February Feats – What I’ve been reading #3

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe we’re already on episode three of this series. You know what that means? One more episode to go! I genuinely hope you’ve been enjoying the series and checking out the books I’ve been sharing.

I went through my kindle the other day and noticed that I’m a creature of habit when it comes to the books I read. Not only are most of them a particular genre, but if I come across an author that I absolute adore, I’ll read all their books. My top three authors, according to my kindle, are Val McDermid, John Boyne and Cecelia Ahern. It’s a pretty accurate representation of my top three authors.

Lately I’ve been trying to explore other authors and discover new favourites. I think this is reflected in the books I’ve been reading list. It’s definitely a good experiment because I find myself revisiting the author of the books I’ve enjoyed. A prime example would be Michael Robotham. I’ve now read another two of his books and yeah, I’d say they were hits.

Anyways, as usual, I’m digressing. Here’s this weeks what I’ve been reading lately…

  • ‘Lies’ by T M Logan

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This book appeared in a recommendations list that Amazon emails to me every week. I read the synopsis and it gripped me. I sampled the book and the next thing I knew, I bought it.

The book is based on the main character, Joe Lynch, who stumbles across his wife’s car heading into a hotel car park. He decides to follow her and sees her having an altercation with her best friends husband, Ben. She leaves and he follows Ben out and confronts him and there’s a bit of a scuffle and Ben gets knocked out. Joe’s son is with him and he has an asthma attack so they bail to go get his inhaler and leave Ben alone on the ground in the carpark but when Joe comes back later, Ben is gone. And that’s when weird stuff starts happening…

An obvious theme for this book is social media and how easy it is to deceive and hide secrets (and to an extent, discover them) from our loved ones. Technology is another big theme as well. It’s an interesting book and there is quite the plot twist at the end – one that I didn’t see coming at all. I was already convinced in my brain of how the story was going to end but it didn’t go the way I expected it to go. Personally, I felt like the ending in my head would’ve been more interesting than the actual ending BUT that’s just my personal opinion. I’d score this book a 7 out of 10.

  • ‘Ragdoll’ by Daniel Cole

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I remember seeing the cover of this book at Whitcoulls and thinking to myself, I must read it; a very similar scenario to Stephen King’s ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’. So I went home and I downloaded a sample on my kindle and started reading.

I think you may have guessed from the title and the cover that this book is an investigative crime/thriller. It’s centred on Detective William Fawkes aka The Wolf who comes across a gruesome, stitched together corpse made out of six different bodies. So he ends up in a race to try and uncover whom the twisted murderer is before he claims more victims. To top it off, Wolf has his own personal troubles given he’s only recently been reinstated to his role and there’s an ex-wife in the mix.

I was actually quite hooked by the sample so I bought the book. I think I spent like $15NZD? Anyways, after a few more chapters, I think my interest just slowly waned. The premise of it was good and it has a lot of potential but it sort of just dragged on. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Wolf and given he’s the main character and the book revolves around him, it made it difficult to really enjoy the book. It’s like hanging out with someone you don’t like and trying to find ways to like them but then realising and accepting that no matter what, you’re not gonna like them. Again, that’s just my personal opinion.

If you’re a fan of gore and crime thrillers then give this one a go. Don’t let my thoughts influence your decision because I know this book has done pretty well out in the world. It’s also Daniel Cole’s first book and fun fact, he’s an ex-paramedic! I was quite fascinated by that. I score this book a 5 out of 10.

  • ‘Flawed’ and ‘Perfect’ by Cecelia Ahern

I must admit I didn’t read these books recently. The first time I came across ‘Flawed’ was over a year ago and then I read the sequel, ‘Perfect’ mid-last year when it came out. When I finished ‘Flawed’, I was so pissed off to find out that I had to wait a few months for the sequel. But like the good person that I am, I bit my tongue, hit the ‘pre-order’ button, set the release date in my calendar and read other books to fill in the empty space while waiting patiently for ‘Perfect’s release. I think that write-up speaks volumes on what I thought of the book.

‘Flawed’ is a dystopian novel and tells the story of Celestine North, who lives in a society that demands perfection, no matter what. Those that aren’t perfect or considered morally flawed are branded like cattle with a large F in different areas of their body, depending on their crime of imperfection. Celestine lives the perfect life that’s demanded of her society; she’s well-liked by her peers and teachers and she’s dating a popular boy who’s father heads the guild that runs the Flawed system. One day, Celestine makes a decision that sees her getting branded. The first book is about her journey on discovering that the Flawed system is in fact flawed itself. The second book covers her journey to challenge the system and society’s ideas of perfection.

I wanted to bring it up because I thought it was an interesting genre for Cecelia Ahern given that she’s known for her romantic novels or light-hearted reads with sweet endings that teaches you a bit about life. While the book is targeted for younger adults, I think it’s actually quite enjoyable… this is coming from someone in their late-20s. Obviously there was a cliffhanger that kills in the first book so if you’re gonna read it, I suggest you mentally make a note to yourself that you will be shelling out for the second book. This isn’t one of those ‘just read the first one and leave it’ books. So if you like a bit of dystopia and want to escape to a world where you can’t tell if it’s in the past or future or if you should visualise the area as being Ireland (I did based on pictures I’ve seen of Ireland but it looked pretty strange in my brain), then I highly recommend these two books. I score these books a 9 out of 10.

So there you have it folks, this weeks ‘what I’ve been reading’ done and dusted. I hope you enjoy it. I know it’s coming across as a typical Michelle-Rose booklist but I am going outside my comfort zone and reading other genres. In fact, I’ve started reading ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern and I’m aiming to have it done by the time the next list goes up. I have no idea what the genre of this book is or what it’s even about but I’ve heard it’s a good book to read so I thought I’d give it a go. So far, I’m enjoying it.

What are you currently reading?

One month to go

 

Wow I can’t believe there’s about 28 days left until I’m off to London. I remember thinking that it’s so far away and I can’t possibly wait that long but it’s true what they say, time goes by fairly quick.

So how am I currently feeling about the big move? I’m still very excited but of course, the nerves are starting to set as the big day looms closer. I feel like I’m in limbo because there’s so much to do, like notifying Inland Revenue that I’m leaving the country because it’ll affect my student loan, sort out my doctor referral paperwork, get rid of more clothes, sort out exactly what I’m taking especially the unimportant stuff like toiletries, makeup and god forbid nail polish; but it feels like it’s still too early to do all these things. I don’t know if I feel like it’s too early to do these things because somewhere in my brain I just don’t want to because the scared part of me doesn’t want to accept that I’ll be leaving the comforts of home, a job, family and a stable income.

But then the other part of me is like “YO IT’S ADVENTURE TIME AND YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED TO BE LEAVING THE COMFORTS OF HOME BECAUSE THEN YOU’LL GET OUT AND EXPLORE AND SEE AND EXPERIENCE THINGS YOU OTHERWISE WOULDN’T HAVE IF YOU JUST STAYED WHERE YOU ARE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE”. I know that that voice is the right voice to be listening to.

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I’ll be landing in London on 21 March at like 6ish in the morning. I don’t know how my body is going to cope given it’ll probably think it’s NZ time so about 7ish in the evening. I’ll be heading over to my friend Suzie’s place and I’m treating myself to an Uber (scored a 50% off code. Can’t even deal). Perhaps I’ll have a wee nap before getting up and deciding to go on a little exploration adventure… I mean, I kinda do need to find the Asda that’s close by to her place so I can pick up necessities and groceries. I’ll also need to sort out an Oyster card, bank account, work out my bearings… so old I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it but not gonna lie, so excited to be wandering the streets of London AND catching the train and double decker buses.

Anyways, this is what I THINK I’ll be doing… for all I know, I’ll probably spend the day slothing out in her bedroom not wanting to deal with life given the 30+ hours of travel I’ve had to endure. But I’m being optimistic and I’d like to think that I’d be wide-awake and ready to tackle London. Heck, I might even treat myself to an evening at the theatre.

I’ve linked up with Global Career HQ, which is an agency that helps people migrate to various countries around the world. They’ve kindly helped me set up a limited liability company within the UK for if I do any contracting work; they’ve also helped me work my CV so it’s in a suitable format for the UK job market and they’ve introduced me to two recruitment agencies. They’ve organised my meetings with the agencies and with the bank so the following Monday and Tuesday is gonna be pretty jam-packed with meetings and interviews. I’m gonna have fun trying to work out where I need to be and how to get there. But honestly, I highly recommend using their services if you’re a Kiwi or Aussie wanting to move to the other side of the world. Their support and advice has been invaluable and I don’t think I’d know where to start if I didn’t have their help. No they’re not sponsoring this post (although I’m totally open to being a spokesperson haha).

What else, what else…

I’ve put together my own little ultimate packing list as well as a carry-on packing list, which I’ll share once I’m clearer on what exactly is coming with me. Researching how to survive long flights, what to pack, and what to wear and what to bring in your carry-on has been lots of fun. Pinterest has been my go-to and my packing, travel and London boards are filling up pretty quick. Honestly, it just adds to the excitement of the fact that I’m making my dreams a reality.

I’ve also got some upcoming events to look forward to – Flight of the Conchords at the O2, watching Ian McKellen as King Lear at the Duke of York Theatre, lots and lots of food festivals and of course, a weekend in Prague. No doubt once I’m there in London, there’ll be many more trips and activities to book and enjoy.

So yeah, with 28 days left to go, I thought I’d give you guys a quick update on where I’m at and how I’m feeling. I’ll put together a moving series/what I’ve learnt/survival guide once I’ve touched down and worked out what the heck I’m doing.

Do you have any tips on surviving long haul flights? Any must-haves you gotta bring? Have you moved away from home? How’d it go? I’d love to hear them all!

Being motivated to keep fit in the heat

Do you know what I’ve been finding rather challenging lately? Having the energy to keep moving and to be fit, especially after working long hours and coming home to a sweltering hot house. But as humans, we’re designed to keep moving although in this day and age, it’s hard to believe that’s the case since we spend most of our time sitting on our butts, playing games, reading books or binge-watching movies/tv shows.

I used to go on weekend hikes and evening/early morning runs and I’d walk long distances and it never phased me how far or how long it took. But then I stopped for a variety of reasons and then I felt myself getting fatter… and fatter… and lazier… and lazier… and the thought of walking anywhere got my stress and anxiety levels going.

Now I want to change that and get back into the zone and claim my enjoyment for long walks, short runs and weekend hikes because if you’ve read my posts from last year, you would know that I really enjoy these things. Maybe not at the time of doing them, but the satisfaction of reaching a destination or achieving a goal is a feeling you just can’t beat.

There’s also heaps of other benefits to moving and getting out and about – you improve your stamina, burn more calories and it positively affects your mood and mental wellbeing.

It can be extra hard to motivate yourself to move especially in the deep heat (yes I’m talking about you you awful average 23 degree muggy New Zealand heat) so I thought I’d share with you four things that I do to motivate myself to get out and about even though I would rather sit in front of a fan and read a book.

Go for a swim

I think this one is an obvious way to cool yourself down while also getting in some physical activity. I used to hate swimming in summer at the beach just because everyone else had the same idea so parking was a nightmare and finding a decent spot in the ocean within the flags was torture. But now, I just embrace it. And if you live in a place like New Plymouth, there’s more than one beach and the further out the beach is, the less people there’ll be. My favourite beach happens to be Oakura beach, where the waters are usually calm and there’s less people.

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If you’re not a fan of salt water and waves crashing into you, head down to your local pools. The ones in New Plymouth mark down their prices in the evening (I think an hour or two before they close?) which is pretty cool. I’ve never actually swam at our local pools but I know I definitely would if I wasn’t such a fan of the open-air ocean. Feels funny saying that because I’m actually deathly afraid of everything that lives in the ocean…

Evening/early morning strolls

This is my fool-proof way of motivating myself to keep moving. I’m a fan of early morning runs or evening runs because there’s no sun and usually the heat is not so bad. Sometimes it can still be a bit muggy but it’s way more manageable than going in the middle of the day when the heat is in full force. And if you do your exercise in the morning, at least it’s out of the way and you can spend your evenings just chilling and feeling super proud of how productive you’ve been with your time! thumbs up yo

And you also end up catching some incredible shots of the sunset/sunrise. Here’s one I snapped last week on an evening run:

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Go for a wander in the bush

lol that heading made me giggle a little. What I mean is going for a run/walk in a shaded area like a bushy walkway or an area in a park where there’s bound to be heaps of trees.

There’s a walk that I personally really enjoy in New Plymouth. It’s by the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and you can get a good 7km in just walking to Bell Block and back.

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But doing this walk in the scorching heat is a killer because it’s very open and there are no trees to shade you. So this walk is best done in the evenings or early in the morning. For other times of the day, a walk in a place like the Te Henui Walkway or Pukekura Park is ideal because of all the trees that shade you throughout the day. Of course if you’re not from New Zealand, I’ve linked the places above via Google Images so you get an idea of the type of trek those places are. I’m sure there are similar parks/walkways wherever you are 🙂

Get into your active wear

You know how in winter when it’s super cold and wet and you come home and get straight into your PJs because you’ve been miserable and you just want to be warm and comfy? In summer, I usually come home and tear my clothes off and get into shorts and a tee. When I know I need to get out and about, I’ll get into my active wear and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like being in their cosy, comfy active wear?

By being in it, it reminds me that I need to get out and about and get some exercise into my day (FACT: I’m wearing my active wear right now as I’m writing this). Even if I’m in it for a couple of hours before I actually leave the house, it’s one less excuse I’ll have (because apart from “it’s too hot”, there’s “i’m too hot to change into my active wear”).

And if you want to run/walk in the morning but you know you’ll wake up and tell yourself “i can’t be bothered changing into my active wear”, leave your workout gear and shoes somewhere close. Hell, if you need to tie your hair up, make sure you’ve got a hairband around your wrist and have your hairbrush close by. What excuse will you have now?

So there you have it – the top four things that I do to keep moving and motivated during the summer. I’m not saying you should follow these ideas but they’re what I do to make sure “it’s too hot” is not an excuse for not doing any form of exercise or to not fit in at least a 20 minute walk into my day.

There are also other things that you can do to keep moving, such as, joining a class or going to the gym. You can also indulge in the many free workout videos on Youtube and work out in the comfort of your own home (this is something I do as well but not often hence why it didn’t make the list). I’m a fan of being out and about and keeping things very cheap so these things work for me.

By the way, I don’t exercise every day. I do have my lazy days but I try to aim for at least five days a week of movement. Next challenge is definitely going to be making sure I continue to exercise in the winter without using the excuse “it’s too cold”.

What do you do to motivate yourself to exercise during the summer? I’d love to know!

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #2

I know, I know I’m a day late posting this and I’m sorry. There was a death in the family recently, which resulted in Mum having to leave for Malaysia earlier than expected. So I spent Wednesday in a car driving her up to Auckland and then driving back. Today I feel absolutely shattered and I’m ready to crawl into a hole and stay there for a while because I don’t have the energy to deal with life. But life has to go on!

I felt it was necessary to spend as much time with Mum as possible, seeing as there was only 24 hours left with her and with me leaving for London, it would be a couple of years before I saw her again. I was a quivering mess before we even took her up to Auckland but being reminded of the many ways I can keep in touch and the thought of her and Dad spending Christmas with me in the UK next year made me feel a lot better.

So, little life update aside, I hope you’re all doing wonderfully! Seriously, where has the week gone? Feels like only yesterday I was writing up my first ‘What I’ve been reading’ list and posting it.

Anyways, here we go folks, week two of what I’ve been reading…

  • ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green

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To be honest, I bought this book because it was everywhere. In book reviews, book recommendations, hell, even my kindle was recommending it to me. So I thought to myself, I should buy this book because the gods want me to, not because I had any interest in what it was about. In some way, it was like I was being subliminally peer pressured.

The book is based around Aza, a 16-year-old girl who I suppose is a bit troubled. She’s under pressure from her family and friends to be a good daughter, a good friend, and an all-round good person. The death of a prominent billionaire and a reward worth hundreds of thousands of dollars takes Aza and her best friend, Daisy on a wee adventure where they look to solve the mystery of the billionaire’s death. I think this sums up the book.

I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and I wasn’t really engaged in the story but because I had invested time and effort in reading the book, I hit the ‘Buy book’ button when the sample was over (this seems to be a terrible habit I have btw). I think I must’ve paid about $15NZD for the book… which is the most I’ve ever spent on a book on my Kindle. I continued to read it but I wasn’t fully engaged in the story. I wasn’t invested in the characters (and I usually am way too involved with them and have to remind myself that they’re not real people) and I found myself getting annoyed with them way too often. I know I’m probably gonna get a lot of “wtf” for this but I still don’t understand the turtles all the way down reference. I read the explanation about three times and still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I might have to go back and read the explanation again and see if we’re fourth time lucky.

I think if you’re a die-hard John Green fan then you’d probably enjoy the book. The only book that Green has written that I’ve actually enjoyed was ‘Paper Towns’. I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I did the book but yeah, hands down, fave John Green book. I’ve read ‘The Fault in our Stars’ a couple of years ago and I think I’m about a chapter away from finishing and I just never picked it up to complete it. I don’t know why. I like the idea for the story and the movie brought tears in my eyes but I remember thinking to myself that this could’ve been written better (I know I’m being a critical cow but it’s just my opinion and I’m not saying I’m the one to write it better!). I downloaded a sample of ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I think I read it a few months ago but I was still debating on whether or not to buy it because I’d be spending about $15NZD on it and I wasn’t sure if I actually enjoyed it. I might go back and reread the sample again.

So there you go, my honest thoughts on ‘Turtles All the Way Down’. I’d score this book 5 out of 10.

  • ‘The Missing Ones’ by Patricia Gibney

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This book was recommended to me by Amazon and I thought heck, it’s a crime thriller; it has murder, serious harm, mystery, a strong female lead who’s falling to pieces, gore, history, broken minds and it’s set in Ireland so I’d be silly not to sample it.

I read the sample in about ten minutes and didn’t hesitate to click the ‘Buy book’ button. It took me about a day and a half to finish reading the entire book. It’s one of those ‘But I have to know who did it!’ books and I just couldn’t put it down.

The book is the first of the Detective Lottie Parker series. There are two more after this and yes I’ve read them all. The fourth one is scheduled for release on 22 March and yes I’ve preordered it. The story opens with a dead woman found in a church. The woman seems to have no history and no friends and Detective Parker is already hitting brick walls with no clues and no leads. When the death of a man is reported soon after, the deaths seem to be linked but Detective Parker can’t seem to work out how… and that’s where the excitement begins.

It’s probably not the best description of what the story is about but it’s a mystery. If you google it, you’d probably get a better description… and hopefully no spoilers. If you’re a sucker for a good crime/mystery/thriller with a twist to die for, then look no further. Gibney has definitely outdone herself with her debut novel. Also, I think I spent about $2 NZD on this book? Incredible. I’d score it 10 out of 10.

  • ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ by Stephen King

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I’m gonna put it out there – I’ve never been a fan of Stephen King’s writing. I’ve been a fan of his book ideas, the movies and reimagining’s and the synopsis of his books but I find it difficult to get through his writing. I’m still trying to work out why because I’m a fan of horror books and his book ideas are just marvellous so naturally you’d think I’d be his biggest fan.

When I saw this book in Whitcoulls, there was this feeling inside me that felt like I just had to have this book and read it. So I took a photo of it, rushed home and bought it.

The book is made up of 20 short stories, all with a different type of ‘scary’ theme. There’s monsters, ghosts and even psychological fears – the ones you don’t really think about. Before each story starts, King provides us with a commentary on how he came up with the idea behind the story. Normally I don’t care much for these blurbs but I found the ones King wrote to be fairly interesting.

Typical of short stories, there’s always going to be the ones that you love and the ones that you hate and just really want to skip but feel compelled to finish. My favourites in the collection are ‘Bad Little Kid’ and ‘A Death’. I think I enjoyed this book more than his novels because there was something to suit different tastes. With a novel, if you don’t enjoy the premise or the writing, you’re kind of just stuck with it. Overall, I’d score this book an 8 out of 10.

I really enjoy writing this list. I find that I’m more aware of what I’m reading and my feelings towards the content of what I’m reading and that’s because I know I’m going to be writing about them for this series.

Oh oh I’ve also been listening to an audiobook! Only reason I’m doing that is because I want to reread the Harry Potter series and I’ve ran out of enjoyable podcasts to listen to while I’m doing some mindless data entry at work so voila, solution! I’ve actually been enjoying it and the book is narrated by Stephen Fry and boy is he amazing. I get my audiobooks from Audible, just in case you’re wondering. No, this is not an ad lol. They offer a free one-month trial so if you’ve always been interested in trying out audiobooks, definitely take advantage of this opportunity!

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this. Until next weeks list!

What have you been reading lately? I’d also love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks!

Getting hygge with the heat

I was recently introduced to a new word/concept – hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hee-gi as I keep thinking it as). It’s a Danish word that can’t be described using one English word. It’s probably best described as a feeling of cosiness, content, satisfaction; a moment that’s just plain special from enjoying the simple things in life. It even gives me fuzzies just saying the word. But it’s not just confined to a feeling – it’s also about your surroundings such as your home décor and with loved ones.

We’ve all experienced hygge in some way, shape or form without realising it; reading a book under the tree, enjoying a hot chocolate in warm, fluffy pjs in the middle of winter and even just watching TV and chillaxing are all examples of hygge moments. While I would describe it as ‘hygge moments’, to the Danish people hygge is their way of life. Research* tells me that the word hygge was made famous in the UK in 2016; so famous that it earned a spot in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016. Soon after, the Americans started raving about it. So I guess it’s fair to say that hygge is quickly making headways around the world (although it makes me wonder why it took me so long to get acquainted with the word? Maybe it’s because I’m from New Zealand and it takes a million years for things to get down to this corner of the Earth…).

While the words ‘cosy’ and ‘fuzzy’ are usually associated with wintertime, I think hygge can also be experienced in the summertime. No I’m not asking you to break out the fluffy polar bear PJs and wear it in this 24 degree heat or start a fire in the scorching warmth and sit next to it while attempting to enjoy a book and also trying not to melt. There are lots of different ways to experience cosiness and well, hygge, even in the heat.

Here’s are my top six ways of creating and experiencing a hygge atmosphere in the hot weather: 

Have a bath

Don’t scream or panic. I promise you the heat hasn’t got to me and I’m not crazy. Yet. You know how we have warm baths in winter because it’s relaxing, warming and oh so comforting? Well, why not have a cool bath in summer? It produces the same effects – relaxing, warming and comforting without sharing your water space with others a la the beach or the public pools. Plus you get the added bonus of adding a bath bomb to create your own little galactic and glittery cocoon with bubbles. Delightful.

To create a more comforting and cosy atmosphere, why not light a candle, pour yourself an iced tea and read a book? I promise you won’t die of hyperthermia if you stay in the bath for hours. Here’s a pic of the last cool bath I had:

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Plant it up

Summer makes me think of bright colours and light, airy spaces. Adding succulents and/or flowers in a room is guaranteed to create a summery atmosphere – I guess in some ways it’s like bringing the outside to the inside (if that makes sense). Just being near flowers makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

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I love the aesthetic of succulents and the fact that they’re low maintenance. Its unique and pointy leaves adds an edge to wherever you place it. I got these at the farmers market and absolutely adore them. If you’re in New Plymouth, it’s from the Saturday markets behind the old Mill.

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Enjoying a cuppa

I love tea. Earl grey, jasmine green tea, lady grey, chamomile… I could go on. But when you’re hanging in average 25-degree weather, the last thing you want is a hot drink. Nah uh. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to give up your comforting beves…

Why not enjoy them chilled by throwing in some ice cubes? I particularly enjoy a cuppa cold chamomile.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the tag on my teabag #preach

Relax under the shade

 I think I’ve made this pretty clear in heaps of my posts but I love reading. While I never mind my surroundings when I read, I always find it more enjoyable when I read in a cosy, chilled spot.

In summer, it’s hard to find a cool spot indoors… unless you have air conditioning or are sitting directly in front of a fan. I don’t have the pleasure of either of these luxuries so I like to sit outside and pray for a breeze.

In particular, I love sitting under the trees to get a bit of shade.

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My parents’ garden is set up pretty nicely. It’s like a little wonderland and I spend a lot of time reading in the hammocks. I always find myself with a smile of my face when I’m swinging in the hammocks with a book or kindle in my hand. I know we’re not all lucky enough to have a set up like this but I’m usually quite content with lying on a blanket under a tree. Pure bliss.

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Breaking out the summer sheets 

In wintertime, I usually break out the dark coloured duvets and bed sheets. To me, the darker shades are comforting and warm and it makes me want to dive into the sheets and I know I’m going to be nestled in fuzziness. In summertime, it’s quite the opposite. To achieve the same feeling, I break out the bright, light and airy sheets.

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I love these sheets. If you’re in New Zealand, you can get them from Briscoes. They have a cool, hippy vibe to them and the flowers, leaves and bright colours makes me so happy. Plus its so cool that after a long day, all I want to do is just dive into bed and unwind and enjoy the moment of being relaxed and joyful.

Have a picnic

There’s nothing like embracing summer by heading out into the great outdoors and taking in some sweet fresh air. Enjoying a wine/beer/alcoholic bevy of choice with a fruit and cheese platter under a tree at a park and enjoying a gorgeous view is one of life’s simple pleasures. And guess what? You can do this with family and friends as well. This is sharing a hygge moment with loved ones at its finest.

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So there you have it folks; my list of six things you can try to get hygge with it in summer.

Are you into the hygge life? I’d love it if you shared your hygge experiences and thoughts! In particular, what you do to hygge in the summer!

February is for lovers

I can’t believe we’re already 6 days into February. Where did January go? And what did I do in January?!

I definitely think it’s true what they say – the older you get, the faster time goes. So rather than sulk about the inevitability of time moving forward (and in quite the hasty pace!) we might as well embrace it and take each day as it comes.

So February… I think it’s one of those months that people hate, particularly singletons. It’s the month where we bring out the dusty Bridget Jones DVD, re-read ‘PS I Love You’, ‘Twilight’ or ’50 Shades’ and relive that perfect romantic scenario in our heads, probably turn to desperate measures and PAY for Tinder so we can extend our range in the hopes of finding someone even if it means that they’re thousands of miles away, hook up with the first person that pays attention to us at the bar because we don’t wanna be alone on V-Day… yerp you get my drift. Let’s be honest though, we’ll probably spend the day at work and the evening lounging on the couch overdosing on rom-coms while devouring a tub of ice cream and enjoying a cheeky bottle or two of red so we don’t have to face the reality of being alone.

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To be honest, as a singleton, all I think about these days is how I’m pretty darn lucky because I get to save money and I don’t have to be disappointed if my partner/lover/hubby/bae forgets or god forbid, just buys me chocolates and flowers and that’s it. Also, do we realise how much businesses and restaurants profit from V-day? All the overpriced gimmicks like teddy bears, chocolates, flowers… eek. But I guess us singles stand to win the days AFTER V-day because cheap chocolates. HOLLA.

I know I sound like some lonely, old, jealous fart that’s hating on V-day because I’m going to be all alone. I really don’t mean to sound hateful. There’s nothing wrong with V-day and if you’re going to be spending it in some gloriously romantic way then I’m genuinely happy for you. I’m not going to lie – the older I get, I’m happier spending the day with family, friends or even myself! After all, it’s just another day.

To me, February shouldn’t automatically make you cringe and give you mad anxiety about finding a v-day bae (hello past me!). It should be just another a month; one where you’re focusing on you and spoiling the hell out of yourself by doing the things you want to do. It should also be a time where you spread love and joy by spending time with your family and friends.

I’ve decided that this month, I’m going to take self-care very seriously and spend time with myself and do things that I really enjoy like reading, baking, walking, having a bath, and being optimistic and happy where I can. I’m going to buy myself flowers, a card, bake myself a cake and make myself a mighty fine dinner and be my own trap queen.

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I’m also going to be sharing with you a series of posts showcasing the bits and bobs of things that I enjoy. I’m thinking Wednesdays will be dedicated to book favourites and reviews, Fridays will be dedicated to different ways of unwinding from the week and Sundays will be dedicated to a baking recipe! I may tweak this a bit but this is just to give you a general idea of how I’m planning on documenting my February self-love journey.

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I’m really excited about putting together this series! It’s gonna be fuuuuun!

What do you do when you’re giving yourself some self-love time? Do share!

Answering Union Jack’s call

I don’t know why I spent a good two minutes laughing at the title of this blog post. It’s probably because I thought I was being really funny and smart at 1.55am but then it hits me that it’s neither funny nor smart but I keep it anyways as a reminder of how ridiculous I can be.

Anyways, hello, I’m neither funny nor smart but I’m here to talk about probably the most exciting and scariest decisions I’ve made in my life to date: moving to London. Eeeek!

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So when did I make this decision? Well, it’s always been in the back of my mind. Since I was about 12, I’ve always wanted to go to London and Europe in general to explore castles, hilltops, visit historical spots and touch all the forbidden items in museums and art galleries and set off alarms, get arrested and deported back to my native NZ… okay I digress, but you get my point. But I never did it when I was younger because life got in the way. I was either in a long-term relationship, building a long-term career or just swimming in debt because of my shocking poor money decisions.

Now that I’m no longer single, no longer working on my career since I’ve put it on hold and a little bit better with my debts, I feel like it’s finally time to do this. I know for a fact that if I don’t and I settle, I’m always going to wonder ‘what if?’ and I’ll probably go through a painful midlife crisis that includes abandoning my partner/husband and children to go on this crazy ‘finding me’ trip. So yeah, it’s time.

I’m going on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, which entitles me to stay and work in the UK for two years. I leave New Zealand on 20 March from Auckland International and head to Doha and then leave Doha to London on 21 March. I arrive in London at 6.20am (LOL) and I know you’re probably like wtf but I chose my flight based on two important factors: price and shortest wait time. After buying my tickets did I realise I was arriving super early AND my flight from Auckland to Doha is 18 hours long – the longest flight in the world, literally (YEAH WTF). But what’s done is done and it’s part of the adventure so I’m not gonna cry about it. Yet. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on the experience… (let me know if you’re actually interested…)

I’m going to be staying with an old work colleague while I find my feet and I’m so grateful for her letting me crash on her floor. I know it’s going to be a hella busy first week filled with job interviews with different agencies, picking up my BPR (I think that’s what it’s called), sorting out a bank account, working out how to use the god damn public transport system, finding a flat, etc etc etc. Gosh I’m exhausted just thinking about it all but I know deep down that it’s all gonna be worth it and I’m gonna be okay.

I mentioned last year that I’ve been quite unwell. The bad news is that I still have my off days but I don’t think I’m going to let that get in the way of my plans. I’ll of course be discussing the trip and my worries with my doctor before I go but I’ll be sure to register with a GP as soon as I find a flat (apparently the UK have these rules where you can only be registered to a GP in the area that you live in). Worst case scenario is that I end up hospitalised in the UK or I have to cut my trip short and come home earlier and that’s totally fine because by then I would’ve done some travelling and gone outside of my comfort zone. So yeah, I’ve thought about this, I haven’t neglected this pretty significant detail.

So how am I feeling about it now that I’ve got 61 days left to go? Well, I’m shitting myself. There’s always the doubt of whether or not I’m going to find a job, of whether I’m going to find a place to stay, whether I have enough money to get by before getting a job and a steady income, and hell what if I hate it? There’s always going to be the thought of failure if I do come back early but I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay because I repeat, at the end of the day I’ve travelled and I’ve tried it and yeah.

There are so many exciting things happening when I get there. I’m going to see Flight of the Conchords at the O2 (I think it’s there) and I’m going to Prague in the first week of April. I’m still planning other trips away in April because it’s birthday month so why not treat myself!

While I’m shitting myself about this, I’m also really freaking excited and I think excitement outweighs fear. I’m really looking forward to the sites, the experiences, the people, the journey, the tears (I know there’s going to be lots and lots of tears be it joy or sorrow) and the memories.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about the journey for now. I’m thinking I’ll do like a moving blog series closer to the time but for now, it’s back to the list of things to sell, downsizing my stuff, to-do lists of things I need to do before I bail and yeah… thanks for reading and see ya next time!

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Have you moved away from your homeland? What was it like? I’d love to hear all about your experiences and if you’ve got any advice!