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I don't want to get all cliche here, but turning 30 wasn't the crisis I thought it'd be.

I mean, my sister gleefully told me I'd sprung some grey hairs and everybody in the office now knows my actual age....but d'you know what?  I'm good with both.

(Ok so perhaps it's because I can bleach over the greys and I'm hanging on to the fact that most people at the gym place Nick and I at least 4 years younger than we are, but still!)

I'm not going to pretend that I woke up on my birthday and was suddenly sorted.  My shit is definitely not yet together.  But I don't think life is ever quite what you imagined it would be and although I'd be lying if I said I haven't had a couple of "WAIT.  I'm no longer in my 20s" moments, I'd definitely say I'm on my way to creating the happiest life I could have...free from outside noise and pressure of how my life *should* look.

Because that's the thing.  I've chilled out hugely.  I admit it, 'high strung', 'high maintenance', 'bossy', 'needy' have all been used to describe me in the past, but I just don't feel it anymore.  There's this inner sense of calm which has been brewing over the last year and I'm feeling pretty zen right now.

So I might not 'know myself' but here's five things I do know:

1 | I know who my friends are and I'm hugely grateful to have them in my life.
2 | I know that I'm blessed to have such a close knit family that supports each other.
3 | I know that I'm taking steps to better myself in my career, but I also know more realistically how I want that career to look.
4 | I know what I don't have time for, what's worthy of my energy and when to call it quits.
5 | I know that I value people and experiences over things and that I no longer want to be driven by consumer culture and influenced enabled so heavily by what I see online.

Navigating my 20s was hard and I've no doubt that this next chapter will bring its own challenges to the mix.  I still feel the pressure to impress and live up to society's standards.  And no, I haven't made peace with my body just yet.  But it just feels less frenzied than as a 20-something.  So would I go back?

Not a chance.

Why Turning 30 Was Awesome

20.7.17

I don't want to get all cliche here, but turning 30 wasn't the crisis I thought it'd be.

I mean, my sister gleefully told me I'd sprung some grey hairs and everybody in the office now knows my actual age....but d'you know what?  I'm good with both.

(Ok so perhaps it's because I can bleach over the greys and I'm hanging on to the fact that most people at the gym place Nick and I at least 4 years younger than we are, but still!)

I'm not going to pretend that I woke up on my birthday and was suddenly sorted.  My shit is definitely not yet together.  But I don't think life is ever quite what you imagined it would be and although I'd be lying if I said I haven't had a couple of "WAIT.  I'm no longer in my 20s" moments, I'd definitely say I'm on my way to creating the happiest life I could have...free from outside noise and pressure of how my life *should* look.

Because that's the thing.  I've chilled out hugely.  I admit it, 'high strung', 'high maintenance', 'bossy', 'needy' have all been used to describe me in the past, but I just don't feel it anymore.  There's this inner sense of calm which has been brewing over the last year and I'm feeling pretty zen right now.

So I might not 'know myself' but here's five things I do know:

1 | I know who my friends are and I'm hugely grateful to have them in my life.
2 | I know that I'm blessed to have such a close knit family that supports each other.
3 | I know that I'm taking steps to better myself in my career, but I also know more realistically how I want that career to look.
4 | I know what I don't have time for, what's worthy of my energy and when to call it quits.
5 | I know that I value people and experiences over things and that I no longer want to be driven by consumer culture and influenced enabled so heavily by what I see online.

Navigating my 20s was hard and I've no doubt that this next chapter will bring its own challenges to the mix.  I still feel the pressure to impress and live up to society's standards.  And no, I haven't made peace with my body just yet.  But it just feels less frenzied than as a 20-something.  So would I go back?

Not a chance.
Boy, this week really took it out of me.  By Wednesday I felt dead on my feet....Thursday morning all I could think about was how I wanted an early night.  Both Friday and Saturday I found myself still awake at gone 1am.  And then Sunday I almost managed a lie in....all ready to start again with a new week!

The big news this week is that I finally got a new phone!  I opted for the iPhone7 so to look at it's essentially the same as my old phone....important difference being that I upgraded massively on the memory capacity.  For months I've been struggling to even take a couple of new photos without the message popping up that I'm low on storage.  I couldn't even do the update to allow me the option to remove the stocks app.  Yeah, things were *that* bad.  So I've gone for a whopping 128GB in the hopes that I don't have to go through all that again, however I want to remain considered into what I store and keep things as (digitally) clutter-free as possible.

I was in the mood for baking this week and decided that Jane's recipe for white chocolate and caramel blondies would hit the spot.  I've only ever had one disappointing attempt at making blondies but these were a definite success.  Considering the caramel is only drizzled across the top prior to baking the flavour somehow still lingers throughout.  I'm glad to have added these to my tray bake repertoire!

And, finding myself with caramel to spare, I thought I'd experiment with a quick fudge recipe.  I stuck to the foundation of melting the caramel and white chocolate together but this time added Biscoff biscuits and a sprinkling of sea salt to create salted caramel fudge.  Nick is rapidly making his way through these...we both agreed that perhaps we like them even more than the classic white chocolate and Oreo fudge!

Last exciting thing this week....I got my nails did!  I never used to be a professional manicure kinda gal but with a qualified nail technician as a sister it seems silly not to make use of her! My nails are pretty rubbish - always peeling and flaking - but having regular gel manicures has really helped improve their condition and they've never looked better.  After a few months of chrome nails I thought I'd go back to basics with this pretty peachy pink shade.  We changed the shape of my nails as well and I'm really pleased with the effect...she's a mobile nail technician so if you think you may live in the same area as me and want to know more, drop me an email and I'll link you to her Facebook page!

Week 28 In Moments

17.7.17

Boy, this week really took it out of me.  By Wednesday I felt dead on my feet....Thursday morning all I could think about was how I wanted an early night.  Both Friday and Saturday I found myself still awake at gone 1am.  And then Sunday I almost managed a lie in....all ready to start again with a new week!

The big news this week is that I finally got a new phone!  I opted for the iPhone7 so to look at it's essentially the same as my old phone....important difference being that I upgraded massively on the memory capacity.  For months I've been struggling to even take a couple of new photos without the message popping up that I'm low on storage.  I couldn't even do the update to allow me the option to remove the stocks app.  Yeah, things were *that* bad.  So I've gone for a whopping 128GB in the hopes that I don't have to go through all that again, however I want to remain considered into what I store and keep things as (digitally) clutter-free as possible.

I was in the mood for baking this week and decided that Jane's recipe for white chocolate and caramel blondies would hit the spot.  I've only ever had one disappointing attempt at making blondies but these were a definite success.  Considering the caramel is only drizzled across the top prior to baking the flavour somehow still lingers throughout.  I'm glad to have added these to my tray bake repertoire!

And, finding myself with caramel to spare, I thought I'd experiment with a quick fudge recipe.  I stuck to the foundation of melting the caramel and white chocolate together but this time added Biscoff biscuits and a sprinkling of sea salt to create salted caramel fudge.  Nick is rapidly making his way through these...we both agreed that perhaps we like them even more than the classic white chocolate and Oreo fudge!

Last exciting thing this week....I got my nails did!  I never used to be a professional manicure kinda gal but with a qualified nail technician as a sister it seems silly not to make use of her! My nails are pretty rubbish - always peeling and flaking - but having regular gel manicures has really helped improve their condition and they've never looked better.  After a few months of chrome nails I thought I'd go back to basics with this pretty peachy pink shade.  We changed the shape of my nails as well and I'm really pleased with the effect...she's a mobile nail technician so if you think you may live in the same area as me and want to know more, drop me an email and I'll link you to her Facebook page!
#32 - WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS // Helen Oyeyemi
"Helen Oyeyemi's ensemble cast of characters slip from the pages of their own stories only to surface in another. The reader is invited into a world of lost libraries and locked gardens, of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped; students hone their skills at puppet school, the Homely Wench Society commits a guerrilla book-swap, and lovers exchange books and roses on St Jordi's Day. It is a collection of towering imagination, marked by baroque beauty and a deep sensuousness."

Short story collections can be hit and miss for me and this one was exactly that.  I adored one or two of the stories and then found that others were far too fantastical to keep up with.  This was an effort to read and although I'm all for beautiful descriptive language I don't think the words should obstruct the story.  I enjoyed the way the characters weaved throughout the stories and loved the first one in particular.  I have the beautiful hardback edition which sits beautifully on my shelf, but sadly overall this wasn't for me.
Rating: ★★
Good if: you like fairy tale inspired writing
 
#33 - A LIFE DISCARDED // Alexander Masters
"In 2001, 148 tattered and mould-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a skip on a building site in Cambridge. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, anonymous diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. 
Over five years, the award-winning biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of their author, with an astounding final revelation. A Life Discarded is a true, shocking, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life. The author of the diaries, known only as 'I', is the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful.
Part thrilling detective story, part love story, part social history, A Life Discarded is also an account of two writers' obsessions: of 'I's need to record every second of life and of Masters' pursuit of this mysterious yet universal diarist."

The premise of this one really caught my attention and it's definitely unlike anything I've read before.  It follows Alexander Masters piecing together of an unknown diarist's life; he reveals his discoveries as he makes them so it really feels like you're on a journey with him.  The author of the diaries is fascinating, too.  I enjoyed the easy-going and humorous tone of the book and it sat nicely alongside the diarist's voice as well.  There were points when I felt the author himself was overshadowing the biography but it was still an interesting read.
Rating: ★★
Good if: you like British biographies

#34 - NUTSHELL // Ian McEwan
"To be or not to be? That is the question
Particularly if your life has yet to really begin.
Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but John's not here. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan and that plan involves murder.
But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month–old resident of Trudy's womb a Hamlet in miniature who hears and plays a very unusual kind of detective.
Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers."
-
I'd considered buying this book when it was first released and am so glad I found it on a library trip.  A baby in utero narrating a book is a seriously odd premise but it really works.  As the blurb suggests this is a retelling of Hamlet and although I've not read the play before it didn't detract from this book.  In fact, I'm more likely to read the original now to see the similarities.  This is my second Ian McEwan book, I whizzed through it in a day and can't wait to read more of his work!
Rating: ★★
Good if: you like retellings of classics or stories with a twist

#35 - CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS // Sally Rooney
"Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions. As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. 
Twenty-one-year-old Frances is at the heart of it all, bringing us this tale of a complex menage-a-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man. 
You can read Conversations with Friends as a romantic comedy, or you can read it as a feminist text. You can read it as a book about infidelity, about the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy, or about how our minds think about our bodies. However you choose to read it, it is an unforgettable novel about the possibility of love."

The last paragraph of this blurb is what compelled me to pick up this book.  And whilst it was a fascinating look at non-conventional relationships, I can't help but feel like the blurb isn't entirely accurate.  There's much more of a 'story' in this, rather than the conversations I anticipated....I think I envisioned almost diary-like entries or mixed media like emails and online chats.  The latter two of which do feature in here, just not as much as I expected.  It's very of the moment and discusses current affairs in a way which didn't overpower the plotline.  For me, the best bit was the way this book looked at love and the different forms it can take.  I found myself thinking about this even after I'd finished reading and a book which sticks with you can only be a good thing!
Rating: ★
Good if: you like contemporaries with a bit more depth  

#36 - THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT // Heather O'Neill
"At birth, Nouschka forms a bond with her twin that can never be broken.  At six, she's the child star daughter of Quebec's most famous musician.  At sixteen, she's a high-school dropout kicking up with her beloved brother.  At nineteen, she's the Beauty Queen of Boulevard Saint-Laurent.  At twenty, she's back in night school. And falling for an ex-convict. And it's all being filmed by a documentary crew."

Having loved O'Neill's The Lonely Hearts Hotel I was excited to read more by her.  Unfortunately this was a dud for me.  The writing, characters and setting were too similar to The Lonely Hearts Hotel so it felt like too much of a good thing.  They're set in differing time periods but it really didn't feel that way.  Instead, it felt almost like a sequel to The Lonely Hearts Hotel only with different character names.  The writing was flowery and beautiful but began to drag throughout the story and I found myself skimming passages to get to the point.  I'm really disappointed with this - I thought I'd found a new favourite author but actually it just feels like the same story being churned out.
Rating: ★
Good if: you haven't read The Lonely Hearts Hotel yet!

Read in 2017: June

13.7.17

#32 - WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS // Helen Oyeyemi
"Helen Oyeyemi's ensemble cast of characters slip from the pages of their own stories only to surface in another. The reader is invited into a world of lost libraries and locked gardens, of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped; students hone their skills at puppet school, the Homely Wench Society commits a guerrilla book-swap, and lovers exchange books and roses on St Jordi's Day. It is a collection of towering imagination, marked by baroque beauty and a deep sensuousness."

Short story collections can be hit and miss for me and this one was exactly that.  I adored one or two of the stories and then found that others were far too fantastical to keep up with.  This was an effort to read and although I'm all for beautiful descriptive language I don't think the words should obstruct the story.  I enjoyed the way the characters weaved throughout the stories and loved the first one in particular.  I have the beautiful hardback edition which sits beautifully on my shelf, but sadly overall this wasn't for me.
Rating: ★★
Good if: you like fairy tale inspired writing
 
#33 - A LIFE DISCARDED // Alexander Masters
"In 2001, 148 tattered and mould-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a skip on a building site in Cambridge. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, anonymous diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. 
Over five years, the award-winning biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of their author, with an astounding final revelation. A Life Discarded is a true, shocking, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life. The author of the diaries, known only as 'I', is the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful.
Part thrilling detective story, part love story, part social history, A Life Discarded is also an account of two writers' obsessions: of 'I's need to record every second of life and of Masters' pursuit of this mysterious yet universal diarist."

The premise of this one really caught my attention and it's definitely unlike anything I've read before.  It follows Alexander Masters piecing together of an unknown diarist's life; he reveals his discoveries as he makes them so it really feels like you're on a journey with him.  The author of the diaries is fascinating, too.  I enjoyed the easy-going and humorous tone of the book and it sat nicely alongside the diarist's voice as well.  There were points when I felt the author himself was overshadowing the biography but it was still an interesting read.
Rating: ★★
Good if: you like British biographies

#34 - NUTSHELL // Ian McEwan
"To be or not to be? That is the question
Particularly if your life has yet to really begin.
Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but John's not here. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan and that plan involves murder.
But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month–old resident of Trudy's womb a Hamlet in miniature who hears and plays a very unusual kind of detective.
Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers."
-
I'd considered buying this book when it was first released and am so glad I found it on a library trip.  A baby in utero narrating a book is a seriously odd premise but it really works.  As the blurb suggests this is a retelling of Hamlet and although I've not read the play before it didn't detract from this book.  In fact, I'm more likely to read the original now to see the similarities.  This is my second Ian McEwan book, I whizzed through it in a day and can't wait to read more of his work!
Rating: ★★
Good if: you like retellings of classics or stories with a twist

#35 - CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS // Sally Rooney
"Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions. As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. 
Twenty-one-year-old Frances is at the heart of it all, bringing us this tale of a complex menage-a-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man. 
You can read Conversations with Friends as a romantic comedy, or you can read it as a feminist text. You can read it as a book about infidelity, about the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy, or about how our minds think about our bodies. However you choose to read it, it is an unforgettable novel about the possibility of love."

The last paragraph of this blurb is what compelled me to pick up this book.  And whilst it was a fascinating look at non-conventional relationships, I can't help but feel like the blurb isn't entirely accurate.  There's much more of a 'story' in this, rather than the conversations I anticipated....I think I envisioned almost diary-like entries or mixed media like emails and online chats.  The latter two of which do feature in here, just not as much as I expected.  It's very of the moment and discusses current affairs in a way which didn't overpower the plotline.  For me, the best bit was the way this book looked at love and the different forms it can take.  I found myself thinking about this even after I'd finished reading and a book which sticks with you can only be a good thing!
Rating: ★
Good if: you like contemporaries with a bit more depth  

#36 - THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT // Heather O'Neill
"At birth, Nouschka forms a bond with her twin that can never be broken.  At six, she's the child star daughter of Quebec's most famous musician.  At sixteen, she's a high-school dropout kicking up with her beloved brother.  At nineteen, she's the Beauty Queen of Boulevard Saint-Laurent.  At twenty, she's back in night school. And falling for an ex-convict. And it's all being filmed by a documentary crew."

Having loved O'Neill's The Lonely Hearts Hotel I was excited to read more by her.  Unfortunately this was a dud for me.  The writing, characters and setting were too similar to The Lonely Hearts Hotel so it felt like too much of a good thing.  They're set in differing time periods but it really didn't feel that way.  Instead, it felt almost like a sequel to The Lonely Hearts Hotel only with different character names.  The writing was flowery and beautiful but began to drag throughout the story and I found myself skimming passages to get to the point.  I'm really disappointed with this - I thought I'd found a new favourite author but actually it just feels like the same story being churned out.
Rating: ★
Good if: you haven't read The Lonely Hearts Hotel yet!

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