Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Review

The year is quickly drawing to a close with just hours left until 2013 hits us.  I have to say, it's been quite a year.  When I think back to this time last year and the projects I took part in and the goals I set myself, I can't believe how things have changed, even if I haven't achieved them all.  I was starting to wonder how 2013 was going to beat it until Nico proposed!  Anyway, before we get to all that, I wanted to review those goals I set myself and shared with you all the way back in January.

Arrange a filing/storage system for work.

This went very well.  I thought I was never going to get around to it but in Summer I took half a day to sit down and go through all the papers, throwing out what I don't need and organizing the things I can reuse.  It felt great to have everything sorted as it was the last bit of the flat I hadn't organized!  I need to get better at recycling resources and filing the new ones but I know exactly where to find things now!

Finish my French course.

This was one of the earlier goals that I finished.  It had taken me so long to get around to it but as soon as it was there in a manageable checklist in my goals diary, I was inspired and good to go!  It was rewarding and I do like French but my 'other' languages (French and Russian) were something I let go of this year.  The whole point of picking French back up was to improve my job chances in England and now I'm staying here there is less pressure.  Improving my French is something I may look at again in the future, but for now I need to concentrate on German and Spanish!
Finish furnishing the flat.

This was one of the easiest goals to get ticked off my list although it did impact on one of my other goals as we will see.  I am so pleased with the flat now.  It has become much more of a home this year and achieving this target was one of the first steps in that.

Buy more house/balcony plants.

Again, this was one of the easier goals and one of the most rewarding.  In fact, since the Summer ended, it's been really sad to see the balcony garden deteriorate - I may need to look into more Winter plants next year.  We spent some lovely afternoons on the balcony this Summer and I am really pleased with the progress we have made on being more green indoors.  We have more plants than ever.

Have two date nights each month.

This has been one of the harder goals to achieve this year.  Not because we can't find the time to go on dates or because we don't enjoy it, we just prefer to be a little more spontaneous and I know it annoys Nico when he feels pressured to do something just because it's in my goals diary!  We've achieved this goal with the exception of one last date!  Most of the time, I waited until we did something and then recorded it in my diary rather than trying to over plan things and it just hasn't happened this month.  However, I don't feel bad because it's not like we don't spend enough time together and we are both clearly very happy in our relationship at the moment and that's what is most important to me.  I only set this goal to try and make sure I don't start taking Nico for granted and I don't think I do.

Pay off two credit cards.

This is the first of my goals that I really didn't achieve.  I worked towards it all year but other things seemed to get in the way...holidays, furniture, ridiculous Ryanair flights.  I have made progress and hopefully the first of these two will be paid before my birthday in April but with a wedding coming up, the second card will probably be paid off in another year's time.  This is the first goal to go on my 2013 list.
Move more! Every day!

Flicking through my goals diary this year, I often found this goal both way too general and a little ridiculous if taken at face value.  At some point it is not possible to move more every single day of the year.  When I look at these pages in my diary though, it is quite clear that I did way more in the second half of the year than the first and with the highpoint of completing my first 10k in great time in October, I'm considering this target achieved.  I plan to continue working on my fitness in 2013.  First of all, I want to lose a little weight and tone up for the wedding but also, I feel great when I've done sport.  I'm now cycling to work every day which is a huge improvement on last year and although I wasn't convinced by running long term, Zumba has stuck a little better with me.

Get back to my goal weight.

This is the second of my goals that remains unfulfilled.  It is a work in progress but I left it too long to go back to Weightwatchers meetings.  Once I went back in September, I made great progress (except in the holidays) and overall I have lost about 1.5 stones this year.  I have to lose about that again to get to my former goal but I'd like to lose at least one stone before the wedding and then tone up so it's back to Weightwatchers on the 7th January and my weekly updates.  This is the second of my goals going forward to 2013.
Try at least two new recipes each month.

I really enjoyed this goal too.  We sometimes tried more than two but I recorded the first two in my journal and I love how it looks.  There were some that we will never try again and then there were some that are favourites now.  I think this is something that we will always do without it being a specific goal.  Nico loves trying new things in the kitchen and I'm always learning too.

Get a permanent contract.

This was a tough one.  It was always on the cards for this year but it was the one that was the most out of my hands.  It was left right up until the last minute and led to a really stressful Summer on the dole!  In the end though, I did it!  It's so reassuring to have a permanent contract now, it really changed my mindset and obviously made me feel more settled here.  Before, it was always 'what if...' and now we both have some security for the future.
Organize at least one social event per month.

This has also been a fun goal.  We see friends at least once a month but I really wanted to do different things too.  We've had all sorts from coffee afternoons in January to bowling in September and it has been really rewarding.  I'm not entirely happy with my social life at the moment but more on that later in the week.  This goal was achieved.

Visit a new capital city.

Amsterdam was one of the highlights of my year.  Did I mention I love visiting cities and especially capital cities?  Not only that but it was our first foreign holiday together where neither of us could speak the lingo and neither of us had ever been before.  We hit the jackpot with the weather and had a fantastic five days discovering somewhere new.  If I had the funds, this would be on my list every year.

Read one classic and one modern book per month.

I actually read way more than that but I mainly put this goal in there to make sure I started to read more of the classics without only reading classics and this was really rewarding.  I got through so many and finally know classic stories such as Dracula!  Dracula is a particularly good example for me as it's one that everyone 'knows' but doesn't necessarily know!  I mean we all know it's about vampires but who actually knows any of the other characters?  Mainly literature students and book worms.  Well, my status as the latter is saved as I do now know exactly what happens!  It goes without saying that I will be reading on in 2013 - my Christmas presents are piled up ready and I already started the first - The City of Dreaming Books - thank you Nico!

Start writing.

Utter fail.  Apart from what goes into the blog and even that has been diminishing up until today.   I may put this on the 2013 list, but it's not really driving me right now so I'm not sure.

Find at least three new craft projects.

Another one of my favourites, this year I have made my own candle holders, painted plant pots, tried origami and papier mache, and the big one - started knitting.  I've thoroughly enjoyed each and every new project as well as renewing some of my old ones like card making and cross stitch and will be carrying on in the new year.  My first big new project - wedding invitations!

Work on my 28 things list.

Of course, this is an ongoing project since I have until April but I certainly did work on it in 2012, completing fourteen so far and more in the planning stages.  I'm not sure they'll all be ticked off but they weren't the year before either.  One to keep working on.
So, overall a really successful year.  I didn't entirely need the goals journal, I may have done these things anyway but it certainly made me more mindful of what I do with my time and I'm really glad I kept it.  A few things to keep working on next year as well.

Sunday, 30 December 2012


If you get chance, check out this fantastic series which was on British television this year.  It's available on DVD.  We saw it while we were home and it's brilliant.  The Gran is just like mine!

The Saturday Update...on Sunday!

Nico and Gran
A bit of an irregular update this week.  We arrived back from our week in England yesterday and with the whirl of food shopping, unpacking and recovering that had to be done, I didn't get round to an update.

Caitlin enjoying her Christmas presents
Last Saturday we flew home but for the first time in a long time, experienced a five hour delay with our Ryanair flight which meant a long afternoon in Bremen airport (or rather the warehouse that passes for the Ryanair terminal).  Luckily we had books and games to keep us entertained.  I felt bad for those waiting with little ones.  The worst thing was that we were lined up at the gate before they told us and as our plane hadn't reached Manchester at that point, let alone set off again to Bremen, they must have known.  Anyway, latest Ryanair rant over...

Dad and Lucas
Saturday evening was nice as we watched the Strictly Come Dancing final live with family.  We weren't altogether impressed with the outcome but it was good to see the show live and together.

Who's got the biggest pile of presents?
On Sunday, we had a fairly quiet day.  We visited my Gran to see how she has settled in to her new flat.  The last time we were home, we moved her in on the last day of our visit so it was good to see her settled with boxes all unpacked.  Luckily, we spotted her on the way over as she had sneaked out to go shopping in town!!

Briony and Lucas having a paper fight with Dad
Christmas Eve was a flurry of visits.  First we headed into Leeds where we had a mad dash around for last minute presents, new jeans from Next (despite the poor range) and Christmas Dinner.  I headed over to visit Hayley and baby Isla with my sister for some wedding talk and catching up.  Then we saw my niece and swapped presents.  I was really pleased that her little fingerless gloves fit after guessing with the size.  It's always lovely to see my niece and nephew while we are back, I can't believe how fast they are growing up!  Later we headed over to my step-dad's family for tea which was lovely and then had a quiet evening at home with my Dad.

Lucas enjoying his Christmas presents
Christmas Day was the same procedure as every year!  Unfortunately, my little nephew Lucas had a heavy chest infection from Sunday and was not well at all.  He cheered up a bit with his presents - especially the noisy ones and was cheery again by the end of the week so we had some good times with him.  I received some lovely presents including the Barcelona and Paris charms for my Pandora bracelet, a wine tasting experience in Bremen and some new books to keep me going into the new year.  Dinner was lovely, I saved my cracker contents to show my class in the new year and it was great to see Gran eating so well.  Her Christmas present from Mum - a camel coat had to be taken back for a bigger size, which is great news for her!  After dinner, we had a lovely walk around Morley for some fresh air before a nice quiet evening with the cheese and biscuits.

Up to mischief in the car
Unfortunately, there is not a lot to say about Boxing Day as both Nico and I caught the virus that is going round and were very ill.  We couldn't get up until gone four and we were seriously drained and unable to eat properly for some days.  We weren't the only ones to get it either and I think this Christmas is the worst I can remember for people being ill.  Hopefully, 2013 will be better!  We went to my Mum's in the evening and the only good thing to take from that day is that we were introduced to a fantastic series called Hebburn.

Gran getting stuck in to her dinner

Dave and Mabel

Briony and David at Christmas Dinner
Feeling a little better on Thursday we headed back to my Dad's for family coming round in the afternoon.  It was great to see everyone and invite them to the wedding too.  We had a double dose of good news as my brother and his girlfriend got engaged on Christmas Eve too as it was their three year anniversary.  My cousin is going to be my fourth bridesmaid so it was nice to have seen them all for a catch up now.

Our night walk around Morley
On Friday we went to the Yorkshire Mill Village with Mum, Gran and Lucas for a bit of hat shopping and a lovely lunch.  Lucas was very jolly again and we had a great time.  In the afternoon we spent time with Dad, visited our neighbours who I hadn't seen in a while and had dinner with Hayley, Si and Isla before heading off to Mum's to finish Hebburn.  Packing was interesting but we managed most of it.

Mum and Lucas
Lucas having fun pulling hair
Saturday was just about getting back to Bremen.  Luckily the miserable weather in England, especially on the way to Manchester, didn't hinder us too much and we were back on time (or ten minutes early if you believe everything Ryanair says).  

Flying back

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Manicure

Finally found the time last week to do my nails in time for the holidays - they match our tree!!  And if you look closely, you can see the glittery bits!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


While this wintery weather lasts, here's another snowy walk down memory lane through my trip to Mainz with Sarah during our placement in Oldenburg.