My 23andMe

Ever the science geek, last year I ordered a DNA collection kit from 23andMe.

23andMe review + results



After having a chat with someone who had done one of these, and hearing about the information you can get from them, I decided to treat myself to a kit. They currently vary in price (running from £125-£140 depending on where you buy it) and to some that might seem like a massive outlay, but this is an actual breakdown of your DNA, so to me it's worth the outlay. Tests like this would not have been on the market at all a few decades ago, and back in 2007 in the US this test cost $10,000. Only £140 for genotyping? Shut up and take my money. 

My primary interest was my ancestry, and seeing where my DNA has been over the years geographically, but the added extras of health information (in case I fancy a bit of biohacking) and the ability to search for other people with DNA matches was a bonus.

In brief; a kit arrives in the post, you spit into a tube, seal it up and send it back in the box. Then you wait patiently a good 8 weeks for your results ready email to drop into your inbox.

The Ancestry wasn't that thrilling for me as I expected, it was almost as I had predicted:


23andMe review + ancestry

I am so very British and Irish. With a drop of Scandi, French and German. With hints of Italian. And North African (?!). I think I'd show more Scandi if they could have some male family DNA to play with (so I might be buying my brother one of these kits for Christmas), given my ancestors are Danish Vikings, my original surname is of Danish origin and I am very, very blonde.


23andMe review + health data

Oh, and I'm a smidge more Neanderthal than average too. Explains my massive brow bone that my mum keeps kindly pointing out to me.

There's also the maternal haplogroup information, which will tell you which major branch of the mitochondrial phylogenetic tree you fell off. Mine's the same one as Marie Antoinette and Prince Philip. All well and good (and I could have a Danny Dyer moment about this) but once you've been to a lecture on genetics by Adam Rutherford (thank you Brian & Robin's Christmas Compendium of Reason), that gets slapped out of you. Doesn't mean I won't be attempting to perfect my Claire Foy in The Crown impressions, though.



What I really enjoy in this section is the ability to search for people with the same DNA as you. There's so many! I currently have 706 matches for various segments of my DNA, which is lovely as it makes me realise that we're pretty special and unique to ourselves, but share so much with other people out there in the world. How wonderful. You can reach out and ask these people to share their details with you (health, not personal), see their maternal haplogroup and see how connected you are (so far I've found no one higher than a 3rd cousin, but you never know, we're a big family and a broach church).

Anyway, onto the health information, this is what I really enjoyed looking through and reading about. It's broken into a few different sections, as outlined below.

Genetic Risk Factors with contains locked results for Alzheimer's, Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Parkinson's and open results for other things like cardiomyopathy and thrombophilia. The locked results you just have to re-enter your password to unlock. I'm of the mind that if the tests are done, the information is there and I've paid for it, I'd want to know it, so I unlocked mine immediately. There was nothing controversial on mine, but if you have a good grasp of your family medical history, you'd be aware of any red flags in advance.

Drug Response to popular medications, like Warfarin, Hepatitis C meds, Statins and so forth. I have a fast response to PPI drugs (as I have a bit of a fast metabolism) which means I'd need to have a higher dose (or a different drug) to have an effect. It's also an idea for me to stay away from Statins as I'm at risk of myopathy from them (remind me to keep an eye on my cholesterol!).

Inherited Conditions. These will simply display in two ways: Variant Absent or Variant Present. These conditions are recessive, meaning that they only occur when you have two variants for that condition, one inherited from each parent. One variant makes me a 'carrier', which has no effect on me directly, but if I was considering procreating, the father of my children would need some tests too. The big red flag for me was for a type Muscular Dystrophy, which I am a carrier for, and therefore could have repercussions if I was baby inclined.

Traits. These are fun bits. It can have a go at predicting basic things like hair and eye colour (both correct), lactose intolerance, norovirus resistance, alcohol flush response, if you're likely to be an addicted smoker. The bio-hacks kick in here too, as the results can look at muscle performance (so if you're like me you're a better sprinter than distance runner), how you metabolise caffeine (fast), if you're like to be obese (nope), when you're likely to hit menopause (early), response to diet (fats have little effect on my BMI) and how you respond to exercise (no change in my glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity and that low-impact cardio is the best way for me to lose weight). It's not concrete and a lot of it is research-based but they're quite interesting little bio-hacks. 

The information is constantly updated with new discoveries and scientific information, more people taking tests and sharing their DNA, so even after digesting your results it's worth having a log back in to your profile in a month or so to see what's been happening and who has got in touch.

Is it worth the money? That depends on what you want. As a bit of a nerd who likes science and stats, I get a lot from this (you have access to your raw data, which you can run through various websites to get some further information and explanations about gene mutations). It's also a mild pyramid scheme as a few of my friends have followed suit and done these tests (so we nerd out over the data together) and as I said earlier, because I'm curious about my paternal line I now need to buy a kit for my brother to have a go as well.

The big thing to me about such tests being available to the masses is where this kind of thing could go next; besides biohacking for health and fitness purposes, such easy DNA collection could make for easier diagnosis of conditions, advanced health warnings from home (to avoid having to queue at the doctors to see if your sickness is viral or bacterial and so on). In this form it's far from perfect but it makes me a little excited about what the future might hold for this type of testing and if it's this easy now, what's next on the commercial market?

Basically, if this kind of thing interests you and you like to science for fun, it's worth the money.


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The January Round-Up

January, done! HOORAY!



Considering how much I hate January, this one was probably the best one I've had in years. I've suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder for as long as I can remember and this winter I took it to task. I made a big effort this month to look after myself; rest, eat well, move and laugh, which seems to have had a great impact. There's been the usual hiccups and bumps along the way, but nothing feeling apocalyptic, which is a hell of a change given how awful I felt towards the end of last year (but I think a lot of that was the political landscape changing beneath our feet). Maybe that's what put me in good stead for this year? Maybe a fresh start was what I needed? Whatever happened, it's been a good first month, which are words that I rarely say.

I spent the first half of the month hibernating. This is quite typical of me as I find the first week back at work after the holidays really tough going, so the first weekend is a write-off (I stayed in, cleaned my house and binged a boxset). The second week I felt slightly more social, and by the third week all systems were go.

I went to see Embrace, which I talked about here. I went to see Festival of the Spoken Nerd, who I've seen many times at Christmas Compendium, but never their full show and it was fantastic -  highly recommend to my fellow science / maths nerds.  (An easy guide to work out if you're one of these is based on how you answer this question - do you cheer at spreadsheets? If so, welcome, you are my people).


Festival of the Spoken Nerd


I spent a weekend with my friend Martin, who is such good company and fed me so well that I didn't want to come home!



Then it was just the long, slow wait to payday. OMG how long is the wait until January payday?!




I spent the last bit of the month back home with my mum, keeping her company while my step-dad had some heart surgery. Given I'd only been home the month previous, this is starting to feel like a routine! It's good to help out, though, and I do miss my mum a lot when I'm in London and she did need some TLC.

Didn't mean I didn't run back to London for a gig on the 31st, mind!

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(That was Train at Islington Assembly Rooms; it was gorgeous and intimate. I hugged my friends and sang my heart out).

Speak of family things, my brother has written a book! As I'm rather partial to a philosophy book I was very excited to read Gary's book (he's the one feed I look forward to seeing on LinkedIn) and it hasn't disappointed. I laughed myself silly at the acknowledgement he gave me at the start of the book, too. 

Now we're well into the swing of 2017, it's time to share my goals for the year and how I'm getting on with them. I didn't make resolutions as such (as I'm not really down with this whole *new year, new me!* bollocks) but there are a few things I wanted to do this year (HASHTAG GOALS) and have made a good start on during the month:

  • Set up a second savings account for 'fun' spending. This is my way of using my credit card less, if I have a 'fun' spending account I can use that for holidays, gigs, theatre tickets, airbnb stuff and festivals. Starting from zero is very good for me with savings as I'll keep to see the total increase pronto, it also means I'll not have to dip into my other savings account anymore. As it's not flexi-access, I was mugging my interest rate every time I touched it. I have a very big adventure that I want to save up for this year, so I need to crack on with counting the pennies and be able to access my fun funds as and when I need them. 
  • Sort out my outgoings and reduce them. This meant getting rid of a few unused subscriptions (Audible, Tesco Delivery Saver etc), they might seem like small outgoings but you add up three subscriptions like that and it's almost £25 per month - and that's my gym membership! After cracking out my finance spreadsheets and jiggling some things around, I've been able to tuck an extra bundle into savings for the forseeable. My credit card has been cleared too.  
  • Be more mindful with my spending. I've gone old-school with this and I write down everything I spend that's not in my *essential life* section (bills, food, Spotify, Netflix) and then see if I've been a prat. I've also been withdrawing cash and only using that for the month. That's not a perfect system and some things will inevitably end up being paid for with my debit card (like getting halfway to the shops and realising I've forgotten my £20 note), but handing over cash is making me far more aware of my spending. Contactless is great and a flipping disaster zone for me all at once. I managed to get through January using only the cash I'd withdrawn. I'll be having another go at this during February. 
  • Go swimming weekly. My housemate suggested this and I thought it was a great idea. I've not been swimming for a good handful years and I have missed it. I commented on Twitter in the first week that no matter how fit you think you are, swimming is a great leveller (like Zumba, in that respect). On my first session I was knackered after 5 minutes (but I persevered for 30, with lots of rests between sets) but it motivated me to get better. There's never a better competitor to battle against than myself. I downloaded the SwimIO app to my phone to log all my swims and I've set myself a distance goal to swim the Great Barrier Reef by summer, which is 16515m. 
  • Get really f'kin fit. Not so much a vanity project as a wellbeing one. I miss being *really* fit so I'm working to fix that this year. The swimming helps, the occasionally gym date helps, the daily extra walking really helps. I committed to daily (weekday) crunches every morning for January and it stopped the lower backache that I had for half of last year within a week. Clearly my core needed some strengthening. It's funny how little things can make such a big difference to the way you feel, and almost immediately too.
  • Say 'No' to more things and start setting up 'Me' dates. Last year I said 'Yes' to almost every social event that came my way and some weeks I ended up absolutely knackered. As much as I've nailed dedicating time to various people and things in my life, I'm still a bit shit at committing giving time to just me and I've a nasty habit of taking it whenever I can get it and binge sleeping through it. The weekly swimming date works with this as that's something I'm committing to for me (along with a weekly gym date), I need to get better at allocating time for my stuff, not just winging my life via the gaps in my calendar.
  • Delete Facebook. Which I did on New Years Eve. It's been a lovely month without it and, even better, I'm not missing it. I realise FB can be a great communication tool but honestly I filtered down my newsfeed so much that I only had about 5 people on it. I really didn't like it; I didn't like the pressure it puts on people to tart up their lives (and I don't like liars), and after the amount of shit flying around it after US election and UK referendum last year I was officially done. I did let people know I was going and put my contact details on before I left, but if you were on my friends list and you missed my post let me know via one of these ways, I'm pretty free and easy with my phone number.
  • Get more involved with causes I believe in. If there's one thing that came out of the shitshow that was 2016 it was that I'm as mad as hell about certain things in the world. Women's health being discussed and defunded by dudes in suits, the UK's heavy dependence on food banks for survival, for example. So far this year I've written to my MP twice and contacted a few organisations to get involved in. I am fired up and not taking it anymore. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! 

Women's March London 2017


The world feels a massive mess right now, I figure if people want to make changes then they should find something they feel passionate about and get involved with it on a local level. Will it change *the world*? No. Will it change *your world*? Yes, and right now that's the best thing for us. Make *your* world a place to be comfortable and safe for everyone.


So, that's my year off and rolling. Tonight I'm going to see Chris Gethard's Career Suicide show at Soho Theatre, which will involve much Morrissey, setting the month off on the right tone.




Next week, I'll be walking home from work in daylight again. Spring is on the way, my friends. Here comes the sun. 

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I Have Embraced

If you're as deep in the Body Image Movement (body positivity, self-love, body image confidence etc) as I am, then there's no way you've escaped seeing the trailer for this movie online: 



Needless to say, when I found out Taryn was bringing screenings of Embrace to the UK and doing a Q&A at the premiere, I bought tickets immediately. I've been waiting for this film since the Kickstarter was up and running. 

After all, who doesn't need a good, healthy dose of body image love in January, when every diet on the earth is jammed into our faces?

Embrace Taryn Brumfitt


Taryn's film is kind but alarming; I know women talk badly about themselves (I've been there and done that) but standing on *this side* of the body acceptance fence, looking back to the other side is shocking. It's comforting to see how far I've come over the last couple of years but horrible to see that so many people, women in particular, still say terrible things about their bodies to themselves and to others.

She interviews a broad range of women from all over the world about their perceptions of themselves and their bodies; not all of it is negative, some is so fabulously positive that it brings you to tears (Harnaam Kaur is so fucking fierce that it's unreal and Nora Tschirner is my new favourite person EVER).

Embrace is essentially a love letter from Taryn to her daughter, Mikaela, encouraging her to not waste her lifetime stressing about getting the *perfect* body and to simply embrace the one she has and live her life to the fullest - a message that every woman (and man, for that matter) can benefit from hearing and taking onboard.

The UK premiere was in Covent Garden, a red carpet was set up for anyone who wished to have their photo taken with Taryn to do so. I was almost last in the door as I was rushing over from work, but walking in to a cinema foyer and seeing these two amazing women immediately set the tone for the night:


Body Image Movement


That's Megan, you might know her as BodyPosiPanda on Instagram, she's fabulous. Look at her hair!

The Q&A afterwards was almost as emotional as the film itself, with many questions being posed about how get in the right frame of mind for embracing your body, how to inspire daughters, younger girls in schools ... hearing the voices of women break as they asked for help and guidance really brought home how important this film is and the changes it can make to the world if we all take heed of the notion and begin to make the first change with ourselves.

Embrace screenings are happening all over the UK right now, and they're demand-based, so if you don't buy tickets, they don't happen. I cannot recommend this film enough. I wish something this positive was out there when I was starting my body acceptance journey 2 years ago, so if you're just starting out, or on the way, or looking to support others on their journey it's well worth a watch.

Tickets can be purchased here (or here if you're in Ireland) and you can get involved with the Body Image Movement here

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You Beauty (part IV)

It's time for a long overdue beauty post as I've been testing out a good handful of new products since I wrote my last beauty post (in July, where did that time go?).



Skin

In my never ending quest to try every primer on earth, I got a free sample of the MAC Prep & Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50. 

MAC Prep & Prime  Face Protect Lotion


Sounds like an SPF but is a primer, I promise. It looks just like a moisturiser and it smells like good SPF but it does prime well. I think I'm use to ones that feel super matte and smooth on my face so this one felt weird on application but as it settles in it makes your skin feel like it's been brushed with soft powder. It feels luxurious. I wouldn't buy it, as it's almost £25 for 30mls, but it's been a nice one to test. 

My other never ending quest is for highlighter; something which I wear rarely but when it's on I want it *so bright* that I could guide in ships with the Coastguard. Turns out, I had my ideal one all along, hidden at the back of my make-up box: my Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick. 

Bobbi Brown Shimmerbrick Pink


I have this in Pink Quartz and as much as I don't think it was right on my skin when I bought this (back in 2012 for a good £20) it seems perfect now. Maybe I'm just a bit more on the ball when it comes to highlights, blushes and bronzers these days (I can thank my UD Gwen Stefani blush pallette for that education), but this now seems to really work with my skin tone. Let's also not forget that I'm 5 years older now, and my skin has changed. Either way I'm glad I've not wasted £20. 



Eyes

First up, my product of the decade (no more calls, folks, we have a winner): Wunderbrow. 

Wunderbrow Review Blonde


As seen in a thousand viral videos (conservative estimate), I'd heard of this product early last year but didn't go near it for a few reasons; 1) No one believes those videos, they're mugging people off, right? 2) Does it use weird fibres like those mascaras I see people using on YouTube? Not going near that either as I'm far too sensitive for weird shit near my eyes, and 3) What's wrong with my eyebrows anyway? 

Okay, my eyebrows. The concise version is that I plucked the hell out them in 2005/6 as many women did and mine took a LONG time to recover. Like 8 years. Let me be the cautionary eyebrow tale, kids, for when the skinny brow trend inevitably comes around again. Pluck away but be warned: they might not grow back. Mine did, thankfully, they're a bit sparse and I get them threaded once every couple of months to keep them in tidy shape but that's it. 

I'm too lazy to pencil my brows in (and I've forever got my head in my hands, so I would just rub them off), the overdrawn/ overpainted look really doesn't do it for me (personal preference), so my options for making my brows look a bit more *there* when in full eye make up were limited.

Then, Alex, my trusted make-up YouTube guru tried Wunderbrow and it looked great. If it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me. £15 to eBay later and it arrived. 

I bought the blonde shade (coz blonde) and it's a little darker than you'd think. It's certainly not suitable for those with brown hair as it is on the light side, but blonde eyebrows are hard work with anyway (as they colour change with the seasons like the hair does) so you have to go heavy some days and light others. This blonde shade seems to cater to that and you can layer up for a darker day or an even more defined look. 

Wunderbrow Blonde Review
One on, one off. Making my natural brows look *so shit*

It's magic. I never realised how much a good brow makes such a difference! It's very easy to apply (clear the majority of the product off the brush and use small strokes to build) and it stays put until you take it off. See the photo below? That's New Years Day on very little sleep after taking all my make-up off and the eyebrows stayed put. 

Stay classy, Marshall


A couple of eyeliners for you: 

Urban Decay eyeliner YSL Eyeliner


The Urban Decay Ink For Eyes pen is a liquid eyeliner with a very fine tip. Good for precision lines and outlines for flicks (not filler) but it's not hardy enough for me. If I'm using liquid I want it to stay on for the day and I want it to stay completely black. This one does fade and grey out a little within a few hours. It stays on well, but not as well as I'd like.

In stark contrast, the YSL Waterproof Eye Pencil is a stayer! I'd describe it more as a pure kohl than a pencil and it is super-black. When sharpened to a nice point it can do the most amazing flicks (I have asked people if they think I'm wearing liquid some days when I'm wearing it) and it's great for smudging and blending on more low-key eye days, as it's such a soft product.


Hair

I'm still growing my hair, with very little effort, it's just cracking on with it now. I'm still getting it trimmed every 12-14 weeks (and I usually lose between half and one inch each time) but it's growing well at the moment. Usually the winter period is a very slow period for my hair growth, but this year there's been no stopping it. I occasionally get pangs to cut it all off but they're very rare and I wouldn't have the patience to grow it back again. Anyway, onto some products: 

Blonde Illuminator


The Garnier Blondes is responsible for me staying light blonde this winter. If you're a natural mousey blonde (or dirty blonde, as my hairdresser calls it) then colour can get dull in winter. You can reach for the dye or you can try a natural route. This year I thought I'd give the natural route a try and this shampoo is it. 

Beachmate conditioner is a residual summer product, given the name and it's designed to condition your hair after you've abused it at the beach. It feels exactly the same as the Miracle Moist conditioner, it smells different (more summer-ish?) but I think it's the same product underneath it all. No complaints as Aussie conditioners are in my top 5 beauty products. 

These two came as a freebie from my friends over at NoScrunchie

OGX Argan oil & Shea Butter


I use OGX conditioners frequently (I love the Coconut Water one) and as much as these are not neccessarily designed for my hair type, they make it feel amazing. The shampoo makes my hair soft and the coniditoner is so rich that I only need a teeny amount on the ends of my hair. Plus, as with all OGX products, they smell amazing. 

That's it for this time, folks. I doubt I'll get enough products together for another beauty post until much later in the year, but if I try anything new I'll be sure to let you know. 
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The December Round-Up

Well, December certainly upped the celebrity death game.

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I didn't intend to open my round-up with a discussion about death, but then the universe decided to fuck with Carrie Fisher, so all bets were off. Her passing made my heart break, she meant a lot to me (and to millions of other people) and then Debbie going the day later ... your heart then breaks for Todd and Billie. 

And Gary, obviously. 



Sigh, we're done, right? Please let this be done. 

Anyway, before this shitshow happened, I did the rest of December. 



I had my work Christmas do at a few venues around London. We ended up in Lucky Voice in Soho, and if I'm honest I had no clue how it was going to go, but it was one of the best nights I'd had with my colleagues ever. It was hilarious. We all sang our little hearts out. 



I blasted through The Crown on Netflix and loved it. That show makes you up your accent game! John Lithgow as Churchill was the standout in the casting, and speaking of which: 



I went to The Churchill Arms, the most Christmassy pub in London, apparently. I went because it was my friends old local. Bloody great thai food there, too. 

Onto my favourite Christmas tradition: Brian & Robin's Christmas Compendium of Reason (which I've reviewed in previous years starting here). This year alongside brilliant science we got treated to Public Service Broadcasting and Duran Duran, it was fantastic! 



I spent Christmas in the North with my folks, which was lovely. I did lots of walking with my mum and lots of laying down, which is just what I needed. I've been fighting a cold since before Christmas and it's not giving up, but neither am I!





After that break, I went to Paris for a day to meet up with a friend who was visiting from Canada. We went to Musee D'Orsay to look at art and then to the top of the Eiffel Tour. 









It was cold but beautiful. 

Tomorrow, it's the New Year and 2017 cannot make an appearance a moment too soon. I did a lot of amazing things in 2016, so it is a great shame they've been overshadowed by bad things, I'm going to make an effort today to remember all the good things before the year ends. 

For 2017 I have hope. Hope is neccessary. A great film this year has taught me that rebellions are built on it and I think next year is the year when we'll all need to pull together as rebels and make this world a great place to be. 



Bye 2016, you goddamn shitshow. 

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Just Write: December

You know what I am? I'm that person who moans that no one blogs anymore. I mean old-fashioned blogging; a general post full of life chit-chat which allowed people a little glance into your world. I fill a lot of my end of month Round-Ups with little bits of that, but it's rarely wordy, and I LOVE being wordy. 

Being a firm believer in the expression sometimes if you want something to exist you have to do it yourself, I'm starting a old-fashioned blogging tag called Just Write, as that's what I'm going to do. Here's a post full of the things I'm doing and thinking about at the moment.




House & Home

I treated myself to a new bed base at the start of the month. I had a divan in my bedroom previously but I wanted one with space at the bottom, albeit not for the usual reasons (to start filling under the bed with things, I don't have enough things to do that, thankfully!) but to allow heat and air to circulate better around the room. My house keeps the heat in well, so it's better to allow it to circulate to feel the benefits. My old divan was creaky as hell too, which meant if I moved, it creaked. ARGH. Nothing disturbs my sleep more than a noisy bed.

Warren Evans Black Friday sales FTW. I'd been waiting for this bed to drop in price so that I could snap it up.



I have to praise this company so much. I ordered online, they called me to confirm and give me instructions about recycling my old bed. I selected my own delivery day, they gave me a 4 hour window and a courtesy call on the day to say they'd be there within the hour. To top it all off, they removed my old bed and fully assembled my new one in eleven minutes. ELEVEN!


Work

I had my annual appraisal last month and it went really well. Better than I thought it would, anyway. I've been a bit low on motivation this year at work, due to personal life stuff, redundancies and then a colleague dying, so it's understandable but not excusable. The industry I work in has been quite quiet as well, but things have started to pick up again, which is good news. My boss knows me really well (joys of spending 40 hours together each week for over 5 years) and therefore he can see when my motivation wains. He suggested I try something new and put my energy into something else over the next year, which will be hard work but ultimately very rewarding. I like learning new things and it's great to top up your CV with new experiences.


Health

After the virus from hell finally buggered off, I decided to sort my shit out health-wise. This meant actually engaging with my kitchen and doing more cooking. I have no trouble spending a Sunday night cooking nice lunches for the week, but I'm shit at cooking for myself on an evening. Really bad, like I'll just have a bowl of cereal tonight bad. So, I wrote a big list of all the things I want to eat, which is easy at this time of year as it's all comforting game meats and vegetables. I committed to making a few of these things every week so that I wouldn't get bored and would get a decent appetite back for dinner.

So far, so good. I found the recipe on the Wagamama website for my favourite of their dishes: Chilli Chicken Ramen and made that:



I started buying LOTS of venison; meatballs (braised in red wine are excellent with pasta) and sausages, I even decided to have another go at making pizza (because I'll be damned if I'm making pizzas on pitta breads, fuck that noise, I want a proper thin base):



SimplyCook had a little sale on their recipe boxes, so I got one for a bargain £1:



I like this a lot as it takes a lot of faff out of cooking. I'm a bugger for just throw some italian herbs or sriracha on it cooking, so this does actually make me stretch my repertoire, and gives me lots of ideas of how to use it outside the set recipes too. (If you'd like to have a cheap SimplyCook box you can click here and you'll get your first box for £1).


Reading

Reads recently have included Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, because everyone needs a bit of Brene's calming wisdom in their lives, Derren Brown's Happy (still plowing through this one) and I've just started The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, which is based in space and therefore I'm intensely involved in it.

Listening

My favourite new podcast in recent months is Beautiful/Anonymous, which is hosted by Chris Gethard. The premise is simple; Chris gives out a number and someone can call him for a candid chat for one hour. It's anonymous, he has no idea who the caller is, the listeners don't, it's a perfect little window into someone's life. Top episodes recently have been Fail Army Cop and Escape from a Cult.

Doing

I've started getting up a little earlier and having a longer walk to work via the park. I'm sure the extra exercise is doing me some good but mostly I just need to see some more daylight right now as it's really dark by 4pm every day. I do get to see some beautiful sunrises, though.



A little morning and lunchtime walk helps me see more daylight, keeping my Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay for a little longer. Still, the worst of it is done with now, as long as I can survive January then I can survive anything! 

I've also been working on some kind of list for 2017. Not exactly resolutions, not exactly a bucket list, something in between. A good intentions list, I guess. Places I want to go to, things I want to do, volunteering ideas, goals to achieve in my life (savings, spendings etc). I just  need something to look at and think 'the world might feel like it's in tatters, but I'm doing something about it in my life and community to make it a better place'. It's a work in progress. I might publish that next month. 

Anyway, Christmas is looming, I've a lot to write about and have been short on time to do so, hopefully I'll have some time to get all my new content up and running in the New Year. 

Mostly, after the way this year has carried on, I just need a long break. My time off this Christmas is going to be greatly appreciated. 

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