Things I’m Looking Forward To

In less than one month, we’ll be holding the keys to our new house. It’s going to be a big project – when we’re through, no room will be the same (hopefully). I’m not looking forward to the weekends and evenings of DIY to get it that way, but here are the things I am looking forward to… 

home

[Photo by Alvin Engler]

Taking a bath whenever I want one. We only have a shower, right now.

Stocking up on fancy bath bombs and oils and other assorted accessories for said baths. 

Tuna discovering that her kingdom has doubled overnight, and watching her find her new favourite napping spots. 

Hanging art and photos and prints all over the walls and not worrying about landlords who don’t like nails in walls very much. 

Stocking our wine fridge with bottles of Prosecco for upcoming celebrations (because, of course, there will be lots to celebrate whilst we live there). 

Popping open said bottles of Prosecco, just because. No need for celebration, really. 

Not having to close the curtains whilst it’s still light outside. Our current front room has a large window which looks out onto a fairly busy walkway – not what you want when you’re chilling in PJs! 

Having a desk for working and blogging and writing letters to my Grandma. 

Afternoon barbecues which run into evening drinks which run into night-time dance parties. 

Cooking Christmas dinner on our range, with plenty of space for all the pigs-in-blankets my family always demands. 

Mixing up cocktails from our bar cart, whatever the occasion. 

Baking bread on a Sunday afternoon, with the windows open and the radio on. 

Taking Instagram pictures of said bread on the dining table that Paul is threatening to build for me… 

Fresh towels. Unscratched plates. Pristine bedding. New everything, almost. 

Sitting outside on the decking (not built) with a fire in the fire pit (not bought) and toasting marshmallows (essential). 

Unlocking the door for the very first time… 

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April Book Reviews

April Book Reviews // Amy Elizabeth

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld*

I was so sceptical when I picked up this book, but by the time I put it down I had been utterly charmed by it. A modern re-telling of Pride & Prejudice set in Cincinnati, where Elizabeth Bennett is a journalist and Mr Darcy is a brain surgeon – you can see why I was a little wary, yes? I love the original Austen novel so much and reread it as often as I can, so felt very protective of the story and of the sentiment but I needn’t have worried; Curtis Sittenfeld is quite obviously an even bigger Austen fan than I am, so diligently has she observed and recreate the spirit of Austen’s work. If anything, she is kinder to the characters than Austen once was – Lydia and Kitty, in particular, get off very lightly and Lydia actually has one of the best storylines in the novel. It’s not an exact replica, but Sittenfeld captures everything I love about the original story and adds some delicious twists and turns that I would never have expected but which added another layer to this modern story (see: hate sex with Mr Darcy…). If you’re a Pride & Prejudice fan, then this is definitely one for you.  My one complaint is about the cover, which appears to have no bearing on the book itself and is just dire – so please, do not judge this book by its cover! 

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell* 

Lois & Carly-May were abducted by a stranger and imprisoned in a cabin for two months when they were just twelve years old. Whilst there, they formed a bond that would never be broken but after they were released they fell out of touch. Decades later, they both have new lives and identities but when Carly-May is cast in the movie that Lois wrote about the incident, they must face each other and their past. 

 

For a thriller, this book felt a little flat to me and the events were a little too far-fetched and convenient to have me at the edge of my seat. It starts out very promising – an abduction not based on murder or sexual violence with two victims selected very specifically by their abductor? Tell me more, please. But the book seems to hinge on the mystery about what ‘really’ happened that summer – when nothing really happened that much at all. Lois is the main storyteller, and we get an extract from her book as explanation for the summer’s events which makes you, the reader, at least two times removed from the truth, which is very frustrating and makes it hard to grasp at the heart of the story. Whilst teenage Lois and Carly-May were pretty interesting, their adult selves just didn’t inspire all that much excitement and were actually kind of frustrating (Lois, in particular, acts in a ridiculous way throughout the novel with very little explanation). There was one heart-stopping moment, for me at least, but it fizzled out before it could really begin. I just wanted more from this book – more action, more insight, more character. 

The Doll-Master And Other Tales Of Horror by Joyce Carol Oates* 

We all know dolls are one of the creepiest things around, which is why I had high hopes that this book would chill me to the bone. However, the focus of this collection seems to be more on disorientating and disturbing the reader than on truly terrifying them. Each was a suspenseful story, with deranged characters and an ominous feel about them, but at no point was I really scared the way I was when I read Bird Box, for instance. Some, I felt, were a little drawn out – particularly those which are monologues – and I had guessed the ending far before it came, which is quite unlike me. My favourite stories actually came near the end of the collection – Big Momma, about the new girl in town, who hitches a lift with a classmate and her rather creepy father, and Mystery Inc., about a businessman who comes across a beautiful (and profitable!) mystery book store which he is determined to make his own… These are dark stories, in truth, but they are not terrifying ones. 

April Book Reviews // Amy Elizabeth

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood*

Miss Ona Viktus is one hundred and four, and has lived a mostly uneventful life. When the Boy Scout troop send round an earnest eleven-year-old boy to help her with some chores, they form an unlikely friendship. Obsessed with world records, they embark on a project together and Ona starts to feel like she’s special after all. Until one weekend, his father, Quinn, shows up in his place to finish his good deed for him… 

If you’re looking for a whimsical, heart-warming read then I do urge you to pick this up. It’s a little slow to begin with and I had to force myself to keep picking it back up until I reached the halfway point where I began to speed through the rest. The relationship between the boy and Ona is really beautiful, and they are both wonderfully memorable characters with unique little quirks. Not all that much happens really, although you learn the life story of both Ona and Quinn, but it is warm and thought-provoking – about the value of a life, the connections we make and how we can really make an impact. I don’t think I’ll rush to pick this back up again, but it will stick with me for a good while longer. 

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard* 

I am so easily sucked into this little novellas that are starting to pop up everywhere around young adult trilogies. I just always want to know more – and Cruel Crown tells the story of two women who feature prominently in the Red Queen series but who don’t get a chance to tell their own tales. Queen Song tells how Queen Coriane became the first wife of King Tiberias, amongst deadly challenges from her rivals, whilst Steel Scars gives us Farley’s back story as she travels the land to further the Red cause. These were both enjoyable enough stories, but I don’t think they added anything particularly to the overall story arc of the series. Whilst I found Queen Song compelling – who doesn’t love a bit of royal romance and some intrigue – I wanted much more from Steel Scars which I actually found quite dull. If you’re a big fan of the series, you might want to check these out – but if you’re more of a casual observer like me then I’d give it a miss and wait it out until the next instalment! 

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Elena loves Star Wars, and she’s determined to queue for the new movie despite her mother’s warnings to the contrary. She’s expecting parties to happen and lifelong friendships to form. Instead, there are just three people in the queue (including Elena) and she doesn’t think that either of them understand how she really feels about Star Wars. 

I honestly don’t know how Rainbow Rowell does it. She is some sort of magician. Every time, I fall head over heels for her characters and find myself rooting for romance – which is so not my usual style. This is a short novella, published for World Book Day, and is a perfect one day read if you need something to make you feel good about the world again.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS THAT IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS AND BUY SOMETHING, I MAY RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION. BOOKS MARKED WITH A * WERE PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. 

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Is It Okay to Enjoy Sad Books?

a little life

I need to talk about ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. I think I might need to talk about it for the rest of time to process the many, many emotions that it inspires. This is a heavy book – both in actual weight and emotional weight – and it left me sobbing by the end. What seems a simple story about male friendship becomes so much more when you begin to dig beneath the surface. It is heart-breakingly sad. I say that about so many books (my heart is easily broken) but A Little Life took a piece of my heart and will never, ever return it.

After college, Jude, JB, Malcolm and Willem move to New York to pursue their dreams. They are more like brothers than friends, and their affection for each other is the light of this book and moved me to tears at more than one point. There is a scene where JB is painting portraits of his friends that will stick with me for a long time. But whilst they are close, none of them know the true pain that Jude is carrying with him; they know that he has long-term injuries because of an accident in the past and that he avoids certain topics, but they can never guess at the events that have lead him to the moment where they all met. As the reader, these events are revealed to you in time and they are more horrifying than you could imagine, and they haunt Jude (and as a result, everyone around him) for the entire novel. 

I don’t get to see this side of male friendship much – in life or in fiction. Obviously, as a woman, I am au fait with the nuances of friendship between women but the world of male friendship is closed off to me. I’ve not come across a portrayal of such strong male friendship in literature before; maybe that is because of the books that I read – my wheelhouse is very much books about women – or maybe it’s just because it’s not something that’s touched on all that much. As I said, for me that is the shining light of this novel; the friendships between Jude and his friends – both the original foursome and others he encounters – are touching in the extreme and display true love for one another. However, it’s not enough to cover the great pain of this book. 

But whilst it broke me down into little shards and left me emotionally drained for days, I did enjoy it. I enjoyed the prose. I enjoyed the characters. I enjoyed the rare moments of joy and the hope that I carried through the book. And it made me wonder… is it okay to enjoy a book which is so desperately, desperately sad? Which plays off real human suffering to create the story? 

Because Jude has suffered. His suffering is almost unbelievable. At times, it was uncomfortable to watch. It felt voyeuristic, to be so keen to find out what happened to him before he met Malcolm, JB and Willem. He is so private about his story, that it makes you want to find out even more (although when I did find out, I sort of wish I never had). Not only that, but the events of Jude’s life are improbable, if not impossible (how can one boy be so unlucky?) and it felt at times like Yanagihara was piling on the most intense experiences onto him as a sort of game. How much can one person suffer and still live? How much can one person suffer and still be a good person (for Jude is so good that he is basically a saint, despite never having been shown a speck of real love in his formative years)? 

Not only that, but the reading of a sad book like this is cathartic. I felt drained after it, but also purged. Guilty, slightly, but also glad that it was not me nor any of my loved ones who had suffered such a fate. I was shocked that the happy ending I had hoped for never materialised – although I am often shocked in this way, as an eternal optimist who is often falling in love with doomed characters. But I did enjoy it, overall. And I would recommend it one hundred times over – if anything, I would demand that you read it (although be sure to grab a box of tissues before you do). 

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Weekend Link Love

strawberry

[Photo by veeterzy

Hey, friends! Long time, no speak. It’s been a funny few weeks, all in all. We bought a house! Like, really truly bought it. We have a moving in date and everything. This summer is going to be for a whole lot of DIY and maybe some backyard picnics. I’m down for it. I started ballet classes, which I love. Anything that gets me moving and makes me listen to dramatic classical music is definitely A-OK with me right now. I got to do my first ever set of bridesmaid duties, which basically consisted of drinking Prosecco and looking at pretty dresses and telling my beautiful friend how beautiful she is. Which is kind of how I want to spend every day for the rest of time. I have felt stuck in a rut for most of 2016. I’m not sure what it is, but I suspect that it’s all the waiting that goes along with house buying – we can finally make plans without worrying if they’ll clash with house things, and I’m hoping that will make all the difference. It is no fun to be in a rut. I’ve felt a lot like I was in the same place this year as I was last year, which is not the best feeling in the world. I think getting stuck into a massive house renovation project will stop that, too. I’m ready to start enjoying all the things and skipping down the street and generally loving life all over again. We only get one, you know? 

 

 

 

 

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Connection

bus

[Photo by Matthew Wiebe]

This morning, I got on the bus as usual. The sun was shining, which was unusual. The driver smiled, which is also a bit unusual (why so grumpy, bus drivers of Leeds?). But everything else? Was usual.

A couple of stops along, a woman sat next to me. Her phone rang. I don’t like to eavesdrop (who am I kidding, of course I do, but I don’t like people to think I do), but her conversation was the only noise on the otherwise silent bus. It was her mother on the other end, and from what I could gather from a rather one-sided conversation, she (the mother) was in respite care and unhappy about it. The woman next to me, on her way to work, could do nothing about that fact, of course. But she listened and reassured. She asked her mother to stop crying, and she said she would visit tomorrow.

I was in awe of this women. To have that much stress put upon you before you even get to work in the morning is no easy feat. But I also felt a bit paralysed. She was clearly upset (the mother, but also the woman next to me) but this was a private conversation – even if it was happening in such a public arena. I was torn – to reach out and pat her arm as I would to a friend who was having that conversation next to me, offer an acknowledgement and perhaps a comfort, or to stay silent and not get in her business. It’s still plaguing me now, because I, of course, stayed silent.

I wanted to tell her that she was doing a great job. That she was a wonderful daughter. That things must be tough but, as my Grandma says, this too shall pass. Keep on keeping on. Can I buy you a coffee or maybe a hot chocolate stuffed with cream and marshmallows to bring a smile to your day? But we don’t talk on buses, right? She is a stranger to me (although I now know all this about her). It is frowned upon to hug a stranger, even if they probably really need a hug. We deny that connection, out of fear and politeness. The British stiff upper lip.

I am still torn, now. I can’t decide whether I would want someone to reach out to me if I was in a similar situation (I think I would…) or whether I would find it embarrassing for my pain to be seen so clearly by another, a stranger. What would you do?

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An Open Letter to My Blog

open letter to my blog

[Photo by Green Chameleon]

Hey Boo

It’s me. I think it’s time that we talked. Because what we’ve got going on? It’s not working for me. And I don’t think it’s working for you, either. You deserve more from me. I know that I can be hot and cold – some weeks, it’s like we’re barely apart, and others, it’s like you don’t exist. But I’ll be honest, I think you expect too much from me sometimes. It’s unhealthy, this cycle of obsession, neglect and guilt. That much I know for sure.

But you know what else I know for sure? I am a blogger. It’s just who I am. I have been blogging for around ten years – longer than I have done almost anything else other than eat, sleep, and read. Blogging is my first love, and is so much a part of my personality that I think I would be a blogger even if I didn’t have a blog.

Things have changed in that time. What was once a nerdy hobby that none of my friends understood, now blogging is a glossy career that my friends still don’t understand. Scribbled musings have given way to staged photoshoots and content creators. I started blogging before I started tweeting, Instagramming or even oversharing on Facebook (although I like to think I’m not too guilty of that one). Now? Social media is an extension of blogging, an obligatory if enjoyable extra. I’m not saying that any of this is a bad thing – I don’t like the lamenting for the ‘good old days’ without an acknowledgement of the ‘good new days’. But things are different, now.

Let’s be real – we’re never going to be professionals, you and I. That’s just not the way we work. I like the buzz of an office, the security of a regular paycheck, and the company of colleagues. Not to mention that, despite my many years in the trenches, I don’t think I have what it takes. So I want this to be fun, for both of us. I’ve got a lot going on IRL. There’s a lot of competition for my time, and I often feel a lot of anxiety about how I spend it. If I’m blogging and spending time with you, I worry that I’m missing out. And if I’m doing something else and spending time with others, I feel guilty about not taking care of you. You are selfless – you wait for me to return – but sometimes I threaten not to and that seems unfair to you. Sometimes I like the idea of a life without you – whole weekends without posts to write, emails to return, photos to take. Can you imagine such a thing? And yet, when you left me briefly earlier this year (thanks to my own technical incompetence) I sobbed as if a relative had died. I have poured myself into this space, it is a record of my life and a testament to my achievements and I couldn’t live without you.

So let’s change things up. Let’s make friends again. No schedule. No pressure. More posts that I can look back on in years to come and sigh and giggle at the memories. Less blogging for blogging’s own sake. More writing and enjoying and recording. Shall we?

You’re still my number one. Always and forever.

Lots of love

Amy

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My Leeds Indie Food Picks!

Photo by Ifty Patel

Photo by Ifty Patel

Hey pals! Can you believe that it’s almost that time again? The Leeds Indie Food Festival was definitely one of the highlights of last year, and it’s back again with even bigger and better events. They’ve just released the tickets for everything so I thought I’d pull together a little round-up of the events that I’ve got my eye on… 

Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/tomjoyphotography • Instagram/Twitter: @tomjoyphoto

Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/tomjoyphotography • Instagram/Twitter: @tomjoyphoto

Leeds Feast

Paul’s been buzzing about Leeds Feast ever since last year, and he marked it in the calendar as soon as the dates were released. This is an unticketed event, so just turn up and get ready to gorge yourself silly on some of the UK’s best street food. This year it’s spread over Belgrave, Headrow House and Northern Monk Brewery – some of the coolest venues in town – and it’s sure to be a good couple of days. See you there, yeah? 

In Defence of Plants

I’ve already booked my spot for this brunch, hosted by two of my favourite foodie ladies – Sarah Lemanski from Noisette Bakehouse and Izy Hossack from Top With Cinnamon. It’s a bit of a departure for me; as suggested by the title it’s a plant-based menu, and I’m excited to try something new! 

Jessie Leong - #LIF15- The Great Edible Art Show- Eat the Art - d1b8e4dc-fcad-11e4-aebe-46bfd53c547e - Original

Photo by Jessie Leong

Edible Art Show: City of Cake 

Last year’s exhibition was one of my favourite parts of the festival, and this year The Tattooed Bakers are stepping it up a notch with an ‘awe inspiring architectural representation of our city’s cultural landscape’. Made of cake. Yep. The exhibition is running for a week, so don’t miss out on the chance to catch a glimpse of this masterpiece! 

50×50: A Night At The Spa 

This is the stuff that my dreams are made of. Truly. Sadly, I think the price tag may preclude me from going (new kitchens don’t buy themselves, unfortunately) but I’m sure I’m going to regret it when I see photos. You might already know that Norse is one of my favourite restaurants, and one of the most exciting places to dine in Yorkshire, and for this event they’re making the trip to Leeds for one night only with an ambitious FIFTY course Nordic tasting menu, matched with beverages from some of the finest Yorkshire drinks producers. Be still my beating heart… When you put it like that, it really sounds like a bargain. 

The Swine That Dines at Lazy Lounge: Cocktails and Canapes

Two of Leeds most well-respected foodies are teaming up for two of my favourite courses – cocktails and canapes! The Swine That Dines is renowned for their innovative food, and the cocktails from Lazy Lounge have been described as ‘exuberant’. Now that’s my kind of evening… 

Chef: The Experience

This was one of the best things that I did last year (second to marrying Paul, of course!) and I’ve been raving about it to everyone who will listen ever since. If you only do one Leeds Indie Food thing this year, make it this. Have you ever been watching someone cook on TV and wished you had a plate of what they’re making in front of you? Well, Belgrave are gonna make your dreams come true. Sit back and watch the wonderful, happy-making film Chef whilst being served the delicious food from the screen. You’ll be buzzing afterwards, I promise. 

Jessie Leong - #LIF15- An Evening with The House of Fu-Schnikens - 5ae44a42-fb25-11e4-a5b2-46bfd53c547e - Original

Photo by Jessie Leong

An Evening with Fu-Schnikens

Street food legends Fu-Schnikens are bringing their infamous asian cuisine to Ox Club for a one-off pop-up experience. I’ve heard theirs going to be sake, so you know it’s going to be a good night. 

Turning Tables: A Cous Cous Bang Bang Supper Club

If you’ve ever read Thom’s blog then you’ll probably have giggled at his reviews and drooled over his food. Making his supper club debut, Thom’s working with The Grub & Grog Shop to bring you five mysterious courses inspired by the Tripadvisor Top 10 and all proceeds are being donated to The Trussell Trust. Good food and a good cause? I’m there. 

Women / Art / Food: A Woman’s Place

Do you know what I love? Pudding? Do you know what I love more than pudding? Pudding and booze. Do you know what I love even more than that? Six courses of pudding with matched drinks inspired by and honouring six powerful women from the patisserie and confectionary trade. It’s almost like they made this event for me. 

Photo by Jessie Leong.  Oh, how I wish I'd bought this print last year!

Photo by Jessie Leong.
Oh, how I wish I’d bought this print last year!

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11 More Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

podcasts

I listen to podcasts constantly. When I’m cooking, when I’m running, when I’m driving, when I’m putting on make-up. There’s a podcast for every occasion; they can be funny or educational or entertaining or a mixture of all of those things. I thought I’d shared my favourites with you on numerous occasions, but since I first posted about podcasts back in 2014 and again about book-ish podcasts earlier this year I’ve discovered so many new ones so I thought I’d give you a little update on what I’m listening to right now. I’m always looking for new ones to follow, so do leave your suggestions for me, too! 

Call Your Girlfriend

I want to be best friends with Amina and Anne, the hosts of this podcast. These two long-distance besties talk about everything from pop culture and periods to politics, and I could listen to them chat for hours (and have done, on occasion!). They describe themselves as ‘highbrow and lowbrow, unapologetically feminist, and not afraid to realtalk each other about everything from menstrual cycles to workplace dramas’. Listening to Amina break down the Kanye/Wiz Khalifa situation is one of the highlights of my life so far. Every other week they interview another awesome lady about her life and work, and they’ve all been fascinating. If you’re a feminist on the Internet, you’re gonna wanna check this out. 

Stuff Mom Never Told You

Each episode, Cristen and Caroline tackle a different subject from a feminist angle. The topics are wide-ranging (some of my favourites are on cults, Taylor Swift, knitting and The Gilmore Girls) and there’s almost nothing they haven’t covered in their years of podcasting. These episodes are definitely more on the educational side, and are really well researched with lots of sources if that’s your bag (it is mine), but Cristen and Caroline are charming hosts so it’s never dry. Obviously I’m a feminist geek, so Stuff Mom Never Told You is totally my jam. 

The No BS Guide to Life 

Need some real talk, no-nonsense advice from two sassy ladies? This is the place to come. Bangs and a Bun and Lemara will give it to you straight. No BS, just like the title. This podcast is focused on life advice, but it’s also a chance for Bangs and Lemara to share their own anecdotes and problems, so it’s definitely not preachy! I particularly enjoyed their episode on friendship.

Ctrl Alt Delete

This is maybe cheating a bit, as I’ve only heard the trailer but Emma Gannon’s new podcast is going to be focused on interviewing inspiring women, with a particular focus on how the Internet and social media has influenced their stories. The first episode is an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, so you know that shiz is gonna be good. 

Women of the Hour 

I’m a big fan of Lena Dunham’s other projects, so there’s no surprise that I’m a little bit obsessed with her podcast. Each episode has a broader theme like work or friendship, but there is so much scope for exploring these topics and Lena brings in some excellent guests to help her navigate and unpack some pretty big issues. I’ve cried more than once listening to this podcast, which is warm, friendly and honest. It’s exactly the kind of conversations I would like to have with everyone in my life. My favourite section, however, is when Lena tells the story of a forgotten woman from history – trailblazers who have lived incredible lives and that I’ve never even heard about. The word inspirational is bandied about quite liberally, but this podcast truly has inspired me. 

The Becoming Podcast 

Another newbie on the block, Laura Jane Williams is sitting down with some incredible women and finding out how exactly they became who they are. It’s all in the lead up to her book, Becoming, which is out later this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I listened to the first episode of this podcast yesterday – an interview with Daisy Buchanan who Laura describes, quite accurately I think, as the ‘big sister of the Internet’. It was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear – two smart women discussing body image in a way that had me nodding my head at every other sentence. I’m excited to see (hear?) what else is to come on this one. 

Here’s the Thing 

If you don’t want to listen to Alec Baldwin telling you stories, then I don’t think we can be friends. He just has the best voice, but he’s also a really good interviewer and has access to some brilliant guests. I love his interview with Lena Dunham, Lorne Michaels and the makers of Making a Murderer. There are lots of SNL-ers in the back catalogues and some pretty famous names, too. 

Anna Faris is Unqualified 

In this podcast Anna Faris invites other lovely celebrities to come on and be interviewed, and to help give advice to listeners. She may be unqualified to give relationship advice, but she’s also completely adorable and so lovely to the people that call in. This podcast is funny, light-hearted and witty, and has some great guests, including Lisa Kudrow, Aubrey Plaza and Ellen Page. 

Beaks and Geeks 

A book-ish podcast that I discovered after I wrote my last list. This podcast is run by Penguin Random House, hence the ‘beaks’ (!), and bills itself as candid conversations with authors, which in my experience is pretty accurate. The interviews range in length, and I tend to only tune into the authors that I’m already interested in (Margaret Atwood, in particular, was excellent, as was Emily St. John Mandel) but if you’re into literary things then this is definitely one for you! 

Lore 

This one is for the geeks amongst us! Lore explores the frightening history behind common folklore, from werewolves and vampires to more specific spooky tales. As they say, sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction, but also more interesting and I love finding out the human stories behind what we believe to be supernatural. Each episode is quite short, and there are some really unusual topics, too. 

Dear Sugar Radio 

Most of you are probably familiar with Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, and here she and co-host Steven Almond give ‘radically empathic’ advice in an agony-aunt style podcast that will tug at your heart strings. It’s almost the polar opposite of Savage Love, who I also love and would recommend highly. I think we all have a bit of a fascination with advice columns (or is that just me?) and this one is a good’un. 

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Weekend Link Love

clouds

[Photo by Susanne Feldt

Hey friends, how are you doing? I hope you’ll forgive my self-indulgence here, but I wanted to write a little tribute to start off this Weekend Link Love. My Great Uncle Jim passed away this week, and since I won’t be able to attend his funeral next week, and writing this blog is what I do best, it feels a fitting place to write a few sentences. There are some people who are so full of life, that you can’t quite believe it when they’re gone – and my uncle Jim is definitely one of those people. If there was ever someone who typified the word ‘eccentric’, it was him, and he was one of our favourite family members for that very reason – the very life and soul of any party. At my wedding, he twirled around every girl who would have him – and despite his slightly advanced age, he put the rest of us to shame and surprised his dance partners with his excellent moves. He was the sort of man, who, on deciding he wanted to climb Mount Everest, went and did it. Just to Base Camp, mind you, but I’m pretty sure he was in his late 60s by this point! He was late to every gathering but brought with him stories and a certain joie de vivre that will be sorely missed. The reason we will sadly be unable to attend his funeral is that we’ll be attending a wedding ourselves, and as my Dad pointed out, I have no doubt that it’s a much better tribute to tear up the dance floor with joy – so that is exactly what I shall be doing. 

As well as shedding a few tears and laughing at some excellent memories, this week has been fully consumed by house-moving. Things have been put into boxes, dates have been set (not in stone, but they are there!), sofas have been bought and new flooring has been picked. I am so excited to get my hands on this house and transform it from the tired, sad state that it is in to something vibrant and new. It’s a lovely house, it certainly deserves it. I’ve also been reading up a storm, ready for my book club brunch this morning, and baking lots of rhubarb-based items. I’ll leave you with these lovely links…  

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8 Things I Think I Should Be Doing But Never Will

never do

Like any typical Millennial woman, I am constantly striving for self-improvement. My time spent feeling guilty for not continually improving my habits, efficiency and happiness is topped only by the time spent reading self-help articles online. I am a sucker for those life hacks, people. I know how basic I am, don’t worry. There’s always something that I *could* be doing, that I am very much not. Some of those are legitimate things that would make my life better – running more often, drinking more water, putting away my coat when I come in every night… Some of them, however? I’m never gonna do. 

Going ‘No ‘Poo’ 

For those in the know, the ‘no ‘poo’ movement actually refers to not shampooing your hair. According to evangelists, washing your hair with just water and occasionally some baking soda, will make your hair healthier and be better for the environment. Purging yourself of chemicals will mean your hair will start to self-clean and you’ll have Elle Macpherson locks without even trying. As someone who has to wash their hair everyday so they’re not standing in a grease puddle? This ain’t gonna happen. I’m drawn in by the promises of hair in better condition with more volume, believe me I am, but the weeks it takes to get there? Nope. 

Being Vegetarian (or Vegan) 

I do feel a lot of guilt around this, believe me. I know how terrible eating meat is for the environment, and how terrible these industries are. But I just cannot make that leap. I love steak. I love cheese. I am a foodie through and through, and that includes all foods (except avocados, soz). I definitely want to eat more vegetarian and vegan meals, moving forward – because they are delicious and wonderful and healthy. But I’m not going to go the whole hog (or without the whole hog, as it were). 

Meditating 

It’s good for your mental health, it helps you relax and de-stress, you all know the drill. As a highly strung person, I would benefit from meditation, there’s no doubt about it. But I know I’m not going to do it, despite the advice that everyone gives. 

Theming my Instagram 

This is a very ‘blogger’ problem to have, but I just cannot do it. However pretty it looks, and however much people want to follow themed accounts, I do not have the artistic skill or the patience for an Instagram theme. I just want to take pictures of my food and post them to uncaring people, just like the old days. 

Doing a Facebook Friend Cull 

I like having quite a lot of friends on Facebook. Sure, some of them I’ve not spoken to in years and probably would avoid if I saw them on the street due to potential awkwardness (or genuine lack of recognition) but sometimes it’s fun to spy on people that you went to primary school with. I don’t care if they unfriend me, but I’m probably not going to bother going through my friend list and selecting who I do and do not want to see my stuff. I’m not that interesting on Facebook, believe me.  

Solo Travelling

It’s something you’re supposed to do if you’re a strong, independent woman. It’ll change your life and make you a better person. Except, I hate spending time alone and would be bored senseless. Also, I’d be scared. Yep. I’m strong and independent but I’m a bad traveller and I would be pretty freaked out travelling on my own. I want to want to do some solo travelling, but I just don’t. There’s nowhere I want to go that I think would be better experienced alone than with a friend. 

Eating Packed Lunches 

I really try with this one. It’s healthier and saves you money, and basically every bit of budgeting advice ever lists taking your own lunches as the number one you can save money. I like cooking and so you’d think I’d be good at this one, but I just get very lazy and I’m also always tempted by the very delicious food on offer in the city centre. So much easier to pick up a jacket potato dripping in cheese or a box of sushi than fix myself the kind of lunch I would actually want to eat come midday. New aim? Bring lunch three days a week and treat yo’self the other two. 

LinkedIn 

Need I say more? 

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