5 Things – 2017 Edition

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So, it’s the start of a new week and the start of the first full working week of the year. And also the final time that I am going to get reflective about the year that has just passed. So I’m going to talk about the 5 good things that happened last year.

1) I got a pay rise – It seems kind of ridiculous that this is the thing that tops my list, but it happened twice this year and so it is. My job is my main cause of stress and this year it really ramped up, especially over the last quarter of the year, so this almost makes it worth it. Almost.

2) I went on holiday – An actual honest to go holiday where I didn’t have to do anything. I spent a week just lazing about and eating and getting some sun. Just truly taking some time off and get way from all the stress just felt really good.

3) I saw Hamilton. Twice. – That happened. I’m pretty sure there was a playlist at some point in 2016 where it was effectively all Hamilton songs. Part of me had resided myself to never seeing it because there was a part of me that didn’t think it would transfer over to the West End and then it did. And of course the tickets went on sale when I had to go into a meeting. But my mum got tickets in the pre-sale and so we went for dad’s birthday and then R got two pre-sale tickets for the 30th and so I saw it back to back Saturdays. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It was a delightful to close out the year.

4) Exercise – I really upped my game when it came to exercise this year because it felt like my only release from the craziness that was my life and it became a really useful tool for me to try and calm down on occasion and get back to myself. This year was rough mentally for me and things felt kind of helpless for a couple of months, but when it all went tits up I had to remind myself that exercise was there for me and it was always a way to remind myself that I am stronger than I think.

5) Reading – I surpassed my reading goal for 2017 and it felt good. To be honest, it never really at any point felt like I wasn’t going to do it. Yes, there were two books that I wanted to read last year that I didn’t, but it was no stress for me. I read 53 books last year, which is just about more than one a week.  I love reading and I love that I got to do it so much last year.

And those are the 5 things. What about you? What are the things that liked about 2017?

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2017 Reading Challenge, Book 49 – Hamilton: An American Revolution

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We have almost reached the end of my 2017 Reading Challenge books, it was a long road and I really stupidly left the two longest books to the back of the year. Which I did in 2016 as well and had to abandon it, but this year I was determined. By the time the final week of the year rolled around I had 3 books to read, the other two will follow but this one was one of the ones that I had been left to the end of the year:

2017 Reading Challenge, Book 49, Hamilton: The Revolution
2017 Reading Challenge, Book 49, Hamilton: The Revolution

I kind of did that intentionally.

I saw Hamilton on 23rd December and was going again on the 30th and so I left it for that week in between to truly just stay immersed in the Hamilton world.

This book was also under 300 pages, had a lot of pictures and I got ‘er done on Christmas Day.

The book offered a really interesting insight into the process of getting the production to the stage and how all the pieces of the puzzle came together to create the thing that has had a grip of my soul for over two years now…

I found it interesting to see how the choreographer and the costume designer and so many other various people felt the pressure to get it right just because they felt the impact of what this could be. There were loads of parts like that, but it was those two in particular that really resonated with me, especially the choreographer. And also the whole section of It’s Quiet Uptown, not only did I enjoy that it was the only part of black pages and was incredibly symbolic and it somehow found a new to make that song even more painful.

I loved the annotations against all the songs, it revealed new levels that I hadn’t even noticed. It really highlighted that this is an ode/homage/nothing but total appreciation for hip hop and also musical theatre. And comes with bonus Shakespeare references. It gave me a newfound appreciation for the whole play, which I had already but am always down to learn some more about.

If you’re a fan of the musical in anyway I would recommend this book. It’s full of some gorgeous pictures and provides a really great insight into how it moved through from conception to the stage.

4/5 stars

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Final 2017 Check In

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So 2017 has well and truly come to a close even though it’s only been 3 days since the clock ticked over to midnight signalling a new year, but as such I am due a final check in from my 2017 ‘Intentions’. As I mentioned in Checkpoint 5 this one will just be a quick summary of the year as I went quite in depth in that one.

Without further ado, let’s wrap last year up:

1) Take Better Care of My Hair – This has moved along fine. I am getting another hair cut at some point this month because you gotta cut it to get that length. I’m keeping it moisturised and super hydrated. I’ve just gotta keep this up, but I’ve got into a routine with it and so I consider this one a success

2) Take Better Care of My Skin –  I’ve been using Glossier for two months now and my skin feels a lot better hydrated. I’ve dropped tea tree oil from routine completely and haven’t really noticed that much of a difference. I still keep getting breakouts on my forehead but they clear up pretty quickly and I’m currently pretty happy with where I’ve got my routine to.

3) Tone The Hell Up – I never really got my diet back under control and then December hit and then it just all got worse. Not massively or anything, but yeah the diet overhaul that starts next week (because nothing happens in the first week of the year in my life) will be real. Also going to look at my workout breakdown week on week and see what I can change there. Mainly looking at how I can get Pilates/Yoga back into my routine.

4) Start Saving Properly – No, this ended badly. But yeah, this year will be the year.

5) Get Better Organised – This has rolled over into this year. It would be nice to know that it’s a habit come summer to be honest. I’m aiming for it earlier.

6) Try And Be More Creative/Just Write More – I’ve kind of made my peace with where I’m at with this one. It’s been a bit of a mess for the most part but I’m at peace with its status. I’m going to get back to it a bit more this year mainly because I want to finish a couple of things to be tied up and done.

And that’s my final check in for 2017. I can actually only cross two off the list completely and consider them to be habits, which is a third of them…ah well.

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Welcome Back

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Happy 2018! Hope you are all well.

It’s been a while.

And now we are in a new year and just like that I am back at work and back on the daily grind.

The thing about the Christmas period is that it warps time in this weird way. I’ve been off work a little bit over a week and yet it feels like I have been away for months. This happened as well with working out. I went to Pilates on Friday (which in itself feels like a lifetime ago) and while I was walking to the studio I was trying to remember when I last went because it felt like it had been ages, it had only been a week. My body had just adapted to that Christmas living real quick and my muscles had been given a chance to fully, fully recover and then I went and stretched them all out and worked them in the quietest way possible and my body thanked me for it.

It was a good workout to end the year with in one that for the past few months had included workouts that were pretty much all go, go, go. It wasn’t that that was bad, but my body did enjoy the slightly lower tempo, even though my lats on Saturday were not messing about. It was pleasant though.

Christmas was just spent with the family and we played Trivial Pursuit and I drank a lot of Baileys Chocolate Luxe and ate sooo much food. I pretty much did not stop eating for the whole week until Friday and then I started trying to balance it a little more. I didn’t balance it very much but I started to tip the scales to being balanced more than it had been. It was mainly because I am aware that over the next week I am going to get it back to normal and I didn’t want it to be a whole 180 shock for my body when it happens.

New Year’s was uneventful, mainly because Aunt Flo felt the need to wake me up and then wiped me out until about 4pm. I had a shower and then lay back in bed with my dressing gown and felt sorry for myself whilst watching La La Land (which I liked, but didn’t love, but I can get why there was hype around it). When I finally started feeling a little bit more human I took to tidying up a little. I decluttered my make up bag and organised it a little better. I threw out all old beauty products that I had stocked up before I then overhauled my entire skin care routine (I didn’t even know I had some of the stuff that I found which maybe shows that I have a hoarding problem) thus making them redundant. I cleaned my make up brushes. I felt like I accomplished something and it didn’t take as long as I had feared.

Actually I said it was uneventful mainly because of that, that’s a lie. I never do anything for New Year’s other than sit in my house and watch the fireworks on TV while drinking and for the past couple years eating a massive Indian. That’s it. The day is pretty much just the same as any other for me. Buying into the hype is just stress that I don’t need in my life.

I’ve also spent the last week trying to think about what I want to achieve this year and that post will come shortly as well as some other little reflective pieces about the year that has passed. There are also some books to finish reviewing from last year before I get into this year’s reading challenge, which I have already pretty much set…so that will be the next few days on this blog.

That is pretty much it from me now.

How was your festive period? Have you set any goals for the year yet?

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Checkpoint 5

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This check in is late I think…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I honestly cannot figure out the timings of it. I’m pretty sure it’s late. It should have happened last month but November was otherwise engaged and so it has to open December, which is gonna be festive-ish I guess. I’m not a big Christmas person until it gets to about the 20th and then I’m over it come the 27th. That’s it, you kinda get festive me for about a week, but during that week I go hardLike, I wear a Christmas jumper every day and always buy a new one to wear on the day.

This is kind of festive themed I guess. I mean it’s terrifyingly reaching the end of the year and this is the time where people start looking back at what they had intended to do for the year and seeing whether they’ve achieved it or not. This isn’t quite closing out the whole year because I wrote it up when it was supposed to be written but have only just had an opening to post it, the final check in will come some time in January when I do a 2018 version of this, but this is the last comprehensive update of the year. So without further ado:

1) Take Better Care of My Hair – There’s not really much more that I can do with this one. I had my second haircut of the year back in July and I am due another one in January (hell yeah perks of having hair that only needs two haircuts a year). I continue to wash, condition and deep condition my hair each week. Which is arguably kind of pointless given that during this season so far (meaning winter) and the fact that I work out 5 times a week it spends most of its time tied up. But it remains moisturised and there is some length coming to it and it’s plodding along. Leave in conditioners are my friends and I’m always trying new shampoos and new hair masks. I’m kind of done with this one. It’s become a habit at this point.

2) Take Better Care of My Skin –  Okay, so I have moved away from Lush products since the last check in. This happened mainly so I could see what Glossier hype was all about. I’ve got a full post coming about this later this week but it’s come with a new cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. My skin is looking less oily which is good, but the breakouts are still there and I can’t quite figure out why they are happening. I really need to get back to cleaning my face with Dark Angels once a week again for an extra exfoliating kick mid week but I keep forgetting. I mean I’m not treating my skin badly or anything, it’s just decided to go through a second puberty.

3) Tone The Hell Up – Look at some point in October my diet fell to shit and for some reason it now ebbs and flows. I’m not beating myself up about or anything and I kind of make up for it by regularly working out and stuff so I don’t feel bad about it or anything, but I really need to start shaping up with that again. Diet is like half the battle with this one. The exercise is routine now. It happens 5 times a week, I do cardio twice a week, I lift once a week, I do some bodyweight stuff that is basically just planks and squats and I do barre because nothing burns quite like the barre burn. Physically I have baby biceps that come out to play now and I can lift weights now which is changing things slightly and like, I have the hints of abs and my legs are hella toned. Did I do that for the aesthetics? Hell no. I did it to get stronger, to get moving, to help cope with my every day stresses and just really sweat the day away. But the aesthetics of it isn’t a bad thing. We’re approaching Christmas at this point, and while I’m not going to go crazy I’m kind of not naive enough to think that I’m going to completely overhaul my diet in amongst alllll the food. So this will trickle over into a 2018 goal.

4) Start Saving Properly –  Look, this has not gone well this year. It just hasn’t. But I think this is good. It’s forced me to really assess the whole situation properly and truly look at better ways to be saving money and how to get everything under control. So yeah, this has failed. In so many damn ways. But it can only go up from here.

5) Get Better Organised – The diary I bought does get used. But again, it remains super sporadic. It’s habit that I’v never had before and trying to get into one is proving hard for me. I’m choosing Sundays as the day where I sit down and just plan things out. And then I need to keep referring to it. In a similar way to how I do a face mask every Sunday and go through the hair washing process on a Monday, I just need to form a habit of it. And I have the motivation for it, so it’s getting there.

6) Try And Be More Creative/Just Write More – I’ve learned this year that I need to not force this. I need to just let it do what it wants to do. And some days it wants to write 3,000 words in a day and others it wants to write 0. I need to learn to fall into this and not feel bad or feel like a failure when I don’t. I also need to not just let myself fall into a habit where I do not write anything for days on end. It’s just kind of frustrating the way it works, but I need to stop worrying about that. I also think that I am going to start making a habit of just writing for half an hour each night, and not just for this blog but outside of it. It’s just half an hour and yeah sometimes that half hour will fly by in a flurry or words and sometimes it won’t. I just need to roll with it and not fight it. My NaNo attempt was behind from day 2 and it sucked, but it wasn’t the end of the world and realising that lifted a huge weight that I hadn’t even known I was carrying.  So yeah, I have written more and I’ve also not, but this is a ongoing thing for me and I have written a lot of stuff so I consider it a win.

And that is the 5th and final full check in for my 2017 goals for the year. Some have been good, some have been truly ignored and nothing has come from them. Some of them are ongoing beyond just this year and this was just the foundation for them.

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I had a goal for the month. I wrote about it on here and bought a new diary and everything.

The goal was simple: get more organised.

Somehow this month ran away from me at cheetah’s pace and it’s now pretty the end of the month and I don’t really have anything to show for it.

I have opened the diary.

I have stared at the pretty pages and read the quotes that are at the top of the page for each week. I have marveled at it and all the possibilities that it holds. I have even written in it.

But for the most part I’ve written in it retrospectively. I’ve sat there on a Sunday and just thought about the week and what I did and then just written it all down to make the week look busy.

I was originally going to approach this a little bit like a bullet journal, and I still will (because yes, I am determined to make this a habit this time), and just make quick notes about tasks I need to do and other events that might be worth noting and all that jazz, but I guess because I am not in the habit of that it’s just not really happening.

I tried to carry my shiny new diary with me but I just kept forgetting about it so it didn’t really add anything to my day to day life. I didn’t refer to it at all throughout the day which means that carrying it around was kind of pointless. And so then I took it out and now I just sort of don’t refer to it as much.

In fact it has just sat on my living room table for the past week or so and I’ve not opened it. But I want to.

The difference between this instance and all the other countless attempts is the intention. I mean yes I kind of bought the diary because it’s very aesthetically pleasing, but it is also for the first time kind of holding me accountable to get my shit together.

It’s nowhere near as together as I would like it to be, but I feel like come the next check in I do for my goals this year that there may actually be something to report on regarding this particular one..watch this space.

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I’ve quite liked going a bit more in depth with some of my goals for the year. I did it last week with my skin care and I’ve gone on a bit about my exercise routine (which may actually need updating…or I might do another version…or something. We’ll see) and also how that has really helped to change my mindset and made me feel better about myself.

I have also done a couple of posts about my hair, because I have become one of those people that just will not stop talking about my hair. That mainly comes from the fact that I borderline hated it for most of my teen life and into my early 20s and now I finally love my hair. And I am going to continue in that vein again today and talk a little bit about my new best friend.


The bathroom is heaving with a lot of my hair products these days (which means I am on a hair product buying ban until I’ve run them all down…) and most of them include the word ‘conditioner’ in some way. I’m a little obsessed. I like to know that my hair will be well moisturised at all times and with whichever product I happen to grab in the morning.

So, this is a list of all the ones I own and what I think of them.

Starting with the actual conditioners, there is only one that reigns supreme in my life and that is:

American Cream: This product is my everything. It’s so thick and creamy and it has great slip. It makes detangling my hair a total dream as I rake my fingers through it to get rid of all the major knots after a week of doing very little of that. It’s also super hydrating which is really good and makes a nice base to the deep conditioning mask that I then put on once I have rinsed this out. I used to find the smell a tad overwhelming. I mean it was nice but it always felt like a bit too much, but over time I got kind of used to it and it’s been something like a year now and I quite like the reassuring aroma that comes with flipping the lid come wash day. I finished this beloved product of mine yesterday and so it will not be in my life again until I finish my other conditioner.

Superdrug Hydrate and Shine Conditioner with Coconut Water: Which is this one. I’m gonna be honest, I’ve never actually used this conditioner as part of my wash day process. I bought it to take with me to Greece, one just in case I did need to go through the whole wash day process while I was out there and two to take with me to the beach and rake through my hair once I got out of the sea. Because the sea is dehydrating as hell and my hair likes moisture. So I used it for that, and it was my hair’s saviour, for real. It was hydrating and kept my curls in check in all their salt water drenched glory. I’ll find out on Sunday how it actually works in my wash day routine, but I imagine it will be fine.

And those are the conditioners. Onto the deep conditioners, for which I have many. An alarming amount. It almost overwhelms me how much choice I have when it comes to putting one in my hair. Most of these have instructions that say to leave them on for 15-20 minutes. I promptly ignore all of those and just leave them on my hair for hours. I tend to just rake them in, tie my hair up in a bun and live my life for a bit. Sometimes I run errands, sometimes I go work out, sometimes I just watch some stuff on Netflix. My hair doesn’t seem to mind it.

Superdrug Hydrate and Shine Conditioning Mask with Coconut Water – I think I’ve used this once so far. It was fine from what I remember of it, but it’s never been one that I reach for come Sunday when it reaches that time. Honestly, there is no real reason for this, I prefer others to it. Next weekend I’m going to finally use the whole Superdrug Coconut Water range for the first time in conjunction with each other (I own the shampoo as well) which will be a first for me.

Shea Moisture Jamacian Castor Oil Grow and Restore Masque: I love this mask a lot. It’s really thick and again has good slip which makes detangling a total dream. The smell is a bit odd. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I feel like it is a bit medicinal and sometimes it smells just fine. Also my hair drinks this stuff up so much so I use a lot of it, but even though I use loads in one go, the tub lasts for quite a while. But to be honest that may be because it takes me a while to cycle back around to it in amongst the others that I use.

Olive Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak: I always forget how good this stuff is to my hair. The slip is insane. It is so good at detangling my hair as a result of that. I used it yesterday and left in my hair for around 4 hours and as I was detangling with a wide tooth comb my curls looked so good and revitalised. So many of these masks are really thick and I like that. This one is also really light. I put so much of this stuff in my hair and you wouldn’t even really know until I was combing it out and it all starts to collect on my ends. It also smells really good and is very, very hydrating.

As I Am Hydration Elation Intensive Conditioner: I have slowly fallen harder and harder in love with As I Am these past couple of months. This deep conditioner is everything. Again, it’s so thick and my hair just drinks it up. The tub doesn’t look that big, but it has a solid 6/7 uses in it and that’s taking into consideration that I go real hard with the application of any and all deep conditioners. It coats my curls so well and again also has really good slip. I love anything that makes detangling easier. Bonus for this one, it smells ah-mazing which is in and of itself enough reason to totally love it. I think this one is my current fave, but I only have one treatment left of it, so I’m reluctant to pick it up because when I do it will be gone until I run out of them altogether…

Hask Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing Deep Conditioner: This came in a sachet that I used the day I got back from Greece, because my hair was crying out to be washed as it had been over a week by that point. I picked up a couple of Hask deep conditioner sachets before I left just to throw one in my suitcase just in case a wash day was required. It wasn’t, but I had them and so I decided to give one a try. Oh my gosh, this product was incredible. I do not know if you’re supposed to get more than one treatment out of this sachet or not, maybe if your hair isn’t as thick as mine you can. I could not and so I squeezed every last but of product out of the sachet and let my hair soak that shit up. Which is exactly what it did, my hair on that particular day loved this product. It smelled amazing, didn’t feel too heavy and left my hair feeling so hydrated after a week in the sun, sea and sand. It was also very hydrating. I have a charcoal (surprise, surprise) one of these also knocking about my house somewhere which I am looking forward to trying just to see what that does to my hair and whether I will have found another charcoal product to add to my obsession…

Once I have detangled, rinsed the deep conditioner out and wrap it up in a micro fibre towel for about 10 minutes I then apply a leave in conditioner and tie it back in some kind of bun situation (sometimes I plait it). I then come back to leave ins on days when I cannot be bothered to wear my hair loose and need to know that my hair is still being moisturised while it is tied away out of sight. I’ve also ended up with a lot of these, and I have repurchased one of them because it is my absolute fave and also quite a key component to one of my styling methods so being without it was not an option.

As I Am Leave In Conditioner: This is the repurchase in question. It is so moisturising and so delightfully good to my hair. I have finally got the ratios right with this and the second styling product that I use (which is currently the As I Am Doublebutter Cream) which gives me perfect results each and every single time now and makes my hair look so good. This product is also great for when I just can’t be bothered, although I’ve been running low so I had to look at other products for that, which is why the repurchase was required. It also smells incredible. Like oranges, which I happen to like the smell of but I know not everyone does. It’s citrusy but not too in your face with it. It’s my fave.

Shea Moisture Jamaican Castor Oil Leave In Conditioner: I haven’t been reaching for this one as much recently, although I do still really love it. I think it just has a bit too much slip for day to day wearing for me and that means that if I put too much in by accident (which is easy to do when you scoop it out of the tub) it collects in my ends in a really big way and you have to spend more time removing all the white product out of the ends. Again also the smell is a bit hit and miss, I’m currently in a phase where this particular tub smells really chemically and not like the peppermint-ish smell that it previously has had. I’ll probably reach for this a bit more when a couple other of my go-to’s run out.

Shea Moisture Shea Detangler: This is a more recent purchase just so that I could give it a try. I don’t really know how I feel about it. On the one hand I do think that it is very moisturising and it’s great to put through my hair after I’ve gone through the whole washing process (which I did yesterday). I don’t feel like it helps with detangling anymore than other products I use. Also if it goes on slightly dry hair then it takes a while to soak into my hair and I spend a lot more time raking it through to make sure there are no white streaks then I would like to. The smell is nice and neutral though which I like and it leaves my hair feeling soft. I’ve used it in conjunction with another styling product once and hated the results so I may have to give that another try on hair that isn’t going on 10 days old.

R&B Hair Moisturiser: I gotta be honest, I forgot that I had this product until the other day when I remembered suddenly that it existed. I haven’t used it in so long. It’s just not one that I reach for all that often. I don’t even really remembered how it reacted in my hair. I know it used to do great things when my hair was really awful, but what it would do now? Haven’t a clue. I used to just coat my ends with it after the gym to keep a bit of hydration in it but it never really went beyond that. I mean, at some point I am going to have to return to it, but I think I just fell a bit out of love with it because at one point it was the only thing that worked in my hair and now there are so many other products that do such great things and so it’s fallen a bit behind.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Milk Dry Hair Mask: This is a 3-in-1 product that i have only every used as a leave in. It’s super nourishing, smells really good and is really thick. It doesn’t have too much slip which I guess is a by-product of the fact that it can also just be used as an outright hair mask, but that isn’t too much of a problem and I tend to just rake it through and then tie my hair up. This is a product that is best used when hair is damp, veering towards wet, as opposed to damp, veering towards dry as it applies better. Or at least it does in the case of my hair.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Sleek Restorer Balm: I think I impulsive bought this and I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be used as a hair mask but it has the same consistency as the other one and so I use it as a leave in. It’s not my fave, it dries in my hair a bit weird and makes my curls feel crunchy, which is probably the strongest indicator that I should really rinse that shit out instead of leave it in for 24 hours at a time. It also doesn’t smell all that nice, which is weird because it has both cocoa butter and coconut oil in it and independently they both smell lush. I’m not gonna rush to repurchase it and I’m wondering why I did so in the first place.

And those are all (I think) the conditioning products that I currently own and where I stand on them. I’m currently running them all down and then sticking to a two of each rule only (except for with actual conditioners because we all know which one rules the roost there). And I say two of each because I need options and to make sure that my hair doesn’t get complacent and start getting unruly.

And also, I’ve just written nearly 2,500 words about conditioners, so congrats to you if you made it this far!

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