Smile no. 7

The weeks are starting to fly… It is already halfway through February and I’m actually driving home in dusky half light rather than total darkness!

I’m halfway through my final placement now, and life is starting to get scary and busy. Between people coming to view the house, reams of paperwork that come with finishing a course, and just generally living, there hasn’t been a lot of time for much else!

My smile this week is a new discovery. I love finding new things, a new shampoo that smells yummy, a new restaurant, or in this case, a new candle that makes the entire house smell awesome. It’s a honey vanilla one from tesco, and nowhere near as expensive as its Yankee counterpart. I think it actually smells stronger too.

IMG_0048-0

So my evenings this week have been spent basking in a yummy haze of honey-ness… Mmmmmm. I also liked it so much I bought a little car sachet thing too so I can enjoy it all over the place.

LSO x

Smile no. 6

A few days behind this week… whoops!

IMG_0015

I went out for a wander on Saturday, just to pick up a few bits and pieces, and just nipped in to L’Occitane. It’s not a shop I go into usually, it’s a little out of my student price range, but I find that their shea butter hand cream is one of the few that actually stops my knuckles cracking wide open, despite the large amount of handwashing I do in my job. (And it smells really good!)

When I got to the till, I was informed that that particular day, there was a promotion running whereby if I signed up to the emailing list, I would get a little gift bag, and 25% off my next shop. This seemed like a pretty good deal, and for the £8 I spent on my hand cream, I walked out with this lovely little pack also containing comfort cream, toner and cleanser, and a squirt of some very nice perfume on the tissue paper that made my living room smell nice for hours:

IMG_0017

For the store, it’s just an easy passing way of getting more advertising to more people, but to me, it’s a little unexpected surprise treat that made my day. People say it’s all about the small things – and for me it really is. This put a smile on my face all afternoon! Simple things please simple minds? I’m not so sure. I reckon the people that can find the smiles in the small things are just happier people!

LSO x

January… A lookback on 4 weeks of de-choc!

January is a curious month. We approach it every year with a kind of heady optimism. However, for many people, once those first few enthused days if self improvement are up, it slides into a month of disappointment and demotivation. All those goals we set so full of good intentions soon seem unattainable, we fall from our wagons and the the chocolate/wine/sofas creep back in to those oh-so-cold evenings as the rain/snow/cold provides an excuse to not leave the house for the gym again.

I ended 2014 thoroughly glad to see the back of it. It was just not a happy year. I wanted to make sure that this year was a genuine fresh start and clean slate, and while there are lots if scary/stressful things looming, I’m doing my very best to not obsess over them, and to enjoy the excitement in them more instead.

I decided to kick start this with a January focus of just giving my metabolism a bit of TLC. I’m a self-confessed comfort snacker, and chocolate had become a serious vice as 2014 threw its worst at me. So while most of the population went dry and spent January sober, I stowed the Christmas chocolate and along with banishing cake and biscuits to boot, headed for long 4 weeks of forced healthiness.

The first thing I noticed was the sudden need for breakfast. I am the world’s least enamoured when it comes to mornings, and this usually means I will happily trade breakfast for an extra 15 minutes of duvet time. But now that post-dinner chocolate/cake/biscuit munchings were out, I was waking up to find I actually needed food. Like now… before my stomach actually digests itself kind of now.  Ready-brek with honey became a regular feature of my mornings. I tried toast a few times, but found that by 11am, my usual reach for the biscuits cravings were good and back.

I also began to find that my lunch needed a lot more thinking about. I couldn’t just throw in a kitkat, or rely on the staffroom supply of cake and nibbles for afternoon hungry moments. I ended up eating a lot more fruit, and I was planning out more substantial meals. I found a few good new recipes, and rediscovered my love for peanut butter. This has always been my go-to snack when chocolate has been off the menu, and is perfect for that point when you get home but it’s not quite dinner time – hot toast, PB and Tea. If I was requesting my last meal on death row, that would quite probably be my choice.

Combined with far more regular exercise from my dance lessons, I found I had more energy, a more level mood, and just generally felt better. However, with the arrival of February, and the break of my junk food fast came the return of the sugar-feels. I am hopeless when it comes to ‘oh I’ll just have a nibble…’ A nibble becomes a bar/packet/box far too easily. I’m back to square one and it’s a tad depressing. But having allowed myself a fortnight to enjoy the freedom of choice again, I’ve decided to try and be a little more restrictive for the next few months. I want to be in good health when I head off on my travels (not to mention in better shape for graduation photos…!) and am intrigued to see if trying to stick more to my January eating pattern will have any more unexpected benefits if I stick at it for longer.

So here’s to the remainder of February. I’m trying to make fitness a focus this month. So far, I have used my gym membership precisely 100% more than I did in January… I.e. I have made it there twice this month. I need to ramp it up if it’s going to be worth the money, so I’m trying to aim for three times a week. (This was until ballet on Monday destroyed my leg muscles, and now even the stairs are proving a significant challenge!)

This was meant to go up at the beginning of February, but hey ho…!

LSO x

Smile no. 5

It’s that time of week again! I don’t really know where this week disappeared off to… it seems to have rushed off in a blur of planning and booking things (see this post for all the scary exciting things!), waiting for emails and working.

My smile this week is the simple bliss of a quiet evening in. House is tidy, Netflix is on, I’m curled up on the sofa in my slippers and my super-cosy scarf (it’s cold and snowy here) with this mug full of tea:

The original Little Scruffy Owl :DThis is one of many owl-related bits and bobs in my house, and it’s one of my favourites. It was this particular little scruffy owl that provided the inspiration for this blog – something I’m really enjoying this year. It’s just one of those things that I have an inexplicable fondness of. I just have to not drop it like I did the cereal bowl this morning…!

LSO x

Into the Unknown…

Challenging myself seems to be becoming a bit of a recurring theme in my life at the moment. This week, we made the huge decision to move out of our current little nest three months earlier than we’d originally planned, just before I fly away for two months.

I am usually that person who likes to have every detail of a plan mapped out; logistics sorted, arrangements made, with as little room as possible for uncertainty. Now, I’ve pretty much signed up to 6 months of having to go with the flow – it’s going to be a pretty major challenge to not get worked up about things and trust that it’ll all work out! But I’m going to have to do my best not to get my feathers in a flap.

The major uncertainty comes from the fact that I could be literally anywhere in the UK from July, and I won’t find out until March/April time. We keep discussing scenarios and potential ways of working things out so they work the best for both of us, which is tricky because we both need pretty different things from life over the next year or so.We usually end up coming to the same conclusion every time, that we’ll just have to play it by ear and see what happens.

It will be easier come March, when I should know roughly where I’ll be at least. Until then, I just have to deal with the fact that there’s not an awful lot I can plan or suss out. It’s a steep learning curve, but I keep trying to look at it from a positive angle – who knows what fun might come along just taking things as they come and enjoying the ride!

I’ve also finalised my big trip – only 90 days away!! This is another huge challenge for me. I’ve been travelling before, but always as part of a group, where things have been organised for me, or with my boyfriend. We travelled round Sydney for a month together a couple of years ago, but he’d been out there a few months already, so I had my own personal tour guide. This time I’m flying solo, to a little island in the South Pacific. It’s part of my course, so I’m also going to be working, in a new place with totally new rules, new language, new people. It’s all terrifying… but also exciting. The last time I really struck out on my own was when I moved to university, which didn’t go so well. But now I’m five years down the line, a lot more confident in myself, and not quite so bothered about what the world thinks of me, so I’m looking forward to proving to myself that I can take on the world standing on my own two (even if both left) feet!

LSO x

Smile no. 4

Well, this week, it’s more of a big cheshire cat grin!

Back in December, I had a very lonely birthday. I’d had a day out the day before with my boyfriend, but my actual birthday consisted of an academic progress meeting and a slightly less than exciting lecture, followed by a very lonely evening in. Being a December baby makes birthday arrangements tricky to start with, and this year my friends were all spread out across the country, throwing even more spanners in the already clogged up works! So anyways, long and short of it, I felt my birthday feeling a little sorry for myself, and totally fed up with adult life.

But I actually have the best friends. Last weekend, we managed to engineer a bit of catch-up time, where I was presented with this:

Caterpillar Cake!!I must have said at some point during one of our many reminiscing chats about the impending doom of adulthood that I’d always had a caterpillar cake at home for my birthday. So they decided the tradition should continue, regardless of the number of candles that definitely now don’t fit on the cake…!!

Of course, this did kind of mean relaxing the cold (chocolate) turkey January (See Hello World) for 1 day but I figure that it doesn’t count when it’s your own birthday cake!

It’s only really been over the last 12 months that I’ve realised how seriously great the people in my life are, and how much I really, really need them. They know who they are, and this is a thanks for being so awesome.

LSO x

Two Right Feet: Daily Post Response

Being fairly new to blogging, I’m always on the look out for new things to talk about. Today, while scrolling through my reader, this Daily Post Cahllenge jumped out at me: Two Right Feet

What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot? What happened the last time you didn’t do one of these things?

I am a night owl. Mornings are my nemesis. I wondered if nemesis was too strong a word, so I checked the definition:

The inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall – Oxford Dictionary

Mornings are relentlessly inescapable, and they have all too frequently been a challenge for my seemingly immovably nocturnal brain.

I’m not sure when my brain decided that compliance with society’s regular patterns was not of huge importance. My teachers in school gave up giving me detentions, or writing notes in my planner, and seemed eventually to resign to the fact that this child, while hard-working and pretty well behaved on the whole, would make it to school on time only when the pigs taught the penguins how to fly.

It became the butt of many family jokes. One Christmas morning, the first three presents I opened – all from independent non-communicating relatives – were alarm clocks. Two were big mechanical ones with bells on, and the third fired a spinning disc off into the depths of my room, only to be silenced from its shrieking by the return of the disc to the base. The latter was quickly assigned to the dustbin. Although effective, it was brutal to the extreme – no-one enjoys waking up to an adrenaline fuelled scramble to the dizzying heights of the top of the wardrobe just to retrieve the off button to their alarm.

I thought going to university might help – new environment, forming new habits and all that jazz, and for a few weeks, it did. Although a large portion of that might have been due to the detrimental effect that extreme stress and gastritis has on your sleep. For much of my first year, I managed to arrive on time for lectures, albeit having bypassed breakfast and power-walked across campus. Then the fatal blow was delivered in my second year. A combination of moving to a halls block just a 5 minute stroll from my building, and my boyfriend moving to Sydney for 6 months put the nail in my cosy, duvet-lined coffin. The complacency of my closeness to lectures, combined with a lot of late night skyping to the other side of the world, meant that I slipped oh-so-easily back into my old ways.

Over the years, I have spent day after day crashing through the house like a tornado in the mornings, and trying to remember frantically on my way to work which excuse I used yesterday, and working out what today’s catastrophe could have been. Phone calls just as I was leaving the house, traffic jams, difficulty parking, had to go back for x/y/z… They’ve all been there. Nine times out of ten, it was probably just that my alarm heralded up-time, and I replied with a muffled ‘5 more minutes…’

Trouble is, I work best at night. I can get on a roll with something at 10:30pm, and the next time I look at a clock, it’s 1:30am. This causes problems when you have to be up at 6:30am so you can leave enough time to get stuck behind that inevitable tractor/gritting lorry/garden shed (true story – actually got stuck behind a large garden shed being transported down a lane the other day…!!) on the hour-long trek to work. Driving tired is also deeply irresponsible.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been diligently packing my bag the night before – yes mum, I finally listened – making lunch (sometimes…) and attempting early nights. I’ve been putting my alarm on the other side of the room, and resisting the urge to creep back under the duvet for those elusive ‘5 more minutes’, heading downstairs for Ready-Brek with golden syrup (because yes, I’m essentially 6 years old and it’s about the only thing I can tempt myself out of bed with). Until the day before yesterday, it was going swimmingly. And then I sleep-turned-off my alarm. According to my boyfriend, I got out of bed, turned off the offending alarm, and got right back into bed, still sound asleep. It’s a new low for me. I woke up in a total panic at 8:10, and managed to make it out of the house in 20 minutes, in the full belief that maybe the batteries had run out, or I hadn’t set the darn thing right. But no. I’ve developed a new brand of sleep-walking.

I feel that somehow, this might just be a battle I’m never going to win. My brain seems determined to be nocturnal, no matter how many alarm clocks I throw at it. So my morning ritual is really pretty simple… to make it out of bed in the first place!!