January Reading Wrap Up

Wednesday, 31 January 2018
January is always a good month for me in terms of reading. There's something about that fresh start that motivates me to get reading. Plus it's been so cold in Stamford this month that I've honestly been avoiding going outside if I don't have to (-10 no thank you!) and it's been perfect for snuggling up and reading in the evenings. I've also gotten into the habit of eating my breakfast whilst reading in the morning and it's such a nice start to the day, even if it does make it a bit harder to leave for work! I've set my goal for 2018 to read a book a week which I'm glad to say I've stuck to in January.

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I'm a big fan of Sarah Knight's books and this fun guide to getting more organised was no different. She has a fun writing style and perfectly nails writing a self-help book that isn't condescending or annoying. She also shares her own past mistakes etc which is really helpful. This book taught me some really good lessons but also made me realise that I'm not alone is the way that I've been feeling recently which was very reassuring. I gave it 5/5 stars and I'm happy it was my first read of the year. 


2018 Travel Plans

Sunday, 28 January 2018
We're only a few weeks into 2018 and I'm already booking some trips for myself and thinking about where I want to go this year. This year I'm focusing on making those last few American trips before moving back to Scotland in June. Then after that, I'd like to see a little bit more of Europe. I'm so much more confident in my abilities to conduct an excellent weekend break but I know this won't be as accesible whilst doing a masters year. Therefore, I think most of my travelling will occur in the first half of the year. Although a little Christmas trip would do me nicely too! 

South Carolina and Georgia Road Trip
My first trip of the year (excluding my flight from Edinburgh back to the states) is a road trip through the American south with the one and only Jess! We're taking advantage of the President's Day long weekend and taking a little bloggers trip to Charleston and Savannah. I'm flying into Myrtle Beach SC, Jess is picking me up and we are driving the two hours to Charleston. We're spending three nights there and will be taking a day trip to Savannah which is just over the border with Georgia. I'm excited to spend time with Jess, experience Southern hospitality and escape the cold of the North East for a while!


The Return To Edinburgh

Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Before I went home for Christmas, I had all of these ideas in my head about the day trips that I was going to take into Edinburgh and all the things I was going to do there and well, that didn't exactly go to plan. I shrugged off chances to go for spending time with my family, my dogs and avoiding the rain. But I did make it through for one day and it was perfect just the right reminder of how much I love the city and enough to fill up my heart with its charm to tide me over the coming months. 

I'd made plans with my friends Kathryn and Imogen, to meet for dinner at 6pm after Imogen had finished work. Kathryn and I went in a little earlier to spend some time in the city. It was brilliant to see her again but she's actually doing her year abroad at the University of Connecticut so I've actually seen her a few times since we moved across (Rhode Island, Vermont). Our first port of call was the National Museum of Scotland. 


Blogging is Not a Crime

Sunday, 21 January 2018
Back in December, I wrote a blog post about being silent about things that matter. And to stay true to my word about trying to be more vocal about injustices I am writing today about a man's story that is very close to my heart. 

Raif Badawi is a 33-year-old writer and activist from Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in 2012 for being the owner of a blog called 'Free Saudi Liberals' that called for free speech in the extremely conservative country. He was convicted of several charges and sentenced to 600 lashes and 7 years in prison. This has since been increased to 10 years imprisonment and 1000 lashes. 


Meet Stan & Ollie

Wednesday, 17 January 2018
A few months ago, my family adopted two black labrador puppies: Stan & Ollie. Much to my amazement and also disappointment. Amazement because my mum had previously said 'we are never getting another dog' and now we had two. And disappointing because I was approximately 3'600 miles away and knew I wouldn't be home until Christmas. So after months of asking for photos and talking to the dogs on Facetime, I finally got to meet them myself on Christmas eve. And they are wonderful. So full of energy, love and personality. They are brothers and it's so nice to watch them playing with each other (and also fighting with each other because, boys). 


Pizza Posto, Edinburgh

Sunday, 14 January 2018
After 6 months of living in the states, I was itching to get back to the Edinburgh restaurant scene and get writing some reviews. So when I went through for the day to visit my friends and one of them recommended Pizza Posto I was more than happy to try it out. My favourite pizza of all time comes from a place called Paesano in Glasgow and a quick glance at Instagram showed that these pizzas looked very similar so I had very high hopes for this place!

The restaurant is located on the edge of Newington and the Old Town, right next to Surgeon's Hall. Despite having a pretty small front, the restaurant has lots of space on the inside and plenty of tables. We made a reservation for our Friday night 6pm dinner in case it was busy but we would easily have gotten seated without it. We sat in the window and caught up with what's been happening over the course of the last sixth months.


December Reading Wrap Up

Wednesday, 10 January 2018
This reading wrap up marks not only the end of my 2017 reading but also the end of 4 years of reading wrap ups which is pretty crazy. It doesn't feel like I've blogged for as long as I have so it's always strange to realise that I've been doing something this long. I didn't read a huge amount in December as I had a pretty big uni deadline but when I did, I was trying to read what's left on my Kindle because to be honest, it's been really cold and I don't want to walk to the library in that. I managed 4 Kindle books and should finish another in January so that was about half of the books I had on there. Pretty good going! 

No Filter by Orlagh Collins
This YA fiction is told from the perspective of two teenagers. Emerald is spending the summer living with her estranged grandmother in Dublin after her mother attempts suicide and is in rehab for alcohol addiction. Liam is celebrating his last summer of freedom before he has to start a college course on a subject that he doesn't want to do, but his father does. I only gave this book 2/5 stars because, to be honest, I found it to be pretty immature and found the characters kind of annoying. The blurb made it out that this book was more about Emerald's perception and struggle with social media which actually was a very small part of the book. 


5 Goals for 2018 That Don't Make Me Feel Bad About Myself

Sunday, 7 January 2018
I use an online calendar to schedule in my blog post ideas in advance. And a few months ago I scheduled in '2018 goals' for today. 2017 has been a really, really hard year for me and my mental health is not in a great place. Unfortunately, I really don't see this improving until I move back to Scotland in June so I'm feeling a real lack of motivation for 2018 because of this and kind of viewing it with a 'just get through it' attitude. So when I saw that post scheduled there I was a little apprehensive about writing it. 

Mostly, I just didn't feel like I had the motivation or the energy to commit to things like eating healthier or joining the gym, even if I do eat brie toasties for dinner more times a week than I'd care to admit. I decided to make goals that are more like 'fun things I want to do' rather than goals based on severe self-improvement which let's face it, never really happen anyway and just become ways to bash yourself when you're feeling down.

Am I being easy on myself? Definitely. But do I need to be kind to myself right now? Absolutely.

1. Visit 3 new US states.
I visited 11 new US states in 2017 which was pretty crazy. I don't expect to visit a lot more new states in 2018 because I've basically exhausted all of the states that are within driving/train/bus distance of Connecticut. But I would like to visit 3 new states in the new year. My friends and I are wanting to do a road trip weekend to Maine, a trip to Chicago is also definitely on the cards and that leaves me one other state to visit. There are loads I would like to visit but I guess I'll see how things work out. 


My Top 10 Reads of 2017

Wednesday, 3 January 2018
2017 was probably the year that I really rediscovered my love of reading. Moving away from university to a work based environment gave me a lot more free time for reading. That and moving to a city with an excellent public library so I've read more books this year than I expected to and spent a lot less money on them too. I read a lot of good books this year but to be honest, not that many that struck me as being amazing so it was pretty easy for me to pick out my top 10. I also discovered some new authors this year that I've fallen in love with and I can't wait to read more of their work in 2018. I've set myself my GoodReads 2018 challenge which is to read 52 books (ie a book a year). If you'd like to be my friend on GoodReads to keep up with my process here's my profile.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck by Sarah Knight
I feel like every blogger and their dug has read this book this year and well here I am jumping on the damn bandwagon. Sarah Knight's book is fun but serious at the same time and has really helped a lot of people (myself included). This book is funny and unlike anything else I've ever read. I'm not saying you should follow everything she says to a T but it's got some really great ideas and I'm very glad to have read it.