Thursday, 31 December 2015

15 Things about 2015

I wanted to do a round up of the year for the blog but couldn't think of the best way to do it, until suddenly I was struck by the 15 Things idea I had before. Which fits in quite well as it's 2015. And so here we are, 15 things about 2015, a kind of summary if you will. It's a bit of a long'un so you might want to grab a cuppa...

1. HOUSE!
We finally got to move into our house in February, Friday 13th February to be precise. We couldn't have cared less about superstition by that point as we were just desperate to be in! We waited for 5 whole months to get this house, but it was so worth it. I love it and I still smile when I walk in the front door. We have lots of plans and ideas but no real hurry for completing anything. Taking it slowly and enjoying the moment is the motto for this house. It's definitely love...

2. Bob the Dog
After many months of this way and that way, in August we finally made the decision to get a dog. We always knew it would be a golden retriever, a boy, and that he would be called Bob. Once the decision was made it all happened pretty quickly. We went to meet a huge litter of adorable fluffy puppies (how to choose!) and the future Bob made his way over to me and put his paws up on my knees. That was it really. They do say that dogs choose their owners and he chose us it would seem. He is all kinds of barmy but mostly he is absolutely brilliant (don't mention the hole digging) and very loving, and most of all a big old heap of fun.

3. Jury duty
Well it couldn't all be fun and jolly. I came home from holidays (more on that further down) to a summons to be a juror. I was not happy about this at all. It's something I've never wanted to do and I absolutely dreaded it. Mercifully my duty was short but definitely not sweet. Endless hours of waiting around, ridiculous out of date systems with people wearing wigs and gowns and calling each other 'my learn-ed friend' I did get to serve on a jury and I hated every minute of it. I did not enjoy the idea that a man's future rested in my hands and I was beyond relieved after that case ended to be told we were no longer needed. You couldn't get me out of there quick enough. Ugh.

4. Giving up Facebook
Endless scrolling, irritation, and general grumpiness - these were my feelings about Facebook this year. Having had enough of it I decided to just give it up for a month and see how I got on. I deleted it from my phone and went about my merry way. In the end I was off it for about 3 months. It was marvellous! I did miss out on all sorts of things but it meant that people had to tell me the old fashioned way, by calling me or meeting me. It was a bit of a revelation and I stopped being so wrapped up in it all. I'm thinking of doing it again in 2016 as it's so easy to get sucked down the endless scrolling hole. Again with the ugh.

5. ROADTRIP!
For our jolly-bobs this year we did a roadtrip round England! It was all kinds of awesome and we had the BEST week camping at a crazy campsite on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. Glorious blue skies, sunny days, and all kinds of adventures. Please can we go back?

6. Jobs
A real mixed bag of a year. I started off the year in a bad job, spent the middle to end part of the year having a brilliant time working on a project that I love (and hope to continue with, cross everything for funding!) and ended the year going back to the land of libraries!

7. Best book(s)
I can't decide between two so I'm going with both. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was all kinds of enchanting and I fell hard. So hard that I basically wanted to start it all over again as soon as I was finished. The second was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I laughed, I cried, and basically adored this book. I would have happily passed it on to people but Bob decided to eat it so the first 30 pages are mangled and the rest is kind of chewed...

8. Best TV show
I think it has to go to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The original 90s version. I didn't really watch much of the normal teevee this year, I have a bit of a love-hate thing with it anyway, but I LOVED watching Buffy all over again on Netflix. So good!

9. Best film
My cinema attendance this year was shoddy to say the least. Time was rarely free and so I missed out on all the good ones. I did absolutely love Spy with Melissa McCarthy. I laughed until I nearly stopped breathing which qualifies it for a good cinema experience. Note to self: see more films at the cinema in 2016.

10. Best Music
Always so much good music, it's hard to choose. I had all sorts of weird moments and even found myself enjoying some serious pop moments (Swifty anyone?) but I think my rediscovery of The Vaccines would be up there, as would be the discovery of Richard Hawley. His beautiful deep, deep voice and his gorgeous albums were just the right side of melancholy for me. Definitely more music for 2016. Always the music!

11. My new blog
This new blog in fact! After years of writing a shared blog I decided to branch out and start up this one and I am loving it (I hope you are too!). It's nice to be my own voice and I like to be able to talk about all kinds of everything and feel that it just fits me better. More snugly if you will.

12. Working from home
I spent the majority of this year working from home. It was all kinds of weird and wonderful and good and bad. It's great for kettle access and general all round tea drinking, but not so great if you're feeling kind of sad and just want a chat. The best thing about it was that I was home when Bob was teeny tiny and could work on the training. I think it's paid off...kind of...can't get him to stop digging holes...

13. Skint
Truth. Since leaving libraryland phase 1, I have been skint. I'm used to it now. But it's not much fun. What is funny is that when I was in libraryland phase 1 I used to think, I'm going to leave here and earn loads more money...in actual fact I left there, became the skintest I have been in years, and actually dream about earning that much money once again. It will come, I know it will. In the meantime I shall carry on regardless, skintier than skint, but wealthy in so many other ways.

14. Overcoming...
...all kinds of things, but my mortal fear of presentations was the biggie. This was the year I conquered the fear. Don't get me wrong, I'm still nervous, but my legs don't shake anymore and I rarely look at my notes. This is progress, people, of the biggest kind. Let's have a woop!

15. Summing up...
...2015 was all kinds of everything. Highs, lows, births, deaths, the circle of life. I've stopped believing in bigger and better and am happy to just go with being. One day at a time. No doubt 2016 will be much of the muchness, but let's have some fun times along the way. See you there soon...

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

REVISIT: The beauty advent calendar

I'm interrupting my normal twice weekly schedule to write a requested post. Requested! From an actual reader! It fills my heart with joy to know that people are reading my little corner of the world - thanks you guys! 

The comment appeared on my post about the Marks and Spencer beauty advent calendar and asked me to do a quick update on my favourite products, so here we go! 

First up I will say the calendar was all kinds of joyous. It was like Christmas started early and carried on every single day throughout December. Opening the box each day, followed by the text to my sister telling her what was inside, was quite simply fab. The products were all wrapped up in either black or purple tissue paper, a bit like pass the parcel, and the majority of them were mighty fine indeed. The stand out products for me were as follows:

  • 100ml Cowshed Grumpy Cow Uplifting Body Lotion
  • 2.5 fl.oz. L'Occitane Verbena Shower Gel
  • 15ml REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial
  • 100ml Pixi Glow Tonic*
Out of all of them the Pixi Glow Tonic was the most coveted of all. I'd heard so many amazing things about it and was desperate to try it, but at nearly £20 a bottle it was out of my price range for a toner. The 100ml is half the size of the full price product so for a tenner worth of product to be featured in a £25 calendar...a really rather good deal, and I would imagine was a big attraction for many people who bought the calendar. 

The majority of the products were brilliant. The lipstick shades were mainly of the nude/rose variety, and to get 100ml of many of the products is a pretty decent size for you to really get to try something out and see if you like it for future repurchase. The only disappointment for me was that all of the hair products were focused on creating volume and zero offerings for frizz taming. I think a bit of balance here would have been much more desirable. Then again, my sister lucked out as she received a little goodie bag of the volume control products. Share the love. 

The big question: will I repurchase the calendar next year? If the price is the same I definitely would**, but I think it won't take Marks and Spencer long to realise that they can put it in a much higher price bracket and still move the same amount of stock. That will be a real shame for me as I think the £25 price label was certainly the biggest appeal for me.

*it won't come as much of a surprise to read that I love the glow tonic! I was worried about how my skin would react to the exfoliation but so far so good!

**as before, and to be entirely honest, the calendar was available at £25 for a spend of £25 on beauty products. To qualify I bought the most expensive body lotion I have ever used: REN Rose Otto Body Lotion (£26). I can see why people spend that much money on body lotion. It is quite simply lush. It sinks into the skin in mere seconds, smells divine, and leaves your skin feeling silky smooth. Even if the calendar had been utterly rubbish, the body lotion would have been an enjoyable splurge! 

If you'd like to know anything else about the calendar, comment below. Go on, make my day all over again! 

Monday, 28 December 2015

How do you spell Christmas?

C is for the Christmas cake decorating party that we have every Christmas Eve now. It's turned into a tradition the last four or five years, where we have a couple of friends over, drink some kind of vino/bubbles, and let our imaginations go wild. This year was no exception. What do you mean Frankenstein in a Santa hat and a blue octopus don't speak of Christmas to you?! 

H is for heaps of food. All the food. There's been a lot and it just keeps on coming. I may be rolling back to work in January at this rate. 

R is for roast potatoes. This year we tried (look away now any veggies!) goose fat. Total game changer. Will never go back again. They were roast potatoes of epic proportions. 

I is for insane amounts of chocolate. Seriously, we have like a chocolate mountain. Refer to 'H' and the rolling back to work. We may roll everywhere if we eat it all. If we come to your house just know we'll be bringing some with us. 

S is for squeak. As in every single toy that Bob the Dog received had some kind of squeaker in it. He is SUCH a clever boy to make everything squeak. Constantly. SQUUUUUEEEEEEAAAAAKKKKK. Please someone, make it stop with a capital S. 

T is for Tee. Tee being home for Christmas is a present in itself. All the feels for that girl *hugs*

M is for music. As in my BEST present was a green record player that lives in a suitcase. A record player! That lives in a suitcase! I cannot even. It's brilliant. I've already made Dave listen to all the 45s that I have cherished since uni: limited edition Super Furry Animals, anyone?!

A is for apples. Ha! Just kidding. As if any fruit has passed my lips since last week, other than the dried stuff in mince pies...

S is for super dooper times. It was a really lovely, chilled out time, spent with loved ones, eating all the food, drinking all the drinks, and enjoying all the sofa times. Happy happy days. 

I hope you had a good one too! 

The Christmas Cake, 2015

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Lots of festive love and greetings to every single one of you, from my little family to yours. May you enjoy peaceful and joyful times, however you choose to spend it!

 

Monday, 21 December 2015

December Favourites

Favourites are coming in a bit early this month, which is all fine! December as per every other month just flew by. Poof! Gone! I can hardly believe that it's almost 2016! Whaaaaaat?! Here's a few loved things from December.

Lotions and potions galore!


It's not going to come as too much of a surprise that opening the beauty advent calendar has been up there as a real highlight. It was like Christmas every single day! All the yummy delights are currently living in the lid of the box, some I've decided to keep until after Christmas and some I've had a little play with, including a very delightful yoga bath that was all kinds of nice smelling and relaxing. Lotions and potions-tastic!

Free time!
After several very busy weeks being a production assistant for the Christmas show at my theatre group, I finally got my life back on the 15th December. Only to start work - ha! But I cannot even begin to describe how I savoured my free evenings and early nights once it was over again. Never again. If you even hear me mention it, just slap me down, immediately, I won't hold it against you. It was made even better when I started work and they told me I wouldn't have to work between Christmas and New Year due to my awkward start date mid-month. Result!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I absolutely adored this book, and it's not often that I say that. Ove was truly a delightful grump and it was all kinds of touching and heart-warming with laugh out loud moments and some eye leakage at the end. I don't know if it took on extra specialness due to being eaten by the dog, he did kindly only eat the front cover and the first 30 pages which left me the rest of the book to finish off (such a generous pup) but taking the extremely battered and chewed copy out in a couple of coffee shops made me chuckle quietly to myself. I would definitely recommend this book. It was absolutely my joint first book of the year. 

I've really lucked out at work and as I wasn't on the rota and had some holiday owing, my new boss said why not just have all of Christmas off. Oh go on then, you twisted my arm! I can't wait for the holidays and seeing Tee and loads of quality sofa time. Whoop woop! Favourites will be back next year, see ya in 2016! 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Hello old friend...

Ahhhhhh, what sweet bliss is this? I have nowhere to be and nothing to do. Hello life, old friend, it's good to see you back.

From here on in, I fully intend to do nothing but curl up in a snuggly ball every evening, watch some crappy TV, listen to some Christmas music, eat all the food, and drink all the red wine.

Cue cheesy relaxation music.

Life is back *kicks feet up on the sofa and sinks into a sleepy pre-Christmas coma*

Monday, 14 December 2015

Working Girl

Tomorrow is the big day - I'm going back to work! Not that I haven't been working for the past few months, but this going to work actually involves putting my face on, attempting to tame the rats nest hair, planning some decent clothes, a car journey, and an actual place of work. Wow! Do you think I'll remember what to do?

It's amazing how quickly your norm becomes your, erm, norm. When I first started working from home I was all weirded out about it, and now I feel the same about going back out to work. What will Bob get up to when I'm out? (don't even answer that question/HIDE EVERYTHING!) Who will our lovely postman wave to when he rocks up to our door with all the post? Will the neighbours even notice I've gone as they pop out for their daily newspaper? All the daily comings and goings that I'm so accustomed to seeing won't be there anymore. I'll miss them...but I'm also looking forward to being back in the world of work. People! Real people, who talk back to you! I hope they're nice!

Wish me luck...

Friday, 11 December 2015

Listen Up! - She and Him Christmas



This album is now on constant rotation in the house of Claire and Dave.

Best Christmas album ever, hands down. But not best single, as that is clearly 'Fairytale of New York' by Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues.  

You're welcome.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Revisit: BUSY! and a shameless plug

Yeah yeah, yada yada, you've been busy, we've heard it all before. Like on repeat for the whole month of November...well this, my friends, is the reason why:


I have had the pleasure (and pain of many endless hours at the theatre) of being the production assistant for this play. I've never ever seen it from this perspective before. Generally I'm backstage crew or serving up beer in the bar, but this time I've seen it from day one. And I can tell you, it's a good'un! It's funny, and sparkly, and action packed. It's a witty whodunit with gun shots and screams a-plenty, as well as a stunning set that has taken us many, many hours to paint, dress, and titivate.

If you're in the area and up for some theatre fun, come along and see it. It will very merrily fill a dreary December evening. But remember to pack your winter woollies, it's chilly willy in our little theatre!

Friday, 4 December 2015

A Thing of Beauty

My name is Claire and I love lotions and potions. I am very easily 'enabled' as the saying goes by the bloggers and YouTube people that I watch who all have access to some delicious lotions and potions that I covet on an almost daily basis. Just ask Tee and Debs about when we were in Brighton and the only thing that I wanted to buy was a Mac 217 brush that cost £18. Yep, I totally did spend that much money on a makeup brush and it is a delight to use every single day. So soft and dreamy...

Let's talk enabling. In this instance it was a couple of YouTubers who put me on to the beauty advent calendar craze. In the opposite sense of this blog tale, I am generally a cheap as chips, 99p advent calendar kind of girl - somehow that cheap chocolate just tastes so good at this time of year. But this year, I decided to add in a beauty calendar to the mix. In terms of expensive, it's really not that up there compared to some of them that come in at hundreds of pounds. Girl ain't got that kind of spare cash. But girl does have a spare £25, well, okay not really but we're talking small change here people!

Step up the Marks and Spencer Beauty Calendar. For a mere £25 there is a box to open up every single day in the lead up to Christmas that contains some form of lotion or potion - oh me, oh my. The whole thing has the value of £200. £200! For a mere £25*. I mean come on, it's almost rude not to! As you can imagine, to say that I am excited is a bit of an understatement. It's basically going to be like Christmas every single day! With a cheapo advent calendar chocolate thrown in too - does life get any better?!


As I in no way consider myself to be a beauty blogger, I won't go to the trouble of listing all the contents. Instead just picture the excited face of this lotions and potions lover as a pretty box is opened each day. And just think of all the goodies I will have to begin the new year - I won't need to go shopping for ages!

My Christmas countdown is on! And I'm pretty sure this will turn up in my monthly favourites because, like, durrrrrr.

*for the record, to get the beauty advent calendar for £25 you had to spend £25. Which was very easily done by purchasing the most expensive body lotion I will ever use at £26. I don't feel the need to defend my purchasing choice, but even at a £51 spend that is still £149 of savings (quickly checks rubbish mental arithmetic skills)

Monday, 30 November 2015

November Favourites

There goes another month! I'm not even going to mention the usual phrases (oh go on then: how? what? busy! eep!), let's just dive right into the favourites for November.

Sunday. The one precious day of the week when Dave and I get to spend more than one hour with each other. In these busy times (there, I said it) it has become a day to cherish. To just say no when people ask if we are free. We're not doing anything particularly exciting, on one occasion we even tackled the giant ironing mountain. We potter around the house for a while and then we try to take Bob somewhere new so that he has lots of experiences to store in his little puppy brain. We enjoy leisurely meals and cups of strong coffee and lots of tasty treats. We crash out in front of the TV and watch something light and fluffy. It's both nothing and everything and is helping to keep us sane.

Bob's Big Adventures! And ours too! On Sundays, that one precious day, we usually take the Bobster somewhere new. So far he's been on lots of different woodland walks and I even donned my wellies and took him into the sea. All the books say that the fear can come about at any time and so, as we don't want a total wuss for a dog, we're taking him to do all these things and turning him into a mighty warrior...and we get to have lots of fun too. When was the last time you put your wellies on and jumped into the sea as an adult? If you're wondering why I wore wellies and didn't just paddle in with bare feet, we live in the north east of England, and trust me when I tell you that the North Sea is bloody freezing! Long may the adventures continue!

Podcasts. In particular, Limetown. It is sooooo good! It's like a radio drama almost. If you like mystery and drama and good old fashioned creepy moments (chills down your spine kind of thing) I'd highly recommend checking it out.


The final favourite has to go to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yep, the original 90s series is on Netflix and I'm loving watching it all over again. The hair, the clothes, the heaving bosom romance between Buffy and Angel, LOVE IT! While I wait for the start date for my new job (will it ever come?!) I'm filling in my odd spare moments with an episode or two. It's a welcome distraction from the grey skies and crazy weather that has been this month.

I can't believe we're coming up to the final month of 2015! It's almost time to start playing the She and Him Christmas album on constant rotation...

Friday, 27 November 2015

Listen Up! - Sadie Fleming



There's no video as such to watch but it's definitely worth pressing play to hear the lovely voice of Sadie Fleming. This song makes me think of cosy evenings by a crackling fire (if only we still had one...), a glass of red in one hand and something yummy to eat in the other, lights dimmed low, with this playing in the background. Lovely.




Monday, 23 November 2015

Baking Christmas

Oooh Ahhh the house smells divine, what can that be? Oh yes, it's Christmas baking season! Dried fruit, oranges, lemons and spices littered all over the kitchen worktops, soaking and feeding. Yummo!

First up was the mincemeat. Neither mince nor meat, but fruity, boozy goodness all sealed up and ready to bake into mince pies. Woop! This is an overnight job, soaking all the fruit and sugar and spices together. If that wasn't yummy enough, you then bake it for 3 hours on a really low oven where basically your house smells so good you want to lick the oven door. I am excited to make these babies up into some tasty pies and bars.  


A few days later I made the cake for the traditional Christmas Eve icing extravaganza, that has fast become the highlight of the holidays for me! I've been very brave and gone off book (I'm still not sure that Delia has forgiven me from all those years ago...) and used a Mary Berry recipe. I mean, come on, surely Delia must approve of the Berry - she's an even bigger legend! More soaking, more yummy smells, more low ovens and long cooking times. It's been like a long drawn out torture for the dog who basically walks round the kitchen with his nose in the air, sniff sniff sniff.

Bring on all the Christmas goodies. It's the most, tastiest, time of the year!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Currently...

I love these kind of lists. I enjoy writing them and reading them on other blogs too. My currently is looking something like this...

Drinking...a cup of instant, milky coffee in my Tally Ho moustache mug. It's all about a good mug.

Eating...a Penguin Yule log. Which is kind of like a mini roll in a Christmas wrapper. If you don't know what a mini roll is your life is not complete.

Listening...to the sound of the dog snoring gently. Silence is my background noise of choice when I'm working.

Reading...Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I'm enjoying it but my mind is not fully focused on it due to constant tiredness (see Challenged By... below)

Wearing...my work from home outfit - a pair of jeggings (anyone else obsessed?!), a tee, and a hoodie. I'll either have trainers on my feet if I've just done the dog walk or kicks with socks. It's how I roll these days...

Challenged by...lack of time. It's old news now. Just read any other posts from this month!

Choosing...whether to make an appointment to get some Christmas themed gel nails. I've recently stopped biting my nails and I'm tempted by the Christmas jumper design. Should I...?

Excited for...free time! I'm over the halfway mark of this incredible busy that is going on at the moment and I can't wait to get my life back again. Never again!

Planning...holidays for next year. We're thinking of a week camping somewhere like Wales with the dog, and then treating ourselves to one of our much loved French holidays. I can already feel the sun on my back and the taste of a chilled to perfection pink wine - heaven!

What are you wearing/reading/any of the above? Pick one and share below.

(Thanks to Chrystina Noel for the currently words inspiration)

Monday, 16 November 2015

Intimidated

It's a rare occasion when I give up on a book. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've done it in the past few years. I guess I'm a bit of a slogger and will keep at it, even when there's no enjoyment to be had. This past year has been a bit of a revelation though and I've given up on two books! Two! The first one was by Ali Smith and I just couldn't. I tried and tried but I was so confused and what's the point when you just don't know what is going on? The second one was this beast:


Step up The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Actually, it could probably be used as a step as it's over 800 pages!! (double exclamation marks definitely required)

It was on my to read list but I had no idea of the size of it and frankly, it was a bit of a shock when I picked it up from the library. Is there really any need? I have to be honest, I kept on putting it off and pushing it further down the pile on my bedside table, but eventually it came round to it. I had no choice. I was going in.

It got the better of me quite quickly. It's just so intimidating! It's heavy, it nearly breaks your shoulder when you put it in your handbag to carry around, and the writing is really small. I took it back to the library the next day so that it wouldn't taunt me from my bedside table #wuss

The real truth? I reckon it would have taken me about 5 weeks to read, possibly longer, and I'm approaching the end of my book challenge and it would seriously have held me back! I'm determined to have one successful challenge this year, determined!

I think I'll come back to it again in the future. The story seemed to have a lot of potential and I remain intrigued by it. But I might have to build up my shoulder first by lifting some weights, and perhaps build a book prop for when I'm reading in bed? I'm sure Dave could do that no problem...

Friday, 13 November 2015

Listen Up! - Swifty Against Stress



Life is throwing a few stress-head situations my way lately. I'm trying really hard to do the deep breathing thing to stay calm (which seems to work for about 20 seconds) and also having a word with myself to not let it get to me, but when it does I've found the perfect solution.

Swifty! Walking home while singing this, and including a few shoulder shakes, really worked to calm me down. It's possible that I might have looked like I had been released from somewhere, but it was late on and there weren't too many people about...whatever works for you is my mantra.

Next time you're feeling stressed out, give it a try. The shoulder shakes definitely add more to it and are therefore highly recommended.

Sidenote: Yes, I freely admit it, I own 1989 by Taylor Swift. I don't care what you think. Sometimes you just need a bit of pop in your life...

Monday, 9 November 2015

BUSY!

You know when you say you'll do something, but you don't really think through the consequences? That's me right now. I foolishly agreed to be the Production Assistant (PA) for the upcoming show at my theatre group and when the rehearsal schedule was sent to me I think I gulped out loud. Essentially, as I am also a builder and set decorator crew member, I'm currently at the theatre 5 nights out of 7. Next week that goes up to 6. It's worse than a full time job! Nobody told me this at the beginning, and I already know that I won't be doing it ever again. It's crazy!

If I was only doing that I probably wouldn't mind so much. But I'm also currently working my extra hours that I got for my existing job, one that I actually get paid for. I'm due to start my new libraryland job as soon as the paperwork comes through. Add in dog walks, boring household chores, cooking dinner, food shopping, Dave due to go away on business, preparing for Christmas, and all the other day to day living, and you could say I'm kinda busy. Actually, scratch that, very busy!

I'm not complaining, sometimes life throws these busy periods at you and you work your way through them. I generally make it through by being absolutely starving the whole time (I think my adrenaline goes into overdrive), going to bed as early as possible, and staring into space/out of the window as my brain goes on a temporary holiday.

I have the rehearsal schedule pinned up on the kitchen cabinet and am crossing off each night as it's done. A bit like being in jail if you will. Release will be imminent, well, on the 19th December. I'd like to think I'm planning a big celebration but the reality will probably be a nice bath and a long sleep. It's the small things...

How's life treating you? Make me jealous by talking about all your free time!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Winter Cozies

I still can't believe it's November! I could seriously dedicate a whole post to the wonder of where on earth has 2015 gone but it's probably not that interesting. So it's November. Which means it gets dark at 5pm, and soon it will get dark even earlier than that, and sooner still pretty much most of the day seems to be dark - oh Winter, you can be a tough guy to handle sometimes. 

I was thinking about this on Sunday as we were hunkered down in the living room. It was past 5, our lush red curtains were closed against the dark night, I was sprawled out on the sofa, Dave was stretched out on the floor, Bob the Dog was (unsurprisingly) asleep after his epic adventure going into the sea for the first time, and we were watching Addams Family Values. Add in the steaming hot soup and warm bread that we ate a few moments later and you have yourself some winter cosy right there. 

It was so chilled it almost felt a bit surreal. Life at the moment is very busy with work, theatre, garden tasks, house jobs, general boring household chores like ironing piles that keep on growing, food shopping...well, you know it, day to day life. To take a couple of hours out and just collapse on the sofa with a brilliant Sunday evening film was just the best! 

I think we're going to need more of that to make it through the next few weeks. I don't even want to stop and seriously think about all we have to do or my brain might melt down. 

Come on Sunday evening chill time, you can't come soon enough! I wonder what the film will be this week? 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Return to Libraryland!

For those of you who have been following along for a while, don't worry, I haven't lost my mind. I'm not returning to the previous incarnation of Libraryland, but a whole new one. Yep, I've found me a permanent job! Unless you've been in the situation of being faced with no job I'm not sure you'll get how completely and utterly relieved I am to have this new opportunity in front of me. Regular income! Being paid at the same time each month! Pension schemes! Gahhh, all words I thought I would never be writing but oh man, it feels good to be able to think that they are a reality. Begone uncertainty, hello predictability. 

I have to admit I feel excited about going back to libraries. The truth is that I never really hated them in the first place. The reasons for getting out of the other library were many-fold and revolved a lot around them not letting me realise my potential - I was always applying for jobs, and got more and more downhearted as they went to external candidates who could embellish their skills in ways I never could when you're somewhere every day. Plus there was a whole host of other crappy stuff going on that I've long since written off but when you're in it? That is a hard thing to do relentlessly. 

The time away from that library has been an amazing time for me. I don't mean amazing in that every day was like unicorns dancing and endless rainbows (as you do) but amazing in how much I have grown. Going back to school, my first job out of school, the job I'm doing now - they have all provided me with a wealth of skills and experiences that I have both embraced and bashed my head against a wall at. Let's take presentations as an example. Prior to all of this the very thought of presentations filled me with utter terror, like proper breaking out in a cold sweat and shaky legs. For this job interview the letter said to prepare a presentation, which I did, and was all ready to deliver on the day of the interview. Except the letter was wrong and it was actually only a question. And they had nothing for me to show my presentation. Previously I would probably have had to leave the room as I would have had no idea how to proceed and would have been having a nervous breakdown, but I just took it all in my stride! I used the ideas I had prepared, could visualise all my bullet points, even told them about the pretty pictures I had included, and waved my arms about a lot. They told me afterwards that they were really impressed with how I handled that situation. I can't even. You have no idea what this means to me. 

Anyway, getting back to the story. Returning to Libraryland. This time it's public libraries, a whole new ball game for me. It's part time hours which allows me to continue with my current role in the other part, and I can't wait! 

I can't wait to work in a team again, instead of sitting alone at home gazing out of the window. I can't wait to get my work wardrobe back out again and introduce them to all my colour. So many happy things. 

Have you had any good news this week? 

Friday, 30 October 2015

October Favourites

Seriously? It's the end of October already? What is it about this time of year that it seems like time takes on a life of its own! It's time for another monthly favourites - all the things I've been liking, loving, and a couple of obsessions thrown in for good measure. Take it away October. 

It won't come as too much of a surprise that this guy is still up there as a favourite. Bob, Bobert, Doggo, Robert the Ridiculous. He gets them all and he doesn't care. This month his personality has really come out and he's a big old bundle of love. He likes nothing more than leaping up to join us, which borders on bone crushing cos he ain't light in the weight department! He loves licking ears (weirdo), endlessly playing catch with his green ball, and running like a loon around the garden. As a work from home person, it's brilliant to have such a loving companion, and I now get why so many people have dogs in their lives. It's a huge commitment but extremely rewarding. I'm loving it!  


For the first time in a few years, Autumn is really staying true to its season and not just turning into Winter almost immediately. The skies are blue, it's even warm enough to walk about in just a jumper or a lightweight jacket. The leaves are beautiful and crunchy and it's pure joy to be outside. I'm drinking it in before the long Winter heads our way. 


I'm not proud of this one. I seem to have developed a serious addiction to all things biscuits. Any type, any size, just bring them on. All of them. This is not a good addiction to have, especially when you work at home alone all day and the cupboards are mere steps away. Highly dangerous. These peanut butter ones below are particularly bad as I can't just stop at one. Someone remove them and take away my purse so I can't buy any more! 


It's been a good month in the old culture vulture department. I've devoured several page turning books, including Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson. I'll put it out there that it's not particularly well written but in terms of page turners it's up there. Several times I had to force myself to switch off the light or I'd have still been reading into the wee small hours. I'm currently working my way through So You've been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, which combines total and utter intrigue and fear. Oh my days, it's enough to turn you off social media forever! 

Musically, my ears have been filled on an almost constant rotation with The Vaccines. Just. Can't. Stop. So good! Rockin', loud, and perfect for dancing round the kitchen - I'd highly recommend all three albums. 

The teevee has been a bit hit and miss. There have been many hours of the Rugby World Cup (will it ever end?!) but instead of seeking out the second telly I've been reading or catching up with blogs. We're working our way through Doctor Foster which is oh so good (another BBC winner) but other than that, series are stacking up on the box with no real inclination to dive in. No doubt we'll pick one up again soon. As always, any recommendations, send 'em our way. 

And I think that's it. November here we come! 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Rediscovery - Listen Up!

A recent day of being back on the bus meant ears in and music on. Somewhere along the way I clicked on The Vaccines and have been obsessed ever since. This is from 2012 and it's a bloody brilliant song. I had to force myself to keep my mouth shut and not just burst into loudly singing along. Not entirely appropriate for bus times. 

But perfect for kitchen times. 

Press play and sing it with me...

Friday, 23 October 2015

15 Things...

1. The first cup of tea in the morning...


2. Changing seasons...


3. This guy...


4. And this one...


5. Being part of this...


6. Leisurely strolls...


7. Adventures...


8. Creating...


9. Carefree...


10. Green fingers...


11. Tasting...


12. Besties... (and all the ones not pictured)


13. Icecream!


14. Sunsets...


15. Weekends...


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

Last week I went on a torch-lit tour of Middlesbrough Town Hall! It was part of a wider festival called Don't be Afraid of the Dark. The festival itself wasn't all that but the tour was well worth waiting for. Which was a good job really as it didn't start until 11pm! 

I've been to the Town Hall heaps of times, mainly to see bands and comedians. It's a brilliant venue but I've never seen it from this perspective before. For starters, it was in darkness (kind of obvious really for a torch-lit tour) but also because we got to go on the stage! Where all those famous faces have stamped their feet and sang out loud - it was so cool to see it through their eyes. I tried to imagine a massive crowd of people all jumping up and down and singing along (it's my inner rock star) as I listened to the history of the building. It was pretty good timing actually as it's about to close down for two years and undergo a huge refurbishment, opening up areas that are currently not accessible to the public and removing all the boarding from the beautiful windows. 

As well as the stage, the tour took us to the dressing room (and the toilet where Pete Docherty allegedly got up to some naughty business), the carriage street, the old courtroom and the cells! I never even knew those things were there. The old courtroom was so cool. It's currently offices (excellent place to work!) but it's still set out exactly the same way with the raised platform for the judge, and all the seats marked as to who sat where; the old kitchen is even there as after it was a courtroom it became the canteen for council staff. So many interesting things to see and all by torchlight. Heaps of fun! And for £2 it was a total bargain to boot. 

Chatting to organisers at the end, they plan to have the festival at different times next year which will hopefully improve it. But I'm really glad I stayed up way past my bedtime to visit the Town Hall - well worth the wait! 

Middlesbrough Town Hall in the dark, dark night! 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Big screen/small screen

After about 6 weeks of barely watching anything except for YouTube videos, I've made up for it in the past couple of weeks by watching loads of good stuff! Sharing is caring and so here are a few little reviews of the things I've seen. Maybe you'll find some inspiration if you're looking for something new. Let's start with the big screen. 

Ricki and the Flash
Wah I love Meryl Streep! It was especially easy to love Meryl Streep when she is playing an ageing rocker in tight leather trousers and dodgy 80s hair plaits. And can we just talk for a moment about how much Mamie Gummer looks like her? Terrifying! This was funny and sad and all kinds of fab. The band scenes were pretty good too, I think it really was Meryl singing but I'm not sure if she was really playing the guitar. If she was I'm even more impressed. All round, good couple of hours entertainment. Go Meryl! 

The Intern
In the same spirit as above, I love Robert de Niro. And how can you not love him when he's playing an adorable senior intern to Anne Hathaway's boss-lady. I'd heard and read all sorts of things about this film and was worried that it might be a bit preachy but actually, it was delightful! It was funny and adorable and just a feel-good kinda film, perfect for a chilly and grey Sunday afternoon in October. 

There are loads of good films coming out at the cinema, and Dave and I are still planning to see Legend in the next week or so. Bringing the film love back.

The TV love is good right now too though. Especially since we got us a second telly and a Tivo box! So good! The boys can sit and watch all the boring sport stuff and I can lie back on the huge sofa and catch up on some Netflix viewing. Happy days. 

Bloodline
This is a made for Netflix thingie by the same people who created Damages, which I also loved. I started watching it ages ago and then just stopped, but I picked it back up again after the arrival of the magic Tivo box and I couldn't stop watching! I had to watch the final two episodes at the same time as I could barely breathe at the end of the penultimate one. So good! If you're looking for a good family drama, with an excellent cast, and endless sunshine from the Florida setting, then this is the one for you. Gripping. Try to breathe at the end, it'll help with the massive cliffhanger that they drop at the end. Gahhh! Come on Series 2! 

Wish I Was Here
This is a film but I watched it on a small screen so does it count as TV? Let's go with it. You might not think that an out of work actor deciding to home school his kids would make for a good film but I adored this. It was warm and touching and left me with all the feels. I do love a bit of Mandy Patinkin too, that beard is just all kinds of awesome. 

Mr Morgan's Last Love
Michael Caine playing an American is a bit of a stretch but if you can past the occasionally dodgy accent this is a charming film. It had me at being set in Paris (love), and starring Clemence Poesy (girlcrush) - oh she is so beautiful and chic and I find her enchanting to watch. Throw in a bit of Gillian Anderson and it's a winner. Great cast, great location, cute story. Can I say delightful again? 

Life in Squares
The BBC are really really good at making period dramas. If you also make it a period drama with lots of romping (love that word!) it's usually going to be a winner. This little treasure is all about the Bloomsbury group. I have quite the fascination with them from various other films and exhibitions that I've seen so was keen to catch up with this one. It was interesting to see it from the point of view of the group beginning and how they evolved and the complicated relationships that became established. I've still got the last one to watch but so far so very enjoyable. And lots of romping. Nice one BBC, another good'un. 

The rest of my screen time is spent avoiding the Rugby World Cup (will it ever end?) and the Euro qualifiers (bor-ring!). I like having a second TV! 

Do you have any recommendations for me? Big screen or small, I'm open to all. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Unpacking books from boxes

I finally got around to finishing one of my projects last weekend - the box of books. We've had this planned since we moved in way back in February. Instead of conventional shelves I decided that I wanted lots of boxes that could stack books any which way but house a whole heap of them. Success! Dave built me a basic box and I painted it. I have to admit that the paint job is less than ideal, well actually it was the varnish that did for it. I used outdoor varnish instead of internal varnish and it's a bit rough and ready. But the box looks cool. I'm so happy with it and it's full of books! Our second living room is slowly starting to take a shape and character all of its own.


Next up for projects is to take our pine bedside cabinets and turn them all white and shiny. This is just the beginning for Operation Bedroom. Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Truth

I wonder a lot about how often we see the truth on the internet. I saw this brilliant article the other day that had photos from Instagram that had received thousands of likes, and it showed the wider image rather than the edited down version that had been shown to the world. Surrounding the 'perfect' image was utter chaos - pretty funny when you think about it. What is it about feeling that we have to show this perfect version of ourselves to the big wide web?

Let's see some truth shall we. September was kind of a shitty month. A friend's mam died from a long illness. The very same night my eldest cousin died suddenly. He was only 50 years old. In that very same week one of my much loved friends from theatre had a stroke. And to top that off the tax office started to chase me for income earned when I was a landlady a hundred years ago. There was not a whole lot of smiling going on. 

As the month wore on, it seemed to be that everyone I spoke to had some more awful news. A friend of my parents was diagnosed with cancer, in the same family her brother had found a lump and was going for a scan (turns out that's cancer too)...seriously September, what was up with all that? 

This weekend has felt a little like a reboot. My theatre group bud is making such good progress that he has been released from hospital and is now at home. Our family are coming to terms with our loss and starting the slow process of grieving. My friend, R, is doing amazingly well and I have massive amounts of respect (and love) for the way she is handling everything. Dave and I spent this weekend enjoying a lot of downtime. We even went out for lunch today and banished all talk about the dog (it's truly amazing how much it can take over your life, and conversations!) We put a huge dent in the even more huge-r ironing pile and enjoyed some tasty treats. Hell I've even come to terms with the fact that I have to pay the tax man back (chunter, grumble). 

I don't know what October will bring but I hope it's better. I might not have a job by November so best try to look on the bright side for this month! 

Be honest. How are you?  

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Magic of Mess

Everywhere I look on the internet at the moment I keep coming across this book which is all about tidying. People are hailing joy and hallelujah over the amazing way that this book helps you to get rid of all your clutter and make sure your socks are folded rather than scrunched as they have worked hard for your feet and you need to say thank you (disclaimer: I haven't read the book) or some such nonsense like that. Well I say balls to all that. I'm putting my hand up and saying I like mess. Actually no, that's not entirely true, but I do like clutter and STUFF.

It seems that everyone has a Pinterest-worthy house these days. Or at least that's what they are presenting to the big wide interweb. Maybe, like most of us, they have one room that is absolutely packed to the gills of garish coloured tapestries and funky rugs that they dare not display in case someone exclaims over their lack of clean white lines and marble display dishes. I see desk spaces that are immaculate, with a cute bottle of face mist here and a pile of trendy books there. On my desk at this moment is a cup inside a bowl with a spoon left over from breakfast, my notepad and pen filled with my (messy) scrawl, two coasters that look like toasted bread, several piles of paperwork that include notes from puppy school, tax return information, and a whole other pile of I don't know what, a random SD card, a lipbalm, a clock, and a phone that is actually quite trendy with its white lines and minimal appearance. All of which lies on top of a desk that could really do with a wipe and has a combination of mine and the dog's hair on it. There's a Pinterest obsessive's worst nightmare right there. Ha!

Is it true? Do people really live this minimal and clean lines existence? I grew up in a house that was tidy. Like way tidy. My mam has a place for everything and she has always been incredibly good at making sure it stayed that way, even with two kids and a husband who is a mechanic and therefore generally covered in oil or petrol fumes. I had this friend in art college and I would go to her house all the time and I loved it. It was full of stuff! Books piled high, brightly coloured throws and pillows (no beige here, kids!), the kitchen worktops were covered in an array of all sorts of things, there were plants everywhere...I look at my house now and I can see how much that influenced me. It was like a bohemian, artistic, creative space and it filled me with joy. A lot of people would have probably called it messy, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

In our new house we have two living rooms (I know!) one of which we have decorated in shades of grey and red that is oh so nice and calming and neat - my Pops laughs frequently and tells me it's way too sophisticated for me. Which is probably why we spend more time in the other room. The one that is filled with all sorts of things, books piled high, plants on the window sill, stuff everywhere that doesn't really match - yep, meet my own bohemian den. It's not to everyone's taste, my mother in law said the other day that she hoped she wasn't being rude but did we need a bookcase, seeing as we have books piled on the floor. I had to chuckle and explain that we are in the middle of creating some boxes, but actually I kinda like it this way. It's so much more me.

I'm kind of bemused by the whole thing about houses and being Pinterest-worthy. It seems to me that they all create the same look and how is that unique to you if you're just copying what everyone else is doing? Surely how your house looks is an extension of you and your personality. Maybe it's the same for people who see a look on a mannequin in a shop and buy the whole thing, without thinking of how they might style it to suit them or with something they already have. It's all just slightly bizarre. In the meantime I shall continue with my venture of de-beige-ing this house (literally every room!) and adding in some colour and joy. No marble dishes shall enter these halls. Long live mess!  

Monday, 28 September 2015

September Favourites

It's monthly favourites time again! Here's all the things I've been liking, loving, and downright obsessed with in September.

Can we talk trainers? These pink Converse trainers specifically. I bought these ages ago and wore them a few times but then it got hot and as per usual I lived in sandals or pumps. The seasons are starting to shift now and Autumn is rolling in which means time to put some socks back on. Most days I've been reaching for these for a pop of colour and a bit of fun. Make your feet smile and wear happy shoes.


Next up is an essential beauty product for September. We've had Bob the Dog now for a whole month and in that month we have learned that puppies wake up very early. Well, early for us. Like 6.30 in the AM early. This is now my getting up time, which is probably a good half hour earlier than previously for weekdays and about 4 hours earlier for weekends. (You can get so much done when you're up and about so early - who knew?!) But all this getting up so early is taking its toll on my sleepy eyes. Come on down the Pixi Eye Bright Liner. Genius product! Quick swipe of this beauty on your eyes and you instantly look wide awake. Ta-dah!


Speaking of Bob the Dog. Of course he is still my favourite! He's funny and adorable and so soft and I just want to squeeze him up! I've never had a dog before so everyday is a learning curve but when it's this much fun, bring on the education! I took this photo last night and I can't help but think it looks like some kind of still life painting - Dog on Fireplace. Don't be fooled by that forlorn look, he was probably just wondering where his next bacon and cheese twizzler snack was coming from...


Out there in the big wide world, it's been all the fashion weeks and I've become slightly obsessed with following all the vloggers and bloggers to every catwalk show and then going to the Vogue Youtube channel to watch their 1 minute snippets of the final runways. Since going to the Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent exhibitions this year I have a new found interest in all things couture and I'm loving what is being shown - I can already see the high street versions now. Exciting!

BB: Before Bob, we would quite regularly catch up on a few of our favourite shows of an evening, but now our evenings are filled with playing tug of war or hoovering up his entire coat (seriously, how does he have any left?!) so the old TV watching has been a bit sparse. We did catch up with a crazy Grand Designs that featured a very weird man who seemed totally averse to any sort of body hair and built himself a HUGE art gallery/house/shopping centre type space that cost 2 million quid. He owned his own cleaning company so I'm thinking that this is clearly the business to be in - it certainly seems a lot more lucrative than project management...

Another TV series worth mentioning is Not Safe for Work. This was on Channel 4 earlier in the year so will probably be available on the 4OD or whatever it's called now. I was initially drawn to it as stars Vod from Fresh Meat, who is one of my all time favourite characters. She is nothing like that at all in this, and it's actually pretty dark, but it is bloody good. We only have the last one to watch but I've been really impressed by it.

My final favourite of the month is scented candles. Any smell, any size, any range. Anything to disguise the odious farts that emerge out of Bob the Dog's bum. Seriously, I have had to leave the room waving my arms in desperation several times this month. Perhaps a gas mask is in order...

Friday, 25 September 2015

So long, Summer

I know I say this every single year but seriously, how is it September already? The whole year just seems to have flown by in a swooshy whizzy kind of way and it's time for a new season already.

Summer is just magical. It's holidays and sunshine, walking barefoot and wearing minimal clothing, delicious ripe fruit and salads eaten outside in the last of the evening, long days and light nights, lazy weekends and BBQs with friends, rose wine and Pimms, ice cold lager with wedges of lime...I'm missing it already!


But there's all sorts of fab things to look forward to in Autumn as well. Soup season and one-pot casseroles, deep and mellow red wine, curling up in an armchair with a good book and a snuggly jumper, thick socks and scarves, pulling the boots out of the cupboard ready for another year, crispy leaves and crunchy mornings, weekend strolls in the park...I'm already excited.

What's your favourite thing about Autumn?

Monday, 21 September 2015

Healthy Heart

I turned 40 this year and so far, so not too bad at all. To be honest it just feels like 39. The same way that the previous year felt like 38 and so on. I've never really moved on in my head from being about 24 so that's the age I plan to stick at, even when I'm old and wrinkly and crinkly I'll be 24 forever!

Someone did however tell me I was getting close to the menopause, which I thought was very kind of them...

And I got a letter from the doctor telling me to go for a healthy heart check. I think there was an option to opt out but it wasn't really to be encouraged and seemed to be more hassle than just going for the blood tests and then making the appointment. Yesterday was the big day. I was quite nervous actually, mainly about getting weighed and being told that I needed to lose like 4 stone in order to fall into the healthy BMI category (or become a supermodel, which if I lost 4 stone I could of course totally be...) but it all went ok.

Very ok in fact. I have a 0.93% chance of having a heart attack in the next ten years. Good to know! My blood pressure was fine, my cholesterol was well within the recommended thingy and she was quite impressed with my (honest!) diet. I might have neglected to mention the cakes and biscuits but that's just a given. Maybe not. Got away with that one then.

Time was ticking by and it was getting closer to that whole step on the scales situation. I considered taking all my clothes off to reduce the number but seeing as though she measured my waist around my t-shirt that might have freaked her out a bit...I closed my eyes and stepped on. It was in kilos anyway so could have just kept my eyes open. I'm not going to share the actual numbers but turns out I have lost 8 pounds since last year which I was pretty impressed by! Yay, go me!

The biggest factor for my healthy heart, other than my brilliant diet obviously, is the fact that I don't smoke and have never smoked. That immediately takes you up to 5% I was informed. We both agreed that I could use more exercise (mainly so she could write something in the free text box) and I was free to go. Easy peasy, and no need to be nervous after all.

So go get your hearts checked people. It's not as bad as you think it might be, and you get a funky little fold-out booklet with loads of quirky little facts on it. And then you can celebrate your healthy heart by eating a choccie biscuit and having a cuppa! Life is sweet.

Friday, 18 September 2015

10 Things...about working from home

I've been working from home since June now and I've learned a lot of things along the way. Here's my 10 tips for how to make working from home a success:

1. Get up in the morning as if you were going out to work. If you structure your day just like a normal 9-5 (or 8-4, or whatever 8 hour working pattern you prefer) and factor in a lunch break, it's so much easier to remain focused and make it through feeling accomplished and like you actually achieved a full day's work. 

2. Remove yourself physically from all the distractions. My initial working space was based in our living room and it was easy if things weren't going according to plan to just walk away from the computer and flop out on the sofa. Unless you work somewhere really cool, it's unlikely you could do that at work, so get out of the habit by removing yourself from temptation. 

3. Create an office space. It doesn't have to be a whole room, it could even be a tiny nook under the stairs, but have somewhere to go that feels like you're going to work. Once you're there, you're officially at work, even though you're at home. It really does help, trust me! 

4. Invest in some good office furniture. A nice desk (preferably with some storage) and a comfy office chair can make the world of difference to how you feel at the end of the day. When I started, I worked from the dining room table which is fine for brief stints of dinner but a full day on hard wooden chairs and a higher up table is not good for your posture or your body in general. And if you feel uncomfortable you're more likely to get up and wander about and be distracted. Ikea do some great office stuff in a whole range of sizes which will suit any space. 

5. Factor in breaks away from your computer. If you were at work you would be entitled to a lunch break and a quick coffee break and toilet breaks. It's just the same at home, you're just closer to the kettle. 

6. Accept that you will make many more cups of tea or coffee than you probably would at work. It's just too easy...

7. Consider making a packed lunch or line up your snacks for the day. When you're so close to the cupboards it's tempting to just binge eat, especially if you're bored or struggling with something, but it will never lead to good things. I've learned this the hard way, and it's still something I struggle with now. Although I'm sure it's just the same in a work place, particularly if you work near a vending machine or a coffee point. 

8. Go out for a walk at lunchtime. When you're sat inside all day it's very easy to become demotivated and frustrated. I find a nice stroll in the fresh air really refreshes me and helps me to come back in the afternoon feeling more positive (I used this tip when I worked in an office too, sometimes you just need to remove yourself from a place to get some perspective). 

9. Try to plan meetings in alternative locations. It does you good to get out into the world and helps you to return to 'the office' feeling refreshed and raring to go. 

10. Get dressed everyday. If I stayed in my pjs I would never get anything done. I don't get dressed up to go to the office, often in the summer I wore shorts and a vest top, but the ritual of getting showered and dressed ready to start the day is a big motivator. 

Overall, despite all those tips, I would say go easy on yourself. It's not the easiest option to work from home and it takes a while to adjust to lack of people, but there are a whole heap of perks - saving money particularly is a big one for me. It can take time to settle in and establish a routine, but once you're there, it's a great place to work!