214 of 2014

The last day of the year and so it’s time to reflect. Reflect on the year that was. That for me, was a year filled with many ups and many downs. But like they say: every cloud has a silver lining. So I worked through my very crappy first half of the year and found the second half to be not only much, much better. No, it also proved to me how fun life can be. By now I can say that I’m doing okay again. All that rests is to hit up the gym some more to gain back my level of fitness.

This picture pretty much symbolizes what my year was like…

In case you don’t know how this works: I’ll be reviewing the past year in 214 short facts in no particular order. I did this as well in 2012 and 2013 (only those posts consisted of 212 and 213 facts respectively).

  1. Blogwise everything went fine. Well, fine, it went more than fine.
  2. I’m quite proud of the growth I’ve seen in my visitor numbers the past few months.
  3. First up, I went back to daily blogging in April.
  4. I now have a set blog schedule. On Monday, Wednesday and Saturday I write about beauty. On Tuesday about food. On Thursday about all things nails and music. Friday’s are reserved for fashion and Sunday can be anything: from a personal update, a book review or anything else that tickles my fancy.
  5. Where my blog quite steadily pulled in 4000 – 5000 unique visitors a month for almost a year, in August I suddenly saw a steep growth and I’m closing in on 9000 unique visitors a month now.
  6. My wish was to have 10000 views at some point in time, but this month I’ve gathered at least 13000.
  7. The top 3 of most visited blog posts of 2014 are: The Body Shop Aloe Vera Skin Care, H&M Work Out Clothes & Essence Hello Autumn Limited Edition review.
  8. The top 3 posts that were published in 2014 are: Essence Hello Autumn Limited Edition review, Fall/ winter 2014 Catrice products & YSL Rouge pur Couture lipsticks in Rose Perfecto & Fuchsia Fétiche.
  9. On average this blog now attracts 300 unique visitors and somewhere between 430 – 500 views a day.
  10. Not too shabby for someone blogging aside a 4 day teaching job, now is it?
  11. This year I was also added to a press list for the first time and I’ve been receiving press releases.
  12. Not too much tickles my fancy, but when something does I have used it on here.
  13. So blogwise, things have been looking up, just like the rest of my life.
  14. But the year started on a rather low note.
  15. In 2013, work had been too stressful and by the end of the year I was completely strung out.
  16. In January 2014 I embarked on a long process of doctor’s visits, physiotherapists, job coaches and what not to figure out what I want and get my life back on track.
  17. Conclusion: I had completely lost sight of what I want from life and value most.
  18. I hit rock bottom in February after months of sleepless nights.
  19. But from there, the only way was up! It was a bumpy road but in the end, it all worked out.
  20. I decided together with my boss that it was better if I’d find a different job.
  21. Around the same time one of my previous employers phoned me to test if I was interested in coming back.
  22. To make a long story short: it took some time and effort on everyone’s behalf, but in July I got the call that they wanted me to come over to discuss contracts.
  23. Since August I’ve been working 32 hours at an education for Leisure Management where I teach English to students in all years.
  24. It felt good to be back and work with people I know.
  25. It also felt good to know that I’m appreciated. Not that I wasn’t at my previous job, but it just stopped feeling right after a while.
  26. The job itself is less of a challenge for me, but that’s what makes it manageable while juggling a much longer commute, regular work outs and of course blogging.
  27. However, I’m still in the works of discussing what other responsibilities I might be able to take on, so who knows where things go from here.
  28. On the personal front I’ve been mainly rekindling my relationships with people I already know.
  29. I spent more time with friends and family and just overall spent more time on things I enjoy doing.
  30. Not that I don’t enjoy my job, I do, but I have many other interests and a rather busy social life, and it had all gotten a bit difficult to juggle.
  31. I met up with friends regularly to go out for lunch in the course of the year.
  32. I also held my annual pancake party for friends and their kids in April.
  33. I went to a few concerts, but not as many as I’d liked.
  34. I saw Boxer Rebellion, Backstreet Boys, Bastille, Justin Timberlake, Bombay Bicycle Club, Future Islands, London Grammar, Ed Sheeran & Jungle.
  35. I already have 6 more concerts planned for 2015.
  36. I’m seeing Stars, Interpol, Sylvan Esso, Team Me, FKA Twigs and MØ.
  37. I also hope to get tickets for Astronautalis, who is finally doing a show in Amsterdam.
  38. If you’re interested in what music I loved in 2014, then please see this post.
  39. Bands/ Artists I got into in 2014 are FKA Twigs (thanks to a student who found my blog), Future Islands, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Sia and Jungle.
  40. Here’s to 2015 being just as good a year for music as 2014.
  41. Highlight of the year was my Interrail trip in June/ July.
  42. Even though this is something most people do when they’re 18, I did it for my 30th birthday.
  43. When I was 18, I was too busy traveling to the US, but there were many places in Europe that were still on my list and so I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Or 9 cities in one trip.
  44. My original wish was to go to Barcelona and Copenhagen.
  45. So I took those two cities as my main features for the trip and just found a route to take which would allow me to go to both.
  46. I had been wanting to go back to Berlin and Paris and I had never properly visited Brussels.
  47. Italy and Austria were also first time visits.
  48. I fell in love with mostly Italy.
  49. I ended up visiting the following cities: Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Copenhagen.
  50. On my way to Milan I got stranded in a small town near the French/ Italian border.
  51. Halfway through the trip I forgot what language to speak as I had been hearing Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian and German in just over a week.
  52. I guess that’s the beauty of Europe though.
  53. I met plenty of other travelers when I was on my way.
  54. I love Venice and Copenhagen most.
  55. On average I spent 1.5 days in each city, but I spent 3 full days in Barcelona and Copenhagen.
  56. My Interrail trip wasn’t the only trip I took this year.
  57. I visited a friend in Frankfurt and went to London.
  58. The friend in Frankfurt I hadn’t seen in years.
  59. We met in 2005 when I was an exchange student in the US and we hadn’t seen each other since 2008.
  60. We hit it off straightaway and the entire weekend was as if we had just seen each other yesterday.
  61. During the trip we did some sightseeing and ate some traditional Frankfurt foods.
  62. In October I went to London.
  63. This is quickly becoming an annual thing: it was the 5th time since 2009 I was there.
  64. I no longer do the standard touristy things when I’m there, but there is always something to do.
  65. This time I took dance classes at Pineapple dance studios and visited exhibitions.
  66. Of course I also did plenty of shopping.
  67. Near the end of the year I also decided to invest in some new furniture.
  68. For years I had been living with furniture that people kindly bestowed upon me when I was first moving out.
  69. When I was 18 I had no money to buy anything and I was tired of the complete mismatch of my living space.
  70. By now, I’ve pretty much finished putting it all together.
  71. It was a process that lasted well over a year, but now my living space is manageable again.
  72. I got a new dining room table and chairs, new lamps, new bedding and some other bits and bops.
  73. If you’re interested I’ll do a home tour soon.
  74. Another larger expense I had this year was a tablet.
  75. Because of my interrail trip, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take any books. So I bought a tablet to solve that problem.
  76. Instead of reading books, I ended up listening to all 7 Harry Potter books as audio books read by Stephen Fry.
  77. I now use the tablet mainly as an oversized MP3 player and put it on my bedside table and use it to read blogs on my days off first thing when I wake up.
  78. I celebrated my 30th birthday with friends after I took my trip.
  79. It was one of the hottest days of the year and we ended up sitting on my doorstep until the wee hours of the night.
  80. One thing that continued to give me joy even when things weren’t all that great, was dance class.
  81. Despite not feeling well and being tired all the time, I tried to go as often as I could.
  82. We had a performance in June, two days before I went on my trip.
  83. I’m still dancing now, as it picked up after summer break, and I’m still loving it as much as ever.
  84. My gym routine suffered most from my inability to do almost anything.
  85. Where I used to go to the gym 3 times a week, I found myself going not at all at the beginning of the year.
  86. I slowly got back into the swing of things by starting up with Body Balance classes.
  87. Come April I decided to make sure I clocking in a dance class and a body balance class once a week.
  88. In May, I added in some sporadic Spinning classes.
  89. After my interrail trip, I added in some cautious weight lifting and tried to do spinning classes more regularly.
  90. Because of work taking up all my time, I sometimes still have to bail out of work outs but my fitness level is slowly but surely becoming better.
  91. I usually miss work outs because I miss trains, get delays or have to work late.
  92. By now, I’ve gone back to a fairly regular routine of one spinning class, one body balance class, one round of weights and a dance class a week.
  93. I have not been able to do all those things every week for a few weeks in a row yet.
  94. That will be a goal for 2015: to not only have a routine, but also do all the work outs in it and not do only one or 2 of them.
  95. I hope it will be easier in January because my Thursday off will then really be my Thursday off and not be taken up by anything else.
  96. Until a few weeks from now, I’m still going to see my doctor every Thursday to get allergy shots.
  97. I’ve been getting allergy shots for years and they give them to you so you become immune and thus no longer allergic.
  98. In my case it’s tree pollen and a few years ago it was so bad that I would have to call in sick every 2 weeks for pretty much 8 months of the year.
  99. Not what you would call a workable situation, so I started immunotherapy and it’s really been working.
  100. However, because I wasn’t feeling well, it was advised to momentarily stop the injections and so I’m now having to start over again.
  101. This means that I have to see my doctor every week to get the shot. And once that’s done, I go back to monthly shots.
  102. I hope to be done with the immunotherapy in 1.5 – 2 years time.
  103. I will have had 5 years of monthly injections by that time.
  104. This year was the first year me and my mom visited the Huishoudbeurs.
  105. We both had a great time, but decided that it wasn’t much our cup of tea.
  106. I also attended another Vintage party organized by my friend.
  107. I created a 50s inspired look for the occasion, which you can view here.
  108. Another thing I did was try out for a traineeship with the Dutch government.
  109. Unfortunately I didn’t make the cut, as I don’t fit the profile, but I thought it was worth a shot.
  110. I joined 3 friends for our annual listening party.
  111. This means we all pick 5 songs and we listen to each other’s selections.
  112. We’re all true music buffs.
  113. Selections vary and range from Hank Williams III to Charles Bradley and Gold Frapp to Marvin Gaye.
  114. In May I joined my colleagues for a farewell dinner party for another colleague who retired in March.
  115. It was the last time I saw all of my colleagues together.
  116. I cleared out my desk in July, but by that time most of them had already gone on vacation.
  117. Because of my exhaustion, I had quite a bit of physical therapy to sort out my back.
  118. My back has been troubling me for years and I now finally know why.
  119. The conclusion was that I’m too flexible in my shoulder and hip joints.
  120. Not too much of a problem, but if you like me, dance and do yoga type classes that makes you ehm, let’s say extra flexible.
  121. My ligaments can’t hold the bones in place, which makes my back quite unstable which causes everything between my neck and my tailbone to jam up.
  122. I find that working out helps
  123. It ensures I’m aligned better and it also takes away the tension from the muscles in my back.
  124. If I don’t work out however… that’s an entirely different story.
  125. Let’s just say I need to keep on moving.
  126. It’s as if working out stimulates the blood flow in my body which again helps to relief my shoulders and my hips.
  127. In any case, let’s just say it’s no fun to have a sleepless night because your muscles are relaxing and you keep kicking and moving your muscles involuntarily because of that.
  128. So far work has been quite tiring, especially when I first starting working 32 hours again.
  129. However, I find that it has been the push I’ve been needing to get my life back on track.
  130. After fall break and my trip to London, I’ve found it easier to juggle anything on the side, mostly meeting up with friends and family.
  131. Now all that rests is to stick to my work outs.
  132. I am set on making that work and getting my fitness level back to what it was.
  133. So for now, I am focusing on doing these workouts and if these go well I can look into adding anything.
  134. I am really missing Body Combat classes which I used to take every week.
  135. However, I tried one class last November, and I found out how not ready I am for it.
  136. It had been over a year since I last took a class and my arms and legs felt like jell-o.
  137. I need to focus on building strength anyway.
  138. There is only so much cardio you can do and I’m already taking Spinning classes.
  139. From a building stamina point of view that is much better for me as it doesn’t put any stress on my shoulders or hip joints. At least not as much as a combat class.
  140. On the bright side: even my irregular workouts have a positive effect on me.
  141. Weight wise I’ve steadily been dropping pounds ever since I got back to work.
  142. I walk to the station every day, which easily makes for 40 – 50 minutes of a free work out almost every day.
  143. Combined with irregular workouts I have now lost enough weight to fit into some of my tightest pairs of pants again.
  144. Most of those I bought years ago, just after I had lost a ton of weight, and so I know: if I fit into those, I’m good.
  145. In any case, I’ve been enjoying wearing jeans again, which I didn’t for a few months this year.
  146. I hope that more regular workouts will not only help me shed the last few pounds, but also tone up my legs and arms a bit more.
  147. It’s already better than it was before summer, but it’s nowhere near as good as it used to be.
  148. Another thing I hope for is that when I work out more, my muscles will become strong enough to cope better and I will be in less pain or at least not as quickly.
  149. All throughout summer, I saw a special therapist who worked on realigning my back.
  150. It definitely helped, but when I go there, I’m not allowed to work out for days afterwards and so I am trying to avoid having to go there.
  151. I wrote before that my immunotherapy is working, but what is not going away is my asthma.
  152. I got asthma because of my hayfever, but I had a lung test in September which showed I most definitely still have asthma.
  153. Me and my doctor are still working on finding a way to lessen the symptoms.
  154. In any case, I find that my hayfever is less and that’s already a big win.
  155. I celebrated my birthday with family not until September.
  156. July birthdays are a bit problematic as everyone is already away on vacation and if they’re not, about half my family has their birthdays at the same time.
  157. Because of all this juggling with my time, I’ve decided to no longer celebrate my birthday specifically for family.
  158. Instead, I’ll just be celebrating it once, and invite everyone I know.
  159. In October I got the best haircut I’ve had in a long time.
  160. I’m still trying to let my hair grow out and for once the hairdresser refrained from cutting off all the length I had mustered to gather in the months previously.
  161. The two week before fall break were quite crazy at work.
  162. I had 6 groups of roughly 20 students each, all of whom had to do oral presentations.
  163. Every group had been scheduled for 4 hours in my time table and so I spend days listening to presentations and meetings from 8.30 AM – 5 PM.
  164. I rewarded myself for all that hard work by going to the London Grammar concert.
  165. And of course, right after that, it was fall break and I left for London.
  166. During fall break, I also visited another friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time.
  167. It’s been great being able to catch up with people.
  168. I feel like me and my best friend are some of the closest we’ve ever been, even though we live miles apart.
  169. I’ve been seeing more of all of my friends and sometimes even completely spontaneously and last minute.
  170. Another thing I find quite the miracle is that I have not been sick with the flu or a cold all year.
  171. I’m usually sick at least 3 times a year.
  172. In spring because of hayfever, in fall because of a cold and I usually come down with a flu in January.
  173. Luckily, I managed to outrun all the bugs this year and so had not problems not attending my family’s annual trip to the Winter Efteling.
  174. Every year, for Sinterklaas, my mom buys us tickets to the Winter Efteling.
  175. Last year, I couldn’t go because I had come down with the nastiest flu I had in 1o years. (And probably the reason why I haven’t been sick since).
  176. This year, we didn’t just have a great time, but also managed to go on all the rides and sometimes even multiple times because it was so quiet.
  177. Even my mom rode some roller coasters with us. Something she hasn’t done in a long time.
  178. Overall I have been trying to make my blog posts better.
  179. I’ve been trying to come up with a template for reviews and also include pictures of what the products look like when used in a look.
  180. I’ve also been experimenting with different backgrounds in my pictures.
  181. Another new thing blogwise for me is that I’ve been using spare time to take tons of pictures for future blog posts.
  182. By now, I have too many ideas to use for this blog.
  183. There are pictures I took in February that I still haven’t used.
  184. Reviews sometimes take months to happen.
  185. Either because I want to make sure I’ve used a product for long enough or because I simply haven’t had the time to write about it yet.
  186. In an ideal world I’d up the amount of beauty posts I write, but I know that would not be feasible unless I work less.
  187. Right now I tend to write all blogs that go online from Monday all the way through Thursday in one go on Sunday afternoon.
  188. I make sure I have all the pictures and videos if that’s what I want to do and edit those on Saturday.
  189. Then on Sunday I go on a writing binge, leaving only 3 posts to be done for the week.
  190. With Thursday being my day off I usually use that to take pictures and write additional blog posts.
  191. I honestly do not see when I’d be able to put even more work into this space.
  192. So for now, this is as far as it goes I’m afraid.
  193. In other words, this means that if you see something in a shoplog or if you see me mentioning something and you’d like to see a review or w/e: request it. That’s the safest way to get anything bumped up the line.
  194. Over summer I found some new playlists for finding new music.
  195. I am still not sure whether they’ll make the cut in my monthly round of music acquisition.
  196. In any case, I have gathered tons of new music these past few months and of course I also need the time to listen to all of it and make a selection.
  197. That is my first goal for 2015: sort through my new music and create a brand new playlist.
  198. I like doing that twice a year: sorting through ALL my music and make a selection to go on my MP3 player for listening on the go.
  199. I have so much music that I cannot carry it with me at all times and it is just too much, so it would be difficult to find what I’d want to listen to if I did.
  200. Food wise I’ve been going strong on my no wheat, no gluten diet which I started in 2013.
  201. I’m still struggling with cutting out all sugary things.
  202. The main problem is my late afternoon cravings when I walk to my train after work.
  203. It’s very tempting to grab something at the station and so I still need to find a way to not buy anything sugary sweet.
  204. Movie wise I haven’t seen too many things this year.
  205. I found myself not having the headspace to invest in watching a 2 hour ordeal.
  206. I did watch quite a few TV series.
  207. Anything from Luther to Broadchurch, Homeland, Borgen and the final season of True Blood.
  208. I still want to watch the final season of Boardwalk Empire and all of Suits. Oh and House of Cards!
  209. Lately, I haven’t had much time to watch anything as I’ve been too busy reading.
  210. I only read 30 or so books in 2014, but half of those I read since the end of October.
  211. I am currently figuring out my travel plans for 2015.
  212. In May I will visit my friend Ali who visited me in 2013.
  213. And in summer I hope to go on a 3 week trip to the US and Canada.
  214. Whatever 2015 may bring, I hope it’s better than 2014. Here’s to making 2015 the best year yet!

What was 2014 like for you?

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