Favourite albums of 2020

Thursday, 14 January 2021

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I was RUBBISH at listening to new music in 2020, truly rubbish. But what I did listen to I loved. 

Did you ask for this blog post? Nope! Do you care about my favourite albums? Probably not. Has it been years since I wrote about music? 100%.

But as this is my little corner of the internet, and I am fully throwing myself into 2021 with much more intent to embrace new music so with this, I am sharing my favourite albums of the last year, but what did I miss, let me know in the comments.

Touché Amoré - Lament

Each aching word in Lament sits with me, an album contrasting in these powerful lyrics and drums that sit in my chest with incredible sounds underpinned by fleeting moments. Lament filled me with the same all-consuming hell of my own mind that I felt reading The Bell Jar. 

Wherever I sat - on the deck of a shop or at a street cafe in Paris or Bangkok - I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air. 

Lifted from this suffocating sense with these rising punches of life and light, Lament is beautiful.

Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better? 

When I say this album is lit, I don’t mean it in the trendy way that I cannot get away with saying. I mean it like there is this slow-burning angst, a rawness that didn’t sit within It’s Hard to Have Hope. 

When I Die, Will I Get Better? Feels like it comes from the Open Wound of the title track, you’ve got to stay angry but there is an openness, a darkness as if this album is a gift because it feels so personal to listen to. 

Basically - IT FUCKING SLAPS, go listen. 

Gleemer - Down Through

Get lost in all the shoegazey dream vibes with all the emotional lyrics you can hold on to in Down Through. The album has this close authenticity to it, packing intense perception as if you could be in the room with them. 

Listen to it and someone stock it in the UK plz. 

Palm Reader - Sleepless

Hitting hardcore heritage and driving it into exquisite layers of depth, ambience and wilding riffs - Sleepless is a passion project.

It is clear every moment and feeling has been thought about, tracks of texture expanding into vast space whilst curated into form with Mckeown’s lyrics an inspiration to put pen to paper.

It is so easy to skip to known or favourite tracks when listening digitally - do not skip on Sleepless, embrace the album in its entirety. 

For fans of pushing your creativity to the next level. 

Spanish Love Songs - Brave Faces Everyone

The last gig before rona lockdowns, we saw Spanish Love Songs supporting The Menzingers the day Brave Faces Everyone was released.

I really bloody miss singing along in a crowded room with an overpriced pint.

From its repeat plays on release day to today, Brave Faces Everyone has become an escape, finding space in my brain by plugging into it for what 40 mins? You know, to remember what you are thinking about isn’t silly or strange - it’s human.

This is the honesty in every day and that you are not the only one in it. It’s singing your little heart out to lyrics that resonate and rising tracks that sweep you into every upbeat miserable moment. 

Hot Mulligan - You’ll Be Fine

There might be an upbeat miserables theme to 2020 and You’ll Be Fine is an album that is 100% within that. Clinging on to raspy emotional moments and sing-along concerts in my car. 

Caspian - On Circles

THIS ALBUM. I don’t know if I have the words. On Circles grounds me. 

I have no idea what these guys do to music, but I just find myself so within myself whilst listening to them. 

Throwback to having a panic attack whilst they played Sycamore at ArcTanGent festival.

So perfectly crafted, I reach for On Circles in moments of anxiety, calm, creativity and happiness. The album roots itself, so visceral and natural that it feels effortless in its growth. On Circles swelling into this immersive experience that transcends time and trends. 

In all that has happened in 2020, music has took an absolute hit, if you can buy an album, a t-shirt or support their social media, enjoy streams then please do. 

Creativity is essential. Where would be without music? 
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Setting intentions for 2021

Sunday, 3 January 2021

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Recently I reflected on everything I set myself in 2020, and although it was not the year we were all expecting, if I selfishly just look at my own life, I am in a much better space. 

I often think the Amber of 2018 was a completely different person, but I am so proud of how far I have come. 2020 was the year I learned to respect my own boundaries more and as I look back I see growth, strength and positivity. So I am setting intent, not resolutions...

1. Use my energy better, create and write more.

Last night I deleted my dating apps and have come to the swift conclusion I can use that energy in a better way, and if I happen to meet someone then well, that's just swell. 2021 is all about writing for me, focusing my energy in a productive way and I cannot wait to see the outcome. 

2. Continue to work my butt off 

I know I say it enough, but I love my job and cannot wait to throw myself into 2021 to create even more magic. 

3. Write at least one post a month 

This just went tits up last year. So who knows, but I have set this intention for myself and it can only lead to determination. 

4. Move my body more 

I currently have two PT sessions with the incredible Aimee Browes at The Happiness Bootcamp a week but this also comes with amazing classes that I am not as consistent with.

Getting moving helps and I need to remember to do it more.

5. Sleep better 

Last year I set this as I wanted to wake up earlier, but that can only happen if I get any sleep at all. I've said it before that my mental health dictates my sleep pattern and as I continue to put it at the forefront and make it a priority things are slightly improving. 

6. Stop being so self-critical 

Does anyone set bizarre high standards for themselves then beat themselves up about it? NO ONE ELSE KNOWS AMBER SO STOP FRETTING.

7. .Read 30 books

My trilogy-ish for 2021 is The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and I really want to make a dent in my unread bookshelves. 

8. Diversify reading and more non-fiction

We can only better ourselves, and I want to continue to push this with my reading. So any recs hit me up. 

9. Craft more

I have fallen in love with cross-stitch this year thanks to Innocent Bones' incredible kits, they help clear my fuzzy brain and create something beautiful.

10. Treat yourself 

When possible I have realised how much paying my incredibly talented pals to do my hair and nails is making me feel so much better! Never thought I deserved to treat myself and I cannot explain how bloody  lovely it is! Gels done by the talented Gels by Ginge and my beautifully razored hair is by Hand Over Fist Hair 💛

How are you focusing your energy this year? Let me know x

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Reflecting on my 2020 intentions

Saturday, 21 November 2020

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2020 was not the year we were expecting. 

The ever-optimistic Amber wrote these intentions in January without considering what was happening in the world. So I thought I would reflect on what I wanted from this year and where I actually got... 

1. Read 30 books, including Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy

As it stands, I am on book 22 of 30. Although I did absolutely ADORE 'His Dark Materials' I really lost my love for reading in the first lockdown. I lost all ability to concentrate and as much as I missed reading I just could not lose myself in a novel.  

As Autumn hit I started to find myself in books again but I am still nowhere near my target. Do you think I'll make it to 30 come December 31st? Stay tuned for a thrilling update! 

2. I feel like I've finally found my job for life and I intend to work my fucking arse off

I bloody love my job, not only am I proud to say that I am good at what I do but it is ultimately my passion. I get to write, be creative, challenge myself and take risks! All whilst telling brilliant stories for brands and driving search in the process. 

I am the type of person that no matter what you give me, I give it my all and I intend to stay this way. 

3. Write 1 or more blog posts a month

Well, this just didn't happen. 

I have pages of blog posts I want to write but similarly to reading that creative concentration just left me.

I was lucky enough not to be furloughed, but with everything else playing havoc with my mental health - everything I had went into work. 

4. Put more energy into creating and write more

Again, personal creation took a dive. Although craft-wise I made two crochet blankets and SOOOO many wordy cross stitches. So there was some! 

Something INCREDIBLE happened this year. When you start at Rise at Seven you submit a bucket list and once a year we announce a winner who gets to tick something off. One of the things on my bucket list was to finally write and publish a book. 

I won. 

Rise is supporting me in my journey and I hope to share it all with you too. It still shocks me that I won this amazing opportunity and just need to prioritise it! 

5. Make a dent in my unread books

This will forever be on my list. My unread books continually grow - I have a problem with saving beautiful books from charity shops. 

6. Go on more dates

Wow. This one. 

At the time of writing this, our lovely colleague Mark Rofe was setting up his 'Date Mark' billboard, and I was intent on putting myself out in the world too. 

I got tinder. I spoke to a guy who said all the right things, even down to the weird series I was watching, my favourite poem and even my love for malty sleepy beverages.  

We went on a date, dated, went official, lockdown settled and even started looking at places together. Then he ghosted me, among many other things that my little corner of the internet doesn't need. Either way, I put myself out there and I'm glad. 

I'm getting on a bit, my path isn't what I see so many friends following and I need to accept my trajectory is very different.

7. Wake up earlier

Slightly hit and miss. As my mental health dictates my sleeping pattern I feel like this is moot. 

Depressed and I sleep all the time, I cannot be alone with my own brain.
Anxious and I don't sleep. 

So with the resurgence of my hallucinations in lockdown too, waking up is irrelevant - sleep is important.

8. Find the courage to do more public speaking outside of Book Club

Everything came to a halt, and this is something I am still pants at. 

9. Book the tattoos, gigs and holidays I keep thinking about

Holidays didn't happen. But Boston/ Salem and Chicago for my 30th with a dash of My Chemical Romance are still on the cards. If it happens it happens. Taking rona news as it comes. 

In the short music year we had, I was lucky enough to Slipknot, While She Sleeps, Every time I Die, The Menzingers, Spanish Love Songs, Can't Swim and Counterparts. 

If you see any way to support the industry at the moment - do so. Be it buying a shirt or sharing a post. 

Although I did manage to squeeze in a matching tattoo with my soul mate and some finger tats. 

10. Make time for those quick cuppas, brunch dates and days out.

Done a little differently in 2020. 

I miss people, so many kind souls I miss in real life face to face cups of coffee days out. 

The energy I wanted for 2020 may not have come out in the ways I have intended it. But despite everything, it has been a good year. 

When I reflect on things, 2018 & 2019 were very hard years. So I am so full of love to look back on 2020 and see a year of strength, growth and positivity. 

Did you set intentions for 2020? How did they change? I want to know what people wanted for this year and how their priorities changed! 
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Getting organised, stationery haul

Monday, 15 June 2020

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When it comes to organisation I am much more analogue. 

I've always kept a paper diary with a love for a to do list, but when I recently finished my trusty moleskine notebook I started rifling through my stationery to find a new notebook. 

During lockdown i've loved using the Pomodora method alongside my Leuchtturm 1917 diary through my workday but when it comes to my whole life i'm a little useless. So between bullet journals, planner pads, to-do lists and journals I'm hoping I find the best way to clear my brain a little bit more. 

School of life minimalist notebooks

I picked up this beautiful 'minimalist' selection from the The School of Life's notebooks ages ago but have only been utilising one as part of my reading journals. Hopefully I will use these beauties to incorporate more habit tracking or maybe ideas. I've tried using my phone notes for this and it just isn't as satisfying. 

personalised notebook in black

This beautiful little personalised number was a gift from Executive Pens Direct and i've yet to write in it. Does anyone else do this? Notebooks are meant to be used! 

My dad bought me a new fountain pen recently so I think it may be time to treat myself to some ink and start using this beauty. 

teal and red notebooks

This time last year we had the most magical evening at Grimm & Co, an apothecary to the magical based in Rotherham. 

A registered charity supporting young people to build confidence and embrace their creativity and writing, Grimm & Co is a beautiful place for children to escape, be themselves and thrive! 

Grimm and Co shop notebooks

After writing stories, mixing potions and a couple of trips down the beanstalk slide we couldn't leave without a good rummage around the shop. From a pinch of happiness to Grandma's scabs we were in total awe of the place! So it makes me so happy to be flooded with every spark of imagination in the that place whenever I look at these notebooks. 

fable and black to do list

A gift from a friend and a Harry Potter quote that 100% reflects my life, a time turner to-do list is the perfect addition to my stationery selection. This beaut is from Fable and Black who often features in my pin collection too! 

These two final beauties I bought with aim to split my priorities up, focusing on positives on a weekly and daily basis as well as personal habits, tasks and goals. Helping me to break the working from home day up and visualising my output. 

Weekly planner desk pad

This weekly balance desk pad is made by the ever talented Sighh by Polly Levelling up that work life balance as well bringing focus and a little treat! 

daily planner desk pad

Similarly I'm hoping this day pad from The Delicate Rebellion will have a similar effect. I am definitely one of these people who has to get it all on paper and I love the idea of getting into the habit of paying for attention to daily gratitudes. Give me a shout if you're giving new organisation methods ago - I may feed back with which one works best for me. 

Love a bit of a stationery haul? Check out a pastel themed haul here

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Pages: Top 5 Foodie Books

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

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I cannot explain how chuffed I am to introduce this guest post from my talented pal over at Kelham Island Kitchen! Kat is my favourite foodie and she's over here recommending her top 5 foodie books...

foodie books

I am a baker, pastry chef and all-round foodie. When I am not cooking or baking I am thinking about cooking or baking. I have a wide spectrum of cookbooks and books about food in my little flat which are all very well used. 

So get yourself a slightly sweetened coffee and a slice of buttered toast and lose yourself in these wonderful books. 

foodie books ruby tandoh eat up

Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh 

I should probably change the title to Anything by Ruby Tandoh. Ruby first came to my attention on The Great British Bake Off. I have to admit I wasn't a fan of her on the show. Ruby started writing a column for the Guardian newspaper post-Bake Off and I couldn't get enough of her flavour combos. After writing two cookbooks Crumb and Flavour she turned her talents to writing Eat Up! Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want. 

This book is a love letter about food. I absolutely devoured her writing style. The book is about the joy of food. How it is part of our culture, how it needs to be unapologetically enjoyed and what food has become. Encouraging the reader to shun fad diets and calories and enjoy food to the fullest. Ruby released this book among the height of clean eating and is a refreshing change to the constant bombardment of diet culture. 

top 5 foodie blogs the angry chef anthony warner

The Angry Chef by Anthony Warner 

Another myth debunking book here, but I different vein to Eat Up! 

Anthony aka The Angry Chef worked as a Development Chef for many well-known food brands before his blog, The Angry Chef, spiralled him into the spotlight and he became a writer. His aim is to sort the fact from the fiction when it comes to food trends and nutrition. Using his contacts from the food industry he talked to experts to help his readers to understand the science behind the media fads. Anthony's no-nonsense approach and witty writing style make this an easy and informative read, despite it being filled with facts and science. 

top 5 foodie blogs how baking works james morton

How Baking Works by James Morton 

I had to include a baking book in this line-up. How Baking Works is such a fab book for beginner and experienced bakers alike. Explaining the science behind baking with clear basic recipes it is a must-have for any recipe book collection. James gives a basic recipe at the beginning of the chapter then offers variations for the remainder of the chapter. Ranging from sponges to brownies to macarons there is plenty to be experimenting with. 

top 5 foodie blogs the savvy cook

The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack

A wonderful vegetarian cookbook proving that delicious food doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Offering everything from comforting bakes to healthy salads, Izy offers tips and tricks to pack flavour into your recipes. This book is wonderful for anyone wanting to learn how to cook or to eat more plant-based. Izy's cooking style is no-nonsense and easy to incorporate into busy lifestyles. 

top 5 foodie books toast nigel slater

Toast by Nigel Slater 

Toast is Nigel Slater's biography about his life growing up. His childhood is relived through the food he eats. This book follows his boyhood, through adolescence and sexual awakening. Nigel's beautiful writing really shines in this book and it is such a wonderful insight into 1960's England through a little boy's eyes. I love reading about his pre-chef life and how food played such a big role in his life. If you haven't read any of Nigel Slater's books then I recommend that you do. They are so easy to read and the recipes are wonderful. 

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