Tuesday 29 September 2015

Getting Tough on Stuff 2015 - September

Well, following the Give and Take on Saturday, I thought I'd report back on this month's decluttering efforts. Most of the huge pile of items I'd already decluttered, probably over the past 3-4 months, were taken to the Give and Take.

Here's the sewing room before,

And here it is now, relieved of most of the 'stuff'.  

The things that are left here are clothes and collectables that I need to take to the CS.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to have a little tidy round and reorganised some more fabrics into one of the baskets to the rear, which makes for a less cluttered look. I'm having to spend a lot more time in this room for my small business at the moment, so the timing was perfect for me.

This month I have managed to declutter a few more things, approximately 57 in total, which, added to the measly 18 that I decluttered last month and the previous total of 1010 from January to July of this year, means I have  now donated approximately 1085 items from the house during this challenge. I can't even remember what half of it was, which is the frightening aspect of all of this effort, but hopefully much of it will have found a new home and been put to good use.

I do still keep deciding to part with occasional extra items of clothing from my wardrobe and drawers as I go along. I get items out of my wardrobe, wear them and I often feel totally uninspired by wearing them and decide that the time has come to let go.  This week it was a pair of jeans, which aren't really a very flattering leg cut on me.  I have had them a good few years though and worn them quite a bit, so I don't feel too bad about donating them.

As always, it's an ongoing process, but I haven't bought a new item of clothing in at least a couple of months now, nor wanted to, which is encouraging and that is despite a change of season and the obvious temptation to buy some of what's new in the shops.  I also still need to get my autumn/winter clothes out too, but am holding off as long as possible and making do for now, especially as we are still getting the occasional warm and sunny day.

In actual fact, there's still a few things in my new 'capsule' wardrobe, that I don't think I've actually worn yet, so perhaps it would be a good idea to give them an airing before buying or unpacking anything more.

I do have a wedding coming up in October, but as I purchased some clothes earlier in the year that will probably be suitable to wear for it, I don't think I will need to buy anything. Sometimes, I think that buying clothes for one off events is a sure way of ending up with items that never get worn again. Over the years, this has almost always been the case with me anyway.

Finally, I've come to the conclusion that reducing the amount of clothes I have at any one time, can only help to reduce the size of my ironing pile too.  When you've got too many clothes, you don't have to iron as regularly and can let the ironing pile build up to a ridiculous height, whereas the fewer you have, the sooner you need them ironed and ready to wear again. I'm very slowly working towards this ideal, but I think it might be quite a long way off yet.


A Morning Surprise

The dog and I had a nice surprise on our dog walk the other morning. Heading onto the marsh we usually visit on at least one walk per week, we were met by this sight, on what is usually an open grassy field.

I have to admit that it wasn't a total surprise, as it happens every year, probably around the same time, but I just wasn't expecting it on this particular day.  I probably should have guessed, when I saw various groups of primary school children in wellies, being herded (no pun intended) in the general direction.

Yes, the countryside had come to the city, it was the Countryside Live event.

I wandered around the perimeter fencing, keeping the dog on the lead, as I wasn't convinced she couldn't squeeze under the fence, get inside and do her best to mortally embarrass me.

There was the good old Sheep Show going on and I could hear the shouts and squeals of the children.

These ducks were waiting for the sheep to vacate the stage, so that they could have their 15 minutes of fame.  There were foxhounds, miniature ponies and various other animals I couldn't quite make out, as I could only see their backsides in their pens.

In the centre, there was a bird of prey demonstration going on and the demonstator was asking the children lots of questions and talking about the birds and their habits.

I attended this show with LB and OH probably 4-5 years ago now and each time it comes, I always want to go again, but sadly no-one wants to accompany me.  I have fond memories of attempting some wicker weaving. In fact, I still have the fish that LB made, (it was better than mine) when we went.  I can't bring myself to throw it away.  Here's a picture of it on the shelf in my sewing room, it was one of the things that I rescued from LB's bedroom cull this year.

It's a great event, and wonderful that inner city children, living in such an urban setting, can get to see something of the countryside. So here's to the organisers, for bringing the countryside to town.

Monday 28 September 2015

September Favourites

This month many of my favourites have been beauty products once again.  I've finally used up some old products, so I've been trying out new to me products and some of them have been really nice and I'm enjoying using them.

The first product has been this moisturiser by Faith in Nature.  I bought it a while back, when the Neal's Yard one I'd been using for a few months, was starting to get low. That has now been completely used up and so I opened this one. It has a similar slightly waxy feel to it like the Neal's Yard one, and as a consequence, I don't tend to wear it under make up, but reserve it for use on a night when I go to bed.  I like it though and it was very reasonable at £7 or £8.

In a morning and under makeup I've been using up lots of sample sachets that I've had kicking around for a while, in the hope that I would stumble upon something that I liked. I've decided that serum is the way to go in the daytime and moisturiser at night, at least until I can find something that fits both.

The other product that I am really enjoying using this month, is this tinted moisturiser from Madara, which I finally plumped for, after using up lots of samples. It was quite pricey at £23, but I managed to get 20% off  and free postage when My Pure had an offer on. Strangely, it smells like pea pods, which reminds me of shelling peas as a child. I like it and it is a lovely light coverage, so doesn't look too heavy.  It doesn't have SPF unfortunately, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem during the autumn/winter.

The next favourite this month has been a recipe I gleaned from Sophie's blog for a Happy Pantry Slice, made from various pantry staples, plus some chocolate.  It was gorgeous.  I made some the other week and again last week. Perfect cycling food for OH, to keep his energy levels up. In fact we all really liked it, so I have a feeling it will become a firm favourite.  I tend to tweak it according to what I have in my cupboard at any point in time and these were the ingredients I used.

1 cup oats
1 cup self-raising flour (usually wholemeal)
1 cup of sugar
125g of butter
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Chia seeds
1tbsp Flaxseed mix
1 handful of dried fruit
2tbsp boiling water
100g chocolate for topping.

I combined the dry ingredients first, then melted the butter and honey in a pan on a low heat before adding it and then put the whole lot in a lined tin.

The second time I made this I didn't use as much butter as we were low and I left out the bicarb of soda in Sophie's recipe, so it did come out a little drier.  I also had previously used wholemeal self-raising flour instead of white, so it previously looked a little darker too, but it was still nice.  If you want to cut down the calories, instead of coating the top in chocolate, you could drizzle melted chocolate back and forwards across the top, so you get a taste of it.

You bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees, but I found it browned up very quickly and I had to place some foil over the top of it after 10 minutes or so, to stop it from burning.

A very tasty treat which made us very happy indeed. Thank you Sophie for sharing the recipe.

Finally, I have one other favourite to share this month and that is another Netflix series that I've been getting into.  It's called The Glades and is a Police series set in the Everglades and surrounding areas of Florida.  I've been really enjoying it.  Anyway, here's the trailer for anyone who gets Netflix.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Another Give and Take Day

Saturday finally dawned, the day of the Give and Take event.  I couldn't wait to load up the car and take the pile of stuff that has been sat in the sewing room for 2-3 months, and donate it.  I was breaking into a sweat loading up the car with the effort of carting the boxes and bags down the stairs.

Eventually, car packed up, LB and I set off and managed to find the event venue.  It was a bit tricky to park nearby, so we started off carrying things from the car which was parked quite a distance away. Eventually, we gave up on that idea and I pulled the car up outside the venue, on double yellow lines with hazards on and took a couple of minutes to offload the boxes before finding a parking space and going in.

By the time we got it was probably 10 - 15 minutes after the gates had opened and everything had definitely been well picked over.  It was good to see though that lots of the things there were finding new homes.

We do always like to take a look around and this time was no exception.  Not a lot caught my eye though, just a couple of books,

a map of Northern France

and some paper sacks for taking garden waste to the tip.

I have a tree in our garden that I need to cut down very soon and these bags will be perfect for taking the branches to the tip.  An added advantage is their recyclability.

I do enjoy taking things to these events as it is good to see people taking them and giving them a new life in their homes and if I can pick up a couple of small things that I can use, then even better.

Now that most of the pile in the sewing room has been removed (save for clothing and a few collectables that I am taking to the charity shop or clothing bank) I will happily have room to get on with the work I need to do in there.  Win Win.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Going Up Town

I had a little excursion into the West End today.  It's not something I do too often these days, as I only tend to go with a specific purpose in mind or occasionally if we go in over the weekend. On this occasion, it was to buy some stock that I sell in the lead up to Christmas, that I get from a particular shop just off Oxford Street.

I had lunch before I went, to prevent my needing to spend money on food, and hopped on a bus that usually takes me all the way to Tottenham Court Road or thereabouts. On this occasion, however, it wasn't long before I realised that it was only actually going part of the way, which was a bit annoying. Anyway, I enjoyed the journey through the City of London. I love people watching from the top deck of the bus.

When I first came to London over 15 years ago, I studied in the Square Mile for the first year and would regularly catch the bus and check out the buildings, monuments, landmarks, etc. It fascinated me and still does, trying to imagine what the people in the City actually do. Today, it was extremely busy, as the bus passed through over the lunchtime period.  City workers were everywhere - grabbing some lunch, shopping, stretching their legs, having a smoke.

I've got to admit that I do have a bit of a soft spot for the City.  I think it stems from the fact that I always felt safe there.  I can remember the police coming to talk to us at Uni and telling us that it was the safest place in the Metropolis, in that it had the lowest crime rates, which always reassured me. I'm sure there have been some crimes committed in the city, especially some fiscal ones, but it always seems pretty civilised.  On a weekend, it is virtually deserted, which always amazes me, save for a few tourists that is.  As a consequence, we like to go into the City on a weekend sometimes, as it's so hassle free.

I imagine that many people who come to London, don't even bother to visit the City, instead opting to visit the more famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, etc.  I can understand them wanting to do that, but I guess I take all that for granted living here and the places that appeal to me are completely different ones.

I used to love visiting the Bank of England museum with LB in the holidays and paid several visits to the Museum of London on London Wall too, when I was a student. Spitalfields is a fascinating area to explore and the Barbican is also an interesting place to visit with a cinema and lots of different music and other cultural events taking place there.  OH always fancied living in an apartment in the Barbican, but I think they're probably well out of our price range these days.

Anyway, I digress. I eventually got off the bus at Holborn, where the bus terminated and decided to walk the rest of the way into town.  I passed a large post office that I once used to frequent, when I did temping work in a post room whilst at Uni.  I decided to go in as I needed some stamps and take a trip down memory lane.  I soon came out again, as the queue was far too long, made up of people on their lunch breaks trying to do errands.

I walked on to my destination, I can't say that I like the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street that much, I often wonder what visitors to London must think of this part of the city, but maybe they like the souvenir shops.  I must admit it is changing a little for the better these days.  Anyway, I was pleased to eventually turn off down a side street to get to my destination.

Items bought, I headed back for the bus, and picked up a free cup of tea from McDonalds on the way. (I had a full card of coffee beans - does anyone else save these?).  I always pull these off OH's expresso cups, that he sometimes buys when out and about.  I know it only saves 99p, but it all helps. (There are some frugalities that I do still uphold).

I left the West End on a different bus route, a routemaster bus this time, and headed home through Bloomsbury and the Angel Islington, doing a lot more people watching along the way.  I realised I'd once again jumped on a bus that wasn't going as far as I thought it would and had another walk at the other end to get home.  I must pay more attention when catching the bus in future.

It was nice to get out and about and revisit a few places, but my feet and I were also very happy to get home again, until next time.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Being More Intentional

The other day I was reading Courtney Carver's recent post on Finishing the Year with Love and Intention and it made me realise that this is something that I definitely need to do, in order to appreciate those around me and the things I already own that I really love.

This year I seem to have lurched from one life overhaul to the next, without really stopping to think and plan and take it in my stride.  I've now got to the point in the year where I'm actually feeling quite exhausted by it all and I need to take stock, calm down and just think about things a bit more, instead of flinging myself headlong into something else.

I didn't start the year with any intentions of instigating many of the changes that I have, and I don't regret them for a second, but I think I've swung from one extreme to another, with a kind of mania, instead of a gradual progression and I've been left feeling a little dizzied.  I am a pretty impulsive person, but when I look back, I must have seemed a little crazy to those who have witnessed it.  Trust me I'm not, just impatient once I decide on something.  I do eventually calm down though.

I'm thankful now that it is almost Autumn, as at this time of year, the change in the weather means I am happy to stay home and keep cosy and warm. I get busy with my small business in the lead up to Christmas too, which keeps me out of a lot of trouble.  In addition, I'm always more at ease with myself in the colder months, as I can wrap up warm in layers and I don't have to expose parts of myself that I'm not happy with.  Slouchy knits and T-shirts with jeans are the order of the day and so easy to throw on in a morning. I'm definitely a bit of a home bird these days and in the autumn/winter I don't feel like I should be doing anything else, but staying home doing homely things.

As previously posted, I have been taking steps to curb my online spending habits.  I'm now not looking to purchase anything inessential for the rest of the year. (Christmas presents excepted) I think I've indulged myself quite enough for one year, what with replacing most of my wardrobe and one thing and another. Frankly, it feels a relief to get to the point where I feel this way and have stopped wanting to purchase 'things' (be they consumables or not).

I'm not saying that I will never want to buy anything again, but for the moment I feel quite satisfied with what I have and just want to appreciate and use the things I currently have, instead of thinking and lusting after things I don't have.  I'm also hoping that I can use this slow down to really figure out what I want achieve next. This year's theme was meant to be simplicity, but it didn't really work out that way in reality, although in many respects, I have put some very important building blocks in place, that should help me to achieve more simplicity in years to come.  Decluttering has been a big one and simplifying my beauty products another.

Changing a mindset you've held for over 40 years, isn't as easy as I first thought and takes research, thought and focus to maintain the momentum.  I'm sticking with it, but letting myself relax into it more over the next few months, so that it feels more comfortable and natural and not putting any pressure on myself to be too perfect and purist.

Sunday 20 September 2015

The Florida Keys and Key West

In the second week of our holiday in Florida, after spending a couple of nights in Orlando visiting a couple of the Theme parks, we drove down to the Florida Keys, a place I have wanted to visit since watching Bloodline on Netflix, which was set here.The drive down was beautiful.

We visited Crane Point Museum and Reserve which was a 65 hectare site of dense preserved mangroves.

We were able to follow trails around the reserve, which also had a bird sanctuary and an old settlers house on it, which gave an idea of the simplicity of life for early settlers, of what were then just a series of islands reachable only by boat.

Life was also made difficult by mosquitoes and 'no seem ums', which were tiny biting insects that couldn't be seen with the naked eye. The settler who lived in this dwelling came from the Bahamas and earned his living selling sea sponges and making charcoal.

We stopped off at the most beautiful white sandy beach at Bahia Honda State Park.  Here the waters were crystal clear and there were lots of fish swimming alongside you.

We spent a couple of days travelling the 120 miles down the Keys, spending one night in Islamorada where a huge hurricane killed over 400 people in 1938, when a train evacuating them was blown off the tracks.  We then spent one night in Key West at the southern most tip. It was quite expensive in Key West, especially for accommodation, but as it was late in the season and many American children were already back at school, you could get better prices.

Our hotel was lovely, a nice way to end the holiday.  There were turtles in a pool in the hotel grounds.  Not sure I liked to see them kept captive like this, it seemed a bit of a sad existence for them, but we did get to watch them.

This iguana kept making an appearance around the pool.  He was pretty big and didn't seem at all phased by humans present.  A real character.

We relaxed by the pool for a couple of hours and then headed out to Johnny Rockett's Burger Restaurant in town for dinner.  The town was very lively with lots of bars and restaurants offering 'live' music entertainment.

The next day we were heading back to Miami to catch our plane in the evening, so before leaving we stopped off at writer Earnest Hemmingway's house in Key West.  It was a beautiful house.

There were displays about his life and career and you could wander through the rooms and imagine life there in the 1930's.

I loved this pineapple lamp

and the floor tiles in this bathroom.

There were lovely porches and gardens all around the property and a lovely swimming pool which had to be dug out by hand.

There were some very special residents here, who seemed to be given priority, seeing as they could sit and sleep on the furniture and in places that other visitors were not allowed to touch.

There was even a cat cemetery.  Most of the cats were named after famous Hollywood friends of Hemmingway's.

Apparently, they all had six toes and were bred from Hemmingway's original six-toed pet cat which was given to him by a sea captain friend.

There was a new generation being reared too.

I tried to get a picture of the infamous 6 toes, well 4 and a double one, if you can see from the photograph.

It was worth a visit here, although we did get a parking ticket when we got back to the car, as we'd parked it facing the wrong direction.  We had to stop off at City Hall and pay it on the way out.

The streets around the museum gave a flavour of Key West. Clapboard houses, painted white or in pastel shades.  Very pretty.  Roosters wandering around the streets free range.  There was lots more to do and we'd have loved to stay longer and explore more, but we had run out of time.

I'll leave you with a quote from the man himself.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to the US.  Back to normal life now.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Getting There

It's been a pretty good week this week.  I feel like I've achieved quite a lot and got back on top of things since being away.  Holidays are wonderful things, but are very distracting, which is probably the whole point. Nevertheless it always takes a couple of weeks to properly get back into the flow of things.

I've spent a few days this week doing some work and really getting stuck into preparing stock ready for sale.  Before I could do that, I felt compelled to reduce the ironing pile, as it seemed distracting for some reason.  I'm pleased to say that I have now been reacquainted with the bottom of the ironing basket, for the first time in over a month, and it was a wonderful feeling and a couple more items out of it will be finding their way to the charity shop.

The advantage of this, is that once everything is put away, you can truly see how many clothes you actually have and that you really do not need any more, and that's before I've even got out the winter clothes.  Many of my clothes do actually span and get worn in every season, so never actually get stored and really pay their way.

In other parts of the house, the kitchen counters are returning to normal.  As a rule, I like to wash up and leave surfaces clear before going to bed at night, as it gets me off to a better start in a morning, rather than trying to work around dirty dishes and clutter that has accumulated throughout the previous day.  Sometimes, I do lapse, but I do feel I can function with more clarity when surfaces around me are clear.

There's a few little things that still need to be put away, dealt with or recycled, but these should be taken care of  by the end of the weekend and then hopefully by next week I will be able to start afresh and have plenty of time for another round of work related preparations.

I feel more inspired for some reason at the moment and looking forward to the challenge of the next few months, if all goes as well as it has in previous trading years.  I'm also starting to think about Christmas, and all that goes with it, but mainly present buying/giving. I've already bought a few items, which were mostly purchased in the January sales, but I'm going to try to avoid any excess this Christmas, which I have been guilty of in the past.  Stripping things back should be interesting and make life much easier.

It helps that LB doesn't seem to want much in the way of presents this year, (not that she does normally) she's getting to the age where she would prefer cash to spend herself, which is fair enough. It makes more sense that she buys herself things that she will use and wear, than I go out and buy her things that she doesn't and won't. I will be buying her a few things though, including a few small surprises, as to me, that is part of the fun of Christmas.

Outside in the garden, things are a little different and a little work needs doing to remove the cucumber plants, runner beans and sweet peas, which have now all gone over.  I also need to cut down a diseased tree and clear a border ready to redesign the planting in it when I get the chance.

My tomatoes are still going strong, but I think they might be starting to get hit by blight, so I will probably need to remove all the fruit by the end of the weekend to avoid it getting ravaged.  The plants have been keeping me in tomatoes for a few weeks now though which has been good.

I'm hoping I can keep up the momentum and keep myself in a place where I don't feel overwhelmed by everything I want and need to do.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Mousemat Makeover

On account of my unexplained heavy handedness with the cursor control button on our laptop, OH had asked me to use a mouse when using it, in order to preserve the life of the keyboard as the button was starting to stick.

The mousemat, however, was beginning to look like it has seen better days.

The fabric on the top was peeling off at each corner and it was looking a touch scruffy. Yes, I could buy another one as they are very inexpensive, or I could try to glue the fabric back down, but it wasn't the most inspiring article and was actually a little grubby, so when I saw a recent DIY on Christine Kobzeff's YouTube channel, I decided to try to do something similar with my mousemat.

In Christine's DIY, she covers her mousemat with white faux leather and edges it with gold ribbon. As I had some white leather, that I have no idea what to do with, I thought that I might use that instead.

I cut  around the existing mousemat on the reverse of the leather and cut it out, removed the original fabric cover from the mousemat, applied contact adhesive, stuck the leather piece down and then weighted it down with a heavy file until it dried.  I then needed to trim around the edges, as the leather piece I'd cut out was slightly bigger than the actual mat and then add a bit more glue to the outer edges and it was done.

I wasn't too fussed about putting ribbon around the edge, as it sounded a bit fiddly, but I was pretty happy with the finished result, which cost a big fat zilch and made good use of something in my stash.

Not the most easy to keep clean colour I do realise, but I've got a bit of navy leather shoe dye I could use on it if it gets too grubby and it'd be a great way to use it up too should I need to.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

LB's Bedroom Reveal

I remembered the other day, that I had omitted to do a reveal of LB's bedroom makeover that we conducted at the beginning of the summer holidays.  It has taken a while to get a few bits together, i.e. new blinds, self-made artwork, etc., but I think it is now looking good enough to reveal a few photos of the makeover.

There are still a couple of things to do, namely do a bit more decluttering of drawers, shelves, etc., and the removal of some storage boxes (not pictured) that I am hoping to find a home for somewhere else at some point.  In addition, I still haven't managed to buy LB a new desk and though she is happily making do with an old IKEA table that was once a desk when this room was OH's office (before the basement was renovated), I would like to uphold my promise to her at some point, as a smaller desk would give her a bit more space in this room.

Anyway, without any further ado, here's the before pictures from my original post which is a slightly sanitised photo of her bedroom when it was originally redecorated nearly 3 years ago


and here are the after pictures of how it looks now.

(Apologies for the lighting in these photos but the sun was shining in so brightly, that I had to keep the blind down.)

A bit more 'Tumbler' as LB would say. She seems very happy with the results and so far is managing to keep it pretty tidy which is a bonus.  Definitely worth the effort and very minimal costs of less than £50.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

A Bit of a Digital Clean Up

For a while now, spending money online has been my main weakness and the major way that I consume, aside from the weekly grocery shopping. (which incidentally I have been doing online quite a bit recently)  I rarely go out to the mall or the shops, well maybe once or twice month if that and usually only for a specific purpose, to buy something such as school uniform, presents, specific necessary purchases, etc.

I haven't, however, stopped spending money and the main reason for this has been the online shopping habit I seem to have developed in recent years.  I can be a real sucker for 50% off offers that drop into my inbox from brands I've bought from in the past and which prompt me to search the retailers' sites in search of things I really don't need or even want, but which sound too good to miss.

As well as spending money online, I also spend quite a bit of time online each day, deleting emails from sites that I am really not interested in, that at some point in time I've subscribed to.  I rarely even open most of these emails and frankly I just no longer wish to recieve them.

This weekend, I finally decided to do something about it and as these emails come in, I am gradually working my way through and unsubscribing to them one by one. It feels great to know that I will no longer be tempted by their offers or have to press the delete button due to lack of interest, as I have been doing for months now.

Although it doesn't take a great deal of time to delete them, it takes time and time is precious and best not wasted on what is essentially digital junk mail. I'm not sure why I haven't done it before now, perhaps I thought it was going to be more complicated than it is, but once I got started and realised how easy it is, there's no stopping me.

Do you ever have a digital clear out?

Sunday 13 September 2015

August Favourites

I'm a bit late to the table with this month's favourites and must apologise for this.  The month went by so quickly, probably because we were away on holiday for two weeks, and getting ready to go prior to that, so it seems to have sped past. My favourites are mostly films, books and TV programs, as I hadn't really been using or buying anything new, instead saving my money towards the holiday.

In between getting ready and going away, I did have time to watch a bit of Netflix, which we hadn't really been doing a lot of lately.  We finally finished watching our way through series two of Danish crime drama The Bridge, which we both enjoyed immensely.  I have a Danish friend at the gym who assures me there is a third series coming, which I am now looking forward to.

More recently, however, I have actually found a new Netflix favourite, whilst flicking through and it is a show called Rita. It's another Danish series, but not a crime series.  It is about a teacher, who is a single mother to three almost grown up children and it's a lighthearted, humorous and well written series about her life.

Although on the surface she seems competent, popular and always has the answers, beneath the surface, life is more complicated and doesn't run quite so smoothly. It's definitely worth a watch. I find it quirky, irreverent and very entertaining.

Reading favourites this month have included this book that I read whilst on holiday.

It was an interesting read and considers how many people are finding themselves dissatisfied and overwhelmed by having too much 'stuff' these days.  I enjoyed reading it and have reviewed it in a separate post, so I won't go into any detail here.

Another reading favourite in August has definitely been this book called Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which has been made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. I deliberately haven't seen the film yet, as I bought this book and wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I know that if I saw the movie first, I would probably not bother to read the book.

This book is one of the best books I've read for a while.  It tells the story of a young woman, who after losing her 45 year old mum to cancer, and then experiencing the breakdown of her short lived marriage due to her own infidelity, followed by a dalliance with drug taking, decides to embark alone on a 1200 mile hike along part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is 2600 miles long and starts on the US border with Mexico and travels the whole length of the western side of the US, up to the border with Canada. This book charts her physical and emotional journey for the three months that she is on the Trail, the dangers and trials faced and endured, the people she met along the way and the emotional healing that took place.

It is such an interesting and uplifting book, and similarities can definitely be drawn with the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, in that the journey she embarks upon is not just a physical one, but an emotional/spiritual one. One that she hopes will help her retrieve the person that she used to be, before her life was turned upside down by loss and grief.  I loved reading this book and was intending to take it to the US and read it whilst there, but I so enjoyed it, that I managed to finish it before we left.  I would highly recommend this book and I now can't wait to see one of my favourite actresses play the part of Cheryl in the movie.

Talking of Elizabeth Gilbert's book, the film version of Eat, Pray, Love is now available on Netflix to watch, so unable to resist the temptation, the night before we headed off on holiday, whilst painting toenails, plucking eyebrows, etc. I sat down and watched it.  Julia Roberts played the lead character in the film, who goes on a journey across the world, to learn about food and language, spirituality and love. Although the film got only two stars on Netflix, I thought it was okay (probably because I enjoyed the book) and would recommend it, although it does skim over the story somewhat and some of the characters aren't explored in as much detail as in the book.

On the subject of films, I also managed to watch the Second Best Marigold Hotel, whilst on the flight to the US.  I enjoyed the first film and this one didn't disappoint either.  I also watched Judi Dench in Philomena on TV in Florida and enjoyed this film too.  On the way back I watched one of my favourite actors Bradley Cooper in his new film Aloha which is set on the island of Hawaii.  I really enjoyed this film.  It was funny and heart warming and Bradley was looking as handsome as ever in it.  (Swoon).

So, that's about it for my film, book and TV favourites this month. I realise that it's not my usual kind of favourites post, but next month there may be a few more interesting favourites to share. I've already shared a few US food favourites with you in a previous post recently and hope you enjoyed reading it. Did you have any particular favourite things last month?