Celebrating | Winnie the Pooh Day!

Guys: it’s here. The first OFFICIAL celebratory day of the year (pfft, in my world anyway) (let’s face it, Blue Monday was hardly fun, right??). Get it in your diaries: it’s Winnie the Pooh Day.

I’ll just let the importance of this day sink in for a minute.

I’m sure for many of us, Winnie the Pooh was a HUGE part of our childhoods. I know I was always unbelievably jealous of my baby sister’s Winnie the Pooh nursery! With such a beloved character, I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate his special day…

Not going to lie, I had sooooo much trouble thinking of some way to celebrate WtP Day. I was planning on a little Disneybound, but then I realised that a) I’m at work all day (stupid staff meetings grrrr), and b) YOU CANNOT BUY YELLOW TROUSERS. It’s simply not possible! Then I thought about buying some Winnie merchandise, but couldn’t find anything at last minute… also, it feels kinda like a frivolous waste of money. Just saying.

In the end I went with the adage that sometimes DONE is more better than PERFECT BUT NOT DONE, and decided to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day more simply and practically – with a WtP inspired breakfast. Nom.

Winnie’s Hunny Smoothie
Serves 2

1 Large Banana
30g Oats
50g Greek Yogurt
190ml Milk
2 tsps Honey
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Ice Cubes

Ummm… blend. Pour. Drink.

The best part is that this smoothie makes two servings, so you can either share it, or… just enjoy a portion when you get home from work. And yes, it does taste best when drunk from a jar, in front of your Winnie the Pooh DVD, in your Winnie Pjs, snuggling your Eeyore teddy. Just FYI.

 

How would you celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day???

Blue Monday | 10 Comforting Reads to Cheer You Up on the Gloomiest Day of 2017!

Following on from Friday’s comfort food post, I thought I’d share another way I’m combating the general misery of Blue Monday – and of course, books are involved.

These 10 reads are a mixture of the books I find myself turning to again and again, in times of need and comfort – and a few brand new gems that I CANNOT wait to discover! These are books that are cheerful, unstressful and not particularly challenging – as always, if that’s not your cup of tea then IGNORE ME. You do you!

But, if you are interested in some low-stress, happy-boosting reads, put these in your Blue Monday/any miserable day arsenal – I don’t see how they could fail to cheer anyone up!

 

1. This is KIND OF a cheat because I haven’t actually read it yet, but I’m going to kick things off with Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive. I feel like this could go either way – it’ll either be really inspiring, or… I might end up curled on the floor, terrified that I have depression.

2. Even the grumpiest of gloomy days can be perked up by Paris, right?? I really didn’t expect to be including this on any lists, but lately I’ve found myself reaching for Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. EVEN THE NAME IS GLORIOUSLY PERKY, right?? And there’s so much Paris and romance and loveliness… Probably not one to read if you’re unhappily single/have a boyfriend who’s just left for the army and feeling lonely, though…

3. For non-fiction lovers, try The Happiness Project. I’m not usually a fan of NF (I find them too dry and waffley), but this is a pretty easy read and has some useful advice on how to make room for more fun and joy in your day-to-day life. The underlying message is that happiness depends on your choices, which I think is important.

4. If you’re fed up of cold, miserable weather, you should definitely try Emmy & Oliver. This YA novel – set in sunny California – is a firm favourite of mine, and is PERFECT for invoking some happy summer time feels. Expect surf, kisses and frapaccinos. What more could you want??

5. I couldn’t write a list of comfort reads without including something by Rainbow Rowell, and my top cosy read of hers has to be Fangirl. Oh… just… this book. It’s comforting and loving and like reading a warm cuddle from someone who understands my anxious, nervous heart. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

6. For something a little more ‘grown up’, there’s Marina Kegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness. I got this for Christmas a few years ago and absolutely bloody loved it – Marina’s essays are touching and so beautifully written! I’d probably recommend waiting for a more cheerful day before you tackle part two though… most of the short stories are bittersweet at best; downright sad at worst.

7. You GUYS!!! I found a Jojo Moyes novel that DOESN’T make me blub like a baby seal! One Plus One is probably one of my favourite of Moyes’ novels – I know some people feel that the story (of a struggling mum and the single man she commandeers to drive her family to Scotland) is too simple, and dare I say it, insta-lovey, but personally I LIKE that. On a miserable day I want a novel I can read and enjoy and NOT stress about. I want to feel like the world’s a good place, you know?

8. Another non-fiction entry for you: Spectacles is a light-hearted, rambley read by a down-to-earth celebrity. I’m not usually a fan of biographies (auto or otherwise), simply because I… pretty much just don’t care about stranger’s lives. (You know, unless they’re made up characters, in which case I WILL OBSESS OVER EVERY LIFE CHOICE. #fangirl!) I DO love Sue Perkins though, and her memoirs are infused with her signature charming, snarky humour, which is lovely.

9. On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. This sugary sweet story can seem quite juvenile at times, but it’s so cute I’ve always been able to forgive it. Expect food, families and smiles galore!

10. And if all else fails, just know that there are seven Harry Potter novels (let’s just ignore The Cursed Child, shall we??) waiting to perk you up!

 

What are your go-to comfort reads? And what have you got lined up to read on Blue Monday??

Blue Monday | I Made You Some Soup (Feel Loved…)

It’s Blue Monday  tomorrow (aka the most miserable day of the year), and I for one am FEELING IT. The weather is cold, dark and damp; we’re WEEKS from payday and my post-Christmas health kick is starting to weigh me down. Oh, and my boyfriend has just left me to join the army, and even though I knew it was coming, it has hit me hard.

Hooray.

BUT. Instead of moaning and moping (usually my specialities!), I’m trying so hard not to complain. In the spirit of Celebrate!, I’m trying to find ways to look forward to National days of importance… yes, including the bad/sad/miserable ones. I can’t change the weather, or bring payday any closer (although technically I could because I’m now in charge of pay at work, but we’ll gloss over that…), or stop my boyfriend from following his career dreams. But I can at least take some steps to cheer myself up.

First up, food!

I thought LONG and hard about this recipe. (Yeah, picture me in my snuggly corner poring over EVERY SINGLE cookbook that line my bookcase. It was fun and of so indulgent!) I wanted something that felt indulgent, warm and comforting, but was still *relatively* healthy. I wanted a meal I could cook quickly after a long shift, or at least one I could prepare in advance. I wanted a lot of things, and it seemed a rather impossible task to balance them all together in one meal.

BUT I HAVE DONE IT AND IT IS MAGICAL AND WONDERFUL AND YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS ON JANUARY 16TH, okay?? It’s imperative for your happiness.

So, without further ado, I present to you… Spiced Butterbean and Tomato Soup. It’s quick. It’s brightly coloured. It’s at least two portions of your five-a-day. It’s vegetarian (but add some chorizo and you will be in meat-eater Heaven, I tell you). It’s hearty, but can be made heartier by portioning a serving into a mini roasting pan and topping with a layer of puff pastry (mmmmmm). It’ll do you for dinner on Blue Monday, AND there’ll be leftovers for lunch for days.

Nom nom nom.

Spiced Butterbean and Tomato Soup
Serves 4

1 Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 tin Butterbeans
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
Paprika, Chilli/Chilli Flakes to taste (I used about 1 tsp each, but then I’m a spice lover)
1 Big Handful Spinach

To Serve:
Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche
Crusty Bread

Dice the onion and garlic cloves as finely as possible. Try not to cry. Heat a tiny bit of oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onion and garlic on a low heat until soft – about 5 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent browning. Drain the butterbeans then add to the pan. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, then half fill the empty tin with water and add to the pan too. Add the herbs and spices, stir through and then leave to bubble until the butterbeans are cooked (5-10 minutes). Add the spinach and leave to wilt for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Serve hot, with your choice of toppings.

 

What’s your favourite comfort meal? Also, any if any army wives/girlfriends could give me tips on how to get through my loneliness, that would be great. 

Five Years

Five whole years.

Five years of fun and joy. Five years of stress and anxiety, of trials, of sorrows, of comfort and reassurance. Five years of laughter and love.

Five is a lot of years when you’re young. It’s a quarter of my sister’s life. It’s three years at uni, two years living with family, and six months in our own home.

Five years of kisses and interlocking fingers. 1827 days of dimples. I’m happy o have seen (and caused) them so often.

Five years of you knowing me more than I know myself. Five years of understanding my triggers and calming my symptoms. Five years at my side, making me believe in myself. Five years believing I could rattle the stars.

Leaving my Bookish Comfort Zone in 2017

For the last two years, I’ve set myself a reading target of 100 books. Given that I work full time, AND have a minor (and very reluctant) social life, AND have a house that is constantly in need of decoration, AND have other hobbies, I always feel like 100 books in 366 days should be a challenge.

Except it never is. Last year I read 170 books, on top of all that stuff going on ^^. BUT but but… I don’t feel like I read anything particularly challenging… or new… or even great. I mean, you have NO IDEA how long it took me to come up with suggestions for this post…!

And then I stumbled upon Vivatramp’s post, and found a whole new challenge of 40(!!!) mini challenges. All of which take me right out of my bookish comfort zone.

So for 2017, this will guide my reading. That’s the plan, anyway!

A translation | An underhyped read | A book that reminds you of home | A book from someone else’s shelves | Your favourite book | A library book | The book that makes you laugh the most | The book that makes you cry the most | A classic | A modern classic | A book you want to hand down to someone | A book you got as a gift | A charity shop purchase | A childhood favourite | A book you pretend you’ve read | A book over 500 pages | A novella | A book you bought for study but never read | A book someone else picks out for you | A book with a cover in your favourite colour | A book that has been left unread for far too long | A recent purchase | A book you bought due to a book blogger | A book from your favourite genre | A book from a genre you haven’t really explored yet | A book with a beautiful spine | A book that has a movie adaptation | A book that reminds you of a song | A book with the ugliest cover you own | A book with the oldest publication date | A book with the most recent publication date | A book that features illustrations or pictures | A book that you believe should be on the curriculum | A book set locally to you | A book you can’t remember much about | A book with a colour in the title | A book with a strong female lead | A hardcover | A collection of stories | A book you’ve started but not finished |

So far in 2017 I’ve only scratched off one challenge – a collection of stories – but the collection is bloody enormous (we’re talking over 1000 pages of Victorian crime drama!), so I’m not too bothered by that. I’ve been working my way through the entire works of Sherlock Holmes, which are just the most lovely, comforting, suspenseful-at-times reads. Gah, I LOVE THEM!!!

 

What have you been reading in 2017? Did you set yourself any reading challenges?? Why?

Thank You Cards

When I was a child, my Mum always made me write thank you cards. It was polite, she’d tell me. To express gratitude for something. It was polite, and something that children needed to do, but that grown ups didn’t.

Irritated by this – and by the fact that my sister NEVER had to write the cards because her handwriting was too messy – when I became a grown up I stopped writing thank you cards.

Well, that’s not exactly true… I wrote thank you cards one year, but my boyfriend laughed at me for being quaint, so I stopped. I stopped for years. I rang people to thank them sometimes, but even then, it wasn’t often. Kind people would help us or give us thoughtful gifts, and while I always appreciated it, I didn’t usually acknowledge it. And the more that went unacknowledged, the guiltier I felt… to a point where I just stopped thinking about it.

When we bought our house, our families were so generous. One of my relatives – a woman who had helped my Mum when my Dad left; who was fighting cancer and raising her own daughter by herself after the death of her husband; who I hadn’t seen for years – sent us a voucher. And I bought a thank you card. But getting to the post office proved a bit of a hassle, and then I had no stamps, and then I couldn’t find a good enough pen…

The letter never got written. And in November, that relative lost her battle with cancer and died.

I’ve been so lucky. Death hasn’t really touched me before, and certainly not in such a personal way. But I will never let things go unsaid for fear of feeling silly. My boyfriend’s family might not believe in thank you cards, but I do. I believe in expressing love and gratitude and appreciation. And if that’s something that costs a few stamps, or a cramping hand, or two minutes being added to my commute so I can drive by a post box, then that’s fine by me.

 

So… what are your thoughts on thank you cards?

Things to Look Forward to in: January 2017

In light of my word for 2017, I decided to shun the old To Do List post and bring in a list of wonderful things that will happen this month. I hope you like it!

New Year, New Goals

Project 365 | Project Life |  Reading Challenges

I don’t know why I associate a new year with a lifestyle change, but I do… which generally means it’s time for projects galore! Seeing as how my goal for 2017 is to document and celebrate as much as I can, I can’t wait to get recording using my Project Life kit (it’s been sat untouched for nearly 18 months now… naughty!!). To go alongside the whole scrapbooking thing, I’m also going to attempt a photo-a-day project (Project 365). I’m not expecting to actually take a photo every. single. day. – mostly because I live in the UK and it’s dark and the light is terrible and my poor perfectionist heart can’t cope with that – but I’ll give it my best shot.

January is also the time to start a new reading challenge! I always set myself a Goodreads target, and this year I’ll be sticking to my usual goal of 100 books –  even though I read nearly double that last year! I just don’t want to put pressure on myself, and *whispers* I’m actually trying to ween myself off of using books to escape reality. I am on the look out for another 2017 reading challenge though – maybe something that will increase the variety/type/genre of books I read? – so if you know of any, leave a link!!

Celebrations

Blue Monday (16th Jan) | Winnie the Pooh Day (18th Jan) | Squirrel Appreciation Day/National Hug Day (21st Jan) | Burns Night (25th Jan) | Chinese New Year (28th Jan) | 

Why yes, I have included Blue Monday (i.e. the most depressing day of the year) as a celebration. There’ll be quite a lot of change going on in my life around that time, and I think it’s all too easy to get sucked into misery… I’m hoping to counteract any gloominess that Blue Monday brings by seeing it as the perfect excuse to indulge!

Aside from that, January hosts the utterly adorable Winnie the Pooh and Squirrel Appreciation days, which I CANNOT wait to celebrate… there may be themed outfits and everything! On the more cultural side (which of course I associate with FOOD), there’s also Burns Night and Chinese New Year to look forward to – I’m already planning out some feasts!

Personal Highlights

Anniversary | Ellen’s birthday | Grandad’s birthday | 

January has always been a busy month for my family, because it’s both my sister’s and my Grandad’s birthdays (+ assorted uncles and aunts). Weirdly, it’s also my boyfriend’s Grandad’s birthday THE DAY AFTER my Grandad’s (mine is one day older) which always makes me smile, because they’re absolutely chalk and cheese!!

On a slightly more personal note, it’s our fifth anniversary in January, which feels like a particularly important one (at least, that’s what I told my boyfriend… hint, hint!). We won’t be celebrating it on the day, since that coincides with his FIRST DAY IN THE ARMY!!! (yes, he got in. FINALLY!), but I’m sure we’ll do something the week before… maybe we’ll even have a little party!

2017 | Goals and Word of the Year

It may sound cheesy, but 2017 is the year I want to celebrate EVERYTHING. Every. Single. Thing. I want to throw birthday parties for my loved ones. I want to spread the love for my favourite things. I want to document each and everyday for the joy that it brings. I want to throw myself into every holiday/event. I work with children everyday, and I want to emulate their sense of wonder. I want to ENJOY this year, but I also want to feel like I’ve experienced it. I want to be able to look back on December 31st 2017 and be able to say ‘yes. I LIVED every single day this year.’

Love Fiercely
I’ve already filled my diary with IMPORTANT dates (you know, like World Nutella Day and Harry Potter’s Birthday. Essential things.). I have a stock of balloons and cards and BEAUTIFUL wrapping paper (is it wrong to frame wrapping paper??) so I can make the most of my loved ones’ special days.

Explore More
You know that saying, ‘when was the last time you tried something for the first time?’ (I can’t work out where that question mark should go… grammatically it should go inside the quotation mark, but aesthetically that upsets me…)? I want to live a life where I DON’T need to feel ashamed/guilty/boring about how long it takes me to even THINK of a new experience. I want to try things and step outside of my comfort zone sometimes. And maybe not have a ready list of excuses at all times, too!

Document
If you’re an old-time follower of TQP, you’ve probably noticed my transition from babbling on about books to being much more life-style focused. While it may not be to everyone’s tastes – and certainly isn’t always the most INTERESTING life in the world! – to me, recording and sharing things has a special kind of magic to it. It’s ALMOST a pictures-or-it-didn’t-happen mentality, but with less pressure and more… taking time to notice and record. My boyfriend won’t be living here for part of the year, so I want to keep a record to let him know what’s going on with me, while he’s busy doing his stuff.

Invest in Myself
Particularly in terms of health and wellbeing, I basically do not give a sh*t about myself. Which is kind of heartbreaking, really. I just… don’t care enough to go through the ‘chore’ of looking after myself – I’d rather eat something nutritionally unbalanced than spend 15 minutes cooking myself a good meal, even though it makes me feel crappy. BUT WHY DO I DO THAT??? In 2017, I really want to start investing time, energy and, yeah, maybe a bit of money in myself. If it makes me feel good, why not??

 

What are your goals for 2017? Do you have a word of the year?

 

#Project366 | 366 Days Later

So I failed. I didn’t complete all the goals. To be honest, I never really expected to.

My goal list was initially created in an attempt to make me broaden my horizons, but I’m not entirely sure it worked. I got so caught up in the easily attainable goals that I didn’t really try for anything time consuming/more expensive/more challenging. It wasn’t all bad though – it did drive me to visit more new places and read more! Anyway, here’s what I DID manage to achieve:

Re-ordered my book case. | Drank a green smoothie. | Gave up Coke for a month! | Shared one MASSIVE book haul. | Ran for 20 minutes straight. | Read The Raven Cycle. | Took the boyfriend out on a date (our fourth anniversary!) | Wore dungarees. | Baked brownies. | Took part in 6 reading challenges. | Baked a showstopping birthday cake! | Drove somewhere new. | Bought a bottle of prosecco, and drank it in the bath tub. | Celebrated my blogiversary. | Read 1_Classic novels. | Updated my bio and About Me page! | Made truffles | Made breakfast in bed | Made a Nutella latte. | Visited Bath. | Had a meal in an expensive restaurant. | Re-read the Harry Potter series. | Tried green tea. | Wrote a freelance business plan. | Received an unsolicited eARC offer. | Gave up Costa for a month! | Took part in a month long instagram challenge. | Created an editorial calendar for March. | Made a TBR jar. | Bought a Ted Baker make up bag. | Dressed up as Wendy for World Book Day! | Cleaned out my car. | Used a face mask. | Gave myself an Easter-inspired manicure. | ‘Baked’ Easter nests. | Hosted my own reading challenge. | Read more than 20 books in one month. | Set up a ‘services’ page. | Gave up sweets for a month. | Spring cleaned my wardrobe. | And my underwear draw. | Accidentally had a no spend weekend. | Re-read Fangirl. | Visited Cirencester. | Read 10 retellings. | Invested in an eye cream. | Read a new to me Charles Dickens novella. |  Read a book with over 700 pages. | Baked a cheesecake. | Took a sick day off work. | Visited Marlborough. | Bought something from Miss Selfridge. | Visited Oxford. | Visited 3 new-to-me cities. | Went somewhere just to take photos. | Played in the park. | Exercised in the park! | Wore shorts. | Went on a hike. | Ran a 5k race. | Raised money for charity. | Made chocolate bark. | Received 3000 page views in 1 month. | Baked cinnamon buns. | Blogged everyday for 1 month. | Made muffins. | Wrote spine poetry. | Tried 12 Lush products. | Made a mug cookie! | Reached 500 instagram followers. | Walked the dog. | Spent (part of) an afternoon drafting blogposts in a cafe. | Hula hooped! | Dyed my hair. | Had a picnic! | Invested in new underwear. | Made strawberry ice cream. | Picked berries and made jam. | Wrote blackout poetry. | Made a raw dessert. | Made salad in a jar. | Took new headshots. | Ran with Paulie Bear. | Beat my 2015 pages read on GoodReads. | Washed my car. | Had a barbecue! | Watched a Harry Potter marathon. | Finished (unsuccessfully) Camp NaNo. | Found the best coffee chain hot chocolate. | Spent an afternoon in the library. | Created a cleaning schedule. | Painted MY ENTIRE HOUSE. | Made salted caramel hot chocolate. | Wore cat ears. | Visited a farmer’s market. | Went to a food festival. | Invested in a new make up brush. | Went on a hot chocolate date. |  Visited Harry Potter Studios. | Bought a souvenir. | Bought myself a special piece of jewellery! | Reached 500 followers on TQP! | Made pizza . | Completed a 3 day detox. | Gave away all my unwanted books. | Had a no-spend week. | Baked cupcakes. | Cooked a three course meal. | Bought a big candle and burned it to the ground. | Baked a pie. | Watched a Disney marathon. | Made a homemade Graze box. | Cooked one recipe from all of my cookbooks! | Painted a space marine. | Made a blanket fort! | Disneybound-ed! | Wore pink lipstick. | Started a self love journal. |  Created my own instagram challenge. | Sewed something by hand. | Started a happiness journal. | Created a recipe journal. | Completed 30 Days of Yoga. | Watched a Sherlock marathon. | Created a Tumblr room decoration. | Dressed up for Halloween. | Completed 6 reading challenges. | Took part in a 24 hour readathon. | Read a new-to-me Charlotte Bronte novella. | Tried all of the festive Costa drinks. | Finished my mindfulness workbook. | Sketched something. | Bought a new Disney DVD. | Watched fireworks. | Made mincemeat. | Made mince pie bircher. | Completed an ecourse. | Updated TQP’s header. | Had a day out with my Mum. | Had a day out with my sister. | Finished the The Mortal Instruments series. | Bought a new Disney toy! | Made a (sort of) gingerbread house. | Reached TBR Zero (aaaaahhh!). | Made Christmas inspired foods. | Cooked a new recipe from a cookbook every month. | Had a Lush bath every month. | Hosted a brunch party. | Wore a Christmas jumper. | Did a Christmas-themed photoshoot with the dog. | Watched The Hobbit. |

OH AND I BOUGHT A  HOUSE. Probably shouldn’t overlook THAT achievement…

 

So, you know. Not too bad…

Having said that, even though my Project 366 was a failure, in some ways it was successful. It highlighted the things that actually mean something to me. At the start of 2016 I really wanted to get in to fitness, and while that’s still a working process, I’ve discovered that I don’t actually CARE about getting into fitness. Yes I’d like to be healthy, but exercise classes and green juices just aren’t what I want in my life. I want runs when I’m restless, yoga when I’m restful. I want nutritious meals that don’t mean denying OR unnecessarily my body. I want time out to think, journal and colour. THEY are my health and wellbeing goals, not running a half marathon or exercising daily. My Project 366 has given me a better understanding of who I am and what I want from life, and THAT is something to be grateful for.

 

Would you ever be tempted to try a project like this??

Blogmas #24: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Sorry for the later post today, we’ve been busy hosting! I invited both mine and PB’s families over for a Christmas afternoon tea get together, which was so lovely – and not even that stressful, to be honest.

Anyway, I figured I’d share a few photos from today with you…

 

 

… All that’s left now is to wish you all a very happy Christmas!!!

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