Monday, 28 July 2014


Hi, I'm Julie! You might remember me, although it has been an entire year since my last post, so then again maybe not... ;-)

I've really been aching to get back into blogging for a bit now, but when I realised that the one year anniversary of my last post was coming up fast, I decided to wait just that little bit longer. I like symmetry and patterns in things, what can I say?!

And what a year it's been! There's been a new job, a new house (and housemate), a BIG birthday, holidays, plays and lots of good times with family and friends. I'm going to leave things here as there's so much to catch up on and I don't have nearly enough time to do it justice now (I'm writing this in my break at work!) but I promise that I'll be back very soon with the first installment of what I'm sensing will be an epic recap!

'Til next time...

Sunday, 28 July 2013

My 30 before 30: July Update

As well as Monday seeing the arrival of the most famous (and eagerly anticipated) baby in the world right now, it also marked my half birthday. Whilst I'm definitely one for celebrating this kind of thing, it did bring home to me the fact that not only did I have just 6 months left as a twentysomething, but also that I now only had half a year to attempt to complete my 30 before 30 list! Shall we say never gonna happen?! Seriously though, whilst some of the goals on my list may be a little out of reach, I'm still going to attempt to achieve as many of them as I can and I can't deny the sense of satisfaction I feel when I make even a little progress. So, with that in mind, here's a little summary of how I'm doing just over halfway in:

6.  Complete Couch to 5K - I've made a rather hesitant start on this over the last couple of weeks. I'm currently still on week 1 as I've been finding it a struggle to fit 3 runs in a week, especially as the recent hot weather has made exercising much more of a chore, even in an air conditioned gym! I have got a vague exercise routine worked out now, so I'm hoping that using this as a guide will help me to stay more focussed and committed.

7.  Have a ruthless clear out of my wardrobe and drawers - this is still a work in progress. Over the past month I've taken most of my summer clothes out of storage (aka a holdall in my loft!) and put many of my winter clothes back in their place. Whilst doing so, I was also able to sort out a couple of bags of too small summer clothes which I donated to the local charity shop. I also made good use of a day off work on Friday by sorting out the clothes that I had hanging in my hall cupboard and filling 3 more bags with too small/ out of style clothes.

9.  Read at least 24 new books (2 per month) - whilst still quite a way behind where I intended to be at this point in the year, I am still keeping up with my reading. Over the past month, I've added "Where Are You Now?" by Mary Higgins Clark to my Read in 2012 list, and I'm currently about a third of my way through "Revenge Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger.

13.  Go on holiday somewhere new - two weekends ago, I went on a camping trip with some of my closest friends to celebrate one of their birthdays. We stayed near Skipton in North Yorkshire, and whilst I've visited several places in the UK, I'd never stayed in that part of England before so I've decided to class my 2 night trip as a holiday somewhere new!

20.  Organise at least 5 social events for me and my friends - I've wanted to see Ghost - The Musical ever since it premièred a couple of years ago. I did actually have tickets for the last time it visited Manchester, but had to forfeit my trip due to coming down with mumps a few days before. When I found out it was coming back, therefore, I knew I had to go no matter what. I rounded up a couple of other girl friends to go with me and the three of us saw it last Friday. And I'm pleased to say it was amazing...definitely well worth the wait!!

21.  Watch at least 10 new (to me) films - a couple of weeks ago a few friends and I had a movie night where we watched the fantastically awful Swamp Shark. There's quite a few of us in my social group that love bad creature features so it was a great choice! On the subject of bad films, I've also recently watched Street really hasn't been a vintage month for film watching, has it?! At least it means I've made more progress towards this goal I suppose!

And that's my half time progress report! Not fantastic, but definitely better than nothing :-) And what have you been up to lately? Whether it's big or small, if you want to share your story with me I'd love it!

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What's in my Wardrobe Wednesday: Dress(ed) for Success

Hello! Now here's a blast from the past, I haven't written a What's in my Wardrobe post in what seems like forever but, as it was one of my most popular blog features plus a series that I really enjoyed writing, I've decided to give it another whirl! I've actually had these pictures floating around on my phone for a couple of weeks already, but have only just got round to putting them up now. As the title suggests, they're of some of my favourite dresses or, more specifically, some of my favourite work appropriate dresses. I love wearing dresses for work, they're just so easy to throw on and are pretty much a complete outfit by themselves; perfect for those occasions when you can't really be bothered coordinating tops to bottoms to accessories! As the weather's hotting up, I've deliberately chosen to feature dresses that are suitable for wearing in summer, although I have also layered most of them up with blazers and/or cardigans plus opaque tights during the cooler months too. So, without further ado, here they are:

 Black and Cream Chevron Shift Dress - Matalan
This is quite a recent addition to my wardrobe and a dress that I really fell in love with at first sight. I'm quite drawn to a monochromatic palette, especially when it comes to workwear, and I also really liked the quirky chevron design and the fact that it has an exposed zip on the back (not seen here). This dress is also a perfect length, meaning that I can wear it with either opaques or nude tights without feeling overexposed, which is a definite bonus. Finally, whilst I've only ever worn it for work so far, I get the feeling that it's going to be really versatile and can imagine myself dressing this down with some high tops and my trusty denim jacket or up with high heels, fancy jewellery and a slick of bright lipstick. When I do remix it, I'll be sure to let you know!

 Black and Cream Striped Skater Dress - Primark
Another monochromatic piece here, told you I liked this colour palette! I absolutely adore the skater style of dress as I find it really flattering on me, nipping me in at the waist and then skimming away from my stomach and hips. I also really like the lace inserts on the shoulders, I'm not too sure if you can see them clearly from the picture, but I just think they add some extra interest to a pretty basic dress. This is a little on the shorter side so I tend to make it more work appropriate with a pair of extra thick black opaques (my tights of choice.)

Navy and Red Polka Dot Dress - F&F at Tesco (Birthday present from friends)
This little beauty has got to be one of my favourite dresses full stop! I received it as a 29th birthday present from my friends the Entertainer and the Guitarist, and as I was opening it, the Entertainer told me she picked it as she thought it was very 'me'. And she was absolutely right, as it's basically everything I love about a dress in one package! From the navy and red colour combination to the fact it's polka dotted to the extra girly details like the peter pan collar and red tie belt, it's just perfect :-). I've accessorised this in a number of ways for work, sometimes teaming it with a navy blazer and navy patent flats, other times wearing it with a scarlet cardigan and black flats or Mary Jane heels. I've even gone for extreme colour blocking with red tights and my navy flats when I've been feeling especially matchy matchy!

Navy Dress with Cobalt Contrast Detail - Primark
Another blue dress here, I think the contrast detailing is especially pretty on this one, and I like the fact that it has an elasticated waist. It makes it a really forgiving dress, perfect for if I'm planning to eat a big meal or even just on a fat day! I might be wrong, but I think this particular dress has a bit of an 80's vibe, and I'd love to team it with some fuchsia pink accessories to really accentuate this. Again, watch this space!

 Peppermint Green Shirt Dress with Black and Cream Contrast Detail - Primark
Another Primark buy, I purchased this last year and it's something that I'm drawn to on warmer days especially, the mint green colour seeming a perfect fit for beautiful summer weather. It's another dress that I find really flattering, especially with the dropped waist and fuller skirt and I love its almost vintage style. I typically wear this with a skinny black belt to accentuate the waist, and whilst it's definitely long enough to wear nude tights with, I've also been known to wear it with black opaques and a black blazer or my black and cream Chanel style jacket on cooler days.

Black and Cream Polka Dotted Dress with Ruffle Detail - Primark
This is the oldest dress featured in this post, and I think I bought it shortly after starting my current job in autumn 2011. It's another Primark bargain, I estimate that well over half of my working wardrobe originates from there, and the cost per wear for this dress must be something ridiculous by now, I like it that much! I love polka dots, and the ruffle detail on the shoulders just adds that little something extra. The only thing with this dress is that it can cling to my stomach and legs due to the fact it's made from quite thin material, but it's not a major problem by any means and it's still super comfy regardless.

So there's a little selection of what's in my wardrobe, hope you enjoyed! Any comments or styling suggestions, just let me know. I always love reading your comments :-).

'Til next time...

Monday, 15 July 2013

This is Summer

Blue skies, warm  hot sunshine and refreshing summer breezes. Loving the beautiful warm mornings; loathing the sultry, sticky nights. The smell of suncream and the cooling relief of aftersun. Getting tan lines, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. Beautifully bronzed shoulders and arms; legs that remain resolutely milk bottle white regardless of how much time you spend in the sun. Eating al fresco at every opportunity. Developing cravings for salad and fresh fruit but also devouring barbecued food and ice cream. Enjoying ice cold soft drinks and delicious rosé spritzers, preferably whilst soaking up the sun. Sitting outside, reading outside, making lists and plans outside, taking long walks...basically finding any excuse to get some vitamin D and loving every minute of it! Maxi dresses and mini dresses; shorts and sleeveless tops. And sandals and sunglasses, always sandals and sunglasses. Painting my toenails and wishing that my fingernails were long enough to do the same to. Buying brighter make up and plucking up the courage to try it out. Wishing that every summer day could be as glorious as the ones we're currently having. Making summer plans and living for the evenings and weekends when I can put them into action. Relishing every moment of this summer, and hoping that it doesn't come to an end any time soon.

This is my summer, what's yours?

'Til next time...

Sunday, 30 June 2013

A picture an hour (well almost!)

Hello! Well my grand blogging plan for this week failed miserably, but better late than never I suppose! Plus the fact that I haven't blogged means that I've still got a whole list of post ideas that I can use over the next few days instead :-). Always looking on the bright side eh! But enough of the waffling now, let's actually get on with the post instead. It's something a little different today as I've decided to do my first ever picture an hour. I've seen lots of these posts floating around the blogosphere and I always enjoy getting an insight into the writer's day. I love how even the everyday things can be beautiful and full of meaning; it's such a contrast to my usual perception of photos only being taken at big occasions and events. Plus, unlike some of my other  posts, this isn't writing heavy which is always a good thing! So here's my pictures, taken last Wednesday. Enjoy!

9 am

A brew, book and biscuits...the perfect way to come round of a morning :-)

10 am

Tea and toast in bed...I promise I did get up not long after this picture was taken!

11 am

A post shower selfie; this is the least scary looking one I got!

12 pm

My necklace...I'd only just got dressed so it felt appropriate to take a photo of something I was wearing!

1 pm

Reading and commenting on some of my favourite blogs...the perfect way to spend part of my afternoon :-)

2 pm

Yellow iris in my back garden. I spent ages trying to capture an image where you could see the bee that had landed on it too, but I don't think it really worked :-(

3 pm

Shopping! Well more like browsing in my case as I didn't actually buy anything but I still enjoyed visiting one of my favourite outlet shops.

4 pm

No picture this hour I'm afraid. I somehow didn't manage to get one in in time!

5 pm

Starting the mammoth task of clearing one of my email inboxes. Needless to say I didn't get very far!

6 pm

Writing my wish list from the new Avon brochure that had been delivered the night before. Expect a haul post when the order comes through!

7 pm

Love summer evenings...check out that beautiful mackerel sky!

8 pm

Getting ready for work, these are just some of the things you'll find in my bag on any work day.

9 pm

Playing Cluedo with some of the family, I really don't play enough board games.

10 pm

Almost bedtime, as I needed to be up at 5:45 the next day :-(.

And there you have it! Hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into my Wednesday off work. If you have, let me know! Or tell me what you've been up to lately. You know I love your comments!

'Til next time...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

30 before 30: An Update

So do you remember my 30 before 30 list that I posted a few months back? Well, whether the answer's yes or no, I thought that now that I've started blogging again, it would be a perfect time to update you a little on my progress. So, just over four and a half months in, here's how I'm doing so far:

7.  Have a ruthless clear out of my wardrobes and drawers - I've made a start on this, having cleared out one chest of drawers so far and am going to be doing the rest over the summer, so I can make room for all the piles of clothes I've got mounting up, plus potentially a few new buys too.

9.  Read at least 24 new books (2 per month) - whilst this goal may now prove to be overly ambitious, unless I get a major spurt on for the rest of the year, I have read 3 new books since my 29th (Unsuitable Men by Pippa Wright, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and Death by Honeymoon by Jaden Skye) and have almost finished The Great Gatsby too. Over the past couple of weeks, I've definitely been getting the urge to read more too, so it'll be interesting to see how close I can get to my original target.

10. Bake at least twice a month - I'm pretty sure I haven't achieved this goal every month, although I haven't really been keeping track as well as I should, but know that I definitely did hit the target in May, as I made Nanaimo bars, chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread over the space of 2 weekends. Hopefully I can stay in the baking habit for the rest of the year now!

11. Try 10 new recipes - I'm on 2 so far; the Nanaimo bars and the chocolate chip cookies I made last month were both things I'd tried for the first time. Look out for the recipes soon!

21. Watch at least 10 new (to me) films (to include at least 1 Tarantino) - I think I'm definitely well on track with this one! :-) At the cinema, I've seen Django Unchained (so I can say I've watched a Tarantino too!), Lincoln, Les Miserables and Iron Man 3 and I know for a fact that there's a few more films that I definitely want to try and catch in the weeks and months ahead too. Add to that the films I've watched on DVD/Netflix (I definitely remember Taken and most of Star Trek), and I think I may even have to set a higher target!

24. Start taking part in quizzes again - I've been part of a quiz team on 2 occasions since I created my list, both times on charity quiz nights with work and I've really enjoyed it. My next step is definitely to find a quiz night that I can start taking part in with (some of) my friends.

And that's pretty much it so far. Well, apart from one other goal which was really my number one priority for the year, and is something that I'm over the moon to have achieved, especially so early on in the year. I am so pleased to say that I've been able to tick the following goal off my list:

1. Get a new job!! - I am so happy about the fact I've achieved this, I really can't quite put it into words! Whilst I'm still in my old job at the moment, come September I'll be taking up my new post as graduate library assistant at one of Manchester's universities. Taking the leap to work in libraries is something that I have been considering for years, off and on, and I am thrilled that I'll finally have the opportunity to make my dream a reality. Whilst I'll only be employed on a year's fixed term contract, the job offer was too good a prospect to dismiss and I'm so looking forward to what the new chapter (sorry - but that pun was totally intended! ;-) ) of my working life may hold.

Sorry, but I couldn't resist saving the best for last! And now that really is all for now, but I'd be thrilled to hear from any of you, as always. Anything big happening in your life at the mo? Any goals that you've recently made/met, be they big or small? If so, just let me know!

'Til next time...

Saturday, 8 June 2013

(Just Like) Starting Over

So I'm back. It's been a while and, to be honest, there were times when I didn't know if I'd ever blog here again. It wasn't that I didn't want to, I love my blog and really enjoy being able to express myself in a space that's all my own, it was more that I felt embarrassed to. Embarrassed due to all the false starts I've had over the last few years; ashamed of all the promises to start blogging again, made and then broken. I didn't know if I (or anyone else) would be able to take me seriously if I came back to blogging here. So I considered starting over again somewhere new. Maybe I'd change the name of my blog, or even move away from Blogger altogether, heading for new pastures where I could leave the past behind. But when I stopped to think about it, there didn't really seem much point. As I said earlier on, I love my current blog. The layout and design, whilst nothing special or fancy, still felt very me and when I looked back on previous posts I realised that I still wanted to be putting out the same kind of content. There hadn't been a change in the genre of my blog, and my blogging "voice" seemed consistently the same. I came to feel strongly that if I did make the break away from Julie's Jottings, I'd be doing it just for the sake of it and, really, what would be the point of that?

So I'm staying put. Same girl, same blog, same kind of posts (for the most part anyway), but with a different attitude. Life's too short to be embarrassed about something as trivial as a blog, no matter how important it is to me personally. If people want to read, great. If they don't like what I write, or have lost patience with my stop-start blogging over the past few years, then that's fine too. I love my blog and want to write here, so I will. I'd love it if people read and enjoy my posts and if they feel moved to engage with me through commenting on, or following, my blog, then all the better. But if not, I'm still going to be here, writing all the same and posting regularly again. It'll be just like starting over!

'Til next time...