rediscovering my creativity: cross stitch – my new found love

creativity, 2020

Hello!

I’ll be honest – my inspiration for blog posts is rock bottom right now so I’m stripping it back to basics; writing about something I’m enjoying in the present moment.

I went on a trip to hobbycraft at the beginning of this year to pick up supplies for my t-shirt blanket and whilst I was there I saw a cute baby elephant cross stitch kit… which promptly sat untouched for a couple of months.

But when lockdown hit and I wanted to force myself to find ways to spend time offline and off-screen, I started doing this cross stitch. A few sessions in I realised I missed the bit where it said to split the threads from six strands into two and had to fill in the rest with whatever I could find (which turned out to be purple) but the process got me hooked.

I wasn’t ready to jump straight in to designing my own patterns so I bought this ‘Positive Pants’ kit on Etsy – it was a bit more expensive, but the quality of the kit was much higher, it came with a hoop and a beautiful pattern on durable card (which I’m definitely keeping) and I enjoyed it even more than the first one. Potentially because I got the thing with separating the strands right this time but we’ll gloss over that bit.

Next step: design my own pattern. I bought some aida cloth and embroidery thread on Amazon, I used the needles I got from the two kits I’d done and I designed a pattern on Stitch Fiddle (which felt a lot like designing a logo on MarioKart DS when I was a kid) and then I was off – I assigned the colour codes from my threads to the colours on my pattern and started! I’m now maybe a couple of days away from finishing and I’m even more obsessed.

The creation process has made me feel creative in a whole new way – normally the way I express my creativity has been through words or digital media but this physical craft that I’m holding in my hands makes me feel so proud.

I’m making an ‘In the Garden’ sign for my dad for father’s day – he’s notoriously hard to get presents for but I’m not the kind to just sit back and get him another Costa voucher, I will forever strive to find the ‘wow I didn’t even know I wanted that!’ present for him. He’s never going to be blown away by any present I give him because that’s just not who he is as a person but I think he’ll really appreciate this one. Even if he doesn’t, I’ve had a whale of a time making it.

Now I’m trying to space out my cross stitching with other projects – I started knitting again in lockdown and I want to try making something new with that, but whilst I’m enjoying knitting it’s just not fired me up creatively in the same way cross stitch has. As I’m writing this I can see my nearly-finished design sitting just next to this and it’s taking all my will not to sack off my whole to do list today and just work on it because I love it so much.

It’s so therapeutic, sometimes I just put YouTube videos on in the background and it’s something to do with my hands and the final product is so rewarding.

If you’re interested in seeing my finished piece, keep an eye on my Instagram stories for progress pics and I’m sure I’ll post a grid picture when I’m done (my dad’s 72 and not the internet type, he won’t see it! Unless he’s made a sneaky instagram behind my back!).

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

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

re-introducing me

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly, I want to share three life goals:

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

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

my COVID-19 ‘bucket’ list

2020, creativity, goals, lifestyle, student

Hello!

‘Bucket’ list might not have been the best phrase, because I’m optimistic about not having to fit all these things in before I ‘kick the bucket’ but you get the principle – I made a (very colourful and pretty) list of things to do while we’re in lockdown.

I’ll be honest, this whole coronavirus thing is starting to weigh me down a little bit – at the beginning it was alright, I had extra time to catch up on things and my boyfriend has been home for the longest time since he started work because he’s been furloughed, all my pressing uni deadlines were pushed back and Disney+ had just been released.

Now, it’s all sinking in that this is going to be our new normal for the considerable and not knowing when it will end is the bit that’s really getting to me. There’s so many ‘we’ll just see what happens’ and ‘when this all ends’ especially in communications about my masters, there’s talk of our dissertation being pushed back which would mean my course might not finish in September as it was intended to and I don’t know when I’ll be able to start full time work. And don’t get me started on how terrified I am about re-entering the graduate job market and feeling like I’m just going to spend a year unemployed again.

But all that aside! I was coming up with lots of ideas of things I could do to make the most of having extra time at home and I worried that I’d start forgetting them, so I grabbed a piece of paper from the printer and my coloured pens and I started writing them all down!

I thought I’d share them in a blog post because I’ve seen a few of these kinds of posts floating around and I always love nosying about what everyone’s planning to do and my list isn’t super ‘productive’ per say – it’s mostly creative things that I don’t normally get time to do so if you’re looking for some crafty-ish inspiration, here’s what I’m hoping to work on when (if) my uni work lightens up a bit!

– work on t-shirt blanket – I’m a super sentimental person who used to have a massive t-shirt collection so I’ve been collecting and cutting up t-shirts for a couple of years (though some of the t-shirts are 10+ years old) and this year I finally started sticking it all together. I’m at the point where I’ve finished the first side and I want to embellish it more – using some embroidery thread to secure some of the shirts down, sewing on some patches and some lanyards I don’t use anymore and full ‘finishing’ the first side before I start with the rest of the cutouts on the other side. I’ve already made a good dent in this project but I’ll need some serious patience and free time to start sewing on something so bulky!

– catch up with scrapbook and photo album – I’ve actually done this one! I had a moderate pile of stuff for my scrapbook and a huge pile of photos that took me two days to finish sticking in and captioning, but that’s all caught up so big tick there!

– start elephant cross stitch – I bought one of those cross stitch kits from hobbycraft a couple of months ago but haven’t made time to start it. I’m thinking as it gets a bit warmer and the six squares of patio outside our front door get a bit more sunlight (and uni work dies down a bit…) I can make the most of having some creative, relaxing and relatively simple to do. Though if I really enjoy it I’m going to have to head onto amazon and buy some more…

– try new recipes* (*if they have the ingredients at the shop) – so far the closest I’ve got is playing ‘Ready Steady Cook’ with the contents of the fridge but it’s been fun to have more time to cook but also to just shove something frozen in the oven sometimes too. If you have any yummy recipe suggestions please do let me know!!

the smiley potato stars on top of our beef hot pot was a real highlight

– use film/DSLR cameras – I used up all the film in my film camera pretty quickly and seeing as I can’t go get it developed anywhere, I’m not in a rush to put my next roll in. Though I’m planning to use my DSLR camera a bit more this week around the house and if I can actually get some decent photos maybe I can justify buying a better camera (with what money lol).

– start a new blog or YouTube series – this one I have actually set the wheels in motion! My mum came up with the idea that we should start writing children’s stories and making little videos on YouTube that we can send to my godmother’s kids. I think we’re both kind of hoping we can go viral or something but also we’re just going to have fun writing stories and making videos from 100 miles apart! I also have an idea for a new blog series but I’m going to keep it to myself for now!

– try some new at home workouts – HIIT/yoga/zumba – with so many creators and fitness companies doing live workouts and free months on apps, now is the prime time to get into a new fitness routine. But when you have a living room that can just about fit a yoga mat in if you move the coffee table (I don’t even have a yoga mat) and no garden (we technically have a little patio area but the neighbour’s garden is right next to it and I’m not here for concrete workouts) there’s a limit to what you can do! I’ve done a couple of Joe Wicks live workouts, I’ve tried a few yoga videos and I’d love to do a live dance class but with a boyfriend in a small hour and nowhere he can really go (and not wanting to do the class with him in the room…) I don’t think it’s an option. But I’m going to try a stretch workout from the Nike training app and I might try and get back into Couch to 5k if we’re still allowed to go out and exercise but it’s not a priority for me right now. I’ve managed three weeks of exercising twice a week and I’m pretty proud of myself!

– sort through stuff in alcove – another tick! The alcove is what I call my little cupboard in the bedroom where my dressing table and some of my personal belongings are. I went through all the shelves and sorted them all properly, put some stuff out for the charity shops and it feels so much neater and tidier now.

– keep up with uni work (develop and refine skills) – this one isn’t so much a goal as much as a necessity, but I’m hoping to use this time to really do the best I can on the assignments I have. Most of my assignments have been modified and they’re not the way any of us really wanted to finish this course but I’ve got a big calendar, I’ve planned out tasks to do most days (every day is a lot to ask) and although today I’m not feeling particularly motivated, even just doing a little bit means less to do next time I do some work, so trying to keep that in mind!

This time isn’t easy for anyone – I know I’m in an incredibly fortunate position to still have income, to not have too much to do and to have the luxury of making a ‘time filling’ list at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s not very scary times to be living in.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy and healthy!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

February Goals | 2020

2020, goals, student

Hello!

These monthly goals posts have been a part of my blog for maybe two years now? They’re the posts I really look forward to writing every month and with that has come a lot of learning about reflection, setting goals that are actually achievable and seeing a lot more personal growth!

If I could make a whole career about coaching people to setting good goals then I’d be all over that.

Either way, February has rolled around really quickly this year – everyone seems to be talking about how long January lasted and I’m pretty sure I’m still in 2019 so I appeared to have missed that boat. I’ve always quite enjoyed January – a fresh new start where the resolutions are in full swing and everyone’s saying ‘Happy New Year’ until February! Sure, there’s horrible diet ads everywhere and it’s cold but the evenings are lighter and people start talking about Summer holidays!

And with that in mind, let’s crack on with the Feb Goals!

1. See if writing one blog post a week is better for my creativity

I’ve been posting multiple blog posts for years – in 2015 I blogged every day, in 2016 I blogged three times a week I think? Then at some point it went down to two and in this last month I’ve really struggled with figuring out what I want to write about amongst feeling like an utter fraud on the internet. So I want to see if not having the pressure to write twice a week but just once helps me feel more creative and less forced.

2. NO SPEND MONTH. (again). (no, seriously this time).

I did a ‘no spend’ month in January and generally I did okay – between some low moments and McDonalds cravings I didn’t spend too much in the first month of the year. But as my student loan dropped this week, two thirds of the money went straight to paying my course fees, some of it went to rent and I treated myself with a ticket to MCM ComicCon in May and now it’s back to no unnecessary spending.

Seriously.

3. Start Nike Training workout program at home

With a little shuffle around of our furniture and realising I really can’t afford a gym membership or classes, I’ve decided I’m really going to make an effort at home. I like the Nike training app and I’ve done the ‘Beginner Program’ a few times now so I’ve started it up again. I did a benchmark workout on Tuesday morning and I’ve got four weeks of workouts lined up if I can stick to them. I’m determined!

4. Start my t-shirt blanket!

I made a whole video about this blanket project I’ve been mentally-but-not-actually working on for years and 2020 is the year. This month I want to make a start. My goal is to lie the blanket out on the floor and pin the t-shirt cuttings where I want them to be by the end of the month, not necessarily to start sewing. That might sound like a minor goal but between university, ongoing dental struggles (I still have an infected wisdom tooth that is causing me grief) and maybe having a social life this blanket isn’t a ‘priority’, even though I really want to do it! If that makes sense. So smaller, achievable goals.

5. Plan my uni workload properly

Heading into the last eight months of my masters from this week, I’m being inundated with new assignments and deadlines and frankly it’s scary. But the only way to combat this is a lot of lists and prepared organisation! I’m in a good mindset of setting really achievable deadlines for myself, making realistic to do lists and having a calendar where I can see months ahead, hopefully meaning I can plan my assignments accordingly!

I think I’m being quite optimistic but we can but try!


As well as these five goals, I have my ongoing monthly goals of reading a book and having a date night with my boyfriend (we’re not very good and blocking out proper time together outside of playing video games together when we’re both home). In January I managed to read THREE books and we went on two dates nights so all round it was a good start to the year and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) maintaining it.

Especially with all my uni work, I think these next few months are going to fly by so I’m trying to live as much as I can in the moment and make the most of all the opportunities I have right now.

Feeling positive and motivated!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

is too many passions a bad thing?

2020, career

Hello,

I really struggled to think about what I wanted to write about today – I thought maybe I could write about the books I want to read this year but I made a video about it last week. I thought about writing a ‘diary’ like day-in-the-life post but I don’t go back to uni until next week so I’m making the most of not doing very much at all.

Then I thought about writing about the newest Pokemon games Sword and Shield because I just finished playing it with my boyfriend and we’re starting our second play through and really enjoying it, but then blogging is so much about a ‘niche’ and I don’t know what my niche is but writing about video games probably shouldn’t be part of it if I want to be consistent. But if this blog is truly a reflection of me than why should I restrict what I want to write about?

Following on from my last post about the show Cheer on Netflix, I’ve been thinking about what my ‘thing’ is – what I’m most passionate about and what I want to focus my career on.  My issue has always been that I care about too many things – video games, clothes, student life, body positivity, musical theatre, social media, creative writing, books, dance, organisation, coloured pens just to name a few, I’m sure there’s more. YouTube, family vloggers, TV shows – I waited maybe ten seconds and thought of more.

If I could build a whole career on superheroes I’d probably have a long and happy career but I’d still probably wonder if maybe I should have picked one of my other passions to follow into my professional life.

The other thing with have so many ‘hobbies’ (if you can call them that) is that I often feel like I’m not enthusiastic enough about one thing to apply for any jobs in that field.

And I wish I had a conclusion to draw in this post – I wish I could say ‘go with your gut’ or ‘follow your heart’ and it’ll all work out but I can’t say that because I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ve not started my career yet and I definitely don’t have any advice that I know works for anyone else who feels like this.

But I will say this – I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person that only focuses on one thing. Right now, I’m sat writing a blog post in between playing Pokemon with my boyfriend. Tomorrow I’m going to start a website design course and my t-shirt blanket project that I made a video about and the next day I’m going on a bowling date night with the love of my life and I want to take my film camera to practice taking photos in darker settings (add photography to the ‘list of things Sophie’s passionate about).

Does that make picking what I want to do for the rest of my life harder? Yes, but who has one job for the rest of their lives? Maybe it makes me more diverse and employable too.

I guess what I’m saying is that I hope being passionate about lots of things isn’t a bad thing and I hope one day I can come back to this post and have some advice for anyone who might feel like they’re spreading their passions too thin.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

January Goals

2019, goals

Hello!

And the last of the trilogy of blog posts about New Year’s Resolutions and goals is upon us! I’m so excited to have another year of focusing, setting myself little goals and giving myself the exciting feeling of new year’s at the beginning of each month.

I’ve decided this year that each month I want to set my goals in accordance with my 2019 resolutions – last year I did them based off what I want to achieve each month and I’ll still do that this year but I really want to properly focus on my goals to make sure I’m working on achieving them every month.

Progress is a huge motivator for me and finding new ways to work on that and ensure ongoing development makes me happy! So let’s jump right in.

[ J A N U A R Y   G O A L S : ]

  • get back to healthy eating and a workout routine – the whole reason I focused on for losing weight (a family wedding) is coming up at the end of the month so I’ve decided, quite spontaneously, to go part time vegetarian – not for any moral reasons (don’t come for me pls) but just for health reasons I’m planning to eat veggie up until dinner time every day during the week. And I definitely need to get back to working out – my tap classes start again next week but I’m aiming for one at home workout each week. If I put a number on something I’m more likely to actually do it so once a week – sorted.
  • work on prioritising productivity – I have refined the way I make my to do lists so I have 5 tick box jobs, 3 additional tasks that are not quite important enough for a tick box or would be useful if I have time after I’ve finished everything else (I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone but me!). The next step for me is to make sure I get them all done during the day rather than working half heartedly on my laptop till 9pm – essentially I want to have business hours and unless I’m using my laptop for something like creative writing I don’t want to use it in the evenings. That’s the goal!
  • working on hobbies – start my knitting project – to go hand in hand with the productivity, making time for hobbies is something I really want to work on! I think knitting would be a great activity for me because I’m not very good at sitting watching TV and just watching, so I think a non-committal task like knitting would be a good start for me. The other half of this one is not taking my laptop into the living room so I’m not tempted just to scroll through Facebook for the sake of it. Knitting and no laptops!
  • get more freelance work – I mean, this one is kind of a necessity more than a goal but it’s got to be a real focus for me this month! I’m going to reach out to local businesses and get as much work as I can, because I miss it and I need a focus. If anyone has freelance advice that would be much appreciated thank you!
  • focus on blogging and YouTube – I’ve been really happy with the content I’ve been making and how regularly I’ve been creating and uploading in the last few months but I want to step up my game this year – I’ve got a few ideas that I’ve been a little apprehensive to make and I’m just going to bite the bullet and make them this year! I want to work on growth and read advice from other bloggers and YouTubers and think about building my platform a bit like a business. Maybe that’s pretentious, or presumptuous that I think my platforms deserve to grow (I seem to be allergic to followers anyway), it’s all a bit complicated and I feel like a proper dick about it but I want to at least give it a go!

I got proper rambly in this goals post! I think I got a bit lost in it, sorry!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram