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Reading Plans for 2020

Ah, planning. I like a plan. Ha! I don’t always make it to the end of one but it’s always good to have something to work towards, right?

Plus I was inspired to re-organise my reading shelf after documenting last years books read.

Here is the 2020 list including the ones carried over from 2019 – marked with a *.

  • Good Wives – Louisa May Alcott
  • The Little Sister – Raymond Chandler
  • Partners in Crime – Agatha Christie
  • Persuasion – Jane Austen
  • A Trick of the Light – Louise Penny
  • The Ladies Paradise – Emile Zola
  • This Must be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell
  • Tender is the Night – F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Death Comes as the End – Agatha Christie *
  • The Constant Gardener – John le Carre *
  • An Autobiography by Agatha Christie *
  • Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks *
  • The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins *
  • Allotted Time – Robin Shelton *
  • The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith
  • After You – Jojo Moyes (not in the picture as I was reading it!)

I did put the Constant Gardener back on the lie list even though I gave up on it last year. I sort of want to know what is going on! And yes there are a couple on the pile that I may just let go but we will see how it goes especially as I intend to read instead of scrolling on Instagram and the mooching on the laptop!

The Outer Banks, North Carolina

It all started with the film ‘Nights in Rodanthe’. I fell in love with the landscape. The wide open beaches, the wild seas and the isolation. I was so taken with the feelings the film so brilliantly conjured that I looked it up.

I discovered that Rodanthe was situated on a stretch of land 200 miles long off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia known as the Outer Banks.

Like most everywhere in the world when you look at a place you find a myriad of reasons to visit and these islands were no different. What caught my eye was the fact that this was where the Wright brothers made that historic flight and that the part of the islands are home to a pack of wild-roaming horses allegedly descendant from Spanish Mustangs.

I told Gav all about this place and he was up for a trip there as soon as I said Wright brothers!

We didn’t have long in the beautiful place but it was worth the long drive to get a taste. And we drove past cotton fields (above) as we made our way out the bridge from mainland North Carolina across to Nags Head where we were staying. I had never seen cotton growing before.

As you can see our hotel was right on the beach!

It was amazing to be so close to the sea. After a walk on the beach and a trip out to get dinner we planned out the following day as we had lots to pack in!

We began at the Wright Brothers National Monument and Museum.

Where we saw markers showing the length of the first flights.

And the impressive monument commemorating their achievement.

And after a quick look round we headed north for a 50 minute drive to take a tour in a Humvee and to look for the wild horses!

Before I go on to wax lyrical about this experience I want to say that usually I would steer clear of any commercial venture that looks to exploit wildlife. In an attempt to try and mitigate our presence I picked what I hoped was a decent tour company that are investing in the land the horses live on and take seriously their survival. The horses that live on the land we visited are ‘managed’ by the National Park Service to ensure they are healthy and to ‘control’ over breading….. Hmm! It is a complex subject. Pop over to Wikipedia if you want any more info.

For all that I worried if we were doing the right thing taking this tour I have to admit that it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And we didn’t even see many horses because it was the end of the summer and they were headed back toward the swamp land to hunker down for the winter. I think it was the windy weather, the fast driving and that we were in the middle of nowhere that added to this adventure not just seeing the beautiful animals.

To get from the tour company office in Corolla to the land they live on, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, on took about a 40 minute drive north. Most of the drive was on the beach. It was a wild and windy adventure before we even spotted a horse.

And yes there are houses out there too. A small community of people live out in this isolated land.

And yes the only access in the beach ‘road’.

But the horses don’t care about the people……. Or their lawns!

And all too soon our adventure was over and we headed back.

Had to include this photo.

That is some sea view they have….

And here we are in the back of the Humvee. I am so glad I had a hoodie on. I was on the outside of the vehicle and got blown to bits. I didn’t care a jot that I looked ridiculous.

Back to our hire car on off we drove fill with joy at our adventure. It was going to be difficult to top that experience but we almost did it when we found Duck Donuts!

And how amazing is this chair.

Gav got up early the next day and went out running and I managed to catch the sunrise.

I also spotted a couple out for a sunrise walk and what I think were Pelicans flying at the edge of the waves. You can just make them out above the foaming water.

A last look out to sea and then we were off again.

I managed to snap a few more photos of the pretty houses.

When we reached the bridge to the mainland we had to wait for some boats to pass.

Overall this two day whistle stop trip was amazing. I would go back in a heartbeat. The caveat to that is that I would only go back at the start or end of the summer. For all its beauty and wildness these islands are set up for tourists and I would not like to see those beaches filled with folk. Even though yes I am a tourist!

I would love to go back and explore the south and to see Rodanthe which we didn’t have time to see! I would also like time simple take it in. How incredible that this stretch of land survives. Throughout all the hurricanes and stormy weather exposed and vulnerable it hangs on. Not a testament to humanity and our need to control but to this precious earth we live on and its tenacity to endure.

Photo A Day – Week Forty Two, Forty Three and Forty Four

Almost caught up again!

We start off with this fella all cozy in his blanket and quilt set up….

After our cookie decorating afternoon I still had the itch to decorate plus I had tons of royal icing left over so I made sugar cookies and had another go. It is so hard! They make it look easy on you tube…lol.

Early morning view.

Real life! The mantel all trimmed up for Christmas and re watching Elementary on the TV.

Gav started a jigsaw. Perfect for this time of year. Also more festive stuff waiting to be arranged.

Out for dinner at my sisters.

A quick trip to my Mums to see these guys.

The we headed off to Northumberland and got an annual photo.

And when we got home the following day he was full of fun!

Love this.

And this.

Can’t get enough of a winter sky.

One of my very favourite festive scenes with an addition this year of the lights in our bedroom. There is just something wonderful to me of looking from the outside in. And also looking at our home from this perspective. Simple pleasures.

Made a few cards this year. I got this idea from Kristina Werner expert card maker!

The Christmas cake was out and getting eaten along with all the festive pottery.

Our usual trip to get coffee after we have been to the cemetery on Christmas Eve.

Our newest elf.

And our other sweet girl pondering after too much ice cream. My sister bought her that ice cream cart and it was the best gift she got.

A light lunch…..

A new ornament. Also my sisters doing.

The Hellebores are back.

And there we go.

The Click Tick List – Visit 30 of the 50 States – Update

Our trip to Disney World last October also included a drive up the east coast which meant that I got to cross two more states off! I’ve included a photo of Georgia here but I have already crossed that one off. Didn’t get a photo though so I thought I’d pop it here!

It’s trickier than you’d think snapping that photo….. For example I managed to get South Carolina but missed North Carolina!

Anyway those two are added to my total which now stands at 21. Only 9 left to achieve my target of 30! Woo.

Thoughts about One Little Word® 2020 and Setting Goals

2020 marks the sixth year I have chosen a word. I just went back to look at what I shared here about my word for 2019. I only wrote about it once and that was right at the start of the year! I actually had lots of success in terms of keeping up with Ali’s prompts last year but for whatever reason I didn’t share them on the blog.

Heart was a good word and I still love it but I didn’t fulfil my hopes with it. This year I have chosen the word BREATHE. I haven’t signed up to the workshop this time around.

I got a series of newsletters via email from Elise a few weeks ago talking about reflecting on 2019, asking questions about 2020 and setting goals for the upcoming year.

She asked how you wanted to feel in 2020. A simple concept that cut all wheat from the chaff. I aimed high!

  • A supportive and loving human
  • Healthier
  • Content/satisfied that I tried my best/not feeling like I failed.

These were pretty much the first thoughts that came into my head. From those ideas I pinned down ten ‘goals’.

  1. Support Gav in his change of job
  2. Do more Yoga
  3. Visit and help family who need the help
  4. Less laptop/Instagram more reading, much more reading!
  5. Stick to a skincare routine and look after my teeth
  6. Be healthier
  7. Walk 10k steps a day
  8. Consider my green/eco goals
  9. Keep making and creating (sell something?)
  10. Clean my house more!

Many of these items have come up in past years as things to work on. But that is ok. I have come to the conclusion that taking on a word for the year or making a list of goals such as above is not about a quick fix. I have realised that it is a commitment to learn about yourself and keep on learning as life changes around you. I really liked the way Elise set up this idea.

Rather than trying to work out how I could achieve these things I worked it the other way. I wrote down all the barriers to achieving these goals.

For example number 4. Less laptop, more reading. It sounds easy to achieve right? Just don’t open the laptop….. But somehow I can’t seem to do it. So how can I actually do it? My intial thoughts are to a) have books on my to be read pile that I really want to read. b) bring my book downstairs every day so it is there when I’m tempted to scroll Instagram I can pick the book up instead.

And number 7. I know that if I don’t take Buddy on a 5o minute walk in the morning I will not get to 10k steps that day. The main reason I fail to get the 50 minute walk done is because I sleep in past 7am. I like to be out early before the school kids and rush hour. Therefore the key to 10k steps? Get up at 7am!

Writing down the barriers was so liberating. Seeing them in black and white helped so much. Sounds like common sense right but sometimes our heads get in the way of common sense and writing it down helps you see what the real problem is.

Something else that came out of this process was that in many cases I found I was writing down ‘lazyness’ or ‘no motivation’. Even admitting these things to myself felt positive. I may not be able to change that part of my personality (I am basically a lazy person!) and I know for certain that part of these feelings are due to the menopause. But understanding that the obstacle is me is valuable knowledge. I can see that at the start, accept I don’t really want to do something and then think about why I began this process in the first place. I can revisit that list of how I want to feel in 2020 and maybe that will drive me on.

I am so happy with my list, that I have approached this year slightly differently and have got all these things down on paper.

In relation to One Little Word® I have worked through the January prompts from last years class using my list of how I want to feel as a jumping off point. I shall work through the monthly prompts from some of the previous years to keep my word and my goals visible this year and add them to my One Little Word® album.

Let’s do it!

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One Little Word® is a project developed by Ali Edwards. Read all about it over https://aliedwards.com/one-little-word

Photo a Day – Week Thirty Six, Thirty Seven and Thirty Eight

It’s time to catch up with some of our everyday photos!

Here we go with a wreath ring made from our Salix viminalis living fence. Gav gave the fence a good hair cut and we had a pile of trimmed stems. I adore, absolutely adore making wreath forms out of the stems.

Lots of garden photos this week. And frost which always makes me head outside and snap photos. I like the subtle bokeh at the top left of this picture and the delicate frosted leaves.

As I said lots of frost! This plant is probably the most photographed in my garden. Acanthus mollis and it looked stunning that day.

More garden….

And more….

Clearly there wasn’t much else going on that week!

And finally for this week a trip with these two to the supermarket.

Week 37 began with an amazing sunset.

Slightly different view of the garden with frosty leaves.

Caught the bus to work.

Wandered with Buddy to Canal Gardens.

Had an eggnog latte. Yum. They ran out the following week which almost ruined December for me!

Scrambled eggs with avocado.

And may I introduce you to the cutest pooch ever! (Except Buddy, of course). This is my BFF’s adorable miniature Dachshund  pup. You cannot grasp from this photo just how teeny he is. And did I mention cute?

A lovely sunny day at the start of Week 38. Still an autumn vibe.

Dinner looked very summery.

Uh oh…. cuteness alert again.

December is always cheese month around here. Just looking at that plate is making me hungry.

As are these gingerbread cookies. I made them in preparation for cookie decorating with some of my family the following day.

Here is my sister amongst the mess of our fun filled afternoon decorating the last cookie.

Went all eco with my Christmas wrapping and used old newspapers. I actually loved how all my gifts turned out and so did lots of the family.

And there we go.

What I’ve been Reading 2019 – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith and A Roundup

My final read of the year was The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (or J.K Rowling!) I spotted this in a charity shop in the summer and thought my Mum would like it. She kept it for a month or so then decided she wouldn’t read it and passed it to me.

I’m so glad she did because it was excellent. Just what I needed. It was a good old fashioned detective story, introduced two loveable characters who you want to get to know better and threw in some murder and mayhem. Perfect. I knew they had made the books into a T.V series although I hadn’t watched it. From the start I had the faces of the actors in my head as I read but I didn’t find that a drawback. And the good news it that she has written more in the series. Yay another quest for secondhand books! (I have actually found the second book already!)

I wanted to write down some thoughts on last years reading and have just gone back and read my post from last January.

In the spirit of honesty I’ll just run through the pile of books and what happened with each –

  • Death Comes as the End – still on the pile.
  • Death of a Busybody – taken to the charity shop unread. It just wasn’t for me.
  • The Colour of Murder – as above.
  • Uncommon Type – short stories, read two. Still on pile.
  • Seating Arrangements – read about 50 pages then gave up. Didn’t like any of the characters.
  • Death at the Presidents Lodging – read.
  • The Constant Gardener – struggled to read about a quarter of this. Can’t bring myself to ditch it….
  • Agatha Christies Autobiography – I was already part of the way through this one. Still on pile.
  • The Song of Achilles – read.
  • The Moonstone – still on the pile.
  • Allotted Time – still on the pile.

Now I’ve written that down I see why my total number is low. I tried two books and didn’t finish them! The Constant Gardener is literary fiction and was very hard going for me. What I have read took weeks! I know I should just let it go but I can’t. And I started one that I did let go. But again what I read took a few weeks of trying to get into it which all added up to ‘lost’ weeks of reading time. But I’m not going to dwell on the small number of books I managed to read. Instead I am going to organise that pile again and commit more time to reading this year.

And a final couple of thoughts. I’m pleased that I found one book that I’ll never forget because it was so ‘beautiful’,  The Song Of Achilles and one that I’ll never forget because it was so clever, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. And of course a new detective series and more Jack! What’s to complain about?!

A Review of 2019

Back in January I shared a list of things I was going to do (or try to do) in 2019. I am in the mood for reflection so here goes……

One Little Word® – I followed along with the prompts of this project for almost every month. Although I loved my word and still know the power of it I felt it didn’t fully meet my hopes. Or I didn’t fully realise my hopes with it. I will be choosing a word for 2020 but I have made the decision not to join in with the project via Ali’s site. I am going to go back over the content of the past 5 years and try to do the project on my own. We will see how that works out!

Yoga and the 30 day challenge with Adriene. I did indeed do yoga throughout the month of January and joined her on youtube. I kept up a good practice until about May when I spend more time off the mat than on. I’m still going to a yoga class but not doing it at home. For 2020 I’ll be taking up this practice again.

I did indeed finish December Daily 2018 even though it was in November!

I crossed seven things off the click tick list. Not a very successful year on that front even though seven is a decent number. Most of the things crossed off were planned trips etc. I didn’t make any special efforts to achieve anything and that is annoying! But maybe 2020 is the year for that?

I did finish 2018 Project Life and I did have fun adventures with my family in Portugal.

I also finished the 2017 scrapbook of our USA trip and grew lots of flowers and veg.

The books thing was not a total success. I did whittle down my pile by deciding I just wasn’t going to read some of the books on it. I also read three new books that I loved. This needs more attention in 2020 as I think I only read about ten all year!

Gav, Han and I had a fabulous trip to London and I arranged lots of flowers and took many photographs too. I also did the hobbies thing as well.

Disney was amazing and I spent many hours laughing!

All in all it was a great year. Ups and downs like all years.

Anyone who has been here a while knows I like a list. I liked looking back at that list I made in January. Not everything was crossed off but having a list focusses my mind. I have already been pondering the up coming year. How to get things done, how to tweak my habits and routines to achieve the things that matter right now.

Many things that were on that list in January are ongoing things of my life. I can’t imagine, for example, not flower arranging or not creating all manner of things with my other hobbies. I will always read even if some years are lighter in volume that others. What I want to focus on are some things that I should be doing and some things that I need to be doing.

I’ll come back and share more on this in 2020 but for now I’ll sign off and wish you all a Happy New Year!

December Daily® 2019 – Day Eight to Fourteen

Hi. Back to share more of this festive album. Hope you holiday season is going well. I’m trying to catch up on this album so I can finish and share it this year…… Let’s see how I go on with that!

Day 8 has a little reindeer from a chocolate lollipop that I got in my advent calendar. The words are about how a few years ago our go to shop for the advent gifts stopped making little chocolate treats and we were stumped at first as to what to fill the pockets with. But we have adjusted!

I simple added one sentence to those trees for day 9 and called it done.

Took this idea from Ali and stamped big for day 10.

There already was a flip up page set up for day 11 so I added my story and two photos in the flip up.

Sunrise and sunset.

Day 12 is spread over two pages the first is some words about my feelings that day.

And the second is a photo of two wreaths I made. I added that arrow paper clip and piece of gold foil transparency to hold the number.

For day 13 I have two stories. One is a view of the outside of our house. I added a label to the photo and typed the journalling. It smudged but that’s what happens and I’m ok with it.

The on the back of that tag I wrote the story for the other photo which is of the chest of drwaers in our bedroom all prettied up for Christmas.

And day 14 has a photo of us and my niece selecting treats from the advent calendar. It is a traditon of ours when she sleeps over in December. And on the other page Buddy sat in front of the fire while I wrote Christmas cards paired with an old card from a December kit.

Simple and done is the best with this album.

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December Daily® is an album project developed by Ali Edwards. Read all about it over here.

December Daily® 2019 – Day One to Seven

It is always the same story. December is flying by. But I’ve done a few pages of this years album and am here to share.

Some of the pages have altered from their original foundation and some are just the same.

My story for the 1st was the welcoming of a new family member. She actually arrived on the 30th November but I wanted to start my album off with this great news. Here she is with my sister.

For day 2 I added a photo of Gav doing a jigsaw puzzle and typed up the story adhering it to the side of the photo. Don’t mind that it has that orientation.

Day 3 is a photo of my Mum with the baby and my niece.

I added the story to the back of the half circle that page you can just see that in the day 4 photo below.

Day 4 was about wrapping gifts. I added a few words directly onto the photo.

Day 5 is a photo of me and Buddy trimming our little tree. I love this photo. I like getting myself in the story and love that I managed to catch him in it too. About 5 seconds after the timer snapped he moved and ended up out of the shot.

I used the back of the 5 card to add the journalling for the day with a bulleted list. Sometimes it’s good to get lots of the little details down rather than just one story. I find that when I look back it gives me a better idea of how December days are usually packed with many different things not just about Christmas.

Day 6 above is a photo of the hall all trimmed up. The photos are not great in this post, apologies for that!

I’d snapped this photo of Bud earlier in the day and decided to include on the back of the day 6 page.

Love the index tabs and that pooch living it up on the bed!

Remember my day 7 foundation page with that wire full of punched Christmas trees?

Well I decided to add photos to the page under the trees. I cut a slit into the sides of the photo and slid them into place. I re-adhered the 7.

It was a fun packed day which began with buying trees and went on to icing cookies with the girls.

We try to have a get together for crafting of some kind in December and its always a good day.

We wear silly head gear and Christmas jumpers!

And there we go. A few stories told. Hope your December is going well.

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December Daily® is an album project developed by Ali Edwards. Read all about it over here.