Beating the January blues

I don’t know ANYONE who likes January. It’s just such a “nothing” month. I normally hate it and especially after the crappy January I had last year I thought I’d be a bit disillusioned. But honestly, I’ve had a fantastic first month of the year and I’m hoping it’s only going to carry on!

I was supposed to go to Poland for my boob job on the 24th. Unfortunately I had childcare issues and I’m having to reschedule. I’m hoping to go in March now although I haven’t got definite dates yet. I have all the money I need, I’m 100% committed to going through with it and I will keep an online diary of the process when I actually manage to get over there!

Luckily, loads of other good stuff has happened this month:

– Max is now fully potty trained in the day! It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be and we only had a couple of days of accidents. I’m not sure how to go about night time potty training but I’m not going to push him too much just yet. My baby is becoming a proper little boy!

– I received an unconditional offer from one of the universities I applied to! I’m literally so over the moon because it means I’m guaranteed a place now. I’m still waiting to hear back from 2 more before I make any decisions but I’m so excited at the thought of a new adventure.

– we’ve booked a holiday for Max’s birthday in June! We’re going to Ibiza with my parents, all inclusive. I’m so excited, it’ll be his first time abroad!

– I’ve spent a lot more time with friends and planned a lot of stuff for the rest of the year. Laughter is the best medicine and I’ve been having so much fun. ☺

– me and Max started baking. Sundays are our special day together and we’re loving our lazy time making cakes. I’m far from the best cook but the main thing is we enjoy it (and they haven’t tasted too bad!)

– the weather has been OK! I know it’s so boring talking about the weather but I really suffer in the cold. I have quite poor blood circulation and I get a horrible problem called chilblains on my hands in the cold weather, they basically get swollen, itchy and painful so I’m really grateful that we’ve avoided snow and only had a couple of really cold days!

I’m looking forward to a new month and seeing what this one brings. ☺

Book review: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Before I start this review, I want to address an issue that’s very prominent in this book and one I’m not sure where I stand on – the “F” word. And by that, I mean FEMINISM.

I’ve been asked more than once if I identify as a feminist. The truth is, I don’t think I do. I don’t like labels, and I don’t want to BE labelled as part of a “group”. I’m my own person, with my own views.

Feminism is a touchy subject. Say you are one and people get the idea that you’re a “feminazi” with hairy armpits who believes men are evil and all that is wrong with the world. Say you’re not one and you get scornful looks, accusations of not being “sisterly” and being gutless. I’ve sat down and thought about it a lot over the years. Do I think men and women are equal? No. Do I want men and women to be equal? Sure. Do I think men and women will ever be considered equal? Honestly, no I don’t. Double standards exist. They always will. Despite all of that, would I want to be male? Never in a million years.

So, moving onto the book. Gloria Steinem is a feminist and activist who lives a nomadic lifestyle. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of hestudents, . The book was a selection by one of the book clubs I’m in and actually fits in with one off the list of my 2016 book challenge – “a book that teaches you something new.”

From the title, I was expecting it to be a book about travelling. I was a little bit disappointed in that sense – apart from a brief mention about her travels in India, the book was entirely set in America (granted, she did travel across quite a few states but there wasn’t really that much focus on it). What fascinated me about the book was Steinem’s stories about the people she met. Taxi drivers, truck drivers, college students, bikers… everyone has their own story to tell and a lot of them were quite surprising.

Being a feminist, Steinem also spends a lot of time talking about strong women she’s worked with and spent time with. I did enjoy reading about this and was inspired by the way they stand up for what they believe in and never stop fighting. I did think she was overly harsh in her descriptions of her mother – I’m aware that a lot of people think being a housewife is a waste of a life but I think different things make different people happy. Who are we to judge other people’s lifestyles?

Has this book made me convert to feminism? No. What is has done has made me realise that you can inspire change, no matter how insignificant you may feel. Never let anyone silence you and always stand by your opinions if you think they’re right. That’s why I’m giving this book 4/5 stars. ☺

20 facts about me

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now but I guess those who follow the links from twitter probably don’t know me as well as people from Facebook. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers do “100 facts about me” but to be honest I think people would get bored reading that (plus I’d struggle to think of that many) so I thought I’d do 20 instead. I’ll try and make them random so you find out a few lesser known things about me. ☺

20 random facts about me:

1. My middle name is Rose.

2. When I was 4 I tripped and fell on the corner of a table. I split the corner of my mouth open and had to have stitches. I still have a scar you can see when I smile.

3. When I was pregnant I craved weird things like bleach and nail varnish.

4. My favourite food ever is cheesecake.

5. I once walked out of a job right in the middle of a shift after getting fed up with a coworker.

6. I always have fake nails on. I haven’t seen my real nails for 2 years.

7. I’ve moved house 14 times in my 25 years on this planet. I actually quite like this lifestyle as I get bored staying in one place too long.

8. My star sign is Virgo but I don’t really believe in them.

9. I’m an only child which I used to hate when I was younger but now I love.

10. I love city life. I’ve lived by the sea and in the middle of the country and I hated it. I like places where there’s loads of stuff going on.

11. When I was little I wanted to be a writer. English was my best subject and I had a poem published. When I got older I realised I didn’t really have the discipline for it so now I just write things like this blog.

12. I love music and listen to it every day but I’m not a movie person. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a whole movie.

13. My favourite season is summer and I HATE when people moan that it’s too hot!

14. I always have to have some money saved somewhere. I couldn’t live without that feeling of security, that if I ran into hard times I’d have nothing to fall back on.

15. I’m a VERY independent and private person. People who wear their heart on their sleeve make me uncomfortable, I don’t like talking about my problems to other people or asking for advice. I’d rather deal with it on my own.

16. I have a major phobia of being underwater, to the extent that I don’t even like putting my face under the shower. I rarely go swimming and I never go in the sea.

17. I hate cooking but I secretly love cooking shows.

18. I’m a morning person. I never sleep in past 9am.

19. I’m very short sighted. I’ve had glasses since I was 7 and contact lenses since I was 16.

20. One of my goals is to travel to every continent. Even Antarctica.

I actually struggled a bit with this but I hope it’s given people a bit of a better insight to who I am. ☺

Book review: The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Reviewing trilogies as separate books is quite difficult to do, especially when it’s the second one. You’re smack bang in the middle of the story, you don’t want to give too much away in the review but you still need to talk about what happened in the first one for it to make sense. So bear with me on this; I’ll do my best and try to do it justice!

The Subtle Knife is the second book of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. They’re classed as kids books, but they’re like Harry Potter in the sense that adults can read and enjoy them too. As a matter of fact I did try to read the trilogy when I was a kid but I couldn’t get into it, so I thought I’d give them another go.

I read the first book “Northern Lights” over a year ago and because I have so many “to-read” books on my list it’s taken me until now to get round to this one. I actually enjoyed it more than the first. We continue the story of Lyra and her quest to find out more about the mysterious Dust, and we are introduced to Will, who is on the hunt for his explorer father, who has been missing for years.

In general, fantasy novels aren’t really my thing. But I actually enjoy these books. I think it takes great imagination to come up with these kind of ideas. The book moves in and out of three different worlds; one which is the same as ours and two which are very different. The thing that interested me most in the book was the idea of the daemons. Upon seeing he doesn’t have a daemon of his own, Lyra remarks that Will’s must be inside him. I think there’s actually an element of reality in that – that everyone has a daemon. We might call them different things – conscience, soul or whatever – but the idea is essentially the same.

4/5 stars because I couldn’t pronounce some of the words in the book and I have no idea how a child would be able to!

Be realistic

I talk a lot about having “goals” and stuff I want to achieve but I see a lot of crazy stuff that people post on social media with regards to “goals”. People post pictures of huge mansions saying “house goals”, perfect looking people saying “body goals”, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I think having ambition is a good thing and we all have something we aspire to. But honestly, I think some things are just pushing it. Yeah, I’d love to live in a huge mansion in the future, but the chances of it happening are pretty much nil unless I win the lottery. If your future goal is to be a millionaire then chances are you’re going to end up pretty disappointed.

Social media is one of the worst things for this. We’re so obsessed with watching other people “living the dream” – celebrities with money, fame etc that we forget to appreciate what we have. Social media lies. We can be whoever we want to be online and we only post the best bits on there. Nobody has the “perfect” life and spending time comparing is ridiculous.

By all means, have aspirations and go for them! But have realistic ones. You’re not going to become a millionaire overnight. Start small and work hard and then you never know. Remember what Dumbledore said – “it doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” 😉

Book review: Moving by Jenny Éclair

I get a lot of people asking me for book recommendations so I thought this year I’d start adding reviews onto my blog. I’ll still post about other stuff so if you’re not a reader and not interested in these then you can just skip them, but I hope it will give people some ideas for good books this year. 🙂

So. The second book I’ve read this year is “Moving” by Jenny Éclair. It also meant I got to tick off another book on my “2016 reading challenge”, which was a book by a comedian.

I very rarely give a book 5 stars. I think I only did 2 out of the 51 I read last year, but I genuinely feel that this one deserves it. At the beginning of the book we meet Edwina, a 70 something widow living alone in a house that is much too big for her. She decides it’s time to sell up and as she takes the estate agent around the different rooms  we are taken back in time as Edwina reminisces about the past – her two husbands, her twin children, her housekeeper and the stepson she refuses to speak to any more.

Jenny Éclair has a fresh, unique writing style that I enjoyed from the start. Just as we were getting to know Edwina the story changes perspective and we are taken back to the 80s and introduced to Fern, a student living in Manchester. Fern’s involvement in the story and the part she plays is slowly revealed until the third part of the book, which again switches POV to Lucas, the stepson that Edwina cannot stand.

Family secrets are revealed throughout the book in a clever and interesting way that makes you want to carry on reading. Jenny Éclair manages to make all her characters well rounded enough that I couldn’t hate any of them, even the “villains” of the story! Short chapters make the book easy to read and I was hooked until the end.

A fantastic family saga that I’m so glad I picked up. If you’re looking for a book with lots of action and adventure this won’t be the one for you, but if you want a light enjoyable read then I’d definitely recommend this! 5/5 stars.

The 2016 reading challenge

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I’m a sucker for a challenge. Especially when it comes to reading. I average out a book a week and I own almost 200 (which I know I did mention before). So when I saw this particular challenge I decided it was something I thought I’d attempt. I can’t promise I’ll complete it – I’m already in 2 online book clubs, I have a “to read” list with over 500 books on it and I’m also trying to complete the “1001 books to read before you die” list, so I have a lot on, but I’m gonna give it a go!

The first book I read was “a chick lit book” (the full list is on my Instagram
@alicechamberlain_x). The book was called Baby Be Mine by Paige Toon and it was actually a sequel to a book I read a couple of years ago. Chick lit books are my guilty pleasure and I normally enjoy them but this one grated on me a bit. The book centres around Meg, who lives in France with her boyfriend Christian and her son Barney. The big secret is that Meg’s son is not Christian’s, but Johnny’s, who is a world famous rock star.

Anyway. I found Meg annoying. Letting another man think he’s the father of your child when you KNOW he’s not is vile. Johnny is an idiot and Meg is an idiot for forgiving him for taking drugs around their one year old child. Of course it all ends in happily-ever-after but I find their relationship bizarre. I mean, I know I don’t make the best choices regarding men but when it comes to my child, I’d never forgive anyone who put him in danger.

Maybe I’m a cynic. 😂 But I didn’t buy it. Hopefully the next book I read will be better!

Back to reality

So that’s it! It’s all over for another year and the magic of Christmas and new year has worn off. It’s back to reality.

I think I mentioned before that January is my least favourite month of the year and winter is DEFINITELY my least favourite season. I’m feeling pretty happy this January though – motivation has hit and I’m looking forward to seeing what the year brings.

Max went back to nursery yesterday. I’ve been trying to potty train him over the Christmas holidays 🙈 he’s out of nappies now in the daytime but he’s still having accidents. A lot of people have said their children grasped it quite quickly but I think Max might take a little bit longer. I’m not too worried yet as he won’t be 3 until June – I think patience is the key.

Much as I’ve enjoyed having some time off I like being back in a routine. I’ve started a thing where every day I’m gonna write down something good that’s happened and put it in a jar to open on new year’s eve this year. I think it’s such a nice way to look back on all the good things that have happened over the year and it’s also a good way to keep positive when you’re having a bad day. Every day has some good in it, you just have to look for it. ☺

Happy new year! Goals/resolutions

I’ve said it about a million times already but here it is for the last time: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope everyone had a good one and you’re not too tired/hungover! I’m up watching Paw Patrol with Max. 😆

So it’s the first day of a new year and that means RESOLUTIONS. I know a lot of people think they’re pointless but I think going into the year with any kind of good intentions is always a good thing! I want to set goals this year instead of resolutions. Like saying “I’m gonna go to the gym every day” is probably not going to happen! I’d rather think about what I want to achieve and make the plan up as I go along. So here are my goals for 2016!

  1. Take some risks

This is something I’ve previously mentioned struggling with as I usually listen to logic rather than emotions, but I have some exciting stuff planned for this year and I’ll need to take a few risks in order to make it happen.

2. Focus

Mostly this is regarding the work I’m doing at the gym trying to weight train properly. I tend to check my phone a lot in between sets and then I lose track and just end up going through the motions. I REALLY plan to push myself this year.

3. Spend more time with friends

With my responsibilities as a mum, work, studying and the gym something has to suffer and it’s usually having any kind of social life! I’m not saying I’m gonna go out every weekend but I have friends in all different parts of the country and seeing them more often is something I really want to try and do.

4. Experience more

One of my biggest nightmares is the idea of staying in one place for the rest of my life. I want to do more with Max, travel to new places and live a bit more.

5. Take time out

This is sort of tying in with numbers 3 and 4. Often it feels like I’m always rushing around trying to get everything done. Sometimes I just want to take time out without worrying about what else I should be doing. I’m gonna try and make Sundays “our” time where me and Max just spend some lazy time.

6. Read lots

I do this anyway but I want to carry it on into this year. Reading is one of the best ways to educate yourself and it’s something I love doing.

7. Do more charity work

I work for a charity anyway but I want to start looking at more ways I can help. I’m going to apply to go on the bone marrow donor list but as I’m having surgery this month I think you have to wait 6 months after.

8. Surround myself with positivity

I used to be quite a negative person and I realise now I moaned too much. I’ve changed my attitude to live and let live, I don’t want to be negative any more and I want to keep the positive vibes going!

9. Be happy

This is the most important one on my list and should be everyone’s resolution 😊 I am definitely guilty of judging other people’s lifestyles but I’ve been trying to stop it lately. Do what makes you happy, who cares if other people don’t like it? There’s always gonna be someone who doesn’t like what you do but it’s not their life and opinions of others should be irrelevant. Live for you and no one else.

Have a wonderful new year everyone!