2019 reading challenge and setting intentions for 2020

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

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Amber carnegie typewriter teeth sexiest seo sat on a sofa

After University I lost my love for reading, I'm not sure if anyone else who studied English feels the same but it took me a while to find my passion for reading again. I knew I was missing finding time for myself and time for reading so in 2018 I decided to take part in the Goodreads challenge and make books a priority again.

In 2018 I set my reading goal as 20 and started a branch of the Oh Comely Book Club in Sheffield which not only brought reading back into my life but also brought bookish friends with it. This alongside taking some time off work for my mental health meant that I exceeded my target and ended the year by reading 25 books.

the familiars book typewriter teeth

Taking this in my stride I set my 2019 goal at 25 and found that setting aside time for myself and reading was making a positive effect on my mental health and also helping me focus. Part of my 2019 goal was to also read over 10,000 pages to make me reach for the bigger books too. Not only did I end the year on 14,312 pages but this meant I also read an amazing 41 books in total. 2019 also saw the end of the Oh Comely Book Club but we decided to continue it and I absolutely love the bimonthly book chats and beers!

Sheffield book club table image peach emma glass

So although we're a few weeks into 2020 you don't need a new year to set intentions and I've set my reading challenge at 30 books but also want to add some more goals for the year...

2020 Intentions 

1.  Read 30 books, including Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy
2. I feel like I've finally found my job for life and I intend to work my fucking arse off
3. Write 1 or more blog posts a month
4. Put more energy into creating and write more
5. Make a dent in my unread books
6. Go on more dates
7. Wake up earlier
8. Find the courage to do more public speaking outside of Book Club
9. Book the tattoos, gigs and holidays I keep thinking about
10. Make time for those quick cuppas, brunch dates and days out.

Temple coffee cups, typewriter teeth blog

These aren't resolutions but more of an energy that I want to drive forward. I feel like I've really focused on my mental health for the past few years and it's time to stop letting it dictate my life by pushing P.M.A and maintaining my own expectations.

Have you set any resolutions or intentions for 2020? I want to know what you want to focus your energy on this year.

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A Bookish Christmas Gift Guide

Thursday, 12 December 2019

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Okay okay, I know that we are well into December by now but there is still time to order for your bookish pals in time for Christmas! Whilst also shopping independent! 

I've compiled plenty of bookish goodies that are destined to put a smile on any book-loving face this Christmas. But if you can think of some more PLEASE let me know, I bloody love supporting amazing independents and their beaut products! Let's keep all this creativity flowing! 

Bookish Pin on TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide
[The Literary Emporium Pin image by Typewriter Teeth]

The beautiful pieces that come from The Literary Emporium never cease to amaze me (and my bank account). From unique pins and stationery to incredible apparel and jewellery The Literary Emporium have nailed it! But even better, if you are struggling with ideas for your bookish gifting then they have incredible gift sets too! I've definitely got my eye on the Virginia Woolf one. 

bookish gift guide
[Image by Books That Matter]

What about the gift that keeps on giving? The guys over at Books That Matter have created the PERFECT present for book lovers - a book subscription box. Each box includes one book, at least three gifts from independent creatives, a crafted menu, and beautiful packaging! What more could you want?

TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide Books
[Nutmeg and Arlo Pin image by Typewriter Teeth]

Nutmeg and Arlo have some of the best pins I have ever set my eyes on, and I love pins! I can never decide which ones I'm going to buy so end up buying for friends too. But it doesn't stop at pins, from phone cases, cards, washi tape, mugs and more you are bound to find not only presents for book lovers but basically anyone with an interest in anything remotely cool. 

TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide  book pin
[Kate Rowland Pin image by Typewriter Teeth]

I am ALWAYS lusting after Kate Rowland's work so you need to as well! Not only does she make this beautiful 'Book Worm' pin from sustainable plywood but she also has the most insane Harry Potter pins including glittery 'Felix Felicis' for when you need a little luck and a perfectly detailed 'Flying Ford Anglia' for when you need to fly to Hogwarts. Her bookish work doesn't end here, from 'Snozzcumbers' to 'Violet Beauregarde' and even 'Bruce Bogtrotter' famously demolishing that chocolate cake, how on earth are you meant to decide?! 

TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide
[Image by Bookish and Bakewell]

I didn't mean for this post to be predominately pins but here we are, there are just so many amazing ones. Bookish and Bakewell are another independent who are just killing it with their geeky pins from the 'must be a Weasley' pin above to amazing Lord of the Rings pins. 

They don't stop there, with stationery, clothes, coasters and stickers I NEED! 

TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide
[Image by Katie Abey]

It wouldn't be a bookish gift guide without an appearance from the talented Katie Abey - Queen of some of the best puns in the business. From pins and badges to mugs, prints and apparel you'll be sure to find something for everyone and yourself! 

But bookish doesn't always have to have a specific book in mind, us book lovers typically love stationery too...

TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide
[Image by Sighh by Polly]

These 'Weekly Balance' planner pads from Sighh by Polly always catch my eye and now I've started a new job I may have to treat myself. Visualising your week in such a creative way can help you plan and manage your time and also prioritise your work, so treat that bookish person in your life! Not only are Polly's pads amazing but so are her tote bags and wall mountras too! I highly recommend having a snoop through her online store. 

TypeWriter Teeth Christmas Gift Guide
[Image by Delicate Rebellion]

If Polly is helping us sort our week out then the Delicate Rebellion is helping us sort our day out, with wonderful illustrations and ranking priorities. So not only have you got something for the stationery loving bookish people but for the organised too! 

I could keep this bookish Christmas gift guide going forever, my Instagram is full of shopping inspo of amazing independents that could fill another guide themselves! But honestly, if you've still got gifts to buy, have a look at the above and get people something with thought, love, uniqueness and most of all bookishness! 

*None of the above are sponsored or gifted, I just bloody love them*
*Not all the above images are my own - if you need the captions changing just drop me an email amber@typewriterteeth.co.uk*

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Pages: 'How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford | Gifted

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

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How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

You may or may not know that I have a little bit of a love for gin, I think it might be hereditary but it also comes down to a couple of years in marketing at True North Brew Co, makers of Sheffield Dry Gin. 

Before I worked there I enjoyed gin but in the surge of the gin boom not only did I learn a lot but I loved a lot! So when I was offered a copy of Sue Telford's 'How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' I couldn't resist. 

gin botanicals

With the gin boom came an onslaught of gin and gin themed books mostly filled with cocktails and the odd fact. 

What is brilliant about Sue's 'How To Drink Gin' is that her passion for the spirit really comes out. The book takes you through what gin really is and all the unique styles available before touching on its history.

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

Chapter 2 then takes you into the botanicals, a section I love! Sue Telford not only takes you through the key gin botanicals but also explains how they pair with each other and sit within our tastes. 

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

This helpful insight doesn't end here, Sue then goes on to debunk all those terms you hear that can make you feel a little out of touch from 'mouthfeel', 'thin legs' and 'the finish' so now you actually know what these words relate to.  With this simple chapter you can feel more confident when tasting gin and secure in your own taste palate. 

gin botanicals

On this ginthusiast's adventure in 'How To Drink Gin' Sue also covers bar tools and glass ware with stunning illustrations before heading into the who's who of mixers and how to garnish like a pro! I loved this section, the steps make them look so simple and I cannot wait to have a go at making some myself. 

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

Ending on a high 'How To Drink Gin' finishes with a collection of cocktails with beautiful photographs that will have you whipping out your bar cart and thinking about a lunch time negroni! 

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

Pick up 'How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' here and take your gin drinking to the next level! 

*gifted book from Red Door Books but all words, opinions and gin drinking are my own
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Sticky Chai Tea Workshop at Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen | Gifted

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

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Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

There are cupboards in my flat dedicated to tea, if you fancy it - I probably have it or have just finished it! So when Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen invited us down to try their Sticky Chai Tea workshop I couldn't wait to have a go at making my own blend and learning more about the brew I love so much.  

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop image of bowls of tea

We were welcomed into their ever beautiful tea bar on Sidney Street in Sheffield to bowls of chai tea and spices perfectly laid out and filling the air and our senses. 

After we were all seated the lovely Rebecca began the session by telling us all about the origins and history of tea and how the differences were reflected in the taste as we tried the pairing teas. I'm not going to dive any deeper with what she told us as i'd love you to find out for yourself but it was so interesting I came out with so many notes and a new found appreciation for my tea collection.

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

After dipping our toes in tea history Rebecca then went on to describe the origins of spiced chai tea and the differences between the dry and sticky blends before taking us through what we would be doing to create our own. 

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Using the Birdhouse Chai blend of Assam tea, cinnamon and ginger as a base to build upon we added as much ginger, peppercorn, nutmeg, turmeric, star anise etc to our hearts content whilst trying our brews to make sure we'd got them right.

It was so interesting to see how every person in the workshop came out with different teas just from the colours of brews to the smells changing around the room. 

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

After we nailed our own blends we transferred these to sealable bags and remade our blend in our jars ready to make our chai tea sticky! 

The beauty of sticky chai is that it helps all the different sized tea and spices blend together better. Typically when tea settles it separates by size, the 'sticky' part helps them come together as they infuse and prevents the tea levelling out this way.  

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

I used agave syrup to make my brew sticky but honey was the go to of the group! A sticky chai makes for a richer flavour and an absolute treat! Just add a spoonful to simmering milk for the perfect winter pick me up! And the syrup! Oh my gosh, drizzle that bad boy on a cake!

You can keep your sticky chai in the fridge and just top it up with your dry mix as you use it up, so we came away from Birdhouse Tea Company with chai for months!

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

My nickname is Bam so I had to name mine 'Bam's Brew' but there were some hilarious names within the group. We had such a laugh whilst learning about tea and creating something unique - I am desperate to do it again maybe for a Hen Party or Baby Shower with a cosy keepsake. 

If you'd like to try your own Sticky Chai Tea Workshop go get in touch with Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen on 0114 327 3695 or drop them an email on hello@birdhouseteacompany.com or just pop in and see them on Sidney Street for food and drink, they're lovely!

*gifted press event from Birdhouse Tea Bar but all words, opinions and chai tea are my own

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Pages: 'Bleaker House' by Nell Stevens

Monday, 28 October 2019

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Nell Stevens Bleaker House

It’s interesting to think what you could do if all you had to do is focus on your biggest passion, Nell Stevens’ ‘Bleaker House’ is a physical representation of that. An investigation into the creative process, location inspiration and everything you thought writing a novel could be. ‘Bleaker House’ is a book about writing a book, with interjections of story…

Nell Stevens Bleaker House

Nell Stevens was granted a fellowship that funded a three month writing residency anywhere in the world and she opted for the solitary and inhospitable Falkland Islands, in winter. As she says herself “I want to know how good at life I can be in a place where there are no distractions,” so plans her trip so she could spend a month in Stanley, the capital searching for material for her novel in the towns archives before flying out to the uninhabited (due to the time of year) Bleaker Island to write it.

Inspired by the island and Charles Dickens Nell Stevens came to title ‘Bleaker House’ and although she did leave with a book it is not the ‘Bleaker House' novel that she envisioned but kept the title anyway all in the name of the difficulty of novel writing.

Nell Stevens Bleaker House

Before leaving she talks of her desperation for time alone, as if it is romantic to find something where there is nothing but she is consistently reminded that she does not do well alone. Stevens return to this is the drilling in that she wants to write and it may take this dramatic trip to achieve it. Almost committing more to the idea of the book than the book itself. But in this desolate choice you become irritated, in her lack of planning and resource for the trip.Yes she packed enough powdered soup and instant porridge to sustain her but I know if I was alone with ninety thousand words ahead of me I’d need much more wine.

Nell Stevens Bleaker House

Interestingly, Stevens did not bring the story together whilst there, and when reading ‘Bleaker House’ it feels like a mishmash of her other fictional and non fiction writing coming together at least year after she return from the trip. Aspiring to be a book but intertwined between a collection of stories and the attempted art of writing a novel. But an art which we know now is much more of a struggle than it is ever imagined, the idea that we all have a novel in us but life just keeps getting in the way.

Reflecting on this and ‘Bleaker House’ I still can’t quite put my finger on the intermittent stories and how they come together. As if an interlinking thread is missing, almost a naivety in that a trip could make Stevens into a novelist and combining a collection of previous work with her telling of the trip could make it a novel. But although it is not the novel she intended, it is something the was created out of strong passion and intention. A stepping stone in her career as a novelist, fighting between boundaries of fiction whilst pushing her own limitations as a writer.

Nell Stevens Bleaker House

Want to read 'Bleaker House' for yourself? Buy it here. 
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