H O M E .      A B O U T .      C O N T A C T .      T U M B L R .      T H E   B O O K   J O U R N A L .      sailorjennie [at] gmail [dot] com

Friday, 30 December 2016

And so, this was 2016.

This year has been difficult, for so many of us, and for so many reasons. However it has also emphasised, more than ever, that life is about moments and not things. And this means having to find a path through even the most devastating moments in order to then go on to experience some of the special ones that make life so uniquely beautiful.

If I could bottle the feeling that reverberates through your bones when the music of one of your favourite artists starts at a live show, I would. My memory isn't the best, but I remember every second of the Adele show I went to back in April. I laughed, smiled, cheered, and tried and failed to keep it together during When We Were Young. That song just speaks to my soul and I think it always will.

Similar feelings were stirred inside me when the curtain went up and the opening scene of The Cursed Child unfolded before my eyes. Jamie Parker's Harry is so aligned with the Harry that lives inside my head that, although I cry at just about everything, the play was a much more emotional experience on a personal level than I had expected. And I think that's partially why I adored it so much, because in those few hours Harry, Hermione and Ron, those characters I grew up with and see part of myself in were, quite literally, right there in front of my eyes. And that was special. Really, really special.

★ Early in January I had to say goodbye to little Ralphie, the light of my life for so many years and I still miss him deeply every single day. 
★ A little while later I adopted Beatrix, who is just such a joy when she's not chewing my clothes. She is so different to little R and I'm so happy to be able to share my life with her. I need to book her in to get spayed and I'm already so worried, I'm not looking forward to it at all.

★ Saw Adele live for a second time and she is also just such a joy to listen to. Her ability to captivate a whole arena full of people is so inspiring. I silently connected with the girl sitting next to me who sobbed the whole way through Someone Like You and most of the concert in general.

★ Started doing some freelance writing. 
★ I bought my first iPhone.

★ Brexit happened and I bought a pin badge as a small, sad memento.
★ Visited London for the first time in far too many years. It was exhausting (London pals, I don't know how you do it!) but the tube wasn't as complicated as I remembered it being when I was younger. 
★ Had a wander around the Tate Modern and The National Gallery.

★ Saw Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre. I want to protect Scorpius as if he were my own son and I felt a strange and unexpected affinity with the trolley witch.  
★ Discovered my patronus, which officially on Pottermore is a Dun Mare and when taking this compilation of all of the questions is a Thestral. Thestral's are my favourite magical creatures, but I'm more than happy with my Dun Mare too.

★ Listened to more albums than I had in years. 
★ Started my MA in English with The Open University
★ Visited Manchester for the first time. 
★ Had a wander around Manchester Art Gallery, which was a delight. 
★ Went to my first MA tutorial. Almost fell over in front of a lot of people, but apart from that it went quite smoothly.

★ Paired down my make up collection.
 Started using Tumblr again, mostly for reblogging Harry Potter things and pictures of space. 
★ Got some new glasses that are completely different to any I've had before, and learnt that change can be good. I'm now going for that middle aged man meets Harry Potter aesthetic. 
★ Signed up for contact lenses and rediscovered what my face looks like without something permanently balancing on it.

★ Went out to eat for the first, and second, and third time in several years, and it was... fine. Food is difficult sometimes, but it's nice to know it can also be okay.
★ My mam's pup continued to be completely ridiculous. How is he even real?!

★ Started a postcard collection, to remember some of the places I've been. 
★ Started a pop vinyl collection for no reason other than they make me happy.
★ Spent a large portion of time wondering what life would be like if everything were as reliable as that one thick hair that now grows just underneath my chin. 
★ Started using a Fitbit and made a good start on improving my fitness. 
★ Supported 404 Ink on Patreon and they published their first lit magazine, which is marvellous and you should absolutely buy a copy if you're interested in new, wonderful writing.  

★ Went to the cinema for the first time in many years to see Fantastic Beasts and got a bag of popcorn as big as my body.
★ Fell a little bit in love with both Queenie and Tina. And also Jacob and Newt. And Frank and Dougal and, well, all the magical creatures. J.K knows how to write 'em, that's for sure. 
★ Opened a savings account. It's full of metaphorical dust and cobwebs at the moment, but at least it exists!

 Visited Hogwarts in the Snow, which was nothing short of an absolute dream.
★ Scored 95 on my first MA paper. Still can't believe it.
★ Received a stunning MinaLima print as a very generous Christmas gift from Mark and I vow to spend as much time staring at it as possible.

And so, I suppose this year has been both difficult and wonderful; full of glorious highs and devastating lows; unbearable and beautiful. I don't know what the next twelve months hold, but I do know that I'm going to say goodbye to this year tomorrow with a glass of gin in hand. watching The Deathly Hallows with my nearest and dearest.

Sending lots of love to you and your loved ones at the end of this tumultuous year. I hope that you're doing okay and, as always, I'm always just an email away if you ever need anyone to talk to.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Yearly favourites: 2016 Edition.

M U S I C .

Banks | [Goddess + The Altar]
Adele | [25]
Antony and the Johnsons | [I Am A Bird Now + Swanlights]
Imogen Heap | [Speak for Yourself]
My Chemical Romance - [Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge - a bit of teenage nostalgia]
Deap Vally

B O O K S .

Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing
My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal
M Train by Patti Smith
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay

F I L M S .

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Martian
My Annual December rewatch of the Harry Potter series

C L O T H E S   /   A C C E S S O R I E S .

Dianne Tanner 'Tenacity' Coin Purse
Oh My Clumsy Heart Tiny Sterling Silver Studs
Jeans | [A love rekindled after years of wearing only dresses]
Nasty woman Tee

H O M E .

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Pop! Vinyl
Adele print | [A wonderful memento from her concert back in April]
Sun + Moon + Star wind chime | [A TK Maxx treasure]
La Soufflerie Glassware
MinaLima Fantastic Beasts print | [A beautiful, thoughtful and very much appreciated, Christmas gift]

B E A U T Y .

Too Faced Hangover Primer
Too Faced blush in Baby Love
Lily Lolo Lip Glosses | [Smooth, not sticky + chocolate scented!]
Alba Botanica Deep Pore Face Wash | [My
Holland & Barrett Jojoba Oil | [A multi-purpose oil that I've used every single day]
Pacifica Island Vanilla Fragrance 

M I S C .

Fitbit | [I've had a Flex and an Alta, and loved them both]
iPhone SE | [The maps app has saved me from getting lost multiple times already!]
Clue | [A great app for keeping track of periods]
Evernote | [The app into which I furiously type those persistent 3am thoughts that won't go away until they've been written down]


Monday, 26 December 2016

December: until now, until the end

- December, Until Now -

Hogwarts in the Snow
I had visited the Warner Brothers Studio Tour twice previously, but this time it felt like walking into a dream. The Great Hall and Gryffindor Common Room were fully decorated for Christmas, the former even having perfectly formed Christmas puddings on the tables, and Hogwarts Castle was covered in a fresh dusting of snow, which somehow made it feel even more magical than usual. We ate Butterbeer ice cream, dug our hands into tubs of fake snow used during the films and once again marvelled at the enormous joint efforts and talent that went into creating a series of films that means so much to so many.

Naturally I couldn't resist a once round making several laps around the gift shop on the way out. It's a smallish room, but one with shelves upon shelves of delicious sweeties and intricately designed mementoes. I wasn't tempted by too much this time around, which makes the things I did choose to buy all the more special. My keys have had a much needed refresh thanks to my new Deathly Hallows keyring and my tote bag collection is coming along marvellously with its new witchy addition.

I've started buying a postcard from each place I visit because I just adore beautiful artwork and I think it's a lovely way to collect small pieces of art that also mark memories made along the way. I have a vision of framing some when I have enough, but until now they're safely tucked away in the pocket of my Moleskine notebook. Finally I bough a replica of Queenie's wand made by Noble Collection for no particular reason other than I think it's beautiful.

First MA essay
Our first study block focused on Antigone and I got really lucky because, despite never having studied Ancient Greece in any form, I really connected with both the narrative and its wider context.  The first few months of anything new are unknown so I used the opportunity to take a risk with my essay and found one quite specific angle I wanted to explore and didn't deviate from it. Making just one point has always scared me because my brain naturally assumes that I've misunderstood something or that it's an entirely irrelevant point, but I'm thankful I used this first essay as a bit of a test run because I scored a 95. I don't know whether I can replicate the things I did well throughout my next assignment, but I'm looking forward to giving it a bloody good go.

Christmas is always a quiet day in our small family, starting with some new pyjamas and slippers (with Beatrix trying to nibble holes in them almost immediately!), and ending with some mint chocolates and a glass of gin. We watched Harry Potter, made roast potatoes, exchanged gifts and used the day to recharge our batteries. Watching the pup open his presents is always one of our highlights. He gets so excited about ripping paper and making a mess, and I think he's quite pleased with his new squeaky goose toy.

As I type I'm wearing a pair of my new cosy pyjamas, slippers and bunny socks and burning the most delicious smelling strawberry scented candle I've ever encountered whilst waiting for our Christmas Pudding and custard to steam through. Queenie is now sitting between Jacob and Tina on my Pop shelf, with the naughty Niffler sitting next to my shiny tiny Christmas tree on my desk. Mark went completely overboard this Christmas and I almost cried when I unwrapped a very special and incredibly thoughtful gift bought from MinaLima that perfectly combines my love for Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and beautiful artwork.

My Mam and I were rounding off the night by watching The Martian when we heard about the passing of George Michael. This year has been difficult for so many reasons, but if it's taught me anything it's that there simply aren't any good excuses for not fiercely chasing my dreams because everything we know is so fleeting and every second is so precious. And that's not to say that every second should be treasured or something look back on with fondness because that isn't how life works, but I'm not scared to fail anymore and there's more than enough value in just trying, without having to worry about thinking if things are going to work out.

- December, Until The End -

I don't have any real plans for the final few days of the year, other than to do my taxes (not exciting in the slightest) and to start my initial reading for my next University assignment, which surrounds the concept of otherness in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. It's also time for me to turn some of my attention back to my neglected book blog The Book Journal because it's been far too long and after taking some time away from blogging in general this year I can now see, more than ever, how valuable it is to have a space to retreat to when life feels overwhelming or difficult to navigate.

How has your December been? I know that this month can often be a difficult one and so if you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm always just an email away.

Friday, 9 December 2016

A December To-Do List: In Search of Festive Cheer

In a bid to finally locate my (seemingly lost forever) Christmas spirit, I've made a list of a few small things to do that will hopefully encourage a little bit of festive cheer to wander in my general direction. I've got some gifts I need to wrap and at least part of me is quite looking forward to getting myself into a mess of sticky tape and sparkly gift tags. 

December so far... 
1. I submitted my first MA essay and I'm quite keen to never think about it again. I absolutely adored dipping my toe back into the world of academia, but the essay writing part was a bit of a struggle. To say I'm not confident would be an understatement, but I'm focusing on how I at least managed to get something on to paper. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck, I'll pass and it will be onwards and upwards to the next one. 

2. After a little bit of searching I finally located the tiny tacky tinsel tree that I bought several years ago for 84p and it still seems to be going strong. It's currently adding a touch of festiveness to my desk and it's making me smile. 

3. I bought my Mam a new Christmas tree because she must have had hers since my age was still firmly in single digits. It held up incredibly well considering, but it looked a bit sparse last year so it was definitely time she got a new one this year. 

4. We decorated our Christmas tree and will be happily spending the next month or so tripping over it because it's definitely a bit too big for the space we have. It was nice to see some of our favourite decorations again, some of which I had completely forgotten we had. 

To do throughout the rest of December...
1. I'm making it my mission to make multiple mugs of chocolate orange hot chocolate over the next few weeks and thoroughly enjoy every single one, with no regrets. This time of year can be difficult if food is sometimes a bit of a difficult thing, but just know that if you feel the same I'm with you and we'll get through it. 

2. We're visiting Hogwarts in the Snow next week and I'm fairly sure that if anything is going to inject some festiveness into me, it's going to be the sight of that magnificent castle complete with dusting of powder white snow. If they have Queenie's wand in the gift shop I might find myself quite tempted to buy it but I have absolutely no idea what I would do with it, so perhaps I'll settle for a new keyring and a postcard or two. 

3. My Fitbit stopped working a few weeks ago and I think my generally quite static state since then probably has something to do with this grey cloud over my head. I didn't realise how much of a positive impact a simple fitness tracker had on my life so a few days ago I bought a Fitbit Alta as a replacement. It's fancier than my old one (it actually has a screen!)and I'm looking forward to incorporating more walks back into my routine, even if it means wandering around the house to make sure I hit my step goal each day.  

Do you have any exciting December plans? 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Making a list, checking it twice... | How I'm tackling my holiday shopping

Finding the perfect gift for someone easily makes the list of my all time favourite moments in life. I believe that you could throw every single penny you have at a present but if it doesn't really mean anything or isn't something you know they'll absolutely adore, it won't ever be truly special. I usually have at least a vague idea of what I'm looking for, but this year it's been a little bit trickier and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps I'm simply overthinking everything, but my initial wander around the shops left me feeling a little bit uninspired and apart from a bottle of my mam's favourite perfume I came away empty handed. Instead I turned to the internet, and it came through for me!

1. 2. 3. 4.

Shop Independent.
Gift sets are great, in fact there have been many occasions where I've quickly run into Boots and picked up a beautiful Soap and Glory or Sanctuary Spa gift set as an emergency present for someone knowing that they'll like it and that everything inside will be used. However I buy for a few particular people quite frequently and I knew that I wanted to branch out a little bit this year. Independent retailers are a brilliant way to find unique items and show support for small businesses.

I've been into a couple of indie bookstores to top up my mam's book stash, and I'm going to pick up a couple more and perhaps some DVDs from Hive, which is a great website that provides all the convenience of shopping online but also allows you to support a local bookshop of your choice at the same time.

To avoid getting too specific and risking pairs of peeping eyes spoiling their surprises here are a few of my favourite websites to find unique and beautifully made pieces:

+ Rockett St George
Dianne Tanner 
Oh My Clumsy Heart 
+ Matt and Nat 
+ Quill London
+ Nomads Clothing

Also, Sophie from The Private Life of a Girl has put together a comprehensive guide to independent shopping in the UK, which has been very helpful and introduced me to a lot of different websites I haven't come across before.

1. 2. 

Getting by with a little help from the internet.
This year I've been especially grateful for the plethora of gift guide inspiration posts that I have been greeted with daily when looking through my bloglovin' feed. Sophie from Sophie's Makeup has put together some really lovely (and beautifully photographed!) gift guides this year that I have found very helpful. When I think about shopping online my mind immediately goes to the same handful of brands, but I must admit that it's been nice to browse some websites that I wouldn't usually, such as Anthropologie and West Elm.

Through gift guide posts I've also been introduced to websites like WozNow, Octer and Lyst, which collate items from a number of different retailers and let you bookmark things to look at again later/compare with other items or show you what's gone on sale. It's been so incredibly helpful to browse by category and see everything in one place without having to have a million and one tabs open at the same time because I haven't really known exactly what I was looking for. I've managed to find a great deal on something for Mark that I think he's really going to love and although Christmas isn't about the presents at all, I'm looking forward to wrapping it and putting it under the tree because I don't think he'll be expecting it at all.

Getting Personal.
There's still something about the novelty of having my name on something that hasn't quite worn off, that began with those personalised headbands that were incredibly popular when I was in Primary School, and I know I'm not the only one. I mentioned a few posts ago that after being given the chance to pick out some personalised Mr Men pieces that I was going to buy a few things as Christmas gifts and I'm so pleased with how they've turned out. I can't photograph them because I don't want the recipients to see them before Christmas morning but I think they're going to be a big hit and bring a lot of smiles!

Did you know which holiday gifts you were going to purchase ahead of time, or have you turned to the internet for a little bit of inspiration this year too?