14/01/14 - Rocking and Rolling in Leeds

No matter how much one of your friends loves their job - and unfortunately, most people don't - it's very rare that you actually get to witness them in action.  Even if they can't get enough of whatever they do, all you'll really know about it is what they tell you and that's the way for most career paths...offices don't exactly encourage people to come and gawp at the workers typing away, even if they are loving life while they do it.  So when I went to Leeds on Saturday to see one of my best friends in her first professional acting job after graduating drama school mere months ago, it was truly an experience.  At the age of twenty one, getting to see someone I love doing what they love and doing it so well...I won't pretend I didn't get a little emotional!  That will really come as no surprise to most people who know me.

Ordinarily this post would be more of a theatre review of Jack and the Beanstalk: the Rock'n'Roll Panto at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall but as it has unfortunately closed, I can't exactly encourage you all to go and buy tickets!  For those who've never experienced a rock'n'roll panto, I suggest you change that next Christmas because you are missing out.  With all the audience participation, corny jokes and festive sparkle of any other panto but with the added joy of a massively talented and hard-working cast who sing, dance and play all the instruments for a series of fun and familiar musical numbers, it is guaranteed fun for all the family.  Back when Rachael and I were little nippers who went to the same music centre on a Saturday morning, we used to go on yearly trips to the rock'n'roll panto in Liverpool and it was always a barrel of laughs...so it was a real treat to see Rach living her dream in such a fun show!

These are our excited 'proud mum' faces!
The City Varieties Music Hall is a gorgeous little theatre, albeit a bit difficult to find!  Even sat up in the gods (second row of the upper circle, right at the top), we had a brilliant view of the whole stage.  The show itself was really fantastic and the cast were insanely talented.  You could tell that everyone in the audience had an amazing time, shouting things out and clapping along with all the well-known tunes.

We couldn't take photos during the performance, so I snapped away at the promotional pictures outside the theatre...ignore my reflection in the window!

After what I worked out is around ten years of friendship (isn't that terrifying?  God, I feel old!), I've seen Rachael perform various of different roles through school and university and I've shared a stage with her plenty of times...but I don't think I've ever been prouder of her than I was at the weekend.  Charl and Laura agreed, and we all got a little bit emotional as we whooped and danced our way through the encore.  There's nothing better than seeing one of your friends looking so happy and making an audience of excited children just as happy.

Afterwards, we hung around for a drink with Rachael and some of her family who had come to see her as well.  It was lovely to have a catch up and chat about all the fun Rach has been having in Leeds.  We all agreed it's definitely the best Christmas job anyone could have!  It was all over too soon, as Rach needed prepare for the evening performance and we scampering off to do some sale-browsing before jumping on a train home, sleepy and satisfied with a lovely day.  I'm looking forward to seeing Rachael's career go from strength to strength as the years go on...watch this space for when she's a big star one day!

Have you ever had the pleasure of seeing a rock'n'roll panto? Let me know in the comments!

10/01/14 - What I Got For Christmas: the Book Edition

I didn't get an overwhelming number of books this Christmas, which is probably a good thing as my bookshelves are currently overflowing and it's becoming somewhat hazardous.  I really need to invest in some more book storage but there just isn't the space for it!  Hashtag 'bookwormproblems'...  But I did get a few books for Christmas and then I bought some afterwards to make the most of my last few days of staff discount (bye bye temporary employment, hello job centre!) and this post is going to be a little haul of those.  This post features a lot more non-fiction books than I would ever expect from myself - maybe I'm maturing!

This year, I only specifically asked for a few books and two of these are pictured here.  Having really enjoyed Franco's previous offering Palo Alto, I was interested to get my hands on Actors Anonymous and, even though you can't see it in my photos here and obviously it's not the way to judge a book, the cover is really swish in my opinion.  I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it soon!

A family tradition we've developed over the last few years is that for Christmas, my mum will give me the best book she's read in that year.  It started when I was at university and it was more difficult for us to share books like we do when I'm at home, but we've carried it on...even though now, she just pops her own copy under the tree with the instruction to give it back when I'm done with it!  Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is this year's offering and I'm really excited to reading it after hearing amazing things from quite a few different people.  It's been described as "part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller" - what could be better?  I suspect this will get a full blog review when I'm finished with it as I'm expecting great things!

Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding is one that I could hardly wait to get stuck into when I opened it on Christmas morning.  I don't think I've ever met a girl who doesn't adore the Bridget Jones films and in my opinion, the books are just as good if not funnier in parts.  The third offering in the series didn't disappoint at all; although I read a lot of negative reviews, I personally really liked it...it's very different from the other two in a lot of ways, but Bridget is still as down-to-earth and hilarious as ever.

These next three books are ones that I'd be debating buying for a while and finally got around to when the prospect of staff discount being ripped away from me reared its ugly head!  I've actually already read How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran after borrowing it from a friend who recommended it, but it was such a wonderful book that I couldn't resist snapping it up while I could.  It's the kind of thing I like to have a copy of so I can lend it to every person I know; totally hilarious, very touching and important for more people to read in my opinion.

Purchasing The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour caused a few raised eyebrows both from the staff who served me and my family, but I have no shame.  I was a massive fan of the Billie Piper TV adaptation of this book - oh, the hours I lost at university trying to watch the entirety of the four series in a Netflix marathon.  I also bought the second book really cheaply a few years ago and it seemed silly to skip the first book so it's been sat on my shelf untouched ever since.  I'm halfway through it at the moment and it's a really fun read...obviously a bit risque and saucy in places, but mostly just funny and very well-written.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey is a compilation of the routines and habits of 150 of the greatest minds in history, from Benjamin Franklin to Pablo Picasso.  I've not had much of a chance to look through it yet, but for some reason I am really fascinated by the different ways in which people use their time and get their creative juices flowing so this will be a fun one to flick through..

The next three have no real cohesive link other than that they're much bigger than the others and therefore were easier to photograph together.  A Little Course in...Baking is a really great beginner's guide - because much to my chagrin, I must admit that I am very much a beginner - with easy instructions for recipes which increase in difficulty as you go through the book.  I might replace my 'Baking with Baileys' blog series with 'Hannah Actually Learns How To Bake' as I try new things from this book...we'll see...  (If that's something you'd like to see, comment down below!)

Ready, Set, Novel! was very much an impulse buy and something I probably wouldn't have ever bought without my discount, despite being a book I go and flick through every time I walk past it in a shop.  As it says on the spine, it's a writer's workbook and I believe is linked to NaNoWriMo (which I attempted for the first time in 2013).  It's full of different writing exercises designed to take you from an initial idea to having most aspects of your novel plotted and planned.  It just looked really fun and is full of handy tips, so I grabbed it while I could.

Although I've already listened to the audiobook, I just had to get Him and Me by Jack and Michael Whitehall as I truly believe it's the funniest book I've come across recently.  I like having the physical copy as you get to see embarrassing family photos and little doodles around the actual text.  Utterly hilarious, it's a series of shared anecdotes of a loving if tempestuous father-son relationship.  My mum and I both listened to it recently and have been annoying everyone by talking in references and inside jokes, and then killing ourselves laughing!  If you're a fan of Jack, I couldn't recommend this more.

And last but certainly not least is this utterly stunning book, Les Miserables: From Stage to Screen.  Although I've never seen it onstage, Les Mis is one of my favourite musicals (and incidentally the first I ever performed in with my youth theatre when I was 11) and holds a very special place in my heart.  This book is full of fascinating information and gorgeous pictures about the history of the show and its journey to the big screen, and is definitely one that I look forward to poring over for hours on end.

If a book really takes my breath away, it will often warrant a full review on here but if you want to keep up with the books I'm reading other than that, you can find me on Goodreads.  I've challenged myself to read sixty books in 2014 and I'll be keeping track of everything over there, so add me as a friend if you use Goodreads as well!

What's your latest favourite read?  Let me know in the comments!

08/01/14 - What I Got For Christmas

Welcome to the obligatory 'here's what I got for Christmas' blog post!  And as everyone says at the start, I am by no means bragging about all the wonderful things I received...this post is partly for me to look back on in the future and partly because I know how nosy we all are!  We read blogs to get a sneak peek into people's lives and, personally at least, I love seeing Christmas and birthday gift posts so this is just a few of my present highlights; I was very lucky this year and got lots of little things so I thought I'd share some of them with you. 

My main present this year was a pair of GHD hair straighteners, but they were hard to get a decent photo of and come on, everyone knows what they look like.  Before I cut my hair, I never really needed to straighten it because the weight of the length would drag it all down, getting rid of any bounce or kinks.  Now that it's shorter, it has a mind of its own and very much needs to be controlled so GHDs were top of my Christmas list.  I've used them a few times and I have to say, been absolutely blown away by the results.  I know people say they're the best but I wouldn't have believed how good they could be until I tried them myself.  I certainly have plenty of good hair days in my future!

Do you remember the post in which I raved about my latest favourite LUSH scent?  Now I can add the perfume to my collection of rose-scented products!  Alongside their usual Gorilla perfumes, LUSH introduced a range of their festive scents as perfumes for Christmas 2013.  They're only available for a limited time, so I suggest you grab one quick!  The scent is strong but not overpowering, and lasts really well.  The few occasions on which I've worn it so far, I've had compliments on it every time!  I love the minimalist design of it as well.

I'm fairly well-known amongst my friends for having an extensive DVD collection...at university, they had to live by the television in the living room because carrying them all through whenever we wanted to choose a film was just too much.  I, of course, added to this collection with my two favourite films of the year (both of which I reviewed here and here), the second series of my favourite TV series of the year, and the two Nativity films - why had I never seen either before?  My brother and I did a marathon of both in one night and they are rapidly becoming my new festive favourites!  (How many times can I say the word 'favourite' in one paragraph?  Oops.)

There's nothing I love more than really personal gifts.  Knowing that someone has gone to the time and effort to really think about what you might appreciate means a lot, especially around Christmas when there are so many other things to consider and people to buy presents for.  But the ultimate best kind of present?  Homemade.  Through his job, my dad knows and works with a lot of artists.  Recently, he helped to run a workshop with a woman who specialises in ceramic art and at that workshop, he made a bowl for my mum and tiles featuring our initials for me and my brother.  He kept stressing before we opened them that it wasn't much and we shouldn't get our hopes up, but really I just love that I can look at this tile propped up on my bookshelves and know that my dad made it specifically with me in mind.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And on a similar theme, I also got this piece of textile art by Mary Bryning (who is incidentally someone I used to work with and a very lovely woman).  My mum and I went to a fair at the gallery my dad works at, at which a lot of local artists were displaying and selling their work.  We both specifically pointed out pieces of Mary's that we liked, and were then surprised to open them on Christmas morning!  He'd been a sneaky one this year, my father.  I love collecting unique things and arty pieces which I can hang onto for when I have my own house.

My brother came up trumps this year as well.  After making a brief suggestion to him a few months ago that I thought one of those poseable wooden hands that artists use (similar to those funky little men with the round heads) would be a really cool way to store and display my ring collection, I totally forgot all about it.  I'd had a little browse online and not been able to find anything, so I put the idea to bed...only to find that, not only had Josh hunted one down and bought it for me, he'd also bought me ring to go along with it.  Yet another purchase from a local artist, Tilly Wilkinson, I love that it's a bit more delicate than most of my massive chunky costume jewellery.  I can't wait to get this hand all loaded up with rings...it might make it look a teeny bit less creepy when you catch it out of the corner of your eye...

And of course there's the usual mound of chocolate.  It feels much bigger this year than usual, which is unfortunate as I could do with shedding the extra Christmas weight without too many temptations.  I have so little self control, I suspect all of this will be gone very soon...and this is just what I haven't eaten already!

Some of you may be wondering, "But Hannah, you're such a bookworm...how is it possible that you didn't get a single book under your Christmas tree?"  Good question, dear reader.  Of course I got some books for Christmas and I've also bought some recently so I'm going to do a whole separate post about those, or we'd be here all day!

I hope you've enjoyed reading this and don't think that I'm trying to show off, I just thought some people might be interested to see what I got this year.  If you've written your own Christmas haul posts, link them in the comments!  I'm so nosy, I love to see what other people get.

05/01/14 - Exploring Liverpool: Leaf and Alma de Cuba

Looking back over the past few months of this blog, I realised that I've become lazy when it comes to actually doing things that involve leaving the house which means I've been reviewing and recipe-ing away for ages without getting out and about.  Since graduating, my social life has stalled a little and the few times I do venture beyond my kitchen, I rarely remember to document what I'm up to.  This won't happen in 2014; I will make more of an effort to do blog-worthy things and to remember my camera when I do!  However, I need to apologise in advance for the photos in this post - my parents' big impressive camera would never fit in my clutch bag, so a combination of my old Fujifilm and my friend's Instagram will be providing the images for this post.

There is very little better than chowing down and catching up with an old friend.  I don't believe Heather's featured on my blog before, which is frankly a travesty as she's been my bestie since we were two little brainiacs working on primary school projects together!  Now that we're both back in the parental homesteads, there's no excuse not to see each other...we spent a couple of days over Christmas actually working together, for goodness' sake.  So we've decided to have a monthly excursion in which we will explore the independent restaurants that Liverpool has to offer; we both get an outing and I get something to write about on here!  Everybody wins.

We started at Leaf on Bold Street, best known for their wide range of exotic teas but also serving a delicious and varied menu of carefully hand-crafted food.  After wandering in and out of a few places and being turned away (why on Earth didn't we think to book somewhere on a Saturday night?), we found ourselves on a small table amid the hustle and bustle of Leaf's slightly bohemian atmosphere.  The service was impressively quick for a busy Saturday evening, and the food was of a really high standard and very reasonably priced.  The whole meal couldn't have been more than £25 for both of us.

Heather opted for a spicy falafel burger, which came with Greek salad and a side of the most delicious fried potatoes.

I had a mixed vegetable Goan-style curry served with coriander rice and naan bread.  The curry was thick and creamy, filled with fresh vegetables and rich flavours.

Like the sensible girls that we are, we decided to pace ourselves and started with tea rather than alcohol.  As it's what Leaf is famous for, it seemed silly not to!  We both chose white tea sprinkled with champagne flavour and cassis, which was fruity and refreshing and a perfect compliment to the food.

After dinner, it was cocktail o'clock!  Well, come on, when isn't it?  Our next port of call was Alma de Cuba, a bar and restaurant with a mix of Cuban, Hispanic and Latin American influences located in the conversion of St Peter's Catholic Church.  The surroundings are utterly spectacular, complete with stained glass windows, pews for seating and a DJ booth up behind the altar.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the bar as the lighting was low and atmospheric...totally not conducive to blogging, how selfish of them!  Heather snapped a few, which begs the question of how her phone camera can be better than my actual camera?  I think I need to upgrade!

 The cocktail menu is extensive, featuring all the classics you would expect mixed in which twists on these classics and some totally off-the-wall creations.  You'll find something for everyone, from your cocktail traditionalist to someone who wants something a bit more unique.

Lycheetini with a sherbert and poppy candy rim
I believe this was something with passionfruit and prosecco...
basically the only drink Heather had
that wasn't a strawberry daquiri!

I didn't get any photos of it, but my favourite drink of the evening was the passionfruit and chilli caipirinha.  It was zesty and refreshing with a definite kick of chilli that lingered in the back of the throat...definitely one I would have again.

As we sipped and surveyed the other patrons , we got chattering away about everything under the sun - well, what else is having a girly cocktail night for?  Before we knew it, it was 11pm and that's when Alma de Cuba really comes alive!  The music got louder, petals began to fall from the upstairs balcony (where I believe the restaurant is located) and a woman in a sequinned bikini with a feathered headdress began shaking her money-maker to the fast Brazilian beats.  It was definitely an experience and one I would love to repeat!

After deciding we probably couldn't afford another of Alma de Cuba's delicious cocktails, we started scouting around the surrounding area for somewhere else to go for another few drinks.  I can't remember exactly where we went, but it really opened to my eyes to how little of Liverpool's nightlife I've experienced.  I mean, why have I never had a frozen piña colada out of a pineapple before?!

While we originally intended to have a rather sedate evening of dinner and a few drinks, we may have left that behind somewhere around out third cocktail.  We had some hilarious experiences of beard-scouting, telling off a groom for trying to get with drunk women at his own stag do, and returning to Alma de Cuba for one more drink for the road...but it's never just one, is it?  

I had a brilliant evening and I'm so excited to do it all again next month...with possibly a few less drinks, as I'm feeling rather delicate as I type this!

Where's your favourite place to go for cocktails?  Let me know in the comments!

02/01/14 - A Time For Reflection

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This isn't an official tag, but I believe it could develop into one and that the world of blogging would be a little bit better for it!  My gorgeous friend Megan answered these questions on her blog after they were posed by musical theatre wonder woman, Sierra Boggess.  The start of January is a time for looking back on the last twelve months and looking forward to the next, so I couldn't resist answering these reflective questions.

Five highlights of 2013
I feel like an X Factor presenter, but these highlights are in no particular order...I just couldn't rank them!  It's been a big year for me but the top five are probably: 1) my graduation; 2) all things HUPAS, from the showcase to winning Society of the Year; 3) my 21st birthday; 4) Getting to spend more time with my family after moving home; 5) Strengthening my current friendships, both at home and around the country.

What are you most proud of and why?
Graduating with a solid 2:1, and particularly writing my dissertation.  It may not have earned me marks as high as I had hoped, but I'm actually really happy with it and I certainly enjoyed writing it.  Any excuse to geek out over Harry Potter is alright by me!

What did you learn most about yourself?
I learned that I'm much stronger and more self-sufficient than I give myself credit for.

What surprised you most?
I was surprised by how much I missed Hull after graduation.  I always knew I'd miss university life and my friends, but the city itself will always hold a special place in my heart that I hadn't expected.

What goals did you succeed in accomplishing?
It's something I don't do any more, but I was rather impressed with the self-control I exercised by sticking to my gym routine at the start of the year.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and how did that affect you?
Returning to my family home after three years of independence has been much more of a transition than I'd expected.  While I love my family, a lack of independence and constantly applying for, and not getting, jobs can take something of a toll.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
While I may be starting 2014 as an unemployed person, I've tried a few different jobs this year and all were great experiences in different ways.  I couldn't single out a particular one that I feel most proud of.

What didn't you do that you wish you'd done?
I feel that 2013 contained a few opportunities that I might have missed, but it's best not to dwell on those.

What friendships meant the most to you and why?
All of my friends are incredibly special to me and there are simply too many to list!  I will, however, give a special mention to all my friends who are flung far and wide across the country and the world.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say, so I'm determined that 2014 will be a year of visiting.  I also want to send my continuing love to my amazing housemates (ex-housemates sob sob) who are some of my favourite people ever and who I miss every day.

What was one of the best decisions you made?
Cutting the bleached bits out of my hair.  Such a superficial answer, but my hair feels so much healthier and looks much nicer now.

Which day would you relive if could?
There are far too many for me to choose, but I can narrow it down to graduation or my birthday weekend.  Both were incredible experiences that I won't be forgetting any time soon.

What, if any, regrets do you have?
I wish I hadn't wasted so much time worrying about the future and spent more time living in the moment.

What made you laugh?
All kinds of things.  My friends always manage to keep me smiling.

What was one of the biggest risks you took and how did it turn out?
I'm not much of a risk-taker, so I don't know how to answer this.  

If you could change one thing, what and why?
There's a couple of hangovers that I would much rather go back and rewrite.  2013 saw far too much of me waking up with a blinding headache and proceeding to whimper into a Subway all day.

What was your biggest disappointment?  Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently?
My biggest disappointment came in the past few weeks and involved not getting a job that I had basically been previously promised.  I won't go too far into it because it's no longer important and bitterness never helped anyone, but if I could change something it would be that I wouldn't have pinned so many hopes on something that was never certain.  

What did you do that deserved some kind of recognition?
I feel like that's a hard one for me to answer.

What was one of the most meaningful things someone did for you?
While there have been several things I could mention here, one of the most special was the utter treat my friend Alistair gave me as an early birthday present.  Not only did he pay for my End of Year Ball shoes and dress, he treated me to a veritable feast at Yo! Sushi and a decadent bottle of tasty pink gin and a gorgeous engraved glass.  I was truly spoiled and I am yet to decide what I can possibly get him for his birthday that will even begin to compete!

What was one of most meaningful things you did for someone?
I can't think of many things off the top of my head and I don't want to be one of those people who is like 'Ooh look what a good friend I am'...buuuuut the main thing that springs to mind is sending a batch of 'Break A Leg' cupcakes to my friend Lauren on the day of the Performing Arts showcase, which I was unable to attend as I was working.  She's the President of the society and works harder than anyone I know, so she deserved a little treat!

What was one of your favourite romantic highlights?
Sadly, there have not been many romantic moments in 2013...and that's fine by me.  I've had far too much else going to be worrying about that.

How are you different now than a year ago?
I feel like a better version of the person I developed into at university.  I'm more positive and confident, and I like who I'm becoming.

What were some meaningful compliments you  received?
The best compliments I've had this year have been related to my work in the few jobs I've had.  It's always gratifying to hear that you're doing something right.

What's still incomplete for you?
All kinds of things.  Unfortunately the end of a year doesn't tie up all the loose ends, so there's still a lot I need to do.

What are you most thankful for?
My incredible friends and family, who I know will always stick by me and keep my spirits up when I most need it.

Reflecting on the upcoming year:

What would you like to be different in your life a year from now?
I'd quite like to have a job that I really enjoy and be on my way to moving out of my parents house.

What personal goal commitments are you willing to make?
This question is going to take a little thought...I don't have much of an answer just yet.

What bad habits would you like to rid yourself of?
I'm determined to stop second-guessing myself and worrying what other people think about me.  Also, lusting over bags that I will never be able to afford and buying homeware for a house I don't own yet.  There's only so many soft furnishings and glassware one girl can fit into a single room.

What unfinished business do you need to complete?
I made a decent start this year, but I'm going to finish a first draft of the novel I've been toying with for a while.  

What would you like to have more of in your life?
Exciting experiences.

What would you like to have less of in your life?
Negative thoughts.

What relationships do you need to improve upon?
I don't think I need to improve on any relationships, but I believe all relationships need work so I'll just carry on doing what I'm doing.

What's the best advice you could give yourself?
Stop thinking so much.  Don't worry about what people will think, don't worry so much about the future.  Just get on with life.

What personal challenges do you anticipate?  What is your strategy to handle these?
Keeping in touch with friends becomes more difficult when everyone is becoming proper adults with jobs and mortgages and commitments, so I'm determined to keep my friends as close as possible.  It takes work to make time for each other, but it's always time well spent.

What professional challenges do you anticipate?  What is your strategy to handle these?
The continuous cycle of finding jobs to apply for, sending off CVs and not hearing anything back is a strenuous one, especially when it goes on for too long.  I just need to keep my chin up and my head down, and I'm sure something will come along.

What special memories would you like to create?
I'm determined to have adventures with all my favourite people.  I have several trips hopefully on the cards but even if I just get to drink wine and giggle with my girls, I'll be more than happy.

What do you plan to do just for you?
This answer is a little bit of a contradiction in itself.  I want to spend less time attached to the Internet, but I equally want to continue to work on this blog.

What are you going to do to create a healthy balance between family, friends, work and play?
I like to think that it's something I'm not too bad at already, so I just need to keep everything in perspective and not let any element of my life take over the others.

What are some personal growth opportunities?
I don't think I can answer that until after those opportunities have happened!

What are you looking forward to?
Just seeing what 2014 has to offer.  Bring it on!

If you made it all the way to the end of this post, I am very impressed!  It's a long one, but I really enjoyed thinking back on the past year and looking forward to the next.

If you want to answer these questions, please link me to your blog post!  I'd love to see more people doing this reflective tag.

01/01/14 - Goodbye 2013!

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So another year comes to an end, and what a year it's been!  As I'm sure everyone says at the start of these posts - included myself last year (I checked) - I feel like so much has changed in the last twelve months, least of all myself.  I turned 21, graduated university, tried a few different jobs, met new people and strengthened the friendships I already had.  When I think back over the highs and lows of 2013, I can barely recognise the girl I was at the start of the year...she had much longer hair, for one thing!  I think I've learned a lot about myself and the way I want my life to be, and I'm determined to make it happen.  2013 has been an honestly incredible year with so many memories that I'll never forget, but 2014 will be even better if I have anything to do with it!

Before I make any more, I want to take a look at last year's resolutions to see how I got on there.  Here we go...

1) Get a degree.  Tick.  A degree I'm very proud of no less, even if I do believe that I could have done a bit better had I worked a little bit harder.  Needless to say, it's not a huge regret as my final year of uni was probably the best year of my life to date and being stuck in front of a pile of textbooks would have impacted that.

2) Spend less money.  This is a tough one to judge.  I did actually manage to stick to the spending ban I put myself on in last year's resolutions post, but I'm sure I've had a few slip-ups as well.  As the year comes to an end though, I'm not totally overdrawn and I try my best to restrain myself to only buying things I really need or desperately want.  So I'm going to call this one another success.  Tick.

3) Food and exercise.  Oops.  This is where I've majorly let myself down, particularly recently.  I have done a little more home-cooking and learned some new recipes, but other than that it's been a bit of a flop.  While I was in Hull, I was so good at going to the gym and eating well.  Ridiculously 'I-can't-believe-I-have-this-kind-of-self-control-in-me' good.  Having people around me in the same boat definitely helped, and a cheap gym just a short walk away.  Now that I'm home with my Dad's cooking on tap and less access to gym facilities, it's become much harder.  I'm hoping to get a little more on track in the New Year, so watch this space!

Two out of three ain't bad, but I'm hoping I can do even better with the next twelve months.  Last year's resolutions were pretty dull really, mostly attempts to make myself more sensible and to use my time and money practically.  While these are still things I need to do - more than ever now that I don't have a lovely student loan to rely on - 2014's resolutions are going to be more fun.

This year, I want to have adventures.  If nothing else, I am certainly jaunting over to Canada to see Rachel while she's out there.  I would hate to miss out on an opportunity to experience all the wonderful things I've seen her posting photos of on Facebook!  

But in general, I want to make things happen for myself in 2014 - whether that means travelling (which I intend to do more of), getting a job, finishing the novel I've been working on...any number of things.  2014 is going to be my year.  I can feel it already.

What are your resolutions this year?  Let me know in the comments!