January reflections / February hopes

Jan reflection - Feb hope

< Reflections >

Keep laundry going during the weekrolling laundry has been pretty successful and the weekends haven’t felt so packed full of chores
Play flute twice – played three times and thoroughly enjoyed it
Read my Bible every day – done! It’s amazing how easy this can be when it becomes part of your routine. It’s refreshing and encouraging – long may it continue!
Apply to 20 jobs – I’m not sure I applied for 20, but I have a new job so I think I can consider this well and truly completed!
Ponder website/blog/photojournal – you’re looking right at it
Go on a day trip somewhere pretty – not quite, but we have one planned in for two weeks time
Start reading German Sherlock – also a big fail, I’m reading Wilkie Collins’ No Name and it’s pretty intense reading. Also, it’s Long!

January has turned out to be quite the month. I have a new job, I’ve started physio on my shoulder, we’ve booked our main summer holiday and two mini-breaks and my hubby has managed to find a decent amount of time to push forward with his goals too. It’s been a rainy month and that looks set to continue, but I hope that this next month will be bright in its own way.

< Hopes >

Continue with January successes – if I can keep these going longer than a month I’ll be impressed
Finish No Name and start reading German Sherlock – I’m 57% through No Name (thank you, Kindle) but like I said, it’s Long!
Take at least one photo a week – I miss having photographs as a record of what we do so I hope February will see a return to photography joy
Bake something red around Valentine’s Day – we’ve never celebrated Valentine’s Day but I’ll take any excuse for a baking challenge!

It’s not a long list, but then it’s not a long month!

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Calm excitement

When we got married three years ago, a lot of people asked us: “So, how is married life? Is it just wonderful? Are you excited?” To which, more often than not, I responded, “It’s great. It’s… normal.”

I didn’t mean that it wasn’t wonderful and exciting, but that it was something even better than that, it was perfectly natural. We had seamlessly transitioned into our new lives with each other and it felt wonderful to be so completely comfortable and at home with the man I married. Normal was good. It, in itself, was exciting, in a way that was so far beyond the ‘jump up and down’ sort of excitement.

Yesterday another big change came on my horizon and when friends asked how I felt, I responded that I was still processing (I’m an introvert, of course I was processing) but that it was exciting and normal. I wasn’t anxious or nervous about the transition time but I wasn’t jumping up and down either. It’s strange how excitement can look different depending on the situation.

Whilst I’m sure that the more conventional form of excitement will appear at some point and although there are certain to be some nerves, I am thankful that for now, my excitement is calm so that I can figure out and absorb this change.

I am so looking forward to this new chapter and so grateful that this goal has been reached so early on in the year!

Recapture the weekend

Recapture the weekend

When I was little, weekends were reserved for fun things – for playdates, for games, for reading and for anything that spontaneously inspired me in the moment. Those two days seemed like endless relaxation and when school beckoned on Monday morning, the grumbling was at least partnered with somewhat renewed energy.

Some people thrive on hectic lives and sometimes, I do too. But if you’re anything like me, weekends now mean laundry, grocery shopping, chores and, if I’m done by the evening, I might treat myself to a movie and a G&T before falling into bed, more exhausted than on any given weekday. It got to the point where my weekends weren’t refreshing and enjoyable, but simply an excuse to catch up on everything that I hadn’t done during the week. As a confident introvert, I have to manage carefully the balance between time with friends and time for myself and recapturing the weekend has proven so important for that. Inspired by the Wonderful Weekend Book, I started to figure out how to claw back my weekends and here are my top 5 tips for how you can do the same.

Rolling laundry

Smaller laundry loads during the week not only serve to lessen the load (quite literally!) at the weekend, but they’re also kinder to the drum of your washing machine. If you can keep the laundry going during the week, come Saturday, that time can be spent doing something far more interesting.

Friday night shopping

Some supermarkets are surprisingly quiet on a Friday night. Workers have come home and collapsed after a long week and this tedious chore is postponed to fill up precious weekend time. If you are able to pop to the store after work on a Friday, you can pick up some great deals, shop in a calmer environment with fewer stressed and hurried people and free up the weekend to indulge in the treats you buy!

A weekend list

It’s ok to be productive at the weekend. I actually find I enjoy the weekend more if I’ve spent Saturday morning ticking a couple of things off a list. The key is not to go overboard on the number of items on your list; even if they’re all intended to be enjoyable, a leisurely weekend of fun can quickly descend into a mad rush to complete all of the items on your list, entirely defeating the point.

A weekend list consists of two things: tiny little errands that don’t have to be done but would be useful if they ended up being done, plus one or two fun activities. Even if the one thing on your list is ‘watch a movie in bed in pyjamas’, it can help to give the weekend some focus.

Sunday night activity

Sunday night blues effect even the best of us. Especially after a wonderful and relaxing weekend, the thought of the alarm going off before 7am is enough to send anyone crawling under the duvet to hide. Having some kind of Sunday night activity to look forward to can sustain the joy of the weekend and also help to give momentum for the coming week. Whether it’s going out for a drink, staying in and watching Sherlock or having a long hot bath with your favourite book, a Sunday night activity is a must to round off a perfect weekend.

Mix it up

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” If we get what we want all of the time, we never appreciate the good when we have it. Throw the rulebook out of the window and intersperse your enviously and indulgently relaxing weekends with an occasional weekend of crazy activity. When you’ve had a few weekends to recharge your batteries and store up some energy, it can feel so good to spend some of that energy going on a road trip with friends or ticking a wild goal off your bucket list, not taking a second to pause before coming back to land on a Sunday night.

The Sunday night activity is still a must though!

Baking ambitions

Over the past few years, I have accumulated multiple recipe books – many chocolate themed and almost all baking themed. Most of the recipes I have wanted to try have now been attempted, but a few have eluded me thus far. So here is a little list of some of the treats that I hope to try in 2014, all adapted to be wheat-free:

For a rainy weekend:

  • Chocolate and hazelnut loaf adapted from various recipes
  • Almond and chocolate nougatines from the gluten-free baker
  • Black forest cupcakes based on ‘Cherry cupcakes’ from Hummingbird bakery
  • Chocolate souffle from Green & Black’s
  • Sachertorte from Green & Black’s
  • Marquise au chocolat from Green & Black’s

For Wimbledon:

  • Chocolate Avocado cake from Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth

For my mum’s birthday:

  • Earl grey tea cupcakes from Hummingbird bakery

Summer:

  • Summer carrot cake with passionfruit from Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth

Autumn:

  • Bitter chocolate orange cake from Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth

Gaining momentum

2013 was the year when life settled – and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I have been married for almost three years and it has been a quite blissful and stress-free start to marriage, but it has taken a while for routine and life in general to settle into the newness. The small things that needed to be bought to make our house a home – kitchen appliances, linen and wall hangings – have all been purchased over time and our routines are, although I’m hesitant to admit it, fairly predictable. Even in myself, I began to know and understand more fully my likes and dislikes, my style and my dreams; life in general became more defined and known in 2013.

I don’t consider my career to have settled quite yet. 2013 certainly defined it more clearly for me and narrowed down the style of work I am most passionate about and the sort of work I believe will fulfil me the most, but I’m not quite there yet and I’m not sure my husband is either.

My life was far from turbulent before 2013 but the past year, even with its ups and downs, brought with it a steady and reliable comfort. Perhaps therefore it is unsurprising that I am quietly hoping for 2014 to bring, in its turn, a sense of moving forward, of gaining momentum, achieving the things which as yet have been just out of reach and turning our familiar routine into the foundation of something great.