Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive - Aretha Franklin

I Have Seen - Zero 7 & Mozez 

Tribute - Tenacious D (explicit)

Certainly (Live) - Erykah Badu

Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) - Billy Joel 

Turn It Off - Paramore

You Make My Dreams - Daryl Hall & John Oates

Hannah - Ray LaMontagne 

 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

She's American - The 1975 

Zak & Sara - Ben Folds  

Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Night & The Pips

Love Me Like That - The Wreckers

Jumpin', Jumpin' - Destiny's Child  

Kiss - Prince  

It's Different For Girls - Joe Jackson

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin 

 

Falling Back In Love With Reading - #VOTE100BOOKS

Every so often I like to get my reading back in shape. I studied English at uni, and having to read so much with mandatory deadlines and essay analysis made me fall out of love with reading. Every so often I come across a book that reminds me how much I love literature, which in turn prompts me to trawl the web for reading lists and challenges to keep the momentum up. 

 Rory Gilmore, Queen of Reading 

Rory Gilmore, Queen of Reading 

Today I found the most amazing, insane, brilliant list. 

This year, in honour of 100 years since Women got the vote, Hay Festival & The Pool combined forces to discover the top 100 books by women. 

I own several of these books. I may have purchased them for my undergraduate degree or Masters, stolen them from my mother or scored them in a charity shop, but there are so many I haven't read yet. You can see the full list below, with the ones I've read in BOLD. 

The ones I have read - Wide Sargasso Sea, The Handmaid's Tale, Rebecca, to name a few - are among my favourite books of all time. There must be other books in this list that are just waiting to become a favourite of mine.

I love a reading challenge. I'm going to adopt this list and make it my aim to work my way through it, no matter how long it takes. 

 Lucky me, it's June.

Lucky me, it's June.

 

#VOTE100BOOKS - presented by Hay Festival and The Pool 

'Merging great books of all genres, fiction and non-fiction, written by women and published in 1918 or later, the list is a greatest hits of the last 100 years of literature.'

1. Enough Rope: Poems by Dorothy Parker (1926)

2. Orlando by Virginia Woolf (1928)

3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

4. Testament Of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933)

5. Frost In May by Antonia White (1933)

6. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

7. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

9. The Body In The Library by Agatha Christie (1942)

10. The Moomins And The Great Flood by Tove Jansson (1945)

11. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1945)

12. The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945)

13. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)

14. Train To Nowhere by Anita Leslie (1948)

15. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)

16. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

17. Babette’s Feast by Karen Blixen (1950)

18. A Book Of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David (1950)

19. Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith (1950)

20. Under The Net by Iris Murdoch (1954)

21. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan (1954)

22. The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (1956)

23. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt (1958)

24. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

25. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

26. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien (1960)

27. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961)

28. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)

29. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)

30. The Passion According to GH by Clarice Lispector (1964)

31. Ariel by Sylvia Plath (1965)

32. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

33. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

34. The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin (1969)

35. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)

36. Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971)

37. Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny (1974)

38. Ain’t I A Woman by Bell Hooks (1981)

39. The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982)

40. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 133/4 by Sue Townsend (1982)

41. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

42. Heartburn by Nora Ephron (1983)

43. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

44. Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy (1985)

45. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)

46. Henry And June: From The Unexpurgated Diary Of Anais Nin by Anais Nin (1986)

47. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

48. Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill (1988)

49. The View From The Ground by Martha Gellhorn (1988)

50. Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (1989)

51. Possession by AS Byatt (1990)

52. Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker (1991)

53. Wise Children by Angela Carter (1991)

54. Wild Swans by Jung Chang (1991)

55. How We Survived Communism And Even Laughed by Slavenka Drakulic(1992)

56. A Greater Place Of Safety by Hilary Mantel (1992)

57. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)

58. The Land Of Green Plums by Herta Muller (1994)

59. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding (1996)

60. Selected Stories by Alice Munro (1996

61. Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes (1997)

62. The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)

63. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

64. Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters (1998)

65. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (1999)

66. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives by Carole Hillenbrand (1999)

67. How To Eat by Nigella Lawson (1999)

68. Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx (1999)

69. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by JK Rowling (1999)

70. White Teeth by Zadie Smith (1999)

71. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000)

72. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (2001)

73. Unless by Carol Shields (2002)

74. Brick Lane by Monica Ali (2003)

75. Notes On A Scandal by Zoe Heller (2003)

76. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (2003)

77. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2003)

78. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson (2003)

79. Small Island by Andrea Levy (2004)

80. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)

81. The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)

82. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2005)

83. Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (2006)

84. Bastard Of Istanbul by Elif Shafak (2006)

85. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (2007)

86. The Road Home by Rose Tremain (2007)

87. At The Source: A Writer’s Year by Gillian Clarke (2008)

88. Three Strong Women by Marie Ndiaye (2009)

89. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011)

90. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

91. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (2012)

92. A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (2013)

93. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (2014)

94. Dept Of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)

95. Headscarves And Hymens by Mona Eltahawy (2015)

96. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (2015)

97. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016)

98. Falling Awake by Alice Oswald (2016)

99. Lullaby by Leila Slimani (2016)

100. Women & Power by Mary Beard (2017)

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Flying Home - Ella Fitzgerald 

We Used To Vacation - Cold War Kids  

Bad Liar - Selena Gomez 

Happy Talk - Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley

Molly's Chambers - Kings of Leon 

Gawd Above - John Fullbright 

Fidelity - Regina Spektor

Kid Charlemagne - Steely Dan

April & May - Where Have They Gone?

April and May both disappeared into a haze of late nights, new songs and exciting creative projects, brought swiftly to an end with five gigs in four days, While I probably haven’t quite caught up on my sleep yet, I’m feeling slightly refreshed and ready for June. I think. Here’s a run down of the last couple of months. 

 

Gigs

Obviously April was the month that The Spitfire Sisters sang on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express…I wrote a whole other blog post about it but we haven’t stopped talking about it so it’s worth mentioning again! We also had a wonderful performance at Beaulieu Abbey and at The Pallant in Havant on the day of the Royal Wedding, where there were definitely wedding dresses involved.

 Photo Credit: Will at The Pallant 

Photo Credit: Will at The Pallant 

Why did I already have a wedding dress in my closet? That's a story for another day.  

With Down For The Count I’ve been all over - Gloucestershire, Oxford, London, Sussex, Kent - and to a lovely gig by the sea in Bournemouth!

 Shameless Selfie By The Sea

Shameless Selfie By The Sea

I’ve had some lovely gigs with Blue Lion Band as well; it’s such a privilege singing with different bands and performing so many genres of music. 

 What a lovely group of gents I get to gig with for Blue Lion.  

What a lovely group of gents I get to gig with for Blue Lion.  

 

Photoshoots and Videos

April and May saw three photoshoots, a music video shoot a live video recording. Two photoshoots and the music video were with The Spitfire Sisters. You may have seen us chucking cake at each other and Anna’s amazing stop-motion in the video for Afternoon Tea; you can watch it here if not! Aside from the volume of laundry and intensive hair washing, this was one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on. 

We also frolicked in the Bluebells for a photoshoot at the beginning of May, with Steve Christie taking some beautiful photos for us. 

IMG_1189 2.JPG

Back in April, Down For The Count recorded a performance at The Tabernacle live; here’s me singing the Ella Fitzgerald song Sugarfoot Rag. More scat singing as you will hear! 

I also had the privilege of working with the amazing Sara Lincoln; she photographed my cousin’s wedding last September and the photos were beautiful. Sara is wonderful to work with, full of creative and ingenious ideas and I’m so pleased with the photos she has sent me so far. 

IMG_1120.jpg

 

New Songs

Several gigs in April & May required learning new songs. My learning process differs for each song. When it’s a Spitfire Song, like the arrangement of Royals by Lorde that Louisa wrote for us, Louisa will send over a written part as well as a midi file or vocal example to learn with. I never used to like learning with sheet music in front of me but now I almost always find it easier to read it, hammer it out on piano and then go from there. 

I also had to learn a few new Ella Fitzgerald songs for a Down For The Count performance at Hideaway. Perdido was my favourite song that I added to my repertoire in May; I use an app on my iPad to slow down the scat section of the song so I can transcribe it, then I gradually increase the speed while I practice. I normally start at about 50% of the speed - it’s an intense process, much to the delight of my neighbours I’m sure!

I like to record my singing when I’m practicing; it helps me work out which bits are going well and which parts of songs I need help with. I don’t often show anyone these videos but occasionally I share a Work In Progress video on my instagram which you can check out here.

 

One Completely Lost Voice

By the end of April I had completely lost my voice for the second time in about 6 months. This is obviously pretty devastating for a singer; without a voice you can’t work, and without work you can’t pay your bills There is no sick pay when you’re self-employed. This prompted me to go and see the brilliant Lucinda Allen who understood my situation completely. It's scary as I know I have a lifetime of bad habits to iron out but I trust Lucinda completely so I'm looking forward to working with her over the next few months. 

And The Other Stuff...

What I’ve Been Watching: Season Two of The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4. It’s horrific and painful to watch but an absolutely essential, brilliantly made programme. I could not recommend it enough, but I advise not watching it on your own. 

What Bands I’ve Been Listening To: I keep an updated Spotify playlist of my Music Monday blog posts here, but I’ve also been trying to see as much live music as possible. I’ve been to see some amazing gigs in the last few weeks, but the best was Band of Skulls at The Joiners. They were amazing and played all of their best tunes. I was even lucky enough to score a signed vinyl for my birthday from James. 

What I’ve Been Reading: I’m currently reading Heartburn by Nora Ephron which is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. I haven't found anything I've loved reading since I finished The Power by Naomi Alderman back in February, so I'm looking for recommendations. 

What I’ve Been Eating: As much healthy stuff as possible! It’s hard to keep that up when you’re driving several hundred miles in a weekend; I eat sweets to keep me awake and I confess there’s an occasional drivethru…but mostly it’s been wholesome meals and no snacking. My brother Joe bought me back some Everything But The Bagel seasoning from New York and I’ve put that on everything, James made the best Paella I’ve ever had, smoothies and coffee keep me going when teaching, and Leon’s Vegan Menu keeps me alive when I’m in London for work. 

What I’ve Been Wearing: Ghost, Vivien of Holloway, Lady V Vintage, & charity shop sequins for gigs, and comfy spring dresses from ASOS, denim jackets and sliders for everything in between. 

Music Monday (On A Tuesday)

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Perdido - Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald

Sweet Lorraine - Nat King Cole

Shut Up And Dance - Walk The Moon

Burn - Phillipa Soo (Hamilton Soundtrack) 

America - Simon & Garfunkel

Tiny Dancer - Elton John

As - Stevie Wonder

Love On Top - Beyoncé

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Wedding Bell Blues - The 5th Dimension

Don't Belong - Zak Abel

Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood

Stuck - Stacie Orrico

Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio

Stone Cold - Demi Lovato

Silent Sea - KT Tunstall

Dreams - Fleetwood Mac

 

 

 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Cold Fame - Band of Skulls

I Know You Know - Esperanza Spalding

Sooner or Later - Madonna

Satisfied - Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton Soundtrack) 

Where You Lead - Carole King

Sophia - Nerina Pallot

Grandma's Hands - Bill Withers

Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monáe

 

 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Weather With You - Crowded House

Back To Basics - Jenny and the Mexicats

Believer - Imagine Dragons

Roses - OutKast

That's Life - SMASH Cast

A Case Of You - Joni Mitchell

This Is The Time - Billy Joel

Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

One Fine Day - The Chiffons

God Only Knows - The Beach Boys

Running In The Family - Level 42

Never Ever - All Saints

Counting To Sleep - Wallis Bird

Zombie - The Pretty Reckless

Never Gonna Let You Go - Omarion

Neon (Live) - John Mayer

New York State of Mind - Mel Tormé

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week.

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Maybe Angels - Sheryl Crow

Blistered Hands - The Reign of Kindo

Seven Days - Sting

Overture - Mack & Mabel

License To Kill - Gladys Knight

Words - Kate Miller-Heidke

Do I Do - Stevie Wonder

Au Cinéma - Lianne La Havas

Still Crazy After All These Years - Paul Simon

 

Music Monday - Half Term Edition

Here's what I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Jesusland - Ben Folds

How Come You Don't Call Me (Unplugged) - Alicia Keys

Run Every Time - Gavin De Graw

Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars

Calamity Jane - Bethany Joy Lenz

Take The Box - Amy Winehouse

Rosanna - Toto

Ta Douleur - Camille

The Heart Asks Pleasure First - Michael Nyman

 

 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Destiny - Zero 7

Mr. Hurricane - Beast

Sussudio - The Phil Collins Big Band

Structure In Emotion - Avishai Cohen Trio

I Know Where I've Been - Queen Latifah

All In Your Mind - Mariah Carey

So Says I - The Shins

Les Fleurs - Minnie Riperton

Love Won't Let You Get Away - Seth Macfarlane and Sara Bareilles

 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Superstar - Carpenters

Comin' Home Baby - Mel Tormé

Morning Sun - Melody Gardot

You're All I Need To Get By - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Misery Business - Paramore

Rather Be - Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne

The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon & Garfunkel

Sweet Sour - Band of Skulls

Border Song (Holy Moses) - Aretha Franklin

Book Recommendations

Every year I start on the 52 in 52 reading challenge, and every year I fall short by quite a way. We're almost into February and I've only read one book. I took English Lit for my undergrad degree at Sussex, and I did a Masters in Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, but since I graduated I haven't been able to concentrate on reading as much as I used to. 

So instead of focusing on quantity of books, I've decided to focus on quality. I'm reading books that have been recommended to me, or are on essential reading lists, or are just known as classics. 

 Reading on the job - taking a break in between sets onboard the Belmond British Pullman.

Reading on the job - taking a break in between sets onboard the Belmond British Pullman.

Here are a few of the books that I would thoroughly recommend, if anyone is looking for suggestions. 

The Passage - Justin Cronin

I read The Passage during the summer after I finished university, and I read it in a few days; partly because it was captivating and impossible to put down, and partly because it scared me to an insane degree and I needed to get through it to try and avoid the fear (it didn't work; this doesn't have the happiest of endings). It's a chilling dystopian novel about a highly contagious virus that transforms humans into vampire-esque creatures. Look, I know what it sounds like. You have my word that this book is fantastic. There's also two more in the series, so get reading. 

We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists is an essay looking at feminism in the twenty first century. It's beautifully written and certainly answered questions for me about what it means to identify as a feminist in today's world. I would recommend this to everyone; it's an important piece of work. 

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I am a huge fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's writing; it's rich, bold and eloquent to the extent where I visualise scenes in a way that I don't with any other writer. One Hundred Years of Solitude is my favourite, but Love In The Time of Cholera is a close second. 

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is my favourite author of all time; I have enjoyed every piece of Atwood's writing I have read. If you haven't read this book yet you need to immediately. The Handmaid's Tale is a terrifying take on the recent future, and the parallels between the current political climate and Atwood's portrayal of the fictional Republic of Gilead is chilling. As Atwood herself has said, she never writes about anything that isn't currently happening or hasn't happened at some point somewhere in the world. 

Feeling Sorry For Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty

I love Young Adult fiction, particularly books that I read as a teenager. Feeling Sorry For Celia is a book that I first read on my 13th birthday and it still makes me laugh out loud today. Jaclyn Moriarty tackles all kinds of subjects in her writing, making her characters relatable but not always likeable, which is one of my favourite features of novels. I love it when I don't love the characters. There are two books by Moriarty that I haven't read yet and they're on my list for this year. 

Comment below if you have any book suggestions! 

 

Tour Essentials

I had my last tour date of the 2017/2018 season with The Spitfire Sisters on January 10th, and I'm missing it already. 

There are so many aspects of touring I love. Meeting people in venues and cities we haven't played before, long car journeys to theatres listening to the past (ahem, music from the 90s), and hanging out with the band in amazing places. The house we stayed in for our tour date in Cornwall had a hot tub. Living the dream. 

One of my favourite things, however, is the 20 minutes we have between soundcheck and curtain up to do our makeup and get changed. 

Getting ready at Hall for Cornwall at the beginning of January. Please note the difficulty with my false eyelashes - I have to apply them twice. Still learning! 

I used to hate this part of the evening. I used to panic. I could never get my false eyelashes on. One eyeliner wing would be oversized and dramatic and the other would be practically non-existent; the more I would try to even it up, the more abstract they would become. My lipstick couldn't be contained by any amount of lipliner or cotton bud tidying up. Essentially, it always looked like I had broken into my mother's make up bag and gone wild. 

Everything changed after I gave up my full time job at a coffee roastery and started temping between gigs. I only did this for about a year - I've been performing and teaching full time for just over a year now - but I had a lot of time where I'd finish one task and be waiting for the next one to appear. I decided that I would seize these moments to do my research on how to take a more organised approach to skincare and makeup. 

One essential resource that I go back to again and again is the website Into The Gloss. I've been a fan of Into The Gloss for years, all because of founder Emily Weiss's appearance on The Hills - I am a sucker for those 'Whatever Happened To Those Teenagers From Those Shows You Watched When You Were A Teenager' kind of tv show. Reading Into The Gloss was a big part of my temping life. Before I began religiously reading their Top Shelf articles and product reviews, the idea of wearing makeup everyday was crazy to me. I had to desire to do any kind of skin care, and I really wasn't prepared to spend money on products that I had no idea if they would work on my skin. Every so often I would go crazy and spend £14 on some false eyelashes - £14!!! - and immediately regret it because we all know Eylure make the best false eyelashes and they are a third of the price. 

 At the Glossier showroom in London last November. 

At the Glossier showroom in London last November. 

So when Into The Gloss sent out an email that said Glossier were launching in the UK, they already had my trust. They're more expensive than drugstore products, but not by much, and they work. As soon as I could, I invested in their Phase 1 Skin Set, which includes Milky Jelly Cleanser (the only face wash I have ever used that doesn't dry my skin out), Priming Moisturiser, and Balm Dotcom in Birthday. I purchased Boy Brow at the Glossier Showroom in London in November, and over Christmas my Glossier collection expanded with Glossier You and Super Pure Serum. Seriously, I'm a woman who uses serum now. 

 Phase 1 Skin Set. Look at that packaging! I'm all about branding. 

Phase 1 Skin Set. Look at that packaging! I'm all about branding. 

Aside from my clear Glossier addiction, I have really started to expand my make up bag in other ways. After a bizarre bout of Impetigo a couple of years ago I purchased bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Foundation. For me this was a pricey purchase, but I keep going back to it because it lasts a good amount of time and it is the only foundation I've ever used that doesn't dry out my skin. I get on a lot better with powders than I do creams, and this gets rid of any shine which is especially important for when I'm on stage sweating it out under the lights. 

I'm a sucker for free samples and I've just worked my way through quite a few from REN, including the Revitalising Night Cream which is amazing, and has made my face so ridiculously soft that I can't stop touching it, which I know is against Skin Care rule 101. I'm thinking of investing but it is a little bit more than I want/can afford to spend right now so I'm looking for recommendations. I normally swear by E45 in the winter but it's a bit heavy for the warmer months, but you can't argue with the price. 

I'm always looking for ideas about what to try next, so send me any suggestions. 

By the way, if you fancy 10% off Glossier send me a message and I'll send you a code. (This is not an advert and I am not affiliated with Glossier in any way, I just genuinely love their products.)

 Ready for the stage! 

Ready for the stage! 

 Sometimes there's a wig involved in getting ready. 

Sometimes there's a wig involved in getting ready. 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 

Time Is Running Out - Muse

F.M. - Steely Dan

Closed Hand, Full of Friends - Foy Vance

It's Love - Jill Scott

Multiply - Jamie Lidell

Summer, Highland Falls - Billy Joel

Shaker Song - The Manhattan Transfer

I Have Nothing - Whitney Houston

Kissing My Love - Bill Withers

January So Far...

Here are a few bits and pieces from my January so far. You can also follow me on Instagram - I'm @CastlemanSings.

What I've Been Wearing

  My man got me this t-shirt because he knows how much I love Margaret Atwood and The Handmaid's Tale. The TV adaptation is so good. The book is even better. 

My man got me this t-shirt because he knows how much I love Margaret Atwood and The Handmaid's Tale. The TV adaptation is so good. The book is even better. 

What I've Been Reading

  Keeping on the Margaret Atwood theme, I started my 52 in 52 challenge by reading her newest novel Hag-Seed. It's brilliant. 

Keeping on the Margaret Atwood theme, I started my 52 in 52 challenge by reading her newest novel Hag-Seed. It's brilliant. 

Where I've Been Singing

  The Spitfire Sisters performed at the beautiful Hall For Cornwall at the beginning of January - it was our last date of the 2017/2018 tour season. We start again in February, and I can't wait. 

The Spitfire Sisters performed at the beautiful Hall For Cornwall at the beginning of January - it was our last date of the 2017/2018 tour season. We start again in February, and I can't wait. 

  Down For The Count had a sold out performance at Pizza Express Jazz Club and it was honestly a dream come true. 

Down For The Count had a sold out performance at Pizza Express Jazz Club and it was honestly a dream come true. 

Where I've Been Visiting

  I went to Spain on New Year's Day to take a break with my boyfriend; it was perfect to reflect on the year we just had and to think about the year ahead. 

I went to Spain on New Year's Day to take a break with my boyfriend; it was perfect to reflect on the year we just had and to think about the year ahead. 

What I've Been Eating

  At the start of this year I decided to do a 30 day vegan challenge. So far so good and  pretty sure I'll be carrying on with it after the month is up. Louisa made this vegan noodle dish with Linda McCartney burgers to substitute the salmon the rest of the band were eating. 

At the start of this year I decided to do a 30 day vegan challenge. So far so good and  pretty sure I'll be carrying on with it after the month is up. Louisa made this vegan noodle dish with Linda McCartney burgers to substitute the salmon the rest of the band were eating. 

  I've been enjoying how many vegan options there are at various restaurants - this was my dinner at Wagamamas a few days ago. 

I've been enjoying how many vegan options there are at various restaurants - this was my dinner at Wagamamas a few days ago. 

Autumnal Intentions

It's a beautiful autumnal Saturday - the first Saturday I haven't had a gig in weeks - and I'm feeling pretty pants. I've felt gross all week, actually. Before I know it, it's 4pm and I'm back in hospital for a lovely two night stay.

 Always wearing my Tessa Metcalfe, whatever the circumstances. 

Always wearing my Tessa Metcalfe, whatever the circumstances. 

I hate being ill for so many reasons, but I particularly hate letting people down. I work with several different bands and have a lot of lovely students, and I never want to make the phone call that says I can't make a gig or a lesson. This leads to supreme feelings of guilt which mean that I spend all my time worrying which really slows down the recovery process.

What I I need to remember is that I shouldn't need to feel like I can't be sick unless I'm really sick and on a drip. It should be okay for me to wake up, acknowledge how I feel, and take a rest day; in the long run, I'll get better quicker and won't waste precious days in hospital or out of action. I know that ignoring all the obvious symptoms I have and pushing through ultimately leads to feeling worse.

Basically, what this all boils down to is wherever and whenever possible, I need to be held accountable for how I feel. There are always, always things I can do to make myself feel better, some that I do now, and some that I definitely don't but need to start. 

So, here is my plan. If I share it, I'll definitely feel a responsibility to stick with it! 

Structure and Routine

I am the QUEEN of procrastinating. Sometimes it’s because I genuinely feel gross so can't make myself concentrate, but a lot of the time it's because I'm easily distracted. At the moment I'm really lucky to be so busy, but it means I'm splitting my time between learning lines, learning songs, and learning saxophone parts. It feels overwhelming, so I need to break it all down and structure my day into manageable chunks, otherwise the whole day stretches in front of me and everything feels unmanageable. Man, I love a timetable. 

 Timetable Joy. 

Timetable Joy. 

Eating and Drinking

This feel so obvious that it almost seems ridiculous to write it down, but I have to remember to EAT. I tend to forget for the first half of the day and then just snack my way through the afternoon and evening. My boyfriend is an awesome cook (and very into being healthy, which I'm slowly getting on board with...) and has made some delicious, healthy meals recently and this inspires me to cook for him too. My favourite meal I've made recently is Deliciously Ella's Mushroom risotto, which is made with coconut milk; it's genius and tastes amazing, even when being made by a very average chef (that's me.) I'm really getting in to searching for recipes and trying new things. It's very unlike me but I'm trying to rise to the kitchen challenge. 

My other mission is to drink wayyyyy more water. I got really told off in hopitall because my blood pressure kept dropping, which can normally be prevented with HYDRATION. So, now, every time I want a cup of tea, I have to drink a pint of water first. I'm adding slices of lemon because I'm a cool dude. 

 Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Spicy Peppers, Avocado and Lettuce. THIS WAS SO GOOD (and almost vegan. But not quite.)

Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Spicy Peppers, Avocado and Lettuce. THIS WAS SO GOOD (and almost vegan. But not quite.)

Personal Space

I'm moving in a couple of weeks, and the idea of having a stress free/clutter free  environment is so exciting to me. I've been Pinteresting my heart out looking for inspiration to create the perfect personal space. We're really lucky as the house we're moving in to has the most beautiful view of the South Downs, which is so calming; nothing helps with my anxiety more than a walk outside. 

 

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Getting Ready

This may seem irrelevant, maybe even frivolous, but I want to make sure that when I wake up and get dressed, I feel comfortable and I feel good. I'll be clearing out my wardrobe (and taking stuff to a charity shop) to get rid of clothes that I haven't worn in ages, or clothes that feel more like pyjamas, or clothes that remind me of things I don't want to be reminded of. 

 

Please let me know your advice to live a healthier, happier life! What do you make sure you have in your personal space? How do you take a break? What are your favourite things you've cooked recently?