What I’m Into – March 2015 Edition

Notebook

Man, it has been an AGE since I last participated in What I’m Into!

Since then (wow, it was October…), I have: moved house, found a job, started the job, become a student again, settled into a completely new routine with the kids, bought curtains, had a terrible cold, caught up with lots of wonderful tv shows, ate my weight in curry with lots of girls from church, celebrated my 35th birthday (yikes), got lots of new books, and generally felt a bit overwhelmed by it all.

We had planned to have a house-warming party towards the end of the Easter holidays. I am now sitting on the sofa, thinking about the state of the house, the number of unopened boxes in the spare room and the lack of curtains and blinds in most of the house and I laugh quietly to myself. My younger self by 2 months was so naive.

So anyway, let’s rewind a bit a take a look at the interesting things I’ve done over the last few months.

What I’m Watching

I finished Parks & Rec and I’m now bereft of comedy in my regular viewing habits, as all the other shows I watch are really quite different: Once Upon A Time, Arrow and Castle. I’m watching season 4 of all of these. I’ll be honest, OUAT isn’t what it used to be and is dragging a bit. Arrow, though, is coming up to a belter of a season finale if the trailer is anything to go by! And then of course, Outlander is coming back.

I’ve not watched any films recently but I’m planning to take Little Girl to see Cinderella at the cinema. It will be her first ever cinema outing and I’m not sure she will cope with sitting through a full-length feature but we will try, and she’s beside herself with excitement, which is worth it.

What I’m Reading

Once again, I received Lots Of Books for my birthday, and I’ve been ignoring them all and re-reading Anne Of Green Gables from start to finish; it’s been a nice treat after the whirlwind of the last month. I’ve just started Windy Poplars and keep having visions of the film and Anne and Katherine Brooke’s hideously gloriously puffy hair-dos.

All my other books are still in boxes and will remain there until we have resolved the problem of ‘the office’. I should think that the pictures below are self-explanatory.

state of the office on 030415

What I’m Listening To

I’ve not been listening to anything new of late. The news that Thrice were coming to the UK to do one date at Hevy Fest was enough to make me dig out Beggars, although I doubt I’ll be able to see them live. I hope this is a sign that they have got back together and may be working on a new album.

I’m very embarrassed about this, but I like a lot of the songs from the 50 Shades movie. Not because I’ve seen the film (and I never will, because whatever people say, emotional abuse is not sexy), but the songs have turned up on Spotify and get played on the radio a lot, and I just really like the songs from Ellie Golding, the Weeknd and the Beyonce Crazy in Love remix. They’re all on YouTube so I don’t have to buy anything, thank goodness.

Favourite Photos

Badgerman finally transferred his iPad pictures over and these ones are my favourite. the one on the left is so good for so many reasons: not only is Little Girl looking at the camera, she is smiling AND posing? What’s happened to my child the fake smiler, where has she gone to and who is this imposter?

Fav photos march 2015

What I’ve Been Doing

  • I, ahem, made an Easter Bonnet for Little Girl.  I don’t understand the point of this, or why pre-schools have an ‘Easter Bonnet Parade’. Life in the UK doesn’t get quainter, or weirder, than this. The making of the hat was a last-minute, night before sort of job. The worst thing is I know it’s only the beginning, as British schools are in the habit of wanting kids to do all sorts of things at home that end up being a massive craft-oriented time-consuming task for the parents. I’m dreading all the World Book Days and nativities that require me to pretend I know how to sew.
  • These last couple of weeks, there have been fevers and colds and I got coughed on quite a bit so now I can’t breathe or taste anything.
  • My birthday was fairly uneventful because we moved house the week after and honestly, it was just all too much for me.
  • I got given a car, and I don’t know what to say about it that won’t sound completely trite and underwhelming compared to this complete whopper of a gift. Our friends are amazing, wonderful, super generous and I totally don’t deserve them.
  • I started an admin job three days a week, which has been fine apart from that one day I had to take off because Luciole was ill. Three weeks into a new job, way to make a good impression! My colleagues are good fun and it’s great to be out of the house and suddenly have something else to think about rather than just kids 24/7.
My 'I Got The Job' present. Basically all my favourite things.

My ‘I Got The Job’ present. Basically all my favourite things.

  • Because I’m a bit nuts, I have also started an online course in business management. It’s a proper degree (well, a BTech actually) but it’s meant to be worked around a full-time sort of life doing other stuff. We’ll see how that goes, won’t we?
  • You might have noticed I updated the look of the blog, again. As much as I loved the featured post slider and will miss it (until I find a design I like that has one), I hated that there was so much block black colour on the page and I didn’t need the menu on the left hand-side.

At Home On The Blog

I haven’t really done a round-up since last October, so here’s what happened:

November 2014

  • I wrote about bilingualism and language: we attended a really helpful session with a language therapist who put our mind at rest about Little Girl’s development. The best thing was the information sheet she provided on what normal speech development looks like.
  • I reminisced about my experience of culture shock, homesickness and general emotional upheaval when I first came to England. There are roughly 4 stages people tend to go through and it turns out I’m pretty normal. This is one of these times where the motto of ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ is actually meaningful.
  • I started participating in Five Minute Friday, in which you set your timer to 5 minutes and write on the day’s given prompt. It’s a nice little writing challenge. That week, the prompt word was Still.

December 2014

This is the month when the world exploded in activity. There was Christmas, I had a bad cold virus for much of the month and we were suddenly buying a house.

  • I revived an old post for a Christmas craft idea for people who can’t craft: a magnet advent calendar for the fridge, which sounds pretty cool if you ask me, and is even cooler in real life.
  • I shared our news that we were buying a house and what it’s like to be a first-time buyer in the south of England.
  • There was another Five Minute Friday post, with a timely prompt: Prepare.
  • As we drew nearer to Christmas, I shared some of my French Christmas Eve Traditions. Everyone who asks me about my French Christmasses ends up hearing about No Potatoes Christmas, which I will forever be bitter about.
  • Wow, I really was in the Christmas spirit this year, because I also put our Christmas Day Menu up for inspiration, shock and awe.
  • I mentioned in the Christmas Menu post that I would translate the recipe for my Raspberry and Lychee Chocolate Log, and so I did. It’s easy to make, promise.

January 2015

February 2015

  • Five Minute Friday on Keep, again incredibly timely.

March 2015

And that’s all folks, we are all caught up!

You can check out what everybody is into over on Leigh Kramer‘s blog.

 

 

What I’m Into – September 2014

What I'm Into Sept 2014

How long ago were the summer holidays again? Only one month? September has been busy, stressful and physically challenging, though thankfully we’ve also had some good news and great weather. Still I’m glad October is here and I can give Baked Pumpkin Cheese Fondue a try. It’s totally going to happen.

Anyway, I’m joining with Leigh Kramer and looking back at all the things that have been going on in my life in September.

What I’m Watching

Regular Shows: Dr Who, The Great British Bake-Off

I’ve lost interest in both The 100 and Under the Dome, which have been increasingly underwhelming and ludicrous as time went on.

I’m having the hardest time restarting Friends after my August hiatus, what’s up with that?

I’ve binge watched Outlander, season 3 of Once Upon A Time and last Sunday’s episode, and season 3 of Parks & Rec. Don’t ask how I’ve been able to watch these shows that are not currently showing in the UK. But basically, I loved every minute of every single one of them (especially Outlander, see below).

What I’m Reading

I finally found A Dance With Dragons: Part 1at the library and devoured it in a couple of days. Great book, can’t wait to read Part Two.

My blog Reader filled with reviews and Tumblrs about new show Outlander (Cross Stitch, UK), which was rewarding and frustrating in equal measures at the time (before I found a way to watch it). It is the TV version of my favourite book series but one which I tend to only recommend to a select few due to some of the content in the same way that I don’t recommend Game of Thrones the TV show to everyone either. It’s a matter of taste but some people find the violence and the naughty bits (even in a marital context) too graphic. Or maybe it’s because I remember I was 16 when I read the first book and my mum’s eyes popped a little when she tried it after me. I’ve genuinely enjoyed all the recaps and gif sets I found online despite all the spoilers but since I’ve read the (enormous) books about 10 times each, it was just a lot of fun. I am on the library waiting list to read the latest one (number 8 in the series!) Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. I’ll buy it for sure but due to lack of space on the bookshelves I’ll be waiting for the paperback.

What I’m Listening To

Let it goooooo, let it gooooo! Because Luciole is 15 months and can sing along to some of the chorus – minus most of the words but you can still make it out. Da da GO! Da da GO!

Favourite Picture

20140914_boozy luciole

I know I shouldn’t like this one as much as I do. Badger beer is very tasty, I can’t begrudge her that.

What I’ve Been Doing

  • I dove right back into the swing of things, also known as ‘I don’t remember what it’s like to be on holiday and it’s only been a day‘.
  • I met up with friends in the famed town that is Romford, Essex and ate too much cheese, cake and Haribos.
  • I started to clear stuff up at home. I promise, I did. I even bought a table at a baby stuff nearly-new sale for next Saturday.
  • In completely unexpected news, I am now on Tumblr. I had zero intention of doing this, right to the second when I pressed the create button. Tumblr is a weird place full of very immersed fandom members and it scares me a little. I’m really only on the periphery and might never use it properly but I love commenting on things and it bugged me that the only way to do that on Tumblr is to have an account with them. So now I have one, for better or for worse.

At Home on the Blog

I finally wrote that post about our passport difficulties for Luciole, and how it really was a miracle that we got it in time for our holidays.

I’m going to get six parcels full of fresh spices in the post over the next six months and start my Beginner’s Journey into Indian Curries from scratch, all in honour of Badgerman’s 40th birthday. Between Luciole being ill, my cut finger and other things, I’ve not yet hosted the first one, which was due this month but you can expect a post in the next couple of weeks. That is, unless the roof caves in or something similarly disastrous.

And then of course, I cut my thumb, went to the emergency department and subsequently sang the praises of my super sharp knives

Ah, yes, I discovered Washi tape and used it in some clever ways. If you’re into craft, it’s a handy little thing to have. If you’re not, well, it’s a bit weird but pretty.

In case you haven’t noticed, I updated my blog design! It was long overdue and it’s not perfect but it will do, don’t you think? I unveiled it with a post raving about this fab design website called canva, which I’m not linking to here because you should all totally check it out, but only once you’ve read the post.

Luciole was ill last week and I talked about how everyone in the UK (and probably the US and 75% of the rest of the world) gets freaked out when they hear the word suppository. It sure is a culture clash.

Last but not least, another post about cultural differences: you think you know how things work, and then preschool happens and it’s a whole new world of discomfort.

And that’s it folks! Check out all the other September entries over at:

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What I’m Into – April 2014 Edition

Low tide at Bexhill-on-Sea

Low tide at Bexhill-on-Sea

I’ve been meaning to get on board Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into link-up for a while now; it’s a great way to sum up the month and also to get recommendations for books, shows and web things of all sorts. But every time it has come around, I’ve either drawn a major blank ‘what on earth have I done this last month?’ or I’ve realised that putting it together at the last minute would involve a lot of scrambling around and would defeat the object of this being a fun thing to do. So this time, I actually planned ahead (which is what I should be doing anyway to keep the blog going, but let’s ignore that for a moment) and it’s a massive post because I spend my entire life reading and watching tv it’s the first one and I feel like I need to do some explaining.

What I’m Watching

I like to keep an eye out for new online shows and currently follow the developments of Emma Approved. Once the glorious days of The Lizzie Bennett Diaries were over last year, I wondered where the creators would go next and I was curious to say the least when they announced they were going to try their hand at a retelling of another popular Austen novel, Emma. If I’m completely honest it was a slow start but the show has now hit its stride and there is a lot to enjoy. The friendship between Emma and Knightley remains the highlight but they just finished the Elton plot and it was so much fun. It’s going on a short hiatus in May but you can catch up on all the rest in the meantime to keep yourself busy.

I also finished watching:

Kissing In the Rain – for romance lovers. The blurb on the page says “Actors Lily and James keep finding themselves kissing in the rain, despite not being particularly fond of each other.” In one of the episodes, they act the part of Gilbert and Anne from Anne of Green Gables. If anything’s going to get you watching, it ought to be this!

H+ The Digital Series – I watched this YouTube based sci-fi series in one sitting last week and wish there was more (it may yet happen apparently). It’s about a future where people get implanted with a microchip so that they are their very own computer, and then it goes wrong…

A Tell Tale Vlog – by the same people who produced Kissing in the Rain, it follows Tortured Poet Edgar Allan Poe as he tries to write The Raven whilst being haunted by Lenore the Lady Ghost. It’s so hilarious I had tears in my eyes at one point.

We’ve had next to no TV signal since Christmas and have been waiting on our landlord to sort out the aerial.We don’t have satellite, Netflix or an internet-ready TV so we’ve been scraping, scraping! for things to watch online and hoping we wouldn’t miss out too much of our regular shows. So I was a bit gutted to discover that I’ve lost out on half of series 5 of The Good Wife that’s currently running on More 4. Let me not dwell on these bitter thoughts…

On the other hand, my brother-in-law, the techy guy in our family, introduced us to Chromecast, which is the best thing ever as far as I’m concerned. It allows you to project whatever you’re watching from your laptop onto your tv, and still allow you to use your tablet/laptop for other things at the same time. As we are currently making full use of catch-up services like the iPlayer and Demand 5, this is a really welcomed gadget.

My favourite shows are back from their mid-season break so I am watching Castle and Person of Interest.

Films-wise, Little Girl has been watching Tangled on a loop, which is one of the best Disney films of recent years (bearing in mind I have seen neither Brave nor Frozen) so I am not complaining. I also watched Gravity, which was suitably claustrophobic and made me ask myself once again why people would want to go to space, EVER.

We finished the final season of Fringe, which was a blast of epic proportions with a satisfying ending. I could now watch anything featuring Anna Torv and John Noble without knowing a thing about it based on the quality of their performance on Fringe. Also, Joshua Jackson. Basically a must-see for all sci-fi fans, it’s a treasure-trove of deep characterization and the most bonkers plot developments I’ve ever seen. It’s left quite a hole in our boxset-watching habits. Not sure what will replace it, unless we start again from the very beginning!

New things I’ve only just come across that are amazing: Parks and Recreation – you can’t get away from it online but I never had the opportunity to watch any of it before. I’m only 4 episodes in on BBC4 and it strikes me as a bit like The Office with slightly less cringe (I love Lesley, whereas David Brent made my skin crawl). Also, the first season of Orphan Black was on BBC3 on the iPlayer. Where was I when that show first appeared? Just, WHAT.

What I’m Listening to

When at home I tend to stick to my starred playlist on Spotify but I went on a little road trip to visit a friend at the beginning of the month, a rare event because I don’t have access to a car during the day except during Badgerman’s holidays. Hence it was a bit of a treat to be able to listen to what I wanted whilst driving. I took three albums with me:

Thrice‘s Beggars – I love the titular song, and All the World is Mad is equally good. I am not as much a fan of their heaviest stuff but I do like a bit of electric guitar and their lyrics are beautifully crafted.

Katatonia is a Swedish metal band (not to be confused with the welsh songstress of Catatonia fame). It won’t be mainstream anytime soon but I don’t mind, although I only listen to their latest stuff starting with The Dead Cold Distance. My Radiohead-loving husband thinks they’re too depressing, which is a bit ironic to be honest. I love The Day and Then The Shade, and all of their remixes are awesome (the videos are creepy though, watch at your peril!).

Finally for a quieter driving time (I did have the kids with me after all), I listened to FrouFrou’s Details. I love all of Imogen Heap’s stuff, her lyrics are always chock-full of evocative content and she has a unique sound I love.

What I’ve Read and what I’m Reading

After finishing Daring Greatly last month, I read Quiet, which was a different beast altogether. It was an interesting and insightful look at introversion and I enjoyed it a lot. It was thankfully much less emotionally involving than the previous book but I took longer to read it than I expected, maybe because the concepts were not new to me. It’s probably no bad thing, I don’t think I could have taken the emotional punches day in day out quite like I did last month! I have nearly Bread & Wine: a love letter to life around the table, which is my first forray into the food memoir genre and is warm, funny, devastating and making me very very hungry. I also read an urban fantasy set in London called Whispers Under Ground and started The Gallery of Vanished Husbands.

For a closer look at my eclectic reading taste and reviews of all of the above, I have a Goodreads account to keep track of things.

Favourite picture of the month

the girls - April 2014

What I’ve been doing

  • We went to the seaside for my mother-in-law’s birthday, which has led to a near daily request of ‘is it my party yet’ and ‘I want a scooter, a pink one’ from Little Girl. Her birthday’s at the end of July so I fear my patience is going to be tested.
  • As it was the Easter holidays, we made the most of having two weeks to ourselves with Badgerman. It is the one good thing about him being a teacher and always leads to lots of eating and going out in the sun, including our regular holiday visit to my favourite place in Lewes, Bill’s Restaurant. We never make it early enough for the breakfast, which is a shame because EVERYTHING. Instead I always end up going for the fish finger sandwich, and the girls loved the chicken skewers and couscous.

lunch at Bill's

  • Our wedding anniversary came around sooner than I was prepared for so I scrambled for a last-minute present which had NOTHING to do with the given theme of the year: wood. Badgerman did much better and got me not one but two wood-inspired presents. I went for the practical with a plectrum-shaped case for, you guessed it, his plectrums. I was starting to wonder if we were going to get hundreds of letters in the same style as Harry Potter in the days before his first year at Hogwarts, except from plectrum heaven telling us to sort something out pronto.

2014 Anniversary

Notable Feasts

I love food and cooking for people is one of my favourite things but as a strong introvert I can’t host lots of parties and have people around all the time or I would just be constantly exhausted. However, a ‘what I’m into’ post would be nothing without a special section sampling the delicious things tasted in the last month. It’s a terrible shame that I completely failed to get pictures of anything.

  • We went for a ‘picnic lunch’ at the local farm/kids playground requested by Little Girl. Within 2 minutes of sitting down with our sandwiches, she had scampered off on her own to play on the slides.
  • We had a wonderful Raclette cheese feast served with the usual sides of little strips of steak, charcuterie, boiled buttered potatoes and green salad: the ultimate comfort food.
  • A dear friend came over for a belated birthday party and we had fresh fish (cooked whole for effect) and my cheat apricot tart, which I made with peaches because apricots are not in season. To be honest it was also a bit early for peaches. I bought the ‘ripe at home’ variety and they were rock solid. I managed to salvage them by softening them for a while in a pan with sugar and Amaretto. Nobody complained.
  • Then Easter happened and we had a really impressive leg of lamb and Easter chocolate and cherry trifle for dessert (with chocolate brownies at the bottom because it had to be done and who cares about waistlines anyway, right?). I’m really gutted about the lack of photos, but I forgot in the heat of the moment.
  • I did, however, got a build your own Mister Easter-egg Head and attempted a Picasso.

my picasso Easter egg

On the blog

I have probably been more prolific in the last month than I have been in the last year put together. Maybe it’s Spring or the Easter holidays motivating me but I have felt more energized to write.

I shared a couple of recipes for chicken and soup, waxed lyrically (or not) about the parenting bits from that book I read in March, and I had a few thoughts about a French workers’ agreement which seems to be a storm in a teacup. I also wrote about tea, which French people know very little about, despite that apparently they are giving it another go.

You can check out all the other entries on Leigh’s blog by following the image link below.

 

What I'm Into