Just an ordinary girl's life

Category: Simple Life

Juggling work and language learning and all the rest

I’m surely not the first one to complain about how hard it can be to find time for everything we want to do in life, especially when working full time. I have to admit that I never make things easy for myself – instead of reducing the amount of things I want to give my attention to, I tend to recklessly expand my list until it’s completely out of control and I feel utterly overwhelmed 😅

It’s always nice to take 5 minutes to sit down and re-evaluate. Let’s see how my life is doing at this point.

language learning. I’ve managed my time pretty well during these first 3 weeks at my new job and I’ve been consistent in dedicating my early hours before going to work to keep up with Anki and Duolingo. Needless to say, I felt a bit in shortage of more focused study sessions in which I could go through some reading and grammar. I’ve been studying intensively on my days off, but I need a little more time during the week as well.

household. I’m going to the process of konmari-ing my flat, and this is taking a lot of time and effort. At the same time it’s something I want to get done – I keep wasting time trying to rearrange things in spaces that are clearly too tight, things that I don’t need and don’t enjoy using in the first place (madness). I’m almost done with the decluttering part, but now I have to decide what to do with all that stuff – what to throw away, what to donate, and what could be worth reselling.

yoga. A couple of days ago I finally finished my 28 day programme of yoga for beginners on DoYouYoga, and I’m really proud of myself for finally completing an entire course 🙂 I would like to start soon with a new one, which has the only downside of having much longer sessions (about half an hour each). I usually do yoga first thing in the morning with both Asana rebel and DoYouYoga, and longer sessions will definitely take time away from language learning.

books. I’ve recently finished a buddy read with one of my Instagram friends, just in time to start going mad about the Women’s Prize for Fiction 😅 I read only 3 books out of the 16 selected for the long list, and I got a bit carried away and reserved everything I have yet to read on my library account. I already have 5 books coming on my way (on top of all the others I am currently reading) which maybe is a little too much 🙃 what was I saying about not making things easy for myself?

I think I need to rethink my time management skills – and also, as always, my priorities. What I should probably do is to take a couple of weeks to sort out my apartment so that I can be done with it and move on, and something similar for reading as well. I should also probably go on with my morning yoga session on Asana rebel, and dedicate 3/4 nights a week to do the longer sessions on DoYouYoga.

But it’s all pretty much a work in progress, so stay tuned!


The Perfect Reading Night


I am more an indoor kind of person (as you can easily tell by the fact that one of my hobbies is learning languages), so every time that I want to relax and have some pampering time I choose the cosiest spot in my house and let myself recharge mentally and physically.

One of the best ways for me to relax and wind down is reading. Books have had a huge comeback in my life since 2018, and I just feel so much more at ease and satisfied after a good hour of reading – away from socials and, well, any kind of screens really.

When I was younger reading was mostly and activity for bedtime, but now I like to enjoy my books at other times and locations as well (I often hit the local cafe for this purpose – I mean, books and cake? Who wouldn’t love that?).

More often than not, I just find the cosiest place in my house and have the time of my life. I particularly like to read at home during the winter time, when outside is dark and cold and you can curl up all fuzzy and warm on your sofa. So here’s basically my process for the best reading night experience:

  1. coziness is key, so throws, pillows, pijamas or comfy clothes are a must. The more the merrier.
  2. I used to read in complete silence, but now I enjoy a little musical background. There are a lot of nice compilations on youtube, my favourite at the moment are this, this and this. (I also like this live radio, but there are plenty more for you to check out).
  3. going back to coziness, candles and decorative lights also help a lot creating the right atmosphere
  4. and then, of course, tea. There’s no way you can truly enjoy a book without something warm to drink along. Hot chocolate is a valid decadent alternative, as well as herbal teas and coffee.


There’s really no need to spend money or surround yourself with redundant clutter to feel happy and relaxed. I’m trying to be more conscious about my money and possessions, and also about how I spend my free time and what I do to recharge. This is just my way to show myself I can actually do that in a very simple and yet rewarding fashion.

What and where are you reading at the moment? Let me know!


Maki ramen

Having a pretty decent selection to choose from, I am now on a personal quest to try out all Asian food places in Edinburgh [it’s going to take time, but no one is in a rush here]. So it was only normal, after I got my job  interview and I was notified I had landed the position, for me to go and celebrate at Maki Ramen. The interior is sleek and essential, with wooden tables and wall panels and red lanterns hanging at the windows.

I ordered two dishes: okonomiyaki as appetiser and their tonkotsu ramen as main dish. I was surprised by the okonomiyaki: it came out in this curious icecream-like shape, but the taste was actually on point – and the wooden sticks made it nice and easy to eat.

I was less impressed with the ramen though, the main reason being the fact that they added corn to it. Corn is one of my greatest food pet peeves, and in general I don’t think it adds anything special to a broth dish like ラーメン.  Apart from that, the soup was good (even if not exceptional).

Close up of the broth and egg part

All in all it was a nice lunch experience, though I must admit I have tried better places. I think I may be go back and have a go at some other dish, but for now I’m curious to try some place else.


Maki Ramen
37 Leith St,

Quick life update

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know by now that I’ve been busy with some life changes lately, so there’s been no much language learning activity around here. I’m starting a new job next week and these last 10 days or so have been just so hectic that I’ve barely had the time to eat and sleep properly 😅 (in fact, often I haven’t).

I count on being back on a somewhat acceptable study routine by the end of next week, so hopefully by that time I’ll also be able to resume a more regular blog activity. I’ll be working full time from now on so I’ll have to rethink my priorities and set different goals for myself, but there’s no way I’m giving up on language learning!

Hope you’re all doing great and making great progresses in your language studies!

Hakataya Japanese Restaurant review

To celebrate the completion of my HSK3 experience, the significant other and I treated ourselves to dinner at Hakataya, a small Japanese restaurant located at the heart of Edinburgh city centre. I spotted it in the summer of 2017 (imagine) during our Edinburgh trip [we were living in Aberdeen at the time] and meant to try it ever since. I can be very patient when it comes to food, especially Asian food 😃

Hakataya serves traditional Japanese hot dishes together with a nice selection of sushi. The interior is quite minimal, with basic wooden furniture mixed with a few elements of modern deco. The place is small, so reservations are highly recommended.

All pictures were taken with my iPhone camera and at night, so I apologise in advance for the undeniable low quality!

For our first visit, we decided not to get sushi – I was craving more traditional dishes, especially since I spotted takoyaki on their menu! I think this was the first time I had takoyaki after my Japanese days in 2010, so you can imagine the emotional 懐かしい feeling. And they were absolutely delicious!

The pork gyoza were superlative as well 🤤

As main dish, I ordered ramen (surprise surprise). I was definitely one of the best ramen I’ve had outside Japan – the broth was rich but not fatty, the pork was the most tender meat I’ve ever tasted in my life and the noodles… Ha, the noodles! Absolutely sublime.

The significant other had chicken katsu don, which looked delicious as well. I plan to try it soon, I just love Japanese dishes with rice and eggs together.

And this is me slurping my ramen bowl and having the time of my life!

(this may be the first time I show my face on the blog, so: Hi!)

We plan to go back before the end of the month, and next time we’re totally going to try the sushi and maybe some other appetisers. いただきます!

Hakataya Japanese restaurant
122 Rose St S Lane
EH2 4BB - Edinburgh
0131 629 3320



January indulging habits

A lot of people complain about the month of January: they associate it with post-festivities blue moods, extremely cold and cloudy weather (if you live in the upper hemisphere – otherwise, probably super hot?), back to work, new year’s resolutions fading in the blink of eye – you get the idea.

For me, January is one of the best months of the year – I love winter [I wouldn’t have moved from Italy to Scotland otherwise] and I love the cold and cloudy weather as it feels like the perfect time to stay inside warm and cozy [soup, tea, books, language learning sessions: total bliss].

I also like the idea of going back to work and a normal schedule/routine after the frenzy of Christmas and New Year. Of course I do enjoy some festive and family time, but since I’m mostly a creature of habits I’m always happy to go back to my regular activities – which invariably get disrupted during the festive season.

Plus, January is a new start. I talked about my approach to goals and resolution briefly here, but in short, even if I don’t pan to change my life at 360 degrees on January 1st, I still like the idea of a fresh start – starting one new habit, finally completing a task I’ve been putting off for too long, simple things like this.

I also like to combine the idea of winter with that of self care and self pampering, so every January I come up with a few new activities/habits to make me feel like I’m taking care of myself:

  • watching Chinese dramas on Netflix (this one in particular) – a great way of exercising my listening skills as well as satisfy my cravings for Asian dramas: the perfect way of getting the best of two worlds!
  • big science fiction books – because daylight is still quite short and there are a lot of dark afternoons to fill with great nerdy readings
  • soup in a mug – I mean, winter! Soup! What else?
  • listening to lo-fi compilations on YouTube – I always have a soundtrack while either studying or reading, and chill out and lo fi music creates the best atmosphere for me right now
  • planning sessions in bed – while I’m very good at looking at and updating my planner during the day, after I take my shower and get into my pijamas I often forget to check once again if I’ve done everything for the day. Bringing my planner with me in bed is a great way to get comfy while keeping on top of things
  • candle lighting – I’ve discovered that summer nights are so bright in Scotland that I don’t get to light candles for months during the warmer season, so I like to make the most of it while I still have enough darkness during the day!


Hoping you’re having a super cozy January as well!





Happy New Year my dear friends! 🍾

I sincerely hope you’re having a wonderful festive season with time for relax, good food and, of course, language learning 🙂

Last year I shared my not-too-serious goals for 2018 and I’m going to do the same this time!

2019 goals:

  1. decide whether or not I want to take JLPT this year and, in that case, go for it!
  2. start saving for Japan travel
  3. read a 漫画 in Chinese
  4. get that second piercing (I didn’t in 2018!)
  5. go to a festival! (same)
  6. watch 8 Asian dramas
  7. Ireland trip with the plus one
  8. get myself a luxurious skincare product
  9. read 45 books

I feel positive for this 2019, the last couple of years have brought a lot of (good) changes in my life and I’m ready for more 🙂

Plans for the rest of the day: read my current sci-fi novel, treat my hair to a glorious hair mask and order Japanese on Deliveroo!


Year in Review ~ 2018

What did I do this year?

2018 has been another important year in my personal life. I’ve actively started working towards some specific goals of mine and I also brought myself to finally face some anxiety-inducing issues, which has improved greatly the quality of my life. There is still a lot of work to do and one thing to absolutely do this year is decide once and for all which career direction I intend to take and do my best to follow along until the end. But I’m very happy to say that by December 31st 2018 I’ve accomplished all the main goals I had set for myself this year, and I feel a lot more content and at ease.

I’ve been fairly good at crossing off some day-to-day goals that I set for myself last year (the lipstick and nail polish challenge having been particularly successful), which may seem silly but that, at the end of the day, makes the difference between feeling like you’re taking care of yourself or not. I also feel like I’ve been giving a sort of second chance at life, and I’m definitely going to work even harder on my health and wellbeing in 2019.


A new entry this year has been my long-longed-for iMac, which I’ve been using constantly since I got it for my birthday in May. I still have my iPhone SE and have no intention of replacing it any time soon since it still works perfectly. In 2019 I plan to replace my iPad (after many years of very good service) and to make a decision about my very old but very beloved MacBook pro. I’m debating whether or not to buy a new one, since I don’t need it for work and I definitely don’t bring my laptop with me when I’m on vacation.

In terms of apps, if in 2017 I started downsizing, in 2018 I’ve downsized even more. I’ve talked briefly here about the apps that have survived my minimalistic fervour and I will surely talk about it more in the future. Less is more is increasingly becoming my daily mantra as I’ve witnessed a tremendous improvement in my overall life quality by having less stuff (both physically and digitally) around me.


I reviewed my 2018 planning system here so I don’t think it’s appropriate to repeat myself. I’m happy to report that I managed to really use just one planner for the entire year as I vowed to do last December, and that I’ve used to experience to learn a lot about bad planning habits and vices. I’m sure 2019 is going to be even more successful in this regard.

Study (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)

I’ve learnt a lot also about learning this year. I had a rollercoaster of very high and very low moments in my language learning journey (especially for Chinese), until I finally managed to settle into a regular routine around the end of September. Focusing my study on preparing for HSK 3 has finally helped me finding a framework within which I could track my actual progresses and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

I think I’m going to start from here in 2019 and expand my self discipline in both language learning and other forms of self education that’s I have been putting off for too long. I will have to decide whether to go for the JLPT or not, since I’m giving myself a 2 year deadline for HSK4 (December 2020).


As I was mentioning before, I had a good wake up call back at the beginning of February, and this has been the right chance to step up my game even more in terms of taking care of my health and wellbeing. Being healthy with a busy life is no piece of cake, but the more I grow up (I should probably say grow old) the more I realise this is just something that can’t be put in the back burner.

My goal for 2019 in this regard is to be absolutely strict about the 5-a-day rule and to set into place a solid routine around yoga and the 10.000 daily steps.

Books, TV Series, Dramas and Music


I’m happy to report that I’ve watched much less tv this year, something that is clearly reflected in the increased amount of books I finished instead. I also watched a lot more Asian dramas compared to last year (since Netflix has finally started acknowledging their existence). Sadly, I don’t think I watched any anime in 2018 – and I haven’t read any manga either, which means this is clearly something I need to put more effort in.

For 2019 I want to go along the same lines – less and less American tv series, more Asian dramas and ideally also a lot more anime.


As of today, I’ve read 64 books in 2018 (but I may be able to finish one more between tonight and tomorrow). Needless to say, reading has been my greatest accomplishment for this year, as I’ve finally brought myself to reduce a lot of other insignificant activities while favouring the things I really enjoy doing. In 2018 I’ve read a lot of novels that I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time and never gotten to, and I’ve also stepped out of my comfort zone much more often (I even tried audio books, imagine!).

As for my best books of 2018, I have to say it’s really hard to pick just one or two. The one that left a major impression on me has been Educated by Tara Westover, and Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin has been another significant highlight. Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey is a book that I’m finding difficult to forget, as well as the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Milkman by Anna Burn, and I’ve loved the graphic novel Sabrina by Nick Drnaso.

I’ve also read a lot of interesting novels that were selected for both the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the children series Nevermoor (much more than I had anticipated actually). I also started and completed two YA series, The mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and the Miss Peregrine’s series by Ransom Riggs.

In 2019? I want to keep going! Oh and more non fiction (especially Asia-related) this year!


2018 is still a synthwave / vaporwave / futurewave year, no doubt about that. I’ve taken the chance to listen to the entire discography of some of all-time my favourite artists as well as discover new, less famous bands.

I also really enjoyed watching Eurovision (for the third year in a row), and I’m slowing starting to open my mind more to Asian idols – especially EXO – for cultural and language learning purposes.


2018 has been a good year. A lot has happened in my life, but most of all, I feel like I’ve change my mindset like never before. I love my habits and routines but I can’t stand the idea of being stagnant so, even if it’s tiresome and stressful, I always welcome change. In 2019 I don’t plan on changing anything major – I just aim at keep doing the things I love, slightly better than the year before.

The Simple Life Project ~ Aug-Dec Empties {2018}

With less than a week away from the new year, my hands are tingling for the urge of decluttering and downsizing my possessions once more. I guess once you start seeing stuff as what it really is (something weighting you down and sucking a good chunk of your time, essentially) you simply can’t stop throwing things away.

I’ve taken care of the bedroom drawers today and I’m heading towards the closet tomorrow. Significant other’s stuff included. HA!

While cleaning, I obviously took the chance to assess the current status of my SL Project, specifically in terms of beauty product consumption. There a not a lot of finished products this second half of the year – partially because of the move in July, partially because I had to readjust to new schedules and commitments this last couple of months, which had an impact on my beauty regime as well.

What I gather from my empties is that, yes, body lotions and hand creams (+ probably lip balms) are my most consumed beauty products. They are essential for my very dry skin and, in the case of the body lotion, also one of my favourite nighttime rituals.

Hair products have seen an increased usage as well this year, especially in terms of conditioners and masks. Even if I’ve recently cut off a good chunk of my hair (now shoulder-length), I still like to take care of them with specific moisturising products; I also have a few styling goodies I’m quite enjoying using at the moment.

For skincare, it’s still a huge work in progress. This year I’ve started paying much more attention to what my skin actually needs rather than what is advertised in shops or youtube (about time?), so I’m still pretty much in the process of finishing old not-so-suitable-for-my-skin-type products, while figuring out which ingredients I should be focusing on. Simplifying the process by cutting on the number of products I use morning and evening is another important goal of mine.

All in all, I can say that between 2017 and 2018 I’ve made a lot of progresses in terms of reducing, decluttering and simplifying. I’ve switched to a kind of mindset favouring quality over quantity and, in general, I don’t feel the need of been surrounded by stuff to be happy – quite the contrary!

The journey towards minimalism and happiness continues.




Wish a holly jolly Christmas to you all dear friends!

Despite some Grinch-like thoughts, I’m actually enjoy this festive season 🙂 and tbh I’m also happy not to think about language learning for a few days! This will definitely help me having a fresh start when January hits 🙂

Eat tons of good food and be merry!