Sunday 31 August 2014

getting crafty

It's been one of those weeks where plans haven't quite worked out.  Three days out that were planned have fallen through, sometimes at the last minute, and there's no one to blame because sometimes that's how life works out.  So I've done some pouting, but that got dull quite quickly.  And so I've tried to turn frustratingly cancelled days out into productive, crafty days in and I've really enjoyed relaxing with a project or two.  And by planning in a few exciting things for the evenings and weekends to come, there is still plenty on the cards to look forward to.  

Progress is still continuing on my giant map project.  I think when it's done, I'll put together a full series of photos showing it come together. I've been working on it since January and it feels good to see how far it's come even though there have been some frustrating moments with it.

I've also been doing a bit of knitting this summer, because the best time to get back into knitting is when it's very warm, obviously.  I've learned to knit lacy patterns and add beads to my work, and I'm hoping to have a new shawl or two to keep my neck cosy in autumn.

That's all for now.  I still have some photos from the summer that I haven't shared yet, but it's safe to acknowledge that I am quite far short of the goal.  So instead of using my camera just for July and August, I'm going to allow myself to continue to take my photos for #500snapsofsummer right up until 21st September, which will technically be the end of summer according to the calendar. I'll do a bit of a progress report next week.

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's another 13 photos for #500snapsofsummer, which means that so far I've taken 364 and have 136 left to take.

P.P.S. Exercise24: 3 hours and 37 minutes.  Thank you so much to all the people who left their tips for motivation.  I will definitely try them out!

Saturday 30 August 2014

travel dreams

There's a travel shop in London that I really love, nestled in Covent Garden and full of delightful things.  Stanford's is a great place to go to research trips, be enticed by travel-themed stationary, dream of exotic places and pretend that you can jump into the maps that cover the floors.

The new academic year is upon us, and while there are lots of things to plan and prepare, anticipate and look forward to about going back to school, it's also a good time to make a few travel plans.  And given that I have ideas for three big, long-haul adventures in the coming year, it's also a good time to think about saving up the pennies too.

If all goes to plan, places as far flung as Singapore, the Caribbean and maybe even South America will feature in my travels.  I hope so as I get incredibly excited about the possibility of travel!  Have you got any plans for the upcoming year?

They also have travel-themed gifts.  My shower curtain came from Stanfords, and while it wasn't the most economical purchase I've ever made, it's definitely a talking point.  Without wishing to seem indelicate, barely anyone seems to visit the loo without coming to back to comment on the map, and the conversation will turn to topics such as "Is that really where Hawii is?".  Endlessly entertaining!

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's 9 more photos for #500snapsofsummer which brings the total to 351 and leaves 149 still to take.

P.P.S. Exercise24: 3 hours

Friday 29 August 2014

training for the beach: motivation needed

Summer 2012 and Summer 2014
One of the goals on my list of things to do before I'm 30 is to get a bikini.  And then, y'know, wear it. This might seem like a simple goal to accomplish and at a basic level, all that's needed to complete it is to simply go out an purchase the item in question.  But actually when I set myself this goal, I envisaged more to it.  I want to slim down and be healthier.

Since setting myself this goal, I have lost three stone, and that's taken me well over a year.  I didn't subscribe to a diet or do anything crazy, but I did reduce my portion sizes, cut out some of the junk food that I'm so fond of and generally try to clean up my diet a little bit.  I still ate out, and if I'm paying for a meal out, I refuse to go and order a salad, so on those occasions, I would eat what I liked, refuse to feel guilty, and accept that I may not lose any weight that week, and may even gain some.  I suppose without occasions like that, it may have been quicker to shed the pounds, but I LOVE to eat, and by having treats sometimes, it made it easier to say no to cake at other times.  

While the summer has been in full swing, I have given myself a break, and I decided that as long as my weight didn't go up over the summer, I wouldn't concern myself about trying to get it to go down.  Well, the holiday has now ended, and my weight hasn't gone up (or down, which probably has a lot to do with deep-fried macaroni cheese) and I am back to thinking about that bikini goal.  

It's worth pointing out that I am never going to be willowy or slender.  That's not my build and I'm completely fine with that, but I did decide that I wanted to be healthy, and I want to get the best I possibly can out of my figure. And I look forward to shopping for a bikini that will flatter my figure, especially as I've never owned or worn one before.

What I'd like to achieve now is to slim down and tone up a little. Which means that sadly, the time has come to exercise.  I have joined a gym, and I have two overriding thoughts about that: 
a) I hate exercise when it's not fun
 b) The gym is not fun.

I appreciate that not everyone will share these opinions, and I don't hate being active at all.  I like to run around and shriek and play games... but this isn't particularly regular, sustained or targeted exercise.  I have huge respect for those that run or train regularly but I simply don't enjoy it.  Exercising would be simpler if I did. I am however determined and I have joined a gym with the express intention of being a member for two months and working hard at it, even if I continue to hate every wretched minute.  The most important thing is to keep my eye on my motivation, and I draw this from a number of places:

1) A holiday in October which will hopefully involve a beach and a bikini and the fulfillment of a goal
2) I will be fitter and healthier
3) The fact that I have decided to post about it here will help keep me accountable.
4) The end is definitely in sight.

To keep track of my progress, I'm going to keep a running total of exercise hours here. My goal is to reach a solid 24 hours of exercise. (That seemed nicer than tracking volume of sweat produced!) I'm only going to count specific exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercise hours, rather than the walk to the station in the morning and that sort of thing.  That's all good stuff, but I'm going to track the exercise that is hard work, and then anything else is a bonus! I started a week ago, as I thought it would be good to establish an exercise routine before I go back to work.  At the moment my arms and legs ache, but at the end of the first week of gym membership, I still hate it but I can run for 30 minutes without stopping on the treadmill (albeit slowly), I am determined to make use of the pool and some of the exercise classes and I am contemplating having a personal training session.  

Finally, I have a bit of request for feedback: is anyone out there an exercise enthusiast who can share any tips? Or does anyone have any good ways of motivating themselves to exercise?  Any tips for effective methods of exercise?  Has anyone ever had a personal trainer session - was it effective? Wish me luck!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Exercise24: 2 hours, 25 minutes

P.P.S. If you're in the habit of seeing me regularly or even occasionally, please bully me into going to the gym.  My reply might well be: "No thanks, I like cake, not running" but don't accept that as a valid response.

he ain't heavy, he's my brother

I've had some good times hanging with my brother this summer and so I've got a quick post sharing a couple of photos.  He just about tolerates the photo taking, and these are really the only ones I took.  We've been to the cinema (twice in one day, in fact), got in a comedy show, ordered take-out pizza, seen in the new Doctor, watched all the Batman films back to back as I'd never seen them, and eaten piles of junk food.  In the junk food stakes, we are both highly accomplished.  We had brunch one day at the most amazing greasy spoon.  I ate possibly the biggest plate of food I've ever had in my life, much to the astonishment of the waitress who clearly didn't think I was up to it.  My brother was also impressed, and that's quite a challenge.  We also couldn't resist purchasing a bag of mashed potato shaped into hashtags and other computer symbols, with a crispy coating.  So yummy and the best pun of the summer: Mashtags. Absolutely no nutritional value.  Anyway, it's been fun!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Only 4 pictures here, but it still brings the #500snapsofsummer total up to 342, leaving 158 to go.

Thursday 28 August 2014

bar on the jetty

Tuesday evening saw me heading along the Greenwich Peninsula (I made an unfortunate typo there first time round.) I headed at a reasonable pace along the Thames towards an old industrial jetty which used to take coal deliveries from the ships that came up the Thames.  I was hurrying because I was late to meet a friend, not because I was expecting a coal delivery.  And one of the things I absolutely cannot stand is lateness, especially in myself.  

Greenwich Jetty is currently home to an immersive theatre production (which I have yet to sample, but aim to in the next month) and a pop-up bar to provide libations for all the theatre goers.  In our case, it was just a cool bar made from shipping containers with a mysterious-looking, light up sign.  It meant we could sit on crates and palettes jutting out over the river and have a good catch up while the cable cars drifted overhead and the tide went out.  It meant we could wrap up in free blankets as it got darker, and sip our drinks, and that we could have an entertaining sojourn on a hammock.  I love a good hammock.  It was an unusual location for an evening drink, but a fun one!

On a health-and-safety note, do remember to only go out at sensible times.  Not when the Bake Off is on for instance, as you will miss ALL THE DRAMA.  Today I've had communications from friends in Singapore and Alaska, and whether east or west, both parties had heard of the drama.  No one can get wound up about cake like the British.

Kisses xxx

P.S. These 8 photos take the #500snapsofsummer collection up to 338.  That leaves 162 left ...

Wednesday 27 August 2014

time for tea and a little baking

If we were meeting for tea now, I would invite you into my flat and bundle you inside, commenting that I am terribly distressed by how appallingly the weather has worked out for the last week of the summer holiday.  Let's just say that there will be considerably fewer picnics than I imagined!  However, the upside of a damp bank holiday weekend is that I have been experimenting in the kitchen.  So take a seat on the sofa and I'l get the kettle on and the biscuits out.  They're ginger and white chocolate; a recipe I make over and over again as it's both fool-proof and delicious.

How has your summer been?  I hope you've been able to have a bit of free time.  I've had a wonderful time!  I sometimes hear from pupils at school, and even teachers, that they get bored in the holidays, but I cannot imagine how that could be the case when there's so much to do.  I suspect they aren't crafters! I've been getting stuck into a few different projects this week while the weather is disappointing, and I'm really enjoying knitting at the moment.  I like the feel of really soft yarn in my hands and the satisfaction of watching a pattern slowly emerge.  I'm working on my giant map too, and I have lots of new projects in mind to decorate the flat.

I've largely had a staycation this year, aside from a brilliant week in Edinburgh for the Fringe.  However, there's something about London that makes me feel like I'm on holiday even though I've lived here for five years.  The city comes alive in the summer and there have been picnics and parks, parties and pools, theatre and cinema outdoors in the sunshine, long dinners with close friends and even a carefully planned and perfectly executed heist!

Can I offer you a slice of lemon drizzle cake? It's a recipe I stole from my Dad, but I think he got it out of one of my cookbooks!  I love lemon drizzle, and that slightly crunchy glaze on top. I baked it for the Sherlockathon; it was so lovely to have a house full of friends!  The man is away with work and I miss him, so it was nice to have company.  And a further excuse to cook.  I'm fizzing over with other ideas to host gatherings and get togethers, especially as we head into autumn.

A real highlight this month has been reconnecting with my camera through my #500snapsofsummer project.  While it looks like I may have to extend the deadline to get all 500 taken, I don't mind that as according to the calendar, summer doesn't technically end until mid-September.  Still, it has become natural to take my camera everywhere and pull it out whenever I see something photoworthy.  I've got better at cutting out shots I don't like and only keeping the special ones, and I've been able to record loads of stories that are crying out to be scrapbooked. I will definitely be thinking up a new project for as soon as #500snapsofsummer is complete as I've found it so inspiring to have my camera always out and ready.  I think my next photography challenge should be people related, as my favourite photos are always the ones containing boyfriend, friends and family.

There's something about this combination of ingredients that says ice-cream-sundae to me.  Shall we make one?  I'll put the kettle on for another cuppa too.  I've got some honeycomb ice cream in the freezer, and it will go beautifully with the cake and biscuits.  And perhaps a spot of lemon curd, and white chocolate chips.  Then dusted with crushed amaretti biscuits and glitter.

It was lovely to have tea with you, and I hope you'll call in again next month.  I'm a little nervous about starting my new job on Monday, but I'm also looking forward to so many new opportunities as well as a lot of fun things that are planned for September.  But more about that another time. All the best for the new academic year, and thanks for popping round! And do take another slice of cake with you for the road.

If you want to share a cup of virtual tea with other corners of the internet, head over to Abi at Creating Paper Dreams.  The tea posts were her lovely idea and you can find lots of bloggers to sit down and enjoy a cuppa with.

Kisses xxx

P.S. And all that baking has given me another 13 photos to add to the #500snapsofsummer
total, which now stands at 330 taken and 170 left to go.

Monday 25 August 2014

clueing for looks at the sherlockathon

It's a predictably rainy bank holiday weekend and therefore the best thing to do is huddle defiantly inside insisting that you didn't want to go out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine anyway. Having established that I would be cowering - defiantly cowering - indoors, it seemed only fitting to haul some friends out of their respective indoors and gather them for a Sherlockathon.  That's right!  I now have all three series of the BBC's glorious adaption of the Sherlock Holmes stories and I proposed a long night of DVDs, munching, chatter and shameless manipulation of props that I had left over from a London Underground themed party where I had to dress up as Baker Street tube station.  But that's another story. Meanwhile: friends, food, a high-functioning fictional sociopath, and a few photos.

And tea.  Never forget the tea if you expect to be able to say up until five in the morning.  And note to self: get a corkscrew. It is a little embarrassing to offer guests a glass of wine in between the copious mugs of tea, only to discover that you don't have any means of opening the bottle.  While we managed perfectly well with my hammer and screwdriver, creatively parting the cork from the bottle and only splashing the kitchen and one guest mildly, it's just not Good Manners.

Second note to self: one day get a larger sofa.  Mine is designed for two, can actually seat three, but guest four will invariably end up on the floor.  Elementary.

 Anyway, four episodes of Sherlock watched (too much chatting in the back!), lots of munching accomplished, many teas brewed and large sleep deficit generated. A lovely night in. Take that, rainy weather.

Kisses xxx

P.S.  Another 6 photos to add to the #500snapsofsummer total bringing it up to 317.  So that's 183 left to take...

Sunday 24 August 2014

scrapbooking secret cinema

The last week of summer freedom approaches and inspiration has well and truly hit.  I am loving my holiday of adventures and photography and it turns out that working on #500snapsofsummer and curating my summer stories has made me want to scrap.  I have a layout to share today all about Secret Cinema which the man and I attended earlier this year as m birthday present.  The pictures aren't from 500 Snaps of Summer, but it has easily been one of my favourite experiences in London ever, and we had the most amazing time.  From a crafty perspective, I was really glad I had already written about this experience and matched with with photos when I blogged about it here, as this took all the decision-making out of the page, and I could just play with pretty paper knowing that the storytelling was taken care of. 

Once again, hand-cut titles make an appearance as I'm just a little tiny bit obsessed.  I tried to add a little bit of vintage flair to the design to reflect the 1930s setting of Secret Cinema, and our dress in the photo.  I knew the perfect time would arrive for that little camera charm one day.

The journalling is once again in an envelope tucked behind the photo, but very easily accessible.  There's quite a bit of it and I still like my writing to be visible without dominating.  I'm just about out of vellum envelopes which saddens me greatly.  But I'm also out of white cardstock now too, and I can't scrap without it lately, so who knows what will happen.

Kisses xxx

P.S. With these nine pictures, #500snapsofsummer goes up to 311, leaving 189 pictures left.