Month: January 2012

A Letter to… Sleep

Dear Sleep,

I miss you, will you come back into my life? 

But not like you were before, not like when I used to wake from you feeling like you hadn’t happened at all. Not like when 6 hours of you sounded like an un-achievable dream. Not like when if I managed to find you in the day then I’d willing have you, because it might be the only bit of you that I got.

I want sleep like I want to eat, like I want to drink. I need you if I’m completely honest. I’d trade a LOT to get eight hours with you tonight! 

I dream of a time when I had too much of you, a time when you took up a lot of my time, when we were close. I want to find you every night without having to take any medicine. I want to claim you for my own. I want to find you like I did when I was just a baby.

I want to dream all night and when I wake up I want to remember them.

Maybe if you come back to me, properly, I can have some of my energy back. I will remember what it feels like to be ALIVE. 

You’re one of the most important things when it comes to making us feel good, and yet, you never stay with me for long.

I miss you. I want you back. I need you back.

Yours exhaustedly,

Sophie 

{image via weheartit}

I hope you enjoyed my second letter in the Series of Letters 🙂

The first letter can be found here.

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11 Things.

Earlier this week the lovely ladies Laura and Tessa tagged me in their 11 things surveys and as I love surveys I thought I’d give it a go 🙂

Here are the survey “rules”:

#1: You must post these rules.
#2: Each person must post 11 things about themselves on their blog.
#3: Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.

So, 11 things about me:

1. I love to dance.  I had ballet lessons from aged 3, and took lessons in modern theatre and contemporary for a while. I even volunteered as an assistant teacher in the younger classes for two hours every Saturday morning for a couple of years. I only stopped about four years ago because of my condition. Not many people know that I used to dance.

2. The part of my facial appearance that I obsess about the most is my eyebrows. I always have incredibly neat eyebrows. They are always neatly plucked and shaped. I pretty much always carry my eyebrow pencil and comb with me along with my eyeliner, mascara and lip salve. Like I said, it’s an obsession. If I could change them I would make them more arched, unfortunately to do that I’d have to pluck them really thin and I hate super thin eyebrows!

3. I love to collect notebooks, pretty paper, journals, pads… I have more than most people could find use for but I love them. I write lists, I organise things, I find inspiration, I jot down random musings, I write (really) short stories. I always carry a notebook and a pen on me, I’m lost without being able to scrawl quick little notes wherever I am.

4. I love to bake but I don’t get the chance as often as I’d like. I’m desperate to have a better kitchen so that I can try out some new recipes, there are tons of baked goods I’ve never even made once and I just want to learn everything I can!

5. I used to hate the fact that I have very curly hair, when I was in my early teens I often used to straighten my hair (which takes about half an hour!). I guess we always want what we don’t have at some point in our lives. However now I love that my hair is curly, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I think curly hair is the best when it’s styled nicely 🙂

6. I adore buying people presents and it’s not a purely generous, selfless thing! I just love spending ages coming up with ideas for people’s gifts and then going shopping for them. Of course I also love the moment when you see their reaction upon opening your present too.

7. My mother is French, she’s from Northern France and my grandparents and uncle still live over there. We go to France several times a year, both to visit them and to go on holiday and I love it. My maternal language is French although my English is stronger through living here. I love having the mixture of the two cultures and being fluent in two languages has great perks!

8. One of my favourite quotations is an ancient Chinese proverb ‘The more you know, the less you need’. I think it is just so true. It can apply to all kinds of knowledge; academic, spiritual, nutritional, physical, knowledge about yourself, about happiness, anything…

9. Although I’ve been an avid reader for many years I haven’t always loved reading. When I was little I used to hate learning to read, my parents used to scold me when I practiced my reading with them because I used to just make the story up to go along with what I saw in the pictures! It was actually Harry Potter that got me reading in Year 3 (aged 8) and from then on I devoured books. I’d read several classics already at age 11.

10. Continuing with that theme, I also haven’t always loved to eat. When I was little I was a ridiculously fussy eater, there were so many foods I didn’t like! I would be sat at the table for hours with veg on my plate refusing to eat. But my mum persevered, she carried on trying to get my sister (who was also really fussy) and I to eat new foods and she succeeded. Now I love to eat and I love trying new foods, there are in fact very few foods that I really don’t like 🙂

11. I have now been suffering (un-diagnosed) for almost 5 and a half years with chronic pain and it has changed the shape of my life. It could be arthritis, it could be fibromyalgia or ME or something else entirely. For the moment the doctor is treating as fibromyalgia. Until the age of 14 I had never been to hospital, now I can’t remember the number of times I’ve been there. I don’t know what the future holds for me, I don’t know if I will be able to do all the things I dream of doing. It all sounds terribly negative and in many ways it is: I’m always in pain, sometimes in agony, and I’m exhausted most of the time. However, it has taught me so much, and it has made me view life and the world in a completely different way. And I can truly say that there are some positives: I’ve learnt to become an optimistic person – I always try to find the positives in life, I don’t take anything for granted anymore because I know what it’s like to lose something that we all take for granted, I value my health more than ever, and I understand and care more for the people in society who have some kind of disability! Life is what you make of it!

Here is a mixture of the questions Laura and Tessa asked:

1. What is your dream travel destination?

I’ve always had a dream of traveling around India, I’m not entirely sure where it comes from but I love Indian culture, art and food. It would be such an amazing experience, I really hope I get to go one day! (Second place has to go to Rome, I’m desperate to visit the city as I adore Italy and it is full of amazing things to see and do)

{source}

2. If you were throwing a party for yourself what would be your theme?

Oh this is a fun question, I’d love to have a Midsummer Night’s Dream themed dinner party. It would espouse my love of Shakespeare, nature and delicious food. Just think how beautiful it could be – wreaths and garlands of greenery, flowers everywhere, dozens of candles, silk spreads, beautiful clothes and all sorts of gorgeous mezze…

3. What is something you never leave the house without?

I never leave the house without my phone, my lip balm, my kindle, my hand cream and a pen and notebook. (I’m aware that that is more than one thing!)

4. What workout are you currently loving?

I’ve only just started getting back in to my workouts after some time off but at the moment I’m loving my upper body and core strength workouts.

5. Tea or Coffee?

Coffee. Always with milk. And preferably a flavoured syrup too 😉

6. What would be your “last meal?”

My last meal would have to involve pasta, of course, so probably a vegetable spaghetti dish and for dessert an apple puff pastry tart. A simple meal but one of my all time favourites.

7. Sum yourself up in 5 words…

Caring, passionate, generous, optimistic, determined.

8. If you could go back in time, which time period would you visit?

I would love to go back in time to the Elizabethan era, I’d love to see Shakespeare’s plays as they were meant to be performed (English nerd!)

{source}

9. Who would be invited to your dream dinner party?

Shakespeare (obviously), Jane Austen, Mother Theresa, Queen Victoria, Mary Woolstonecraft, Charles Darwin, Maria Callas, Pavarotti, Aneurin Bevan, Harper Lee, and of course Tom. It would make for some truly fantastic conversations!

10. What is a weird and/or interesting quirk you have?

Weird and/or interesting you say? Well a weird quirk I have is that I set one of my alarms to be 20 minutes early so that I make sure I stay on time and I know when it goes off in the morning that if I want to I can have an extra lie-in till my phone goes off. I’m not sure that’s terribly interesting though 😛

11. What is a goal in life you are striving to achieve?

I want to get a good degree. If I get through uni and manage to achieve a 2.1 or a first then I will be over the moon because physically I am really struggling with day-to-day life, let along with my work and it will be a huge achievement for me!

Now for my 11 questions:

1. What is your favourite thing to bake?
2. Who is your favourite fictional character?
3. Arts or Sciences?
4. What is your main goal for 2012?
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you choose?
6. Strength training or cardio?
7. Favourite quotation?
8. Which famous person would you most like to meet and why?
9. Sweet or savoury?
10. Which film do you always turn to and why?
11. What is your greatest achievement to date?

And I’m going to tag these fabulous ladies:

Emily @ What Emily Did Next

Sarah @ Every Day’s A Picnic

Leigh @ PeanutButterNutter 

Anna @ Food Fitness And Frolicking

Chloe @ LightOnMyFeet

Danielle @ The Oxford Comma

Now it’s your turn, answer whichever questions you fancy, I’d love to hear your answers!

Saturday Snaps, Waffles and a Beautiful Plate.

Today I leave for uni.

I haven’t yet packed but I’ve got about three hours so I figure I’ll be okay!

I’ve been at home for almost six weeks and it’s been a really lovely holiday. We had a wonderful family Christmas, I got to be with my amazing boyfriend for hours on end, I spent some fantastic time with my lovely friends and I did lots of really fun things. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to all of that.

But I do have things to look forward to, I have heaps planned for this term and I’m hopeful that things are going to be getting a lot better.

Yesterday I stayed up watching TV with my mum so I was too tired to post but we had some really delicious food.

I started the day off with the usual bowl of weetabix mush but I decided to stir in some of my mum’s lovely homemade apple sauce which worked so well. It made the bowl so juicy and fresh and I loved the touch of cinnamon it added. In my opinion cinnamon pretty much goes with most sweet food, it’s the queen of spices in my book (the king of spices is cayenne pepper). Of course the bowl had to be topped with granola. I’m going to miss this granola this term, it’s way too much of a luxury for me to buy it as a poor student!

I spent the morning lounging around reading. I go through phases when I don’t read quite so much because I’m too busy but lately I’ve been reading in every teeny spare moment I have. I’m devouring books at the rate I used to before exams and stress came along a few years ago and I love it!

Lunch was another lovely fresh tasting dish:

Courgette and Cherry Tomato Pasta.

serves 1

1 medium courgette
a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
a handful of pine nuts
a glug of olive oil
60 g of wholemeal pasta

  • Heat the oil gently in a non-stick pan. Thinly slice the courgette, finely chop the garlic and halve the cherry tomatoes. Whilst the oil heats, bowl a kettle of water.
  • Add the courgettes and the garlic to the pan and stir till coated in the oil. Whilst they start to fry gently, put the pasta in to cook.
  • Keep stirring the courgette and garlic so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Once the courgette is starting to soften, add the cherry tomatoes and the pine nuts. Keep stirring occasionally.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return it to the pan. Tip the courgettes, cherry tomatoes, garlic and pine nuts into the pasta and mix together.
  • Serve and enjoy!

It’s a really simple dish, only takes about 15 minutes to cook and tastes just like summer. I love light lunches like this, they’re perfect for when you just want something easy but healthy. If you have a larger appetite just up the quantity of pasta and pine nuts for a more filling meal 🙂

I spent part of the afternoon formatting and printing off my essays. There is something so satisfying about having the proof of all that work in your hands. Even if it does use up a lot of paper!


 Dinner yesterday evening was a delicious plate of steak and chips with a peppercorn sauce. It is not a meal with pretensions of healthiness. It is purely a meal of indulgence. But despite not being a big meat-eater I do like a nice piece of steak. And for someone who is hugely fussy about things like fat in meat and eating off the bone, I like my steak to be red on the inside. And maybe even bleeding a little still. Call me crazy. (I’m sorry if that description made any of you veggies feel a bit disgusted!)

Anyway I probably won’t eat any meat for the next two months so I might as well enjoy this one meal. It did taste spectacular. And it’s an achievement in a way because this dish holds several of my former fear foods: chips, meat fat and cream. And so to be able to just savour the meal and accept how it feels good.

 

This morning my mum made me a rather delicious last breakfast:

Waffles 🙂 I had one topped with raspberry jam and one with a liberal sprinkling of icing sugar. They were rather delicious.

My parents also surprised me this morning with a completely unexpected gift…

A beautiful ‘Love Live and Learn’ plate. Isn’t it gorgeous? I absolutely adore it! Think how pretty it would look piled high with fruit or homemade muffins. I was overwhelmed by it, I had no idea they’d commissioned it for me. I’m so happy, it’s really lovely and it’s such a nice gift to be given.

It’s a lovely way to end the best Christmas holidays I think I’ve ever had!

I know I ask this a lot but any new book recommendations?
What indulgent meal do you enjoy despite its lack of healthy credentials?
Have you done anything particularly fun this weekend?

 

Freedom.

I have finished all of my holiday assessments.

I cannot describe how it feels to have the weight lifted from my shoulders.

In the last few weeks I have written approximately 10,000 words.

With the exception of the bibliographies and the formatting I am done.

(For the weekend at least!)

This morning my mum and I took a trip into town to grab a few things that I needed and to have a well-deserved coffee together. I love spending time with my mum like that, it might sound a bit overly emotional but I’m really going to miss all of the lovely chats we’ve been having.

We went to one of my favourite local cafes. It’s so sweet, mostly decorated in white with lovely wooden tables and chairs and a little kitchen with an almost cottage-y feel. Plus they make the most delicious cakes. I got a raspberry and coconut slice and it was just gorgeous. There’s something sort of special about the vanilla syrup they put in the lattes too, it has so much more flavour than the Starbucks one.

After our little trip to town we each settled down to our work before regrouping for lunch.

Toasted bagel topped with pan-fried courgette with garlic and chilli. It’s such a simple and tasty meal to make, perfect for a light lunch. The fresh taste makes me think summer. It made me wistful for warmer weather, for lighter evenings, for light jackets and pretty dresses, for spring flowers and for longer days.

This afternoon was all work and no play.

But as I said before as a consequence I have finished with the assignments I was set over Christmas. It feels so freeing. Now I can enjoy the last day and a half of my time at home 🙂

Shakespeare’s histories and I have said our goodbyes, I will no longer be consulting with King Richard or dear old Falstaff. It’s been really interesting to learn about the history plays but I have to say they’re not really my cup of tea. I downloaded A Lover’s Complaint onto my Kindle this afternoon which I plan on reading when I next get a spare afternoon. I’ve been stocking up on free classics lately, like I said the other day, I’m addicted!

I celebrated the fact that I was doing so well with my work with a big slice of buttered brioche and a square of dark chocolate. Such a nice snack. Both are foods from my childhood, nothing beats the brioche from the bakers opposite my grandparents’ house.

Anyway it’s late, I’ve just had a lovely chat with Tom and I’m off to bed.

Any exciting plans for this weekend?
Are you all looking forward to spring arriving as much as I am?
Cold or warm weather?


A Shakespearean Afternoon.

Well it’s been a productive day!

I hope you’re all having fantastic weeks, almost the weekend 🙂

The countdown has well and truly started to sink in, in three days I’ll be back in my uni bedroom.
I don’t really know how I feel yet.

I kind of want to be excited, there are things I want to try out, resolutions I want to fulfill.

But then I remember all of the details I don’t enjoy. The loneliness, the cold, the discomfort, the exhaustion, the pain…

It’s a completely confusing mixture of emotions to feel so in away it’s a good thing that I have had all of this work to do this week – it’s distracted me from thoughts of next week and made me shove my emotions to one side. It’s also useful really because now I’m in the swing of working again, I actually crave my modern literature lectures, I’m thirsting to discover a whole load of new and exciting books. And I want to be able to go to the gym again, and cook for myself. I have a list of recipes to try out. There is a stack of to-dos that I want to complete.

So it’s not all bad really, it just sometimes feels it when I imagine not spending any time with my family, with Tom, with my friends from home, for weeks. And the idea of going back to having a teeny tiny bedroom and a sub-par kitchen isn’t particularly appealing.

See what I mean about the confusion?! I can go from something positive to something upsetting in the blink of an eye at the moment.

I guess it’s normal.

I made lunch for my mum today because she was teaching till 1.30pm. It’s a simple dish but it’s delicious and on top of that is pretty healthy for a pasta dish. The ingredients are basically just cherry tomatoes, rocket, garlic, chili, lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s lovely.

So because I still have my Shakespeare essay to write I had a pretty work-filled afternoon. A Shakespearean afternoon.

This essay is worth 100% of the module (1o credits) so it’s quite important. The photo shows essay planning my way, i.e. notes and books spread across the bed. I do try to work at my desk as much as possible but after a while my back and hips start screaming at me and invariably I transfer to my bed.

Now lately I’ve been reading quite a lot about how your bed and the area around it should be reserved purely for sleep and relaxation as this helps you to fall asleep more easily at night. The sources suggest that you should separate your sleep and restful space from the space you work in. Well I have to say this kind of worried me a little, as in my little uni bedroom my bed and my desk are only a metre apart. Now to me this doesn’t sound very separated… I doubt it’s the reason I don’t sleep well though! But it does show me that perhaps I should try to work more at my desk instead of on my bed.

What do you all think?

One thing I have been doing to create a more soothing atmosphere in my room this week is lighting this every evening:

My lovely apple scented candle. It gives off such a pretty light. I have to say the scent isn’t particularly strong so it’s more of a decorative candle but it was incredibly cheap from Ikea so I can’t really complain! I really want to buy a couple of lovely scented candles for my room at uni now but I’m worried they’d set the fire alarms off.

Anyway it’s definitely bed time for me, my eyelids are starting to droop!

Do any students (or any of you who were recently at uni) find going back after Christmas particularly difficult?
What do you think about my sleep conundrum?
What do you do to make your bedroom relaxing? Any scented candles you can recommend?

 

What I Ate Wednesday No.24

Exhausted. That’s pretty much the best word to sum up how I feel right now. But I have to get used to it – back at uni on Sunday and this is the reality I am going to have to face. I just wish it wasn’t quite so energy-draining… Oh well enough complaining, I’m planning on doing a more in-depth and open post on all of this soon, but until then I’m going to be positive!

Nothing more boring than reading someone complain about being tired.

Especially as it is after all Wednesday. Which means that I get to gaze at lots of delicious looking food.

Thank you Jenn for creating WIAW, I don’t know what the middle of the week would be like on the blog without it! If you’re new and want to know what on earth the fuss is all about, check out Jenn’s blog Peas and Crayons to find out more 🙂

Today’s breakfast was simple:

Needs no explanation really. I should give myself the challenge of having something other than weetabix for breakfast for a week sometime, I wonder whether I’d actually manage. I think I’m addicted 🙂 Pretty sure that when I get back to uni I’ll probably resort to eating it twice a day sometimes!

Lunch was leftover curry, eaten as I finished off my modern literature essay! I’m so pleased to have finished it, just a little bit of tweaking here and there and it’ll be done. It’s a weight off my mind. Now onto the next one…

Dinner was another spicy dish:

We had chili con carne which is a lovely, comforting dish for cold weather. It’s a great dish for protein too, it certainly helped a little with the energy levels anyway.

And I finished the day off with a bowl of deliciousness: fresh mango, greek yogurt and a rather liberal sprinkling of granola (my hand actually slipped as I poured it on, I picked off what didn’t touch the yogurt and put it back! I can be so clumsy sometimes!).

Well as I said, I’m in need of sleep so off to bed. It’s been a productive day though, two assignments finished!

Best thing you’ve eaten recently?
Are you a fan of spicy food?
Any veggie recipes that I simply must try?
I’m looking for inspiration for when I’m back at uni next week

Night loves,

 

The Power of Song

Hello lovely readers!

If I’d posted this yesterday evening I may well have been a bit grumpy. You see, yesterday was a day of work. A day of pretty-much-no-stop work to be precise. I was productive which is a positive thing of course, but I was also in a lot of pain from being sat a desk most of the time so it kind of negated that feeling you get from having worked well. But, since then, I have perked up considerably.

Yesterday morning I woke up what my mum would call ‘a reasonable time’ (i.e. before 9.30am) and managed to get up and at my desk working within the hour. I still have endless sources to trawl through but this in itself is a good thing really, there’s nothing worse than not having enough critical material to draw on.

Aren’t old books beautiful? I got this out of the uni library before I left for Christmas and I think it is one of the loveliest books I’ve ever used. The cover is hard with gentle edges, the gold writing still as clear as when it was first printed, the pages are cream, soft and have that sort of musty, comforting smell. It feels nice to hold and slowly turn the pages.

Today I’m back at my work, rain is gently pattering against the slanted windows above me and I’m listening to Laura Marling as I start to type up my essay. It feels good to write for hours, I haven’t really had to in recent months and although I’m feeling a little stressed it still feels good. This is what I’m good at after all, I can read and I can write.

I’m struck by a particular post-it up on my wall next to me:

Even though doing two essays in one week seems an insurmountable of work for me, as I can’t sit at a desk for hours at a time, this quotation always reminds me that I can actually do it, and, in the words of Shakespeare, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’!

And what cheered me up yesterday? My 8.30pm hour long singing lesson.

I adore singing.

There is nothing like it in the world for me. I put my heart and soul into every note, every word. It takes all of my concentration and yet I kind of feel like I’m floating.

No longer having regular singing lessons and no longer having any exams to pass has actually freed up my voice. Even though we work on difficult pieces which require hours of work, I don’t feel any pressure and so they become fun.

To cheer me up today unfortunately I have no singing planned but I do have this:

These are biscuits from my childhood that my mum and I decided to buy on a whim in France. It’s a delicious light, buttery biscuit topped with dark chocolate. A Petit Écolier. They just taste so good, I’ve been having one everyday to power me through my work.

Anyway speaking of work, back to the essay writing…

Hope you’re all having a fantastic week!

What activity never fails to cheer you up?
Do you have any little treats from your childhood that you still like to indulge in?
Any other good quotations to help me power through my work this week?