April Reading Wrap Up

Sunday, 29 April 2018
In April I tend to swap reading books for hitting the books in preparation for exams but this year I don't have any so I've been reading to my little heart's content. I'm actually really sad that I only have 6 weeks left with my local library as it's such a good one. I'm on a mission to read as many good books between now and my return to Edinburgh. I read some really interesting books this month and most of them I'd really recommend.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
This is the famous graphic novel that the hit movie is based on. I loved the movie so was excited about reading it. The story follows two obnoxiously 'individual' teenage girls as they negotiate boys/men in the summer between high school and college. It was ok. The plot was different to the movie and I think I actually prefer the movie plot. I found them a little irritating at the time but it was a nice easy read. I gave it 3/5 stars. 


Giving Thanks

Wednesday, 25 April 2018
  • I am thankful for blue skies, crisp cold weather and golden hour sunshine. 
  • I am thankful for friends that despite being spread across a globe, will always be there for the Facebook group chat or a silly, drunken snap chat. 
  • I am thankful for American Netflix having a much wider range of shows, to brighten dull Connecticut evenings. 
  • I am thankful for the 10:25am express train to Grand Central. 
  • I am thankful for all the dogs I get to pet.
  • I am thankful for the realisation that just because something is a fantastic opportunity, that doesn't mean it's the right opportunity and that's ok.
  • I am thankful for developing a taste for wine because not being a wine or beer drinker is just awkward in most situations.
  • I am thankful for ice hockey stadiums that let in dogs.
  • I am thankful for bread and fast rising yeast.
  • I am thankful for the spare bed in Leda's attic that is always there to welcome me. 
  • I am thankful for coconut gelato.
  • I am thankful for $1 slices of pizza.
  • I am thankful for Ruby Tandoh, Nigella Lawson and Mary Berry.
  • I am thankful for elastic cuffed lab coats. 
  • I am thankful for Skype and phone calls and all those things that connect me to the other side of the pond.
  • I am thankful for organising trips to distract my mind. 
  • I am thankful for the woman who empties the bins at work because one time I heard her audibly hiss at a man I don't like. 
  • I am thankful for discovering how great scouring bleach powder is for cleaning out a bathtub. 
  • I am thankful for Sunday dinners at Leda's house. 
  • I am thankful for being able to renew library books online.
  • I am thankful for poetry. 
  • I am thankful for the scratch-off maps.
  • I am thankful for postcards from Scotland. 
  • I am thankful for the end being in sight.
  • I am thankful for Rebecca, who is always there for a chat. 
  • I am thankful for my past self, who spent so much time with her grandparents.
  • I am thankful for the NHS.
  • I am thankful for the one, disgustingly greasy English fish and chips shop in Stamford CT, even if its chips are really fries. 
  • I am thankful for dancing around the lab to Rihanna.
  • I am thankful for blogging. 
  • I am thankful for writing. 
  • I am thankful for reading. 
Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Postcards from Maine

Sunday, 22 April 2018
What a way to round up New England. This month, I finally visited my last New England state: Maine. This tiny little state (roughly the size of Scotland actually) is located right up in the northeast corner of the US and is famous for it's coastal beauties and LOBSTER. I visited this state as I did my first, with the lovely Leda

I'd arrived in Boston the night before and after a night of Chinese food and sangria, we drove up to Portland on Saturday morning. And by we drove I mean Leda drove. So shout out to her for being a fantastic chauffeur for the day. It's about a 2-hour drive from  Boston and we arrived around noon.

NYC's Tartan Week Parade

Wednesday, 18 April 2018
If I've learnt one thing about Americans, it's that they love to tell you about their heritage. No American is American. They are half Irish, a quarter Scottish, one eight Polish and one eight French Polynesian. Alter nationalities as required. The upside to that, when you're a little Scottish girl far away from home, is that they'll have parades to celebrate. Which is how I found myself on 6th Avenue on Saturday the 7th of April to watch NYC's Tartan Week Parade. 

Tartan Week is an annual thing in New York City, where Scots and fans of Scotland come together to celebrate Scottish heritage and the contributions that Scots have made to the city. No idea where they got the dates of early April from but I'm not complaining. 


You Must Be Very Intelligent

Sunday, 15 April 2018
It's very rare that I'll write a whole blog post about one book. It's not that I couldn't, but they never really gather much interest which is why I prefer to do monthly reading wrap-ups. So I only really do it when I have a lot to say about a particular book.

Turn the kettle on, get yourself a cuppa, I got a lot to say about this book. 

Now, I love a good gossip. I'm a hairdresser's daughter. They gossip all the time. Sue me.

So when I heard whispers that a woman who completed her PhD in the same chemistry department as I study in has written a book that's all about how horrible her experience and her supervisor were? I was curious. 

When I realised that the book (You Must Be Very Intelligent: The PhD Delusion by Karin Bodewitz) was about £20 on Amazon I was a bit put off of reading it. To be honest. I've been almost solely using the library for the past year so the prospect of spending £20 on one book? Hmmm.

But then a friend of mine noticed that you could read it online for free here if you're on an academic network (aka using a university computer/VPN). And then I thought, well if it's free then I'll tuck in. 


50 Lists to Include in Your Bullet Journal

Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Are bullet journals still trendy? Who knows. But I'm still using mine and enjoying doing so very much. When I moved I left my Leuchtturm1917 behind (it was heavy) and opted for a regular lined, ring bound notebook instead. I much prefer this. I never look back at my weekly spreads or daily to-do lists so I like being able to rip them out when I'm finished with them. But anyway, I digress...

I must admit, I am a list fiend. And whilst I like filling in my daily bullet journal, there's something that's very soothing about sitting down and writing a few lists. So seeing as my previous bullet journalling posts have been very well recevied, I thought it would be fun to share with you the sort of lists that I write in mine. And here's 50 of them!

  1. New Years resolutions.
  2. Local restaurants to visit. 
  3. Movies/shows to watch.
  4. Books to read.
  5. Books read.
  6. Countries/cities/states visited. 
  7. Wishlist of things to buy. 
  8. Recipes you want to try. 
  9. Packing lists for your upcoming trips. 
  10. Ideas for birthday/Christmas presents. 
  11. Blog posts to write. 
  12. Craft projects to work on.
  13. A 101 things in 1001 days list.
  14. US state license plates you've seen (ok this is niche but I'm obsessed with trying to see them all).
  15. Your favourite blogs to check in on. 
  16. Things to do to clean up when you only have x, y and z minutes. 
  17. Blogging tasks to do when you only have x, y and z minutes. 
  18. University deadlines. 
  19. Parcels you're expecting in the post. 
  20. Instagram photo ideas. 
  21. Cocktail recipes you want to try. 
  22. Bucket list. 
  23. An x before x lists (eg 20 before 20).
  24. Countries/cities/states to visit. 
  25. Things you need to prepare for an upcoming trip (visas, reservations etc).
  26. A seasonal bucket list. 
  27. Things you are grateful for. 
  28. Things to sell, donate or bin. 
  29. Important phone numbers that you use frequently.
  30. Local bus/train information for routes you take often. 
  31. Favourite recipes.
  32. Dinner ideas that take 20 minutes or less.
  33. Things you can do to de-stress
  34. A city-specific bucket list
  35. Spending logs.
  36. Habit trackers.
  37. A reoccurring to do list (for things you have to do frequently like hoover).
  38. Quotes to remember.
  39. Happy memories to look at when you're feeling down. 
  40. Milestones you achieve in a hobby (I have one where I note down what grade the hardest climb I do at rock climbing is). 
  41. Important dates like birthdays and holidays.
  42. Potential dog names (always best to be prepared).
  43. Potential child names (you never know).
  44. A list of YouTube videos that really inspired you that you can go back and watch later.
  45. Musicals you'd like to see live.
  46. Musicals you've seen live. 
  47. Places nearby you want to visit. 
  48. Anything you borrow from someone that you need to return. 
  49. Beauty products that you've heard are good and want to try.
  50. A list of all your tinder dates rating them out of 10 (just kidding but if anyone has this PLEASE let me read it).

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Anecdotes of Appetites

Sunday, 8 April 2018
After writing my blog post about my love of bread, I realised that I absolutely love writing about food. I've been feeling a funk with my blog over the last few months and that blog post really helped pick me out of it. But I knew that I couldn't carry on writing blog posts about specific food groups like that because, quite frankly, there's nothing I love as much as some damn good bread. I was reading some of Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh and I was revelling in all the little snippets. Descriptions of rich, sweet tomatoes and the curing powers of a good curry. And it really inspired me to not lose that spark of food writing. And so I had the idea for a new series. Where I share 3 stories about food in a blog post. Not necessarily the taste of the food. But the story behind it. Because after all, food does not only nutritionally benefit us. Food is more than atoms on the very basic level. It's about who we eat it with, where we eat it, how it makes us feel. 

$100 Over Thanksgiving Poker

For a few months, here in America, I was dating someone. And his mom invited not only me but my friends as well over for Thanksgiving dinner. Not one to pass up on a cultural exchange opportunity I was happy to be invited and went with two of my friends, Kathryn and Taylor, as all the other interns had other plans. Thanksgiving day was crisp and clear and we decided to walk the 45 minutes to their house in the much wealthier Old Greenwich. Along the way, we stopped and watched some deer that we spotted in the woods and whilst it was cold, it was a beautiful day. 


My Ultimate Guide to Graphic Novels

Wednesday, 4 April 2018
Over the past year, I've really gotten into graphic novels. I've always really enjoyed them but mostly just down to price, I hadn't read that many. Thankfully, my local library has a fantastic collection which has allowed me to try out lots over the last few months. With this, I've become really good at being able to guess which ones I will and will not like. As I've been featuring them in my monthly reading wrap-ups, I've realised that not a lot of people have tried reading graphic novels. So I decided to write this guide to graphic novels to hopefully inspire some more people to try them out. Graphic novels are fun, fast reads that sometimes can convey a story better than regular print.

Where to get graphic novels

My first port of call when looking for graphic novels in the library.  Graphic novels can be expensive and because they're generally much faster reads, they often don't end up being great value for money. Following on from that charity shops or online second-hand bookstores may also be a good place for you to score some bargains. If you want to buy from a store I'd recommend Waterstones as they have a good points card system and often run a stamp scheme where you can get a £10 voucher after spending £100. As always, it's great to support local independent bookstores but be aware this may be the most expensive option.


March Reading Wrap Up

Sunday, 1 April 2018
I only read two books in February but March was the complete opposite. I read so many books this month! Which I think is probably down to there being some pretty bad weather this month. I had two snow days which are the perfect opportunity to snuggle up with a good book and a cup of tea. I read some really great books and some meh books. My favourite was probably Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which I read as part of the Slow Sunday Club's book club. It's been a while since I was involved in a book club and I really enjoyed it! 

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
This is a selection of short stories featuring the lives of children in different African countries. I really wanted to like this book but it was very difficult to read. Large chunks of the text where written phonetically which I really struggled to understand. The short stories were good but there were two longer ones that were so slow and almost painful. I gave it 2/5 stars in the end.