2015

wedding at left bank leeds This year I…

Paul and Amy by Jenna Woodward Photography

amyliz

tivoli gardens 2

  • Drove in my gorgeous new Mini. I'll never have such a fancy car again. 
  • Took a trip back to my alma mater
  • Lost myself in bookstores and in the books themselves. 
  • Despaired whilst searching Rightmove for our potential future home.
  • Bought my first ever designer handbag. 
  • Cried during my wedding speech.

Leeds City Wedding

  • Collected a whole lot of cookbooks. 
  • Danced like a loon with my family at my Dad's wedding.
  • Ate everything at Leeds Indie Food Festival and being so proud of this city.
  • Welcomed my sister into our home for a year.

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

  • Gave a standing ovation at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
  • Drank cocktails in a secret garden with some of my favourite people.
  • Ate a pig's trotter (and a whole heap of other stuff).
  • Reminded myself that the best is truly yet to come. 
  • Made lots of plans for 2016...

 

8 Things I Actually Learnt in 2015

2015

This time of year is always full of reflection; a little self-awareness goes with the season, it seems. I see a lot of 'what I learnt' posts going around the Internet, but they're often filled with cliches and I'm left wondering if those are really things that people learnt, or things that they knew all along but have just had a reminder over the past year. There are some nuggets of wisdom that I feel are constantly sent our way, and rightly so, because there are stark reminders everywhere we turn - life is short, hard work pays off, friends & family matter more than money and possessions, turn off your phone... You know the sort of thing. But I thought it would be a fun exercise to think about what 2015 actually taught me, things which caught me by surprise or that were totally new to me. So here's 8 things I actually learnt in 2015... 

1. I have enough time for reading. 

If you haven't heard me go on about it, then it may surprise you to know that I've read 96 books so far this year. Which is a whole lot of books. I have always been a big reader, but fell out of the habit during the later years of school and University, proclaiming that I didn't have enough time to read. Well, it turns out I very much do, and I'm going to take advantage of that fact for as long as possible. 

2. Driving isn't as scary as I thought. 

I am definitely not going to tell you that I am a good driver. I am an average driver, but I like to think that my caution makes me quite safe. I was terrified of driving for years, despite having passed my test, but picked it back up again this year and got myself a pretty swish car, which made it so much less scary than it once was. I'm still learning and still getting past that anxiety, but I know now that it will pass, so I don't have to commit myself to a lifetime of being terrified of the road. 

3. Being married is pretty cool (and it is different from not being married). 

This is obviously something that I could never have known before, but having got married this year I can affirm that it is pretty cool. And, despite what I say to people about married life being pretty much the same as unmarried life, I do feel like the commitment that I have made has changed my relationship for the better. We have always been a team, but now we've agreed to be a team for life, which changes the decisions we make and the discussions we have. The everyday is still very similar, but it's neat to know that Paul wants to be with me forever. 

4. Travel isn't a transformative experience for me. 

I am not well-travelled and it doesn't bother me, which I think is pretty much the closest thing you can get to a sin in 2015. I understand why it's so high on some people's priority lists, and I do enjoy seeing new places (and eating new foods!) but it isn't a transformative experience for me. I am an anxious traveller at best, and as much as I would like my holidays to make me into a better, more understanding person, I think I'm better off picking up a book or doing some volunteering at home if I want to improve my life. Maybe this will change in the future, but I'm happy for now to put travelling slightly down the list. 

5. I'm quite good at my job.

I'm getting into the three year mark in digital marketing now, and I like to think that I am getting good at it. There's always room for improvement, of course, and some people spend their whole lives getting good at their careers so I know there's a long way to go, but for now I'm happy that I know what I'm talking about and can do my job to a good standard. This is the first time I've been in any way established in a job or career, and it feels good.  

6. New York is as great as everyone says. 

I've always been a bit sceptical of people who rave about New York, like they were trying to join some cool club. I take back all of my judgement, because after visiting New York for the first time as an adult, I am totally signed up. New York is a magical city, and it will steal your heart just like everyone always says it will. I think I could go every year for the rest of my life and never be bored of it. If there's a cool club of New York-loving people, then sign me up! 

7. My grandparents are the best people to hang out with. 

It sounds morbid, but this year is the first year that I really realised that my grandparents aren't going to be around forever. I have a relatively young family, so it's only now that my grandparents are starting to hit old age, and experience all the related mess that it brings. I've been very lucky in that, and also in the fact that my grandparents are the most generous, wise, wonderful people I know. I'm making it a priority to spend more time with them, because they're all fantastic people and super fun. 

8. Good skincare is worth the money. 

This is the year that I invested in good skincare and began to worship at the altar of Caroline Hirons. I've spent a small fortune, but I've finally got a skincare routine that works for the skin I have now (rather than the skin I had when I was a teenager). It's been worth every penny and my skin has never looked better. I'm starting to notice the start of wrinkles so I'm glad this is a lesson I'm learning now! 

My 10 Favourite Books of 2015

books of 2015

I'm closing in on my target of reading 100 books in 2015, with only a few days left to go. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to finish in time and, looking back, I can't believe how many books I managed to get through in just one short year. I feel like I've learnt a lot from taking on this challenge, not least that I really can find time for reading if I prioritise it. I've fallen for reading all over again, and I've discovered new authors and a book-ish community online, and it's just been wonderful. My 'to read' list was around 200 books at the start of the year and, although I've read almost 100, the list has grown to over 400 in that time. Reading more makes me want to read more - there are so many fantastic books out there to get my hands on and I'm discovering more all the time. 

That said, not every book I've read this year has been a stand out. There have only been a few duds, books I wish I hadn't picked up but finished for the sake of this challenge, and only one that I put down and never picked back up again. There have been lots of enjoyable books, but many of them don't stick in my mind longer than a week, and are unlikely to become permanent favourites. However, these ten books have stayed with me throughout the year for one reason or another, and I've been recommending them to as many people as possible. Some are just incredible reads; the kind you want to tear through in a day and simultaneously wanting to get to the end, whilst never wanting to get there because it will all be over. Some are thought-provoking and life-changing. A couple are a mixture of both.  

Dare Me by Megan Abbott 

Addy and Beth are the queens of the school, and of the cheerleading squad. But when a new coach begins to favour Addy over Beth, who has always been top of the stack, the cracks in their friendship begin to show. This book set me on a bit of a Megan Abbott binge and, although her other books are enjoyable, this one is addictive. It's fast-paced, slick and tense. It captures something unique about teenage girlhood, friendship and ambition, and you'll devour it in a day. 

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This is Amy Poehler's memoir and it has changed my life. I'm not exaggerating about that (for once). Not only is this a gentle, funny look at Amy Poehler's life, it's also full of wisdom about being a woman in the world. I bought the audiobook, too, and listen to it whenever I feel sad. Amy Poehler has such a wonderful way of looking at things, and I hope one day to be able to be so generous of heart and spirit. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 

I was initially dismissive of Rainbow Rowell's work, which seemed too romantic, too schmaltzy for my tastes (based on the cover I should add - a lesson for all of us). I was so, so wrong. Her books are heart-warming, smart, funny and an all round delight. Fan Girl follows fan fiction author and new college student Cath as she navigates the new world she finds herself in on her own, without her sister Wren. Prepare to laugh, cry and nod your head in recognition. 

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

This book is so hard-hitting, it will stay with you for a long time. It was one of the first books I read in the year, and I'm still recommending it to people all the time. Set in a dystopian universe where women are bred to be wives and concubines and trained in the art of pleasing men, competition is fierce between girls for the most covetable 'wife' spot. It's uncomfortable and a little too close to home, despite the dystopian setting, but so, so good. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler 

I went into this book blind, and it absolutely blew me away. The book tells the story of Rosemary and her family, including her unusual sister Fern, who disappeared when Rosemary was young, and her estranged brother, Lowell, who is wanted by the FBI. As the tale unfolds, this book will make you question some of your most deeply held beliefs about family and humanity. Truly unusual and astonishing. 

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel 

This book is magical - it seems that everyone who picks it up absolutely loves it, and I'm sure you will, too. I'm not usually one for post-apocalyptic takes, but this one is just so riveting and so wonderfully weaves together personal narratives with a wider story arc - both as poignant as each other. A flu virus takes out most of humanity, and you must watch as mankind is devastated. Fifteen years later, you pick up with a group of travelling Shakespearean actors, bringing hope to this new world, until they come across a violent prophet... 

You by Caroline Kepnes 

Oh gosh, this book. I wanted to read it again as soon as I had finished the last page, and I'm so excited to hear that there is a sequel on the way. 'You' follows stalker-turned-boyfriend Joe, as he obsessively manipulates beautiful, aspiring writer Guinevere Beck. This book is absolutely thrilling, and it's definitely interesting to hear things from the stalker's perspective... 

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik 

Sofia Khan is a Muslim woman living in London and trying to navigate dating, her family, her friends and her religion. It's a Bridget Jones-style take on modern dating life from a character that you can't help but love for her forthrightness and her kind heart. For non-Muslim readers it feels familiar and unique all at once, and is truly a charming read. 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

 Ta-Nehisi Coates tells his life story, focusing on what it really means to have a black body in the USA. It's incredibly moving and so thought-provoking; I've had numerous conversations about its contents since reading it on holiday in October. With race relations in the USA being what they are, this is a really important book. 

Home is Burning by Dan Marshall 

Don't read this book if you don't want to be completely emotionally wrung out by the end, because there's no way to survive this book intact. Dan tells the true story of his chaotic family life, as they struggle to care for his terminally ill father, who was once the head of the household and the centre of their family, and their mother, who is battling cancer. It's frustrating, it's surprisingly funny, it's dark, it's emotional. It's brilliant.  

What I Cooked in 2015

This year has definitely been about refinement rather than invention for me in the kitchen. I think 2015 has been my busiest year yet, and blogging recipes - which definitely take the most time to get sorted - has kind of taken a back seat. I want to turn that around next year and I have big plans for this space. That said, I still blogged a lot of recipes that I'm proud of, and that I'm still making regularly in my kitchen. The stuff that I make for this blog really is the stuff that I eat every day (or, in the case of baking, foist upon my willing friends and colleagues for the sake of my health), so I hope that you find something here that you enjoy and can make a part of your kitchen life. Here's to more deliciousness in 2016! 

Garlic & Thyme Mushrooms on Toast

Mushrooms on Toast

Slow-Cooked Pork Belly

Slow Cooked Pork Belly

Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe

Pork & Chilli Gyoza

Easy Pork Gyoza

Vanilla Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

bundt cake 1

Potato & Courgette Rosti

Potato and Courgette Rosti with Poached Egg

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Apple & Blackberry Galette

Apple and Blackberry Galette

Caramel Apple Dutch Baby

Caramel Apple Dutch Baby // Amy Elizabeth

Easy Rum Chocolate Truffles

rum truffles recipe

What have you been cooking in 2015?