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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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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My Favourite Audiobooks of 2019

Wednesday 25 March 2020

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Image of audible book the name of the wind on a spotted sheet

2019 was the year that I REALLY got into audiobooks. I had tried the 30 day free trial on Audible a few times but it wasn't until a friend recommended the below, and I was in a job with a long commute that I started to really appreciate audiobooks and became a member. So yes, March is very late to discuss a 2019 faves but with these free evenings, I am finally getting time to blog again. It is also the perfect time for people to take up listening to audiobooks, especially with free audible for the little kiddlewinks in your life!

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Audible Book Cover  

Narrated by Jot Davies, Stuart Turton's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was an incredible way to dip my toes into the audible waters! At 16 hours and 41 minutes, I thought I'd invested my first credit well and I certainly did! The novel is about a man who wakes up in a body that is not his own but with some of his traits and some of anothers. He is given eight identities and eight days to find out who is responsible for the death of Evelyn Hardcastle and his own destiny. Each identity has their own part to play, knowledge and characteristics and as a mammoth of a book it can take some time grasp each character but when you do it is completely worth it.

Each unique and mysterious character deepens the story and sweeps you in further and further. Moving from creepy scenes to the wilds of the party, there is not a point during The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle where you not second-guessing! I realised I've strayed from the plot but I highly recommend giving this novel a read or a listen!

The Name of the wind Audible Book Cover

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Narrated by Rupert Degas,  Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind was constantly recommended to me for years,  but as a pretty hefty book I just never got round to it. As book 1 in the Kingkiller Chronicles, I knew I would be getting myself into a series that wasn't finished yet, and it still isn't! As I am typically a binge reader when it comes to series I put it off but when I saw The Name of the Wind is one of the audible sales I couldn't resist and at 28 hours and 3 minutes I knew it would fill my work commutes at the time.

Told by the main character Kvothe we are swept into a magical world as we follow the young man growing up in a mortal world interlinked with the fae. A beautiful fantasy novel, I felt the world-building around me, growing with Kvothe's story and his life. But what I found most interesting was that the stories about Kvothe seemed so much more outlandish than the story unveiled before us. Not only did I not want the book to end but I didn't want to leave the world either. I needed to know more about how his life unfolds after, or what was happening in the gaps he wasn't sharing with us, the reader. Luckily I picked up the second book 'The Wise Mans Fear' in a second-hand book shop recently, but I am reluctant to start it until the idea of a published third book is on the horizon!

The Bell Jar Audible Book Cover

The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath

One of my favourite finds of this 2019 was the selection of audiobooks narrated by Maggie Gyllenhall. I have read The Bell Jar numerous times but listening to it with Maggie's ethereal voice brought the novel even closer to my heart. If you are going to listen to one audiobook, I recommend this one.

At a reasonable 7 hours and 24 minutes The Bell Jar, the only novel written by Slyvia Plath follows Ester Greenwood as she embarks on a summer internship at a magazine in New York. The internship begins the downfall of Ester with a series of events that see a decline in her mental health. The novel follows these darkest moments of Ester's life, pushing through various suicide attempts and treatment plans in 1950's America.

The Bell Jar is one of the best things you will ever read and this edition is requisite.

neverwhere Audible Book Cover

Neverwhere, a BBC Dramatisation by Neil Gaiman

Although I LOVE Neverwhere the novel by Neil Gaiman, which I reviewed here. I also love this dramatisation so much I have listened to it multiple times. The story follows Richard Mayhew after he's moved to London when one simple act of kindness gives him the glimpse into another part of London and that changes his life forever. Richard's act of kindness was rescuing a beaten girl named Door from the street of London and letting her recover in his apartment after she declined the hospital for fear of assassins Croup and Vandemar. From then on he is invisible to London, having to search for Door and entering a dangerous new life in London Below.

An urban fantasy story to completely lose yourself in Neverwhere will make sure you never look at London the same way again. Complete with an incredible cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Natalie Dormer and James McAvoy, Neverwhere is 3 hours and 48 minutes of absolute escapism.

the crimson petal and the white Audible Book Cover

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber 

Narrated by Jill Tanner, Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White was the heftiest audiobook I listened in 2019 at 41 hours and 32 minutes and I am so glad I did it. I studied Neo-Victorianism at University and loved the TV adaptation of the novel but every time I went to read it the tiny font put me off. So this audible edition was perfect.

Set in Victorian England the novels tells the tale of two very different women, Agnes and Sugar, with one man in common, William Rackham. Whereas Agnes is the Victorian ideal of a woman Sugar is a confident, well-read prostitute. So as Agnes' health declines and William's fortunes grow it soon becomes that his favourite prostitute becomes his daughter's governess and in turn his live-in mistress. But unfortunately for Sugar it does not all go in her favour...

daisy jones and the six Audible Book Cover

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Another amazing listen with a stellar cast, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a must listen or read! It's 9 hours and 3 minutes felt like seconds as I was enveloped in the story about a fictional rock band from 1970's recording an album. In an almost documentary style the story is told from various members of band, friends and family, circling rumours in truth and showing the roots of creativity.

For me, Daisy Jones and the Six tells of the passion and the people behind art and music and everything that goes into it.

a room of ones own Audible Book Cover

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

I picked up Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own after I saw that it was narrated by the lovely Juliet Stevenson. The book fell blissfully in my ears as I listened to it in full one afternoon, with the feminist question of if women can write and if this was a dangerous space for a woman to be in. Woolf drove the question of place, poverty and education with the conception that 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. Reflecting that freedom allows women to write and that although women are sensationalised in fiction it is the patriarchy that limits them in reality.

This extended essay is essential listening.

nigel Audible Book Cover

Nigel: My Family and Other Dogs by Monty Don

Read by the man himself, Monty Don's Nigel, My Family and Other Dogs was my final audiobook but of 2019 and my gosh did it fill my heart with love. At a short and sweet 5 hours and 50 mins I listened to this book on a trip there and back down south to visit my Grandma, and crying on the M1 is not fun! Well, nothing on the M1 is fun.

Monty Don's golden retriever Nigel was an unexpected TV star when he started gaining fans on Gardeners' World and in the novel, Monty explores his deep bond with Nigel and other family dogs in what is very much a pooch-esque memoir. Heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time, every dog lover should read this.

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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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