Eats, Shoots & Reads

I’ve never been a big one for making New Year’s resolutions. When I have tried them they’ve basically been good intentions that I’ve tried to stick to, but invariably failed at.

But In 2012 I decided that I wanted to make some changes and that a different approach was needed. So after some creative thinking over a few pints, I decided I would set myself a challenge. Noticeably different from my usual resolutions by its use of a clear structure, clearer goals to aim for… and a more exciting name, I hoped this would be just the incentive I needed!

And that’s how Eats, Shoots and Reads was born!

Eats: One new recipe a week

I love food and have always enjoyed cooking, but because of work and a busy social life I realised I was spending less time making proper meals and relying on convenience food through the week. So the first part of my challenge was to cook a new recipe every week. For my choice of dishes I settled on Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie.

I wanted a good all-round cook book with a selection of main courses, sides, starters and desserts and Jamie’s book did all that but also had some unusual recipes in it too.

Each week I used a random number generator to select a page from the book and then I cooked whatever was on the menu! This meant I ended up making dishes I wouldn’t normally choose (to eat or cook) and added a lot of excitement to our weekly food routine.

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Shoots: One photograph a day

For my daily challenge I wanted something that I could easily fit around my work and social life. I also wanted a challenge that would help me document my year as well as pushing me to become better at something.

Most of us take photos weekly, or even daily, but we also take them for granted. Until my challenge I’d never given much thought to taking good photos. So armed with my trusty iPhone I embarked on 2012 determined to document my year; the ups and the downs, and to give a lot more thought to my snapping abilities!

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Reads: One book a month

Like most people, I don’t read as often as I’d like to and it’s rare for me to have the time to finish a book. On the occasions I do get time to read I’m never sure what book to pick and end up reading books by authors I’ve already read again.

For the final part of my challenge I wanted not only to read more often, but also to try out new authors and genres of book. To make sure my reading journey was an exciting one I came up with an elaborate plan for choosing each book.

I wanted to read books recommended by friends and family – to experience stories that matter to them. But to mix things up I used the books themselves to pick the friends… so I used the last letter, of the last word, on the last page to select the first letter of a friend’s name. So if a book ended on a letter T, then my next recommendation had to come from a friend who’s name began with a T, like Tom or Tina. The idea was to experience a really varied selection of books, picked by different friends.

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Eats, Shoots and Reads

Together my challenge saw me taking 366 photos (2012 was a leap year), cooking 52 recipes and reading 12 books in a year. Throughout I blogged about my experiences – the successes and the difficulties.

To follow my challenge from the start then visit my first ever post.

From the Beginning

And why Eats, Shoots and Reads? Well, as well as nicely summing up the activities of my challenge it’s also an affectionate homage to the title of Lynne Truss’ 2003 book Eats, Shoots and Leaves.