Just an ordinary girl's life

Hello November

October review

October goals

I like how things have developed during October. Though at times I still feel like my attention is scattered in too many directions, I think I’m slowly finding my own way – in life, and also on this blog. The only regret I have is to be not able to find enough time / energy / concentration to study Japanese properly; but I’m sure it will come with time. Also, the self-made subscription box project has been quite a success, I’ve enjoyed immensely using all the products I chose for myself and it has helped me putting things into perspective a lot 🙂 I’m very happy of the way I’m using my planner and my task manager apps as well, I feel like recently my planning has become way more effective than before. Way to go!

How I spent my time

Blog 15h47m;
Chinese 9h21m;
Productivity 27h49m;
Wellness 1h41m.

A lot of Chinese study this month! I’m very pleased with this result, and I plan to do the same in November (if not more!). Blogging time was ok, I think I should have done a little more but I still managed to put out a decent number of posts. Wellness (mainly yoga) still needs a lot of work.

How I spent my money

As mentioned in the previous month review, I had to put myself on a shopping ban for the month of October as I had been a spendthrift in the previous months. I’m happy to report that the plan has actually worked out pretty well and I’ve been able to restrain myself from useless purchases 90% of the time. I granted myself only one order on The Body Shop as I never tried this brand before and I wanted to stockpile a few skincare products for the upcoming colder months. It has been extremely good to just avoid temptations and enjoy what I already have around me (which is more than abundant), so much that I’ve decided to stick to this plan for November as well.

How I did with my Study

Starting the HSK3 prep course on Coursera has helped me a lot in keeping focus on Chinese study. It helps tremendously to have a structure to follow, as it makes much easier not to skip study sessions and to keep track of my progresses. Plus it has much more flexibility than regular language classes, so it’s definitely something I want to keep doing in the following months.


Highlight of the month have been Hallowreadathon and the release of Stranger Things season 2. I’m super happy when I can surround myself with the things I love (books and tv series in particular), but I like it even more when I can share the experience with my loved ones or other like-minded people on the internet. I’ve also watched a couple of Korean dramas on Netflix this month, nothing memorable, but I’m seeing things changing over there and the fact that they’re including more and more content from Asia makes me extremely hopeful for the future 😀

November’s goals

Only two months to go before the end of 2017 so I really really wanna make the most out of the time that I’ve left in 2017!

  1. finish watching Goblin
  2. go back to my 10:30pm/6:30am sleeping pattern [I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep recently, and consequently I feel super drowsy in the morning]
  3. reinforce my Trello-Wunderlist-Paper planner workflow; as we approach the final stage of the year planning becomes even more essential!
  4. don’t give up on yoga; try and go back to it even if I fail to stick to a proper routine
  5. start planning for Christmas (cards, decorations, things to do with my significant other, etc.)
  6. focus on HSK3 preparation, especially listening

Habit of the month : hair mask once a week



{Books} Hallowreadathon 2017 shortlist!

I’ve never taken part in a reading marathon before, though I find the idea extremely appealing; this year I have enough time to take the commitment on the occasion of the spookiest festivity ever 🎃 too bad 1st of November is not bank holiday here in the UK (it is in Italy), as it would have helped a lot with the finish-two-books-in-two-days project!

This year rules:
I. read a book with a ghost
II. read a book with red on the cover
III. two days (from 00:00 of Oct 31st to 23:59 of Nov 1st), two books

Since I’m such a pussy, I usually carefully avoid everything with an implicit nuance of ‘scary’, being it books or movies or tv series (American Horror Story? Hell no!!!). So it was quite a surprise to find a nice selection of Halloween-themed books in my bookshelf 😛

Graeme Macrae Burnet ~ His Bloody Project

I got this book from Waterstones exactly one year ago as part of their ‘Buy 1 get 1 half price’ policy. I’ve always been a crime lover [Cold Case is one of my fav shows of all times] and the blurb got my attention. It also takes place in the Scottish Highlands where I currently live, which makes ever more sense for me to read it!

J. K. Rowling ~ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Ok, I won’t dare saying the HP is on the spooky side but honestly it has its moments PLUS, as Imogen kindly pointed out, it has a ghost! It also has a pretty detailed description of Halloween’s celebrations at Hogwarts (the floating candles!), and with its shiny new red cover it just fits soooooo well.

Adrian Barnes ~ Nod

This is the second book I got out of the above-mentioned Waterstones offer. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this tbh, and I don’t dismiss the possibility of being too scared to finish it; it’s definitely a challenge for me, and I think that if I don’t take the leap now during Halloween time I won’t be able to do it any other time of the year.

M. R. James ~ Collected Ghost Stories

When I mentioned the theme of this book marathon to the significant other, he was very eager to give me some guidance [he is the master of spookiness, after all] by drawing resources from his own bookshelf. The selection was pretty vast, but being a lover of 19th century British literature I thought that something written in the Victorian era would have been the perfect transition towards the world of horror and ghosts. It also adds an original touch to my personal literary expertise.

I also have Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospel, which would have fit both for the red cover and the spooky context, but I read that one already and to be completely honest I don’t feel like repeating the experience 😅

I don’t know how many of these books I’ll be able to fit in that 48h time frame, but nothing’s stopping me from going on in the following days [2nd November is Day of the Dead after all!]. Can’t wait to read what all the others have picked for the challenge and to update my progresses on twitter as well 😛


The hindrances to (my) productivity flow

Long post alert.

I have the misfortune of belonging to that portion of the population labelled as Type A personality, which basically means being a control-freak, time management-obsessed person who at the end of each and every weekend recites the ‘I accomplished half of the things I wanted to accomplish this week’ mantra.

I’m tired of finding myself making my life harder than it actually should (could) be. When I say this I think about language learning of course, but also planning, house chores, and time management in general.

I’ve tried to do some auto-analysis and I’ve found 3 main problematic areas that are preventing me from ______ (insert OCD aspiration here).


Theory No. 1 – The trap of perfectionism

Corollary: If I have access to a internet connection, I’ll use it until exhaustion.

I started a new HSK3 preparation course on Coursera a few days ago. As I’m trying to work my way through vocab and sentences, I would like to find an effective and efficient system for noting my new words an example sentences down so that I don’t engage into  another short-lived language learning note-taking attempt.

Can you see where we’re going here?

I can’t simply learn from my on past experiences and mistakes, no: I actually spent countless hours searching for ‘best ways of taking notes for language learning’. The result? I found absolutely nothing worth the attempt, not even a small hint at something that could prove useful in the future – and I wasted precious time that could have been spent studying.

I can’t just start doing what I need to do and adjust from there when something’s not working – no, because this is not enough. I need to have the BEST system for everything – planning, studying, folding the laundry, cleaning the kitchen counter and so on and so forth. I won’t accept failure (i.e. using a method and then realise it’s not that useful) as I often failed in the past and I hated it. I want it to be a perfect, Pinterest-worth system – whatever it is.

Which means: wasting A LOT of precious time on the internet looking at what other people are doing (I’ll get to this in a sec) without usually finding anything that resonates with me, or – worse – not even getting started for the fear of failing.


Theory No. 2 – Experiencing FOMO

This again has to do with the internet and the infinite possibilities it throws at us everyday, every minute. From a great power comes a great responsibility, you know. Endless possibilities, endless resources, endless cool things you could be using/doing/watching everyday. Stepping into a constant feeling of FOMO is just a matter of seconds.

This for me has been particularly true in terms of which planner to use each year, and it’s one of the main reasons why I switched so many different planning systems during 2016, and even more in 2017. It also becomes a trend for language learning: I start focusing on grammar but then I get FOMO about HSK3 as I see other people preparing for it. And it goes on and on.

What kind of  negative impact has this in terms of productivity? The direct consequence of FOMO is making you feel like you’re not experiencing enough: you should try more planners, more learning techniques, more productivity apps, more skincare products and routines. The results is of course having too much on your plate, which leads to a scatterbrain attitude, a superficial approach to one own’s commitments and an overall unfocused mental state.

Let’s talk about planners, for example. I love Filofax products and their ring system, but I’m also a Moleskine aficionado AND a huge huge huge MTN fan. I like the bullet journal approach, I’ve toyed with Strikethru in the past and enjoyed it, and I think I’ve used all possible combination of planner inserts (week on two pages, week on one page plus notes, monthly calendar plus daily pages, etc). I’m just lucky that I’m stingy when it comes to shipping costs so I never even thought about the possibility of buying an Hobonich Techo, but you get the idea. I like everything and I would like to use everything, at the same moment. I complain about not being able to have a one-planner system but it’s actually not true, I like having multiple planners because I can’t settle for just one system. FOMO gets the best of me.

So, instead of enjoying what I have at the moment and getting the most out of it, I just keep thinking constantly about all the things I’m not using at the moment, and instinctively I start plotting how I could integrate other planners in my system. That’s one of the reason I was raving against the planner community a few weeks ago. Instead of feeling empowered, I feel impoverished and overwhelmed by all the things I could use but I’m not. And the same goes for everything else (do we want to talk about skincare?).

Instead of focusing on my numerous resources (whether we’re talking about face cleansers, notebooks or Chinese textbooks), I end up looking obsessively at what other people are doing and what they’re using, which ends up with me rushing to buy the new ___ (inserts whatever product here), wasting money, accumulating clutter, shattering my attention and feeling increasingly miserable and unfocused.

Which is exactly the contrary of what mastery is supposed to be.


Theory No. 3 – The illusion of ‘free time’ and the ideal self

This is a big one. We all have an ideal life we would like to live, and we often strive to reach this ideal. The person living that kind of life is, of course, our ideal self: the one eating healthy, exercising everyday, waking up at 5:00 to study Chinese, with the perfect house and he perfect job and the perfect bookshelf.

The ideal self is an essential part of our identity, which makes it even harder to let it go.

Let’s face it: if we’re just imagining doing certain things, and not doing them in reality, there must be a reason.

It’s not that we don’t like those things; and it’s not even that we don’t want them bad enough, or that we don’t have enough self-control or will power to achieve them.

The fact is that we objectively don’t have the time for them.

Yeah, we like to thing that we can do everything and accomplish all the things we would like to accomplish – it’s actually easier, especially for use over-achievers, to think that we’re just too lazy and that we could do everything if we just tried hard enough – than to admit that, really, there’s not place for everything in our lives.

I think a common thought, especially in the field of language learning, is something among the lines of ‘it’s already October and I still have to start preparing for the upcoming session of ___ (insert language proficiency test name here), why on earth didn’t I start studying back in January?’.

Well, guess what? In January you were busy doing other things. Sleeping, for one. Eating. Cooking. Washing the dishes, showering, shampooing. Having headaches. Watching a movie, reading a book. Spending time with your loved ones. Yes, also scrolling the news or Instagram feeds, sure. But it’s not only that.

Even if we cut 100% of the time we spend of social media, it’s not easy to assume we will finally find the time, all the time we actually need to do the things we’ve been putting off.

Does this mean that we (I) don’t waste way too much time on social medias? We (I) do, of course, but I think we should first evaluate how much time in total we have really available, then cut down on the SM consumption, and only then make a plan about how we’re going to use those super precious spare hours.

Adulthood brings along a lot of responsibilities – towards other people, but also towards ourselves. I’d love to find more time to study Chinese, but I don’t think I’ll make a great deal if in turn I have to take time away from house cleaning or personal hygiene.

Yes, my ideal self is the one who wakes up at 6:00am to do yoga and who studies 1h of Chinese before even eating breakfast; the real self is the one who in wintertime struggles to get up at 7:10 because outside is too dark and melatonin remains active much longer that it should. (Seriously, I need to get one of these lamps if I want to survive the Scottish winter).

There’s nothing wrong in trying to make the real self look a bit more like the ideal one; but there’s no point in stressing over it when we’re already juggling between work, family and personal commitments. Plus the ideal self is maybe someone we’re not even that interested in becoming – it took me a couple of months of scribbling in my planner before discovering I actually don’t give a damn about gratitude journals 😌 – despite what everyone else on the internet is doing right now.

The combination of the idea that I have infinite time in my days/weeks and the aspirations of my ideal self brings me to an habit of overscheduling and overcommitting, which in turns causes stress and disappointment in myself (hence the ‘I accomplished half of what I wanted’ thoughts).



Wrapping things up: there’s nothing inherently good or bad out there, and the internet is not exception. Instagram is not evil, Pinterest is not evil, FB is not evil (well, it actually is, but that’s not the point). I can’t even start to list all the ways internet has had an amazing impact on my life; I’ve had the chance to connect with some incredible, like-minded people scattered around the world I wouldn’t had the chance to meet otherwise. But it’s too easy to feel like what see and read online should automatically apply to our life as well, and that’s definitely not always the case.

I often expect too much of myself, without actually considering the material conditions in which I happen to operate. In this regard, browsing the internet is of no help as it fuels the idea that everyone else is doing everything – and so I should watch how they’re doing it, and expect and demand more from myself.

A few quick recipes to try and get the problem under control:

I. restrain myself from typing on google the formula ‘how to….’ whatever follows. I already know how to everything since I spent the last 3/4 years reading every possible article on every possible topic may be of interest for me – and if I don’t actually know, let’s try something myself instead of relying on others.

II. believe in my choices (whether it’s planners, language learning programs etc.) and don’t just assume other people have it all figured out smarter and better. Even if they do, I still have to learn by myself and make my own mistakes – I’m not going to be miss perfect anyway.

III. draw inspiration from my own past work instead of that of others. One of the problems I may have in finding the right system for note taking in Chinese for example must derive from the fact that I never actually stopped to think what worked and what didn’t in my own system. More inward reflection will definitely benefit.

IV. go back to basics – less apps, less planners, less skincare products, less language learning resources. Start again from what worked in the past and stick to it, don’t keep adding things up. Aim at mastery, get my values straight and eliminate everything else.


Will I be able to follow my own advice?


Coming back to LL (for real): Chinese reading challenge and prep for HSK3

I fell for the hype of studying Chinese again. If there’s anything I learnt about language learning in all these years is that it’s a constant roller-coaster of emotions, for better and for worse. There’s no such thing as ‘I’m finally getting hold of my language learning process‘, it’s not and it’ll never be a linear journey. Two steps ahead, three steps behind, and so on and so forth. This is the only recognisable truth about LL. I’m just lucky to be in a phase of high right now.

How long it will last, no one can say. Still.

I don’t know if it’s the idea of being in the last third of the year that boosted my motivation, but somehow I’ve realised I’m less than 4 months away from next HSK session [assuming it will be in February same as last year, which I can’t be sure of since I don’t think they have a fixed schedule all around the world like for the Noryoku – but I’m digressing] and if I really want to take the test, then I really have to work my butt off. HSK3 is no joke, there’s the character writing part and a much longer reading part and gosh don’t let me even start raving about the listening level (impossible).

There’s still time, yes, but I’m also quite behind with my study schedule (as always), and I need to see tangible progresses, or this time I won’t get away with it as easily as this year. No one is asking me to do this, I’m committing to it because I want to do it for own satisfaction; I still remember how good it felt last year just being there, even before knowing that I had passed, because just showing up and making the effort meant I was ready to invest in myself and my passions.

So at least once a year, I wanna feel good about myself and take time for this me-project.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been making myself busy with:

  1. Chinese reading challenge over on Hacking Chinese (I already talked about it here). I’ve tried different resources, and among those the one that I prefer by far is the Du Chinese app. I hope to be able to make a dedicated post about each of them, but for now if someone is still looking for a good Chinese reading app this is my No. 1 recommendation. [If you don’t see my updates on the HC challenge page is because for some mysterious reasons it doesn’t allow me to enter anymore -.-]
  2. HSK3 preparation course on Coursera. This will be worth of reviewing as well, for now I’m still attending my first week so it’s a bit to early to express an opinion. Still, there are plenty of lessons (it’s impossible to keep up if you don’t study at least 5 days a week :0) involving parts of vocab, grammar and listening practice – for free!

Challenges and courses apart, it just feels really good to be immersing myself in the language again. Sometimes I wonder whether the whole RSH experience was actually worth it; I still have to see its actual benefits on the ground, and apart from this it also detached me completely from the actual language [which I’m sure impacted very negatively my motivation]. Anyhow, for the moment I’m only concerned about keeping the focus in the right direction, enjoying myself in the language and trying not to spoil everything like I usually do 😅


October subscription box

So, following my post of a few days ago (thanks to all those who liked it!) I’m now ready to enjoy my selection of self-pampering goodies for this month 🙂 This is all part of my Simple Life Project; all the items featuring in this box are things I already owned, so this is a 100% money-saving undertaking.


1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone ~ 20th Anniversary Edition [J. K. Rowling]. I bought this book back in April with the intention of reading it asap, and then it just went the way it always goes (sitting on the shelf). I always have a lot of feelings about HP as I practically grew up with his books, plus living in Scotland makes it even more real [I had a Harry Potter pilgrimage in Edinburgh back in July]. For some weird reason fall feels a lot like a Hogwarts season, so this is the perfect moment to finally dig into this book (it also has a red cover, which would fit perfectly for the Hallowreadathon of this year!).

2. Never let me go [Katsuo Ishiguro]. I’m just realising this while I’m writing, both these books are actually re-reads for me 🙂 I read this one back in 2010 a month before leaving for my semester in Japan, and it was one of the first gifts from my at-the-time boyfriend [currently husband]. For all these reasons is a novel attached to many intense feelings – and a story that I deeply loved. I read both these books in their Italian translation, and I’m more than ready now to finally taste their original version.


If I had to pick up a sector in which my hoarder madness has outdone itself I would definitely say beauty products. I’m improving, but there’s still a lot of work to do – and many, many accumulated products to finally start using.

1. Boots face sheet masks: Super Hyaluronic, Lotus flower &Tiger Lily, Safflower & Peony. My skincare routine had fallen through the cracks in July-August, mainly because of an utterly annoying eye infection and the madness following the house move. One of the things I really enjoyed about my 10 steps skincare routine was having a sheet mask once a week, on Sunday evening after my bath. By the time I’m writing this, I’ve already used two of them and I’ve enjoyed going back to my routine immensely.

2. Sanctuary Spa Sea salt body scrub. I bought this one a few days before moving from Aberdeen together with the related body wash, perfectly knowing it was a purchase I shouldn’t have done. In my defence I can say that I go through my body scrubs pretty quickly – and in fact, I’m about to finish my current one. Salt and oil body scrub are one of my fav beauty products on earth, plus the packaging was pretty irresistible (and I already plan to save and reuse it).


It goes without saying that Halloween calls for a lot of orange, black and purple. Purple is actually one of my favourite colours in the universe [and the colour of my football team, as well] and I love wearing it. I’m always a little hesitant in using it for makeup as I feel like it makes my under-eye circles stand out even more, but hey, we have to take some risks in life.

1. Essence eyeshadows in Vintage Lilac, Frosted Apple and Keep Calm and Berry On. I don’t know how this brand performs here in the Uk, but in Italy is pretty popular due to its low princes and reasonable good quality. I bought these eyeshadows more than a year ago and practically never used them (though Vintage Lilac is one of my fav shades ever!), so yeah, Halloween it is!

2. 100% precision eyeliner by Debby (purple) + Dark Tide eyeliner by Kiko Milano (purple). I usually use more eye pencils than eyeliners, but these have a very nice colour and they’re quite easy to apply. Pretty much never used either of them, I think they’ll go very well with the above mentioned eyeshadows.

3. Super colour mascara by Kiko Milano (purple). This one is quite old and I really need to either used it or dispose of it. I actually like quite a lot coloured mascara (dark blue, brown, etc.) but these from Kiko are really bad quality as they dry up in the bottle almost immediately. I’ve tried to revitalise this one by adding a few drops of eye solution, hoping they’ll help making this usable for at least the current month. If not, off it goes straight into the bin.

4. Laser nail lacquer by Kiko Milano (dark purple and black). I’ve used these in the past, but since (a) dark nail polish requires a lot of maintenance and (b) I have way too many nail polishes overall, I still have more than half bottle to use up. Since i like them very much, this month I’ll try to be good and wear them as much as I can.


1. Golden Snitch necklace. Bought it two year ago at Lucca Comics and Games and it’s one of the best purchases I ever made there. I actually wear this a lot, but I included it here because it goes well with this month’s theme.

2. HP soft socks. I think I got these back in December, during one of my Harry Potter splurge at Primark. Never used them (I was waiting for the ‘perfect occasion’).

3. Whittard Toffee Apple. I have way too many teas and herbal teas. Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist this match-in-heaven mixture when I visited Whittard in Edinburgh two months ago. I didn’t want this one to end up like all the others (sitting on the shelf for months) so i set myself a deadline to actually use and finish it.

4. Black cobweb earrings. I don’t even remember where I got this from (Accessories?), but it was definitely more than 5 years ago. My tastes in jewellery have changed quite a lot in the last 2/3 years, but I still like these ones and for some reason I think there’re well themed for Halloween.

5. Bottega Verde argan-scented candle. I found myself without pumpkin-scented candles this year, but going out and buying one would have defeated the whole purpose of this project – so I picked up one of the many unused scented candles I already had instead. This one is super old (>4 years) and I was honestly growing tired of moving it from country to country. It also has a subtle spiced flavour that goes very well with the season.


So this is it for this month, I hope the list wasn’t too long. The weather is already acting up here in the outskirts of Europe so I expect a lot of early-at-home nights using up my monthly goodies. No Chinese or Japanese textbooks this month as I’m already busy with other projects language-learning wise, but they’ll surely feature in future sub-boxes!


{Books in a Nutshell} July ~ September 2017


I had a very satisfactory reading session this summer. Fall seems even more promosing, with upcoming Hallowreadathon and the super juicy Christmas season!


Jo Nesbo – Blood on Snow
|English Translation|

I have to say, for me short books and shot movies have always better chances to be appreciated. Especially when you have very intricate, complex and original-but-hard-to-believe plots. The magic can last for 100, 150 pages max. After that, everything becomes just implausible and redundant. All this introduction to say that yes, Jo Nesbo knows how to write, and most importantly, how not to write. How to end a story so that it becomes a perfectly closed circle, not a frayed thread.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads


Clifford D. Simak – City
|Original Version|

I was sure I already reviewed this book, but looking back at the archives it seems like I didn’t. Well, for me City is all you really need to read in science fiction. If I were to live in the Fahrenheit 451 universe, this would probably be my book to preserve for  posterity. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so well constructed, with such profound insights on anthropological and sociological dilemmas, with such an aching nostalgia for what was lost and cannot be regained. A book that literally speaks to everyone. Even if you’re not into sci-fi.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads


Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
|Original Version|

With all the fuss going around with the Netflix show (just finished watching, terrible), I was curious to see what the original story was really about. And I have to say, this is a good book. It doesn’t drag on and on pointlessly just to be sensational – the story is pretty straightforward and tells everything it needs to tell without blunders [exactly what the TV show does not]. I particularly like the stress the author puts on personal responsibility, on how our being selfish or just superficial can damage those around us in ways we can’t even start to imagine. This is something we should talk about more, especially in high school contexts.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads


Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train
|Original Version|

A good crime story. A bit too long maybe, a few parts could have been cut out. But it was well-thought, and the character development was really really good. I enjoyed it much more than Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads


Arthur C. Clarke – The City and the Stars
|Italian Translation|

This is another of those classics you absolutely have to read if you are into sci-fi. I guess this could be considered a sort of coming-of-age book, even if within a pretty peculiar setting. It has not the depth of City, but it deals a lot with the themes of identity, memory and collective conscience, which makes it much more than just a book about spaceships.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads


Mary E. Pearson – The Adoration of Jenna Fox
|Original version|

Another YA, another [according to my tastes] well written story. I’m actually pretty impressed, I had no idea young adults novels could be written that well. It doesn’t matter if the story per se is not high literature, I like reading well-structured novels with original and personalised writing styles – and this was one of them. I discovered this book is actually part of a series – I don’t know how well this kind of story could go on, but if I had the chance I’d give it a try.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads


Overall, I enjoyed each and every one of these books and I’m very happy with the reading choices I made, even though I may have not followed much my previous TBR list.

On a side note, I just downloaded and printed BBC’s The Big Read Top 100 books – can’t wait to start crossing off those I already read and picking up the missing ones!

Weekly Plans / 3


Autumn Sunday afternoons are full of rain, cake baking and relaxing synthwave compilations. I love this season 💜

For once, I don’t want to talk about to do lists and tasks and things I wouldn’t accomplish anyway.

This week I’m going back to Aberdeen for a couple of days. It will be lovely to meet with  friends we have there and go to our usual places (pubs, bookshops and so on). I also plan to do some seasonal cloth shopping, since it’s the only thing I allowed myself to do out of my October shopping ban. [I’m in serious need of some warmer jumpers, winter is no joke here]

In addition to this, as far as I understand next Friday it’s some sort of bank holiday (or public holiday? Still have to sort out the difference) here in Scotland,  which means the plus one will be home for the entire weekend [yes, it still feels too weird to call him husband]. There will also be a street festival going on, let’s just hope the weather will behave for once.

So, main plans for this week:

  1. do some catch-up with our Aberdeen friends
  2. visit our favourite pub + hamburger hub + noodles bar
  3. make use of the long weekend to finally clean up and sort out our living room
  4. bake panini alla zucca (pumpkin sweet bread rolls)
  5. go out and enjoy the street performers
  6. finish watching The Expanse season 2 and start our Stranger Things marathon in view of the long-awaited season 2 release
  7. have at least one loaded nachos dinner
  8. if I’m not too busy enjoying myself, try to make some progresses in my Chinese reading challenge

By the way, I’m (kind of) back active on tumblr, so for those who already have an account: please let me know so I can follow you! I’m in desperate need of some LL inspiration 😝

Chinese reading challenge ~ October 2017

I’ve been keeping an eye on Hacking Chinese monthly challenges for quite some time now. I wanted to join them more than once, but you know, the usual carousel – no time, too busy, too tired etc. etc.

I was on the train to Aberdeen on Friday when I received an email with the remainder to subscribe to October’s Chinese reading challenge. And for once I said, why not?

So I signed up straight away before I could change my mind 😅

The challenge per se is pretty simple: you set the goal you want to achieve during the month (in terms of hours spent reading), and you log your activity everyday. There’s a leaderboard so you can see how others are doing, which can be an additional factor of motivation and stamina.

It’s only day 5 of the challenge, but I’ve to say I’m doing pretty well 🙂 you know when you find yourself thinking ‘this is exactly what I needed‘?

Let’s be honest, my Chinese study sucked this year – and what hurts the most is that I don’t even have a good reason for that. I started with a lot of motivation and effort at the very beginning of the year, taking HSK2 almost on a whim, and then I slowly faded away.

It’s not easy being a self learner. I thought it was, but I was deeply wrong. And sometimes, it’s even more difficult when you have too much time on your hands. Plus if I really have to be honest, the RSH challenge hasn’t helped much.

I think reading is a very important step in every LL process. So I feel like this is seriously the right kind of undertaking I can hugely benefit from. It gives me purpose, a clear plan of what needs to be done, and also a certain satisfaction.

I’ll talk about the resources I’m using in further posts; for now I would like to invite all fellow Chinese learners to join the challenge if they haven’t already, it’s not too late!


Hello October



September review

September goals

A lot happened in September, mainly good things tbh 🙂 but it was an exhausting month, too. Half of it I was back home [I found the time to have a lot of good food, yay], and the other half I was busy with a lot of life admin tasks. I had much less time for myself than initially expected, but on the bright side I attended the majority of the chores that were cramming my to do list, which means, a lot more spare time for my favourite activities during October 🙂 I also found enough time to keep this blog running, which honestly is pretty surprising since during busy times my blog is the first thing to be put on the back burner. Finally, I carved out some time to plan for the last trimester of the year and I broke down all tasks month by month and week by week, so now I have an easy and clear system to follow in order to achieve my goals for 2017.

How I spent my money

I spent way too much money on my way back to Scotland, some of it for things I really needed around home, but some… not so much. I can’t afford this lifestyle anymore plus I said a dozen times already that I’m sick of being surrounded by clutter. As much as I hate doing this, because it means I’m not fully grown yet, I’ve decided to go on a total shopping ban for October. The only thing I’ll allow myself to do is to buy some clothes (since I’m going to Aberdeen for a couple of days in mid October), as clothes are the last thing I usually buy and I really need a few things (lol). Everything else is out of discussion for the whole month, language learning purchases included.

How I did with my Study

Another not-so-focused-on-LL-month. I’m not much adaptable when it comes to studying a language (or studying in general, for what matters), meaning, I need to have a clear schedule and a clear space if I want to be productive. If I’m lucky enough, I should have worked hard during September in order to allow myself to have exactly this in October.


I feel like I’ve been reading a lot more lately. The Highlife Libraries app allows me to borrow ebooks that I can read directly on my iPad and this is a huge benefit for me (especially for those times when I’m back home and I don’t want to travel back and forth with huge tomes in my bag). I’ve also watched an anime [あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない] that had been on my to be watched list for a while and enjoyed it. (On a side note, there is a much wider selection of anime on Netflix Italia than Netflix UK 😟)

October’s goals

  1. take part in Hacking Chinese’s October reading challenge
  2. enjoy all the items of my October subscription box (💜)
  3. manage to study Japanese a couple of times a week
  4. try to implement my monthly and weekly plans as much as I can
  5. enjoy the season (autumn walks, pumpkin-everything, Halloween, etc.)
  6. take care of my pink hair 😀

Habit of the month : yoga practice from 6:30 to 7:00 AM

{Simple Life Project} My own subscription box

I couple of weeks ago, I had an idea.

I’ve been thinking about joining a subscription box service for quite a while now, as it seems like a very fun and convenient way for trying out new products, and also a quite original act of self-pampering. Here in the Uk you can find subscription boxes for almost every kind of interest [though I haven’t found a language learning subscription box for adults yet!].

I never actually subscribed to any of these services since

  1. I have way too many interests
  2. I couldn’t honestly justify the purchase of yet another beauty product / stationery item / tea box etc.

But I love self-pampering and treating myself to something nice (self-love has never been really an issue for me, ha). So a thought crossed my mind, what if I created a ‘subscription box’ for myself with a few nice goodies to enjoy when I’m winding down in the evening?
This was around February, but shortly after that I moved to Scotland and nothing actually followed.

Fast forward to the end of August, out of nowhere this idea came back to me. But with a new, wholesome meaning.

I’ve talked recently about my intention of living a less cluttered and materialist life. I think the main events that sparked off my new inclination were the two moves I experienced this year (first across Europe, then within Scotland). I don’t think we have a clear idea of how much stuff we actually own until we physically have to pack and move everything. I was honestly pretty disappointed in myself for having spent a lot of money for things that I don’t use – not because I don’t like them but, even worse, because I have too many already and I can’t find the time for them.

So, the result of connecting these two ideas: I’m going to set up a ‘subscription box’ for myself every other month or so with a selection of items I already possess that I’ve been neglecting for too long and that I want to concentrate on during that specific month. Items of choice there will be of course those of my main areas of interest – novels, LL books, stationery, makeup and beauty products, teas and herb teas mostly.

I know it may sound like a super silly idea from someone who has definitely too much time on her hands, but as foolish as it may seem I think I’m going to enjoy it. What I’m trying to recreate is that feeling of excitement and contentment that we get when we buy something new for ourselves – without actually spending money or invading my home with new clutter.

I plan to have my first box ready for October 1st, and then possibly a second one for December. Let’s see how this craziness go 😆