A little more comfortable

As part of the big year of home improvement, I’m gradually adding stuff to help make the space easier and more comfortable for day-to-day living. The coffee table in the centre of our living room had been feeling a bit claustrophobic and precarious, as it was too close to the sofa (meaning I had to squeeze in and out of my favourite spot all the time) and really cluttered on top due to my need to have a cushion on it during the day (I like to put my feet up!). I’ve never kicked any of my drinks over yet, but it was only a matter of time. As such, I bought this useful side table last week.

Side table

The soft storage basket in the base provides a space for all my gaming handhelds, and keeping drinks on the top next to me means that they are now at much less risk of being knocked over! This is important given the quantity of electronics I keep and use in the space.

I’ve also been enjoying having all our bread products tucked away out of sight in our new bread bin.

Bread bin

I found it a bit difficult to open at first, but it turns out the trick is not to close it too tightly.

In non-shiny news, I’ve had a fairly busy week. Not too much day job work, but I did have a lot of admin and accounting to do in preparation for submitting my tax return, which was as boring as you might expect! I’ve also been continuing with the TOMM cleaning method, which is still taking me about an hour a day while I get into the swing of it.

From Sunday onwards I was able to go outside to run, which I was really appreciating… and then on Wednesday night it snowed heavily again so I was back indoors on the treadmill yesterday morning! Thankfully it had mostly melted by today so I was back out on the roads again. Hopefully there won’t be any more snow over the weekend as I’ve got lots of outdoor running plans.

I’m still playing ukulele as part of the Zoom group on Wednesday evenings, and I’m still getting as much videogaming in as I possibly can, and… that’s about it. I expect life will continue in this vein for some time, at least until the current lockdown restrictions start to ease off again.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

The Marcels – ‘Blue Moon’
Ben E King – ‘Stand By Me’
John Barrowman – ‘Anything Goes’

Sunday

Yoko Shimomura – ‘Radiant Historia’
Cast of Oliver! – ‘Food, Glorious Food’
Duran Duran – ‘Friends Of Mine’

Monday

Noriyuki Iwadare – ‘Turnabout Sisters’
The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Julian Nott – ‘Wallace And Gromit Main Theme’
Arrow – ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’

And a bonus track Geth was humming that day:

The Lancashire Hotpots – ‘The Technical Support Song’

Tuesday

Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Glenn Miller – ‘In The Mood’
Audrey Hepburn – ‘Moon River’
3 Daft Monkeys – ‘Paranoid Big Brother’

Wednesday

Oasis – ‘Songbird’
Duran Duran – ‘Friends Of Mine’
The Strokes – ‘Last Nite’
The Chemical Brothers – ‘Galvanise’

Thursday

Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Three Little Birds’
Katy Perry – ‘Firework’
Duran Duran – ‘The Edge Of America’
Revo – ‘Fighting To The End’
Duran Duran – ‘Tel Aviv’
Belinda Carlisle – ‘Circle In The Sand
Duran Duran – ‘Anyone Out There’

Friday

Nintendo 3DS eShop – ‘Main Theme’
Landscape – ‘Einstein A Go Go’
Traditional – ‘America The Beautiful’
Pointer Sisters – ‘Automatic’
Audrey Hepburn – ‘Moon River’

From grim to glowing: the long journey begins

It’s been a tiring week, largely because I’ve spent most of it cleaning.

I’ve always (sort of) tried to keep things clean in the house, but I’ve never really felt able to stay on top of it or have the place looking as nice as I would like. This year, I really want the house to be up to my standards all the time – it makes me depressed when its not – and so I’ve decided to follow the TOMM routine, which is primarily aimed at busy mums but can be used by anyone. After a few weeks of settling into the routine, the idea is that you spend no more than half an hour per day on the housework (which, in the long run, is all I can realistically spare!). This week was my first week doing the routine, and it took me ages most days because there was a lot of stuff that just hadn’t been done in months, but I already know it’s going to be a lot easier next week, as from now on it’s just about maintaining things.

Having a constantly-clean house will also make it much easier to get all my decorating projects done this year!

I’ve had bits and pieces of day job work as well this week, but have made sure to carve out a bit of time for playing videogames. I’ve finally been able to make a start on playing all the other entries from the most recent Adventuron jam, and am going to finish them off tomorrow before the rating period ends. I’m also making good progress in Bravely Second, and should be able to get it finished before the next game in the series comes out next month.

Running has been largely indoors on the treadmill due to the winter weather. I’m crossing everything that it gets milder soon!

At the moment, next week looks fairly quiet, so I hope it stays that way.

Mop and bucket
I wish I had a house progress photo to share but I’m not quite there yet. Here’s a shot of the mop and bucket instead, which have done good work this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Monday

Devo – ‘Whip It’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’
Sparks – ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us’
The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Duran Duran – ‘Falling Down’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘Youngblood’
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – ‘Relax’

Tuesday

The Midnight – ‘Jason’
The Timelords – ‘Doctorin’ The TARDIS’
The Dream Academy – ‘Life In A Northern Town’
The Police – ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’
Haim Saban and Shuki Levy – ‘The Mysterious Cities Of Gold Main Theme’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Chaos Shrine’
Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’

Wednesday

Cast of The Muppet Christmas Carol – ‘Thankful Heart’
Yuka Tsujiyoko – ‘Onset’
Robert Palmer – ‘Addicted To Love’
Fleetwood Mac – ‘Dreams’
Roxy Music – ‘More Than This’
Oasis – ‘Songbird’
Noriyuki Iwadare – ‘It’s Detective Gumshoe, Pal!’

Thursday

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Yoko Shimomura – ‘Radiant Historia’
Arrow – ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’

Friday

Marianne Faithfull – ‘As Tears Go By’

First (half) week of work done

I’ve only been back at work for three days, but it’s been a pretty busy half week, so the weekend is very welcome! The combination of lockdown and snow lends itself well to videogaming, so that’s what I’ll be doing. Geth got me a Switch Lite for my birthday, I still have plenty of games in my backlog on other systems, and I still have lots of games from the most recent Adventuron jam to play and rate – so I’m not going to run out of entertainment any time soon.

It always takes me a while to find my feet again after Christmas. There’s a lot of stuff that needs sorting out in the house, but I’m gradually catching up with things. I’m sleeping late at the moment, which is a habit I really want to get out of so that I can get more done in the mornings. Hopefully once Geth is back at work next week, it’ll be easier to get into pattern.

I started attending a new Zoom music group this week. It’s very beginner-friendly, and Zoom music groups are always muted so I can happily bash away on my ukulele without worrying about anyone hearing me. As such, it’s a really good way to get back into playing; I haven’t found much time for practising since my previous classes came to a halt last March.

A good start to January, given the ongoing circumstances.

Pizza calendar
All calendars now arrived and installed. Getting there!

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’

House back to normal

I always find the house looks strange and a bit bare when I take the Christmas decorations down. Still, I’m excited about all the sorting and decorating I’m going to be doing this year!

Post-Christmas house
Big plans for this place.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Thought Beings – ‘Shakedown’

Three years blogging… and a reflection on some accidental New Year Resolutions

For years, I didn’t start new habits at New Year – or if I did, they never stuck for very long. However, for the last four years in a row, I have chosen something to focus on every year and have stuck with it. My life is a lot better as a result, and so I’m hoping I’ll be able to stick to my main 2021 goal too.

At the start of 2017, I started going to Slimming World. The accountability of the group setting enabled me to lose the five stone that I’d been trying to lose for nearly a decade, and though I’ve not managed to stay at target during the pandemic, I only have a stone to lose again this next year (which is a lot easier than five!). Life at a healthy weight is immeasurably more physically comfortable and something that I will never take for granted. Once Christmas eating is done, I’ll be back on the light meals again – I’m following a calorie-based approach rather than SW now, but I’ll always be thankful for the motivation it gave me.

At the start of 2018, I started this blog. It was always my aim to blog every day and so sometimes, especially during the empty year of 2020, blogging has felt like a bit of a chore. However, the habit of getting my words out into the world has given me confidence to do so in other ways, such as reading at poetry nights and publishing text adventure games. I love having the blog as it just feels so much more ‘mine’ than social media pages.

At the start of 2019, I got sober. I’ve mentioned this before but I feel so, so incredibly grateful that I managed to do this (and get the first difficult year of sobriety out of the way) *before* the pandemic hit – I really believe that things would have gone nowhere good if I’d still been drinking in 2020. It’s still not easy, but life is so much more stable than it was two years ago, and that has been so important over the last few months.

And at the start of 2020, after four and a half years of more sporadic running, I started a daily run streak. The start of a new decade seemed like a good time to do it, and I just wanted to see how long I could keep it up. Again, this was incredibly well-timed in terms of the pandemic, as I discussed yesterday. Whatever life throws at me, and however long it takes for races to come back, I’ll always have my run streak to keep me motivated.

On to 2021, then, and this year the main focus will be to get my house in order (literally). I already made a good start by spending a few weeks in November/December sorting out all the junk that I’d been hoarding upstairs since we moved in, but there’s a lot more to do, and a lot of daily habits that I need to instil. One of the major negative factors for my mental health is that I constantly feel that my house is dirty and untidy, and so I can never fully relax. Making time for my house projects this year, and keeping on top of the upkeep, will hopefully allow me to feel a lot better.

On a personal level, I’m feeling quite hopeful today. Not for 2021 as a whole, but for one day at a time, which is how I’ve managed all my other big life changes over the last few years.

I’m excited about tomorrow.

Lancashire hotpot
Another day, another New Year recipe I made myself for the first time. Lancashire hotpot is all about the crust, and it came out just right.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Deacon Blue – ‘Queen Of The New Year’
Tears For Fears – ‘Shout’
Abba – ‘Happy New Year’
Traditional – ‘The Blaydon Races’
Beach Boys – ‘Sloop John B’

Pressing on!

It’s been quite a tiring week so far! Coding, day job work and Christmas prep are all keeping me pretty busy. It’s all going well, though, and it means I will appreciate my Christmas break all the more.

My game is going really well. I’m nearly done with the coding and should be able to move onto graphics tomorrow. The deadline is Monday, but my game is fairly short so it shouldn’t take me too long, and I’m hoping to have it with my playtesters by the weekend.

Day job work (at least everything that’s come in so far) should also be done by the weekend. I keep my business open till Christmas Eve (because there are always last-minute short jobs from clients on Christmas Eve) but then I will be taking a fortnight’s break to coincide with academic Christmas holidays. I’m obviously sad that the COVID rules mean I can only spend a few days with family rather than the whole of Christmas like I usually do, but it means I can take the opportunity to learn how to do a bit of special cooking by myself this year. Dad is cooking all the New Year favourites (pizza and hotpot!) during the short time we have together at Christmas, and I’m going to be watching so that I can have a go at them myself at New Year.

New Year and my birthday are going to be very emotionally wobbly for me because there are so many things I’ve done my whole life that I can’t do this year, and I’m feeling a bit fragile about it. Still, I know everyone’s in the same boat, and we just have to make the best of it. Christmas 2021 will hopefully be really extra-special and appreciated as a result.

Another busy day tomorrow. The weekend fast approaches though!

Faux mink blanket
I dug out this enormous faux-mink blanket when I was sorting out the upstairs rooms the other week. It was just taking up space before, but now it’s a really comfy sofa throw.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Pet Shop Boys – ‘Heart’

Lots still to do before Christmas!

I’ve got a very busy week coming up, but everything is scheduled in neatly and will get done. Just about!

I spent most of today working on my jam game, though I did also have a bit of editing to do. My four main projects this week are coding, cleaning, day job work and Christmas prep – there’s quite a lot to do. Nevertheless, it all needs doing so I will beaver on!

Another busy day tomorrow.

Christmas 1985
Christmas wrapping paper in 1985 was absolutely amazeballs. I just can’t find stuff this nice these days!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Wynter Gordon – ‘Dirty Talk’

Dig complete

I carried on digging all weekend, and today I’m finally done… for this year anyway!

The hoard of stuff in the study and dressing room has all gone. Some of it went out / into recycling, some of it found a tidier home elsewhere in the house, and some of it got boxed up and put in the garage ready to be sorted out at a later date. I’m so much happier now I have those two upstairs rooms back (as well as more space in the bedroom, as I de-hoarded in there as well). I’ve given the now-tidy upstairs a good hoover and put some Christmas decorations up, but the whole place could also do with a good deep clean in the near future. Still, I’m really happy that this particular part of the project is done!

I also got an outdoor run done this morning for the first time in a few days. I’d been sticking to the treadmill over the weekend because I really didn’t feel like going out in the cold, but this morning I wrapped up a bit warmer and braved the roads again. I felt a lot better for some fresh air! We also had a good walk around the supermarket this afternoon and got some Christmas shopping done.

Other than a slight bit of tidying in the living room, I’ll be taking a long-deserved break from the house project tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting on with my new Adventuron game instead!

Tidy study
It was also nice to get my upstairs tree decorated. This one looks really nice from the street!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tinie Tempah and Labrinth – ‘Pass Out’
Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – ‘I Like It’

All dug through!

Another treadmill mile (treadmile?) this morning, and then another day of de-hoarding. I’ve very nearly sorted through all the stuff upstairs now – I just need to sort out my magazine collection (I have eight Ikea Kallax boxes I can fill and that’s the limit – I’m going to need to cull some of them) and my dressing table, and then I can start moving the storage boxes into the garage. There are a few areas downstairs I need to sort through as well, but they can wait.

Hopefully by the time I update again on Monday I will have everything finished!

Hard Rock Café collection
I was quite surprised that my Hard Rock Café collection fitted neatly into one box, given that I’ve been collecting since 1998.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Vertigo (Do The Demolition)’
The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’

I keep digging!

After a mile and a bit inside on the treadmill this morning, and a bit of day job work, I returned to the de-hoarding project for the rest of the day. It’s a tough job as there are boxes I’ve literally not looked inside for twenty-five years, and thousands of things that need organising, even with the amount of stuff I’m getting rid of.

I feel like I’ll be able to get everything finished tomorrow, but then I also felt that yesterday, so we’ll have to see! I’m sure it’ll all be done by the end of the weekend though.

Christmas greenery
I never know where to put this awkward bit of Christmas greenery but it looks quite nice on the hearth this year.

Today’s earworm playlist:

will.i.am – ‘Bang Bang’
Katy Perry and Kanye West – ‘ET’
The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Timbaland and Katy Perry – ‘If We Ever Meet Again’
Alannah Myles – ‘Black Velvet’