Monday 30 December 2013

New year's resolutions? Not for me!

*Sings* Christmas is over, Christmas is over, hooray hooray hooray!

Don't get me wrong, I actually quite enjoyed Christmas this year (don't tell my family) but I'm still glad it is behind us.  We have the new year to look forward to now.  A fresh start.  That's my positive angle on the whole new year thing.  The negative one, is that it's just another day so calm the fudge down. So don't go and join the gym, or go on a diet (you can only do those on Mondays anyway) just act normal!

If you want a fail safe way not to do something in 2014, write it down as your New Year's resolution. Before the start of a new year we have oodles of optimism in which we write our resolutions, but soon enough the January blues kick in and we end up depressed due to lack of achievement and self discipline.

Have you ever kept a resolution?  I think the problem is, a year is too long for the goals we are setting.  If you want to make a resolution about weight for example, how are you going to remember what weight you were on the 1st January at the end of the year? And say you want to loose 5 pounds you might do that by February and then put on two pounds, loose four, gain one etc. etc. and by the end of the year you don't feel like you've achieved anything.

When you think of your new years resolution you need to remember that the goal is a whole year away.   It is unlikely that your aim of going to the gym once a week for a year is going to really work.  I think it is very difficult to come up with a decent resolution that at the end of the year you can go "I did it. I stuck to my resolution all year".  If you can… well done, and if you can without getting punched by your friends… doubly well done!

I have come up with two options to deal with the new year's resolutions (there's no need to thank me):

1) Don't make resolutions in the first place.  They are normally made on a drunken whim and you will regret it in the morning but feel you should at least keep it for a day. On January 1st however you realise that becoming the next Maria Sharapova is a lot harder than you first thought because you can't actually play tennis (despite being excellent at the grunting) and you don't like Evian water and once again by January 2nd you've failed.

2) I don't actually have a second point (soz).  I was going to say, come up with a resolution that only lasts for a week or a month but how depressing would it be if you can't keep something going for a week?  And I'm sure most of us can't, think of all those diets that start on Monday and end on Tuesday. No we can't just shorten the goal.  Point two is void.

I didn't have a plan when I started this post, I thought maybe whilst writing I would come up with a brilliant answer to the new year's resolution conundrum but alas I have not.  What I have done is convinced myself further that they are a waste of time, energy and space.

On the 1st January I will not go for a run, eat less or get up early.  New year's resolutions, go fudge yourself!

Happy New Year!!

Thursday 12 December 2013

"So... what are going to do when you graduate?"

There are two questions in life that make you want to punch people, over and over again.  The question above is one of them, the other is "So… are you still single?"

I understand that people are interested to know but there is a time and a place (that time and a place being in a careers office).  There are only so many times that you can have the most awkward conversation with someone that goes something like this:

Person: Have you decided what you're going to do after university?
Me: No.
Person: Oh right, well don't worry too much dear, not many people do, do they?
Me: Mm.

That's it, there is no response.  I started trying to come up with ridiculous jobs to see what people would say "yeh so I'm going to become a milkman" "a milk woman don't you mean?" "no a milkman. I'm going to have a sex change and then become a milkman."*

*I never said that to anyone don't worry!

Anyway, anyway, I wanted to tell you that it gets better.  That even though you may go through the whole of school and university not knowing what your going to do with your life, thinking that everything is pointless and stupid, it does gets better.

I'm a girl that likes a plan.  I want my life mapped out, well at least the next year.  I spend most of my childhood convinced I wanted to be a primary school teacher.  I think I lived quite a closed childhood and thought that that was all that was out for me.  I went to university and realised the world was a lot bigger than I had first thought.  There was so much out there that I wanted to do or could do.  I was studying Childhood Studies at Bristol University and during the first year I had some massive wobbles.  I didn't like the course very much (it did get better) and I wasn't that keen on being away from home.

My world had been opened up but I was still doing my narrow course on childhood.  There were so many opportunities out there that I wanted to do but I was restricted by my course.  Or at least I thought I was.  I started trying to think of other courses that I might want to do instead.  Business maybe or… or what?  That was my biggest problem.  There was nothing else I wanted to do.  I couldn't see myself doing anything else. The only option was to continue with my course and hope it got better.  Although I didn't want to work with children I convinced myself that getting a degree from a top university was in itself a great achievement.

I still want to be a teacher one day and I have the utmost respect for them but for me I feel that I am settling if I choose that as a career path.  This led to difficulties when I was asked that question, what are you going to do?  I didn't know.  I didn't want to work directly with children, if at all, but I couldn't see myself doing any other job.  I started to resent my course because I thought that I would never use any of the knowledge I'd spent three years learning.  Each week I would think of a different career path; educational psychologist, TV producer, TV researcher, journalist, writer.  You name it, I'm sure I considered it.  My time at university was coming to an end and I was getting worried. Luckily my Dad came to the rescue.  He gave me two pieces of advice:

  1. You don't have to like your job.  It's a bonus if you do but it's not a given.
  2. How will you know what the right job for you is unless you give some a try?
The second one has been the most useful.  I started doing some work experience in a field (not an actual field with mud and grass I hope you understand?) and that led to more work experience, which has now resulted in some paid work and a paid internship. I'm not going to tell you were it is, that's not the point.  I'm not even sure this is the career path I want but it's a start.  I need to go down this metaphorical road for a bit and see where it leads.  

I was so over excited the other day when stuff I learnt on my actual course was relevant to real life.  I never thought that day would happen.  There are still other roads I want to go down.  Some are running parallel and some might be at the end of the road I'm on (I'll stop talking about roads now I promise).  

This world is horrible for the graduate but you've just got to claw onto something and get dragged along for a bit before you claw onto something else.  One day like me you realise that it wasn't all as pointless as it once seemed.  I've still got a long way to go.  A really long way to go (I've got to get an actual job for starters) but for once I'm excited to see where I might go.

Don't lose faith when you have no idea what you want to do and yet another person has asked you the dreaded question.  Just pick something, anything and run with it for a while.  

In the past people used to have one job and stick with it.  We don't have to do that.

Good luck - it's a tough old world out there and I'm still only in the outskirts.

Katie :) 

ps. Listen to S Club 7's "Reach"whilst reading this (mainly just for lols but also because of the lyrics - no one knows just what the future holds, there ain't nothing you can't do, there's a whole world at your feet… (lyrics from memory btw) - they were very wise souls S Club 7)

Friday 15 November 2013

Dawn walk with pictures

I read this blog post yesterday Early morning frost from Littlenestbox and one of the things in life I love the most is frost and autumn.  I decided that I was going to get up early (7am - practically still nighttime) and go for a walk and take some pictures.

Easy enough you would think.  I am really not a morning person.  I may be a mutton at heart but when it comes to mornings I am a full on teenage lamb.   I want to be able to do mornings, I really do but I just can't.  I just get tired and grumpy.  I told my aunt last night that I was getting up early.  She laughed and then said, "Shall I still say goodbye to you now" (she was going away for the weekend and leaving at half seven).  Rude, I thought but actually I agreed with her and said goodbye.  I was still going to put my alarm on for 7 but the chances of me emerging from my room were slim.  No I wouldn't be writing this post if I hadn't made it so yes at 7 O'clock this morning I actually awoke rather perkily.  I still had a few minutes hesitation after I had switched my alarm off but shock horror the lamb arose.  When my aunt saw me she said "the world's gone mad", or at least I think she did.  I may have been up and out of bed but I sure as hell wasn't 'awake'.

I have obviously seen dawn before.  I got up at 7 to go to school every morning but I have never before wanted to get up that early (except I suppose when I was younger and didn't understand sleeping in).  I have never before wanted to get up and subsequently go for a walk that early.  This was new and exciting territory.

I wrapped up in hat, gloves, scarf and coat and set off into the woods.  It was so calm and peaceful.  Just me and my music and the cold crisp air.  There were only a couple of people around and I could get back to my thoughts.  I took hundreds of pictures but here are my favourites.  I think people must have thought I was mad taking so many pictures but as I said autumn and frost are both things I love and with the dawn light they were extra beautiful.

I really recommend you taking a walk on your own in the early (for me at least) morning.  Just be with your thoughts and let the fresh air refresh you for the day ahead.  Don't forget to wrap up warm though!

Frosty skeletons sprinkled with icing

Sky ahead

Through the leaves

Through the wire.


Looking into the unknown

Sun effects

Morning has broken, like the first morning…

I came home and picked some flowers
before settling down with a nice cup of tea in my favourite mug.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Writing Christmas cards

I've been meaning to write this blog post for weeks but I kept putting it off (I see a new years resolution coming).  It's not that I don't want to write it, I've just been busy… I think!

Anyway anyway anyway.  This is a blog post about Christmas (that's Christmas by the way and not Xmas or Chrimbo.  It's always Christmas) cards, a sort of follow up to the Letter Writing post from last time.  I wrote an article for my local newspaper and I wanted to expand on here.

As December looms and with Halloween firmly behind us, there is only one word coming out of everyone lips, Christmas.  I still think it is a bit soon but needs must.  The cake must be baked, the presents bought and the cards written.   (Before I go on, if you haven't started yet, I want to congratulate you for not thinking about Christmas before December and then I want to say when December does present itself… RELAX! And actually that goes for everyone - just RELAX when it comes to all issues surrounding Christmas, it really doesn't matter)  There is a lot of anguish that surrounds Christmas card writing and I want to put a few things straight.  Firstly and I think most importantly, you don’t actually have to send them to everyone you’ve ever met.  You don't actually have to send them at all (and despite the picture above, it is not the sole responsibility/duty of the women/wife).  

One of my pet hates is getting a Christmas card with only ‘love from so and so’ on it.  No names, no message, not even a Happy Christmas.  No effort has gone in to it.  My other pet hate is Christmas card newsletters.  Nobody wants to hear how amazing you and your children are getting on.  I don’t know who these people are that send them because everyone I know cries when they receive them, and then burn them.

I want people to re-think the whole Christmas card debacle.  We need to go back to writing them like writing letters to friends we don’t often see.  We don’t need to send a Christmas card to someone we met once on holiday and haven’t spoken to since.  I also don't understand why people don't automatically buy charity Christmas cards rather than commercial ones from WHSmiths.  WHSmiths don't need your money they really don't.  Charities need your money.  It doesn't matter which charity, it can be a charity that rehouses curtains for all I care as long as it means something to you (if you have an argument as to why I should go to WHSmiths instead then please let me know).  Another option is to make them, especially so if you cut down list and don't have to make hundreds.

And finally... please, please don’t send cards just for the sake of it.  The whole of England, let alone the world is stuck in a Christmas card loop and it needs to stop.  Let’s all send cards because we want too, and because we want to spread the Christmas joy with those we love.  

Basically, you probably won't be getting a Christmas card from me!

Katie :)

Sunday 3 November 2013

Letter writing

When was the last time you wrote a letter? Last week? Last month? Last year? Have you ever written a letter?

I'm not talking about writing a letter to your bank or your gas supplier, or even to your child's teacher.  I'm talking about good old fashioned letters that you send to your friends and family.  I have recently taken up writing to my friends because they are all away at university.  I know I could text them or Skype them but writing a letter is fun for me and I think just that little bit more personal.  There is nothing more exciting (apart from opening your stocking on christmas morning) than seeing your name on an envelope on the doormat.  For most of my life the only letters I've received were from my bank telling me I have no money (does this ever change?).  Apart from thank you letters the only letters I remember writing were to a girl I met on holiday in Corfu when I was seven or eight.  I received very few letters until I went to University.  Then everything changed.  I received letters from my step mum and my aunt (I used to goad them on so that I would get more letters!) and occasionally from my friends.  This was great.  I loved getting them but I never really thought to return the favour.  It seemed like something that would take ages to write and I would have spoken to them to tell them all my news in the letter before they received it.

This all changed however when I graduated.  I had no job and no friends as they had all gone back up to university.  What should I do, I thought?  As I've said I loved getting letters when I was at university so I thought I would surprise some of my friends with letters.  But what should I write about?  I didn't want to write about my life because quite frankly there was nothing new or interesting going on.  My letters would go as such…


Today I got up at 11 and had breakfast.  I checked twitter for as long as I could muster and then decided to get dressed.  I looked at a couple of job applications but it was almost lunch so I stopped.  I went shopping in the afternoon but didn't have any money so came home.  I'm going to watch Lewis AGAIN tonight because there is nothing else on.  I spoke to you on the phone yesterday and relayed all my news so there is not much else to tell you.  I'm going to have a cup of tea now.  Speak soon.

Lots of love Katie xxx

Nobody wants to read that now do they?  So I decided that comedy was the best form of writing - writing as somebody else or as an exaggerated version of my self.  I have written letters to my friends explaining to them why I want to live in sherwood forest with robin hood (well who wouldn't?).  I've sent letters as Rose from Titanic expressing her love to Jack.  I've sent letters about overhearing a conversation with two middle aged women who want to start a war on poo.  I've sent the most random letters that I hope have brought a smile to some of my friends faces.  That is all I've ever wanted to do - make them smile.  That is what I think a letter should do (unless you're delivering bad news but maybe don't write bad news in a letter?).  You can do it in your own way, write what you want, as long as your recipient smiles when they're reading it.

Give it a go.  Make someone smile.  It doesn't have to be long, maybe start writing postcards before moving onto full size letters.  It's really rewarding and you might wake up one morning with a reply on your doorstep that makes you smile.

Katie :)

Wednesday 23 October 2013


What with Halloween just round the corner I thought we should have a little think about.  Just a little one...

Are you going out trick-or-treating this year? Are you going to put out a nicely carved pumpkin? More importantly are you going to feel at all guilty about doing so?

(my pumpkin from two years ago)

October is a strange month.  It marks the beginning of dark, gloomy days and dare I even mention the ‘C’ word, Christmas.  It’s not actually the beginning of Christmas though is it, because Christmas should only be mentioned in December?  October should solely be about falling leaves and Halloween. 

When I was little I never did Halloween.  Partly I suspect because I lived on a small country lane where no one talked to their neighbours but mainly because my mum didn’t like it.  We were allowed to put out a pumpkin but because no one lived on our lane no on ever saw it.  It was pumpkin for our eyes only.  I never questioned it until my friend invited me to a Halloween party.  She and most of my friends were shocked that I had never been trick-or-treating (or trickle treating as I spent most of childhood believing it to be called).

The reason my mum didn’t like it was because she thought it was rude and unkind to demand sweets from strangers whilst issuing threats of turning their houses into a scrambled egg.   Being completely unaware of Halloween traditions I had no idea why I would ever feel the need to egg someone’s house.  I just wanted the sweets!  My mum’s other reason was that it was an American tradition (looking back I don’t think my mum much liked the Americans.  Father Christmas for example was never Santa because that was what the Americans called him).

I feel now would be a good time, mainly for my own benefit, to tell you about the origin of Halloween.  According to the well-respected source Wikipedia, Halloween is “the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows… dedicated to remembering the dead”.  Well that doesn’t seem too bad.  I’m a Christian (as was my mother) and as a Christian festival I should definitely be able to eat sweets, right?  Wikipedia goes on to say that trick-or-treating originated from “Souling”, which is the custom of sharing soul cakes.  Children and the poor during Hallowmas would collect soul cakes ‘as a means of praying for souls in purgatory’.  Collecting money or food for the poor seems like a good idea but that is not what Halloween is today.

I really enjoyed going trick-or-treating with my friends and I think it can create a lovely community atmosphere.  However I do worry about those people who are forced into taking part, who don’t want to open their doors to strangers and definitely don’t want their houses egged.  I think the point of Halloween (and a lot of other Christian festivals) has been lost and the present day traditions are really not very moral (I’m thinking mainly about the scariness, for the wrong reasons, of provocatively costumes now).  Nevertheless I think I will always enjoy carving out a pumpkin!

I do also enjoy baking halloween treats.  Check out what I made last year and give it a go:

Katie :)

Friday 4 October 2013


I have just been to the toilet (too much information?!) and I looked in the mirror and was shocked.  There is a lot to be shocked about when you have my face, but my shockedness was from my eyebrows.  I have some 3 main beefs/steaks with the eyebrow.

1.  Why do they grow so fast.  It's not acceptable.  I don't have the time or inclination to continually pluck them but I don't have a choice if I want to look vaguely acceptable.  It is an unacceptable hair-growth-level-time.

2.  Why are they there?  Why do we have two (and in some people's cases one) slug shaped hairiness on our faces.  WHY? I'm not sure I want them there but I also don't think I don't want them there (I'm confused to?) basically...

3. ...Why would you shave your eyebrows off.  I understand that they are annoying and as pointed in number 1, they grow too fast but you are not shaving them off to be unique and saying "Eyebrows,  there is no point to you.  Get off my face and stay off." No, you are taking them off to draw on fake eyebrows.  Why?  Surely a) you know they look ridiculous and b) they are going to grow back so you are just replacing the daily pluck with the daily shave.  Why?

Am I being irrationally cruel toward the eyebrow?

Let me know what you think.

Katie :)

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Baking Wednesday

So I have a lot of baking items to share with you on this jolly baking Wednesday.

My first very exciting bake was making Filo pastry.  I have seen it being made on The Great British Bake Off and with my friend we decided to give it a go.  We decided to give our favourite Kimberley's recipe a go and although it was really really hard work, the result was fantastic.  I took a picture of making the pastry and one of the final product.  If you want something to do in a day, it is very rewarding but it's definitely a once in a lifetime thing!

Chicken, bacon and butternut squash pie:

 The recipe is here: Kimberley's Chicken, bacon and butternut squash pie

The next exciting thing I made was a pizza from scratch.  This was just like making bread but the result was a lot tastier!  I used Jaime Oliver's recipe here: Jaime Oliver's pizza dough.  A couple of tips I would give are:

1. Use a bowl instead of doing it straight onto a work surface - it's much less messy.

2.  It's important not to keep adding flour so the dough is very wet.  This means if you have a standing mixer (a kitchen aid type thing) with a dough hook I would recommend using it instead of trying to knead this very sticky dough.  Do persevere though if you do it by hand, it will come together in the end!

I made a margarita pizza with added black olives.  I tried to shape the base the 'professional' way.  This was a lot of fun but I definitely need more practice! My end shape was more fish/penis shaped than spherical but ah well!

I also made some bread rolls for when my cousins came home.  They worked really well, although I need to improve on my 'slashing' technique.  I used the recipe from Paul Hollywoods 'How to Bake' book.

And finally I made a coffee cake, which looks a lot nicer than it has photographed.  It was from Mary Berry's aga book (a book which I can't live without).  It's so quick to make and tastes great.

Have you done any baking this weekend? Share your success below!

Katie :)

Monday 30 September 2013

Photography - Fire!

We had a bonfire the other night and I took loads of pictures.  I love watching fire, it's very mesmerising.

Fire! Fire! Fire!


Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!

Grass... just cos it's pretty.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Has Bridget Jones been dropped into 2013?

I read the extract of the new Bridget Jones book in the Sunday Times today.  I'm not going to lie to you, I didn't like it.

The problem I have with bringing characters into the modern day is two fold:

1. They don't belong.

2.  The author, and in this case Helen Fielding, feels the need to remind us all that they are in the modern age.  In the first few pages we have to have mention anything that has happened in the last ten years, twitter, facebook, instagram, whatsapp, too many television controllers, controllers, Starbucks, Zumba etc.  I feel as if Bridget Jones has literally been dropped into 2013 and the Helen has gone, "Right what has she missed?  Let's bring her up to speed. She needs to not understand/but want to understand technology.  She must want to do Zumba.  Everyone needs to know that this is 2013, not 2003." It needs to be seamless. Twitter and Facebook have been around for ages now and you either use them or you don't.  Not to be stereotypical or anything but in my opinion if you are Bridget's age and not using Twitter etc. it is unlikely you will and it's unlikely that you will understand.  Would you really be able to reel off Twitter, Facebook, instagram and Whatsapp, if you've never used them?  I would be impressed if you could.

I found this problem with AbFab (a show that I ADORE).  It was as if Jennifer Saunders had to prove that Edina could belong and prove that she was in 2012.  The problem is, we are watching the show in 2012 so she is in fact living and existing in 2012.

Shows that have been created today rarely mention twitter/facebook.  You either see characters using them, or you don't.  If they mention it, it is probably because they don't understand it (that in itself is a very overused joke).  It's a way of live.  It is no longer a novelty.

I want Bridget, and Edina, for that matter to belong in 2013.  They can belong because if they were real (rather than fictional) then they would obviously have adapted to this way of living but it's as if they haven't adapted and that's a big problem.

I do hope the new Bridget book gets better but I'm afraid I don't hold out much hope.  I heard that the only reason it was written was because they wanted to make a film out of it and there was no one good enough (or there was no Helen Fielding screen writer) to write it.  The fact that they have killed of Mark Darcy is surely because Colin Firth refused to play the role if a film were to be realised (it's inevitable really).

There must be writers that can cleverly modernise their characters.  I have the greatest respect and admiration for both Fielding's and Saunder's work but I just don't think they've cracked it.

Let's wait and see shall we?

Katie :)

ps. I did still really enjoy the new AbFabs so maybe I will enjoy the new book even if it's not perfect.