What I’m Into (Spring 2016 Edition)

what I'm into Spring 2016

 

Spring has arrived in England and with it hail, snow, thunder, lightning and bright sunshine, all in the space of a day. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join in with What I’m Into.

What I’m Reading

I’ve actually been reading about business finance and investment appraisal techniques since mid January so I’ve spent my leisure time reading free Kindle books in the fantasy, romance and paranormal section. My brain couldn’t take much more than that.

What I’m Watching

I finished Battlestar Galactica, and I still can’t believe I waited until this year to do so. It’s on a par with Fringe in how much I enjoyed the intricacy of this programme. It is so much more than a sci-fi show.

Other programmes I’ve watched/am watching: iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Outlander

What I’m Listening To

As I recently had an assignment deadline, I listened to a lot of playlists and instrumental music from Craig Armstrong and Ludovico Einaudi. I love how these two composers use modern technology to meld electronic soundscapes with classic piano. I’ve also been enjoying this song by Frances:

Favourite Photo

family selfie

Family selfie

What I’ve Been Doing

At Work:

I started a new PA job at my local university in February. I love being back at work and I love the university environment. I have a varied and busy role in a friendly flexible team, I get access to the university’s library and online journals, to Lynda.com, I was set up with the entire Adobe Creative Suite when my Adobe Reader went wrong. My biggest challenge is the fact that it is a two-day role and I could easily do more hours.

At Home:

  • It was my birthday in late February and our 7th wedding anniversary in April and we celebrated both with a Japanese feast.

japanese feast

 

  • I spent the Easter holidays painting the girls’ bedroom and really enjoyed myself, whereas Badgerman found it not at all therapeutic. I guess that’s my job in the house from now on then, but I will leave all the prep to him!

blue girl bedroom

 

  • We went to the Foodies Festival and had a wonderful time scoffing delicious food, enjoying the sunshine, the blues and the gin samples.

Foodie Festival 2016

 

At School:

  • I completed my HNC assignment on Managing Financial Resources and Decisions. It was my most challenging unit to date, as I suspected it would be, what with the fact that there were calculations involved, and I worked flat-out for a couple of weeks to do this.

At Home on the Blog

I will spare you a rundown of all the posts I’ve written since the last installment of What I’m Into. Needless to say it has been a bit quiet since Christmas because of that big assignment but I did post a few things anyway.

  • Not least on the list were my 2016 blogging resolutions, including having an editorial calendar, having a blog loge and going self-hosted. The good news is, I can now check one of these off the list (see below)!
  • I shared a recipe for a typical French dish of sauteed potatoes with persillade (a parsley and garlic mix), which reminds me I should really make it again, yum.
  • I linked to a website for expats, which is a fantastic resource whether you are looking to move abroad or are already there.
  • big spelling change was announced in France, which is a Very Rare Event, and people thought the end of the world was nigh.
  • And finally, I’m about to embark on a new potty training adventure, and I’m dreading it a bit.

Big Announcement

I have been hard at work developing the new platform for this blog since going self-hosted (a spur of the moment purchase on 2nd January this year) and the plan is to launch A Frog at Large under a new URL in the next couple of weeks! I will keep you posted, but be warned that you will need to manually re-subscribe by email or save the new URL as there will not be automatic redirection.

As always, I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer for this What I’m Into post. You can check out her link for better book and music recommendations from across a great range of well-read bloggers.

What I'm Into
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What I’m Into – June 2015

What I'm Into June 2015 header

Summer’s here! I’m very excited, what’s not to like about sun and heat? Quite a lot, if you’re to believe 75% of the British population. Roads melting, trains not working because the heat is making the tracks buckle (but why? They have trains in hot countries, do they use different metals?), dogs dying in cars because people are stupid, take your pick. Anyway I love summer, even (especially) at 30 degrees when you can spend the evenings with open doors and eat lots of barbecued meat.

I’ve been wondering what I’ve actually done since March and the answer is: lots and lots of study. But I still carve time for non-work activities, otherwise I wouldn’t have much to talk about.

What I’m watching

Once Upon A Time, Arrow and Outlander have finished for summer so I’m watching a bit of Grimm (for reasons unknown, it’s OK but not mind-blowing). I’m also re-watching Fringe from the comfort of my own bed now that we’ve put a TV in our bedroom. I love it, both the show and the tv in bed. It feels slightly decadent.

What I’m reading

With all the reading I’m doing for my studies, I’ve not made much headway into my to-read pile. I’ve been reading a bit of Outlander (well, I’m re-reading book 3, Voyager), also Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, and Greg Boyd’s Benefit of the Doubt. All highly recommended by me.

What I’m listening to

The new Matt Redman album, it’s a good worship album, and also I was at the Abbey Road Studios recording and I even have my signature on the album artwork (how cool is that), so I was always going to get it; and random stuff on the radio. I’m trying to think of anything I’ve particularly liked this month and nothing is standing out.

The Chemical Brothers’ Glastonbury set I watched on tv was epic but that Kanye West is a douche. I don’t care if he’s a misunderstood genius or wildly overrated. Seriously.

Favourite photos

girls in Bing & Flop masks

What I’ve been doing

At Work: work is actually the easy bit of my life right now. Three days a week, I travel through country lanes to my remote work location deep in the Sussex countryside and spend a few hours completing admin tasks in good company. What’s not to like? it’s only short-term until Christmas and perfect for now.

At Home:

  • We celebrated Luciole’s 2nd birthday, which was a rather subdued affair due to chickenpox! Little Girl had it first for a whole 7 days, and Luciole has just come out with it today, so I’m at home on unpaid leave for another week. Happy days! We did eat an enormous cake and Luciole loved her presents.

chocolate and strawberry cake

  • We’ve been slowly working on the house, we now have curtains and blinds everywhere apart from the kitchen and office. The next bit project is tackling the office properly. Remember when it looked like this?

state of the office on 030415

  • Well, now it looks like this, which is barely an improvement, but I’m trying to organise the office papers and eventually it will look fabulous. Maybe. You know what they say: the more space you need, the more you want.

state of the office as of 050715

  • We’ve had builders in to sort out a few issues with the house whilst it is still under warranty as new houses are. It was built last winter and as the timber is drying out in the heat, it is causing all sorts of weird things, all of which are only cosmetic so far, thank goodness.

At School:

Online studying is still school, right? I’m really pleased with the fact that I completed the first unit of the business course at the beginning of June and submitted my assignment on time. It was really intense for the last three weeks though. I was working every evening for 3 hours 7 days a week. I should know in the next couple of weeks whether my work is of the right standard, and if I have passed the unit. It has been fairly stressful and I honestly don’t know how I am going to sustain it. This brings me nicely to the next thing:

At Home on the Blog

What with everything that’s been going on, my presence online has been really sparse, and that’s really all I’ve been talking about.

  • Finding a suitable work/life balance is my priority right now and is very much a work-in-progress. If I’m honest, I doubt I will be able to blog more than once a fortnight, but hopefully when I do, it will be decent content.
  • My search for this elusive balance coincided with the release of the new 2015/2016 Erin Condren planner, which I discovered accidentally last year and put on my ‘one day’ list. I’m a big fan of planners and have used one for the last three years so I bit the bullet and bought one. I proceeded to write about why I like planners and this one in particular in my most gushing post yet. It’s a beautiful thing. Stationery lovers unite!

As always, I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer for this post. You can check out her link for better book and music recommendations from across a great range of well-read bloggers.

 

 

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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 – August 2014 Edition

What I'm Into Aug 2014 header

My artistic landscape gardener of a brother’s gorgeous garden

Ah, Summer. I loved you whilst you were here. But it looks like you’ve gone and aren’t coming back! We’ve had a great summer, full of parties and a long holiday feasting and sadly for August, not a lot of sun! So let’s join in with Leigh Kramer and recap this busy month.

What I’m Watching

Regular shows: I’ve caught up with The 100 and the Great British Bake-Off (oh the drama…) since coming back from holiday, and of course, Dr Who has just started again, yay!

Emma Approved concluded, and I have no plan to start watching another online show at present, and that’s it for tv and films. We watched a fair amount of Tinkerbell at my parents but little else.

I’ve also not watched any Friends over the last month however so I’ll be getting back on it in September.

What I’m Reading

To my astonishment, I won a couple of books at the end of July, and so whilst on holiday I had the pleasure of reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was an enjoyable read, and you can take a look at my short review on goodreads.

I spent a lot of time reading Tsh Oxenreiders’ Organized Simplicity: A Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living in order to get in the right frame of mind to tackle the bottomless pit of clutter that is my house. I’ve not finished it, but I’ve started putting its recommendations into action. (as an aside, I’m embarrassed to confess that I have no idea how to pronounce ‘Tsh’; is it like Tish? If anyone knows, please leave a comment, thanks!)

I also read What Type am I?: Discover Who You Really are by Renee Baron, which is an easy-to read MBTI Personality Types for Dummies – style book, and confirmed that I am indeed an ISTJ. Hello, me!

What I’m Listening To

I had the music video channel on a lot this month and it was an interesting experience. Whenever I visit France, there’s always a typically French wispy-voiced waif earnestly simpering a ballad in duet with an equally smarmy bloke; and there was certainly a bit of that going on. But there were also a few catchy offerings, like the number one from Black M ‘Sur Ma Route‘, and Cats On Trees ‘Siren Call‘.

Favourite Picture

all the blingWhat happens when you buy new shoes for your child? All the bling comes out!

20140814_view from restaurant

Le Pont St Etienne, Limoges, France

What I’ve been doing (and notable feasts)

  • We kicked off the month with Badgerman’s 40th birthday party, which was just a big excuse to eat lot of barbecued meat, including the delicious Moroccan merguez below. I was witness to some amazing physical prowess from one of the guests, who managed to take a bite out of an enormous sandwich comprising of skirt steak, a whole flat mushroom and blue cheese sauce. I was too busy doing the same to take a picture.

20140802_183319

  • Two days later, we left behind a rather large amount of trifle, banoffee pie and a freezer full of skirt steak to our lovely house-sitters, who helped us keep the flies at bay by eating all the leftovers and leaving the place way cleaner than we’d left it.
  • I am officially not a fan of long car journeys with kids. But we survived the two days it took us to get to the middle of Nowheresville, France. After that it was all fun and frolics (minus the sun), mostly eating cheese and dry sausage and drinking Belgian beer.
  • Badgerman ate this thing:

20140814_starter

It’s salmon on a bed of cucumber and apple and 5 berry cream, served with a Piquillo pepper sorbet. I had a bite (I was only allowed one :-p ) and yeah, it was really quite amazing, especially that initially weird sorbet.

At Home on the Blog

  • August was a light month. I had minimal interaction with the internet and focused on having fun with the girls and reading. I only gave in and posted after visiting a French doctor, which was an odd affair.
  • Since I got back home last week, I shared my new-found resolution to keep my house tidy, and this time, I have a cunning plan.

And so that’s it for August! I should have plenty to report in September once I get back into the swing of things.

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