Achievements and Resolutions 2016/17

So here it is, a brand new fresh year to start again. New ideas, new focus but also a good time to reflect on all the fantastic achievements from the last year. I always take a day between Christmas and New Year to do this. I usually head out of the house (most likely to my local Starbucks) grab myself a mocha and write two lists. I start by writing all of my achievements for the year, using social media and my blog I start at January and work my way through the year, noting key highlights and achievements along the way.

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This is such a feel good exercise and truly makes you focus on all the positive aspects from the year, opposed to the negative which is often what we tend to do without really meaning to.

The next list I create is my resolutions list. It’s worth noting that both of these lists that I write are kept in my notebook that I carry everywhere with me. It helps me keep track that I am actually on course to achieving my goals for the year. I look back at my resolutions twice in the year. The first is at 6 months – usually when I am on holiday in the Summer. I look at what I have achieved so far and make notes on how I can keep on track to achieve the others going forward. I then look at it again in December when it comes to making a new list to find those resolutions I can carry over into the new year and to produce new ideas for future resolutions.

My Highlights and Achievements of 2016

Passing my driving test – It took a couple of attempts but I’m finally out on the road! Hooray!

Getting a new car – My dream first car, a Ford Fiesta, 5 door in red.

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Moving into a new job – I now am in a brand new college, meeting new people and getting involved in new challenges (which involves learning about a whole new range of careers!)

Visiting beautiful Lake Garda in Italy – On my wish list for a few years now and I finally was able to go and visit this beautiful lake.

Started Hula Hooping – Through attending HulaFit classes.

My Resolutions for 2017

These are a few of my top resolutions for 2017! Hopefully they give you some ideas for your New Year’s resolutions too!

To find a new hobby – I am such a creative person and I think this is something that has truly been lacking in my life. I’m setting out to find a new creative hobby and hopefully I’ll post some of my makes up on this blog!

To go on more day trips – I have made a list of days out in the UK and plan to visit at least one per month.

To walk more – I have set myself the challenge of completing one long walk a month and entering myself into a walking challenge. I am due to have another foot operation so we’ll see how we get on with this one! In some ways in may aid my recovery!

To read more – I have set myself a target of 2 books a month minimum.\

To have a Sunday night movie – I find this is the best way to help me relax for the week ahead. I’m planning to make a record of all the movies I watch throughout the year.

To be more creative – I feel so much better when I have spent a few hours being creative. I would like to draw at least once image per month and also create one collage a month. I’ll be posting these on my Instagram too to prove it!

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What are your new year resolutions? I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2017!

Becky at Pretty & Petit

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A Garden Paradise

I have to admit, I love gardens and gardening. I love pretty, country cottage front gardens with rose bushes decorating fences to sprawling back gardens with perfect, immaculate lawns and a summer house perfect for spending lazy afternoons in.

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My own experience with gardening however, has been somewhat limited. I have had several, small gardens which were quite sheltered leading to some very miserable looking plants, which like me, were in desperate need of some sunshine and perhaps a holiday to the Med for a couple of weeks! This was followed by a patio space of the extreme opposite. This space was south facing, leading to sweltering Summers, and sunshine all day long. Whilst my tomatoes (and I!) absolutely thrived in the sunny weather, the lack of shelter ensured not much else would grow!

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One garden I really admire is my mum’s garden, located in Whitstable, Kent. She has always had a passion for gardening and it shows through her beautiful garden designs and flourishing plants.

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I asked her a few questions about her garden and her passion for gardening.

How would you describe the design of your garden?

I have designed the garden by imagining separate rooms. The top garden, furthest away from the house, is the most formal. It has a Summer house, accompanied by a newly built oval pond on an oval lawn.

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The middle garden, is home to the fruit trees and also a vegetable patch with a greenhouse (along with resident frog, who I’m sure will be delighted once the pond is finished!)

The lower garden, closest to the house, is for pots to enable easy movement and an ever changing view from the conservatory. There is also a small patio area with lawn. It has a seating area, with a table and chairs for family BBQs and a vine covered pergola for when it gets a little bit too warm in the Summer. It’s lovely and cool in the shade under the vines.

What are your top 3 favourite plants and why?

  1. Fruit Trees – Beautiful blossom in the spring, shelter in the Summer and fruit in the Autumn.
  2. Cistus – Papery flowers that open in the sunshine. An evergreen plant, they remind me of a south facing garden that I came across whilst walking by the Thames.
  3. Roses – I tend to choose roses that are repeat flowerers with a beautiful scent to make the garden smell wonderful.

What garden project are you currently working on?

The pond! After putting in a Summer house towards the rear of the garden, I have decided to build a pond opposite. I often sit out there in the evenings as this is when the sun is in that part of the garden – it’s lovely and warm!

If you could have a garden anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would love to have a Mediterranean garden. Mediterranean plants remind me of the wonderful holidays I have had and are some of my favourite plants to grow in the garden.

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A garden should be somewhere you can enjoy every day, somewhere that you can spot changes every day. It should cover all the senses – from the smell of the herbs, to the beautiful sight of the roses, the tweeting to be heard from the birds, the taste of the delicious fruit being grown and the plants with the most unexpected textures to feel.

For those with their first garden, where do you recommend they start? Do you have any tips?

Always start with a plan! Shape the garden to your own style. Always include a tree for height – preferably a fruit tree.

Starve plants so that they can develop their root systems.

Encourage wildlife – I have birds regularly visiting my garden to have a wash in the bird bath and to feast on my fruit trees! I have a resident frog in the greenhouse – who I hope will hop into the pond once finished! I also would love to encourage some hedgehogs into the garden.

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Water regularly and feed plants once a week throughout the growing season.

Ensure you walk around your garden to keep a check on things!

Dig in plenty of blood and bone! (*I have been assured that these come in pellet form from garden centres after enquiring what on earth it was!!!)

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For some more garden hacks and tips on how not to kill your plants make sure you check out this amazing article from Pocketful of Rye, so useful for first time gardeners!

Get ready for Summer 2016 in your garden with fantastic discounts with My Voucher Codes – perfect for adding furniture to your garden, or for purchasing some new tools for your shed!

All images are my own taken of my mum’s garden.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

A Dream to Dance

When I was at secondary school, I absolutely loved to dance. It was one of the first extra curricular activities I joined, alongside studying music, it was my passion.

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Along with my friends at school, we attended early morning dance classes and practiced through our lunchtimes for annual dance performances and took part in once in a lifetime opportunities. Part of this was encouraged by our wonderful dance teacher, a woman so passionate about her dancing that it was inspirational and motivational to watch her perform – it made us want to have that same passion and she was why I think we were all so committed to attending those classes.

Along with school classes, I also attended a theatre school every Saturday called Theatre Train. I had trouble with my confidence so not only did this assist with this issue through drama, but we also enjoyed an hour of singing and an hour of dance. In 2006 I had the opportunity to perform at the Royal Albert Hall as part of a celebration called ‘Songs of the Century’, an incredible experience and certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity! To find your local Theatre Train group make sure you check out their website by clicking here.

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It wasn’t until my third year of University that I started to notice pain in my feet. There were days that I would struggle to walk to the main University building, less than a mile from where we lived. I took tablets to cope with the pain, but it got to the point where I just could not cope anymore. I visited my GP, who suggested I keep an eye on it and if the pain worsened to return but ultimately that I may need surgery. It was at this time that I started to use a splint on my big toe of my right foot, which I realise now has hindered my progress and caused more damage than good. Throughout this time, as I had been diagnosed with bunions I researched further into what they are. I always thought they were some sort of gross fungal infection!! Never realising they are actually to do with the main bones of your foot. As shown by the diagram below it is basically to do with the joint where your big toe joins the main part of your foot. Sometimes, due to bad footwear or other genetic problems, the joint ends up jutting out at an angle. This often is pain free and many go throughout their lifetime without experiencing any pain at all on the joint. In some cases however, it can cause significant pain similar to the feeling of arthritis where the joint becomes stiff and achy. This was how my feet ended up.

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In Summer 2012, I noticed the pain at this point was getting excruciating so headed back to the doctor. He put me on a course of Ibruprofen to ease the pain and referred me to my local hospital for xrays. I saw a surgeon who said they would need to operate and insert metalwork to straighten out the bones in my right foot. In November 2012, 3 years ago, I had my first (and what I thought at the time, my only) operation on my right foot. It was a day surgery which meant I could arrive in the morning, have the operation and be sent home the same day. It was a quick procedure performed under general anaesethic and I was on my way home by 5pm that day. As it was a simple procedure the healing time was fairly quick and 6 weeks later I was back at work.

Over the next year or so and despite the surgery, the pain lingered and on some days it was even worse than before. I went to my new GP based in London who referred me back to hospital. In March 2014 I had my appointment at Charing Cross Hospital, London. Whilst initially I had been referred for my left foot the surgeon took a look at my right foot and ultimately told me that it needed to redone as the initial procedure had not worked. They carried out some X rays and had found that the main bone of my foot was actually splitting due to the pressure of the bunion. It was at this time that they gave me crutches and I spent that March through to December 2014 using them. In July 2014 I had my operation and spent the summer recovering. It took a long time to heal. I had a cast on my leg and was in a wheelchair for 6 weeks. I promised myself I would never take walking for granted after experiencing this.

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I am currently awaiting hospital treatment to begin on my left foot which will again involve surgery and two months waiting for it to heal but this time I feel ready. I feel like I know what to expect now and I do feel some comfort in that. I do feel pain every day. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating but something I have learned to live with. Some days are better than others and I notice it is at its worse when it is cold and raining outside (which I can often tell before even opening the curtains some days!)

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As for my dancing? I would absolutely love to be able to dance again. Contemporary dance was my absolute favourite and I am starting to slowly work on my core strength to be able to attempt to dance in this way again one day. I definitely still dream of it. I have got to the point where I am visiting the gym on a weekly basis with the hope to join a dance class once my feet feel strong enough. Fingers (and toes!) crossed!

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This post has been submitted as an entry into the Dancewear Central competition. Dancewear Central is the UK’s number 1 dancewear specialist and provides a fantastic range of dancewear for all ages! There are lots of amazing deals on the site, perfect for dancers including up to 50% off 1000s of products on the site and free delivery on orders over £60! Make sure you check it out by clicking here.

Becky at Pretty & Petit