Reviewing February 2016 Goals

11:30 am

So, this month I didn't listen to my ten new albums (I listened to three), and I didn't find a new recipe for lunch, but I did watch five films I haven't seen before, and I'm really happy with that.

As I said before, my film-watching had gone hugely downhill since finishing university. It was much easier to stick a few films on in a row when you were hanging out with friends. This month I did hit my target of watching five films I haven't seen before, and they were:

Inside Llewyn Davis - Bizarre, dark, yet really enjoyable. Very good music and the tone was spot on. Obviously the costumes were also totally gorgeous.  Oscar Isaac plays the perfect asshole, and Carey Mulligan performs in probably my favourite role of hers yet.

Mad Max: Fury Road - The top of the bunch; I regret leaving it this long to watch it. A film about women, and redemption, and the environment. Charlize forever.

Snervous Tyler Oakley - My least favourite but still not awful. Informative, but not as fun or 'true' as I would have wanted.

Whiplash - Second place, very close to Fury Road. Absolutely unexpected and an amazing piece of filmmaking. JK Simmons is utterly terrifying, and who knew Miles Teller could actually drum?

The Tale of Princess Kaguya - Getting back into my Studio Ghibli watching. A sad yet beautiful tale of a young woman coming-of-age (that's what SG does best) and learning who she really is and what she wants from the world. Really interesting to watch after reading The Tale of Murasaki (similar name, different thing) as it deals with a lot of the same themes in the same historical and cultural context.

M x


My Journey to Minimalism: Part #2

12:22 pm

Okay, I feel like this second installment in my journey to minimalism was a long time coming, but things have definitely turned up a notch since my last update. I think I'll start making these updates shorter, but more frequent, as the ideas come into my brain, so expect them to read a little like brain-farts.

Have you heard of The Minimalists? I'm moderately obsessed with them at the moment, and it's truly doing wonders for my productivity, my happiness, and the state of my bedroom. I now have a designated corner for things to live that are waiting to be sold on eBay, heading to the charity shop, or being passed on to a friend or family member (currently awaiting transit: wall art, books, films, extension leads, boots, comics, weights). The Minimalists talk about something similar on the blog with a 'donation box' that sits in your house for everybody to put in things to donate to charity. I'm loving the idea because seeing the pile makes me feel motivated to add even more to it. It amazes me I have so much to get rid of without feeling like I'm throwing away anything special or important. I'm such a book and film fiend, but hell did I find so many of either that I was happy to give away because I had only used it once and don't plan to again, or never used at all and don't plan to. I used to be intent on buying the DVD of all films I've watched, even if I didn't plan on watching it again, simply because I liked having a huge film collection.

I also work in a library so I can now get DVDs out whenever I want and don't have to worry about keeping them around for a long time or excessive clutter. One in, one out, and it also adds to my goal of watching more films in 2016.

M x


Bright Paper Packages: February 2016 (& Happy 300th post!)

8:57 am

Have I mentioned how much I love Bright Paper Packages? The theme of February's box was 'Handbag Must Haves', which I found pleasantly surprising as I largely expected something Valentine's related. I was also pleasantly surprised by how essential I did actually find all of these things, many of them being items I was actively looking for myself to use on a daily basis.

As always, Bright Paper Packages have chosen some wonderful arty brands to supply products from, with some gorgeous screen printing seen here from Chase and Wonder, a Cheshire company working out of a converted cowshed! This small canvas purse immediately replaced my regular purse, allowing me to pop all of my cards, coins, and receipts in one place. My cards are banded together by type, and so far I've found it a lot easier to navigate than a traditional purse, oddly. Plus it takes up a lot less room in my bag. You should certainly take a look at the stationary they have on their website; I've been won over by their 'aristocratic dogs' wrapping paper.

Alongside the fabulous purse was a pack of Peppersmith mints, which I've seen around in supermarkets before, and this purple floral mirror from Hutch & Willow. I've never been one to carry around a mirror in my bag before, but as of late I have actually been on the hunt for a nice one, so this was a very welcome surprise. It fits comfortably in the palm of my hand, and I keep it in my new purse to keep it clean. A note on the mints: the greatest mints I've ever tasted. They're sugar free, sweetened with xylitol, and really, really packs a minty punch. Definitely my new mint of choice.

Cue my excitement when I finally got my hands on some elasticated ribbon hair tyes. Supposedly they're better for your hair as they don't snag as much as traditional bands, and the bonus is that these ones from Adorable Things are just...adorable. I keep the black and mint green ones on my wrist most days; they do double-up as a cute accessory next to my watch. Admittedly I may never use the silver glitter one, so it'll probably be passed on to my little sister as she is the accessory queen at age seven.

Last but certainly not least are a letterpress notebook from 1973 and a small tin of coconut lip butter from Lucky Cloud. My bag is never complete without a notebook and a lip balm, so they've hit the nail right on the head with these. I adore anything coconut scented, so this vegan product is ideal.  After browsing their website I can confirm I'll be shopping with them in the near future, as their packaging is gorgeous and all of their skincare is natural and homemade. 

And look at the design on that notebook! It's absolutely delightful, and very Barbie.

Bright Paper Packages have outdone themselves yet again; I can't wait to see what they bring next month as they return to regular-sized boxes rather than letterbox-sized! For £20 a month, I think this subscription service is ridiculously well-priced and great value for money. So far in the past three months there have only been one or two things that I haven't had a use for, and they get passed straight along to friends and family, so we're all winners.

M x 


Books to Finish, or Give a Second Chance

7:30 pm

Ah yes, those books that lie half-read on your shelf, discarded in a reading slump, half-read because of their format, and generally left...on the shelf.

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana - Umberto Eco - Now this one certainly suffered from the curse of the reading slump. I first picked this up in my second year of university, a time where I was not reading a great amount, so naturally this got tossed to the side which I was distracted by other things i.e. hideous essays on The Heart of Darkness. The basic story of this book is the recovery of a bookseller after severe memory loss caused by a stroke. He navigates the world re-learning the names of objects, the people round him, and his daily rituals. I found it a really interesting look into the world of art and literature, and I'm baffled as to why I would give this up 208 pages in.

Metamorphosis and Other Stories - Franz Kafka - The diagnosis of this book being neglected is the format of the short story collection. 85 pages in I have read both 'Metamorphosis' and 'The Great Wall of China', both of which I enjoyed massively. There are only four other stories in the collection so it won't even take me a long time to finally get this read.

Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges - As above, but with a lot more stories left to read. Another very, very good collection that deserves my attention.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Suskind - This is in a very similar circumstance to the Eco text above. I got 97 pages in whilst at university, and never looked at it again, despite a very gripping storyline. Grenouille is a young man impassioned by the idea of creating the perfect scent, which he attempts to do by murdering young women. The book itself it's that long and is in a ridiculously large font, so I could probably get it read in a week if I tried.

Religion for Atheists - Alain de Botton - I find the problem with some non-fiction books, especially ones on just specific topic, is that you can't read them all in one go as it all gets a bit overwhelming. This book is one of those, despite being on a fascinating topic. Hopefully I can pick it back up where I left off and won't feel too disoriented.

253 - Geoff Ryman - This is a very recent purchase for me, and a book I've been meaning to read for ten years (no exaggeration, I've been wanting to read this since year 9 in school). However, the structure bears similar issues to the non-fiction above. The book is told in single pages, each page detailing a different person on a Tube journey. You hear about their appearance, their personality, and their thoughts at that present moment. Reading page after page of this format is challenging, hence why I've put this down ~50 pages in for the time being. Fortunately this structure means you can't really lose your place in the plot and you don't really need to remember all of the 'characters', because there are 253 of them.

Sexy Origins and Intimate Things - Charles Panati - Finally, another non-fiction, and similar to the de Botton book above. This is packed full with hilarious and very enlightening information on all things sex- and gender-related, and I've absolutely loved what I've read of it (nearing 200 pages), but it's not one you can read all in one go. Definitely a dip in and out book. No euphemisms intended.

What books do you have left sitting on your shelf, dying to be finished?

M x


February 2016 Goals

9:00 am

This is the second time I've written this post because Blogger decided to delete it. Cheers!

February is here, and we're aiming for another month of kicking some serious butt. Now we've survived the pressure that was January, it's time to move on, get things started, and develop the life you want to lead. Here are February's three goals:
  • Again, I'm going to find a new, simple and healthy recipe that I can cook for lunch and take into work with me.
  • Over the past few months/years/way too long I've really just stopped watching films I've never seen before. It's been rewatching and leaving things on in the background for comfort since leaving university, so this month I'm going to get back on the curiosity bandwagon (or rover, hur hur) and watch five films I've never seen before. New, old, whatever. There's about ten thousand films on my list of things I neeeed to see, so I've got a lot to choose from.
  • And finally, we're going to go for another ten random albums. It's looking very 90s-centric this time, and much more to my taste. But who knows, last time I surprised myself:
    • 1955 - Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours
    • 1972 - David Ackles, American Gothic
    • 1977 - Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell
    • 1984 - Bruce Sprinsteen, Born in the USA
    • 1992 - Morrissey, "Your Arsenal"
    • 1992 - The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde
    • 1994 - Frank Black, Teenager of the Year
    • 1994 - Blur, Parklife
    • 1998 - Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age
    • 2001 - Bjork, Vespertine
Once again, here's the Spotify playlist if you want to follow along, and have a wonderful February!


Reviewing January 2016 Goals

11:23 am

January is at an end, so it's time to look back on my January 2016 goals and see how I fared. If you missed the original post, you can read it here. There will be a February goals post coming very soon which may or may not include yet more albums to discover. Watch this space.

First of all are the results of my randomised album adventures:

   Aretha Franklin (Aretha: Lady Soul) - The first of the albums I listened to, and of course loved. I find it hard to think why anyone would dislike Aretha. Her voice is so incredibly soulful and her lyrics powerful. I found myself singing along to songs I didn't even know I'd heard before. Chain of Fools is an absolute wonder and gives me shivers.

   Loretta Lynn (Don't Come Home A Drinkin') - Now, I've never really listened to country music before so this was a bit of a tricky one for me, however I did find myself bobbing along to a lot of these songs. I far from hated this album, but I don't think I would choose to listen to it again, regardless of it only being 28 minutes long.

   Creedence Clearwater Revival (Cosmo's Factory) - This album seemed to pass me by very quickly, despite enjoying it.

   Rod Stewart (Gasoline Alley) - I enjoyed this much more than I ever imagined I would a Rod Stewart album, but by the end of it I was very bored and craved a little less whining.

   Syd Barrett (The Madcap Laughs) - A little like CCR in the way it passed me by, but I was a fan of Barrett's voice and the weird tone of this entire album.

   Patti Smith (Horses) - Patti Smith, my love. She is an absolute babe and an icon. Of course I loved this.

   Parliament (Mothership Connection) - If I ever had a dinner party, I would play this on a loop. It was funky, it was fun, and actually made me dance. Weeeeee need the funk.

   Japan (Quiet Life) - OH BOY. This was a good'un. I will definitely be listening again.

   Pulp (This is Hardcore) - I love Pulp, but this album was just so dirgey. The entire thing was very melancholy.

   Ghostface Killah (Fishscale) - Stopped three songs in. Sorry.

So all-in-all, we did quite well. Onto the crafting.

This month I did plan, attempt, and nearly finish an entire craft project. There is only one element left to complete and I'm pretty pleased considering the amount I have actually completed. My project was to make a plush of BB-8 from The Force Awakens. Back in the day I was all for making plush toys and was actually quite good at it. There was a Kirby, a Dr Manhattan, and a few sushi rolls if I remember correctly. I always enjoyed the process of making them, so this was a natural choice to start the year off with craft-wise. Now, it hasn't turned out as good as my previous creations, but I didn't really expect it to. It doesn't have a head yet (hence why I'm not sharing photos), and if I were to make it again, I make the orange sections larger so there's less white area. It was an attempt, however, and an attempt I'm glad I made.

Finally comes lunch, and this ended up being the easiest of my January goals as my mum loaned me a copy of Eat Pretty, inside which I immediately fell in love with the recipe for asparagus pilaf. So I've been eating delicious greenery-filled quinoa in my packed lunch several times per week, and I'm so happy I've managed to incorporate a new, not to mention very healthy, lunch to my repertoire that only takes twenty or so minutes to whip up.

February, ho!

M x