Category Archives: Thoughts and other Miscellany

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

… is my new audiobook, and it is delicious.

we-are-all-completely-besider-ourselves

I’m only about 45 minutes in, and it seems (so far) to be an August Osage County -style “crazy family” drama, except the family isn’t that crazy:

“Antagonism in my family comes wrapped in layers of code, sideways feints, full deniability. I believe the same can be said of many families.”

I love the narrator’s voice (Katharine Mangold) – it’s dreamy and fluid and just wry enough when needed.

Watch this space!

Currently

Listening to Eliza Doolittle’s self-titled album on Spotify – the doodlepop is harmless enough Friday night music.

Wearing a lovely new top from Marks and Spencer, and at least 7-year-old second-hand yoga pants that are too big for me. And these socks. Which are German and amazing. (Click on the photo for an affiliate Amazon link).

Cycling again: I cycled to work 2 days this week, 2 days last week, and I’ve been cycling to my UVB appointments 3 lunchtimes a week (fastest method of transport in central London – if you don’t believe me, watch this Top Gear episode).

Deciding that life is too short to iron fitted shirts. I’ve got no problem ironing unfitted shirts (i.e. men’s shirts) because it takes about 90 seconds a shirt with The Hedge Fund Slave’s easy-iron shirts. My shirts, on the other hand, had a minimum of 5 panels, usually more, often thinner than the iron so all sorts of shenanigans were called for. NO MORE. I’m getting rid of any clothes that I have to iron.

Despairing of the world and its politics.

Being tired. THFS worked through the night on Tuesday night following the US election as the results came out, and has worked a lot of late nights leading up to that, so parenting’s been a bit one-sided around here. I need a break. Or more tea and sleep.

Watching The Good Wife with THFS, one episode every few days (we don’t get a lot of time to ourselves between Bookmark and THFS’s work.) It’s proving pretty good so far. Must go back and re-watch Suits. Also Gilmore Girls. And of course carry on watching The West Wing. This gif seems as appropriate as anything else right now:

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Catching up with friends: on Thursday night I met up with two friends and then one had to get on a train but the other and I chatted until late and put the world to rights and laughed a lot and talked about the things that are important to us at the moment.

Eating whatever I can find in the fridge. It’s slim pickings at the end of a difficult week. Thanks to the family jetlag (see above), there’s been a lot of takeaway this week, and all the stuff I had planned out to cook is now in the freezer.

Reading! I sat on the floor of the loungeroom and benevolently ignored Bookmark as she identified trains and buses on her Thomas the Tank Engine domino cards (this is a one person activity. Any efforts to actually play dominos are speedily rebuffed), and read Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, which I read half of on my recent trip to the USA. This time I’m reading it with my Book Darts, which are essential for marking excellent quotes. (I bought them at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, USA a few years ago; I can’t find them on the bookstore’s website, so I am regretfully linking up an Amazon link here)

Drinking decaf tea with lots of milk, obviously. Although I do have a nice Cucumber Mint blend from Whittards, which is weird but tasty.

Realising that cheap ironing board covers really aren’t worth it. Like cheap dishwasher tabs.

Looking forward to my birthday! Is there an age when you get too old to be allowed to be excited about your birthday? I haven’t hit it yet…

You?

Stationery

Ah, stationery. I’m not the only person who loves to spend time and money in a stationery shop, am I?

(side note – I cannot write “stationery” correctly first time, even though I know that “stationary” is a very different thing. Too many years of writing “stationary” in Physics homework)

It seems that for bullet journalling, pretty stationery is not absolutely necessary but very definitely encouraged.

My set-up is (click on pictures for Amazon links*):

A5 black Moleskine notebook with grid-ruled pages. The general bullet journalling community seems to encourage a grid rule, but I’m not sure I like it after a number of months. I’ll be going line-ruled next. The grid-rule is good for drawing grids of various sorts, but it takes me so long to draw up a month calendar that I have taken to printing out pre-designed grids like these ones and sticking them in.

Pilot v5 pens – I have loved these pens with a fierce passion since I was in high school. I still have my Physics IB (Higher level) revision book which I hand-wrote myself, using the standard blue Pilot v5. One day I’m going to treat myself to a 100x box of these. Or a 1000x box. What I particularly like about these is that they force me to write at a measured pace (and therefore neatly) and without pressing too hard on the paper (which I am generally inclined to do). What I dislike? They leak when taken on aeroplanes and then get ink all over the end of my fingers. So don’t fly with them.

Stabilo point 88 – just for when I feel like I need to mix up the colours a bit more. Someone gave me a 20-pack of these for a birthday present at some point, and they have occasionally been useful for filling in a cricket scorebook in glorious Technicolor, but otherwise I haven’t used them much. I don’t use them that much for the bullet journal either, to be honest, but they’re quite fun for making habit trackers colourful.

Other stationery I don’t use for bullet journalling but do use regularly or have used and loved in the past:

Disposable fountain pens – these have re-branded since I used to use them, but these ones in the picture look right. Many memories of doing maths AS level worksheets with these pens (my maths teacher used them too and had beautiful big round handwriting well suited to these pens. My handwriting has got smaller so I prefer the V5s now).

Magical stapler – when I went on secondment to Germany in 2009, I was given a batch of stationery and told to look after it otherwise I’d have to buy any replacements. Turns out, all 40 auditors at the bank had identical stationery, so we took to labelling ours with “I belong to X, give me back”. Anyway – I still have that stapler. It still has a label saying “I belong to Yvann” (in German). It’s the best stapler I’ve ever owned. You can reload it without accidentally using up a staple. It has a satisfying crunch. It’s never not stapled something (of reasonable thickness). I love it.

A quick inspection of my stationery drawer reveals lots more highlighters, biros, pencils (one of which I think I recognise from school?), matches, a hairbrush, semi-dead batteries, and sunglass lenses to clip onto reading glasses. Diverse.

What have I missed?

(this post is full of affiliate links – all the pictures take you through to an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase anything through any of these links, it is no extra cost to you, but a small percentage of your purchase price comes to me, which I put towards the running costs of the site)

Things I tried to do on my sabbatical

I took two months off between quitting my old job and starting my new job. On my to-do list for the sabbatical were the following, and this is how I got on.

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Please bear in mind I was expecting this sabbatical to last at least 4 months, and actually it was a week and then 4 weeks… (interrupted by a week in the USA, and two weeks of full time mum mode with Supernanny out recovering from appendicitis):

  • read 10 books – pfff. I opened and abandoned one, and have started but not abandoned 3 more.
  • resurrect blog – done! Right at the end of the break, but it still counts, right?
  • cook 10 new meals – definitely done. I like HelloFresh* and Gousto* for helping me switch up the meal planning
  • go on 3 long bike rides – pfff. Not a single one. We did take the bikes to CenterParcs though.
  • Walk at least 10 miles across London – who was I kidding?
  • lose 8kg – yeah, right. Next!
  • Start learning Italian again – ummm, nope.
  • establish a gym habit – hmm. Start gym habit, sure. Establish – no.
  • Run a sub-30 minute 5km – astonishingly, done! New shoes and a new route helped, as did a new podcast to listen to!
  • Learn to write a website – I did a few website sessions but it’s painfully slow progress.

* There are referral benefits for these – if you want me to introduce you, drop me an email at readingwithtea@gmail.com and I’ll set you up.

Less loftily, my specific Bullet Journal October tasks and goals were:

  • Get a new job – done!
  • Catch up on the family budget – done at some point early in October for the previous 6 months, and I’ve been keeping up since
  • Get new clothes – done. I have been throwing out anything that doesn’t fit / I don’t like (a la Marie Kondo) and found myself somewhat short of clothes. A £100 spree at Marks and Spencer fixed that up.
  • Get Bookmark to go to sleep in her bed – achieved on a few occasions, but not a solid habit yet, though we are doing pretty well so far in November despite teething and a horrible cold
  • Go to Confession – done
  • Sew 3 projects – I sewed two (a plastic shopping bag holder and some cleaning clothes that are flannellette on one side and a silly pattern on the other). I failed miserably at two skirts and got grumpy.
  • Start a crochet project – done (earwarmers)! I even finished it too. Unfortunately it’s a bit small for me, and Bookmark doesn’t see the point in earwarmers.
  • Sort the photos we have of Bookmark to date, and get a new canvas printed up – didn’t touch this one
  • Practise 3 braid hairstyles – or this one!

On my November goal list is (some of them are the things I didn’t get done in the last few months!):

  • Start new job (done!)
  • Get Christmas shopping started and completed (urgh!)
  • Get Bookmark to go to sleep by herself consistently
  • Sew/crochet 3 new projects
  • Practise 3 braid hairstyles
  • Read and review 5 books
  • Go on one long bike ride. See how I’m not defining “long”?
  • Take Bookmark out on the bike at least once
  • Finish the German Duolingo tree and have it all gold at once!
  • Get started on another language’s Duolingo
  • Look at other language learning tools e.g. Memrise, conversation tools
  • Carry on with website learning

And on the November task list (I put less lofty aspirations here):

  • Birthday present for Supernanny, whose birthday is a week before mine
  • Sort the photos we have of Bookmark to date, and get a new canvas printed up
  • Fix up my very broken cricket pads

Plenty to keep me busy!

US election mood-lightener

I haven’t watched much Stephen Colbert, but this job interview preparation session he did with Barack Obama is very entertaining.

It’s 7 minutes in total and not safe for work or small ears, but I recommend it anyway for a little bit of light-hearted diversion from the anxiety of waiting for the election results.

Bullet Journalling week – the overview

I’ve taken to bullet journalling in a slightly sporadic and inconsistent way, but I do enjoy it and it is definitely help me be more organised and spend less time “doing housework / house admin” and more time doing things I want to do.

(for those who don’t know what bullet journalling is, here is the original creator’s take and video:

plus a few other introductory posts – Modern Mrs Darcy, Bohoberry, Tiny Ray of Sunshine).

I’m keeping my BuJo pretty basic for now – I’m not blessed with much artistic talent, but I am enjoying being able to look back over the last few months and see the changes in my life coming out nicely!

I thought I’d do a couple of posts this week focussing loosely (can one focus loosely?) on the BuJo:

  • my love of stationery and my inability to spell the word
  • my October and November (ongoing) goals
  • Things I promised myself I’d do on sabbatical and how I got on with those
  • anything else I think of!

Are any of you using a BuJo?

Oh – and a link to my Pinterest Bullet Journal board which is mostly my envy of other people’s handwriting!

Things I learnt in May/June/July

  1. I like bullet journalling, even though I find it hard to do consistently.
  2. It takes longer to get to London Bridge than I think it does, and to leave the house with a one-year-old, and the combination is very very bad. But British Airways are lovely and don’t smirk at you when it transpires that you actually booked a flexible ticket and so can rebook without any hassle at all.
  3. Some unusual cricketing rules – I took an umpiring course in March and really enjoyed it!
  4. I can live without chocolate. But I don’t like living without it.
  5. Kids learn by example surprisingly fast. Bookmark likes to clean things. Obviously I spend too much of my parenting time cleaning!
  6. I really enjoy having a place to blog, even if I don’t do it often.
  7. Hobbies are much more fun when you’re not worried about doing them well.
  8. It’s really easy to lose a specific fitness (in my case, cycling) even though you are working on general fitness or a different specific fitness (5km running).
  9. Sometimes 6 USB ports aren’t enough.
  10. It’s really hard to tell black trousers apart in the dark.
  11. Soft play centres for kids are amazing.
  12. Sometimes I don’t want the reward, even when I’ve earned it.
  13. I can’t consistently get to sleep by 10pm.