things that make me happy – January 2022

lifestyle, 2022

Hello!

I had a great idea for a blog post and had far too much faith in it being such a great idea I wouldn’t forget it, then promptly forgot it, so instead I thought I’d make a nice list of the little things that have brought me joy recently, because I’m getting better at finding them.

  • Filling out my bullet journal every night
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Making funny tiktoks at work
  • Pasta with cheese
  • Potatoes with cheese
  • Just cheese, actually
  • How I’ve already read three books this month and two of them were 4 stars
  • My fiancé got a haircut and the back of his head is all soft and fuzzy
  • Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on my Switch
  • The second-hand Jaeger coat my dad got me for Christmas that makes me feel bougie af
  • The fact that whenever anyone says ‘af’ at work, my colleague and I will replace it with ‘auto focus’ (iykyk)
  • Listening to a playlist called Pop Goes Classical on Spotify
  • Cheer Season 2 on Netflix
  • My new pastel felt tip pens
  • Tick, Tick… Boom on Netflix
  • Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick… Boom
  • My mum straightened my hair for me last time I went home and it was so soft
  • My mum still agrees to do things like straighten my hair even though I am 25 years old and should absolutely be able to do it myself
  • I played Monopoly on the XBox the other night with some mates and it was chaotic and ridiculous and brilliant and we put several properties to auction and only bid $1 each for ages
  • I feel genuinely valued by my colleagues at work and I’m grateful to work with such a fantastic bunch of people and also be able to call them my friends
  • I also have a group chat with two of the girls from my old job where we talk almost exclusively about Spider-Man
  • Did I mention Spider-Man: No Way Home because seriously
  • Also the Tick, Tick… Boom soundtrack. I have so many feelings about Jonathan Larson and his music
  • Watching my friend Lottie stream on twitch is so comforting (and she shouted out my blog the other day which was the cutest)
  • I’m doing a dance show in March and I feel like a teenager again except I’m not surrounded by people who make me feel shit about myself
  • I keep remembering I’m getting married this year and it’s super weird but also really exciting
  • I’m actually really excited about my goals / resolutions for the year and it’s nearly three weeks in, which bodes well
  • I don’t want to shout about it, but I got a pay rise at work and I’m actually really proud of myself (which doesn’t happen very often)
  • Going to sound very mushy, but about three years ago I remember being in Sainsburys car park and wondering how I could possibly love a human more and more every day but after six years with my now-fiancé, I still love him more and more (I know, I know)
  • There’s a lot going on at the moment, but rather than quitting and running away, I’m looking for ways to cope and make the things I want to do work, which is a big step

I know it’s super cliché, but if things are really tough at the moment I thoroughly recommend trying to think of even one good thing that’s happened in each day, a highlight, because there will be one, even if it’s that you got out of bed and you faced the day, because god know’s that can be impossible sometimes.

Hopefully one good thing will spiral into a whole list of things you’re grateful for.

And even if you’re not in that place, sometimes writing down all the bad things can be a good way to acknowledge them and let them out of your head and lighten the load on your chest.

Whatever you need, I hope you are able to find your joy, if not now then soon!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

every book I read in 2021

2022, books

Hello!

There’s every chance this blog post could get very long very quickly so I’ll keep it as brief as I can – here is a rundown of every book I finished in 2021, my star rating and a few words (though let’s be real, I’ll probably get carried away).

Just to give you an idea if you might be interested in similar books to me, here is the data on the moods of books I read in 2021, the pace and the genres, all in beautifully colour coded graphs courtesy of StoryGraph (the fantastic alternative to GoodReads that isn’t owned by Amazon).

(add me here)

Without further ado – my 2021 reads:

  1. Worlds Away From You (Charlotte Mednick) – 4 stars
    A self published novel by a friend actually, but a lovely gentle YA romance to start the year with and a very proud moment to see a friend publish an actual book!
  2. Suspicious Minds: Stranger Things Novel #1 (Gwenda Bond) – 5 stars
    I picked this book up almost exclusively because it was £2 in a charity shop but boy oh boy if you’re a fan of Stranger Things, this is a fantastic expansion of the universe which I’ve thought about rereading at least once a month since I finished it in January.
  3. A Quiet Kind of Thunder (Sara Barnard) – 5 stars
    Been on my tbr for a long time, I was very intrigued to read a story about a girl with selective mutism and a deaf boy and I’ve not been so moved by fiction in a very long time. I really need to learn sign language because the power of communication is just huge.
  4. See Through Me (Kevin Brooks) – 1 star
    Really disappointing – a massively out-there, sci-fi concept that doesn’t come to anything – there was no story, no plot, nothing happened and it was a slog to read.
  5. The Time of the Reaper (Andrew Butcher) – 3 stars
    A book about a pandemic during my country’s third national lockdown? Not great timing. But also below average storytelling about a group of very bland teenagers in an apocalyptic pandemic. This one quickly went in the charity shop pile.
  6. The Selection #1 (Kiera Cass) – 4 stars
    A ‘blind date with a book’ gift my sibling got me for Christmas that I wasn’t sure about – Royal romances have never really appealed to me before but wow I dove in head first. Somehow I didn’t love the characters but I immediately ordered the box set simultaneously? The concept and the male protagonists were so interesting, I will probably reread the first three books in this series at some point in 2022.
  7. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn with David Levithan) – 5 stars
    I really loved this book but it’s been overshadowed in my memory as ‘the book I read whilst I waited for my The Selection box set to arrive’. I loved how whistfully Nick and Norah’s story was told over one night and I still really need to watch the film because the source material had a lot of potential.
  8. The Elite – Selection #2 (Kiera Cass) – 4 stars
    Just obsessed with this series. Protagonist America Singer (yes, that’s actually what the main character is called and yes, she’s a musician… you can practically hear me rolling my eyes) becomes more bearable in this one and there’s much more of a sense of purpose and community. Adored it.
  9. The One – Selection #3 (Kiera Cass) – 5 stars
    And the conclusion? Wow, just top notch. America and Maxon’s story is emotionally and dramatically told and I think it was at this point that I was describing the series as ‘reality TV in a book’ – it’s trashy in the best way and I adored it. Now I desperately want to reread it.
  10. The Heir – Selection #4 (Kiera Cass) – 2 stars
    The duology that follows was much more disappointing – America and Maxon’s daughter (who’s name I can’t even remember) is significantly less interesting. Plus the characterisation of King Maxon and Queen America all grown up is nothing like who they were described to be in the original trilogy. I think 2 stars is generous to be honest.
  11. The Crown – Selection #5 (Kiera Cass) – 3 stars
    Although I have no recollection as to why, apparently the second part of this storyline picked up and earned an extra star. I remember the climax being surprisingly refreshing but then rushing into a very abrupt ending. If the box set didn’t look so pretty together I would absolutely only keep the first three.
  12. In At The Deep End (Kate Davies) – 3 stars
    After falling so deeply in love with The Selection, anything I read afterwards was going to struggle, but In At The Deep End was an interesting saphic story about someone just figuring out their relationship and seeing emotional abuse from the inside. However it was quite slow paced and felt a bit repetitive towards the end.
  13. It’s Now or Never (Carole Matthews) – 4 stars
    A really lovely contemporary story about twins approaching 40 deciding to do something about their lives. A little strange in that it was told from three narrative perspectives – one told in first person, the other two in third – and it was a bit annoying to follow. But otherwise, I’m excited to read more from Carole Matthews.
  14. Ketchup Clouds (Annabel Pitcher) – 3.5 stars
    This book I picked up in a charity shop because it had the most beautiful pattern sprayed on the edges. The story itself had potential, but the protagonist was written quite inconsistently and I can’t remember the main event of the book, so not that memorable in hindsight.
  15. Lore (Alexandra Bracken) – 4 stars
    Adored this one – any story about Greek mythology I’m all over. My only slight thing with this one is that there are a lot of names from the mythology that the reader is just expected to know, especially when some characters are referred to by many titles, so it got a little confusing, but I can’t wait to reread this one with more clarity.
  16. A Nearly Normal Family (M. T. Edvardsson) – 2.75 stars
    Potentially my most disappointing read of the year – really slow paced, really anticlimactic and really repetitive where basically the same story is told from three perspectives. The father character was an absolute wet wipe, the daughter was actually really interesting but her segment was really short and the mother didn’t really have a character, it was like she was just a vessel to conclude the plot. Very odd.
  17. Flawed (Cecelia Ahern) – 2 stars
    I don’t know how to describe this book because I hated the protagonist – I thought she was whiny and entitled and painfully irritating, but I somehow became so attached to the book that I immediately ordered the sequel and deliberately chose a short book to read in the interim so I could start reading it quickly. Still haven’t figured that one out.
  18. The Mayflower Project: Remnants #1 (Katherine Applegate) – 1 star
    One of those books that I kept from my childhood because it sounded interesting, but actually it was awfully written, the characters were so weird and apparently it’s one of those series that has about a million books, but they’re out of print and really hard to find. Not that I think I’m missing much.
  19. Perfect – Flawed #2 (Cecelia Ahern) – 3.5 stars
    The sequel to Flawed picked up a bit judging by my rating, but I really have very little recollection of what happened other than the dystopian ‘Hunger Games’ revolution thing. Mixed reviews for Cecelia Ahern.
  20. Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie) – 3 stars
    I felt weird rating this one because it’s such a classic, but it was further from the Disney film than I thought it would be, but interesting none the less to read the source material.
  21. Adrenaline – Sam Capra #1 (Jeff Abbott) – 3.5 stars
    I’ve had the sequel to this book for years so was glad to buy the prequel and actually get to reading it in 2021! Sam Capra as a character was superbly written and wonderfully emotional and I was fascinated to read the kind of mindless-action-adventure story that my mum loves watching in films and I found it far more engaging!
  22. The Last Minute – Sam Capra #2 (Jeff Abbott) – 4 stars
    I don’t remember enough about this series to differentiate the first and second book, but I remember the second one taking me ages to read and I have no recollection as to why I ranked it higher. My greatest apologies.
  23. The 39 Steps (John Buchan) – 1.25 stars
    A classic I picked up because my dad and I watched a film adaptation once. Was incredibly difficult to read, I could barely keep track of what was happening and I had absolutely zero emotional connection to any of the characters and consequently couldn’t have cared less.
  24. The Shelf (Helly Acton) – 4.5 stars
    At this point, I really needed something to pick me up get me excited about reading again and ‘The Shelf’ was exactly the one – the same kind of ‘reality TV’ easy viewing as The Selection but in a contemporary rather than a dystopian style. I adored it, I devoured it, it was so much fun and I loved it so much – feel good, girl power sassiness!
  25. The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow (Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch) – 2 stars
    My first ever audiobook… and I kind of hated it. The narrator of the Texan character was incredibly evening and even the English character had a snooty, know-it-all tone. The story was poorly written and the plot was frankly boring. No intention of reading the sequel this year.
  26. Beach Reach (Emily Henry) – 5 stars
    My second audio book was the polar opposite and one of my favourite books of the year – a book about writers gradually falling in love? It was like it was written for me. This was the book that really solidified that I really enjoy romance as a genre, when I’d never considered it to be one of my primary favourites before.
  27. MumLife (Louise Pentland) – 4 stars
    My one and only non-fiction read of the year. I only listened to this one because I used to be a big fan of Louise Pentland so I’ve read all of her books an even though I’m absolutely not the target market for this one as I’m not a mum and I’m not really anywhere close to being there yet. But it was an insightful listen.
  28. Tarzan of the Apes (Edgar Rice Burroughs) – 2 stars
    Comparing this classic literature to the Disney movie was incredibly interesting – the book is way more savage but the ending was much sweeter I think. It took me a bit longer to read because I’m not very good at understanding older English and I don’t really enjoy reading it. Will probably opt for watching the film next time.
  29. The Cove (L. J. Ross) – 4.5 stars
    Although the protagonist was a little irritating, this story was really fun to listen to and it was a perfect blend of crime/murder mystery and romance. It was the kind of audiobook that got me excited to get in the car and drive so I could listen to it again.
  30. Good Girl, Bad Blood – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2 (Holly Jackson) – 4.75 stars
    I loved ‘A Good Girls Guide to Murder’ and I was so excited for the sequel – the way Pip’s story developed and the direction the story went was amazing and I was all over it. I was glad I’d already got the third in the trilogy so I could read it straight away…
  31. As Good As Dead – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3 (Holly Jackson) – 2 stars
    Then came the most disappointing book I read this year. Pip’s character was completely different and I know a big part of that was because of what she experienced at the end of the previous book, but it was just too extreme, it went way too far and it stressed me out reading it. So I’m going to pretend it’s a duology and ‘As Good As Dead’ doesn’t exist.
  32. Red, White & Royal Blue (Casey McQuiston) – 5 stars
    With the end of the year and everyone talking about their favourite book of the year, this is the one that always sprung to mind. Listening to this audio book was the most engaging reading experience I’ve ever had – I gasped, I laughed, I felt everything and I actually said it out loud, to myself in my car. It was beautiful, it was funny and it was so romantic. It’s worth every bit of hype and I thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook because the narrators are perfect and I don’t think I’d have had the same experience in reading it in my own voice. 6 stars. 7 stars. All the stars.
  33. The Switch (Beth O’Leary) – 4.5 stars
    One of my most highly anticipated books of the year – everyone was going off about the Flatshare but the concept of the Switch sounded fantastic to me. And it was – the characters were wonderful, it was so realistic, I could have stepped right into the story. Lovely reading experience.
  34. Every Other Weekend (Abigail Johnson) – 4.5 stars
    I’m so much more detached from YA than I used to be but occasionally I dip back in and I always have a good time. This was a really sweet stories about broken families and finding solace where you can. It was so heartwarming to see a story about teenagers handling difficult situations and growing and learning to be better. Another top notch audiobook from Audible’s plus selection.
  35. In The Time We Lost (Carrie Hope Fletcher) – 2 stars
    I love Carrie Hope Fletcher and I’ve read two of her other books and adored them so I was excited to use one of my Audible credits on her latest work, but I actually hated it. The protagonist was insufferably stubborn, the groundhog day concept is so unoriginal and the narrator was overacting so much.
  36. The Source (Sarah Sultoon) – 3.5 stars
    I love a dual narrative story so a story that was dual perspective, set in two different time periods and describes a journalistic investigation into the events of the past narrative was so clever. There was a lot of names and characters to follow which was a bit complicated, but otherwise it was very well written and fantastically performed.
  37. Bookish and the Beast – Once Upon a Con #3 (Ashley Poston) – 5 stars
    I own the physical version of ‘Geekerella’ so I didn’t want to listen to it, but another in the series would be fine right? Oh my goodness I fell in love – I loved Vance’s character, Rosie was so organically brilliant and it was just so sweet, I’m obsessed – nerdy fangirl contemporary is my new favourite genre.
  38. Geekerella – Once Upon a Con #1 (Ashley Poston) – 5 stars
    So of course I had to go back to the beginning of the series – which all made significantly more sense now that I had more context. Nerdy fangirl contemporary – new favourite genre.
  39. The Princess and the Fangirl – Once Upon a Con #2 (Ashley Poston) – 4.5 stars
    I still loved this one, but I just didn’t quite connect to the characters in the same way as I did in the first and the third.
  40. Bookish and the Beast (again)
    I truly believed the ‘Once Upon a Con’ series didn’t need to be read in order. They don’t really but it made so much more sense the second time round. I had to finish the trilogy properly after listening to the first two, right?
  41. The Plus One Pact (Portia MacIntosh) – 1 star
    This is where the Audible Plus catalogue let me down – I thought it would be a nice easy listening romance, but it was badly written, really unrealistic characters and so cringey. I’m too stubborn to not finish a book, but I’m so glad this one was short.
  42. Sunrise on the Coast (Lilac Mills) – 3.75 stars
    This one took me a while to finish because I spent the last 12 weeks of the year absolutely exhausted and reading before bed either didn’t happen or I only managed 10 pages at a time. This was the nice easy reading romance I was hoping for though – a relatively light story of a girl making a life for herself after being a carer for her mother, falling in love with the island of Tenerife and, inadvertently, one of it’s inhabitants.
  43. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman) – 4 stars
    It took me a while to jump on the hype of this book that been at the top of the Sunday Times Best Sellers list for months and months, but it was so worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a group of elderly people living in a residential home, let alone read a book about a group of elderly people solving crimes in weekly meetings – it was funny and every bit an interesting murder mystery in equal measure. Very enjoyable.
  44. When Harry Met Harry (Sydney Smith) – 4 stars
    This had so much of the vibes of ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’, but that might be because it’s a gay love story set predominantly in the US, but it was brilliant regardless. It was funny, it was heartwarming and the actors were fantastic. I wanted to turn this one into a film or a Netflix series and when a story inspires me to create something I know it’s really good.
  45. A Perfect Paris Christmas (Mandy Baggot) – 3 stars
    I bought this book at the end of 2020 and have been saving it as my Christmas read ever since. It was lovely – a wonderful description of Paris that made me want to hop on a plane immediately. A somewhat predictable but still romantic love story that took some characters that could have been really stereotypical and absolutely weren’t, which was really refreshing. Nice, easy festive reading.

So my favourite books of the year were:

  • The Selection
  • Beach Read
  • Red, White and Royal Blue
  • Bookish and the Beast

I refuse to pick a favourite any further than this because Red, White and Royal Blue is so good but after finishing Bookish and the Beast for the second time (my only reread of the year) I planned an entire sequel novel (hit me up Ashley Poston) so they both had their impact on me in their own ways and it’s my blog post so I can choose what I want lol.

If you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth 3000 word blog post, congratulations and thank you! I hope you found some books that you’d like to try!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

2022 Goals

2022, goals

Hello and Happy New Year!

Usually the Christmas holidays feel slow and almost drag, but they’ve gone so fast that I can barely comprehend that we’re in 2022! How mad is that? I’m getting married this year?

Outside of the astonishment at the passing of time (and still processing March 2020), a New Year means new goals and a time to refocus, figuring out what’s most important to me and how I want to spend my time this year and I love it.

I spent my Boxing Day looking within myself (read: staring absentmindedly out the window) to figure out what I want to spend my precious free time on this year, knowing that there isn’t that much of it around a full time job, dancing three times a week and getting enough sleep!

So here’s a basic summary of how I ‘design’ my goals, for want of a better word – I have three categories; Professional, Personal and Home; and in each of those categories I have three goals (I like the number three). Then, I have a list of 10 goals that either don’t necessarily fit into any of those categories or just make more sense in a ‘bucket list’ style (but I feel weird calling it a bucket list because it’s not a bucket list).

Is it perfect? Probably not. But it works for me and I’ve been doing it for three or four years now so I’ll stick with it!

Professional:

  1. Stay in the same job (if that’s what’s right for me) – the fact I got a job so quickly after my previous contract ended still baffles me, but I’d like to stay here for the whole year if I can. With the caveat that if it isn’t right for me anymore, for whatever reason, I don’t have to make myself stay for the sake of a goal. I know it sounds like a silly stipulation, but it’s what works for my brain!
  2. Learn to use AfterEffects – an Adobe software I’ve never been taught how to use before. I need to find a course or an online class or something, but I’m trying to do a lot of AfterEffects style editing in quite obscure ways and I think it would make everything simpler and streamline my editing process.
  3. Update my Portfolio Instagram page once a week – maintaining a portfolio has been a bigger challenge than I should probably admit, but rather than doing ‘update’ posts every six months, a little round up each week seems much more manageable. I’ve included this weekly goal in my new bullet journal set up so I get to colour in a square every time I do it, which is incentive enough for me.

Personal:

  1. Use DuoLingo every day – with the way DuoLingo works with it’s ‘streak’ feature to encourage you to come back every day, it’s almost difficult to forget. I started trying to learn Italian last year but fell off the bandwagon after a month, so I thought I’d go back to a language I’m semi-familiar with (to a very basic level), so I’m now learning French. I really like how DuoLingo teaches and how the app is laid out and I’ve really enjoyed spending 10 minutes a day learning.
  2. Blog once a week – I covered this in my last blog post but I accidentally stopped blogging for the last month of 2021 and I missed it! A lot of my goals this year are focused on adjusting doing what I love to make sure I don’t overbook myself and burn out. Going from 2 blog posts to 1 a week should be a good way to maintain doing something I love but not getting stressed about it. So far so good, if you’re reading this!
  3. Cosplay – no, I never finished my 2021 cosplay goals but (pandemic allowing), hopefully I’ll be able to go to MCM ComicCon again this year and I’d love to get a costume together. I’m thinking along the lines of a female Doctor Strange (mostly for the cape), the 13th Doctor and/or Luna Lovegood. All of these I think would be relatively easy as they’re more about buying pieces than making something from scratch, but we’ll see if I actually get round to it!

Home:

  1. Wedding – not just planning, but the actual wedding! I’m getting married this year and there’s still a fair bit to do, including buying my dress (I tried some on before Christmas!), getting my partners suit and all sorts of finer details. I don’t know if I’m excited or nervous, but it’s going to be a big year for sure.
  2. Weekly saving challenge – I had a go at this 52 Week Saving Challenge in 2019 and made it to approximately week 40 before I had to stop to be able to pay for things like bills (boring). But it was really satisfying and I saved more than I ever have before so I wanted to try it again this year to have some money in my personal savings as well as the wedding savings and my Help to Buy ISA. Not being a student and having a full time job should really help with this and I’m looking forward to the challenge that the latter weeks of the year will bring!
  3. Go on a budget summer holiday – I just want to go somewhere and lie in the sun and read, preferably with the sound of the sea in the background. I haven’t done enough research on this yet and with the wedding I’m not sure whether it’s financially viable, but we’ll see!

10 aims (that aren’t a bucket list because it’s not a bucket list):

  1. Read 36 Books – this is my StoryGraph reading goal for the year! As part of my update to my blogging schedule, I’ll also be doing a monthly round up of what I’m reading. 36 books in a year is 3 a month, so if I can review roughly three books a month till the end of the year then that’s my goal met!
  2. Book buying ban – I have over 200 books on my shelves at home that I haven’t read. There’s absolutely no way I’ll finish reading them all this year but I’d like to make a good dent!
  3. Go to a museum – my partner and I use to have date days in London and go to the museum pre-pandemic, but I’d love to be able to do this again this year.
  4. Go to a concert – I love live music and I feel like one concert this year is a good aim. Minimum.
  5. Go to a new place – I wanted to include some more ‘one off’ goals on my list this year, can you tell? After the wedding, my partner and I want to go on a UK break to have some time off together before we can afford a proper Honeymoon in 2023. I always feel drawn to places I’ve been before so I want to use this opportunity to see somewhere new and scratch that travelling itch! I’m thinking maybe Scotland?
  6. Continue updating my wardrobe seasonally – this was something I started in 2021 that worked really well for me – it helped me figure out what I actually enjoy wearing, what I look forward to getting out again and it saved so much space in my drawers! I need to start being properly ruthless with the clothes I don’t wear. Right now, I’m thinking I need to throw out some hoodies because I very rarely wear them (but they’re so cosy…)
  7. Writing challenges – I’ve been banging on about it forever, but I love creative writing and every other month (ish) I like to set myself a challenge of writing a certain amount in a month. I find if I don’t do this, I don’t write at all so doing it this way helps it become something I prioritise and actually work on!
  8. Monthly date nights – a way to make sure that my partner and I spend some dedicated time together at least once a month!
  9. Do one craft project a month – I have enough craft kits, materials and gadgets to fill up a whole room in our house, except they’re currently gathering dust and I hate it. So I figure if I can finish one project a month then it clears the room a little bit and gives me a creative project to work on!
  10. 1 Second Everyday 2022 – this will be my third 1SE video and I love making these. Here’s 2021 if you missed it!

And that’s it!

I’m really pleased with my goals for this year and I’ve started developing a routine to maintain those daily habits and trackers for the weekly and monthly habits so nothing is forgotten and I can make consistent progress!

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas, a wonderful New Year and I wish you the best for 2022!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

why I took a month off / 2022 plans

2021, writing

Hello! It’s been a while!

My last post was December 5th – not even a month ago – but it’s the longest I’ve gone without posting in what feels like a very long time!

I’d love to give a long old reason as to why I haven’t written anything, but it’s just a case that work got on top of me, everything got a bit much and I had to prioritise getting through each day – I was out of ideas and absolutely couldn’t bring myself to write. I did not look at my computer when I wasn’t working.

But on Boxing Day I spent literally hours working on my new goals for 2022 and my bullet journal (it sounds tedious, but I had a fantastic time with all my pens – so relaxing!) and I feel so ready to get into some new routines and working on the things I’ve really decided to prioritise this year. I’m really excited about my goals for this year and I can’t wait for January 1st!

One of the things I wanted to make room to prioritise was this little blog of mine – I maintained two posts a week for much longer than I anticipated, but I think it just makes sense to go back down to one because I do have a full time job and I don’t have a lot of mental space for anything else so I needed to figure out how I was going to complete the goals I want to complete without filling up all my time and not having enough time to relax.

Another thing that I think will help is having more structure in what I blog about – my favourite posts to write are my monthly goals and my book related posts, so my first post of the month will always be my goals and my last post of the month will be a round up of the books I’ve read and listened to. Who knows what I’ll write in between but with a wedding coming up and lots of thoughts about finances, savings and house deposits maybe I’ll write more about that, but who knows? My blog has always been somewhere that I write about whatever I want to, almost more like a diary – whether it’s film reviews, some fun photos, a favourites list; anything. And I intend to keep it that way!

And that’s what I have to say – I didn’t mean to take so long off, I didn’t mean to have a break but I’m coming back and I’m coming back strong!

I’m going to much more mindful in 2022 not about what I ‘should’ be doing and how much I can squeeze in to every waking moment, but how much I am actually capable of doing and giving myself the space to recover without burning out quite so much.

2021 has been a rollercoaster and I know I’m incredibly fortunate to come out of it relatively unscathed, but I’ve learnt a lot about myself this year and I want to continue that journey of growth in 2022.

(and that might be the most pretentious thing I’ve ever said!)

Happy New Year everyone! 2022 feels like it’s going to be big – I feel like I have room to grow in my career, I’m excited about some personal projects I have planned and I’m getting married!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

December Goals 2021

2021, creativity, goals

Hello!

I feel like I’ve been waiting for December 1st for weeks now – the excuse to wear Christmas jumpers, play all the Christmas songs, put tinsel everywhere. But simultaneously, where has November gone and how is it the last month of the year?

But the end of the year means so many wonderful things – for one, Christmas (obviously), for two, I’ll get to see my finished 1 Second Everyday video for the year, but also the time to look back on the 2021 Goals I set myself and plan out my 2022 goals (which is always the most exciting way for me to spend the limbo week between Christmas and New Year).

Between snuggling into cosy, dark nights with blankets and Christmas lights and long work days and evening dance classes, I’ve just about managed to figure out my five mini goals for the last month of the year!

Portfolio work

It’s been a long year of trying to figure out how to present my portfolio – initially I wanted to make a website, to update my Instagram page and to edit an up to date showreel. I realised presenting wasn’t for me, so I decided not to make the showreel and I’m just posting the last of the update posts on my Instagram, but the website has been a long work in progress and I’d really like to try and get it sorted out this month. Website design is confusing and I’m not going to pretend it’s my specialty in any realm, but I’ll try!

Craft Christmas gifts

With our wedding coming up in less than a year, the budget for Christmas isn’t huge, but I love giving really personal, sentimental gifts so I want to craft and create as much as I can! I’ve not completely figured out what yet, but I will!

Plan 2022 wedding tasks

I’ve been very overwhelmed by the whole concept of planning a wedding, but I need to figure out what the next 11 months will look like and what I need to get done by what deadlines. Any tips, tricks or help you can offer would be much appreciated!

Plan 2022 goals

I’ve been making notes about things I want to achieve next year for a couple of months now, but I want to really figure out what my intentions for the next 12 months are and to make goals that I hope to have a chance of achieving. I’m working on being more okay with goals being flexible and adapting, but I’d also like to be in a place where I have an understanding of myself and what is realistic for me and setting my goals accordingly.

Seasonal wardrobe update

I started trying out Project 333 – a ‘challenge’ (for want of a better word) where you have 33 items in your wardrobe for rotations of 3 months) – and having 33 items of clothing just wasn’t realistic for me. But the principle of swapping out clothes seasonally has not only freed up a lot of space in my wardrobe and drawers, but helped me rediscover my own clothes and get excited about what I already own (without the little dopamine hit of shopping).

My Autumn and Winter wardrobes are very, very similar but there’s a few items I’m really considering whether I actually like and a few pieces I consider ‘staple’ that I’d like to add to my collection.

Monthly Goals

My rolling monthly goal of reading 2 books, putting money in savings and having a date night with my partner are still on track!

I’m well over my reading goal for the year (I’ve currently finished 41 books when my goal was 25!), saving has been a mixed bag and date night’s only really started in July but if there’s any month that I really need to try to hit all three, it’s the last month of the year!

From lockdown to heat wave to random weekend of snow in November to new jobs and new houses and new friends and everything in between, this year has been absolutely mental so anything that any of us have achieved, is something to celebrate! Happy December!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

realistic budgeting tips

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve realised I’m not as good with money as I thought I was – whenever my mental health is bad, the subconscious desire to self-sabotage and try to make myself happy with whatever I feel I can get away with buying is really not helpful to that stage of life where everything needs saving for; a house deposit, big holidays, the wedding that’s less than a year away…

But rather than set hard and fast rules that I’ll struggle to stick with, I’ve made tiny lifestyle changes that make my bank account a little less busy and my savings accounts more consistent.

The biggest thing to note is that finances are personal – I know I’m bad with money and I find it really hard to resist temptation, so I adapt based on that. Basically – take everything with a pinch of salt; I’m not an expert and by no means have I got it perfect (yet!).


1 – Have a way of tracking your finances

Not necessarily for the sake of analysing what you’re spending and where you could save (though this is probably useful!) but just so at least once a week (or however frequently you update your track) you have to face and write down everything you spent. Did popping into Superdrug end up with a £30 spend? Did you buy a couple too many coffees this week? Did you hide behind online shopping again?

All these things add up and if you’re forced to confront it, it can be all the motivation you need to knuckle down and make the effort to not spend so you don’t have to take money out of your savings account to pay for your phone bill (obviously not speaking from experience…).

Then when you have a low spend week, it’s really satisfying!

2 – Don’t take your purse to work

This one can be a bit trickier, as there’ve been a couple of occasions where I’m running low on fuel with no way to pay for it, but not having the option to nip to the cafe down the road or go to Tescos at lunch makes it so much easier not to give in to those waves of hunger that might just be boredom. This is inadvertently good if you’re on a diet or trying to cut out snacks as well because you can only eat what you’ve brought with you.

3 – Don’t have your bank details saved on your computer or phone

This was kind of an accident on my part – I got a new computer and my details weren’t saved anymore and I got a new phone and haven’t set up Google Pay (though the new phone and laptop were coincidental and we’re going to gloss over them in a budgeting blog post…). Not having these details readily available makes me think twice about what I’m considering buying – especially if I’ve got to the point in the check out where it’s asking for my card details. I am a couch potato and if I have to stand up to get my card details to buy something, that’s really going to make me reevaluate my potential purchase and almost always, I will realise it’s absolutely not something I need so I won’t buy it.

4 – set budgets for things

With Christmas coming up, it’s easy to get carried away and think ‘that’s only a pound, it’ll be a nice stocking filler!’ but all those £1-£5 purchases quickly add up!

Set yourself budgets – make a pretty Excel spreadsheet if it helps – decide on an overall budget and break it down by person if you have to. When picking birthday presents, pick a figure and rather than shopping spontaneously, plan so you stay within budget. A good way to do this if you’re not shopping online or don’t have time to plan anything, is to draw the amount of cash that is your budget and have a no-card-spend day then you can’t go over budget! I did this when I was at uni with my weekly campus food budget – whether it was a hot chocolate, a lunch sandwich or a croque monsieur (praise be to Solent University for having cheap food on campus!) I had £20 and when it was gone it was gone.


Maybe they’re very obvious things, but those are what I’m using at the moment! Sometimes all it takes is seeing it written down as a reminder that there are ways to cut down on your spending. It doesn’t necessarily help with actively saving money, but sometimes it’s just making sure the bills get paid.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

I got another tattoo!

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

I feel like I don’t fit the stereotype of ‘tattoo person’ at all – I feel quite uncomfortable in a tattoo parlour even though I’d desperately like for everyone there to think I’m cool (as if I even know what ‘cool’ looks like, I think it just means self-confident). I feel like my outward appearance is nerdy goody-two-shoes who jumps when the toaster pops.

Which is entirely true, I also just happen to have enough tattoos that I have to count them up each time someone asks how many (currently 10, for the record).

But yesterday was the day for the 11th!

I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time – here’s the inspiration:

My Nanny received this elephant clock as a gift and before she passed away, she wrote my name on his foot – knowing my love for elephants, she said I could have it.

I’ve wanted to get a tattoo based on this shape ever since – it’s been nearly five years now and I’ve decided now’s the time. It’s my first time working with the tattoo artist on a custom design, it’s my first time getting a tattoo with colour and it’s my first time getting a tattoo that will take longer than about half an hour.

The reason I’ve waited so long to get this tattoo is because I didn’t know what to do with it – I didn’t just want a hyper realistic wooden elephant, I didn’t love the idea of the clock because I didn’t want to pick a time (and I didn’t really want to find a relevant or significant time to a memorial tattoo…) but I didn’t want to hyper cartoonise it either.

So I got this:

The detail of the elephant is so pretty but I wanted to include lavender, as it was a scent she loved and everyone in my family now associates with her and I think it’s beautiful. With the clock face, I actually love that it doesn’t have hands – it makes it feel timeless and eternal in a way, and to me, my nan will always be eternal.

I’ve never had a custom designed tattoo before, but I had a moment of confidence at the end of my last appointment and asked about how it would work – I showed them some pictures, booked in for a consultation and the actual tattooing and then didn’t really think about it until the consultation!

I went in, spoke to the artist, showed her some inspiration pictures I liked the look of and then she drew up the design and four days later I spent two and a half hours being poked with a tiny vibrating needle.

The first hour or so I was so confident I could do it in one sitting – none of my tattoos have hurt that much and it was all detailed line and dot work, not like the block lines I’ve had in other tattoos.

I was soon proven wrong.

The delicate skin on the inside of my arm was incredibly painful and I’m pretty sure the longer I lay there, the lower my pain tolerance got. Between that and my elbow aching from being held straight for so long and the majority of my right hand going numb, it definitely wasn’t the ‘spend three hours scrolling on Insta and reading on my phone’ experience I was expecting. But I did get to lie down for nearly three hours and not really think about work or productivity or anything like that. The artist – Ash – was so sweet, always checking in and offering me breaks to sit up and stretch my arm.

For future reference, I think I’d take a fidget toy or a stress toy with me, perhaps to help with the numbness of the hand on the arm being tattooed and to give me something to do with my other hand as well – I ended up spinning the little ring connecting my necklace charm to the chain and that actually did help the pain more than I thought it would.

Afterwards, I felt more lightheaded than I anticipated and I probably should have sat down for a little bit longer before I walked back to my car, but by the time I was driving I felt fine (having some lunch when I got home definitely helped too!).

With my 11th tattoo, I’m kind of at the point where there’s nothing else that I desperately want – I know that I’ll find other designs and more sentimental pieces in the future, but right now I’m definitely ready for a little break before I spend that long paying someone to stab me with tiny needles.

I’m not someone who massively believes every tattoo must have a meaning – wanting to have beautiful art or empowering words on one’s body doesn’t have to come with sentimentality or or a sob story, but for me I have to really connect with what I’m getting to know I’ll be happy to have it on my body forever.

(That and if I got every tattoo I think is pretty, I’d have no room left)

I’m so happy to have this new addition to my collection that is both a beautiful piece of art and a sentimental tribute to a woman I still love so much, no matter what.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

craft ideas for the casual crafter

2021, crafting

Hello!

Let me set the scene: you love crafting – you get lost in all the how-to videos on Facebook and TikTok, you have a Pinterest full of ideas saved for ‘one day’ and you could quite easily blow your entire pay check in one go completely by accident in Hobbycraft because of all these brilliant ideas you’re going to do ‘on a rainy day’ but never get round to.

Hi there, you feel exactly how I feel!

It’s almost like I love the idea of crafting more than actually doing it, because however much I want to spend time doing all these brilliant things, the precious time I have between work, exercise and occasional socialising I’m not spending on crafting – I’m spending it watching Grey’s Anatomy or getting another ‘early night’ in the vague hope I won’t be tired anymore.

(always live in hope)

But us closet-crafters do sometimes get time so I thought I’d collate a list of my top 3 easy crafts that don’t require too much commitment, skill or dedication, because if you’re anything like me, I don’t have the energy to spend time honing a talent – I just want to make things that aren’t going to look rubbish!

1 – Cross Stitch Kits

I feel like I talk about cross stitch all the time but I love the little kits – whether they’re from Hobbycraft, the Range or even a charity shop (I have bought kids at all three!), the patterns are often really cute, because of the nature of the aida material, it’s really easy to make the final product look exactly like the picture on the front and it’s a nice one to either dip in and out of or sit for a couple of hours and finish in an afternoon.

If you want to step it up, you can buy your own cloth and threads and find patterns either online or on Etsy, or even design something yourself! But there are so many kits and patterns out there, it’s an easy craft to keep low maintenance.

2 – Journalling / Scrapbooking

I’ve had a bullet journal since 2017 and with each passing week and month that I use it, I still find ways to adapt my scheduling and design to better serve me, whether that’s aesthetically or functionally.

Whilst my weekly spreads are more function than craft, set up with a few coloured pens and some drawn boxes, I like to break each month with a header page where I like to print pictures, glue paper patterns, decorate with stickers and note key dates and my monthly goals.

What I love about bullet journalling is that it’s totally adaptable – it can be as creative or as simple as the user wants, but whether it’s a bullet journal, a craft journal or a scrapbook of memories, papercraft can be so much fun.

3 – Knitting

Okay, this one depends heavily on what you’re working on but I have two suggestions that aren’t so intimidating or complicated (because trust me; I’m not good at knitting at all).

  • I call it ‘knitting a scarf’, but if you just want something repetitive to do with your hands while you’re watching TV that doesn’t take as much thinking (or counting) as cross stitch, a ball of wool and two knitting needles are all you need to do a standard stitch up and down for as long as you like. Will it make a scarf one day? Maybe! But even if it’s a hobby that cuts down your screen time, that’s all that matters right?
  • Make ear savers – everyone with a sewing machine was making face masks last year in the height of the pandemic (not that it’s over now) but something my Mum told me about was making ear savers – little strips of knitting with buttons on the end to hook the mask straps onto to protect the wearers ears a little bit! Especially for healthcare workers and those who do really long shifts and have to wear them at all times. I found the pattern here and I learned all the stitches from YouTube videos! If I can do it, you definitely can.

Even just writing this has made me feel creative! I want to work on my cross stitch and peacefully knit whilst binge watching more medical shows on any streaming service (just found out The Good Doctor is on Amazon Prime!).

With Christmas right around the corner, there’s loads of fun Christmas crafts that are easy and cute and suitable for children (if you have some to entertain) and I wrote a post with some ideas last year if you’re interested!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

6 years down, 365 days to go

2021, wedding

Hello!

November 5th is my anniversary with my partner – 2021 is six years since I literally said ‘fuck it’ at 5am after we’d stayed up all night together and kissed him. Then, on our first date a few days later, we ordered Chinese food, sat in a park too far away too watch the fireworks and then accidentally threw away our forks with the empty take out containers on our walk to the docks.

Six years feels like a lifetime ago – we’ve been through so much together since our first year in halls at uni. We’ve both graduated, we’ve learned to drive, we’ve both starting building on our careers and all the while we’ve had so much fun, vastly expanded our collection of cuddly toys and had probably too much fun leaving messages for each other with our letter fridge magnets.

But this year feels more significant, not only because it’s another anniversary but because it officially means it’s less than a year until our wedding. And we finally get to use these countdown cards that our lovely friend Beth got us for Christmas last year!

I should probably start actually dress shopping!

So I thought it would be nice to do one of those check in memory question things – like when people ask their kids on their first day of school what they want to be when they grow up and compare their answers every year.

How long have we been together? Six years!

What did we do for our anniversary? A trip back to Southampton, as we’ve not been here together since we graduated, and we watched the new Marvel Eternals movie that was released today.

What’s our favourite thing to do together? Snuggling in bed and watching a George Clarke property programme, always referring to it as ‘amazing spacies’ even though we finished all available series of Amazing Spaces and we’re currently watching Old House, New Home.

Where do we most want to travel to? Greece, probably Athens because we’re both history nerds (but I really want to go to Santorini)

Current favourite date night? An activity like bowling or going to an arcade (we have a favourite one in Bournemouth) and probably going for dinner, preferably somewhere Italian because carbs and cheese.

What are you watching on TV / what episode of Grey’s Anatomy are you on? We’ve just finished Season 4, Season 5 Episode 1 is ready to go. We’re also watching Battle Bots (an American ‘Robot Wars’) on Netflix and avidly watching ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and ‘Doctor Who’ every week.

What was the last concert/show we went to? Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical ‘Cinderella’ at the Gillian Lynne theatre in London.

Current go to bop for kitchen dance parties? Shivers, Ed Sheeran.

If we had a baby, what would we call them? Annabelle, shortened to Belle. But we have a list of silly names, like Dinah (short for Dinosaur), Mark (short for Marksman, Question Mark (the symbol) or Exclaimation Mark (the symbol)) or Anna or Tommy (either could be short for Anatomy).

We are clearly not ready for children.

What’s our biggest goal for the next year? Save for the wedding.

That was lovely! The real question is, will I remember that I wrote these questions when it comes to our anniversary next year? We will be getting married though, so I think it can be forgiven!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

budgeting at Christmas

2021, christmas

Hello!

With Halloween out the way (though I’m yet to take the decorations off the door), Christmas is everywhere – I’ve heard songs in adverts, heard the phrase ‘Christmas shopping’ far too much and already started thinking about presents.

But with a wedding to save for, a hefty student loan and just general not having a ton of expendable income, I’m really needing to cut back on how much I spend this Christmas so I’ve been brainstorming a few ways to still give meaningful gifts without spending as much (if anything).

My main thing is I already have a lot of craft materials because I’m a sucker for Hobbycraft – I’ve got loads of wools, scrap materials for sewing, paper in lots of patterns and (in theory) creativity in abundance, so assuming I can get my act together and actually get some crafting done, it should be a nice way to still make personal gifts without spending loads.

So I thought I’d collate a few of the ideas that I’m (trying) to stick with this year to make sure Christmas doesn’t break the bank!

Presents

A few tactics here:

  • Evaluate who you really need to prioritise getting gifts for – for me and my partner, it’s our families, with friends I’m hoping to suggest some Secret Santa’s so it saves some money for everyone and anyone else might get some very-homemade-looking cupcakes!
  • Weigh in on the ‘It’s the thought that counts’ principle – no one really cares how much you spend, especially when it’s something that’s got a personal touch or a handmade feel. Last year (or the year before?) I bought a set of blank playing cards and wrote a ’52 Reasons I Love You’ set for my partner (yes, I know how soppy it sounds) and then for my sibling’s birthday I made a pack of 52 IOUs and vouchers, such as redeeming spontaneous video calls, take outs, taxi services etc (though be wary that this can add up quite significantly!)
  • Simple, low cost presents like photo frames or notebooks can be worth so much more when you add your own personalisations – a photo collage with your favourite pictures, a heartfelt letter, maybe even a scrapbook or something can be a wonderful memory and a beautiful gift.
  • Homemade hampers are a win – pre-Covid Christmas, I made a bunch of ‘Home Cinema Kit’ with blankets, hot chocolate sachets and popcorn (and a nice basket which is very handy for cute looking storage) and it felt like such a treat. Nothing in there was particularly expensive – the baskets were a couple of pounds from a supermarket, the blankets were Primark, the food items were probably less than £5 total but the time, effort and thought that goes into making a little kit like this is what elevates the gift (I hope).
  • The Gift of Time – at the end of the day, the people you love value nothing more than spending time with you. Promising to spend a weekend with your friend, or booking a workshop to do together, or bringing over a baking or craft kit and spending the time doing it together is worth so much more than the gift itself. I find this is also really useful if you’re buying gifts for kids and you don’t want to buy more toys or anything that will be more stressful to mum and dad – have a baking afternoon, bring over a colour-in table cloth or spend the afternoon in the park; you get to spend time with them doing something fun and bonus – it gives their parents a little rest too!
  • If you’re a craft whizz who can knit a jumper in a week and have creativity oozing out of your ears, you’re all set (I’m working on this).

Some of my hopes for this year’s Christmas presents are to utilise my sewing machine and my Cricut, but whether I’ll actually figure out what to make and when to make it is another question entirely.

Christmas Clothing

The festive season is here, there’s cosy jumpers on offer everywhere and a soft new set of Christmas pyjamas are so tempting… but you’ve got at least three jumpers sat at home, last year’s Christmas pyjamas were worn for two nights from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and you even have a pair of festive dinosaur slipper socks in the drawer (just me on that one?).

Whilst the excitement of new things – particularly new festive things that may or may not jingle – is incredibly tempting, there’s absolutely no reason to buy a new Christmas jumper every year.

This is more of a ‘note to self’ than a tip, if I’m honest.

Christmas Decorations

Same as above – I see so many influencers who will go out and buy all new decorations for their ginormous Christmas Trees every single year to go with their new ‘theme’, but it just seems like such a waste of all the other decorations that are sat in boxes in the garage from last Christmas – but the woodland theme doesn’t match the Nutcracker theme.

I have decorations from the year I was born and all through my life so far. I like to pick one new decoration each year on my annual trip to the garden centre Christmas display, but whatever pressure Instagram puts on you to get brand new decorations every year, I’m here to say you absolutely don’t.


After the last (nearly) two years of lockdowns, social distancing and isolation from so many of our loved ones, being able to give your time is worth so much more than gifts, fancy food or new outfits.

And at the end of the day, anyone who cares more about the worth of their present than the value of your presence, probably deserves neither.

(that sounded a bit deep, didn’t it?)

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx