31 Before 31 ~ The Results

It’s that time of year again! I know that I always end up writing a lot about 31 Before 31 in the week of my birthday, and that’s because I have to round everything up and get ready to launch my new list!

This list has been my best yet, in terms of items ticked off. I achieved four from my first list, and five from my second. Then last year, on my 31 Before 31 list, I crossed off eight. And this year, the grand total is twelve! I know that in the grand scheme of things, twelve out of thirty one is not that great, but I’m really pleased that it’s such an improvement on last year!

 

The first two items I crossed off were number 7 – Visit a new British city, and number 17 – Write a letter to my MP. I managed to visit a new British city really soon after I had started my list, because I went to the Lincoln Christmas fair with my friends Katy and Hannah. Lincoln is a beautiful city and I will definitely be going back! Writing to my MP had been on lists for a few years, and I finally got around to it when I wrote to him about gay marriage. I got a reply, and a comment on the post itself!

 

Next up were Number 19 – Use a telescope and Number 23 – Complete a cross stitch. I went with Hannah to an astronomy meeting where she was hoping to get some help with her fairly new telescope, and we had a lot of fun looking at the moon. I made a Gandalf cross stitch for my friend Jenny’s birthday.

 

In July I blogged about Number 20 – Have an international penfriend, and in August I crossed off Number 8 – Visit the British Library. Bev and I haven’t been particularly good at writing letters; at the moment I think we’re on a couple each, but she did send me a lovely birthday card this week (thanks Bev!). My trip to the British Library was part of a fun and tiring day in London playing tourist.

 

Part of that day in London included Number 9 – Go to the top of the London Monument. It’s a long way up and it started raining when I got there, but I’m so glad I did it! Later in August I crossed off Number 15 – Go to the cinema alone when I went to see The Wolverine.

 

I also crossed off Number 24 – Give blood in August when I went and, well, gave blood. No major story here! Then there was a big gap before I crossed off the next item on the day before my birthday; Number 1 – Read 26 books; one for each letter of the alphabet.

 

The last two that I crossed off were completed on my birthday; Number 4 – Bake ten different biscuits and Number 2 – Watch twelve new Hitchcock films.

So there you have it. 12/31 is not all that good, but it’s not all that bad either. It’s more than a third! I’ll be launching my 32 Before 32 list in the next couple of days, and while I’d like to make grand claims about wanting to achieve them all, I’m fully aware I won’t! So I’ll just hope for more than twelve!

31 Before 31 ~ Biscuits

Last year, when I made cakes as part of my yearly challenge, I ended up having to write about the last two in one go, because I’d left them all rather late. I’m doing the same here (but with three) – there’s a definite pattern emerging! I should apologise yet again for the poor quality of my photos; I rather lost enthusiasm for this challenge and got to the point where I was baking for the sake of baking rather than through any real love for it. My terrible photos highlight this fact!

White Chocolate/Mint Matchmaker Cookies

photo 1

Finding recipes for biscuits was the main problem with completing this challenge. I ended up inventing my own ones! I was staying at my friend Hannah’s and we decided to make some and throw in some mint Matchmakers and some white chocolate chips! We forgot to buy eggs, so I wasn’t really sure how they would turn out, but they seemed fine. The white chocolate chips were wasted really; the flavour of the mint matchmakers overpowered them, but the biscuits were rather tasty.

Apple and Cinnamon Biscuits

I made two batches of biscuits on my birthday! Another of the problems with this challenge was that the biscuits that I did make went to waste, so I waited until I had some family coming so I could force my wares onto them! I used this recipe, but I switched out the soft brown sugar for more caster sugar, as I didn’t have any. These were probably one of my favourites of all ten biscuits, because I love cinnamon. They were yummy!

Chocolate Orange and Raisin Biscuits

This one was a bit of a cheat; Chocolate Chip biscuits are a bit of a cheat because they aren’t really new and different. But I did give them a bit of a twist by soaking the chocolate chips and raisins in some orange extract first, and as I love orange flavoured things, I was very happy with them!

So I’ve come to the end of my biscuit challenge! As I said, I got to the point where I just wasn’t enjoying the baking anymore, and that’s because I had left everything until the last minute. The baking challenge on my 32 Before 32 list will reflect that; I’m being a lot more realistic!

If I had to pick a favourite, it would be either the Essex Spice Cakes or the apple and cinnamon biscuits. I will definitely be baking them again!

That’s the last of the individual round up posts for 31 Before 31; I’ll be back tomorrow with a final post about how I did overall, and then I’ll be announcing the new list over the weekend!

4. Bake 10 different biscuits

31 Before 31 ~ A-Z Book Challenge

The A-Z book challenge was one of my favourite 31 Before 31 items, even if I do have some difficulty in explaining it in a concise and succinct manner!

The goal was to read an author represented by each letter of the alphabet (by surname). I added the proviso that it had to be an author that I hadn’t read before, because I was hoping that it would throw some authors and books at me that I wouldn’t necessarily have considered otherwise.

I’m not sure if I necessarily achieved that, but it certainly made me more inventive with my book choices! I probably never would have picked up the likes of Miss Chopsticks by Xinran if I hadn’t been looking for an X author.

I struggled with some of the letters; it took me a while to find an I author, though the book I read in the end (Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason) was very good. U was also a bit of a problem, but when I found An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson I was really pleased, because it’s the first in a series that I intend to read! And I finally completed the challenge on Monday (leaving it until the last minute just like the Hitchcock challenge) with a Y author; I read Kissing Alice by Jacqueline Yallop. I can’t say that I enjoyed it all that much, but I had left it rather late and didn’t really have any other option but to read it.

Of all the books I read as part of this challenge, I only rated two of them as five-star books on Goodreads. Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy are two very different books, and I enjoyed them for very different reasons!

I gave the 26 books an average rating of 3.62 on Goodreads; two books got just two stars (The Other Mitford by Diana Alexander and Metamorphosis by Erin Noelle), but most of them got three or four. I should have tried to write reviews on all of the books, but I never seem to get round to writing them in a timely fashion and by the time I think about it, I’ve forgotten all the pertinent points!

If anyone is looking for a book challenge, I’d definitely recommend doing something similar to this. It gets you thinking outside the box and considering books you might never think about reading! If you want to see the full list of books I read, I’m keeping it under my Books tabs at the top of the page.

1. Read 26 Books – one for each letter of the alphabet

31 Before 31 ~ Hitchcock Films

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and as such, it marked the deadline for my 31 Before 31 list. As ever, I took things right to the wire, and ended up watching four Hitchcock films in 36 hours.

I ended up completing last year’s film challenge on my birthday itself, and to try and avoid the sprint finish, I reduced the number this year from fifteen to twelve. It didn’t work. I still ended up watching the final film on my birthday!

  • I started with Notorious on 28th December, and finished with The Birds on 12th November.
  • James Stewart starred in three of the films I watched, and Tippi Hedren starred in two.
  • Four of the films were from the 1940s, and four were from the 1960s.
  • I only watched one (out of a total of five) films for which Hitchcock received an Best Director Oscar nomination.

Picking a favourite is hard, but if pushed, it would probably be Rope. I’m yet to write my regular blog posts on the final five on the list (I’m very behind), but I enjoyed really enjoyed them all, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed Vertigo and Psycho in the end.

I’m really glad that I managed to complete this goal, because the whole point was to remedy the fact that although I consider myself a Hitchcock fan, I hadn’t seen many of his films! My overall total is now 17 out of 53, and I’ll be keeping my list going and crossing them off as I watch them. Thankfully I don’t have to work to a deadline now!

2. Watch 12 new Hitchcock films