Thursday, 14 March 2019

things that make me happy 92

when difficult circumstances motivate me instead of scare me
singing along to albums from start to finish with best friends
eyeing up pretty houses and grand architecture
adding words to a note in my phone to use at a later date
new music from my favourite bands
how no two creative processes look the same

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can delve into the archives.

(image credit: annie spratt)


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Books I Read In January

*This post contains some books I bought with a gift card gifted to me by Books Are My Bag. This post isn't in collaboration with them, however. 

I started the year by reading five books in relatively quick succession.

In the interests of documenting everything that I read in 2019, here's a collection of miniature book reviews. Feel free to leave your own reviews in the comments as well as any book recommendations.

book reviews book blog vivatramp

Mr Salary by Sally Rooney
*Bought with a gift card I received from Books Are My Bag. 

Faber have released a collection of little slips of fiction from revered authors to celebrate 90 years of publishing. You'll find everything from Sarah Hall to Kazuo Ishiguro. I lumped for Rooney.

I sped through Mr Salary on the first day of the year, which is probably why I cannot really recollect it all that well. I do, however, remember that it was governed by Rooney's effortless ability to craft simmering relationships between characters almost instantaneously.

Start with Conversations With Friends or Normal People and end up here if you find yourself gelling with her writing style.

Four stars.

Kitchen Confidential: Insider Edition by Anthony Bourdain

A Christmas gift from Luke.

This is a must-read for any fan of Bourdain or anyone interested in the restaurant industry.  This particular edition, published in 2013, updates the original text with Anthony's handwritten notes in the margins updating readers on changes of taste and/or opinion over the course of thirteen years, making for quite an interesting read - especially when he uses a note to state his regret at not punching someone when he had the chance.

A fascinating insight into the kitchens of New York City and beyond. I miss him.

Four stars.

Useless Magic by Florence Welch 
*Bought with a gift card I received from Books Are My Bag

If you've ever wanted to pull apart the poetic lyrics and guttural howls of Florence and the Machine, this weighty hardback is for you. Lyrics sit next to scraps of stories written on hotel notepads and art lifted from sketchbooks giving fans a window into her creative process.

If you have little to no interest in Florence or her music, skip it entirely.

Three stars. 

Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird
*Bought with a gift card I received from Books Are My Bag

My kinda poet! Impulsive, wildly funny, honest as they come.

Bird plays with language as if it is entirely her own creation. Phrases are born onto the page, often reminding me to ditch poetic convention altogether because her poems are all the better for it.

'If You Were An Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh' is one of my favourite poems so it was, of course, a real highlight and that's saying something considering other poems in the collection include 'Keats Is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind' and 'Having Sex In A Field in 2013'. A poet rewriting the rules, whether she means to or not.

Four stars.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson
*Bought with a gift card I received from Books Are My Bag

A lyrical love letter to the colour blue. Niche but strangely endearing.

I lost my way part the way through as my attention began to wane. Still finished it though. Glutton for punishment, me. Perhaps a re-read would do it more justice. I do, however, applaud Bluets for its vulnerability and departure from structural conventions.

Three stars. 

What books did you read in January? Any you'd like to recommend to the rest of us?

Scroll through the archives if you're looking for more book blog posts.


Thursday, 7 February 2019

Things That Make Me Happy 91

finding gift cards in my purse and suddenly feeling powerful
when the smallest home improvements make it feel like a different place
being able to talk openly and honestly about my experiences
daydreaming about new places
new notebooks, even though the old ones aren't filled
knowing that days can turn themselves around

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can delve into the archives.

(image credit: andrew karn)


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

whalebone: a poem

somerset poet bee stevenson

this home is mine
and mine alone;
you'll never know it by name.

patient paws have padded the
close-thicket carpets,
but it's mine all the same.

you'll find me in the reverie
of someone i once knew,
or in the eyes of the dawn
as it breaks across the sky

before it casts itself anew.

some say you can't know comfort
until you've left and then returned
to find that ghosts, homesick and love drunk,
have lived through all that you have yearned.

i'm too lost in the lilt
of the voices. the voices of my kin;
the cadence of white hot embers
penning love letters to the din.

i do not leave the levels.
i befriend my firsts and lasts.
i walk around in circles,
leaving footsteps from days past.

the constant of the slick whalebone
from which i have grown,
swaying softly towards midwinter,
the host i know to be my home.

these bones, full grown, belong to you,
when i'm done with all this mess.
time here played out with a clear end-view
that i'll always know you


I put twenty minutes on the clock and wrote a poem, a love letter of sorts, about my home. This is what I came up with.

'Whalebone' was originally shared on my Patreon page. The community is a hub of positivity, encouragement, honesty, and all the other qualities that make you wanna step up your game. If you'd like to join our creative community, you're more than welcome to do so.

(image credit)

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Books I Want To Read in 2019

Devotion by Patti Smith.
One of the newest additions to my bookshelves, this is a slim volume of Smith's musings on why and how she writes - complete with a short story. This will be read sooner rather than later. 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.                        I was sent this book by the publisher.
Gyasi's critically-acclaimed debut was chosen for my Patreon book club so I've already delved between the pages and met the two sisters that act as the roots for this multi-generational story. This will be finished next month. 

Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman.                        I was sent this book by the publisher.
Having found a soft spot for Call Me By Your Name last summer, like everyone else on the planet, I would like to re-visit and try to replicate the memory of me bawling my eyes out on the garden decking because life and love can be so cruel.  Come at me, sadness! 

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing.
One of my most treasured reading experiences over the last few years was working my way through the pages of The Lonely City. I recently found myself pacing around a bookshop, gift card in hand and overwhelmed expression on face, when I remembered that I'd sworn to pick up one of her older slices of work. This one took my fancy. 

I own over 80 unread books at this precise moment in time. I'd like to make a little dent in that number by the time 2020 rears its futuristic head.

This is just a small selection of the owned and unread books I'd like to investigate over the coming months. What books do you hope to read before the year is through? Let's chat in the comments or you can send me a tweet instead.

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Monday, 14 January 2019

Things That Make Happy 91

the promise of days getting longer, even if it's only by minutes.
days when inspiration comes, seemingly, from nowhere.
empty schedules.
managing to actually take good care of plants.
when there's hope that things can get back on track.

(image credit)

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can delve into the archive.


Thursday, 10 January 2019


2018 was a pretty revolutionary year for me in terms of giving myself permission to move forward with my life after years spent anticipating, enduring and then recovering from surgery.

I started my copywriting and blogging business and worked hard to get it off the ground. I also birthed an entire Patreon community, which continues to go from strength to strength and is built on a multitude of shared values. The year also had its fair share of personal highlights too, from moving into a new home to reigniting my love of both reading and writing.

It was the year I set the wheels in motion.

2019, then, is the year that I hope to build upon these foundations; I would also quite like to remind myself of a few things that seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent years. Did you know that you should attempt to treat yourself with the same amount of kindness that you show others?! Mind blown.

There are a few things I want to focus on throughout the year in order to make it one of my best yet. Here's a handful of them...

I want to continue to make my home a comfortable space. 
We've now been here for a full 12 months so I want to make some more little changes to the space in order to make it feel all the more homely and cosy. From simple things like finding a nice throw for the three-seater sofa and buying frames so that we can put more artwork up on the wall, to bigger projects like getting a new kitchen and, hopefully, replacing the awful carpet in the living room.

Keen to achieve this goal, I recently kickstarted 'Operation Revamp My Office Space' in an attempt to revitalise my dull desk area using things I already own. Catchy name, I know! Here's hoping I can make some good progress with this goal before the year is through!

I want to read more consistently. 
As much as I love reading and discovering books, I've really struggled to find the energy to throw myself into it in recent years. Falling out of love with your passions can be difficult to resolve but I'm committed to trying much harder this year.

It's the 10th of January and I've read 5 books so I've already made some good progress! I think I'll stop by in a couple of weeks with a post on some of the books I'd like to read over the next 12 months so, if you're interested in reading that, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Bloglovin or Instagram to be notified when it goes live!

I want to grow the Patreon community. 
I had no idea just how much I would fall in love with creating posts for my patrons when I launched it back in April last year. 2018 was full of book club discussions, attempts at creative exercises/challenges and over 200 patron-only posts!

Here's to all that and more in 2019.

P.S We're reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi during January and February for the book club. You're very welcome to join us! The first set of questions go live on the 15th. 

I want to take better care of myself. 
I think, somewhere along the line, I lost a lot of love for myself. 2019 is the year I start looking after myself a little better because I deserve my own kindness and respect. Sometimes when I'm feeling low or self-conscious, I think I'm guilty of denying myself the right to look and feel good and that's something I want to put in the bin as we start this year.

Here's to a year of enjoying my daily exercise routine, allocating more time and energy to myself and walking around with my head held high!

I want to share more here, like the good old days. 
Speaking of allocating more time and energy for myself, I want to take some of that time and dedicate it to getting back into blogging over here on Vivatramp. I have most definitely missed it!

2019 marks my ninth year of blogging and I want it to be the year where I fall back in love with it again. If there's anything you want to see in particular, let me know somehow.

Now I just need to find some semblance of balance in order to achieve everything that I want to! 

What goals have you set for yourself, if any, for the next twelve months? Are you, like me, guilty of not treating yourself with kindness? 



Saturday, 5 January 2019

Things That Make Me Happy 90

tea time walks when the air is full of foodie smells
queer eye transformations
when things that once felt impossible become second nature 
once in a blue moon plates of pancakes

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.

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