Sunday, June 28, 2015

project 365: week 26

172. Saved these buttons from a cardigan. I loved it when I bought it, but the fabric bobbled terribly, and covered everything I wore it with in brightly coloured fluff. It was such a shame to get rid of it, but the buttons were too beautiful to lose.

173. Making progress with the jigsaw, under Millie's watchful eye. Only one piece had to be rescued, slightly chewed, from the kitchen floor.

174. Oh our garden is bringing me such happiness this year, these incredibly scented roses are blooming and there are plenty more buds yet to come.

175. The hanging baskets withered a little in the warm weather but they resurrected with a long drink, and are happily brightening up the front of the house.

176. The train home, after a long but successful day. Unfortunately travelling backwards, a burgeoning headache and a crowded train was not particularly enjoyable, so I distracted myself by focussing on taking some pictures and doing my #3goodthings post, which I have started doing each evening over on instagram.

177. Got caught in a downpour on the way to the station after work. Luckily I had taken my coat and packed my brolly, but my shoes took a bit of a soaking. The train journey is only twenty minutes but it was beautiful blue skies when I landed home.

178. The peony suddenly burst into life, it seems to flower all too briefly, and I am hoping this isn't the last for the year just yet.

Friday, June 26, 2015

word of the week #26

My word was going to be coincidence. All the way into work I was thinking about my post, and the little coincides that had happened this week. Suddenly it is ten o'clock and night and I cannot for the life of me remember any of them except for the story about the hydrangea and I thought it might be a bit much to rewrite that blog post again. It has been a long few days with a trip down to London and back yesterday and an early start to see my Grandad before he went into hospital for surgery and then visiting him tonight. 

Yesterday involved quite a key piece of work coming together and a meeting with a number of people. I, introvert that I am, find things like that enjoyable at the time but then require some peace and quiet to recharge afterwards, and there wasn't much to be had on the rather busy train home! Then today, there have been the obvious worries and tensions whenever a loved one is in hospital. I think the prospect of today has been weighing on my subconscious for a week or so now, and though the surgery was elective and so far all seems ok it is difficult seeing my strong, ever-young Grandad feeling groggy and hooked up to monitors. As you get home the tiredness hits like a wave and you suddenly realise that you have been on high-alert for hours, energy being unknowingly sapped. I had half wondered about making grandad my word of the week but it seemed a bit foreboding to write a long post about him tonight so I will save that for when he is home and well. 

My apologies that in my tiredness the coincidences have eluded me, might I ask you to be so kind as to imagine a few witty, well written anecdotes, fantastically illustrated? Thank you so much indeed, I shall be back after a snooze.

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

so take the photographs

After my slightly melancholy post last Friday, I ventured over to Instagram, in a bid to feel like I was at least trying to be a bit more social media savvy alongside my blogging. I'm finally seeing what all of the fuss is about! I've also managed to put a button to my instagram account in the sidebar, in case you wanted to find my account (it's sparse at the moment, and mainly Millie). That technological achievement is a substantial one for me, it's the small things! I'm still battling to find a neat way to upload pictures without it taking what feels like a disproportionate amount of steps, but maybe I'm just misjudging it, any tips or hints gratefully received. Similarly I'm on the hunt for a way to automatically link my twitter/instagram/blog posts but I will have to work up to that one I think.

In other news, the plant above was the subject of a happy coincidence at the weekend. Visiting my Dad on Father's Day, we we talking about our garden progress, and I asked him and my stepmum if they could name the above plant. As I've said before, I remembered that the label had referred to popcorn, but had no idea what the actual species was. While we were talking I decided to search back through my phone photos, remembering that I had taken pictures of the plants as we bought them (the joys of blogging!). I could make out the label saying "Popcorn Pink", and then Macrophylla. The first part of the name was unclear, but I took a guess at Hydrangea from what I could see, and sure enough there it was in the book my dad had lifted out to look through. I'm still not sure if the hydrangea popcorn is different to the hydrangea macrophylla, as some places seem to suggest they might be, but the label in my picture of this plant seemed to indicate it was one and the same. As my dad leafed through the pages of the book, a sheet of paper fell out, and there, in my Gran's familiar handwriting was a list of four or five plants with page references, and, top of the list, in neat capitals "Hydrangea Macrophylla". I'm not sure whether to think of it as fate or fluke, but the sight of those pink petals makes me smile just a little more now.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

project 365: week 25

project 365 cup

165. Sunday morning spent drinking coffee, eating breakfast and making lists for a productive day ahead.

project 365 cup

166. Monday evening in London for a few days working away from home. Views of the city from my bedroom window, including a glimpse of St Paul's Cathedral if you look really hard.

project 365 cup

167. Breakfast time before work, followed by a lovely evening visiting my cousin and his family, reading bedtime stories to their little boy and cuddling their new baby.

project 365 cup

168. Home at last, and lovely to see this beautiful beagle, and The Husband too.

project 365 cup

169. After work, I met up with The Husband for another successful room escape, complete in 38 minutes this time. We got a voucher for a half price visit when their next room opens. After a late dinner, home, and to bed with hot chocolate.

project 365 cup

170. Working from home today, always nice to start the day without a commute.

project 365 cup

171. After a morning of errands, and feeling in need of some switching off, The Husband suggested a quiet afternoon of a film and a jigsaw. It isn't the most exciting set of weekend plans but it was exactly what was needed, though the jigsaw is still far from done even now!

Friday, June 19, 2015

word of the week #25

word of the week

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo a bit at the moment. My word was actually going to be mojo, but it turns out it doesn't mean what I thought it meant - drugs and magic powers apparently, I'd always thought it was synonymous with motivation, so instead went for lassitude, which isn't something I particularly bandy around in everyday conversation but I did like the sound of it.

I realise comparison is the thief of joy, and that I do have perfectionist tendencies, but I'm feeling a bit lost with this little space of mine. So many other people out there seem to be doing it better, either more professionally, or with more personality. My bloglovin feed has been filled with events like blogtacular and the sisterhood camp which look marvellous but also seem a world away to me, pottering about taking pictures on my phone and doodling with my felt tip pens. I've spotted beautifully talented people like Jane and Sarah drawing incredible images, and while I'm in awe of their talent, I also feel immensely amateur with my creased doodles. I shared my garden post with Gillian but felt I had to apologise for my photography, and then there are people who write so beautifully like Megan, and who always make me smile with their posts like Tess.

I have so much I want to write about, and feel that time is my enemy at the moment. I was away from home three days again this week, and free time with The Husband and family is feeling like a precious commodity. I've actually unfollowed a few blogs from my feed this evening, as spending so many hours of a Friday night reading through 200+ posts each week was feeling a bit like a chore. I want to be proud of this little place and at the moment it feels like I'm coming and doing the bare minimum.  I can't promise to be better any time soon, and I am very conscious of sending this maudlin post out into the ether, especially after (the other) Sarah's blog. I don't want to be a drain!! I want people to look forward to visiting, and enjoy what I write, and I also want to enjoy it myself. I have always been adamant that blogging was something I chose to spend my time on, and so I should only do it as long as it was fun. I do think that I've just been a bit that way out recently, I've taken a break from running after the 5k, and am feeling generally a bit unproductive, so I've no doubts things will right themselves soon.

In the meantime, hopefully by sharing with you some of the lovely blogs I enjoy, and that I look forward to visiting, I can be a radiator by association! And for the future, there is the promise to keep trying, and the best of good intentions.

The Reading Residence

Sunday, June 14, 2015

project 365: week 24

After last week's inadvertent floral theme, I decided to take inspiration from Sunday's photo and do another themed week. They aren't the most exciting photos, and as you will have come to expect from me, I didn't quite manage to see it through for the whole week, but they are generally a pretty good summary of what I've been up to. I do apologise for neglecting this blog at the moment, and not replying to comments particularly quickly either. I have so many posts I want to write, more of our room escape adventures, some recipes, and a post that's already half written about running. I moved over to using photobucket for my photos rather than uploading them directly through blogger and I can't quite remember the positive reasons for doing it, but the negative is that it's a bit more fiddly to do posts with pictures so I can't post from my phone. That and the general busyness of the last week or so has kept me from posting very much for longer than I would like. Hopefully I'll be back a bit more regularly soon, in the meantime, thank you for visiting, and for your comments, now for the pictures.

Millie Race

158. The picture that started the trend. Race for Life complete, with a brilliantly behaved beagle who got strokes and smiles all the way around the course. After a few more runs during the week I've taken a break from it for a few days, but look forward to beginning the 10k preparation in earnest from next weekend.

feet rose

159. Ready for bed and admiring the beautiful pink roses on the dressing table that had opened into full bloom.

dinner thumbs up

160. Tried to take this while making dinner, and The Husband decided to sabotage the shot. Unfortunately I didn't get to take another one, so apologies for the somewhat unappealing image here, though it does make me smile each time I see it.

5 year diary

161. I always seem to get to the middle of the week and forget, you would think so far in I'd have managed to get used to it by now! And I definitely wasn't committed enough to my theme to get back out of bed, so my diary it is. I should do a tally at the end of the year to see how many of the shots were last minute snaps of my bedside table.

Millie sink

162. Slippers on, washing the dishes, enjoying the view of our garden, and caught Millie winding her way past on the hunt for fallen crumbs.

163. Bare feet and a little bit of bliss. A sneaky snap after my massage, feeling ready for the weekend. It took me three attempts to get my jumper on the right way round I was that relaxed.

164. A wonderful night out for dinner, followed by the theatre, and one of the best productions I have seen in a long time. Arriving home and enjoying the last of the light with a wander in the garden before bed.

Friday, June 12, 2015

word of the week #24

word of the week relax

It has been a busy week. The Husband has had a number of days spent in far away cities, and on the days he was nearer home  I have had early starts and late nights working. Today I got some big things at work finally finished, and started the weekend with a massage, much-needed according to the massage therapist who did a wonderful job tackling the tension in my shoulders, and back, and legs, and neck, and hands. It turns out my last massage was back in November and I think she could tell.

So, without any more time spent sat a computer undoing her good work, I am off to enjoy the start of the weekend, watch a film, and wind down after a long week. Here's to a lovely weekend for you all.

The Reading Residence

Sunday, June 07, 2015

project 365: week 23

I seem to have inadvertently gone down an almost entirely floral theme this week. It has made me think that I might quite like to do some "themed" weeks in future, but we will see if I manage it!

365 breakfast tea

151. Breakfast with a good friend was a lovely way to spend Sunday morning. We have a few places we choose to meet, that are about halfway between us, and this one opens early, does incredible french toast, and free refills. Perfect for long-awaited catch ups.

 365 rose

152. And so the flowers begin. I got two bunches of peach toned roses at the supermarket over the weekend, and they sat on the dressing table greeting me each morning this week.

365 pink green flower

153. A wander around the garden after the rains had been, yet again. I have completely forgotten what this shrub was called, something on the label referred to popcorn, presumably from the way the tightly closed flower heads burst open. So as beautiful as it is, it has now become known as the popcorn plant to me. Any horticulturists reading who can put me right?

365 magenta rose

154. This poor little rose has been languishing in the kitchen. It was a potted plant I got sent as a gift last year, and I was thrilled when it started to flower again, but after weeks of waiting for this to burst into life, I decided it was time for some pruning.

365 monochrome cushion floral

155. A last minute shot, cushions on the floor as I headed to bed. The shot is in black and white, but the colours are deep charcoal greys anyway so I'm not sure it looks that different! My black and white contribution over at The Monochrome Muse this week wasn't floral, so at least that's something!

365 tulip petal fallen

156. The tulips in the kitchen were finally past their best, and had dropped their petals when I got home from work on Friday. I loved the shape and shade of this one, so took a quick picture before gathering them up.

365 pink rose morning

157. The final flower, this beautiful tissue-papery rose in full bloom in the garden. I had a wander round in the early morning sunshine, and took a few pictures out there, finally enjoying the chance to be outside without an umbrella.

Friday, June 05, 2015

word of the week #23

WOTW Morning

I realise we have been here before. I realise it didn't end well. For now, though, I'm thinking positive. I'm in the midst of my second attempt of a month of early starts, as one of my things to do before thirty. So far, so good, five days in a row of being up at 6 am.

It has made a massive difference to the week. I have been in work early, and therefore finished earlier, so the evenings felt longer. I did my run before I started work this morning, as I was working from home, and it meant that once I finished work for the weekend I could concentrate on this post, and then I will be getting ready for a meal with my mum and some friends tonight.

I have made lunch each day, and had breakfast. In once particularly saccharine display The Husband and I decided we would have breakfast together on Thursday morning before work (this never happens). Not by itself too bad, except for the fact that we decided to (can't quite believe I'm writing this) declare ourselves porridge pals for the occasion. We don't get out much it's fair to say.

I've got things, actual useful things, done in the morning before work, and even wore a necklace for the first time in years because I had time to lift one out. Usually I just about manage to wear clothes. The evenings have felt less rushed too. On Monday, I got home, did the ironing, and still felt like I had some evening left to enjoy.

The blue skies have helped, although they have been intermittent, to make the mornings seem even cheerier. Can't honestly say I'd be so positive about the month of early starts if we were in early December. For the moment, though, it's been a positive change, and while I'm not naive that 6am on a Saturday feels somehow much earlier than 6am on a weekday, we'll see if I keep this word going for more than a week.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

the year in books: june

"In the countryside near Shanghai, almost all of the peasants could read and write, but here 90 per cent could not. I realized now that I had been lucky to have lived in such good conditions near Shanghai"

I read the sum total of one book in May. This book was sat on the shelf and I mistakenly thought it was one The Husband had purchased, but later discovered it was one we had been given in a box coming from  a relative. I found it interesting, but hard-going. It is the autobiography of Anhua Gao, who grew up in communist China. It gets brilliant reviews elsewhere, so obviously many people enjoy it, but I found the writing a struggle. The history of China was fascinating and horrifying in equal measure, and the stories she shared of her experiences painted a desperately sad picture of life in those times. It certainly made me want to understand more about the cultural history. I found the structure of the novel difficult at times, key things seemed to be missed out and then mentioned much later. I can't honestly say I enjoyed this book, but perhaps that is a reflection on the dark content. I'd be interested to know what others think of it.

I've started reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for June, and hope to get a few more books read too. 

On a slight aside, and because I suspect book people are generally word people, have you ever seen this website? It is a website listing unusual and interesting words, and it is a treasure trove of fabulous terms and definitions. I was reading Lottie's post last night, and she mentioned once reading a word which was defined as the feeling of diving in to water, and never having been able to find it since. Being the person I am, that was all I needed to set off on a hunt to find the word, and I came across that site, and the word "curglaff" which means " the shock felt when plunging into cold water". I'm not sure yet if it's the word Lottie was looking for, but I love it. My favourite find so far though is the brilliant "chork" which is defined as "to make the sound that feet do with shoes full of water". It almost feels like an elaborate April Fool, but I sense many happy visits in the future finding weird and wonderful words.

Linking up with Laura's The Year in Books

Monday, June 01, 2015

first things first

The first of June.

The first day of summer, though you would never know it from the swirling winds blustering outside the window. It is wet and miserable here tonight, and we are curled up indoors under a blanket.

The first early start of the month, having another attempt at my target of getting up at 6am every day for a month.

The first week without my 5k running plan, having completed it this weekend. The race I signed up for is next Saturday though, so I still plan to do runs on my usual days this coming week.

The prospect of the first page of a new book, after it took me the whole month to finish my last one. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into something else, maybe on the commute in the morning.

The first time I have listened to the full 500 words competition results on BBC Radio 2. I heard the start of the show on Friday morning, but, as every year, I didn't get the chance to listen all the way through. So tonight, I got home from work, listened on catch-up and got the ironing done too. A productive evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. 

Now to finish off by looking at some campsites for our trip to Scotland, which is two more firsts for us. We have never been on holiday to Scotland together before, nor have we camped other than at a festival. Here's to a happy month ahead.