going on a British holiday in lockdown?

2020, lifestyle, travel

Hello!

Four months into lockdown, a lot of people are talking about the summer holidays they’ve had to cancel, optimism about still being able to get abroad and choosing UK based alternative like it’s a second rate option to flying away somewhere.

Granted, you’re not going to get 40 degree sunshine and sandy beaches but as a girl who grew up going to the Peak District and feeling inferior to my friend’s holidays abroad, I’m trying to remind myself that there are so many parts of the UK that I haven’t seen and the weather doesn’t make it any less exciting! Just different.

Next week my boyfriend and I are going away with my dad – he lives alone so it’s all legal within the social bubble thing. We were going to go to the same place we always used to go in the Peak District because I’m so fond of it and I’m desperate to show my favourite person one of my favourite places. But then there was a whole palaver with the website my dad booked it through accepting the booking when the holiday site wasn’t actually open and trying to rearrange around my boyfriend’s work but then we found a little cottage that was available and now the holiday is back on!

I do feel a bit weird about going on holiday in a pandemic – it’s all legal, we’ve double triple checked, but I’ve only just braved going to the unessential shops two weeks after they opened and however important I know wearing a mask is, having to wonder round without my glasses on because they keep fogging up is equal parts annoying and really funny.

Obviously we’re going to be as safe as we can be – making sure we have masks and antibacterial gel and we’ll make sure everywhere we want to go is safe and stay socially distanced… but it just feels weird.

I’m so excited to see my dad and spend some time with him knowing he hasn’t seen anyone properly in months. I’m going to see my mum and sister as well for the first time in four months and it’s going to be so nice but so surreal to know I’ll be driving home again next weekend and I have no idea when I’ll next see them.

Lockdown conditions are easing and hopefully the rest of the country is being more careful than the people in my area (they make me so cross and every time I go for a walk or to Asda it baffles me how people can’t seem to understand arrows?) and things will continue to ease as we control this virus but it will definitely be a very strange experience going on holiday this time.

To anyone feeling like they have to ‘compromise’ on a British holiday instead of an international one this year – keep your mind open, although at times it doesn’t feel like it, we do actually live in a beautiful country and there’s lots of amazing places to see.

Also stop using the phrase ‘Staycation’ – just because you’re not leaving the country doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as a holiday.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2020, fitness, goals, writing

Hello!

Another month, another set of mini goals to work towards! Having reviewed my goals for the year and looked back on my June goals, in July I’m really working towards stripping things back, focusing on what’s important to me right now and setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound… I think).

Hopefully with the weather being a bit brighter and restrictions easing things might feel like they’re a bit closer to getting back to ‘normal’, but I’d rather be safe than shopping so taking things day by day!

Hopefully my July goals are SMART enough to make some progress! These are my goals for the month:

  • Start Couch to 5k again – it’s been over a year since I stopped the Couch to 5k program and I think I’m ready to start again. I’m going to aim for the three runs a week that the program suggests and even if I just start by doing laps around the park just to stay flat (there’s a lot of hills where I live) trying is the important bit. I’m nervous but determined!
  • Weigh less at the end of the month than at the beginning – hand in hand with the running, I’m going to try and do some at home workouts, be more mindful about what I eat, stop snacking and generally train my body into healthier habits. Lockdown has set me back almost to my heaviest weight in 2018 (which I’m trying not to beat myself up for) so I want to make some positive change.
  • Declutter my desk work space – our little house isn’t really designed for at home working but things have gotten so cluttered that I feel more stressed about it than it helps me get work done. I want to try and do a little bit every week to make the space less intimidating and more productive, even if it just means tidying it up a little bit.
  • Writing challenge – 36,000 words – every other month this year I’ve been setting myself writing challenges working towards NaNoWriMo in November (an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days!). Each month I do a writing challenge the goal is a little bit higher to get myself into the habit of writing a certain number of words per day. May’s challenge went really well so I’m hoping for the same kind of success in July, but simultaneously not putting too much pressure on myself. I have a Camp NaNoWriMo profile if anyone else is participating!
  • Craft goals – sew four face masks, finish knitting project, start new cross stitch project – I’ve written before about how handmade sewing related crafts, particularly cross stitch, have brought me such joy in lockdown so I thought setting myself some little goals would help keep me focused. Taking the decision element out of anything means I’m more likely to do it so rather than being faced with a box of embroidery thread and no direction, having something to work towards will definitely help me relax. At least, I hope it does…

And then my ongoing monthly tasks of have a date night and read at least one book still stand but I’ve managed six months with date nights and I’ve read 26 books so far this year so I think these two will be okay.

My motivation has been pretty bare minimum last month so I’m hoping to try and work to more of a routine in July. But with the world being so uncertain and changing so much, being adaptable and not putting too much pressure on myself is the main focus.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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Treasured In… June

2020, books, film

Hello!

I was so excited about June because it started on a Monday and now it’s… gone? I feel like there’s only so many posts I can count how many full months of lockdown we’ve had but June marks three complete months (plus a couple of weeks) under lockdown restrictions. It just feels so mad to think about – especially having reviewed my yearly goals and thinking about how that version of me had absolutely no idea what was coming… It gets a bit much to think about sometimes!

Regardless, the month is drawing to a close to here are the things I’ve been loving this month.


blog post:

With the rapid changes in the weather, lockdown effecting my mental health and trying to make some progress on my masters dissertation, making the effort to find new blogs to read and engage with wasn’t a priority.

I was super excited to read a post from Hannah Gale announcing her second pregnancy, but it wasn’t long after that she decided to step back from the internet and her Instagram has been closed, her blog deactivated and nothing left behind. I’m genuinely gutted to see such a wonderfully genuine creator feel bullied off their platform and hope that Hannah finds happiness in whatever comes next for her.

recipe:

With the weather getting hotter and inclination to put any effort into cooking getting less and less, my partner and I are doing everything we can to cook good food in as little time as possible.

We intended to make a bruschetta inspired pasta bake with plum tomatoes, red onion, pesto, garlic and cheese but opened our jar of pesto to see… it wasn’t okay. So instead we mixed it all together with half a tub of garlic and herb cream cheese and a generous handful of grated cheddar and mozzarella and accidentally created the most amazing pasta bake? 

The cream cheese mixed with the grated cheese made the most lovely sauce, the cream cheese mixed with the tomatoes to give it an almost passata taste, it had vegetables in it, we didn’t need to ‘bake’ it like a normal pasta bake, we just served it up with some garlic bread and it was glorious. It’s now a weekly staple and I’m hungry just thinking about it!

online course:

With working on an essay for uni, although I really wanted to start learning how to use a software called Unity to make vide games, I just didn’t have the brain space to read academic literature for an essay as well as try to teach myself complicated game mechanics. I managed to watch a few beginner videos on the Unity YouTube page but no major progress here this month.

song:

Not a new song as much as a new playlist – my boyfriend and I are driving up to see my family at the beginning of July and then driving on for a ‘social bubble’ getaway with my dad so we made our perfect road trip playlist.

We’re saving the first full listen for the journey in July but I am pumped about it, not only because it’s all our favourite tunes but because I miss driving so much and cannot wait for a road trip.

youtube video:

My boyfriend and I have very different tastes in YouTube and where in ‘normal’ life he works away about half the week, I normally keep quite on top of my ‘watch later’ playlist. But he’s been home for 15 weeks and my playlist is up to over 350 videos from the best part of two months ago, so I’m not up to date at all.

However this video from RawBeautyKristi announcing her pregnancy after 15 years of trying was absolutely heartwarming and I’m welling up just thinking about it – Kristi’s one of those creators that I’ve known about but haven’t subscribed to but I watched this and couldn’t not. So excited to see her journey through this progress and 100% recommend the video if you need to see some pure happiness or maybe have a little cry.

loved this acoustic version of my favourite song from All Time Low’s newest album Wake Up Sunshine – I suppose this technically counts as music but it’s on YouTube not Spotify so here it is.

And a little bit of self promo – June 23rd marks one year since I shaved my head and I’ve been filming a One Second Everyday video which I’ve now shared! I’ve been planning this video for a while and I’m really pleased with how it came out so if you’ve got 5 minutes and want to give it a watch, I’d really appreciate it!

books:

I genuinely thought June might be the month where I only read one book but now I’m on my fourth book so back on track!

Carry On (Rainbow Rowell) – this book is essentially the fanfiction/fake Harry Potter story described in ‘Fangirl’ (my favourite book of all time) but I was really disappointed in it. The first 200 pages were so slow that I actively avoided reading it, then the plot started to get good and it was really high paced and interested, then a romance plot came out of nowhere and felt really out of character for the characters as they’d been throughout the rest of the book. The ending felt really inconclusive with so many loose ends not tied up and I just felt really dissatisfied finishing it. It’s one for the donate pile unfortunately!

The Man Who Didn’t Call (Rosie Walsh) – I was pleasantly surprised by this book – I picked up 3 for £5 in The Works the week before lockdown hit and I thought it would be a light bit of chick lit to break up the high fantasy and sci-fi books I have. I thought it would be all about some asshole man and girl power or it would be a mystery where he was chronically ill or had a family and kids but wow the twist was one I did not see coming and it was just lovely. It had a very David Nicholls ‘One Day’ feel in it’s English romance style and I genuinely enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.

Love At First Like (Hannah Orenstein) – book 2 in the 3 for £5 and another one that I thought would be super cringey chick lit about someone who cares about social media and winds herself up in lies and breaking peoples hearts. It wasn’t anywhere near as cringey as I thought it would be, it was so much more heartfelt and the characters felt so real. The ending was the sweetest and it was so interesting to read a book so up to date on social media, interesting to think about re-reading it in a few years and whether it will feel so modern then!

Currently reading: Our Child of the Stars (Stephen Cox) – and the trilogy of 3 for £5 comes to it’s conclusion! Again one that I didn’t expect at all – I thought it would be about a couple who couldn’t have kids adopting a little boy and navigating life as a new family of three, but wow I miss the quotes on the back that described it as a sci-fi book. There’s aliens, there’s secrets, there’s conspiracies, but it has the heart and soul of family too – I’m about 70% through and hope to finish it before the end of the month so keep an eye on my Instagram for a full review!

snack:

I’ve really been trying not to snack as much at the moment to the degree that we don’t really have that much in the house!

I had a craving for microwave smores (two chocolate digestives with a marshmallow in the middle in the microwave for 10 seconds, it’s glorious) but then I needed comfort food and the digestives and marshmallows were finished.

In less ‘comfort’ food and more ‘trying to be healthy’ I bought a melon mix from Asda on one of our weekly shops and that was so nice! I want to try buying a honeydew melon and preparing it myself but so far it’s got as far as buying a melon then ignoring it in the fridge for a week and reluctantly throwing it away because I feel guilty I’ve wasted it. I’ll let you know if I make any melon progress in July!

tv/film/streaming thing:

Other than nearly finishing Kim Possible on Disney+, the only other thing I’ve watched this month is the live action Dora the Explorer movie and much like all the books I read – I was so surprised by it.

I thought it might be trying to make Dora a ‘grown up’ character and take itself to seriously but the film opens with a take on recreating the title sequence from the kids TV show and the whole thing is like a massive meta joke and it was actually really good? I’ve kind of not been able to stop thinking about it – it was super fun, surprisingly funny and Boots the Monkey was the best character.

wedding planning update:

I emailed the venue! The venue got back to me and they’re reopening in July so we’re just trying to arrange a time to go and visit to see it and then potentially booking it, which feels mad to be doing over two years in advance and it makes me feel a bit nervous that suddenly it’s all very real, but also really exciting!


This turned out to be longer than I expected but a post full of things I’ve enjoyed this month is a pretty good one to accidentally ramble about!

July is looking like it’s going to be much busier – my boyfriend is going back to work, restrictions are easing in the UK and personally I’m scared of a second wave, but trying to take each day as it comes and get used to live going back to ‘normal’ a bit more.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals – Mid Year Check In

2020, books, career, goals, student

Hello!

I’m big on goal setting – ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ / Yearly goals, monthly mini goals blog posts, weekly and daily to do lists are just goals of what I want to achieve in the short term – I like pushing myself to make progress! Does it always work? No, but at least I’m trying!

In my 2020 Goals post I never could have guessed that six months into the year I’d have spent more time isolated in my own house than out in ‘the real world’ but luckily my goals are adaptable and hopefully as the year goes on I’ll be able to make progress.

In a very stereotypically ‘Sophie’ way, I have two sides to my goals – the first side where I have three categories – Professional, Personal and Home – each with three goals, and the other side that’s more ‘bucket list’ style just a list of 9 things I’d like to do this year.  So let’s jump right in!

PROFESSIONAL:

  • Finish my masters at Oxford Brookes – in my original post I said “I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters” because it was back in the happy days when we could give people hugs. I was given the option to postpone starting my dissertation unit and pick it up again in September to finish in May next year, but my media project doesn’t require any of the facilities at uni so I’m muddling through at home.
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October – this deadline was based on finishing my dissertation in September and now that my deadline has been pushed back to the end of October, I’m now aiming for November if not the end of the year. I’m very nervous about getting a job and with how unexpected 2020 has shaped up to be so far, I don’t want to put any additional pressure on myself.
  • Learn website design – I’ve done a couple of short coding courses but whilst I’m now doing a completely self taught dissertation with not a whole lot of brain capacity, so I’ve mentally parked this for after diss, then I’ll start working on making my site look better!

PERSONAL:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save – with pushing back getting full time work and a literal pandemic, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to start this any time soon. But I have been working on spending less in my current account and making my money last longer so I guess, inadvertently, it’s kind of related?
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography – at the beginning of lockdown I finished my first roll of film and haven’t been able to go anywhere to get it developed so I don’t know if it’s any good… But I love my film camera and cannot wait to use it more when life gets back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is).
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week – when my boyfriend worked away a lot, I made an effort to eat veggie when he wasn’t home. Now that we’ve been together for over 14 weeks, slowly we’ve been cutting down how much meat we eat mostly from a cost perspective, but I’ve now got him to a point where he prefers quesadillas without meat so progress is being made!

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please) – that’s the plan!
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon – yeah, nah – we had great plans to go on a Spanish beach holiday which have now been halted, Centre Parcs probably won’t happen this year and MCM ComicCon has been cancelled until 2021… so no travelling this year.
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account – as with the job and the savings goals, I think this is unlikely, but in hindsight I think it was quite unrealistic amount anyway. But when I set these goals we hadn’t decided a wedding date so now I’m definitely thinking about saving for a wedding more than saving for a house.

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books – smashed it, currently reading book 26 and absolutely adoring it!
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November) – first three writing challenges were particularly successful, I’m excited about July’s challenge and I’ve actually been working on my old notes for redrafting the book I started 8 years ago so maybe I’ll actually have a full draft to work with by the end of the year!
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan – so far I haven’t really had anything to add, other than the wedding and ‘kids?’ with a big question mark, it’s hard to make career goals when you have absolutely no idea what you really want to do with your life…
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go – amongst a three month tooth infection and getting my anti-depressants moved to a local pharmacy, I actually did both of these! I thought the dentist was meant to be a 6-monthly thing but I was told to wait a year so feeling very grown up about this goal!
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal – the word ‘pandemic’ is feeling repetitive now, but after gaining a significant amount of weight and being closer to my ‘heaviest weight’ than my end of year goal, it’s really disheartening. But I’m really trying to work on my diet, I’m going to pick up Couch to 5K again next month and my boyfriend has decided he wants to tone up to cosplay Spider-Man next year so I might be able to convince him to do some workouts together!
  • Get another tattoo! – financially, I don’t think this is going to be an option this year, but I know what I want if I do get one!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts – this is something I would generally do on my commute to uni, now that I don’t have a commute to uni I actually prefer the quiet of my own home. But who knows how this might change as the year goes on.
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy – tick tick tick!
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket – I did this! The first stage is done, but as I don’t have anywhere in this house where I can lay out the blanket properly flat because 1) my house is small 2) the blanket is big, I’ve decided that I’ll work on it again when I am somewhere that I can actually lay it out and see it in it’s full glory!

So overall, I think most of my goals are either on track or have been pushed back slightly by the pandemic, but I feel like I set reasonable and achievable goals that I’m now freshly invigorated to keep working on them!  (or just curl up back in bed and carry on reading…)

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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cutting myself a break

2020, creativity, mental health, writing

Hello!

I don’t know why every week in lockdown seems to be more difficult, but this week I’m really struggling and I can’t put a finger on why because nothing has changed.

Blogging is something I find really therapeutic – sitting down at my laptop with a blank page and just typing long, rambly posts that are eloquent and articulate and insightful makes me feel inspired and motivated, reminding me that words are my creative tool and I fall in love with writing all over again.

But on the other hand, when I’m not feeling that inspiration or I don’t have anything important to say, the blank page feels daunting in a way that takes me by surprise. Structure and schedule has always helped me – whether it’s productivity or consistency in content, having ‘upload days’ has always made me a better blogger.

Whenever I reach a point where I think ‘yeah, I don’t need a schedule, I’ll blog when I feel inspired to share something’ I go quiet for months. Without the plan to post a blog post on certain days, the ideas just don’t come to me! Routine and structure works for me but when I don’t feel passionate about what I’m writing then it’s stilted and forced and it just becomes another element for stress (even though I really shouldn’t let it be).

I’m going through a lull right now and I need to respond to that. Earlier this year I went through a period of only uploading once a week and I felt so creatively motivated that I increased it back up to two, but I don’t think I have enough creative or mental energy for that right now.

Did I need to write a whole blog post about why I’m going from two blog posts a week down to one a week? Absolutely not – I doubt anyone would have questioned it or noticed. But getting it out of my system is therapeutic for me and in essence; this post is as much about asking too much of ourselves as it is my personal relationship with my blogging schedule. If I’ve helped reassure one person that they’re not the only one struggling, especially creatively, as lockdown gets longer and longer, then I’ve used my platform for a purpose. If it doesn’t ‘help’ anyone in the way I see influencers talking about all the time, then it’s helped me, and that’s enough.

So I’m going to go back to one blog post a week. Because lockdown is getting to me and my creativity is shaky at best anyway.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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making the most of your wardrobe (without buying anything new)

2020, creativity, fashion, sustainability

Hello!

This is my third attempt at writing a blog post for today. I just couldn’t settle on idea but after browsing The Anna Edit for some inspiration, I thought I’d have a ramble about clothes as someone who doesn’t have the income to buy anything new but quite often feels overwhelmed by what I have.

Often, we can feel a little lack lustre with our wardrobe – the ‘I have nothing to wear while I’m staring at a full wardrobe’ syndrome. I’m by no means an expert – I haven’t nailed the capsule wardrobe, I still spend more time than I care to admit browsing clothing websites and I quite often end up wearing the same outfits again and again.

But I have been on a long relationship with refining my wardrobe – two years ago I sorted through my clothes and donated six bin bags of clothes I didn’t wear. I really don’t know how I ever fit them in my uni house in the first place. From there I continued refining my wardrobe – when I was packing to move I got rid of more clothes, when I unpacked I got rid of more clothes and two years later I have got a wardrobe that I feel works for all seasons and reflects my style, each item getting the appropriate amount of wear.

One of the key things I found helped with actually wearing everything in my wardrobe was storage – if you can’t see everything in your wardrobe, there’s no way you’ll remember everything you’ve got and several piles of clothes will just gather dust at the back of your shelves. In this respect, the seasonal capsule wardrobe works really well for this because you’re constantly switching out and keeping everything fresh but if that’s not what you want, some new storage solutions might be the way.

Whether it’s buying some shelf dividers, folding your clothes in a different way or just pulling everything out and starting again, refreshing how your wardrobe is organised will not only help you see everything better but it can also remind you of particular items you’ve not worn for a while that you still love!

The next thing I would recommend, is sorting through your wardrobe regularly to decide whether there’s anything you want to donate or replace or if there’s any gaps you think a new item may help with. I did a ‘wear it all’ challenge in February where I only wore each item in my wardrobe once throughout the month, then at the end of the month I went through everything that was left and it made me think about why I hadn’t worn it and whether I still wanted to keep it. I made a note in my bullet journal that I want to sort through my wardrobe again at the beginning of the September – as the summer starts to change into autumn I can think about which clothes I’ve been avoiding, bring my winter clothes to the front and get excited for chunky knits and cosy coats.

And lastly, if you’re feeling creatively stumped by your wardrobe, get crafty with it! Turn those dungarees into a playsuit (but probably get someone to help you make sure both legs are even!), add some patches to your favourite jeans (you can use any clothes you’ve put aside as spare material) or tie dye an old t-shirt or hoodie to give it a fresh look! The longer we’re in lockdown, the longer we’ll all be looking for something to do so why not get creative with your clothes? @lucid.seams on instagram up-cycles clothes with the most beautiful acrylic painting, @catherinehyden did this really cute embroidery on a t-shirt and my sister @lauradoesathing makes entire cosplay costumes, from scratch, designing her own patterns, and making actual clothes. You don’t have to be super skilled at sewing to try something new with your clothes.

Personal fashion and style changes so often, so finding new ways to wear clothes you already have and matching new pieces together can feel so creatively invigorating!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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saving money in quarantine | unemployed, full time student

2020, student

Hello!

Finances are tricky, no one understands taxes and where was the guidance to be able to financial support ourselves in adult life when we were in an enforced educational environment such as school, eh? (Gosh darn that would just be far too sensible and convenient)

Figuring out finances is bloody difficult and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but here are the things I’m doing to keep myself afloat at the moment when I’m an unemployed, full time student and coronavirus has turned the graduate job market to dust quicker than Thanos could find all the Infinity Stones.

*disclaimer: I’m very fortunate to be living with my partner who works full time and currently has been furloughed and still has income to pay rent, so I’ll be looking at saving money in other aspects of life but I appreciate I’m very lucky to still be financially stable in a pandemic*

  • write down everything

It can be a bit embarrassing at first to see how much money you spend at Tescos written down on paper (or how many Amazon orders you’ve made in the last six months…) but being able to see it all on paper and have a solid figure of what you’re actually spending is a good way to figure out where you can save money.

If you commute, is there a way to get a season ticket that would be more expensive initially but save money in the long run? Is your car insurance up for renewal and you could look for a better deal on comparison sites? Do you spend too much money on coffee and really need to reevaluate your relationship with caffeine and/or bring a cup from home? Little things like that can make all the difference.

Outside of lockdown, sometimes I found giving myself a cash limit was helpful as when it was gone it was gone. I definitely think much more about clothing items I want and whether they will bring my short term gratification or if I think it’s something I will actually wear.

Being aware of what you spend, how it adds up and comparing it month to month is a good place to start.

  • no spend month!

Maybe it doesn’t need to be a month but just a week or cutting out a particular purchase like clothes or coffee. I saw online about someone doing a no spend year and her friend gave her vouchers for her birthday so she could go shopping without spending her own money which I thought was lovely.

I’m doing a no spend month this month and I’m finding in lockdown it’s much easier because the little things you pick up on the go that build up – food, drinks, parking tickets, bus tickets etc – have already wound down. It’s the online shopping that will get you.

One thing I’m doing to combat this is just putting things in my Amazon basket and then not going any further – I’ve had the satisfaction of thinking of something I want and browsing and putting it in my basket and then I know that at the beginning of next month I will review whether I actually need it (and then come to the conclusion I have no money and not buy it anyway).

  • don’t save if you can’t afford it

The word save can be confusing – what I mean is try not to put pressure on yourself to put money into savings accounts if it just means you’re going to take it out again to do a weekly food shop. In 2019 I followed a weekly saving plan where I saved an extra pound a week (so £1 in week 1, £2 in week 2 etc). This worked up until about week 40 and then I just couldn’t afford it with moving house, ending up living in a hotel and… y’know, surviving and stuff.

Although I then ended up spending all my savings on being able to move across country for my degree and my boyfriend’s new job, I saved over £1000 that year and I learnt a lot about making sure I had money to put aside, planning ahead for driving lessons and a car etc.

Financial income ebbs and flows, especially if you’re in between studying and starting a career and a time for saving will come. If you feel like you want to put £5 a week in your savings account, go ahead; if you can afford £100 a month do it; if you’re watching the 20p of interest add up every month, that’s still progress.

I’m getting married in two years, I want to buy a house and have a baby and all of that takes a lot of money and saving, but right now I’ve got to keep myself afloat – it’s all steps and whilst planning for the future is important, there’s no point doing it to detriment yourself now or you’re never going to get there.

  • repurpose stuff you already have and it’ll feel like brand new

I’m not a fan of the phrase ‘upcycling’ but that might be because my mum hates it. The principle however – I’m a big fan. Since spending so much time at home I’ve cut the legs off my dungarees to make a cute playsuit for all the nice weather we’ve had (she types as the grey clouds loom outside her window…), I’ve cut up on old duvet cover we didn’t use and I’m going to teach myself how to make face masks, I’ve rediscovered old activity books that feel like ‘new toys’ (one’s called ‘1 page at a time: a daily creative companion’ and the other one is full of creative writing activities and exercises!).

Between revamping your wardrobe, shuffling around your belongings to rediscover old things or even learning new skills (drawing, cooking, photography, gardening, yoga and so on) – there’s so many things you can do at home that you can learn for free with materials you already have.

Lockdown is so different for everyone – some have had their entire lives turned upside down, some are working harder and longer hours than they’ve ever worked before and I’m privileged enough to stay at home, crack on with my masters degree and try all the new creative hobbies.

It’s taken me a few months to settle in to looking after my money and figuring out how I’m going to make it last over the long term. My ‘no spend’ month has been really eye opening that all these things I wanted that I thought I needed are so not necessary at all.

But also I’ve racked up a £200 Amazon basket waiting for my to click ‘buy’ so… depends on your definition of successful. I haven’t clicked ‘buy’ though so I guess that’s a win!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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setting up my weekly bullet journal spread

2020, creativity, organisation, student

Hello!

Whenever I write a post about how I lay out my bullet journal, someone messages it to tell me how they’re going to try and implement something I do in their journal or they’re going to try bullet journalling as a concept instead of their diary. So I thought I’d do a little update on how I lay out my weekly spreads, step by step!

My layout has remained the same for all of this year so far and it might be the longest time I’ve stuck with one design, but it’s really functional for me and right now with so much uncertainty in the world, having one thing on paper that I can always come back to is quite grounding, I find.

Rather than making all my blank weekly spreads in one go at the beginning of the month, I prefer to make them one week at a time – not only does this mean I get to sit down for half an hour every week and focus on something offline, but it means if I want to lay out any other spreads in between (like figuring out any finances, my uni assignments, any other notes) I have the freedom to do that. It’s probably not the most efficient but I don’t need filling in my weekly spreads to be efficient – having the task to come back to every week works well for me. But it’s personal, so you do you!

STEP 1

Creating the blank canvas – I use stamps to write ‘WEEK’ because I have them and it makes me feel crafty, then I draw my calendar, the divider on the left page, my weekly to do list check boxes, the daily to do list boxes on the right page and all the labelling. This is the most creative bit so this is actually the big I enjoy the most.

Also I don’t use a ruler to draw my lines because I like the almost ‘homemade’ look of freehand drawing them and following the dots means I don’t accidentally draw anything really wonky.

STEP 2

I fill in my June Goals and my Content boxes – the goals are the same every week so I copy them out from the previous spread and then I copy out the content I want to make from my monthly content plan. There was a little space at the bottom this week – sometimes I leave it blank, but a reminder to stay hydrated is never a bad thing!

STEP 3

Next I make my weekly to do list – this is an overarching list of what I want to achieve over the week that I will divide up into the daily to do lists. I make my weekly list digitally first so that I can figure out which 16 tasks I want to prioritise and in what order. Generally I have:

  • Dated tasks – like appointments, meetings or family quiz night
  • Uni work – currently just my dissertation
  • ‘Boring’ to dos – things like finances, cleaning the house etc
  • Stuff to do in quarantine – things that I don’t need to do but fill out my time a little more where I’m still stuck at home
  • Content – my blog and YouTube channel
  • Monthly goals – steps to help achieve my monthly goals
  • ‘Fun’ to dos – the stuff that isn’t as boring; painting my nails, watering my plants, little jobs that I don’t class as boring essentially!

STEP 4

(Sorry this photo’s a bit blurry – I have shaky hands and I can never tell!)

Next I fill in my daily tasks on the right hand side – this year I’m doing 1 Second Everyday and if I don’t write it down I forget so I put that in first. Some of my monthly goals involve daily tasks – like this month I want to try and do 5000 steps every day (it’s not going very well tbh!) and I’m doing Hannah Witton’s ‘Dear June’ instagram challenge but I thought three tasks written out everyday is going to mean I don’t have enough space to write other tasks in so I put them in one of the spare boxes at the bottom of the page.

STEP 5

I write in when I want to make a publish all my content, because if I don’t write it down I will forget. Breaking them down into smaller tasks rather than writing posts on the days I want to upload them or filming, editing and uploading in one day makes the overall task of producing content much more achievable – I spend maybe half an hour tops on each task (other than editing the video, that can take longer) and it means all my blog posts get properly proofread and no tasks feel too big to achieve.

STEP 6

Next I fill in uni work and the dated tasks – I’ve decided to give myself regular times each week to do my uni work so it feels like attending a lecture or something more time bound rather than ‘just do it’ because I will not do it, because procrastination is my middle name.

STEP 7

Fill in the rest! I definitely didn’t take this on a different day! Generally I go down my weekly list and assign tasks to different days – Sundays and Mondays are generally pretty similar every week but everything else just slots in wherever I fancy. If I’m having a really productive week then I’ll do tasks ahead of time anyway, but if I’m not, having only 6 (ish) tasks a day is generally pretty manageable. I’m getting better at not giving myself a hard time if I don’t get everything done.

And that’s my finished weekly spread! I know so many people are so much more artsy and creative with their bullet journals but mine’s always been about personal function and that’s what works for me.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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I HATE working from home

2020, lifestyle, mental health, student

Hello!

One thing I’ve been really struggling with in the latter half of lockdown so far (12 weeks and counting!) is working from home – after the initial boost of getting four assignments handed in on the same day, my motivation hit rock bottom – the two that were due the following week were a struggle and then I took a two week extension on the project that was due the week after (but with the extra time my partner-in-crime and Software Wizard Agata and I made this bomb animation called ‘Life After Lockdown‘).

But now that all my semester 2 deadlines are done and the only thing left is 5 months of looming dissertation deadlines, I feel even less motivated than I did before.

In my time on my undergraduate degree, I worked really hard to make my home a ‘work free environment’ – I would be on campus or in my favourite cafe (oh The Artisan, how I miss you) by 9am most days and would only really come home for dinner, at which point I would cook, play games with my boyfriend or do whatever not-work activities I wanted to do in my home environment.

I carried this over into my masters degree as much as possible – working on campus, making the most of group work whilst we were physically together and using the facilities, equipment and the computers that were better than mine.

Now that I’m facing doing my entire dissertation project at home? Every time I sit down to work on it, I feel this ball in my chest and I just can’t make progress – sitting down to read or write or learn more new software (because god knows the course didn’t actually prepare me for anything) is just so overwhelming. But I can’t afford to give myself a few weeks because I have other dissertation related deadlines before that where I have to document my progress, so I have to have progress to document.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m fortunate that I don’t have to balance a real job type work alongside my dissertation – many part-time students do and most people working from home at this point will be doing ‘proper’ work that they get paid for, not working on assignments, but the work from home struggle is universal regardless of what type of work.

A quote I see floating around a lot is ‘you’re not working from home, you’re at home, trying to work in a global crisis’ and I find that comforting when I’m finding it so difficult… but it doesn’t make the work any easier and the work still needs doing.

Something else I find difficult is working while my boyfriend is home – in our ‘normal life’, he’s either away working on live sports broadcasts around the country or at base 10-5, so if I wasn’t at uni I’d have the house to myself. Now, we’re in the same room all day every day because he spends most of his time playing games and my little office set up is in our open plan ground floor. Somehow over 12 weeks I haven’t got used to him talking on headset to his game friends and I just find it so much more difficult to concentrate when he’s here.

Sometimes it’s not even that he’s doing anything or saying anything – I can see the game on the TV even if he’s muted it, I just can’t work while he’s in the room. This isn’t something I can do anything about, but I’m more nervous about him potentially going back to work and being exposed to the virus so… there’s no winning!

I’m trying to be gentle with myself – beating myself up isn’t going to get the work done any quicker and it’s not going to motivate me at all.

Does confessing how much I’m struggling working from home really help anything? Not particularly, but I’m sure there are lots of people who’ve read everyone’s ‘working from home’ blog posts and watched all the videos and still not become the Working From Home Queens they hoped to be. Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that other people are still struggling, so I hope to provide that.

Starting is always the worst bit – once I’ve started and figured out what I’m doing more I’ll probably get into it but right now, it makes me want to cry a little bit so I’m going to do everything else on my to do list until there’s nothing else left.

Small progress is still progress!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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rediscovering my creativity: cross stitch – my new found love

2020, creativity

Hello!

I’ll be honest – my inspiration for blog posts is rock bottom right now so I’m stripping it back to basics; writing about something I’m enjoying in the present moment.

I went on a trip to hobbycraft at the beginning of this year to pick up supplies for my t-shirt blanket and whilst I was there I saw a cute baby elephant cross stitch kit… which promptly sat untouched for a couple of months.

But when lockdown hit and I wanted to force myself to find ways to spend time offline and off-screen, I started doing this cross stitch. A few sessions in I realised I missed the bit where it said to split the threads from six strands into two and had to fill in the rest with whatever I could find (which turned out to be purple) but the process got me hooked.

I wasn’t ready to jump straight in to designing my own patterns so I bought this ‘Positive Pants’ kit on Etsy – it was a bit more expensive, but the quality of the kit was much higher, it came with a hoop and a beautiful pattern on durable card (which I’m definitely keeping) and I enjoyed it even more than the first one. Potentially because I got the thing with separating the strands right this time but we’ll gloss over that bit.

Next step: design my own pattern. I bought some aida cloth and embroidery thread on Amazon, I used the needles I got from the two kits I’d done and I designed a pattern on Stitch Fiddle (which felt a lot like designing a logo on MarioKart DS when I was a kid) and then I was off – I assigned the colour codes from my threads to the colours on my pattern and started! I’m now maybe a couple of days away from finishing and I’m even more obsessed.

The creation process has made me feel creative in a whole new way – normally the way I express my creativity has been through words or digital media but this physical craft that I’m holding in my hands makes me feel so proud.

I’m making an ‘In the Garden’ sign for my dad for father’s day – he’s notoriously hard to get presents for but I’m not the kind to just sit back and get him another Costa voucher, I will forever strive to find the ‘wow I didn’t even know I wanted that!’ present for him. He’s never going to be blown away by any present I give him because that’s just not who he is as a person but I think he’ll really appreciate this one. Even if he doesn’t, I’ve had a whale of a time making it.

Now I’m trying to space out my cross stitching with other projects – I started knitting again in lockdown and I want to try making something new with that, but whilst I’m enjoying knitting it’s just not fired me up creatively in the same way cross stitch has. As I’m writing this I can see my nearly-finished design sitting just next to this and it’s taking all my will not to sack off my whole to do list today and just work on it because I love it so much.

It’s so therapeutic, sometimes I just put YouTube videos on in the background and it’s something to do with my hands and the final product is so rewarding.

If you’re interested in seeing my finished piece, keep an eye on my Instagram stories for progress pics and I’m sure I’ll post a grid picture when I’m done (my dad’s 72 and not the internet type, he won’t see it! Unless he’s made a sneaky instagram behind my back!).

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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