Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My diaries and how I use them

I have, for years, kept a date diary, as most of us do, in the vague hope that I'd know what I was supposed to be doing and when. A few years ago I got an A5 red Moleskine diary which had the days of the week down the left hand page and a lined page on the other side. For a couple of years that worked great - I kept notes on the right hand side and the diary was filled by the end of the year. I was working more then, though, and as I've worked less over the years I haven't needed the page on the right quite as much. So in 2016 I bought a smaller, A6 diary to keep track of dates.

In one of 2015's Secret Santas I received this A5 diary which has a week to view. I really liked the design on the front so I had it on my desk, and at the beginning of the year I started writing down what I'd written each day, notable achievements, things like that. I was having counselling and this was something that I felt would help me when I felt rubbish, It really did help, and I kept up the habit all year, so this year I asked Lee for a date diary and a diary I could write this stuff in. Bless him, he got them both from Paperchase and they're both gorgeous.

Here's some pictures.

Last year's diaries - the A6 one on the left, which I never really fell in love with, and the "achievements" diary on the right. I LOVE the front cover; I think it was from the Works and I love the shabby chic feel!

This is what most pages in my date diary looked like. I didn't write much of anything on the right hand pages unless I had an event I needed notes/details for. 

Here's the achievements diary. As you can see, each weekday got a big space and the weekends shared a space. I sometimes found it hard to cram things into Saturday and Sunday but mostly it was okay. On the left you can see what I wrote, on this blog, on my book blog, and some fanfic I wrote. The weekend wasn't a writing weekend as I was away camping, so I noted that too - it's important to give yourself breaks!

And here are this year's diaries. I chose the one on the left - I'm fussy, so I wanted to - and Lee chose the one on the right. My only stipulation for that one was that it was "week to view" which this is.

This is the inside of the date diary. It's a bit weird and scattered, but I like it. The beginning of each month has space for things to buy and things to do and birthdays, it's pretty good.

And this is the inside of the achievements diary, look at those beautiful clear pages ready to be written on! The paper is really smooth so I've been using a fineliner on it. This diary is also where I'll be noting books read, films watched, and TV watched in the book - it has pages and pages for notes so I thought this would be a better place than the other one!

Do you keep a diary? Do you keep two like me?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Navigating the gym as a fat woman

Now something you might not know about me is that I'm a member of my local gym, and have been for very close to ten years now. My mum and I signed up in around February of 2007 and have been regular members of the Bannatynes near my house ever since then. We used to go swimming before that, at my local pool, and swimming is what we most often do at the gym.

When we signed up, we were given a tour to orient ourselves. Our gym has the changing rooms, the pool, and the cafe downstairs. We sometimes have a drink at the cafe, but not often, but when I have been, the food is delicious and fairly priced. The staff on the front desk are always polite and greet us happily when we speak to them. The changing rooms are divided into men's and women's, and there is also a family changing room if required. The women's changing rooms have two cubicles if you wanted to change in privacy, but to be honest I just use my towel and don't care too much about it. If other people have a problem looking at my body, well, they can just look away.

The changing rooms lead on to the pool and ours is lovely. It has a slow side and a fast side and children are allowed in at certain times but to be honest they're never too bad or rowdy. There are two Jacuzzis and a bubble pool, and two steam rooms, a sauna, and a deep relaxation room, which is warm but not hot and which smells of eucalyptus and lavender. That one's my favourite room. Sometimes when we're swimming they'll turn the lights down, leaving strip lighting which changes colour which is a bit like being at a watery disco - I love it!

Upstairs - there are stairs and a lift - is the gym itself and a separate beauty salon where they do treatments too. We were introduced to all the equipment but there was no pressure on us to sign up to anything. We sometimes both do a work out - I like the bikes best. There's also a few studio rooms - one has bikes in for spinning classes, but the others are all empty and are for dance and tai chi and things like that.

The whole place has a lot of different classes going on. For quite a while my mum and I did aqua aerobics, which had a great instructor who worked to all different kinds of abilities. I would actually quite like to get back to that this year, I might see when the classes are on. There's no pressure to sign up to any classes though.

Also, in the gym area, there are always staff members around but they don't pressure us into anything. At one point my mum wanted some help with strengthening her shoulder, so someone set up a workout for her, but there's never anything about weight loss. I don't feel like I'm not welcome there at all. I love swimming and always have, and while usually when my mum and I go we chat the whole time, I also like to go alone. I like to swim and think!

Now, I don't think everyone has to exercise, and I also realise that some people have had very negative experiences. I also am sure that there are gyms where someone like me wouldn't be welcome, where staff may look down their nose at me, and where I would feel like I stuck out. That's never been the case at mine, though, so I would encourage people to maybe investigate their local gyms and see how they work. If it's something you'd like to do because swimming or cycling or walking on a treadmill, or even just sitting in a hot room with your thoughts, makes you happy, then please please see what your gym is like. Come to mine! I'll swim with you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christmas swaps and books

I know, I know, by the time you read this Christmas will seem like a far distant memory. But I wanted to write about the swaps I joined in with anyway, because I like to say thank you for all the lovely gifts people send me. I hope that the gifts I sent were happily received too.

This was one of the book swaps I did. The books in question were on my Amazon wish list so I really wanted them, and the hot chocolate, chocolate, and face masks will be eaten and drunk and used!

These gifts were from Jane, in Janet's thrifty gift swap. I've been joining in with this for years now, and I love it. Jane sent me tape and a craft kit, books, chocolate, a heart shaped ornament, and this very cute flamingo cushion. The book on the left is so vintage, I bet it's hilarious

This was a stitching swap I joined it with. I love the homemade ornament at the bottom. 

This was the second book swap I joined in with, and I was incredibly spoilt! The books (all on the left) were ones I wanted, so are gratefully received. The rest are really amazing too!

And here's the swap I did in my penpal group, the item on the top left is a writing set. I love the colours of the wool!

And here are the other books I got. I read The Woman in Black last year and loved it, so my friend Laura bought me this lovely edition with other stories in too, and my mum bought me this book about music which I'd asked for.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Books of the Month - December

December was a slow month for books for me. I had a lot going on and was quite anxious and upset, which results in less time for reading for me. I did read six books, though, which brought my 2016 total up to 81 books! Of those 81 books, 35 were paperbacks, including ones I own, ones I borrowed, and ones I got out from the library. 36 were eBooks and were a combination of ones I bought and ones I requested on NetGalley. 8 were hardcover and were again a mixture of ones I bought and ones I borrowed. Two were audiobooks and these were both borrowed from the library.

Of the 81, the vast majority by over half were Young Adult books - 48, in fact. A further 8 were either kids books or middle grade books (where, for instance, I personally place the Wells & Wong novels). 16 books were general adult fiction. 9 were crime novels, which is my second favourite genre but which I have totally neglected in recent years. I read three anthologies of short stories which isn't usually my thing but which I enjoyed.

Anyway, here's what I read.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon - I liked this, but found the set up a little bit false. My review is here

This was for Jenny's book club and I really enjoyed it. It's a book of short stories and a few of them really stood out as excellent, I enjoyed them all though. I sent the book on to Janet because I thought she'd like it.

This is a book of short stories all on the theme of "home", written by YA authors to raise money for the charity Crisis. A few annoyed me, but it was mostly okay. My review is here.

I absolutely love the Wells & Wong books and this one was particularly lovely. It's set at Christmas so it got me right in the mood. My review is here.

This is also set at Christmas (do you sense a theme) and it was only okay, I didn't love it. It didn't have enough grit to it and the love interest was just a perfect boy which I found annoying, My review is here anyway.

I absolutely loved this book. I would've written it very differently but for me looking at that is part of the enjoyment of reading! I really liked the main character. I wrote more about it here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Films of the Month - December

Here's what I watched in December - a good month for films!

1) Lee and I watched Home Alone while putting up the Christmas tree, it's one of my favourites
2) I'd never seen Arthur Christmas so in the spirit of festivity I watched it, I liked it!
3) I was at my friend's and this was on, we watched most of it so I'm counting it!


4) Again, I was still at my friend's and we watched most of Nativity. I've seen it before and it's okay, but I'm not keen on Martin Freeman.
5) Lee and I watched Die Hard because, well, it's a Christmas film
6) And then we watched Die Hard 2 because even though it's not a Christmas film, it is set in the winter so it totally counts

7) Lee and I went to the cinema to see Rogue One. We're both Star Wars geeks and we LOVED it. I need to see it again because I'm sure there's stuff we missed
8) On the Thursday between Christmas and New Year my friend Rosie came over to hang out and make mail art, and to watch Love Actually because I'd never seen it. It was okay, I don't think I'll bother to watch it again
9) Then I made Rosie watch Bugsy Malone because it's one of my favourites, unfortunately she wasn't so keen! Oh well!

10) At this point I realised I had watched 97 films in 2016, so with just two days left I decided I'd make that up to a nice 100! I had had A Princess for Christmas recommended, but it was terrible!
11) Lee and I watched The Addams Family, I think I prefer the other one actually, but Wednesday is the best in the whole franchise, obviously.
12) I had been wanting to watch Supersonic, a documentary about Oasis' early years, since it came out. I really enjoyed it. I liked Oasis when I was younger, but was never a huge fan. Liam and Noel and Bonehead were all very funny and engaging in this though. I would recommend it if you grew up with Oasis like I did.

And there we go! 100 films in 2016! 44 I had never seen before, and 56 I had. I saw four films in the cinema, which is a lot for me. I'd like to watch more films in 2017 and see more at the cinema :)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wedding Advice

Loads of people I know have recently got engaged and I gave the advice that I always give, and as I did so I thought it might make a good post. I got married over eleven years ago and I know that some things have changed wildly in that time, but some things really, really haven't. So, here we go. These are mostly for brides who are marrying grooms, because that's my own experience.

  1. Sort out your budget like really really early on. Then work out what's most important to you, whether that be the venue, the clothes, the honeymoon, whatever. Spend your money on that.
  2. Think about what you want people to remember about the day. For us, music was really important, so we made loads of CDs and told the DJ he wasn't allowed to play anything else! It worked because everyone says how great it was
  3. Try on lots of different styles of dresses because you just never know what will suit you
  4. Try on a veil, too. You don't have to have it over your face, of course, But they are so pretty. I had mine clipped into my hair and I loved it.
  5. Don't wear heels unless you're really used to wearing heels, and even then have a pair of flipflops to get changed into later. Your feet will hurt.
  6. If you don't usually wear make up you don't have to wear any, obviously, but if you do, be sure to wear it quite thick and with quite bright lipstick, or you'll look washed out in photos
  7. Your dress doesn't have to be a wedding dress. You can get beautiful dresses nearly everywhere and for a lot less money than a wedding dress. You'll be wearing it for just a few hours out of your life! 
  8. Ditto for your bridesmaids. Look at something like Lindy Bop or a department store website to find something cheaper but still gorgeous for them
  9. If you fall for a certain dress, check online and at outlets for the same dress but cheaper. No one ever has to know
  10. If your groom doesn't want to wear a fancy suit, don't bother with one. Lee wore a smart black shirt, open necked because he hates ties, to get married in, and that was best because he felt comfortable
  11. Things like favours and flowers and centrepieces are lovely, but they're NOT required. If they'll stress you out or you don't have the money, forfeit them. No one will care
  12. I would have different favours if I got married now - ours were pretty, but overpriced and tasted awful. My mum, when she married my stepdad, bought loads of butter tablet on eBay and we all made it into favours. That's her favourite sweet so that's what she wanted! Something like that is really personal to your wedding
  13. As for cakes - wedding cakes are overpriced and dry and rubbish. My advice would be to either ask someone to make it, or to buy a plain iced cake from Marks & Spencer and decorate it yourself with silk flowers or something unique to you. It will taste much better and again no one will ever know you spent £50 not £350. I also really like those "naked" cakes which look stunning
  14. You barely get chance to look at your flowers all day, so my advice is to get fresh flowers preserved. You do need to book it beforehand and sometimes you have to keep them wet or something, so ask a relative or a trusted friend to take this over if you're going away on your honeymoon straight away. You can then keep your flowers forever! I did this and they're on the wall in our bedroom and look beautiful. 
  15. You don't care where your honeymoon is, I swear. You just care that you're there together, so chill out and just book a cottage with a hot tub or something. You'll need to relax and you'll want to spend time together just chatting
  16. Remember to enjoy yourself! It goes so fast and you won't remember it all, you won't speak to everyone you wanted to, so remember to just hold on to the one you're marrying and have fun while you're doing it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Top Six Selfies of 2016

I shared these over on Instagram (I'm sullen_hearts over there) because my friend Sam tagged me to do so. I went through my selfies (thanks for helping, iPhone) and chose six that I liked.

Top left - in the car in February while on holiday, wearing make up for once
Top right - at Bradford Industrial Museum with Sam and Jacqui, enjoying unseasonable sunshine
Middle left - in France in May, sunbathing in the garden
Middle right - away with Lee in Whitby in July, enjoying some time together
Bottom left - in Galway in September with Sam and Jacqui, watching the sunset
Bottom right - at my graduation in November, on the steps of Sheffield City Hall

I've cut my hair much much shorter this year, and I've got new glasses that I love. Otherwise, I think I haven't changed very much!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year's Eve 2016

Another year has come and gone and while 2016 was disappointing in sooo many ways, I also really learnt a lot about myself throughout the year - what I'm capable of, what my limits are, where I will draw lines in the sand, all kinds of worthy things like that. I'm feeling very positive about 2017 and all the adventures it will bring.

Lee and I went out for a meal in Doncaster on New Year's Eve. We went to Turkuaz, which I would highly recommend. Lee had never had Turkish food before but he really enjoyed it. The kitchen is open to view which was great, and there was also a belly dancer dancing - she was fantastic! We each had two courses and a drink for less than £40 which I find to be excellent value, and we would definitely go back. Portion sizes were really generous, too.

After our meal we went to my stepdad's sister's house where we also spent last New Year's Eve. Lots of family were there and it was a pretty good time. We listened to Abba's Happy New Year at midnight!

Here's my face made up for the night. I now have wrinkles by my eyes! I think I'll refer to them as laughter lines, though. 

Lee in the restaurant in his new favourite t-shirt (present from my aunt, uncle and cousins, it's the guy from Fallout)

Here's me, wearing my Tara brooch that my mum bought me, and this dress from everything5pounds that I've only worn once before. 

I've got some round up posts planned as well as one about my goals for the year, share yours with me if possible!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What I Wore 28th December

Well, Christmas passed in a blur, in a nice enough way filled with family and travelling, but it always goes SO fast and then I find the week between Christmas and New Year really hard to deal with. Lee was off all week though so on the Wednesday we decided we would go to see Rogue One before we went to have curry with some friends. We went for lunch first, paid for with a gift card Lee's mum gave us, and then went to the cinema. We both really liked the film - it was so sad though, especially watching it the day after Carrie Fisher died!

Anyway, I wore this dress that I bought ages ago but hadn't worn in forever. I know it's really bright, but I needed to brighten up the day. I love the colours on it. It's from Lovedrobe but like I say it's a year or two ago.