Falling Forward: A Girl & Her Lists

31 for 31 Changes: Goodbye Cycling, hello Couch to 5K

Posted by in 31 for 31, Projects

It’s funny how life changes, isn’t it. When we first bought our bikes we rode them quite a lot around flat, flat Cardiff with it’s pedestrianised roads and lack of inclines. Since we moved house two years ago to the suburbs, however, the poor things have barely seen the light of day. We live on top of a hill and also, conversely, at the bottom of a hill, so either way we cycle we’re either climbing a hill to leave or to get home – no one wants that.

But! I love my bike! It’s cute, it’s fun to ride and it’s quicker than walking. So when I wrote my 31 for 31 list last year I purposefully added “ride my bike 10 times” as a way to motivate me to actually use it. Otherwise what’s the point, right?

Spoiler: It didn’t work. Cycling is hard enough but there were a few things that compounded the issue, for me.

  1. The aforementioned hills. Oh god the hills. I’m still wildly unfit and tackling any kind of incline just wipes me out.
  2. It turns out that when I bought my bike the gears weren’t set up right because I cannot get into any of the first or last seven. Which means, from my choice of 21 I can actually only access seven gears, which doesn’t really help with the hills problem.
  3. Everything is far away. Also, those hills. Everywhere we want to go (Roath Lake, town centre, Cathays) is either up or down a hill and is also a good couple of miles from us. I might be able to get there, I definitely wouldn’t get back.
  4. Traffic. Ah, the biggie. It’s just kind of um, scary, cycling around here. There are no cycle lanes in our part of Cardiff and the roads are big and I’m a wuss.

So! Last time I forced myself out on my bike I realised that I had a slow puncture in my front tire and honestly, I was just so over it. Cycling is great on a flat surface but I just don’t think I want to put the time and effort into learning how to traverse Llanedeyrn. I needed a new plan.

Enter…Couch to 5K.

I know what you’re all thinking – I’m not a runner. I am so much not a runner that I regularly moan about how dopey I think running is and how unlikely I am to want to do something like that. (I am delightful company.) But! as part of my get fit pledge for 2015 I needed an activity that was cheap and quick and running fits that for me (once you discount the £90 trainers, ouch.)

I also needed something to fill the cycle ten times gap so I’ve swapped it to complete Couch to 5K. I’ve already completed 12 of the 27 runs and while it’s been tough it hasn’t been hellish (yet). I think it’s doable? I dunno. We’ll see how I feel in the next couple of weeks when it really starts to ramp up!

I felt weird about changing my 31 for 31 list – I am a rigid beast at times – but I’ve been trying to be more flexible lately. Cycling is a nice idea in theory but in practice, not so much. Instead of beating myself up about it or forcing myself to complete a goal I’m no longer interested in I’ve swapped it out for something that will benefit me. Win win – right?

In the meantime, if you’ve got any running tips or advice I’m all ears – I genuinely have no idea what I’m doing!

#runninglikephoebe4lyf

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Eating lunch in the sunshine
  • Tape measures
  • Fluffy fresh towels
  • Making plans to see your favourite people

What’s on your list this week? :) Let me know if you’ve written a Grace in Small Things post, I love to read them :)

Friday Thanks

Posted by in Friday Thanks, Projects

Dear Stackoverflow,

Thank you for giving people a forum to ask the dopey CSS questions that I also need the answers to, it saves me having to ask them myself.

Love

Sarah

(See the full list here)

2015 Goals: April Round-Up

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

I’m doing a monthly round-up of how my resolutions are going, as a way to encourage me to stay on track and plan goals, rather than leaving everything to the last minute! Here’s my April round-up. 

Progress Made – April

  • 200 sugar free days: 22 (56/200)

This is definitely getting easier! I’m down to about one day a week now where I eat refined sugar, so the next step is to cut out other items that have a high sugar content like fruit juice. No sugar is easier when you’re on a calorie controlled diet because I often don’t want to ‘waste’ my calories on something sugary, heh.

  • Exercise 52 times: 15 (66/52) – completed!

This month was definitely a better month for exercise than March! I carried on with Couch to 5K (I’m now on week four using this app, if anyone is interested), took a ballet class and did some walking too. Next month I want to get back to swimming as I really miss it, and get some more toning/strengthening exercises in. Q is a fully qualified personal trainer now, so I really have no excuse ;)

I’ve actually hit my ‘exercise 52 times’ target, but obviously I’m not going to stop exercising. It was definitely a good motivator tho!

  • Clear my ‘to read’ shelf: 7 (13/48)

I made a big effort to read more books from my to-read shelf this month and it paid off. I did, however, buy a few more books so, er, there’s still quite a lot to get through. This is a recurring theme – I might have to put myself on a book ban for May! Ha.

  • Read 100 books: 13 (45/100)

Almost halfway with this goal now, always a nice feeling. The readathon helped as I read four books in one day, but overall it’s been a pretty solid month for reading!

  • Watch 100 films: 10 (47/100)

I didn’t watch many films this month – a few things on Netflix but nothing special or really of note. Ho hum.

  • Watch 26 films at the cinema: 1 (8/26)

This month was shocking for cinema films. There’s been a real dearth of things we want to watch lately – we went to see Woman in Gold which was okay but other than that, zip. Boo.

  • Weigh no more at the end of the year than I did at the start: -2lbs (-8lbs overall)

I lost less weight this month but that’s okay. Slow and steady and all that jazz. I took my measurements again and I’ve lost 8.25 inches in total since January 1st and I will take that, thank you. I’m still calorie counting, still exercising, still being mindful of what I put into my body.

It’s a funny thing, really. I’ve always known these things are good for me but it’s still a mystery to me why they’re so easy to ignore in favour of something that I know is not. My mindset is changing, tho.

In the same way that it took a while for my brain to click into “no gluten”, I think healthy eating + exercise will take a little bit longer, but I definitely feel happier, healthier and brighter and that’s making it easier to carry on.

Push against my comfort zone

I ran eight times this month, outdoors, on the street. I also ran on a treadmill in a shop full of people and I didn’t want to do it but it was fine. (Learn that lesson, kiddo.) I took a ballet class even tho I haven’t done ballet for about 25 years and it was fun – my comfort zone is definitely expanding, little by little.

Spend less at the supermarket than we did in 2014

Tick tick tick. Buying less “treat” stuff is certainly helping, but mostly just being aware in the first place is keeping us in check.

Be kind!

Lots of surprise gifts given this month. Tick!

Be productive!

(side note: I never thought I’d post so many photos of myself looking stupid on this blog, ha)

I ticked a few things off my 31 for 31 this month (like donating to 31 charities, going to a ballet class, finally knitting the owl sweater and giving 31 surprise gifts) so I’m counting this as done. We did spend quite a lot of our evenings mainlining Community on Netflix but I also did a lot of knitting and blog post writing at the same time, so I think that’s okay.

Finish the library

After the disappearing carpenter didn’t reappear we started the search over again. Seriously – why is it so hard to find tradesmen who will turn up on time and, y’know, actually do the work you want to pay them for?! We’ve had another quote but it’s fairly expensive and now I’m in a quandary. Do we try and find someone cheaper or just suck it up and use the guy we know will actually do the work?

Build a WordPress theme

I made a tiny bit of progress with this, hand coding a landing page for a client and learning some new techniques along the way. I also changed up the layout of this site slightly which always helps me to learn how WordPress deals with CSS changes. I need to throw myself into this one, I think, it’s not going to be easy to learn in dribs and drabs.

Have more patience

This month has been less stressful in a lot of respects which has helped with the patience endeavour. Clearly what I need to learn are techniques for dealing with impatience when I’m not feeling 100% since those are the time when I need patience the most!

 –

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

  • Book recommendations from friends
  • Haircuts
  • Feeling motivated
  • Moomins
  • Seedlings appearing

What’s on your list this week? :) Link me to your posts in the comments, I love to have a nose!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

Posted by in Books, Projects

Readathon complete! : We did it! I didn’t quite finish Astonish Me (I have 130 pages to go) but I did finish The Witches so that brings my total reads up to 4.5 books, which isn’t too bad I think! Q finished The BFG and got partway into The Explorer – we’re both now ready to drop.

Thanks for the fun, Readathonners! Special thanks to the Team Sherlock cheerleaders for their motivational comments – it really helped! :)

Our finished reads (plus two Kindle books)

End of Event Meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you?
I was definitely flagging at around 2am (hour 14). Q was asleep and all the words were starting to blur into one!

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Will Grayson, Will Grayson was great. I’d also recommend The Lover’s Dictionary, Station Eleven and The Ocean at the End of the Lane for quick, fast-paced reads!

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
It would be nice to know which cheerleading team gets assigned to your blog so that you can return the favour! :)

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The hashtag on Twitter and Instagram was a really easy, quick way to keep in touch with what other people were doing. I also thought the cheerleaders were great, that little extra boost was so welcome.

How many books did you read?
4 in total, with two thirds of another and a couple of chapters of two others thrown in for good measure!

What were the names of the books you read?
See below! :)

Which book did you enjoy most?
It’s a toss up between Will Grayson, Will Grayson for the humour and Tales of the Greek Heroes for the mythology!

Which did you enjoy least?
They were all enjoyable :)

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I really enjoyed my first readathon so I think I’ll probably do it again at some point (tho maybe not twice a year!). Next time I’d love to take part in some of the mini-challenges – I fully intended to but time just got away from me this year, oops!

Book Nerd Stats

Time spent reading: 20 hours (ish)

Me:
Pages read: 1206
Books finished: 4.5

Q:
Pages read: 1204
Books finished: 4

Here’s a gallery of our Instagram shots from the Readathon:


This year Q and I have decided to take part in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Mostly because I’ve seen Ellie do it a couple of times and it looks like fun!

For those who don’t know what a 24 hour readathon is: you read for 24 hours, essentially (shocking, I know). The start times are staggered across the world – in the UK it runs from 1pm today (25th April) to 1pm tomorrow. You can try and read for the full 24 hours (or not, the rules are very flexible) but mostly it’s about having fun and (virtually) hanging out with other people crazy enough to attempt it! We’ll be using the hashtags #Readathon and #TheChongsRead (we’re @miametro & @digitalshades on Twitter, respectively) so if you’re not interested I suggest you mute them ;)

Here are the books that Q and I will be attempting. I doubt I’ll get through them all read but I like to have a good selection to choose from in case I’m not feeling a particular book or am finding it a struggle.

My Books

Q’s Books

(in his own words…)

  • FINISHED Terry Pratchett : Guards! Guards! (317 pages) – I’ve already started this so it makes sense to carry on and finish it. Plus it’s got dragons in it.
  • Terry Pratchett : Eric (155 pages) – After it took me two attempts to get started on the Discworld novels I can’t get enough of them now (I think this is number 9?). This one is pretty short too so should be easy to get through.
  • Roald Dahl : The Witches (208 pages) – I figured this would be a nice easy one to slot in between the others to break things up a bit.
  • FINISHED Roald Dahl : The BFG (199 pages) – Ditto above. Plus I haven’t read either of them since I was a kid and it’s nice to go back to them.
  • FINISHED Cormac McCarthy : The Road (307 pages) – McCarthy is one of those authors I always hear about and think I would probably like. Picked this up cheap in a charity shop too. And it’s got big writing and spacing.
  • Robert Crais : The Forgotten Man (416 pages) – These Cole and Pike novels are probably a bit ‘run of the mill detective’ for most people but the two main characters are fun and they’re enjoyable/easy reads. This will be number 10 in the series for me.
  • Started James Smythe : The Explorer (264 pages) – I read and enjoyed The Testimony and The Machine and I always love a bit of sci-fi. Plus it comes highly recommended from a certain someone! ;)
  • FINISHED Sue Townsend : The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (276 pages)

We’re going to attempt to blog some updates during the 24 hours (I suspect I’ll need some breaks from reading at some point! Ha) but instead of cluttering the blog I’m just going to update this post. So bookmark it if you want and if you want to cheer us on at some point then the comments are open ;)

To all the other Readathon participants: good luck! :) See you on the other side.

Update, 4 hours in: I started a little late due to a dentist appointment, but after four hours I’ve made a sizeable dent in Tales of the Greek Heroes (187 pages in) and finished The Yellow Wallpaper. Q is 250 pages in to Guards! Guards! – here’s to the next 4 hours! :)

Update, 8 hours in: We took a 20 minute break during our chinese takeaway to watch an episode of Community – my eyes are thanking me, heh. I’ve finished Tales of the Greek Heroes and have started in on both Astonish Me and Will Grayson, Will Grayson because I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for. Annoyingly they’re both great and now I’m stuck, heh.

Q has finished Guards! Guards! and is tearing through The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole on the Kindle, which I’m itching to have back because holding real books is a pain in the ass ;) He’s overtaken me with number of pages read too, so I’d better get a shift on :P

Update, 12 hours in: Q finished Adrian Mole and moved onto The Road, but has been napping for the last 45 minutes or so. I’m going to try and plough through but I must admit, my eyes are getting pretty heavy! I plumped for Will Grayson, Will Grayson and have been loving it. I’ve got about 60 pages left to go so should finish it before 2am, hopefully!

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green.

2. How many books have you read so far?
2.5

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger as a re-read and Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead as a new read.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Only ones caused by myself! Finding it surprisingly difficult to go for long without checking my phone. Doh.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How quickly the time has gone! It definitely doesn’t feel like twelve hours already.

Update, 20 hours in: I napped from 3:45am to 7:45am after finishing Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I did read a little bit of The Time Traveler’s Wife in the wee hours but I’d forgotten how tiny the text is so that plan didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped! This morning I read 20% of The Book of Lost Things before moving back to Astonish Me. I’m going to take a ‘re-read’ break now and speed through The Witches (hopefully!).

Q woke up and finished The Road and is now making us breakfast to see us through the last few hours! :)

Friday Thanks

Posted by in Friday Thanks, Projects

Dear Cineworld Unlimited Card,

Thank you for making it so easy for us to indulge our love of film. It’s a fun challenge trying to make the most of our subscriptions, and the escape into a different world for an hour or two is always a welcome distraction.

Love

Sarah

See the full list here.

31 for 31: Donate to 31 Charities

Posted by in 31 for 31, Projects

Done! :) This was a fun one to tick off, actually. I didn’t necessarily donate a lot to each one, but that wasn’t really the point of the exercise, more that I wanted to be mindful of opportunities to donate to charity and try and spread the love a bit further! I don’t know how to write this without sounding a bit preachy so let me preface with an excellent quote from the wonderful Amy Poehler:

Which essentially means: I’m happy that worked for you, but I don’t want to do it. We’re not all the same and what I do isn’t necessarily something that I think all people should do. You do you, kids. End of disclaimer!

I’m a fortunate, privileged person, something I am becoming more aware of. I have a roof over my head, I can pay my bills and most months I have money left over at the end to do what I want with. I live in a country with running water, electricity and free healthcare, I can vote without fear and I have a great deal of autonomy when it comes to my life. I am so privileged, in fact, that I am able to forget my privileges often. They’re not things I have to think about – because I have them.

The world is a funny old place and the more I read and hear about the rest of it the more I realise that I should be doing more to help, for the simple reason that I’m in a position to. Part of this realisation has come from the books I’ve been reading lately. Currently it’s Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and recently it was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please – both food for thought type books. I’d recommend them! :)

So. I feel like giving to charity is a happy way for me to be able to share my fortune with others who are struggling or who don’t have the same privileges that I do. I added this goal to my 31 for 31 this year and you know what? It made me feel good, so I’m going to carry on doing it. So that’s nice too.

31 Charities

  1. Above & Beyond
  2. Bluestone Foundation
  3. Oxfam
  4. Plan UK
  5. Tenovus
  6. Woodgreen
  7. Wateraid
  8. Cancer Research UK
  9. Trinity Hospice
  10. Royal Marsden Hospital
  11. Kidney Cancer UK
  12. Child’s i
  13. Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity
  14. Sense
  15. Unicef
  16. Ferguson Municipal Public Library District
  17. Age UK
  18. NSPCC
  19. Kiva
  20. Wikipedia
  21. Marie Curie via Swimathon
  22. Comic Relief
  23. The Big Issue
  24. Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital
  25. RSPB
  26. The Research Institute for the Care of Older People
  27. IKEA Woodland Trust
  28. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
  29. Macmillan
  30. Save the Children
  31. Huggard Centre

Things I learnt:

  • If you let me donate via Paypal on your website I’m 100% more likely to do it. I never seem to have my debit card near me and it was an extra step of faff to donate that way.
  • Places like eBay, IKEA, Bluestone and TK Maxx asked if I wanted to donate to charities while I made my purchases – this was a great way for me donate that took zero time and effort. More of this please.
  • People tend to fundraise for the same big charities. Great news for them, but I did also try to seek out some of the smaller ones that might not be getting as much attention.
  • If a friend specifically asks me to donate, I probably will. Take note, chums ;)

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

  • Cracking your knuckles
  • Bookmarks
  • Sports bras
  • Heart shaped stickers
  • Flip-flops

See some more of my favourite Grace in Small Things

Friday Thanks

Posted by in Friday Thanks, Projects

Dear knitting,

Thank you for being something that I can pick up again after 5 years of inactivity and still know roughly what I’m doing. It’s nice to know that not all skills lapse completely if you take a break.

Love

Sarah

See the full list here.