It’s finally April and I don’t think I’m the only one who will say that that was officially the weirdest and longest March ever. A new month and a new quarter and I’m in planning and project mode. There are definitely days when I don’t want to do anything and there are days when my moods are high one minute and low the next. I keep reminding myself that:

  • I’m not stuck at home, I’m safe at home.
  • Every new day, we’re one day closer to this being over.
  • It is an absolute luxury to be able to stay at home, safe and maybe even bored.

THINGS I’VE BOUGHT ONLINE THIS WEEK

  • This loungewear set from Asos. Yep, they’re technically pyjamas but if I get up in the morning, have a shower and put them on, I’m calling them work clothes. 
  • 10 postcards from @framesthatsparkle on Instagram. They were part of a Fiver Friday offer Caroline runs ever week. I can’t wait for them to arrive. I’ve ordered some great prints from her before.
  • An A5 print from @tinybisonillustration which was part of Steph’s Fiver Friday. I’ve already bought some hand drawn tiny portraits from her and I’m obsessed.

THE 100 DAY PROJECT

The 100 Day Project starts next Tuesday 7th April and I’m joining in for my 4th year. I usually prefer a really specific project to keep me focused. Last year I did 100 Days of Calligraphy for example, but this year I’m going with a broader topic. I’ve decided to do lots of little projects – 100 Days of Paparali Projects. I’m going to do a mixture of photo projects, home DIY, painting, sewing, baking, Project Life spreads, doodles and more. I’ve been planning my projects and I’m excited to get started. Have you ever tried a 100 Day Project? This could be a good year to give it a try. 

FINDING WHAT RECHARGES YOU

I have been using Elise Blaha Cripe’s ‘Three Things’ method, from her book Big Dreams Daily Joys, to help me stay productive each day during this lockdown (sorry Leo Varadkar, the rest of us are calling it a lockdown even if you’re not). Some days I put tasks on it that might take a few minutes, like watering my succulents. Other days I put tasks on it that might take a few hours, like re-organising my kitchen presses. Sometimes it’s things like drinking more water that I can tip away at throughout the day.

Planning things and making lists recharges and energises me. The point is not to get all of the things done, but to plan and to be a bit more productive. If I get the three things done, great. If I get one thing done, it’s one more than nothing. It’s really not about beating yourself up about the things that didn’t get done. I’m sure I drive some people mad by posting them on Instagram, and that’s fine. They can mute or unfollow. We have the ability to curate our Instagram feeds. This is what works for me. It’s what makes me get out of bed, especially at the weekend when I’m not trying to work from home. I’m not saying I’m productive all of the time. Are there days when I sit on the sofa for the day and binge Netflix? Absolutely. What energises you?

Come & chat in the comments, slide into my DMs (not in that way) on Instagram or email me at ali@paparali.com

Anyway, that’s enough from me this week…catch ya next week…maybe!

Ali 😉

P.s. I love a bit of eucalyptus.

EMAILS & EMAIL NEWSLETTERS

I love email newsletters and I would love to create my own, but here are 3 reasons why I’m not going to:

  1. I’m sure you need some sort of software that I’m not going to buy. 
  2. I may get bored if it starts to feel like an obligation and stop wanting to do it.
  3. The only person likely to sign up to it is my dad because he’ll want to be supportive.

What I have decided to do instead is to post something that resembles a newsletter here for as long as it makes sense for me.

Earlier this year, I paid a very small fee to take this Inbox Bootcamp e-course. I would highly recommend it. It was a brilliant idea because it helped me clear my inbox and unsubscribe to all of the unwanted emails that come into my personal email every single day. Could I have done it without the e-course, most likely, but it focused my mind and I got some great tips. Now, instead of just deleting multiple junk type emails every day, I have signed up to a handful of email newsletters and I really look forward to them coming in throughout the week/month. I’m working off a zero inbox policy now and it feels like a big accomplishment.

 

WHY SOCIAL MEDIA IS GREAT IN A CRISIS

Did you see that? I got 2 paragraphs in before I mentioned the Coronavirus. Before you roll your eyes and leave, this is actually a positive point. When the government, here in Ireland, first announced the schools would be closing, it looked like people were just going to bulk buy and then turn on each other. It felt very uncertain and scary. Over two weeks later, we have further restrictions and everything is still up in the air, but people are coming together to help and lift each other up. Here are some of the things online that have made me smile through all of this: 

  • Musicians doing ‘gigs’ from their homes for charity. The Gavin James one for Alone on Instagram stories was so good.
  • People offering their services to parents trying to homeschool their kids. The Body Coach Joe Wicks doing P.E. from his living room every morning for kids at home is a great way to burn off a little energy before tackling the academic subjects.
  • Penguins wandering free around aquariums. This is the content I want to see.
  • Videos of Italians singing together from their balconies.
  • Irish people singing Irish songs from their front gates on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Kids chatting to and entertaining their grandparents through windows.
  • Exercise classes and bingo on the street.
  • People reaching out to elderly neighbours to help them with shopping and collecting prescriptions.
  • People using apps like Zoom and HouseParty to connect with friends and family in a fun way.

What did you see online that made this crisis a little more bearable this week? Let me know in the comments, slide into my DMs (not in that way) on Instagram or email me at ali@paparali.com

Oh and here’s a picture of my very cute old dog…his face sure makes me feel better and yes, this was taken just across from my house because it’s important to respect that 2km from your house rule.

Anyway, that’s enough from me this week…catch ya next week…maybe!

Ali 😉


Reading… ‘Fully Functioning Human (Almost): Living in an Online/Offline World’ by the Irish YouTuber Melanie Murphy. I’m only a couple of chapters in but so far so good.

Watching… Suits. I’m on season 2 and it’s fun and easy-watching. And before you ask, I’m completely guilty of watching it to get a look at Meghan Markle before she gave it all up for Harry. I’m also excited that Grey’s Anatomy is back after it’s winter break and I’ve just watched Big Little Lies and loved loved loved it.

Listening to… Pink’s new album ‘Beautiful Trauma’. It’s great and I didn’t expect any less. I’ve loved all her albums.

Focussing on… My one little word for 2018 – LESS.

Pinning… quotes and ideas for my One Little Word for 2018.

Eating… A lot of Weight Watchers recipes so lots of chicken, eggs & fish.

Totally over… Winter! It’s long, miserable & grey.

Scrapping… My 2017 Project Life album. All of the photos are printed. I’m just working through my PL cards and embellishments now.

Planning… My 100 Day Project for 2018! Yes, I’m aware it doesn’t start until April but the idea came to me this week and now I’m excited about it.

Enjoying… making the most of weekends with less alcohol intake.

Looking forward to… a couple of days away in Donegal next month


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