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Nine nice things: August

Long time, no blog. Again. Sorry, anyone who is still out there!

And this time I don't even have Pretty Little Liars as an excuse, because series 6 has finished and OMGweknowwhoAis.

Even though I have been tres absent from this blog, I have however been thinking about a new series of post I would like to do, which although doesn't easily fit under my "loner", "lover" and "friend" categories I am going to nonchalantly file under "loner".

We all know the benefits of being grateful, the internet is crammed with advice to keep gratitude diaries, to change your passwords to words or mnemoics which make you feel happy every time you logon your emails, to count to ten and think of 10 things you're grateful for next time you feel like you have to go cry in the work loos; basically we know it is a very powerful thing for our minds, practising gratitude...

So I want to start my own little gratitude list or grateful flow, each month, I call it "9 nice things", cos I really don't think there is anything else like this out there in blogosphere.

Ok, I am being a sarcastic. I know there are zillions of "Happy Mondays" and "Five things" and "Ten things" and "Friday Favourites", but those are some of my favourite posts. I love seeing those little snippets of other people's life, especially the good bits that make them cheery, and all the nice stationery and mugs on show.

So I am throwing my own monthly post in to the "favourite things" mix.

Why 9 you say? Well mainly because 9 pictures look best in a grid and I enjoy the alliteration, but also because "9 nice things" will be made up of 3 groups of 3, as follows:

My 3 favourite blog posts from other people's blogs from the month.

3 nice things under £20 that I've bought because I have a penchant for capitalist materialism.

3 things which money can't buy to show there is more to me, and indeed more to life than capitalist materialism, however much fun it is to own a whole dresser top full of expensive scented candles.

So without much adieu I give you "9 nice things August". Wahoo.

Nb. normally these will be lovely short little bite sized posts, sorry for all the introductory waffling this time.

3 Lovely Things you can buy for £20 or under

So one of the things I was off doing when I was not blog writing, was galavanting around Edinburgh at the annual fringe festival. It was the nicest of nice times, and as a little souvenir for my flat, I picked up this little wonder from the Isle of Skye Candle Company Edinburgh store on Victoria Street (just off Grassmarket). It smells like a dream and my grown up homeowner side is satisfied I have another good quality scented candle in my life, whilst my immature side sort of loves that is has the word bog in it.

  • The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney - RRP £21.99 (but on sale in plenty of places like here and here)

LA interior designer Justina Blakeney has long time been a gal crash of mine, I bloomin love her instgram feeds: @thejungalow and @justinablakeney, and all her fabulous hashtags #plantsonpink, #facethefoiliage, #jungalowbytheriver. Her book does not disappoint, lots of big glossy pictures of fabulous homes filled with amazing plants and textiles, and clutter-less bohemian style. There also some pretty nifty how tos in there, all in all it has been plentiful inspiration for decorating my new flat this August.

So I came across this planner on Liverpudlian blogger Jemma's Dorkface blog back at the beginning of August and realised I needed it in my life. It is an organiser (and I have loved those ever since I was 8 and bought a purple filofax), it has little notes already written on telling you you are pretty and encouraging you in your daily pursuits, it has stickers which are cartoons of girls taking selfies in kitten ears, it is just an all around a dream planner.

Mine is the "Florabunda", which is now sold out in this size (though they do a bigger one too) but I enjoy the other two designs too, and they are still available (and the insides are the same, which is the best bit).

The less dreamy bit is that even though it basically only costs a tenner in pounds sterling, actually to ship it to the UK is $25 and the fun doesn't stop there as if you read the small print HM Revenue and Customs wack on a lovely customs charge (£17) which ban.do tell you they are not responsible for. So basically, it shouldn't really be in my under £20 list, as it cost me ridonculous amounts to actually get my hands on it. I justified it to myself by purchasing a couple more bits from ban.do at the same time, but to be honest (and even though anyone reading this, particularly my mother might point out that this contently paying more than something is worth just because I want one is the root of my money problems...) I don't regret it. It really does make me feel more organised, it is the perfect size to make lists and plan your days but still fit cosily in your handbag, it just makes me so happy and like a super organised yet cool chick every time I look at it. And if that lasts til December 16 then £10 + £12.50 postage + £17 customs charges isn't that much to pay for that much happiness- is it (mum)?

3 Lovely blog posts I've loved this August

August has really been a month that I have overwhelmed my instagram feed with health bloggers and nutrionists and I am really loving it. I think it is giving me a welcome brainwashing into wanting to eat just lots of fresh vegetables and healthy breakfasts and the occasional raw cacao chocolate brownie.

Although I love them all, quite a few of them are vegan, which is a problem for me because I love cheese and meat. Which is why Madeline Shaw is probably my favourite, as she eats both cheese and meat and is just so inspirational and lovely that when I am at work and it all is so stressful and overwhelming I've started taking 2 minutes to go to the disabled loos just to look at her instagram feed and I think it immediately calms me and makes me thing damn it I can be as together as her, I can. Please don't tell my manager.

This recipe, which is also in her book "Get the Glow" (which again, I love so much, because I really do love her to an extent it is bordering on creepy) is cheese and strawberries. Basically my two favourite things combined in one delicious dish. There are not enough fruit and cheese dishes out there I think, props to Madeline for I hope starting a wonderful fruit and cheese revolution.

So this is a little belated, as this post initially went up at the end of June but I have been taking an accidental blogcation haven't I. Plus, I actually did this DIY in August so it sorta counts. I am over the moon about it. I actually used some Maths and changed the dimensions so it was more of a console table and fit in this pesky alcove behind part of my sofa. I also used pine and stained it walnut to go with the rest of my furniture a bit more nicely, and I just love it. I cannot believe I made it with my own fair hands, nor can my guests who come round when I point it out to them (and I do point it out to all of them because I am so damn proud).

A little picture of mine, below!

Again, a slightly older post (sorry, I'll get better) but it was the main inspiration behind the next section of this little August gratitude list, and actually I just found it a generally quite inspirational and cheerying post. Go have a read and feel lovely.

3 Lovely Things money can't buy

  • Weddings (ok so in some ways you could argue this is something a lot of money can buy but just go with it please)

I went to my third and final wedding of the summer at the beginning of August, and I just love them. And not just because of all the pretty dresses and free booze and humongous cheese platters that seem to be all the rage at weddings at the moment and appear around 10pm when your dancing feet are getting tired and your cheese loving belly is getting hungry. Though I do love all those things. But more to the point they are just wonderful days filled with so much happiness, such a feeling that your part of something important - I love that wave of emotion when you turn round and see your friend in her wedding dress walking down the aisle to greet the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, who looks as pleased as punch. I am so glad I am coming up to the "wedding age", and I am super grateful that friends want to include me in their special day.

  • Birthdays

It was my birthday in August and I loved it! Never regret turning a year older I say, it is better than the alternative. (And when I say "I say" I mean, I say that copying the clever person who said that in the first place, I obvs didn't coin that phrase.) I just love birthdays, and as I've got older (and the ratio of the value of my presents to the amount in my bank account is no longer as favourable as it was when I was 9 and got £2 pocket money per week) although I still love presents and being spoilt, I gotta say actually my favourite thing about birthdays is just getting to celebrate with my favourite people. And demand they watch musicals and romantic comedies with me, and they don't get to argue back. (Looking at you William).

  • Dr. Oliver Sacks

I feel like if I am starting a series of post about gratitude, then it is all too fitting to mention Dr. Oliver Sacks, the famous English neurologist who passed away aged 82 at the end of August. Revealing he had terminal cancer in the New York Times in February, he said something that has whirred around in my head ever since first reading it "I cannot pretend I am without fear" he said, "but my predominant feeling has been one of gratitude. Above all I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that is in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." So there you go, a whole list of things money can't buy to remember to be grateful for today, articulated so beautifully by a man who left the world better for him being there.

Here is to a lovely rest of September!

PS. About me.

top row - me (though the top left is a picture of the new bohemians, I didn't take the original picture obvs)
middle row (left to right) - Carolyn Hope, abeautifulmess.commadeleineshaw.com
bottom row - geniusquotes.org, me, Jurgen Frank/Corbis via theguardian.com

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