Friday, 14 April 2017

I think it's time

I've been thinking long and hard over the last couple of weeks, back and forth, forth and back, and I finally reached my decision a couple of days ago - it's time to say goodbye to the blog and to blogging in general. I can try and come up with a million and one reasons why, that will be heartfelt and mean so much, but the honest truth? I simply have no time.

I knew that going back to work full time would be challenging which it is, and I am in no way, shape or form moaning about this, but my 'spare' time is becoming increasingly precious and with that are the decisions I make as to how I spend that time. More and more of it is offline, as I now live my all day, every day online. Also a lot of it is away from a screen, or at least a computer/mobile screen. With my new job I sometimes find it hard to switch off, and often wake up in the early hours with tweets and replies to comments in my busy, over-thinking brain, and so lately, the past couple of weeks or so, I've been moving away from online and going old school - reading a book, lounging on the sofa chatting and listening to music, catching up on films I missed at the cinema (yes a screen, but definitely not the same 'noise' that you get from being online), playing with the dog, watching the sunset from the back garden...and it's been so much better for me. I've been sleeping better, and generally feel more rested. Sometimes just being is exactly what you need, what I need. 

Anyway, back to the blog. I have very much enjoyed my brief time here, and I intend to leave it open, just in case I suddenly decide that I want to come back (never say never!) but for now, it's time for me to say goodbye and switch to radio silence. 

Thank you, to everyone who came with me from the old blog, who found me along the way, whoever you are and wherever you are from, thank you. Maybe I'll see you again someday...

...but for now? Over and out. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

March favourites

I'm taking comfort in company that a lot of people feel like 2017 is flying by! A friend recently told me that someone had informed them of how many days it is until Christmas *splutters* I mean, what?! 

It's the end of another month which means it's time for what's been floating my boat for the last four weeks. Take it away...

I have to start with long weekends. Even though it was only a few days ago, that glorious, four day weekend was exactly what was needed. It was relaxing, we spent loads of time together, no-one had to go away, there wasn't any work to be done - the only requirement was to just be, and it was, quite simply, wonderful! I'm happy to report that the chance to do the same again is coming up very soon as Easter falls in April...come on, you long weekends! Woop! 

Next up, let's talk books. Specifically books by Emily St. John Mandel. So far, I've only read two (Station Eleven and Last Night in Montreal) but I have absolutely loved both of them. Montreal particularly has been an absolute delight. As we all definitely know by now, I'm not too good at the whole book review thing, but I would describe her writing as wistful with a side of melancholy. Which is actually my perfect book. There's additional love as the books have very simple white covers with a small illustration on them - also my perfect kind of book. I have no idea why I am so drawn to white book covers, but I can spot them a mile away in a book shop/library and inevitably found myself drawn to them even though I might have heard/read nothing about them before. Interesting fact: Barack Obama follows her on I'm assuming he must be a fan too...clearly a man of taste. I would absolutely recommend picking one up to try, and if you're going to start somewhere I'd start with Last Night in Montreal - part mystery, part melancholy, I have loved every single page. 

This is Us. Yep, it was my favourite last month and it's still my favourite for this month. Every episode I watch both delights and breaks me all at the same time and I have no idea what I'm going to do when it's over...although I recently started following Mandy Moore on Instagram, as you do, and there was mention about a second series so *heart sings* there's that...if I didn't convince you last month, there's still time for you to play catch up. Pack some tissues though, you will definitely need them! 

Spring is springing up all over the place and all around my garden and I am absolutely thrilled! Bursts of yellow, purple, pinks, and green shoots and leaves, oh it makes me so happy! I'm sure it's been helped along by glorious blue skies and sunshine days. The weather is definitely making me feel so much brighter and lighter and like yep, I've totally got this! 

See you next month! April = Easter, so it's likely that chocolate will feature somewhere in there. Have a great month! 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Weekend status: still not over!

I'm declaring it: four day weekends are officially the best! THE BEST! There's something extra specially wonderful about finishing work for the week on a Thursday and then it rolls round to Sunday and you've still got one day off - ahhhh bliss. We certainly couldn't have timed it better either. Someone has very definitely switched the Spring clock to on and it's been blue skies and glorious sunshine every single day. The clocks have also moved that hour forward which means longer evenings too - double bonus! 

So what's made the weekend so lush then? Well, lots of not having to get up with the alarm is always a winner. We've also been outside for pretty much most of it - it was even warm enough to eat our lunch outside yesterday - yasssss! Roll on BBQ season, I can almost sniff your smoke charred wonderfulness! We've been to new places, bought new plants, started all the exciting plans for the garden, strolled around markets and bought yummy bread and tasty cheese, caught up with both sets of parental units and taken flowers and pretty biscuit gifts for Mother's Day today...the best thing is, it's 4pm, it's still beautiful sunshine outside and we don't have to think about alarms tomorrow. Oh happy day, oh happy shiny day. 

Highlights definitely include the discovery of Fairy Dell - a really rather delightful woodland/lake/stream combo that has potential to be up there for my new favourite outdoor place. We strolled around, the dog charged around as he does, threw himself into the pond and then into the stream, and basically all had the loveliest Friday morning in quite a long while. 

I've also really enjoyed having a chance to 'catch up'. This is probably going to sound really lame, but catching up with housework and jobs that I've been meaning to get around to for ages and never quite had the's ever so boring adulting stuff but it feels fab to have actually got around to those things! One step at a time, you never know, by Christmas we should be almost caught up...ha! 

And that's that. There's still plenty of evening for some more weekend enjoyment and then who knows what we'll do tomorrow. There are no plans, the day is wide open, let's just see where it takes us! 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Soggy hair

Curly haired friends: I want to share a new discovery with you today! I think the official term is 'plopping' but that sounds way too much like bodily functions for my liking so I'm going with 'the soggy hair trick'. 

So if your curls are anything like mine, they're tricky to control and require a careful balance of products, not too much drying and staying far away from brushes. Like 20+ years away from brushes - I kid you not, I think it was 1997 when I last brushed my hair. However I digress. 

Until very recently I used to wash my hair and then fling it up in a towel, wrapped turban style, walk around with it for a bit, eat my breakfast, take the towel down and then add the products etc. The end result was a massive amount of frizz and none too brilliant curls. My new magical technique is amazing and my curls have truly never looked better! Here's what you need to be doing:

1. wash hair and rinse out shampoo, conditioner, whatever else you use
2. squeeze your hair very gently to get rid of the excess water BUT keep it on the soggy side
3. take both ends of your towel and gently push together around the bottom part of your hair to take out more water, but once again the aim here is to keep it pretty soggy/wet but not dripping all over the place
4. add in products and then leave to air dry
5. the end result is magical, bouncy curls! 

Honestly, it's changed my life! 

I'm pretty lucky as I only need to wash my hair once a week, maybe twice if I've used any hairspray, so heading out to work with still wet hair is not such a big deal to me. I haven't tried to dry it with a diffuser but maybe the soggy hair technique will still work, even with a hairdryer? If you try it out let me know in the comments! 

As if you ever needed an excuse not to slave over a hairdryer! You're welcome! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Lessons from a bad photograph

I learned pretty early on that when you have big, mad hair and a large head to go with it, there's not much point getting upset about how you look in photographs. Your hair is invariably going to be bigger and messier than everyone else's and if you're standing next to a person with a normal sized head, your's will look pretty massive. Tis just the way of life. Accept, move on, learn to embrace both of those things as being totally you and get on with it. 

That philosophy was all going really well until last night. I am quick to add at this point that I am in no way assigning blame to the person who shared this photograph, but my reaction really took me by surprise. Mainly because I was upset. Like properly upset. I looked at that photograph and felt enormous in comparison to everyone else. I fat-shamed myself, which made me feel even worse. 

Let me tell you a bit more. Throughout all of my 40-something years I have learned to accept (and most importantly, love!) how I look to the point where 99% of the time I reckon I look pretty kick-ass and I have the sass to go with that attitude. I will freely admit to strutting about in front of my full length mirror and sharing a photo to my social media feeds when I am really feeling my outfit of the day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with some good, solid self-love. I totally own my double chin and size 16 body, the hair that is generally out of control and the style I have chosen along the way. Until life throws you that curveball...

The particular night in question I thought I looked pretty good. I was wearing a fake leather mini skirt, a floaty blue blouse with ruffle cuffs and I'd made my hair extra specially large because that is what I do. Turns out, when you put that next to some gorgeous friends who are all thinner with smaller heads and shinier hair, and you trust a photographer from the bar to take a photo, you're kind of putting your feelings into someone else's hands. This is most definitely why selfies have become so popular in my humble opinion! 

Let's talk about the feelings. Feeling fat is a pretty crappy way to feel. I completely, 100% admit that I could do with losing some weight and doing more exercise, but when it's staring you right in the eyes it is very definitely jarring to say the least. As it happens (and there's a very distinct possibility that it has led to this reaction), Dave and I are currently at the very beginning of a 4 week healthier eating plan. We had both admitted that it was time to take control once and for all and made a pact to work on it together, and then the photo happened. 

A day has passed now and I'm starting to get a little bit of perspective, although it still makes me cringe when I see the photograph. I'm day 4 into the healthier eating plan and I'm feeling positive...and hungry, but that's because it's nearly tea-time. It's not about losing a massive amount of weight or suddenly going to the gym every night; it's about being a better me, for health and wellbeing.

All of that being said, I think it will be a while before I'm happy to smile for any more photographs on nights out. I think the biggest thing that has shaken me the most is how crap it made me feel about myself. I don't enjoy that feeling, it's not kick-ass or sassy, it's mainly sad, and not at all me. 

Life can be so weird sometimes...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Coat of dreams *heart eyes emoji*

It's reached that really funny time of year when it becomes almost impossible to know what to wear. Sometimes it's still super chilly and I need the scarf and the big winter coat, but on other days it's mild and sunny and the winter coat is too big and heavy and by the time I get to where I'm going I just want to tear it off my back and fling it on the floor! Drama queen moment aside, changing weather is tricky. 

So I've been looking for the perfect coat/jacket/outer layer. Not too hot, not too cold, just like Goldilock's porridge - just right. I fleetingly decided that I would have a go at French chic and try a mac. Yep, nice try Claire. I basically ended up looking like some kind of detective parody in the much too formal black mac. Return to sender. 

I also tried a shorter, mac-like jacket/swing coat hybrid. Even though I liked the idea of it on the hanger it just felt really frumpy when I tried it on. It was a weird length and it deffo looked like I was trying too hard. Return to hanger. 

Today, I found the coat of dreams! Well, I call it a coat, it's probably another one of these hybrid thingies that I think is called a duster coat. It's light yet long. It's really lovely fabric and looks like it should be a big thick coat but in actual fact it's just the right side of perfect for these milder days. YES! And, it makes me feel all kinds of swishy. And it's grey. Which is kind of a no-brainer to be honest as I seem to have developed a real thing for grey over the last year or so. It's smart enough for work but cool enough to dress down with some shredded jeans at the weekend. I love it!

Check out those giant pockets too - I love pockets! 

Now, if only I could find those elusive trousers...

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Gardening: not just for grannies

When I was a much younger version of myself being forced to help out with the garden at my grandma's house, I was pretty sure that the whole gardening thing was sooooo boring and should strictly be left to the old forward to the present and a day of gardening fills my soul with complete happiness. Being outside in the sunshine, watching things grow, the first signs of Spring popping up all over the place - I love it! Does this make me a total granny? Very possibly, but you know what? I say pah! I say gardening can be cool too. This I know as when Gardener's World returned to the BBC this weekend, it started trending on Twitter. Yep, gardeners, trending. Need I say more? Gardening = hip. 

This year I have a whole heap of plans for the garden. It feels like this will be the year, the second in the house, when we finally put our stamp on the garden. At the moment it very much looks like the garden that belonged to the people who lived here before us, except the lawn is definitely not as lush and green looking and it might have one less fuschia bush/plant thingy as I may have chopped it all back today and sawed off the remaining branches ready to be dug up...

I want to add areas! And gravel, and a patio, and loads of pots with fabulous sunflowers! I want a big trough building where I will grow my own salad veggies and just pop out to the garden for a few lettuce leaves to go with dinner. I want to grow sweetpeas in as many locations as possible because they smell amazing and are the only pastel coloured flowers I will allow. I want to paint the benches a new colour and change the shed door from that awful dark brown to something way more interesting and pleasing to my eyes. I want more solar lights so that the whole garden is covered in coloured twinkly stars when we sit out on a summer evening and enjoy a glass of pink wine or two. I want, I want, I want so much! Watch this space to see if it actually happens...

But until it's time to start all my jobs, I'm delighting in watching the Spring bulbs burst to life - the clumps of tiny yellow daffodils, the chunky tulips that will make me smile every single day, the big hyacinths that we've never grown before so let's hope they work out okay, and the fragile crocuses with their hidden yellows. I love it all. Gardening is good for the soul, well, this soul anyway.