Two (Non-Fiction) Favourite Books

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I really didn't know how to categorise these books. I wanted to make sure it came across that they're not 'read in bed, nice stories' books (which made me think 'non-pleasure reads'), but also didn't come across like they're really dull (not so much 'non-pleasure reads'), so I stuck with non-fiction, which I'm not particularly happy with, but I guess it's fairly unimportant, you know in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, these are two books (of completely different nature) that I came across this January, and both of them are helping me to make little improvements to different aspects of my life, so I thought I'd share them with you.

a modern way to cook by Anna Jones, a.k.a the woman I want to kiss every time I try something new from her book
The first one is probably the best cookbook I have ever (!) come across. I have literally never made so many things from a cookbook within a couple of weeks of purchasing it. I have had a lot of books where I thought I would, but didn't, but that's another story. This book is amazing. In her introduction, she writes about how she got a lot of feedback about the really simple recipes in her last book, because they were actually so easy to make on a week night, so this book, bar a couple of recipes, focuses on all these great little ideas for what you could make, when you get home tired, don't want to spend 3 years in the kitchen, but want something that's really, really delicious. My favourite bit about this book is probably that alongside full-blown recipes, there's a lot of 'semi-recipes' that are more ideas for what to throw together (which is how I cook most of the time anyway) for example her favourite omelette fillings, nice little quick veg dishes, or lunchbox combinations. Oh and just because it's not clear from the title or from my ramblings: it's a vegetarian cookbook, but I like that it doesn't say this in the title, it's great recipes full stop, not just great vegetarian recipes.

If you do have it/get it, here's some of my favourite recipes from the book:
- the Lentil Ragu is totally delicious
- the first Sandwich topping suggestion (though done with Spinach instead of Kale)
- the dark chocolate goodness cookies

It really is so good. I'm literally basing 90% of my non-breakfast meals on this (when making the food myself) right now.

small move, big change by Caroline Arnold
I came across this one through some article about how to find the good 'self-help' books among the many s*** ones. Self-help books tend to get a bit of a bad rep (probably because of all the bad ones), and anyway, I wouldn't classify this one so much as a self-help book as a self-improvement book, it's also definitely a classic January - wanting to better yourself book, but who cares. This book is all about how when we want something to change, we want to change everything about that aspect of our lives straight away. We want to loose 3 stone? Well from tomorrow onwards we're going to hit the gym every single day for at least 90 minutes. And as well all know that doesn't really work and by doing this, we set ourselves up for failure. I don't even really want to go into the details of the book too much, but it's basically about making ourselves very accountable for very small changes to our daily/weekly/monthly/whatever routine and over time those big changes will come. This book rang so true to me, because even whilst reading this book (where it's always stressed to not change everything at once), reading all the great changes people achieved, I still thought all the time that I want to change all of those things, and how I'm going to make all those changes tomorrow and having to stop myself. I haven't actually started anything yet, but I just felt the need to share this book with you right now :) This book is full of great ideas about just how to make these little behavioural implementations and how to make them stick with many, many fantastic examples.

Do you have either of these books? I'd love to hear what you think. Also: any other recommendations are of course also very much welcome :)

Have a lovely day.

The gifts I made for Christmas

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Before Christmas, I read an Instagram post, where people shared their experiences of giving handmade gifts. I think at that stage, I had already decided to go for it, but what I read, scared me a little, people wrote about how the recipients of their gifts they put so much time in didn't appreciate them. However, I am very happy to report, that the recipients of my gifts all at least put on a good show and pretended to like them, they seemed to go down really well and I feel lucky that I know the sort of people who seem to appreciate this sort of thing. Today I thought I'd share the things I made :)

For my mum I made these pyjama bottoms with this cute, really soft fox fabric. I definitely learnt from making my pair weeks before and this time I didn't (I repeat did not) sew the draw string hole shut ;). Whilst making this, I listened to a Harry Potter audiobook, it was such a fun afternoon. The pattern for these came from the Tilly and the Buttons book (they're the Margot Pyjama Bottoms)

For my grandad, I made a stripy lap blanket, which was just so much fun to make and it turned out so warm and cozy! I used this pattern on Purl Soho for inspiration, but you know, it was a blanket, so fairly straight forward (which is why I didn't care much that it's a pattern for a crib blanket, crib, lap whatever ;) )

For my nan, I made these green dishcloths. Now I know this might seem like a super boring present, but she asked for some, so I didn't chose to make dishcloths for no reason. I used the pattern from the Erika Knight crochet book. 

For my aunt I made these little wrist warmers (pattern again from the Erika Knight crochet book, though I didn't manage the actual pattern, so I just used the outline and did a different crochet pattern hah). I really want to make myself some wrist warmers too now; I made some dodgy ones in the past that didn't look very nice, but I'm always impressed with just how much difference they make to me feeling warm overall.

For Daniel's sister, I made a cozy little snood, no pattern just basic moss stitch in storm grey and a beigey tone. Again, I've now started making myself one too, hah. 

In addition to these, I also made two really simple hats. I really, really LOVED making every single one of these gifts, even if some of them (wrist warmers *caugh*) needed unwinding and redoing about a million times. I loved actually spending time making presents for people as opposed to just checking names of a list as soon as I'd ordered something of Amazon. Did you make any presents this year? I'd love to hear :)

[Instagram-micro-blog] Current Favourites

Monday, 18 January 2016

Bed is just so hard to leave, especially on Monday mornings. But then also at any time really. I think my bed is probably one of my favourite things in the world (who'd have thought with my love for cozy?). I don't just suddenly love it in the morning when I need to get up, I'm actively excited to get into it at night, too. Throw a cup of tea and a good book in the mix and I'm in heaven! Just in case you're interested, good book of choice right now is 'how to be both' by Ali Smith, which I came across by pure coincidence and I am loving so far. Tea(s) of choice at the moment: 'green energy' by @yogitea and 'organic white tea with vanilla' by +ClipperTeas - pure bliss. I'd love to hear your current favourites (like really love to). I hope you have a fantastic start to the week!

(I decided to sometimes share my Instagram photos straight to here as well, when I've written something like a micro blogpost as a caption, just cause I'd like them recorded here too :) )

On Fitting In

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Is there anyone on this planet who feels like they fit in? Really fit in? I'd like to meet them, because I really don't. I constantly have the feeling to be different to other people, and not in the special kind of way, in the not fitting in kind of way.  I think that's where my desire to move to Sweden, or another Scandinavian country, comes from. I feel like they'd be my kind of people, but of course that's not based on anything, but then from anything I read about them, they seem to share my values with regards to a lot of things, as a matter of fact, I've never come across anything that suggests we'd clash as much as I clash here in the UK.

I used to love England, but now I really don't. I watched some of the Very British Problems Christmas special and that made me sad. One of the people on made fun of the friends who every year at Christmas tells him and his other friends how special they are to him and how glad he is to have them in his life (or something along those lines), saying that it's just very un-british, something that's very much not welcome here. But I (not being British, so I guess I just don't get it) found that so sad. I like a bit of sarcasm every now and then, don't get me wrong, but do you know what I like more than that: sincerity and true feelings. I might be introverted and I'm not suggesting that the only way to communicate those feelings is through words, but to me it's not through shared banter or snarky comments or through pushing each other to get hideously drunk, so alongside your horrific hangover, you'll also have some hilarious stories to bond (I guess) over either. Luckily I do know some special people here who I think feel similar about this, who give me these sincere and true feelings, and I'm oh so grateful to have them in my life.

Sometimes I also wonder whether this feeling of not fitting in is actually just simply down to personality. I became MBTI qualified last year and obviously learnt a lot about it. I learnt that I'm an INFP (not J as previously thought) and that if I remember correctly, whilst all types are equally good (and I genuinely do believe that), generally rewarded in the UK is ESTJ type behaviour with the majority of people being ISTJ (again please don't quote me on this, as I'm not 100% sure). If I do remember correctly though, doesn't that just explain why I don't feel like I fit in and like people don't get me (or viceversa often too)? That I feel all the feels whilst others think I'm overly sentimental (F), that they don't understand that I work differently, that I need to build a bigger picture of something first before I can for example start writing that essay (N + P) and that I need to process information internally first before I like to speak about it to other people and need alone time, frequently (I)? Doesn't it just make sense? But of course, when someone thinks I'm just unorganised when I'm still writing my essay on the day that it's due, I can't bring this up, because everyone already thinks I'm a hippie (the knitting and the yoga really don't help).

Sorry for this slightly darker post, but I just felt like I needed to write it off my chest, and maybe, just maybe someone feels the same way (and has moved to Sweden and BANG felt like suddenly everything was in the right place).

Bon nuit.

Photo Diary: My nan came to London

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Long time no 'see' hej? I started this blog as a way to document my life, and I have some catching up to do in terms of photos of times that I want to remember, so without further ado, I'll start. Last year, some time in November, my nan was feeling a little sad, because she hadn't been to England or Vienna that year (two places she usually goes each year), which made me sad too, so I thought I'd have to find a solution. She normally comes to England with my mum, or sometimes with my aunt, because even though she's flown a lot (and I mean a lot) of times, she doesn't feel too comfortable doing it by herself, which is understandable, given that she doesn't speak English. SO I made the following proposal to her: She'd fly over here all by herself (but obviously from a German (and small)) airport, so once on English speaking territory, she could just follow the crowds and after a couple of days here, I'd fly back with her and go home for the weekend in order to surprise my grandad for his birthday. She thought about it for a couple of days and decided that yes, actually that did sound like a good idea.

Forward a couple of weeks and Daniel and I were waiting for her at Stansted. And waiting, and waiting. Turns out, she couldn't find the luggage band (again, she flies a lot and knows how this works, so it may not have been on the display any more by the time she got there or the way they're renovating Stansted wasn't the clearest, anyway), so when she came out, we were sent to the other end of the airport, just to be sent back to where we started in order for her to go through security in order to go in again with someone to find her case. Easier said than done. Her hearing aids set off the alarm twice, which meant they had to get their manager to check her through properly (we obviously didn't know at that stage it was her hearing aids). Once they cleared her, getting her case was easy enough, though we had lost about an hour, making it around 12 o'clock at night UK time (or 1 o'clock German time), pretty late for an elderly lady. Our evening shouldn't go smooth from there though, not yet; when we got to the hotel, we were quickly told that their system was down, meaning they could neither check us in, nor tell us when they would we able to. The staff was really nice, and in the end we didn't have to pay for the room, but by the time we got to bed it was after 2 (UK time) and we were utterly exhausted.

The next day, we thought we'd take it really easy. We started off with a nice brunch, laughing at just how difficult it was to get to bed the previous night. Later on, we had a lovely afternoon tea (at the Ampersand Hotel) and met up with Daniel and his family to go see 'Les Miserables' (my nan's favourite ever musical). I absolutely loved it, though I really didn't like it the first time I saw it, which must be something like 10 years ago now. This made me think, did I learn to love it, because my nan and my whole family love it? I'm not saying I'm 'fake' liking it now, but I think I might have tried a little harder to, because I wanted to understand what my beloved love :). All in all a wonderful day.

The next day though, really wasn't off to such a wonderful start: my nan slipped in the shower (which was really a bathtub) falling hard onto her back and banging the back of her head. We were both in complete shock, though she seemed to shake it off a lot easier than I did, I felt sick for hours, whilst she was ready for breakfast after a slight recovery period. Spoiler alert: She wasn't fine (she is now though, so don't worry); she may have walked around London with me and making a good case that she actually had a good time, but about two weeks later, when she went to the doc for the second time, because she thought surely it shouldn't hurt anymore, she found out that she'd broken a vertebrae and would need surgery. Yeah, so that was pretty scary, and believe me, I will never ever forget again to check if there's a walk in shower when travelling with my nan. Luckily (and I am so grateful for this) the surgery went well. She still promises me that the pain didn't actually start till later and that she just felt a little sore on the actual days after the fall.

So again: we decided to take the day very slow. We browsed around department stores for a little bit in the morning and I actually had to work in the afternoon. In the evening, we had a delicious meal at Jamie's Italian in Covent Garden and then went to bed really early, which was oh so nice. I always plan to go to bed early, with a nice cup of tea and something good to read, but then I'm just in front of my macbook until late. That evening though, I was ready for and in bed by around 9, my nan sound asleep next to me (not surprising after the shock) with a calming cup of chamomile tea and the newest Kinfolk, which Daniel had kindly brought to me at the theatre the night before. Pure bliss.

Even though by this stage my nan made it clear that she was expecting nothing less than an adventure holiday after the previous events, I decided to not take any risks and just to have another relaxed day; after all, she didn't really come to London for jam-packed days, but to be there and spend time with me and to be honest, it was such a nice excuse to actually be slow in London (who's even heard of such a thing). We decided to have a drink/tea at the Selfridges' rooftop bar/restaurant/cafĂ© and we really loved it; beautiful views (the sun decided to really go for it that day) and of course great company.

And thankfully, there weren't any more incidents. Before heading to the airport, we went for delicious lunch at Dishoom (so tasty!) where I ordered so much that the waiter gave me strange looks, but hey ho. So that was it: my lovely nan's visit to London that was a lot more eventful in the wrong ways yet completely wonderful.