A-Z of me: G

Hello chaps and chapesses!

G is for Guilty Pleasures

Before we get into this, I just want to say that I’m not sure that there really is such a thing as a ‘guilty’ pleasure – surely if you like something, you like it, and that’s allowed.  We’re all grown-ups here.

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Here are a few of my guilty pleasures:

Romantic chick-lit. Yes, it’s (often) predictable, and soppy, and romantic, and they almost always get together in the end, happily ever after.  But what can I say, I’m a sucker for a love story and a happy ending.

Disney soundtracks. I may be a grown adult with a mortgage, but there’s still something quite uplifting about singing along to Disney classics while driving along in the car.  I challenge you to sing along to Under the Sea or Prince Ali, and not be cheered up.

Having the window open when it’s raining. I’m talking proper, Biblical, sky-is-falling-down rain.  Hearing the sound of it hammering down outside makes me feel all cosy and snug, tucked up inside.  Other than the damp windowsills, it’s lush.

Pic n Mix. Who says you have to be under the age of ten to appreciate a tub of chocolates, jelly sweets and E numbers. Add in comfy PJs, a blanket, and a Netflix sesh, and there’s nothing quite like it.

Rightmove porn. When we were looking for a house, the nosey part of me loved viewing properties, and seeing what people had done with their rooms, and how they’d decorated their houses.  I love our house, but I do still like to indulge occasionally in a little property peeping on Rightmove.

Do you have any so-called ‘guilty’ pleasures?

Amsterdam: Our best holiday yet?

Hello chaps and chapesses!

This time last week, Graeme and I were sitting at a table outside a bar, supping Heineken in the sunshine, and watching the world go by.  There was an occasional waft of cannabis in the air, and the frequent ding of bicycle bells.  It was just lush.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Amsterdam.  I’d had the vague impression that it would be all about sex and spliffs, but there is so much more to it than its sinful reputation would have you believe.

Amsterdam has so much going on, from the famous red light district and traditional brown cafes, to the dozens of museums and galleries.  It’s a beautiful city, with tall, narrow houses leaning in all sorts of directions, connected by a web of canals and pretty bridges.

For me, though, the best thing about Amsterdam is its atmosphere.  It has a rare combination of city hustle and bustle, and a relaxed, laid back vibe.  There’s a sense of open-mindedness, positivity, and respectful laissez-faire.  Live and let live and all that.

The highlight was renting bikes for an afternoon, and exploring the city on two wheels.  It seemed that as soon as we started pedalling we got lost, but it was cool because it was all just part of the adventure.  We got a bit wet cycling in the rain, but then we stopped off for amazing pancakes while the shower passed (we had to a. keep dry and b. keep our strength up for the cycling).

We did so much in four days – a trip to the zoo, the diamond, sex and torture museums, people-watching in the Vondelpark and outside countless bars, sampling the poshest chocolates I’ve ever tasted, trying not to stare in the red light district – but it was all so relaxing.  You know those holidays where you cram in so much sight-seeing that you come home exhausted, and feeling like you need another holiday to recover?  Amsterdam was the opposite for us.  We saw and did loads – and there is still loads left that we didn’t fit in – but still we came home refreshed and invigorated.  Best of both worlds.

 

Taking stock

Hello chaps and chapesses!

It’s been a while hasn’t it.  There’s no specific reason why I haven’t been blogging for the last few months, it’s just that sometimes I need a little break from it.  I don’t want to be posting for the sake of it, I want to make sure that what I write here means something, and isn’t just filling the silence.

Here’s a little round up of what I’ve been up to:

Making:  wedding plans, and getting really rather excited about it.

Cooking:  healthy chocolate brownies, and trial run wedding cakes.

Drinking:  a helluva lot of decaf green tea, and almost preferring it to ordinary tea (controversial I know).

Reading:  the paper while stranded in a broken down car in Tesco car park last week.

Wanting: for nothing, really.  Lucky girl.

Looking:  and feeling bloody fabulous at a mother-daughter photoshoot with my mum the other week.

Wishing: I could have my hair and make-up done professionally every day.

Playing: the Fall Out Boy album, loud.  I love the energy of it. 

Deciding: on a wedding dress.  Totes exciteballs.

Wasting: time daydreaming. Although I think that maybe daydreaming isn’t really that big a waste of time.

Fixing: up, looking sharp.  Not really.  Except in that photoshoot.

Enjoying: Florence and the Machine’s new album.

Waiting: impatiently for Orange Is The New Black season 3.

Liking: the idea of getting a veg box delivered every week. 

Wondering: if I’ll feel any different when I’m Mrs Allen rather than Miss Hughes.

Loving: my new Origins skincare stuff.  Money well spent.

Pondering: the meaning of life.  Not really, I’m too busy getting on with it to wonder what it all means.

Considering: growing out my fringe.

Watching: more House of Cards, less Made in Chelsea.

Hoping: that  my dreams will come true.  If I work hard, they should do.

Marvelling: at the idea that we may not actually have free will after all.

Needing: to do some exercise other than running, as running is in danger of becoming boring again.

Smelling: Toby’s foul dog-farts. He’s eaten some dodgy crap recently, and it’s made him stink. 

Wearing: jeggings every damn day.

Following: my dreams.

Noticing: how negative people can be.

Knowing: what I need to do, but having trouble actually doing it.

Thinking: about what the best version of me is like, and working towards it.

Feeling: quite reflective lately.

Admiring: those people who seem to have their shit together.

Buying: crafty wedding stuff, like ribbon, and buttons, and kraft paper, and BUNTING!

Getting: quicker at running, little by little.

Bookmarking: blog posts that inspire me.

Disliking: the distinct lack of summer weather so far.  Come on June, get your act together.

Opening: boxes of my childhood stuff from my mum’s attic, and marvelling at the contents.

Giggling: excessively at Avenue Q. If it comes to a town near you, you should definitely go see it!

What have you been up to?  Tell me, I want to know!

This week’s happies #3

Hello chaps and chapesses!

Puppies.  Graeme has sponsored a guide dog puppy in my name this week, which means that a) he’ll be paying for a guide dog to be trained up, from when she’s a puppy, which is charitable and wonderful, and b) I’ll get regular ‘pupdates’ in the post and on Facebook, which is exciting and just-oh-so-cute.  Hurrah for puppies!

Thai food.  Graeme took me out for a bank holiday meal at Siam in Chester on Monday.  It’s a really lovely Thai place, and the food was dee-frickin-licious.  If you’re ever in or around Chester, definitely check it out!

Green Day.  I found a Green Day CD in my car this week that I’d forgotten I had – it’s a copy of International Superhits, that my friend Sian made for me when we were in sixth form.  She kindly marked out which songs she thought I’d enjoy on the track listing.  Listening to it as I’ve been driving round this week has taken me back to my youth – isn’t it amazing how music can bring back memories and feelings so strongly?

Voting.  Call me a nerd, but I love going along to vote on polling day. Although the outcome of the election wasn’t what I wanted, it still felt good to do my bit.

Girl time.  I spent a thoroughly lovely 24 hours with one of my best friends this weekend.  We mooched in Chester, drank a lot of tea, watched a movie, went to a bodybalance class and went for Sunday lunch.  Oh, and we nattered.  A lot. Weekends like this are so restorative and good for the soul.

What has brought a smile to your beautiful face this week?

This week’s happies #2

Hello chaps and chapesses!

How the devil are y’all?  I know it’s been a while since we talked.

I like making these weekly happy lists, as even on the most rubbish of days, they help me to look for the good – and let’s be honest, we could all do with a bit more of that.

So without further ado, this week’s little happies are….

Polenta cake.  We are now a mostly-gluten-free household, which has had some consequences for my love of baking.  I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free recipes, and this week I came across this polenta lemon cake recipe from Nigella, and it was bloody lovely.  I can always rely on Nigella for a yummy recipe – she never fails me.

Wedding craft fun.  I spent Sunday morning making the save the date cards for our wedding.  It was a lovely, relaxing morning, and the fact I was making something for our wedding day made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’m not the most artistic of people, they turned out really well, yay!

Mini Ben and Jerry’s.  After a long, hilly  walk on Wednesday evening, Graeme and I rewarded ourselves with some mini pots of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  We each had a little pot like the mini ones you can get at the cinema.  I went for Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and it was bloody delicious.  Those little pots are just lush – sweet and indulgent, and just the right amount to feel like you’ve had a treat, without feeling guilty (or sick) afterwards.

Spring sunshine.  I spent a lovely couple of hours in the fresh air after work on Friday, taking Toby for a stroll and then going for a run.  Being out in the open air, with the sound of the birds singing, was just delicious.

What little things have made you smile this week?

This week’s happies

Hello chaps and chapesses!

It’s been a busy and jolly week, as it’s been our first week in our new house!  I’m so excited to say that.  We moved on Saturday, and had got most of the essential stuff unpacked by Sunday afternoon.  I had a little moment on Sunday night where Graeme and I were sat on the sofa drinking champagne and watching TV with the log fire burning, and I thought ‘Yes.  This is it.’

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Here are some of the smaller things that have made me happy this week:

Broadchurch:  I loved the first series, and the new series is more than living up to expectations.  I’m just impatient – we binge-watched the last series, and I don’t want to have to wait a whole week for the next episode.

Mooching:  Graeme and I were both off on Tuesday, and we had a lovely day getting haircuts, having tea and cake, taking Toby for a walk over the fields, and generally pottering about.  It was a lovely, mellow day.

Shopping:  On our day off, I did a wee bit of shopping and got myself not one but two new lipsticks, and a few tops in the sale in Dorothy Perkins.  It’s been ages since I had a bit of retail therapy, so it felt like a nice treat.

Snow:  We had a little dusting of snow on Tuesday night, and it made everything look so pretty and sparkly and cute.

Our dishwasher:  We’ve bought a dishwasher for our new house, and it’s so nice not to have to wash big piles of dirty dishes by hand any more.  Lazy but true.

Thoughtful gifts:  When I came into work on Friday, one of my colleagues presented me with a bag containing two cute tumblers, a bottle of gin, some tonic water and some nuts.  Basically a Friday night in a bag!

Quality time:  I’ve managed to have some quality time with Graeme this week.  We’ve spent a lot of time cwtched up on the sofa in front of the fire watching TV – it’s so simple but just lovely.

Getting back to the gym:  I went to my first Bodycombat class in weeks on Tuesday, and although it was really tough, and tiring, and made me ache for days, it does feel good to be working towards a gym routine.

What little (or big!) things have made you smile this week?

Goals for January

Hello chaps and chapesses!

I hope 2015 has gotten off to a good start for you!

I haven’t set any resolutions this year, but have decided to choose one word as a sort of over-arching theme for the year as a whole. I did this last year and it worked quite well, so I’m trying it again for 2015.

Having said that, I do have some specific things I want to work on, so I’ve set myself a few goals for this month:

Get into a regular exercise routine. This ties in with my STRONG theme. It’s not about trying to lose weight or inches, it’s about making my body stronger and fitter. I feel so much better in myself when I’m in a good routine with exercise. I ‘d like to aim for two gym classes a week, plus a weights session, and possibly also at least one run a week.  If I don’t manage quite as much as this, that’s okay, I just want to get into some sort of routine I can always build on it in future.

Keep calm and carry on.  January’s going to be a big month with some big changes.  We’re moving to our new house, and then shortly after Graeme will be starting working shifts.  I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but being in a new home, and having a different routine, and having us both on different timetables is a big change.  I’m a bit apprehensive about it all, particularly having Graeme on shifts, and potentially not seeing as much of him during the evenings and weekends.  Change is good, I just want to try and stay steady during the changeover period.

Set a date for our wedding.  We bought a house shortly after getting engaged,  and because we’ve been pretty busy with all that, we haven’t done a great deal in the way of wedding-planning. We’ve seen a venue we love, but haven’t done any more about it. We need to have a proper chat to the venue about numbers, cost etc, and then if all is well we can get it booked. After we’ve moved to the new house, things should (!) calm down a bit, so we should have time to think about it and get something solid booked. Exciting times!

Have you set any goals for the month, or the year?