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?

A-Z of me: F

Hello chaps and chapesses!

F is for Favourites

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Favourite book:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  Hands-down favourite of all time.  Special mentions also go to works by Jojo Moyes, Roald Dahl, and Enid Blyton.

Favourite film:  I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Disney films from my childhood, and Beauty and the Beast has to be top of that list.  It’s hard to pin down a favourite grown-up film (because I’m basically a big kid), but I did like Kill Bill, Educating Rita and Roman Holiday.

Favourite band:  Maximo Park is the band I’ve seen live the most times, and they never disappoint.  I bloody love them because: a. they sing in a regional accent; b. I love their lyrics; c. they remind me of my student days.

Favourite food:  Changes on an almost weekly basis.  I’m writing this between Christmas and New Year, so the current front runner is Terry’s Chocolate Orange.  I do also have a pretty serious love of sun-dried tomatoes, halloumi, balsamic vinegar, and hot and sour soup. Not necessarily together.

Favourite colour:  Green.  Not a bright, acidic lime green – more of a soft, natural, olivey-sagey green.

Favourite place:  My bed.  Minds out of the gutter please.  In terms of geographical locations, I’m a fan of beaches (especially Newborough, Rhossili and Llansteffan) and cities (especially Paris, Rome and Montreal).  And we all know how much I love Chester.

What are a few of your favourite things?

My word for 2015

Happy new year chaps and chapesses!

I hope you had a fun and jolly festive period. Mine was quite relaxing, and I now feel fired up to make 2015 even more awesome than 2014 turned out to be.

I’ve made lists of new year’s resolutions in the past, and personally I’ve found that they don’t tend to work very well for me. I find it hard to stick to them beyond February. So last year, I decided to choose a word for the year instead. Lots of people seem to be doing this these days, and I have to say I find it a more effective way of working towards what I want. The simplicity of focussing on one single concept seems to work for me.

My word for 2014 was ‘CHOOSE’. I didn’t really write much about my progress with it on here, but it was always at the back of my mind. At the end of 2013, I’d reached a place where I felt like I was putting too much store by what other people thought, and trying to please people too much, at the expense of doing what made me happy. I went with ‘CHOOSE’ as a reminder to actively think about what I want, and that it’s okay to say no to some things if it’s not what you want to do. I’m still not quite there yet, as there are some circumstances where I still find it hard to assert what makes me happy, but I’m loads better than I was this time last year, and I feel good about it.

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So with that in mind, my word for 2015 is ‘STRONG’. As I’ve just mentioned, there are times (and it tends to be with specific people in specific situations or circumstances), where my instinct is to roll over and let the other person have their way, even when I know that it’s not good for me or them in the long run, and that the overall outcome would be better for everyone if I stood my ground.

By focussing on being STRONG, I want to remind myself that it’s okay for me to make my own choices and stick with them, even if / when the naysayers disagree and criticise. In the words of Taylor Swift, ‘haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate hate’. I just need to remember to be strong, and not cave in because it’s the easiest option. I don’t want to always choose the path of least resistance, and that is something I’ve been guilty of in the past.

It’s not about saying ‘it’s my way or the highway’, it’s about being honest with myself about what makes me happy, and being strong enough to follow through on that, without caving in to the haters.

As well as that, I want to be STRONG in the physical sense. I want to get fitter and stronger, not necessarily to lose weight, or to see a particular number on the scales, but to feel healthier and more energised. I want to have a fit and strong body so I can climb mountains, explore the world, and generally get the most out of life.

How about you? Have you given yourself a word or a mantra for 2015? Have you made new year’s resolutions? I’d love to know what they are!

2014 debrief

Hello chaps and chapesses!

2014 has been nothing if not busy.  So much good stuff has happened to me this year, I feel really truly blessed.  This year has had too many good bits to go into great detail, but here are some of the highlights – because why the hell not.

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Adventures:  We went to Dublin for a day of fun, spent a week in the sun in Malta, embraced the great outdoors in the Scottish Highlands, and spent Christmas week in a cottage on the Gower, miles away from real life.

Culture and fun stuff:  We saw Macbeth at the open air theatre in Chester, which was awesome.  We’ve also been to a few gigs this year, including Maximo Park, Alt-J and Kasabian.  I spent my birthday swinging through the trees at Go-Ape, and in September we went dog-sledding in Tewkesbury.

Major purchases:  I bought a new car, and we bought our first house.

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Achievements:  Graeme and I both did our first half marathon in Chester.  Graeme got his dream job, after a lot of hard work to get in.  We climbed Snowdon and Ben Nevis – only Scafell Pike to go, and we’ll have done the three peaks!

Lessons learned:  I learned that scuba diving is not for me, but segwaying definitely is.

 Proposals:  Graeme got down on one knee at the foot of a beautiful waterfall and asked me to be his wife.  On balance, that was probably the main highlight of the year.  Just about.

I hope 2014 has been as good to you as it has to me.  I can’t believe there’s only a few days of the year left, it’s absolutely flown.  I’ve got a good feeling about 2015 though – it should be a bit quieter than 2014, but there’s still plenty of good stuff going on.

How was 2014 for you?