Saturday, 31 December 2016

2017 Word of the Year

For the last couple of years I have not made resolutions. Instead I have settled upon a word that will shape how I live my life. In previous years I have used the words of confidence, organisation and opportunity. I have used the words to shape every element of my life.

This year I have settled on the word Kindness. 2016 has seen the world change. Discrimination has reigned and sadness has gripped too many. With this all occurring I truly believe that a little kindness can go a long way. Sprinkling kidness around can truly help others. I am guilty of being n a very privileged position and not using this to help people as much as I could. In the coming weeks I will be posting lists of kindnesses that we can all get involved in, but until then let the ones you care for know how much you love them.

Another element of this is being kind to myself. I often take on too much and find myself burnt out. It's important for me to carve out time for myself and spend time doing things that I love. Make sure I get outside and just walk as that always clears my head. This is so important for my own well being.

I will be spending my evening with my oldest friends in an evening of drinking, eating nibbles and talking. We will see in the new year together. I wish you all a healthy and happy new year. Please try to remember to be kind. Both to yourself and others.

Kate xx

Friday, 30 December 2016

Little moments

This week I dedicated my Wonderful Wednesday post to the things that had made 2016 extra special. I really enjoyed looking back through the year and picking the things that made me smile. However, I miss mulling through the week and picking up the little things that have made the week that little bit brighter. When I read back I loved seeing how the little things had brightened and having it in writing made me remember those moments. Therefore this week I still wanted to record those moments.

1. Christmas dinner. I love every part of a Christmas dinner from the pigs in blankets to the turkey. My personal favourite this year was the roasties. My mum had outdone herself with the fluffiest potatoes with such a crispy outside. Also I think it should be law to wear hats and tell jokes at all meal times!

2. Snowman shirt. This is my 2016 purchase instead of a Christmas jumper. It's white and has tiny snowman drawings on it. It says, I'm in the Christmas spirit, but subtly. It was worn with the most comfortable dungarees ready for buffet.

3. Competitive quizzes. On Christmas Eve my friends always get together for an evening of food and games. There were people I haven't seen for a year so it was lovely to see everyone. In teams for quizzes we all got a bit too competitive. Smiles and laughter with friends are just what the festive period is about.

4. Smiles. Seeing smiles on your loved ones faces is just the best feeling

5. Walks. One of the big things I've missed about home is living in the countryside. The fact that I can walk out of my front door and walk for miles and not see a soul. The countryside changes around me and it's silent. This week has been all about rediscovering the places I love near home. Almost always with Ben my sprocker spaniel who I've missed.

6. Breakfast in bed. This week my mum brought me breakfast in bed. Chocolate spread on toast with a cup of hot chocolate set me up for the day. Despite getting crumbs in my bed in felt ready to take on the day, even though the day consisted of getting my tax return done.

7. Family time. Over Christmas I have really enjoyed spending time with my family. I've spent 3 months away from them, which is the longest in my life. I really missed them, especially in the last few weeks, so it was lovely to come back and spend time with them. Sometimes it doesn't have to be remarkable. Just having them all round the same table or sitting watching TV together.

8. My favourite beach. This week I swapped Plymouth's lighthouse for one that's in Suffolk. One of my favourite beaches is Southwold. It's sandy, is lined my colourful beach huts and has a lovely pier. Even on a blustery day the sun poked its head round the clouds and it was lovely. After a walk along the beach it was time for a portion of chips to warm us up.

So those are the little thing that have made my week special. Let me know what has made yours.
Kate xx

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Wonderful Wednesday #41

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time. I've been eating so much food and catching up with friends. If that's not what the festive period should be about then I don't know what is. Sally, the leader of our Wonderful Wednesday crew, suggested we use the last Wednesday of the year to round up 2016; to sum up the best bits of the year.

This year started really gloomy for me. My direction had all but gone and I had lost confidence in myself. In writing this post I've gone back and read through my year. Having never written a diary, it's funny having this account of my year, but I like it. I like being able to see the ebb and flow of my emotions. To see the journey that this year has taken me on. I'm truly happy to have this blog and the band of friends that it has brought me. I'm grateful for the Wonderful Wednesday crew for helping me see the lovely moments in life and always brightening my day with their posts. So on with the best bits of the year...

1. Support of family and friends. I owe a big debt to my wonderful friends and family who have supported me this year. The ones that hugged me as I cried and text me motivational quotes every morning. The ones who spent time building my confidence in the classroom and coaching. Who are always on hand with help, advice and encouragement. The ones that are on the end of the phone when I'm feeling far away. The ones ready to celebrate success and have a really good time.

2. Starting university. The whole process of applying to university was a turning point for me. It gave me such a purpose and drive. I have one of my lovely teacher friends to thank for that. She gave me the encouragement to make me believe I could do it. Starting university has been such a massive change, but one I have loved. The course is everything I hoped it would be and being at uni gives me so many opportunities.

3. Meeting some amazing new people. This leads on from the above point in that university has introduced me to lots of new people. From my amazing flatmates who I'm sure will be friends for life to a group of like minded course mates. I have met my new cricket teammates who are amazing. This year  have also met lots of new people in the world of cricket. Coaches who I have stayed up until 2 in the morning chatting with and speakers who have left me inspired. I am always intrigued and interested to meet new people. I love to hear everyone's story.

4. Summer of cricket. Getting a job which meant I woke up everyday to cricket was fantastic. I was able to inspire school children to my love of a sport. This didn't stop when school finished because I spent an amazing summer playing and coaching. As captain I led my ladies team to league victory. A lovely group of ladies who have fun playing and I have missed them. I also took plenty of squads on tour. A highlight being the first woman ever to coach a boys squad on tour for my county. Whilst the sun shone this year I had a very enjoyable season of cricket.

5. Bath. After all that cricket and working everyday for months a break was n order and spending 5 days in Bath with my best friends was perfect. I have known these girls for 11 years and love them dearly. Spending our days exploring, relaxing and eating cake was perfect and a real highlight of my year.

6. Being honest. This has been a year about being honest about my feelings both on this blog and in real life. I've openly told people when I need some help ad my emotions have been more evident. I've always been a lot more open about my sexuality, especially since moving to university which has made me so much more relaxed and comfortable.

7. Finding happiness. At the beginning of the year I was way way from happiness, but by appreciating the small happy moments and getting direction and purpose in my life I have found the glimmers. It's been lovely reading back and seeing these moments of happiness and contentedness through the year. I've also learnt to take time for myself and not burn out. I'm such a yes person and take on too much, but that leaves me burnt out, tired and low. I have taken time to slow down and be happy.

This year has seen so much change for me. I end it feeling content. I have a fabulous family and wonderful friends. I am doing a degree I love which will get me to a career I aspire to and am enjoying my university experience. I am incredibly lucky and 2017 is the year for me to give back.

The #wonderfulwednesday does not stop there. These lovely ladies  JoHelenMichelleSarahSallyCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartina and Isabelle all write about the best bits of 2016. To join in leave us a comment, use the hashtag on twitter or instagram or write your own post.

Kate xx

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Moments of stillness

Ever since I got home I've noticed myself being still more. Taking the time to drink in my surroundings. Nature wows me constantly. From the beautiful colours of a sunset to dancing golden light. From the delicate spiders' webs clinging to plants covered in dew to the bright stars that glow so clearly in the wide open skies. Nature seems so heightened and it gives me these moments that make me stop and just take it in.

I feel myself slowing and taking in the world around me which is complete contrast to the bustle of the city in Plymouth where I am usually rushing to get somewhere and so is everyone around me. This holiday was very much needed to help me relax.

This holiday season take time to take in what's around you. Appreciate the moments of wonder in everyday, everyone and everything. I wish you all a relaxing and peaceful Christmas and all the best for the new year.

Kate xx

Friday, 23 December 2016

Winter Foliage Walks

One of the things I have missed being away in Plymouth is walking in the countryside. On a beautiful sunny day I wrapped up extra warm and ventured out to find myself some winter foliage. Despite the clear blue sky, the air had a nip to it that hinted to the December date and the official start of winter the previous day. Rediscovering my tweed coat was a godsend. I had left it home when I went to university. It's fabric lends it to a country way of living and it's warmth just isn't needed in Plymouth where temperatures are a good 5 degrees higher at all times. This morning pulling on my tweed coat was like putting on a warm hug. Finding fleece lined fingerless gloves in the pocket was an added bonus.

My mission was to find as much greenery as I could to decorate the house. Holly, ivy and box were all cut and placed in my bucket. To contrast with the green I also picked some red berries. Unfortunately none of the holly bushes I came across had berries on them. Therefore I picked branches of rose hips. It took me back to the summer when the hedgerows were festooned with dog roses with their pale, delicate blooms.

Being outside made me really happy. The walk was completely silent and I found myself humming away to myself. Christmas songs flicked through my mind but not a lot else. Walking is an ideal opportunity to just be calm. The most important thought were which branch to cut next. During my whole journey I saw one other person walking their dog who greeted me with a good morning and were on their way. This is such a contrast to the bustle of city life. These weeks are an ideal opportunity for me to recharge my batteries before another semester in Plymouth.

I can't wait to put these branches in vases and make garlands to decorate the house. How are you decorating the house this year? Will you be using natural decorations?

Kate xx

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Wonderful Wednesday #40

Hello you lovely ones. How are you doing? I hope this Wonderful Wednesday finds you in a good place, with a smile on your face. I write this in the comfort of my own bed. The one at home, in the bedroom I grew up in. It's a funny sort of sensation going back, but I'm loving seeing everyone again. Apart from the couple of days I did in uni before I came home, the week has been generally relaxed and chilled. It is, however, going far too quickly.

1. Food. I think my parents think I'm unable to cook for myself as ever since I walked in the door they have proceeded to feed me at every moment possible. From snacking on the normal Christmassy fair to treating me to pub lunches I have eaten so much in the last few days. Food also provides a brilliant event for catch ups. From long chats over spag bol to catching up with my grandma eating a customary wagonwheel. Food always seems to have that link with people.

2. Home. Being in the place where you can be comfortable. It's the place that shapes you and I can relax.

3. Skies. I'd forgotten how big the skies are in Suffolk. That sounds like a strange way to put it, but you can just see so much of it. The sunsets are larger and wrap themselves right around you. Nature is definitely inspiring me back in the countryside.

4. Hugs. So many reunion hugs this week. Those ones that last longer because you need to cling on to the person you've missed for months. You need to keep them closer and hold them to show how much they mean to you. You need to drink in them. There were some tears shed, but definitely of the happy variety.

5. Sit Coms. Watching Christmas episodes of Gavin and Stacey and Miranda almost is a tradition now, but watching with people that love them as much as me is a must. We can almost recite the words and tell the jokes about 5 minutes before they arrive but it's pure feel good. Laughing at the same jokes we have so many times before.

6. Soft Hair. So I have butchered my hair and the culprit is cheap shampoo. When I say cheap, a bottle cost 30p. My student money saving brain thought this was a great idea but my flaking scalp and drying hair said different. You have no idea how much difference one wash with gentle moisturising shampoo feels. I can't stop touching my hair because it feels so soft. I think I've learnt my lesson here. It's worth spending a little bit more to look after myself.

7. Early Christmas celebrations. The last few days of uni whooshed past in daze of Christmas celebrations (and a little bit of work). My flatmates and I had planned a Christmas day which involved secret santa presents, a huge dinner and an afternoon of board games. Everyone had put such an effort into thoughtful gifts and we had a lovely day.

Our course also did a secret Santa, but this time one of the rules was it had to include something we could wear. These had to be worn to our meal and night out. The meal was buffet style Christmas. Think camembert bites and roasties. It was lovely to get to know our course mates more and had a great night, only downside was my 5am bus!

8. Sunrises on the bus. Having stayed up all night in order to make my 5am bus after a night out I was shattered. I dosed on and off whilst on the bus, but woke up to see this sunrise above. The photo doesn't do justice to the fiery ball of sun rising through the clear skies only interrupted by the aeroplane trail. The mist hung low to the fields collecting by the hedges. Even in my sleep state this put a smile on my face.

There was so much to say this week. More items kept popping into my head and I'm really happy to be back home. The photos are a slow pastelly colour and that's how I feel right now. Mellow and relaxed. A break was just what I needed.

The #wonderfulwednesday does not stop there. These lovely ladies  JoHelenMichelleSarahSallyCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartina and Isabelle all write about the moments that light up their weeks. To join in leave us a comment, use the hashtag on twitter or instagram or write your own post.

Kate xx

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Cards

This year I decided to make my own Christmas cards. I usually don’t send that many so it’s worth putting in some extra effort to make them special. It’s also a great tip for students as the cards cost me next to nothing to make.

My first port of call when thinking about what to make is always Pinterest. In the last year I have not organised them conventionally into themes, but had a board for each month. This is going to allow me to look back at the end of the year and see my changing tastes and moods through the year. You can find my Pinterest here.

To create my design I first sketched a Christmassy shape in pencil. This one is a tree, but I also did baubles, stars and stockings. Having done this I used a ruler to draw straight lines across the shape at varying widths.

Now it was time to add the writing. Again I did this in pencil and used a ruler to mark out the spacing of the letters. This takes a bit of time, but makes a more professional final card as the shape is filled evenly. Again I used Pinterest as inspiration for the different fonts used.

Once everything was drawn out and I was happy with it I drew over it in a black fine liner and rubbed out the pencil marks. The lettering should create the shape of the Christmas shape. Finally, I drew the star on top in pencil and used watercolour paint to colour it a contrasting red. With the bauble, star and stocking I added red hanging catch, ribbon and cuff respectively. The final touch was to draw around the star in fine liner and write in the card.

My flatmates loved their cards and they all tacked them onto their doors. I can’t wait for the ones I sent to arrive.

What Christmas crafts have you made? Do you make your own Christmas cards?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Wonderful Wednesday #39

Some weeks seem harder than others. No particular rhyme or reason, but sometimes everything happens at once. My friends seem to be having a really hard on this week and it has made me the pillar of strength, but there's only so long you can be strong for everyone. This Wonderful Wednesday sees me tired and just ready for some breathing space.

On the other hand I'm really excited about my blog at the minute and have so many ideas. I'm looking forward to posting even more. So without further ado, here's the things that have made me happy this week:

1. PJs days. This weekend I didn't really leave the house. I wore layers of snuggly pjs and my warm dressing gown all day. Granted the reason for this was that I was writing essays, but I was even productive with that. Having done lots of work now leaves me free to enjoy Christmas without the stress of working too much.

2. Decorating the flat. We spent a really lovely Christmassy evening making paper snowflakes and sticking them all round our flat. We even coloured some big ones green and stuck them up together to form a Christmas tree. This just shows that you don't need to spend a lot on decorations as we won the prze for best decorated flat. We sent time together, had fun and everything now looks really festive.

3. Spicy bean burgers. Recently I've been eating a lot more vegetarian food and when I shopped and saw these I knew I wanted to try them. Eaten with salad, mayo and salsa all in a wrap this was perfect pre training eating and so tasty. Definitely one to buy again.

4. Celebrating 21st. One of my flatmates has her 21st birthday next week when we are all at home so we surprised her with a celebration at uni. Firstly we decorated the flat and had 21 presents for her. Then an all you can eat Chinese buffet, with birthday cake and singing in the restaurant. Then we came back to the flat to get ready to go out. Everyone had such a good evening and she was so surprised. Although I have no idea how we kept it all from her.

5. Making my own Christmas cards. Another Christmassy craft occurred this week when I made my Christmas cards. After looking for inspiration on pinterest I settled on a design, stuck on the Christmas tunes and spent an evening with my paints and pens. I will show you the results on another post, but my flatmates certainly liked there's and the rest are in the post.

6. Music. Played at all times and for every mood. When I'm waking up to get me motivated for the day. To chill me out before bed. To sing along to on a night out. To play cricket and dance along to.

So that's my #wonderfulwedneday (on a Thursday). The week has been busy, but I only have one more day here before I make my way home for Christmas. One full on day and then a trek across the country. To put a smile on my face I will be reading #wonderfulwednesday post from these lovely ladies  JoHelenMichelleSarahSallyCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartina and Isabelle on my way home. To join in leave us a comment, use the hashtg on twitter or instagram or write your own post.

Kate xx

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Reasons I'm looking forward to going home

It's now only 3 sleeps until I can go home, I'm reliably informed via a text from my mum. She's been keeping me updated for the last week as I've really been wanting to get home. I really love my university life, but this is the longest I have ever been away from my family and home. I'm fully independent in lots of things, but this is why I'm looking forward to heading home on Friday:

1. My Grandma's baking. I can't wait for her Christmas treats: sausage rolls, cake and rusks will all be on the menu. I'm looking forward to popping in for a cuppa, chat and a slice of cake.

2. Seeing my dog. It has been far too long since I had dog snuggles.

3. Having a bedside lamp again. This seems a random one, but at uni I don't have a bedside lamp. This means running to the switch to turn the light off at night and then trying not to trip on anything on the way back.

4. Hugging my mum. nothing beats a hug from mum, nothing.

5. Driving my car. It's funny how you Miss some things more than others. Driving with my music up really loud is one. My car gives me the opportunity to explore further and be more independent.

6. Seeing green everywhere, fields, trees. I love Plymouth, I really do. But I miss the countryside. The feeling of green everywhere and being able to walk and walk and not see a soul.

7. Seeing friends at home. Again it's been 3 months since I've seen their beautiful faces and a quick messenger chat does not make up for this. Big catch ups are in order.

8. Coaching again. I have coaching planned for the day after I get home and I cannot wait. Having gone from coaching everyday to not at all I'm having major withdrawal symptoms.

9. Hot chocolate with milk not water. And other cheap student based dramas such as drinking fruit juice. hot chocolate with water is a poor relation of the luxury of a milky based drink. However my flat gets through milk at such an alarming rate that we just can't justify milk based hot chocolate so I'm really looking forward to it at home.

10. Not having to cook for myself everyday. And do the washing up and generally have a couple of weeks off adulting full time.

11. Film days with my brother. My brother turned 18 while I was away so I have a lot of celebrating to do with him, but in winter we love settling down for a day of cheesy films and box sets. Send recommendations my way.

12. The silence. Living in the centre of the student area is brilliant. Everything is so convenient, but it's a far cry from the quiet of home. I'm looking forward to sleeping where the only sound is an owl swooping over and not someone being sick in street or chanting.

12. Seeing and being with my family. I just can't wait to be home.

Was there any random things you missed from home?

Monday, 12 December 2016

Winter Care Package

One more week at university and I can't wait to be getting home. I love being hear, but having been away from my family for 3 months I'm really keen to see them all again. My mum, knowing this, sent me a surprise package. It's a winter care package with lots of things to see me through the last week or so before I start the mammoth journey home for Christmas. Here's what she included:

  • Hot chocolate. This is my go to drink in the winter months. Not drinking tea or coffee, I need a drink that can warm me up. 
  • Marshmallows. What hot chocolate is complete without a layer of gooey, melted marshmallows on top?
  • New PJs. These ones are tartan and brushed cotton so ever so snugly. I always wear my PJs a little bit big and comfy so mum got these from the men's section. Added bonus, thy have pockets. I put these on after a really warm shower on the first night I got them and had the best night's sleep. I even had clean sheet night as well.
  • fluffy socks. See Pjs. Best night's sleep!
  • Scarf. This cherry print scarf is actually mine from home that I forgot to pack when I came to university. I wore it with blue skinnies and a red polka dot top yesterday and felt all nautical but toasty.
  • Tissues. Just in case I suffer from winter colds.
  • Confetti. Not sure you can see in this photo, but it's chilli shaped. Mum was all about the winter/ getting a bit chilly pun. This is going to go on our table for flat Christmas day.
  • Hand cream. Everyone's hands go dry in the winter and this daisy and elderflower cream smells yummy.
  • A little bit of chocolate. Just a little treat to be kept for when I need a boost.
I loved my package and was really excited to open it. I think it's a lovely idea for a friend or perhaps a Christmas present.

Kate xx

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Plymouth's Christmas Markets

Last weekend I visited two Christmas market here in Plymouth. Christmas markets are sure to get me in the festive mood and when I knew I'd miss the big one back at home I needed to hunt one out in Plymouth. I ended up visiting two in one weekend.

In the centre of town lots of red wooden huts have been set up under the Christmas lights. A wander through gave us so many ideas of gifts. With everything from jewellery to bags made from leaves. The smells were making us so hungry as crepes, sausages and hog roast mingled with coffee and cinnamon. There was so much to get us in the Christmassy mood with a live acoustic performance of Christmas hits in the marquee as well as a mulled wine bar. Christmas trees and wreathes were being sold and there was plenty of farground rides too.

Next we took a walk down to the Royal William Yard which had a one weekend only market. This is slightly outside of the town centre and a bit of a walk, but we'd wrapped up nice and warm. Unfortunately as we got there late in the day some of the traders had begun packing up, but the market looked so pretty in the darkness. The old military building were lit up by light projections wishing us Merry Christmas while the tree and stalls were draped in fairy lights. The market was full of quirky characters such as stilt walking ice queens and fairy princesses to make the festivities even more special.

Visiting the Christmas markets really got me feeling festive. The one in the centre of town is on for another week so get down there for yummy food and get present ideas. What have you been doing that's made you feel Christmassy?
Kate xx

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Wonderful Wednesday #38

My goodness, this has been one heck of a week. With finishing placement and cramming lots into the remaining days I feel like I haven't stopped. Yesterday was my first day where I had a couple of hours to myself. I was hoping for a nap, but alas the pigeons in Plymouth thought otherwise. I spent the afternoon pigeon proofing all the windows so that they couldn't get in again. Oh the joys of student accommodation. Anyway after 10 and a half hours of solid sleep I'm feeling so much more chipper and time to remember all the wonderful things that have happened this week...

1. Dance. I've always loved dance and used to do lots of shows when I was younger, even studying it for a bit at school. However it's been years since I did or saw any so I jumped at the chance to go and see Rambert dance company at Plymouth Theatre Royal. The fact that I won the tickets on a raffle was a big bonus. So Thursday night saw me and a friend so close to the front that you could see the facial expressions of the dancers. Such an amazing seats and a performance that was phenomenal. My friend hadn't seen any contemporary dance so she was blown away.

2. Christmas lights. The city is looking lovely with it's decorations and lights all up. It definitely brings cheer to 6am very cold frosty walks.

3. Home. This week I have got the massive urge to go home. Not that I don't love uni, but it's been nearly 4 months since I've seen my family which is the longest I've ever been without them. I can't wait to see and hug them. This week I booked train tickets home for Christmas and back in the new year. With less than 2 weeks to go I'm super excited. I've had a couple of lovely phone calls and cards from my family back home too.

4. Dressing up. You know that feeling when you spend hours with your friends getting ready. You're all doing hair and make up and selecting what to wear. Everyone looks their best and you feel confident and good. Yeah, that feeling.

5. Banana and nutella on toast. Just a winning breakfast combination that I never just eat for breakfast. breakfast foods are my favourite and seem to feature in these lists all the time!

6. Fry ups. On Sunday we made a big flat fry up. I really like our flat's tradition of all eating together on a Sunday. We shop together, prepare our food and eat around the table. We're all on different schedules during the week so it's nice to catch up at the weekend. This week a couple of my flatmates were seriously hanging so a fry up was a priority!

7. Big debates. I really like having conversation with people that's meaningful. Things that will deeply affect our lives. This week's topics have been brexit, feminism and our perception of colour.

And now it's over to you. What has been making your week just that bit more special? These lovely ladies have got more wonderfulness to warm your heart:  JoHelenMichelleSarahSallyCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartina and Isabelle. Get involved on twitter with #wonderfulwednesday or comment below.

Kate xx