Thursday, 16 January 2014

Dreaming of Home Decor

As you may know, at the end of this month I am moving from Belfast to Newcastle upon Tyne! I lived there about 5 years ago (wow, has it been that long?!) and I have been dreaming about going back basically ever since I left. But now I am finally doing it and I'm super excited, especially now that everything's all organised for me to just go, I am getting a transfer within the company I work for, and I visited in the first week of January & put down a deposit on a flat, which I am totally in love with!

But of course now I spend practically every waking minute daydreaming about decorating my new place and endlessly browsing Pinterest for inspiration. I want to have a lot of colour and fun in my new flat, but it will also have to be relatively inexpensive as I am not exactly wealthy, so I'll definitely be trawling through Newcastle's charity shops (hello Shields Road!) hoping to find some mid-century bargains, as well as attempting to make a few bits & pieces myself- I'll be making good use of my sewing machine this year!

These little snippets from Pinterest are exactly the kind of thing I'm looking to create in my own home- kitschy, colourful and a bit mis-matched. I particularly love the chalkboard wall on the bottom left, and I'm definitely going to be doing that in the master bedroom where there is already a black feature wall!

And lastly, I have been turning to Polyvore too, to help map out the kind of thing I'll be able to recreate with my budget & with the things I already have- plus it's extremely fun, free, & the next best thing to actually being able to physically decorate!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Musical Year in Review: 2013

I am not as good at keeping up with new music as I used to be in my teens when I would obsessively search for new bands and artists, but every so often I will haphazardly stumble across something and fall madly in love with it. I did that with a few new artists this year, and also a few artists that have been around for a while but I only really discovered or grew to appreciate in 2013.

MS MR were my absolute favourite musical discovery of last year. I heard one of their songs on an episode of Pretty Little Liars (yes I have flawless taste in tv I know) and had to seriously flex my lyric googling skills at the time to find a minute or so long rip from the episode that someone had put on youtube in order to find out who the song was by. I listened to their EP Candy Bar Creep Show an obscene amount and actively counted down the days until their debut album Secondhand Rapture was released in May. It was even better than I was hoping it would be really. In fact Last.FM tells me the only artist I listened to more than MS MR this year was Beyoncé (more on her later), which means I listened to them an awful lot indeed. I love how weird & wonderful the videos are too. I'm not entirely sure what's going on in this video for Fantasy but it's got cheerleaders vomiting glitter so that's all you need really. Listen to them here on Spotify.

I feel like Haim have the potential to rub people up the wrong way but I really love them and their sound. In a way their image feels a bit contrived, and they have garnered quite a lot of hype in a small amount of time which often means the end result is a bit of a let down but I kind of totally love them so I dunno what that says about me. They look a bit like they have been dressed by Company magazine but I buy Company every month so make of that what you will. Most importantly though, the sound is great and totally worth the hype. They sound a little bit Stevie Nicks, a little bit Phil Collins and musically they kind of remind me a bit of Best Coast's laid back California-vibe sound so that's all bloody good to me. My Song 5 & Don't Save Me are my favourite songs off the album and two of my favourite songs of last year to be honest. Listen to them here on Spotify.

Alex Winston has been around for a while but I'd never really properly listened to her until earlier in the year. Her music is sweet and quirky but the lyrics are a bit darker or usually not typical of what you'd expect from happy, cheerful pop music (the Velvet Elvis lyrics are lols). This video for Sister Wife is another one where I don't really know what's going on but I think it's about a poltergeist and there's some bread in a toilet at one point which is a good bit. This is one of my favourite songs I heard last year, but I also loved Run Rumspringa too, and you'll probably have heard Choice Notes before but not realised who it was by. Here is some more stuff by Alex Winston.

SVĒ has only got this one song but it's REALLY GOOD, especially the chorus and the 'talk talk talking talk talk talking' bit at the end. One of my top songs of 2013. I don't really know what's going on in this video either so there appears to be a trend in music videos I liked last year. Anyway this is a very good song so I hope 2014 is a good year for SVĒ. You can listen to this song on Spotify too.

So on Friday 13th January 2013, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter ie. the greatest human of all time, redefined the meaning of life by casually dropping her new album with no warning and no promotion. Not only did we get an album of brand new tracks, she also made a video FOR EVERY SONG I mean really, she just made everyone else look lazy. I actually think I died for 7 seconds & my heart stopped but luckily it was restarted again by the otherworldly magic of this album. Beyoncé is my favourite pop star of all time and I had given up hope on seeing the new album that she's been promising us all of last year when she just dropped it out of nowhere (which was the best stunt of the year let's be real). This album is basically an empowering call to women everywhere, and Flawless is my FAVOURITE song of the year but the whole album is full of corkers, Drunk in Love, Mine, Blow, Partition, Pretty Hurts, Haunted are my favourites which is basically half the album, and the other half is bloody good too. I saw her in May in Dublin and she was UNREAL, the best performer I have ever seen, so I am bankrupting myself to see her again in March which will 100% be worth it. You cannot listen to this on Spotify because that's just how Bey rolls and we all have to deal with it, but you can buy it on iTunes.

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions?

Hello and welcome to my blog that I haven't update in, uh 6 months. A bit of an excessive hiatus really. I mean Beyoncé even released her album before I updated my blog. So, as you may be able to tell from the title of this post, being better at keeping on top of blogging should be my Number One New Year's Resolution. I'm not really one for resolutions though as I invariably break them all by the second week of January anyway, so this year I am setting myself a few 'focuses' for the year.

Focus is a word we use a lot where I work- we set focuses for the shift ahead, usually 2 or three, and that means we don't get bogged down trying to do 10 things at once. If you have 3 main focuses, everything else is largely inconsequential. Yes it's great if you get those done too, but not the end of the world if you don't. I am setting my life focuses like that too. I might want to acheive so many things this year but it's easy to feel lost and under pressure if it's too daunting. So I am picking 3 things I want to have acheived by the end of 2014 and hopefully I will see them through.

1. Live in Newcastle

This one may feel like a 'something you put on your to-do list that you've already done just so you can cross it off straight away' kinda deal, as I am moving there at the end of this month, but with this focus I don't just mean I want to move there, I want to LIVE there. I do like it here in Belfast, and it has been nice living in my home country for a while, but I never felt settled here, and I never felt like I was living the life I wanted. With this focus I want to make sure that by this time next year I will actually be living my life to its full potential, and fully settled in my new home. I want to try new things, learn new skills and throw a few parties!

2.  Be a better blogger

This is quite self explanatory (see: no blog posts since July) but I am not putting a number on it, or setting myself any deadlines, other than to write at least 1 post a week. That's it. Nice and simple. As I go along I would like to pick up the pace more and more, get in touch with more bloggers, host a few giveaways, gain a few followers but I want those to be a natural progression of my overall 'be a better blogger' goal, rather than a rigid schedule I've set for myself. Ultimately though by the end of the year all I hope to have is a blog I enjoy updating at least once a week. If I manage that I'll be happy.

3. Be more career minded

I have worked in the same job for 6 years and I have been promoted once. It's a customer service job without a lot of opportunities but I still think that this is not right, and I think it's because I am not ambitious enough. I work very hard, and I take pride in the fact I am really good at what I do, but I am not vocal enough about where I want it to take me. By the end of this year I want to have progressed further within the company I currently work for, or be working in a better job somewhere else. And that will only come about if I learn to focus more on my career mindedness. I don't expect to be a CEO or extremely wealthy and powerful, but I do want to work in a job that makes 100% use of all my capabilities and I don't feel like that is currently true.

And there you have it- my 3 life focuses! Sure there are lots of little things I'd like to do to, like take more photos, read more books or bake more cakes, but I don't want to set myself a finite goal for those because I always end up disappointed. The reason for the focuses is to improve myself and my life, and I feel like those other little things I want to do will fall into place naturally as I become more motivated and happy with where life is taking me, but if I don't get all those little things done? Well it's not the end of the world.