Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tackle nagging tasks

Having recently read Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project” one of the parts of the book that really stuck with me was to ‘tackle a nagging task.’

I know what you’re thinking – I’m entering a blogpost for the most boring thing ever awards. You may be right!

There were a few things that were bugging me that I needed to tackle:

  • Get the windows cleaned (I could barely see out of the house for the filth and it annoyed me every time I looked out of the window. I could have kissed the cleaner when he left.
  • Ditto with my car. Filthy and irritated me every time I looked at it. Felt so much better once I’d cleaned it.
  • Wardrobes full of clothes that I never wear that need flogging on Ebay to boost my travel funds.

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(Can you see my wardrobe assistant? He’s very beautiful!)

I emptied my wardrobe and only put back clothes that I actually like and wear. In doing so, I stumbled across this:

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An amazing vintage Mexican hand embroidered dress that I got from Ebay years ago. I wore it once and when paying in my local Sainsbury’s the cashier asked me “where are you from?” I replied “erm… the North-West, why?” to which he responded “Oh, no reason I just thought you were wearing some kind of national dress.”

😮

Anyway. To summarise, this dress is a very weird length, almost like a kaftan and I’d been meaning to shorten it for years. Also the sleeves are poofy, which has the undesirable effect of making me look like an over-grown infant.

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(These kind of sleeves really aren’t a good look on an almost six foot tall woman.)

So I brushed the dust off my sewing machine, snipped the bottom off, gave it a hem, pulled out the sleeve elastic and sewed up a hole in the armpit region and ta daaahh.

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Should have done this years ago! Above knee length is much better, much less weird and national dressy. Also I sorted the sleeves:

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I’m delighted to have made a weird dress wearable, added to my travel wardrobe and ticked off a nagging task off my to-do list all in one.

Interestingly though, if you have more than five items on your to-do list it can be overwhelming and less satisfying than not having one in the first place. You can’t win can you?!

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New things 7) Try caviar

Before I turn 25 I’ve given myself 25 challenges.

One was to try something I’ve always wanted to try: caviar.

So off to Waitrose (of course) I popped, and got all the proper ingredients.

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(mini pancakes)

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(Lumpfish caviar. I’d never heard of lumpfish before, but it was a damn sight cheaper than salmon caviar)

DSC_0319(I read online that soured cream is what should be served with caviar.)

Drrrrumroll pleaaaaase

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I didn’t like it.

What did I learn?

  • Fewer things will make you feel more like a pretentious idiot than buying caviar in Waitrose darling.
  • You shouldn’t let stainless steel touch caviar, i.e. use a wooden or ceramic spoon. (apparently it ruins the taste.)
  • One should keep one’s caviar chilled. It should be served on ice during a dinner party situation.
  • Caviar tastes like fishy fish. Salty and with a small explosion in the mouth. Also it’s quite unsettling when you find a little egg nestling amongst your teeth afterwards. Shudder.
  • It allows you to take incredibly poncy photos like the one below.

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(La dee dah! Love the blue colour of the eggs though, amazing!)

Did I enjoy eating caviar?

Nope

Would I try it again?

Nope.

My other food challenges before I turn 25 are lobster and plantain. I have the feeling I might enjoy those more.

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Book review: Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project’

Slightly away from the travel genre, this is a book that has been on my amazon wish list for years but I only recently got around to buying.

DSC_0311(The Happiness Project, or, why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle and generally have more fun.)

The Happiness Project is a year memoir by Gretchen Rubin, who had an epiphany one day whilst on a bus, and realised that “The days are long but the years are short.” and decided to dedicate a year to learning about happiness and focusing on the things that brought joy into her life.

Sounds a bit kooky, right? I LOVED it.

I found the book so inspiring, and I realised that in doing my 25 new things before I turn 25, I’m essentially already on my own Happiness Project.

Things I learnt from reading the book:

  • We are hardwired to absorb bad experiences more readily that a good experience. For example, if you were to loose £100, you’d be more upset than you would be happy if you found £100. Therefore we should always strive to appreciate the good things.
  • Taking notes is a good idea. Rubin dedicated a chapter to books and wrote about how she always takes notes when reading. I thought what a good idea! I’ve always got my nose in a book but I really struggle to remember what happens in the novels I’ve read. I decided to start a diary. Partly in preparation for keeping a travel journal, but also so that I can write down quotes and remember things from books that have inspired me. I’ll also use it to document my own sort of happiness project.

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(Look, I already started!)

  • Tackling a nagging task is such a satisfying thing to do. I’ve made a list of them and I’m beginning to cross them off. Bliss.
  • There’s also something wonderful about clearing out. It feels like such a relief to get rid of unused clothes and clutter.
  • There were a few seething reviews on Goodreads, stating that the Happiness Project is introspective and selfish, doesn’t benefit the starving children in India etc etc… but
  • “One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy. And one of the best ways to make other people happy myself.” – So striving to be happy isn’t as selfish as they made out.

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In other happiness news, I’ve been listening to “Hardwiring Happiness” on audible. It goes into the psychology of what makes us happy, and teaches how we can take in the good. Interesting.

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On documenting travels

I’ve recently been having a think about how I’d like to document our time away. I’ve got the blog here of course, but I’d also like to have a physical journal or document that I can use to collect tickets and documents. It’ll also come in handy when we’re off the beaten track and we don’t have an internet connection.

At the same time, I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by keeping up with writing, and I don’t want to miss anything whilst I’m away.

Tricky.

I’ve been on pinterest looking for ideas. (You can follow my personal account here if you like. :))

I’ve always loved the idea of a moleskine travel journal. Look at these beauties!

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I haven’t done a lot of drawing since art A level, but one of my 25 new things is to get drawing again.

Love this moleskine too:

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Below is a more wordy version:

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So yes, we’ve established I like moleskine journals. (BTW have you ever pinterest searched “moleskine journal” ? Prepare to fall into a rabbit hole of inspiration/procrastination.

Of course there are many other notepad options. But what about this? :

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The idea here is to buy postcards along the way of your trip and write what you did that day on the back: restaurants, funny stories, cool attractions. When you’re home you can hole punch them and attach to binder ring.

This is a nice way of keeping memories, but I worry that I’d forget and then feel guilty. Also, I’d prefer to use my own photographs.

Oh the possibilities are endless. Time to buy a moleskine and get doodling!

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New thing 6) Walk 10,000 steps everyday for a week.

Before I turn 25, I’m trying to do 25 new things. This is partly to get my out of my comfort zone, partly to stop me being bored waiting for September, and mainly so I have something to write about on here. Some of my new things are interesting, some are incredibly mundane. Unfortunately this weeks challenge falls into the latter category. You can read my about my past challenges here.

Health care professionals state that we should all walk 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy and fit and prevent weight gain. As a music teacher, I don’t do a lot of walking day to day. I literally get in the car, drive to a school/ student’s house, teach then drive back home. I run 5k twice a week. (You can read about my running antics here.)

So, I popped my pedometer on and walk I did.

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Things that surprised me: 

  • My pedometer doesn’t work very well. It told me my 5k run was 4.5km and got stuck on around 8,000 steps whilst I was walking on the spot in front of the TV.
  • 10,000 steps is a LOT. It’s essentially an hour of walking each day.
  • It’s hard to fit that amount of walking in during a working day. I had to work round it by walking on my lunch breaks and walking up and down the stairs in the house, and on the spot in front of Netflix in the evenings.
  • I actually felt happier and less stressed for walking throughout the week.

Things that made me laugh:

  • The little dancing celebratory man on the pedometer who pops up when you hit 10,000 steps.
  • Walking around Headingley on one lunch break thinking “fantastic! Clever old me for getting my steps up” and then realising I’d forgotten to put the pedometer on that morning.
  • Demanding that Tom came for a walk one evening as I hadn’t made up my steps and then walking to the pub thus cancelling all health benefits.

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(Looking gimpy whilst stomping round and round my local park during a downpour)

Moving forwards:

I’d like to add more walking to my daily routine. I love how it boosted my mood and reduced my stress levels. I also slept better throughout the week. However I won’t be wearing the pedometer anymore – it made me feel a bit pressured. Also, I need to find some new walking routes!

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Travel bucket list

Alongside my 25 new things before I turn 25, I’m also beginning to accumulate ideas for what I actually want to do and achieve whilst we’re away. Exciting stuff! Here’s my bucket list so far, scattered with photos from my instagram page. Feel free to give me a cheeky follow, I’m a newbie!

Disclaimer: most of these things are really stereotypical and probably won’t happen.

New York, New York!

  • Twirl around, getting in everyone’s way in Times Square listening to Frank Sinatra on my iPod. (predictable but a must.)
  • Get vertigo on the way up the Empire State Building.
  • Visit the ground zero memorial. (interestingly we will be flying out of NYC on September the 11th 2015)
  • Have a look at Central Park
  • Try some monstrous Man Vs Food style meals.

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(Here’s me looking moody whilst exploring the Roman theatre in Orange, Southern France)

Los Angeles

  • Find the Hollywood sign and pose by it moronically.
  • Visit the Walk of Fame.
  • Universal Studios? (Unsure if we will have time)
  • Have a perve on the skinny brown beautiful people on the beach. (snort)

 

Hawaii

  • Climb a big volcano!
  • See a Hawaiian sunset.
  • Frolic in a grass skirt, coconut boob combo.

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(Casually riding a came across the Sahara)

Fiji

  • Scuba diving
  • Laze around getting drunk on the beach on my twenty fifth birthday!
  • Read a lot
  • Get a bit of a tan
  • Pretend to be Tom Hanks in Castaway

New Zealand

  • Bungee jump (eek)
  • Sky dive (brown trousers are packed)
  • Find a job (yawnsies)
  • Celebrate mine and Tom’s fifth anniversary.
  • Go on big walks looking for kiwis and possums.

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(At my happiest – eating. Marrakech, Morocco.) 

It’s so hard to predict what I will be doing. But it’s so exciting! I’m open to suggestions, so feel free to comment if you have any ideas. 😉 Happy Friday everyone.

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New thing 5) Take a week off social media

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a complete social media addict. Current addictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Obsessively checking my email.

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As part of my 25 new things before I turn 25, I decided to give up social media for a week.

I began by deleting all the offending apps off my phone and iPad. I also cleared out my email inbox which had over 3,000 unread emails. That little red notification sign was making me feel stressed and I felt much better in having a clear out and unsubscribing from the ridiculous amount of spam I received daily.

Something that surprised me: I felt a lot calmer in my week away from Facebook. Scrolling through Facebook feels like an information overload. In getting rid of it, I actually had a clearer mind and more time to think.

Something gross: When I sat on the loo I found myself reaching for my phone to check Facebook, Tumblr, etc. etc. Yuck! That habit has now been culled. Next time I post a Facebook update I’ll always wonder who is reading it whilst sat on the pooper.!

Spare time: I felt like I had a lot more spare time throughout the week. I channelled this into reading more (surprise surprise) and also working on this blog.

How it changed my concentration: When watching Netflix in the evenings with Tom, I realised I no longer feel so confused and have to ask what’s going on. My concentration had improved because I was no longer constantly checking notifications. I also had better conversations and listened more intently when I wasn’t glued to my phone screen throughout the week.

Moving forward: After the week was up, I reinstalled Facebook on my iPad. I felt glad to be back, but immediately annoyed by the time I wasted on there. I no longer have the urge to transcribe my daily life into status updates. I’ll be keeping my phone social media free!

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New thing 4) go to a yoga class

As part of my 25 new things before I turn 25, I attended a beginner’s yoga class yesterday.

I payed my fee online (12 quid for ninety minutes) and shuffled up the road to Kula Yoga in Chapel Allerton after I’d finished my morning teaching work.

There were twelve attendees in the class, plus our lovely teacher, Claire, who was really helpful.

We began with some breathing and warming up exercises and then went into a few basic postures.

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Something that surprised me: Some of the moves were really hard. The above is ‘downward facing dog’ which made my arms and legs shake with the effort. I woke up the following day with achey muscles in my shoulders and legs.

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Something that made me laugh: At the end we lay on our mats, covered with a blanket with a bean bag over our eyes. We listened to calming music whilst we received a shoulder massage. This was one of those situations where I know it would be really inappropriate to laugh, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Miranda:

Would I do it again? I’m eager to start doing some sun salutations in the morning to wake up my body. But in terms of general exercise, I’m going to stick with my running. There was a bit too much lying about on the floor for my liking!

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New thing 3) Learn about flight Co2 emissions

Before the age of eighteen, I had only flown once. Since then I’ve flown each summer for a holiday.

In September we’ve booked our first leg of flights for our round the world trip:

Manchester-Rekyjavik-New York

New York – Los Angeles

Los Angeles-Honolulu (Hawaii)

Honolulu- Nadi (Fiji)

Nadi-Auckland (New Zealand)

That’s five flights. And that’s only the first half of our trip. After New Zealand we’ll most likely fly to South East Asia via Australia.

The above makes me feel understandably excited, but as a resident of the planet, I’m horrified by the carbon emissions.

According to UN statistics:

“CO2 emissions generated directly from the tourism sector account today for 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions but this may be higher (up to 14 per cent) if measured as radiative forcing, i.e. the warming caused by CO2 as well as other greenhouse gases. To understand the magnitude of these numbers it should be noted that if we compare tourism with the emissions of countries, tourism would be the 5th bigger polluter worldwide.”

We need to be conscious of our our carbon footprint whilst we are away…

This is what we will do:

1) Use local or public transport wherever possible. We will be biking and walking as much as we can whilst we are away. We’ll avoid hiring cars where public transport is possible.

2) Invest in carbon offsetting. There are many projects that counterbalance the emissions from flights, such as tree planting.

3) Travel light. We will take one rucksack each that we can ourselves carry.

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