The Challenge Review

So, probably no one remembers…i barely remember myself, but way back at the beginning of the year i set myself three challenges, in a similar vein to new years resolutions but more fun. Or so the theory went.

Challenge One was to try one new recipe each week. This was an epic fail almost from the start. I am not a master chef, or indeed, any kind of chef. I am very interested in eating delicious food, and in theory, making nutritious  food for my family, but i’m just not that great at it, and i find anything i’m not great at extremely frustrating to do. It’s a problem i have.  So i tried, but it didn’t go so well.

Across the entire year, these are the new recipes i tried:

Chocolate and beetroot brownies (Delicious)
Apple cake (Disaster)
Banana and Bran Flake Muffins (Delicious)
Apple and Potato Rostis (There were some texture issues, but otherwise ok)
Innocent Vegetarian Cottage Pie (Rudy loves it, Toby hates it)
Apple and Mustard Sausages with Sweet Potato Mash (Sausages- Delicious, Mash- Disaster)
Chocolate Bran Flake Cakes (Total Disaster)

For those who struggle to count, that’s 7. Seven. Across the entire year, in which i aimed to try 52 new recipes, i tried 7.  I should probably have been more realistic to begin with and aimed for one a month. That way i’d still have failed but less spectacularly.

Moving quickly on to movies. This was remarkably easy, between Love Film, Netflix, downloads, DVDs and Blu-Rays i smashed my target of twelve and watched 26 new films.

Taken
Rum Diary
Anonymous
True Grit
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
Colombiana
50/50
The Social Network
Bolt
Tyrannosaur
500 Days of Summer
Shrek Forever After
My Sister’s Keeper
Rio
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows
Cars 2
Tangled
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (The new one)
The Black Swan
Bridesmaids
New Years Eve
Red
Spiderman (the new one)
The Pirates in an adventure with scientists
Sex and the City Movie 2

I can’t be sure i didn’t watch that last one at the end of last year, as it was a birthday present from Chris so there’s a chance it was technically watched in 2011 but i added it on there anyway as i’m pretty sure it was January by the time i got round to watching it.

Finally, books. Historically i am something of  a bookworm, so from that point of view, one new book a  month is barely a challenge at all, however since becoming a parent, in fact since, becoming pregnant with Toby, my rate of reading slowed substantially.  For some reason, that i’m still not clear about, i found it really difficult to choose a book to read, and even harder still to get ‘into’ it when i eventually did. I would find myself having to re-read sentences, and whole pages sometimes because my concentration would falter. I’d put books down part way through and have no inclination to go back to them.  Then once the babies actually arrived, not only did i have that to contend with but actually finding the time to even sit down and read- an activity that requires two empty hands, was almost impossible.  I think i read one book in the entire first year of Toby’s life.

Then, last christmas, Chris offered to buy me a Kindle.  He’d been trying to ‘sell’ them to me for some time but i was opposed to them in theory and remained stubborn.

He asked me- “But which do you love more? Books? Or reading?” “Books!” i insisted, but actually, he had a point.

Reading was one of my most favourite things to do and yet there i was, hardly ever actually doing it, and here was something that could potentially help me to do it more often…i’d be silly not to give it a try, so i did.

I was seriously resistant at first, and even flirted with the idea of sending it back but then Chris put a handful of books on there and within a week i’d read three.  Three books in a week! That was more than i’d read in the previous 6 months. I felt like myself again. I was sold.

Because you can operate the Kindle one-handed, i could suddenly read while breastfeeding, which opened up great swathes of possible reading time, since that’s pretty much all that newborn babies do.  I also found it easier to pick up and put down the kindle in a way that psychologically seems trickier with an actual book. Also i was able to be more liberal about giving new books and new authors a go as most of the kindle books i bought were between 99p and £1.99 and in fact some were free.

So, armed with my kindle, and shelves of unread books in the house, reading one new one a month this year was never going to be a massive challenge.  It was more a prompt to myself to try new ones rather than revisiting old favourites over and over.

Here’s what i read:

Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum by Mark Stevens

A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You’d Been Taught at School by Caroline Taggart

Introducing Child Psychology: A Practical Guide by Kairen Cullen

Murderous Manchester by John J Eddleston

Night Waking by Sarah Moss

Parenting Under 5’s (Infinite Ideas)

Rupture by Simon Lelic

Trades of the Flesh by Faye L Booth

When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Fifty Shades Darker by E L James

Fifty Shades Freed by E L James

Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in The Throat by Jen of The PIWTPITT Blog

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee by Sarah Silverman

What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen

Nighttime Parenting by William Sears

Passing for Normal by Amy Wilensky

The Night of The Gun by David Carr

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Plus two books on potty training (!) a handful of parenting magazines and several new children’s books.

All in all i think i’ve done quite well. The recipe thing was never really going to work so although i do feel bad about my poor effort, i also don’t (if that makes sense?!)

Next year i’m going more traditional with my “Resolutions” but that’s a whole separate post in itself, so more about that later 😉

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