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

The final 15 things to do before I turn 40

With my 35th birthday (and thus the end of my 35 before 35 challenge) exactly one month away, I thought it was time I posted the third and final part of my 40 before 40 list. Part one is here, with the first 15 items, and part two is here with 10 more. That leaves 15 for me to reveal today.

Bird

  1. Get a dog
  2. See the Northern Lights (rolled over from the last list)
  3. See a play on the Seebühne (floating stage) at the Bregenzer Festspiele.
  4. Make chicken Kiev – you can’t get them here and surely it can’t be that hard?
  5. Get the tattoo I’ve been planning for a while – first I have to find a decent tattooist and someone who can draw it for me!
  6. Bake and decorate a cake
  7. Read The Canterbury Tales – my grandma bought this for Jan a few years ago and neither of us has even looked at it yet!
  8. Get a new dining table – we currently have 2 IKEA cheapy ones, which are fine (except that one has been on the balcony and is looking rather weathered!) but by the time I’m 40 I want to own a half-decent table!
  9. Remove all my books from my dad’s house, either by having my dad take them to charity shops or bringing them to Switzerland. I usually bring a few over every time I visit. By the time I reach 40 I hope to have completed the process!
  10. Bring my doll’s house over from England. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do this but it’s mine and I want it!
  11. Go whale watching – this was on my last list and I still want to do it!
  12. Take a trip to the Farne Isalands. I haven’t been since I was a kid and I’ve been meaning to take Jan for years.
  13. Get to my goal weight… but I’m not telling you what that is 😉 I will say that I am 7 kg above it right now.
  14. Take an in-person course or join a group – it doesn’t matter what as long as it’s something that makes me get out there and interact with actual people. (Scary!)
  15. … I am leaving the final one open for now. If anyone has any suggestions please tell me in the comments (not bungee jumping). Otherwise I will definitely think of something to put here at some point.

2015 goals

I mentioned a few days ago that I was working on a list of resolutions, or goals, for the year. I know traditionally you’re supposed to have resolutions all ready to go from the 1st of January so you can start making yourself feel bad immediately 😉 but I decided not to do that this year. A few of mine are more goals for after we move anyway, rather than for 2015. Others I already had in mind at the end of last year and have actually started working on. And now, without further ado, I shall get on with it…

  1. Make an effort to get out in the fresh air more. This will be especially important after we move, when I will be working from and won’t even have my daily commute to get me out of the house, but it would have been on my list even if we were staying in Karlsruhe. I spend far too much of my time sitting around at home or in the pub, which may be fun but it’s no good for my health! This year I want to make more of an effort to get outside and enjoy the fresh air… especially when it’s sunny! I waste so many beautiful weekends lolling around in my PJs. If I’m going to avoid the housework anyway, I might as well avoid it somewhere where it isn’t staring me in the face! Also, once I move I will no longer have to leave the house to go to work, so I’m going to have to make a real effort to at least go for a quick walk every day to avoid going mad!
  2. Get more exercise. By which I mean get any exercise at all! Apart from when we’re visiting a city, which always involves a lot of walking, my only exercise consists of bringing the shopping home from the supermarket and walking to the pub. That’s something I’m determined to change this year. I’m sure my health (and my giant backside!) will thank me in the end.
  3. Throw away less food. I’m afraid I have to confess that a lot of what I buy either goes out of date or turns green before I actually get round to using it. Not only is this a terrible waste of resources and the exact opposite of environmentally friendly… it’s also not exactly good for my bank balance. I want to stop wasting food anyway because of the first two points, but the money aspect will become a very real problem once we move and start having to pay Swiss prices for things. It’s time to start paying attention to what’s in my fridge and actually using food up in time!
  4. Save money. Which mostly means curbing my Amazon habit (cheap books are my greatest weakness!) and avoiding buying clothes that I don’t actually need just because they have cute animals on them. Switzerland has a much higher cost of living than Germany and I’ll still be earning the same wage! Saving desperately needs to happen.
  5. Once we move, make an effort to get out and meet people. I am terrible with people I don’t know, especially large groups of people I don’t know. In Switzerland, I’m not going to know anybody and it’s not as though I can make new friends through work. My natural instinct would be to hole up in the flat with my cross stitch and my blog, but I’ve done that before and it was a horribly lonely existence. Making friends as an adult is hard, but I know I need to do it if I’m going to be happy in my new home. Obviously I’m not expecting to find a whole new group of friends straight away, but I want to at least be able to say I tried!
  6. Read 70 books. This is a goal I’ve set for myself on Good Reads, and normally I would say “easy-peasy”! But after March I will no longer be commuting every day, which means I’m actually going to have to purposely make time to read. Wish me luck!
  7. And finally, a goal for the first three months of 2015… i.e. the time I have left in Karlsruhe. While I’m still here, I want to make an effort to visit all those places I’ve been meaning to check out for ages, as well as revisiting places that I enjoyed once but never went back to. Among other things, I need to have high tea at Sukie’s, drink cocktails at Kofferaum again and try the Portuguese restaurant that’s supposed to be really good. And of course it would be nice if we could win one more pub quiz before we go!

I think that’s it. Seven seems like a lot of goals for one year, but I think they’re all realistic enough. Here’s to a fabulous 2015!

2014 resolution recap

We’re already a week into 2015 and I’m only just getting round to recapping my resolutions from last year! Oh well, the new year doesn’t properly start until I’m back at work anyway, and while I was technically back on Monday, yesterday was another holiday in Germany so I’m only just starting to get back into a routine now. That’s my excuse anyway 😉 So how did I do on last year’s resolutions? Well, I actually only made three, and I managed to stick to them all. Here’s a recap:

  1. Travel more. I wanted to at least make an effort to go on day trips, and I managed that plus much, much more, spending time in 8 different countries over the course of 2014! Taiwan and Vienna were just two of the bigger trips I took, with a few day trips to France (Colmar), Switzerland (Basel) and some new-to-me German towns (Bad Bergzabern) thrown into the mix as well.
  2. Keep not biting my nails. Most of my nails are still not long because they insist on splitting, getting caught on things and just generally being annoying. But I can honestly say I haven’t bitten any of them off. Success!
  3. Enjoy the time I have with my boyfriend and stop worrying so much about the future. It’s difficult for me not to worry about the future… I need to know that what I have right now isn’t all there is! But I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of living in the moment and not nagging about what’s next. And no sooner did I manage to starting living in the moment than something came up that meant Jan had to make a decision about our future together anyway. Oh universe, you’re such a tease!

So that’s three resolutions made and three kept. I do have a number of goals for this year, but I’m still busy finalising and thinking about them, so you’re just going to have to wait for that post – by which time I’m sure you’ll all be completely sick of resolution posts anyway so you’ll most likely never even read mine ;-). Oh well, c’est la vie as the French would say.

 

July goals: Update

Hello there! I’m working from home today because the train I usually take to get to work was cancelled and with the next one it was unclear whether/when it would be stopping where I wanted to go. If I’d realised that earlier, I’d have stayed in bed longer! But never mind… this way I started work earlier than usual so I get to have extra breaks.

At the beginning of July, I posted some goals for the month. Now that it’s August, I suppose I should look back at those goals and see whether I actually achieved any of them or not. Making monthly goals is not a thing I usually do (and I won’t be making any for August… goals and birthday month don’t mix!).

  • Complete the 30 day squat challenge.
    I actually did it! Okay, it ended up being more of a 33ish day challenge because I inserted a few extra rest days when my thighs went on strike and refused to even consider the number of squats I wanted to put them through that day. I see no difference in the size of my thighs, but Jan claims they feel firmer so there’s that.
  • Be more careful with my money.
    Meh. Sort of. More careful than in June anyway, although I still had slightly less left at the end of the month than I would have liked to, especially sionce I assume I am going to need a lot for Taiwan!
  • Lose 2kg before my brother comes.
    Well, I got half way there. Lost 1 kg before my brother came. Now I’m down to 1.5 kg lost, although it fluctuates a lot. The scales did show the weight I was aiming for once last week, but I think it was just a fluke.
  • Not a combination of ingredients I would have thought of myself, but utterly delicious!
    Not a combination of ingredients I would have thought of myself, but utterly delicious!
  • Complete the summer reading challenge.
    Those who read my last post will know that I did not, in fact, complete the challenge. I still have one book to go.
  • Eat fruit.
    Wellll, I had some raspberries in a glass of spritzer, ate two whole apricots in July and also had a mago and avocado salad (amazing!) one night while my brother was here. Not quite as much as I was aiming for, bit it’s fruit so I’ll take it 😉

So, there you have it. A semi-success, I suppose. I would have liked to save more money and do better on the fruit front, but this is better than nothing.

July goals

I don’t usually do this kind of post, but this is supposed to be a place for me to gather my thoughts and what I’m thinking about right now is goals for the month 😉 Also, our internet has been flaky since we got home, which has kind of thrown a spanner in the works of the Vienna posts. It’s difficult to upload photos when the browser keeps telling you it’s unable to connect!

  • Complete the 30 Day Squat Challenge! I had to restart because I didn’t do any squats in Austria. I’m now back to day 4 and this time I actually want to finish it.
  • Be more careful with my money. I did waaaay too much online shopping last month (mostly buying books and summer clothes), and when I checked my bank balance just before we went to Austria I nearly had a heart attack. Of course, it didn’t help that the TV licence people took their money, which doesn’t happen every month. In July, I need to budget better and actually have some money left when my brother comes to visit!
  • Lose 2 kg before my brother comes. That will put me 2 kg above what I weighed after I had my wisdom teeth out. I can’t believe I’ve actually put on 4 kg since then (almost back up to my original weight!) so I’m determined to get at least halfway back to that weight!
  • Complete the summer reading challenge. I should be able to read 2.5 books by the end of the month, right?
  • Eat fruit! I’m terrible at it because whenever I buy fruit it goes mouldy before I can consume any so I end up not bothering to buy any more. But this month I want to buy some and actually do something with it before it’s too late!

That’s all. Five things sounds like it should be doable. Especially since some of them I’ve already started anyway… I just need to actually stick with them this time!

 

We cant ALL be beautiful…

It really annoys me how women’t magazines and self-help books are always trying to get me to believe I’m beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Every woman is beautiful! No matter whether you’re fat, thin, tall, short, wear glasses, have funny looking arms all you have to do to be beautiful is believe it. Now look in the mirror and repeat 10 times “I am beautiful”. Do that every morning for 21 days (the amount of time it takes to form a habit) and… taa daaa! You too shall be beautiful!

Sorry, but NO. It doesn’t work like that. Believing my hair is blonde will not make it so. Believing I’m a musician won’t magically improve my singing voice. So why should believing I’m beautiful magically make it so? There are millions of people in the world… it’s simply not possible for every single one of them to be beautiful. What they should be telling us to do is be okay with not being beautiful.  Concentrate on the good, yes, but don’t ignore the bad. Pretending I don’t have a big bum won’t make it any smaller, but learning to be ok with it might make me feel better. This is my new goal. Who knows, maybe it will even work…

In which I go slightly overboard on the brackets…

Work was pretty good today, but busy. Very, very busy. It’s only Tuesday and already I’m exhausted! So instead of doing some washing (which was my plan for tonight) I’ve spent the last 20 minutes ordering books from Amazon as a “treat” to myself (for what I’m not sure). This Internet shopping malarkey is really bad for my bank balance! But on the plus side it means I’m actually getting somewhere with one of my goals… I’m up to 9 books read from the never-ending list (5 of them in January… no wonder the past month seems to have flown by without me even noticing – I’ve apparantly spent most of it with my nose in a book!) plus one German children’s book, whcih I am counting towards the 101 things list even though I technically read it for my dissertation and not because I desperately wanted to read a book by Eric Kästner. I really need to start reading some non-fiction books though… I’ve been saying for ages that I want to. Instead I find myself going through my Amazon recommendations, adding even more books to the list (can you believe the boyfriend actually has the never to tell me he finds it difficult to choose birthday and Christmas presents for me? There’s a ready-made list full of the perfect gifts just sitting, waiting for him to pay attention to it!). I failed on the monthly photo theme again (maybe 50 photos was a little too ambitious?) so it’s good to know I’ve managed to get somewhere with something…

I’ve also started to get back into cross stitch lately. A few weeks ago I picked up a project that I stopped working on months ago and I’ve come surprisingly far since then. It was supposed to be a birthday present for Jan’s mum in 2008! Hopefully I’ll actually manage to get it to her this year. I have until November, which should be do-able as long as I don’t stop again…

Ooh, and I’ve just realised, the package that arrived for me today is probably another cross stitch kit that I ordered… a wedding sampler for one of the couples I know who are taking the plunge (Yes, you read that right. I said one of the couples. There are a few…) I hope it is – I’m really looking forward to getting started on that one.

Recent reads

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I got books for Christmas then I went and ordered some for myself from Amazon. There were three in particular that I found myself eagerly reaching for every time I had a spare minute (and it just so happened that all three of them were on The List. January has been a good month for crossing off books – and it’s not even over yet!). Since I enjoyed these so much and I’m sure none of you want to read about how I unblocked the shower all by myself I thought I’d make today book review day instead. Enjoy!

Emma and Me by Elizabeth Flock
Told from the point of view of Caroline, known a Cariie, an 8-year old girl living wih her family in Toast, North Carolina. For Carrie, life is divided into the time before her father was killed, when everything was good, and the present, where she has to put up with a drunken, abusive stepfather and a mother who doesn’t seem to care. The “Emma” of the title is Carrie’s little sister, who seems to be the only person who really cares about Carrie. When Richard announces that the family is moving across the state for his new job the two girls try to run away, but Richard finds them and after that they are treated worse than ever. In the new town Carrie befriends a neighbour, Mr. Wilson, who teaches her to shoot. From then on the book rapidly moves towards the crash that has been coming since the story started, and a surprising truth is revealed. I can’t say any more without ruining the ending, but the twist certainly came as a shock to me!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I’ve been meaning to read this one since it came out, but somehow never got round to buying it so I was very pleased when I received it as part of my Christmas present from Jan.
Nine-year old Oskar Schell, ameteur inventor, jewellery maker, tambourine player and pacifist, finds a mysterious key left by his father who was killed in the September 11th attacks. The key is in a container labelled with the word “Black”. Realising this must be a name, Oskar decides to go and talk to everyone in New York City with the surname Black, hoping to find out more about his father in the process. As Oskar searches New York, the story of his Grandfather, who survived the Dresden bombings, is woven into the book. Eventually the two stories come together and the story ends on a hopeful note. It’s a sad book, which is only natural considering the subject matter, but it’s also humorous in places with a lot of touching moments. Recommended.

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
17-year old Karen makes love to her boyfriend, Richard, for the first time at the top of a mountain. A few hours later she goes into a coma, which she stays in for 17 years. 9 months after falling uncious, she gives birth to a baby girl, Megan. Richard chooses to stay close to Karen, visiting her regularly in the nursing home and taking care of their daughter, with the help of Megan’s mother. Karen and Richarrd’s group of friends from high school drift in and out of the story, but eventually all end up back in the town where they were all born. Then, one night, when he entire group have ended up at the hospital for various reasons, Karen wakes up. To Karen, the world seems to have changed for the worse, while her friends have barely changed at all. Nobody seems to have time to relax any more and people are getting shallower and shallower. A short time later, a plague sweeps across the world until the group of friends (plus Megan) are the only ones left. They adapt, as humans tend to do, ending up sitting around watching TV and eating tinned food. Then they are told that there is a way for them to go back to before the world ended and stop it from happening…
I wasn’t too keen on the end of the book… the solution is a little too simple and the tone of the last few paragraphs doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest, but overall I thought this book was excellent and it certainly makes you think! (Karen definitely has a point with her remarks on technology and lack of leisure time!).