a blogging writing block

2021, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been consistently writing blog posts for somewhere upwards of two years now – when I started in 2014 I had no idea what I was doing, in 2015 I did a 365 day challenge (successfully, might I add!), in 2016-2018 I played around with 2-3 blog posts a week and generally was pretty consistent! Then from 2019 (ish) onwards, I’ve pretty religiously written two blog posts a week and rarely missed one, other than maybe posting a day late because I forgot to publish a post.

But in the last month, I’ve not felt the motivation to write – I don’t like the ideas I’ve come up with, I don’t think they add anything to my blog’s narrative and I don’t feel inspired to write anything. Maybe it’s lockdown finally catching up with me – after a whole year I’ve finally run out of stuff to say. Maybe it’s the new job – it’s been two months of being knackered by 9-5 (does anyone ever get used to it?) so by the time the evening comes I want to sit and watch TV or play games with my partner and I wasn’t excited enough about the post ideas I’d come up with to open my computer back up and stare at a screen for even longer.

And I don’t know where this lull in my blogging motivation has come from – as a craft, I love writing, I love expressing myself in words and getting lost in what I’m typing. And I miss it – I miss writing those passionate rambles and creating my own little history book on this website, but I just didn’t see the point in anything I tried to write (and believe me I’ve tried).

But it hit me the other day as I was desperately trying to expand a couple of hundred words into an actual blog post – I’m out of creative energy.

Talking about ‘energy’ at all feels more hippie than I have ever sounded before, but I think it’s fairly common within creative communities and professions that it’s not an endless source to be tapped into. It’s a pool and like any body of water and ebbs and flows in waves – I’m just at the bottom of the wave.

For some reason that thought gave me comfort, rather than immediately catastrophising that after six years my blog is finally going to crash and I’m never going to find motivation again, I knew that this is just a moment and my mojo will come back.

Whether it’s a few good nights of sleep (the fact I first tried to spell night with a ‘k’ at the beginning show’s how few of those I’ve had!), getting that one really big work task finished or moving house (fingers crossed!) to get my mojo back or it’s just riding through this funk till I can surf the wave, I will not feel like this forever.

Is the water analogy going too far now?

Either way, it’s happened before and it will undoubtedly happen again, but beating myself for not maintaining my trivial, self-set deadline of two posts a week isn’t the end of the world – giving myself the space with being okay with deleting that task from my list rather than ticking it off.

This blog is mine – it’s meant to be something fun and lighthearted and when I start to feel stressed by it, I need to listen to what my body and mind are asking for and give it some space.

So I might not be posting every Tuesday and Friday – sometimes it might go up late on Wednesday or Saturday or I might not post anything at all. If you miss me, send me a message on instagram – I’m usually scrolling!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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my recent craft projects

2021, crafting, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been very vocal about how much I’ve been loving crafts since all of this started with the initial lockdown last March, but cross stitch, knitting, sewing and paper craft have become part of my routine where I try to get away from screens. It’s been lovely for spending more time offline and learning a new skill in the process!

So I thought I’d share with you some of my most recent projects as a nice little diary of what I’m doing, maybe something sweet to look back on!

  • monthly bullet journal collages

2020 was the year of discovering that I still love cutting and sticking things like a primary school art project – call it a mood board, a mind map, whatever! I very much enjoy finding pictures on Pinterest that represent my intentions, my goals and generally a nerdy picture of something Marvel or Harry Potter related, sticking them all together and using it as a monthly divider in my bullet journal.

My next step is to invest in more washi tape and stickers. Maybe some stamps!

  • face mask sewing

My mum very kindly bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and although it took me a couple of months to find the time (and the courage) to actually start using it, I’m actually getting better at it! Usually if I’m not perfect at something straight away I find it very difficult to want to put the time in to build the skills to get better but already I’ve seen progress.

I’m getting to know the machine by sewing face masks – I’ve been sewing face masks by hand for about six months now, I’ve tried a few different patterns and I got a kit from Hobbycraft that I really liked and I have a few leftover material patterns to practice with.

Now I’ve found a different pattern that I prefer, my mum has sent me a bunch of material samples that I can practice with and I can already see that I’m getting to know my machine better and how it works! I’m going to keep practicing face masks, I’m considering starting an Etsy story but that will be a little while down the line for sure.

  • taking in a skirt

Another thing I wanted to use my sewing machine for was adapting some of the clothes in my wardrobe rather than ‘giving up’ on them and passing them on. I bought this green circle skirt from a charity shop before the first lockdown – it’s from ASOS curve and it’s lovely but I was optimistic that ‘a couple of sizes wouldn’t make a difference’… they did.

I had to wear it rolled up like I was in secondary school trying to make my skirt shorter or wear it with a belt that was very uncomfortably gathered.

But I took it in! It’s not the most professional job and it definitely doesn’t hang quite the same as the rest of the skirt but it now fits me! I’m still figuring out how to style it though.

  • knitting a ‘scarf’

I really like knitting – it’s a really relaxing, repetitive task that I can sit and do whilst I’m watching TV to occupy my hands.

But it turns out I just like doing the one basic stitch that I know how to do over and over again rather than following a pattern and actually making something functional…

So I’m calling it a scarf, but it’s just rows and rows of the same stitch because I find that kind of repetitive knitting very calming and a perfect thing to do just before bed with some evening telly. (and having both my hands occupied makes it harder to snack)

Next month I want to:

  • Start a new cross stitch project
  • Finish my knitting project
  • Sew something other than face masks

I’ll no doubt be sharing what I’m working on over on Instagram because I get overexcited and proud when I finish something, so if you’re interested that’s the best place to get the latest updates!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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new social media plans

2021, creativity, lifestyle

Hello!

My relationship with social media has been through what feels like a large change over the last two years or so – as a teenager I put all of my feelings online because I desperately wanted sympathy and attention (heads up: it didn’t work and just made me look whiny) and it definitely took someone telling me that they deliberately don’t put all their feelings online to start reevaluating my own relationship with the internet.

Cut to two years later and psychologically retraining myself not to turn to Twitter every time I get sad/stroppy and to actually communicate with the people around me, my social media platforms are infinitely less depressing than they used to be!

Pair this with no longer pretending to be an influencer with my blog, YouTube and Instagram content and just posting for fun and we’ve got a brand new SophieCountsClouds (still kind of hate the name, but the brand’s the brand y’know). I don’t feel like I have to post on Instagram every day, I don’t try to ‘promote engagement’ (that I never got anyway) and the content I do make I make for fun; because I love writing, I like coming up with new and fun videos ideas and I love watching social media evolve and develop (hence the beginnings of a career in marketing).

But there are two new profiles that I want to develop in 2021 – having really reinvested in social media as a personal hobby and not a ‘professional portfolio’ (that’s separate) I’ve got two new projects that I want to work on and I’ve definitely mentioned them both already.

My new book Instagram account and tiktok! I’ve kind of fallen headfirst down the tiktok rabbit hole as lockdown and pandemic has persisted, both from an entertainment and a marketing point of view (how someone can gain 99 million followers in a year is astounding) and now I just want to make fun, silly little videos.

The book account has been one of my new years goals for a little while now – 2020 may have been shit but it was the year I full on fell in love with reading again and I wanted somewhere to connect with people who love books and stories as much as I do and somewhere for me to write about the books I’m reading and my thoughts on other things (important discussions like hardback vs paperback and whether the spine of a book should be cracked).

It sounds silly to keep using the word ‘fun’ but doing Vlogmas and watching so much tiktok, making content is fun again for me now! While I was at uni I spent a lot of time thinking that to be a ‘proper blogger’ I needed to be scheduling tweets for every hour of the day and writing really stagey, fake sounding captions with a million hashtags to ‘reach the right people’ but it felt wrong when I did it and it feels stupid looking back on it now. If my blog or YouTube was ever going to be successful then 1) it would have been already and 2) I’d rather people found my content organically and subscribed because they liked it, not because I tweeted three billions times asking if they’d remembered to subscribe.

I’ve had so much fun finding people to follow on my book account and making that tiktok the other day made me feel creative in a way I never expected to!

In between new social medias and setting up my new sewing machine, knitting and sitting with a blanket over my knees 24/7, I think I’m finely balancing on the line between millenial/gen z ‘keeping up with the trends’ and ‘Grandma’.

I still don’t understand tiktok dances, how do you know which are the trendy ones and which ones are people just boogying in their living room? Did I really use the words ‘trendy’ and ‘boogying’ in the same sentence?

Conclusion? I’m having fun with social media and content creation again and I think that might be one of the best things that came out of 2020.

If you’re interested in books or, like me, can’t get off tiktok I’d love it if you followed me! If that’s not what you’re into, I hope you love the creators you are watching and you have content that makes you smile.

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

Sophie xx

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NaNoWriMo 2020… how’d it go?

2020, creativity, writing

Hello!

I feel like I’ve been talking about NaNoWriMo all year – with doing writing challenges every other month to ‘train’ for the 50,000 word challenge in November. But it didn’t go quite as expected…

My intention was to write the final draft of the novel I started eight years ago in my first (and only ‘winning’) NaNo – but then I ended up using the story of my novel for my masters dissertation project and the thought of having anything to do with it so soon after handing in was too much for my little anxious brain to handle.

I decided very early on that I was going to write some fun fanfiction instead – I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter cosplay tiktok and I was super inspired to write something, so I took that inspiration and went with it.

The other barrier I faced was again my dissertation project – I got a one week extension due to my mental health so my deadline wasn’t until November 5th, thus meaning I couldn’t think about anything else until it was done (still SO PROUD that I did it!). I didn’t start writing until the 7th of November and I calculated that I only needed to write just over 2000 words a day to finish on time, as opposed to the usual 1667 words.

I started writing and as my days were significantly emptier without a big uni project, I managed to catch up relatively quickly. At my most productive, I wrote 4000 words in a day but I was feeling really good – I was writing about characters I already knew and loved without the pressure of writing something good, original and ‘final’ in my own novel project.

I enjoyed writing again! With my fiancé still being away with work 3-5 nights a week (despite a national lockdown, because watching a bunch of grown men play rugby is so important…), I could really focus on writing and I got into a good routine. Not a healthy routine, as most of my writing was done between 10pm-1am from the comfort of my bed, but I was writing and that was the important bit.

In the last week or so, momentum tailed off – I don’t think I’d really given myself the time to mentally recover from my dissertation hand in but I’d been preparing for NaNoWriMo all year and I really wanted to do it. Thousands of words a day turned to hundreds of words a day and staring at a screen for hours whilst I felt like my original characters were sticking their tongues out at me.

In the end, I made it so-close-but-not-close-enough at just over 47,000 words between the 7th and 30th of November. If I’d even written a few words in the days I was finishing my dissertation, I’m sure I would have been able to do it, but we can’t change the past, we can only learn! And I still wrote forty seven thousand bloody words!

NaNoWriMo this year was a real experience for everyone participating – it was unusual circumstances, motivation and inspiration are running at an all time low and though in theory people have ‘more time’ because we’re staying home more, it doesn’t mean there was enough mental brain space to really write like life is normal.

I do feel more motivated than ever to really ‘win’ next year – I’ve got my monthly training challenges all planned out, I’ll probably stick with writing fanfiction because it’s fun to experiment and control characters I love (though that makes it sound much more sinister than it is) and NaNoWrimo 2021 is going to be my year – my first win since 2012!

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

Sophie xx

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my craft projects!

2020, crafting, creativity

Hello!

Since finishing my masters degree, my to do lists have been a lot shorter – I am applying for jobs, but in a pandemic there’s not a whole lot going on, so rather than beating myself up about it, I’ve started making my to do lists in a slightly different way (I’m going to write a post about it next week!) and it helps me keep a sense of structure and purpose in my day without being overwhelming.

A bit part of this has been making time for crafts – in the first lockdown, I fell in love with cross stitching and learning more about knitting and sewing and I’ve found that doing these offline crafts have been really therapeutic for me and have helped me slow down out of that ‘productivity mindset’ in a way I never have before.

So I thought today I’d talk you through some of the projects I’ve got going on at the moment! Obviously there’s a few I’m not going to mention with Christmas coming up but between kits from Hobbycraft, a Disney cross stitch magazine and personal projects, I’m doing something different every few days and I love it.

  • wooden cross stitch

I bought a small wooden cross stitch stand from Hobbycraft with a voucher I got for my birthday. Granted, I did think it was a proper kit that would come with the thread and a needle and it didn’t, but it did have a beautiful pattern for a mountain sunset and I’ve nearly finished it! It’s a little more challenging than I thought to get the needle through all the little holes (I’ve actually broken a needle doing this!) but I think it’s going to look so cute and it’s quite small so it’s a nice little project.

  • face mask kit 

I love a kit that comes with all the materials and equipment – it’s probably why I’m super tempted by Hello Fresh and those other expensive food services! But I bought this mask kit, again from Hobbycraft, a few months ago and I was initially intimidated by the fact the pattern had pleats in it and I thought there was no way I could sew it by hand. It took probably 5x as long because I don’t have a sewing machine but it was actually surprisingly simple! I’ve done one of the three materials that came in the kit so I’ve got two more and I can use the pattern on any other material I have lying around too! I’m going to have to set up an Etsy store or something at this rate!

  • knitting ear savers

This is something I did a lot of at the beginning of lockdown – ear savers are little pieces of fabric with buttons that can hook face masks on to, so it takes the pressure off the back off the ears. A lot of volunteer groups were knitting them for medical staff and key workers that have to wear masks for extended periods of time – my fiancé loves his so much that he’s stretched it out, but he works broadcasting live sport so he’s wearing his mask for 12-13 hours a day and says it’s really helpful. Another item for my potential Etsy store!

  • learning to crochet

I’m yet to actually make anything, because I’m still learning the basics, but I picked up some reasonably priced crochet hooks in Wilko, back in the days when we could go to shops, and I’m trying to teach myself crochet. I’m not very good at learning new things because if I’m not good at it straight away I get cross, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and give myself permission to be bad at something, regardless of how melodramatic that sounds!

  • cardboard crafts

At the beginning of the first lockdown, I started saving every cardboard box that we had because I was sending parcels to my family and they were useful containers. But now I have a pile of cardboard in the corner of my kitchen with no use and I feel like a craft project is calling to me, I just haven’t figured out what yet! I recently picked up a Christmas themed paper pad from Hobbycraft (my new favourite shop, apparently) so I think I’m going to make some festive decorations – things I can stick in our window, maybe some decorations for the tree! I need to have a proper browse on Pinterest and see if I can find any inspiration.

  • 3D cross stitch kit

Really random but my fiancé found it on offer in a Lidl I think while he was away on work – it’s a little beach hut that you cross stitch the design onto and then sew it together and stuff it. I think that might be a project for that weird week between Christmas and New Year where no one knows what day it is and there’s loads of comfort TV on.

  • t-shirt blanket sewing

I feel like I’ve mentioned this approximately three billion times, but when I was a teenager I had an extensive t-shirt collection and because I’m sentimental af but became very aware that I was wasting all of these clothes, I decide to cut out the design feature and sew them all onto a blanket. I finished the first side earlier this year but decided to use fabric glue in the end because the blanket is quite big and my house is quite small so I don’t actually have anywhere I can lay it out flat but my intentions are that one day when I have a sewing machine I’m going to go over all the designs and make sure they’re properly secure before I continue sewing the other side but the remaining t-shirts I have I am sewing to each other so there’s still progress on the project. I don’t know if I’ve described this very well, but it’s a big ongoing project that will make more progress when I live in a space I can lay the blanket out flat!

  • adapting/fixing my own clothes

I did a moderate clear out of my wardrobe in September, being brutal about the clothes I don’t wear, the clothes I don’t like, any that might be adaptable to enjoy wearing again and I have a little pile of clothes I want to try and work on – a high neck jumper I want to try and take the high neck off of, a shirt with massively wide shoulders that I want to try and take up and a denim jacket that is too big for me but I want to experiment with acrylic painting on clothes (as inspired by @lucid.seams.shop on instagram). I’m also going to try and use some of my clothes as material for other projects, so maybe I’ll learn more about sewing!

I know not everyone finds crafting relaxing or fulfilling, but I think having an activity that can pull you away from your screens for a bit is so good for mental health. My fiancé and I had an afternoon building a Lego Hedwig kit recently and we spent two hours on something we really enjoyed! Whether it’s going for a walk in some fresh air, colouring, doing a jigsaw or making something crafty, spending time offline doing something for no reason other than enjoyment is important to prioritise. I’m still learning how to.

My mum also sent me a festive colouring book so I think a movie night and some colouring is on the cards! I’m thinking a Harry Potter or a Marvel movie marathon!

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

Sophie xx

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dressing up for grown ups

2020, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been to MCM Comic Con a number of times and as someone who classifies themselves as a full on ‘nerd’, cosplaying is something I’m familiar with. In essence, it’s fancy dress for adults however most of the people who design and make their own cosplays are incredibly talented in making their own clothes, working with a variety of fabrics, making props, working with wigs, doing make-up, some even including mechanical works of engineering in their costumes. Each cosplay is a culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work borne of pure adoration and passion for the character and the story they’re replicating, giving themselves a tiny taste of living in that world for a bit.

Cosplay and conventions have a bit of a reputations for being a bunch of nerds being geeky about things they take too seriously. Granted, it’s kind of true but it’s so much more than that and the community and atmosphere at MCM is incomparable and I hate the negative association of people being passionate about things (especially when football fans rioting when the people didn’t kick the ball the way they wanted it to is apparently okay? Like, seriously?).

When I’ve attended conventions, I’ve always felt like my nerd-ness (it’s 4am as I write this, bare with me) is such a minimum level – there’s so much I don’t know about the shows and films I love, there’s video games I know so little about and the anime scene is a different kettle of fish entirely. My boyfriend and my sister are pointing out the cosplays of characters I’ve never heard of and I’m in awe of the capes, wigs and scythes.

My favourite three cosplays I’ve ever seen, hands down, are (in order) – Toothless and Lady Toothless (sorry I can’t remember her name) from How To Train Your Dragon; those poor people were in fur suits all day in the May bank holiday heatwave posing for pictures and sweating buckets, I felt for them but that has to be the sign of a great cosplay. Then a full on 9 or 10 foot tall Groot, though this may have been a proper ‘character’ rather than a homemade cosplay. And in the top spot – Lego Batman; cardboard lego legs, cardboard lego arms, cardboard lego head and body and it was just fantastic. I wish I had pictures.

So having witnessed thousands of amazing cosplays at cons, spent my entire childhood playing dress up for dance shows and school musicals and having found new hobbies in sewing, cross stitch embroidery and knitting in lockdown, I thought it was finally take my cosplay dreams and make them a reality.

Now, let me disclaim; I’ve never made clothes before. I never really used a sewing machine at school, I don’t own a sewing machine (yet) and I have literally no resources to start with but I have the advice of my cosplay wizard of a sister who’s been swanning around as Princess Anna from Frozen 2 during lockdown and she’s been helping me choose what characters to pick for my first steps into cosplay.

Whenever I’ve thought of cosplaying before, I always think of three characters for the three days of comic con – probably optimistic to have three full blown costumes but in my head it makes sense so I’m going with it. I’ve picked two definite ‘yes’ characters and I’ve got a few ‘maybes’ because my sister says they’re too hard but I want to aim high, so these might not happen ever but maybe one day!

Nintendo Switch - Pokémon Sword / Shield - Team Yell Grunt (Female ...

Team Yell from Pokemon Sword and Shield – there’s hasn’t been a con season since the games came out because of lockdown, but Team Skull from Pokemon Sun and Moon were always really popular at cons because they’re relatively simple. Team Yell also have simple elements – the pink tights, the distressed denim skirt, even the sweatbands would be simple enough. The challenging bit (for me as a beginner) would be the spiky wrist and ankle bands, the sleeveless jacket thing and the hair, though I may take some creative liberties on that.

I really want my first cosplay to be something I don’t just buy everything for, so whilst I can get a t-shirt with the Team Yell design on, I may try painting it on a shirt myself and I think I’d like to try making the sleeveless jacket and the spiky bands. I may even distress the skirt and rip the tights myself but I don’t know if I’m quite that skilled yet.

Dora the Explorer Costume - Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Dora The Explorer – okay, might sound odd. But my fiancé and I (still feels weird calling him that) watched the live action movie recently and I loved it in the most self-aware way. I thought the orange shorts, pink shirt, a purple backpack, yellow socks, white hi tops would be relatively achievable – super easy but super fun! Tempted to learn The Poo Song and the song and dance sequence from the end of the movie but that might be taking it too far…

This one I obviously won’t be making anything myself, but I just thought it would be something light and fun and any costume that has built in storage like a backpack is always a win!

And the three contenders for my last costume:

Sugar Plum Fairy Mercy from Overwatch:

Mercy Sugar Plum Fairy from Overwatch Free 3D Model

I appreciate this isn’t the most photogenic picture of the costume I could find, but it’s good for being able to see the costume and the parts that would make it up. I mostly just want to feel like a fairy and have an excuse to wear ballet shoes, ngl.

Rapunzel from Tangled:

Rapunzel - Kingdom Hearts Wiki, the Kingdom Hearts encyclopedia

Though I’d go for the after-hair-cut (sorry, spoilers) because 1) don’t have to think about a wig and 2) it actually suits my hair length and colour more.

Belle from Beauty and the Beast:

Royalty Free Download Belle Transparent Village - Belle Blue Dress ...

Although relatively simple and definitely not as ‘wow’ as the big yellow ballgown, I love this representation of who Belle is as a character and although the clothes themselves look simple, it could potentially be a good learning experience and starting point for me as someone who has no clothes making experience! I’m sure my sister would tell me otherwise, but I think that’s what sister’s are for.

And any excuse to sing ‘little town, it’s a quiet village…’ around a convention centre is a yes from me.

I think I’ve inadvertently made a decision by blogging about it, but Mercy and Rapunzel are definitely characters I would love to be able to create in the future – perhaps a big ask for my first attempt at sewing!

So there’s a big old ramble about nerds at conventions and cool characters I want to make costumes for. I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to start working on these, but it’s something I’m excited to learn more about! If I can make anything half as impressive as what my sister has made or some of the costumes I’ve seen from the cosplay community I’ll be so proud – my attempt at making an Elsa cosplay out of a dance leotard and a boohoo dress wasn’t my greatest moment…

Though I did sew the leotard and the dress together and added poppers to the cape to be able to attach it! In hindsight I’m pretty proud of what 2016 me made. (We were going for a Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians and Elsa couples cosplay… safe to say these costumes never made it to con!).

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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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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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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