Books as presents

Hey guys! I always like to check in around this time of year to ask if anyone has a specific book on their wish list for Christmas? I’m constantly on the lookout for new reads, and what better place to get some quality recommendations than with my esteemed readers! Or perhaps you have one wrapped and ready to gift to a friend or family member? I always save Boxing Day for eight straight hours of reading, as it should be!

Men and gifting

Let’s get right to the gritty truth, men are often hard to buy for. I’ve actually got a theory on why this is, if you’re willing to hear it. It’s all about hobbies. Whilst women are encouraged to continue with their creative arts, cooking, gardening etc., men are either shoehorned into video games, or left without substantial hobbies. I mean, this is only speaking from experience. Growing up, my brother left books behind in high school to play video games with his friends, and it almost became his entire life. Hobbies outside of playing itself were watching YouTube play-throughs, reading about DLC content coming out, or researching how to ascend to the next XP level. He had a few different games, but it still felt all-encompassing. He said he didn’t want anything for birthdays and Christmas, so we chipped in to buy him expensive gift cards for the gaming platforms. It was impersonal, but at least it was used. That was, until the rest of the family caught on and he had more money in vouchers than he knew what to do with. I have a sneaking suspicion he sold a few off to friends for cash, because they were going to spend the money anyway.

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Thinking of people I’ve dated, too, often their idea of a hobby was listening to music, watching tv, or doing expensive things like upgrading their car or building furniture. Yeah, sounds stereotypical, doesn’t it? My point exactly! What am I supposed to do, gift him a new sanding block? Here, have a wrench with your name engraved on it? Absolutely not. And the kinds of merchandise you find for people’s favourite tv shows always seem very cringy. Like, it’s sweet you know them well, but there’s no way he’s wearing it out in public.

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I could be completely wrong. Thankfully, and this I mean with full enthusiasm, my new partner has a beard. I don’t care in an aesthetic sense, but the gift opportunities that have opened up for me are fantastic. I got him a Beard Starter Kit because he currently doesn’t use anything. Next year, I’ll increase his range of products. I’ll find his favourite brand. I’ll encourage him to try something new. Accessories! If he decides to shave it, I’ll just have one more thing to offer him as a gift. Ah, I dare say I’m too excited about this. But then again, some people are so hard to buy for it becomes a real stress to your day-to-day until you’ve bought something. I’m certainly happy! But please, let me know in the comments if there’s anything you rely on for the man who has no easy hobbies? Or a hobby to encourage him to adopt? I’m all ears!

End of November

So, how did we all get on with Black Friday deals? Honestly, it feels like brands start earlier and earlier every year. Obviously, the reason is quite clear. If your offer goes up first, people blow their budget on this amazing deal, then don’t have the funds by the time the official start date occurs to spend with their competitors. Smart, I suppose. Or, I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of this pressure, and being bombarded by Black Friday deals from the very start of November. Seriously? I’m overwhelmed and exhausted before I’ve even sat down to think about present shopping.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday online spending falls - but holiday season  records are still broken | TechRadar

The real question I have for this method of our- performing other brands is this, at what point have we reached the limit? When everyone does month- long deals? Will it spill backwards into October? I just can’t see how this is sustainable. Now, before I complain too much, I will admit that I bought this incredible Christmas Cracker in a sale because I had had my eye on it for my sister, but wasn’t sure. As you would have it, the discount made it worth it. Go figure! There are lots of products I was unsure of and still didn’t buy though. I guess that’s when you know your heart wasn’t really in it, when even a massive discount couldn’t sway you.

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I guess besides the whole where does the early discount end issue, many people aren’t very happy about the sustainability aspect of the sale. It encourages fast fashion, or unnecessary splurging, when you may not really need what you’re buying. Which makes perfect sense to me, honestly.. There’s just no need to buy for the sake of buying, in my opinion. Especially before Christmas! If you have a family like mine, you’ll end up with plenty of things you neither need nor want, so why add to that list? I prefer to buy for other people , and things I know I need and have pre-planned, over B. lack Friday, to ensure I’m only being savvy and sustainable. let me know how you tackled the weekend in the comments below!

Please help!

For some reason, a book that I read as a teen has come back to me in pieces and I am desperate to find it and reread it. I know it may not have the same magic as when I was the target audience, but I cannot get my mind off it. The problem is, I can’t for the life of me remember the title, or the author. All I have is snippets of plot. So I’m hoping if I explain what I can remember, one of you will have read it and can help me out.

So, it is about a young boy who has this magic book. I think when he lies, it appears in ink on the page. I remember being infuriated that he didn’t just make statements to learn things about the universe, or the kids that were picking on him. Honestly, that’s all I remember. Please help!

Oily face whilst reading!

Hello friends! I hope you’re having a good week, month, or year, or perhaps just day! Any amount of joy is enough for me right now, seeing as we’re constantly exposed to depressing, angering or downright frustrating news. It’s everywhere! Somehow even my favourite social media platforms for zoning out have these news stories infiltrating into my feed, ruining my moments of peace.

It’s for that reason I’ve spent a lot more time reading physical books. Now I know there are a lot of discussions over physical versus digital, and I usually do err more on the side of physical. But sometimes you just need the portability and affordability of a digital read. The pandemic hasn’t been all beds of roses, that’s for sure. So, I got into reading on my phone and my tablet… But it was awful. News story notifications pop up, or you get an email from a relative that you don’t like asking you to help them out, or work calls you and you accidentally press the green button because it’s where the page turning button is. I pulled out a selection of books that were in my ‘to read’ pile, switched off all my devices, and sat down to enjoy with a cup of tea.

Here lies my newest problem, and bear with me because it’s not that horrible. I find myself holding the book with one hand and leaning my head on the other. And then my cheek gets super oily, especially if I’m wearing makeup. I started using a cleansing balm. I’m not sure why it helped more than just a regular cleanser, but maybe it was because it was super moisturising. I tend to end up using super drying cleansers that just strip everything away, and that makes it worse in the long run. So, if you have the same problem as me, here’s your fix!

Seeing as there was an easy fix for that, so I guess we can’t really call it a problem. Maybe more of an inconvenience. Look, being able to relax and read is a privilege not all have! I find myself feeling very fortunate that even with everything going on, I’ve still had the opportunity, and the means, to zone out and spend time in new and wonderful worlds. What is literature for? I’ve always found myself more drawn to those novels which build glorious, beautiful scenes and just emerge you in the story, the surrounds, the details! There’s nothing better than the perfect, minute detail which just tells you so much about the characters and the way they live. I could go on and on. But this was about the oily face. So take my advice, or let me know what your solution is!

Career Gifting

I’m sure everyone reading this has at one point in their professional career been involved in a Secret Santa gift giving event with their colleagues. Talking around, it seems like you either love it – your co-workers are fantastically easy to buy for, everyone has a great time, your present was thoughtful etc. – or hate it – generic gifts, you drew a name of someone you barely knew, your giftee obviously didn’t appreciate the hard work you put into their gift etc. – but either way it was a real event! Last year I started a new job in late November, meaning I had already missed drawing names for their Secret Santa. Which, if I’m honest, was quite the relief. The pressure of having to get to know and buy a gift for someone new, before I’d really gotten the chance to understand them, was daunting, and I was more than happy to sit back and watch the festivities as they arose from the side lines.

Well, as it turned out, two of my co workers thought it terrible to leave the newbie isolated during this bonding moment, and kindly chipped in to get me a gift as well. I was flattered! They hit the nail right on the head too, and I was almost teary with joy. But then, there was an extra present on the table. One of the directors had also decided not to leave me out, and I ended up being the only person to receive two gifts, and hand out none! I felt both flattered and very embarrassed, vowing to make it up to everyone the following year.

And here we are! I’ve just celebrated one year at the company, and Secret Santa is upon us again. So I am really doing my research this year, which means scouring the internet for the best secret Santa gifts to give my elected giftee.

Unfortunately I can’t say much more at the moment, because they might be reading this blog! Half the fun of the gifting, is the guessing, and if I give it away now, they’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that I was their Santa. Can’t have that, can we? So please, what have you been reading about that has given you some good ideas? I’m all open to new possibilities, because this has to be one of the best gifts I buy this year!

Starting a New Book

I have a general question for you all… Do you have a ritual for starting a new book?

Do you sit down with a hot drink, and two hours to spare? Are you on the train to work, or mid-breakfast for a few minutes before the morning rush to work begins? Are you a pre-bedtime reader… Because I’m always so worried about falling asleep and forgetting what I’ve read!

I like a combination. I won’t start with time to spare, but by the half way mark, when I’m properly involved in the plot, I’ll carve out half a day to work through it. But I’ve just started a new novel… And I can tell it’s going to challenge me.

You see, each chapter is one, long, sentence. Filled with commas and semi colons and dashes, it takes real effort to read and get into the right cadence where you’re not just reading individual words strung together, but are one with the mind that is writing. It reminds me of learning about the ‘stream of consciousness’ in high school and having to practise just writing all my thoughts down in one continuous string. I probably didn’t have much to say then, but even now when I write myself, it’s quite choppy and to the point.

So I’m going to have to really commit to this book. Evenings, weekends. Definitely not mornings, I won’t be awake enough.

I’d love to know how you handle strangely written books!

French books?

Alright, I’m back to books. Sorry for that little personal interlude! I’ll try and keep my stories strictly related to the books I like from now on… I mean, it’s in the name.

I’ve been thinking for a while about learning a new language. Being bilingual is one of those things I’m always jealous of other people for, and multilingual is just awesome. I mean, some people struggle to grasp one language, let alone multiple! I think I’m a visual learner too, so whilst I’m not too worries about being able to write in a new language, I am concerned about speaking. Which is obviously where I had to begin.

Which language am I learning, you might ask?

That’s right, French! I dabbled a little at school, so I’m hoping there’s some residual knowledge that will stop this from being a very steep learning curve. I started with Duolingo, because why not, but needed some reading material… Obviously! And not just some boring dictionary, or those awful workbooks you get in school with the cringe-worthy comics. But I couldn’t just buy a book in French either, so I went with a happy medium! Short Stories, to learn French.

Boy, did I eat that book up. It wasn’t too simple, so I felt like a child, but also didn’t challenge me beyond my means. Plus, I’ve been practising my speech holding the book in front of me, like some Shakespearean actor reciting a play. Some words are a little trickier, like ciseaux pour barbe (or beard scissors), because there are far too many vowels in a row in ciseaux to pronounce normally! My mouth just wants to do a little dance to form ten individual possible sounds, but that just sounds ridiculous!

It turns out that my minimal education in year seven didn’t leave much of a lasting effect! But this book has helped, and my apps. I’m thinking of buying another French book but not sure where to start, any suggestions?

Merci – Thank you in French language. Handwritten modern calligraphy lettering text on multicolored watercolor paint splash background.

A Little Story about my Dad

Hi friends!

This week I wanted to write about my dad. It’s been a few months now since I moved out of home, and aside from all the fun of a new adventure, I have been wowed by how much I miss him.

I like to joke that my dad and I didn’t become friends until I was thirteen, the age when I finally started caring about his holy grail; sport. Granted I was no cricketer or rugby player, he was up and early every Saturday morning to take me to my Netball games. I had never seen him so excited, or heard anyone pick apart the technique and strategy of a d-level team to quite such detail. It’ll come as no surprise to hear that he wanted sons, instead of the two daughters god gave him. My older sister, Cat, was athletic, but a fiery mix of independent and shy, and dad’s involvement in her sporting adventures didn’t always bode well. But I loved our debriefs, and such began our Saturday morning tea tradition. The bakery we frequented made the best caramel slices and vanilla milkshakes, so I probably would’ve accepted the offer even if his thoughts bored me to tears.

Michel's Patisserie (Mascot).

The tradition kept up all throughout my high school and university years, despite some gentle bullying from my uni team mates. I’m just chalking that up to jealousy – no one else was getting a free post-game milkshake!

One of my favourite days with him was when he told me he wanted to grow a beard. I was shocked into laughter… My father has always been a staunch shave-only kind of guy. Even the mere idea that a hairy man was a more manly man in our household was banned, he was that intense. I thought I might fall off my chair, or shoot milkshake out of my nose onto the table. But he was serious, and had tasked me with advising him through such uncharted territory. I did my best, but it was a constant battle figuring out how much he was willing to invest, and what would actually help him achieve something he wouldn’t constantly want to shave off.

It was a long and trying experience, but we got there, and has been a constant source of amusement for the both of us, and the rest of the family, over the years. Which is nice from his usual attempt at humour, which looks like it was gleaned straight from this site.

So I was just partaking in some retail therapy, and came across this beard care kit on Boots, and I cackled like a witch in my little room, scaring both my housemates into thinking I had finally lost the plot. It was the first brand we had ever tried, and came back to time and time again when other products turned the quest into a disaster. Mum has a particular.. fondness for the scent. So I bought it, and sent it to his address with a note: ‘Thinking of your beard.’ I know it doesn’t sound very funny, but I can just picture him smiling as he opens it, and that fills me with warmth every time I think about it. I can’t wait to go home and visit! So folks, appreciate those dads in your life who are enthusiastic and amusing, or have a good chuckle at mine!

Image result for dad joke

A Book To Educate Myself On Beards

Beards are things that have always been interesting to me. It’s really something that gave me that rare bit of confusion ever since I realized they were a decision for most people here in the west that sports them. Of course I understand when a beard is something of a religious or cultural reason then they aren’t really a decision at that point. What I’ve always been more curious about are those that sport them as a fashion statement. I mean for real I don’t get it. It can look awesome don’t get me wrong that’s not the part that confuses me, the real concern I’ve always had is isn’t just too much work?

I tried looking into it a couple of times but I seriously have no idea where to start. There’s the whole growing it part which in all honesty sounds like the most nerve wracking thing to go through. At least with women growing their hair long the only real opponent is time but for guys trying to grow their beard out there’s the possibility that it won’t all grow in at the same time. I can’t even imagine the daily struggle of watching your face transform into that of a hobo. It can grow in patches or sometimes some parts just won’t grow at all. So what do you do at that point? Is there a way to cover that up or do you just give up on the beard at that point? And then there’s the maintenance and all the styling that you have to do. For the longest time I thought beard oil was a joke term that I just wasn’t clued in on but apparently it isn’t. And then there are tools you need to buy. I don’t know which things you would even need. Are there guides on what you need and how to know if you need them? Like what if you bought the ultimate beard brush but you didn’t actually need one. Or do you always need a beard brush?

Normally my approach is to simply buy a bunch of books on the topic and get reading but in this case I think I have to decide on a specific one. So if there are any beard bibles or any 1 book that you really need for this then I’d love to hear from you guys out there with this knowledge.