Evening all, and welcome to episode 22 of my weekly blog. I was going to title this one “am I a mood hoover” and begin by expressing some thoughts on whether it is actually me… but instead, I’ve decided that’s a topic that needs a bit more personal exploration before I start to share it with the world, and so I’ve chosen to concentrate on some more normal weekly blog topics – online shopping, audio books and films, and a nice walk I went on.
How has your week been? It’s been a pretty bog standard one here. I worked six days (we had a Sunday event that I helped with), cooked some decent enough evening meals, pruned the roses, went for my daily lunchtime walks around the village, had an Indian takeaway with my favourite bhindi bhaji on the side (who else loves okra?!). And…
I started using a new to do list app this week in the hope that it might help me be organised at home and here on my blog. I love my notebooks, and I can be certain that nothing will ever replace those fully, but I’ve been playing with Microsoft To Do and the way that it means I can set meaningful deadlines, automatically re-add recurring tasks, and suggests tasks for today without being shouty about it or automatically telling you what you should be doing on any given day. Included with Microsoft 365, it syncs between my phone, iPad and computer, allowing me to add to and check my list whatever device I happen to be nearest, and I genuinely hope it will help me be and feel organised (rather than stressing me out). It also looks nice and is very easy to use, which are both hugely important for productivity. First impressions are that it feels like a task management app for list lovers – I’ll let you know how I get on with it.
In the Mail
It appears it has been a bit of a spendy week. Oops. I’ve treated myself quite a bit this last week, this last month really, I think the lock down urge to online shop took a firm hold. I shall have to be stronger over the next few weeks!
The first thing to arrive was my new face moisturiser. I’ve mentioned before that my skin is utterly terrible, even at nearly 40, and I’m gradually trying to find products that really work to clean, calm and smooth it without having a morning and evening routine that takes up more than three minutes… I think I’ve got cleanser sorted now (more on that in my Currently Loving for June, coming in a few days), and now it’s time for moisturiser. I’ve been using The Body Shop Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion, and while that does feel good, it does seem there is something missing. So after a lot of research I have bought the most expensive face product I’ve ever had – the REN Clean Skincare Replenishing Clearcalm 3 Gel Cream. The formulation sounds like just what I need, and reviews from others suggest it should really help, so I’m giving it a go. REN are also doing some great things for our environment, and I have come to learn that we should invest in companies who do this. The plan is to use this new-to-me moisturiser in the evening so it can work away overnight, and the Tea Tree lotion in the mornings under my SPF and makeup. So far, so good, it’s been three or four days now and while I’ve not noticed any amazing improvements, my face does feel nice after application, and I’ve not had any more breakouts than normal.
Next to arrive was my little bag of clothing from Columbia Sportswear. After saying for nearly 18 months that I want a second pair of their super comfortable Buck Mountain Pants, basically joggers made from a more outdoors-friendly material, I finally gave in and ordered myself a black pair using their current 10% off deal. But that wasn’t what I was most excited to receive, because they were also having a clearance sale so I also bought a tee and sweater to complete the outfit, and I am definitely in love… the CSC Pigment Tee (I got the Olive Green) is soft and comfortable with perfectly shaped sleeves, and the Lodge Crew Sweatshirt (in Caramel, which is not quite as bright as pictured but still a really great colour), a great crew necked warm and cosy jumper that I know I will be wearing a lot. Honestly, I think I may have found a new go-to outdoor clothing brand, that I can actually afford anyway (we’d all love a wardrobe full of Patagonia and Fjallraven…), so far everything I’ve got fits me really well and performs exactly how I need it to. I find myself browsing their website more and more – maybe I should block it?!
My final parcel this week was certainly a bit of me giving into the hype of a brand that’s all over social media, but also getting around to spending money on something because I just want to be comfortable. I bought a couple of bralettes from Oddballs, hoping that they would live up to expectation and be the most comfortable bras I’ve ever had… not asking for much. I have taken to wearing sports bras most of the time because they are just much nicer to wear than a bog standard underwired bra, but in all honesty I don’t need anything that supportive most of the time, even when hiking and motorcycling. And these bralettes are indeed very nice; they’re made from stretchy cotton, have a nice thick band around the hem to keep them in place, the low scoop back and decent width straps are nice and comfortable, the material is breathable and quick drying, and the patterns are way more interesting than the bras I have from Marks and Spencers. I can totally see why these are popular, and I’m very pleased with my purchase. I also got a free pair of sunglasses, which was a nice bonus for giving into online pressure!
Have you been spendy during lock down? What has been your favourite online purchase over the last month or so? Let me know in the comments!
I mentioned in my Toxic Positivity post (which you can read here) that I recently listened to a couple of self-help style books that seemed to be good on the face of it, but actually made me think about what I’m getting wrong far too much. The most recent of those was Ruby Wax’s How to Be Human, which I finished just yesterday. Actually a nicely written book, and the audio version has Ruby’s conversations with Ash Ranpura and Gelong Thubten recorded with all three present, and it felt that these three people were really trying to untangle this idea of mindfulness and how it can be a real benefit to people when practiced regularly. My 30 days of meditation experiment earlier this year did not go well, I would say I have totally failed at that one, maybe I should give up on it and try 30 days of mindfulness instead? I have been on a couple of mindfulness courses thanks to my previous workplace, and it did help at the time. But as with everything, practice makes perfect (well, practice makes better…), we’ll see.
Next up on my reading list is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, which I am looking forward to getting stuck into. It’s one of the many books that has been recommended over the last couple of weeks through the Black Lives Matter movement, and it will be my accompaniment to my walks over the coming week. Educating ourselves through reading (and listening) is an important step to gaining better understanding of what is going on in our world, and it is the least we can do.
On screen, we really enjoyed Le Mans 66, based on the true story of Ford taking on Ferrari in the field of race cars with Carroll Shelby in 1966. It was a nicely made film that tells the story very well, we felt, and both Matt Damon and Christian Bale got thumbs up from us. Yes, there were plenty of squealing tyres, testosterone filled arguments, and as much one-upmanship as anyone can handle, but it was also heart-warming and real. It was quite old fashioned in its style, and I liked that – a drama with car racing at the centre. If you haven’t seen it and like anything to do with sport, especially motor racing, then you should watch it.
We also continued our quest to watch all the Marvel films in chronological order, by seeing Iron Man and Iron Man 2 thanks to my Disney+ subscription, still my best purchase of 2020 so far! Both were great escapism films, I do love a comic book movie, they never fail to make me smile. Next on the list is Incredible Hulk, and then Thor.
I actually went in search of An American Tail the other day hoping I could stream it for a bit of childhood nostalgia (Somewhere, out there, beneath the pale moonlight…), but I couldn’t find it. Certainly not on the ones I have access to, anyway. Maybe I’ll have to rent it on Prime or even buy the DVD. Have you seen it? It’s such a nice story. And that song never fails to bring a lump to my throat.
I can’t finish this week’s That’s Entertainment section without mentioning the absolutely brilliant version of Wizard of Oz I saw this week. Honestly, I don’t know how it was done, or indeed why, but as they said on CinemaBlend: “Sometimes you have to just sit back and appreciate the internet in all of its ludicrous glory.” If you’ve got time, take a look at “of Oz The Wizard”, the iconic Wizard of Oz in alphabetical order. I particularly enjoyed frightened and rainbow. Honestly, go and watch it, it’s both brilliant and ridiculous.
Walking for Sanity
You know I love to walk. I find my sanity in putting one foot in front of the other, especially when there are views to be enjoyed at the same time. I walked up my local hill yesterday morning, not a particularly easy ascent for someone who’s lost a lot of fitness during lock down, but one that is hugely satisfying and well worth the effort. I love it up there, I refer to it as “my hill” – I can see my house, my place of work, and for miles around. It’s a good place to sit and ponder life (with a flask of tea, of course), to survey my world and understand my place in it, to watch others enjoy the outdoors, to clear my mind and breathe the fresh air, and to escape everything for a short while. Being able to have something like this to take me out of my head and into my environment is especially important at the moment, when everything feels – is – so up in the air and, let’s face it, rather terrifying. It’s not about running away or hiding from reality, but about using the outdoors as a place to recharge and reset, so that we are better equipped to face life and all its weirdness. I hope that you have something you can use to do the same, and that you’ve been able to access that at some point over this week.
I actually have this week off work, and while I’m disappointed I can’t actually go away anywhere (and Jenni and I haven’t been able to do our Coast to Coast hike), I am very much looking forward to not having to spend every day on my laptop looking at emails and having Teams meetings. Work is good, but I’ve found it harder and harder to keep on top of everything over the last few weeks, and so this break is undeniably needed. I have lots of things I want to do, but I’ll hold back from announcing them here in my weekly blog for fear of failure – you’ll just have to come back next weekend to find out what I got up to…!
Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting me.