16 March 2018

Lifestyle trend books

Some of the biggest ideas in books over the past few years have been lifestyle trends like Hygge, Lykke, Lagom, Ikigai, and I’ve become well and truly hooked on this type of book.

These books tend to take a single-word concept from another country, and look at how that idea may be the reason for happiness or long life in that part of the world. And the fact that they are all beautifully designed coffee table books adds to their appeal.

So far I’ve got three books on Hygge, two on Lagom, and one each about Lykke and Ikigai, with more still on my wishlist!

I’ve really enjoyed reading these books and getting ideas of things I could do to improve my life. Generally I’m not a fan of “self-help” books, because I think they can make people feel inadequate. However these books are not in any way dogmatic, but just give some ideas that you can try if you feel like it. Not a “to-do” list for life, but more a “could-do” list as advocated by The Simple Things magazine (one of my favourite magazines). And all the ideas are things that I would find enjoyable rather than unpleasant!

13 March 2018

Recently thrifted

Last year I started picking up some vintage games and puzzles in my local charity shops. I started off with just word games, so that I would have some interesting letter tiles to spell out words in my Instagram photos. And from there I’m moving on to anything that has great nostalgic vintage packaging.

One thing I found was this Multipuzzle which I used to have many years ago. I eyed it up a few times in my local charity shop before deciding to buy it. It’s only missing one piece, which I can easily make from cardboard or maybe acrylic, using the measurements of the other pieces to guide me.

10 March 2018


One of my recent reads was Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, and I took notes on this in my bullet journal.
It's of a similar vein to some other books I love, on topics like Hygge, Lykke, and Lagom, in that it looks at a concept from another country and how it can improve our lives. The book concentrates on the people of Okinawa in Japan, who live healthily to very old age, and what they may be doing that extends their lives.
I found this book very interesting but a little confusing in how it covered the idea. It seemed to cover two different concepts - Ikigai (the concept of finding purpose in life), and why the Okinawans live so long (which went into things like diet and exercise).

I found both these strands fascinating, but it did feel a bit confused between the two. I think I'd like to read another book on Ikigai to see how it handles the topic, and I'd love to also read a cookbook of Okinawan recipes.

08 March 2018

The Long Winter

We've just experienced one of the worst spells of winter weather that's been seen in this country in decades! It was a bit different from 2010, when the snow generally fell at night, because there were blizzards on and off for days, and it was very strange small snow particles rather than our usual big flakes. On top of this there was a strong biting wind from the east, which caused the snow to build up in big drifts. And I experienced my first ever thunder snow!
It was more or less impossible to go anywhere by car for a few days, and my work was closed for three days. And the shops completely sold out of milk and bread.
In the middle of a three days' blizzard, it was almost inevitable that I would turn to re-reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In this book, Laura's family move to the nearby small town to ride out the predicted bad winter, which turns out to be worse than anyone expects, and they end up close to both starvation and freezing to death. Laura and her classmates almost get lost in a blizzard, the family have to grind up seed wheat to make bread, twist together hay to make fuel, and the girls doubt that there will be a visit from Father Christmas at all.

If I'd read this book first as a child, I might have thought it was fiction, but, because my first read of it was as an adult, I understood straight away that these were real people whose lives had really been in danger. 
Re-reading it now actually made me really appreciative of all that we have in this modern day and age, when all we have to worry about is whether we can get the car out to go to a supermarket, and whether they will have exactly what we want when we get there.

05 March 2018

Bullet journal ideas: Plant care

Last week there was the worst snow I've ever seen, my work was closed, and we were told to work from home. One of the things I did was to read up on plant care, because we look after the plants for the science department. I learned a lot including that some plants like to have their leaves misted, which I've never done before. That evening I thought it would be good to put some of my notes into my bullet journal, for my own use, because I have some of the same plants at home.
I made the information for each plant as if it was a little collector's card for that plant, with a picture and some bullet points on its care. I've still to add a drawing of an orchid because I'm not sure whether to draw the one I have at home or the ones we grow at work.
I think this is my second-favourite page in my bullet journal so far, after another one that uses the same pen and lettering, so I have decided to use this a lot more!

28 February 2018

27 February 2018

This month I have been mostly...

My main passion at the moment is visiting the local beaches to collect sea glass and pottery shards. I've been having great fun, finding lovely things, getting exercise, and all without spending any money! And at the start of the month I went to a vintage kilo clothing sale in St Andrews where I was able to get some great bargains! Other than that I haven't been doing much as I had the flu cold that's going about (stealing an expression from the Chalet School there!).

Sadly my auntie's dad died this month, and I attended his funeral. He was a lovely man who we used to see every Christmas at my auntie and uncle's house, and I thought of him like an honorary grandad after my own grandad died.

We were face-fit tested for our dust masks at work and it was rather a surreal experience. Imagine wearing a large white hood over your head while bowing over repeatedly - we felt like we were being inducted into a secret society! And all the time you are breathing through your mouth to see if you can detect the bitter vapour that is being pumped into the hood!

I have finally finished two books that I have been reading for a very long time! Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham was full of such descriptive language that I felt I really had to take my time over it, and I've been reading it since about October! And, even worse, I had started reading Josephine Tey: a life by Jennifer Morag Henderson a year before that! It was such a well-researched book full of interesting information, that it took me a long time to get through it, although I really enjoyed both of these books! I finally succeeded in finishing them by committing myself to reading 5 pages of each a day, keeping one at work and one at home. This meant the task seemed less overwhelming.

I have also been continuing my Chalet School re-read, and have now reached the final 10 books which is making me a bit sad! But I can always start at the beginning again. I'm on track to finish them before May which is a year since I started.

I'm keeping on the nostalgia theme by continuing my re-watch of Knight Rider, and my parents and I have been watching the first two series of Teachers. And I'm loving Back in Time for Tea which was filmed near my friend Margaret's family home! 

I thoroughly enjoyed Spiral as usual, and am glad to hear it may be coming back for another series (though how they will go on from the situations some of the characters are in, I don't know!). I haven't got fully into Modus, I think partly because some of it is in English and I keep missing the dialog when the subtitles disappear! I'm undecided on whether I'll continue watching Marcella.

I've been having early nights ever since the flu cold thing, so I've fallen behind on Call the Midwife and haven't even started the new series of The X-Files!

23 February 2018

Bullet journal book trackers

One of the things that I'm finding my bullet journal really useful for is tracking my reading and book collections. I've shown you some of my reading trackers already, but since then I've been creating some more to keep track of some of the books I enjoy reading.
I've recently got into the work of a couple of local authors, Val McDermid and Jenny Colgan, so I wanted to create lists of their work and track those books I own or have read. For Val McDermid I did a very simple crime-themed spread.
I based the Jenny Colgan spread on the book I was reading at the time, The Endless Beach. I loved the colours of the cover, the style of illustration, and the brush lettering, so I used all of these. For each of these authors I divided the books up into the various series and standalone novels.
I always seem to turn to Italian crime novels in the summer months, and I have been working my way through the books of Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon. I combined these on one spread with a simple map of Italy in the middle, with dots representing the settings of the books (I just did a rough guess of where in Sicily to locate the Montalbano books!).
Finally I created a list of the Abbey Girls books by Elsie Oxenham. Now that I have completed my Chalet School collection I can think about building up my collection of these.

20 February 2018


When I went on holiday to Italy in 2015, I had a final morning wandering around the town of Sestri Levante, where I was staying, and ended up at a little beach where I began to spot pieces of sea glass, pottery, and interesting stones. These were great souvenirs to bring back with me.
Now I've started to explore some of my local beaches in Fife and discovered that I can find sea glass and pottery here too, and I'm starting a collection. This year I've been really keen to get out and look for some, after starting to follow m0n0patin on Instagram who always has some amazing finds!
I'm starting to find some interesting pieces of blue and white patterned pottery, and glass with textures and lettering. And I always have my eyes open for shells and pebbles too!
“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” — Isaac Newton

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