Monthly Review: January 2019

WELL HELLO THERE! I am writing this while cuddled up in my hotel bed with a cup of tea in Claremont. Bearing in mind, it is 10 pm on a Saturday night; I wouldn’t say it has been a wild time in southern California — at least not in a typical way. Instead, I have spent the past four days cleaning out my storage unit (cue lots of cheers and hallelujahs). After two years of having all my belongings in storage, Mum and I FINALLY booked flights to sort the lot out and close this chapter once and for all. While I had mentally prepared myself for the highs and lows that were inevitably going to come, the past couple of days have still been a crazy mix of emotions. A blend of utter excitement to finally be getting this in order, anticipation to have the mental clutter conclusively removed and, of course, the bitter nostalgia that comes with letting go of pretty much all of your belongings. Never again will I own so much stuff — seriously.

With the amount of stuff that had piled up in there, it should come as no surprise that my word for 2019 is “minimalism.” The concept of “less is more” / “curator, not consumer,” is the central theme and priority for me in the months to come. I am so ready for clarity, purpose, and intentionality, as daunting as the process to get there seems. But, more on that as I (continue) to get my s**t together. Here is how the rest of the month has shaped up…

The Destinations

– Cleveland, OH
– Hocking Hills, OH
– Fort Lauderdale & Miami, FL
– Claremont, CA

The Favorite Destination

Hocking Hills. I often preach my belief that you don’t have to fly to the other side of the world to have travel experiences; you can have those adventures in your backyard. It merely depends on your mindset (read more on this topic here). However, it seems I haven’t been fully practicing what I preach, as my exploration of the state of Ohio is relatively minimal (apart from a day trip to Amish country a couple of summers ago). Over the MLK holiday weekend, my boyfriend and I headed to southern Ohio for a romantic weekend staying in a yurt – something I didn’t even know was possible in the Buckeye State. That weekend Ohio had a massive snowstorm which only made the experience even more magical. While we hiked (as much as I could stand the freezing temperatures), the majority of our time was spent relaxing in the yurt. I sat keeping my toes warm by the in-yurt fire while he played his guitar for me. You get the picture! The vlog will be coming in a couple of weeks (first up: India) and I am excited to share with you this beautiful area of Ohio.

The Highlights & Challenges

Packing Carry-On Only. In my quest to be (somewhat of) a minimalist, I took a long weekend to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale as the perfect opportunity to try out packing in only a carry-on. As far as I can remember, this is my first time doing this, and WOW it was life-changing. It made flying so easy, and it felt good to whizz through the terminals at both ends, so I look forward to getting better and better at packing as light as possible. Travel capsule wardrobe here I come!

Cleveland Orchestra. There is a good chance that for most of the months that I am in Cleveland, the Cleveland Orchestra is considered a highlight. Having the “best orchestra in America” right down the street is not something that I take for granted and the fact that I have friends in both the orchestra and chorus makes it even more special. Oh, and then there is Severance Hall; a stunning concert hall that is so breathtaking it made Carnegie Hall underwhelming. In January, I saw the Strauss opera Ariadne Auf Naxos which was hilarious and an approachable way to get into opera. Then, I flew down to Miami to hear them play Mahler’s Second as part of their yearly Miami Concert Series. Despite it being my second time seeing it (they played it in Cleveland last October), it still gave me all the feels. And, if that weren’t enough, Mum and I went to a preview of the PBS special The Cleveland Orchestra Centennial Celebration (you can watch it here). Classical music is my jam.

Re-finding Things In My Unit. There were a couple of items that I knew I would find in my unit: my university diploma, my GoPro, a pair of beloved red boots, an unworn The Row silk dress, a collection of Starbucks’ mugs. However, I couldn’t even begin to remember what was taking up the rest of the space and — more importantly — what I would want to keep. It turns out there was a lot that I was ready to part with (99% of my stuff was either sold or donated) and only a few bits that I felt were genuinely irreplaceable. The highlight was going through all the prints and artwork I had collected over my travels, the lowlight was donating all my kitchenware.

Finding A New Editing Style. If you watch my Youtube channel, you might have noticed that the travel vlogs I have posted so far this year are edited quite differently to previous videos. From Oslo onwards, I found myself taking far more cinematically-pleasing shots, something that was undoubtedly developed during my time in the Middle East. For a long while, I had been struggling to find my editing style; but, it seems the combination of right place, right time, right content came together at the beginning of the year, and I have been enjoying editing more than ever before. There is still a lot I want to learn to bring my visions to fruition; but, I genuinely love each step and phase of this creative process.

My Skin. A challenge this month? My skin has not been happy with my back-to-back flights. Generally, I have clear skin, so when I do break-out, I completely overreact. I am currently doing lots of research into building a low-waste, all-natural skincare/beauty regime that will hopefully aid me in my pursuit of better skin. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

The 5 Loves

Narcos Mexico. Despite often having the best intentions, it has been a VERY long time since I managed to watch an entire season of a show (I am the opposite of a binge watcher). So, even though I knew I was going to enjoy Narcos Mexico, I didn’t anticipate looking forward to watching the next episode. There I was, hooked from episode one. The show is so well produced, the actors are amazing, and I was gripped to the storyline throughout each episode. Taking any recommendations for other T.V. shows to fill the time until Season 2 debuts!

The Bullet Journal Method. At the end of last summer, I started working on my “practice, practice bullet journal.” Knowing that I would want to start a proper, new one at the beginning of 2019, I decided to spend November and December doing a practice one in a dot journal to get a feel for the BUJO style and to see what kind of spreads, trackers, and planning tools I would actually use. Unsurprisingly, I felt like I needed to do a practice for the practice in a regular lined notebook. While slightly ridiculous, the method has worked well for my brain, and I currently feel like my BUJO set-up is PERFECT. I feel so much more in control of my life than I have in a long time and I am making progress with tasks and goals that previously had been put off. I just received The Bullet Journal Method book and am looking forward to learning more about how I can utilize this “planner, journal, calendar, and all-around organizational system” in an even greater capacity.

Assume Form – James Blake. Since it came out in the middle of January, I haven’t stopped listening to Assume Form by James Blake. I have always been drawn to his unique sound, but it had been three years since he last released an album and so he had fallen off my radar. Don’t worry; now I am back to being obsessed. “Mile High,” “Are You In Love?” and “Don’t Miss It” are the current favorites. I also have this thing where I can’t help but look up an artists’ concert schedule whenever I am listening to them (Spotify makes this absurdly easy) — just in case we are going to overlap anywhere in the next couple of months (wink). James Blake is currently on a US tour, but I am not going to be able to catch him. All hope isn’t lost though because he is playing at Primavera Sound in Barcelona in May (along with Robyn, Tame Impala, and Kurt Vile) which sounds incredible and potentially do-able.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Amethyst. Choosing a new scent is a daunting task (you know?!) and one that I hadn’t felt compelled to do in over a year. After a long period of scent-matching Flowerbomb with my sister, I stopped wearing perfume all together; instead preferring to stock up on the travel-sized Ted Baker Blush Pink Mini Body Spray every time I was in England. Then, armed with a Christmas Sephora gift-card and an idea of the woman I want to be, I strolled into the store, smelled one perfume, and designated it “the one.” The Elizabeth and James Nirvana Amethyst perfume is warm and spicy due to its infusion of tobacco, honeysuckle, and cedar. I think this could easily be considered a unisex scent, precisely what I wanted — something refined, masculine, and the complete opposite of Flowerbomb.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages. I haven’t drunk any alcohol for over a month and only a couple of times in the few months before that. When a few more months have passed, I will feel ready to share my tips, tricks, and findings; but, for now, all I will say is that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. When researching alcohol substitutes, I came across two companies that are changing the beverage game — Seedlip and TÖST. The former deems their three products “the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits” and you can use them as a delicious and healthy replacement in cocktails. The second one makes a beverage comprised of sparkling white tea, cranberry, and ginger that is so tasty I drank it all over the holidays and now have bottles in the fridge for whenever my boyfriend has wine. My third suggestion (and bar/restaurant go-to) is merely tonic water with bitters. Works every time!

The Top Posts

Unfortunately, at the end of last year when I transferred my blog from theblondera.com to jennyheyside.com, most of the photos didn’t successfully relocate. I hated the idea of having a bunch of picture-less, format-lacking blog posts on my new, shiny site; so, I made them all private and then went through and categorized the articles that I still think are relevant and aligned with my vision for this site. In other words, travel tips and guides will be refreshed and posted again, outfit shots from 2016 will not. In January, I published quite a few updated articles and will continue combining them with new content for the rest of the year (or until they run out).

My Favourite New Travel Destinations of 2017 and 2018 – HOT DAMN – these places are incredible. When can I go back?

5 Books To Read For A Fantastic 2019 – In the very spirit of getting my shit together, here are the books that are aiding me in consciously designing my life.

My Winter Fashion Essentials – The classics that I foresee myself wearing for winters to come.

The Top Videos

Winter Weekend In Oslo, Norway | travel vlog – My most-viewed YT video in January, this vlog documents my sister and my time in Norway’s capital. We took in lots of art and culture, drank a lot of coffee and got into the festive spirit at the Christmas markets.

A Week In Dubai | travel vlog – I am not surprised that so many people are interested in seeing more of Dubai; after all, it is one of the most popular destinations in the world. I, personally, love how this vlog came together and think it shows lots of different sides of the Emirate.

2018 – An Epic Year of Solo Travel – My 2018 In Review video! I spent the whole of Dec 31st and Jan 1st compiling all these clips, and it was (in my opinion) the perfect way to ring in the New Year as it gave me an intense sense of gratitude for the previous 12 months. If you have been following along all year – thank you so much for watching! I love seeing the world with you!

The Plans for February 2019

I am going to be spending the entire month of February in Cleveland on dog-sitting duty as my parents jet off to Australia (lucky devils!). Luckily, I have plenty of editing, writing, planning, and reading to do to occupy myself. Follow along with my Cleveland adventures on Instagram!


How was your January?! Let me know in the comments below!

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