Here

Waking up to the light streaming in the blinds, one sleeping boy next to me. Watching it sweep across the room, slowly, quietly. It always makes me wonder why I would want to be anywhere else.

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It’s been a while

January has come and gone, and I don’t know how I feel about that. On the one hand, I love the first few days of the year, full of plans and ideas and embracing the new start. On the other hand, I think I’ve finally realised that I’m just not a ‘big plans’ kind of person. Small ideas, lots of little plans, fleeting lightbulb moments, these are much more me.

So instead of a whole new clean slate on January 1, I’ve been embracing lots of small new starts over the past few weeks, trying to take things slow and steady. It’s been a lovely change from the end of last year, and I’m hopeful that the rest of the year follows along like this.

Grateful Print

This lovely print has brightened up our little hall, a reminder every morning.

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#BloggerBookSwap

I’ve talked before about how much I love reading, so when I saw that Rosie was organising a blogger book swap a few months back, I jumped at the chance to take part. The rules were simple – we were to spend a few weeks browsing charity shops, car boot sales and secondhand bookshops for two of our favourite books, and then we were to send these on to the person we were matched with.

I was matched with the lovely Asmaa who blogs over at Just Peachy, and I sent her an old favourite, The Shadow of the Wind, and Gone Girl, one of my favourites from the past year. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take any photos of her package when it arrived, because it was almost identical to mine! Matched pretty much at random, and we ended up wrapping our books exactly the same way, and both including some hot chocolate and treats to enjoy with the books. I love when things like that happen!

 

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I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to Asmaa’s picks, and would definitely do something like this again. And can we just talk about the cover of the Jules Verne one for a minute? I almost feel like I need to frame it!

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Glimpses

Part of what I love about reading other blogs and blogging myself is the glimpse you get into other people’s lives. I love seeing how people choose to spend their days, I love getting inspiration from how they style their homes, and perhaps more than anything else, I love finding new places to eat and new recipes to cook. All that is great, but it’s also only a glimpse – so much else goes on; real life is happening, and with it the duvet days, the I haven’t left the house all day days, and the beans on toast for dinner because the fridge is empty days.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, a very honest glimpse into our Sunday:

It started with a trip to the local City Farm where we happened upon Christmas trees for sale. We happily bought one and headed home to put it up and decorate it. Only to find its base was far too big to fit in our stand. So we headed to Asda to buy a new stand, only to find they had none. ‘No problem!’, we thought, ‘we’ll just buy a saw’. I now know that no conversations that start with that can end well.

We spent two hours sawing and chipping and chiselling away at the base of the tree, stopping every now and then to see if it would fit, finding it wouldn’t, and starting again. We got frustrated with each other, I cried, S hurt his back, and we got pine needles all over the house. We kept going, determined and convinced we could hoover up all the needles.

Needless to say, we couldn’t. Our lovely tree is now living on the balcony, decorated with one lonely string of awful LED lights that I got as a Secret Santa gift last year. And while it might not be the most perfectly styled tree, it’s real and it’s ours and it’s life. Pine needles everywhere, empty fridge and all.

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Weekend, and Weekly Wishes #3

I can’t believe another Monday has come around so quickly! This time of year always seems to take on a life of its own, doesn’t it?

This weekend I had to work a conference on Saturday, which is always harder in the winter. Getting up at 6am to catch the train over the summer is a lot more welcoming than in November, but it wasn’t the worst of days in the end. Afterwards I met S and his sister, plus my cousin and my sister in Chinatown for dinner and a catch up. And then I went straight to bed and didn’t emerge until 1pm on Sunday – absolute bliss.

Having parted with my duvet I headed to Greenwich to pick out a postcard to send to Jamie, my match for this month’s Snail Mail Collective, and then spent the evening at home. All in all, it was a lovely, much-needed, quiet day.

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{New beginnings}

Linking up with Melyssa for Weekly Wishes

Last week my wishes were to pick out my work clothes the night before, and to really work at my budgeting so as not to end up short before the end of the month. My clothes were laid out every evening, and it really did make such a difference in the mornings. I managed to only buy ‘necessities’ this week (lunch one day in work as I had no leftovers, and a birthday present for my Mum, as well as groceries). It’s made me feel a lot more positive about sticking to a proper budget once the new year rolls around.
This week’s wishes:

1. Take the train rather than the tube to work in the mornings. I’m lucky in that I have quite a few options to get to and from work. Quite predictably, I take the one with the fewest changes that leaves me the closest to my office. The train leaves me about a half-hour walk away from the office, and my is it a lovely walk. This week I want to take the train every day, so that I can enjoy the beautiful walk while also getting some exercise in early in the day.

2. Write a thankful list. Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated this side of the pond, and aside from the fact that a wonderful feast of a dinner sounds amazing, I’ve always liked the idea of celebrating all that you’re thankful for. This week I want to think about what those things are for me, and make a list to remind myself. (I will also work on a wonderful feast some evening – it’s only right after all).

 

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Mundane Midweek

Charlotte’s Mundane Midweek posts are some of my favourite, and I don’t quite know why I’ve never linked up before today, but here’s to it.

While I wish every Wednesday involved a day off from work and such yummy food, yesterday wasn’t usual. S finished his exams yesterday (round one of six – this did in fact seem like a good idea, once) so I took the day off and met him afterwards for some fun.

It was one of those awful wild winter mornings, and we even had hail. In November! It did mean that afterwards the air was lovely and crisp though, and while the leaves didn’t really stand a chance, they didn’t look half bad on the ground.

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We had lunch in Bill’s (always a winner) and then set off for some shopping. I tend to buy a few bits here and there or the odd impulse buy semi-regularly, but S is a more measured shopper. He’ll wait for ages until he has a long list and then buy it all at once. So he went a bit mad, but came home with enough loot to last all winter. (Is this a ‘boy’ thing? All the boys I’ve known do this). I discovered that H&M have gone for library-chic this season, and just want to know if they’re available to read while waiting for your boy to get out of the fitting room?

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Next we wandered the South Bank Christmas market and spent an incredibly long time debating where those vendors go for the rest of the year. Do they rebrand their little huts as non-Christmas chestnuts? Do people even eat chestnuts in summertime? Oh the questions!

Even though we were still stuffed from lunch, dinner at Wahaca was calling us, and it didn’t disappoint. We followed it up with a leisurely wander through the Press Photographer’s exhibition nearby. It was so powerful, and makes me wish I had an eye for telling stories with my camera. Some of the images were really quite distressing, but beautifully shot.

We topped it all off with the decision to shun the tube in favour of the boat home. Because if you’re going to eat like a king, you might as well go all out and travel like one too, right?

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{The view out the front of the boat. While I was snapping pictures, the passengers who can afford to take it every day were drinking their purchased-on-board wine and beer. On the way home. On a Wednesday. Now that’s how it’s done.}

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Dreaming

The lovely Bella over at How does it feel to… asked about dreams the other day and it got me thinking – what is the dream these days?

The one that’s stuck with me for longest has been to open a book shop. Not just any bookshop mind you, but a proper, cosy, stay in there all day and drink tea and have cake and read as many books as you want, bookshop. I’d bring our dog with me in the mornings, and he’d pad around all day. I’d know all the regulars, we’d serve the best coffee, and we’d stock colouring books as well as novels, big bold works of fiction as well as books by authors just starting out. We’d never be short of recommendations, and anyone who worked there would be required to take home at least one book a week.

I might not have shown an entrepreneurial spark since leading our home economics class’ mini company to victory when I was fifteen, but this dream is one I just can’t seem to shake.

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{Photo taken at last year’s Book Maze at the Southbank Centre. 250,000 books. In a maze. Just your average Saturday night.}

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