Treasured In… December

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

With the last month of the year drawing to a close, now might just be the best time to reflect on the things that have brought me joy this month in the hope that perhaps they can bring you joy too!

We all know 2020 has been crap, I don’t need to reel off my personal experiences because it’s been rubbish for everyone in so many different ways. But there has been moments of positivity and joy and though focusing on them doesn’t necessarily make it easier, remembering them can bring little pockets of happiness!

So here’s a few of my favourites from the month!

  • Purchase

Not particularly exciting, but I bought a coffee table on Facebook marketplace and it’s made my living room much more cluttered but given me somewhere comfy to work whilst my desk is in parts in the shed so I have somewhere for the Christmas tree! Only £20, picked it up the same day and it’s been home to lots of crafts, most of my Christmas wrapping and some festive Lego building!

new coffee table with cotton wool snowman whilst we watched ‘The Wheel’ with dinner!

And my second favourite purchase was a boxing day sales one – a bit strange, but I bought a nappy bag… I don’t have a baby, I’m not expecting a baby, I’m just a big fan of pockets. There are so many compartments, so many extra little inside pockets and pouches! I’m sure it would be a wonderful nappy bag, but I’m going to use it as a work bag and I’m so excited about it.

  • Recipe

I’ve not been cooking much this month because I’ve not had the energy to actually prepare food, but I treated myself to a gammon joint for Christmas and cooked it in the slow cooker. I was aiming for a honey roasted ham but I did it on Christmas Day and I forgot how long it had been in for and I think I should have finished it off in the oven, so it didn’t taste very honey roasted at all, but it does taste lovely, it’s not too chewy and it was so easy to just chuck in the slow cooker.

It was the most expensive cut of meat I’ve ever bought (because I’m cheap af and try not to buy meat too often) so I’m not going to be rushing to try it again any time soon, but I would like to try it again and actually pay more attention!

  • Song

There’s one song I’ve literally not stopped listening to but it’s not on Spotify so I’ve made a YouTube playlist and just listened to it on loop about a hundred times. The lyrics are stunning, the melodies are beautiful and it’s perfect for a sing song when I’m home alone.

  • YouTube video

I’ve watched a lot of YouTube this month – I’m sick of having hundreds of videos on my watch later and I don’t want to be watching Vlogmas content in February (and it kind of feels like I have company when my partner’s at work!) so here’s some of my favourites!

It’s my 30th Birthday – KickThePJ

The /W/orst Letter – vlogbrothers (Hank Green)

Among Us with Proximity Chat is Terrifying & Hilarious – KickThePJ

How We Organise Our Joint Finances as a Millennial Couple | More Hannah

It’s Finally Happening!!! RawBeautyKristi x Colourpop Collection Reveal – RawBeautyKristi

  • Books I’ve read

I’ve finally got back into reading! After a three month slump of nothing, I finished The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne last month and I started reading A Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson at the beginning of the month and stayed up to finish it on Christmas day because wow it was incredible.

A full 5/5 for amazing characters (my favourite thing), a suspenseful plot that just kept twisting and the most natural romantic subplot that was so subtle and so not important to the main plot, just beautifully integrated without being focal, it was lovely. I’m trying not to buy more books until I’ve cut down my ‘to be read’ pile, but wow I want to read the sequel ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’ so badly.

But I am resisting! I’m now reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion because my friend lent it to me and I don’t want to leave it too long to give it back. I’m not sure whether it’ll be my last book of 2020 or my first book of 2021, but the 30 pages I read the other night were written in a really fun style and I’m enjoying it so far.

  • Something to watch…

With watching so much more YouTube in trying to catch up, I’ve not watched a lot of TV, Film or streaming services. But my partner and I have been watching one particular quiz show with dinner because our friend worked on it and it’s exciting and nice to support what our friends are doing (other than live sport, I just can’t bring myself to watch that) – so we’ve been watching a lot of ‘The Wheel’. It’s a Michael McIntyre hosted socially distanced quiz show that is just really fun (despite how annoying the theme song is). I love a quiz show, I love learning new things and I like how impatient my fiancé is that he has to google all the answers before they’re revealed.

This year has been bloody weird, so finding favourites isn’t always the easiest, but even if it’s hard to remember, there are always good moments. Whether it’s a book, a quiz show or a good find in the Boxing Day sales, there’s always something good to be found.

This is my last post for this year but I’ll be back on New Year’s Day with my 2021 goals!

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

Sophie xx

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SophieCountsClouds Vlogmas 2020

2020, christmas

Hello!

It’s been a strange year and I never thought I’d close it out the way I started my YouTube channel seven years ago with Vlogmas (2013 – a throwback and a half!). I finished my masters dissertation at the beginning of November and by December I was ready for a new project – something to focus on while I was applying for jobs.

So I thought I’d make a post with all the videos I made for Vlogmas this year – there’s a full playlist on my channel if you fancy a bit of background noise in the limbo between Christmas and New Year!

Vlogmas 1 – Life Update – I’m Doing Vlogmas?

I hadn’t made a video for a while so a little introduction and announcing I was doing Vlogmas was in order!

Vlogmas 2 – Christmas Decorating

A cute little time-lapse montage of decorating our little house with my fiancé! He had a cold so was feeling a bit sorry for himself, but we put up the tree and put window sticker snowflakes in our front window!

Vlogmas 3 – Homemade Snowman (no snow required)

I’ve mentioned my cotton wool ball snowman a few times this Christmas, but I’m so proud of him! I called him Frank and I think he looks great.

Vlogmas 4 – Festive Garden Centre Trip

I’ve been making garden centre vlogs for literally years, 2020 is no different! Even in lockdown!

Vlogmas 5 – Animal Crossing Island Tour

I’ve been playing Animal Crossing a lot in the last few months (wrote a whole blog post about it…) so I thought I’d do a little island tour!

Vlogmas 6 – Crafts and Chats

love crafting at the moment so I thought it would be fun to do a little series called ‘Crafts and Chats’ – except in this one I was making a Christmas present so I couldn’t show anything!

Vlogmas 7 – My Hogwarts house has changed?

A minor identity crisis where I evaluate and explain why I think I’m now a Ravenclaw rather than a Hufflepuff! Not that it actually matters…

Vlogmas 8 – Hair, hot chocolate and the R number

I just sat down and had a natter because that was the content I enjoyed filming the most and I wanted Vlogmas to be fun to film, easy to edit and stress free!

Vlogmas 9 – House Plants and Planning the Garden

I’ve become quite the green fingered hobbyist this year and my little indoor jungle brings me a lot of joy so I thought I’d talk through my little collection and my plans for next summer!

Vlogmas 10 – Why I Regret My Masters Degree

I couldn’t make a festive video every single day! My masters has been… a ride, so I wanted to put my experience in a video for anyone else not sure if it’s the choice for them!

Vlogmas 11 – Making Paper Chains

Crafts and Chats part 2, but with a craft I didn’t have to hide from the camera! If you could even consider it a craft haha!

Vlogmas 12 – Skincare ‘Routine’

I love all the products I have for my skincare, I just don’t use them regularly enough to quantify it as a ‘routine’… But it meant I actually did my skincare for once!

Vlogmas 13 – All my mid/plus size Christmas outfits!

I got to try tiktok transitions for the first time and I had too much fun.

Vlogmas 14 – Setting up my weekly bullet journal spread

I love bullet journalling, I needed to film 24 videos hence – two birds, one stone!

Vlogmas 15 – not my day

Whilst filming another video, my fiancé accidentally deleted the footage of the video I wanted to upload on this day, so a four minute one-take filler video it was!

Vlogmas 16 – PERFECT Hot Chocolate Recipe

I had to refilm this video as well, but I’ve been loving making my own hot chocolate so I thought I’d make a little video explaining how I do it!

Vlogmas 17 – making a Yule Log

Two baking videos in a row! I tried making a Yule Log and it looked surprisingly good! Can’t say it tasted good though.

Vlogmas 18 – Sleep Deprived Rambling (Crafts and Chats)

I needed to wrap a present so I used it for another crafts and chats! I hadn’t slept well, and this is what came out – enjoy!

Vlogmas 19 – I’m scared of making my first tiktok…

We love a bit of clickbait in the title! I had a ramble about why TikTok makes me feel old and why I’m intimidated to make my first video. Maybe in the New Year!

Vlogmas 20 – Wrap with Me!

Did I manage to wrap two whole presents before my camera battery died? Absolutely, but I still made a video out of it!

Vlogmas 21 – do I still want to make videos?

Having a little crisis about what I want to make… But it ends positively in the end!

Vlogmas 22 – making my own advent calendar (on a budget)

I decided to make an advent calendar for my partner this year so I thought I’d make a video detailing the process! It took a lot of organisation.

Vlogmas 23 – Christmas Eve Traditions

Traditions are just like long term routines, right? That’s probably why I love them!

Vlogmas 24 – Merry Christmas!

And The last one in the series! I made it to 24 videos!

It’s been lovely to have a project to work on this month that was actually fun and made me realise I do actually enjoy making videos and I want to get back into it with the mindset of enjoying feeling creative again!

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

Sophie xx

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Have yourself a Tier 4 Christmas…

2020, christmas, current affairs

Hello!

After a post about how we’re all facing a different Christmas, the British Government went ahead and put another spanner in the works with six days until Christmas!

I don’t think I can explain the whole tier system to anyone who doesn’t live in the UK, but to summarise; after announcing a relaxation of COVID restrictions for a five day period over Christmas meaning many people could at least see some of their family over the festive period then they announced that many areas in the South East and East Midlands would be going into a new Tier 4, which has the same rules as the national lockdown but on a local level. The relaxed rules now only take place on Christmas Day itself and Tier 4 zones don’t get the relaxed rules and millions of peoples Christmas plans have been completely obliterated with less than a week to go.

From my perspective, most of us that are now in Tier 4 aren’t angry or upset because we don’t think the tier is necessary (I think the lockdown is necessary), but the government’s constant reassuring that we would all be allowed a break over Christmas and then doing a complete 180 so close to the big day. I’m not good at change – we’d just finished planning spending a COVID safe Christmas with our friends and then I was going to see my mum and my sister whilst my fiancé is back at work.

Now we’re having a Christmas just the two of us – which is fine, just unexpected – I can’t go see my family and I’ll be on my own whilst my fiancé still has to go to work in Tier 4 zones because broadcasting sport is so important that my TV engineer boy is now classed as a ‘key worker’ (I feel ridiculous even typing it, it makes me so angry).

When I figured out all the news (which took me too longer of scrolling through articles that were very vague), I was gutted. It was the first time I think I’ve cried over the pandemic. And like I said, not because I don’t think it’s necessary, but just because it came after reassurance it wouldn’t happen then it got worse. The little bit of light I had at not being on my own over Christmas and now I feel extra lonely. I can’t put it into words – it’s fine, I spent time on my own last Christmas and it was quite nice to decompress and take everything, sort everything out and tidy up but for some reason this year the thought of being on my own is terrifying.

Christmas Day will be a case of video calling lots of family, playing with presents like children and probably playing video games with everyone else who can’t see family (we’re knee deep in Among Us at the moment!). It’ll be nice to have time with my partner just us and cooking our own dinner and having our own day, but he’s back at work on the 26th so I’m going to have to plan my day so I don’t get too lonely.

Even though Tier 4 and the limited relaxation over Christmas is so necessary, it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I’m grateful for my health, my house, my partners work, but I’m still gutted I’m not going to see any of my family and friends over Christmas and give them their presents. I really hope the government can figure out what they’re actually doing and figure out whether they’re trying to save the people or the economy and stick with it.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m cautious of putting too much hope on 2021 – I saw someone tweeting about how we’ve all said 2020 is the worst because we’ve been living in this for 9 months but there’s the potential that we’ll be living through all this for 12 months in 2021. We can hope for the best but simultaneously expect the worst.

Whatever tier you’re in or whatever the rules are wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a safe and happy Christmas if you celebrate it! There will be a bonus blog post on Christmas Day, but otherwise I’ll post again next week!

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

Sophie xx

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New Year, No Plan

2020, goals, mental health

Hello,

Like many of us at this time of year, December often gets my thinking about setting goals for the next year – call them New Years Resolutions, 2021 goals or anything else, a lot of people really like the turn of a new year to be able to adopt a fresh new mindset and try and make lifestyle changes.

If you’ve read any of my goal blog posts, you’ll know I’m a massive goals person and won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking about and making notes about what I want to achieve in 2021 for a few months now. When inspiration hits I have to write it down, or I will not remember!

And whilst setting goals and the New Year can be a great new start and a chance to refresh, it can also be really intimidating if you don’t know what the year is going to hold. When I planned this post I’d been applying for jobs with no reply (though I’m now in discussion about potential work starting next year… but I don’t want to speak too soon) and not knowing what could fill each day can be daunting, lonely and hopeless.

And after the year we’ve all lived through, lonely and hopeless have a whole new meaning.

People throw around phrases like ‘it has to be better next year!’ but if we’ve learnt anything is that we don’t know what’s coming and we can’t expect it to be better. 2021 can’t be this beacon of hope where we expect everything to return to ‘normal’ – this week, the British Government have announced a lot more places moving into Tier 3 (very high risk) measures and despite a vaccine being given, there’s a whole lot of talk about things getting worse before they ever get better. So putting too much hope on 2021 is the kind of optimism my realism can’t get behind.

So 2021 is a mystery, like every New Year is, but with the experience of 2020 behind us it feels a bit different this year. Thus, going into the New Year with no plan feels impossible.

Granted, there’s always things to be grateful for – having our health, a roof over our head and food in the fridge has meant so much more this year, being with someone who’s not lost their job and is still working is a privilege and even just living with someone and having company feels like a luxury. But that doesn’t make not knowing what could come in 2021 any less scary.

Not knowing is the worst kind of not having control and for the control freaks among us, that’s where a lot of feelings of intimidation come from. But there are ways to make it easier – I’m a huge advocate for to do lists, setting yearly and monthly goals to help with consistent progress, adapting how daily to do lists are made to suit what makes you feel productive and learning to check in with yourself to learn what makes you feel calmer and happier and working on it.

Looking ahead is always scary, whether it’s a year, a decade or a lifetime, but being able to reign it in, take it a week, a day or even an hour at a time feels more achievable. Working on mindfulness to tune into our psychological and physical needs and intuitively get to know our bodies can be hugely beneficial to our wellbeing. Even things like a skincare routine and a healthier diet are short term things that are worth focusing on.

I’m not saying this from a position of someone who’s ‘perfected’ any of this – my to do list today is about 14 tasks long because I’ve been feeling a bit low this week and not sleeping well, I’ve not opened my meditation app in months and I 100% do not regularly use any of my skincare products, but I know that when I feel ready, spending time on these things will be good for me. And I will be okay.

New Year’s is a strange time of year – it can be incredibly sad to end, excited for a new beginning, grief for those we may have lost, anticipation of plans for the coming year; a whole host of emotions, good and bad. When I was younger, I hated New Years because I was so depressed I couldn’t see my life getting better, then when I was at uni I worried that things would get worse and the evidence of the passing of time scared me. But now? The New Year is going to come and go anyway, so I’m learning to accept that the year will bring whatever it brings and I can only control what is in my power.

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

Sophie xx

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Christmas Craft Ideas!

2020, crafting

Hello!

I still can’t quite believe it’s December and Christmas is less than two weeks away, but whilst life is as busy as ever for many with work, pandemic-safe-socialising and figuring out present shopping when you’re not seeing everyone at the same time and what to buy when and from where but there’s always time for Christmas crafts, right?

Personally, handmade crafts have been a wonder for my mental health this year and it makes me feel really creative and accomplished! So I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been making (or intend to make) that can be a couple of hours of offline festive fun.

  • cotton wool ball snowman

My beloved Frank who now hangs on my porch door!

6 sheets of A4 paper taped together, 3 bags of cotton wool balls, probably too much PVA glue, a Poundland hat and some pipe cleaners is a recipe for a few hours of wondering why you thought sticking that many cotton wool balls was a good idea, but then you get to the fun decorating bit and he looks amazing!

I’ve made a little Frank (can’t decide whether to call them Franklin or Franklette) that I might put up with him and it brings back that ‘Primary school art project’ feeling of doing something not because it needs to be skilled or perfect or challenging but making something just because it’s fun!

I’m going to get one of those big art folders so I can store him safely for next year and not waste all those cotton wool balls, but I really hope next year I can visit my godmothers children around Christmas and we can all do this together because I think it would be so much fun!

  • paper crafts – like paper chains and paper snowflakes!

Seems simple, sticking strips of paper and cutting out shapes but it can be a really great activity to do with younger children and is a really easy way to make the house feel more festive in a homely, unprofessional way (though no shade to anyone who’s home looks like a homeware catalogue).

Although you can buy paper chains at most shops around Christmas, making your own and having fun drawing Christmas designs with coloured pens can make it a much more involved festive activity.

Paper snowflakes are really simple to make, just folding paper, cutting sections out and opening up again but it’s a really effective window decoration and can even be fun to hang from the paper chains if you’re feeling fancy!

  • cardboard Christmas tree piñata

If I make this, it’s definitely not for piñata purposes, but my friend send me this link for a cardboard, tissue paper tree and whilst I haven’t got round to it yet, I have lots of festive pom-poms and pipe cleaners and I think it would look really cute!

Spending an afternoon not thinking too hard about my responsibilities and getting my hands into something creative, festive and cute always helps calm me down (assuming I’m not ignoring all of my other responsibilities to do it!).

Maybe it’s just some tissue paper on a cardboard box that’ll go in the recycling in the new year, but it’s worth it for the impact it has on my mental health and it’s much cheaper than therapy.

  • baking!

Perhaps should be counted separately to crafts, but snowman shaped cookies, cupcakes with chocolate fingers as reindeer antlers or a full on Yule log (which I am very proud of, biggest of thanks to Mary Berry for her recipe that I followed), it’s the time of year for sweet treats.

Whether you’d making your own buttercream or using a box cake mix, eating something you’ve made yourself is always satisfying at this time of year.

My mum bought a gingerbread house making kit for my fiancé and I and had initiated a little competition within my family, so I need to find some time to make a pretty gingerbread house (and find some ideas on Pinterest, I’m a bit stumped at the moment!)

  • card making!

My Nan used to be really into making cards, always sending personalised cards with pictures and 3D stickers and those fancy inserts on the inside that essentially make it a small book and I always treasured them.

But whether you’re buying Hobbycraft out of stickers and fancy blank card sets or folding a piece of paper in half and drawing with some crayons that you have no recollection of buying, the personal touch will certainly be appreciated by your loved ones!

Plus points if you let your children write a little message on the inside. I asked my fiancé to write some messages for his family in our Christmas cards (which I didn’t make, I must admit) and he wrote the card for his dad entirely with his left hand like an actual child. Pretty sure last year he did a drawing for my godmothers kids and even though they were 3, 7 and 8 I’m pretty sure they all did nicer drawings for us!

It feels like this entire year has been months of saying ‘I can’t believe it’s already X month’ and it’s whizzed by but felt really slow simultaneously. Only 10 days till Christmas!

I can’t wait for this year to be over, but I’m definitely tentative about putting too much hope on 2021, but I have to be optimistic about things getting better and seeing friends and family again soon because I don’t know how I’d cope if I wasn’t.

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

Sophie xx

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the drafts I never published

2020

Hello!

As a creator, there’s always drafts – moments of inspiration where you write a tweet, make a tiktok, take a picture or even note a blog post idea and it just never gets published, whether it’s because it’s something that was therapeutic to write but doesn’t need to be shared, it’s not as good an idea as originally thought or it was just never finished.

So I thought I’d share some of the draft blog posts I’ve not published just to give you a little insight into what random ideas I have and what never comes to fruition!

Up first we have ‘it’s in the loft’ – a 700 word ramble about a project I did in my religious education class when I was 13 where I made a Nazi symbol out of clay and dripped red paint on it to symbolise blood as a memorial of the second world war. I was, and still am, really proud of this project – I got top marks for it, my mum and I had a great time making it and I discovered my love of writing pretentious bullshit about symbolism; the grass symbolised new growth, the little clay Jewish stars symbolised the life that was lost etc etc.

And then I thought maybe publishing online that I made a swastika out of clay when I was 13 probably wasn’t something I should put online forever. I’m now technically still doing that but I stand by that publishing a whole blog post about it probably wasn’t the best idea so in my drafts it remains!

Next, was an outfit post about living out of a suitcase for a month – in 2019 there was a whole debacle about moving 100 miles away (we paid the deposit on a flat that wasn’t going to be ready by our agreed move in date and they messed us around for a month and we moved somewhere else) so I had a very limited wardrobe for a while so I wrote about it.

I wrote about an outfit that I still really love of a black and white spotted midi skirt and a red crop top, both from New Look, with my leather jacket from ASOS and even know with my Dr Martens I feel like a boss when I wear this outfit, but apparently I just didn’t feel the vibes of the post. I think I struggled getting pictures of the outfit on my own, living in a friends flat when so much was going on. But I really love the outfit and I wear it a lot.

(basically this but with a red t-shirt, I’m sure you can picture it)

My next abandoned draft blog post was a ‘Day In the Life of an MSc Student’ – I wrote about half of it and the rest was notes about my schedule for the day, but I remember getting halfway through and wondering if anyone would really care. It was a fairly specific diary of the classes I was attending, but a ‘day in the life of a student’ is go to uni, do classes, go home and I felt a bit silly pretending my day was anything special. Good decision to park this one I think.

Onto ‘How Meal Planning Will Change Your Life’ – I knew from the off that pretending that meal planning would change anyone’s life was a ridiculous claim. I’ve been meal planning for five years now and I kind of don’t understand how anyone gets through a week without knowing what they’re going to eat (I think that I think about food too much). It was another post when I realised that I wasn’t saying anything original or special – my meal planning habit is nothing special so another blog post abandoned!

Not all of my draft blog posts are abandoned posts, some are works in progress that I will write out fully when I have enough substance for it – next in my draft list is ‘self care tips for when getting out of bed is hard’. Like I’ve mentioned regularly (sorry), the last three months my mental health has turned in a way I’ve never experienced before, so this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else, but I’m slowly building up tips and tricks for the worst days when everything is hard. I think this one will be up soonish!

The next post was a ramble when I was a bit cross – ‘you’re on holiday; stop calling it a ‘staycation” – in the height of the pandemic, so many were sacrificing their international holidays for a British holiday and calling it a staycation which I hate. As someone who’s entire childhood was spent on UK holidays, I often felt bad at school when everyone talked about their holidays to Spanish beaches and resorts in Turkey and Greece. So calling it a ‘staycation’ as if it wasn’t enough to be a proper ‘holiday’ made me really cross and feels so elitist. But it was too negative to actually share – it had the same impact in a tweet.

I wrote ‘working with my mental health, not fighting against it’ in full and I don’t know why I didn’t publish it really, I think I may have forgotten to make it live. I might re-read it properly and publish it soonish if it’s still relevant, but I am doing a bit better in terms of my anxiety so I might save it for when I feel a bit better and feel like I know what I’m writing actually works.

And the last post in my drafts is another sad rant – I was feeling bad about myself so I wrote a whole post about how painfully average I am, but it definitely didn’t need to be published; I was just complaining and even though I said I wasn’t doing it for attention, there was no other reason to post it.

It’s funny looking back on what I’ve not deleted and what’s still sitting in drafts, but it’s also an insight for anyone who doesn’t have a blog as to how much writing goes on behind the scenes! I found out today that a fiction short story I wrote three years ago has had over 1000 views just this year so it’s strange what people find!

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

Sophie xx

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a different Christmas

2020

Hello!

With the ongoing pandemic and an astonishing amount of people that seem to find it impossible to remember the face mask goes over your nose (if they wear one at all), this Christmas is going to be looking very different.

In the UK, the government have assigned a window where three households can gather over the Christmas period (as if the virus knows it’s Christmas? And I’m sure many people will question what the difference is between 3 households and 6 but that’s none of my business) but a lot of places are still in surprisingly high risk tiers and personally, I won’t be travelling to see my family.

This year was meant to be one of those big Christmas’s where all the family gather at my mum’s house and there’s 15+ people all crammed around the table extension she made with my granddad a few years ago and although unsaid, I think we all decided that it’s worth waiting till we can all get together safely.

So this year, we’re having friendmas – a couple that my fiancé works with and we’re very close with are staying in the area over the festive period and we’ve decided we’re going to have a grown up friendmas and cook together, play silly games and eat all the festive treats. I don’t know why it feels so ‘grown up’, but I’m surprisingly excited about it considering how much of a family orientated Christmas person I am.

It’s finding the positives – being able to sleep in our own bed on Christmas Eve, only having to drive for 10 minutes up the road and not one to two hours to either of our parents, having food on the table, loved ones to spend Christmas with; we have a lot to be grateful for, even if my fiancé is straight back to work on Boxing Day and over the New Year.

2020 has been a rollercoaster ride; we’re living through history. I grew up doing projects about my grandma in World War 2, so to think that my grandchildren might be asking me what it was like to live in a pandemic and knowing that ‘doing my part’ is significantly less life threatening than living through a war, it reminds me how much I have to be grateful for and how much I still have achieved this year.

We have to be optimistic for 2021, because other than perhaps a world war, it can’t get much more bleak than this. There’s always a silver lining – pinning all our hopes on a New Year being better is a lot of pressure to potentially set up for disappointment, but there’s always things to be grateful for.

I have the love of my life to spend Christmas with, I have a warm house and food in the fridge, I have family at the end of the phone and great friends to pull crackers with on Christmas Day. Sometimes it’s hard to find the positives, but they are always there.

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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December Goals

2020, crafting, goals, mental health

Hello!

Somehow we’re on the last month of the year, even though many of us are still mentally stuck in March! This year really has been a whirlwind hasn’t it? If you’d told anyone last year we’d spend half the year cancelling plans, wearing face masks to the shops and constantly being told to ‘think of the NHS’ while the government chronically under funds them and doesn’t value the true key workers in this pandemic, they’d laugh in your face! No way would we believe anything that drastic.

But here we are! The last month of the year; the home stretch!

Personally, I’m still taking things slow – this year has put a massive strain on everyone’s mental health and I need to take things slow for my own sake right now. I’m applying for jobs since finishing my masters and having had the worst luck after my undergrad in 2018 (hundreds of jobs, rejection emails basically every day for months, not a good time) I’m taking a much more gentle approach this time around. Rather than going all out putting lots of pressure on myself to ‘achieve’ by the end of the year, I’m going to try and achieve a better relationship with myself instead!

But as always, I’m setting five mini goals to focus on in December!

  1. Vlogmas! – I started my YouTube channel on December 1st 2013 doing Vlogmas – the challenge of making a video every single day of advent. Many YouTubers make daily vlogs, some do 24 days of content but either way I decided to give it another go this year – this is where it all began for me and I’ve not been making a lot of YouTube videos recently, so I thought a challenge like this will help me figure out what I want the content on my channel to be and can try to redirect some of my creativity into video making. I just published the first video – a little life update – if you’d like to have a look!
  2. Plan New Year’s Resolutions – I love goals and I’ve learnt a lot this year about being flexible with my goals (looking at 1. travel, 2. putting pressure on myself to save money with no income and 3. developing skills I wanted to make myself have, rather than what I’m actually interested in) and I’ve been trying to make much more realistic goals. An acronym I heard a lot from careers departments is setting SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound – to help set goals that are actually a step in the right direction, and not a mountain that seems impossible to climb.
  3. Read gardening books and prepare for next year’s garden – I really enjoyed growing my own flowers this year and my dad bought me some gardening books in the summer that I said I would learn from in the winter ahead of next year’s gardening season! I want to figure out the best vegetables to grow when you can’t plant anything in the ground and go into it with more of a sense of what I’m doing. I might even start a brand new gardening notebook! I’m actually unironically really enthusiastic about gardening!
  4. Christmas crafts! – and from one granny activity to the next, I’ve loved my chilled afternoons cross stitching, knitting and crafting in the last few weeks – from making Christmas presents to fixing some clothes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making crafting part of my daily routine to make more of an effort to switch off and relax. I want to get some paper chains, I want to sew some festive things and I’ve got a stack of cardboard boxes I saved with intent to craft so I better use them!
  5. Read one book – in the first 8 months of the year I couldn’t stop reading, when my mental health declined I didn’t have the energy and I got out of the habit. Sleeping and my bedtime routine has been something I struggle with recently, so I don’t want to put any pressure on myself to get back to reading every night straight away again, but if I can finish one book this month that would be amazing.

And my other monthly goal is to have a date night with my fiancé at some point! He’s really busy with work at the moment, but hopefully we’ll find some time to get take out and watch a movie or something!

I was really excited about Christmas in November and now December’s here I think I’m more intimidated by the end of the year than I thought I would be. But I’m making the most of not working right now to try and look after myself, any tips are more than welcome!

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

Sophie xx

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Treasured In… November 2020

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t done a ‘favourites’ post for a while – I’ve been trying to reevaluate my relationship with feeling the need to buy new things to show and talk about in these posts but I think the format I’ve built for myself works quite well and with ongoing lockdown announcements and all the other stuff going on in a pandemic world, I think we can all use a post about nice things that make us happy! Especially with the festive season right around the corner!

  • purchase

Just talked about not feeling the need to buy new things and first category is my favourite purchase; I see the irony! I haven’t actually really bought anything for myself recently, but I’ve been doing all my Christmas shopping online as everything’s closed at the moment and I’ve made an effort not to use Amazon and to shop small and I’ve bought so many cute bits from Etsy! I’m not going to link anything specific for obvious reasons, but being able to search for literally everything, specify my price range and that I want to shop in the UK has been great. So far delivery has been mixed but I think it’s COVID making everything slower. And the one Amazon order I did make one of the items isn’t going to arrive until December 23rd, so it’s definitely not that much more convenient than shopping from independent creatives!

  • social media

A slightly strange category, but with applying for jobs in marketing and digital media, I’ve been thinking a lot more professionally about social media in preparation for potential interviews – I’ve been looking at view to subscriber averages on YouTube, trying to understand Instagram’s new layout prioritising shopping and forever pretending I’m young enough to use tiktok like I get how the app works. There are so many hashtags that I don’t get! I’d love to start making tiktoks but I’m a little overwhelmed with where to start… I mostly watch Harry Potter cosplayers and I’m loving just spectating too.

  • music

I drew the conclusion earlier this year that I’m not as into music as I thought I was, but as I’ve been needing sounds to distract me from my overthinking brain, I’ve been watching a lot more YouTube and listening to way more music!

I’m really enjoying working to instrumental music (I can’t concentrate when there are lyrics, I get distracted) so I’ve been listening to a pianist called Ludivico Einaudi who I loved when I was 16 but his album Islands is beautiful and you’d recognise some of the songs from TV adverts! I’ve also loved listening to the Avengers: Endgame soundtrack and a playlist called Cinematic Chillout.

And I’ve found a love for acoustic music as well? Hearing the raw instruments and stripped back vocals chills me out at the moment so my favourite playlist is Easy Acoustic, but I also love Calming Instrumental Covers and I’m looking forward to listening to Autumn Acoustic too.

  • YouTube video

I feel like I’ve been a broken record about how I’m behind on watching YouTube videos and have been for about five years now – I’m currently up to just over 200 videos on my watch later playlist and the videos are from about six weeks ago, but I only really watch YouTube when my partner is away with work because when he’s home I want to make the most of him.

So I don’t have specific videos, because they would be from months ago, but I’m really loving The Anna Edit‘s videos even though I’m 100% a different class to her and don’t have the money to and wouldn’t spend as much as she does on high end skin care, fashion or anything, but I just love how chatty and friendly she is. I’ve always said, I subscribe to channels based on the people, not the content.

The other channel I’ve loved for so long now is Fabulous Hannah – the same principle of liking the person not the content, but I also love the content. Hannah and I would get on so well – she has my same sarcastic, self deprecating humour, we’re kind of at similar points in life, and watching her videos just feels like I’m having a one way video call catch up with a friend and that’s the kind of cosy vibes I love on YouTube.

  • books

I finally finished The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas! I had eight months of an amazing reading habit that has now completely gone out the window, but I managed to finish the one book I had started. I liked it – I was apprehensive of the ending because I’ve seen the film, but I thought it really captured the perspective of a 9 year old boy. Apparently it’s a controversial book, but I thought it was interesting to express the naïvity of children in Germany, though I’m not sure how historically accurate it is.

I’m yet to start another book, but I definitely need to get back into the habit because I miss it.

  • snacks

I may have built up an unjustified anxiety about eating, but recently I’ve started getting my appetite back and with Christmas treats and the Great British Bake Off as inspiration for the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed a few treats.

Cadbury Snow Balls are my favourite seasonal treat (though a special shout out to creme eggs), I’ve been very much enjoying Victoria sponge cupcakes and malted milk biscuits were all my anxious stomach could handle for a while.

I’m definitely a sweet snack kind of girl.

  • TV/film/streaming/stuff to watch

Speaking off The Great British Bake Off… it’s the only thing I’ve been religiously watching every week since it all began. Lottie was my favourite, I very nearly stopped watching when she went out, I think Dave was robbed in that final but the whole series was the light relief we needed amongst a new tier system and a second lockdown.

I’ve not really watched anything else to be honest – with catching up on 200 YouTube videos and Bake Off on a Tuesday night, I’ve not made time for anything else. I did start rewatching Harry Potter and a few Marvel movies of an afternoon though, which has been nice.

  • wedding planning update

We paid the first half of the venue deposit! There’s been a lot of back and forth since we viewed the venue in July, but with the pandemic they agreed to let us pay half the deposit and the other half in January, so the ball really is rolling! My plan before the New Year is to make a detailed list of everything that needs doing and when I need to start thinking about it over the next two years so I keep up with planning and we save enough money for the right times.

I think with all the new lockdown rules, it hasn’t really sunk in yet – part of my mind wonders if the pandemic will effect us by the end of 2022, but I have to stay optimistic and hope for the best!


I wasn’t sure about writing this post, because it all feels incredibly self indulgent, but talking about nice things that make us happy is what we all need at the moment. Do we need to share them all on the internet? Probably not, but I’m part of a generation that has an issue with oversharing online so here we are.

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

Sophie xx

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