Is this a Mid Life Crisis?

I think I may be on the verge of a mid life crisis. I turn 40 tomorrow and as the door slowly closes on my 30’s I’ve been looking back at what I have achieved in my life so far.

Now I admit to some my achievements might not be overly exciting. However, as I contemplate my life so far I feel a total a sense of pride. There is also as a sense that I could have done more.

You see in my 39+ years I have managed to:

  • give birth to 3 children (and keep them alive for 19, 5 and 2 years respectively)
  • own 3 cars and 3 houses
  • travel to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York
  • said goodbye to 3 family pets

As you can see the number 3 seems to keep cropping up. I’m beginning to feel a little reluctant to give it up a part of my age.

That said, the sense that I could have achieved more keeps rearing it’s head and has made me think about the 3 times I have attempted my 101 goals in 1001 day challenge. On each occasion for one reason or another I failed miserably. Now, as I turn 40 and begin a new chapter of my life, I feel that I should really be pushing myself to move out of the comfortable bubble that I’ve been in for the last few years and make the most of life.

So I am currently reviewing my 101 goals list. I am planning on embarking on a new challenge starting tomorrow and taking me through until Wednesday 30 October 2019.

I’ll be back with more details on the challenge and my full list once I’ve finalised it.

Thanks for reading, until later.

Debbie x

My Favourite Books

This week sees the Planner Girls Collective sharing our favourite books. I’ve chosen to pick my 5 favourites from childhood and 5 I’ve love as an adult. I have loved reading for as long as I can remember so have gone through untold books in that time. I also find if I like a book I tend to binge read others by the same author meaning it can be very difficult to choose a favourite book from particular series.

First of all I’ll begin with 5 of my favourite childhood books, which are in no particular order.

1) The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

I first read this book at middle school and knew then that it would leave a lasting impression.

The story is a moving tale set Poland in the middle of WWII and follows three children on their journey across the battlefields to find their parents. On the way the befriend an orphan boy who had crossed paths with their father.

2) The Ghost of Thomas Kemp by Penelope Lively

I first became aware of this book in my final year at primary school when one of the teachers chose this book as the weekly story. What made this book so memorable to me at the time is that the teacher brought the story to life by bringing in props from the story such as the notes left by the ghost.

To this day I still own a copy of this book and can’t wait to read it to my children.

3) Astercote by Penelope Lively

Following on from my previous book I began reading a lot of Penelope Lively’s books but another one that I particularly loved was this one and another that I still have ready to read to my children.

 

4) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis

I have read all of the Chronicles of Narnia books but this still remains my favourite.

 

 

5) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

This was a difficult selection as I love all of Roald Dahl’s books and am currently enjoying them for a second time reading them to my 5 year old son, however this was one of the first books of his I read and still remains a firm favourite.

 

Next up we have my favourite books as an adult, again this list could go on forever but I will limit it to 5.

1) Message from Nam by Danielle Steele

This was one of the first ‘adult’ books I ever read and over the years I have read a few of her books but this one is by far her best in my opinion.

 

2) Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell

Books by Patricia Cornwell were what first got me hooked on crime thrillers. I love the Scarpetta series. This is the first book I read, however it’s actually the second Scarpetta novel in the series.

3) The Client by John Grisham

In my early twenties I was a huge fan of John Grisham novels and read loads but my favourite has to be this one.  The Pelican Brief comes a very close second.

 

4) The Green Mile by Stephen King

I’m not a huge fan of horror stories but I did binge read several of Stephen King’s books when I was younger, but this one stood out so much more than the rest for me.

 

5) The Shadow Cartel by Layton Green

I picked up this book for free for my Kindle and was immediately hooked. As as result as soon as I finished I immediately read the other three books in the series.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my list and don’t forget to check out the other ladies in the Collective.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

Book Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

My second book of 2017 was Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige. I received this book in the December TSG Bookclub Box.

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave.
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate .

Review
One of the reasons I love the TSG Bookclub Box is that you receive books that are sometimes outside of your usual reading zone, this was one such book. However one of my reading challenges is to broaden my horizons so as soon as I had the chance I started reading it.

Although, as I understand it, this is a modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, to begin with I was getting flashbacks to an earlier bookclub book, Alice by Christina Henry, as the setting at the beginning was very similar which the leading characters locked in an asylum/mental hospital for their own safety. By by Chapter 10 I began seeing similarities with the C S Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

There are a couple of aspects that I don’t like about the book, the first is the fact that Snow travelled to Algin to save the boy she loved, yet she ends up in a kind of love square with two other boys she meets on her travels. I suppose this could be explained by her only ‘real-life’ experience comes from a soap opera where the lead character is on lover #10. The second is the fact that despite a gut feeling of unease about certain situations, she just’s shrugs it off and naively goes along with things.

I didn’t find the main protagonist in the story, Snow, overly likeable and towards the end of the book I wasn’t all that bothered about what happened to her. On the other hand, I found myself cheering for Jagger and the Robber Girls but again, would like to have seen their characters develop more.

There were several twists in the story, some of which I anticipated, some I didn’t but that did mean parts of the story lost a little of the shock factor.

Overall I felt the book fell a bit flat, while there was great potential for the story to be amazing, the characters didn’t really development and the world building wasn’t sufficient for me to create a place I felt like I was part of. That said, I may be tempted to read the prequel novella, Queen Rising, to see the story of Margot and the Robbers unfold.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

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Kon Mari – Week 2: Clothes

Last week I shared with you my vision of a home that would spark joy for me. This week it’s onto the actual decluttering stage. Now having done this twice previously I have to confess that I have found making the decision to part with certain items of clothing quite difficult – for me it’s my wedding shoes and a maxi dress.

I began by pulling out all of my clothes and piling them on the bed, as you can see from the photos I’ve made some progress over the years… just! I decided to just work on my clothing to begin with and go back to shoes and accessories later just in case I ran out of time.

2015 Clothing Pile
2015 Clothing Pile
2017 Clothing Pile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I followed the advice given in the book by feeling every item and slowly began to put thing back in my wardrobe, only selecting the things I truly loved. Admittedly there are a couple of items that don’t quite fit right at the minute (the floral maxi dress you can see in the photo above), but as they still spark joy, they got to stay. This was my get rid pile.

As I hung everything up I turned the hangers round so I can see what clothes I actually wear and it will hopefully make it easier to maintain my tidy, organised wardrobe and will help when I review my capsule wardrobe.

Once I completed my clothing I moved onto shoes, again you can see I’ve made quite a bit of progress since my first round.

2015 Shoe Pile
2015 Shoe Pile
2017 Shoe Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only got rid of 4 pairs of shoes this time around and one of them was a hard decision for me as they were my wedding shoes. In some ways they do still spark joy but not really enough for me to justify keeping them (I think I’ve only worn them 3 times in 11 years so I think its about time they sparked joy for someone else).

Next up was bags and since I now only own 6 bags this was pretty easy and I only discarded one bag as I use the others pretty regularly.

I didn’t bother with my underwear this time around as I discarded a load after Christmas as I received lots of new stuff. The same applied to my scarves as I wear them pretty much all the time. Both drawers just got a bit of a tidy up and they were done.

Have you attempted KonMari? How did you get on? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time

Debbie x

Review: Marvel Universe! Live

On Sunday we took Corey to Sheffield Arena to see Marvel Universe! Live. I bought the tickets in March last year as a birthday present for him, and almost forgot about them until I saw the show advertised on social media.

The Venue

We had tickets for the lunchtime matinee at Sheffield Arena. We have been to the Arena on a number of occasions so were aware of the parking facilities and what to expect with regard to traffic. The doors opened at 11am and we arrived around 11.15 and parked in the arena car park. One thing we never considered was pre-booking parking – we would have saved £3 off the £10 parking charge if we’d have pre-booked.

We made our way towards the red doors just as it began to rain. Fortunately the queues were relatively short and quick moving so we were inside in under 5 minutes. After a quick toilet break we were ready to find our seats. Since Corey doesn’t really like big crowd of people so we avoided the overpriced merchandising stalls.

Once the crowds began to die down my OH made a quick food stop and returned with 2 massive hotdogs and a portion of chips. We paid £10 which I don’t think was too bad considering the size of the hotdogs.

The Show

The show started with a bang, literally, which saw Corey’s hotdog fly into the air and land in Rik’s lap. Other children burst into tears and left(some never returned). From that point on Corey spent a lot of the show with his hands over his ears. I began to wish we had taken some ear plugs for him as he was totally engrossed in the action.

The show is based around the Cosmic Cube, one of the most sought after treasures in the Marvel Universe, and the source of ultimate power. The show begins with Thor shattering the cube into tiny fragments to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

In order to defeat Loki, the Marvel Superheroes including Captain America, Ironman, Thor, Hulk, Spiderman and Wolverine must travel around the globe to find the fractals of the Cosmic Cube.

The show contains some amazing acrobatic stunts and motorcycle deft-defying feats. There were a few other loud bangs, gunfire and fireworks plus a great storyline with dialogue worthy of a movie.

It was great to hear the cheers from the crowd when the heroes appeared. We also had the obligatory boo’s for the villains.

Considering we are a family of DC geeks we all though the show was amazing and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Thanks for readying, until next time.

Debbie x

My Favourite Planner and Craft Shops

Warning: This post may be hazardous to your bank balance!

This week the ladies from the Planner Girls Collective are sharing their favourite planner and craft shops. I’m a relative newcomer to the world of planning and journalling so haven’t really purchased to many things, although my Etsy favourites list currently has EIGHT pages of shops where I have seen things I like/want to buy, most of which are UK based as I’m usually on quite a tight budget.

If I am ordering online, I do tend to stick to Etsy more often than not although I have been known to browse some of the other stores although have yet to order.  Some of my favourite shops for online window shopping are:

Mrs Brimbles – Fabulous selection of products for art journalling, planning and scrapbooking as well as monthly Brimbles Box subscription.

Craftstars UK – Huge selection of planning and stationery brands and products together with a monthly subscription box

Just So Stationery – Gorgeous planner inserts printed and punched ready to use.

Suzy Stick It – Supplier of all things stationery related from USA and Asia, with a huge selection of washi tape.

On the whole my planning technique is quite minimal compared to some of the other planner ladies, mainly due to my use of a bullet journal, and I find that too many stickers etc makes it look a little cluttered. Washi tape on the other hand is a staple item in my planning kit and I also love a bit of decoration within my TN using things like paperclips and ephemera.

Below are a few of the Etsy shops that I have purchased items from in the past and would definitely recommend along with a couple who I’m considering ordering from in the near future.

  1. Ugly Bug Plans – Michelle at Ugly Bug Plans is one of the contributors to the Planner Girls Collective and the designer behind the Uglydori Travellers Notebooks as well as offering a monthly subscription box containg all sorts of delights. You can check out my reviews of her earlier boxes here and here and a brief review of my Uglydori here
  2. A Beautiful Plan – Another of the Planner Girls Collective, Kelly sells gorgeous stickers, inserts and other planning goodies. I ordered a set of her Pumpkin Spice Everything stickers in the autumn together with some washi tape, and currently have my eye on her blog planning stickers.
  3. Travellers Times – This is currently my go to shop for notebooks for my Travellers Notebooks. There is a good variety of products and the quality of the paper used is fabulous.
  4. Lyra & Co – I got my first every fauxdori from Lyra & Co and although I don’t use it as much I still love it. I’ve also got one of her Travellers Notebook pocket inserts on my wish list (fingers crossed for my birthday)
  5. Bits of Stationery – I’ve had a few orders from Rachel and I’ve loved them. I purchased her Halloween and Christmas plan with me kits last year along with some functional stickers and some cute Christmassy paperclips.2016-09-26-14-13-35
  6. Cherry Blossoms in the Market Square – I just love, love love Kayleigh’s paperclips. They are so gorgeous and a perfect addition to any planner. Here are a few I’ve purchased to date.
  7. Geekydori – My current Christmas planner is housed in a lovely Geekydori which was perfect for keeping all me Christmas bits and pieces together.
  8. Crafty Ali Cat – Gorgeous handmade gifts, stationery and planner supplies.
  9. Little Rainbow Moon – I’ve just placed my first order which I received last week and I absolutely love it.
  10. The Geeky Planner – Although I’m still to purchase anything from here, I have about 6 different sets of functional stickers in my basket waiting for funds to become available.

For planning and journalling supplies on the high street, my recommendations would probably be Paperchase, Hobbycraft, Poundland and The Works.

Don’t forget to check out the other fabulous posts from the ladies in the collective via links below.

Until next time

Debbie x

Book Review – The Poisoned Rose by Daniel Judson

My first read for 2017 is The Poisoned Rose (The Gin Palace Trilogy Book 1) by Daniel Judson, a free download for my kindle that I came across before Christmas.

Synopsis

To a corrupt chief of police intent on maintaining his power at all costs, part-time PI Declan “Mac” MacManus is a problem that must finally be addressed. Cursed with an unwavering sense of right and wrong, and a fierce loyalty to his few friends, Mac has become known as someone the working class of Southampton can turn to in times of desperate need. On a rain-swept night in October, Mac witnesses to a brutal homicide, but he has learned that nothing on the East End is ever what it seems. Determined to hunt down an elusive hired killer before he can strike again, Mac is reunited with what is left of a prominent family he once knew well. But something more—something darker than Mac could have possibly foreseen—is at play here, and as a long-hidden secret threatens to emerge, Mac once again becomes the only hope for justice in a town that all too clearly belongs to the rich and powerful.

Review

Firstly, I must make reference to the fact that the synopsis doesn’t quite match the story itself, yes there is a corrupt police chief but he’s only a small part of a very entwined plot.

The lead protagonist, Mac, is an extremely flawed character who is regularly referred to throughout the story as a good guy who feels compelled to help people out of difficult situations although the reason for this is never fully explained.

There is a lot of violence, some quite graphic, and the overall mood of the book is quite dark and gloomy, but the writing is extremely descriptive and very well put together, even if some of the plot lines are a little unbelievable at times.

One thing I did like about the story is that most of the time I’ve come across the The Hamptons in books or on TV, they are portrayed as full of mega rich people who own summer homes, whereas this portrayal was more like film noir/gangster movie and showed a completely different side to the area.

At times I struggled to keep up with all the players but overall I enjoyed the story enough to add the remaining books in the Gin Palace Trilogy to my TBR list.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Debbie x

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My KonMari Journey – Week 1: Getting Prepared

So I’ve started my third attempt of decluttering using the Marie Kondo’s life-changing (her words, not mine) system of tidying up.

My first week focused on prep work – setting up a donation station, re-reading the book, catching up on laundry and sorting/putting away all the Christmas paraphernalia and documenting my vision statement.

So how have I fared, well there are still several boxes of Christmas decorations at the bottom of the stairs waiting for my OH to put them away, however they have been KM’d and anything we no longer wanted has been discarded/donated.

The laundry isn’t totally caught up with, but in my defence I know that everything of mine and the kids that is in the laundry sparks joy. Having been through this process already one thing I have taken from previous attempts is that if something doesn’t spark joy then it goes there and then (or after it’s been washed usually). My OH and my eldest are excluded from this category as they are old enough to KonMari their own stuff if they so choose (they did it last time around and were quite impressed, although my OH does still have around 50 t-shirts in his wardrobe!!)

Next up I had a quick re-read of the book to familiarise myself with the process again before finally reviewing my vision statement and updating it to reflect my current goals. I also spent a bit of time reflecting on my past efforts and why they might not have provided the outcome I had hoped for. I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t get rid of quite as much as I should have done in my previous attempts, in part due to the fact that we would have all been sitting on the floor.

I’ve also realised that completing the process doesn’t stop clutter from finding its way back in afterwards and to be honest  I feel that this is a big part of why my home doesn’t quite spark joy. That said I have noticed a bit of a shift in my thinking when it comes to buying certain things and I do find getting rid of things a lot easier so hopefully I’m on the right path.

So that was my first week completed, next week we get started on the hard bit – getting rid of stuff – so please pop back to see how I’ve been getting along with my first category of clothes.

Until next time

Debbie x

A-Z of Family

I had a bit of bloggers block when it came to writing today’s post for some reason but after having a bit of time out with a cup of tea and playing with the kids, a little light-bulb came on after the kids where arguing (for a change) over the alphabet (as you do) and so today’s post came to be – an A-Z of my family.img_1059

A is for Anya. Anya is my youngest. She is clever, talkative, outgoing and a complete diva. She wants to be both a princess and a superhero and loves both equally.

B is for Baking. We love baking cakes and buns and gingerbread and, well just about anything. We usually bake at least once a month if not more and although my diet doesn’t appreciate it, my OH’s work colleagues usually do.

C is for Corey. Corey is my only boy and my middle child. He’s clever and extremely articulate and will go into great detail about the smallest of things. He’s also the total opposite of Anya in that he’s quite an introverted and sensitive soul. He currently wants to be a dinosaur and loves anything Batman related (I blame his Dad completely).

D is for Dyspraxia. My OH was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia about 3 years ago, and at the time we were advised to watch for signs in our children too, although as yet nothing is too obvious in either of them.

E is for Elves. Every year since Corey was born we have some magic elves that come and live with us during December. They can be a little mischievous but generally mean well.

F is for Finnish Spitz. We used to own a Finnish Spitz called Rylee but sadly he had to be put to sleep in 2015.

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G is for Girl Power! Unfortunately for my OH and Corey, the girls outnumber the boys in our house 5-1 (if you include the rabbits!).

H is for Hilarious. My kids regularly come out stuff that have us in hysterics, so much so that we have considered getting them their own reality TV show.

I is for Ice-Cream. Almost every meal is followed by a request for ice-cream, especially by Corey; Anya prefers yogurt.

J is for Jigsaws. You can’t beat a good jigsaw; the kids love them although Anya prefers taking them apart over putting them together.

K is for Ker-Plunk. This is the one game in the house that the kids love and Mum and Dad hate, mainly due to the amount of time is takes to put it together.

L is for Lucky. I sometimes look at my family and feel like the luckiest person in the world.

M is for Mummy. This is my current job and my most demanding but I wouldn’t swap it for anything (although a spa weekend would be considered some days).

N is for No Fear. Unlike Corey and Olivia, Anya appears to be completely fearless. In the past couple of months alone she has made friends with a snake and decided she wants a horse after she got to sit on one of my friends.

O is for Olivia. Olivia is my eldest daughter and is currently at University. She has turned into a lovely young lady and I’m extremely proud of her.

P is for Punta Prima, Menorca. This is where we had our first holiday abroad last year with our youngest two and they loved it.

Q is for Questions. Constant questions are part and parcel of my day as a Mum. Some are pretty standard (mum, can I have …?), some are strange (mum, do rabbits eat carrot cake), and some I am unable to answer either because I can’t stop laughing at the question or I just don’t have the answer.

R is for Rabbits. We currently have two, Nibbles and Poppy.

S is for Swimming. Both Corey and Anya started swimming classes when they were only a couple of months old and they love it.

T is for Tantrums. We have our fair share of these and they are usually over something very bizarre such as not being allowed to go shopping wearing slippers, or not being able to eat the stalk of an apple before school.

U is for USA. I love America have only managed to get their twice. Our dream family holiday would be DisneyWorld, Florida and the surrounding theme parks. It’s on our family bucket list.

V is for Vodka. I’m pretty sure this stuff was invented specifically for mum (and dads) so they can recover from ‘one of those days’.

W is for Why? Again, questions. This is one questions that drives me completely insane on a regular basis as we generally just go around in circles. I truly do feel sorry for my mum now considering this was my question of choice when I was young too.

X is for X-Rays. I still have copies of Olivia’s x-rays from when she was 11 and managed to break both her wrists whilst on holiday in Cornwall with her best friend. It’s safe to say she doesn’t do things by halves.

Y is for Yorkshire. We’re all Yorkshire born and bred.

Z is for Zoos. We love a good day out at the zoo looking at all the animals.

Until next time

Debbie x

My Favourite Inspirational Quotes

Everyone loves a good quote, even one that has been misquoted or mis-attributed. Today the Planner Girls Collective will be taking a look at some of our favourite inspirational quotes/sayings and how we use them on a daily basis.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are ten of my favourite inspirational quotes. Check out my Pinterest board for more.

  1. No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. Be yourself; everyone else is taken – Oscar Wilde
  3. I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas Edison
  4. Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself – George Bernard Shaw
  5. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! – Audrey Hepburn
  6. Whatever you are, be a good one – Abraham Lincoln
  7. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  8. Be the change that you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Ghandi
  9. Believe you can and you’re halfway there – Theodore Roosevelt
  10. Just do what works for you, because there will always be someone who thinks differently – Michelle Obama

As for using the quotes, the possibilities are endless, especially when it comes to planners.

I have made them into stickers to use in my planners, I have made dashboards with them, I have used them as decoration. Here are a selection of photos showing my uses.

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Also, don’t forget to check out the other awesome ladies from the collective via links below.

Until next time

Debbie x