Sunday, 29 June 2014

Currently #02

Source

Reading: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I read The Kite Runner which is also by Housseini a few months ago and adored it so asked my friend Josie if I could borrow his second novel. Like The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan from the 1970s to the 1990s. Housseini writes so beautifully and poignantly that it's impossible not to be moved by his words. Not only am I loving the story, as upsetting as it is to read at times, but I'm learning more about what it must have been like to live in Afghanistan in those times. I'm ashamed to say that I probably don't know enough about it so Hosseini's books seemed to be a good place to start, despite them being fictional. So far it's an absolute delight to read and I can't wait to find out how it ends.

Eating: Far too many of the cakes I baked on Friday which, if I do say so myself, are quite scrummy. They're the perfect summer cakes and are making up for the fact that the weather's been a bit bipolar this weekend to say the least. My favourite summer dinner over the past couple of weeks (notice how I'm writing summer even though it's not actually the holidays yet??) has without a doubt become roasted vegetable cous cous with chicken. I've been eating it cold, it's light, easy to carry in a tupperware if I want to take it for lunch and it's delicious, what more could you want?!

Thinking about: The fact that I moved house exactly a year ago today and The Fault In Our Stars movie. I watched the latter this morning and was a little overwhelmed. Having read the book a few years ago before it was known in the way it is today and loved it, I was a bit apprehensive that the film might not live up to its expectations. But, for me, it 100% did. It was beautiful and raw and inspiring. And, needless to say, I blubbed like a baby for the majority of it. It will stay with me though, I have no doubt about that, just like the book did and like every great film does. A must-see for me, although, make sure you take tissues - I completely forgot and the result was not pretty! Thinking that I have now lived in this house for a year is just crazy. It feels like we're continually saying that we can't believe what time of year it is already and it can seem repetitive, but I am reminded of it day in day out. It makes me want to make the most of every day I have if I can, while I have the opportunity to try new things. It has to be said, this year in this home has been very good to me, even if it does feel like yesterday that I moved in.

Listening: To Ed Sheeran's new album X. God I love his music. I loved + and now I love X just as much, that man really has a way with words. Speaking of which, his song for The Fault In Our Stars movie is breathtaking too and perfect for the end of the film's credits. It's safe to say I'll probably be picking up a copy of the album as well as listening to it non-stop on Spotify.

Watching: The Fault In Our Stars. And yesterday I watched Roman Holiday, which I thought was great. I love classic films like that and anything with Audrey Hepburn in it gets a thumbs up from me. I also started watching House of Cards at Harry's yesterday, we didn't actually get to finish the first episode because Netflix decided to stop working halfway through, which I was very unimpressed about. But the half I did see I very much enjoyed and can't wait to watch more. So far I'm keeping up my goal of watching all the Germany world cup games (I know it's a terrible pun but I couldn't resist), and they won on Thursday and are through to the knock out round - is that what it's called?? - so yay!

Loving: feeling grateful for the life I have and seeing myself make progress towards where I want to be. Recently a few things have made me realise how lucky I am and I'm really appreciating that more. Likewise I'm loving having so much to look forward to and am hoping this summer will be one to remember... only five days to go!

The inspiration for this 'Currently' post comes from Megan.

Friday, 27 June 2014

On Baking #01


Since baking more was one of my 2014 goals and it's been difficult to find time to keep this up in the past few months, I thought I'd document my baking adventures right here (makes it sound much more exciting than I'm sure it will actually be!). 


Today I got home a lot earlier than I usually do so decided I no longer had an excuse to not get back into baking. I've also had my heart set on trying Rosie's strawberry yoghurt cake with lemon glaze ever since reading her post on it. 


As the recipe is Rosie's, I just thought I'd show you the stages of making this cake through my pictures!



They're ever so easy to make and absolutely delicious - perfect for summer days with loved ones and a cup of tea or three. It's safe to say my family approve too, and I'm sure I'll end up taking some to Harry's tomorrow to share with his family. If you want the recipe to try it yourself, take a look at Rosie's blog, which is full of many other fantastic recipes that I'm sure I'll be trying in the future... happy baking!



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On Skylight & Puppy-Sitting

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to go to the theatre to see Skylight starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan (both of whom I adore) with my Mum and a group of family friends. As I've mentioned only a hundred times before, going to the theatre is a great love of mine and my ideal weekend would most certainly involve a trip to the theatre.

The play was about a complicated relationship between a teacher (Mulligan) and an older man she used to work for (Nighy). Having not seen each other for three years after being found out to be having an affair by Nighy's spouse, Skylight explores the fall-out and what's left between them. It was a fascinating story and as much as I think Carey Mulligan was great and have always admired her, for me, Bill Nighy truly stood out and was perfect in this role.

It was also lovely to catch up and see a few of my and Mum's family friends. It's hard to keep in touch properly with so many people when life's so busy all the time, so when we do see each other it's really lovely. The sun was shining when we got out so we stood outside the theatre and chatted for a while, before I hurried off to meet Harry for dinner.

Source

Harry treated me to dinner at Wagamama which was very sweet of him. The food there was delicious as always and it was the perfect place for Harry and me to catch up on our week and everything else. We then went to another family friend's house to puppy-sit for their gorgeous dog, Ava. I say puppy-sit but she's grown so much since I last looked after her, which was only a few weeks ago, that I'm not sure I can call her a puppy anymore! She's a very sweet dog who, for the most part of the night, slept at our sides, although after waking up seemed to be full of energy so Harry went and played with her in the garden while I kept my eye on the Germany/Ghana match.


Now, I've never been very interested in football and usually the world cup or other leagues just pass me by, I don't even know all of the rules very well! I thought this world cup would be exactly the same, however, I was roped in to participating in a world cup sweepstake and when I drew out Germany, was pretty excited as even I know that they actually have a chance of winning. So I'm still very much not a committed or knowledgeable football-watcher (as I'm sure you can probably tell) but I have committed myself to watching Germany's matches so that I can keep up with how I'm they're doing, much to Harry's delight!

The beautiful weather reflected my mood and it really was a perfect Saturday - if you have the chance I would highly recommend seeing Skylight, I believe it's on until the end of August - which is plenty of time to see it!

Monday, 23 June 2014

On My Life Essentials


1. Great music.
2. People/things that make me laugh.
3. Friends and family.
4. Down time.
5. Sea air.
6. Summer evening walks.
7. Yummy cheese.
8. Early morning reading.
9. Cups of tea.
10. The ability to learn and grow.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

On Journal Day #11

"This week, write a 'State of Me' address. Write about how you're really doing- what you've been thinking, what you've been up to. What have you accomplished lately? Where is there room for growth? Where are you right now in life and where are you headed? Current joys, currents sadness...write it all out. Discuss the current state of YOU."

Source

The current state of me. It's an odd thing to think about; as much as I like to think I reflect on things, I'm not sure I take much time to stop and think about how I'm doing, where I am and what's going on in my life. Of course, I know how I am, where I am and what's going on, but I haven't truly thought about it in a while. I guess what's mostly been on my mind over the past couple of weeks is the future. What with beginning to draft personal statements at school and deciding to definitely take a gap year to travel, it's inevitable that this is on my mind. I'm both scared and excited, which is the reaction I think most people have to any kind of change that they know is in the pipeline, although sometimes I think I should take a step back because it's still another year away. This is the first time in a couple of months I feel like I'm properly able to step back and take stock of everything that's going on following my exams, rather than trying to absorb as much information as possible on anything but me. It's a comforting feeling. At the moment I really feel at peace with myself. In a sense that feels like a strange expression to use and yet I think that's how I feel right now. Both at peace and quite proud of myself. I think we find it hard to give ourselves credit, that it's great to give it to others but that it may be arrogant to give it to ourselves. However, thinking about what I've accomplished lately, I am quite proud. Receiving the Philosophy Prize for my school out of the entire sixth form honestly makes me feel great. I guess being given recognition in the things we are passionate about is a wonderful feeling and, for me, philosophy is something I am incredibly passionate about and put everything I have into working for it (I can already hear how sad that sounds just having typed it!). I've also come a long way this year, I've definitely grown in so many ways since moving house and changing school as a friend, daughter, girlfriend and person. Or at least, I like to think I have grown. I think I've become more confident, more happy in my own skin. Recently I've really been motivated to look after myself and my body so have taken up running and really stuck with it over the last couple of months as well as making the effort to try and eat more healthily. I'm not anywhere near saying that I'm 'perfect', there's definitely room for more growth. As I wrote in my 52 list entry this week, there are a few things I need to let go of. I still feel regularly insecure and preoccupy myself with things that are definitely not worth my time. But I'm learning, and I think that's the best thing we can do with our lives; both learn and teach. In these next few weeks I feel almost as though I'm taking a breath, taking it all in and reflecting on the academic year, before summer starts and I will be crazy-busy in the best possible way. So I guess that's the state of me right now; happy, grateful, reflecting, and anticipating summer.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

On My Long Weekend

To celebrate finishing exams and generally make the most of the last few days of my study leave before I went back to school this week, I went down to Surrey to see two of my wonderful friends, Rosie and Mackinlay, last Friday and had a pretty packed weekend seeing lots of other people too. We went for dinner at the Harvester who were doing an excellent deal of: a meal, refillable drink and a pudding for £9.99! Although, by the time I'd got through my giant burger and fries, I'm ashamed to say I only managed a few spoonfuls of my ice cream sundae.

We caught up on what's happening in our respective lives and enjoyed the hot, beautiful weather. It makes me sad that I'm not able to see these two lovely faces more often but it ensures I make the most of the time we do have together. Having eaten to the point where we weren't sure we'd be able to move, Rosie and I went back to hers where I spent the night. Rosie's recently started watching Gossip Girl, which I rapidly became addicted to last year and so we spent the rest of the evening largely watching episodes of that and talking about the gap year we're hoping to take after next year - it's all very exciting!

On Saturday I spent the day at Harry's, we had a relaxing afternoon playing badminton (or trying to unsuccessfully, in my case) followed by playing Mario Kart on the Wii as well as me fitting in a snooze before I headed over to Becky's who was having a party that evening.

The best way to celebrate the end of exams is definitely to have a party and Saturday evening was an excellent night filled with friends, drinking, the World Cup England match, and excessive and embarrassing dancing. It's safe to say that by 2am I was shattered and was very relieved to be spending the night at Becky's meaning I would be able to collapse there.

And collapse I did, although, the next thing I knew, it was 8:30am and everyone was waking up. I had a slightly ironic Father's Day, waking up and feeling rather rough, my Dad picked me up in my pajamas, which I spent the duration of the day in, and Dad made me lunch and tea. I had planned to get dressed but it seemed to go out of the window as I was so exhausted. Dad is very good to me and I am hugely grateful for him, especially as he treated me on Father's Day more than I managed to treat him! All in all, a fantastic weekend and a great way to spend one before going back to school. Now here's the photo evidence...






I can dance - promise!;)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

On The Things I Want To Let Go Of


 
1. Feeling like I’m not enough.
2. Having a negative outlook.
3. Needless worrying about things that are out of my control.
4. Getting overly upset when things fall apart or don’t go to plan.
5. People who aren’t worth my time.
6. Not spending enough time truly living life.


Saturday, 14 June 2014

On Borough Market, Shopping & A Perfect Day With My Best Friend

To make the most of this free week I've had before I go back to school next week until the summer holidays, I decided to make plans with my beautiful friend Hannah for a desperately-needed catch up. I hadn't seen Hannah since the middle of April, which, for us, is a very long time to not have seen each other, so on Wednesday we met at London Bridge and wandered to Borough Market to get some lunch. 



If you haven't been to Borough Market before, I would wholeheartedly recommend going, the place is incredible and serves some of the most delicious, fresh food I've ever had. The range of markets there is great too and Hannah and I spent a long time searching for a burger for her and a sausage sandwich for me to make sure that we weren't missing anything else we might want for lunch. My sandwich was delicious and just what I'd been craving in the lovely weather that Wednesday had. After lunch we decided we couldn't miss out on what looked like the most chocolate-y brownie I've ever seen so decided to split it as it was so giant before heading off to the tube station to go to Oxford Street and do some shopping.


Hannah didn't really need to go shopping so she just came along to help me out as I hadn't been shopping for a very long time and had been looking forward to finding some summer clothes. I also wanted to buy some shoes and an outfit for a party we're going to tonight that I'll probably show you in the next few days! Having spent a good hour and a half in the giant Topshop we decided we were in need of a snack so after heading to Marble Arch to try and find the wedges I really wanted but couldn't find in Oxford Street, we headed to South Kensington and bought cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery.



Everything about the Hummingbird Bakery is perfect, it's such a sweet little shop whose cupcakes are genuinely to die for (I've decided my birthday cake next year absolutely must must must come from this beauty of a bakery!) and are not too expensive considering what they could possibly charge for them and how amazing they taste. Han and I decided to get the tube to Hyde Park to eat them on the grass in the sun. It was so lovely to just lie on the grass, eating cupcakes, in the early warm evening with my best friend, talking about anything and everything that's happened in the past couple of months when we haven't seen each other. 


She's one of the very good ones, Hannah, we've known each other since we were eight and I can't imagine not spending days like this with her, laughing, shopping, eating and chatting about life and its many peculiarities. Luckily I get to see her again tonight for the party so won't have to wait anywhere near as long until I see her again! Here's to many more days like this, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend xo

Thursday, 12 June 2014

On Journal Day #10

Danielle decided to take a break from Journal Day, which actually came at a perfect time for me as I was in the midst of all my exams and had planned to keep up with it but am well aware that it is unlikely that would have happened. So, by taking that break, Danielle has been able to recharge her batteries for the feature and I haven't missed out due to revision - double yay!

"Let's talk about love. Do you believe in the idea of a soulmate? Do you think there is one person for everyone- and do you think that no matter what, if you're "supposed" to meet that person you will? This week, talk about your experience with love and discuss what you believe, and also be sure to touch on what helped shape those beliefs."

Source

Being the daughter of divorced parents, I sometimes get asked whether I still believe in concepts like true love and marriage. Much to some people's surprise, I truly do believe in such concepts - that marriage is meaningful and important (at least for me) and true love is possible, although coming with lots of work. I guess I haven't had the experience of a 'role model' couple due to my parents divorcing when I was six and both my Grandpas having passed away by the time I was seven. And yet I very much hold that marriage is a worthwhile celebration and commitment. Maybe I'm naive or maybe I've watched one too many Disney films (although you can NEVER watch too many Disney films) but I do sustain that and hope to one day get married. 

However, I'm not sure I believe in the idea of a soulmate; that there is one person for everyone. I'm aware of the myth, which I think comes from Plato's writing, that when we were created we were split in two and so should seek 'our other half', which I always thought was a lovely idea. Yet, in reality, to me, it doesn't appear to work that way. Granted, I haven't had much experience, but that's what I feel for now. For instance, my Mum hasn't been with anyone since she and my Dad divorced eleven years ago and, as far as I know, she's more than content. She's created a wonderful career for herself, a great group of friends that I adore and supports me and my Gran. Now, maybe when I leave home she might find someone, or even before that, but that makes me think that not necessarily everyone has a soulmate.

Source

I'm not sure that's the best example but I've met people who have died alone, without having had what they would consider to be true love or meeting their soulmate. It just makes me think that there's more than one person out there that you could fall in love with and have an incredible relationship with. Writing about this reminds me of an episode of Friends in which Phoebe thinks she's found Monica's soulmate, despite her being married to Chandler. Chandler feels threatened and when talking to Monica about it, finds they both don't believe in soulmates, just that they work a lot at their relationship and love each other, but that's not to say that, had the circumstances been different, they couldn't have ended up with someone different. I think that very much rings true with me and how I see things.

So I may not necessarily believe in there being one person for everyone, but I do believe that some things are meant to be, and that everything happens for a reason. I've been trying to work out how I can distinguish between not believing in soulmates but almost believing in some kind of destiny and, to be honest, I'm not all that sure how to explain it. I prefer to believe that everything happens for a reason, making every experience worthwhile because I think if I believed in soulmates, it wouldn't make as much sense to me why we would go into relationships that aren't with our soulmate, thinking that I would meet my one person. I do think/hope there will be one person that I spend my life with, but not that they are the only person that that could have been.

As for what's shaped my beliefs, I don't really know. Most likely it's a mixture of my Mum, my sisters and learning through my own experience. I think growing up changes your mind a lot about what you believe on this subject. If you'd asked me five years ago if I believed in soulmates, I probably would have said yes because it is a beautiful idea. But now, I think that there not being just one person but instead there being a person you choose to work at a relationship with, having fallen in love with them, is an even more beautiful idea.

Read previous Journal Day entries here.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

On The Things I'm Excited For


1. Following the couch to 5k running plan and really seeing progress and a much-needed build-up of my stamina
2. Having passed my driving theory test this morning
3. Pay day for working at the Epsom Derby
4. Catching up with lots of wonderful friends this week
5. That summer is only a few weeks away
6. This beautiful weather we've had the past few days
7. That all my exams are over so I have more time to spend blogging
8. Knowing I'm puppy-sitting the most adorable little bulldog next weekend
9. Tickets for the theatre next weekend to see Skylight with Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy (excited doesn't even begin to cover that)
10. Summer holidays one, two and three planned
11. Spending evenings in my friend's garden in Romania playing games until the early hours of the morning when the temperature's just right

Thursday, 5 June 2014

On A Love Affair With Paperchase

Today's purchases

What have I done with my first day of freedom having finished exams I hear you ask?? Well, I spent the morning having a blood test, popping into Starbucks for a caramel frappucino where I did some much-needed revision for my driving theory, followed my a spending spree in Paperchase. Oh, and then I came home, went for a run, and tidied my room from top to bottom. 

Not quite the celebration I had envisioned this day consisting of, but a very productive one nevertheless. And really, Paperchase is one of my favourite places so who doesn't want to spend lots of money they don't really have to spend in there?? Also, I love these Topshop socks and couldn't resist popping in to buy some.

My room was in dire need of a clean up due to me dropping everything everywhere I possibly could have done in it over the past two months. I just get lazy about it when I'm revising and justify not cleaning by telling myself that all of my effort must go into revision, yet somehow it also ends up into watching One Tree Hill. Anyway, one way or another, tidying goes out of the window so by yesterday evening there were piles of paper, masses of revision cards and quotes/dates stuck all over my wardrobe and walls that desperately needed to be sorted out.

Weirdly, I actually quite enjoy cleaning my room. (Is that weird?) I don't do it that often but when I do, I do it damn properly. Combining that with new stationary purchases to arrange on my desk and boxes to arrange my revision cards in, has actually equaled a pretty good day. I have a party coming up in a just over a week, so I'll celebrate finishing exams properly then... 

I'm waitressing at the Epsom Derby over the next two days so will be rushed off my feet but will probably be back here writing some time soon after that, I hope you all have lovely weekends!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

On Learning Italian In Nine Months

Source (Meaning: a true journey is not in finding new places but in having new eyes)

So I just finished my last exam this afternoon (I need a moment to celebrate that the months of revising are finally over!!.... until next year but we don't talk about that), which happened to be my Italian exam. Now I know I've written about it here before but this year I stupidly bravely decided to do an Italian AS level in one year. Let me be clear about this, I'm still not completely sure how I agreed to it and was thinking it was a great idea. However, here I am, nine months down the line, having completed an AS Level - not that I have any idea whether I'll get a good mark in it. To be honest though, that's not really the point for me, not with this subject. Anyway, as I've decided that that's the subject I'm going to drop next year, I wanted to write about this crazy but amazing experience, so here I am.

A couple of weeks ago, at the end of my last lesson with my lovely tutor who's half Italian and half French, she told me that she thinks what I've done in the past year is a miracle. Now, I can't claim to be fluent at all, and yet, to an extent, I think that I could possibly get by in Italy if I had to. Still, I'd never thought of it like that, that what I've done in the past year is a miracle. To me it had seemed like the product of a lot of bloody hard work and frustration on occasion. But sitting there, listening to her tell me that she's never before had such an experience and having had hours of conversations with her purely in Italian I realised that even if I fail Italian in marks this year (which I really hope I don't), not only have I had an incredible experience but I really have fallen in love with a language.

It's odd because studying a language is unlike any other subject I take (the others being history, politics and philosophy & ethics), or would want to take if I could. I'm used to very essay-like subjects and they're what I can do and what I know. I managed an A* at French GCSE but sadly, that was mostly down to memorising techniques, not linguistic talent. I'm usually naturally quite a hard-worker with a strong work ethic but when it comes to languages, I find it much harder to motivate myself. In learning a language you're spending your time learning how to speak, read, write and listen all over again, and I think something in me finds that intrinsically odd.

Despite how difficult I've found it and the times when it has made me want to scream and cry, looking back a year ago, or even more frighteningly, looking back nine months ago, my vocabulary comprised of 'buongiorno' and 'ciao'. Now I can conjugate verbs into seven different tenses, know a lot of irregulars, idioms and can (albeit limitedly) read, listen, write and speak in Italian. I, of course, still make a lot of mistakes and am far from fluent, but I do think that's a pretty big achievement.

Without really thinking about it (which I probably should have done), I took a huge risk this year, and whatever the result come August, I really am quite amazed at what I've managed to do with the help of three fantastic teachers. And I'm so grateful for that and this entire experience. It's safe to say you shouldn't be surprised if you see me in Italy as soon as is humanly possible for me...

Monday, 2 June 2014

On My Summer To Do List


Considering that daydreaming about summer is what I spend the majority of any free time I have doing during exam time, I have definitely been thinking about what I want to do this summer and how I can make it wonderful.

1. Make sure that there's some laughter everyday
2. Book train tickets for Yorkshire to stay with my sister and Dorset where I'm going on holiday with my girls
3. Visit the Old Bailey - I used to be really interested in law and have wanted to make the most of the fact that you can go and watch court cases there for a long time now, so would really like to do this
4. Go to Chessington theme park, because it's one of my favourite places (seriously)
5. Buy discounted theatre tickets for that particular evening
6. Try to get a tan - Romania is probably my best chance of this
7. Spend as much time on the beach as possible
8. Have some lazy days
9. Take lots of photos
10. Finally put some framed photos up in my bedroom
11. Pass my driving test