Reading… Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong. At least I was until my car was broken into and it was taken inside my bag. I’ll need to buy a second copy.

Watching… Power. Season 2, hooked! I’m also watching Ozark. I’m about half way through the first season. I’m enjoying it but waiting for it to pick up pace a little.

Listening to… Casefile podcasts. I listened to their 3 part podcast on Jonestown because I find Cults fascinating. I always have. Now I’m listening to them on the way to and from work. If you are interested in true crime then I’d highly recommend them.

Celebrating… Chief turning 10 at the weekend! He’s really turning into a grumpy old man but he was very happy with the steak he got for his birthday treat!

Focussing on… work mostly!

Eating… lots of smoked salmon and poached eggs but unfortunately all of the things I shouldn’t eat too!

Happy… about my new haircut. It was badly in need of a cut.

Scrapping… my 2017 Project Life spreads. I’ve just started this year so I’ve got my cover page and January completed.

Purging… beauty products and old make-up that I will never use or is most likely passed its use by date.

Planning… to make some healthy soups this week and to plan my meals a bit better in the hopes I don’t fall off the wagon!

Enjoying… a couple of unexpected days off work due to Storm Ophelia. Thankfully we didn’t get hit badly but my thoughts go out to the parts of the country that were and the people who lost their lives.

Looking forward to… A trip to Paris that Dave got for my 30th birthday. We’re going next month!!

This is me, enjoying the last year of my 20s and drinking a cocktail out of a fake coconut because why not?

So tomorrow I turn 30 & leave my 20s behind. It feels like this is the right time to evaluate my 20s and what I’ve learned. Here are 20 things that I have learned in my 20s:

1. A drama free life is a wonderful thing. There is soooo much unnecessary drama in your early 20s. 

2. You don’t have to and shouldn’t pretend your life is perfect all the time. It’s okay to tell the people close to you about the bad stuff as well as the good.

3. Relationships (of all kinds – friends, boyfriends, family members) are so important. They also take work. It needs to include equal effort (maybe at different times) and making time for each other. Oh and quality > quantity. 

4. It’s okay to mess up. That’s pretty much what your 20s are for. Learn from it.

5. Everyone doesn’t like you and you definitely should not lose sleep over that. 

6. Less is almost always more. Leaving something to the imagination is a good idea. 

7. Stand up for your beliefs. Don’t ever go along with the popular opinion to impress people. 

8. If he cares, you won’t have to chase him. It’s a man’s natural instinct to chase. If you’re the 1 doing all the chasing, he’s not worth it. 

9. Look after your skin! High SPFs and skin care routines are where it’s at. You’ll be glad of it later. 

10. Duck face poses are ridiculous and extremely unattractive. 

11. Taking photos is so important. Your memory will fade and photos serve as great memories. 

12. Wear comfortable heels or put flats in your bag. Don’t walk home in your bare feet. 

13. Your gut instinct is almost always right! 

14. Travelling is a good way to spend your money. Do it your way though, because there are so many travel “know-it-alls”. Whether it’s a week at a time in 5 star hotels or a year at a time in hostels, do what feels right to you. 

15. It’s ok to spend Saturday nights binge watching TV series rather than binge drinking but it’s also okay to go drinking and let your hair down with friends too. 

16. ‘No’ is a full sentence. You don’t always have to have an excuse/reason. 

17. Pick your battles. This is a big 1 for me. Sometimes it’s easier and makes more sense to hold your tongue. 

18. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is on a different journey. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Be happy for your friend’s achievements, wish people who are no longer in your life happiness and be grateful for what you have. The grass is not always greener. 

19. Never point out your flaws to other people. They might not have noticed before you drew their attention to them.

20. This 1 leads on from the last and it’s a bit of a cliche but stop hating things about yourself. You might never be the skinniest or have the prettiest hair. So what. You have plenty of other things going for you. 

Of course, it’s not all plain sailing and if I’m being honest, I’m not 100% there with #19 & #20 but it’s definitely a work in progress. Unfortunately I don’t know everything and I still have a lot to learn so maybe in 10 years time, I’ll be sharing 30 new things I’ve learned.

Here are some things I hope to learn/do in my 30s that I haven’t quite mastered in my 20s:

1. Budgeting my money better and not being afraid to check my bank balance! (Shopping obsession, anyone?)

2. The 6 month mantra. I tend to over worry and I can be a bit of a worse case scenario kind of person. I’ll learn from this in the future, I’m sure. So I need to try & think of the mantra of asking myself if it’s something that will still be a problem in 6 months time before I freak out. 

3. Not to let my emotions or mood dictate my day.

4. Patience. Mine are definitely getting worse rather than better.  That’s enough said about that. 

5. Stop making excuses not to exercise. 

I’ve added June into my July spread for 2016 because as I have previously said, I lost my pictures & so other than San Francisco, the only photos I have for June are the few taken in the last few days of the month. 

Spread 1:

Spread 1 is made up of a couple of pics from the end of June. I arrived home from San Francisco on my Dad’s birthday so I bought some doughnuts on the way home from the airport & some happy birthday candles. Mark was visiting from Cork with his new puppy Bear for a couple of days. The euros were on so it was only right to put an Ireland scarf on him. 

Project Life Kits: 

Strawberry (Core Kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

The blue & pink alpha stickers used for ‘summer’ and ‘June & July’ are Macaw Thickers.

The small pink alpha stickers for ‘Dads Bday’ are Snap Studios by Simple Minds.

Embellishments:

I have no idea where the loveheart embellishment is from. Oops!

Pocket Pages:

The pocket page I used for this spread is Design D from Project Life. 


Spread 2:

Spread 2 is made up mostly of pictures. The top left is a picture of Chief with his bandage. He got his nail caught in a metal bridge and it ripped off. Poor baby! The top right picture is me & Bex heading off to the cinema after her art summer camp. The bottom left is a picture of Emma, Bex & I having a picnic in the park. The bottom right is Stephen getting ready to BBQ. The two 3×4 picstures in the middle are my new nails – pink for summer and Lady hiding under my chair from the sun. 

Project Life Kits: 

Strawberry (Core Kit)

Pocket Pages:

The pocket page I used for this spread is Design D from Project Life. 

Spread 3:

Spread 3 is made up of pics from a night in July in Jade & Owen’s having drinks. It’s the first time Dave appears in my Project Life album. 

Project Life Kits: 

Seafoam (Core Kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

I can’t work out where the black alpha stickers used for ‘Drinks, Friends & Fun’ are from. The label had been cut off so I have no idea. 

The small grey alpha stickers for ‘Jade & Owen Singing!’ are made by Project Life.

The black alpha stickers for ‘July’ are Ali Thickers made for Studio Calico.

Pocket Pages:

The pocket page I used for this spread is Design D from Project Life. 

Spread 4:

Spread 4 is made up of pics from a couple of nights out in July. Me & Jade met a guy called Bobby that we met in Las Vegas a couple of years before. The other was a night Emma, Kiara & I went out in Lucan. 

Project Life Kits: 

Seafoam (Core Kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

The black alpha stickers used for ‘Who, What, Why’ are Handmade Boutique Elements by Little Birdie.

Embellishments:

I have no idea where the arrow embellishment is from. I probably shouldn’t pour whole packets of embellishments into tubs and not label them. 

The ‘Smile’ and the camera sticker are from MAMBI.

Pocket Pages:

The pocket page I used for this spread is made by Photo Freedom.

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A book you’ve had a long time and haven’t read:

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

The Woman Who Stole My Life
The Woman Who Stole My Life is about a woman called Stella Sweeney who is back in Dublin with a bang after a year living in New York and travelling the USA promoting her self-help book. There’s lots of twists and turns as the story looks back over Stella’s journey.

I must start off by admitting that some of the characters in this book are slightly unrealistic but that didn’t hinder how much I enjoyed it. I wanted to say that first and get it out of the way because it’s the only real negative I have for this book.

 I absolutely love the way Marian Keyes writes and I often find myself smiling or laughing out loud while I read (much to the annoyance of anyone nearby). I would be really interested to hear what people from other countries think of her writing because her sense of humour, in my opinion, is very Irish.

This book held my attention right to the end and as each chapter closed, I couldn’t wait to hear what would happen to Stella next. Keyes has a wonderful way of jumping from different stages of a story to keep the suspense alive. It’s not my favourite of her books but it still has that feel good factor and I would definitely recommend it as a fun, summer read. 

Rating: 7.5/10

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A book published this year:

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

City of the Lost
I want to start off by saying if you have any interest at all in Supernatural fiction, you should really read Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. There are 13 books in total and each one is written from the perspective of a different lead female supernatural character including werewolves, witches, ghosts, necromancers and more. This series was my introduction to this author and I loved them all. 

City of the Lost is the first book in a new crime fiction series by the author. It follows homicide detective, Casey Duncan, to live in a secret, off the grid, town where everyone has a secret. My absolute favourite thing about Armstrong’s writing is how she develops her characters. This novel was no exception and by the time you get to the end, you’ll feel like you know Casey Duncan. It’s a solid story-line with a great ‘who done it’ theme. 

As always, Armstrong delivers in giving you just enough information to keep you interested and wanting more. I still prefer her supernatural novels but would definitely recommend this read and will be looking out for the next instalment in the series.

Rating: 7/10

P.s. I know the topic is ‘published this year’ and it was technically published in 2016 but I actually read it in 2016 & never got around to reviewing it. 

OLW #2

One of the things I really struggle with is the work/life balance. It seems to either go completely one way or another. I can be a complete workaholic & spend my weekends working and late into the nights or else it’s the complete opposite and I’m living a little too much. Going out more than I should at the weekend and mentally not turning up for work as much as I could. I’m trying to find a happy medium on this one. I agree with the idea of ‘work to live, don’t live to work’ and fully believe nobody, on their death bed, wishes they’d worked more. However, I think that’s a bit too simplistic. The majority of us have to work in order to have a good life which makes both work & life very important. This quote really stood out to me because in order to fill our souls with adventure, we have to work to fill our pockets, therefore I think it’s important to work hard & enjoy what we do in order to have the adventures.This year I hope to find a healthy balance between the two.

I found this beautiful image on Pinterest and you can go to kaylanicole.me to find the poster designer.

As part of my new year’s resolution to read more this year, I’ve decided to challenge myself a little. I love reading and get really engrossed in a good book. I plan to share reviews of the books I’m reading here. I’m teaming up with My Tiny Mind on this one so pop over there to check out reviews too. I’m not the fastest reader going so we’ve set ourselves 2 years to read 20 books. I’d love for other people to get involved. If you’re thinking of taking part, let me know in the comments and keep me posted on your progress or where you might be sharing it. You chose the books based on the list below and you can take them on in any order.

 Anyone up for a challenge?

The Big Book Challenge list

Stronger

Image made using the ‘A Beautiful Mess’ app & the ‘Color Story’ app.

I’m taking part in Ali Edwards ‘One Little Word’ again this year. I tried it last year for the first time and found it really interesting. I was surprised how much I took hold of the word and although I didn’t achieve everything I thought I would with it, I’m happy with the changes I’ve made and I plan to keep hold of that it while I take on this year’s word.

Last year’s word was ‘Stronger’ and I hoped to become stronger in lots of different ways. The most important thing I hoped to gain from ‘One Little Word’ was to become stronger mentally and comfortable staying in the house overnight on my own. It took some time but I finally got there and now I actually enjoy having the house to myself. This was a HUGE accomplishment for me. The second thing I wanted was to become physically stronger, fitter and healthier.  I have a long, long way to go on that but I’ve made some progress. I try to go swimming regularly and I still love chocolate and McDonalds when I’m hungover and drink waaaaay too much diet coke but I’m marginally better than I was.I’ve definitely become stronger as an individual person and I enjoy my own company more and I like the idea of being single and not worried about anyone else. I’d like to think I’m doing okay as a friend and I’m there for my friends as much as I can when they need me. I need to work more on the family bit, I could probably have more patience in that area. I suppose the people closet to us can end up on the wrong end of our bad moods. I think I’m definitely more positive than I was but I think that’s down to being happier in my life and doing more things that I enjoy.

I definitely didn’t build a stronger blog and kind of flaked on it completely. I also didn’t become better at my job.  These things needing more work have helped me to choose this year’s word. Stay tuned to find out what 2016’s word will be.  You can check out my post on 2015’s word here.

Have you tried ‘One Little Word’? How did your 2015 word go?

Step 1

Step 1: Lay all of the items out exactly as you want them to look on a surface roughly the same size as the wall.

Step 2

Step 2: cover each item with a piece of paper of the same size

Step 3

Step 3: Add the pieces of paper to the wall based on where you want your frames etc, to go. Add your nail marks with a pen, Add your nails and…

Final step

There you have it….your new gallery wall.

I’ve wanted a gallery wall for so long but kept putting it off in case it went terribly wrong and looked ridiculous. you can’t undo holes in a wall you know?! I’ve been gathering frames and pictures and things for the last while so I decided to bite the bullet and get it done. I actually really enjoyed the process. It was really fun. I wouldn’t have known where to start without one of my favorite blogs – A Beautiful Mess. They wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about styling a corner gallery and I followed their lead. You can check their post out here

If you follow those steps, or even just base it on my photos above, it’s a pretty easy thing to do and it has completely brightened up my bedroom to have all of my favourite people (and pets) on my wall.

cork board 2 cork board 1

Whose idea was it to start Create 52 right before silly season? Obviously I was ridiculously busy in the lead up to Christmas like everyone else and I’m back in work now & have things on 4 weekends out of 5 this month so I’m waaaay behind. There goes New Year’s Resolution number 1 – be better at organising blog posts and Project Life in advance. Must try harder.

So I’m kind of back on track with Create 52 as of week 2 of January and I’ve started off with something simple. I’d love to say I bought a blank pin board & went from there but that would be a complete lie. I bought the board, from Forever 21, with the black map already printed on it. I bought it last September so I’m not sure if it’s still available but I’ve seen some other options online. I’d also love to see some creative people adding their own maps to pin boards. I just picked up some pins (I couldn’t find a size I wanted so I had to buy dress making pins and cut them). I added a white pin to where I live (Ireland) and red pins to all of the places I’ve been up until now. I’m toying with the idea of adding another colour to places I plan to go but I’m not sure yet.

Finally I chose a quote I like that was short and simple and added it to the board using Amy Tangerine Thickers.