Category: Life

The weekly report

The weekly report

Watching Hardly anything. Somehow last week I just wasn’t particularly bothered by tv or films.

Listening to Lots and lots of Radio 4. It’s about time you knew that I’m an Archers addict, and discovering I could get the podcast on my phone means my morning walk into work is now spent trying not to laugh and gasp on the street. It also means I can listen to audiobooks and The News Quiz, which make me very happy. For musical sustenance, some Levellers, a little bit of Disclosure and a lot of Mac

Reading I’m back to reading The Secret History and over the weekend I started What we talk about when we talk about love, which I picked up on a whim after meaning to read it forever. It’s just perfection. I love the distilled nature of short stories (and if you have recommendations I’d love to hear them!). In the same bookshop I opened a poetry anthology onto one of my favourite poems; one of life’s lovely coincidences.

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Eating  Tart and lots of salads, an incredible soup and tartine at Le Pain Quotidien, chocolate coated peanuts and some Monday blues blasting fajitas.

Lusting after Old glass bottles and my own garden (or at the very least a window box).

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Talking about Books, University, if it’s really PhD time, pizza – “now I like pizza as much as the next teenager”, Palestine, the UN, poor Leo, how nobody tells me anything and Lent. As usual, I want to take up something for Lent – 40 days is enough to form a habit and really change things. Last year I took up daily yoga and not only has it stuck with me but it really changed my health and routine for the better. This year I’m going to do a couple of things – first, write every day in some form (whether that’s in my journal, blogging, adding to my novel or working on a biography). I probably do this most days anyway, but I want to commit to it being a part of my routine in a new way. Second, I’m going to do a little bit of my Feminist Politics course every day. I’ve fallen a little bit behind and I want to get back into the habit of learning, even if it’s 10 minutes reading before bed or watching a lecture when I might normally be watching Netflix. I’m probably going to give up chocolate and Lucozade too, because my sugar addiction is something else. March is definitely for challenging myself. 

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The weekly report

The weekly report

Watching I finished House of Cards and watched more episodes of Modern Family than I’d care to admit. I wasn’t expecting to love it but I’ve been repeatedly laughing out loud to an empty flat, which is always a good sign. I also had a little reunion with The Office at about 3am on Saturday morning. We were doing a 24 hour fundraiser at work, which mostly meant binging on television and treats.

Listening to This Grimes song – the video is perfect and I love everything about the song. Trying to reconcile that against some of Grimes’ more problematic behaviour is frustrating. I’ve been belting this Cat Power number out all weekend, and dancing to Bob Andy in my kitchen. If you’re not taking time on a Sunday afternoon to genuinely dance like no-one’s watching then I honestly don’t know how you get through life (for more of my thoughts on dancing you can read one of my most popular posts ever here).

Reading I haven’t read a single page of my book since last week, which is shocking. This week should be about long reading sessions.

Eating  A smoothie I made by pedalling a bike, chilli chowder (yes I sang the soup song repeatedly), graze box treats (you can use MILLIE4LP if you’d like free boxes!), American pancakes and some incredible cheesecake (courtesy of my housemate). I also made an amazing tart, which will feature here later in the week. Since the eating section seems to take over most of the weekly report it’s now getting its own post! The first will appear on Tuesday and I’ve got lots of things planned already.

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Lusting after Storage solutions. I know, I’m the coolest. My Pinterest is out of control.

Talking about Budgeting, storage, delis, weddings. It’s been a grown up week.

P.S. you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin

The weekly report

The weekly report

Watching When I started watching House of Cards a couple of weeks ago I didn’t realise that the second season would start the day after I finished it. Consider me pretty smug.

Listening to Lots of alt-J and James Blake. Both of their first albums remind me of driving; alt-J’s was exactly the same length as my drive to work in summer 2012 and I listened to it all the time, whilst Blake’s reminds me of driving my Mum’s car to the hospital in summer 2013. I’m always fascinated by how much my memories are tied up with music. I heard the tiniest sliver of this on the TV today and it took me straight back to being at school and sitting on the tables at break time. 

Reading Most newspapers – especially as it was Observer Food Monthly this week; I loved the recipes from Jack Monroe‘s book.

Eating  Too much, basically, and all of it comfort food. Salty, soft poached eggs; the apple-iest apple cake with salted caramel sauce; macaroni cheese with baked beans; Valentine’s cupcakes; cassoulet. I even cleaned a plate at Kimos, which is an unheard of miracle.

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Lusting after Everyone at Speakeasy. What a beautiful bunch they are. Also ummer and a really great night’s sleep.

Talking about My wonderful friends getting brilliant new jobs, the BAFTAs (especially Emma Thompson and JLaw), my overly vivid dreams and all that food. Oh, and that day of love…

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The weekly report

The weekly report

Watching House of Cards (it’s great) and whilst I was home at the weekend we watched a lot of Gavin and Stacey. I’d forgotten how much it makes me laugh. Apart from that, the rugby and a whole lot of TED talks.

Listening to Debussy, Metric and all of the Gabby Young. She’s such an incredible, moving talent. 

Reading Still The Secret History, and over the weekend I read The Defining Decade after a very kind friend lent it to me. I would definitely recommend it!

I get a paper almost every weekend, but this week I was back at home. There is a certain special joy in reading the paper with my family – everyone grabbing the supplements they like best and doing the crossword together.

Eating  I went home for my Grandpa’s 80th birthday, which meant lots of fantastic food and wine. Friday started with an edition of supper club, with Chinese food this time. I made a Vine here but completely forgot to take photos!

On Saturday my family headed to the Burleigh Court Hotel for a wonderful lunch. I had never been before but the food was delicious and the service wonderful; we were constantly attended to without feeling like anyone was hovering us. Having our own dining room meant that we felt at home and could make as much noise as we liked; just as well – we can be a pretty raucous bunch!

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Lusting after Salted caramel and pastry (as per).

Talking about Life and love, goals, books, leadership, holidays, university, weddings, assertiveness and the merits of a good jigsaw puzzle. Fortune cookies always bring up talk of the future…

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During his birthday speech, Grantz told us a few fantastic stories, including the time he nearly drowned in the pool of the very hotel we were dining at. He also shared with us lots of photos including this one:

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My Nanny carried it around in a huge pocket in her handbag when they were courting; now that’s real love – none of this photos on your phone business.

I’ll leave you with this glorious picture of some hilarious sisters…

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The Weekly Report

The Weekly Report

Another week…

Watching Hardly anything – it’s always nice to have a week where you’re too busy for TV. I did sneak a couple of episodes of The Thick of It last week because I can never help myself.

Listening to This playlist that reminds me so much of being 20, the Girls soundtrack, and a bit of actual Girls.

Reading The Secret History, although I keep falling asleep after a page so it may take me forever.

Eating  Lots of fennel and salmon, some random concoctions and a marvellous Sunday treat at  Milo Lounge on Lark Lane. The burger was huge and came with delicious chutney, but even better was the banana split I scoffed for pudding. Banana splits remind me of going to the pub with my dad when I was tiny. We would always have a banana split each but I could never eat all of mine so he would eat both!

 

Lusting after Apple cake, sunshine, this ridiculous accessory and Tay Swizz (and her cable knit wallpaper!).

Talking about Liverpool feeling like home, boys, cosmic signs (or the lack of), the merits of popcorn (eat this immediately) and how Nathan Filer wrote an award winning book.

The weekly report

The weekly report

Another week, another little round-up!

Watching Season 5 of Community. Donald Glover leaving breaks my heart, especially when this season is really back on form. Also Season 5 of Archer started without me realising, so I’m catching up!

Listening to Eminem because of this gem, Nat King Cole and Mary Poppins.

Reading I finished Tipping the Velvet and it was fantastic. I can’t believe it’s Waters’ first novel. Next I’m probably going to be picking up The Secret History. It’s especially cold at the moment so I’m looking forward to some cosy reading evenings.

Eating  My first solo-cooked roast dinner from scratch and a tarte tatin! I’m quite happy with how it turned out although it could have been more caramelised.

Lusting after Men on trains. Cookbooks and kitchen things, especially tiny ramekins.

Talking about I went on training about interfaith – so I’ve been talking all about conflict resolution, self-reflection and dialogue. Aside from that I’ve been chatting about goals, holidays, love and the most incredible Saturday night puddings.

2014

2014

The end of 2013 was a bit of blur – I moved back to Liverpool, started an amazing new job and before I knew it Christmas was upon us. After the whirlwind of wrapping, too many mince pies and all the rounds of bellinis, there was time to reflect on 2013 and the new year ahead.

2013 was an up and down year, with unexpected events changing my outlook on all sorts of things. With this in mind I wanted to start 2014 with all sorts of positives. I’m challenging myself to do a swimathon, taking a course in feminist politics and trying to say yes to more.

Hopefully this means more blogging as I really do enjoy it and I should be making time for it. I always want to blog little pieces from my week so I’m going to start with small posts about my week…

This week I am:

Watching Girls – it’s back! I’ve only seen the first episode but I’m looking forward to the rest.

Listening to Fiona Apple, Rumours, Happy, M. Ward and Sam Cooke

Reading Tipping the Velvet and lots of interesting stuff about feminist politics

Eating All of the salmon, green smoothies and Irish Dairy Milk I can get my hands on. My weekend included trips to Baltic Bakehouse and Leaf for brunch, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lusting after Everything from Dixi, swimming watches and Leo in Wolf of Wall St (go see it!)

Talking about Recently I seem to have had endless conversations with people about how this year is our year. Let’s hope so!

Review: Davina Fitness app

Review: Davina Fitness app

I bought my first Davina DVD (the 30 Minute Workouts) seven years ago, and have been a big fan of her fitness products ever since. I now have the Super Body Workout and High Energy Five boxset as well, and all of them are fab.

The Davina Fitness app launched at the end of last year to coincide with the release of her lastest DVD, Intense. It’s split into three sections of workouts: Cardio Tone, Sculpt and Running Fit. The Cardio Tone and Sculpt sections are also split into beginner, occasional or experienced. This means you can choose a really tailored workout or take it down a level if you are having a particularly intense week. There is also a good range of exercises targeting certain areas such as Upper Body Shape Up or Work It Hard Abs, whilst others including Body Burn or Boot Camp Blaster are great whole body workouts.

Each workout has a list of all the exercises included, and timers count down your current exercise as well as the entire workout. A box shows you the exercise that will be coming up next. I find that all of this is really motivational – it’s much easier to keep going if you know there are just 10 seconds left!  I also really liked the timed element as I sometimes find the repetitions a little slow on the DVDs, and with this you can increase or decrease the reps as you please.

 

If you are not familiar with an exercise, a video is available to explain each. I would definitely recommend watching these in advance of your workout, especially if you have never used a Davina DVD before (the exercises will mostly be familiar to those of you have), as it’s really important to keep a good posture and avoid injuries.

Each workout is 20 – 30 minutes long, meaning you know you can always fit one in somewhere. I find it a lot easier to do a 20 – 30 minute burst on most days than find an hour less frequently. It also keeps your exercise really fresh and exciting, especially as you can take your workout outside! Some of the exercises, particularly in the sculpt session, require weights. If you are doing a lot of exercising at home I would recommend investing in some as they can really enhance your training, but be sure to have tried them at the gym or closely followed the DVDs first as this is where you have the highest chance of injury. I use the Davina dumbbells, which are great, but obviously others are available.

The Running Fit section works on the principle of high interval training combining running and walking, with stretches at the end. I absolutely love interval training and after not running for a few years this has really helped me get back into it. There are 14 levels within the running pack so there is always a new challenge. There is also a GPS function if you just want to run and map your route. You are rewarded hearts for making progress and Davina also shouts encouraging things at you as you run! The personal trainer upgrade (£1.49) allows you to set your own goals and make a personalised plan, although I think the free version of the app is just as good.

The app is compatible with Spotify, which will play in the background, or the music stored on your phone which can be played through the app. There is also an option to buy Davina’s playlist from iTunes.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Davina Fitness app. The workouts are mostly high intensity so you still get a good amount of exercise compared to heading for the gym or using a DVD. It is particularly good for fitting in a workout on a busy day and very easy to use.

Please note: I am not a healthcare or fitness professional and this review is based purely on my experiences as an exercise enthusiast. If you have reason to believe exercising could cause you any problems, or you are returning to exercise after an injury, it  is best to consult your GP. I have not mentioned weight loss as it is not one of my fitness goals, but I do think that regular use of this app could help if it was. 

 

Review your contraceptive: Yasmin

Review your contraceptive: Yasmin

After seeing Anna’s ace post reviewing her contraceptive, I decided to review mine! Hopefully this will be helpful to those of you thinking about changing or starting contraception. Are you using something else? Review it!

What is Yasmin?

Yasmin is a drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol contraceptive pill. These are two hormones which prevent an egg from properly forming, and Yasmin is one of several contraceptive pills known as “combination” pills.

What dose do you take?
Each pill is 3 mg of drospirenone and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol, and I take one pill per day for 21 days. Some brands of combination pill come with 7 inert pills to complete the 28-day cycle, but I take a 7-day break after each pill packet.

How do you obtain it?

I first went to my GP and was initially given a 3 month prescription. I have low blood pressure which meant that my doctor was keen to regularly check up on my progress on the pill, although I was eventually given a 6 month prescription. At uni, I head to the sexual health drop-in at the health centre, and after my last check up I was given a 1 year prescription. The check up consists of having my blood pressure taken, discussing side effects, checking my BMI and talking through my general health.

How long have you been taking it?

I’ve been taking it since I was 16, so 7 years.

What are the side effects?

The possible side effects listed in the packet are:

  • Depressive mood
  • Headache, migraine
  • Nausea
  • Breast pain
  • Body weight changes
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Acne
  • Sickness
  • Changes in blood pressure
I haven’t particularly experienced any side effects from Yasmin. I do think my weight changed after going on the pill, but this could be down to getting older and my metabolism changing as well.

What are the pros?

  • I’m not pregnant!
  • I had severe period pains which came to a head one afternoon when I was writhing on the floor of my bathroom and was taken to A&E. Being on the pill has almost eliminated this, meaning I can get on with my day and avoid being confined to my bed!
  • My doctor told me that this is a relatively safe pill to run packets together, meaning I don’t always need to have a period if it is a bad time. Please note that you should discuss your individual pill and body with your doctor before running packets together, and it can cause spotting during the month.
  • When not running pill packets together, I find the regularity and shortness of my periods very helpful in planning and avoiding anxiety.
  • Whilst you should take Yasmin at the same time each day, you still have 12 hours of protection which is good if you’re moving around or forgetful.
  • Very clear instructions are included should you miss a pill or be worried about your prescription.
  • There is also a little envelope for carrying them around discreetly (this isn’t something that bothers me but it might be helpful for some people)
  • I have not experienced any horrible side effects – I was on Microgynon 30 (another combination pill) for some time before switching to Yasmin and although it got rid of the hellish pain, it gave me terrible daily headaches as well as mood swings and depression. I’m really glad I switched!

What are the cons?

  • I have very occasionally forgotten a pill (although the instructions are good should this happen).
  • I have been on the pill for quite a long time (I think about 8 years including the Microgynon 30) because it is so easy. I have considered having a coil or an implant instead, but I’m reluctant to have hormones put into me considering my previous bad experience. I recently discussed this with my doctor and she reassures me that the consequences of long term contraception are not necessarily awful, and I’m happy with my choice at the moment. (Again, do discuss things like this with your doctor if you’re having the same concerns).
  • Yasmin is one of the more expensive contraceptive pills on the market, and I feel bad that the NHS has to fund this for me. However, my health is very important to me so I would rather this than take one of the cheaper pills that make me unwell.

Overall…

I have had a great experience taking Yasmin, and others I have spoken to have felt similarly about it, but I do have to stress that everyone’s experiences are unique. Whilst I have considered changing my contraception, for now I’m very happy to continue taking this pill.

I would definitely recommend talking to your GP if you are having a bad experience on any contraceptive pill or believe you are suffering from side effects (especially the more serious ones). My GP was very open to changing my prescription and recently took me off Yasmin for a month long break to check for a side effect. Just because you have been on something for a long time does not mean that your body and your hormones won’t change. It’s always worth talking about these changes and discussing any worries you might have!

A wander at the Walker

A wander at the Walker

Yesterday I popped into the Walker Art Gallery on a whim. I hadn’t researched their collection, I just thought it might be a nice place for a cool wander after the heat of the day, and I wanted to see the famous Henry VIII painting.

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The detail is really quite extraordinary, especially on the curtains – the texture of the fabric feels like a trick being played upon your eye.

Because I hadn’t done my research, I had no idea that two of my favourite paintings, one of which I’ve never seen before, were on display!

Echo and Narcissus is one of those wonderful paintings that embodies a classical story, and all the cultural reference points that came from it.

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The Walker also had an impressive Pre-Raphaelite collection which I spent quite a lot of time marveling at. I can’t wait for the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition over at the Lady Lever Gallery after getting a taster.

My favourite piece, though, was completely unexpected. Rounding a corner into one of the contemporary galleries, I spotted The Exiled Forever Coming Into Land, a Ged Quinn painting, and one I have long lusted after. I had no idea it was housed at the Walker and it was definitely the highlight of my day!

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It’s a piece that forces you to move away, look up close, and move away again, to take in the big picture alongside its stunning detail. The texture in the sky is incredible, and the sunset behind the hills is quite frankly swoon-worthy. I’ve always loved fantasy posters and I love how Quinn brings this into his work. I’d really recommend going to take a look at this if you’re in Liverpool as the depth of the sky and the tiny details in the trees really can’t be captured on a screen.

I also enjoyed seeing a Hockney painting that I wasn’t aware of (Peter getting out of Nick’s pool), which was so indicative of the time, and of course Peter Davies’ iconic Super Star Fucker Andy Warhol Text Painting. As a much-reproduced image it was great to get up close and see the clean lines of paint against canvas. There was also a cheeky Banksy amongst the 17th-century works!

My only criticism of the gallery would be that the way some of paintings are displayed above each other makes the light bounce of them so you can’t get a close look, but this was mostly in the Victorian portraits which aren’t my cup of tea anyway. I loved how the rooms had been decorated, with white minimalist spaces for contemporary works next to opulent wallpaper for Rennaissance pieces.

All in all, I had a super little wander at the Walker. I didn’t go in all the rooms so I’m excited to visit again this summer, especially with a Rankin exhibition on the way!