Tag: New Year

2018 Pre-Gaming

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” 
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

I am already hyped about a few things this year that I thought were worth listing. What are you looking forward to this year, kittens? Let’s start 2018 on a hopeful or at least ambitious note.

Did I buy tickets nearly a whole year in advance? You’re goddamn right I did.

Jeff and I want to try and hit at least two dream destinations this year, finances permitting. In a perfect work we’ll make it to Amsterdam, Iceland, and Morocco. In reality, who knows!

My Next No Buy Challenge
We had a fairly modest Christmas with a nice present each, and are back on austerity again. Jeff is experimenting with our household budget and we are both tracking our spending the way I did for my Money Month project this time last year. We’re continuing to focus on paying off remaining debt and being more aggressive about building our savings. I’ve come to enjoy these challenges and this, my third of four, will hopefully be the easiest one yet.

More Reading
I’m probably not going to read 100 books again this year…but you never know, a girl can be ambitious.

Makeup Challenges
Believe it or not, I’ve committed to not buying any new makeup this year, unless I’m replacing something I’ve used up. Longtime readers will know that this…is going to take some focus for me. Beauty is my thing. It’s my safety blanket, the most potent hit of dopamine my brain can get. That’s precisely why I’m limiting myself this year and committing to use up what I already own. I used up a whole bullet of lipstick last month and it was so satisfying, that’s the consumer high I’d like to chase this year instead. I’ll occasionally do empties posts and will report back at the end of the year as to how well I do in curbing my spending, and how much I use up.

Visits To/From Friends
Because I’m totally pressuring Katarina to come to London this year. After having X for a week, I’ve decided I need more time with my girls, I miss them dreadfully.

Hilarious cartoon by the great and good Sarah Andersen.


Quick Poll: Do You Have Resolutions This Year?

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”
― Anaïs Nin

Minions, a query. Are you doing New Year’s Resolutions? I’m seeing an interesting micro trend in my various media feeds about people purposefully declining to do them this year. Generally this has to do with positive attitude about not wanting to set goals by the calendar, committing to growth whatever the season, and so forth. All of which I heartily endorse, for the record.

As someone who’s decided on a theme rather than specific resolutions (mostly because I already have a pretty extensive list of To Dos I’m working through and I thought more would provide a touch of unnecessary overwhelm), I’m wondering if the idea of committing to new goals on January 1st is losing a bit of its pop culture luster. Is fear of the stereotypical fall off rate providing determent? Are people just tired from last year and resolving to go easier on themselves (Man Repeller queries that here)? Or is the aforementioned positivity and all the overall wellness trends in our zeitgeist genuinely providing a better way to look at goal setting than affixing it to a specific date?

Lend me your thoughts, or observations from the field!

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My family dog clearly has resolved to live her best life in 2017 and is already making headway by doing as little as canine-ly possible. 

2017 – A Year of Less, But Better

“I don’t believe in a lot of baggage. It’s such a nuisance. Life’s too short to fuss with it. And it isn’t really necessary”
― Hugh Lofting, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

2016, you have flown by…and you know where the door is to keep flying straight on through. Bye! You have been an absolutely ludicrous year. But in spite of the crazy (and occasional heartache), there have been some high points too and I am grateful for them. Though the double whammy of Carrie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds was, frankly, a bit of a low blow to end on, don’t you think? Anyway, I’m willing to set that aside in the interest of the new year as there is a lot of work to do.

There’s a lot I want to accomplish in 2017. I’ve got work goals, life goals, weird and wacky goals, but on trying to figure out how I wanted to frame my thoughts I kept coming back to the idea of “less.” 2016 was a full on year with a lot of change, a lot of big emotions, big decisions, and big achievements. I’m not looking to undo or scale back on any progress, but in looking forward I realized that I want to consume less, narrow my priorities, and focus my attention to fewer things at a time.

Don’t expect extreme deprivation, I’m not looking to make a contest in asceticism out of this thought exercise, but I am going to try and be more considered in my consumption of stuff and my commitments.

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I did the first of three shopping bans last year as part of my 101 in 1001 2.0 challenge at the end of last year. It came to a close just in time for Black Friday…and I ended up getting a grand total of two jumpers and a couple of beauty purchases. I didn’t really want, much less need, anything else. I’ve never been an emotional shopper, but I really feel as if the ban was a bit of a reset button for me and clothing in particular–which was already under pretty good control.  The truth is, it’s taken a few years of thoughtful effort, but I’m pretty happy with where my wardrobe is. There are no major gaps and no major needs, both for a personal or professional life. Ditto my makeup stash which has also taken a while to put together and edit, but with which I am really happy. I use and wear everything I own regularly and don’t feel anything is wasted. I will indulge the odd purchase of something that is simply wanted, but don’t expect any major spending this year in the looks department. Less stuff, better quality will continue to be my watch cry.

On that note, I want to be more mindful of my day-to-day spending and consumption. Making my morning coffee at home rather than catching it (and paying for it) on the run, prepped lunches, sticking to grocery lists, not tossing that unplanned item in my basket when at Boots, exploring different travel options in the city, walk more, etc.. I’ve got a few posts lined up on this topic this month, so stay tuned.

Food wise, we now have the thing we’ve wanted for seven years: a proper kitchen. And I am going to be better about stocking and using it. Obviously this will require a bit of spend to get the things we need (we currently own a single small pot, for instance), but I think that committing to cooking more and eating out less will be a good thing. We aren’t overindulgent at the moment, but do give in to laziness and cheap, less healthy food more than we should. I want to be less lazy and more intentional about eating this year.

In the related field of health, the decision to consult and freelance was a good one in that it (surprisingly) reduced the amount of professional stress in my life. A freelancer always has to hustle and I’m certainly making less than I was, but going back on the freelance grind has allowed me to regain a sense of control and purpose that had slipped from my grasp a bit. I want to take this more balanced work mindset with me moving forward, whatever I do. Less unhelpful stress, more intelligent career growth.

Less fretting. I’ve developed some low level anxiety in the past couple of years that I want to get on top of. Things like changing up my work have helped tremendously, but whether through wellness or other means, I intend on letting go of a lot of baggage that I seem to cart around needlessly.

Less time online. I actually want to branch out on the site this year, try a few new things, blog more frequently, and a few other experiments, so never fear about me vanishing from round these parts. But in terms of time wasting, it’s alarming how much time I lose just mucking about on the internet while not actually doing or accomplishing anything. I’m not sure how to roll this goal out, but I’ll try and put some more intelligent thoughts together.

Overall, I think if I can come up with a theme for 2017, it would be, “Less, but better.” I’m curious to see what form this takes.

How about you, kittens? How are you approaching a fresh year? Do you have any resolutions, or other ways to frame it? Talk to me!


Friday Links (First of 2015 Edition)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Well, hey there, well-beloved-but-desperately-neglected minions! We’re back from the States, back at work, and back at the grindstone. Let’s catch up. Jeff has dived straight into studying for his next round of exams (we’re down to less than a year of this slog), and I’m back freelancing and in the world of London luxury development. The first couple of week of a new year are always a bit hectic, but we might be setting a new record for post-holiday self-destruction. Luckily, there a few things keeping us sane.

We finally coughed up the money for a shiny new laptop that is causing me to coo, “the precious…” every time I open its sleek lid. It’s long overdue. I’ve been using a refurbished laptop we bought for about $400 at least three years ago that’s been getting increasingly clunky and hard to manage over the last year. When I couldn’t have two windows open at the same time without the whole thing freezing, I knew it was time to let Marvin go to his rest. Let’s just hope all my image and music files transfer over alright.

The intrepid Caitlin Kelly is in town and crashing at our place this week as she journeys around the city, conducts research and interview for assignments, and generally puts us all to shame with her pace. Last weekend, completely backward due to jetlag, we all went out on the town and had some much needed adventuring. We ate good food, had great conversations, and did some truly impressive vintage shopping. Caitlin’s got the touch for spotting a deal, let me tell you!

Less immediately important, but still pretty vital, I finally got my local library card and might actually have made headway in getting a British bank account. Long story, will rant later. In the meantime, I’m putting together budget proposals of numbers so high as to give me a nosebleed, working with a grade-A creative team and a world class illustrator, and checking off new items from my list with satisfying ticks. Here are your links, catch me up on your holidays and tell me what you’re up to this weekend in the comments!

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Enjoy a shot from me on assignment in Notting Hill. Much as I whine, life’s pretty decent, kittens.


Some people have more…something…than sense. Not sure it’s money.

You lucky ducks, Caitlin is blogging her adventures (plus tips on renting flats in Paris).

Unsure about the background of Tolkien’s mythology? CPG Grey is here to help.

Jezebel gives a pretty good account of the “fluffication” of this history surrounding Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Headline of the week, I feel.

I barely use my iPod for music anymore, it’s all podcasts through and through, so this list from Medium about interesting podcasts from 2014 (minus Serial, because obviously) hooked me.

Women’s issue news worth sharing and a cause worth supporting.

Since I’m still working in London housing, this is fascinating.

Ah, journalism.

Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail forever.

A response that moved me on the attack in Paris, a city where Caitlin is just visiting us from and returning to at the weekend. Thoughts for safety all around, please.

An 18th century time capsule opening.

In Which Lack of Planning Turns Out Alright

“Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.”
― Sir Walter Scott

Throughout December, both of us made noises along the lines of, “We should do something for New Year’s Eve,” whereupon the other would say something to the effect of, “Indeed we should!” After which we would go back to working/munching/watching British quiz game shows/goofing off. For two usually highly organized people we largely took the holidays easy this year – with the exceptions of dinner and the service (which were both planned weeks if not months in advance).

The trouble is that in a city like London, you have to have a plan for New Year’s or the chances of you getting trampled, mobbed, or left out in the cold are pretty high. But almost everything is pricey and booked well in advance. So by New Year’s Eve, just as we were emerging from our food and nap induced sluggery and ready to go out and do something, we realized that our chances of a nice night out were slim.

Nevertheless, we both dressed up and headed to our favorite restaurant in Covent Garden, hoping against hope that most people would be waiting until later to start their festivities and/or heavy drinking and space would be available. As it happened, we got a prime spot at the bar and the universe missed its chance to teach us a lesson in responsibility. Ha ha!

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I still heartily endorse the elderflower presse. Mocktail of champions.

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We ate delicious and artfully prepared food.

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And we got delicious deserts which were so incredible that they actually made my phone’s camera to spontaneously readjust its own lighting feature…I think. I’m not a photographer, people. Interestingly, popcorn has had a bit of a fad year here in London, so apparently I’m trendier than I realized!

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Then, because we are old fogies, we walked home across Waterloo Bridge past the throngs of people already camping out for the fireworks show. This year the organizers went in for a multi-sensory experience combining flavored and scented aspects with the already well hyped, traditional exploding. It sounded intriguing, but frankly not enough to stay up in the freezing cold and inevitable bad weather when…


…we got to watch them from the comfort of our own sofa while drinking tea and cuddling.

And that was how we rang in 2014. We might do something more ambitious some other year, but this year, it was just right.

Friday Links (Kicking Off 2014 Edition)

“There will be always something old in the New Year!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Was it a holiday but two days ago? Did I really take the majority of last week off? Judging by my work To Do List…yes. It’s back to the grindstone, kittens. Jeff has homestudy and I have a scary amount of projects. After which we need to do some food shopping because our leftovers have officially run out, clean the house for the first time since Christmas, etc. It’s time to be civilized again, alas! Here are your weekly links, first of the New Year, and tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend.

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A preview of some of our holiday adventures…

Elizabeth Taylor (an actress whom I really like, every time her name is said I get a craving for the Taylor/Burton Taming of the Shrew), and a letter she once wrote to her cat.

Beautiful nature photos.

It’s pretty well documented that pregnancy, childbirth, etc. terrifies the heck out of me and I’d be happy to avoid it all by adopting a herd of orphans, but even I found Mary Helen Bowers’ pregnancy/ballet balance pretty awesome. I remember being flexible once…

Although, once she has that thing, good luck to her because it’s a minefield!

I have no trouble admitted that I am but a freelancing child and have largely only seen the good side of the industry. So much darkness to look forward to.

I know I would not be able to do what this guy did after losing his vision.

I’m not sure Rodgers is a profession. Does Woodland imply we’re going to live remotely in the forest, because I can tell you that we are NOT.

I have to admit I love the xoVain beauty site, but I think this “Smaug” inspired beauty post is a particularly nerdy favorite. I mean, Smaug is clearly the greatest character in The Hobbit – to quote Lois Long, “I will fight anyone who says differently,” – but the combination of fun makeup artistry with the story of the author’s exceptionally cool dad is a winner. My parents read The Hobbit to me as well, a vitally important childhood memory.

A great glimpse of 1970s kitchens, for the design minded amongst you.

Interesting parenting experiment, opening this one up to the minion commentary because I’m curious as to the thoughts of the parents in the readership. We always had plenty of toys growing up, but our habit of moving frequently meant that we routinely donated and reorganized the surplus and never really accumulated too much. At one point, my parents even significantly downsized Christmas (which I happened to like and plan on replicating with any hypothetical children) and while we are attached to our treasures, we’re not very attached to “stuff.” It’s what allowed me to go to university, and eventually move to London, with just two suitcases to my name each time.

Tumblr find of the week, theses boiled down to one sentence.