Monthly Wrap Up

June Wrap Up

Welcome to the second part of 2018!

Hope you all are having a great summer full of warmth and sunshine. Sun With Face on Messenger 1.0

Here’s my recap on all things that were happening in June:

Food

June was quite a self-focused month for me. Apart from reading a lot, possibly to distract myself from how I felt, I have also been figuring out my health, mainly my relatively poor digestion and a complete lack of energy. And it has been tough. I successfully completed the elimination diet programme (which I talked about here a bit here) but not much has changed. Something I find quite challenging psychologically as it’s nice to see some progress to keep the motivation going. I’ve realised this will be a long distance run rather than a sprint as I need to address not only my nutrition but also my stress levels and look at my health from a more holistic approach. I’ll write a separate post on Whole 30 and why I am still on it for those, who may also struggle with Crohn’s-like symptoms, and who may find it helpful.

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Relax

June was a brilliant, warm, sunny month full of walkies with my sweet and extremely loud pup. We found some shaded local river walks, went wild swimming, went swan gazing and generally had a lot of fun. Due to my current health, I have zero energy to do anything but walk slowly and do gentle yoga. However walking in nature has been very restorative and is recharging me for sure. I recommend morning walks, when everything is so quiet and serene. 🙂

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My gardening attempts continue. 🙂 I gave up on those poor lavenders (more on them here). They have been replaced by miniature roses. And I haven’t killed those… yet…

IMG_1076Favourite Movie

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred Hayes is on a mission to find justice for her murdered daughter. With no arrests after seven months, Mildred puts up three roadside signs to goad Ebbing police chief into action. It’s a story full of not entirely likeable, complex characters. I thought the entire main cast was absolutely phenomenal, and Frances McDormand‘s performance was truly outstanding.

Favourite TV Show

 

The Durrells

  • The Durrells 

British comedy TV series. It’s a story of a widow, who moves her four children from England to Corfu in 1935. I love the witty dialog, the Greek setting, as well as a picture of a unique family, that goes through a lot of struggles, but where you always feel a strong presence of love.

Favourite Book

eleanor

  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman my review

A very touching book that talks about some tough topics. Mainly, it addresses loneliness and social isolation as well as mental health in general. I loved both the consistently paced writing as well as craftily developed characters that were driving this story.


Reading Summary

It may seem that I read quite a lot but many of these books were read for a few months and I merely had a few chapters in some of them to finish in June. 🙂

I loved all my picks for fiction, and enjoyed those non-fiction reads as well.

I especially liked Upcycling Outdoors, as it’s full of quirky DYI step-by-step projects. Mind you I have an endless amount of optimism and always start projects thinking ‘how hard can it be‘… and the results are not always ‘ideal’. 🙂 I do want to try some of them though. Wish me luck. 🙂

Fiction

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (review to follow)
  • Circe by Madeline Miller (review to follow)
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (review)
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (review)

Non-Fiction

  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (review)
  • Dear Martha, WTF? by Tricia LaVoice
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental by Natasha Devon
  • Emotional Agility by Susan A. David
  • Kitchen Ideas You Can Use by Chris Peterson
  • Upcycling Outdoors: 20 Creative Garden Projects Made from Reclaimed Materials by Max McMurdo
  • Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Josh Axe

Now over to you:

  • What did stand out for you in June?

Hope you had a wonderful month! 💖💖

Monthly Wrap Up

May Wrap up

Welcome to June! We are nearly half way through 2018… the variable speed of time seriously puzzles me sometimes… some years go by slower than other.. 2018 is somehow flying by… 😉

So what happened in May?

Glad you asked. 😊 May was the month when I decided to become a gardener. I apologise to those lovely plants, but I honestly am doing my best and do try looking after them. My mission is not to kill them even though it seems that way sometimes..

As we are all friends here, I must tell you I am starting to be somehow sceptical about the well-being of my lavender plants. They were blooming when I bought them in April… now they are this woody / shrubby thing. I keep on telling myself they are going through a cycle – but in all honesty, I have absolutely no clue what’s going on there. I have researched gardening YouTube videos, read many articles and know a difference now between dead heading (the danger of reading too many fantasy novels is that words like dead heading tend to trigger vivid imagines in my head… oh dear), light shearing and hard cut back..

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Here are those poor lavenders. Do you think they make it? Those two in blue pots are English lavenders and they are the ones I’m worried about. The white pots ones are French lavenders and they seem to be doing ok-ish I think..

May was also the month when I was really worried about our dog. 😦 We found a lump on his paw and it was growing. He did have it removed and fortunately, his results came back with good news of the lump being caused by viral papilloma. Something apparently quite common amongst young dogs. I was so relieved and happy when the vet called to give us those news. Not knowing what was going to happen felt so helpless. And I found it extremely hard to talk about it. But I did discuss it with James, who was equally worried, and it helped. It is still something I probably want to learn from though.

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Anyhow, apart from me getting some soil on my hands, spending time with the dog and climbing outside, I have also discovered audio books.

Everyone: ‘Vera, audiobooks are awesome, you should try them out.’

Me: ‘Hmmmm, I’m not sure…’

Me in May: ‘Audiobooks are awesome, why hasn’t anyone told me about that…’ 😉

I loved listening to We Should All Be Feminists and Norse Mythology. Both narrated by their authors. Adiche’s voice is something I could listen to for hours. So soothing and beautiful. And I found Gaiman to be an excellent narrator as well. His voice would change with each character and I was imagining Thor’s booming voice and Loki’s sly one.

Do you have any good recommendation on audiobooks you enjoyed please? Was there a particular one that stood out for you? If so, fancy sharing it with me please? Thanks!

Let’s talk lists, shall we? Here’s my May’s reading list:

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – my review here

A thought provoking essay that is extremely digestible as it is told via stories. There is no judgement or hate attached to it. Just an open mind and a vision for better future. Shout out to Kristin for her interesting review that piqued my interest.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – my review here

I absolutely adored this collection. Gaiman’s sharp writing makes those myths extremely modern. They are fast paced and full of action and there is also a lot of humour involved! Shout out to Holly for her wonderful review.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – review to arrive on Monday, 4th June

Teaser: Frost covered wings of cruel winter bring mysterious riders to Lithuanian villages. They travel to the human world via their winter road; steal people’s gold and kill whoever / whatever gets in their way. They are called Staryk and people fear and hate them equally. Three females may be able to stop them. Will they succeed?

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel – mini review to follow next week together with the one below

This novella drew me instantly in via some interesting psychological manipulation. Two females, a game of cat and mouse =  an exciting summer read.

Thanks Norrie for the recommendation!

Homes around the World by Anita Martinez Beijer – mini review to follow next week together with the one above

A beautiful collection of photos accompanied with stories behind those visuals. I am interested in carefully chosen home décor and enjoy knowing the Why behind.

I have purposely not included rating for these.

I am considering omitting my coffee style rating from reviews as I am finding it hard to sometimes compare fiction, non fiction and there are so many nuances between 4 stars, 4 ½ starts etc… in other words, it’s starting to stress me out. 🙂 I know there are bloggers out there who don’t give ratings. I will keep this topic for my next discussion post as I am curious to hear your thoughts. Stay tuned! 😊

My plans for June are following:


Non-bookish:

  • If possible, try to revive those lavenders (please wish me luck!)
  • Create a vase feature in front of our house to make it look welcoming (research ‘hardy plants’!!!)
  • Get our dog myself into running (so far we have done three runs and all I have to say: mixed results…)
  • Do Whole30

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I have been feeling under the weather recently with hay fever being the worst I have had in a very long time. I am currently figuring out my allergies and am doing elimination food experiment in June called Whole30. I have eliminated common trigger food groups and will start slowly re-introducing them back to my meals in July / August. The premise is to find out if I have any sensitivities to these and if so, eliminate them to decrease my body’s inflammation. Which will then hopefully make me cope better with other allergies. Well that’s the theory anyway, I am happy to test it though to see what happens. 🙂

Would you be interested in hearing about Whole 30 weekly recaps? Would someone benefit from that?

Bookish:

  • Listen to another audiobook
  • Finish Emotional Agility by Susan David (nearly there!)
  • Be whimsical about fantasy / thrillers / memoirs / whatever else I may fancy reading that month
  • Reflect about my ARC behaviour… I think I have a problem… 😉

That’s it for now. Now over to you.


What did really stand out for you in May?

It doesn’t have to be bookish, just something you really enjoyed. 😊

And have you tried elimination diet before? And if so, did it work? (please say yes!!!) 😊

Monthly Wrap Up

April Wrap Up

In my March Wrap Up, I was somehow processing how quickly that particular month went by. I must admit this trend continues and I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that we are in May. 🙂 🙂

March was a fairly slow month reading-wise and April felt somehow even slower. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy reading at present. I just simply can not decide what I want to read, which usually results in me staring into nothingness and day dreaming instead. Not that I mind, it’s just a bit hard to write book reviews when you are actually not reading anything🤔

Anyhow, James and I took a week and half off work at the end of April and enjoyed our time off in Dartmoor National Park – a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. It was a serene experience, we would wake up to bird songs, enjoy the tranquillity of moors where wild ponies kept us the only company. Our dog loved it as well and keeps on telling me that we need to book another holiday sometime soon. I better listen! 😉


I managed to read three books in April. I must admit that I loved them all and despite my slow reading pace, there were highly enjoyable reads.

  • Educated by Tara Westover, 5 stars  Review here

This was the book of the month for me.

Educated is a powerful testament of how we can choose to stop being defined by our past. It is a thought provoking memoir that left me with a strong feeling of unease long after I finished reading it.

I’m still thinking about this book and have a feeling it may become the book of 2018. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… there are still many months to go… 😉

  • Tangerine by Christine Mangan, 4 stars  Review here

Tangerine is a psychological thriller that made me pause sometimes to fully digest what I just read. The relationship between two female protagonists was highly toxic and reading about it was unsettling at times. There were many mind games involved and I was engaged till the end.

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, 4 stars  Review to follow next week

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store” was another enjoyable read.

It is not a ‘How to’ guide but rather a memoir documenting a year long journey of a self imposed shopping ban. I have been following Cait’s blog for some time and really enjoy both her writing as well as her thought provoking topics. Its review is to follow next week, promise!


And that’s April done and dusted.

Now over to you my friends.

What was your favourite book you read in April?

Monthly Wrap Up

March Wrap Up

I’m still processing the fact that we are in April. How did that happen? 😀

March went by so quickly. I worked longer hours, went outside with my dog more often and didn’t feel like reading a lot.

I also went to the Czech Republic to see my family and then escaped it all whilst visiting a mountain cottage with my boyfriend in Snowdonia, Wales.

This was our morning view:

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No internet, no central heating, nothing luxurious… just a simple retreat in nature that recharged me after long working weeks. I learned that I love the board game Scrabble. And that Google is overrated… 😉

My critical self wanted to immediately start apologising that I ‘only’ read four books in March and that I haven’t been writing that much or commenting on other blogs recently.

Then I reminded myself why I started this blog and why I want to write this blog.

You see, one of my core values is Creativity.

It’s this wonderfully playful need to make something that keeps me content and brings me a lot of joy.

All those creative souls out there know that creativity is a process and sometimes, doesn’t happen on a whim.

On certain days, I can stare at my blank screen screaming as words just don’t want to come out. Then there are days when I could write for hours.

March was the month of the ‘I don’t feel it’ and ‘even if I feel like it, I can’t write about it’ themes. And that’s OK. 😊

I reflected a lot, connected with a lot of people face to face, day dreamed for hours as I didn’t want to read.. I’m sure you are getting the picture… 😉

I am desperately itching to write and read again. And I am so happy you are here with me. 😊

After a lengthy intro, let’s have a look at March reads, shall we:

  • The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, 3 stars

Slightly disturbing crime debut set in Irish Galway. I read it during St. Patrick’s day and it was a fairly fast paced and enjoyable read.

My full review can be found here.

  • Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman, 4 stars

Another crime read. This one was about head games, revenge and explored how we can forgive.

My review can be found here.

  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, 4 stars

March was the month when I discovered Liane Moriarty. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of amnesia / time travel whilst reading What Alice Forgot. Thanks Norrie for introducing me to this wonderful writer! 🙂

My review can be also found here.

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 5 stars

Yep, definitely the book of March. Wholly cow, I loved this book. I am still organising my scattered thoughts but its full review will be coming up shortly.

It’s a book about friendship but is also very heavy on shame. My favourite psychological topic. Please stay tuned for this one. 🙂


So that’s March in a nutshell.

Now over to you my friends.

What was your favourite March book?