55 of my Favourite Things

~ my tiny house in this new city ~ my finished degree ~ the degree I’m working on at the moment ~ learning languages ~ postcards ~ holding hands ~ anything blue ~ wordless books ~ old notebooks ~ the little curiosity robot on March ~ scented candles ~ tiny ear piercings ~ orange leaves ~ home cooked meals ~ the Hamilton Soundtrack ~ planning trips and journeys ~ successful study groups ~ facetiming the people I miss ~ feeling acquaintances become friends ~ big chunky “disappear into the world of this story for the next four hours” books ~ books in general ~ jazz music ~ big blankets ~ fresh bed sheets ~ milk chocolate ~ the smell of laundry detergent ~ daisies ~ strawberry tea ~ Christmas lights ~ Christmas markets ~ theatre tickets ~ the sound of the orchestra tuning their instruments before a concert ~ cinema dates ~ the smell of ground coffee beans ~ lazy mornings ~ rain ~ bagels for breakfast ~ spaghetti carbonara ~ the plants I got for this house and have managed to keep alive for the better part of three months ~ stationery ~ whipped cream ~ coffee dates ~ when a film plot really surprises me ~ sleeping with the window open ~ crocheting ~ cuddles ~ quiet playlist ~ spontaneous dancing on the kitchen floor ~ fairy lights ~ people smiling ~ musical theatre ~ spoken word poetry ~ learning new things ~

-Andrea

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Blue Psalms of All Hallows Eve

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve, and for the first time I’m feeling the weight of it as more than just a holiday for other people to remember their loved ones.  This year I’m one of the one’s remembering, and that still hasn’t entirely registered, even after months have passed. Our days are so busy, our minutes too short, our steps too hurried, it’s so easy to wrangle that dark spot in your stomach into the back of your mind, to think grief is for another day. Except it rarely is, and it shouldn’t have to be.
Most days grief is for right now, most days grief has no interest in being pushed away, and on those days we should give grief a name.

I translated an All Hallow’s Eve Mass, for a service that was held today in the cathedral in the town I’m living in now. I don’t think of myself as Christian, but I’ve been working in some churches in my time, and I’ve been translating and live interpreting services in the cathedral for a little while now as work experience for my translation BA. This was a challenging one, though, just because the liturgy’s so heartfelt, the psalms so well-chosen and thus, the words just hit that little bit closer to home. It didn’t feel like work, more like hurting and healing.

The service was a beautiful one. Dignified, graceful and appreciative. It focused on relations between people, and what happens when we suddenly have to start talking about our loved ones in the past tense.
I must admit I’m still not entirely used to that part, yet.

For some, death may come expected, it may even be wanted, while for others it strikes abruptly and harshly, changing everything, taking people we cannot bear losing.
“Those who are loved will never be forgotten,” said the priest, a young woman who touched every heart in the congregation, who laid an arm of kind words around the shoulders of everyone in the church. You could see people needed to hear what she was telling them; that their emotions were valid, that grief takes many forms and that no one form is more correct than another.
Death is weird, it always has been and always will be, and we all react so differently when we encounter it.

This post is a bit jumbled, but I just wanted to share with you a paragraph from her sermon that I translated:

Those who are loved, will never be forgotten.
Many of us carry heavy burdens, we carry bereavement, loss and grief.
Today we think of those we love that are no longer with us.

We think of our community, of compassion and wonderful memories.
we are grateful for the days and the years we got to share,
for kind words, for warmth and for joy.

Many of us carry grief over everything that never came to be, 
for relations that were challenging,
for wounds that struggle to heal,
grief over what was taken too quickly,
over everything we never got to say.

We humans are so great at not saying what we think, at forgetting to remind people that they are appreciated; we often take it for granted that people know we love them.
But we also have a million tiny ways of showing that we care, and today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the ways the one I’m missing showed that she cared. I’ve lit candles and quietly sung songs that remind me of her. I’ve twirled her bracelet around my wrist, and I’ve consciously tried to name all the feelings that have bubbled up in my stomach, wound its way around my heart, up through my throat and that’s lingered behind my eyes. It’s been strange and a little bit scary, but it’s also brought a sense of calm.
I think I needed it.

I wasn’t prepared for today to be as heavy as it was, and I didn’t think I was going to write about it. I’m not sure what this even is, a little stream of consciousness, my mind trying to figure out what it’s feeling.
It’s been a good day, though – an important day.

I hope you all have had a good day today, too, and that you’ve had your loved ones around you.
Because those who are loved, can never be forgotten.

-Andrea

Postcrossing, or Why I Enjoy Postcards So Much

One of the things I was most excited about when I moved into this new little house of mine, was buying my first postbox. As I’ve always lived with my parents, and then moved from student accommodation to student accommodation, the postboxes have just always come with the house.
This time, however, I had to buy my own. Silly thing to be excited about, I know, but it just made me feel a little bit more adult, getting a green postbox, putting the house number on the front and my name on the inside of the lid.

So, when the postbox was installed, I was ready to start receiving some mail. However, I wanted a little bit more than just page upon page of ads, flyers and commercial catalogues, and that’s when I joined Postcrossing.

Postcrossing Main Logo

Postcrossing is a global network, a project that allows anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world.
On their webpage, Postcrossing writes; “The idea is simple: for each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser from somewhere in the world. Where your postcard will come from is a surprise!”

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 11.39.05

(Screenshot from their “How to” page.)

Okay, so those are the basics, but let’s get on to the actual point of this post; why is this project so great?
First of all, don’t we all love to get mail? The wait and the anticipation that “Snailmail” (as it’s apparently called nowadays) brings with it, makes both the writing of your own cards and receiving cards from others a lot of fun. Also, it’s not like a pen pal arrangement, where you send letters back and forth, it’s just one card from you to another person, and then another and another, all to different people. I kind of like that, a snapshot in time and in culture.

As a former Creative Writing student, it’s so much fun to see what people choose to write on their cards; some write small poems, some tell you what they’ve been up to that day. A postcard I got last week just named the writer’s four dogs’, their breed and their age. Some have the date, weather and temperature neatly penned in the corner and some illustrate the mood of the writer, in the moment of writing.
And as a current student of International Communication, it’s also really interesting to get these glimpses into peoples’ lives, in countries that are so far from my own.
I’ve only been part of this for about a month, but I’ve both sent and received postcards from Taiwan, I’ve got one going to China now, have received multiple from the US and a couple from Russia, plus a lot of other European countries.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 11.49.22

You write a little profile so that people can get an idea for something to write on the cards to you, and I’ve asked people to write “Hello” and “goodbye” in their native language, plus their favourite word. A lot of people have done so, and it’s become quite the nice little collection of greetings and lovely words that I most likely never would have learned otherwise. Also, where the language barriers get to us and we struggle with communicating, some people just draw nice little doodles or images.  It’s wonderful to open the postbox and instantly get these small glimpses of people’s lives and thoughts.

The internet and digital communication have of course made the world a lot smaller than it used to be, and talking to someone on the other side of the globe has technically never been easier or quicker. Still, though, it’s nice to connect with people through handwriting, pictures and small drawings.

As digital messages are very abstract and might feel a bit temporary, these postcards go right up on the wall above my bed when I receive them; a handfast reminder that people are people wherever you go, and we’ve all got so much more in common than we might initially believe.

Check it out if you want to! If you’d like to send more postcards and are curious to receive cards, stamps and messages from around the world, this is definitely worth having a look at.
(Also, not sure if I need to say this or not, considering my little corner of the internet over here is very small, but I’ve got no connections or anything with Postcrossing, I just really enjoy their site and the project!)

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Snapshots of a new home

I’m starting to get to know this city, to feel how it moves and how I should move with it.

-Andrea

The M2 Musings Writing Challenge

I like to call myself a writer. I navigate my way through the world in stories and make up characters to people crossing the street, but lately I haven’t been writing at all. A fairytale wedding, the voyage to a new flat past a different fjord, the adventure of getting to know a new home. These are all stories that have gone unwritten. That’s okay, though, not everything has to be documented to be valid or worthwhile.

However, I do miss writing, and I do miss the small snapshots of my everyday that writing used to be, back when I used to write down everything that came to mind, keeping every idea for a possible assignment or could-be-short story. These thoughts, plus the fact that I just stumbled over the expression “micro poetry” the other day, has resulted in this new “series” I want to try out here on the blog; the M2 Musings.

The M2 is the bus I get to the uni every day, a 12 minute ride twice a day. 12 minutes isn’t really enough time to get a book out or to get anything done, so I figured this could be some scheduled writing time.

So, here’s the plan:

Everyday (Monday to friday), I’m going to try and write something, anything, about something on or outside the bus on my way to uni, leave it while I’m in lectures, and then edit it on the bus journey back. There are no rules for what it needs to be; micro poetry, stream-of-consciousness, a few lines of a short story. All it is is a kickstart to make myself write. These bus journeys give me about 24 minutes to spend on any of the “texts”, which won’t really leave any room for overthinking, you kind of just have to go.

So, what do you guys think? Is this a project you could be interested in following? Of course I won’t post these musings daily, that would be a bit much, but maybe I’ll pick a few that ended up okay, about once a week?

Like I said, there’s been way too little writing lately, and perhaps this could be a nice incentive to get back into it, again!

Have a wonderful day,

-Andrea

Writing cliches: The Ever-growing Tea Collection

A well-known cliche says that writers drink a lot of hot beverages, and if we are to believe the writers’ blogs’ homages to steaming coffee, that’s very true. Countless instagrams of pretty mugs, neat notebooks on coffee tables and writing dens with window sills filled with old coffee-cups, tells us that no writing can ever happen without a cup of something warm next to your laptop.

Originally I thought I’d try and steer away from this cliche; that I wouldn’t mention tea or anything like that in my posts. However, as my veins are basically flowing with equal parts blood and strawberry infusion, this did not work all that well, and my mugs have started popping up in images here and there.

That’s why I figured today I’d just live the cliche I am, one hundred percent, and take you on a tour through my favourite teas; the brews I need to wake up, to write, to curl up on the sofa.

So make yourself a good cup of something you really like, and let’s get started!

Andrea’s Ultimate Tea Tour (with overly enthusiastic and staged summery pictures)

Twinings’ Pure Peppermint:

I don’t drink coffee, but I need a cup of this every morning. Either as a five minute moment at the kitchen table before I face the world, or as a cosy treat in a travel mug on the 06:35 bus to town. Just boiling water, no sugar or anything, preferably in a big, “open” mug so the taste really gets to do the “swirly thing” that tea needs to do.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Lipton’s Blueberry Muffin and Infusion’s Turkish Apple Tea:

I’m always here for a good fruit tea! The blueberry tea in the picture is one I drank buckets of on camp as a youth leader for the first time, and every time I drink it I still think of that wonderful weekend a good 6 years ago. It’s also just a really really good tea. It smells and tastes more like muffins than blueberries, and it’s got a really round taste.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

This Turkish Apple tea is also a really good fruit tea. I found it in a tiny tea shop in Camden, where the lady running the store spent almost 45 minutes telling me about and letting me taste and smell all of the teas she had in the shop. Such a good time!! It’s the strongest tea I’ve ever had when it comes to pure taste, and it’s made out of dried apple and pineapple and other fruits. It also smells divine.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Both of these teas do need a little bit of sugar for the taste to really get through, but they’re both the ones I always serve people who say they don’t really like tea. Most people end up surprising themselves and loving them!

Twinings’ Camomile&Honey and Picklecombe’s Lavender Honey:

Okay, so I’m aware that that jar of honey is not tea. But it is Lavender-infused honey and deserves an honorable mention here! It’s also really good in tea, and on its own in warm water. The proper star of this section though, is the Camomile&Honey tea from Twinings. I’m usually not a fan of camomile teas, but the honey is the overpowering taste in this blend, and it’s so warming and soothing. There is no better tea to curl up with after a long day.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Dorset tea’s Strawberries and Cream and Twining’s Glow:

Strawberry tea! My two favourite teas are both strawberry teas, and I always have to restock them when I’m visiting Harvey in Swanage as that’s the only place I’ve been able to get my hands on them.
The Strawberries and Cream one is a hug in a mug – warm, cozy, comforting and sweet. It also turns bright red, something I greatly appreciate. The countless shirts I’ve stained with it, however, really don’t. It’s the perfect companion to an evening in with your favourite book and fresh bed sheets, and I’ve always got a couple of extra unopened boxes waiting in the pantry.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

The last strawberry tea, and the last tea on this list, is Twining’s Glow. It’s a green tea with strawberries and aloe Vera in it, and it’s one of those teas you feel healthy after drinking (I know that’s not a thing, but the feel is definitely there). Much like the earlier mentioned Peppermint tea, this doesn’t need anything added. It tastes strangely like strawberry lipgloss (only so much better, of course,) and is the perfect cup in the morning, if you want something with a bit more taste to it.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Well, that got longer than planned! Thank you so much for listening to my ramblings, I can get really passionate about tea, as you might’ve understood. There are of course a billion more wonderful teas, but these are my everyday essential beverages. (Also, I don’t know if I really need to say this, but just to be safe, this post is 100% not sponsored in any way, I just really like tea!)

Do you need any hot drinks to function?
Are you a coffee or a tea person?

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea