Family & Home..., My Fresh Start...

My top five things about right now…

I’m writing this in response to the Daily Prompt: State of your year.

I started following The Daily Post to try and make sure I kept writing even when the ideas weren’t flowing. Well, I still have ideas but I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about how things are going in general and this seemed like a good opportunity.

So, where is my life at right now? I’ve been back from the States for about 6 weeks and all the fun stuff I had planned for my return is just about over and done with. This weekend I felt the full force of being back, the prospect of working full time looming alarmingly close and returning to a long distance (admittedly much shorter distance but still) relationship. After moping for the weekend I’ve decided that’s enough of that and I’m going to look on the bright side, after all, this is my fresh start…

1) I’m blogging properly

As I’ve talked about before, I started this blog to talk about my year abroad. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out how I’d planned and I let life get in the way. Since coming back I’ve started writing again and suddenly I’m obsessed. I think about blog ideas all the time; when I’m having conversations with people I’m thinking about how I could create a top 5 based around what we’re talking about, when I go anywhere I’m considering its five high points, even reading books and watching films and TV programmes is all about what could go into a blog later that day. I’m sure any long time bloggers will know what I’m talking about, it’s an addiction and I’m excited that it’s finally happened to me, I just hope I can stick to it when my life gets a little busier!

2) I’m home

One of the main things I learnt while I was living in America is how much being away makes you appreciate home. I’m not saying that if I didn’t have the opportunity to travel right now I wouldn’t take it, but I’m still in the stage where I can appreciate the little things about being at home. Being cooked for and feeling completely relaxed, which I never really do when I’m travelling and fully in charge of myself. It’s nice to have that comfort you know? In a few weeks I’ll probably be sick of it, but for now I’m comfortable and happy here.

3) 2013 is turning out pretty great

The first half of this year has been scary, exciting and life changing. I spent the first 6 months of it living in a different country, I travelled and saw things I never imagined I’d get to see and got to do it with some wonderful people who made it all the better. Then I had the joy of coming home and the reunions which I’d waited so long for, and they didn’t disappoint. In a few months I’m going back to Nottingham for my fourth year and I can’t imagine being more ready to tackle the prospect of a dissertation and some really hard work, let’s hope that actually turns out how I’m planning!

4) Obama’s still in power, my mug collection is expanding nicely and I have a great boyfriend

The world is just as it should be in the most important of aspects. My love, Obama, who I’ve expressed my approval for in previous blogs is still doing his thing and making the world a little cooler. This year has seen my mug collection expand at an unexpected but delightful rate with the addition of at least 6 since the new year. On top of all that, I’m in a real, proper relationship for the first time and, not to go on too much and embarrass myself, it’s pretty great.

5) What comes next?

I decided what I was studying at university when I was 17 years old; 5 years ago. From that age I knew I was going to spend a year living in America and, in part, my life up until last August was me waiting for the moment I took off and went to have this adventure. And now I’m back. I’ve tried to work out how I feel about this and I’m still not really sure. The adjustment to going back to being without this huge experience on the horizon is pretty disconcerting. The ways I’ve found to cope with it at the moment? Forget about what’s going to happen in a few years time, it’s not always good to live your life like I was before; waiting for something. I’m focusing on what I want out of my life now that I only have a year standing in between me and being a ‘real person’. Now I’m thinking of the rest of my life as the next adventure.

That’s all for now

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Travel...

My top five things about Lisbon…

Last week my boyfriend and I went on a weeks holiday to Lisbon, Portugal. We booked it way back in February after spending the month before that getting more and more excited about the prospect of going on holiday. Of course, at that time I was living in the US and he was here in England so the thought of getting to spend A WHOLE WEEK TOGETHER was pretty great. We decided on Lisbon on a whim. Neither of us are really sure why it was selected but both of us were happy, so that’s where we would go. It turned out to be one of the best holidays I’ve ever had. Not just because of the company but also because Lisbon is a lovely city which I would recommend to anyone. Here’s why.

Best meal of the week! (Click on the picture for a link to the restaurant)

Best meal of the week! (Click on the picture for a link to the restaurant)

1) Oh my god, the food!

Anyone who has ever travelled with me will know, as far as I’m concerned, the major high point of any trip is getting to try the local cuisine. I’ll spend hours looking at restaurants on Trip Advisor, determined to hunt out the best restaurants on offer. (On a side note, I cannot recommend using Trip Advisor enough while travelling if you don’t already, especially for finding restaurants). Thanks to this obsession of mine we managed to find some pretty amazing food while we were out there.

2) See some cute animals

My loves

My loves

I’m not a massive animal person but Lisbon happens to be the home of Europe’s largest indoor aquarium; Oceanário de Lisboa. So, given it’s Europe’s largest, we figured we should give it a go. I surprised myself by enjoying it quite a lot. My favourite part by far was the fact that they have three sea otters which we saw being fed. If you have never seen a sea otter being fed then be warned that it is really, really cute. The aquarium overall is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Lisbon and I’m sure kids would enjoy it just as much, if not more than, my 22 year old self! On our last day we went to Lisbon Zoo which happened to be right next to our hotel, mainly because we were looking for something to do close by to kill time before we went to catch our flight. It’s a pretty good zoo with a wide selection of animals. I was most thrilled by the elephants of course, they have five of them and they’re cute as ever.

3) Perfect climate

Although it was the middle of July, we found Lisbon to have one of the most perfect climates. It was really sunny and warm but it’s proximity to the coast meant that it stayed breezy the whole time, perfect for my boyfriend who is prone to getting particularly cranky when it’s hot!

4) It’s not too expensive!

As both of us are used to capital cities being extortionate, it was a pleasant surprise when Lisbon actually seemed to be very reasonably priced. I didn’t even spend all the money I had set aside for the holiday…that NEVER happens! The restaurants we went to were all offering lovely food but didn’t cost us that much, in particular we noticed that alcohol was cheap although go for Portuguese beer and wine if you want the best prices.

5) Best of both worlds

I’ve always loved visiting European cities; the food, the architecture, the culture…they always have so much to offer and Lisbon is no exception. Still though, despite having got a lot of travelling in to the first half of this year I still felt a little deprived of beaches and so I was really glad that Lisbon can offer that as well. On our last full day in Lisbon we took a 20 minute train journey out of the city and went to the beach in Carcavelos. A big and pretty beach it was really nice to get a few hours of sunbathing in as well, and still be able to go back to the city for dinner. From our research, Lisbon appears to have loads of close by beach towns which are easily accessible through public transport or by driving so it’s perfect if you want both a city break and some beach time.

Beach Day!

Beach Day!

So those are my top fives. Of course there are loads of other things I could recommend doing in Lisbon that didn’t make the top five. Take a trip to one of the many parks or gardens throughout the city, go and sit in Rossio Square and people watch and go to Belém and try the world famous custard tarts (which are just as good as everyone says), just don’t do what we did and go on a Monday when pretty much everything is closed!

Hope you’ve all had or have as great holidays as I just had, wherever you’re going!

That’s all for now

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Films I've Seen...

My top five moments of Monsters University…

Warning: There are spoilers in this blog…sorry guys!

This weekend finally saw the UK release of Monsters University which is something I have been waiting for a long time. For those of you who don’t know Monsters University is the new release from Pixar and is a prequel to the brilliant Monsters, Inc. which was released in 2001…we’ve been waiting more than 10 years for more of Mike and Sully and it was definitely worth the wait.

1) The Blue Umbrella The_Blue_Umbrella_(2013_film)_poster

The first of my top five wasn’t strictly a part of Monsters University. As anyone who’s ever seen a Pixar film will know, they like to give us a bit more for our money by including a short animated film before the main feature. These shorts are always great and really get you in the mood for watching the film coming afterwards. The one before Monsters University was called The Blue Umbrella and it tells the story of a blue umbrella who falls for a passing red umbrella and shows his struggle to get back to his new love. Sounds a bit strange I admit but it’s actually brilliant. Something fantastic about the film was that it looked so realistic, having just googled this I can tell you it apparently uses new techniques in photorealistic lighting and stuff (I could have tried to pass that off as my own knowledge but I don’t think you would have bought it somehow). Another fun aspect of the film is that it makes use of Artificial Pareidolia…yep I didn’t know this one either…apparently this is the official term for that thing where you can see faces in inanimate objects. See this fun list of 50 examples if you want more of an idea.

2) Getting to see school days Mike

The film begins when Mike is just a young monster who’s still at Elementary school. We get to see how poor Mike was bullied and excluded by his school mates for his size. This was a great addition to the film and it had me squealing to my boyfriend about how cute little Mike was within minutes of the film starting. Yes, bizarre; this is a film about monsters, not classically cute I admit but Mike with his giant eye and his little monster face full of hope about his dream of becoming a scarer was really quite adorable.

3) The 50 foot librarian

mu

For those who haven’t seen it and don’t mind me giving massive spoilers, the premise of the film is that Mike (the little green one) wants to become a scarer and yet there’s one big problem…he’s not scary. So when he and Sully get kicked out of the scaring program after their rivalry becomes too much for the dean to handle, Mike decides to enter the Scare Games to try to prove to everyone that he can be a good scarer. One of the rounds in the Scare Games involves attempting to get a team flag from the back of the library, a task made difficult by the fact that any noise causes the giant monster librarian to throw the perpetrator out of the window. This is one of my favourite scenes in the film simply because it’s both exciting and hilarious.

4) It’s like any other teen moviemu2

Not strictly a moment but, as the majority of the scenes take place at ‘Monsters University’, it’s really fun to see the way the creators of the film have made a whole student world just for monsters. If you read any of my earlier blogs about my year abroad, you might remember me saying that American college life really is like the films, and Monsters University is no exception. There’s fraternities and sororities, parties and school mascots, even their own monster version of beer pong (without the beer of course, this is a kids movie).

5) The happy ending

No Disney film would be complete without a happy ending. Of course, the fact that it’s a prequel means that we know all along that Mike and Sully end up working at Monsters, Inc. and everything works out just great eventually. Even so the moment when the two of them get kicked out of Monsters University for good is a tense one. Fortunately, they go to work at Monsters Inc. as lowly mail room workers and show us the good old American dream in practice when even college drop-outs can be whatever they want to be as long as they work hard and have their hearts in the right place…

If you haven’t already and you don’t feel like the various spoilers contained in this blog have ruined it for you, then go and see it if you get a chance; it’s great.

That’s all for now

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My Fresh Start...

My top five things about de-junking my life…

dejunk

As I mentioned in my last blog, since arriving home from America I have decided to ‘turn my life around’ . Part of this mission is to clear out my room in my parents’ house so that it becomes a pleasant and livable space; something which it hasn’t been for several years. The reason for this? I am a hoarder. I admit it, I have a serious problem when it comes to throwing things away because who knows when that thing that looks like rubbish, and almost certainly is rubbish, might come in useful?! I never really realised how bad I was until I went to uni and had people repeatedly exclaim about how much stuff I had in my small room while all I could think was ‘I’ve got 10 times this amount at home..’.

When I got back from Albany it all got too much. I couldn’t find anything I needed, none of my drawers would close because of the clothes spilling out of them and I was getting close to having a mental breakdown every time I needed to get ready to go out.

So this is it, I’ve decided that enough is enough, however difficult I find it I am removing all the junk from my life and, not only that, but I’m determined to see the positive side of the process.

1) It’s liberating

Having so much more stuff than I needed was beginning to make me feel stifled. My room is perfectly big enough for one person, in fact I think under the piles of stuff it’s actually rather large, but it had stopped feeling cozy and welcoming to me, it felt cramped and messy. With each bit of rubbish I’ve unearthed and swiftly thrown into a bin bag and each piece of clothing which is either too big, too small or just pretty hideous that’s gone into a bag for the charity shop, I’ve felt that little bit more free.

2) Helping a good cause

Yeah I could be doing a lot more for charity but I guess every little helps and the bags of stuff I’m sending to the charity shop will hopefully be sold and that money can do some good somewhere.

3) Coming across long lost items

Those who know me well know that I am incredibly sentimental and sappy a lot of the time and one of my all time favourite things about sorting my life out is that it gives me an excuse to spend ages looking at old photos and  reminiscing over things I made in primary school before ceremoniously placing them in a bin bag and deciding I’m ready to move on with my life. Whether they’re funny or sad or just make me smile, it’s nice to be reminded of things I’ve done or seen and people who I grew up with.

4) I can find things again!

It’s cut my getting ready time in half, I’m not turning my room upside down in order to find whatever piece of clothing I want for that day and the things I’d given up on ever seeing again are now available to me at any moment.

5) Make some money….?

Now this is one I’m a little unsure about. I’m yet to give it a go but I am assured that the odd thing I’ve come across in my room could be worth a little money and why not at least try since my year abroad has left me in debt in pretty much every direction. The most obvious choices here are Ebay and Amazon both of which I have a little experience with. I think the key is not to go out with expectations that I’m going to make my millions; this is pocket money and anything is better than what I’m getting out of it sitting in my room and getting in my way. Anyway, the first items on the agenda are a nearly brand new script to the first Lord of the Rings film (don’t ask me why I have this, I was 10 when I bought it and clearly my parents were too indulgent) and a hardly used hogwarts satchel. I’m counting on the cult following for both LOTR and Harry Potter to provide me with some customers here. I’ll update on how my new online selling enterprise goes as soon as I get round to it!

So there you go, my top 5 reasons why it’s actually great to break a lifelong habit of hoarding and give yourself a fresh start.

That’s all for now

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My Fresh Start...

Back to England, Back to Real Life and (hopefully) Back to Blogging…

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I’m backkkk

So…it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve blogged and I feel like it’s about time I get back to it now that I have nothing except going to work occasionally to distract me! Yes, I’m back in the UK for good (apart from going on holiday next week) and I’m determined to get this blog back up and running.

I originally started this blog to talk about my year abroad and, for the first semester, I dutifully posted…not as much as I would have liked but I gave it a good go. Then I went home for Christmas and when I went back to Albany I somehow failed to write another blog the whole 5 months that I was out there! Don’t ask me what went wrong, a combination of being too homesick/busy/lazy at varying points to get round to it I think. It’d be all too easy to just never write another blog again but I seem to have a habit of giving up on pretty much everything I start on and I’ve decided that isn’t going to happen with this!

So yes, after a shockingly long break I’m back and ready to write about my life and I hope you all enjoy it. I’m not really sure exactly what this blog is going to be now that I’m back. I’ll probably stick with the top five theme for the most part and I imagine it’ll most likely end up being my top five of my top five. That’s a convoluted way of saying that it’s probably going to be a lot of top fives about the things I like the most which includes music, books, cooking, eating and going to uni, with a fair amount of ‘things I’ve been thinking about while bored at work’ thrown in.

I’ve also started on a new ‘turning my life around’ mission which includes clearing out my room, rebuilding old friendships which got lost as a result of being 3000 miles away for a year and getting new hobbies to make me a well rounded human being (ha). So I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going as well.

I will be back very soon, I promise!

That’s all for now

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