Treasured in… May

2020, books, creativity, film, lifestyle, student

Hello!

As we come to the end of our second full calendar month in lockdown, little posts like this full of things I enjoyed and want to share are more important than ever. Everywhere I look people are complaining about the government, singing the praises of the NHS and arguing about what are appropriate social distancing activities (though how anyone could defend packed beaches I really don’t know) so having this little list of happy things will be a nice little mood boost for me as well as you!

Here are my the things I treasured in May!


blog post:

I really made more of an effort to read more this month – I’ve been on the hunt for bloggers that don’t exclusively talk about beauty, fashion or other stereotypical ‘successful blogger’ categories. I really want to find people like me who don’t necessarily blog for income, writing about the ramblings trapped in their heads and talking about all their random hobbies without limiting themselves to a ‘niche’.

I’m still hunting, but these two blog posts from YouTube influencers I follow were topical and well written.

recipe:

I don’t think I’ve tried anything that particularly blew me away this month – I made this creamy chicken chorizo pasta bake which was nice but we’re not rushing to make it again. I’m still really enjoying the bacon and pea risotto that I linked last month, I’ve somewhat rediscovered a good jacket potato and we made a really nice lasagne but it all came out of jars so it wasn’t anything to do with my ability to cook!

Top tip for ‘homemade out of jars lasagne’ – use a Mac and Cheese sauce rather than a white sauce, it worked really well for us and is making me hungry just thinking about it!

online course:

Again, this month I didn’t find anything new – I had one last big assignment to finish off my semester 2 work for my masters and with lockdown and a generally not good course, my friend and I who were working together on it (group project, not cheating I promise!) spent more time teaching ourselves than knowing what we were doing.

So I learnt a lot about the Maya animation software, modelling environments, materials, different animation types and multi-camera set ups, but I didn’t find a course online to take myself.

Next month I’ll be starting all the self-teaching I have to do for my dissertation project so I’ll be rambling all about designing a video game, making a 2D animation and writing scripts for both!

music:

The only time I really listen to music is when I’m cooking – when I’m trying to write or work, it means I can’t concentrate and if I’m knitting or doing my cross stitch I use it as an excuse to catch up on YouTube videos (I’m 300 videos deep on my watch later…).

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been craving a bit of nostalgia so my partner has been finding playlists on Spotify along the lines of ‘year 6 disco’ and ‘the best of the 2000s’ and we’ve been listening to everything from S Club 7, Steps, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers to Bob The Builder’s ‘Big Fish Little Fish’. Thoroughly recommend a throwback disco if you need a little boost!

YouTube video:

Most of the YouTubers I’m subscribed to are vloggers, so watching vaguely ‘normal’ home life vlogging has been most of what I’m watching and it’s been nice to feel that little bit ‘normal’ by watching the creators I’ve been following for years just living their daily lives.

So I’m going to use this section this month to talk about one of my own videos – it’s currently unlisted on my channel because it’s for a uni assignment and I always feel funny about publishing my work while it’s still being marked (so it’s a fun little secret for my blog!). But this is the animation my friend Agata and I made for our assignment – the main character is animated from motion capture data and we built pretty much everything in the environment ourselves.

I’m so ridiculously proud of this little animation and I loved working on it with one of my best friends (even if we did the majority of the work in the three days before it was due…), so here is Life After Lockdown; a little topical comedy animation for our  assignment.

books I’ve read:

loved this book – this take on life after death and the way the characters have conflict without antagonising each other (except Evie’s mum, she was actually evil). It was one of those books that made you think about what life after death really is like – I genuinely think this is a pretty good idea and worth a read in these challenging times.

I read this because my boyfriend loves the Game Grumps and recommended it but it wasn’t for me – I didn’t find it funny but it felt like they were trying way too hard to be funny, the murder mystery was a bit too Scooby Doo for me, but it was entertaining enough.

This book is taking me actual weeks to get through – I like the writing style, but it feels almost non-fiction and there are so many characters that Pomerantz clearly expects the reader to remember who they are, how they were relevant and details about their life and career. It’s about a plane crash and it’s really depressing and long and there’s not much of a story yet and I’m about 75% through? I think the main thing putting me off is that on the back it declares that this back will become a classic but… it definitely hasn’t and I just can’t vibe with someone arrogant enough to assume their work deserves to become a classic. But I’m nearly done and a review will be on my Instagram when I do!

snack: 

I never thought I particularly liked minty chocolate – I can appreciate a few After Eights at Christmas and maybe a packet of softmints every now and then but not big on mint. I thought I’d prefer plain chocolate aero bubbles to the mint aero bubbles but my boyfriend opened my eyes and I have to stop myself buying them or I will eat the entire packet.

I also picked up a packet of Tesco’s own Salted Caramel Munch Bars thinking it would be an easy breakfast option – they’re really good but they’re so not good for you in any way that I’d be better off going back to a slice of toast in the mornings. But they’re really yummy and if you’re not really a breakfast person then something is better than nothing right?

visual entertainment: 

I’ve not watched any new TV this month but my mum, my sister, my boyfriend and I have started a remote film club using a 52 Week challenge book my mum picked up on Amazon – 52 challenges, divided by 4 people means 13 categories each. This month we watched Pulp Fiction, Eighth Grade, Dumbo (the live action one) and Top Gun and I’m really enjoying the excuse to watch all the ‘classic’ films I haven’t seen but should have as well as some newer films that I want to see.

Pulp Fiction was an interesting choice and having done a unit where one of my lecturers tried to teach us artsy-fartsy film theory (when he shouldn’t have been) it did make it more interesting to think about the decisions the director made, but then I thought about if a film makes you think about the decisions the director made and takes you out of being fully immersed, is it really a well made film? Either way! Eighth Grade was fun and a really accurate portrayal of life as a 13 year old, Dumbo was alright but I prefer the original (and Colin Farrell’s character was literally useless) and Top Gun was an action for the sake of action, ‘put it on in the background’ kind of film that really proved that Tom Cruise literally only plays one character in all his films.

Other than that I’ve watched a lot of Kim Possible on Disney+…

wedding planning update: Before lockdown, I attended a couple of wedding fairs and one of them was near my old hometown. There we spoke to a lady who was representing the most beautiful venue near a lake that my boyfriend and I are very sentimental about. It was beautiful, it’s a great location and it makes me feel a little bit emosh just thinking about it! We’re 90% sure it’s the venue we want to go with but we don’t have the deposit money yet. However, with two months of lockdown, people are re-planning weddings for years to come and our date of November 2022 is looking like it’s going to get infringed on quite quickly, so I want to contact the venue and at least get our foot in the door for our date so we don’t lose it. Otherwise, there’s nothing much more I can do in lockdown other than coming up with more and more ideas on Pinterest…

So I’ve not done any wedding planning this month but we have reached this decision, so there’s a bit of progress there!


On the one hand, I hope that the country is safe enough for some restrictions to be lifted in June so we can do more things, I can visit my family etc, but I really don’t want restrictions to be lifted early just because people are getting grumpy about not having their hair cut, so I’m apprehensive.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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re-introducing me

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

I’ve been blogging now for over 5 years – I started the blog because I was applying to universities and between the creative writing and journalism courses I was choosing between most of the lecturers recommended starting one.

But five years is a long time and a lot of things can change in that time – at 18 I still lived at home, I had long blonde hair, I was doing my second year of a levels and seriously convinced I wasn’t going to pass any of them, perpetually single and pursuing toxic friendships because it was easier than ‘changing friendship groups’.

At 23, I’m working towards my third degree qualification, I shaved my head for charity last year and my hair is… questionably mullet-like, I’ve been in a relationship for four and a half years and we’ve planned when we want our wedding to be. I live in a little one bedroom house that we rent in High Wycombe and I’m actually obsessed with it. My Masters dissertation project deadline has been pushed back to the end of October so I won’t be looking to start work until November, but for the first time in a long time, I really don’t know what I want to do with my career, so I’m just not going to think about it for a while (which is probably a bad idea).

In the current pandemic lockdown, I’ve been continuing my uni work and maintaining making content for my blog, as well as falling in love with cross stitching, knitting and gardening (I cannot wait for my little seed babies to flower).

In 2020, I’ve done a lot of reading – I set myself the challenge of reading 12 books this year (one a month) but hit that in March and I’m now on my 22nd book of the year (but I’m trying really hard not to think about reading to hit certain numbers and just enjoy the stories). My love for books has really reignited this year and the only career I can really think of that I’m really passionate about is writing and telling stories but I don’t think I’m going to be able to work as a full time author once I finish my masters degree… A girl can dream though.

What else? My birthday is 9/11 but in the UK it’s 11/9 so I sometimes confuse people and they think my birthday is in November (I’m a very stereotypical Virgo). I live for organisation – my bullet journal, lists, calendars, colour coding, post it notes, it all makes me very happy. I think I’d be quite happy doing a receptionist/admin job, maybe at a dance school or media company (maybe with a bit of photography/social media creation on the side) and do my writing in my spare time. It’s not the high paced, travelling round the world doing social media for a touring band job I wanted to do five year’s ago when I started the blog but I think a more settled, quieter life would suit me better anyway.

My anxiety is worse than it used to be but for different reasons. Rather than having toxic friends and no support system, I have the most amazing people in my life but I worry a lot. I’d like to think it’s about justifiable things like not being able to get a job and whether I’m a good person but it’s a work in progress and I’ve been using a service called Healthy Minds, but I think I’m going to need to save for a course of proper therapy because I’ve got a lot of stuff going on in my head.

I’d like to think that the most important thing to know about me is that all I really want to do is help people, make people happy and see people succeed. Sometimes I say the wrong thing and I don’t read social situations very well but I’m well intentioned and have a lot of love to give so I hope that’s what comes across.

Lastly, I want to share three life goals:

  • I’d love to start a company that makes gorgeous kids clothes into adult clothes, because I’ve seen so many cute toddler dresses that I would wear with no shame.
  • I want to own a cafe – not necessarily run a cafe, but work with local businesses and people to make a nice community environment, maybe partner with a charity and have people donate cakes or something. I want it to be somewhere my mum can bake for in her retirement because she loves baking and I want to give her an environment to do that without the pressure of baking specifically for business so making it more of a ‘drop in’ thing.
  • I want to own a truck (but only if one of my kids has a hobby with lots of big equipment and/or I live on a farm… I have no aspiration to live on a farm).

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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bad mental health in quarantine

2020, mental health

Hello,

I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who’s felt their mental health plummet whilst the world has been consumed by this pandemic.

Even within the realm of mental health, I still appreciate that I’m incredibly fortunate to not have to be working, to live in a (mostly) financially stable household, not being isolated alone and to not know anyone who’s suffered with the virus, but that doesn’t make the feelings in my head any less valid.

My boyfriend pointed out near the beginning of lockdown that any ‘setbacks’ in my mental health aren’t a true reflection of my mental health – of course my anxiety’s going to get worse when the whole world is changing, that doesn’t mean I’ve done something to make my anxiety worse or had a step back in my ‘journey’, it’s just a natural response.

Managing it has been difficult – the longer we’re restricted, the harder I find it to motivate myself to do anything. At the beginning I flourished on actually having time to do all the work I needed to do and now I’m down to my last deadline before my dissertation project, I should be super motivated to get the last one done, right?

But I’ve not been taught anything I need to do to finish this assignment, the longer we’re in quarantine the less point I can see in doing anything and the more my anxiety makes me feel like I’m trying to walk through water just to do anything… And suddenly it’s three days to hand in and I have a mountain to climb to finish and it’s even worse!

Uni work aside, I’m a very self aware person – I can look almost objectively and my ‘symptoms’ (though it feels weird to call them that) and I know I need to do X, Y and Z to feel better. Objectively, that seems simple enough. In practice? It’s really hard to implement.

For example, I know that the easiest way for me to get anything done (from uni work to the washing up) is to take out every element of decision making that I can – making to do lists, deciding what order I’m going to do the things on the list and even scheduling every hour of my day are all things I’ve done before to help me work. However, the ‘ill’ part of my brain (again, feels weird to use that terminology) makes me feel like I don’t have enough processing power in my brain to actually do anything and reminds me that my self-set schedule doesn’t have any consequences… No one’s going to tell me off for not doing a workout first thing in the morning, nothing will happen if I don’t do my self-set writing challenge, the only ‘consequence’ to anything in my life at the moment is my uni work…

But even then the whole course has been a mess and if I don’t hand in I’ll fail one assignment in one unit and do badly on the module and it’ll bring down my overall grade but… what impact will that really have on my life?

Obviously I’m really trying not to have this approach and I want to do as well in my masters as I can… but the point still stands, consequences are minimal! Which obviously really doesn’t help with the whole mental health malarky.

I’ve tried making the most of schedules and lists – I’ve made a morning routine list, I’ve got my daily to do lists, an evening routine list, a list of creative things to do in quarantine if I find myself with nothing to do (slash… procrastinating…). It’s got past the point of helping though.

I wish I could say I’ve found this amazing cure all that’s going to help everyone struggling with their mental health as if everyone experiences mental health issues in the same way… But I haven’t (and that’s obviously not how mental illness works). At this point, I’m just trying to get through this last deadline I’ve got for uni and then trying to take each day as it comes.

On Friday (22nd May), my boyfriend and I will have been in isolation for 10 weeks, leaving the house once a week for food shopping and occasionally going for walks (but the people in our area don’t seem to be familiar with the concept of social distancing and that really helps my anxiety…). We’re finding new areas to walk in and there’s a woods not too far from our house where everyone is really considerate and kind. We’re trying to make the effort to walk every day because it’s good for both of us both from an exercise and mental point of view.

No one knows how much longer lockdown is going to go on for – if people keep disregarding social distancing rules, then it’ll go on for longer, if cases continue to go down then things might be allowed to start reopening soon. There’s no way to put a date on when things might be able to start going back to normal.

But we all have to prioritise what’s best for us – trying to listen to our own needs as much as possible; taking things slow and stepping back or even keeping up a routine and any sense of normalcy. Things are hard but we will get through this – you’ve survived 100% of your bad days and you will make it through this.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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what makes a blogger?

2020

Hello,

I go through phases with feeling inspired in what blog posts I want to write – sometimes I’m bursting with ideas and I plan a whole month’s worth of content in one go, sometimes I end up turning to Google searching for ‘blog post ideas’ (which never works) or searching for what other people have been blogging or making videos about to try and spark some inspiration.

But the crux of it all is that I want to write about something insightful – sometimes it’s just indulgent, diary-like posts, writing about the things I’m excited about and showing my pictures from recent trips but I try not to do those too frequently. People turn to blog posts for education (in a way – stick with me!) – a new recipe, a new skincare product recommendation, tips and tricks to achieve something whether it be working for home or having a better sex life. The trouble is I don’t feel like I know enough about anything to be able to contribute anything about a particular topic.

And that’s not to say that every blogger has to be an expert in anything – finding someone who’s learning something along with you and documenting their progress can be encouraging to watch. This year I’ve been really into reading and I hit my goodreads goal for the year in March, then I noticed that a creator I already follow The Anna Edit was reading at roughly the same pace as me as documented on her Instagram page so I’ve loved comparing my progress to hers and making more book related content online.

But then I don’t want anyone who stumbles across my blog to think that I’m writing a post about the basics of cross stitching from a point of reliable information. I don’t know anything! The first cross stitch I did, I realised far too late that I was meant to separate the thread into smaller strands and that’s why I ran out of thread and had to improvise – I’m not qualified to teach anyone anything! And I’m an awful teacher.

With all that in mind – why do I blog at all? I love writing, that’s the point; I love rambling and getting my thoughts into words and sharing it, but who am I to think that it needs to be shared with other people?

The conclusion? It doesn’t – if I stopped blogging no one would really miss it, I could carry on writing my personal, diary-like, introspective posts in a journal without having to share my life on the internet, but I can’t stop? I love blogging, I love looking back on where I’ve been and what I wrote about when I was 20 and thinking about what I might write about when I’m 26 if I still have time to blog then. I’ve been doing this for almost six years – I started trying to write really formal news style pieces and reviews, then in 2015 I did a 365-day blog writing challenge (successfully, whilst being out the country and away from technology for a month, might I add).

My blog isn’t huge – it’s never going to be my career and I don’t have the energy to put in the effort to make it successful, nor do I have a specific enough niche or knowledge to write anything useful.

So I’ve managed to write a whole blog post about how I don’t know what to write, I don’t know why I write and how I’m not going to stop – success! Sometimes these ‘stream of consciousness’ posts are my favourite to write. I’m sure I’ll think of something to blog about by next week, but until then I’ve spent 9 weeks in quarantine and I’ve got a new found love for cross stitching, so I’m going to get back to that.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I’m cutting down my screentime

2020, books, creativity, lifestyle, mental health, writing

Hello!

I know that I don’t need to reiterate that quarantine is hard, we all know that, but one thing a lot of us have inadvertently spent a lot more time doing is looking at screens – from scrolling through Instagram, to working from home with a less regimented schedule, to Netflix to video games; so much of our entertainment is on screens.

Something I’m noticing more and more recently is that spending all day going from my phone to my laptop to the TV and back isn’t doing me any good – I don’t think it’s helping my sleep and I know I feel better when I’ve spent some time away.

I thought I’d collate a little list of the off-screen things I’m really enjoying at the moment so I can come back so it when I’m feeling a bit uninspired and maybe it’ll give you some ideas too!


  • cross stitch

I bought one of those little kits from Hobbycraft before everything closed and then ignored it for weeks. So when the weather picked up I sat outside with my cross stitch and it was lovely – I’ve been doing it on and off and I’ve nearly finished it now. It’s lovely to sit down and follow a pattern and make something creative – something that takes just enough brain power to keep you occupied but not enough brain power that it’s too hard. I’ve just bought a new kit from Etsy and I’m really excited about it.

  • knitting

I swear I have other creative hobbies that aren’t related to sewing. In my house I have one set of knitting needles and one ball of wool, but my mum sent me a pattern to make ‘ear savers’ which is essentially a headband to make face masks more comfortable for front line medical staff so I’m learning new stitches and hopefully I’ll actually be able to make something useful. Once you’ve nailed the new stitches it’s very therapeutic too!

  • making lists with coloured pens

Post-quarantine lists, things to do in quarantine, daily to do lists, weekly meal plans – everything is more exciting when you use coloured pens.

  • skincare

Spending even 5 minutes just to look after your skin and moisturise, maybe doing a face mask or a foot mask – it feels like a nice to make that time to treat yourself! Go all out and have a bath if you like, I have to wait for our new bath plug to arrive though and that’s a bit anticlimactic.

  • reading

I know I’ve been banging on about reading a lot this year but considering my goal for 2020 was 12 books and I just finished my 20th and I’m feeling more creatively driven by reading and writing than I’ve felt in an awfully long time, I’m justifiably excited about it. With the weather being typically British (unpredictable), reading is the perfect activity for sitting out in the garden catching some of that vitamin D or snuggled inside while the wind does its best to tear the trees down. So many of us have an ongoing ‘to be read’ pile and we might as well make the most of trying to cut it down a little whilst we’re encouraged to stay indoors.

  • gardening

I don’t necessarily mean landscaping your garden to make raised vegetable beds and only eating your own homegrown produce this summer! I mean making the most of the space you have (a windowsill, a balcony, any outside space) and growing something – there’s so many lovely indoor plants that can flourish at this time of year.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive – I bought a bag of soil, a small set of pots, a selection of flower seeds, some basic tools and gardening gloves in my weekly Asda shop for less than £20 and the joy of watching the seeds I planted turn into little shoots and flourishing is so satisfying and going out and watering them every day is incredibly therapeutic. I have to resist buying more every time I go shopping!

If you’re not sure where to start, I believe you can buy kitchen windowsill herb kits and grow the seasonings you use to cook! Our kitchen doesn’t have a window so I’ve opted for flowers this year but I definitely want to try tomatoes, peppers and courgettes next year!

  • journalling

If the world feels a bit big right now, I can’t express anything more therapeutic than getting all your feelings out on paper. It usually makes me feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest, sometimes it’s just a little bit so I can take a slightly bigger breath and sometimes I feel light as air but getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper is so healthy.

Then if you want you could even destroy the paper – I think I’m going to ceremoniously burn my journal when I’m finished with it. I can pretend it’s symbolic about a ‘chapter of my life ending’ but let’s be real; 1) a fire pit in the summer with friends is the best so might as well provide some kindling, 2) same applies to a BBQ, 3) there’s some parts of my life documented in that journal that I would really enjoy destroying and 4) it probably would be quite symbolic and provide a nice sense of closure.

The destroying isn’t the key part – it doesn’t even have to be on paper; you could make a private social media account that’s just for you, you could do it on the notes app on your phone or have a document on your computer. You can do it however you want in whatever medium you want, but I thoroughly recommend it.


If you’ve got any hobbies or activities that you’ve taken up during quarantine – whether to spend more time offline or to help your mental health – leave them in a comment below! We can make a big master post of ideas!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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8 weeks in isolation

2020, lifestyle

Hello,

Today marks 8 weeks since I last went to uni and the last time I left the house for anything other than buying food.

8 weeks.

56 days.

In the first few weeks, I actually felt okay – it was nice to have my boyfriend home instead of away with work, I could properly focus on my uni work and I was feeling relaxed and productive.

Then the bulk of my uni work finished and I could feel my reason for getting out of bed slipping away – with no end date in sight, my uni deadlines changing every other week, the projects I do have suddenly feel far too big and my anxiety is heightened in a way it hasn’t been before.

But I’m trying my best not to complain because I’m so fortunate to be safe and healthy and not have to work and so on, but then I feel like if I bottle up everything I’m feeling it just gets worse and it’s an ongoing cycle. I just wanted to make sure I put in writing that I’m incredibly grateful for all the key workers that are putting their lives on the line so that so many of us don’t have to.

Although most days look pretty different there are a few core things that are the same so I thought I’d talk you through what an average ‘day in the life’ in quarantine looks like for me.

  • Whilst I tried to maintain my early morning routine, sleeping hasn’t been particularly easy so I’m letting my body sleep for as long as it needs to. Generally I wake up between half 8 and 9 but when I’m feeling a bit more settled I’m normally up by 7.
  • first stop – breakfast! I like having toast with butter at the moment but I imagine I’ll get bored and look for something new to try in a few weeks, on the other hand I’m a creature of habit and could probably quite happily eat the same three meals a day forever.
  • After breakfast and watching some YouTube, I might do a quick meditation or I will go back upstairs to get dressed.
  • Sometimes if the weather’s nice we’ll go for a walk – we’ve found a lovely 5k circuit through the woods which is nice to walk but whilst the weather can’t decide if it’s raining or brilliant sunshine we’ve not been rushing to go out.
  • From there I generally start on my to do list – I like to do my uni work first because I have more brain power in the morning, but if I’m not feeling it I’ll just take it slow, do what I can and if I don’t get everything done, I don’t and that’s fine.
  • With lunch sometimes I’ll video call my mum and my sister, sometimes I’ll play Pokemon on the Switch with the boyfriend and sometimes I’ll just watch YouTube videos. I’ve got like 250 videos to catch up on so I’m not short of things to watch!
  • In the afternoon I’ll carry on with my list if there’s still stuff to do, otherwise I’ll take things a bit slower – do a couple of smaller tasks, maybe something a bit crafty, we’ve starting having movie afternoon’s which has been lovely, especially as my uni work isn’t as much.
  • Then, as a creature of habit, I always make sure dinner is ready for about 6pm – sometimes I have to start cooking at 5pm, sometimes I don’t have to start till 5.45pm.
  • Generally I try to finish my ‘working’ day by the time I start dinner then in evenings I will either play video games with the boyfriend, play Sims 4, maybe I’ll do some writing, I had my first bath in literal years the other night so I went up to bed early and treated myself to a little pamper (the plug mechanism then stopped working and we had to drain it using measuring jugs… but that’s not the point).
  • Then my ‘evening routine’ starts at 9pm, I’ll get ready for bed, do any skincare I can be bothered to do, write in my journal, then read until I fall asleep.

Fairly boring and monotonous but I’m just taking it slow and not putting too much pressure on myself! I’m going to try today to make a proper morning and evening routine list to make skincare more of a proper habit because it feels like I’m treating myself and taking care of myself every day rather than once a month whenever I get round to it.

I really want to make exercise part of my routine too but it feels like a lot right now and I don’t need any extra pressure right now, I’ll do what I can when I feel up to it.

We’re all handling isolation differently and I’m loving seeing peoples routines and updates on Instagram so I thought I’d share mine too! I’m big on routine and like doing things at the same time every day so even though we’re eight weeks in, everything is still changing and adapting. Maybe I’ll end up with a school like timetable every day and that’s what will make me feel best, but I know that my boyfriend doesn’t feel the need for a routine like that so we’ll figure out a balance between us.

I hope you and your family are all happy and healthy, sending all my love in these trying times.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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finishing my masters in quarantine…

2020, mental health, student

Hello!

Everyone’s been effected in so many different ways by the corona virus pandemic , but as someone who is only a couple of years out of their undergraduate degree and trying to finish a masters degree, I’ve seen a lot of people who’s studies have been negatively effected by the virus.

Graduation ceremonies have been cancelled, deadlines have been shifted, ‘safety nets’ have been brought in so people’s grades can’t be negatively impacted, student loans have been spent on accommodation people aren’t living in and all in all, it’s been a mixed bag.

Post graduate loans are a joke so my last instalment came in at the beginning of April and more than half of it went on course fees for a course that’s been not cancelled but there’s no more teaching just a bunch of online tutorials and self teaching (which isn’t that different to usual… the whole course has been a joke but I could do a whole blog post on that on it’s own but I probably won’t in case they see it and decide to fail me lol). I’m really hoping for a refund otherwise finances are going to get really bloody tight in my house because I can’t get a job when everyone’s working from home and no one’s hiring so a little £2,000 refund would be lush.

Aside from finances, the whole thing has been weird – over my third year at uni in Southampton and the whole course at Oxford Brookes, I’ve worked really hard to develop a routine where I work on campus and I relax at home. It’s not always 100% solid but it meant that when I came home, I could almost leave my stress at the door and know that this is my place to chill.

Then everything closed and I had to completely rewire everything in my brain about working from home.

That was the biggest obstacle, but this was mid-March when it all kicked off. 4 of my 7 semester 2 deadlines had been pushed back to the end of April, with two more on May 1st and the last on May 7th. With about six weeks to work on these four big assignments. Once I overcame the initial ‘omg I don’t know how to work from home’, I flourished having something to focus on – I made myself a schedule, I did a little bit of work every day and I actually finished all four assignments 2 days before hand in and ended up having the big ‘four assignment hand in day’ completely off because I’d submitted everything by, like, 9am.

I thought my student life had been revolutionised – I had become one of those students I always envied and I was feeling very smug, I’ll be honest.

Then I crashed, my anxiety hit me like a truck, the two written assignments I had due for May 1st were a real ball ache and the assignment I had due on the 7th where I had to teach myself more about motion capture, animation, working with a group member who is currently at home in Poland all within less than 10 days? It all fell apart a bit.

I realised early enough in advance that there was no way I was ever going to be able to finish the animation project by the 7th and my uni is doing a ‘two week grace period’ extension with no questions ask, so that one’s still ongoing. But the two written assignments should have taken me a day, maybe a day and a half tops and my brain was in such a poor state that it took me a week, several edible rewards and a lot of coaxing from my boyfriend and my mum.

Because between corona virus, lecturer’s that either never give feedback (or are incredibly nit-picky) and the graduate job market as turbulent as it is, finding the motivation to care or to see a point in all of it is seems impossible. When they’re talking about the world taking possibly years to stabilise after this pandemic and the thought of starting a career and really starting adult life (saving for a wedding, house, kids etc) is just so big. The world feels too big and I feel so small and insignificant.

I wish I had a nice conclusion like “I suddenly realised XYZ and now I’m a-okay again!”. I got my two written assignments in, I’ve now got over two weeks to work on my animation and I’ve just found out that all my dissertation deadlines have been pushed back and there’s an option to delay the unit and pick it back up when uni is open again, so the pressure has eased a bit there.

My masters is ending in a way I never thought it would – this course has introduced me to four girls that I know I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life and we didn’t even know our last day at uni together was our last day. In theory we’re all due to graduate in Summer ’21 so we’ll all get to do that together but right now? It all feels very uncertain.

I have a lot of work still to do and I’m focusing on that as much as possible – giving myself a routine, trying to stay productive and fill my time with new skills and learning as well as working on my masters. I’m going to write a post later this week all about my weeks in isolation but uni wise, this all feels like it’s not real.

I really hope we get to go back to campus to work on our dissertations and I get to spend more time with the girls in the edit suite, gossiping and snacking more than working. I love being a student and whilst I now feel I’m definitely ready to move into a career and start properly making a life for myself, I loved the student experience and I’ll miss my commute to Oxford to see my friends.

It’s not the ending that any of us finishing our courses this year wanted, but we’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got. I’ve got somewhere to quarantine, I’ve got my boyfriend home which doesn’t happen this much ever, we’re financially stable (for now), we’ve got food in the house and we’re healthy. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all that stuff when your laptop charger’s broken and you can’t work on anything normally and you’re anxiety is bad and you’re putting on weight (you=me), but things are okay really and practising the gratitude will make things easier.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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May Goals 2020

2020, career, goals, student

Hello friends!

Somehow we’ve made it through an entire month in isolation/lockdown/quarantine/social distancing/however you’re wording it! A whole calendar month! I’m now approaching my 7 week anniversary since my partner and I started spending 24/7 together and we’re fine, no danger of us killing each other, but I might not fit through the door when we can finally leave!

Comfort eating aside, it’s time for some new monthly goals. Part of the reason I’m maintaining my routine of goal setting is because even though the world we’re living in at the moment isn’t normal, I still kind of want to pretend it is and that includes setting goals that I would be setting anyway!

Let’s crack on!

  1. follow diss plan – as part of one of the assignments I had to submit in April (4 on one day… thanks coronavirus) I had to make a schedule of how I will work on my dissertation project between now and potential hand in (who knows whether CV-19 will push it back) so I figure actually working on them is probably a good idea!
  2. drink 2l a day – hi I’m permanently dehydrated and I have been getting better, but I want to make it more of a habit and I have a reward plan! My true love and my addiction is coca cola – I used to have a really bad habit and now I’m quite content with one can a day. But if I don’t hit my 2l goal, no can of coke for me. Hoping this will help me be more consistent!
  3. apply for 4 jobs – it’s getting to that point of uni again – same as two years ago on my undergrad, I’m getting to the point where the end is near and I need to start thinking about my life as a masters graduate. I want to try and apply for one job a week, though I’ll be honest – I’m terrified of it. A year of being rejected from hundreds of jobs has just made me feel like getting a job is impossible, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!
  4. finish cross stitch – I bought one of those cross stitch kits from hobbycraft months ago and it was only when we literally get a government order telling us we can’t leave our house that I started it. Threading the needle was annoying because the embroidery thread is so difficult to use but even so, I’d really like to try and finish it this month! It’s more a symbol of making time for myself to do something creative without purpose (i.e. it’s not for YouTube or uni, it’s just for me).
  5. write 27,000 words – always setting myself creative writing challenges! In 2020, every other month in the run up to NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days) and in May I’m aiming for 871 words ‘a day’ (though, no pressure to write every single day). I’m not sure what I’m going to write yet so that’s probably not the best start!

And that’s what I’ll be focusing on in May! The whole lockdown thing has made my anxiety take an absolutely nose dive in the past few days so I’m really trying my best not to get stressed by uni work and to maintain structure and routine as much as I can.

I’ve got it easy I know – I’ve got enough money, I don’t live in an immunocompromised household, I’ve got lots of time to work on personal projects, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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Treasured In… April

2020

Hello!

Whilst in isolation, I thought it would be fun to come up with a new series to work on whilst I’ve got a little bit more time to think about blogging. Essentially, I thought of a more structured ‘favourites’ that I’ve decided to call Treasured In… [insert month here]. But there’s the scope to do more – if I go travelling I could do it themed to a place, or I could do it about a year around New Years or…  other stuff…

I’ve selected a bunch of categories that I’m going to pick ONE thing I’ve loved this month and share it! I’m really excited about this and I hope you enjoy it too.

First category: blog post – though going to go with the ‘bad news’ first… I’ve not really read a blog post that I loved this month? I know I need to make more of an effort to read blog posts but it’s so much easier just to scroll through Instagram. If someone links a blog post on an Instagram story I generally read it but generally my favourite bloggers are the ones that don’t have enough followers to do swipe up. So this is a note to self to do better and read more engaging bloggers posts’!

Recipe: I’m not very good at trying new things but I love learning to cook new things. I’m really enjoying risotto at the moment and I found this recipe for a bacon and pea risotto which we tried and I loved. Granted, it doesn’t sound like it’ll be nice because anything with ‘pea’ in the title isn’t usually promising, but it’s risotto rice with bacon lardons and peas – it’s SUPER SIMPLE and it was really yummy, thoroughly recommend.

Online course: I’ve been ‘self-teaching’ for over a year now – I was working on Google Digital Garage’s Digital Marketing course for the best part of a year, then I worked through a bunch of the other free courses but this month I did the first week of An Introduction to Screenwriting course from UEA via Futurelearn. I’ve been creative writing for over a decade now but never had the facilities to learn about formal scriptwriting, so I’m teaching myself! There are so many free courses out there that I’ve found, would it be useful if I wrote a blog post on it? I’m no expert and it’s not difficult to find them but having a bunch of links all in one place might be helpful!

Music: two new albums that I’ve really enjoyed came out this both so I’m already going to cheat and give two for this one – firstly, my all time favourites All Time Low released their first album in a couple of years Wake Up, Sunshine and I’m obsessed. It’s fantastic, it’s fun, it’s beautiful; Alex Gaskarth is my favourite singer of all time and always will be.

The second album I loved was CALM by 5SOS and I still kind of hate to admit it because I’ve had such a rocky relationship with the band, but it’s a banger of an album and I had a good dance in the kitchen while I was making dinner so I had to mention it.

YouTube video: ‘The Crippled Suffragette’ // Rosa May Billinghurst // Historical Profiles [CC] – Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

I only recently subscribed to Jessica Kellgren-Fozard though I’ve been aware of her for a while (that’s a weird sentence when you don’t think of it outside the context of YouTube). I really love the variety of her content and I actually thoroughly enjoyed the way she told the story of this woman who I never would have heard of without this video. Always love a bit of unintentional learning!

Books I’ve read: My intention for this category is to list everything I’ve read in the last month and give you a couple of lines of whether I actually enjoyed it or not!

Love, Rosie (Cecelia Ahern) (previously published as Where Rainbows End) – absolutely loved this book, such an interesting writing style and just wonderfully kind and lovely characters. 10/10!

The Centauri Device (M. John Harrison) – refusing to link because I think it was awful. Overly complex unnecessary language to mask a pushover protagonist, a lack of plot and no emotional engagement between characters. Amazing potential as a concept for a sci-fi adventure but literally hated reading it.

Skarrs (Catherine Forde) – kind of stereotypical YA book ‘good kid fell in the wrong crowd’ but I was taken aback by it’s subtle way of describing how grief can effect people in such different ways.

One Day (David Nicholls) – I get the hype around this book now and I think Love, Rosie took a lot of inspiration from it. Kind of anticlimactic ending through, didn’t really see the emotional side that I’ve seen people talk about…

Currently reading: The Eve Illusion (Tom and Giovanna Fletcher) – I’ve been waiting for this book for what feels like ages but has only been a few months. I’m about halfway through and currently very intrigued about what will be left until the final book in the trilogy… keep an eye on my Instagram for a full review!

Snack: I’m all about the snacks and in lockdown, resisting them is even harder. When I finally got my hands on some self-raising flour, my boyfriend and I made dark chocolate chip banana bread muffins and they’re to die for. Far too many calories than I should have in one sitting but so good.

Visual Entertainment: this is the way I’m describing all things film, TV, Netflix, etc! With the release of Disney+ I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve barely watched it, but I have been watching a couple of episodes of Kim Possible with dinner and having a fantastic time.

The other thing I’ve started is a 52 week movie challenge – my mum sent me this little review book in the post and rather than doing it on my own, between my mum, my sister and my boyfriend we’ve all been allotted 13 categories and each week we’re having a virtual movie night. We started by watching Forrest Gump, a film which I definitely should have seen but haven’t and I really enjoyed it.

Then because we had to pay for the Now TV Cinema pass to watch it, my boyfriend and I watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to make the most of the pass – considering all the negative hype I got, I thought it was pretty cool and we’re excited for the third part to see how it all ends.

Wedding Planning Update: Literally nothing. When I planned this series I thought it would be nice to see month by month progress but now that we’re in complete lockdown there’s no progress to be made, but I thought I’d introduce the category regardless!

And that’s ‘Treasured In…’! I’m really enjoying this new format to talk about things I love so I hope you enjoy it too. Let me know your favourite things in each of the categories in the comments if you like!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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working out (or not working out?) in quarantine | unfitness update

2020, fitness, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

Working out at home has never been easier – with all the fitness influencers under the sun doing live workouts on Instagram while gyms and classes and everything is shut, so many apps are doing free trials and everywhere it seems people are posting timelapses of their at-home-yoga routine in their ginormous gardens.

Overall, the pressure to exercise and ‘make the most’ of all these resources and time is very intimidating. Especially if you don’t have a ginormous garden or a yoga mat, let alone motivation, energy and any confidence to post it online for other people to scrutinise and /or feel pressured by.

But there are ways to make exercise feel less intimidating at this time so I think I’d note a few of my ideas to how I’m actually finding the headspace (and the physical space in my little house) to exercise.

Firstly, you don’t have to exercise if you don’t want to – if you’re happy with your health and fitness and have no desire to workout at all, don’t do it. Put your energy into something you’re passionate about! Otherwise you’re just wasting your own time.

Once you have then decided whether you actually want to workout or not, I’d recommend with starting with the goal of exercising just once a week – I feel like everywhere I look someone’s saying 2-3 times a week, 3-4 times a week, every weekday, every day and it all just feels like so much? If you start with once a week and hate it you can stop, if you really enjoy it you can build it up from there. Start gently and do it more regularly if you get into it, try not to put any pressure on yourself.

Personally, I’m someone who works so much better with guidance, so if you can find a live class or a YouTube video, it can feel a lot less intimidating that a list of exercise and number of reps (and it can kind of feel like there’s someone doing it with you?). I started with ‘PE with Joe’ on the Body Coach channel – yes it’s a 9am workout designed for children to still be able to do PE but wow it’s actually a pretty intense hiit workout. The ‘live’ bit makes you feel like you’re being cheered on but the ‘being in your own living room’ bit makes me feel a little bit sneaky when I adapt the exercises for my dodgy joints and bad stamina.

I also use a variety of apps depending on what mood I’m in – some of them are subscription apps but have limited programs available for free and sometimes I just search for things on YouTube but there’s loads of PT style workouts available.

If full on ‘working out’ feels a bit intimidating, or you’re wanting to get fitter but don’t know where to start (or everything feels a bit advanced), going for walks is exercise enough! I moved to an area that has considerably more hills than my hometown and it’s only now that I’m getting to explore it and realising how unfit I am.

I got tagged in this ‘run 5k, donate £5, tag 5 people’ thing on Instagram (thanks Nick) and I went for a 5k walk with my boyfriend. The uphill was hard, we managed to jog for about 2 minutes I reckon, but it was a start. I want to start using couch to 5k again and now we’ve done some exploring I’ve found the place (that’s not quite as hilly!) to do it. It’s all about little steps building up to bigger things!

And lastly, I want to reiterate that if working out feels like a lot of pressure and stress right now, your mental health is more important and making time to centre yourself using apps like headspace is more important than anything else. I don’t want to become the kind of person who preaches about meditating, but taking 10 minutes in the morning to focus on your breath can have a great impact for the rest of the day.

These times are completely unprecedented and the way we all handle isolation, social distancing and lockdown is so personal to each of us. The most important thing is to try and listen to your body and keep yourself happy and healthy.

All my love in these strange, pandemic times!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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