keep as my online diary, my recipe 'book' and a place to carry on my writing after university. I now graduated almost 7 years ago and I miss having this creative outlet and a place to share my love of food, travel and all of the other things in my life. So, I'm back...I'm not sure how regularly I'll be posting but I definitely want to give it another go.

Last year seemed to absolutely fly by and now we're a good way into 2019 and although we're almost in May, I wanted to jot down my goals for this year as well as tell you about 5 things I've been enjoying so far this year.

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately:

  • Podcasts - specifically Elizabeth Day's How To Fail. I've really been loving Elizabeth's weekly guests and their life experiences. I feel like it's such an important message to treat 'failures' as a lesson and a reason to be stronger having gone through what we perceive as a negative experience. I've also been reading Elizabeth's book at the minute which is equally as brilliant as her podcast.
  • Spring finally arriving! - the weather over the bank holiday was absolutely wonderful and it really is about time we had some warmer weather. I turned 28 over Easter and spent the weekend relaxing with friends and family and it was wonderful.
  • Coffee and a wander round the park - I've been trying to get in at least 1 walk a week around my local park recently where I grab a coffee from the coffee shop in the park, keep my phone in my bag and just take in my surroundings. I feel like I'm constantly glued to my phone (aren't we all!) and it's really important to switch off for a little while and enjoy a bit of digital downtime. 
  • Gardening - if you'd have told my 16 year old self that I'd be listing gardening as something I'd been loving lately she'd had either laughed in your face or said 'over my dead body' but my dad's love of gardening must have been passed onto me somewhere over the last few years. I haven't got a huge garden at my house but I've got some lovely flower beds and pots out on the front that I really take pride in making look nice. I find being out in the garden quite therapeutic and have been looking into nice inexpensive ways that I can make the green space outside look pretty.
  • The Farm, Stratford Upon Avon - over the bank holiday we nipped over to Stratford to visit the recently opened cafe/farmshop called The Farm. It's such a lovely spot filled and one that I can imagine will only get better over time. They've got a newly planted garden with herbs and vegetables, a beautiful menu of food, cute little animals outside and, from July, they'll have a brand spanking new cookery school which I am eagerly anticipating!

Goals for 2019
  • Spend more time with my family - it’s hard living away from where I grew up as I don’t get to go back very often but I want to make much more of an effort from 2019. My grandparents are both in their last 80s now and seem to age so much in between visits and I don’t want to miss any opportunities to spend time with them.
  • Continue my mission to declutter/spend less - I still own far too many things and I really want to make more of a conscious effort with both reducing what I own, buying less and certainly spending less. I’m saving to buy a house and I always want to prioritise experiences over material possessions. Also, with all of the talk in the media about sustainability, it's really making me think about how and what I buy
  • More yoga and meditation - I went on a yoga retreat towards the end of November and it was possibly the best thing I did all year. I really want to make sure I get at least one weekly practice in. I’ve also been doing nightly meditations or listening to sleep stories on the Calm app since we got back and I honestly believe it’s been helping me sleep much more deeply and I’ve felt more alert throughout the day. However, I am not kiddingly myself - I will never be a morning person 
  • Work on having more self belief - I’ve come a very long way but I still want to keep building on this. I’d love to have children in a few years time and I want to be able to bring them up with the mindset that they are enough and that they can achieve anything they set their mind too - but before this, I want to be the best version of myself I can be. I also think that when you’re your best self, it encourages other people to be too 
  • Learn more - I’ve realised in 2018 I have a lot more interest in food, nutritions and the spiritual side of things (yoga, meditation, reiki, Ayurvedic living etc) than I’d known. I’m not going to trot off and change careers but I really want to broaden my knowledge and learn more about the things that I’ve become really interested in. You’re never too old to learn!

Friday, 10 August 2018

LIFE: An Update on my 2018 Goals

Here we are, already in August. Can you believe it? I certainly can't.

It's been quite the year so far.

January got off to a lovely start. I'd spent the most amazing New Year in a beautiful cottage in the middle of nowhere in Pembrokeshire with a group of friends and it was the perfect way to see in the new year. I bang on about it all the time over on Instagram but I love nothing more than being by the sea. Following on from Pembrokeshire was the start of the tradeshow season and I popped off to Lake Garda, one of my favourite places in the world. I can never get over the beautiful scenery and get such a buzz doing the drive from Verona and up the lake and through the mountains. There really is nothing quite like it. I also had a catch up with the uni girls towards the end of the month which is always amazing. Those friendships are the best - the ones where you've been through the transition of fresh faced 18 year old into adulthood.

February saw me head to Milan for our biggest tradeshow of the season. I tried a few new places this time including Officina 12 which has the nicest food and a very impressive gin bar. As always, I felt like I waddled onto the plane after over indulging in Italy's finest (including my go-to Spaghetti Carbonara at my favourite spot, Cacio e Pepe). H and I also celebrated our anniversary with pizza at Basement Browns. We had to laugh, our first was at Bob Bob Ricard (amazing!) but all I wanted this year was a pizza, a can of San Pelligrino and to be home watching Suits on Netflix. Talk about how things change?!

March is always a good month. Tradeshow season is over and done with and I have a couple of weeks of calm before things start kicking off again. I FINALLY got to try Chiltern Firehouse, which did not disappoint at all.  We celebrated H's birthday and also had a trip down to Devon for a few days. Again, a trip to the sea does wonders for my mental health and there's just something so freeing about it.

April is without a doubt my favourite month of the year because it's birthday month woo! Even at 27 I'm still a little princess about birthdays and couldn't possibly not spend at least a week celebrating being another year older.  I had a lovely brunch at Bill's with friends and my dad. We then headed off to Paris and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. I still can't get over the fact it's the first time I've ever been.We stayed at the absolutely incredible Hoxton Hotel. Honestly, hotel goals right there (and the best iced lattes!) We saw the sights (Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower ec) but my favourite place had to be Jardin du Palais Royal. The weather was absolutely GLORIOUS while we were there (reaching 31 degrees on my birthday) and we sat by the fountains in the gardens on the deckchairs reading and soaking up the sun. We also went to Nose, which was an amazing experience. AND I had some of the best food I've ever had including multiple burgers and this bad boy.

May was a pretty jam packed month. A few of the uni girls and their boyfriends came to stay and we went out for food and drinks in Leamington (and I finally got to go to House!). The following weekend we ended up going to one of the girls places in Leeds and had the best time. I love Leeds and definitely need to spend more time there. I was SO happy to stop off in Sheffield on the way home and go for a coffee and donut at Steamyard. After living in Sheffield for 4 years, that place still has my heart. I also celebrated my friends 30th in London at Peckham Levels and had the best burger ever. I finally took my best to Friends of Ours (my fave brunch spot in London) whilst we were there.

June meant another trip to Lake Garda for work. It's beautiful in January but oh boyyy, in June the weather is fantastic and gives even more of an excuse for an after work Aperol Spritz or two (like I need an excuse!).

July was lovely. We celebrated my Dad's 60th (I still can't believe he's 60!!) We had the most amazing spa day at Cowley Manor, a lovely trip down to London (stopping off at Dishoom for a bacon and egg naan, of course) then spent the weekend moving him into his new house. I also had the most amazing morning at Hilltop Farm at one of their yoga brunches.

And here we are, in August! And with surprisingly little plans actually. I'm heading off to a birthday barbecue in Sheffield in a couple of weeks and have a few days booked off being the bank holiday week so fingers crossed we'll have a little trip away somewhere.

Goals-wise, things have been pretty good so far this year. Here's a little update:

Read More:

So far I’ve read A LOT in 2018. My stand out books so far this year are the wonderful Dolly Alderton with her debut memoir Everything I Know About Love, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and anything Holly Bourne. Within the space of 3 weeks I’d read 6 or Holly Bourne’s books and they’re all fantastic. I’ve read a few other books. Next up I’ve got Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep and various other ‘educational’ books, mostly recommended via Podcasts. 

Balance and Prioritising:
I definitely feel like I’ve found a greater sense of balance so far this year. I’ve made a point of doing less running around work wise - mostly not just going to things for the sake of it (making me way more productive). I’ve spent more time in the office and more time working at home and thrown in either Monday to Thursday or Sunday to Wednesday going to the gym for an evening class. I’ve prioritised what is vital I attend/do in both work and general life and what is either an ‘I feel like I should go but don’t really want or need to’ scenario. I must say, I’ve felt much better having made this kind of change.

Buy Less:
HA! I don’t think I will EVER nail this goal. I swear I’ve been saying this since I had my first job at 15. I LOVE ordering online and feeling like you’ve received a present when the delivery arrives. BUT I have managed to buy less when I’m sad/upset/anxious. Over the years I’ve had a really unhealthy relationship with spending when I’ve been feeling down/anxious. I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes a bit mad on the spending front when they’ve not feeling quite themselves, temporarily feels better because of the beautiful new things, then spirals into a worse place because of the anxiety of having spent too much. So, I may have not managed to buy less in general but having managed to buy less in times of anxiety/upset is a HUGE step for me.

Declutter/Aim For Capsule Wardrobe:
Again, another one I’ve been trying to tackle for YEARS. I’m very very slowly getting there. I’ve had a recent clear out but need at least two more to feel like I’ve decluttered. I’m trying though, I’ve managed to stick to things I consider to be ‘my style now’, mostly stuff from Monki that is true to size and isn’t designed to be worn solely by somebody that’s a size 6. 

Really Look Into My Diet:
I already think I’ve managed to do this. I am and always have been really conscious of what I’m putting into my body. I try to eat well from Monday-Friday and allow myself Saturday/Sunday to be a bit of relaxed about what I eat. I mean, what’s a weekend without coffee and cake? I’ve found the more I’ve been going to the gym, the less I’ve wanted to eat badly and with the hot weather we’ve had in the UK the last couple of months all I’ve really wanted is a salad everyday for lunch and dinner or some kind of quinoa/Buddha bowl-esque meal.

Be Tidy and More Organised:
Another one I’m really really trying with and another one I’ve been trying to achieve for years. 
I really struggle to be consistently tidy/organised (with my belongings/my house).  I’m queen of starting to sort things out into piles then, rather than putting things away straight away, move the sorted piles around, resort them then get to the point of frustration where I just HAVE to get everything put away before I lose my mind. 
I really want and need to read The Magic Art of Tidying to try and combat this problem. Hopefully by the end of this year I’ll have nailed this or at least be way further ahead.

Be Kinder:
You know, I definitely think I’ve been kinder to myself this year so far. As I get older, I honestly think I’m being more comfortable with myself and really getting a sense of ‘who I am’. I always hear people saying that with age, a surer sense of self comes and I really think this is true. Over the last few years I’ve learned to say no more and to not commit to too much. I’ve given myself more time to relax and to process problems or situations. I think it goes hand in hand with more exercise and regular yoga but, even though I know my body shape is changing as I go through my twenties and that I have put a bit of weight on since last year, I don’t automatically look in a mirror and tear myself apart with insults and put myself down. I’m learning more and more the things I need to keep myself level headed and calm and that’s a big deal for me. 
I’m not saying I don’t have bad days where I’m negative about everything but I’ve made massive progress.
And, I hope I’ve been kinder to others? I feel like I’ve tried to be and hopefully that shows to my friends, family, colleagues etc. I’ve always had the attitude to talking to a stranger whether it’s on the train, in the supermarket, wherever is a good thing to do because having a short conversation or showing some sort of kindness towards them could make your day just as much as it could make theirs. 

So far so good, lets see how the rest of the year goes!


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

LIFE: Goals for 2018


Yes, it's now 17th January and I'm only just checking in. You see, it's been a very hectic start to the New Year.

We had a lovely Christmas at our house with 10 guests (including us!) then went off to Pembrokshire for 4 days to see in the new year.

After getting back on the 2nd, being straight back to work, having a weekend of basically de-Christmas-ing the house and then I was off to Italy for a week spent in Florence and Italy (for work).

I'm now back to reality, trying to catch up on a mountain of work, a mountain of house work and really in need of a general new year de-cluttering.

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a little down in the dumps throughout January. The festivities are over, the endless supply of chocolate is gone and it's now time to get 'back into the swing of things' (ugh!)

I also find it a bit of a tough one with all of the 'new year, new me' army out there as well as the new January gymgoers that are taking up all the spots in my favourite classes. That said, it's giving me a chance to partake (for the second year running) in Yoga with Adriene's 30 day daily practice - which I'm LOVING by the way.

I must admit, I'm feeling a little like I'm treading on eggshells walking into 2018. It's likely to be the year of change - which, considering the last two years, seems impossible. Finally it feels like things may settle down a bit and some normality (well, new normality) can be restored.

You see, I feel like I've lost myself these past couple of years and I want 2018 to be filled with the things I love doing, the people I love seeing and the places I want to get ticked off my bucket list. I want to feel calm and content - which, although I felt like at points during 2017, the most part of it I felt like I was floating through at high speed. Are we over saying 'where HAS this year gone?' yet.

So, as I do every year, I've set myself a few goals. Goals I feel can be achievable and are part of finding this 'calm and contentedness' I'm craving rather than 'lose weight', 'buy house' or 'become yoga instructor'. The goals I'm setting myself are to keep me on track, or at least try to find the path I want to walk down (LOL!)

Here goes...

1. Read More - books, news, blog posts
I love reading but I find it difficult to sit myself down and read these days. I read so many books during my English Lit/Lang degree and it kinda left me needing a break. However, it's 6 years this year since I finished uni so I don't really have much of an excuse anymore. I got a bit of reading done last year (mostly Laura Jane Williams, Daisy Buchanan - that kinda stuff).
But, in general, I feel like I need to consume more words - whether it's being a bit more on top of what's going on in the world, reading blog posts that will motivate and inspire me - and books too.I'd like to aim for a book a month, but we'll see.

2. Balance and prioritising
I know we all dislike the way 'balance' is thrown around but I feel like I need a bit of it in my life these days. Sometimes I'll have crazy busy weeks where I'm here there and everywhere - on planes, trains, in London etc - and then I'll have others where I'm simply working from home four out of the five working days. That's fine and I absolutely love the nature of my job and the flexibility but it always seems to fall on the busiest of weeks/months that I'll jam pack my weekends full of things to do too. I love getting out and about but sometimes need to learn to turn things down in order to find that balance that we all seem to be searching for sometimes.

3. Buy less
Literally my goal EVERY year but it's one I always need to write down so that, when I look back on this in a few months, it gives me a kick up the bum. I've said it before, I'll say it again...I have a serious spending problem. I'm a sad shopper (ie. bad day = buy loads of clothes/shoes/food/whatever takes my fancy). I'm aiming for no unnecessary purchases during January and February..possibly longer. This means clothes, shoes, candles (I have a problem) or anything that I haven't already got plenty of.

4. Capsule wardrobe/declutter
I suppose this goes hand in hand with the above really. I have been toying with the idea of a capsule wardrobe (or at least a huge declutter) since the summer and I feel like it's time to put that to the test.
I have SO much stuff. It's actually crazy. I dread the day I move out of my house because it will be worse moving out than it was moving in. So, with this in mind and the buy less manta...I need to declutter/ try the whole capsule wardrobe thing for 2018.

5. Really look into my diet
...and I'm not talking anything crazy. I have always considered myself a reasonably healthy eater but as I near 30 my metabolism isn't what it once was (I only have to look at a bowl of pasta and it goes to my bum/thighs/stomach/face). I want to make sure my diet is balanced and that I'm getting what I need as well as what I need for 3-4 gyms sessions a week. I just want to make sure I'm looking after myself in the right way and keeping my body healthy and happy.

6. Be tidier and more organised
I have never and possibly never will be the most organised person in the world. I'll write lists and forget where I've put them or I'll 'tidy up and put something in a safe place' and I've lost it 5 minutes later. This year I want everything to have it's own place and to make my life easier. Honestly, the amount of times I tore the house apart looking for something as I was due to leave the house. I'd never find what I was looking for until like a week later then come home to mess everywhere. And, when you work from home, a messy house isn't good for a productive day.

7. Be kinder
To myself and to others. I give myself a really hard time pretty much 80% of the time. I get myself worked up VERY quickly. It's something I need to learn to control. I need to give myself a break. But equally, I want to be kinder to others. 2017 was the year of me feeling like a bit of a misery-guts sometimes and being that friend that's always a bit negative and grumpy. I want to always make sure I'm a version of myself that I like when I'm around others.

And that's it folks. I may add to this as the year goes on as I had some little things like 'learn to stand up paddle board', 'go to Cornwall more' and 'get heels to the ground in downward facing dog' but let's see how I get on with these first. They're not necessarily measurable goals in the traditional sense but I think there will be plenty of lessons to be learned from my 6 goals for the year.