A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

On What I Read In 2014

Last year I rounded up what I'd read over 2013 and what I'd thought of it on Goodreads. It was a lovely way to not only reflect on the year in a personal way, but to also look back on what's been read over the past 365 days, so I thought I'd do it again this year! 

My reading goals for this year were to :: 

1. Read 30 books (in the hope of increasing the 28 I managed last year).
2. Read 3 classics.

So, without further ado, this year I read ::

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot 4/5
2. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle 2/5
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 5/5
4. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 5/5
5. Requiem by Lauren Oliver 3/5
6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss 3/5
7. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald 3/5
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 5/5
9. A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks 4/5
10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 5/5
11. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 4/5

12. Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher 4/5
13. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 5/5
14. The First English Revolution by Adrian Jobson 4/5
15. You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher 4/5
16. Democracy by Ross Harrison 3/5
17. Eat My Heart Out by Zoe Pilger 3/5
18. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer 4/5
19. Allegiant by Veronica Roth 4/5
20. Christmas With Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher 3/5
21. The Thread by Victoria Hislop 5/5
22. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan 5/5

And currently reading ::

23. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I didn't hit my goal of reading 30 books this year then (boo!). I'm going to put it down to doing a lot of reading for school which meant I had to devote a lot more time to books that needed more attention than I might usually give. Let's hope that in 2015 I can get the number of books I read back up into the late twenties. I did, however, read four classics this year and had aimed for three so I'm pretty proud of myself for that. 

I'd say that the real 'stand out' book for me this year is The Kite Runner. I know it's been talked about millions of times but, having read it, I can assuredly say that there's a reason and it's that it's so wonderfully written in describing such a fragile topic. The Kite Runner woke me up to a very real problem in today's world and, as always, any book that makes me think and reflect and learn has to be a winner for me!

What have you been reading this year?

Monday, 29 December 2014

On Christmas 2014

Christmas this year was lovely. It was just what you'd want it to be - a really relaxing day with my nearest and dearest. We spent the day eating, chatting, and playing with the kids. The only trouble with Christmas is that it always seems to be over in the blink of an eye, and I can never quite put my finger on where it's gone!

On Boxing Day my sister, dad, niece, nephews and I went for a long walk around a reservoir in Yorkshire. Having stuffed my face the day previously, it was great to get some fresh air and take in the beautiful countryside.

On Boxing Day evening, we were graced with snow, which was lovely. Although the snow can be a bit of a pain, especially after a couple of days when it goes all sloshy, I think it's incredibly beautiful and it definitely kept the festive feel going for a few extra days.

The next morning we all went sledging and came home after to have oreo hot chocolates, which was absolutely perfect. I got home from Yorkshire this afternoon and, as you can see from a few snippets of the past few days, I had a wonderful time. I'm going to go and catch up on lots of Christmas tv now and am hopefully going to do some baking from my new recipe book that my Dad gave me tomorrow. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

On The Lead Up to Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you'll know that it's Christmas Eve that is more important then Christmas Day in Romania. This has always worked out well since my parents divorced as it means that I get to spend Christmas Eve with my Mama and Gran and Christmas Day with my Dad and the rest of my family. I'll be up bright and early tomorrow, therefore, (although, who isn't up bright and early on Christmas Day?!) to drive up to Yorkshire with my Dad where we'll stay with my sister and brother-in-law for a few days. 

I can't wait to relax in Yorkshire with my niece and nephews and the rest of the family and have a little break from the internet to concentrate on them. So I thought I'd just round off, having finally finished all my present-wrapping, with a catch up on what I've been up to over the past few days in the lead up to Christmas - told mostly in pictures with a few captions. I'll be back from my sister's on the 29th so will hopefully write soon after that. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones and a wonderful wonderful new year!

Harry & I had a walk round Winter Wonderland yesterday. 
We stopped for lunch at ASK which was delicious.
This photo was just before me and the girls dug into the most amazing brunch, served with pink champagne, at our friend Laura's.
A before photo of my friend Serena's Christmas party.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

On Secret Santa

Isn't secret santa such a lovely tradition?! I know I've  probably gone on about traditions far too much for anyone's liking recently, but, for me, the lead up to Christmas and Christmas itself is a time for old and new traditions to take place and, being the creature of habit that I am, that makes me very happy.

The tradition of secret santa is no exception and so, with the prospect of a double secret santa in one day on the cards, yesterday was a wonderfully festive day. Once we finished for the holidays at lunchtime, all of us girls got changed and hopped on the bus to Bar Estilo. Having tapas at Bar Estilo with the girls has become a bit of a tradition in itself so it was no surprise that we headed there to celebrate the holidays finally having arrived.

Once we'd ordered enough tapas to leave us so full we would hardly be able to move, we finally got to open our secret santa presents. It was so sweet to watch everyone open their presents and mine from Emma was great. Half of the presents pictured are from Emma, half from my friend Lucy. Emma got me the chocolate Father Christmas, the gorgeous rings, the not so gorgeous framed photo of myself, and some washing up gloves - a long running joke the group have because I'm always so reluctant to wash up! It was such a nice present, especially considering when I found out that it was Emma who had me I was very worried about what she might get me as I know the lengths she could go to to make fun of me!

I couldn't avoid not moving after tapas in the end as I had to catch the train to go and see Rosie, Hannah, and Lucy and do our secret santa. Rosie picked me up from the station in her car having just passed her test (side note: I'm incredibly jealous and wish I could afford a car too!), and we met Lucy and Hannah in Costa for a hot chocolate and to catch up while opening our secret santa presents. It's still odd for me to not see these three everyday like I used to so time spent with them is really precious.

Lucy had me and got me such a perfect present. She bought me the Accessorize hairbands that don't tangle in your hair; ideal for me as I'm forever getting hairbands tangled in my long hair, some lovely printed photos from the past few years, and her new favourite book, The Night Circus. That girl always hits the nail on the head with me, I really loved my present from her and can't wait to start The Night Circus!

So that was my day yesterday, I wholeheartedly recommend doing secret santa, especially if you can do two in one day, to get you in the Christmas mood and to have a lovely time with your nearest and dearest.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

On My Happy List #02

I break up for the Christmas holidays tomorrow which has put me in a particularly Christmassy and happy mood so I thought I'd take five minutes to make a list of what's making me excited and lifting my mood at the moment.

1. Christmassy things. As pictured, I've made a little corner on my windowsill all Christmassy with a light up angel snow globe, a mini Christmas tree, and the Christmas penguin my Gran gave me. This, as well as beginning to wrap presents and write gift cards, have definitely got me in the festive mood and have me immensely looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not to mention how happy my Mum bringing home my favourite mince pies (the secret is they have cranberries as well as mince meat) has made me - you can't beat a good mince pie in the lead up to Christmas!

2. Kind-hearted people. Sometimes I think it passes me by how lovely and genuine some people really are. One of my Italian teachers from last year brought in a panettone today and we had a chat about how everything's going whilst enjoying a slice. It sounds soppy but I really do believe that the teachers who you can tell care make the biggest difference, and there're the ones I think I'll remember for years to come. So it was lovely to have that chat and be reminded of how wonderful a number of people truly are.

3. Christmas games/quizzes. In keeping with the Christmas theme (because no one can tell me now that I have to shut up about it when it's only NINE days away), we've been playing lots of Christmas games/quizzes today which has been really fun. Christmas pictionary, charades, and just general Christmas knowledge quizzes were played rather competitively and much more fun than doing work!

4. Catching up with friends. I know I mentioned this in my last happy list, but it's something that always makes me incredibly happy and it just so happens that I caught up with my friend, Tudor, over the weekend. He's just started his first year at university in England and he stayed at ours' before flying home yesterday morning. On Sunday evening we went out to Five Guys, which was *delicious*, and talked about a number of things, as always. We worked out that we've known each other for six years now, which just seems crazy and also really cringey thinking back to then when I was only twelve years old!

5. Taking time out to write. Because things have been so busy this term it feels like I haven't had time to write as much as I'd have liked to. I can't promise that this will happen, but I'm hoping that over the next three weeks I'll have a little more time to devote to writing and reflecting, and that definitely makes for a happy Anna!

What's making you happy at the moment?

Monday, 8 December 2014

On A Whirlwind Weekend & Two Years

This past weekend has been a bit of a whirlwind, in the best possible way. I started off Saturday morning by going for breakfast with my Mama at Bill's. Bill's really is my favourite place to go for breakfast and never fails to hit the spot whatever kind of breakfast mood I'm in, of which there can be many!

(One of my favourite photos of us.)

I then went to meet Harry to celebrate our two year anniversary. It seems crazy to me how quickly the time has gone and that we've now been together for two years. But it's also been so lovely to celebrate and I've never been happier. We went see his friends' band play at a Christmas fair (they were great) and then had some lunch there before going back to Harry's house. It felt so Christmassy around all the pretty stalls with Christmas music playing and drinking a glass of mulled wine. Mulled wine is definitely something that has suddenly grown on me. I had never been all that sure of it but recently I have to say I've really started to love it and must to agree with my friend, Kate, who described it as 'Christmas in a cup'.

Back at Harry's he gave me my present. As pictured, Hans is the fluffiest, cuddliest, cutest teddy bear I've ever owned. He's so soft and lovely to cuddle and it made me very happy to be given him! Harry and I decided just to do little presents as Christmas is so close and to go out and spend money on that instead for our anniversary. We went to this wonderful Italian restaurant. All the staff seemed to be Italian, the atmosphere was great, and there were Christmas crackers on the table; of which Harry won both, boo!

We shared a starter and I had the pasta penne pollo for my main, which was absolutely delicious. Although, for some reason I felt full really quickly and was only able to eat about a quarter of my pasta. It's so unlike me to get full so easily but the staff were great and made me up a little doggy bag which I had for lunch on Sunday! On the way back to Harry's we picked up a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to eat while watching a film.

Then on Sunday we had a bit of a lazy day, watching the Graham Norton Show and talking in front of the fire until I made my way home. It really was a lovely lovely weekend and I feel very grateful for all the good things and people in my life.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

On St Nicholas Day (Sfantul Nicolae)

As I've probably mentioned before, the maternal side of my family is Romanian. So yesterday morning I woke up to this little package on my boots from 'Saint Nicholas' (read: my Gran!). It's a tradition celebrated in a lot of European countries which, if you're interested in, you can read about here and here. It's a lovely little tradition in which Father Christmas leaves both children and adults alike a little present in their boots to wake up to on the 6th December. It's almost like a little preview of what's to come at Christmas, which is always such a wonderful thing to wake up to just a few days into the festive period!

This year St Nicholas left me a beautiful top (in my exact size, how clever of him!) and some delicious truffle chocolates that I'm sure won't be around for long. I'm trying to be a little healthier at the moment but have rapidly realised that this is the most ridiculous time to attempt to be healthy; it's the greediest time of the year! Anyway, I digress. It really brightened my morning and reminded me how great my Gran is - she never fails to make sure both me and my Mum have something waiting for us on our boots for St Nicholas day. Festive traditions really are the best, aren't they?
Blog Design Created by pipdig