June reflections

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Finding my feet in my new office has been a little more challenging than I had anticipated. It has, however, allowed for some routine to be restored in my ever-busy world. I am mostly home at a decent hour so fitness classes and baking have made a welcome return to my weekly activities. I’m also amazed, looking back, that I somehow managed to find time to squeeze in punting, a weekend with the in-laws, multiple BBQs, manicures with my mama and sister, the start of my skirt-making and a friend’s 30th in London. Not bad!

July brings with it holidays – a weekend in Glasgow with one of my closest friends, to meet her first little one and then two weeks in Florida and the Dominican Republic with family. I’m not sure there’s much purpose to planning goals these coming months. Making sure work is ready for me to go away will be challenge enough, so the rest of the time, I just want to relax, enjoy and see what these next two months bring on the summer breeze.

>Reflections<

Have drinks outside with friends – I had anticipated this to be at a pub, but as it turned out we had drinks and ice cream outside with friends many times, but in gardens and parks instead of buying drinks. Much cheaper and most definitely just as fun.

Send some postcards – I sent a small package to a friend in America as well as some postcards this month. I hope this continues but it sure is difficult to remember.

Make smoothies – I didn’t quite get around to smoothies, plural, but I did make one very yummy one with papaya, sharon fruit, raspberries and bananas – it was amazing!

Make ice cream – We made two flavours. The first was nutella & cream with chocolate chips but my new favourite ice cream flavour of all time has to be the Black Forest ice cream – so yum!

No >Hopes< this time, just a hope to relinquish a little control and see where summer takes me.

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Turkey

IMGP0070aWe spent a wonderful week at the end of May in the Turkish cities of Adana and Istanbul. A good friend is teaching English out there and she gave us a fantastic introduction to the country’s culture. We tried Shalgam and Bici Bici – two Turkish delicacies I would be happy not to try again! – and spent many hours in the sunshine with friends.

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We sat through a lightning storm, paddle-boarded on a lake, pedalled a pedalo on a river, visited multiple mosques and ate an incredible number of kebabs.

We explored palaces and cobbled streets, took a boat tour and inhaled Istanbul at night.

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For those visiting this intoxicating city, I would suggest a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and dinner at Sarnic restaurant – an old Roman cistern on the walk up to Ayasofia and the Blue Mosque. If you would like to see Topkapi Palace, be sure to see it before Dolmabahce, or it may be a disappointment after the latter.

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Istanbul is a remarkable mix of middle east and europe, old and new. Its culture changes, dependent on east or west and the less touristy areas are by far the most interesting.

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The Blue Mosque is one certainly worth seeing at night. Istanbul is quite a city. One to discover for yourself and I’d strongly encourage you to!

April reflections / May hopes

April reflections - May hopesWhere are these months disappearing to? I can’t quite believe how quickly April flew by or how far through spring we now are. April has been a little calmer, although still pretty full. We’ve seen friends, enjoyed some sunshine, taken photographs and celebrated at a baby shower and our anniversary – the latter in the beautiful city of Paris. For once I’ve even managed to achieve all of my goals!

>Reflections<

Do brunch – more than once would you believe! With friends and with my hubby, brunch has been wonderful. We’ve also discovered that other friends love brunch as much as we do so long may this leisurely meal continue in our weekend priorities!

Clear my laptop and iPhone of photos – yes! My devices actually seem to have responded and are working a little quicker… my hubby also updated the firmware on my Pentax Q camera and it’s as though it is now a brand new phone. So exciting! Nice to have renewed technology around the place without spending any money at all.

Make homemade GF granoladone. So quick and easy to make and you can make so many varieties. I kept it pretty simple this time round, but next time I think I’ll add in some dried fruit, nuts and rice krispies so that all it needs is milk and it’s good to go!

Make popcorn without a microwavethis was really fun. I love hearing the kernels popping in the saucepan! We tried a few flavours but I haven’t settled on one I really like yet. We’ll keep trying I’m sure, it’s a great snack!

Buy some sports clothes – 3/4 length joggers and 2 sports tops bought! Comfy, cute and easy to move in – check!

>Hopes<

May brings an end to my long commute as the office for my new job finally moves close to me, so hopefully I’ll have some time to stop and look around me a little more.

Take a class at the leisure centre – I may need a friend to drag me to this, but in principle I really like the idea of having a set time to go, work out and come home. I like the flexibility (and the free-ness) of doing Tae Bo at home but I need a little sports inspiration. With my new sports gear, I think I’m ready to venture out…

Don’t get sunburned in Turkey – I cannot wait for the last two weeks of May as one of my best friends is flying over from LA. With my hubby and another friend we’re all visiting a mutual friend who is teaching out in Turkey. It should be a really great holiday as I’ll be with four of my favourite people! Although, as my sister put it, this is such a middle-class goal…

Pin down a date to make an item of clothing – it amuses me slightly that my goal is to get the date in, not actually make the skirt. However, the person who will be helping with it is hard to catch so it may take most of this month to find a date we can both commit to!

Wash the car – it’s May, that means it should be sunny right? Well then, hubby and I can make sure we find a couple of hours to hand wash our car in the sunshine! I noticed when we were with my grandparents in Germany last summer, how well people take care of their possessions and I think that’s a really good thing to abide by. Not to have pride in what we own, but to steward it well for as long as we have it. For me, washing the car comes under that category and if I get a little time in the sunshine with my husband, all the better!

Get some more dates in the diary for fun things – some kind of watercolour or baking course, dinner somewhere posh and maybe a mini-break. That’s not too much to take on, right?!

So by the looks of things, May will involve some preparation for future activities, some time in the sunshine, a holiday and getting back in shape. Here goes!

Paris

Our third wedding anniversary happened to fall on Easter Monday this year, so we escaped for a long weekend in Paris. It was so wonderfully relaxing. We stayed with friends and I fell in love with the four-hour meals, aperitifs and slow-moving time. It was perfect. Great food, wonderful company and a magical city.

There is something about the combination of Parisian architecture, food, coffee, wine and even the smell that makes it quite enchanting and four days was an ideal amount of time to forget the rest of the world.

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If you’re a chocoholic in Paris, visit the Lindt café. We devoured a hot chocolate and mousse. It was basically melted chocolate in a cup, amazing!

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I developed a love of night photography when we were on holiday in Malta a few years ago and our hosts willingly played chauffeur for the evening tour of their home city. We set out about 9pm when the sun had set and spent about 3 hours driving around Paris taking photos of the city, alive at night. It was one of my favourite evenings.

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Such a fantastic way to celebrate our anniversary 🙂

Baby shower – Twinkle, Twinkle theme

One of my closest friends is expecting her first little one. She lives pretty far away so she and her husband took a road trip – a ‘Big Bump Tour’ if you will – to see friends and family before baby arrives. While she was here, we took the opportunity to throw her a baby shower and I had the joy of planning it.

As they’ve chosen not to find out the gender of their baby, we wanted to keep colours and the theme neutral. So, with help from friends and Pinterest (of course!) we decided on yellow and white with a ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ theme. We joined up with the boys for the second half of the shower so that we could all celebrate their anticipated new addition together.

It was such a fun afternoon getting to spend time with this precious couple, soon-to-be a little family!

Invitation – designed by the creatively wonderful Leah Eli

Cake!

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Food

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Stationery – all designed by Leah Eli

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Decorations

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Games – a nursery rhyme quiz, memory game with baby clothes, plus a couple of other games without photos – Fifty Shades of Lullaby and getting a baby’s bathwater to within 2 degrees of the recommended 37 degrees in the time it takes to play ‘Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot!’

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Gifts – as well as the traditional gifts, each of the girls bought their favourite childhood book and wrote a little message for the Mama-to-be inside.

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March reflections / April hopes

March reflections - April hopes

< Reflections >

Start a new job – this was a given, but I’ve started it, I’m exhausted and I’m loving it

Plan a few surprises for our weekend away the weekend away with my sister and her friends was so very lovely and we managed to give my sister a surprise gift at every mealtime, so I count this goal complete!

Get halfway through German Sherlock – yes! In fact… I finished it! Really pleased. Now that I’m more in the habit of reading, as well as reading in German, I think I’m done setting reading goals – they start to take the joy out of it (yes, that’s me very unusually saying that a goal can detract from something, but there’s a time and a place…)

Go for at least one walk a week – I didn’t really monitor this. I’ve definitely been on one or two walks with my hubby and a few walks just along the cobble streets in the town where I currently work. Whether I did it every week I’m not sure…

Wear perfume more – it was fun challenging myself to care more about my appearance. I did this almost every working day and it did make me feel like I’d actually made an effort. Hopefully now that I’m in the habit of it, I’ll continue to wear it more often, although this will have the adverse effect of my perfume running out for the first time, well, ever!

It almost looks like March was just running to catch up while my new job ran away with me, but I actually did loads of things this past month. We went to the Newton Faulkner concert and finally bought a dehumidifier for the flat, I went to a masquerade party and a railway exhibition and I booked flights and accommodation for holidays this year! It’s been a busy month and I don’t mind admitting that I’m hoping April will run at a slightly slower pace.

< Hopes >

April is definitely spring, without question. We will be celebrating our third anniversary in Paris over the Easter weekend and I cannot wait! This next month should calm down. Although the long commute with the new job will continue for a few more weeks, there is less to plan and book and sort this month, as well as freer weekends and evenings to finally rest and relax. So the things I’d like to do next month are ways to enjoy my leisure time in new (and sometimes productive) ways:

Do brunch – no need for the early start for breakfast but far more relaxed than a quick lunch, brunch is the perfect compromise to relax with friends

Clear my laptop and iPhone of photos – my iPhone is three and a half years old and my MacBook, inherited from my hubby, is seven years old so it’s hardly surprising they’re slowing down a little. My mission for April is to take all of the photos off them both and store them onto a hard drive, hopefully resulting in a new lease of life for these aging gadgets!

Make homemade GF granola – I accidentally stumbled on a recipe that I want to change slightly and make into homemade granola. It was originally a topping for a plum crumble, but very little actually made it to the crumble it was so good!

Make popcorn without a microwave – a fun activity for date night. We don’t have space for a microwave in our kitchen and usually we don’t notice at all as we either leave things to defrost in the fridge or we can heat things up on the stove, but popcorn? Popcorn is something I’ve missed making and friends who have just moved to Ethiopia mentioned they were making it on their stove! Plus, this gives me the opportunity to make some fun flavours!

Buy some sports clothes – for some reason I have managed to convince myself that doing exercise would be more fun if I had the correct clothing to wear. Joggers and tshirts certainly aren’t as easy to move in as proper sportswear would be, so once my new job calms down, I think it’s time to invest in proper clothing for some good and regular exercise to start up again!

April also brings a baby shower for one of my best friends, four days in Paris and our third wedding anniversary so it promises to be a very celebration-filled month!

Calm in chaos

IMGP4105aThe storms in Britain have been pretty fierce this Winter. The cold has stayed away but the wind and the rain have battered our little island with some force. We visited friends on the coast at the weekend and fought against the gusts for a few moments to watch the waves pound the shore. It was a beautiful and powerful sight.

We spent many hours hiding from the weather in an adorable little tea shop. We watched the clouds roll by and the rain pour down before venturing out at the first promise of blue in the grey sky.

It’s so sad to read the stories of those people whose lives have been so affected by the flooding. Our own walk into town is currently completely submerged under water, as is the hotel where I got ready for my wedding almost three years ago situated on the banks of the Thames.

The elements have a life of their own and have the potential to cause so much damage. Amid the chaos that these storms are creating, I’m trying to find an element of beauty in their unstoppable strength. These waves were rolling in fast, as far as the eye could see and there was so much life in their nature that just a few minutes watching them crashing into the pebbles left my husband and me invigorated and refreshed. Somehow, even in the chaos, there was calm.

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