Half-yearly goal recap

(Alternative title: Help, the year is half over already!)

3-sky
The sky’s the limit…

Now that we’re six months (plus a week and a bit) into the year, I wanted to take a look at the goals I set for myself back in January and see how I’m doing with them so far. Maybe decide if I want to change anything or add some new ones for the rest of the year. When I made my goals, I split them up into categories so I’m going to do the same again.

Reading goals

  • Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:
    • 10 should be non-fiction
    • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list
    • 20 should have been on my to-read list before 2019 started

I have actually read 94 books already, so I think it’s fair to say I’m doing okay with this goal! I’m thinking of upping it to 150. Another 56 books by the end of the year seems reasonable. Of those 94 books…
– 1 was non-fiction (actually one and a half, but I don’t think the half counts…)
– 5 have been from the BBC Big Read list
– 28 were physically on my shelves (and therefore my to-read list) before 2019 began. I have also read some others that were on my Goodreads or ancient, pre-Goodreads handwritten to-read list but were only acquired in 2019. Having this as a goal has been a real motivator. Whenever I go into work, I try to pick a book that’s been around for a while to take with me… and being stuck on a train for ages also means I will actually start it if only due to a lack of alternatives.

Overall I’ve been doing pretty well on my reading goals… apart from that damn non-fiction one! I’m going to be trying much harder with that one for the rest of the year. And I will be taking Big Read books on the train with me from now on! I think should have enough trips to work before the ends of the year to be able to meet my goal of 12 books…

I’m also going to add one extra reading goal:

  • Re-read four books that I own and decide whether I actually want to keep them or not

In the past I’ve kept most of the books I read (with the exception of ones I really hated and a few that I forced myself to get rid of before we moved to Switzerland) but that means there are a lot of books on my shelves that probably aren’t really worth hanging onto. I decided to do this after re-reading a book that I couldn’t remember whether I had read or not and discovering that I actually had, it was just really forgettable. Since then I’ve re-read two books on purpose and ultimately decided they weren’t worth keeping (in fact, one turned out to be a Bookcrossing book so it really should have been re-released after reading anyway! Oops.) but now it’s been added on to the goals list it’s official ;-). Four seems like a reasonable amount to fit in between all the unread books I feel like I should be giving my attention to. I also want to re-read Good Omens before I watch the TV series (waiting for it to come onto the BBC) but I already know I will definitely not be getting rid of that one!

Cleaning goals

  • Deep clean once per month. To include:
    • Cleaning the bathrooms including mopping floors
    • Cleaning the kitchen including mopping floor and cleaning the oven (bolded because I will clean that damn oven regularly if it kills me! Gah.)
    • Changing bedding
    • Dusting
    • Hoovering, taking away recycling, etc. as needed (although I do those things regularly anyway)

YES… I have actually been doing this! I did skip a couple of months during the renovation, but I then did an extra, almost month-long deep clean in June as I attempted to get all the dust off everything. And my new oven has a cleaning setting, which mainly seems to involve burning all the dirt into oblivion? I dunno… but result! It also tells you when it wants to be cleaned, which is fun. I am hoping that I can keep up with it for the rest of the year, but we’ll see…

Healthy eating goals

  • Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg on at least 3 days per week
  • Have nuts/fruit as snacks instead of chocolate and crisps
  • A maximum of 2 cups of black tea per day
  • Drink at least 2 pint glasses of water per day

Umm… *whistles nonchalantly*. Well, I’ve done okay at some of these. I drink enough water on most days and I’ve only rarely gone over the 2 cups of black tea limit (when I was really tired). Snacking is so-so… I have cut down on crisps and started snacking on dried fruit/nut mixes more often but I still definitely eat too much chocolate. But when it comes to my 5 a day… nope. I’m lucky if I eat five portions one day a week. I probably average around three (often all three of them in one meal) but I have to confess that there are days that I only manage one portion. And there have even been days that I haven’t eaten a single one. Those days are rare but do happen. So I really must try harder with this one. I will continue for the rest of the year and try to dream up some ways of motivating myself to eat more fruit and veg. Maybe I need to make myself a star chart like a small child?

So overall an okay first half of the year. Let’s see if I can make the second half more than just okay.

Did you set yourself any goals for the year? How are you getting on with them?

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Going plastic-free (ish) for July

5-coffee

You may or may not know that I am passionate about the environment and do my best to recycle and live as sustainably as possible (which it turns out is more difficult in Switzerland than it was in Germany). Yesterday, I read a post by Steph in which she calls on her readers to participate in Plastic Free July. <- Click that link to read all about it; I had never heard of it, but it’s a real campaign, not something she made up. I loved the idea and decided I want to join in.

You don’t have to go completely plastic-free, thankfully – that would be next to impossible in the country where I have yet to see milk in a glass bottle. As long as you commit to doing something to reduce the single-use plastics in your life you’ll be doing your bit. And who knows, you might find you don’t actually need the thing you decide to give up and carry on your commitment beyond July.

For myself, I had to think quite hard about what I should give up. I already do a lot of the “easy” things people suggest for getting started. I always have a reusable bag with me when I go shopping (and our supermarkets have paper bags anyway, which I am aware have problems of their own but in the context of single-use plastics they’re not really relevant). I have reusable net bags for loose fruit and vegetables, so I don’t need to use the plastic bags provided. I almost never drink bottled water – the exception is when I’m in holiday in a place where you can’t drink the tap water. I very rarely buy take away coffee – since I work from home I can just make my own hot drinks and if I buy one from a café I’m usually sitting in the café, drinking from a normal cup. I make sure to buy paper cotton buds instead of plastic ones. I buy washing powder in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags – also planning in checking out a local zero waste shop soon to see if they have any washing powder I can purchase with no packaging at all. So what does that leave? Here’s what I’ve decided to do:

  1. No ordering online for the whole of July. While some things come packaged in nothing but cardboard, I can never guarantee that they will and in some cases I know for a fact they won’t! I buy most of my books used from Better World Books (for every book sold they donate one to Books for Africa or provide support for other literacy non-profits) but they always send them in (annoying!) plastic packaging. New Look ships their clothing in plastic bags. And many other companies also use plastic somewhere in their packaging. So for the whole of July I will do my best not to order anything online.
  2. No ready meals in plastic containers. This also includes the ready-made bakery items at the local supermarket – the bags provided for them are paper but they have a plastic window for the employees to see the products. Looks like I am going to have to majorly rethink how I eat lunch in July (I often grab a sausage roll from the shop round the corner)!
  3. Look for alternatives in non-plastic packaging and buy those even if they are more expensive. If there are no alternatives and the item is non-essential, go without. I already know I’ll be making two exceptions: 1) milk – it’s an essential to me; I need it for tea! Plus Jan eats cereal for breakfast at weekends 2) bin liners – the waste system here involves buying stickers to put on your bin bags. The stickers go by volume, so you have to buy the “proper” bin liners in the right size. There’s no way I’m going to be not taking my rubbish out for an entire month at the hottest time of year!

I will be updating you all via my blog (and possibly Instagram) throughout July sou you can see exactly how well (or badly) I do. And if you know of any easy things I missed out let me know in the comments and I’ll try to incorporate them if I don’t do them already. I Also check out Steph’s post if you haven’t already and, once July rolls around, the hashtag #sustainablestephs on Instagram. I would love it if everyone who read this would commit to doing one thing, however small, in July. If we all work together we can surely make a difference!

 

40 before 40: progress report 2

In exactly two months it’s my birthday. I will be 36. Closer to 40 than 30. (And still childless, but that’s not a post for today.) It seemed like as good an occasion as any for another progress report on my 40 before 40 challenge. Not that I’ve achieved a great deal since March, but whatever. We’re doing this anyway.

Number 5: Read the rest of the books from the BBC Big Read that I didn’t manage before turning 35

That’s a total of 63 books, and last time I had read 5 of those. Since then I’ve read two more – Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – to give me a total of seven. Only 56 left to go then.

Number 14: Read 25 non-fiction books

I have read precisely one – Mr Briggs’ Hat: The True Story of a Victorian Railway Murder by Kate Colquhoun. Yeah, I’m not great at reading non-fiction.

Number 14: Read a book published in each year of my life ( =one book each from 1983 until 2023)

Last time, I had read books from 20 years. Now I’m up to 23. You’d think this one would be easy but I keep either reading relatively recent books with publication dates between 2016 and 2019 – years I’ve already completed – or it turns out the books were published in 1978 or something, which is too early. You can see all the ones I’ve read here.

Number 16: Try 10 foods or dishes that I haven’t had before

I managed to eat two new-to-me foods in Spain! In Ronda we went for tapas and I tried oxtails. I’ve had oxtail soup before but this was my first time trying them not all blended into liquid. And in Cádiz Jan and I both tried a cold garlic soup, which is an Andalusian speciality. Both were delicious. With the one I had eaten last time around that leaves me with seven more new foods to try.

Oxtails
Oxtails and chips

And that’s all I’ve got for you today. I’m hoping to have crossed off a big chunk of the books for each year of my life by my next check in. Wish me luck!

 

40 before 40: progress report #1

St Chrischona TV tower

Since it is somehow 13th March already, which makes it exactly 5 months until my birthday and the end of year one of my 40 before 40, I thought I would give you a little progress report. Not that I’ve done much in the seven months since my last birthday, but I do have a few things to report on.

Number 2: Beat Jan at mini golf

Jan always beats me at mini golf and I was determined to beat him at least once. Amazingly, I actually managed this just a couple of weeks after starting the challenge. You can read about it here.

Number 5: Read the rest of the books from the BBC Big Read that I didn’t manage before turning 35

At the start I had 63 left to read and since last August I have finished five of them. Outlander, Trainspotting, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Woman in White and The World According to Garp.

Number 14: Read a book published in each year of my life ( =one book each from 1983 until 2023)

So far I have read books from 20 years, which is almost half (I need 41 in total). You can see them all here. Of course I have read multiple books for some years, but only the first one counts.

Number 16: Try 10 foods or dishes that I haven’t had before

I ate veal kidneys in Yverdon-le- Bains. Admittedly by accident because Jan didn’t know the French word for kidney so I only knew I was getting veal something. But it still counts!

Number 22: Visit a new place in Switzerland for each letter of my first name

So far, I have visited four – Burgdorf, Einsiedeln, Lugano and Yverdon-les-Bains. Not in that order. I actually went to Yverdon-les-Bains first. Nothing like beginning at the end 😉

So only one thing actually crossed off but quite a few in progress. Not a bad start. Obviously I won’t be able to complete number 14 until the year I turn 40 because I can’t read books that haven’t even been published yet 😉 but hopefully I will have a few more things completed the next time I check in… whenever that might be.

2019 goals

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Random photo of healthy looking food because it seemed fitting…

Yes, I’m late jumping on this bandwagon because it’s taken me this long to decide on most of my goals for the year. Also, how is it that we’re an entire week into the New Year already? (For the record, I initially typed 2018 in the title so clearly my brain hasn’t caught up yet). My goals fall into three basic categories: reading, cleaning and healthy eating. Here they are:

Reading goals

  • Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:
    • 10 should be non-fiction
    • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list
    • 20 should have been on my to-read list before 2019 started

Cleaning goals

  • Deep clean once per month. To include:
    • Cleaning the bathrooms including mopping floors
    • Cleaning the kitchen including mopping floor and cleaning the oven (bolded because I will clean that damn oven regularly if it kills me! Gah.)
    • Changing bedding
    • Dusting
    • Hoovering, taking away recycling, etc. as needed (although I do those things regularly anyway)

Healthy eating goals

  • Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg on at least 3 days per week
  • Have nuts/fruit as snacks instead of chocolate and crisps
  • A maximum of 2 cups of black tea per day
  • Drink at least 2 pint glasses of water per day

My one other goal/wish/hope for 2019 is, of course, to get pregnant again and this time actually get a baby at the end of it, but that one is kind of out of my hands (thanks useless body!) and therefore doesn’t really belong here.

I won’t ask what your goals are because I feel like everyone who isn’t me actually managed to decide and post theirs before the year was a whole week old!

40 before 40: Beat Jan at mini-golf

Hello friends! Well, I didn’t expect to be able to tell you this soon that I had crossed something off my 40 before 40 list (and actually I’m posting this late since it happened nearly 2 weeks ago!).

The Sunday before last Jan and I decided to go and play mini-golf. Before we left, he remarked that I should really practice against someone else if I wanted to eventually beat him because if I only play him he also gets a chance to improve every time. As it happened, on this particular day I actually did better than usual (which still isn’t particularly good, as you will see – but only one 7!) and he was having kind of a bad day and so, most unexpectedly, I won!

Photographic evidence:

minigolf

So, one goal down, 39 to go…

35 before 35 – the results

6-tea+candles

It has been three whole days since I turned 35 so I suppose you could say this post is late. I’ve been trying to think how to write it. After all, there’s not much point in just re-listing all the things I had planned to do when you can just check the master list here and see all the things I have an haven’t done. So, instead, a summary:

Out of 35 goals, I completed 18. That means I did not complete 17… so I did just over half. Of those I didn’t complete, I only read 21 out of 50 non-fiction books, so less than half for that one, but I read 69 out of 132 books for the BBC Big Read, meaning I managed more than half for that one and only have another 63 left to read before I turn 40.

Number 27 on my list, spend the night in a wine barrel, I’m just not that bothered about any more and number 3, learn Spanish, was a silly goal anyway. What does “learn Spanish” even mean… how much would I have had to learn in order to consider it complete? For number 33, have a poem published, I can say I tried. I submitted three poems to a competition and not one of them got through. Not even an honourable mention. I was quite proud of one of them as well! Oh well, their loss… right? 😉

Overall, I am very pleased with what I did manage to do. The main goal was to be able to look back when I turned 35 and be able to say I have done things with my life… I have read, learned, travelled and had experiences. And I can certainly say that! I may not have managed to see the Northern Lights (yet) but I did visit not just one but two new continents (overachiever ;-)) having travelled to both Taiwan and New Zealand in the past 5 years. Drinking champagne in Champagne and seeing three World Cup rugby matches were fantastic experiences and 69 BBC Big Read books isn’t bad considering the length of some of them (looking at you Anna Karenina). Now on to 40 before 40! I have a feeling the next five years are going to be interesting whatever happens with my list 😉

Taiwan
View of Sun Moon Lake from Wen Wu Temple, Taiwan