4 craft project I’ve made recently!

2023, crafting

Hello!

The start of 2023 has been a unique one, that’s for sure – I’m still unemployed, so it’s my first year in a while that I’m not getting back into the swing of work and just a couple of weeks into the year, my husband managed to have an accident on an electric scooter going 15 mph (which doesn’t sound fast, but resulted in seven stitches in his eyebrow, a fractured elbow and a lot of bruises and swelling!).

So it’s been a much slower start to the year – I’m back in therapy and I’ve just started working with a career coach so I have no doubt that I’m giving myself the right tools to get back into the workplace in the best frame of mind. As well as making the most of the time I have at home at the moment to work on lots of crafty projects and doing some offline activities -reading, learning to play the piano again and completing a 1000 piece puzzle! I’m putting a picture in because it was incredibly satisfying.

Figuring out where all the frame pieces went is way harder than it looked!

But having really got into using my Cricut at the end of last year, I’ve already made a start on some exciting new projects this year! Having shared the exciting potential with friends and family, two of these projects were requests from other people and two were personal projects. They’re all really easy, as I’m definitely still a beginner, so if I can do them anyone can!

1 – Kitchen Jar Labels

My first request came from my mum, who wanted labels for the jars in her new kitchen – she sent me a photo of the jars, I asked a few questions about the kind of font she wanted and colours and together we came up with the following.

The photo doesn’t show it very well but there are two layers of vinyl – a white drop shadow with a royal blue offset on top. They’re not perfectly aligned as it was my first time trying using vinyl this way (and I had a slight mishap with the vinyl cutting that missed the top of the ‘C’ in ‘Coffee’) but I’m so pleased with how these turned out and I think they’re going to look amazing when they’re put on the jars!

I’ll probably post a picture on my Instagram next time I visit my mum and transfer the stickers to their new homes!

2 – A Lunchbox Decor

My friend uses a tin ammunition box as a lunch box, mostly because it’s funny but also conveniently practical and hardy. He messaged me around the new year asking if I could make labels for his box that said ‘L.U.N.C.H’ in a stencil font with an acronym underneath and I’m absolutely thrilled with how these turned out.

I just bought myself some new fine point blades on Amazon because mine was so blunt and I was totally invigorated by how easy these were to make now that I was working with a sharp blade! I’m so pleased with how these came out and I think they really suit the vibe – the font goes really well with the army green and they genuinely look like they’ve been spray painted on!

And considering I completely eyeballed the placement I’m honestly thrilled with how it turned out and so was my friend!

3 – A Mood Board of my 2023 Goals

I made one of these in 2021 and I really loved it – I had it on the wall in my office and I loved having a nice selection of pictures that were all aesthetic and pretty and reminded me of the things I was working towards and I was passionate about. It was the year I went back to dance classes and started my bookstagram account and I included a bunch of nice Pinterest photos from my favourite franchises – some Doctor Who, some Spider-Man some space stuff, it brought me great joy.

The beginning of 2022 was a bit chaotic so I never got round to making another one, but this year I was determined! With my newfound Cricut skills I was so read to make it pretty and artsy.

Honestly? I prefer the design of my 2021 board, but I like the little titles and I got to use some pretty patterned paper that I’ve had saved for ages so I like the general vibe, I just think it would look better if it had more pictures and less gaps. The patterned paper hurts my eyes a little bit but I’m glad I tried something new and I’ve learnt for next time

(note: I did not tear up an innocent book just to use in this project – it was a well read book that had been water damaged so I’m using it to the best of my crafty abilities)

4 – A Galaxy Rocket Jacket

I used some vouchers I’d built up through my many Hobbycraft purchases to buy my first sheets of Infusible Ink, which is essentially a step up from Iron-On Vinyl as it actually bonds with the fabric rather than sitting on top of it (if that makes any sense at all).

It won’t surprise anyone who knows me that I got the galaxy infusible ink, because I’m a basic white girl with a space aesthetic and I’m not ashamed.

I chose to add a little rocket to my denim jacket because my husband and I, at one point, were considering merging our names when we got married and becoming ‘Rockett’ – we decided against the idea but have still kept it as a little thing for us. It also goes well with my space aesthetic.

So now I have a galaxy rocket jacket!

It’s a little bit faded and hasn’t transferred very evenly, but I think it looks kind of retro and worn in and I love it!

I’m seriously considering doing a bigger space themed piece on the back with some stars in a silver glitter iron on vinyl I have, but I’m definitely not going to rush into it.

I’m over the moon (lol) with how this came out and can’t wait to customise literally all of my clothes now.

So considering we’re only three weeks into the year, I’m pretty pleased with everything I’ve made so far! I’m seriously tempted to open a little Etsy store for custom items, but I don’t think I’m good enough at it yet. For now I’m going to stick with my own practice projects and making things for my friends!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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23 books for 2023

2023, books

Hello!

Books and reading appear to be my current hyper-fixation – I loved all the statistics that were being shared at the end of 2022 and managing to read seven books in December has really spurred me on for the beginning of this year.

I’ve already finished three books this year and I’m finally coming to the end of the Alex Rider series – I have just two more books to finish and then I can read something else! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series but after 13 books I will be very happy to read something else.

Although I am using the system of a tbr jar (all the unread books I own are on strips of paper in a jar – the jar choses what I read next!) there are lots of books that I would love to get round to reading this year. Will I get round to the them if I’m relying on the mystery of titles in a jar to determine my next read? Maybe not! But I thought I’d collate the list anyway!

One – The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

A contemporary romance I’ve heard loads about on TikTok and, in my experience, I’ve adored every contemporary romance I’ve read because of TikTok so I think this will be a good one for if I end up in a reading slump and I need something that’s easy to read that I can devour.

Two – Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom + Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Already picking more than one book and counting it as one! I’ve heard so many good things about the GrishaVerse and I think it’s one that I will thoroughly enjoy… when I get round to reading it. A lot of the cosplayers I follow on TikTok have done characters from these stories and I’m looking forward to understanding the references, honestly.

Three – The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

TikTok hype and Fantasy? Yeah, I think I’m going to like this one a lot. I’ve also convinced my partner to read this one too and we’ve already bought a very beautiful copy of the sequel The Atlas Paradox. I’m a sucker for pretty books with lots of hype, it seems.

Four – With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher

I preordered this book in 2021 and I never got round to reading it in 2022 so I really want to read it this year. I am a big fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher in her many endeavours but her books are hit and miss for me. I do like the fantastical realism in her first book On The Other Side so I’m hoping for something like that!

Five – My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth

An MCR joke in a contemporary romance sounds like a recipe for a book I’ll like very much. I also read somewhere that this author is the same as the writer of The Atlas Six and I kind of love that there are two such different books written by the same person both on my tbr.

Six – Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I wanted this book entirely because of the elements of the periodic table feature on the sprayed edges of the Waterstones edition and my husband bought it for me as a Christmas present and I don’t really know if I’m going to like the story but I’m excited to find out! Hopefully this year!

Seven – An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Another YouTuber turned author that I’ve been following for a very long time and now I want to read the book. I’ve heard fantastic things about the mental health representation and although I am starting to grow out of YA a bit, I love a contemporary story and I’m hoping it’ll be a nice easy one that I can get through quickly.

Eight – Loathe to Love You by Ali Hazelwood

I went to buy this on release day because I’m a slut for Ali Hazelwood – The Love Hypothesis and Love On The Brain were two of my favourite reads in 2022 and I’m really excited to read this collection of short stories. I’ve heard mixed things about them but that’s from a YouTuber who tends to be very critical of what she reads so I’m going in open minded.

Nine – Book Lovers by Emily Henry

I loved Beach Read by Emily Henry with the kind of ferocity of someone who is angry with how cute a puppy is. I adored it. I’ve seen lots of positive reviews of further Emily Henry books and with my love for Beach Read in mind, I’m very much looking forward to this one.

Ten – Babel by R. F. Kuang

Everyone on BookTok and bookstagram likes it and it’s pretty. Chunkier than most of the books I tend to read but maybe it’ll make me feel cultured.

Eleven – A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Mass

I’ve seen so many opinions on ACOTAR, definitely one that divides people but I do tend to like the books that are really popular. The thing with this is that if I like this then I have to commit to the whole series, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Twelve – Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

Another series? What do you mean I’m asking too much of myself? Another one I’ve seen on BookTok that I’m hoping I’ll devour as quickly as I devoured The Selection. A nice cheesy romance with some fantasy (I think?)

Thirteen – The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

I know, I’m three million years behind on this one, but I wasn’t that bothered by the concept and then it was super popular and now there’s a TV show so I now I feel like I need to read it. I read The Switch and enjoyed that as a harmless easy read, so hoping for the same from The Flat Share.

Fourteen – Alice Oseman novels

Solitaire, Loveless, I Was Born For This and Radio Silence. I believe they’re all set in the Heartstopper universe but Alice’s website says I can read them in whatever order I fancy so they’re all about different unconnected characters. I don’t think I’ve taken more than two days to read any Alice Oseman book so far but that’s been four graphic novels and two novellas so much shorter, but I can’t imagine I’ll take much longer to read the novels because I will get obsessed.

Fifteen – Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

I’ve had the sequel to this book, Spirit Walker, for maybe a decade? Probably even longer. But I got hold of the first in the series in… 2021 and now maybe I’ll actually read them!

Sixteen – God’s Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

I bought this for my husband’s birthday last year because we both love Greek God stories and then he recommended I read it, which I then added to my list and now we’re here. It’s on the list.

Seventeen – Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman

I want to watch the TV show. But I need to read the book first. I don’t think I need to say anything else.

Eighteen – His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

For our wedding, we had a reading from The Amber Spyglass as part of our ceremony. On our mini-moon, we realised that we should probably have a copy of the book considering the closest thing to a theme we had for our wedding was books. Next step: actually reading it.

Nineteen – Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

My sibling gifted me this book ages ago and, again, I want to watch the film so I need to read the book first. Apparently the book is better so it’s probably best if I start with that.

Twenty – Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’ve never read a TJR book and this is an author that has summoned a lot of hype so I should definitely read at least one, right? Daisy Jones and the Six is the one I’ve heard the most good things about and it’s about a band so I’m excited.

Twenty-One – Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

It’s got a pretty cover and I bought it recently. It hits all the dopamine spots – new and pretty.

Twenty-Two – Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Honestly, I don’t really know what this is about either but I’ve seen lots of hype and it’s got a pretty cover. I’m a basic bitch and I will judge a book by it’s cover.

Twenty-Three – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve ordered the rest of this list alphabetically by author’s surname but I wanted to drop this in at the bottom because Fangirl is my go to answer when someone asks what my favourite book is, so I’d like to reread it this year to see if it stands the test of time. We’ve just booked our honeymoon for two weeks in May so I might take it there with me and read it then.

I’m already having a minor complex about how many books I take on holiday, but worst comes to worst, I will sacrifice clothes. Books are more important than swimwear.

Realistically, I only read 39 books last year so if I make it through the 23(+) on this list based on the random titles I pull from my tbr jar with over 200 books in it, it will be a literal miracle. But if I don’t read them all, that’s also fine – they’re not going anywhere (because I will not throw away books).

Thank you for reading!

Sophie xx

every book I read in 2022

2022, 2023, books

Hello!

Although I didn’t read as much as I did in 2021, I still hit my 2022 reading goal and I’m proud of everything I did read – I started my tbr jar (‘to be read’ – a list of every book I own that’s never been read…) and promptly chose a series that I owned six books of but had 13 total… I’m yet to pull another title out of my tbr jar… but soon!

In December, I managed to read 7 books and I’m hoping to take that momentum into January. My goal for this year is 42 books – I started with 12 in 2020 so it would be one a month, then 25 in 2021 (because 24 felt weird) to be roughly two a month, then 2022 was 36 books. I read 39 total, so jumping to the next multiple of 12 to 48 felt like too much of a leap, so halfway between at 42 felt like a good balance and breaks down to three and a half books a month, which I think I can manage.

I’m nearly finished my first read of 2023 (Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz – the 10th book in the Alex Rider series) so I thought I’d do a summary of all the books I read in 2022, what I rated them and a quick summary of my thoughts – enjoy!

OneGet a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert (audiobook, 4 stars)
This audiobook is a fantastic example of how the voice of the narrator can completely change your relationship with the story – I found the voice of Chloe so incessantly annoying that I really thought I wasn’t enjoying myself, but actually it was heartwarming, a fantastic representation of invisible chronic illness and an honest insight into how hard it can be to break away from what’s easy. I’d like to reread in paperback and maybe try the sequels as well.

Two – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz (audiobook, 5 stars)
I was in two minds about reading this one as it sounded a little bit pretentious, but when I had an audible credit and the narrator is Lin Manuel Miranda, I had to give it a go. Although it was a bit poetic and metaphorical in places, at it’s heart it was a story of two boys just trying to figure the world out. In my book journal I wrote: ‘It was wholesome and emotional and funny in the perfect balance. It was raw and real and unapologetic in a way you don’t often see in YA.’ It was a lovely listen and I hope to pick up the sequel at some point.

Three – Talk Bookish To Me – Kate Bromley (paperback, 4 stars)
I categorise this book as ‘one of those one’s that’s in the deals section of The Works that I’ve never seen anyone talking about but is actually fantastic’ and this is why I keep going back to The Works (I got 8 books for £24 last time I was there). Another sub-genre that I appear to love is books about people who love books, who are writers or work in publishing. This was a nice easy romance read that was very relatable as someone who also likes books and writing and Instagram. A lovely read!

Four – Albion: The Legend of Arthur – Robert Valentine (audiobook, 1 star)
I was so excited about this audible find – a full cast story about the Legend of Arthur, one of my favourite legends and one I love to see retold? It was one of the most painfully long audiobooks I’ve ever listen to and this was when I realised a full cast without a narrator is incredibly difficult to follow when the entire cast is posh British men who don’t sound that different, and I’m meant to somehow differentiate between? As well as having basically no plot and killing off the main character at the end, it was a huge waste of time. Glad it was on Audible Plus and I didn’t have to use a credit!

Five – Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher (paperback, 3 stars)
I only really know about Giovanna Fletcher as an author because of her husband and sister-in-law and it’s the only reason I own her books, but I was quite disappointed in the writing of this one. The characters felt fake and stagey and it made it hard to connect to them, but it was an easy enough read and engaging enough to make me actually pick it up and read it every night. An average 3 stars!

Six – Grand Theft Astro – Scott Meyers (audiobook, 1 star)
I don’t know if I just haven’t read enough sci-fi, or if this one in particular was just really bland. Having an emotionally devoid protagonist narrated by someone who sounded like they were bored out of their mind was so difficult to listen to. Most of the story was really in depth description of the main characters actions – she did this, then she did this, then in a really detailed long-winded way of explaining it, she did this. It was so dull and considering it was about a space thief doing a series of massive heists, it should have been so cool!

Seven – Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher – (paperback, 3 stars)
I have this terrible habit with reading that I have to give everything a chance to get better – hence why I will finish a series I’m not enjoying and I only stopped reading (DNF – did not finish) one audiobook this year. It was the same, slightly-below average women’s fiction. In my journal I wrote: ‘Standard contemporary romance; easy to read, predictable proposal conclusion.’ The subplot with the protagonists’ mum’s wedding, how she was running the little cafe and her life in her little town was way better than the romance plot. In my journal I added: ‘Would have been a brilliant curveball if she’d met someone more settled and she and Billy parted ways amicably wanting the best for each other’ (and I think it would have made way more sense).

Eight – Ace of Shades – Amanda Foody (audiobook, 5 stars)
I adored this series. I knew there was a popular TikTok book called ‘Ace of Spades’ and I downloaded this in confusion but I have zero regrets. An epic YA fantasy that built the most brilliantly immersive universe with seamlessly integrated fantasy elements that it felt so real. The characters were sweet and flawed and self-aware and I adored this series so much – need to get myself copies of the paperbacks! Maybe even hardbacks if they’re pretty.

Nine – Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron (paperback, 2 stars)
Normally when I see books that are getting loads of hype online, I love them – I tend to have the same opinions as the majority but in this one I was so wrong. The concept was truly unbelievable, the laws and traditions make literally no sense and the ending was incredibly anticlimactic. The two main characters were so bland and I didn’t understand how anyone could feel any chemistry between them and it felt like shoving in some LGBT representation for the sake of it. I don’t understand. Donated this one immediately.

Ten – The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood (audiobook, 5 stars)
On the flipside, a TikTok book that I absolutely adored leading to me finding a new favourite author. What I wrote in my journal was: ‘Nerdy science shit? Enemies to lovers / fake dating / it was always you romance? YES PLEASE’ and there’s no other way to describe it. The characters were perfect, Adam the hero made my heart ache with love and wow, the spicy scenes were spicy. Considering I listened to most of my audiobooks while commuting to work, this felt borderline inappropriate and I kind of loved it. 100% adore Ali Hazelwood.

Eleven – The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang (audiobook, 5 stars)
Another fantastic book I saw getting lots of hype online but I was sold on it when I read the blurb on a random Waterstones trip and decided to use an Audible credit on it – an autistic main character! Whilst I’m on a waiting list to be diagnosed! The representation was beautiful and wow I love a dual narrative. Also incredibly spicy sex scenes again… oops?

Twelve – Where There’s A Will – Beth Corby (paperback, 4 stars)
I don’t know how or why I convinced myself this was a story about a guy called Will, but I really did. However, it was about an absolutely ridiculous challenge set by long lost Great-Uncle Donald in his will upon his death (no people called Will in sight) which leads protagonist Hannah to find out more about her family than she ever thought she could know, getting to know his assistant very well in the process. A lovely reminder to live in the present, take no shit and love wholly.

Thirteen – Heartstopper Volume 1 – Alice Oseman (paperback, 3 stars)
A surprise rating, but my first ever graphic novel and I think getting used to the format impacted my understanding of the story. Although I devoured it in one sitting and I found Nick and Charlie very cute, I found this format being so much faster pace meant I didn’t quite get to know them properly before it was all over. But I knew I needed to read Volume 2 before I watched the Netflix show…

But I also finished an audiobook in between so here’s that:

Fourteen – The Bridge Kingdom – Danielle L Jenson (audiobook, 4 stars)
I really thought this would be a smutty historical fantasy, but Audible Plus gave me so much more. Enemies to lovers, accidentally falling in love, manipulative political rivalry between Kingdom’s where a Princess has been trained as an intelligent killer. But by the time she realises everything she’s been told is a lie, it’s too late to save the Kingdom and it’s people she’s come to love. It was actually brilliant, though I don’t think it’s fantasy because there wasn’t any magic but it’s a bit historical and kind of mythical? The categories confuse me!

Fifteen – Heartstopper Volume 2 – Alice Oseman (paperback, 5 stars)
This is when I fell in love with Nick and Charlie. They’re the perfect representation of how wholeheartedly teenagers can fall in love, how difficult and complicated it can be to figure out emotions and sexuality and who your friends really are amongst the absolutely shambles that being a teenager is. And I’m going to take a moment to say Charlie’s casting in the Netflix show? Joe Locke was born to play Charlie – considering it’s a graphic novel and there’s less flexibility with what the characters can look like, it’s actually incredible how perfect he is to play Charlie.

Sixteen – The Traitor Queen – Danielle L Jenson (audiobook, 4 stars)
A fantastic second part to The Bridge Kingdom shows fantastic character development from Lara, the power of love despite betrayal and a fantastic demonstration of forced proximity and surviving in treacherous conditions to try and save the day. A lovely duology which I would happily revisit.

Seventeen – Love, Lucas – Chantele Sedgwick (audiobook, 2 stars)
I picked it because my now-husbands name is Lucas, but turns out the Lucas in this book is dead and his sister is trying to process her grief by reading a series of letters he left for her in his dying days. Angsty teenage romance that ended with the most ridiculous fight where she was definitely in the wrong and then the pivotal plot point was a shark attack? At the time of reading, I wrote in my journal: ‘An adult badly writing teenagers with no creative plot at all.’

Eighteen – Take The Shot – Susan White (audiobook, 3 stars)
Again, I keep making things up about books I download that aren’t true – assumed this was a sports romance, turns out it was a 14 year old with Marfan syndrome who loves basketball and is told he’s not allowed to play anymore. It was actually a harmless YA story of friendship, truth and lies that was easy to read and captivating. My first Australian audiobook too!

Nineteen – The Queen of Volts – Amanda Foody (audiobook, 4 stars)
Owing to an innate sexism I need to address, I made the incorrect assumption that ‘Queen’ came before ‘King’ in the sequels to Ace of Shades, so I actually listened to book three before book two which was only mildly confusing and still surprisingly easy to follow, which just further adds to Amanda Foody’s fantastic writing style and wonderful world building. I just wish I’d double checked the order before I listened to it.

Twenty – King of Fools – Amanda Foody (audiobook, 4 stars)
Though, there was an added suspense to reading them out of order that meant I knew of some major plot points that impacted book three and it was a waiting game as to when they would happen. The only reason I rated it four stars was because I actually found the supporting characters far more interesting than En and Levi – Tock deserves her own books, Jack and Sophia are really sweet and the introduction of Poppy Prescott was so fun. Definitely need to make time to re-read/listen to this (amongst my disgustingly long tbr…)

Twenty-One – The Mismatch – Sara Jafari (paperback, 5 stars)
I loved this book so much – I learnt so much about Iranian muslim culture and how it particularly impacts young people who’s parents grew up ingrained in the culture and figuring out where the line is for forcing that culture on their children now living in the UK. A wonderful intergenerational family drama/romance about the parallels and differences between a mother and her daughter’s romantic stories from the same age in different decades and countries. The romance was arguably the least interesting part of the story but absolutely wonderful nonetheless.

Twenty-Two – Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse – Alex Kingston (paperback, 2 stars)
The book that put me in a reading slump – a beautiful cover and one of my most anticipated books that I’d waited a really long time to get my hands on… and it was awful. The concept of the actress who plays the character writing a story about her was so interesting, but it just felt like a caricature of who River Song is and making a bunch of sassy, girl-boss jokes that didn’t land. Turns out, just because you play the character doesn’t mean you can write her.

Twenty-Three – Five Feet Apart – Rachel Lippencott (paperback, 5 stars)
Oh my heart. I’ve wanted to read this ever since I saw the advert for the film because I think Cole Sprouse looks adorable, but the story itself was just beautiful. I learnt a lot about cystic fibrosis and what it’s like to be a kid who lives with such a chronic condition, but on top of all that the characters were immediately so raw and authentic and real. My journal says: ‘It’s like John Green without the pretentious poetry and ‘I’m not like other girls’ attitude’ and that sums it up really.

Twenty-Four – Heartstopper Volume 3 – Alice Oseman (paperback, 5 stars)
By this point I am fully obsessed with Heartstopper and Nick and Charlie’s story – I love their characterisation, I love how inclusive the characters are and I’m starting to get used to the graphic novel style. Nick’s observation of Charlie’s mental health is the sweetest and most beautiful way to address such a heavy topic and, importantly, emphasise that it was not his job to ‘fix’ him. 10/10.

Twenty-Five – Heartstopper Volume 4 – Alice Oseman (paperback, 5 stars)
Perfection. I don’t cry at books generally, but this one had me on the edge of tears the whole time. How Alice Oseman has created such a compelling story with such loveable characters with so few words and some pictures is mind boggling. How I am full on obsessed with them makes me feel like I’m a fangirl on tumblr again.

Twenty-Six – Stormbreaker (Alex Rider #1) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 3 stars)
The first pick from my tbr jar! What I wrote in my journal was: ‘Nice, relatively short, generic YA read – nicely paced, not super obsessively in love with the characters but don’t hate them either – perfect middle ground’ and having just finished book 9 in the series, it’s funny seeing how I wrote about the first book. What I really learnt from Stormbreaker is how fantastic the 2006 film with Alex Pettyfer was made – a spot on adaptation.

I did accidentally have a reading slump for two months after I finished it as well as a mental health crisis, which might also reflect why I only gave it 3 stars.

Twenty-Seven – Love on the Brain – Ali Hazelwood (paperback, 5 stars)
My love, Ali Hazelwood. The one that brought me back from my reading slump and I started by reading this one by the beach in Brighton in October – cold, but lovely. Wonderful characters, really cool to have another science based protagonist and very, very spicy sex scenes. I could read Ali Hazelwood’s books on loop forever, I adore them so much.

Twenty-Eight – Nick and Charlie – Alice Oseman (borrowed, 5 stars)
I borrowed this novella from my sibling so had a time limit to read and return it, but I would have devoured it anyway. I didn’t think it was possible to love Nick and Charlie more but at seventeen and eighteen, going to parties with alcohol and not ashamed of talking about sex? Somehow Alice made them even better. I did prefer the novella format, though the intermittent drawings were lovely. I wasn’t sure what to write in my journal about this book that I hadn’t already written about the Heartstopper series, so I just wrote a list of things I love about Nick, Charlie and the Heartstopper universe and the point that just sprung out at me as I was looking back is ‘they’re big ol’ gay goofballs’ and honestly, that’s it.

Twenty-Nine – Point Blanc (Alex Rider #2) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
This was the point where I realised that just because it’s middle grade, doesn’t mean it can’t be dark and gripping – Alex as a protagonist may only be 14, but he’s been repeatedly put into life threatening scenarios and manipulated by MI6 and he’s aware of it. His awareness is a lot of the reason that makes the series feel so dark in a way. I believe the newer Amazon Alex Rider series starts with Point Blanc and I’m very intrigued to watch it.

Thirty – Skeleton Key (Alex Rider #3) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
With every novel in this series I’m more and more surprised that it’s recommended for 8-12 year olds and I have had a conversation with my god-mother’s 10 year old daughter about this series – Alex is put through so much and faces such evil that it really made me think about how there might actually be people like them out there in the world and it’s astonishing. In my journal I wrote: ‘It really does keep me guessing! Though that may be a poor reflection of my intellectual capabilities’. For now, we’re going to pretend it’s Anthony Horowitz’s genius, though.

Thirty-One – Eagle Strike (Alex Rider #4) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
Around this point I realised I wouldn’t be able to stop with the first six books in the series and I would need to acquire the remaining seven to have the full set of thirteen, though I would really like to use my tbr jar again. Another fantastic Alex Rider novel, which was actually the last novel I finished before I got married!

Thirty-Two – Scorpia (Alex Rider #5) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
The introduction of Scorpia and everything Alex learned about his dad in this one was honestly so enthralling I would consider bumping this one up to 5 stars in hindsight. Alex starts to scope out his own trouble without MI6 and I definitely don’t think this is suitable for children anymore, considering I found it heavy to burden a fourteen year old child with everything he’s been through, I definitely wouldn’t have coped with it when I was in primary school! Honestly, a fantastic addition to the series.

The rest of November was predominantly filled with writing for NaNoWriMo, so reading came back in December with the festive books I’ve been saving!

Thirty-Three – The Holiday Swap – Maggie Knox (paperback, 2 stars)
Although starting as a quirky, Hallmark-movie esque Christmas book, it became quite clear quite quickly that everything in this story would have been easier if the characters just talked to each other. How two women in a contemporary romance can be so detached from their phones (‘I lost it under the sofa and it ran out of charge for three days’… how!) would have been the least unbelievable bit, if it weren’t for the absolutely ridiculous epilogue.

Thirty-Four – The Christmas Murder Game – Alexandra Benedict (hardback, 5 stars)
I’m so glad I chose to read my Christmas books in this order because holy smokes The Christmas Murder Game was exquisite – I’m not much of a crime/mystery girl, or at least I didn’t think I was! The entire story was intriguing as I soon realised that not only was there lots that the protagonist didn’t know, but there was some things that the protagonist wasn’t sharing too. But the last 80 pages. I don’t want to say ‘everything’ happens in the last 80 pages but the story moved from nought to a hundred in a heartbeat and I am obsessed. Fantastically written, I’m definitely putting Alexandra Benedict’s ‘Murder on the Christmas Express’ on my list for next December!

Thirty-Five – This Winter – Alice Oseman (paperback, 4 stars)
Another story about Nick and Charlie, this time set during the Christmas of Volume 4 (I think?) told in three parts from the perspective of each of the Spring kids – starting with Tori, it was a heartwarming narrative of an outwardly heartless girl just wishing she could protect her brother from insensitive family comments during a difficult season for those with eating disorders. Then there was some lovely mushy stuff with Nick from Charlie’s perspective, all rounded off with a very sweet section from younger sibling Oliver’s perspective, showing how much little one’s really take in.

Thirty-Six – Ark Angel (Alex Rider #6) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
And with all my Christmas books read, it’s back on the Alex Rider train for the book that I met my reading goal with! I was seriously concerned I wouldn’t reach 36 books so I was really proud of myself for getting there. Ark Angel was a truly fantastic ‘end’ to Alex’s story (as it was meant to be, but of course an author that had worked so intently on such an engaging series couldn’t put it down!). The last few pages are an absolute rollercoaster that had me genuinely telling my husband about it in bed. Just astonishing.

Thirty-Seven – Snakehead (Alex Rider #7) – Anthony Horowitz (hardback, 4 stars)
The prettiest of the Alex Rider books that I have, probably a first edition from my husband’s collection when it was originally released. With more references to the organisation Scorpia, the promise of more information about his parents and working with yet another international intelligence organisation, Snakehead is as fast paced and exhilarating at the rest of the series, ending just days ahead of Alex’s 15th birthday.

Thirty-Eight – Crocodile Tears (Alex Rider #8) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
With more brilliantly written enemies, incredibly clever plot and an extreme attempt on Alex’s life at the end, I was as hooked on Crocodile Tears as I have been with every other book in the series. Though, at this point I think it’s pretty 50:50 that I’m trying to read these books quickly because 1) they’re very good and I’m enjoying them and 2) I’d really like to read about someone other than Alex Rider now!

Thirty-Nine – Scorpia Rising (Alex Rider #9) – Anthony Horowitz (paperback, 4 stars)
Scorpia is such a wonderful villain organisation and the reformed members plotting their revenge on Alex Rider by playing MI6 like a game was truly brilliant – the whole series continues to be clever, action-packed with just a touch of wit from a 15 year old who is bored of taking things too seriously. I was so determined to finish this on New Year’s Eve so I could go into 2023 with a brand new book, so I read over 50% of this book in a day (which is a lot for me) whilst sat in a broadcast truck at the Wolverhampton vs Man U football game (my husband took me to work).

This one is supposedly the last in the books about Alex Rider, with book 10 looking into the origin story of Yassen Gregorovich (which I’ve nearly finished and has been fantastic!) so I’m not sure what books 11, 12 and 13 are about but if you want to find out with me my reading Instagram would be the place to look! I post a review of every single book I read there plus I’ve just ‘announced’ (if you can even call it that) a new book club and the book I’ve chosen for January, if you’d like to read along.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations! You just read 4000 words of rambling about books – I’ll have to come up with a shorter form of recap next year but in the meantime, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and are reading lots of amazing stories!

Thank you,

Sophie xx

Goals for 2023

2022, goals

Hello!

It’s that time of year again and honestly, I’m not as excited for setting my 2023 goals as I usually would be – looking back on my goals for last year is actually pretty depressing, with 2 of my professional goals being flat out fails and the third being maybe 75% successful (and it was only to update my portfolio instagram account once a week so it wasn’t a tricky one anyway).

My personal goals were another mixed batch – I managed all but 10 days of Duolingo (so 355 days in total!) so I’d call that a 97.2% success rate (yes I did the maths), I changed my mind about wanting to make cosplay costumes so that was a fail and blogging once a week I managed 41 posts (42 including this one!) so an 80.7% success rate on that one.

Do percentages make me sound more like I know what I’m doing?

My ‘home’ goals were much more successful – I finished planning my wedding and got married! I also did a weekly savings challenge where I managed to save £1379 over the year despite losing my job – I’m so proud of myself and very, very grateful for the support network I have around me that made it possible. We didn’t manage a summer holiday, but it was all in favour of saving for the wedding which I think was completely worth it.

Of my 10 other random goals, I have hit my reading goal, I only bought a few books so my book buying ban went pretty well, I went to a museum, I went to a concert (with my mum to of one of her favourite bands, which in turn led me to include one of their songs in our wedding which meant a lot to both of us), I went to a new place on our mini-moon, I updated my wardrobe seasonally, I did pretty appallingly on my four warm-up writing challenges but then managed to write 50k for NaNoWriMo in November, we managed monthly date nights every month but one, I barely did any crafting in the first three quarters of the year then did basically nothing but crafting in the last quarter and I have not missed a single day of my 1 Second Everyday video (I’ll share that on January 1st!).

So all in all, a very mixed bag – but thinking about it now, I definitely prioritised the things that mean the most to me and I have used what wasn’t so successful in this year’s goals to plan my 2023 ones.

A brief explanation of how I plan my goals – I have three goals in each category of Professional, Personal and Home (and five years on from my first yearly goals, I’m still figuring out what those things mean!) and then I have 10 ‘aims’ (I used to call them bucket list goals but that felt a bit morbid).

To try and prevent this blog post from being longer than my dissertation, here’s what I will be working on in 2023:

P R O F E S S I O N A L :

  1. I got myself a new iPad this year (it turns out my old one doesn’t work as well after 10 years) and I want to learn to use ProCreate – I’ve had an itch to practice drawing for a while and I think digital art will really suit me and go well with my other crafty hobbies. I’ve found a few YouTube videos and I’m tempted to try a SkillShare course if I need more guidance. I’m sure I’ll have an art Instagram in no time!
  2. I want to take a website design course – having been blogging for approximately nine years (😱) I should really know how to make my blog look prettier, but I have no idea. I’m thinking of starting a separate creative writing blog to go alongside this one and that might be a good project for me to learn with.
  3. A repeat from last year – I want to update my portfolio instagram once a week. What I want to start including more of is stuff from my personal life (reading, crafting, life events etc) to show more of my soft skills and what I can bring to a working environment.

P E R S O N A L :

  1. Blog every week – I managed 42 this year, I want to get to the full 52. I need to start planning further in advance, writing earlier in the week – I don’t have to write a post the day before/the day of posting! I can get ahead! So achieving this one is going to be more about time management than anything else.
  2. Creative Writing – rather than doing intense monthly challenges, I want to do 1000 words a week. This much slower pace might help me maintain feeling creative over a whole year, rather than in highs and lows. I will probably still want to at least try to win NaNoWriMo again though, because I know what I’m like.
  3. Read 42 books – I’ve moved my reading goal into a different category this year, mostly before I think it makes more sense here. For the past three years, I’ve set my goal in increments of 12 so I can easily tell how many books I’m meant to read a month – but I only just made it past my goal of 36, so reaching for the next step of 48 felt too much. So going halfway in between feels like a good step for me and I’m really happy with it.

H O M E :

  1. I’d like to go on two holidays this year – this sounds so bougie of me, I know, but we’ve just booked our honeymoon to go to Greece in May and I’d love to do another break around September, whether it’s a UK break or exploring more of the world, I think we’ll be able to do it.
  2. Savings – now the wedding is done (though still being paid for lol), I need to up my game with my savings. Although I’m still currently unemployed, I want to be far more regimented with my finances this year because I got too lazy too many times in 2022.
  3. And another return goal – I want to continue my Seasonal Wardrobe updates – in switching my clothes around regularly, it forces me to think about what I actually wear and what I’m consistently avoiding. I donated five carrier bags of clothes just before Christmas and I’m hoping that by this time next year, my wardrobe will be a bit less stuffed and have a few more investment pieces.

1 0 A I M S :

Some quick fire ones to end with!

  1. See a musical I haven’t seen before (I’m seeing Once in March!)
  2. Take Lucas to see Les Miserables (my all-time favourite musical)
  3. Go to a ballet
  4. Go to a play
  5. Go to a new place (already booked – bring on Greece!)
  6. Go to a museum
  7. Learn a new piece on the piano
  8. Duolingo every day
  9. Monthly Roberts’ Book Club with Lucas and the books we received as our wedding gifts
  10. 1 Second Everyday 2023!

And that’s it! I think these are really achievable goals and I think they’re setting me up to have a much better 2023!

This year has felt so mixed – it’s been the most turbulent of my life and arguably one of the worst, but it is the year I got married so I feel like I should be nicer about it.

One thing that is wholeheartedly true, is that it is now behind us!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate, a lovely Sunday if you didn’t and hoping you have a Happy New Year! All the best for 2023!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

looking back on 2022

2022, lifestyle

Hello!

As Christmas approaches and the New Year is looming, everyone is sharing their Spotify Wrapped, photo dumps from the year and their achievements of 2022 and whilst sometimes it feels a bit intimidating to be inundated with the most polished highlights of people’s lives, it’s nice to see people being proud of themselves and celebrating lovely things.

I’m not pretentious enough to think I’m any different – I’m sure I’ll do my own wrap up at some stage and I’ve been working on my 1 Second Everyday video all year and I’ll definitely be posting that at some point. But I wanted to do my own little wrap up trying to show both the good and the bad – it’s been a very mixed year but I want to try and keep it real and this is the way I could feel to find the balance between ‘best year ever’ and ‘worst year ever’.

So here are ten good things (interspersed with four less good things) that I did in 2022.

+ got married

Well, I couldn’t start with anything else could I! I honestly can’t help but feel the best ache in my chest when I think about it because my heart is so full – our wedding day was perfect, I have never felt surrounded by so much love in my entire life and I can wholeheartedly say it was the best day of my life. I keep finding myself scrolling through the photos and I’m eagerly anticipating seeing our video next year (trailer here if anyone is interested!). It had to go first on the list – my biggest achievement of the year and, maybe, my life.

+ duolingo

Not quite the same level, but I have been learning French on Duolingo for a whole year! I have a streak of about 350 days and thanks to streak freezes I’ve not lost that streak on days I’ve missed (no, I did not do a lesson on my wedding day) but I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made and I’m still really enjoying learning the language! I’m definitely going to continue this into 2023.

– lost my job

The first negative is the biggest, no doubt (I figured the post would be nicer to read here on out!). It was a huge and unexpected blow that has left me with quite severe trauma, but my boss was an asshole, I have to have faith that karma will come back to bite him in the ass and I’m starting therapy again in the New Year so I can work through this jarring event. Along with working with a career coach who specialises in working with people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and those who are waiting on a diagnosis (me), I’m hoping to really work on my professional confidence and find a job that makes me truly happy next year.

+ hit my reading goal

Back to the positive – I hit my reading goal of 36 books this year! It’s not as much as I read last year, but that’s why I set my goal where it is rather than pushing myself too much. I’m very conscious of making sure reading remains a fun hobby and doesn’t feel like a chore to match the numbers – I started with a goal of 12 books in 2020 (I read 38), 25 books in 2021 (I read 45) and 36 books in 2022; although it’s less than I’ve read before, I’ve read more consistently this year despite everything else. Rather than adding 12 to my goal and aiming for 48 when I’ve never read that much before, my goal for next year is 42 – three and a half books per month! And I have plenty of books to choose from.

+ cricut got me back into my crafting habits

Oh, my beloved cricut. A birthday present from 2021 that I didn’t start using until 2022 because I found it intimidating, but then we crafted lots for the wedding and now I’m obsessed. For Christmas this year we’ve made t-shirts, name place cards for the dining table and our own gift tags (because I forgot to buy any and I’m cheap). But it’s also led me to back to another craft hobby I love – cross stitching. I’ve very much enjoyed in the last week doing some Christmas cross stitch whilst binge watching Teen Wolf Season 6 ahead of the movie releasing in January. I’m definitely going to make the most of the time I have whilst I’m between jobs to find my creativity again because getting back into crafting has been so good for that.

– mental health crisis

Yeah… after a severe panic attack at work in August and another one at home that following weekend, I made a call to the doctors and they suggested trying new meds. After three months of medication that made me feel incredibly nauseous and some of the most stressful life events of my life, I had a really productive conversation with a doctor who recommended doubling the dosage and everything feels so much better now. I don’t want to jinx it, but I don’t feel as nauseous and I’m nowhere near as anxious. I’m definitely in a much better position mentally for the New Year.

+ I was in a dance show!

A nice happy one to change the tone again! I started dance classes again in September 2021 and being in a show in March 2022 was so much fun – I was in two dances, I got sparkly costumes, I got to experience performing again and I absolutely adored it. I’m probably too old for it and I’m not sure all these kids’ parents wanted to see a bunch of adults dancing but I had a fantastic time.

+ weekly savings challenge

I found a challenge in 2019 where each week you save a pound more – so £1, then £2, then £3 etc. I’ve not yet done the last week but I have successfully done 51 weeks of saving for this challenge and I am so proud of myself – not just of achieving this saving goal whilst being unemployed for the last quarter of the year, but for managing my finances to plan ahead for weekly saving – even at the end of the month just before payday! I still find money management difficult as impulse spending when I’m depressed is my go to method of self-sabotage, apparently, but I’m getting better and that’s all I can endeavour to do.

– couldn’t save as much money as I hoped to

On the flip side, I didn’t save as much as I wanted to – the wedding was really difficult to finance and things just didn’t go our way. But when I have an income again, I know that I can be good at savings when I really focus – as detailed above – so we will get there!

+ I wrote 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo

I then wrote about a thousand more words talking about my NaNoWriMo win in a blog post but I just love that I managed to win NaNo for the second time exactly 10 years after the first time I did. It hugely inspired me to get back into creative writing and 2023 will be the year I finish another original novel – I’m putting the energy out into the universe!

+ I lost 2 stone, danced for a whole year and started consistently going to the gym

Amongst all the stress, comfort eating and days where I was too depressed to get out of bed, I actually exercised consistently for the first time since I was a teenager. I started at three dance classes a week, then moved into four in September (three in one night!) as well as going to the gym more, getting a personal trainer and actually starting to enjoy it and all in all, I managed to lose 2 stone.

Ironically, it would have been more if I didn’t have to stop losing weight to make sure my wedding dress fit! But I’m actually excited to get back to a more healthy lifestyle in January – I love vegetables, I love having a routine so exercising regularly will help that and I can’t wait to feel healthier in my body.

– still waiting for an autism diagnosis

The last con of the year – I’m still waiting for my Autism referral consultation that will almost inevitably lead to a diagnosis (words said by my therapist, my career coach and my mum). 2023 will be two years since I was referred and I’m hoping it’ll be the year I get the piece of paper and I can get more support for having accommodations in place both professionally and in my day to day life.

+ bought my first pair of pointe shoes in seven years and feel stronger than ever!

I didn’t think there’d be three dance based achievements but I’m realising that despite not being good enough or fit enough to make dance my career, it’s definitely one of my special interests.

When my ballet friend bought a pair of point shoes and started going to pointe classes, I was easily convinced to join her – in August I bought my first pair of pointe shoes since before I went to uni as a teenager and started in the beginner class. In January, I’m moving up to the intermediate class and my teachers have been so supportive – I’m feeling stronger and I can see the progress I’m making within myself and I can’t wait to see where I am this time next year! Hopefully not with a broken ankle.

+ used my bullet journal (almost) every single day

A nice, relevant, organisational one to end on – it feels like literally yesterday that I started seeing bullet journal update videos on TikTok that convinced me to adapt how I use my journal every day to track habits, record highlights and hold myself accountable! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending five minutes at the end of each day with my coloured pens, holding myself accountable to the daily habits I want to maintain and documenting one positive every single day. I’ve just finished making my 2023 spreads and I’m so excited to continue adapting my journal to best support what I need next year.

2022 has been an absolutely rollercoaster and I’m hoping to slow things down in 2023 – to feel less rushed, put less pressure on myself and be more intentional with my time. But that’s all well and good until life happens isn’t it? I’m working on my reactions to stressful situations to be less panicked and more thoughtful.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year period! I’ve literally just finished writing my 2023 goals and I’m feeling really good about them, so I’ll be back in the New Year to ramble all about them!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

getting started with my Cricut!

2022, crafting

Hello!

My husband (still getting used to that!) bought me my cricut for my birthday in 2021 and honestly, it sat untouched for over a year before we decided together to figure it out and use it for some crafts for our wedding.

Now, we are headfirst obsessed with it – I’m now much more confident in using it on my own (I get very easily overwhelmed by new things, so he helps me figure it all out) and I’ve got so many ideas for projects! I keep resisting the urge to buy everything cricut related (I need vinyl in all the colours).

So I thought I’d collate a few of my tips for starting out with the Cricut! Because the whole world of cricut can be incredibly overwhelming at the beginning.

I have a Cricut Explore Air 2 – I don’t know much about the machine models, I know the ‘Maker’ series can work with a lot more complex materials but I don’t know the difference between the ‘Explore’ and the ‘Explore Air’ series, but so far I’ve not had anything that my machine can’t do.

For the wedding in particular, we used the cricut to make our seating plan.

I found that starting with a drawing and cutting paper project rather than vinyl was much less intimidating, both because it wasn’t a brand new material and because the vinyls are quite expensive so I didn’t want to waste them. We started by choosing a font for writing everyone’s names, then by cutting out the white and green circles. It took us a little while to get used to Cricut Design Space, but honestly between Google and random YouTube videos, any questions we had were incredibly easy to answer. We ended up choosing a font that didn’t need ‘filling in’ (so it was just a single line, if that makes sense!) and the cuts were very basic, so it was a really good place to start.

What we ended up making the most of with the cricut, was using the precision drawing to actually draw a line on the green card so we could line up the white circles exactly in the centre when we got round to sticking them together. It was so easy to line up two circles in Design Space, set one as draw and one as cut and then off it went! It was such a tiny thing to do but having the cricut made it so easy.

The next thing we did was make the vinyl stickers for the titular wording – it was so easy to choose a font, cut it out, weed off all the excess vinyl and line it all up. Initially we thought we could just peel off the stickers and line them up but we massively underestimated how useful the transfer tape would be – being able to transfer everything in one go (especially in the words where some of the letters weren’t connected!) made it all much smoother.

Having such large font for our first vinyl project definitely made it easier, as some projects I’ve worked on since that have been much smaller have been incredibly fiddly and frustrating so starting bigger was definitely less intimidating.

The next thing we used the cricut for was stencils for our welcome sign.

We’d already been through a whole process in dismantling a couple of pallets, putting on multiple layers of wood stain and gluing it all together, that when it came to painting the lettering on I was actually really anxious of messing it all up.

At first, we used white paint that my mum had lying around but it turned out to be primer paint so it was much thinner and runnier than we needed it to be. We had some wedding themed stencils I’d picked up from Hobbycraft and the first version we did looked awful. Luckily, my husband worked through my frustration to wipe it all off (still not sure how he did it tbh) and we tried again much more carefully. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do.

Then when it got to writing our names, I didn’t feel confident enough to do it freehand so we used some of the leftover white card from the seating plan to make stencils which I then filled in with an acrylic paint we picked up in one of our numerous trips to Hobbycraft. Using a little masking tape to hold everything in place made this such a simple process, the only thing was I couldn’t figure out how to make a stencil that would work with letters with holes in (for example, the ‘o’, ‘p’ and ‘e’ in Sophie) so I had to improvise with those but I think it turned out okay in the end! I also found a love for painting in this time – I’m no artist, but give me one colour to paint over and I’m golden. It was so therapeutic!

I then used a staple gun my mum leant me (a bold move, if I do say so myself) to attach some foliage to make a border and honestly, I love how it turned out. I’d love to repurpose it to use again for any other events we may host in the future!

The last project we did for the wedding using the cricut was a much more complicated one – we took a generic white postbox (again from Hobbycraft), painted it blue with acrylic (that I was incredibly lucky it was such a good colour match!) and added the windows, the black sign and the writing of the TARDIS from Doctor Who!

This was surprisingly challenging on two fronts – the text on ‘POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX’ was incredibly fiddly so making sure I weeded all the excess vinyl away correctly and didn’t move anything was tricky, but then the windows (which were just six boxes!) were more difficult to transfer from the vinyl sheet to the box because making sure they had properly stuck to the transfer tape was more challenging than anticipated!

But we are actually ridiculously proud of how this one turned out – to know we made this basically from scratch ourselves was so satisfying and it’s now sat in pride of place in our living room as a wedding memory box with all our cards and some other bits and bobs from the day.

It’s mad how what is essentially a few stickers can really bring a project together!

And now, we’re full on obsessed with all the things we can make with the Cricut – we attempted making some confetti out of old book pages, I attempted to make some stickers for a wedding scrapbook (though the transfer tape stuck too much to the cover!) and I made these Christmas tree decorations that I’m so, so proud of.

As a joint Christmas present to ourselves, we’ve just invested in the Cricut Heat Press, so now we’re experimenting in the world of heat transfer vinyl to make t-shirts, tote bags and anything else we could possibly iron some vinyl on to so watch this space for any more creations! I’m seriously considering starting an Etsy store, but I definitely don’t think I’m at the level yet where what we’re making is good enough for people to pay real money for. Maybe one day!

If you have any questions about starting out with a cricut or have any tips for someone who’s still figuring it all out, please let me know! I’m spending a lot of time on cricut tiktok at the moment!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

things that make me smile – Christmas Edition

2022, christmas

Hello!

I haven’t done one of these for a while and things are a bit… bleak in my brain at the moment so I thought I’d write a list of all the things that have brought me joy in the Christmas season!

  1. Having squares of chocolate for breakfast and it being societally acceptable because it’s an advent calendar.
  2. Having my husband home from working on the World Cup in Qatar, especially when he surprised me by putting on his Christmas pyjamas that make him look extra adorable.
  3. Mince pies. I am restraining myself but I could eat a pack a day, I swear.
  4. Our new tree! We’ve always had fake trees in our families and whilst we had a lovely tree that was second hand from my mum, when my aunt told us about a 7ft6 tree in the sale for £30 at B&Q I was there – we now have a tree that is taller than my husband and it’s beautiful.
  5. I don’t like buying lots of new decorations every year because I feel it’s wasteful when there’s plenty of perfectly good decorations in our collection, however we went to a pub that had these tinsel dinosaurs and whilst I wanted to put one in my bag, my husband did the sensible thing and asked where they were from. The next day we went to the Range and now we have festive t-rex’s.
  6. Cosy nights in – I know a lot of people hate the dark nights, but I kind of love it? When you’re inside, the fairy lights are twinkling, you’re tucked up under a blanket with your favourite person watching something fun on TV? Absolute bliss. Controversial opinion – I love summer evenings with friends and BBQs but the 99% of summer that I’m not doing that, I hate that it’s still light when I go to bed. And the summer time clock change? Don’t get me started.
  7. Expanding on my previous point – fairy lights. I love fairy lights. In the last two houses we’ve moved in to, one of the first things I’ve done to decorate is put up fairy lights in a variety of rooms. I absolutely adore them and the dark evenings are the perfect time to maximise twinkly light time.
  8. Planning presents – don’t get me wrong, Christmas shopping can be stressful, but I love making lists and planning things so when everything comes together and you realise you’ve got everything you need? That is a level of satisfying that is unmatched – you don’t get that at any other time of year!
  9. Frosty mornings – granted, I would like these less if I still had a 7am commute to work, but waking up to crisp white outside my bedroom window and seeing the way it glitters in the sunlight? I love it. Predominantly from inside though.
  10. Knitwear. Scarves, jumpers, fluffy socks, fleece lined tights, layers on layers on layers. I love my winter wardrobe.
  11. New Christmas bedding! Again, I don’t buy new bedding every year because that would be so wasteful, but in the post-Christmas sales last year we bought adorable bedding with gingerbread shapes all over it and actually being able to use it this year has been so exciting!
  12. Planning my 2023 Goals – more New Year than Christmas but it’s one of my favourite parts of the season. I love goal setting and each year I get better at setting goals that are more attuned to my wants and actually achieving them! It’s been a hard lesson to learn to let go of some things (rather than make myself do it for the sake of ‘completing a goal’) but knowing what I don’t want to work on in various aspects of my life is as important as what I do want to work on.
  13. Christmas Specials on TV – although we won’t be getting a Doctor Who Christmas Special this year, I’ve already seen ads for Taskmaster and The Great British Bake-Off as well as the new Matilda movie coming to Netflix on Christmas Day! And Big Fat Quiz of the Year is always a staple in our house.
  14. Christmas music – the old classics; Step Into Christmas, Last Christmas, Stop The Cavalry, they’ll always be my favourites, but my husband and I have an ongoing festive playlist that includes surprisingly catchy songs such as You Make It Feel Like Christmas (Gwen Stefani), It’s Christmas Time (Macklemore), and A Very Spidey Christmas featuring Chris Pine as Spider-Man. Go listen, you will have no regrets.
  15. The Annual Trip To The Garden Centre – it’s not really Christmas if my mum and I don’t go to her local garden centre to look at all the Christmas stuff and I get to pick a decoration. Which leads to…
  16. My husband picking the most ridiculous new decoration every year. This year it was a crocodile fairy in some sort of glittery tutu and wings that look suspiciously like a Native American Indian Headdress. A couple of years ago it was a festive crab. They live on the back of the tree.
  17. Making paper chains – a simple but classic tradition in my house.
  18. Cooking! I know some people dread cooking the Christmas dinner, but this year will be our first year having people to us for Christmas and I’m excited for us all to be milling about in the kitchen and helping out and having lots of leftovers. PoppyCooks 12 Days of Christmas Potatoes series on tiktok has been very inspiring (and looks incredibly delicious).
  19. Reading festive books – I’ve got a couple of books that I’ve been saving for this time of year and I’m currently working my way through a Cluedo-esque Christmas murder mystery and it’s very intriguing. It’s called ‘The Christmas Murder Game’ by Alexandra Benedict.
  20. Seeing other people’s exciting Christmas activities on socials – my friend’s children meeting Santa? A trip to a local light show? A cute Christmas market in a town or city that’s nowhere near me? Yes. Please. I love Christmas and I love seeing other people having a lovely time!
  21. Hot chocolates. I don’t think I need to explain this.
  22. All the festive party food in the supermarkets – my husband and I have made it a tradition to have our Christmas Eve meal to be all the beige party food and it’s one I hope we continue for as long as possible. Gimme those potato skins.
  23. I don’t know why, but board games, card games and puzzles are so much more popular at Christmas and I know I’m so excited to spend some time off screen this year and really be in the moment with the people I’m spending Christmas day with – it’s going to be a small one this year so lots of food, lots of games and good company sounds perfect to me!
  24. Watching Arthur Christmas on Christmas Eve. An incredibly underrated Christmas film, in my opinion, and realistically the only one I will watch this year.
  25. My tinsel curtain! What started as a silly surprise for my mum when we lived with her after graduating has become something that I look forward to every year. Don’t ask me how much money I’ve spent on tinsel.

Even just writing this post has put me in the nicest mood! Sometimes forcing yourself to find positives can be a great way to prove to your brain that they are there, even when instinct tells you they’re not.

Hope you’re feeling festive and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

I won NaNoWriMo!

2022, mental health, writing

Hello!

My first attempt at the NaNoWriMo writing challenge (National Novel Writing Month – 50,000 words in the 30 days of November) was in 2011 – it was for a novel idea which I’d called ‘On The Flipside’ (which I still think is a decent idea, maybe I should come back to it at some point!) but I didn’t put anywhere near enough planning in so I struggled up to 15k and had to call it quits. I was only 15.

In 2012, I won NaNoWriMo with the first novel I finished – ‘Type 3: Hyper-Intelligent’, my zombie apocalypse story was planned in advance and completed during my GCSE mock exams and my best friend at the time had major spinal surgery. It’s one of my proudest achievements to date and whilst I don’t think the story will ever quite see the light of day, it showed me that I had what it takes to plan a full on book.

In the ten years since then (I cannot believe it’s been 10 years), I’ve tried it a few times here and there – I’ve never had the right idea to turn into a full length story, let alone the inclination and motivation to do it and take it to fifty thousand words.

This year wasn’t much different – I was intending to use it as a planning period to flesh out a bunch of ideas that I could turn to next year, but I returned to my usual tactic of finding a thirty day word prompt challenge and writing a bunch of short stories – some barely covered the 1,667 word daily word count goal, some reached three or four days worth of word count. I only ended up using 16 of the 30 word prompts I’d found.

But I did it. 10 years on from my first NaNoWriMo win, I did it again – but not only did I write fifty thousand words, I did it in a month I got married, didn’t write on my mini-moon, my new husband then left to work on the World Cup in Qatar and I sank back into the worst depression I’ve had in my life (being fired in September has actually destroyed my mental health, but that’s a different story).

I hit the word count for three days, took ten days off writing then managed to hit 50k by the 29th – I wrote fifty thousand words in 19 days.

These last couple of months have been incredibly hard – my mental health was hugely suffering at the end of the summer, I changed new meds, I had panic attacks like I’d never had before, and then I got fired which snowballed everything into being a hundred times worse. I’ve not been able to sleep properly, it takes me hours to get out of bed and my anxiety has been manifesting into physical symptoms that make me feel ill 80% of the time.

I’m not looking for pity, but all these things rolled together meant I truly believed I was never going to be able to achieve a challenge like this – with no proper storyline, most of my writing only taking place between 10pm and 2am and barely being able to look after myself like a basic human, it didn’t seem like there was any way I could really do this.

But now I’m more inspired than ever – I did it; I did it 10 years ago in the middle of my exams, I did it this year with over a week of no writing and next year I intend to do it again. Although I intend to write more consistently and frequently next year (the goal is 1000 words a week!), I definitely want to do NaNoWriMo again in some capacity. Maybe it’ll be more short stories, maybe it’ll take an idea I spend the first 10 months of the year planning, who knows! But if I can win NaNo whilst going through all of this, hopefully next year will be a different picture entirely.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

3 Weddings Ideas That REALLY Worked!

2022, wedding

Hello!

Yes, I am going to be talking about my wedding for a quite a while (we just got the pro photos back and I. Am. Obsessed) and whilst the whole day was perfect from start to finish, here are three of my favourite parts that just made the day that little bit extra special. Two of which I’ve not seen anyone else do before and one of which is a popular wedding idea that is popular for a reason!

Bookcase Gifts

For our gift list, we didn’t want to make an online registry or anything and I hate the expectation that people would spend a lot of money on us, so we decided to ask our guests for a copy of their favourite book to make a library. I honestly had no idea how much of a conversation it would start but it really got people thinking!

Getting home on Sunday evening and opening all the books, reading people’s reasonings for their choices and all the cards was truly lovely – there was such an amazing variety and it was such a perfect way to have really personal gifts that didn’t cost loads. I even bought a little stamp that marks them all as part of our library and I cannot explain how lovely it was to see what everyone had chosen.

Plus, it made a lovely opportunity for a theme – we had table confetti which was from book pages, one of our ceremony readings was an extract from ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Phillip Pullman, and our tables for the wedding breakfast were named after books from the Horrible Histories series. It was absolutely perfect.

Photobooth

A Photo Booth is definitely not an original idea, loads of weddings have them but they are such a brilliant way of getting really fun group photos with fun props and silly faces. Especially when one of those props is a pair of glasses with a penis for a nose… and the six year old gets hold of them…

But we got some nice ones too – I managed one whole set of photos with my husband!

Photo Frame Guest Book

I spent a long time thinking about a guestbook – I didn’t think a whole book would get filled and it would be awkward if it was half empty, I saw lots of different options on Etsy for wooden jenga pieces, puzzle pieces or leaves on a tree and none of them quite fit us. I’m not sure where the idea for a frame came from, but with an A1 frame from The Range, an A1 piece of paper from Hobbycraft with the middle cut out and an A4 print from Snapfish (from a Photo Booth at my cousins wedding!) – ta da! Some squiggles from my cousin’s two year old little boy and lots of lovely messages from our closest friends and family that we’ll put on the wall in our home.

It’s the perfect way to have messages from our favourite people in a way that we can always see them, we can swap out the picture in the middle for one from our wedding day and it’s a stunning keepsake.

I could spend all day every day talking about the wedding – it was the most beautiful day, I’ve been looking at the pictures for days and I will be spending a lot of the Christmas period figuring out which ones to put in scrapbooks and photo albums and the likes. There’ll definitely be a few more blog posts, that’s for sure!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

I’m back and I’m a WIFE!

2022, wedding

Hello there!

I was so optimistic about having a post scheduled for my wedding day and writing another one when we got back from our mini-moon when I should have just not bothered putting that much pressure on myself! I was in the mindset that I wasn’t too bothered anyway, but three weeks later I’m BACK and I’m a Mrs now!

(still feels surreal and simultaneously exactly the same, very odd)

The day was honestly perfect – the morning was relaxed and easy, the ceremony was absolutely perfect (the closest point I got to crying the whole day), all my favourite people were there and the reception was such a good party. It was perfect from the moment I woke up till the moment I fell asleep.

My mum was an absolute god send, taking care of things I didn’t even know needed to be taken care of throughout the day, making sure I was hydrated and fed, and looking absolutely gorgeous all the while – I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have such a wonderful mum. I didn’t have an official Maid of Honour, but mum was one anyway, not only helping me organise basically everything, attending consultations and meetings with me, but throwing me a surprise hen party when I’d come to terms with not having one. I love you so much mum (and I know you read these posts 💜).

I think my dad was really nervous bless him – I don’t think I’ve ever heard him be so quiet before, he’s normally full of stories and chatter! But he made me feel so special and his speech was so heartfelt and lovely. I was very lucky to sit between two brilliant men at our wedding breakfast (who both said such lovely things about me in their speeches).

Less sentimental, but I’m so proud of how I matched all the purples together – everything looked so good!

Then there was the ceremony – it was fantastic from beginning to end. Our registrars were incredible! They made us feel immediately at ease and spoke as if they’d known us all our lives. We had two readings from two wonderful women – my oldest friend Katy and our mad family friend Heather (who was my mum’s best friend at school) and I think we did pretty well with our personalised promises because lots of people told us they cried. It was so sweet and it’s the bit I’m most excited about reliving when we get to see our video.

And it was official – husband and wife! It was at this point I actually let myself look around the room at all the eyes staring at us and rather than feeling overwhelmed I felt like I was in that bit at the end of a movie where everyone comes together for the happy ending. People from all aspects of our lives – family and friends from all walks of life all in one room just for us. It was magical, so magical.

This was the weirdest part of the day – walking through a room while everyone claps and cheers for you was a surreal and unusual moment. If I’m being brutally honest, at this point of the day, all the adrenaline was catching up with me – I had a banging headache and I was borderline panicking. But during the meal, my mum took me outside for a bit and I had a moment and then I was fine. The strangest feeling was completely losing my appetite – throughout the whole day, I had a sausages sandwich and a croissant for lunch, I ended up having a piece of bread and a sticky toffee pudding during the breakfast and I had one slice of cake in the evening. As someone who very, very rarely looses their appetite, it was very strange!

Not that this put a dampner on the day in any way, but I just wanted to be honest! Every other woman I spoke to that day who had been a bride said they felt the exact same way and it was so reassuring that no one put any pressure on me to eat, but people kept checking in to see if I wanted anything. I have the best people 💜

Just before all the hoo-ha with the meal were the speeches – now all three of the guys were very nervous; my dad had learnt his speech by heart but later confessed he only managed about half of it (it was still wonderful), Lucas finished his the morning of but as you can see it did spill onto a second side of A4! He did a wonderful tribute to those who couldn’t be with us on the day and that was so touching. And his best man, our wonderful best friend Nick, made a fantastic speech with all the right in jokes and he brought his dummy’s guide to being a best man book, which kept him and my mum entertained for most of the breakfast!

I couldn’t not include a picture of the cake – it was so good and so ridiculously big, the entire middle layer is in our freezer and I just hope it’s as nice defrosted as it was on the day. I have no regrets having a chocolate fudge cake, regardless of how ‘untraditional’ it is.

Our first dance was simple – whilst I have been dancing since I was 3, Lucas has three left feet so we just swayed for the entire song. In that moment, I couldn’t see anyone else and I was very grateful I’d changed shoes (you can see a peak of Lucas’s converse, I had matching ones and they were so comfy). Our first dance was Never Seen Anything (Quite Like You) by the Script and it was perfect, I’m so glad we chose it.

And between dancing the night away, we got the whole party outside for sparklers – it was magical and I’m obsessed with this photo. I can’t wait to see the professional ones, but seeing the night through our guest’s perspective is just lovely.

And one last picture because it makes me giggle – we made our post box for cards look like the TARDIS from Doctor Who (because of course we did) (and when I say made, I mean used my cricut to precision cut all the lettering and the windows, which we are disgustingly proud of), so my bouquet went in the slot at the top and our cake topper balanced inside as a temporary home!

I bought a nice vase so now my flowers are in there, but I still thought this was too good not to take a photo for memory’s sake.

Even through just a few photos, I feel such a sense of joy in reliving the day – when we get the professional photos and videos I have absolutely no doubt I’ll be sharing those too.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx