craft ideas for the casual crafter

2021, crafting

Hello!

Let me set the scene: you love crafting – you get lost in all the how-to videos on Facebook and TikTok, you have a Pinterest full of ideas saved for ‘one day’ and you could quite easily blow your entire pay check in one go completely by accident in Hobbycraft because of all these brilliant ideas you’re going to do ‘on a rainy day’ but never get round to.

Hi there, you feel exactly how I feel!

It’s almost like I love the idea of crafting more than actually doing it, because however much I want to spend time doing all these brilliant things, the precious time I have between work, exercise and occasional socialising I’m not spending on crafting – I’m spending it watching Grey’s Anatomy or getting another ‘early night’ in the vague hope I won’t be tired anymore.

(always live in hope)

But us closet-crafters do sometimes get time so I thought I’d collate a list of my top 3 easy crafts that don’t require too much commitment, skill or dedication, because if you’re anything like me, I don’t have the energy to spend time honing a talent – I just want to make things that aren’t going to look rubbish!

1 – Cross Stitch Kits

I feel like I talk about cross stitch all the time but I love the little kits – whether they’re from Hobbycraft, the Range or even a charity shop (I have bought kids at all three!), the patterns are often really cute, because of the nature of the aida material, it’s really easy to make the final product look exactly like the picture on the front and it’s a nice one to either dip in and out of or sit for a couple of hours and finish in an afternoon.

If you want to step it up, you can buy your own cloth and threads and find patterns either online or on Etsy, or even design something yourself! But there are so many kits and patterns out there, it’s an easy craft to keep low maintenance.

2 – Journalling / Scrapbooking

I’ve had a bullet journal since 2017 and with each passing week and month that I use it, I still find ways to adapt my scheduling and design to better serve me, whether that’s aesthetically or functionally.

Whilst my weekly spreads are more function than craft, set up with a few coloured pens and some drawn boxes, I like to break each month with a header page where I like to print pictures, glue paper patterns, decorate with stickers and note key dates and my monthly goals.

What I love about bullet journalling is that it’s totally adaptable – it can be as creative or as simple as the user wants, but whether it’s a bullet journal, a craft journal or a scrapbook of memories, papercraft can be so much fun.

3 – Knitting

Okay, this one depends heavily on what you’re working on but I have two suggestions that aren’t so intimidating or complicated (because trust me; I’m not good at knitting at all).

  • I call it ‘knitting a scarf’, but if you just want something repetitive to do with your hands while you’re watching TV that doesn’t take as much thinking (or counting) as cross stitch, a ball of wool and two knitting needles are all you need to do a standard stitch up and down for as long as you like. Will it make a scarf one day? Maybe! But even if it’s a hobby that cuts down your screen time, that’s all that matters right?
  • Make ear savers – everyone with a sewing machine was making face masks last year in the height of the pandemic (not that it’s over now) but something my Mum told me about was making ear savers – little strips of knitting with buttons on the end to hook the mask straps onto to protect the wearers ears a little bit! Especially for healthcare workers and those who do really long shifts and have to wear them at all times. I found the pattern here and I learned all the stitches from YouTube videos! If I can do it, you definitely can.

Even just writing this has made me feel creative! I want to work on my cross stitch and peacefully knit whilst binge watching more medical shows on any streaming service (just found out The Good Doctor is on Amazon Prime!).

With Christmas right around the corner, there’s loads of fun Christmas crafts that are easy and cute and suitable for children (if you have some to entertain) and I wrote a post with some ideas last year if you’re interested!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

budgeting at Christmas

2021, christmas

Hello!

With Halloween out the way (though I’m yet to take the decorations off the door), Christmas is everywhere – I’ve heard songs in adverts, heard the phrase ‘Christmas shopping’ far too much and already started thinking about presents.

But with a wedding to save for, a hefty student loan and just general not having a ton of expendable income, I’m really needing to cut back on how much I spend this Christmas so I’ve been brainstorming a few ways to still give meaningful gifts without spending as much (if anything).

My main thing is I already have a lot of craft materials because I’m a sucker for Hobbycraft – I’ve got loads of wools, scrap materials for sewing, paper in lots of patterns and (in theory) creativity in abundance, so assuming I can get my act together and actually get some crafting done, it should be a nice way to still make personal gifts without spending loads.

So I thought I’d collate a few of the ideas that I’m (trying) to stick with this year to make sure Christmas doesn’t break the bank!

Presents

A few tactics here:

  • Evaluate who you really need to prioritise getting gifts for – for me and my partner, it’s our families, with friends I’m hoping to suggest some Secret Santa’s so it saves some money for everyone and anyone else might get some very-homemade-looking cupcakes!
  • Weigh in on the ‘It’s the thought that counts’ principle – no one really cares how much you spend, especially when it’s something that’s got a personal touch or a handmade feel. Last year (or the year before?) I bought a set of blank playing cards and wrote a ’52 Reasons I Love You’ set for my partner (yes, I know how soppy it sounds) and then for my sibling’s birthday I made a pack of 52 IOUs and vouchers, such as redeeming spontaneous video calls, take outs, taxi services etc (though be wary that this can add up quite significantly!)
  • Simple, low cost presents like photo frames or notebooks can be worth so much more when you add your own personalisations – a photo collage with your favourite pictures, a heartfelt letter, maybe even a scrapbook or something can be a wonderful memory and a beautiful gift.
  • Homemade hampers are a win – pre-Covid Christmas, I made a bunch of ‘Home Cinema Kit’ with blankets, hot chocolate sachets and popcorn (and a nice basket which is very handy for cute looking storage) and it felt like such a treat. Nothing in there was particularly expensive – the baskets were a couple of pounds from a supermarket, the blankets were Primark, the food items were probably less than £5 total but the time, effort and thought that goes into making a little kit like this is what elevates the gift (I hope).
  • The Gift of Time – at the end of the day, the people you love value nothing more than spending time with you. Promising to spend a weekend with your friend, or booking a workshop to do together, or bringing over a baking or craft kit and spending the time doing it together is worth so much more than the gift itself. I find this is also really useful if you’re buying gifts for kids and you don’t want to buy more toys or anything that will be more stressful to mum and dad – have a baking afternoon, bring over a colour-in table cloth or spend the afternoon in the park; you get to spend time with them doing something fun and bonus – it gives their parents a little rest too!
  • If you’re a craft whizz who can knit a jumper in a week and have creativity oozing out of your ears, you’re all set (I’m working on this).

Some of my hopes for this year’s Christmas presents are to utilise my sewing machine and my Cricut, but whether I’ll actually figure out what to make and when to make it is another question entirely.

Christmas Clothing

The festive season is here, there’s cosy jumpers on offer everywhere and a soft new set of Christmas pyjamas are so tempting… but you’ve got at least three jumpers sat at home, last year’s Christmas pyjamas were worn for two nights from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and you even have a pair of festive dinosaur slipper socks in the drawer (just me on that one?).

Whilst the excitement of new things – particularly new festive things that may or may not jingle – is incredibly tempting, there’s absolutely no reason to buy a new Christmas jumper every year.

This is more of a ‘note to self’ than a tip, if I’m honest.

Christmas Decorations

Same as above – I see so many influencers who will go out and buy all new decorations for their ginormous Christmas Trees every single year to go with their new ‘theme’, but it just seems like such a waste of all the other decorations that are sat in boxes in the garage from last Christmas – but the woodland theme doesn’t match the Nutcracker theme.

I have decorations from the year I was born and all through my life so far. I like to pick one new decoration each year on my annual trip to the garden centre Christmas display, but whatever pressure Instagram puts on you to get brand new decorations every year, I’m here to say you absolutely don’t.


After the last (nearly) two years of lockdowns, social distancing and isolation from so many of our loved ones, being able to give your time is worth so much more than gifts, fancy food or new outfits.

And at the end of the day, anyone who cares more about the worth of their present than the value of your presence, probably deserves neither.

(that sounded a bit deep, didn’t it?)

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

SophieCountsClouds Vlogmas 2020

2020, christmas

Hello!

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

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

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

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

Vlogmas 2 – Christmas Decorating

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

Vlogmas 3 – Homemade Snowman (no snow required)

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

Vlogmas 4 – Festive Garden Centre Trip

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

Vlogmas 5 – Animal Crossing Island Tour

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

Vlogmas 6 – Crafts and Chats

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

Vlogmas 7 – My Hogwarts house has changed?

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

Vlogmas 8 – Hair, hot chocolate and the R number

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

Vlogmas 9 – House Plants and Planning the Garden

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

Vlogmas 10 – Why I Regret My Masters Degree

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

Vlogmas 11 – Making Paper Chains

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

Vlogmas 12 – Skincare ‘Routine’

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

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

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

Vlogmas 14 – Setting up my weekly bullet journal spread

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

Vlogmas 15 – not my day

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

Vlogmas 16 – PERFECT Hot Chocolate Recipe

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

Vlogmas 17 – making a Yule Log

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

Vlogmas 18 – Sleep Deprived Rambling (Crafts and Chats)

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

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

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

Vlogmas 20 – Wrap with Me!

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

Vlogmas 21 – do I still want to make videos?

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

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

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

Vlogmas 23 – Christmas Eve Traditions

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

Vlogmas 24 – Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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Have yourself a Tier 4 Christmas…

2020, christmas, current affairs

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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Christmas Craft Ideas!

2020, crafting

Hello!

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

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

  • cotton wool ball snowman

My beloved Frank who now hangs on my porch door!

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

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

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

  • paper crafts – like paper chains and paper snowflakes!

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

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

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

  • cardboard Christmas tree piñata

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

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

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

  • baking!

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

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

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

  • card making!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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a different Christmas

2020

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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December Goals

2020, crafting, goals, mental health

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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feeling festive… or not?

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

December has rolled around! You scroll through Instagram to see trees galore, there’s pretty lights everywhere you look and I bet your feeds are choc-a-block with festivities… but do you actually feel festive?

Do you feel that cosy warmth of the twinkly lights and tinsel and dark evenings with warm drinks? Do you feel the excitement building for the one day of the year where you spend time with loved ones and you get to spoil them with special gifts you’ve chosen and amazing comfort food? Do you feel Christmassy?

However much I want to, I’m not really feeling it yet – it might be something to do with the tooth infection I’ve been diagnosed with and the potential six months on an NHS waiting list to get it removed (fingers crossed for me please!) but Christmas is the last thing on my mind.

I’ve been to my local light switch on, I’ve planned Secret Santa with my favourite gals at uni, I’ve got plans to see my boyfriends family and the tree is up (even if I haven’t bought any decorations for it yet).

The reason I’m not feeling Christmassy is probably more personal than ‘I’m just not feeling it’ – the aforementioned tooth pain, the fact this will be my first ever Christmas without seeing my family and financial worries are probably putting a negative influence on my desire to watch festive movies and wear that one Christmas jumper I have with bells on it.

But here’s how I’m trying to put a bit of festive fairy dust in my step (but not really because getting that out of the carpet would be a nightmare).

ONE – PUT THE DECORATIONS UP!

Like all mums, my mum have a spare six foot Christmas tree under her stairs so having that has really helped make my new house feel a bit more homely. I’m all for fake trees because having the same tree come out every year is so sentimental and lovely. I see the appeal of a real tree, but the upkeep and the hassle of having to go pick one isn’t for me – and I’m saving the environment lads! Hashtag Team Fake Tree over here. Don’t @ me.

Either way, I spent a couple of hours on Sunday trying to make myself feel a bit better after calling in sick again by putting up the tree (with no decorations because I only had enough for the little tree that’s gone in our room) and some tinsel on the bannister.

It’s quite exciting because this is where my boyfriend and I can start to build our little Christmas collection – our own decorations, our own bits and bobs that come out every year and our own traditions. That warms my heart just a little bit.

TWO – MAKE PLANS TO SEE FAMILY!

Not only am I missing seeing my own family this Christmas but our ‘family Christmas’ where we do see each other is on a weekend and I now have a retail job so I can’t go which I’m genuinely gutted about. But I’ve got two mid-week trips planned – one before Christmas and one over New Year where I’m hoping to see my family but I’m just waiting on my work schedule to set it in stone.

My boyfriend’s family are lovely, but I’m a very sentimental person and my family means more to me than I can put into words (I may not be a McPherson by name, but I’m a McPherson by heart) so at 23 having my first Christmas away is definitely going to be emotional.

Having that time booked in where I know that I’ll at least see my immediate family will make this new change a lot easier!

THREE – PRESENT PLANNING

I know I’m very fortunate to be able to live in a nice house and pay rent and pay for my car and go to university in a different city, but finances are something I’m struggling with at the moment. Moving is expensive and stretching my wages to cover everything has all but ruined all the good work I put into my savings this year (but at least I did the saving so I had something to fall back on!).

I’m going to write a whole blog post about doing Christmas on a budget but making a list of everyone you want to buy presents for, setting a budget and getting as creative as possible with home crafting  makes it all feel a little more achievable.

The other thing to bear in mind that all these places posting ‘shop local’ and ‘shop small businesses’ – that’s great if you can afford it, but you’ve got to do with what fits best for your budget. I’d love to do all my shopping from Etsy and Not On The High Street and independent sellers on Instagram, but it’s infinitely more convenient for me to do one big Amazon order. Maybe next year, but for now – I’m doing what works for my bank account!

FOUR – MAKE THE MOST OF TIME WITH YOUR FAVOURITE PEOPLE

Another change I’ve had to get used to that is probably another reason I don’t feel too festive is that I’m still getting used to my boyfriend not being home all that much. He works in live broadcast, mostly at sports matches, so it means he’s away all over the country for three/four nights a week and after spending a whole year living in my mum’s house together and not really being apart overnight much at all.

I think at first we were grateful for the time apart to be ourselves for a bit and now I can feel myself waiting for him to get back. This is definitely something I need to work on 1) because I’m an independent woman who thrives with or without her man and 2) because it’s not going to change for however long he decides to work in this industry.

But making the most of the time that he is home by cooking together, planning activities to do together (like buying decorations for the aforementioned naked tree) and playing video games together makes everything feel a bit more like home.

If you want to see more Christmas content this week, I will be uploading a Christmas themed vlog on my YouTube channel at the weekend, so go over there and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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a lovely family Christmas 🎄

2018, lifestyle

Hello!

First off, I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas day filled with the best people and infinite food!

I just wanted to write a quick little post on a pleasant boxing day (with The Greatest Showman in the background, might I add) just to have a little ramble about what a lovely Christmas I had with my family.

Maybe it sounds vein or spoilt or whatever but as a kid, Christmas was all about the big Mr C and the presents but thinking back at it now? My strongest memories are of the times with family – I don’t remember the presents (other than the year I got my first laptop, that meant a lot) because it was always about having my closest family there and spending time with them.

Ever since my nan passed away last year, my family have been closer than ever – it’s the best thing that came out of 2017 for me and this Christmas was just perfect. There was laughter and chatting and games and a pub quiz and we almost entirely forgot to take pictures but we got some great family photos in between phone calls from Sri Lanka, China and just down the road from my cousin’s family!

When I went to bed last night, I’ve not felt so grateful or content for such a long time – so grateful that I had such a caring family, grateful that they gave such thoughtful gifts when they really didn’t have to and grateful to have that day to celebrate with them.

At the end of the day, my family have been there for me through everything – friends come and go but I will always have my family and valuing people and experiences over belongings and ‘stuff’.

Towards the end of 2018 I decided there was a lot of clutter in my life – mostly in my bedroom and various rooms around the house. So I decided I only wanted to keep the belongings that have a purpose or a use, except the sentimental stuff – my photo albums and scrapbook are such important memories that I want to keep forever and build on for my family, 80 years down the line.

Christmas and New Year are an incredibly sentimental time of year – I get very reflective and think a lot about what’s changed, particularly who I’ve got in my life. I’ve got wonderful friends, a supportive family and an amazing relationship and 2019 is going to be a big year.

I hope you all have wonderful holidays surrounded by people you love, looking forward to the New Year!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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eating ‘healthy’ at Christmas

2018, fitness, goals, lifestyle

Hello!

I think we all know that December and Christmas time is the hardest time of year to have control over your diet and maintain good healthy eating habits! Which is why everyone joins a gym and sets themselves New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight and eat better in January.

But it’s not impossible to keep some sort of control over what you’re eating at Christmas and I’ve made such amazing progress that I’m so proud of in the last couple of months and I don’t want to throw that all away so I’ve made myself a little plan for some ways to try my best to not blow the diet over this holiday.

So I’ve condensed into three tips, if you can call them that – maybe goals is a more suitable word! I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form and I definitely don’t think I’m qualified to give advice. These are my Christmas diet goals!

One – give yourself a break – at the end of the day, it is Christmas! I’ve decided from the 24th-26th I’m not going to worry about what I’m eating, enjoy all the chocolate, cakes, desserts and food that Christmas brings guilt free.

Two – stock up on the healthy stuff – when serving food for Christmas dinner I’m going to try to fill about half my plate with veg and then I physically won’t have room for the less healthy stuff on my plate. Whilst Christmas is filled with lots of unhealthy treats, there’s also lots of veg and cold meats and leftovers that aren’t too bad, so it’s mixing those in with the stuff that’s really tasty and not so good.

Three – everything in moderation – not really specific to Christmas but as relevant at this time of year! As long as you’re not going absolutely mad and completely binging on the things you normally try to stay away from, then it’s not so bad – moderation is key. Last Christmas I got a fair few chocolate Christmas presents and I rationed it all out and it lasted me till Easter because I just didn’t let myself gorge on it all at once. So I still got to enjoy the chocolate, it lasted me so much longer and it saved me money on buying snacks because I already had it! Moderation wins!

But the most important thing at the end of the day is not to beat yourself up about what you eat – it’s more important to eat something that nothing! It’s a time of year for happiness and love and family and in January we can all get back to proper healthy eating and exercise and set New Year’s Resolutions like everyone else.

Lots of love, hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll be back with a new post on boxing day!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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