Saturday, 15 August 2009

She runs, she runs!

That's right people, I have been running no less than three times this week! And I feel great! Even in such a short space of time I've noticed an improvement in that I'm running further and further each time and I'm not feeling like I will die when I get to the end - meaning that I'm slowly working my way up to push myself harder each time. This morning I even included a sprint at the end just to expend all the extra energy!

I was lucky enough a few months ago to win some She Active vouchers and last week had a day out in Brighton where I was able to spend them. I was thinking about getting some new trainers but seeing as they didn't do proper testing of your running style I decided to not take the risk and so bought some new running gear. So now, I can run at least looking like a pro!

Nike Women Dri Fit Tech Capri 09.

Nike Women Sleeveless Half Zip Top, £22.99.

Today, I also bought this DVD.

I figure I can't run everyday day, and as much as it will improve my fitness it probably won't change my bodyshape a huge amount seeing as I don't have that much fat to lose :0) But, I do need to tone up and I really enjoyed Pilates last year when I tried it as part of Sweat in the City, and these 10minute workouts will fit easily into my day! I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Gormet Cooking

Well, as you can see I've been busy in the kitchen again! And guess what, I cooked this one totally from scratch! (that's why I'm showing it to you, there's no skill involved in pouring sauce from a jar!).

I made this, sweet and sour pork, last week after buying BBC Good Food magazine on a whim. I've never followed a recipe before for a main course - baking recipes yes, but not dinner. Dinner comes from jars right?!

And it was surprisingly easy to do. The only slight hiccup was me walking around the supermarket thinking "What the hec does soy look like and where will I find it?". I came to the conclusion that seeing as Morrisons doesn't have a health food section and tofu isn't easy to find either, they must not stock soy. I figured that seeing as the recipe only required a teaspoon of the stuff that it can't be that important anyway.

The finished result was indeed delicious - tasted just like the shop bought stuff only less orange, which equals less MSG so I'm told.

The recipe can be found here. And now that I've seen their website I think it's safe to say that I won't be buying the mag again, as there's so many recipes online!

And just thought you might like to see the flowers I bought last week in a moment of crazy domesticity. They're still looking pretty good over a week later so turned out to be a good buy!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The rise of the domestic Goddess!

On Saturday I had the most domestic of days. I spent the whole morning cleaning the house in preparation for our first proper house-guest. (We have Jon's brother satying with us for a week or so). I even mopped the floors and polished all the window sills. This took most of the day, except for an hour when I was trapped in the living room waiting for the floors to dry... don't worry I had a magazine.

Then at 3pm I had the sudden urge to bake so I dug out the cook books that are normally just for display purposes only. Tana Ramsay came up trumps with a recipe for brownies. I dashed out to the supermarket so that I'd be back in time for Steve's arrival.

Ok, so I did have to call my mum twice whilst I was there - first to check that cream cheese was the same as soft cheese, second to check whether it mattered if you used normal chocolate instead of cooking chocolate (does it matter?! It's all chocolate!). I even grabbed a bunch of fresh flowers on the way out because they were so bright and beautiful! I don't have pictures of that though, sorry.

So I made the brownies - the swirlyness is as a result of a layer of white chocolate that you swirl around. Yummy yummy yummy! Part of me wishes that I had styled up the photograph with a freshly cut piece and some melting ice cream in a pretty bowl, but unfortunately I didn't think of that and now they're all gone (they didn't stick around for long, I can tell you!).

So yes, the most domesticated of days...

Next time I will fill you in on some new fitness gear that I've bought! (Just need to use it now!).

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Where is the year going?

My apologies, my apologies, and we were going so well! I would have kept this blogging lark up had my computer not broken, yes we've been without a home computer since March (ish?) time and have since moved house, so even when it gets fixed, we'll have to sort outt he grand interweb for my dear blogging adventures to continue!

Never fear though, life has not stood still, I am still making progress with my goals and new goals have emerged and evolved as the year has gone on.

As I said, we moved house. Which meant I have now risen to the dizzy heights of domestic goddessness. We're now living on our own so it's all up to me to keep everything shiny and pretty, and I have to say that I am doing quite well (with Jon's help, obviously!).

My biggest success of the year, however, is my reading! I have probably read more books this year than I have in the last five put together! So yay for me :0)

Books I have read:
Cecilia Ahern: A place called here
Cecilia Ahern: If you could see me now
Cecilia Ahern: Thanks for the memories
(Notice a pattern? I still can't bring myself to read PS I Love You. I cried all the way through the movie and just reading the first page in Borders made me tearful. It's sooooooo sad!)

Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers: the Story of Success. I've read one of his others, The Tipping Point, and this was just as fantastic. It's non-fiction, kind of sociology-based but full of interesting real-life stories to back up his theories. Great if you want to find out more about what makes some people successful and others not so. If you like this kind of sociology-based book would also reccommend The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. I read that whilst on honeymoon a couple of years ago, and although I'm not one for maths and finance, it was a really interesting read, again backed up by real-life stories, certainly gives you a new perspective on the world! Next on my list in the same vein is Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

Jodi Picoult: My Sister's Keeper (I was so not expecting the twist at the end... if you've read it you'll be like "I Know!". When I got to that part I was sitting on the train and I let out a little squeal of shock. Luckily I was not alone and my friend was sitting there waiting for me to get to "that part!").

I'm currently reading one of Jodi Picoult's other books, Nineteen Minutes. It's about a high-school shooting from the perspective of the killer's mum. Not as much of a page-turner as My Sister's Keeper. I have to say I think I read her best one first (or so I've been told!).

One devastating development in the world of books though.... Borders on Oxford Street is closing down! I love that place! There's still one up on Charing Cross Road but that's just that bit further away from where I normally loiter about! Very sad news indeed!

So anyway, sorry there's no pictures today. I normally try and include some just to break up my ramblings but I'm actually at the library and didn't come prepared.

Monday, 27 April 2009

It's been a while....

Well, it has been a while hasn't it?! But that doesn't mean I haven't been changing my life. I've been so busy changing my life that I haven't had time to blog about it! (My bad, I'm sorry!).

However, now that we've had a week of glorious sunshine I feel like there's lots of new beginnings, fresh starts, Spring basically. So here's what I've been doing in my glorious weekend of sunshine:

1. I went for a run on Saturday morning - which makes for the second run this week and I'm going again tonight! Absolutely loving it, and have started running with a couple of friends in the evenings which makes it all the more enjoyable. If I stick at it, Jon says I can get some of those Nike Plus trainers so I can record my progress (yes indeedy, I am a marketers dream, with these trainers, and only these ones, I will become a marathon runner!).

2. I spent a lovely afternoon in the park with Jon. Got to get all the outdoorsy business out the way before Jon gets struck down for three months with Hayfever when we never leave the house!

3. Turned my room from this.....

to this.....
All clean and tidy, I've always wondered how things get messy so quickly, obviously it's the mess pixies isn't it? Because it's certainly not me!
I've also done a bit of crafting of late, but will save that for another day :0)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Busy Busy Bee :0)

Apologies for my shockingly long absence over the month of February. Life got very very busy due to my resolution of "living on the front row" (i.e. not staying in and backing out of things because I'm too tired, or it's too hard or too far). In fact, it's now the 24th and, looking back on the month, I have been out for 17 out of those 24 evenings, 11 of those 17 being weekdays. It would have been 18 had it not snowed on Monday 2nd!
It's been a busy month. Most of those evenings have been church meetings so I don't regret any of it, it's the beginning of the year so we've been looking ahead, planning and driving things forward etc etc, and we've also had the chance to go to some brilliant seminars and training. I also am well aware that I am where I am today, both in my personal life and with the responsibilities I've been entrusted with at church, because I am consistent and I "just showed up". So no regrets there - I'm learning loads!

I did manage to squeeze in a valentines meal (ok, so we went to Nandos because it was late and we were hungry) and a trip to see Slumdog Millionaire, and we also went away for a weekend to South Wales - so there was a little bit of me-time.... ok a tiny bit.

To be honest though, I am exhausted. I don't remember the last time I went to bed without setting an alarm, last night was the first time in over a week that I actually ate dinner at home, and I have lately had regular bouts of tiredness, sleepiness and severe loss of concentration at work. I think the last time I spent the day with Jon with no plans or commitments whatsover was probably Christmas day.

I get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, I've upped my water intake and although I don't do a huge amount of exercise, I do walk a lot and general activities don't tire me out - when I do exercise I push myself quite far and feel quite fit and healthy... so I don't know what the problem is. Plenty of people get up at 6am, travel an hour to work, get home at 7pm (ish!) or go out for the evening and go to bed at 10pm without any trouble, don't they?! And a lot of people I know live this kind of lifestyle whilst going out in the evenings and leading busy lives. I know it's been a hectic month, but I thought I would be able to cope for a short period without too much trouble! :0)

This week is empty though so I'm looking forward to lots of early nights, homecooked dinners (vegetables!!) and cosy duvets. I do have plans on Saturday morning but I have the rest of that day free, and I've booked March 13th off work so I can spend the day with Jon, relax and recuperate (it seems a long way off but it's not, honest!)

In other news....
- After a very busy 2008 and not having been on holiday since August '07 I was in desperate need of a holiday. However, we had agreed not to pay out on such luxuries until our student debts were paid. We have recently been told that Jon won an incentive at work whereby we (that's me too!) get five nights in Las Vegas!!! Flights, accomodation and an activity included! We're hoping to go later in the year so we have something to look forward to!

- On February 7th I got up early and went for a run in the glorious sunshine, upon returning home I realised that no one else was about so did a Pilates session before eating a very healthy soup lunch. I then promptly fell asleep for 3 hours between 2pm and 5pm, wasting my whole day off! (And yes, that was the last time I had a Saturday off!)

- My budget and healthy eating goals went out the window because we were eating out so much this month. However, we've managed to last til the end of the month without dipping into our savings account, as well as paying extortionate amounts for train travel to Wales (I remember when it used to cost less than £30 when you paid on the day!).

- I'm struggling with Pride and Prejudice. It's just a bit slower than Sense and Sensibility. However, I am not a quitter, I'm more than two thirds of the way through, and I will finish it! Just give me a few weeks yeah?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Looking back on a good month

Well, seeing as we are now one twelfth through 2009, and one month into my goal setting plans, I thought it might be good to see how far I've come and what I've achieved. The good news is, when I first started this my goals in their most basic form were 1. To work out what my goals are, and 2. To blog regularly enough for this to be worth it. And I've achieved both of those - hurray!!

Area 1: Health and Fitness
I really wanted to go running once a week and so far I've managed once a fortnight. I know I know, that seems bad, but at the moment I can only go running on Saturdays (once summer rolls around, evenings will be much more feesable), and the only reason why I haven't been is because I've had plans - not because I'm lying in bed without the motivation to go.

I also said I would keep reading the magazines and I am. In fact yesterday I subscribed to one of them so looking forward to having that in the post every month - and saving a HUGE amount on the cover price.

Area 2: Budget & Finance
I have now knocked £100 off my overdraft - so well on track to reducing it by £500 by May.
I don't always stick to budget, and still fritter away pennies on an incredible amount of food BUT I am much more aware of the accounts and know whether I can afford to do this or not.
I haven't bought any clothes until Saturday when firstly, it was just after pay day, and secondly I mostly used my vouchers from Christmas.
We haven't eaten out as much this month.
It has been a long month, that much has to be said, and we were thrown out of sync a bit with Jon being paid before Christmas instead, so looking forward to February when things can go back to normal.

Area 3: Becoming a well-rounded person
I've read Sense and Sensibility - and finished it - and enjoyed it!
I'm half way through Pride and Prejudiced, loving that one too.
Still working through Joseph Prince, but enjoying taking notes and studying, rather than just reading and not taking it all in.
I haven't been able to do as much crafting as I would like. In fact, I still haven't got my beads out and had a play - need to set aside more time for me!

Area 4: Being organised
The list thing is going well. All the long-term things that were on my list at the beginning of the month are now completed - including hemming trousers which I'm very proud about! I feel a lot more organised and that means I have more time to concentrate on other things. I do tend to do things when I think of them as well so that's cool.

Area 5: Living life on the front row
I live a very busy life but whereas last year I was feeling run down and tired, this year I'm enjoying being busy and feel like I'e accomplished a lot just in this last month. This week was going to be the testing point because I was due to be out every night this week, but my meeting tonight got cancelled 'cause of the snow so if that's a sign of things to come it looks like I'll have to test myself another time.

Area 6: Food
Well, a more recent goal means I haven't been focussing on it all month, but so far I have cooked two proper dinners. Woohoo!

Ok, so it might not look a lot to you, but to me I've made a lot of huge changes so far and I feel a lot better for it. Things are going well, especially in the midst of a really busy month at work, and kicking off the year at church. I'm pleased. :0)

Battling against the elements...

This was our garden last night.... and even that would normally be bad. You just don't get snow in London.

This was our garden at 6.45am this morning (compare the garden table to see exactly how much snow fell!)

This was our street at 6.55am when I left the house. Hardly anyone had walked on it yet, and you couldn't see where the pavement ended and the road began.

And this was platform 10 at Stratford station. You can't see it that well but around the lamp posts the snow was almost knee deep.

When I finally got on the train (delayed by 20minutes), I got as far as Chelmsford and was forced to turn around and go back for fear that we wouldn't be able to get home. We were told it was set to get worse and travelling back tonight would be a nightmare. So, really, I didn't have to battle the elements at all.

And... it's STILL snowing. Heavily!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Area 6: Food glorious food!

Despite the fact that I absolutely love food, I have to say that I absolutely hate cooking. Well... actually maybe I don't HATE cooking, I just have no patience for it. I leave the house at 7am, I get back home at about 7pm (at the earliest), and by that point I'm not really in the mood for waiting an hour for things to cook and then having to deal with all the pots and pans that follow (ok, so Jon normally does that bit, but as I said, I'm not in the mood).

My kind of evening generally consists of putting some kind of frozen object in the oven, collapsing on the sofa and waiting 30 mins (max!) until I have a lovely, (albeit processed and fattening) plate of chips and pizza or something to that effect. (I have a good metabolism btw).

Anyway, I'm getting old(er!) and not too sure how long I can keep this up before it catches up with me so 2009 will also be the year for eating proper food. Not always, admittedly, because sometimes it's just not possible - especially when Jon works late. But I do miss proper, home-cooked, meals, even with a few vegetables thrown in here and there.

In the last fortnight I have cooked two (what I would call) 'proper' meals. Bangers and Mash was the first and came about ebcause we had left-over potatoes that needed eating. And then, for the first time in my life, I cooked Pasta Bake. Now I know it sounds silly, but this was a real achievement for me - I even found that I had the exact right sized dish to cook it in! And I did it all on my own. :0)

Yes, it was as delicious as it looks! Now I'm not saying that these 'proper' meals are the healthiest in the world. But it's a tiny step away from ready meals and processed tins. So give me SOME credit!

The only problem is, when we eat out. I am a fussy eater. Name a restaurant and I will be able to tell you my exact order for that particular establishment. Ok so....

Wagamamas: Chicken Katsu Curry (I believe that's a number 73?!)
Nandos: Lemon & Herb Chicken Fillet Burger with Cheese (no pineapple), chips and coleslaw.
Pizza Hut: Chicken Supreme, deep pan pizza with garlic bread and potato skins.
Any kind of Indian: Chicken Korma and pilau rice......

And so on. Hmmm I like chicken don't I?

Anyway, the point is I am not very adventurous. And if there's a burger on the menu, I'll order it because I hate making decisions. On Friday we went out for a friends birthday and there was a variety of burgers on offer (I hate decisions!) But I was semi-adventurous and ordered a chilli burger:
Looks good doesn't it?! Anyway, the point is, it's really difficult to eat healthily when we eat out. Because I find ceasar salads boring, monotonous, and not very filling.

But 2009 is the year for me to choose healthier options on the menu, cook more 'proper' dinners and generally cut out as much junk as possible.

  • Eat more fruit throughout the day, and stop being fussy about buying chopped apples in a bag. It's cheaper to buy whole apples and cut them up!
  • Include vegetables in meals instead of frozen chips.
  • Cook proper dinners at least once a week.
  • If eating out, be a bit more adventurous and choose a healthier option.
  • Stop feeling like you've missed out when the meal doesn't come with chips.
  • Don't order something and then pine for what Jon has until he swaps with you!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

It's going to be a good year

Today was a brilliant day and I'm so excited about the things ahead. We had a Leadership Day at church where our Pastor spoke to the leaders about the things that are ahead, our goals and the coming year, so I'm feeling very inspired. :0)

I've been reading Joseph Prince's book, Destined to Reign, recently and let me tell you, it is amazing! I had started to read it before but I decided to start from the beginning and really take it in chapter by chapter, taking notes and studying the Bible alongside it, and it is brilliant. This book has the potential to totally change your mindset about the gospel of grace and bring real understanding into why we believe what we believe - backing everything up with the Bible so that you can talk to others about it too! Prince's teaching totally changed our church so well worth a read!

I'm really seeing the effects of investing into my own life already so looking forward to doing some more reading in the near future. In fact, after today, my book list has grown 10 fold!

And I finished Sense and Sensibility! I absolutely loved it! It's nice to be able to read that kind of book on the train and then come home and read a study kind of book - strikes a good balance! Jane Austen's writing was beautiful and I can't wait to make a start on what's probably her most famous effort - Pride & Prejudice! I'm also curious about the other one I bought, Persuasion, because I haven't heard as much about it so not sure what to expect at all!

Anyway, Sense and Sensibility was beautiful, and I could see all the characters alive and well in our modern day society. In fact, I was thinking, Jane Austen - as classically acclaimed as she is - was just her days equivalent of Sophie Kinsella or Mariane Keys. Think about it, she was just writing romance laced with gossip and scandal which is essentially chick lit right? So just because it is set 200 years ago, it doesn't mean we don't see this kind of classical writing today, we do. The plot is always the same - just fast forward a few hundred years!

Speaking of Sophie Kinsella, I was excited to read that a movie has been made about our favourite Shopaholic, Becky Bloomwood. However, I was disappointed to find out they have made her into an American! No offence to my friends across the pond, but isn't the charm of Becky that she hails from a small British town, working in the City of London and shopping to her heart's content in the designer shops on Bond Street that she really can't afford?! And does making her an American render useless the whole plot of the book Shopaholic Abroad - where she moves to New York and tries to grow accustomed to US shopping! And I'm sorry but Isla Fisher?! How can you take an Australian and make her play an American who clearly should be British?! And she has ginger hair!! (My interpretation of Becky was that she is brunette and quite plain looking!)

So I'm not sure I'll be inclined to go and see that one.... Seven Pounds, on the other hand, is definitely on my list to see!

  • Go to see Seven Pounds (remember the tissues!)
  • Read Pride and Prejudiced
  • Keep going with Joseph Prince
  • Seriously think about what I would like achieve this year in regards to Church, and how I can help to move the Church forward in relation to what was discussed today.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

It's all about me, me and.... me!

It's so nice to have a Saturday when there are no plans. :0)

Jon was at work (as usual!) so I had the day to myself (as usual!), but instead of having lots of errands or meetings or shopping to do, I actually had nothing on the cards! Which is great - probably as a result of me being so organised lately (see previous posts), which is gonig really well. I'm loving the whole list thing. It wasn't even my turn to do the cleaning either!

It was an aboslutely gorgeous day, I wish I had taken a picture of the clear sky to show you, and it was really warm so i went for a run (Run number two of 2009 - making progress!) and it felt soooooo good just to be outside in the warm and the sun... and there was a slight breeze so running was really comfortable. I noticed that I can run a lot further in the warm as well, it's easier to breathe!

I took my bank card with me so that I could swing my Sainsburys on the way back, and as I crossed the road who should I see in the Starbucks queue? Marcus. And who was he with? Pearl and Mark! So I went up for a pit-stop and had a nice chat (hopefully I didn't stink too much!) before heading to Sainsburys to get the food in. Came home and had the house to myself. Which was cool...... for a while.

You know, sometimes I really look forward to having the house to myself and I have loads of plans of what I might do, but then..... I do feel a little lonely. It would be nice if Jon didn't work EVERY Saturday. In fact... it's 8.55pm and he's still not home. So glad I made my own dinner!

So anyway, I ended up sorting out some bits and pieces and sorting through my craft bits and then I made these postcards. Really simple to do, but beautiful and they make a nice little gift.

I then curled up in bed and read some more of Sense and Sensibility. I'm almost at the end now and I honestly don't know what's going to happen (I'm sure I've seen a dramatisation before but can't remember the storyline at all!), so I'm excited to get to the end.

So I guess from today I'm doing well on the fitness front and also developing my personal interests, which is cool - a bit of crafting and reading are always good. Let's not talk about the budgeting....... ;0)

As for living life on the front row, last weekend was really busy but I really made an effort to go to everything and you know what? It was a really cool week! Friday was our East London regional party for church, we had a really good turnout and it's so good to see everyone progressing and a genuine community being built out in our neck of the woods.

Sunday was a great day in Church! And I wasn't tired at the end of it either. Towards the end of last year I was quite run down and I couldn't last the day in church, which is really unusual for me. But on Sunday I went from 8am on team and served for the first service and went to a team meeting, had a really nice afternoon with Jon (it's always nice to see your husband!) and then went to the 5pm service before taking a new girl out for coffee afterwards - getting home at 9pm!

On Monday, even though my trains were delayed and I was tired, I still went out for some birthday drinks and then on Tuesday, we had a team night at church and I am so glad I went because it was such a great night. Gary went back to basics and spoke a bit about why we do what we do and what's coming up for the new year, and the rest of the night was prayer for all the different areas of church, driving everything forward etc. Was a good night, although I have to admit I was REALLY tired by the end, but I survived Wednesday and it was well worth it - just goes to show that you can get over the obstacles and make the most of everything, not missing out and still travel 50 miles every day to go to work!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Area 5: Life on the front row

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. That's what happens when you return to work after two weeks off and try to fall into routine again!

I noticed towards the end of last year that I was becoming a bit of a recluse. I would decline on a lot of evening invitations and events simply because it was 'too hard' or 'too tiring' to commute AND then have a life.

But this year I've decided to just do everything 100%. I once heard a message that Donna Crouch preached about living life on the front row, doing everything 100% and not just being a spectator in life but actually playing the game. So, naturally, I'm now just going to say yes to everything, and I might get tired sometimes, and I might hate getting up in the mornings, but my life will be richer for it because I will actually have a social life (makes a change!)

In other news... Becoming a well-rounded person
So I'm obviously really enjoying Sense and Sensibility and it's great that I can achieve this goal whilst on the move. I can read on the train and it's great.

However, I'd love to have more time to be more creative. I have so much craft stuff at home (part of the job, you know!) and yet I don't use any of it! I've got stacks of papercrafting stuff for making cards, fabric and buttons and a sewing machine, and my new project, beads. The only reason this craft has taken longer than the others is that it requires proper equipment, but never fear ladies and gents! A nice PR department sent me some vouchers as a Christmas gift so off I went to the shops yesterday and had a bit of a spree!

So now I have all the equipment I need :0) And I'm determined to devote more time to making pretty things.

So... Goals:
- Live life on the front row, don't decline invitations just because you think it's too hard or tiring
- Sleep on the train if you must!
- Set some time aside for myself and make stuff!!! And enjoy it!!!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Updates :0)

Budget update
Saved money on different items over the weekend so any area that I had over-spent on is now evened out so we're back on track!

Jane Austen update
Loving Sense and Sensibility! Got through four chapters today! Jane Austen writes her characters so well, even though it is set hundreds of years ago I can still see aspects of her characters in people I know today. It's uncanny!

Health & Fitness update
Unfortunately I haven't managed a lot of activity as yet. I can't run around my area while it's dark so I have to leave that one for Saturdays. And the Pilates? I can honestly say I haven't been at home properly since Saturday (sometimes I feel like I just sleep here!). BUT now I'm back at work I'm drinking a lot more water which makes me feel so much better!

Being organised
I love it! I love the feeling of crossing something off my list. In fact, this evening I did such a lot of housework and worked really hard, but then when I opened my diary, none of what I had done was on my list! And I felt a bit gutted that I couldn't cross anything off! And all of this productivity at home has had an awesome effect on my work. I was dreading returning to work because we are on deadline this week and in studio with another mag so I was sure I would be rushed off my feet - not to mention I had to write a whole feature before Friday too! But then because of all my organising I felt so ready to go back to work and I went through the whole day with no distractions and finished every piece of work I had left to do! Now I just have to tie up a few loose ends and hey presto! All my work is done! I love that feeling!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Area 4: Becoming more Organised

At work I am super-organised. My desk-top diary is full of lists and tick charts which are all colour coded using my trusty highlighter pens. Everything that lives on, in or around my desk has a dedicated home and I regularly throw away items that are of no use, avoiding the build up of clutter.

My personal life is surprisingly a totally different story! I always have a whole bunch of things that I 'should' or 'need' to do - whether that be home chores, church organisation (I am a leader on two teams which keeps me fairly busy), or general life stuff really. Some things are big tasks like my wedding album (16 months down the line and the photos are still in a box with an album nearby never fulfilling its purpose!). Or small tasks, like sending a text to my team reminding them of an up-coming event.

I run around, always leaving things til the last minute, or letting them build up until everything just seems massive. I get stressed really easily and it's probably because I have a lot to do within a short space of time.

So, I have bought myself a diary:

I've decided that if I can work towards organising my personal life in the same way I organise my work life then I'll be a huge step further towards super-organised! I will fill it with 'Things to do' lists, and will highlight each item as I do it until the whole pae is neon pink. (I love it at work when a whole page of my diary turns pink!). Also noted will be important dates, like when my credit card payment is due, what I spend my money on and what my budget allows me for that day.

This is what today looks like:

Hmmm, still a fair amount to do then?!


- Anything that can be done immediately, do immediately! You can send texts and answer messages anywhere, why don't you?!
- Write everything, even the smallest things, into the list so you don't forget.
- If something doesn't get done, just transfer it to another day's list - it doesn't have to be the next day, do it when it's convenient and when you have time.
- Don't burn out! It's ok to leave less urgent things 'til tomorrow if you're tired. Curl up with a book instead.

Budgeting Update

So it's a slippery slope isn't it? Today I met a friend for coffee, which turned into lunch and then bought a magazine... spending a total of £16 that's not in the budget. Still not in the danger zone but this needs to stop. Once I go back to work On Monday it'll be easier as my social life will have to cease!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Area 3: Becoming a well-rounded person

It occurred to me the other day that I don't give an awful lot of time to personal interests. I am a very task focussed person and so unless what I am doing is task-oriented, I don't tend to do it. The flip-side to this is that I waste an awful lot of time doing nothing, because I don't have any tasks, rather than doing something just for fun, just for me, so that I might develop into a more interesting, varied character.

So my next goals, are going to focus on doing things for fun. Developing personal interests.

Now, for those of you who don't know, I am a journalism graduate who studied English Language and Literature up to A-Level and achieve very good grades. What most people don't know, is that I've probably never read a classic piece of literature in my life. The closest I came is Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which we studied in A-Level English Lit. However, I skipped class a lot and to this day do not know what happened at the end of the book - I never finished it. (Thankfully, the exam question centred around the first chapter, and I got an A for that paper!).

So, now at the age of 23 in a bid to become a more well-rounded person, I have decided to rectify this terrifying fact of my life and re-educate myself in some classic literature. And where better to start, than Jane Austen? Having enjoyed the various dramatisations I at least have a starting point of knowledge, so getting my head around the style shouldn't prove to be too difficult.

I found these gorgeous new editions in Smiths the other day and couldn't resist (so now I've invested £15 I have to read them!).

I started with Sense and Sensibility 'cause that's the first one she published. I'm up to chapter 11 already, it's a bit confusing because there are several 'Miss Dashwoods' and I have to re-read paragraphs to work out which one she's referring to (why couldn't they just address each other by their first names eh?). Would love to hear what anyone else thinks of Jane Austen, I'm enjoying it so far.

But, of course, the reading doesn't stop at classic literature. I have an awful lot of other books that I am midway through. They can be seen in the background of this picture:

Destined to Reign, Joseph Prince: Joseph Prince is a Christian author / pastor / preacher who has come to speak at our church and related conferences. He has an amazing understanding of the power of grace in our relationship with God and this is his book which outlines that. I started it a while ago and haven't gone back to it. It's actually my flatmate's copy so I must finish it!

Finding Favour with the King, Tommy Tenney: Another Christian book which I got for Christmas. It's about the Biblical story of Esther - a Jewish peasant girl who is chosen to be Queen after her 'One night with this King'. She then goes on to save the Jews from persecution because maybe she was bought into the Palace 'for such a time as this'. The book uses this story to talk about what happens when you find favour with the King and the long process of preparation that goes before that 'one night'. It's the type of book that you read in small chunks, just so you 'get it'. So I'm now up to chapter 3.

Knitting Yarns and Spinning Tales, Edited by Kari Cornell: I got this book from work when we has a massive clear out. It's a collection of essays by various writers who have been impacted by or have special memories of knitting. How it's helped them etc. I'm probably about half way through, but it's the type of book where you can pick up where you left off because you just start a new story. Fun and amusing.

Classic Christianity, Bob George: We have been reading this book as a church. It goes right back to basics about Christianity and the foundations of the faith. The author talks from his own experiences starting from when he was working so hard in ministry that he burned out and forgot what it's actually all about - God! It's a great reality check and also great for new Christians who have a lot of questions.

The Message, Eugene H. Peterson: This is kind of an ongoing project! It's the Bible in contemporary language. Sometimes you read sections of a traditional Bible and you're just like "huh?", but then you read the same passage in the Message and it really comes alive and you totally get what it's saying and the spirit in which it was said. This one will definitely always be on my bedside table to be read alongside my normal Bible.

So.... Goals:

- To read all of Jane Austen's books and then move on to other classics. (Sense and Sensibility - read!)
- To finish reading the other books on this list.
- To read a bit of The Message daily.
- To enjoy all of them!

Health and Fitness update:

I managed a 10minute Pilates this morning before I went out. My legs are aching from yesterday's run - I love that achey feeling!

Budgeting Update:

Ok, so I havn't quite stuck to it what with a couple of things that needed to be spent - but there is some spare cash for those occasions so nothing to worry about. I did get to go shopping for free today though and spend all those lovely Christmas gift vouchers. I came away with a new pair of jeans, some cord trousers and a new jumper and I only had to spend £12! Plus, there's more vouchers to be spent once the crappy end of the sales are over.

I also went to the bank and reduced my student overdraft limit by £50! It might not seem like much but this a big occasion for me, I've been out of Uni for 18 months now and this was the first time I had the courage to reduce it! Every little helps! I'm aiming to do that every month now - I'm hoping to actually pay off more than that, but by reducing the actual limit means I can't delve back into it when times are tight. It's all progress ladies and gentlemen!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Area 2: Budget and finance

Ok, so I am a self-confessed shop-a-holic. Some people read a book when they're bored, I go shopping. I go shopping as a means of entertaiment, as well as a social activity. I spend money on a whim. I only ever go to the supermarket when I'm hungry because I know that if I plan in advance I won't feel like the food that I've bought later on. I'll stare at the cupboards, decide there's nothing worth eating, and drag everyone out to Nandos.

And it's not just clothes shopping that I like. I mostly just like being out the house. I get bored easily at home so eating out in the evenings is a great social activity. I go shopping to kill time - I arrive at work 45 mins early every day, so I saunter off to the nearby Tesco superstore to see what delights I can find. Even if it's just a magazine. On average I probably spend £5 a day in tesco alone - which may not sound like much, but... "every little helps" as they say, and £25 a week adds up to a lot of pennies!

I've never budgeted in my life, and the few times I've tried, I've failed miserably - or I've spent so much money on organisational budgeting tools ('cause everything has to be colour coded!), that it's kind of defeated the object!

I also live with a manageable sized amount of debt - both from my student days and beyond. I dutifully pay off the minimum every month, sometimes a little bit more, but with interest rates rising it's like chipping away at a huge block of concrete. It makes no difference what-so-ever.

BUT all this is about to change. Because ladies and gentleman.... I have drawn up a budget! Now, this month is a little tighter than usual, what with the effects of Christmas, and hubby got paid mid-December instead of New Years.... so we spent half of it too early! Ooops!! However, I was surprised to find that seeing as we had spent most of his pay packet, we could still survive until January 31st without using Credit. Cool huh? I've pinned it up on the wall so we don't forget about it:

So, the immediate challenge is to get to the end of January. Once February arrives, we're going to start paying off those debt monsters!

- Stick strictly to the budget by withdrawing cash every Monday and making it last all week.
- Keeping a close check on finances by regularly looking at our accounts and re-assessing the situation.
- Start to make a massive hole in that credit card which charges a ridiculous amount of interest, and aim to reduce my student overdraft by £500 by May.
- Don't buy any new clothes, and only eat out on Sundays for the foreseeable future.

So, with no prospects of buying any more new shoes for a long while, I will leave you to adore a picture of my last purchase of 2008. Some gorgeously purple bootees - I got dressed up yesterday just so I could wear them to the supermarket. :0)

health and fitness update - getting going

Happy New Year everyone! I kicked off 2009 with a morning run. I was a bit wary of the cold and debated for a while on the suitability of my limited running gere but when I got outside it was quite mild (cold snap? what's that?). I ran / walked for about 30mins which I thought was ok given it's my first workout for over 6 weeks and my first outside workout for ohhhhh, I dread to think!

I also had a brain wave! When I was doing the SITC programme I took a couple of pilates classes which I really enjoyed and found to really help - ok so my insides (the 'core') didn't know what had hit them but it was good, honest.

Now rather than finding a class which I know I'll never go to, I had thought about buying a DVD, but one of my goals is Budgeting and Finance (more on that later) so this month the pennies won't stretch that far...... so the next best thing? Youtube!

Here's a 10 minute workout I found just now - it's split into two seperate films but you get the idea:

I just need to find a spare 10 minutes in my day when no one else is around to have a go! I'll keep you updated on that.