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1.4.20

Notes from March 2020





I usually start writing these monthly updates at the end of the previous month, so I can add bits when they happen throughout the month. What a difference between the end of February and now HUH? I refuse to use any of the following phrases: uncertain times, wild times, crazy times, basically anything with the phrase 'these times', because why are we all suddenly talking like Victorians.

But damn, things be weird. Well I say that, but to be honest, I've been working from home for a week and it all feels like the new normal already, albeit with a much less comfortable desk and chair. Humans can adapt well I guess. Maybe I'll be saying something totally different at the end of April. Fingers crossed it will be a more positive slant.

Nonetheless here is the March round up. Stay safe :)


Reading (a bumper edition of articles/slideshows of pretty pictures to curve boredom)


Articles

Books
  • The Story of a New Name Elena Ferrante. This is book two of the Neopolitan novels, a quartet of books about two girls growing up in poverty stricken Naples in the 1950s and onwards. I read the first book, My Brilliant Friend in December, loved it, and this second installment is even better than the first. I haven't felt so completely swept away in a story in a while. Third installment is already on order from the library. 
  • Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri. This author is quickly becoming one of my favourites. I've never enjoyed a book of short stories as much as these, in particular 'Mrs. Sen' which made my heart hurt. Jhumpa Lahiri creates memorable characters to root for. She uses the perfect amount of words and depicts emotion without beating you over the head with it. I love her.  
  • Rabbit Patricia Williams (aka. Ms Pat) Another 5 star read for me this month. Rabbit is the real life story of the author who grew up in the Atlanta hood (her words) in the 80s & 90s. It is fascinating, funny, poignant and heartbreaking. The tales she tells will have you shaking your head in disbelief. A very important story. 
  • Those who Leave and those who Stay Elena Ferrante. My library reservation of the third in the Neopolitan novels arrived before social distancing kicked in so I devoured that as soon as possible. Not as captivating as the second installment, in my opinion, but nonetheless brilliant and transported me to Naples and Florence in an instant. I have ordered the fourth and final novel from Foyles, as the library is shut for the forseeable. 
  • Anatomy of a Scandal Sarah Vaughan. Didn't care for this book, a supposed legal thriller about a high profile politician accused of rape. I could see most of the twists coming, and it has a style of writing that seems to be in a lot of modern books which I find quite annoying. Sentences where there is a point made, then a hyphen and the point is expanded on, using unnecessary description and adjectives. E.g "The clay-red puddles that spread across the potholed road and that cry out for Emily and Finn to splash one another with water: fat globules that pearl on waterproof trousers and coats." Not for me. 

Watching

So I caved and binged Love is Blind which was in a word, nuts. People have asked me if it's worth watching and I don't really know how to answer. It was addictive viewing but at the same time I probably won't watch the inevitable second series. There was a lot of filler in between the drama and it was edited quite weirdly - the contestants would say things that would make 0 sense within the trajectory of the episode. Could easily have been 30 minute episodes, 40 minutes tops instead of an hour long.

I've also been working my way through my Netflix list and started Top Boy and Schitt's Creek. Enjoying the former, can't make my mind up yet about the latter. Ru Paul's Drag Race is back for series 12 which always puts me in a good mood. Rich and I wanted a major boxset to watch during the lockdown, and that boxset is The Sopranos. Things I am enjoying greatly about this series is the fashion, the way they talk and just the general fact that it's so 90s. I can see why everyone raves about it.

One of Bristol's independent cinemas, Watershed, gave their subscribers a free trial of Mubi, an independent film service. My dad and I watched 'Mustang' (separately of course) and then discussed it on the phone. Independent, socially distancing film club! The film is a Turkish subtitled number about 5 sisters who are being married off against their will. It was equal parts lovely and sad, with great acting. 

Doing

Washing my hands. Avoiding people. Face-partying. Making a 'Lockdown List' in my bullet journal.

Eating

Before social distancing was in full swing, Rich and I visited Landrace bakery in Bath. There is a big sheaf of wheat decorating one of the walls and you can see the bakers making the delicious treats behind the counter. Will look forward to returning when possible.

For general food, I have beeb planning meals as normal, and then hoping for the best when we go to the supermarket. To be fair, I can usually get most of what I need. I am so so glad that we signed up for a fruit and veg box at the beginning of the year, so we're still getting lots of fresh, organic stuff to use. Particular fave recipes I have made this month include this Chilli Bean Cornbread Cobbler  and Sweet Potato with Charred Lemon and Crunchies. That last one in particular  ~ DAMN ~ 

Wanting

I have fallen in love and it is with this cardigan. Am strongly considering trying to either craft my own or convince Rich it is a purchase we need much more than a sofa for our new house. 


Enjoying on Instagram (another bumper edition)

8.3.20

7 women I would like to meet




Women are the best. To celebrate International Women's Day on 8th March, here are some women I would very much like to have a nice cup of tea and a sit down with.

Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton


Pandora and Dolly are the co-creators of one of my favourite podcasts, The High Low. To be honest when I first started listening to this podcast, under it's previous name (The PanDolly podcast) I admit I rolled my eyes a bit and thought oh here we go two privileged women yammering on. But something kept me listening, and I realised that it was actually super insightful and interesting. I like Pandora Sykes, because her fashion sense is amazing and she speaks so articulately about every topic she discusses. I would love to sit down and have a chat with her! In fact I would also like her to take me shopping. I love Dolly because her book is one of the best books I have ever read and I think she would be the most fun.

Jane Garvey


Jane is one of the hosts of Woman's Hour, which despite having an old woman reputation discusses a lot more than typical old woman topics. I love Jane because she is so down to earth and she really amuses me on the podcast. I think she has a great way with guests, friendly but not afraid to ask controversial questions. She is also very self deprecating, a trait which has been getting a bit of flack recently in this lean in get it girl 2019 wokeness, but nevertheless it makes me laugh. Her work is also much appreciated in the podcast Fortunately with Fi and Jane, where she chats with Fi Glover and random guests. Much hilarity ensues.

The Receipts podcast girls


Tolly T, Audrey and Milena Sanchez host The Receipts podcast (these aren't all women from podcasts I swear) and their personalities are just so captivating I could (and do) listen to them speak for hours. They talk a mile a minute and have opinions about everything. Something I really admire about them is that they prove that you can have different opinions on some things but still have diplomatic, reasonable discussions and respect each other's views. I think this is especially important when the media love to pit women against each other. They are also hilarious.

Jacqueline Wilson


A nostalgic one - I have loved Jacqueline Wilson's books since I was little (plot twist I still read them often) and every interview I watch or read about her she just seems so lovely and I want her to be my adopted auntie! I think she really gets younger people without talking down to them or trying to be cool. I'm waiting for her to to a book signing in Bristol so I can take my Brownies under the guise that it's a day out for them and not me!

Sharmadean Reid


I have been a big fan of WAH nails since they launched in 2009, but I had not really seen any interviews with Sharmadean Reid until she did an 'In the Bathroom with' with Sali Hughes. She is so articulate, calm and just has a lovely way about her. I found her advice to be spot on and I love the way she does things.

Haley Nahmen


Haley is the features director at Man Repeller (although she has just handed in her notice, sob), aka the best and most entertaining website of all time. I love her articles, I love her style and I love her Instagram profile. I would love to sit down and have a chat to her about style, writing, New York and everything in between.

Judy Blume


I've left the best until last. Judy Blume's books were my childhood. I spoke about loving the 'mundane' things in life in this blog post, and I think Judy Blume played a big part of that. She took teenagers' ordinary lives and thoughts and made them fascinating to me. She discussed taboo topics and made them normal. I think if I ever was lucky enough to meet her I would just burst into tears. I recently found out she owns a bookshop in Key West, Florida and I'm trying to convince my husband that we definitely need to have our next holiday there!

Which women would you love to meet?



4.3.20

Notes from February 2020




Spring soon. Rejoice! Meanwhile, this month I have been...


Reading


  • 'How I get by' a Vice series about how people make ends meet, is eye opening, sometimes bleak but also hopeful. Makes you realise how hard people work for things you often take for granted. 
  • When Romy and Michele have a quote for every occasion. 
  • As I have no doubt banged on about before, I love Dawson's Creek. These episode reviews have made me laugh a lot. Particularly the descriptions of Dawson's hair. If you know you know. 
  • Unbelievable stories that came from the response to a tweet, explored.
  • These wardrobe resolutions are genuinely helpful
  • This article about Ultra Processed Foods is scarily interesting, and reveals how out of touch modern food guidance is, as well as how complex it is to navigate what is actually healthy in modern times. Literally, food for thought. 
  • I feel like I could have written this, about wanting to embrace un-productivity, myself
  • Googly eyes on broken things is so cute! 

Books:

- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid - This book, about a black babysitter who gets accused of stealing the child she's looking after in a supermarket, was mega hyped and it was a good read which I did fly through quickly, wanting to know what happened. Apart from the interesting subject matter however, I don't think it warrants all the hype it's getting, and the characters are pretty one-dimensional.

- Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean. This book is about various women throughout history who have made a mark within the media, e.g. Susan Sontag and Nora Ephron. Each chapter was about a different woman, and some of their stories interlinked. I can't lie, all the women kind of merged into one for me - they all worked at various NYC publications, had similar career trajectories and I just couldn't remember who was who. Sounds a bit dumb but there were no pictures and I really think this would have helped differentiate!

- The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh.I read this because one of my favourite bloggers, Chloe Plumstead, said it was her favourite book of 2019. I am in love with Chloe's writing and for that reason, I wanted to love it but sadly I did not. It's a dystopian novel about 4 women who have to live on an island because the mainland is 'poisoned' by men. The main issue for me was that it was all just too confusing - I didn't know what was what. I think that was the reader's intention, but it is not a situation I enjoy. Also found the writing a bit too airy (is this a word?)

- From the Mixed up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler This is a children's book about two kids who run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was recommended by Gretchen Rubin, queen of children's literature. It was charming and I liked it, but I think reading it in childhood for the first time would make it more of a beloved favourite.

- What to Eat: Food That’s Good for Your Health, Pocket and Plate by Joanna Blythman I love reading about food, whether it's recipes, trends or health, it all fascinates me. This book, by a renowned food journalist, covers different food groups (vegetables, fruits, meat, grains etc.) and goes into detail about how they are grown, if they are environmentally friendly, how much they cost and how to eat them. The food geek in me was enthralled. I got this copy out of the library but will be purchasing it for sure, as it is perfect to reference throughout the year.

Watching


The cinema has been calling me this month. I went three times - to see Queen & Slim (7/10), 1917 (9/10) and Greed (6/10). On Netflix I have been bingeing on Cheer (of course you've heard of it, and I'll just leave this video here for you), Next in Fashion (Alexa's outfits THOUGH) and the film Horse Girl, starring my love Alison Brie (it was weird but good).

Listening


The Queen & Slim Soundtrack has a multitude of bangers, and podcast wise I've particularly enjoyed two Hip Hop Saved my Life episodes -  Harvey from So Solid Crew (the memories!) and comedian Judi Love whose voice alone makes me happy. Ian Wright on Desert Island Discs was also an unexpected tear jerker - so sweet!

Eating


Jerk Aubergine and coconut rice is my favourite recipe discovery this month - quick, easy umami goodness. In the obsession corner, I preserved some lemons (which is incredibly easy) and I am hooked on their tang. I ate them with every meal going and now have some more on the go. They add that much needed kick to everything savoury.  I also had a banana split which was a fun trip down memory lane - they were my mum's go to dessert when we were little.

Wanting


This skirt is unbearably cute. I wish it wasn't more than £100. Split hem leggings or trousers are also on my radar - WATCH THIS SPACE.

Enjoying on Instagram


  • I love the set up of this shot - very cool
  • I can't stop looking at this outfit. The colours are perfection. 
  • A great zero waste hack I would like to try

1.3.20

A workday morning routine





I have now perfected my routine so that it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes from waking up to leaving the house. That might seem excessive but I would so rather have more than enough time than rush. I have always been an early riser anyway so early mornings aren't a huge problem for me (although I admit it's much easier in the summer than the dark, cold, wet winter).

5:45am


My alarm goes off and my cat Bluebell, also known as Paddles or The Rat, has been Pavlovian-ly conditioned to understand that my alarm = someone is getting up to potentially feed her even though she now gets fed by an automatic feeder, so I get a cat alarm as well as a phone alarm. Double alarm is just what you want in what is basically still the middle of the night.

We didn't used to let Bluebell sleep in our bedroom, as it used to mean constant headbutting and 1,000 decibel purring at 2am. Cute but annoying, which pretty much sums her up. However, if we don't let her sleep in the bedroom, she meows constantly. Her other favourite nocturnal activities include scratching aimlessly in the litter tray to the point where she's scraping just the tray (imagine a noise similar to chalk on a background), chasing a ping pong ball on the laminate flooring, or methodically batting shampoos and shower gels into the bath tub. This is at random, so some nights she does none of these things, some nights she does them all. Cat habit roulette. Having a cat is fun I would recommend it.

So anyway, I pick up my cat and we have a lovely sleepy cuddle where she headbutts me and holds on to my hand with two paws so she can rub her face against it. Sometimes I wrap her inside my dressing gown and, despite having bitched about her for a whole paragraph, it honestly makes me feel so happy I could cry.

5:50am


I wash my face, currently with Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, then I have a shower with my Lush Scrubee (smells so good - like buttery honey) and a blast of cold at the end (as per this blog post) when I'm feeling brave. Once I'm out the shower I apply body moisturiser, and to my face; La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo and La Roche Posay SPF, whilst Bluebell races round the flat like someone shoved a rocket up her bum for about 3 minutes.

6:10am


I go into the kitchen and put the kettle on. I don't drink coffee but I like to have a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed in, sometimes a grating of ginger if I'm feeling fancy. Apparently this is quite bad for your teeth but I like to live in denial. If there are no lemons I have green tea or white tea and my fave is Clipper Green Tea with Lemon or Vanilla because they don't bleach the teabags.

6:15am


After that I do my make up (Origins tinted moisturiser, NYX under eye corrector, Collection concealer, Glossier cheek tint, Collection waterproof mascara, Glossier Boy Brow, sometimes a hint of MAC highlighter) whilst watching the YouTubes. My worst part of this routine is the mascara. I hate doing mascara because it can go so wrong in a single swipe by adding too much or stabbing yourself in the eye, and these mistakes are long to correct.

6:30am


I put a saucepan of water on the hob and when it's bubbling I boil an egg for 7 minutes to take to work for breakfast, which I eat with some wholemeal toast and watercress. I also prep my lunch, usually leftovers or something I've defrosted from the freezer (aka freezer surprise) alongside some chopped veg and fruit. This process can take me a while because I also have about a million snacks and lunch accompaniments (sauces, herbs, cheese, nuts etc.) which I love to decant into various tiny pots and Tupperwares. I love a tiny pot. These are my favourite.

6:40am


I brush my teeth and get dressed. This takes either 2 minutes or 20 minutes because I've planned it in my head the night before as I fell asleep and it either looks great or awful. As Bristol is the city of a thousand hills and I work atop them all, I base most of my outfits on my shoes and the weather. Sometimes I can be arsed to wear heeled boots and sometimes I just need trainers. If it's sunny I allow myself to wear my fave white Adidas trainers, if it's going to rain I wear the only boots I have left whose soles aren't literally ripped in half. Is this me walking incorrectly, or are all shoes just made badly? I'd love to know.

7:00am


Lastly I pack my bag, insert my air pods, grab my keys from the side, kiss my two best ones and walk to the bus stop, wishing with every step that it was summer.



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