the candy man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

Well if I were to sum up January in one word it would be: lazy. If I were to sum it up in two words it would be: very lazy. If I were to sum it up in three words...well, you get the idea. Unfortunately I still can't work (which means I'm basically on a spending ban too!), and with it being so cold outside I've taken full advantage of not really having to go anywhere, which obviously means I've spent the month having a big Netflix binge (whilst being productive too, obviously...).

And one film that I have unashamedly watched more than three time this month is good ol' Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory - my 2nd favourite film in all the world. So it only seems right that the song stuck in my head this month comes from it, and although they are all great I think The Candy Man Can has to be one of m'favourites!

Are you a fan of Willy Wonka?

Reasons to be Cheerful - December

  • New York City at Christmas time
  • Seeing the amazing Christmas decorations on 6th Ave
  • Moving in to our very own apartment in Brooklyn
  • Eating even more Dough doughuts...
  • Eating lots of waffles made by my lovely husband with our new waffle iron
  • Lots of trips to IKEA = lots of meatballs
  • Making a pompom Christmas wreath
  • Buying our first real Christmas tree & decorating our apartment
  • Visiting the Bryant Park Winter Village & witnessing a proposal on the ice-rink
  • Finally buying a down coat to survive the New York winter
  • Seeing the the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree all lit up
  • Spending Christmas day with the kindest family in Long Island
  • And getting some wonderful Christmas presents from my loved ones
  • Exploring our neighbourhood & seeing the South Slope Holiday Light Spectacular
  • Welcoming in the new year by watching the fireworks in Prospect Park
Read/Watched/Listened to/Saw/Visited:
  • Seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular - it was a lot of fun, though also very cheesy...
  • Going to the What the Dickens? A Christmas Carol Marathon Readathon at Housing Works
  • I read Brooklyn was Mine by Valerie Steiker (a great read) and Gone by Michael Grant (a not so great read), and made a start on The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.
  • We watched all of the Christmas films!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014

So I know it's January, and Thanksgiving was over a month ago, but I still wanted to share some pictures of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with you, before, y'know, next Thanksgiving!
As it was our first Thanksgiving in America we figured we should do something more for it than just sit in our pyjamas and watch every Thanksgiving Day episode of Friends (I mean we did do that too...), and so instead we got dressed and headed out to brave the madness of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. We didn't bother getting up as early as some people do, because, well, we're not crazy (sleep is important, y'know), and I mainly just wanted to see the balloons which you don't really need to be at the front to see. We arrived at our spot a few blocks down from the Museum of Natural History about half an hour before it kicked off and although the crowds were already manic our view wasn't too bad.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been held annually since 1924 and the world famous giant helium balloons were first introduced in 1927 - fun fact(!): Macy's is the world's second largest consumer of helium, behind the U.S. Government.
The atmosphere in the crowd was a happy one, despite how cramped we all were, and seeing those giant balloons in real life was a lot of fun! My personal favourites were Thomas the Tank Engine, the red Power Ranger and the Pillsbury Doughboy - because look how full o'fun that little guy is!
And last but not least...SANTA!!

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was certainly an experience I'm happy we had, but in all honesty it's not something I'll be in any great rush to do again. Next year I think I'll watch it in my pyjamas, from the comfort of my sofa, whilst drinking a big mug of tea and eating waffles, and it'll be perfect!

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

As well as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, one other thing high on my "Festive To Do List" this year was to visit the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree when it is all lit up - and boy is it a beauty! We first visited 2 days before the lights were turned on (below) and were able to get quite a good view of the tree, but as soon as it was lit up the crowds around the Rockefeller Center were pretty manic - which sounds about right considering it receives about 750,000 visitors a day.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been placed annually in front of the Rockefeller Center since 1933. It is typically a Norway spruce between 69-100 feet tall (the 2014 tree was 85ft), that is erected in November and is usually lit the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. The tree remains in place until tomorrow (January 6th - the Epiphany), and then it'll be taken away and recycled.
The tree is scouted each year by the Head Gardener at Rockefeller Center (by helicopter) and once in place it is adorned with 45,000 multi-coloured LED lights (it was in 2007 that the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree went "green" with LEDs). The "Swarovski Star" on the top has been there since 2004, it has a diameter of 9.5ft, weighs 250kgs and was designed by the German artist Michael Hammers.
Also at the Rockefeller Center, from early October until April is another ice rink, probably one of the most iconic ones in the city. And no wonder really, I bet ice-skating underneath the tree and Prometheus statue is a wonderful experience! But as you can see from the pictures, when the tree is lit you have quite the audience. Every time someone fell over there was a synchronised "oooh" from the crowds...so I wouldn't recommend it for timid folk!
You can see some pictures from our visit to the Rockefeller Center last year here, it includes a picture of the plaque in the floor where the tree is placed.

The Bryant Park Winter Village and Tiffany's Christmas Decorations

A week before Christmas we visited the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, which is situated behind the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan (between 40th & 42nd, and 5th & 6th Aves). The Winter Village consists of holiday shops and an ice rink, and luckily when we visited it wasn't too crowded. The tree in the centre was my favourite part of the whole Winter Village though, it was so bright and the baubles on it were huge - you could get up really close too!
As we were leaving we heard some commotion over on the ice rink and got there just in time to witness a proposal! Now, I'm sure this happens all the time on ice rinks all over the world but it's still kinda romantic to see, especially in New York City at Christmas.

Sadly the holiday shops closed today (Jan 4th) but the rink is there until March 1st and it's free too! Well, kind of, you can go on the rink for free but you have to pay for skate hire, etc. The price is cheaper before and after peak holiday season - so it's worth taking that in to consideration if you're planning to visit! The queue to get on when we went was also crazy long, but maybe I'll go back in a months time and check it out as I sure do love going ice-skating!

The next day we walked past Tiffany's on 5th Ave and stopped to admire their miniature window displays, they're so simple & beautiful. And the gem stone/diamond lights on the outside are gorgeous!
Oh and by the way, I saw a man with a cat on his head outside Bryant Park and for all I know he might be there all the time so, if nothing else here make's you want to visit, that might! It was, afterall, a cat. Sitting. On. His. Head. Crazy, I know!

2014: My Year in Books

At the start of 2014 I set myself a goal to read at least 18 books, and somehow managed to read 25! I'm surprised with how much I surpassed my initial goal as there were some books that took a whole month to finish (I'm looking at you, A Game of Thrones!).

My most favourite reads of 2014 were...
  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: I read all 3 books in a week! I just couldn't put them down. I wasn't sure about these at first but I'm really glad I gave them a chance as needless to say I'm now a big fan!
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris: I don't know why but I'm obsessed with learning more about Teddy Roosevelt, he was such a fascinating man and this book really highlights that. This one is the first of a series of three and takes you from his birth to the day he becomes President. There really was never a dull moment in his life!
  • The Sound of Wings: the Life of Amelia Earhart by Mary S. Lovell: likewise with Theodore Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart is someone I am fascinated by and was itching to learn more about her. There were a lot of books to choose from but as this one had the best reviews I went with it. I wasn't disappointed, Mary S. Lovell covered everything I could have wanted to know and more!

My least favourite read of 2014 was...
  • Gone by Michael Grant: This story could have been so good...if it had been written by someone else, maybe someone more on a teenager/young adult level. The plot was great and the development of the story worked well, I sadly just didn't like how it was written.

I figured for 2015 I should aim higher and so my challenge this year is to read 25 books, as a minimum! You can follow my progress through Goodreads here.

Have you set yourself any reading goals this year? Let me know - I'd love to follow yours too!

L-R: The Christmas Books Volume 2: The Cricket on the Hearth/The Battle of Life/The Haunted Man by Charles Dickens, Join Me by Danny Wallace, Paper Towns by John Green, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Friends Like These by Danny Wallace, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, Bridget Jones's Diary and The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding, State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America by Matt Weiland, The Sound of Wings: the Life of Amelia Earhart by Mary S. Lovell, Rabbit, Run by John Updike, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Brooklyn Was Mine by Valerie Steiker, Gone by Michael Grant

My 2014

Boy am I thankful for my iPhone & it's camera roll! I fear without it I would forget the majority of what happens in a year. But here it is, my year in review, done a little bit differently to last year's post. And I must say, 2014 was a pretty excellent year!

January
We started to plan our wedding and I bought the artificial flowers for my bouquet from Lavenders of London. We went to see Mojo (which featured the likes of Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint & Brendan Coyle) at The Harold Pinter Theatre, and I took over as Leader of my local Brownie group.

February
I took Andrew to see Childish Gambino at Shepherd's Bush Empire. Andrew officially proposed to me (a month before the wedding!), we spent a day at the V&A to celebrate and travelled home for more wedding prep. My mum organised an afternoon tea hen-do and it was lovely!
March
We went to see Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud and travelled to Birmingham to make our wedding rings. I painted our cake toppers, made lots of bunting & finished the rest of our wedding prep. We celebrated our 6 year anniversary and, after only 3 months of organising it: GOT MARRIED!

April
I went solo to see McBusted at the O2, took part in the Tatty Devine Lucky Dip Box again and celebrated my 25th birthday! I took Andrew on the London Eye for the first time and we visited the London Sea Life Aquarium (also for the first time).
May
I went to the Tatty Devine Sample Sale and acquired even more goodies for my collection. We attended our first wedding that wasn't our own, went to a ceilidh with friends and donated blood for the second time. We also visited home for the third time this year to sadly say goodbye to Andrew's Grandpa.

June
My Brownie group celebrated 100 years of Brownies. Andrew & myself went to see Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare's Globe, and The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre (Andrew got lucky in the ticket lottery!).
July
We visited the Natural History Museum for the first time and had our first Michelin starred restaurant experience with a 6 course meal at the Pollen Street Social. I learnt to knit with Siobhan of Bless The Weather and went to my sister's spa day hen-do in Birmingham.

August
We had a big family reunion and celebrated my Great Aunt's 80th birthday. I treated myself to some Ladurée macarons, accompanied my mum to MODA at the NEC and visited Kensington Palace. We had our interview at the U.S Embassy in London & were granted our visas!
September
My little sister got married, I was a bridesmaid for the first time and we visited Stonehenge. I decorated a necklace at Tatty Devine's 15th Birthday pop up shop and we booked our one-way flight to NYC. We packed up our London flat and after 3 years living there, said a sad goodbye.

October
We visited home for the fourth and last time this year, then spent the month living in an Airbnb flat in Putney. A good friend got married in Inverness but sadly we had to miss it. I attended a Tatty Devine workshop and we visited the Grayson Perry: Who Are You? exhibition. I left my job.
November
We moved to NYC, spent our first month living in an incredible apartment in SoHo and re-visited some of our favourite spots. We went to the top of the Empire State Building for the first time and ate a lot of brunch. We saw the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and found a lovely apartment in Brooklyn.

December
We got to experience New York at Christmas, saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and moved in to our apartment. We purchased our first real Christmas tree, had Christmas dinner at the home of a very kind family in Long Island and saw in the New Year watching the fireworks in Prospect Park.

I'm excited to see what 2015 has to offer!

Some aims/hopes for 2015

I never really see the point in making resolutions, I always feel like I'm just setting myself up for failure. Like giving up chocolate?! I know I'll be eating it again by February! Instead I'm going to set myself some aims/hopes for 2015, some personal ones that will hopefully stick:

 Take better care of ME.
I am forever complaining about parts of myself without ever doing anything to better them. So this year I plan to make more of an effort: join the gym, go to the gym, eat better, drink more water, adopt a skin care regime, remember to floss, etc, etc...

 Meet new people, make new friends.
I live in a new city now where I know basically no-one, so I need to join a club or something and step out of my comfort zone.

 Find a job I enjoy.
Until my employment authorisation comes through I'm still unable to work, but as soon as I get it I hope to find something that both pays the rent and that I'll enjoy!

Read at least 25 books.
My goal last year was to read 18 books and I managed 25, so this year I'm going to aim for 25!

Grow my blog.
I started to use this little corner of the internet more last year, so this year I want to build on that - give it a makeover, post more frequently, etc, etc...

And one last one:

♥ Learn how to weave.
I'm getting a loom for Christmas and by the end of 2015 I intend to be a dab hand at it! Or, at least, able to cobble together a half decent one.

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What are your aims/hopes for 2015?