Treasured In… September

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

Oh how my favourite month has come and gone and I feel like I missed it! The last six months have gone so ridiculously fast that I feel like I haven’t been able to keep up but another month has passed and it’s time for another instalment of my supposedly ‘original’ take on what is essentially a favourites post.

As we edge ever close to Autumn, cosy knits and hot chocolate season, my birthday has been and gone and the end of the year is drawing to a close. It’s been a busy month with trips to see family, a couple of socially distanced bowling trips and a ring on my finger to match the engagement my fiancé and I decided on in January.

So these are some of the things I treasured in September!


  • purchase

I’ve got two favourites from this month and they’re both clothes! I bought myself a new hoodie from Primark that I’ve been living in because it’s so soft and cosy and I treated myself to some new Snag tights with some birthday money! I definitely need to stop ‘treating myself’ to new things in October but for now, I’ll snuggle down in my new hoodie and comfy tights.

  • recipe

I’ve been making a roasted tomato and bay orzo dish from The Green Roasting Tin book and it’s taken me a few attempts to figure it out (it takes about twice as long to cook than the recipe suggests!) but now that I’ve got it it’s delicious! I’d never heard of orzo before making this dish but it’s like tiny rice shaped pasta and cooked in the vegetable stock makes it so flavourful and delicious. Although it negates the ‘vegan’ nature of the dish, it goes perfectly with garlic bread and a little parmesan!

  • song

The longer the pandemic goes on, the more I crave nostalgic music I already know all the words too! I’ve done a few long drives this month and I’ve listened to the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (if you haven’t seen it, it’s a beautiful film where Matt Damon plays a sassy horse), Starstruck (a Disney Channel Original Movie that I’m worried to rewatch in case it’s not as amazing as I remember) and I’ve curated my own playlist of songs I enjoy singing at the top of my lungs in the car (apologies to any other drivers who may have witnessed this).

  • YouTube video

As ever, I don’t watch YouTube frequently enough to keep up with my subscription feed so I’m still watching videos from months ago but I loved this SFX/beauty make-up video from Mykie (Glam and Gore) making the most wonderfully extra face mask.

This video of Hannah Witton teaching herself a dance routine to a song she loves made me think that I need to find some choreography dance lessons on YouTube because I miss dancing so much.

And this video from kickthePJ about moving house really stuck with me – I can’t say for why, but it’s beautifully sentimental, a lovely montage of memories and a little bit different for PJ but I’m always in awe of how incredibly creative his content is; massive inspiration!

  • books I’ve read

I knew this would happen but I didn’t think it would take this long – 8 months of reading 4-6 books a month and September was the month I didn’t finish anything. As I write this, I’m halfway through ‘The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne and considering I’ve seen the film and I’m aware of how it ends, it’s surprisingly not as heavy as I thought it would be.

I’m hoping to power through the last 100 pages before the end of the month and get back into it but I’ve definitely fallen off track for my little personal goal of 52 books in a year (my goodreads goal is 12 but when I hit that in March I did wonder if I could maintain one book a week!) but in my defence, these past few weeks I’ve really understood when people say they’ve been ill with their mental health because I’ve never experienced anything like it. My routine (if I ever had one), completely fell out the window and my sacred evening routine (shoutout to my 9pm bedtime crew) was replaced with not sleeping before 2am and wasting most of the morning in bed.

I’m hoping to crack down and get back into it, not just because I love reading but because I need to make the effort for the sake of my own mental health. Any tips are more than welcome!

  • snack

Other than a craving for Malted Milk biscuits, the best snack I’ve had this month is actually something I’ve baked myself! My mum used to bake these amazing cookies with smarties on and I’ve made a couple of batches this month and they’ve been amazing – the recipe makes about 12 (or about 6 big cookies) and when they’re fresh out the oven oh boy I could eat the whole batch. I’m salivating thinking about them.

They’re super easy – I’ve not done a recipe post for a really long time, would you like to see one?

  • something to watch

With my fiancé being away at work and having a friend stay for a couple of weeks until she can move into her new flat (all COVID safe, I promise) I’ve been watching more Netflix and Disney+ than usual! We watched the new Millie Bobby Brown film ‘Enola Holmes’ which I thought was surprisingly heartwarming, a very interesting 4th-wall narrative and a mildly disappointing ending but a pleasant watch all the same.

I finally got round to watching Frozen 2 – I’m not a massive Frozen fan, so I wasn’t obsessed with it (Tangled is a better film, don’t @ me) but it was fine, I guess? ‘Into The Unknown’ is a bop but wow ‘Show Yourself’ is underrated!! Definitely need to give the soundtrack a listen but it was nice to have a bit of context for my sister’s Anna cosplay (follow her tiktok, it’s adorable).

Otherwise, we’re now rewatching a bunch of Disney classics – I’ve been fancying watching Treasure Planet for a while and last night we watched Mulan and Mulan 2 and had a wonderful time!

  • wedding planning update!

Not much to update on the wedding front! We’ve negotiated a quote with the venue and we’re just figuring out our finances to pay the deposit and book the venue! Then it’s booking the registrar and hunting for a photographer/videographer – if you have any recommendations for someone in the Rutland/South Lincolnshire region, please let me know!


I still can’t believe how fast this year is going – I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, my impending dissertation deadline (less than a month now!) or if this is just adult life now but I’m sure I’ll soon be baffled by how quickly October has gone in my ‘Treasured In…’ post next month!

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… August

2020, books, lifestyle

Hello!

Another month has rolled around and I’m trying really hard not to comment on how fast the month has gone but also, pretty sure it’s still April and summer’s just around the corner?

But alas! August has been an interesting month – I’m definitely getting more stuck in to my dissertation research as the deadline for that looms ever nearer, I’ve been trying some new things with my time management to work with my fluctuating mental health and I had a couple of splurges too so here’s a little roundup of the things I enjoyed in August.


  • purchase

I may or may not have had a sad spending trip to Hobbycraft earlier this month… I needed one last colour embroidery thread for my latest cross stitch project and I found a book on meditative crocheting and I picked myself up some crochet needles last month and I loved the idea that it came with breathing and meditative exercises to follow along with in the book. Perhaps a tad pretentious but I’m excited to give it a go next month!

I also picked up a couple of cross stitch kits that I’m working on intermittently and I just find it so much fun – if you want a new hobby that isn’t particularly skilful but is offline and you get a pretty picture at the end of it, I thoroughly recommend cross stitching!

  • recipe

I’ve been experimenting more with the ‘orange lid’ spicy seasonings in my cupboard this month and whilst I’m the worst at handling spicy food, cooking up a bunch of vegetables, mixing it with some rice and using turmeric, smoked paprika and a little cumin with a bit of garlic puree is so yummy! It’s so simple but makes the meal so much more tasty and I’m trying to acquire new seasonings every time I go to the supermarket – am I brave enough to try chilli flakes? Probably not, but I’m going to try some new recipes from The Green Roasting Tin book this month so maybe I’ll find something new there!

  • song

The only thing my boyfriend and I have been singing at each other is the tune to ‘Savage Love’ by Jason Derulo because we’re late to the tiktok trend… It’s just too catchy!

I’ve also just discovered Kings and Queens by Ava Maria but the chorus is the only bit I like so I’m mostly listening to covers on tiktok… I also ‘discovered’ tiktok this month, I can’t stop.

  • YouTube video

With my boyfriend going back to work and having the house to myself, I have watched a lot  of YouTube this month! Nothing jumped out at me immediately but from scrolling through my history, I picked out my top three.

This video from Carrie Hope Fletcher and Oliver Ormson was very fun and picked out some of my favourite Disney songs.

I’m not a huge  fan of Dodie anymore but this arrangement of two songs was beautiful and the video is very clever and creative.

And this video from Jessica Kellgren-Fozard was very fun and I love the dynamic she has with her wife – they’re both hilarious and adorable together.

I still have over 300 videos left in my watch later, so who knows how long it’ll take me to watch videos that aren’t a couple of months old…

  • books I’ve read

I’ve been reading loads this month so here’s a quick run down (with links to my reviews on Instagram)

I only finished Checkmate last night so a few words – I was so impressed with Noughts and Crosses and the rest of the series has been such a disappointment. The beginning of Checkmate gave me hope because it was set a bit further down the line and I thought it had a different main character but it was just a new character and all the things that annoyed me about Knife Edge annoyed me about Check Mate too.

I’m about to start the fourth book in the series, Double Cross, because I bought the series and the painfully optimistic part of my brain keeps hoping that it will get better, but I don’t have a lot of hope. I definitely won’t be buying the fifth book that came out semi-recently.

  • snack

I have two very contrasting snacks for this month and I’ll start with the boring one first.

Tins of sliced peaches – I don’t know why I had these as a kid, but I recently rediscovered them and keeping them in the fridge on a hot day is glorious and relatively healthy because it’s fruit so I can enjoy it guilt free. If you gave me a normal peach would I like it? I don’t know, I’ve never tried one and I’m not very good at trying new things but tinned peaches? Gimme more!

And the second thing is a small Victoria sponge cake with Harry Potter house themed crests as decoration on the top. My partner and I went on a cake run to Asda because something popped up on Facebook memories and we decided we needed cake to celebrate… and then I ate the whole thing. Then I got another one in our weekly shop.

I’m going to stop myself buying them now but a £4 Hufflepuff themed Victoria sponge has brought me much joy this month!

  • TV/film/streaming thing

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube this month so I wasn’t sure whether I’d have anything to write about, then my boyfriend and I binged the entire of Umbrella Academy season 2 on Netflix in a day and it was glorious. 100% on par with how brilliant the first season, amazing character development, same incredible sense of humour and generally so much fun and such a huge twist of an ending! Already eagerly anticipating season 3.

  • wedding planning update

It’s mostly been a month of waiting on the wedding front – we sent an inquiry to the venue we like to discuss the quote we were given but I haven’t heard back. Though I did spend an afternoon reading about how the heck a registrar works and how to arrange a civil ceremony so I’m all prepared to ‘give notice’ within 12 months of our wedding date and then just waiting for the venue to confirm before I ‘book’ (if that’s the right word?) for the registrar to perform the ceremony. It all feels a little more real now!


I’m sure September will absolutely fly by but with a couple of trips, my birthday and drawing closer to the end of my masters it’s looking to be an exciting month.

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

Sophie xx

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the best books I’ve read this year (so far)

2020, books

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t written a book blog post in ages and I’m feeling incredibly invested in what I’m reading at the moment so I thought I’d channel that energy here! That might be the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written.

I feel like I may have said this a million times before but some brief context; I was the kid that would sneak out of bed and stay up reading, fell out of love with it as I had to study books I didn’t like and decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to get back into it with the help of reading challenges on the ‘goodreads‘ app – made it to 9 of last year’s target of 12 and as I didn’t meet the target I set the same one-a-month target for 2020.

I’ve currently read 34 books.

So I thought I’d write a shortlist of those 34 books of the ones I’ve absolutely adored! I write mini reviews on my Instagram if you want to see what I’m reading and my ongoing thoughts but I thought I’d collate my favourites for anyone who’s in a reading rut and wants some inspiration, wants to try something new or just fancies reading something book-ish!

Mild disclaimer: I will link to all these books on Amazon however if you have a local independent bookstore or retailer I highly support seeing if they have it or ordering through them, especially in the current covid economic climate!


I love ‘fantasy realism’ as a genre, where there’s an element of fantasy but it’s so well integrated into ‘normal’ human life that it almost doesn’t feel like fantasy. So when there’s a service where someone can see their future with a person, generally a romantic relationship, the gossip, reality TV ‘realness’ of it all is just the recipe for the perfect book.

Interesting and realistic characters are something that really grabs me and is a huge factor as to why I rated all of these books at 5 stars, but the concept in The Future for Curious People is so much fun and the ending is wonderful.

I asked for this book for Christmas the year it came out and it’s taken me two years to read it. I decided to read it on a long train journey to Birmingham to meet my mum to go to a wedding fair and whilst I was very excited about the wedding fair, boy o boy all I wanted to do was get back to the book. The whole mystery, teenage drama aspect mixed with a painfully relatable depiction of mental health (and helped me understand symptoms I don’t suffer with) meant I finished this book in one day – absolutely devoured the first half on the way there and nearly finished it on the way back; I had to drive home and finish the last 60 pages before I picked up my boyfriend from work because I was so absorbed.

John Green books are a bit hit and miss for me – I loved The Fault In Our Stars like every other 20-something (though I’ve never watched the film because I don’t think it’ll be as good) but I never massively enjoyed his other books. The style is a little pretentious – all of his characters are into niche poetry and philosophy and take themselves a little bit too seriously, but I think once I accepted that it’s just how John Green characters are and I loved so many other aspects of this book more than those parts annoyed me. I still gave it 5 stars.

I avoided buying this for ages because it was everywhere and everyone was reading it and I’m that kind of hipster. But inevitably I picked it up and it was Worth! The! Hype!

Another story about mental health and the ending really gets you but the two differing perspectives on similar mental illnesses and how the characters are so opposite but so puzzle piece perfect is just magical and the kind of character writing I can only aspire to.

This book actually has a John Green feel in it’s somewhat self-important characters but it was wonderful and I devoured it in just a couple of days. Definitely worth the hype!

  • Love, Rosie (Cecelia Ahern) (originally ‘Where Rainbows End’)

I picked up the film edition of this book mostly because of Lily Collins and Sam Claflin on the cover but avoided reading it because wow it is a chunky read. But surprisingly quick to get through once you realise it’s all told in letters – from childhood to old age the main character Rosie progresses through life, love and loss with letters, emails, texts, passing notes and other forms of communication that I’ve forgotten about but it’s such an interesting narrative that never explicitly says ‘2 years later’ or ‘three months later’ but as a reader, you know that time has passed. It’s just brilliant.

I’m not sure how the original title of ‘Where Rainbows End’ really suits the book, maybe because I’ve only ever known it as ‘Love, Rosie’ I couldn’t see the connection but that is the original novel’s title so if you are struggling to find it, check ‘Where Rainbow’s End’!

I fully intended for this to be one of the only books I bought this year as a new release… then I hit my goodreads goal in three months and needed some more books to read… Regardless, I’ve been buzzing about this sequel ever since I read ‘Eve of Man‘ in approximately two days last year. I love the concept, I love the characters, I love the world building and how painfully believable a world that derelict is and the sequel didn’t disappoint.

If I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t think it was as good as the original, but not in a bad way – I still adored it – I just felt that it was a bit like ‘The Two Towers’ in Lord of the Rings; it’s there to move the story along in a trilogy so it has to be there but it’s not the most exciting part.

Eve gets a little bit bratty, everyone gets a little bit melodramatic, I loved the inclusion of the third perspective in the different chapters and the twist at the end was so obvious I saw it coming from a mile away but still made me double take for a second (I thought she might be a time lord, if you’ve read it, you know!). Eagerly anticipating the last novel in the trilogy!

I really rated the Fletcher writers this year! This is Carrie’s first fiction novel and having struggled to read it twice before and realising this time that if I’d have read just one more chapter I’d have been hooked till the end always makes me laugh.

Another wonderful version of fantastical realism that takes you by surprise a little bit (lifting written words from a birds wings and putting them in a notebook did make me question the writing just a little bit until I remembered… fantasy). The love story that just wasn’t meant to be, I thought the characters were going to be much more ‘idyllic’ like early Disney Princess-esque where everyone is swept off their feet and everything’s too perfect but it wasn’t like that at all. It was lovely and as the story moves more into the modern day I could feel my heart being given in pieces to each character.

I can’t wait to read more of Carrie’s novels this year – I read When The Curtain Falls last year and I think I’ve got All That She Can See on my shelf to read at some point!

This book I picked up dirt cheap in a 3 for £5 sale at The Works – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted it because the whole premise of the book is based on a massive lie and I hate when characters make things difficult for themselves by not communicating openly. But it didn’t actually annoy me at all – there was a couple of really cringey moments but all round it was a sweet, heart warming book about the spontaneity of social media, the importance of family and not taking those you meet at face value.

Another one in the sale from the Works but much more sci-fi/fantasy – a meteor crash in a small town in the US (obviously, it could only be the US!) disguises an alien spaceship landing and two unidentified creatures are saved from the wreck. Another heartwarming story about family beyond blood relations and accepting people for all their quirks. Looking forward to the sequel!

One of my newer books and probably my first adult crime novel though it had very YA vibes. A 19 year old girl tries to navigate life as a college drop-out refusing to live with her mother at home following a car accident in which her friend died and she survived, but with a severe case of amnesia she remembers nothing from before she started high school, including her dad’s death. With many twists and turns and wondering if you can trust the narrative of the protagonist herself, so many things unfold about the true reason behind the crash and the real reason David died.

Genuinely amazing story – I’ve never read a book where I felt like I couldn’t quite trust the person telling the story and it was so interesting! I have another book by Jeff Abbott on my shelf but it’s the second in the series so I’m going to buy the prequel when I’ve read through all the other books on my shelf.

A book that was huge when I was in school but I read so slowly that I never got round to it. Seeing it recommended over and over again in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, when I saw the whole series on offer in the Works (it’s such a good place for books!) I knew I had to pick it up.

Learning about the privilege of my race through fiction was always going to be the way to help me best understand – I’ve never been able to apply so much of what I’m reading to real life and feel like I’m really learning from it. It was so eye opening and heartbreaking in equal measure and I can’t wait to read the other books I picked up to continue my education on racial inequality.

Couldn’t recommend this book more highly if you find non-fiction difficult to get into but want to educate yourself – amazing characters, so eye opening, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.


Did I plan for there to be 10 books in my highlight of 2020 so far? Absolutely not but I do find it incredibly satisfying.

I’m currently reading the third book in the Noughts and Crosses series ‘Checkmate’ by Malorie Blackman so if you want to see my thoughts on that when I finish it hop on over to my Instagram!

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… July

2020, books, fashion, lifestyle, wedding

Hello!

Another month has passed, though I’m not entirely sure how because I’m pretty sure it was May yesterday but time has passed me by! More stuff has happened, I’ve bought things, reads things, watched things and I’m going to share it all!

Let’s jump right in, because otherwise another month will come and go without me noticing!


purchase:

Having had a couple of ‘no spend’ months, this isn’t a category I’ve included so far but I actually let myself by some things this month so I wanted to share. I wrote a whole blog post about the books I bought/acquired this month – I’d run out of physical books I hadn’t read in our house since we moved last year so I definitely made up for it at the beginning of the month. I’ve now had to stop letting myself by books because I’m never going to read them all at this rate!

Then there’s two items of clothing that I adore this month – what I’m calling my Explorer Shorts from Primark, they’re a khaki green stretchy denim short that give me Lara Croft vibes but they’re elasticated; big fan!

And then I picked up a lovely navy cardigan from M&Co in the sale that is super cosy, I’m almost disappointed when it’s really warm because I can’t wear it.

blog post:

Someone I went to school with shared this article about Lockdown Weight Gain and I found it really interesting reading about the emotional impact of weight gain, particularly in a pandemic that is encouraging discussion about the impact of lockdown on mental health (though I’m not sure how much is being done?).

recipe:

I’m not big on trying new things at the moment – eating food that I’m familiar with and recipes I already know how to do has been the only cooking I’ve really done, but last week I made brownies for the first time in years and it was so good.

I definitely undercooked it, but it means I’ve got a super gooey fudgey brownie so I wasn’t gutted about it. Whilst putting a whole pound of brown sugar into a bowl was something that made me consider not making brownie anymore, it’s really good and the recipe I used was the one my mum gave me when I moved to uni so I can’t link it but I could make a blog post about it if there’s interest?

music:

I’m about two months behind on watching my YouTube subscriptions, but I watched Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones from McFly, Olly Murrs, Niall Horan and James Arthur covering Shine a Light, an older McFly song, and I was blown away by how amazing the cover was. I’m a pretty big McFly fan, hence why I’m subscribed to Tom’s YouTube channel, but I’ve never paid too much attention to the other three artists, though I know most of their ‘super popular’ songs. I’m obsessed with Niall’s voice and I need to listen to his most recent album.

Seeing how musicians are adapting to not being able to continue working as usual and making the most of remotely collaborating is very exciting.

YouTube video:

As I mentioned, I’m about two months behind on watching YouTube videos but my favourite video this month was from Mykie / Glam and Gore doing Halloween costume hacks from a 5 minute craft video considering my boyfriend is currently going through a phase of watching 5 minute crafts in secret (to the degree that he was watching them after I’d fallen asleep one night and I woke up at 6am to strange voices in our bedroom because he’d fallen asleep with them on). Either way! The video Mykie made was really fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

books I’ve read:

Where She Went (Gayle Forman) – after re-reading ‘if I stay’, ‘where she went’ was a pleasant enough unnecessary sequel. The first half was a whiney young man who couldn’t communicate his feelings and had an unhealthy relationship with medication and substances, then it actually starts to explore the relationship between the two main characters from the first book and the heart and poetic nature of the narrative returned.

The Memory Cage (Ruth Eatham) – I downloaded this book for free from Amazon with Prime Reading on my Kindle because I ran out of physical books and it was definitely meant for a more middle grade audience, but it was a nice heartfelt story about adoption, family and loss. I actually really enjoyed reading on my kindle so I’m definitely going to buy more books on there in the future.

Masha Regina (Vadim Leventhal) – I picked up this book for 50p and I was really excited about getting such a bargain, but it turned out to be 50p for a reason. There just wasn’t much of a story at all. I wrote a full review on instagram, but I wouldn’t recommend – the review is potentially more entertaining than the book.

Currently reading: Blame (Jeff Abbott) – I don’t often read crime and whilst this book was in the grown up fiction second, it feels very YA to me because it’s about a girl in college and I think that’s part of the reason I’m enjoying it more than I expected. When you’re reading a book you expect to be able to trust everything the protagonist experiences to be true, but the more that I read the more I’m not sure who is trustworthy and it’s really interesting. Keep an eye on my instagram for a full review when I finish it!

snack:

When visiting my boyfriend’s family earlier this month, we went to Tescos for a meal deal and spotted these ‘French style’ Madeleine cakes and whilst we were in Paris last year, we became obsessed with these cakes called ‘Quatre Quart’ (or something) and we think we’ve found it! We think it’s the same cake! So we’ve eaten a disproportionate amount of them (they’re so good).

tv / film / streaming / something to watch:

As with eating food I already know how to cook, I’m not really in the mood for watching anything new and not knowing how it’s going to play with my emoTIoNs but whilst we were on a little holiday at the beginning of the month we watched quite a bit of Escape to the Country and now I’m thinking about property a lot and I want to watch more trashy daytime TV.

wedding planning update:

We viewed a venue! The only placed we’ve viewed and I’m obsessed, it’s beautiful, it’s got everything we want, amazing accommodation and we could really see ourselves getting married there. The quote we received after the viewing was much higher than we thought it would be but for the venue that we love so much, we think we’re going to do some negotiations and work more to pay for it. There’s actually some wedding progress! Over two years in advance maybe a little premature but there’s still actual progress!


July has been mad and August is set to be much quieter, but who knows at this point!

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

Sophie xx

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49 new books | a little book inspiration

2020, books

Hello!

Over this last week I’ve picked up a bag of books from my mum’s house, bought a new haul of books from my favourite indie bookstore High Peak in Derbyshire and picked up a few more new books in charity shops and on my holiday… So I have a big haul of new books!

For context, when I moved into our little one bed house last year, I brought a selection of the books I was most excited to read thinking it would last me a while – my goal was to read one book a year and at that rate I wouldn’t be done till 2022 ish. Then I read four books a month and quickly ran out of books I hadn’t read in the house!

Before I moved out of my mum’s house, I packed all my books into carrier bags so I could pick up one at a time when I needed more to read. It just happened to time with going on holiday and visiting my favourite place.

So I thought what I’d do today is list all the unread books I now have on my shelves – if you have a similar taste to me (have a look at my goodreads to get a feel for what I like!) and you’re feeling a bit stuck with what to read, I’m sure something on this list will grab you!

There’s a mix of fiction – YA, a couple of middle grade, a couple of ‘grown up’ books with genres from fantasy, chick lit, coming of age and crime – a few non-fiction and a couple of reference books so a real mish mash! Obviously I’ve not read any of these yet so if they’re rubbish, I can only apologise in advance!

From High Peak book store:

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
  2. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  3. See Through Me – Kevin Brooks
  4. In At The Deep End – Kate Davies
  5. The City Always Wins – Omar Robert Hamilton
  6. Rosie Coloured Glasses – Brianna Wolfson
  7. Raising Fire – James Bennett
  8. Tarnished City – Vic James (sequel to Gilded Cage)
  9. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  10. The Inaugural Meeting of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club – Sophie Green
  11. Ace of Spiders – Stefan Mohamed (sequel to Bitter Sixteen)
  12. Blame – Jeff Abbott
  13. I Know You – Annabel Kantaria
  14. Goldilocks and the Water Bears – Louisa Preston
  15. The Princess and the Suffragette – Holly Webb
  16. The Wellbeing Journal – in aid of Mind
  17. Computer Coding for Kids – Carol Vorderman
  18. Masha Regina – Vadim Levental
  19. Scrabble Dictionary

WHSmith:

20. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
21. A Nearly Normal Family – M. T. Edvardsson

Home Haul:

22. Die For Me – Amy Plum
23. Jacoby’s Game – Alison Prince
24. All That She Can See – Carrie Hope Fletcher
25. The Oversight – Charlie Fletcher
26. Twilight Robbery – Frances Hardinge
27. The Last Minute – Jeff Abbott
28. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
29. Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo
30. Mirrorscape – Mike Wilks
31. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
32. The Wave Runners – Kai Meyer
33. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher
34. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher
35. Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
36. The Dragon’s Eye – Dugald A. Steer
37. The Time of the Reaper – Andrew Butcher
38. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
39. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
40. Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse (Book 3) – Rick Riordan (Book 1 – The Lightning Thief / Book 2 – Sea of Monsters)
41. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labrynth (Book 4) – Rick Riordan

Charity shop finds:

42. Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds – Gwenda Bond
43. Container Gardens: Practical advice on choosing, planting and caring for container plants – Aura Garden Guides
44. Year In Your Garden – Geoff Hamilton

Oops I fell into The Works and the Set Was Only £8:

45. Noughts + Crosses – Malorie Blackman
46. Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman
47. Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
48. Double Cross – Malorie Blackman
49. The Green Roasting Tin – Rukmini Iyer (£7 when it’s RRP is £16.99… I couldn’t help it but I can’t find it on The Work’s website, but it’s only £9 on Amazon!)

Although I’ve linked predominantly to mainstream sites like Waterstones, Amazon and W.H.Smith, if you can support your local independent bookstores please do because they’re precious places, often with wonderful hardworking staff and beautiful decor and need all the support they can get!

If a name, author and link doesn’t grab you (which I totally understand, I just thought this blog post would be long enough without adding descriptions of all the books!), I post a review of everything I read on my Instagram so follow the link below if you want to hear my thoughts on what I’ve read so far this year!

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

Sophie xx

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Treasured In… June

2020, books, film

Hello!

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

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


blog post:

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

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

recipe:

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

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

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

online course:

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

song:

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

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

youtube video:

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

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

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

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

books:

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

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

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

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

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

snack:

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

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

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

tv/film/streaming thing:

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

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

wedding planning update:

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


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

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

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

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals – Mid Year Check In

2020, books, career, goals, student

Hello!

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

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

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

PROFESSIONAL:

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

PERSONAL:

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

Home:

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

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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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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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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2020 book releases I’m excited for

2020, books

Hello!

I’m back on my reading hype big time this year – last year my goal was to read 12 books and I managed 9, this year I set the same goal and I’m already onto my 11th book of the year (follow me on goodreads for full updates). That means I can justify pre-ordering more books right…?

It’s not like I have probably 100+ more books waiting to be read but that’s fine. I’m on track to read nearly 50 books this year so… take from that what you will.

There’s a few new releases that I’m really looking forward to this year, so I thought for anyone with similar reading tastes to me, I’d collate them all into one place – enjoy!

The Eve Illusion – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

I’ve been waiting for the announcement of this sequel ever since I read ‘Eve of Man’ last October – it was one of the only books I bought last year because I was in the transition of moving and didn’t have access to any of my other books. I devoured it in about three days – I love the style, I love the characters, I love the concept and I pre-ordered the sequel as soon as it was announced.

If you like YA adventure, dystopian, romance, Eve of Man is the book for you. Even if you don’t like any of those things, I recommend giving it a go because wow it blew me away. I am so excited for the sequel.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I read Matt Haig’s non-fiction book ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’ earlier this year and whilst I felt the whole thing was a bit disjointed and I don’t know if I really learnt anything, I liked his style and the way he thinks about life. The Midnight Library is a fiction book about a place between life and death, exploring the ‘what if’s’ and ‘what could have been’s’ and it’s not really like anything I’ve ever read before.

I don’t often ‘take a chance’ on books like this – I usually wait till I’ve seen some hype on instagram or stick with the authors who’s work I know I’m going to enjoy. I’m excited to see what Haig’s fiction style is like! And I pre-ordered this one on my kindle so I’m looking forward to using that again too.

The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow – Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

I’ve been following Zoe’s work for a very long time – I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘loyal fan’, but I have consistently enjoyed her content and products. The original Zoella Beauty moisturiser scent is to die for and I have read the first two Girl Online books (I posted a review on my YouTube channel that has a surprising number of views!) and I bought Cordially Invited the day it came out… that was a coincidence to be honest, but I’m kind of accidentally loyal to whatever she brings out.

However the fact she’s collaborating with another author and the way she’s spoken about writing this novel has really hit me where I love creative writing – the passion for the characters and the plot and the words just tumbling out of your fingers in a way that sometimes surprises you as you’re writing it. I can’t help but get behind a passion project like that.

I’m yet to pre-order it because in these coronavirus times, pre-ordering books is not a priority but I think I’m going to opt for getting this one on my kindle too. I’m not normally into crime but I am a sucker for YA so I’m looking forward to branching out my reading habits this year.

Other honourable mentions go to Carrie Hope Fletcher’s modern retelling of Ballet Shoes (which I believe is coming out this year?), Hank Green’s A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour (though I’m yet to read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing) and I believe Louise Pentland is currently writing too?

Maybe I only read books written by people who make YouTube videos, but that’s why I’m trying to branch out. We’ll get there! I have a lot of backlog in my personal library that I need to catch up on so I’m finding lots of new authors there.

If you’ve got any recommendations please do let me know! I’m seriously considering altering my YouTube/Instagram pages to become exclusively books because I’m so excited about talking about books at the moment. I keep my goodreads and Instagram up to date with what I’m reading if you’re interested and I’m posting a video at the weekend of all the books I’ve read so far this year so subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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