Monthly Archives

January 2016

Personal

Last Week

On Sunday, I try to post a little overview in pictures, of the last (two) weeks. I didn’t post too many pictures these past two weeks (and a lot of it where snaps from London), so this post will be rather short.

Last Week - London phone booth

Ok, I know this didn’t happen in the last two weeks, but I’m still thinking about our trip to London. I also posted the London citytrip  blogpost last week and I’m still finding new photos on my phone, which I didn’t include in the post. That happens when you bring to smartphones and a camera.

Last Week - Birthday girl!

I did have my birthday last week! We made three pies and ate way too much, but that’s what you do on a birthday. That and let your boyfriend cook dinner for you and be amazed by the awesome presents he found you this year.

Last Week - Birthday presents Last Week - Birthday presents

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might know I’m into natural history things. I’ve been collecting skulls for a while, but I also really like anatomical models, entomology and whatever weird semi-science things were out there in the past. That being said, the Boy really hit the nail on the head with this year’s presents. I got a phrenology bust, a little glass dome which is perfect for my smallest skulls, a winged grasshopper and an anatomical model of a tarantula (even though I’m arachnophobic I really like this!). ♥Last Week - The new birthday to do list: 28 in 28

I also wrapped up the 27 in 27 list and put my new birthday to do/bucket list online this week. It took my a while (I’ve been thinking about my new list since December and I only finished it the day before the post went up) to come up with a new list, but I’m pretty happy with my 28 in 28 goals.

Last Week - Rainy days and painting

I finally took my paints out again. For someone who claims drawing and painting as one of her hobbies it’s absurd how little time I actually spent doing it. And although these weren’t the greatest sketches to tackle with paint, I really had fun doing it. And if I want to finish a sketchbook in six months, I’ll be doing a lot more of this. 🙂

Read: De Buitenkant van meneer Jules (♥♥♥), Rat Queens volume 2 (♥♥♥♥)
Watched: Doctor Who season 1 (♥♥♥♥), Galaxy Quest (♥♥♥♥♥)

Books

2016 Winter book haul

My complete winter book haul

I accumulated a lot of books during the past months, so I thought it would be nice to show you which additions made it to my bookshelf. There are sixteen books in today’s winter book haul, which is quite a lot, but I didn’t buy them all myself. I’ve already read ten of them, so no shame there (either in the past months, or earlier) either.

The Stammered Songbook, the Name of the Wind and a brand new Harry Potter t-shirt as part of my winter book haul

In October I bought Gestameld Liedboek: Moedergetijden  (Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours) by Erwin Mortier. I still haven’t read it, but it’s been on my mind ever since I bought it. I want to read this book very, very soon. And I’ll probably cry my eyes out, because it’s about Alzheimer’s, which will hit home.

I also bought The Name of the Wind because it was on sale and I’ve heard so much about this book. This book also has been on my mind ever since I bought it and I’d planned on starting it by the end of January, but I’m still stuck in All the Light we Cannot See.

I’ve also been on a huge Harry Potter kick these past months. It all started with my listening to the audio books and then watching the movies again, so when I saw a Harry Potter shirt at Primark I couldn’t contain myself. I’ve been practically living in this Hogwarts t-shirt.

Het Gestameld Liedboek en Vuil Vel in deze winterse boekenbuit

In November I went to the Boekeneurs and only bought one book. I wanted to buy more, obviously, but Bol.com gave me a coupon while I was visiting, so I decided to buy the other books online. Yes, I’ll buy just wherever they are cheapest.

The book I did buy is called Vuil Vel (literal translation: Dirty Skin), a book of Flemish folk/fairy tales, which are apparently pretty gruesome. I also got the book signed by the author and the illustrator (who put a nice stamp into it).

Winter book haul - My signed edition of Vuil Vel

Next I bought Shoot! with my online coupon, which is such a well designed and good looking book! If I wouldn’t have found it interesting, I would’ve just kept it because of the graphic designer goals it gives me. I do like it though! It’s easy to understand all the information on photography Anki gives and I like the way she starts of with giving information on the different topics you can photograph and ends with the technical bit about cameras. If it was the other way around I would probably have quickly stepped away from the book because “too technical”.

Winter book haul - Shoot!Winter book haul - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Being on a Harry Potter kick, I couldn’t say no to Rainbow Rowell’s newest release: Carry On. This book is basically Rowell’s own version of the fanfic she integrated into her other book, Fangirl. This fanfic is loosely based on the Harry Potter story’s (an orphan chosen one, a school of magical learning,…). I already read Carry On and I really liked it. I wasn’t blown away, but as far as young adult fanfics go (Twilight anyone?) I thought this was a very decent story, with lots of original elements, a cute love story and an ending that is not too cheesy.

Winter book haul - The complete set of Harry Potter books in Dutch

To stay in the Harry Potter world: I also got the complete collection of Harry Potter books in Dutch from my mom for Sinterklaas! This was such an awesome present! As a child I shared the books with my brother and I left them at home when I moved out. So now I finally have my own collection!

I also couldn’t say no to the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, especially when I saw it for sale online. I’m all for buying books in local stores, but if you can save almost €30 on a book (and buy another one with those savings)…. The illustrated edition was really worth every euro I spent on it, because this is one pretty edition! I really love the illustrations, the way they create so much atmosphere! I can’t wait to rediscover Harry Potter this way.

Winter book haul - Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone in the awesome illustrated editionWinter book haul - Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone in the awesome illustrated edition Winter book haul - Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone in the awesome illustrated edition

In December I bought my independent bookshop book at Boekhandel Walry, a cute bookshop in Ghent. I bought the hardcover edition of Oblombov by Ivan Gontsjarov. Oblomov is one of the first books I never finished reading. I was still in high school and the translation was done in the eighties and made reading this book so tedious. I tried a couple of times and never made it past page 40. I still want to read this book though and now I can on my own time.

Winter book haul - Oblomov by Ivan Gontsjarov

At the Boekenfestijn at the end of December I bought a signed edition of Darren Shan’s Birth of a Killer. I read the Cirque du Freak series a couple of years ago (although I stopped two books before the end because I had to give them back to the friend from which I loaned them) and I really liked them at the time, so I’m curious how I’ll feel about this series.

I also bought a very pretty (Dutch) edition of The Ocean at the end of the Lane (De Oceaan aan het Einde van het Pad) by Neil Gaiman. The dust jacket was printed on pearly paper which gave the cover a nice sheen, while the cloth cover was dark blue and very glittery with and embossed bucket printed on it. So I ignored my rule of buying English books in their original language and bought this pretty edition.

Winter book haul - Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan and De Oceaan aan het Einde van het Pad by Neil GaimanWinter book haul - Birth of a Killer by Darren ShanWinter book haul - De Oceaan aan het Einde van het Pad by Neil Gaiman

The last book in this haul is also a present. It’s Tijdlijn (Timeline) by Peter Goes. Peter was my mentor for my CREARES project last year and by then he was already working on this book. I really liked his drawings back then and this book is absolutely awesome. The illustration style, the history facts, the little jokes you can find in the drawings,… That’s why this one made my list of 15 books you should gift (or keep for yourself).

Winter book haul - Tijdlijn / Timeline by Peter GoesWinter book haul - Some fine illustrations in Tijdlijn / Timeline by Peter GoesWinter book haul - Some fine illustrations in Tijdlijn / Timeline by Peter Goes

That’s it for this book haul! I still have a couple of books I bought in London and I got for my birthday, but I didn’t want to make this post crazy long. Have you bought any books recently? Is there a book listed here that you’d like to see a longer review off in the future?

Personal, Projects

The 28 in 28 birthday list

As promised: my 28 in 28 birthday list! Each year on (around) my birthday I make a list with things I want to complete in the next 365 days. Essentially, as my birthday is so close to new year, these are my goals for 2016.

I feel like my goals for this year’s 28 in 28 birthday list are all very much related to each other. I’m definitely focussing on reading, culture and creating things (and a bit of health), because that’s what I want to do most of the time (or what I really want to work on). I’ve also noticed this list is a bit more frivolous than past lists. No big life-changing things this year, just ways to motivate myself to do more things and to have fun.

28 in 28 birthday list

I wrote my original list in Dutch, so I’ve made a quick translation.

01. Becoming an official inhabitant of Ghent
02. Start vlogging
03. Seeing the midnight sun or watch the Aurora Borealis
04. Being able to run 10 km
05. Follow 25 Skillshare lessons
06. Get a tattoo
07. Spent a weekend without technology
08. Go to Museum Night
09. Go on five citytrips in 2016
10. Go watch a play
11. Go see an opera, a balet or go to a musical
12. Read ten classics (either in English or Dutch)
13. Reach my 2016 blog goals
14. Make a zine
15. Mari Kondo the shit out of everything I have
16. Fill a sketchbook every six months
17. Do twelve things from Pinterest
18. Finish the Verbeelding Bookchallenge
19. Make a new project every week
20. Read forty books in 2016
21. See 28 new (to me) movies
22. Get my driver’s license
23. Read tree books picked by somebody else
24. Navigate the waterways in Ghent
25. Do 120 workouts
26. Give a themed party
27. Make a photo book for 2016
28. Photograph at dawn

I’m really excited to get started on this list (I actually already did, you can probably figure out which ones). I think I’ll post a 28 in 28 birthday list update every two months, that way I can’t forget about these goals too much. You can also track some of my goals on other sites (such as Goodreads for my forty books challenge) and when I post related content on Instagram it’ll be with #plutomeisje28.

Anyone else doing this kind of list?

Travel

A quick London citytrip

London citytrip - Arriving at St. Pancras station by Eurostar train

I’ve been to London once before, many years ago, on my first real trip with the Boy, but we never managed to go back, although we really wanted to. That is, until we went on a  London citytrip a couple of weeks ago! We stayed in London’s hip and happening East Side and did some off the beaten track travelling.

We stayed in an Airbnb in the East End, which is a neighbourhood that apparently is very hip. If you like to go out at night that’s probably a plus, but we’re the kind of citytrippers that walk all day and fall asleep completely exhausted at 11pm. Yup. Lucky for us, the appartement was located in a quiet building (although there were lot’s of pubs and restaurants in the neighbourhood).

London citytrip - Spitalfields Market has it's own goat (statue)

The East End is very well known for its heaps of street art, so on the first day of our London citytrip we booked ourselves on an Alternative London Walking tour. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this tour, but it was a very informative and interesting tour of the area around Spitalfields Market. Our guide was genuinely interested in the welfare of that part of the city and he really liked talking about street art and the history of the neighbourhood. Going on this tour at the beginning of our stay in London was a great idea, afterwards we noticed way more street art pieces.

London citytrip - Enjoying street art in the East End during an Alternative London walking tourLondon citytrip - Enjoying street art in the East End during an Alternative London walking tour London citytrip - Enjoying street art in the East End during an Alternative London walking tourLondon citytrip - Enjoying street art in the East End during an Alternative London walking tour London citytrip - Enjoying street art in the East End during an Alternative London walking tour

Normally the tour would’ve taken 2 hours, but as it was raining a bit and it was quite cold it got shortened by half an hour. If it wasn’t for the cold and the rain I wouldn’t have minded a way longer tour, it was so interesting! Afterwards we went and enjoyed a hot coffee and a piece of pie.

London citytrip - Walking around the city in winter also means enjoying hot coffee and cakes!

On day two of our London citytrip we decided we would start the day with an English styled breakfast. We went to Pellici’s, which is about as Italian as it sounds. It was still quiet when we got in, but after ten minutes the café filled to the brim and the atmosphere was bustling. Normally I don’t eat (a lot of) breakfast in the morning, so finishing my plate was a bit of a struggle, and although it was far from healthy, it was very tasty. All the staff was super friendly and when we left we got some free bread pudding with the words “my mum made it this morning”. It was still warm and delicious.

London citytrip - Going YOLO and eating a British breakfast London citytrip - Going YOLO and eating a British breakfast

We spent a large part of the day in the Hunterian Museum, located in the Royal College of Surgeons, amongst dead things in jars and pieces and parts of animals and humans. I’m a sucker for these types of small museums ever since we’ve discovered the Medizinhistorisches Museum in Berlin. I know they’re not for the faint of heart, but they’re so interesting. They tell as much about the history of medicine and science as about the way people used to interpret things they didn’t fully understand yet.

London citytrip - Bookshopping!

After we’d had our fill of dead-things watching we walked around the city center, looking for interesting book stores. I’d made a list with bookshops I wanted to visit during this citytrip and although I didn’t get to them all, we visited: Foyles (can I go and live there? Please?), Forbidden Planet (for geeking out) and Gosh! (graphic novels and comics). I also had London Review Bookshop, Persephone Books and Word on the Water on my list, but we only had so much time and I decided to leave them for another time.

London citytrip - Tower bridge at night

After the book shopping and sightseeing we went for another walk, this time between Tower Hill, the Globe theater and St. Pauls Cathedral. One of the downsides of travelling during winter is the lack of daylight. It did influence my photographing, but on the other hand, look at those pretty lights!

London citytrip - London at night

I’d kept one bookshop until last: the giant Waterstones on Piccadily Circus, because it was open until 10pm. This is such a large bookstore and I was too tired to climb the stairs to every level, but I did buy some pretty books. Afterwards we went to The Ginger Pig Café for a most excellent dinner. We both picked the steak, because after walking around for the biggest part of the day we could use it. We had som locally brewed Camden beers with it and I rather liked my Camden Pale Ale.

London citytrip - Cycling next to Regent's Canal

On our last day in London we decided to give the famous “Boris Bikes” a try. We went cycling next to Regent’s Canal and I almost slipped and fell in. Lucky for me, I didn’t, because it was again a very cold day and we planned a walk around Camden Market (= shopping!) and another tour. No busy city life on this tour though, we went to Highgate Cemetery.

London Citytrip - Trees, moss and a Victorian graveyard at Highgate cemetery London Citytrip - Trees, moss and a Victorian graveyard at Highgate cemetery

I know visiting a graveyard during your London citytrip isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but Highgate Cemetery is an original Victorian graveyard and it’s really pretty! I can only imagine how it would look in summer, but even in winter it’s worth visiting. All the overgrown graves, the trees, the angels on tombs,… it’s exactly as you would imagine such on old graveyard would be.

London Citytrip - Trees, moss and a Victorian graveyard at Highgate cemetery

Highate cemetery exists of two parts: East and West. The East cemetery is accessible without a guide, although you have to pay an entrance fee. This part of the cemetery isn’t as impressive as the second part, although it’s still very pretty. The West Highgate cemetery you can only visit during a guided tour (because some parts of the cemetery aren’t safe). If you pay for the guided tour for the West part you can also visit the East part with the same ticket.

London Citytrip - Muddy walkways at Highgate cemetery London Citytrip - Trees, moss and a Victorian graveyard at Highgate cemetery

I really liked the West side cemetery tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and clearly passionate about the preservation of the cemetery.

London Citytrip - Trees, moss and a Victorian graveyard at Highgate cemetery

After visiting the graveyard it was back to our appartement, packing up our bags. We’d hoped for some extra walking around in the neighbourhood of King’s Cross, but we were so tired already from all the walking around, we didn’t get too much any more.

London Citytrip - Trees, moss and a Victorian graveyard at Highgate cemetery

I did visit the Harry Potter shop in King’s Cross though. I had hoped I would be able to take a picture with the trolley that disappears in the wall at platform 9 3/4, but apparently there’s a photographer and a giant line and you have to pay for a print out of the photo. Bummer. So I bought a Hogwarts patch instead. (And about half an hour later I found out Allan Rickman died, which explains why everybody was wearing the Slytherin scarf at the Harry Potter shop)

I did enjoy this short trip immensely, although the Boy and I promised each other next time we’d do a London citytrip it would be during the summer, as we’ve never seen it not during winter (last time there was so much snow the buses and the underground stopped working and the museums all closed early).

Have any of you ever visited London? Which spot do I absolutely have to visit next time?

Books, Personal, Projects

27 in 27 – Wrap up

For the last couple of years on my birthday I’ve made a birthday list with things I want to realize in the coming 365 days. As of today I’m a year older, which means it’s time to say goodbye to my 27 in 27 list and see how well I fared with this challenge.

January last I made a list with 27 challenges to complete in the upcoming year: my 27 in 27 list. I put my list up on my wall, my wunderlist and my evernote app and still I managed to loose sight of some of these goals, although I think I really didn’t do bad this year.

Finished challenges27 in 27 - Starting a course illustration and comic design at art school
01. Starting a course illustration and comic design at art school

I’ve been wanting to go to this course for a couple of years and now I’m doing it! I really enjoy these lessons even though some assignments really aren’t my thing. One of the perks of following this course is learning (and having) to use new materials and tools. We rarely just sketch or use graphite pencil, which is nice as that’s my to go material whenever I draw something. It also pushes me to create more and most importantly to finish more real drawings, which is something I almost never do…

27 in 27 - Read 50 books

02. Do the 50 book challenge

I nailed this one! I read a total of 77 books last year and I have this challenge to thank for this. I was really competitive to reach my 50 books as soon as possible, putting priority on reading as much as possible. After reaching 50 books I calmed down a bit, but I still read a lot.

27 in 27 - Buy a book in a local/independent bookstore every month

03. Buy a book in a local/independent bookstore every month

It’s wasn’t easy every month to pick up a book in a local bookstore, as I’m pretty much a cheapskate. I’m constantly comparing prizes and I’ll buy the book wherever it’s cheapest. As Dutch books often have a fixed prize online & offline this lead to buying more Dutch books, which is actually a nice side effect.

These are the 12 books I bought in local bookshops:

  • Joe Speedboot by Tommy Wieringga
  • Les Contes de Beedle le Barde by J.K. Rowling
  • De Kunst van het Crashen by Peter Verhelst
  • Morantology by Caitlin Moran
  • Te veel verdriet voor één hart by Ed Franck and Carl Cneut
  • Chew vol. 1 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
  • 7 Pinguin Little Black Classics
  • De Aankomst by Shaun Tan
  • Gestameld Liedboek: Moedergetijden by Erwin Mortier
  • Vuil Vel by Marita de Sterck
  • Oblomov by Ivan Gontsjarov
  • We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

27 in 27 - Learning how to silk screen

04. Learn how to silk screen

I was very lucky to have a course on silk screen printing in my last semester of my bachelor. It was a lot of fun learning about screen printing and I’m pretty sad it’s been so long since I’ve screen printed. I really want to do something more with this skill, but I’m not sure how to do it at home or whether I really need another hobby.

05. Graduate as a graphic designer

I had a hard time in my last year as a graphic design student. A lot of things didn’t go well, there was a lot of friction, stress and frustration crying. But I also made a lot of friends, had many good times, learned a lot and graduated in September. These last two years have also taught me that, yes, I can (if I really want to) and I still have a long way to go to battle my tendency to procrastination/fear of failure (as is evident in my still not having finished my portfolio/still not having a job).

10. Comment more on blogs and social media

This is one of those goals on the 27 in 27 list of which is was hard to figure out whether I managed to finish. As I’m feeling very lenient, I’m going to say I did. I haven’t commented regularly during the whole year, but I’ve started commenting a lot more in the past few months. I don’t read as much blogs as I’m used to, but I’m paying more attention to commenting. I’m still a bit of a lurker though.

27 in 27 - DIY Panda Pencil Case

12. Finish five sewing projects (3/5)

I definitely didn’t finish this one, I only made 3 sewing projects (a sun screen, a baby blanket and my panda pencil case), but I’m still going to count it as finished. Making these three projects really have ignited my love for sewing again and I’ve been wanting to make more projects, but I just didn’t have the time. I even started cutting fabric for pillow cases. So yes, not completed, but it still did what I hoped it would do. You can definitely expect more sewing projects in 2016.

27 in 27 - Make 12 illustrations

14. Make 12 illustrations

I managed to finish this goal accidentally. I didn’t think I managed this goal until I realised I did make 12 different illustrations for the twelve months of my 2016 agenda. I don’t think I’ve shown all twelve illustrations in my agenda related posts, so maybe I’ll put them in a workspace wednesday update.

15. Visit 27 new places

This was one of those challenges on this list where I didn’t really think about what I really meant by it beforehand. I’m pretty sure I visited 27 new to me places this year, with my visiting a couple of nice places for walks and with visiting Keulen and London and only visiting places there were I hadn’t been before.

16. See 27 new (to me) movies

I’ve watched:

  • Star Wars Episode 4
  • Star Wars Episode 5
  • Star Wars Episode 6
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders
    of the Lost Arc
  • Star Wars Epidsode 1
  • Star Wars Episode  2
  • Star Wars Episode  3
  • Predator I
  • Predator II
  • Predators
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Independence Day
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Jane Austen Bookclub
  • Eastern Promises
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Mad Max I
  • Mad Max II
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Apollo 13
  • Jurrasic World
  • The Martian
  • Serenity
  • Inside Out
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mr. Holmes
  • Galaxy Quest

Some of these movies were complete crap (the original Mad Max for instance), but there were a lot I really liked. I think Eastern Promises, The Imitation Game, Serenity and Galaxy Quest were definitely some of my favourites.

27 in 27 - Go driving the car 27 time

17. Go driving the car 27 time (also known as getting serious about my driving license)

Although I didn’t go driving 27 times in total, I did get really serious about getting my driver’s license. I started driving lessons at the end of December. I went home on Monday to put in the request at the town hall and on Sunday I got my provisional license (saying I can drive alone)! I then drove home from my parent’s house to Ghent, in the dark, while getting lost. So, yaay!

27 in 27 - Make a piece of furniture myself

18. Make a piece of furniture myself

I made a DIY Jar Lamp from scratch this year, of which I’m quite proud. I also got into more re-upholstering of lamps and gave myself a pretty desk lamp. I didn’t manage to make my own bench for our hallway (buying one at Ikea was cheaper/easier), but I still feel like making my own lamps is like making my own furniture. I’d like to do more home/decoration DIY’s in the future, although it’s not always easy making them on a budget.

19. Photograph more non-blog related things

In January I did the January Photo-a-day challenge and the July Bookish Photo Challenge this year, which was fun. I also tried snapping more random pictures with my phone and I tried being more active on Instagram. I’m still not one of those people who takes her camera everywhere, but I do enjoy making photos more. After reading Shoot! I also started to put more effort in my photography and I want to embrace the medium even more in 2016.

27 in 27 - Blog more

20. Blog more

I started well off with this one in January, but the next couple of months I didn’t had the time to blog a lot. In August I got more free time and I immediately started blogging more. September was the month with the most blog posts: 16 in total! The next couple of months I put out about 10 posts a month, which I consider a good amount. This month hasn’t been going well until now, but I’m sure I can put another four posts online by the end of the month. My goal was to post at least eight posts a month and for about half of the year I managed to do just that. The other half was so busy I stopped doing almost anything but school work, so yes, this is definitely a goal I reached.

22. Watch all the Star Wars movies (marathon style)

We didn’t really marathon the movies on one day, but we watched a movie a day for about a week. It was the first time I completely watched the three oldest movies and I really liked those. We also watched the three more recent instalments of the series and although I watched them when I was younger and liked them then, I didn’t really liked re-watching these episodes now. They weren’t very good and I don’t think we’ll be attempting watching those again soon. I’m also not sure I want to go see the new movie. Has anyone been?

27 in 27 - Find a day planner that works for me

24. Find a day planner that works for me

I made my first day planner at the beginning of 2015. I really liked learning about book binding and putting my own planner together. I really liked that first handmade planner, but it wasn’t completely what I wanted, so in September I started working on my 2016 planner. I designed all the pages again, put in some illustrations to add extra colour to my agenda and made a midori notebook styled cover. I’m really happy with this new planner, it has tons of space, although it’s a bit on the large side, and I really like using it.

27 in 27 - Discover & start a new sport

25. Discover & start a new sport

I still wouldn’t call myself sportsmanlike, but I did try a couple of different things the past year. I did the 30 Day Shred (and was really impressed with myself, which seems quite silly now), I also started the Six Week Sixpack (but never finished it though) and I also started doing Yoga with Adriene. Getting these things integrated into my daily life on a regular basis is something for the next 365 days.

26. Go hiking (monthly would be cool)

I started good on this one and went hiking in Zeeland, Doeveren, Duivenbos and De Bourgoyen. After that good start I slipped up a bit, but we still went for serious walks in Keulen, Gent and London, so although not all of those walks were in nice forests like I imagined, I’m still happy we went on all of those walks. Next year I really need to get to the High Fens, I’ve been wanting to go there for ages and I still haven’t been.

Unfinished Challenges

These are the goals I didn’t manage to get to or finish in a way I found satisfying.

06. Find a job – Erm… I need to get more serious about this. Now that I can drive to places that aren’t accessible by bike of public transport and now that having a driver’s license isn’t a no-go on job interviews I’m running out of excuses.

07. Getting the number of unread books in my bookcase down (starting at: 27) – I believe the number of unread books on my shelf has almost doubled in the last year, even though I read quite a lot of books from my shelf. I was buying them faster than reading them, so this is a bit of a fail.

08. Make a vlog – I did film some try-our footage this year, but I never got round to making the actual vlog bit happen. I’ll be going to a workshop on vlogging in April though, so it should happen somewhere this year.

09. Do a 365 days project – This goal was just impossible to do this year, with all the school work. Almost as soon as I started this I had to quit. I tried making up for it by doing a 30 day challenge here and there, but that’s not the same.

11. Illustrate a (very) short story – Maybe I’ve should have started by making this goal “write a short story” or something. I wouldn’t know which story to illustrate otherwise. Maybe I’ll give this a retry in the next year though.

13. Blog 27 successive days – Ah, I tried this a couple of times (in August and September) and failed miserably. I think this can only work of you have enough content planned out before starting and although I had the plan, I never managed to write enough posts in advance to finish this challenge.

21. Make a short animation – I wanted to finish an animation I started in my first year of graphic design, but I never got to it. I’ve been through all the material I have for it and it seems so overwhelming to start that project again. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish that animation.

23. Play Magicka with the Boy – This started off quite well. We played a bit of Magicka and then switched to playing Hearthstone for a while, but we didn’t keep this up.

27. Dye my hair pink – I still really want to dye my hair pink, put it’s a bit pricey to do it at a hair salon, which was the main reason I didn’t get to this one this year. I’m also not sure which hair salon in Ghent to go to. I’ve visited numerous Facebook pages of salons, but I didn’t get the impression any of them would be able to give me a pastel pink look. I’ve contemplated doing it myself, but I’m scared I’ll end up with no hair. :p

I finished 18 of the 27 challenges I set myself this year, which isn’t bad, all things considered. I never managed to finish one of these lists, but that doesn’t keep me from making new ones every year. My next list will be up in a couple of days!

Have you ever attempted doing one of these birthday lists or bucket lists?

Personal

Last Week

2016 seems to be on speed, because, what, we’re already the 17th? Not that I mind, as my birthday is getting closer and I already had a great start to the new year! I’ve gotten a lot further into getting my driver’s license, I got a couple of awesome presents and I went to London!

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First of, there were presents! And delicious leftovers, so the year started of great. I wrote a somewhat emotional post about the leftovers on IG, because apparently that’s what my grandmother’s food does to me.

Last Week Last Week

Look at my presents, aren’t they great? They’re also exactly what I wished for in this post. Maybe you’re wondering why I got jarred cherries: I got them with a paper stuck to saying that they ordered Grief is the Thing with Feathers but it didn’t get there in time. Opening them I went “wth?” though. :p I’ve also sorted out my TBR for January, but now I can’t seem to get into All the Light We Cannot See…

Last Week

Before the winter holidays (on December 23rd to be exact) I started my driving lessons! And on January 11th I got my paper saying I’m not completely incompetent handling a car and I can drive alone. Whoop! I’ll still have to drive around with an L on my back window for at least three months, but after that I’ll be officially able to drive!

Last Week Last Week

On Tuesday the Boy and I were off to London! We did so much walking and sightseeing, my sore feet still aren’t completely recovered. We had a blast though and I’ll probably put up a post next week telling you all about this trip.

I know my Last Week posts usually are a bit longer, but between Christmas and new year I haven’t posted a lot on Instagram so there isn’t much to show (and I’m also saving a couple of photos for future posts). How did 2016 start off for you?

Books

Seven books I want to read in 2016

Last year I wrote a post about a couple of books that were coming out in 2015 and to which I was looking forward to. I attempted to make a new list this year, but I didn’t get very far. There are a couple of books that I’m looking forward to and a couple more were I’ll be keeping an eye on the reviews they get when they’re published, but it all felt a bit too precursory. So instead I came up with a list of books that I really want to get to this year.

I already published a books I really want to read list in September of last year, with eight books I wanted to get to before the end of the year. I managed to read four of those, which means there are already four books on my list for this year: Hollow City, Burial Rites, Snow Child and The Night Circus. Ignoring those, here are seven other books I want to read in 2016!

Books I want to read in 2016: Crow and Grief is the Thing With Feathers

1. Crow by Ted Hughes & 2. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I believe I heard of these books via Jen Campbell’s booktube channel. Crow by Ted Hughes is a poetry collection, about the character Crow, which leans heavy on mythologies. The second book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, is features Hughes’s Crow. Crow comes to stay with a grieving family, of which the father is writing a book about Ted Hughes’ Crow. The whole set-up of these two books and the way they’re intermingled makes me very curious. I got Grief is the Thing with Feathers on new year and I’ve just ordered Crow, so I’m looking forward to reading both!

Books I want to read in 2016: A Gathering of Shadows

3. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

After reading Vicious at the beginning of last year I was completely sold to V.E. Schwab’s writing. I knew she’d just published a new book in a series, I even put it on my “Books I”m looking forward to in 2015” list, but I put reading it off for months, because I hate starting an unfinished series. By the end of last month I finally caved. I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic and flew through the story. The main characters, Lila and Kell; the world building, pretty much everything about this book was exactly what I wanted it to be (You can find my review on Goodreads). I could slap myself after reading it, because the second book in this series, A Gathering of Darkness, won’t be published until February 23rd. I already read an 150 pages excerpt to calm my curiosity (#fail) and I can tell there’s so much in store for Lila and Kell. So yes, this one will definitely get read in 2016, although I’ll have to wait for the third (and maybe fourth) book even longer.

Books I want to read in 2016: The Name of the Wind and The Lies of Locke Lamora

4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind is one of those books that keeps popping up on BookTube and bookblogs. It has so many positive reviews! In fact, I haven’t seen a Booktube review that wasn’t positive and that has made me very curious. So even though this book is the first book in an unfinished series and even though it’s 660 pages (and even though the second is 990 pages) I’m itching to start reading this series in 2016!

5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I’m guessing 2016 will be the year of hefty books and more serious fantasy series (I’m trying to keep away from YA fantasy because I read too many mediocre books last year), because the Gentlemen Basterd’s series by Scott Lynch is another high fantasy series I really want to start reading this year. I can’t recall when the first book in the series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, first popped on my radar but it’s been far too long.

Books I want to read in 2016: His Dark Materials

6. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is a collected novel containing the tree novels in the His Dark Materials series: Northern Lights, The Subtle Life and The Amber Spyglass. I’ve heard so much about this series and I bought the book last year, but even though I really wanted to read it, the size did put me off a bit. Reading large book is always a bit of a commitment and last year I was putting winning the 50 books challenge before reading the books I really wanted to read. No more this year!

7. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

It’s getting a bit repetitive, but I seem to be scared to start reading some books. Mostly because of the time commitment. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran falls also in the stalling category, but not because of the commitment. This is one of those books where I have real high expectations off and I’m a bit scared this book will let me down. I’m also very curious what Moran has to say about the topic, so I’ll just have to dive in this year.

I know seven is a bit of an odd number, but these are the books I’m currently most curious about. I didn’t want to make my list too long, because, knowing me, halfway through the year I might get interested in other things. Are there any books you really want to get to this year? Or is there a particular book that’s been on your to-be-read list for ages?

Blogging

2016 Blogging goals

As you might have noticed, I didn’t post any New Year’s resolutions the pas week. Not from the lack of enthusiasm though, because as you might know, I love making lists. But, with my birthday coming up in a few weeks I’m busy planning my new birthday list. Making an extra list of resolutions seemed a bit silly. But when the first post on Tuttefrut appeared and it was about making measurable goals I realised I did want to make a New Year’s resolution list and it would be all about my 2016 blogging goals!

I rekindled my blogging passion last year, but although I love writing here, it isn’t always easy for me to put up blogs in time. I’m a slow writer and I when I manage to write some posts in advance I tend to schedule them close together, instead of spreading them over a couple of weeks. This makes my posts very infrequent, which isn’t a good thing. So, 2016 is the year I want to take my blogging to another level.

01. Double the number of unique visitors

A couple of years ago, before my big blogging identity crisis, I reached a lot more people. I had a large back catalogue in blog posts and this brought a lot of traffic to my site. When I moved to Never Kiss a Cactus and then back to Plutomeisje.be I deleted my old posts. They felt like a bagage I didn’t want to carry any more, but when I deleted them, the search engine traffic to this blog died out and so did my audience. I don’t mind writing for a smaller, more interested, audience though, but it would be nice if I could make this blog grow a bit in the coming year. A lot of the other goals listed in this post are connected to this first goal. The growth I’m looking for has to be natural, so no Facebook advertising or whatever. I’ll have to figure out my “niche” (although I’m not certain I have one) and I’ll have to make quality content. No biggie.

02. Be more consistent in putting blogposts online

This is one of those goals that should help me realize my first goal. I’m really bad at blogging consistently. Sometimes I’ll put up five posts in a row and the next week I’ll run out of time and content and it’ll be quiet for more than a week. That’s no good. Figuring out some sort of schedule that works for me and writing and scheduling my blog posts in bulk should help me be more consistent.

03. Blog three times a week

I’d look to blog three times a week in the future. I’d love blogging more, but first I need to find a schedule that works for me. I already tried planning my content for a whole month in advance in the past, but I could never keep up with it. Probably because I tried to blog 4-5 times a week. With my tendency to write long blogposts and because I’d like to put up more DIY’s I just can’t do it 4-5 times a week. I’ll try three and if I can make that work I’ll be very happy.

04. Design a new lay-out

As you might have noticed, I haven’t done jack for the lay-out of this blog since I move back to Plutomeisje.be. I picked a theme, installed it and I try to ignore the design every time I look at my posts. The current theme isn’t that bad, but I miss a couple of options (highlighted text options, the possibility to put some text in information boxes, the size of the titles,….). The sad thing is that before my graphic design studies I would just started this project one afternoon and wrestled with the design until I had something I liked, but apparently I can’t do this any more. I know the amount of work it’ll take me and how rusty my html/css is and how little I know from php and javascript and I just freeze. But being a graphic designer without a decent design on my blog isn’t acceptable. I’ll just have to take the jump and tackle this one.

05. Try to reach a more international audience

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Belgian and Dutch audience, but part of the reason I write in English is to be able reach a wider audience. I know I can’t compete with the US/UK blogs, but I always feel there is a lack of European. I’m not sure how to profile myself as “European” or how to reach and audience that is so diverse culturally and linguisticly, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. If any of you know any good “European” blogs, leave them in the comments! Tracking my progress on this one should be easy via Google analytics.

06. Find ways to be more (inter)active on social media

I consider myself a total klutz on social media. I get how it works in theory, but I have no idea how to make connections on social media (or maybe just online). How to “groom” an audience or how to make friends online. I’m also very infrequent in my use of social media and I’d like to change this. I’ll be counting comments and interactions as a way to measure my progress for this one, not just followers.

07. Start making vlogs

I’ve been thinking about making vlogs for months. At one point I even sat down in front of my camera an talked for 45 minutes about new books I got. But I never practised on editing the footage and I never recorded that book haul again. So, yes, in 2016 I want to make this work. I’ll be attending a workshop on making vlogs by BooksandQuils in April (I’m really looking forward to this!). I’d like to vlog about more than books of course, although I’ll still have to figure out what else I’d like to do with the medium.

What do you want to achieve in 2016? Do you have New Year’s resolution or blog goals?

Personal

2015 Favourites

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With 2015 gone, it’s time for a last look book before making some new year’s resolutions. Here are a couple of my favourites things, experiences or events of the past year, in no particular order.

  1. This year I reread the Harry Potter series again, but instead or reading the physical books I listened to the audio books. I’d probably mentioned it a couple of times on this blog, Goodreads and social media, but I absolutely loved the audio books! They were narrated by Stephen Fry and he did an incredible job! Every character has a different voice and all the voice acting, the rhytm,… is done really well.
  2. I graduated as a graphic designer! After years of studying and trying to figure out what I’d like to do with my life, I still haven’t figured things out, but I do know I’d like to do this graphic design thing. It made me work hard the past two years and I’m happy to finally say goodbye to the student life.
  3. I’ve only made it once and I’ve only discovered the recipe at the end of the year, but Jeroen Meus’s recipe for white chocolatemousse pie (witte chocolademoussetaart) is to die for! I did use speculaas instead of petit beurekes  for the bottom of the pie. I can’t wait to make it again.
  4. After using Clinique’s facial cleaning products for years I was a bit fed up with the products. They didn’t seem to work for me. I searched the internet for a good alternative and in the end, when I was overwhelmed by the amount of products out there, I went to the Lush store and picked up Fresh Farmacy. I really like this product. It’s not really soap, but it feels the same and my skin seems to really love it!
  5. The ridiculous amount of books I’ve read in 2015! I’ve read 77 books, adding up to 24407 pages. The shortest book was only 16 pages, the largest 870 pages. I loved reading this amount of books, although I did stress a bit before reaching 50 books and finishing my Goodreads challenge.I read lot’s of good books and I’ve already blogged about my 15 favourite books of the year earlier this month.
  6. 2015 was the year I finally got to watching the Firefly series. Firefly is a space western. Yup. Western + space. Cowboys + spaceships. I was very sad when we reach the end of season one, because of some reason, there’s only one season. And a movie. Which hardly isn’t enough, considering the level of awesomeness.
  7. Getting back into blogging. After two years of hard work and less blogging than I’d want to, I’m very glad I’m back into it. I like writing, making things and putting them “out there” and I’ve missed it. It’d be nice if I could get into some sort of blogging routine, but that’s maybe for this year. 🙂

What were your favourite moments of 2015?