Tag Archives: personal

APPLE WATCH ANTICIPATION

I am insanely excited to receive my new Apple Watch Sport. Head over to anez.me to find out what the Watch can do for you, and how to get it!

ON MOTHER’S DAY

Mother’s Day has toddled around again, and everyone seems to be writing deep and insightful thinkpieces about motherhood in general or their relationship with their own mother specifically. Here’s the thing: I’m not a mother, nor do I have any wish to be one, so I’m not sure how much value my opinion has there. As for my own mother… Where would I start? By saying thank you, I suppose.

mothers-dayChristmas, 1985

 

Thank you for bringing me groceries and medicine while I’ve been sick*.
Thank you for teaching me how to fix a sink.
Thank you for teaching me the correct amount of Domestos to use when cleaning the floor.
Thank you for putting up with my mood-swings.
Thank you for listening to all my nonsense.
Thank you for my love of reading and music.
Thank you for all the dinners.
Thank you for the birthday cakes.
Thank you for the birthday presents.
Thank you for my love of healthy food.
Thank you for my sense of humour.
Thank you for my independent spirit.
Thank you for your support.
Thank you for your advice.
Thank you for the fun.
Thank you for the good example.
Thank you for being my friend.

Thank you for being not just my mother –because in simplest definition the word means nothing in and of itself beyond the expression of a biological capability– but for being a good mother, for being the best mother I know.

Thank you for being kind, and clever, and present, and available, and interested, and caring, and inspirational, and generous, and for trying every day to be the best mother you can be. I notice. And I appreciate it.

Thank you, Mum.

-A-

 

*As mentioned above, I’ve been super, super sick. I got a dose of the flu which left me housebound for nearly three weeks! I’m pretty sure I’ve never had the flu this badly in all my life. I am on the mend, though, and regular posting will resume very shortly… ❤ Hope you guys are all doing well! x

THE SINGLETON ON VALENTINE’S DAY

I’m never quite sure what to make of Valentine’s Day. I’m so habituated to being single for it that I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a boyfriend for V-Day… But I can’t remember the last time that fact bothered me, either. Consequently, everyone else’s excitement or upset about the whole thing kind of passes me by. I don’t have anyone to buy me presents, or anyone to buy presents for, but I don’t feel sad or unhappy about that. Valentine’s day seems to split people into camps: those who are loved-up and delirious about it, and those who are single and miserable about it. But what if you don’t fall into either category…?

You can ignore the whole thing since it doesn’t apply to you (which is what I usually do)… Or, you can go ’round your mum’s for a nice meal and some brandy.  Which is what I did this year!

v-day-dinner

Dinner was delicious fillet steak with garlic butter, chunky chips, and a side of sauteed mushrooms and onions. For extra calorie points, we followed this with chocolate truffles and ice cream…!  You only live once, after all.  After dinner, we watched movies (and ate more truffles) and generally had a lovely time. The important thing, I think, is make sure you like the person you spend it with, whether it’s your partner, your family, or yourself. At the end of the day (this day, and every other), that’s the only thing that matters: not who you’re with or what role they occupy, but how much you like their company. You can like a boyfriend’s company, or a mum’s, or your own, or all of the above. There’s nothing wrong with any of those, so long as there’s love.

If you’re coupled up this Valentine’s, I hope you’ve had a nice time with your partner. If you’re single this Valentine’s, I hope you’ve had a nice time with yourself and whoever else you might (or might not) have chosen to spend the day with. I know I did.

-A-

THE FIT REPORT: JANUARY

I’m hoping that doing one of these at the end of every month will help to motivate me and keep me on track for the next month! I started 2015 with the goal of shifting a bit of weight and increasing my overall fitness, which I had sadly let slide towards the end of 2014. My fitness plan for January was basically this:

– Cycle 20km, five times a week (or 400km at month end)
– 10 minutes of free weights every day
– One mug of fresh spinach/apple/carrot juice every day
– No more low-fat yoghurts
– Remember to take my vitamins (Omega 3 + Glucosamine) daily
– Swap dark chocolate for milk chocolate
– Low-cal/fast one day a week

So far, I’m mostly doing okay! Which is a surprise to everyone, myself most of all.  Here’s how I’ve fared on my plan for January:

400km cycled? I got to 325, though!
Done 10 minutes of free weights every day? Yep!
Had one mug of fresh juice every day? I slacked off when it got so cold washing veg hurt!
Ditched the low-fat yoghurts? Done and done. Don’t even miss them now.
Taken vitamins every day? Surprisingly, I manged this.
Swapped dark chocolate for milk chocolate? Too many left over Christmas sweets. 😥
Fasted one day a week? Though I did manage it three weeks out of four.

Overall, I don’t think I did too badly… Of course, January is the easiest month, since just about everyone is taking it easy in January! It’s only going to get harder from here on out, but I’m really hoping I’ll be able to keep it up since I feel better about myself and everything else when my fitness (and, let’s me honest, my weight) is going in the right direction.

Weight-wise, I shed about 4.5 (Christmas) pounds, and I’ve definitely done more exercise than I would have otherwise if not for having a goal I was trying to achieve, even if I didn’t quite get there. I feel my skin is improved for all the veggies I’ve been eating– and although I didn’t manage juice daily (honestly, sometimes it is just TOO COLD to stand around washing a big pile of vegetables in cold water), I did manage to eat 3-4 of my 5 day almost every day. On several days, I had nothing BUT vegetables, and I’ve eaten so many carrots I’m slowly turning orange. I’ve been working on learning to cook delicious new things that are lower in sugar and fat than my old fare, and eaten almost nothing in the way of “bad” foods (there was a pizza, once, but we won’t speak of it).

So how do I feel at the end of January? Better. Slimmer, fitter, and pleased to have kicked some bad habits, but unsure how to measure any other improvements.

I can’t say that my energy levels have been noticeably improved, since my sleeping schedule is so messy that it interferes with conclusions on that front. I do feel like my skin is brighter and with fewer blemishes for the combination of regular exercise and better diet… Though that’s difficult to determine, as well, since I’ve upgraded my skincare regime since the start of the month, and have also been trying to be more diligent about it. I’m pretty sure I’m fitter; I don’t feel my cycling requires as much effort for the same distance now, and getting on my bike became a habit I more-or-less accepted into my life after a few days– like with brushing my teeth before bed, I felt restless when I didn’t do it. I can, at least, say for certain that I have definitely lost weight, since that one is readily quantifiable. I’m confident I’ve toned up some, too, since my jeans and shirts are fitting less snugly in the last week or so.

It has definitely been worth it, so I’ll be continuing this on into February. I’ll let you know how I got on then!

How have your January plans been going for you? Are you making health and fitness a priority in the new year? Or do you have a different focus you’re enjoying for 2015? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

WELCOME TO 2015!

2015 has begun, so let’s kick off the year as we intend to go on! Well, almost: I’m having my last bad day of “naughty Christmas eating” before the annual post-Christmas purge begins. As of tomorrow, I’m saying goodbye to cake and chocolate for a while, but today is New Year’s Day, which means some kind of big feast (and then dessert afterwards).

Blessedly, my Christmas bingeing hasn’t done too much damage to my skin (I shudder to think what it’s done to my weight, but that’s tomorrow’s problem). I think the reason for that is that over the Christmas period, I made a concerted effort to eat lots of vegetables and drink my magic juice (carrot, spinach, and apple). The other thing I think to have helped is the religious use of my new Clarisonic, which I’m going to talk about later in the month. It’s a little early to say as yet, but I think this is really keeping my skin stay healthy and looking good! I’ve also been using a new mask and night oil for the last week or two, which I think has also been doing me a few favours– I’m looking forward to talking about those, too.

I’m really excited about the new year: all the challenges and rewards it’s going to bring, and I’m looking forward to posting about them here. I just need to get my backside in gear and go take some pictures to accompany my write-ups!

What are you looking forward to about 2015? What do you have planning for the new year? What are you most excited about? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

2014 IN A NUTSHELL

An end has come to my very first year of blogging. Time for an end-of-year recap, I think, and how better to do that than with 14 Things About 2014? Seven hits and seven misses that stood out for me this year.

2014-ani

7 Things Which Annoyed Me In 2014

1. People still Using “series” rather than “season” to describe a year’s worth of TV.
Every time I read “series finale” in reference to a beloved show, I have a miniature heart attack. I’m no fan of Americanization for the sake of it, but using “season” would prevent confusion– and isn’t increased clarity is always preferable? Come on, folks: let’s get it together and stop scaring people for no good reason except a desire to cling to archaic and unclear terminology.

2. Restaurants that decide for you how meat is to be served.
No. Every individual should always have the final say regards what goes in their mouth. No amount of culinary training trumps personal taste or desire, especially when money is changing hands.

3. Forced “digital detoxes”.
If I can’t bring my phone, I’m not going. If there’s no wifi, I don’t want to be there. Surely adults should have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want to use their communication devices? A ban on those which cause distraction for others is absolutely fine and totally understandable, but why would anyone want the choice to be taken from them when it affects nobody else? Absolute nonsense.

4. Regional content restrictions on media.
Come on, now, it’s nearly 2015: everyone’s online, and everyone’s talking. Do you really think people outside of the USA are going to wait, eyes and ears covered, for content to become available in their location? No; they’re either going to be spoiled by internet discussion and thus not bother with it, or they’re going to pirate it so they can watch it before they’re spoiled. I understand that there are long-term country-specific contracts behind rights restrictions, but companies who want to increase their goodwill among customers would do well to prioritise getting out of those as soon as possible, and commit to not entering into any new ones once their current contract has expired. One world, one service. Let’s move towards that in 2015, please.

5. Limited editions.
These set my blood to boiling. Why produce much-desired, much-requested products in limited quantities and then refuse to make any more? Why, god, why…? It’s an unnecessary cruelty foisted upon us by this modern world.

6. Online trolling.
One of my resolutions for 2015 is to just not read comments on any articles, and to keep away from discussion forums and places where people gather to be horrible. Reading it doesn’t educate me or make me happier, so I’m just going to give the whole thing a wide berth in the new year.

7. My limited attention span.
This is something which has become a real problem for me, and it’s something I’m really going to have to work on in the new year. How? Well, to be honest, I’m not sure yet. But it definitely has to be done!

 

7 Things Which Made Me Smile In 2014

1. Travel.
I went to the Canaries twice and to Atlanta once this year, and had a ball on each trip. Here’s to seeing more places and people in 2015!

2. The World Cup.
This was an immense surprise to me, but I rather enjoyed following the action this year. I’m no great fan of watching sports (I’d rather be playing them), but the level of play was so impressive that it was just a joy to engage with.

3. Learning new things.
This year, I learned how to sew (poorly), use CSS (less poorly), and I’m working on learning how to use Final Cut Pro X at the moment. I also discovered the benefits of biological peels, and learned a whole lot about makeup application techniques, especially for the eyes!  I love learning new skills, and it’s something I’m looking forward to doing more of in the new year.

4. Arts and crafts.
2014 is the year I made all kinds of things. I painted a clock, I reupholstered a stool and a headboard, and I upcycled a battered old truck into something new and shiny. I’ve learned that I’m far handier than I ever realised I was, and I have all kinds of exciting projects planned for the coming year.

5. Shopping.
Shallow, predictable, and still entirely true. I got some wonderful things in 2014, and I’m looking forward to getting more in 2015. I’ve been eying some Mac brushes, to start with…

6. Improving my cooking skills.
I’ve never been the worst cook (well, okay: not since I moved out of home, anyway), but I’d gotten really complacent in the things I prepared and ate over the last couple of years. This year, I made an effort to introduce healthy new ingredients to my diet, and I’m really glad I did. It’s made a difference to both my skin and my overall health, and it’s always nice to expand the range of dishes you can make when you find yourself either with unexpected company or with a lack of desire to go grocery shopping. I hope to be able to continue expanding my repertoire in the new year, and beyond.

7. Blogging!
2014 was the year I started blogging, and it’s been a great experience. I’ve met some lovely people, read some wonderful things, and learned a lot! I’m super excited to continue doing it into 2015: to try out more of the things I learned and purchased this year… And to write about some new things, too.

I had a little bit of a shaky period during the summer where I slacked off, but I’m going to try really hard not to skip posting in 2015, and make a concerted effort to get a post up every other day as I have been for the last couple of months!

I just want to say thank you once again to everyone who takes the time to read and comment on my posts; you guys are great, and without you, this would probably feel a lot like talking into the wind! I hope I’ll be able to continue to provide interesting content in the new year, and I’m looking forward to what all of you guys have to post about, as well.

Happy New Year, everybody. I’ll see you in 2015! ❤

-A-

THE POST-CHRISTMAS BLUES

christmas-recycling

Some people will argue that Christmas isn’t over until January 6th (and they have good historical back-up for doing so), but for me, Christmas is over when I’ve given out my last present, and fully over when I’ve eaten my last brussel sprout.

Even for the Grinchiest among us, I think there’s something saddening about the end of Christmas– all those trees with nothing beneath them, all that pre-Christmas excitement replaced by post-Christmas sales, and the lingering feeling that it’ll be ages before you have another one. (Even your birthday is ages away, if you’re a December baby.)

So, how do you beat those post-Christmas blues? Here are my top tips for putting the sads behind you and getting ready for the New Year!

1. Exercise. No, I’m not kidding. Christmas is a time of over-indulgence, and that means not being able to get into your pre-Christmas clothes for a while: a definite bummer right there. Exercise will not only help you shift those chocolate box chocolates and celebratory champagnes faster, it’ll also give you a much-needed boost of endorphins, which will lift your spirits and help take your mind off credit card bills and the prospect of un-decorating the house in a couple of days. It doesn’t have to be an intense session down the gym; a nice walk outdoors or a half-hour doing free-weights or using an exercise bike at home works, too.

 

2. Sleep. Christmas is often a whirlwind of social activity, but it’s important not to let sleep fall by the way-side while it’s all going on. One or two late nights and early starts won’t kill you… But in my experience, three is pushing it. Your mood and skin will suffer, and nobody wants to be crabby and spotty at New Year’s parties.  Sleep is restorative, to both the brain and the body, so it will do your skin a world of good while also making you feel better and happier. Be careful not to overdo it, though; like vitamins, it is absolutely possible to have too much of a good thing, and too much sleep will leave you feeling groggy and lazy, disinclined to do anything.

 

3. Sort through your presents. I like to keep all my Christmas presents in a big pile for a week or so afterwards. I know that sounds silly, but looking at them makes me smile, and it’s fun to go through them and think about how you might use them in the future. It also helps me feel happy to have them, and reminds me to be grateful for the people I have in my life who care about me enough to buy me nice things.

 

4. Write thank-yous. It doesn’t have to be letters– I know Miss Manners says it does, but to me that notion is out-dated and silly. If you prefer to write letters or you know the recipient prefers them, then by all means break out the good ink and stationery, but the idea that “everyone” loves to receive a letter is bunk. I’d certainly prefer a text message or email, because I get nothing from knowing I’ve put the person out the price of the stamp and the trip to the post office. It’s the words that matter, not how you send them.

Whatever delivery method you choose, it’s nice to write out a thank-you for the person’s thoughtfulness, to tell them how much you appreciate it (even if you’re already planning to re-gift it, at least that’s one less present to buy next year!), and to wish them a Happy New Year. It’ll remind you what lovely pressies you got, and it’ll also make someone else smile, so it’s win-win!

 

5. Plan out a strategy for achieving your New Year’s resolutions. It doesn’t have to be self-recrimination, but start thinking about what you didn’t get around to doing this year. Didn’t get your novel finished? Didn’t lose those extra few pounds? Watched too many hours of television you didn’t really enjoy? It helps to frame these things as opportunities: as things you can achieve next year, rather than things you failed at this year… But it can be helpful to identify why you didn’t achieve them this year.

Didn’t spend enough time writing? Didn’t prioritize exercise? Left the TV on in the background while you were trying to do other things and let yourself be sucked in and distracted? Identify traps and triggers that tripped you up on the way to your goals this year, then plan out concrete strategies for avoiding them next year. Rather than big, unachievable ideas (“I will only watch three hours of TV a week!”) or abstract, weak notions (“I will make more time to write each week”), come up with small, concrete solutions which you can achieve, and which will train your brain into accepting them as a habit.

Things like “I will write at least 200 words every day”, for example, or “I’ll take the stairs home every day I’m not carrying groceries” or even “I will only watch TV shows I’m really excited to see” are more readily achieved than goals that are too broad or too vague, and repeated achievement breeds habit. Habit is how we get ourselves into these messes (eating more chocolates than we need to, watching TV instead of working, saying “I’ll do that later”, etc.), and habit is how we will get ourselves out.

Those are my top tips for bridging the gap between Christmas and New Year– what are yours? Are you looking forward to the New Year, or are you still set to Christmas Mode in your brain? What did you get this year that you’re especially excited about? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

CHRISTMAS HAS COME AND GONE :(

Gosh, for someone who did so much bitching about Christmas coming, I feel surprisingly saddened about it being over! I actually had a really lovely, really quiet Christmas. I stayed home with mum, made dinner, and then watched three solid hours of soap nonsense on telly. All in all,  a good day…! My Christmas tree looks all sad and bare without its cache of pressies underneath, but I am so delighted by my gifts that I couldn’t possibly feel too badly about it. Here’s what I got:

christmaspresents

Clinique Gift Bag
Clinique Lash Power Mascara in Dark Chocolate
Clinique All About Eyes Serum
Clinique Cream Shaper For Eyes in Black Diamond
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser Sample Size
Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Kiehl’s Micro-Blur Skin Perfector
Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in Grapefruit
Urban Decay Naked 2
Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics
Chanel no.5 Loose Body Powder
Kiss Cuticle Remover
Kiss Cuticle Cream
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Blu-Ray
Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-Ray
Elektra Blu-Ray
GAP Fingerless gloves
Hermes scarf

Not pictured: Navy UGG boots (yay!) and Paul Costello faux fur throw pillows and blanket. The latter was a surprise, and boy was I surprised! They’re so cozy and soft, though, so I might try to take photos of them– they make snuggling up on the couch extra comfy in these chilly times. (It will surprise nobody to say you’ll be seeing the UGGs regularly in upcoming OOTDs. Love UGGS. Love them.)

I should probably have asked for exercise gear, though– I’m going to have to be rolled out of the house come new year! Mum did most of the cooking (apart from my special potatoes) but I was in charge of setting the table, so I had a little fun coming up with something pretty and different:

tablesetting

The lights are old champagne bottles filled with battery-operated fairy lights, if you’re wondering. Super easy to do, and looks really interesting! The same lights are also draped over the floor lamp in the corner– I think I might keep those there year-round, actually; they’re really very fun.

Of course, no amount of cute table decoration is going to take away from Mum’s dinners:

christmasdinner

If you’re thinking it’s basically the same as my birthday dinner except with brussel sprouts and garlic potato, you’d be right. Roast lamb is definitely my favourite dinner…! I’m just not that into turkey.

Or Christmas pudding, for that matter; for me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without cake:

christmascake

We got white chocolate curls this time, and little fruit pieces, for some reason. Not complaining! They’re delicious. Definitely going to this bakery again; it’s aces.

I had such a lovely time this year that hopefully it will motivate me to not be such a Grinch in the run up to Christmas 2015. I just have to do what I did this year: get all my business done well and early so that the last couple of days before Christmas aren’t spent in frantic terror… And which, mostly importantly, will allow me to avoid all car parks for at least ten days before Christmas Day. (I’m pretty sure being able to do that was critical to my enjoyment of the festive season this year. Trying to find a space in a jam-packed car-park is my idea of hell; avoiding it definitely allows me to enhance my calm.)

Did you have a great Christmas? Are you gunning for the sales? Do you have any fun stories or tales of Christmas terror to share? Drop me a line and let me know… But I hope all your dinners went off beautifully, all your presents were delivered on time, and the day was everything you dreamed of.

-A-

GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE!

As Christmas is now officially upon us, I just wanted to take take the opportunity to wish everybody Happy Holidays. ‘Tis the season to be merry, so I hope everyone has a wonderful time over this festive period, whatever festival it is you choose to celebrate– or don’t.

Let me share my decorations with you:

garland

It might not look like much, but I’m super proud of this garland because it was all hand-made– by me! It’s very simple, and all you’ll need are a few spare Christmas ornaments, a wire coat hanger, a length of tinsel (~3m), and some holly. Mine was kindly donated by my aunt, who shares some Christmas holly with all the family every year so we all have a little piece of the farm in our houses!

To make this, all you need to do is bend the wire into a roughly circular shape (you don’t need to unhook the top part, and it doesn’t have to be perfectly circular). If you have something like a biscuit tin lying around (and let’s face it: it’s Christmas, so you probably will) you can use that to help you round out the hanger. Once you’ve done that, you just take one end of the tinsel, hold a few inches off the end of the hook part, then start wrapping the tinsel around the hanger. Three meters just about covers one average-sized hanger, when it’s densely packed. Continue wrapping to the end of the hook, then tie a knot in the tinsel at the top with the tail-end you left from the beginning. Then all you need to do is attach some of the ornaments (you can open the strings they come with, or just thread an elastic band through them if need be). The holly is optional, but I think it gives it a nice lift! I’ve just tied that on with a bit of silver-streaked wool I had lying around– that came from Dealz, actually, and is only €1.50 a roll!

tree

This is our Christmas tree. It is a pre-lit, fake tree (the only kind worth having, in my book– I can’t be doing with dropping needles and trying to string all the lights) with an extra strand of blue lights thrown in for good measure, along with some blue and turquoise ornaments, because this room already has red accents, so a red-themes tree doesn’t really stand out, whereas this one does! The present wrapping, bizarrely, was not intentionally coordinated with the tree ornaments– mum just chose the turquoise  paper, and I chose the dark blue. Funny how that worked out, but I think it looks lovely!

The shopping has been completed, I’ve handed out my presents (bar the ones for mum), and all the cards have been written, so I’m going to settle myself in and snuggle down for a lovely quiet Christmas. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading my blog over the last year– your comments and likes have been a wonderful present year-round, and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to interact with me.

May you all get everything you dreamed of, and may all your gifts be well-received.

Happy Christmas, everybody.

-A-

NEW SITE DESIGN!

It came to my attention that my old blog design didn’t look quite right on tablets and mobile, so I’ve given it a complete overhaul. The functionality should be improved for anyone wanting to browse it on a mobile device, and the overall look on a standard browser is a little sleeker now, too.

If you’d like to give it the once-over, you can check it out here. I’d love it if you’d let me know if you experience any bugs, or spot any errors! I tried to catch everything, but I think we all know how difficult it can be not to break things when you’re dealing with CSS.

Do you do most of your browsing on a mobile device or a laptop/desktop? Do you use the standard layouts available or do you try to customize them? Do you  love or hate the new site design? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-