2017 Resolutions: How did I do?

20171210_Snowy_London_00152017 was a big year for me with lots of changes and lots of celebration!

It went by in a blur and it’s nice to spend some quieter time now to let it all soak in. The wintery weather makes it easier to stay inside and tend to some of that life admin too.

Unless it’s a snow day!

20171210_Snowy_London_0073We woke up to one of the best snow days I’ve experienced in London in my nearly 6 years here (wow!). We woke up on a Sunday morning mid-December to a blanket of snow just settling on the ground and it continued all morning. 20171210_Snowy_London_0090Ben and I couldn’t wait to rug up and get out there, Ben eager to capture the snowflakes with the camera, me just happy to pose and catch flakes on my tongue.

I feel like it was October this year before I really woke up to the fact that 2017 was nearly over. It has been a busy year. I did manage to complete some of my 2017 resolutions though. Here is how I did:

  • Read!

I set a goal to read 25 books this year to get me back into a reading routine after dropping the ball in 2016 when my commute changed. This turned out to be an exactly perfect pace for me and I read just over 25 books throughout the year in the end.

I really enjoyed using GoodReads too. It made me read more widely by picking up recommendations along the way and gave me a place to store all those want to read lists that would end up all over my life scrawled on paper, in books and in my phone. Love it.

I have increased my 2018 goal to 30 only because I want to watch TV and I know a goal like this will easily take me away from the box sets and into a book. Also with 72 books currently on my Want to Read shelf I’m not going to be short of inspiration.

Done it! You can read my write up here. Such a good challenge! My motivation to get out an exercise has been limited since this and I need to think about what my next exersize challenge will be to get me going for 2018.

  • Use what we have + only buy essentials
  • Save to buy a house

Kind of.. but there is always room to do more. I think we will be making actual monetary savings goals this year to help us step up the savings. We have a lot to pay for coming up including visas and hopefully citizenship for myself in the UK and maybe a wedding.

  • Learn to code in Visual Basic

I didn’t do this in the end. I started talking to my boss about getting on a course when I got back from my holiday in January, however I ended up being pulled into a Transformation project that eventually lead to a new job in 2017! Woohoo! I’m still interested in learning code, however will see where this new job will lead me in 2018 before taking it on.

  • Refresh my blog

This blog definitely took a back seat this year and I have struggled to feel purposeful about it. But I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t care and mainly just want it as a record for myself. So I will keep popping in with little life updates and travel photos and see how I go in 2018.

So, two and a half out of five for 2017 goals. How did you do?

I love this time of year for a bit of re-evaluation and goal setting so will check back in with some goals for 2018 soon. Lots to get stuck into this year I’m sure.

Happy New Year!20171210_Snowy_London_0116

Thanks to Ben for the snow photos.  You can follow him on Instagram @benjamin_e_parry or me @andieinspired

 

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2017 Resolutions

20170110_175912.jpgThere is nothing like the start of a new year to make you re-evaluate your situation and inevitably, set some lofty goals. Ben and I have been having some big adult discussions lately about what we’re aiming for in life. It’s exciting. 2017 is also the year that we both turn 30 and we will have our 10 year anniversary so there will be lots to celebrate over the summer.

My resolutions are pretty simple this year and I’m thinking they will stick. I’m optimistic mostly because I’m so excited about them. So here goes…20170204_resolutions_blog_0065My 2017 Resolutions

  • Read!

With the change to my commute this year my reading has slowed down dramatically. I miss churning through the books on my long commute, it was the perfect, distraction free reading time. Now that my commute involves more exercise (and sometimes photography) I need to carve out some reading time while at home. So that’s what this goal is about. I have set up a Goodreads account to track my reading this year and set a goal of 25 books.

I have possibly bitten off more than I can chew here but I signed up to run this 10-12 mile obstacle assault course with Ben. The website says “You can expect undulating hills, thick mud and a range of mind-bending challenges to test your mental grit.” Yikes! We started (sort of) training in New Zealand and now that we’re back in London we have committed to this in earnest. There is a lot of ab crunches and pull ups (when I can do them) in my future.

  • Use what we have + only buy essentials
  • Save to buy a house

These two resolutions go together. This year is the year of saving for Ben and I, we really want to put in a big effort to save on the little things, like takeaways, buying coffees, and make the most of the stuff we have. We’re not going completely frugal but just trying to get smarter, I would much rather my money went on holidays and our futures than Uber rides.

  • Learn to code in Visual Basic

This will be a huge step for my Excel skills and will help me streamline the work I do so much. I wish I had thought of it sooner. I have a few projects at work that I’m going to attempt this year.

  • Refresh my blog

It’s nearly two and a half years since I started this blog on my 27th birthday and it still looks pretty much exactly the same. I think it’s about time to refresh, I love writing this little online diary so I want it to keep growing with me. 20170204_resolutions_blog_0055What are your resolutions for this year? Did you make any? Oh and does anyone want to train for Tough Mudder with me? I’m going to need so much support to get through that. .

2016 Resolutions: How did I do?

20170204_resolutions_blog_0066I feel a bit different coming into this year, so much of my focus in 2016 had been on our month long New Zealand holiday over Christmas that I really hadn’t thought much about afterwards. But we’re just into February now and already so much has happened and changed. I’m really excited about what this year has in store.

I have a post coming really soon on resolutions I am adding for 2017 but for now I want to look at my 2016.

2016 Resolutions

  • No More Snoozing! I want to wake up and get up in 2016.

I’m starting off with a bit of a failure, I definitely haven’t shaken my snoozing habit. I used this progress checker by Elise Joy to help me stay on track, you can get a 2017 one here. It was stuck to the wall beside my bed in our Tottenham flat, and then by my mirror in our current flat. It’s a really good way of seeing how far you have come and tracking that daily effort. But as you can see, I started strong then I completely drop off over the period where we were looking for and then moving flats. There were a couple more flurried of activity during the year when I thought, yes! I’m getting back on track, but ultimately I’m still not jumping out of bed. 20170204_resolutions_blog_0043

  • Complete 10 full press-ups.

A bit like my snoozing, I had periods of really good effort during the year, but ultimately they didn’t stick. I still can’t do one press-up, let alone 10!

  • Make cards and use a bit more of the paper scraps that I am always collecting (hoarding).

Yes! I’m pretty proud of this resolution, I think 90% of the cards I gave this year were home-made or cards that I’ve collected over the years. I used home-made gift tags at Christmas time and used home made birthday cards. This is something that I’m sure I’ll probably continue doing forever. It’s creative, personal, eco-friendly (I really only recycle or re-purpose), cheap and I love doing it. I do sometimes worry that it’s a bit childish to be making cards but I remind myself that a card is really about the message and as long as it’s thoughtful it doesn’t really matter how professional it looks.

  • Say Yes! more and be an available and willing friend in 2016.

I’ve had so many good times with friends in 2016. I made some new friends through netball, I got to know my new flat-mates and we mesh really well and I got to catch up with family and friends back home, some who I don’t keep in regular contact with while over here.

I also had it on my mind to see more gigs in 2016. Here are some of my ticket stubs from events I’ve seen in the year. There is comedy, theatre, travel and sport in the mix but most excitingly is all the cool music acts I managed to see Mumford and Sons at British Summertime festival; a solo show from Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls; Birdy who was a new find for me in 2016 and a bit of NZ sound with Fat Freddies Drop. The stubs aren’t in my pile but I saw Newton Faulkner in the Union Chapel which is an amazing venue in a church and at the Hoxton Hall I saw The Head and The Heart.

The biggest gigs I saw this year were Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen at Wembley Stadium. Two very very different gigs but both so memorable. 20170204_resolutions_blog_0059

I have finally sorted myself out with a SongKick account too. I can’t beleive I missed this for so long. For those that don’t know it’s an app that tracks bands and lets you know when they’re touring and reminds you when the tickets go onsale. So essential if you’re going to try and beat all the touts before they sell out.

I also managed to keep at my 2015 resolutions which were to

  • continue working through my 27 Lista couple more were completed in 2016 but there is still 9 to go
  • save for a house – still going strong and will be ramping it up for 2017.
  • print photos – Yes, lots went on in 2016.

I hope you’re all looking forward to 2017. Thanks for reading xx

6. Host friends for a grown up dinner party

20161119_195309Winner, winner, chicken (curry) dinner!

It has taken me a while to tick this item off my 27 List, after setting the goal in 2014, but last month I finally took the opportunity to make it happen. I chose a date, put out a Facebook invite to my netball mates and luckily some were free.

I cook dinner for friends quite often, and have done so many times in between 2014 and now but for this to feature on my goal list I decided it had to be planned, at a table and at least two courses.

I made three courses in the end, one main and two desserts! Desserts is always the easy part for me and as it was around Thanks Giving time I made two American desserts, Banoffee Pie which is possible my second favourite dessert (Pavlova is always first) and homemade peanut butter cups. I didn’t manage to take a pic of these, but they were so sweet and delicious.

I’m most proud of the curry I made for dinner though. It’s a recipe from Rick Stein’s India Cookbook. My friend bought this for me for Christmas one year when we were planning an epic trip to India* and it is one of my most used cookbooks. This is saying something because as you know, my baking books get a fair bit of use.

I made butter chicken with rice, naan and coriander, there was supposed to be beans too, but I forgot them. It got a thumbs up all round and filled us so completely we struggled to get a buzz on to go out dancing afterwards.

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20161119_210425Of course though, enough gin and prosecco will get you there eventually. We danced all night at Monarch in Camden. Saturday nights is ‘Songs from the movies’ themed so we were in our cheesy element.

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20161120_012110^^^ dancing to the Frozen anthem.. Let it go… Let it go…………………… !

Was a great night, thanks for joining me girls xx

*Note: We never went to India, it’s still on the travel wishlist… maybe one day.

Bruce Springsteen at Wembley

20160605_164134Did you read that? AT WEMBLEY!!

I’ve wanted to see a gig at Wembley since I was about 16 years old. Many of my life goals originated around this time in my life; I was reading music mags, coveting obscure indie bands and dreaming about how my life would be when I was a “grown up”. I longed for the massive music festivals of England and America, endless gigs at infamous clubs and the kind of seminal events that define musical eras. Woodstock, Burning man, Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, I read about these festivals in awe.

I had such a romantic idea of these events, and nothing captured my imagination more than Live Aid. Live Aid was a charity event held over at two venues simultaneously Wembley Stadium, London and John F Kennedy stadium in Philadelphia. You all know the Christmas Carol Do they know it’s Christmas? Right? If not here is a refresher. Bob Geldof wrote this to raise aid for famine sufferers in Ethiopia in 1984 and the Live Aid concerts were devised on the back of that to continue to raise money.

The gigs were streamed across the world on TV and according to Wikipedia had a global audience of 1.9 billion. A big deal for its time. I wasn’t one of the audience though, it was 1985 and I wasn’t coming into the world for a couple of years yet.

My friend and I discovered Live Aid in 2005 when Bob Geldof was planning another event to support the aid started with the original concert. At the time a commemorative DVD set of the original concerts was released for the first time and I wanted it so much. It was a shiny box set with 4 DVD’s of the gigs plus unseen footage. My friend and I put our pennies together to buy it and shared it between us for years.

We sat and watched those concerts together over and over. Some of the highlights included a not-quite-yet-mega-star-Madonna; Phil Collins flying between both concerts in a now defunct Concord high speed plane; and oh so many duets. I can’t remember exactly who sang with who now, but there was a big feeling of collaboration and not much pretension. In both gigs the whole stage filled at the end of the night for the final few songs.

The DVD also introduced me to Bruce Springsteen, although he actually didn’t play at the gigs, extra footage was included as he was so big at the time. This is what introduced me to Bruce. After this I picked up a tape at a music warehouse, Real Groovy for my Kiwi mates, and played it over and over in my dinky little car. Even now I still associate Bruce with driving and road trips.

So when I found out that Bruce was playing Wembley, I was going. Of course I didn’t make it easy for myself, I found out a week before he was due to play and spent the week watching ticket reselling sights like a hawk and in the end buying off a lovely lady through Twitter. She sold them to me at face value and didn’t even pass on the booking charges. What a good human? Love her.

So, now for what you were expecting…. a review.20160605_193132We ambled up to the stadium early on the sunny Sunday to soak up the atmosphere. We sat outside eating ice creams and people watching. We were on the younger side of the crowd which we expected. I had worried that it would be a bit quiet up in the stands, but I needn’t have, the oldies still got into it, after a few wines of course. 20160605_164317As we entered the stadium we bought some merch’ and took our seats in the middle tier. We should have bought hats, as we soon realised that the sun was slowly setting right in our eyes. We were sat surrounded by a crowd of people wearing Wembley branded hats as they got in before they sold out. 20160605_174953As the stadium filled and we got through our first couple of drinks..20160605_212822…and selfies.

The Boss ran out from behind the stage and straight down to greet the crowd. No preamble, no roaring introductions just straight into it. He would spend most of the night interacting with those in the front of the stage.

As the first chords rang out and the buzz of the music made its way around the stadium, there sheer size of the place became apparent. We were so far from the stage Bruce and the band were just specks in the distance. The distance is so great that we would see what he was doing on the stage and on the big screens before the wave of sound would wash over us. The sound was epic, roaring around the stadium. The crowds’ cheers echoed in a huge boom around the stands, 70,000 people whooping and screaming sounds like booing when they all converge.20160605_201005So, how do you engage with an audience this size? Well if you’re Bruce that means hanging out with your audience. I have never seen a performer spend so much time with their audience. Right from the get-go he started gathering up signs from the crowd. We soon discovered that these were song requests.  He did about three requests from the audience using the signs to introduce them. One request, I’ll Work For Your Love,  he was so stoaked with, thanking the requester and then struggling to remember the chords it had been that long since he’d played it.

Other crowd antics included chugging a pint of larger from a fan during Spirit In the Night. Donning sunglasses and party hats from the crowd, nearly being upstaged by a gorgeous little girl plucked from the crowd to sing the chorus to Waitin’ On A Sunny Day and probably his most famous party trick, inviting people up to dance on the stage for Dancing In The Dark.

What got me was the sight of thousands of hands swaying in time in front of us to Tougher Than The Rest – dedicated to the late Muhammad Ali who passed away two days before – and The Rising. This is what had me captivated watching Live Aid; a huge crowd all participating in one moment. Swept up in one feeling, I’m completely gushing but it really was magical to see. 20160605_213922The main set ended on one of my favourites Badlands before kicking into an encore of the crowd pleasing stadium filling hits he’s known for including Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark.

Bruce lived up to his reputation playing three and a half hours straight and smiling the whole way through. Really the only way to describe the performance was genuine. He was having a good time and worked hard to ensure his band on the stage and everyone in the crowd had a good one too.20160605_213957And then as if to prove just how much he was enjoying things, not wanting to leave the stage and the crowd after the encore, he settled in for one last tune. An acoustic version of Thunder Road. Bliss… I wanted another 3 hours. 20160605_222602We walked out singing with the crowd on such a high.. 20160605_221557I read he is going to turn this tour into a DVD… You know I’ll be buying it. For the 16 year old dreamer in me.

Resolutions 2016 + Some Stolen Ones

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In some ways I feel like I am in a completely different place than I was when I wrote resolutions last year, in others ways it feels exactly the same.

My resolutions last year were simple and I feel pretty good about all of them.

2015 Resolutions

  • Continue working through my 27 List and on this blog.

You can see the archive here. I have completed over half and I am still intending to do more this year and probably in coming years.

  • Save to buy a house sometime in the future.

We made significant headway with our savings this year and it feels good. We live pretty frugally and have relatively low rental overheads (for London) so we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and remembering to save first and then forget about it.

  • Print photos and display them somehow.

I mentioned my personalised calendar gifts for my family – these were pretty popular and I’m really glad I made them. My next step is to create a photo book and populate an album that we have had empty on our bookshelf for years. Going slowly with this one but always have it in mind.

So what am I aiming for this year?

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2016 Resolutions

  • No More Snoozing! I want to wake up and get up in 2016.

Because really, what do I gain by staying in bed an extra 10 (or 30) minutes?

  • Complete 10 full press-ups.

I can currently do none so this will be a big deal for me. I have started by doing them leaning against the stairs – top tip from a colleague of mine.

  • Make cards and use a bit more of the paper scraps that I am always collecting (hoarding).

This is my recycled wrapping paper and parcel bag collection, and my magazines in case I need to find pictures and all my craft supplies.. arg! I need to stop.

  • Say Yes! more and be an available and willing friend in 2016.

I want to do more and hang out more and say yes when someone makes the effort to invite me somewhere.

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2016 Stolen Resolutions

Some of my mates have some pretty cool resolutions, too. Like when I heard them I was like “oooh I wanna do that too! I’ll totally join you on that!” and so I have forced my way into their 2016.. Sneaky!

T is my number one muso soulmate in London and she is planning on going to more gigs this year – always keen for that.

My colleague J wants to eat out less but when she does, she wants quality. So I’m hoping that will mean trying out some new restaurants in my future.

My boyf wants to draw more and I’m eager to support.Nude modelling? Jks.

E has started a blog on brunches in London. She’s aiming to do 33 this year and I’m aiming to share as much avocado on toast with her as I can. Yum!

Anyone else got any resolutions they want me to help them with? I’m always willing to support.

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Oh I nearly forgot, I did kinda set myself a photography challenge too….

 

A Few Holiday Snaps + A Challenge

Weeeee’re back!

The Great Pyamids

It’s been two weeks of new sights, new people to get to know, new food, new culture, new beds in new places and of course, with all this new going on there were many, many photos to be taken. 2200 to be exact. Whew! That is a lot of photos, and of course we have a lot of ‘practice shots’, but they’re all worth it because I know some of these photos I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Here are a few I have picked out of the mix so far. I loved taking photos in Egypt and Jordan – the countries are both so photogenic!

So while I’m on this photography loving high I’m setting myself a pre-Christmas challenge. We’ve had the camera exactly on a year now and with nearly 100 folders of photos to show for it, we have definitely been out and practicing lots.

I have spent the year making steady progress in my photography knowledge. I’m reluctantly learning the technical vocab that goes along with it and generally sorting out my focal lengths from my ISO (#cameraspeak). But while on holiday it became very apparent that the camera is Ben’s baby and I just have a play around when I can. All the interesting shots (like this awesome night shot in Petra below) were lead by him, and I’m soooo grateful that he had the technical knowledge to be able to give these things a go.

Petra By night

We both learned a lot from other great photographers on our trips too. But it definitely highlighted to me that I need to put in more effort – least I become the passenger (or in this case the poser), more often than not.

So I’m challenging myself to get awesome at using the camera to take the shots I want. In the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas I’m going to work through some of the homework challenges set out in the ABM DSLR Basics course which I have been dipping in and out of this past year.

I’ll be sharing my progress weekly so please pass on any tips or pointers.

Thanks for joining me x