Book review: The House of New Beginnings – Lucy Diamond

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I am a HUGE Lucy Diamond fan. The first book of hers I read was many years ago called “Me and Mr Jones”. Since then I’ve enjoyed her books and the way they sweep you up in the story from the first chapter.

The house of new beginnings was no exception. I liked the characters from the start – Rosa, Georgie and Charlotte who all have a flat at St Duke’s Square in Brighton. Georgie is the newest tenant and has travelled to be with her boyfriend Simon while he oversees a big project for his work. She lands her a job working as a journalist where she is appointed as an agony aunt. Unfortunately she quickly runs into problems when she has a little rant about Simon and accidentally sends it to the editor (who invites readers to give their input).  From there the trouble just builds!

Rosa has moved to get away from a romance that ended badly. The source of the hurt and betrayal she carries with her is not clear from the start – readers learn more with each chapter.  She left her job in advertising for a new start as a sous chef as she has always loved cooking and throwing dinner parties. When she helps out a neighbour Jo who has to go to hospital, she gets to know her daughter Bea and ex-husband Gareth.

Charlotte has relocated to find a new start away from the pain of her failed marriage.  We soon learn about the tragic loss she and her ex-husband have suffered.  She is a fragile character and is befriended by her neighbour Margot – an elegant French lady who has a passion for life even though she is terminally ill. She takes Charlotte under her wing and readers watch as she slowly blossoms back into her old self.

Georgie, Rosa and Charlotte get to know each other their friendship grows and they realise that they all have the opportunity for new beginnings.

That even when life has dealt you a blow, good friends will always give a reason to get back up.

I finished the book in days and really enjoyed it. I did guess what would happen in certain parts but I recommend it to anyone looking for a light and easy read.

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Weekly gratitude list

Each Friday Lindsay http://theflynnigans.com/ Charlotte http://mypixieblog.com/ and Beth http://www.thebethnextdoor.com/  host a link up called What’s up weekend?  Bloggers take stock of what made them happy during the week and it is a wonderful way to start the weekend as we share our gratitude lists.

I’m a day late with my list but since I was off ill yesterday I feel I have an excuse!  My throat is feeling much better – amazing what comfort food, lots of tea and reading can do 🙂

My list for the past week include:

  • Hubby graduated from his business college – I’m very proud of him
  • Breakfast with my Aunt last Saturday.  We chatted for ages and just had a wonderful catch up over good food.
  • Shopping with a friend on Sunday.   I bought 2 new outfits, pumps, sandals and pj’s.
  • Relaxing Monday evening after work.  Biltong and wine outside in the garden.
  • Rain
  • Fun date night on Wednesday – dinner at one of our favourite restaurants.
  • Dunkin Donuts.  They arrived in Cape Town a little while ago but this week was the first time we tried them.

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  • On track with my book goal for the year.  I aimed to read 40 books and I’m about to finish no. 32.
  • A spotless home.  When our home is clean and tidy and I’ve tackled the laundry I instantly feel more organised.
  • A compliment from a client.  Always such a good feeling when your work is appreciated.

The weekend so far has been good.  Had breakfast at the Rambling Rose, did grocery shopping and then when back to Dunkin Donuts for treats for later 🙂

What are you up to this weekend?

xx

On letting go

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I struggle to let things go. There I’ve said it.

I am not proud of it but the quote above from “Big Little Lies” totally stood out for me.

As an adult I’d like to say I’ve matured enough to let things go. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

And lately whilst feeling the flattest I’ve ever felt and trying to pull myself out of this I wondered if the two are linked. Perhaps carrying around rubbish is contributing to me feeling like this.

Some people forgive and forget and keep on giving with a good heart. My Gran was just like that. Selfless to the end and only saw the good in everyone.

Whereas I am still pissed off at something I remember happening in 2010. It is like the forgive and forget button in me wasn’t properly activated. It is awful how I can barely remember where I put my grocery list but can recount in minute detail what irritated me at a supper I attended ages ago.

Long story short it is really annoying to have this ability. It is a characteristic nobody can put on their CV or boast about at an interview. 

And then there is the big stuff I remember and drag along each day. When you spend your childhood in a house where very little is about you, but everything is about other family members then you don’t exactly feel great. And trying to talk about it earns you the title of “overly sensitive”.

But I’m an adult. And wishing for a perfect past is never going to amount to anything but grief. So letting it go is the only way forward.

I have an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally.  And I constantly feel that he shouldn’t have to help shoulder my shitty baggage that I insist on dragging along.

It is time to empty the suitcase once and for all. And to make space for the good times and new memories.

Only I can do this. I cannot expect others to help empty the suitcase of grudges and grievances. It is my baggage that I need to take care of. It is heavy and constantly adding unnecessary stuff to it is going to cause the wheels to come off.

I love this quote so much.  And I feel I stumbled on it for a reason.

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How do you let go?  Did you find it easy or was it a battle?

xx

October mantras and goals

How is it possible that it is October already?  Spring is here and this year is flying by far too quickly!

My September goals were:

Go to gym twice a week (minimum) nope.

Limit sugar

Read 3 books

Write 8 Blog posts for the month (minimum)

Continue surrounding myself with positivity. This is a work in progress. 

Post less on Facebook and focus more on my blog. Obviously will still log on to catch up with blog groups. 

Stay on top of housework and laundry.  I wish

Make Monday to Thursday healthier eating days with treat/cheat days on the weekend.  Nope, pretty much made treat/cheat days almost everyday.  Very disappointed in myself.

Try a new recipe Nope.  Goal should have read:  print new recipe and let it lay around gathering dust.

Declutter for 15 minutes twice a week.  Nope. 

I feel I had a very crap time adulting this past month.  Feel very flat and energy levels are terribly low.  I hope that October is a better month and so here are my mantras and goals:

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October goals:

Go to gym twice a week minimum.

Read 3 books

Write 8 blog posts minimum

Drive more often.  Stop letting nerves get to me.

More meat free dinners

Stay on top of housework and laundry

Practice patience

Stop lazy suppers! Make a proper grocery list each week and don’t let the vegetables just sit in the fridge while we have pizza.

xx

Weekly catchup

It was a 4 day week and yet felt so much longer!  Goodness I’m ready for 4:00pm to roll around!

Each Friday Lindsay http://theflynnigans.com/ Charlotte http://mypixieblog.com/ and Beth http://www.thebethnextdoor.com/  host a link up called What’s up weekend?  Bloggers take stock of what made them happy during the week and it is a wonderful way to start the weekend as we share our gratitude lists.

This week I’m grateful for:

  • An amazing long weekend. Haven’t felt so relaxed in ages.
  • 4 day week afterwards – felt like cheating having Tuesday feel like a Monday
  • Lunch with a work friend in a coffee shop nearby.  I had a delicious breakfast for lunch.
  • Taking a drive to Strand after work on Tuesday. Hubby didn’t get the photo he wanted but it was a spontaneous mid-week adventure.
  • Pizza on Wednesday
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThePeacefulPosse/   I am so grateful to have connected with this amazing group of bloggers.  I love the Friday and monthly link ups where we share our gratitude lists and monthly goals.  So often I’ve read a blog post and it resonates with me so much.  This group is wonderful and while I’ve always enjoyed blogging – I feel I cannot get enough of it now.
  • Lucy Diamond – I adore her books and currently enjoying “The house of new beginnings”
  • Tea with honey
  • Hand cream that smells amazing. Loving my Oh So Heavenly Bye-Bye Stress at the moment.
  • Tomorrow is the anniversary of hubby’s proposal. 11 years ago we drove to Chapmans Peak and he asked me to be his wife.

What is on your gratitude this list?

xx

Lazy brunches, non-Pinterest cupcakes, scenic drives and tea.

Odd subject line I know but this summed up this past weekend perfectly.

Yesterday I returned to the office feeling so relaxed and refreshed.  Mark and I didn’t have a lot of plans for the weekend, had nobody we had to see or places we needed to go.  It was one of those chilled weekends and I loved every minute of it.

Friday night we went to do a big grocery shop.  I planned to bake over the weekend and needed to stock up on baking goodies.

We came home and had a really easy dinner followed by ice-cream.  Tin roof – my weakness.

Saturday morning, hubby made me a cup of tea in bed and went to Kirstenbosch.  I read and sipped tea which is one of my favourite ways to start the day.  When he got back we rustled up a hearty breakfast.  I prepared flapjacks while he made bacon and mushrooms and we caught up on sitcoms.  I then baked the cupcakes.  Now hubby’s favourite topping is caramel.  Just plain old caramel.  So I made two dozen vanilla cupcakes smothered in caramel topping.  I took a pic as a laugh because I’ve done a cake decorating course and know how to make fancy toppings.

These are the most non-pinterest, wouldn’t-put-on-FB, wouldn’t-share-with-Twitter cupcakes ever but they were DELICIOUS.

Look away if you are used to fancy fondant and rich ganache on top of a complicated cupcake.

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And yes I used different sized cupcake holders just to add to the non-pinterest feel (i.e I ran out of my usual ones).

We took a drive in the afternoon to Strand – the weather was stunning and we could tell summer was on the way.

Sunday we slept late and had cupcakes for breakfast.  They were still most un-Pinterest looking but went down well with tea.  Then a lazy brunch at Fraiche Ayres.  We did a bit of shopping and bought some cacti for the garden. Took another slow drive – hubby had a landscape photo in mind he has been wanting to get.  Afterwards I read loads (I adore Lucy Diamond’s books) and hubby watched golf in between finishing off the cupcakes.  I’m impressed we got through 24 in 24 hours.

Monday we had another lie in followed by breakfast at Fraiche Ayres.  Yes I love that restaurant.  We did a bit of gardening, pulling out weeds and planting the cacti and timed it perfectly for the rain which followed.

It was just one of those weekends which left me feeling content.  We didn’t do a ton of stuff or spend a lot of money and I think this was one of my favourite weekends.  Content was my OLW (One Little Word) which I chose for 2017

https://my30somethingadventures.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/why-im-swapping-new-year-resolutions-for-one-little-word/

I hope to have more weekends just like this one.

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Friday!

The weekend is less than 2.5 hours away and it is a 3 day one – yippee!

This week has flown and as I sit here typing and listening to the rain I feel like it has been a good one.  That said I am ready for 4:00pm to roll around and some relaxation to commence!

Each Friday Lindsay http://theflynnigans.com/ Charlotte http://mypixieblog.com/ and Beth http://www.thebethnextdoor.com/  host a link up called What’s up weekend?  Bloggers take stock of what made them happy during the week and it is a wonderful way to start the weekend as we share our gratitude lists.

My list this week included:

  • Mark.  His patience and love. Being understanding while I’ve been grieving and always being there for me.
  • Old favourites for dinner. Sometimes you need comfort food.
  • Tea and a Debbie Macomber book – great combination.
  • Feeling better after being off on Wednesday. Sore stomachs are the worst – I feel instantly miserable when I wake up with one.
  • It is no longer icy in the mornings. Nearly time to move my winter stuff and bring out the summer clothes.
  • Dealing with my grief better these past few days. Doing loads of self-care and taking a day at a time.
  • Concentrating on being present and being more mindful.
  • New Lucy Diamond book just waiting to be read
  • Fresh bedding – slept so well the last couple of nights.
  • Long weekend! Got a lot of fun planned for the next 3 days and knowing we don’t have to set an alarm for Monday morning is adding to the bliss.

What is on your gratitude list today?  Have an awesome weekend.

xx

It has no timeline

The other day I realised that the grief I’ve experienced for the past 10 months is not getting better.  I thought it was and that I was doing well.  Then it crept back.  I thought it was in check.  And then it reared its head and I was forced to realise that I’m not feeling as okay as I’d like to be.  In fact I’m feeling incredibly rubbish.

These days anything can set me off.  A conversation.  A random program.  A song.  Even an advert.  I feel like I really need to make the move to waterproof mascara asap.  I could be mistaken for a panda at times.  Or an angry raccoon.

I don’t like opening up to very many people.  Hubby has seen me at my best and worst and loves me unconditionally so I’m always comfortable with him seeing me vulnerable.  And my Gran was the same.  She loved me for me.  Some people love me with what feels like terms and conditions attached.

They have made me feel more like a policy than a person.

I don’t know if I’m ready to bare all just yet but in a nutshell I grew up with a sister who has special needs.  And while I understand that she needed alot more love, patience and understanding I don’t think it meant I always deserved the amount that I received.  I was a cheeky and headstrong kid – I know that – but I could have been worse!  I always had to work hard and nothing ever seemed good enough.

My sister is the most kind-hearted, generous and loving person and she only sees the good in people.  I can be a bit negative and cycnical – I admit it and it isn’t something I’m proud of.

But just because one daughter needs more doesn’t mean the other deserves so much less.

My Gran always made me feel special.  In fact she often told me (no matter how old I got) that I was her special girl.  I think she knew that I wasn’t always having the greatest childhood growing up.  She never judged me.  She never made me feel bad for expressing my emotions. She just loved me.  I was flawed and she still loved me.

I can never thank her enough and losing her has brought with it a huge amount of pain.

On Friday a friend sent me messages with the kindest and most soothing words.  She confirmed that it is okay to feel the way I do.  She is the one of the most positive people I know and she knew exactly what I needed to hear.  And she did with zero judgement just kindness.

You see, grief doesn’t have a timeline.  There is no timetable to set your emotions to and tick off as you go through them.  Losing my Gran is hurting so much and there is extra loss as I’m grieving for someone who loved me just for myself.  Not only when I was well-behaved, did well at school, made good choices or was selfless to others.  She was my Gran and so much more.  And I wasn’t the perfect granddaughter but she still treated me like I was.

She loved me.  From the start and until she left us last November.

And I’m allowed to feel like I do.

xx

Hello Friday

This hasn’t been my favourite week!  Felt awful on Monday after no sleep.  Had to go to a meeting after work on Tuesday (after a rushed grocery shop), Wednesday I had training at the office then hubby had a work dinner afterwards.  I feel like I’ve been rushing around all week and I’m downright exhausted.  It was one year ago that my Gran’s had a massive stroke on Monday which means last year this time we had 8 weeks left with her.  The 1 year of her passing away is less than 2 months ago and I cannot wrap my head around that.  It still feels like yesterday.  I really thought I was doing fine and it is a shock to discover this week that I am not doing all that well.

I am trying to be positive and so here is my gratitude list for this week:

  • Relaxing weekend in Hermanus celebrating a special anniversary.
  • Feeling better – drinking loads of water and getting some sleep really helped.  I don’t know if I felt so ill from something I ate and I need to get an allergy test sometime to see if I need to limit certain foods.  Feeling worse and worse every time I eat certain carbs.
  • Mark – always taking care of me
  • Training at work went well on Wednesday
  • Warmer weather.  Although we are very hopeful for the rain which has been predicted for later.
  • A friend of mine who has alot on her mind, taking the time to send a really sweet and thoughtful message.
  • Quarter end is finished
  • According to the scale, 2 weeks of healthier eating paid off.
  • Sorbet nail polish – currently wearing a pretty red one.
  • Finally admitting that I have not dealt with my grief properly and I need to address it.

What is on your gratitude list this week?

xx

Spring outfit – check!

After what felt like a super long winter I’ve been looking forward to the warmer weather.  Not wearing layers of clothing and anticipating the joy of finally packing away those thermal spencers.

I thought that I’d treat myself to a new spring outfit.  I’ve been wearing the same jeans for so long and even though I find jeans shopping tricky I gave it a go.

I tried on a couple of pairs of jeans and then bought a pair of RE: boyfriend jeans at Woolworths.

A few weeks ago I found a Daniel Hechter shirt and super comfy pair of Adidas sneakers at Truworths.  Teamed with the jeans I felt I’ve got my spring outfit sorted.

We spent the weekend in Hermanus and on Sunday went to Fernkloof Nature Reserve and the weather was beautiful and warm.

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xx