Walhallavagen

Just an ordinary girl's life

Studying with words and phrases: current decks

I’ve mentioned here and there how I’ve been playing with Duolingo and Memrise lately, in order to improve my vocab and be able to put words in the right context. Both D and M have their pros and cons of course, even though it depends a lot on the kind of decks you decide to study (for Memrise, as on Duolingo you only pick the language).

When I first started off, Language Learner Enthusiasm got the best of me as usual and I started studying a lot of different courses at once (-.-). I’ve now narrowed down the material I’m currently using so here’s the recap:

  1. Chinese course (Duolingo). Well, I already said that you don’t really have a choice on Duolingo, you complete all the levels for your target language and when you’re done you just keep reviewing them (actually the review part starts way before having completed the course). There are a number of things that I find annoying about Duolingo, but it’s still useful practice. I’m currently at 71/88 stations, so I guess Iit’ll take me another month to complete it, and then I’ll just keep up with the review.
  2. Chinese for HSK3 Part I: Paking University (Memrise). This is the vocab review for a HSK3 prep course I started attending on Coursera a couple of months ago (still have to finish it). It’s very convenient having flashcards for all new words already prepared to review (instead of having to manually put them into Anki or a similar systems), and it’s even more helpful if you follow the lessons on Memrise along with the classes on Coursera. There are a few technical issues with this course (like audio track doing weird things), but overall I’ve been enjoying it (especially since it doesn’t use a lot of pinyin). I’m currently at 8/30 lessons, so way to go.
  3. Mandarine Chinese 2 (Memrise). Completed! Though I want to keep it reviewed since there were quite a few words it took me a lot of time to master and I don’t want to waste all my good efforts. It’s a bit annoying that the number of words to review increases exponentially day by day, but I’ll manage.
  4. Mandarine Chinese 1 (Memrise). Completed as well, but I have yet to start reviewing it. There were quite a few words/phrases I never really learnt properly, so I’ll go back to it once I finish my current open deck.
  5. French 1 (Memrise). This has actually nothing to do with Chinese or other Asian languages but since I’ve been studying it steadily for more than a month now I thought it was worth mentioning. 16/18 lessons, so I’ll start French 2 before the end of the month.
  6. HSK level 3 (Memrise). I barely started this deck and then set it aside because I wasn’t making any progresses. Tbh I don’t remember exactly what wasn’t working for me at the time (maybe too much focus on characters’ radicals?), I’ll just take the time to retry studying with it and decide if it’s worth retrieving or to toss it for good.

I also started a Remembering simplified hanzi course (Memrise) but I didn’t like it, again for reasons I now can’t remember. I guess that it’s pretty easy to evaluate whether you’re actually making progresses with a certain course of not, and that’s the beauty of these apps imho.

On whether it makes sense to study both M and D at the same time, I honestly cannot say. They’re pretty similar so in the end I think it’s more a psychological factor (I’m studying with two apps = I’m making more effort) than an actual growth of your progresses. For now I don’t find it too cumbersome, so I’ll keep up with both of them – but I wouldn’t have any problem dropping the one or the other.

Maybe it makes more sense to study a deck on one of the two, and then when it’s done keep it reviewed while studying a new course on the other. When I first started reviewing my French on Memrise I thought to start the course on Duolingo as well, but than I changed my mind and I kept working just on one app for the time being. I’ll try the French deck on Duolingo when I’m done with French II on Memrise.

Of course those are by no means sufficient to really progress in the language, but they are a quick and easy way to ensure you practice your target language everyday (and they’re way more fun and appealing than Anki).

_ _ _

I’m now at episode 9 of Goblin, and the story is finally starting to get moving. Gong Yoo is just amazing, Lee Dong-Wook is great support character and I absolutely adore every gag between Kim Shin and the grim reaper.

This said, I find the female lead somewhat annoying (as usual). She’s not worse than others tbh, but still, I wish I could have seen a stronger female character for once. Plus I’m a bit sick of these characters with super extra mega hyper miserable lives who are hated by literally everyone. I mean, seriously.

So yeah, I like it, but I’m still not loving it. I know that it’s a great product and I honestly wish I could feel super hooked, but I’m not. I wish that at least the story could be a little less slow, it has been 8 episodes of almost nothing ._.

_ _ _

I think I’m going to have vegetarian nachos tonight, watch something quick on Netflix and then be in bed by 8 for my reading session before sleeping. Today the weather was super cold and sunny and I was dying to go out for a walk. I hope to have another chance tomorrow, as I’m planning a 6:30 walk in the park 🙂

Currently listening to: Lany ~ Made in Hollywood
Currently wearing: New Retro Wave tee, black jogger, pink socks

 

 

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It’s never too late to start a new year ~ 2018 goals & stuff

Yesterday I received very good news, which could actually have been very bad news, related to my health. I feel extremely lucky and blessed, as the alternative would have deeply impacted my future life and probably also my mental health. I’m immensely grateful for the chance I’ve been given and I intend to honour it by living a healthy life as much as I can.

I can’t deny that I’ve been living in a kind of limbo during January, no daring to plan as much since I didn’t know how my life would have turned out to be. Now I feel like I can finally take the reins and start making a proper plan for myself.

Plus Chinese New Year is 16th February this year, so I’m still on time right?


2018 Goals and Plans

I already shared my personal goals for 2018 in this post. Those are the most mundane things that I want to think about, but of course they don’t represent the core of what I want to achieve in 2018. I have specific goals for my career and my Chinese studies, but also for my reading activity and, of course, my health (see above).

Truth is, I don’t wanna do things differently in 2018. I want to do things more mindfully, be present, stay in the moment, be aware of my time. This is the most important achievement for me this year, and I think that yoga can be an important exercise in this sense. I’m not much one who lingers in the past, rather, I’m always focused on the future: when things will be better, brighter, more satisfying. I still have to convince my brain that nothing will ever be better and brighter if I just think about it, or plan it, without actually doing it.

Plus there’s the never-ending trap of perfectionism (I talked about it here). 2017 has been great for me to learn about all these patterns of behaviour; I’m ready to work on them in 2018, as difficult as it may be.

One essential thing I want to do this year is to close all my open loops. I have projects that I never actually concluded, books that I started reading and then left back in Italy, home organisation plans left half completed and so on. The ideal scenario would be to close all my uncompleted project and avoid starting new ones, just focusing on what I have on my plate at the moment, which is more than enough.

In terms of planning system, for the second year in a row I’ll be using Trello to track my goals and progresses. I have a board called ‘2018 goals’ which holds four lists. In the first one I have a card for each area of my life (personal, career, Chinese, wellness and fitness etc), and within each card I have multiple checklists with all the details of the things I want to accomplish this year in that specific area. In the second list I have four cards: winter, spring, summer and autumn, which is basically my quarterly plan. The third list has a card for each month of the year, meaning, monthly goals. The fourth and last list has various cards with motivational images and quotes for those time in which I feel like I need a boost of energy, or I just feel uninspired.

I’m trying to be as specific as I can this year in breaking down my goals, as one of the things that didn’t help me much in 2017 was a lack of specificity and attainability in the way I wrote things down for myself.

Another thing that I’ve finally managed to incorporate in my planning routine is the elusive weekly review. Every Friday I sit down for an hour or so and review all my main boards on Trello, my lists on Wunderlist, Apple Reminders, paper planner and current notebook. I’ve been doing this consistently for a couple of months now, and I can honestly say that even if I can’t really measure its impact on my overall productivity, it has surely increased my awareness of the actual status of things in my life. In short, I know where I stand.


Chinese

I finished studying a Memrise deck called Mandarin Chinese 2 today (it was in my goals for January to complete it, so yay!), so I’m now in the process of planning my next move.

I think I’ll go on with my Chinese practice on Duolingo (though I haven’t been really loving it tbh – for a number of reasons that I’ll explain in a later post) + I’ll finish the other deck I started on Memrise back in December (Chinese for HSK3 Part I by Peking University, which pairs the course I was attending on Coursera – perfect match 👍🏻).

February is also listening practice challenge month over on Hacking Chinese, and gosh do I need more listening practice in my life right now (I do).

I’ve found a lot of inspiring people on Instagram lately, fellow Asian-languages learners who supply me with a unexpected wave of motivation through their beautiful shots. I plan to be a lot more present on Instagram in February, to suck up all the good vibes and also share my own journey as much as possible.

The plus one is on night shift this weekend so I have Fri, Sat and Sun nights for myself – Chinese study + sushi and drama 😝 though to have sushi I should get out of the house, which with this weather is kind of out of question 😅 I could make onigiri instead though 🤔


General monthly goals

I’ve been good with books this month: I’ve finished two novels and I’ve read 1/3 of my current book (my goal was to finish 2 this month). I read a historical fiction and a Scandinavian thriller, while right now I’m digging in a young adult novel. I’m enjoying the variety in my reading materials, I would like to keep it up in the upcoming months. I’m starting a reading tandem with one of my girlfriends tomorrow (we’re re-reading Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice) and I honestly can’t wait, it’s going to be so much fun!

Oh, by the way: if someone of you lovely readers wants to do a reading session together just drop me a message, I’d love to do that!

I was also pretty good at finishing up stuff like teas (2 boxes), skincare products (a face toner and a night cream) and candles (I finished the one I had bought before Christmas, ‘winter spices’). I guess in February I’ll have a few makeup products I’ll be able to finally get rid of. I’m also going to make a serious effort in exercising more and eating better this month (again, see above), but I’m already on the right path, eating my 5 a day and drinking my water everyday.

 

This was a lengthy post but it was long due, since my lack of regular updates in January. I’m now off to bed as I want to allow myself some reading time before sleeping at 10pm sharp (for the despair of the significant other 😝). I’ve gone back to a 10pm/7am sleeping pattern, hoping to bring it down to 10/6:30 (maybe even 10/6) – but I guess for that I’ll have to wait for a little more natural light in the morning as the dark still makes me super drowsy and sleepy!

2018 Blog manifesto

I’m typing this on my iPad while lounging on our Air b’n’b apartment’s couch, and since WordPress app is even more annoying than the desktop version in terms of text formatting, I cannot guarantee the ending result will be an aesthetically pleasing one.

This will probably be a very short post anyway, because I don’t have a specific plan for my blog in 2018.

In December I mapped out my goals for the new year in a quite detailed manner for every other area of my life, but I left my blog section blank. Probably because I’m not sure of which direction to take.

In the second half of 2017 I put in a lot more effort and as a consequence I was able to post a lot more, something I’m happy about and that I don’t regret. This said, I don’t think I can keep up with that pace in 2018 – because I want to put my focus elsewhere. 2017 may not have been a year of huge achievements, but it definitely helped to increase my awareness about time – how I spend it, and what it’s really worth.

There are other areas of my life I was scared to face before but that I’m ready to work on now, and they will have the priority.

Plus maybe I was getting tired of certain things I used to write about. This blog is a (filtered) window on what’s going on in my life, and as my interests change, so does it. Some things will have to go, others may come in. It’s a work in progress, like everything else.

I want to talk more about language learning, that is for sure. And to do so, I actually have to learn more. I also promised to be more present on Instagram [I would insert the link to my profile here, but again, WordPress app], something I’ve been trying to work on a little more since January 1st. A general cleaning of my social media life would be appropriate now that I think about it.

As always, I am working to make my life easier and simpler. And my blog is no exception.

🌸🌿🌸

Resolutions and plans – but most importantly, just feeling good

It’s 4:20pm of Monday 15th of January. It’s a Monday. And it’s a 15th. How incredibly motivating is that? Am I the only one who gets excited about this things? No Blue Monday for me, definitely.

The apartment is sparkling clean and it smells like Marseille soap and winter spices from the candle I’ve been burning in the last couple of hours. I’ve just brewed one of my favourite teas in the entire world, I have my pre-shampoo hair mask on and we’re expecting snow in the next couple of hours.

I feel good, and I feel motivated.

I’ve been reading about people giving up on their 2018 goals already and looking for ways to keep them up. I personally feel like it’s still Jan 1st in terms of good vibes and enthusiasm, I can’t even conceive to feel tired about my goals already. Everything still needs to start, pretty much.

This is the point actually – I am a big daydreamer and I constantly generate thousands of ideas, so much so that sometimes I just forget to start acting upon them. I’ve already drafted out my goals for 2018, of course (I’ve been working on them since November), but I know that for me, now, this is not enough.

That’s way I’ve decided to take the plunge and commit myself to take HSK3 on 21st April.

I had plans to take it in February in Florence (since I would cost me much less there), but the date was too early and I don’t think I’ll actually visit home before March anyway. So, thanks to the plus one’s support, I’ve decided to take it here in April and call it a day.

I haven’t signed up for it yet and I think I’ll wait a bit longer just to be super super super sure I can actually attend (the plus one is on the job interviews phase and it’s kind of intense here in the UK ._.), but I’ve already made up my mind and that’s what really counts.

So now I really need to study hard.

And, you know what? I love it. I love the feeling of having a deadline, a plan, a clear specific goal to reach. I’ve been working towards HSK3 for 80% of 2017 and come up to almost nothing. Now I have a date and it’s like the world has changed entirely for me.

I feel motivated but I also need to create motivation around me. Am I making any sense?

Truth is, no matter what happens in my life I will always love to study languages and feel good about it. I’m immensely grateful for all the good things that I’ve experienced these last few years thanks to LL and for the amazing people I’ve met here on the blog or on twitter/instagram.

And because of my love for studying languages, I’ve also started revamping my French over on Memrise lately – and I’m not going to apologise for that.

Why would I stop doing the things that I love?

Oh, and as of yesterday I’ve also picked up Goblin again from where I left it back in September. I have to admit, I’m not exactly loving it but I’m curious enough to see where the story is heading. More updates on that as well!

Listening to: Miami Beach Force ~ Silent Strike
Currently Watching: Goblin (Korean drama)
Currently Reading: Neil Oliver ~ Master of Shadows

 

 

Happy 2018 ~ Year of the Dog!

新年快乐!

It’s a gloomy and super cold day here in the outskirts of Europe, so I’m spending the first day of the year at home with books and hot chocolate (and mini marshmallows!) 😋

This year Jan 1st is also a Monday, which gives me a lot of motivation to be productive 😀

So, my goals for 2018:

  1. wear nail polish or lipstick at least once a week
  2. take (and pass!) HSK3
  3. finish 10 skincare products from my collection
  4. read 25 books (3rd year in a row)
  5. use my Legami planner for the entire year
  6. watch at least 6 Asian dramas (1 every 2 months, seems doable)
  7. buy a new pair of high heels
  8. go to a festival (the Uk has a very large selection!)
  9. get a second piercing
  10. buy a luxurious edition of one of my favourite classics
  11. grow my hair longer and dye my ends pink (again), purple (again), blue and teal!
  12. be a  better instagramer (though I already know I’ll fail)

The underlying project for this year is : close all my open loops (more on this soon!).

I’m gonna end my first day of the year with a bubble bath and a nachos&movie night to enjoy with the significant other 🙂

Happy new year to all my dear blog and twitter friends! 🎉

 

Year in Review ~ 2017

Personal

2017 has been a turning point in my personal life – I’m moved to a foreign country (Scotland) and I’ve married, so yes, I can say that it is a year that made an impression. There have been no improvements with regards to my work situation unfortunately, but tbh as everything else was going on I didn’t focus on that so much. It’s definitely going to be my number one priority in 2018.

This year I seriously engaged in a process of making my life simpler, with less unwanted commitments and less stuff. This project has brought me to pay greater attention to where my money and my time goes – particularly significant since I moved house twice this year and I’ll have to repeat it next July.

In 2017 I also moved in permanently with the significant other (a few months before the wedding) and finally had the chance to pick our own place. It’s definitely a work in progress but I’m developing a clearer idea of what I want my house to look like and how to best take care of it. Plus I finally have a dedicated place for all my beauty products, my books and my shoes – which after years of shared space is an utter bliss.

Technology

I replaced an old product (my 2011 iPhone 4, may it rest in peace) with an iPhone SE (rose gold, because details matter). It’s a excellent product and I’m very impressed by the battery life. On the other side, I’m still ‘stuck’ with my 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro and my 4th generation iPad – which lately has become quite difficult to deal with, and no longer receives software update. I’m a bit pissed by the fact that I can’t even start enjoying a new product that I immediately have another one going rogue – I guess it’s the way things are managed now, but I’m definitely not happy with that (especially since Apple products are everything but cheap).

In terms of apps I’ve been downsizing a lot this year. In 2016 I was all about experimenting and trying out new things – well, 2017 has definitely inverted this trend. I’ve cut down a lot of the things I was using (or actually, not using) all at the same time, and most importantly every time I felt like a needed some new functionality I tried to figure out how to get it from the apps I was already using instead of looking for something external.

Apps survived to the purge this year are: Trello (of course), Wunderlist (of course), Apple Notes and Apple Reminders, Google Keep and OneNote. I still use Evernote but I’ve cut down a lot its purpose, as it’s now mainly a repository of my scanned documents, receipts and other boring stuff. I don’t agree with Evernote (not so) recent policy regarding the free plan and honestly, as good as it may be, I don’t find it irreplaceable.

Though I still use Shoebox to backup photos, I recently added Google Foto to the system as it’s super fast, super convenient with the free space it offers and it also backups unlimited video (which Shoebox does not, at least for the free plan). I’ve also introduced Zoho’s Notebook app in my system as it now has a desktop app for Mac, but I’m not sure whether I’ll keep it. I like the idea but I’ve already found many flaws that I don’t know if I’ll be able to overcome.

In general, during 2017 I’ve worked hard to streamline my system a lot in order to make it more efficient and pain-free; in 2018 I’m going to focus on maintaining it and making it even more functional.

Planning

2017 will be remembered as The Worst Year Ever in terms of planners. I started with a lovely A5 Muji weekly planner (week on one page plus notes) that I used for 2/3 months and then it went mostly wasted for the rest of the year. I tried and used a billion of different things (Strikethru system, GTD in a Filofax etc etc) and nothing really stuck – apart from my Paperblanks weekly slim agenda, which has been the only constant in this huge mess. I’m very disappointed at myself and as a consequence I’ve decided to (1) stay away from 99% of planner material on the web (blog posts, YT videos, Pinterest images etc etc) (2) strictly stick to one and only one paper planner for the entire 2018. No excuses admitted.

Study (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)

Main highlights for my studies in 2017 have been passing HSK2 at the beginning of the year and finishing Remembering Simplified Hanzi back in July. They were big achievements for me and I felt very proud of myself – unfortunately, the rest of the year hasn’t been as good in terms of study results. I aim at taking HSK3 in 2018 and realising how much I could have done and just didn’t has been a huge wakeup call for me. I’m definitely using my time more wisely in 2018.

I’m also determined to retrieve my professional training in the new year so this is another field I’ll engage myself in.

Books, TV Series, Dramas and Music

TV

2017 has been thumb up for American TV series, and thumb down for Asian dramas in general (I talked about that here). I had many lonely evenings waiting for the plus one to finish work and Netflix has been my No. 1 companion (bad, I know). TV series I watched this year:

  • Gilmore Girls S3
  • Gilmore Girls S4
  • Gilmore Girls S5
  • Gilmore Girls S6
  • Gilmore Girls S7
  • Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life
  • The OA S1
  • The Good Wife S3
  • The Good Wife S4
  • The Good Wife S5
  • The Good Wife S6
  • The Good Wife S7
  • The Expanse S1
  • The Expanse S2
  • Suits S1
  • Suits S2
  • Suits S3
  • Suits S4
  • Suits S5 (in progress)
  • Riverdale S1
  • Riverdale S2 (in progress)
  • The Good Place S1
  • The Good Place S2 (in progress)
  • Cold Case S5
  • Cold Case S6 (in progress)
  • 13 Reasons Why S1
  • Gypsy S1
  • That 70s Show S1
  • That 70s Show S2
  • That 70s Show S3 (in progress)
  • You, Me, Her S1
  • You, Me, Her S2
  • Orange is The New Black S2
  • Orange is The New Black S3
  • Orange is The New Black S4
  • Orange is The New Black S5
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries S1
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries S2
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries S3
  • Stranger Things S1 (rewatch)
  • Stranger Things S2
  • Twin Peaks S1
  • Twin Peaks S2 (in progress)

I watched one entire anime (Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day) and about half of another one (Gurren Lagann, but it’s boring me to death). I also watched the anime-movie Your Name, which I loved – so much that I got myself both the manga and the novel version.

Books

Best book of 2017 is probably The Lady of the Sorrows (so Cecilia Dart-Thornton features as my most enjoyed writer for the second year in a row). I love everything about her writing style – the descriptive passages, the character development, the rhythm at which the story unravels, the way characters interact with each other. I honestly can’t wait to finish reading the third book (I started it exactly one year ago, but I left it back in Italy and I’ve retrieved it only now).

I’ve also enjoyed the Avalon saga, which I mentioned many times in my book reviews, and I’ve re-read a few much loved books like HP and the Philosopher’s stone, City and Never let me go. I also tied a couple of different genres, like urban fantasy, cyberpunk and young adult.

Music

2017 has definitely been the synthwave and new retro wave year for me. I’ve discovered some amazing artists and albums, and this will be forever the soundtrack of my first months in Scotland. My absolute favourite bands are FM-84 and Timecop1983, plus Duett (a new entry).
This year I also discovered a certain interest for Asia indie pop culture (mainly Korean, but also Chinese); I find it really soothing and calming, and it’s not wonder that it has become the default soundtrack of my morning and night beauty routine.

Best albums: Atlas by FM-84, Reflections by Timecop1983, Stranger Things 2 OST by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (keep up the good work guys!). My top hits:

FM-84 ~ Running in the night
Lord Huron ~ The night we met
Robin Bengtsson ~ I can’t go on
Imagine Dragons ~ Believer
Tanya Chua (蔡健雅) – 呼吸
Timecop1983 ~ Come back
Francesco Gabbani ~ Occidentali’s Karma
Coco Lee (李玟) ~ 能不能
Jost ~ Grab the moment
Double2 (樂團) ~零距離
Kristian Kostov ~ Beautiful Mess
Home ~ Head first
Pet Shop Boys ~ Love comes quickly
Duett ~ Future hearts
Belle and Sebastien ~ Too much love
Double2 (樂團) ~安全感
Timecop1983 ~ Girl (feat. Seawaves)
30 Seconds to Mars ~ Alibi
Duett ~ Heat (Luxar original)
Florence + The Machine ~ Never let me go
Kyon Grey ~ Millennials
Penny Tai (戴佩妮) ~ Sing it out
MTNS ~ Fears
Sunstroke Project ~ Hey mamma
Negrita ~ Radio Conga
Timecop1983 ~ Secrets
Dihai ~ Skeletons
Snowmine ~ Columbus
Frances ~ Let it out (KAASI remix)
Blossoms ~ Honey sweet
Lord Huron ~ Meet me in the woods
Timecop1983 ~ Wild love

Closing

2016 has been a good year, because it has been a year of change. I know many people fear change and the consequent feeling of uncertainty and instability, and I myself as an OCD person find it hard sometimes to cope with an unclear schedule.

Nonetheless, I think this is the year that helped me the most to understand many things about myself, which in turn has led to a clearer path of self growth and development. I already know I won’t accomplish everything that is on my goals list in 2018, but at least this year I start with a lot more motivation – and awareness.

{Movies} II Semester 2017

Since we moved to Scotland, Doctor L. and I have established a sacred ritual called ‘nachos and movie night‘. Once a week (his schedule permitting) we sit in front of the screen and we choose a movie to watch while savouring our plate of homemade loaded nachos and a bottle of apple cider. We don’t always actually watch a movie (sometimes we break the rule and just watch the current tv series), but in many cases, we do. And at least twice a year, I like to take stock of what we watch.

  • World War Z ~ Zombie movie. I don’t like zombies, and I don’t particularly like Brad Pitt, but is was ok.
  • Godzilla (1998) ~ for me, worst movie ever. I can’t believe it was so famous back in the days.
  • Rogue One ~ a very nice sideline story in the Star Wars universe. I enjoyed watching it, and the story was pleasant to follow.
  • Van Helsing ~ Oh gosh ._. so boring and badly made that we couldn’t finish watching it.
  • Journey to to center of the earth ~ a funny family movie =)
  • Blade Runner 2049 ~ a very difficult movie to review. Photography and soundtrack were excellent, while the story and character development progressed incredibly slowly. Overall, I can say that I highly appreciate personal film making styles and I find it to be a bold move to make something this huge outside the usual Hollywood clichés.
  • What happened to Monday ~ liked it! First, I love Naomi Rapace, second, I enjoyed an European-style action movie for once. I didn’t find it predictable, which is a real exception for me.
  • John Wick ~ very disappointed in Keanu Reeves for accepting this part. I like action movies but this is just gunfires with no plot whatsoever. The story ends basically after the first 10 minutes and the rest of the movie is just people shooting at each other in ridiculous ways. Pass.
  • Bright ~ I thought I was going to hate it and I was ready to demolish it for L’s displease – turns out, it’s actually pretty cool. There was more story than shooting (at least compared to what I was expecting, see previous movie), so it was kind of a surprise.

 

Notably absent is, of course, The Last Jedi – but has I’ve been complaining about multiple times, the plus one is working for the whole holiday season so it’ll have to wait until the beginning of the new year. I know everyone has already seen it so no spoilers please XD

{Mini Book Reviews} October ~ December 2017

 

So here we are, ready for the last book instalment of the year. 2017 has been ok – meaning, I did fine, I could have done more. As I’m more and more focusing on my self development in general, I’ve started noticing how much time I actually don’t spend doing the things that I like and the make me feel good. So, in 2018: keep reading, and read a bit more.

Rachel Wilkerson Miller – How to bullet plan
|Original Language|

This book is the Bible of every planner maniac out there, I gotta tell you that. I don’t bullet journal at the moment but it’s still something I deeply enjoyed reading and that I know will turn out to be very useful and inspirational in the future. The graphic is amazing and the research of all the different possible layouts is impressively thorough.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Danu Forest – The Druid Shaman
|Original Language|

I have a long-term interest in shamanism, and since moving to Scotland and reading the entire Avalon saga I’ve been intrigued about druids believes and practices. I don’t plan to become a shaman myself so the part of the book focused on practical druid exercises wan’t that useful to me, but the introduction was a very interesting overview of the topic as a whole.

Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
|Original Language|

This is my favourite contemporary novel and one of my most loved books of all times. I’m ashamed to admit it’s the only piece I read from Ishiguro’s work, but I plan to make up for it in 2018. Uber recommended.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
|Original Language|

I was 11 when this book was published, so I can safely say I grew up with HP novels. They are a huge part of the culture that raised me and they have a significant impact on my development and personality. I meant to re-read them in English and I’m so happy I did because it’s just so worth it. After all this time? Always.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Graeme Macrae Burnet – His Bloody Project
|Original Language|

An interesting and somewhat controversial reading. The plot takes place in the Highlands, which is where I live at the moment, so it was particularly significant for me to read something that could help me understand better the history and geography of the area. The author is particularly clever in making you understand the whole context in which the tragedy took place. I expected it to be a little more about the mental condition of the main character rather than the background story, but it was a good reading nonetheless.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Richard K. Morgan – Altered Carbon
|Original Language|

I’m amazed by this book and I honestly can’t wait for the tv series to come out. It was quite complex for me to read it in English and I probably didn’t get 100% of the descriptions, but it’s just so cleverly told that I could enjoy the story even if I didn’t know all the words. This was my first proper cyberpunk novel and it was a true baptism of fire – but well worth it.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

Naomi Alderman – The Liars’ Gospel
|Original Language|

This is the only book in this batch that really disappointed me. Naomi Alderman clearly knows how to write and to make an impression, and she could have made much more out of this story. I agree with someone who on Goodreads commented how all the characters are basically 21st century people relocated in Roman-dominated Galilea. It didn’t work for me.

Rated 2/5 stars on Goodreads

 

J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
|Original Language|

I’ve waited more than a year to read this book because I knew already I wasn’t going to love it. I never enjoyed reading theatre, not even in high school when they made us read Shakespeare or the Greek tragedy. I liked the baseline but I think it lacked a lot of character introspection compared to the traditional novel format.

Rated 3/5 stars on Goodreads

 

The new year hasn’t even started yet and my reading list is already packed with ideas and suggestions and reading goals 😅 I decided to go with 25 books for my 3rd year in a row, if I perform well I may decide to upgrade to 30 for 2019! Wish me luck 😀

 

Christmas and languages and family and food

 

This is the most wonderful time of the year and I’m blessed enough to get to spend it with my loved ones (though the significant other is working on all major holidays -.- bummer).

I guess this year I got a lot of wake up calls about, well, a lot of things. I’m much more aware, in general, of the reasons behind many of the things I do. I don’t plan to change my life dramatically from January 1st, but I honestly feel like doing things with a different approach – and I already started.

Language learning wise, I’ve managed to study 1.5h of Chinese almost everyday in December. Studying everyday is not only essential to acquire new knowledge – it’s also key to keep up the motivation and love for the language itself.

I would like to create a even deeper level of language and culture immersion in the upcoming year – if anyone has recommendations on books about Chinese (intended as both PRC and Taiwan of course) society and culture please please please let me know!

I hope you can spend a peaceful Christmas with your loved ones eating super succulent food, listening to Michael Bubble festive compilation and, of course, studying your favourite Asian language!

Merry Christmas everyone ❤️🎄🎅🏼

The Simple Life Project: 2017 review

This year I got very serious about making my life simpler and, as a result, more enjoyable. We live in a world of endless possibilities and the amount of information we’re exposed to everyday is simply overwhelming; clutter, overcommitment and FOMO are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making our lives (unnecessarily) difficult.

One of the first things I knew I had to implement in order to properly start my simplifying process was a twofold approach: stop buying new things, and start using those I already had.

The fields in which I tend to buy the most are (a) stationery (b) books (c) teas and herbal teas (d) beauty (especially skincare and body care) products. Since the first two are a bit tricky and require a more articulated approach, this year I decided to focus on second two.

As a way of keeping better track of how much I can actually use in a year, from April I started to keep a bag of all the products I was gradually finishing. I thought this was a pretty original idea, before discovering that at least two other bloggers I follow where doing the same 😅 it’s probably a natural evolution of the process.

This said, there are some caveats about this experiment:
– I started my bag in April, when I had not formed a clear plan yet about how and what I wanted to simplify / get done with, so some things that were relevant ended up been thrown away
– I started saving empty bottles and jars after about a month I moved to Scotland, so everything I used or finished back home is not included here, and the same goes for some products I finished in March
– both in May and August/September I went back home and stayed for little less than a month each time – so this is not a 100% accurate representation of how much I used up in a year
– in June, July and a good part of August I dealt with a very tenacious and unpleasant eye infection, which prevented me from using most of my makeup and skincare products. So, again, not a totally reliable guide of my consumption levels.

This said, I still learnt some good lessons from this experience, and I honestly can’t wait to be more mindful about this in 2018. Plus having a bag full of empties is SO rewarding 😎

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Skincare
Bottega Verde argan oil face moisturizer (liked it)
Botanics All Bright face serum (reviewed here)
Botanics Radiant Youth eye cream (reviewed here)
Perlier Kelemata sweet almond eye makeup remover (not impressed)
Bottega Verde Ialuron Plus face serum (liked it)
Viverde Coop face gel cleanser (liked it)
Bottega Verde rose water face tonic (loved it)

Body & Hair care
Lee Stafford Coco Loco hair mask (hated it)
Imperial Leather cherry blossom and peony hand wash (liked it)
Intra shea butter shower gel (hated it)
Intra shea butter body cream (hated it)
Kind Natured coconut and monoi sugar scrub (loved it)
Nivea almond oil hand cream (loved it)
Bottega Verde pink pepper hand cream (loved it)
Baptiste dry shampoo for brunettes (I definitely used more than one bottle, I probably just forgot to save the others)
Bottega Verde shea butter super concentrate balm for super dry skin (loved it)
Ragdale Hall fresh blossom sugar scrub (loved it)
Bottega Verde chocolate fragrance shower cream (liked it)
Bottega Verde chocolate fragrance body cream (liked it)
Perlier Kelemata green apple shower gel (liked it)
Ragdale Hall fresh blossom foot cream (hated it)
Femfresh pure and fresh intimate wash (liked it)
Bottega Verde green tea deodorant stick (loved it)
Garnier Ultimate Blends argan & camelia body lotion (not impressed)
Dove almond cream and hybiscus body lotion (loved it)
Bottega Verde vanilla hair perfume (not impressed)

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Make up
L’Oréal Eau de Teint Nude liquid foundation (loved it)
Stay Natural Essence concealer (liked it)

Misc
Bottega Verde Argan candle (liked it)
Apricot and champagne black artisan tea (loved it)
Pomegranate, pineapple and green apple artisan herbal tea (loved it)
Twinings salted caramel tea (not impressed)
Drink Me Chai Vanilla Chai latte (liked it)

Considerations

Even though I know that this is not a 100% accurate representation of my yearly beauty/makeup/tea etc. consumption, I was still able to draw some significant conclusions on my consumer behaviour.

Body lotions and scrubs + hand creams are the products I use the most. Shower gels and hand washes are a bit trickier to evaluate since I share them with the plus one (here I included only those that were given to me as a gift or that I bought for my personal use only). Skincare products rank second (though I use much less face scrubs than I thought).

Hair products are the great absent here, as I only have one perfume and hair mask finished in 2017. It is true that since I don’t have greasy hair I only shampoo every 3 or 4 days, and that I alternate between three different shampoos and conditioners sets; still, considering I have pretty long hair now I expected my consumption levels to be higher. This means that if I buy hair products in excess is going to take me a very long time to use them up. Something to take note of.

It also takes me quite a long time to finish up makeup products. I bought my L’Oréal foundation last year in the summer and, even though I used it intensively from August to March, it still took me almost a year and a half to get done with it. Same with concealer, which is something I use also in my more bare naked face days. Eye pencils, eye shadows, mascaras, lipsticks etc last a even longer time. Bottom line: I seriously don’t need to buy any makeup in 2018.

I guess I can draw the same conclusions for teas and herbal teas as well: I use them pretty often, but they still tend to last quite a long time. I also realised I tend to buy products tempted by the name or the image on the label, just to realise that I don’t really like them that much. Since, on the other side, I have a little selection of teas and infuses that I really like, I think I should cut down the amount of new things to try and concentrate more on my few selected favourites.

This year I also got into a serious samples terminator mindset and I got rid of a good chunk of them. In general I don’t particularly enjoy using samples as they’re always either too much or too less for me to use and they make me feel uncomfortable 😅 I have to admit though they are useful to skim potential beauty purchases – especially with face moisturizers, there were some that I would have considered but that now I’m definitely crossing off my wishlist!

I also enjoy trying out new perfumes, especially considering that they’re by no means cheap products and I like to have the chance to test how they perform on my skin/clothes before buying. In fact I’m a bit sad that here in the UK no one gives me perfume samples ☹️ I tried two this year, and I sincerely hated both of them.

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This journey is going to take a very long time – but I already feel more light, more conscious and  more aware of a LOT of things. Things to follow up in 2018:

  1. keep dismantling my teas and beauty storage
  2. invest in a few good quality items if I run out of something
  3. tackle the book and stationery sectors (hard hard hard!!!!)

Sorry for the long and boring post, but I really needed to get all of this out of my mind. Hope you’re still alive after reading it 🙂