Life List

Back in November last year when this blog was just a twinkle in my eye. I compiled a life list of sorts in my google docs. Some aims were of the big life goals/bucket list variety and some were just silly fun things I want to try out. I recently reopened this file and was pleased to see that I had since achieved a few of my goals.

The reason I wrote this list was that I found it inspiring (and still do) reading other bloggers life lists or birthday lists e.g 21 for 21 things (my age ha!!) etc which are everywhere right now. Plus I love making lists, it’s therapeutic!

I decided to share my list as it was my birthday this week and I have been thinking about making one of these lists to have as a feature on here as I cross things off to keep my blogging creative juices flowing. I then remembered the list I made six months ago so thought why not! What harm can it do?

The list was a good reference point so I copied and pasted it here, then did a little reshuffling and tidying up. I have also been thinking about how to move this blog forward to, as I don’t want to be boring readers about my history with dodgy ovens and rambling on about crusties! So I separated my list into two and added a few more goals to keep me motivated and to help improve my blogging skills.

BLOGGING GOALS

  1. Start a blog. DONE!
  2. Get better at photography.
  3. Improve my writing skills.
  4. Learn to use Photoshop or PicMonkey at least.
  5. Learn to use google analytics.
  6. Get better IT skills in general.
  7. Learn how to put pictures side by side.
  8. Improve the look and layout of this blog.
  9. Continue with Tuesday Tune.
  10. Show the rooms of my house on here that we have decorated already.
  11. Compile one of these wish-list thingies. Once I figure out what they (wish-list thingies) are officially called to google how to make them or find the software etc!
  12. Keep this as a happy place and do not rant on here!
  13. And remember to just keep on blogging for self improvement in general!

Some of these things I have added to the list today and some of these things are probably quite easy to do like #4, #5 & #7. I just have not tried to learn how to do these things. Some of these I might will need Rob’s help for i.e #13!

Here is the rest of my life/bucket list. I hereby retrain the right to change my mind about any of these goals listed. In no particular order –

LIFE GOALS

  1. Start a blog. DONE!
  2. Visit Berlin.
  3. Keep chickens in my garden.
  4. Grow my own vegetables.
  5. Make bagels.
  6. Get really good at making cupcakes.
  7. Bake some whoopie pies.
  8. Bake some no knead bread.
  9. Make a red velvet cake of some sorts.
  10. Go whale watching.
  11. Crochet a granny squares blanket.
  12. Bake a rainbow cake.
  13. Build an Eco house
  14. Move to a less chavvy town.
  15. See the northern lights.
  16. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower (I have been before but only made it up 2/3rds of the way. I was with my mum and she gave up at that point, as she did not like the see through-ish stairs we were climbing – chicken!)
  17. Organise my iPhoto library.
  18. Get some some nice photo books made.
  19. Buy more secondhand clothes or vintage dah-ling.
  20. Make my house beautiful.
  21. Own a camper van. DONE!  21)b.Get campervan MOT’ed & road worthy.
  22. Buy more secondhand furniture. DONE! I will show my purchases on here at some point.
  23. Go to more gigs.
  24. Own a rescue greyhound.
  25. Join a book club.
  26. See Tutankhamun’s mask.
  27. Go camping at least once a year.
  28. Keep going to as many festivals as financially possible. Sod being too old.
  29. Get a greenhouse and grow amazing cucumbers.
  30. Eat more leafy green veg.
  31. Plant a herb garden so I never have to buy expensive fresh herbs from supermarkets.
  32. Use only green household cleaning products or make my own.
  33. Get my completed/decorated house as a tour on one of my favourite blogs (or in a magazine?).
  34. Buy only ethical/organic/outdoor reared meat.
  35. Save cooking fat for the birds.
  36. Visit Loch Ness.
  37. Stay in the Pantone hotel.
  38. Sew a dress.
  39. Get a job I want to do, or in failing that one away from retail at least.
  40. Swim at least once a week.

By the way I am not forty next year. I just thought I would point that out!

We Got Oven!

Whoop! Its one small step for mankind, one giant leap for Helenkind! Yesterday finally I got to use our new oven!

Huzzah! Its only been about three months since I last used one! And just what did I christen the new oven with you ask? Nothing groundbreaking I am afraid, just a fancy pizza that was on special in Sainsburys.

Well I cooked it after having a mini BS. I tried to read the instructions, but could not figure out how to turn the ruddy thing on. So I spat my dummy out and went upstairs to whine to Rob that I could not work this oven (all the reviews said that it was super complicated) which we had spent a lot of money on and that I had spent over a year choosing. Luckily Rob was on the dog and bone to one of his clients, so I did not get the opportunity to whinge.

So I calmed down and went back downstairs then found the page in the manual which showed what button does what. Then figured out how to turn it on and cook with it in a dodle!

It turned out that I had not pressed the “on” function. Whoops! It was also quite simple to navigate the fancy touch screen panel, and I was very impressed with all the high tech beeping sounds it made. Fancy!

So as this was a big moment for me I had to take a picture, just to share on here! – Over share I hear you say? No not moi!

A mini sneek peek of the WIP!

 

My Birthday 2012 Part 2

So we took a little detour in the bug on the way home on my birthday outing. We drove on from Hastings to Rye, found a car park, paid up for two hours and just decided to explore the town and end up wherever our feet took us.

Luckily Rye is a picture perfect medieval town with cobbled streets and with plenty of cute pubs and antique shops to browse around. Every new corner we turned was a Kodak moment!

 

 

My Birthday 2012 Part 1

Yesterday was my birthday and Rob took the day off from work to take me out for the day. Now this is a difficult thing for a self employed worker to do, so it was a real treat. He also bought me the most amazing, stupidly generous present! I am such a lucky girl! Scream!!!

I also received some honey* – hey don’t laugh this is the expensive stuff peeps, and some money from the folks and extended family. Basically I was spoilt rotten.

For my birthday outing I chose to go on a trip to the coast, as oh I do like to be beside the seaside! Hastings was my destination of choice this year, having not visited the town for a few years, and hearing lots of good things about its regeneration and thriving independent stores and art scene. This “scene” was basically one street amongst all the 99p stores, greasy spoons, arcades and the overall slightly run down shabbiness everywhere that I remembered from my last visit!

We had a lovely time in Hastings though, we had brunch in a nice cafe, pottered in a few cute shops in the old town, climbed up a huge hill as we like to get high on our adventures, ate ice cream (I could not face fish and chips as I am sick of takeaways due to my current lack of kitchen!) and played crazy golf.

I also was a good blogger and took my camera to take some snaps to post on here! I hope you like them! I promise at some point soon I will read my cameras manual and try to improve my photography skills.

After Hastings we did a detour on our journey home and swung by the medieval town of Rye, from which I shall share the pics from in a separate post.

*Take your mind out of the gutter.

Tuesday Tune

I will again stick to my female guitarist theme here. For this post I have chosen Marie du Santiago from Kenickie.

Image from Last.fm

Now I was not a huge fan of Kenickie when I was a teen, as they where a little bit too “poppy” for my tastes back then. But when I put on those rose tinted glasses of nostalgia to look back, I get a warm fuzzy feeling about them! I sometimes wish it was still the nineties – basically I wish I was still young!

What I loved about Kenickie was that they were only a year or two older than me, and they made it look possible that anyone who was of the “indie chick” persuasion from a dead end town could get together with their mates, to form a band, get a record deal and live the dream!

I (vaguely) remember seeing Kenickie live at Glastonbury back in 1998. I think Lauren made it worth it standing in the mud and rain with her witty on-stage banter. I love Lauren Laverne. I am glad she has a new career as a TV presenter/journalist.

One of my best moments was about seven years ago, while living Chatham I discovered I could pick up Xfm –  as it was nearer to London you see. This was before I got a DAB radio. Lauren used to do the breakfast show on the station and one morning asked her listeners to text in about rubbish competitions on rubbish local radio stations. I texted in something about a competition to win a mug with the DJ’s face on it on InvictaFM called “My mug on your mug”. This is the first and only time I have texted a radio show BTW. And to my surprise and joy she read out my text and name and – get this – she laughed at it! Be still my beating heart! I made Lauren laugh!

Rob and I both love Lauren big time. I think she is an intelligent, well read, cultured, funny lady with a great fashion sense, who can handle a Twitter row wisely and would love to share a pint with her or be her mate. Rob just thinks she is fit.

From 1997 “In Your Car”. It looks so dated now, t’was only 15 years ago!

I like the 3rd comment down on YouTube for this second video “god they were shit weren’t they….. still, i’d take this over 90% of the shit clogging up the world these days….”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBX-i6c7gdQ

Still Kitchenless

Woah I have just been re-reading some of my archives on here and have realised it was at the end of February when we started work on our new kitchen. It was also on 27/2/12 that I last cooked Rob and I a meal which involved vegetables and any nutrition. Oh dear. This has to be some kind of new record surely?

On a positive note we are nearly there in wrapping it all up, we have reached the final hurdle(s)! The tiling needs to be done and with just one corner of worktop left to cut and fit, then the oven and hob can be connected. So I should be cooking and baking in a few weeks – fingers crossed! And more importantly I can show you some pictures finally!

Next up is my mammoth task of arranging all my rubbish essentials into the cupboards. As I showed earlier on my blog pretty much everything in our house is covered in a thick layer of dust. I have a massive cleaning task ahead of me, but I am looking forward to it. Then finally, normal services shall resume in real life and on here.

In other news It is my birthday soon and Rob has told me what he has bought me. Hint – It is something I have always wanted (OK exaggeration there – wanted for the last 5 years or so) but never dared to think I would ever own one! They are ridiculously expensive and I don’t deserve that amount of luxury! He intended it to be as a finishing gift for me/the kitchen (OK ME!) But the timing has not quite worked out with the never ending project!

How do I know my surprise you ask? Well last Friday I walked into the office and I could tell that Rob was acting funny, so I asked him whats up etc. He then started to giggle nervously, a sure sign he was up to no good. So I managed to get it out of him that he had transferred some money from his savings and did not want me to find out (insert a nervous/guilty giggle while reading this as a sound effect, if you please!)

I eventually got out of him how much. He did confess that he had bought some software upgrade for his business – that’s fine. But the sums did not quite add up. At this point I was starting to get annoyed, thinking he has bought another dodgy VW project/push bike/massive TV type thing that he is inclined to blow his hard earned wedge on from time to time without consulting me first. Eventually he dropped a few hints and I basically figured it out and ruined my surprise! I really did fear that he’d bought me a rusty tin can Beetle without a MOT to rot on the driveway for my birthday. I would not put it past him! I cannot not drive BTW!

Anyway I am playing it cool and trying to forget so I still get the best B.day gift ever.

Can I just say OMG!!!!!!!!

* 14/05/2012 Amendment – Rob has just read this post and wants to make it clear that he did not tell me what my gift was, I got it out of him. Also he was unhappy that I made him sound like a girl with the giggling apparently.

 

More Book Love!

I love posting videos on here don’t I!

I remembered this video while trying to get to sleep last night and thought I must incorporate it into my book Q&A post somehow. Instead I just decided to stick it in a separate post. Enjoy!

A Book Q&A

I stumbled upon this lovely blog here and saw this Q&A that originated here. Now I am really trying not to be all me, me, me (failed!) here on my blog, but I love reading and I just had to give this Q&A a go.

I think this Q&A is a great idea and such a good way of recommending your favourite books and a way of discovering new blogs. Click on the links of those who have been tagged – I always do! I have also manned up and swallowed down my Internet shyness and passed it on to Janet in return for the sunshine award she sent my way.

Its from the 60's, pink, kitsch and has Lemon Meringue! I love it!

The rules:
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

What are you reading right now?
Umm, I am currently “in between books” I have just recently finished The Hunger Games trilogy and a trashy Martina Cole crime novel my sister lent me that she and my Mum raved about. It was OK. As for The Hunger Games – yeah I jumped on the hype wagon, but they are so good  – no scrap that they are amazing!

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I plan to read The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster next. But I may change my mind.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
These are all in my bookcase waiting for me.
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
The Bell Jar – Sylvia plath
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
Easy Riders Raging Bulls – Peter Biskind
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
New, Closer, Grazia etc (I love a trashy celeb gossip mag). The Guardian Saturday magazine, and some old lady mags (sorry Mum!) that my Mum passes on to me like Prima, Women’s Own and Good Housekeeping etc. We have a little swap shop thing going on in my family.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
The Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Still to this day I don’t really know what possessed me to buy and read this book. I think I was going through a bad time in my former job and just wanted something easy, lighthearted, mildly amusing and unchallenging to read during my breaks as an escape. I hated it, I was gritting my teeth throughout at the pure stupidity of the main character. I thought it would be a little “mental junkfood” a la Twilight et all. But reading it made just me hate the world even more. Funnily enough though I enjoyed watching the film. I am weird.

What book seems really popular but you actually hated?
See above. I do think that hate is a strong word though, I have read a lot of books that I have been “meh” about though. Like Wicked by Gregory Maguire that I recently gave up on half way through, also The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and White Teeth by Zadie Smith which I thought were a bit dull.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
This changes all the time. I guess at the moment it is The Hunger Games. I had to send my friend J a random text to tell her she must read it ASAP, which is the first time I have done something like that

What are your 3 favourite poems?
I am really uncultured and don’t read any poetry. Sorry.

Where do you usually get your books?
In this order – Amazon, charity shops, borrowed from family members, The Works then Waterstones. I wish I could say it was in the reverse order so I could support my local bookstore chain and help them from going under, but I don’t have a huge disposable income. In fact I go in to Waterstones to thumb through books then order them cheaper online. The shame of it! Maidstone has no local independent book store BTW!

Where do you usually read your books?
In bed, on the toilet, with a cup of tea. Not all at the same time I hasten to add.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Oh I was such a bookworm when I was a kid. I used to read a book a day nearly until I reached secondary school, then sadly my reading habits slowed down due to homework and general teenage-ness.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
The Hunger Games trilogy. I bet you thought I would say that!

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
No not my style. I never pretend to be anything I am not. I don’t care about impressing strangers. Perhaps that is why I will never get anywhere in life but hey ho!

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Doesn’t everyone? I love good design.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Hard question. There were so many books I loved, and *gulp* it was so long ago now I cant really remember a favourite. Books that stick in my head are The Wizard of Oz and Enid Blighton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven, Faraway Tree books and the BFG.

What book changed your life?
Another hard question. I have thought long and hard about this and I cant really say a book has changed my life. When I read a book I get completely caught up in the characters and plot but like Casanova I love ’em and leave ’em and move on quickly when I am done, and start looking for the next love conquest sorry book. Maybe I could say a book that my Mum used to help me learn how to read? That was life changing.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
As I said above I tend to move on quickly from books so not a lot sticks in my head, just the general plot and the feelings I had while reading them. One quote that sticks in my head is from Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is something along the lines of “the larger a mans house the more empty he is inside”. Please, please if you have not already done so read this book to see how this makes sense to the story. It is why I am quite happy with my lot and never want a Mcmansion (Douglas Coupland-ism alert!). That book is amazing, please put it on you to read list.

What are your top five favourite authors?

  1. Margaret Attwood.
  2. Douglas Coupland.
  3. Haruki Murakami.
  4. Chuck Palahnuik.
  5. Marion Keyes. I know she is a chick-lit author and I will lose my street cred (ha yeah right) by saying this. Its for her consistency and her tackling of darker issues like addiction, depression and death. I enjoy her books and I don’t care who knows it. We all have guilty pleasures!

What book has no one heard about but should read?
What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn. A book for anyone who has worked in a retail job that they hate should read. Shout out to my fellow put upons – holla!

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?

  1. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Please make this into a film starring Johnny Depp Mr Hollywood producers. But please don’t ruin the story.
  2. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Attwood – This is how I think the future will be. It sickened, scared and thrilled me. This book really stuck with me, I even bored my friends down the pub about the future of food production. Read it.
  3. Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland – Although I recently re-read this after 10+years and it did not have quiet the same impact on me. I think I had over hyped it in my head. Still it is another post-apocalyptic book that stayed in my mind.

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Generation X by Douglas Coupland

What is your favourite classic book?

I wish I could answer this, this is once instant that I would consider “faking it” as I really want to say I have read all the Dicken’s, Austen, Bronte etc novels and believe me I have tried over the years. But because I have seen the films and I find the old fashioned English language writing style really hard to read I give up. See what I said – I have no culture! However I have read a lot of modern classics like Lord of The Flies, The Handmaids Tale and when I was younger I loved children’s classics like Wind in the Willows, The Water Babies, The Secret Garden, Heidi and The Little House on the Prairie books. I must see if I can liberate these books from my parents loft if they still have them up there to re-read.

5 other notable mentions?

  1. The Dirt – Motley Crue. Rubbish band, amazing book. I cried twice reading it.
  2. Valley of The Dolls -Jacqueline Susann. So good.
  3. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides. Epic.
  4. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver. Scary stuff, do not read if you are expecting a baby boy.
  5. His Dark Materials Trilogy – Phillip Pullman. Technically three books but three amazing books. Shame the film was so rubbish. I must re-read these.

In other book related news I joined Good Reads. Time will tell whether I use this regularly or its just another flash in the pan thing I feel obliged to join up to see what I am missing out on, then I will get bored of/be to lazy to bother with like Pinterest, Flickr etc. But if you feel sorry for me being Billy no mates on there you can friend me if you want to. Share some book love!

P.S sorry for the over use of the word amazing. I have a limited vocabulary. Here is a short video to show how I feel about these books.

 

My Old Kitchen

As promised I have gone through my iPhoto archives and rounded up the best snap’s I could find of the kitchen in our last house.

Disclaimer – I am embarrassed to see that in most of the photos there are huge piles of washing up waiting to be done, and loads of beer cans and bottles waiting to be rinsed before recycling. Whoops!

The before – I have previously mentioned that in my last house I played it “safe” with my colour choices, and now in my current house I am not so afraid of bold colours.

Well take a look at the kitchen that we got when we moved into our last place. Tangerine dream? I don’t think so more like a clockwork orange nightmare!

I think this room psychologically scarred me and made me afraid of bright colours for a long, long time. It is enough to make anyone want to paint their whole house magnolia!

2 x cookers. Scary gas one and my "new" one waiting to be connected.

The other end. Obs not styled for blogging purposes. If I knew I would have moved the step ladder - honest!

The in-between – This kitchen took about a month to fit all by ourselves. Rob is a whizz at DIY! It did take him 2 weeks to plumb in the sink though. Washing up in the bath is not fun I can tell you. But this seems a doodle in comparision to how difficult it has been fitting our current kitchen.

A work in progress.

The after – Basically this was my dream kitchen. It was so nice to cook in, and it was so hard to leave behind for a smaller kitchen in our current house when we moved (sob!).

Finished. Sigh old kitchen, how I miss you.

My choice of colour scheme won. Rob wanted red tiles.

Rob bought me some flowers. I did not do the washing up. Again. Plus spot the old kitchen waiting for its final journey to the tip.

Another pic, sorry indulge me here.

And finally the estate agents photo, i.e the only pic I have with no washing up in it!