realistic budgeting tips

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve realised I’m not as good with money as I thought I was – whenever my mental health is bad, the subconscious desire to self-sabotage and try to make myself happy with whatever I feel I can get away with buying is really not helpful to that stage of life where everything needs saving for; a house deposit, big holidays, the wedding that’s less than a year away…

But rather than set hard and fast rules that I’ll struggle to stick with, I’ve made tiny lifestyle changes that make my bank account a little less busy and my savings accounts more consistent.

The biggest thing to note is that finances are personal – I know I’m bad with money and I find it really hard to resist temptation, so I adapt based on that. Basically – take everything with a pinch of salt; I’m not an expert and by no means have I got it perfect (yet!).


1 – Have a way of tracking your finances

Not necessarily for the sake of analysing what you’re spending and where you could save (though this is probably useful!) but just so at least once a week (or however frequently you update your track) you have to face and write down everything you spent. Did popping into Superdrug end up with a £30 spend? Did you buy a couple too many coffees this week? Did you hide behind online shopping again?

All these things add up and if you’re forced to confront it, it can be all the motivation you need to knuckle down and make the effort to not spend so you don’t have to take money out of your savings account to pay for your phone bill (obviously not speaking from experience…).

Then when you have a low spend week, it’s really satisfying!

2 – Don’t take your purse to work

This one can be a bit trickier, as there’ve been a couple of occasions where I’m running low on fuel with no way to pay for it, but not having the option to nip to the cafe down the road or go to Tescos at lunch makes it so much easier not to give in to those waves of hunger that might just be boredom. This is inadvertently good if you’re on a diet or trying to cut out snacks as well because you can only eat what you’ve brought with you.

3 – Don’t have your bank details saved on your computer or phone

This was kind of an accident on my part – I got a new computer and my details weren’t saved anymore and I got a new phone and haven’t set up Google Pay (though the new phone and laptop were coincidental and we’re going to gloss over them in a budgeting blog post…). Not having these details readily available makes me think twice about what I’m considering buying – especially if I’ve got to the point in the check out where it’s asking for my card details. I am a couch potato and if I have to stand up to get my card details to buy something, that’s really going to make me reevaluate my potential purchase and almost always, I will realise it’s absolutely not something I need so I won’t buy it.

4 – set budgets for things

With Christmas coming up, it’s easy to get carried away and think ‘that’s only a pound, it’ll be a nice stocking filler!’ but all those £1-£5 purchases quickly add up!

Set yourself budgets – make a pretty Excel spreadsheet if it helps – decide on an overall budget and break it down by person if you have to. When picking birthday presents, pick a figure and rather than shopping spontaneously, plan so you stay within budget. A good way to do this if you’re not shopping online or don’t have time to plan anything, is to draw the amount of cash that is your budget and have a no-card-spend day then you can’t go over budget! I did this when I was at uni with my weekly campus food budget – whether it was a hot chocolate, a lunch sandwich or a croque monsieur (praise be to Solent University for having cheap food on campus!) I had £20 and when it was gone it was gone.


Maybe they’re very obvious things, but those are what I’m using at the moment! Sometimes all it takes is seeing it written down as a reminder that there are ways to cut down on your spending. It doesn’t necessarily help with actively saving money, but sometimes it’s just making sure the bills get paid.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

I got another tattoo!

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

I feel like I don’t fit the stereotype of ‘tattoo person’ at all – I feel quite uncomfortable in a tattoo parlour even though I’d desperately like for everyone there to think I’m cool (as if I even know what ‘cool’ looks like, I think it just means self-confident). I feel like my outward appearance is nerdy goody-two-shoes who jumps when the toaster pops.

Which is entirely true, I also just happen to have enough tattoos that I have to count them up each time someone asks how many (currently 10, for the record).

But yesterday was the day for the 11th!

I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time – here’s the inspiration:

My Nanny received this elephant clock as a gift and before she passed away, she wrote my name on his foot – knowing my love for elephants, she said I could have it.

I’ve wanted to get a tattoo based on this shape ever since – it’s been nearly five years now and I’ve decided now’s the time. It’s my first time working with the tattoo artist on a custom design, it’s my first time getting a tattoo with colour and it’s my first time getting a tattoo that will take longer than about half an hour.

The reason I’ve waited so long to get this tattoo is because I didn’t know what to do with it – I didn’t just want a hyper realistic wooden elephant, I didn’t love the idea of the clock because I didn’t want to pick a time (and I didn’t really want to find a relevant or significant time to a memorial tattoo…) but I didn’t want to hyper cartoonise it either.

So I got this:

The detail of the elephant is so pretty but I wanted to include lavender, as it was a scent she loved and everyone in my family now associates with her and I think it’s beautiful. With the clock face, I actually love that it doesn’t have hands – it makes it feel timeless and eternal in a way, and to me, my nan will always be eternal.

I’ve never had a custom designed tattoo before, but I had a moment of confidence at the end of my last appointment and asked about how it would work – I showed them some pictures, booked in for a consultation and the actual tattooing and then didn’t really think about it until the consultation!

I went in, spoke to the artist, showed her some inspiration pictures I liked the look of and then she drew up the design and four days later I spent two and a half hours being poked with a tiny vibrating needle.

The first hour or so I was so confident I could do it in one sitting – none of my tattoos have hurt that much and it was all detailed line and dot work, not like the block lines I’ve had in other tattoos.

I was soon proven wrong.

The delicate skin on the inside of my arm was incredibly painful and I’m pretty sure the longer I lay there, the lower my pain tolerance got. Between that and my elbow aching from being held straight for so long and the majority of my right hand going numb, it definitely wasn’t the ‘spend three hours scrolling on Insta and reading on my phone’ experience I was expecting. But I did get to lie down for nearly three hours and not really think about work or productivity or anything like that. The artist – Ash – was so sweet, always checking in and offering me breaks to sit up and stretch my arm.

For future reference, I think I’d take a fidget toy or a stress toy with me, perhaps to help with the numbness of the hand on the arm being tattooed and to give me something to do with my other hand as well – I ended up spinning the little ring connecting my necklace charm to the chain and that actually did help the pain more than I thought it would.

Afterwards, I felt more lightheaded than I anticipated and I probably should have sat down for a little bit longer before I walked back to my car, but by the time I was driving I felt fine (having some lunch when I got home definitely helped too!).

With my 11th tattoo, I’m kind of at the point where there’s nothing else that I desperately want – I know that I’ll find other designs and more sentimental pieces in the future, but right now I’m definitely ready for a little break before I spend that long paying someone to stab me with tiny needles.

I’m not someone who massively believes every tattoo must have a meaning – wanting to have beautiful art or empowering words on one’s body doesn’t have to come with sentimentality or or a sob story, but for me I have to really connect with what I’m getting to know I’ll be happy to have it on my body forever.

(That and if I got every tattoo I think is pretty, I’d have no room left)

I’m so happy to have this new addition to my collection that is both a beautiful piece of art and a sentimental tribute to a woman I still love so much, no matter what.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Hopes for 25

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

Today is my 25th birthday and I’ve had the loveliest day – very lazy morning, taking time to put on make-up and my favourite dress, a little video call with my mum and sibling and opening their very generous presents, then my fiancé took me to a local reservoir for a walk and some lunch, then a trip to Hobbycraft to buy supplies for my new toy (he bought me a cricut!) and an afternoon of playing with the new toy before dinner at the highest rated restaurant in Banbury, which was actually fantastic.

If you’ve ever read any of my posts before, you’ll know I’m a massive goal setter – I love New Years for setting new yearly goals, I love setting monthly mini goals and consistently evaluating my progress, adapting to fit my current desires and pushing myself to develop in the ways I care about most.

I thought about setting myself a few little goals for things I want to achieve before my 26th birthday next year, but if we’ve learnt anything from 18 months of pandemic is that life is unpredictable and sometimes we don’t have control over what we do and don’t achieve.

So rather than setting anything so rigid, I thought I’d set myself a little list of aspirations. Not 26 things I want to achieve in a year, not 3 huge life changes, just a few things I’d be pleased if they did happen!

  • Travel somewhere internationally – having worked in Italy for five weeks for the Euros, my fiancé has somewhat been bitten by the travel bug and we’d both love to go somewhere new and explore, but also to be somewhere hot near a pool and read. We went to Paris in 2019 and had so many ambitions to explore countries further afoot but that cheeky pandemic made it slightly more difficult, so it would be lovely to get away in the next year!
  • I’d love to feel more body confident – I think I’ve been at war with my body since I was about 12, always feeling too big compared to all my friends and just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve started dance classes again and it’s the closest to consistent exercise I’ve been since I was doing Couch to 5k last year. I’m hoping this can help me work towards a healthier lifestyle – losing weight would be optimal, but just feeling happier in my own skin would be lovely.
  • Go to the West End again – I love musical theatre with all my heart and soul. I took my fiancé to see ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ over the summer and I’d love to be able to go more frequently but wow theatre tickets are expensive. I’d love to see the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ‘Cinderella’, I’ve heard amazing things about ‘Six’ and my favourite ‘Les Miserables’ is one I’d love to take my fiancé to see as I adore it so much, but there’s also ‘Frozen’, I’ve never seen ‘The Lion King’ and I really want to see ‘Come From Away’. Conclusion: more theatre required.
  • I want to be doing a job I really love – what I’ve learned from my current job is that even though I won’t always have the opportunity to work in my dream industry, I can grow to really love what I am working on, whatever that may be. I never thought I’d be so proud working on an inaugural tech festival this year but now I’m actually really disappointed to not be working on next year’s festival if it’s approved. So yeah, I’m still building up my career but to be doing something I actually enjoy is really important to me.
  • Do more little things that bring me joy – buying myself flowers, using nice products in the shower, wearing my favourite clothes even if it means I’m ‘too dressed up’ – life is short! Buying myself a bubble machine this summer to just sit and watch the bubbles in my garden was one of the best things I did because I didn’t let myself feel bound by ‘things for children’ and taking that mindset forward with me can only be good for my mental health, right?

Having had a wonderful birthday, I’m feeling incredibly content right now and I’m looking forward to continue making little tweaks to my day to day life to maintain that. Life is short, we’ve got to make what we want from it, and mine includes bubbles!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Approaching 25 / Accepting Me

2021, lifestyle

Hello,

You know how on every birthday, everyone asks you ‘do you feel old?’ and the answer is usually no because it’s just another day that just happens to mark another year around the sun, right?

When I turned 20, I actually did feel older. It felt like a big step – finally shunning the teenage years and officially entering my twenties; the decade of potentially the biggest changes of my life. Graduating university, starting my career, getting married, buying a house, having a baby? I don’t know if I’ll do all those things but it’s a pretty monumental decade!

I feel like 25 is going to have the same impact, because I’m officially halfway through.

And I could write about ’25 Things I’ve Done by 25′ or ’30 Things I Want To Do By 30′ but life is simultaneously short and long – things I’ve done are for me to celebrate with my friends and family. If I’d made a 30 by 30 list when I was 20, half the things I wanted then wouldn’t be relevant now. I’m five years older, on the brink of a neurodiversity diagnosis and I’m starting to understand that wanting a routine and to be in bed by 10pm isn’t a ‘flaw’ I need to push myself out of, but what my mind and body needs and works best with.

I wouldn’t say I’m a completely different person, but I’ve grown in the best way. I took a phone call last week where someone I’d never spoken to before described me as ‘confident’ – that whole sentence was a ride from ‘phone call’ to ‘confident’; look at any of my school reports and I don’t think a single one of them will praise my confidence because I didn’t have any. I’ve really grown and though I’m not ‘there’ yet (wherever ‘there’ is), I think I’m really starting to accept myself and I feel like that’s what, subconsciously at least, I’ve really struggled to do so far.

I’ve always thought of myself as weird or wrong; not quite fitting in, always looking like the odd one out in everything from my height and weight to my interests and the way I think and talk.

But I can’t hold myself to other people’s standards – to neurotypical standards if I’m not, to looking like a 5’7 size 8 model on tiktok when I’m not, to being a ‘night owl’ who doesn’t sleep till 3am when I love falling asleep at 11 and getting eight hours sleep.

I spent so long desperate to be something I wasn’t – naturally skinny, naturally musical, naturally social etc etc – when actually, if I can spend the rest of my life accepting myself and not sacrificing my boundaries for the sake of others; doing what I feel comfortable doing, then I think I’ll be doing okay.

Here’s to my last week of 24, and to not squeezing myself into spaces I don’t naturally fit.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

the illogical curve of progress

2021, lifestyle

Hello,

Being someone who loves setting goals, tracking progress and analysing data (except my step count, we don’t talk about that), writing challenges like NaNoWriMo suits me down to a tee with word count tracking, you’re actual average word count per day and an estimation of when you’re likely to hit your word count.

But in looking at the two graphs that monitored my progress, I noticed something that made me think.

This is the graph of my word count per day – I was aiming for 40,000 words, but more importantly I wanted to write a little bit every day, even if I didn’t meet my goal one day and I had to write extra the next, those were my two priorities.

This graph would suggest that it was a pretty steady curve up to my goal, consistent progress, falling behind on a couple of occasions but catching up, even getting ahead a couple of times towards the end, but relatively steady progress.

Then you compare it to the graph of how many words I actually wrote per day.

I wasn’t writing consistently at all – some days I wrote 2000 words, most days I wrote about a thousand, on my worst day I barely wrote 100. Although my progress appeared linear – a predominantly straight line from Step A (0 words) to Step B (40,000 words), there were 31 steps in between with good days, bad days, busy days, quiet days, sunny days, rainy days and everything in between.

And it got me thinking about the bigger picture – perhaps a bit existential, but life is just one long (short?) journey from the Beginning to the End, a supposedly linear experience from childhood, to adulthood to old age and ‘The End’, making consistent progress in growth in every aspect from education, relationships and physically growing.

But it’s never going to be a straight line from one point to the other – life has ups and downs and good points and bad points; it always feels more like the second graph than the first one.

So I have two points to make;

  1. If you feel like everyone around you is living a life like the first graph – a solid, straight line from Point A to Point B, it’s more than likely you can’t see the behind the scenes that looks like the second graph. Life is full of nuances and struggles and things people keep off their instagram profile, so the picture they paint online isn’t necessarily the full story!

(side note: I fully believe Instagram as a highlight reel is a okay, because having a space full of happy, positive memories is lovely, it’s just changing the user perspective to remember that Instagram is just a highlight and not someone’s complete story!)

2. If you feel like you’re stuck in the second graph, feeling more lows than highs and not sure whether you’re making any ‘progress’ at all (though, who decides what progress is and whether we’re making it??) – remember you’re seeing your life zoomed in, the bigger picture probably does look more like the straight line, but you have to go through the ups and downs to get to the bigger picture that is the end of the graph. The second graph with it’s wobbly line and all it’s peaks and troughs is the zoomed in detail you don’t see from the first graph and you’re doing a okay.

I don’t know if any of that really made any sense, but I found it comforting and a nice reminder to zoom out sometimes – everything’s okay really.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

little happy moments

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

Over the last year or two, I’ve changed my approach to my blog – I’ve tried to make it less about ‘trying to be a blogger’ and more about what I want to write about, I’ve not put my social links at the bottom of posts, I don’t make templates to share them on my insta story and I don’t religiously check statistics or chase followers anymore (or I try not to!).

So I write about what I want – whether it’s more like a diary, just having a natter about what I’m thinking about or reviewing things (which I started doing more of in the last couple of weeks and I’m considering making it more of a focus?). If I’m not feeling like writing a post, I won’t worry too much about missing one, if I’m super inspired and want to post an extra one, I’ll do that too (but that hasn’t happened yet).

Consequently we’re here – I wasn’t feeling super inspired this week and I’m watching YouTube videos and somehow I thought it would be nice to list a few things that have made my happy recently. I’m working on feeling more present and finding joy in little things more frequently than waiting for the ‘big stuff’. I thoroughly recommend this if you’re feeling a bit spaced out!

  • a cat jumped through my kitchen window and let me pet them before they went to chill in the shade under a car
  • sitting in the sun loungers after a work day and having a catch up with my fiancé
  • sitting in front of the fan when it’s 28-32 degrees outside
  • reading my book before I go to sleep
  • going to the cinema and seeing Black Widow with my best friends
  • getting sucked into a Pokemon Go event with my fiancé
  • hitting my writing goals for maybe 80% of the month so far
  • speaking to my therapist for the first and last time in a while
  • playing video games and talking to our friends
  • I grew an actual tomato! In my garden! From nothing! Actual food!
  • laughing with my work friends because we’re so stressed that it’s funny
  • cooking my HelloFresh meals and feeling like an actual chef
  • watching George Clark’s Amazing Spaces before I go to sleep
  • singing through the entire Dear Evan Hanson soundtrack while I was cooking dinner
  • I made a Nutella sandwich for lunch and it was wonderful
  • a phone game called Pictawords which is like Scrabble meets crosswords
  • sorting my bookshelves into proper alphabetical order (by author’s surname) and adding all my ornaments to the shelves
  • making fun graphic and video content at work
  • sleeping in on the weekends
  • having a coke from the fridge in a glass with ice
  • the solar fairy lights I put up in the garden
  • buying books. I have a mild problem.
  • surprise refunds (thanks tfl)
  • the event I’m working on for my job is going to be really good, you can get a free ticket here, see the schedule here and read about the amazing speakers we have booked here – including the Chief Technology Officer of Ocado, the Senior Technical Programme Manager from Sainsburys and the Associate Site Reliability Engineer from Sky!
  • but also closing my computer after a work day. That’s very nice

Thank you for sharing my happy moments with me!

Sophie xx

a year without cinema

2021, film, lifestyle

Hello!

After a big trip to London last week, I didn’t think I’d be wanted to write another review so soon (am I just a review blog now? I could do specific book review posts!) but on the day all the regulations were relaxed, my partner and our best friend went to the cinema for the first time in the best part of two years to see the new Marvel film ‘Black Widow’ and whilst I could quite happily write about the film, but I don’t have an analytically critical mind when it comes to films – I thought it was fun, I love superheroes and Florence Pugh was fantastic.

But the experience of going to the cinema was always powerful to me, so going back after so long being closed was something else.

It was the first time going to the cinema in our area since we moved house and I hadn’t been to an Odeon before – first off, the tickets were only £5 and that’s the cheapest cinema ticket I’ve paid for ever. The popcorn was stale and none of the staff were wearing masks anymore (same at the pub we went to for dinner), but all of the people watching the film wore masks and there was only 8 of us total, so it felt nice and quiet and safe.

The novelty of seeing films on a big screen with the surround sound will always be the best way to watch movies – especially considering there was the option to watch it in the comfort of my own home on Disney+ (even though it was actually cheaper for three of us to go to the cinema to see it).

I love films and I like to think I’m a bit of a film buff, but realistically I just really like superhero movies and I know a decent amount about the films I’ve seen and literally nothing else. So I’m the worst film buff but really good on a pub quiz about films I have seen.

But with Suicide Squad, Shang Chi, and a whole host of delayed movies coming out, I think I’m going to be making many more trips to the cinema this summer. Especially if all the theatres are air conditioned.

Going back to ‘normal’ feels weird – I’m definitely not ready to stop wearing my mask yet, at least not until I’m double vaxxed and the numbers are less intimidating. Maybe it’s an introvert thing or maybe it’s just humans being dumb, but I quite like people staying 2 metres away from me and having to space out in theatres and restaurants is actually more accessible for people with mental health, neurological divergencies and many physical disabilities. A COVID world is one that’s in a way more accessible, once we eliminate the life threatening pandemic that is.

But I can’t deny that going to the pub without booking a table and going to the cinema to watch a new film was exciting – it still felt like a special treat, as it did pre-pandemic, but there was something extra nice about finally being able to see a film the way it’s designed to be seen.

At the end of the day I love storytelling and film media is a huge inspiration to me, definitely going to make more of an effort to see films at the cinema – especially if the tickets are only £5!

Thank you for watching,

Sophie xx

Treasured In… June ’21

2021, Favourites

Hello!

Another month has rolled around and wow June has been busy! My partner left for his work trip to Italy on the 2nd and I’ve kept myself fairly busy since!

Now it’s only a week till he gets back and maybe I’ll stop sad spending, but here’s a run down of my favourite things from June!

  • Purchase

I’ve been looking for a nice summer dress for probably years, and I picked up this one from SheIn and I love it! It’s such a good length for my 5’10 lanky self, the sleeves aren’t tight, it’s super comfy and not see through!

And to match the cardigan, I’m also a big fan of the sun loungers I bought from the Range – a special treat to us for sure, but if the sun even comes back to the UK they’ll be perfect.

And now, for the sake of my bank account, I will stop going to shops.

  • Food

Okay, I literally got the first delivery on the 28th so it’s barely June, but I succumbed and got Hello Fresh (5 meals for two people for £20? Bargain!) and I cooked Cheesy Oven-Baked Risotto with bacon, mushroom and rocket salad and I am blown away. It was amazing.

The perks of actually being home alone this week means I have another portion for lunch tomorrow. But even the salad dressing on the rocket! I don’t normally like rocket but I actually went back and finished it rather than leave it for tomorrow. I’m definitely making the most of trying new things and I’m really excited about it.

It absolutely doesn’t look as good as it tasted.
  • Song

You’re welcome.

  • YouTube video

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube, but I’ve recently discovered Chandler Ainsley and I’m obsessed – it’s fuelling my reading obsession and I love the way she talks about books.

I have a lot to add to my watch later, but right now I’m very much enjoying watching just book content that makes me want to quit my job and read for a living.

  • Books I’ve read

At the beginning of the month I finished Lore, by Alexandra Bracken and I really enjoyed it – it properly reignited my love for Greek mythology and proved to myself that I can read a 550 page book without getting bored!

Then I read A Nearly Normal Family, by M. T. Edvardsson and I felt like I didn’t want to read 500 page books anymore because it was actually quite bland and the ending was SO dissatisfying but I finished it and that’s the important thing.

I’ve now just started reading Flawed by Cecelia Ahern but not sure how I feel about it so far – it sounds very Nazi Germany and I’m sure that’s the point but WOW the parallels with the holocaust are insane. I’m less than a quarter through so I’m sure the first person narrative gets better but still, a fairly awkward start!

  • Snack

Kinder. Buenos.

That’s all I have to say.

  • Film

My mum has this film club with her friends and whilst I was staying with her I watched their pick of the week – in the theme of ‘based on a true story’, we watched Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts and it’s stuck in my head that it was actually based on a true story. Julia Roberts is so cool and the story was incredible, good pick film club!

  • Wedding planning update

This month’s task was to figure out what we want from our wedding cake. We’re asking our mum’s to make the cake because they’re both great bakers and whilst I was at home, mum and I were brainstorming ideas and it was brilliant.

This one is definitely my favourite because I think it’s just a lil bit nerdy without having Pikachu on it y’know?!

Probably not quite as many layers, but maybe something like this?

For July, I’m having my first week off work which I’m really excited about, my boy is coming back from a month of working abroad and hopefully the sun will come out again! I hope you’ve all had a lovely month and have nice plans for July!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

things that make me happy

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

Life is a lot at the moment isn’t it? I know lockdown has been lifting for a while but it feels like I’ve spent six months in restrictions, the weather’s been nice but I live quite far away from any friends or family now so haven’t been able to see many people and my work life has been very hectic… So spending a little bit of time making a list of things that make me happy is going to be a good therapeutic exercise and a nice thing to look back on!

In no particular order:

  • the smell of grass after it rains in the summer
  • reading in the garden on my new sun lounger
  • lighting a candle I’ve been saving for special occasions
  • dance parties to Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with my boy
  • my house plants
  • the light in our living room first thing in the morning
  • redesigning my island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • binging all the YouTube videos on my Watch Later playlist
  • picnics with friends on sunny days
  • game nights with friends on rainy nights
  • knitting my ‘scarf’ which is just lots of rows of the same stitch over and over again
  • watching tiktoks and not minding losing 1-3 hours of my life
  • reading in bed while the sun is still up
  • playing ‘ready, steady, cook’ with whatever food we have and accidentally making something really delicious
  • keeping my bullet journal up to date
  • when I’m in such a good writing flow that I feel like the story is writing itself
  • sewing a cross stitch kit
  • talking to my mum
  • reading whilst cuddling with my boy
  • bubbles
  • ordering spontaneous take out
  • trips to The Range, B&M and/or Wilkos
  • 2am giggles with the person I want to spend forever with
  • music by All Time Low
  • buttered toast
  • rewatching every film in the MCU… again
  • rewatching the entire Harry Potter franchise
  • live music
  • going for long walks (and playing Pokemon Go… I know)
  • an empty laundry basket
  • reading a book so good that you can’t put it down
  • having at home spa nights with face masks, foot masks and properly moisturising
  • using my sewing machines to make face masks
  • buying myself flowers
  • chocolate
  • fidget toys
  • my bear factory bear (yeah, pre-Build a Bear)
  • coloured pens
  • stickers!
  • lying on my bed and listening to music
  • giving my loved ones surprises
  • picking pictures for my photo wall
  • scrapbooking
  • decluttering the house
  • fairy lights
  • Lucas, my fiancé person
  • the music in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • space and galaxy themed things
  • a Tescos meal deal (chicken salad sandwich, a kinder bueno and Ribena)
  • tap dancing
  • sitting down after a busy day having ticked off everything on my to do list
  • the opening notes of Les Miserables in the theatre
  • doing paper crafts in my bullet journal at the start of each month
  • potatoes
  • summer evenings – the cooler air, the colours of the sky when the sun sets, BBQs and fire pits with friends – just the best

Many of these things are summer themed because that’s what’s making me happy right now, but I’m sure I could do a cosy winter version too!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

adjusting to being alone

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

My fiancé works in Outside Broadcast, which means he sets up all the camera equipment for live sports matches; football, rugby, he’s done boxing, his colleagues have done golf and tennis – it’s a huge thing and it’s a very exciting industry, even for someone who has zero interest in sport.

He’s currently working out in Rome, Italy on the Euros – he just worked on the Opening Ceremony and the first game and he’s out there living the Italian life for nearly 5 weeks.

Several people – both his colleagues and mine – have question why we as a couple are okay with this, but we always said career comes first. It’s an amazing opportunity to work on such a huge event and in the scale of it all, five weeks is nothing. With video calls and WhatsApps and silly voice notes there’s plenty of ways for us to keep in touch and alongside being an amazing experience, it’s a good financial opportunity for us and we have a wedding to save for!

But whilst he has an amazing opportunity and extra money, I have an empty house and a lot of alone time for five weeks. It’s definitely a tough trade off but I never want to be the one holding him back from amazing opportunities. He’s been flown to Rome to work on one of the first major sporting events since the pandemic cancelled everything and whilst we’re relatively unattached (no pets or children or anyone under our care), now’s the perfect time to go. If I worked in an industry that had similar opportunities, I would have done the same.

Being home alone has been a big adjustment – many of my friends and family live alone and I’ve had a few comments from one family member saying ‘now you understand’ but, whilst it may be easy for me to say; I don’t think it’s the simple. It’s all about what is considered our ‘normal’ – my normal is living with someone else, so suddenly being on my own isn’t really equivalent to living alone because it’s not my normal. Sure, it’s an insight into what your life is like but it’s not my normal.

However, today I wanted to talk about all the nice things I’m experiencing in being on my own for a little bit – it’s not all highs and it’s not all lows but there’s a place for talking about the tough times and a place to concentrate on the best bits – today is a best bits day.

Firstly, the weather has massively picked up in the UK and it’s been lovely to have the back door open and feel a warm breeze, the sun on my skin and the smell of barbecues at the weekend (despite how hungry it makes me!). I’m normally very much an inside person and last year our garden was essentially shared so I didn’t love spending time outside, but now I have my own private garden, I’ve picked up some garishly yellow sun loungers and I have a plan to douse myself in SPF and spend the afternoon making a good dent in my book!

Which leads me on to my current greatest passion – reading. I really got back into reading in 2020 and although it’s ebbed and flowed and a bad book can put me off for a few weeks, as the weather’s got better the only thing I want to do is sit outside with my prescription sunglasses and a book. Maybe a snack but I’m working on not snacking.

At the moment, most of my evenings are finishing work, having half an hour to mentally check out of ‘work mode’, making dinner then sitting on the sofa watching YouTube until 10pm when I go up to bed and read until I fall asleep and although it sounds a bit boring, I’m enjoying giving myself a little bit of structure. I’m still figuring out what the best routine is to get the best nights sleep but just blitzing through my watch later playlist and catching up on all my YouTube videos is really satisfying to me.

This might be the silliest thing that brings me joy… but I bought a bubble machine.

Let me explain!

Last year when we had an essentially-shared-garden, our neighbours kid had a bubble machine and the joy I felt watching all the bubbles float passed our window was so pure and wholesome. I realised a few weeks ago that I am a whole grown ass adult and if I want a bubble machine I can buy myself a bubble machine.

So I did.

I am posed with my tongue out and bubbles floating all around me.

And I was 100% correct about the level of joy it brings me – £6 well spent.

Life’s too short to deny ourselves simple pleasures.

A project I’m doing which perfectly coincides with my fiancé being away is Hannah Witton‘s #DearJune Instagram challenge – I’ve totally re-evaluated my relationship with posting on Instagram and for the last six or seven months or so I’ve only posted the photos I really like and want to share, rather than posting every single day because I felt obligated as a ‘blogger’, ‘wannabe influencer’ person and I was a little worried with Dear June interfering with that, but it’s pushed me creatively to take more interesting photos and write more meaningful captions and I’m really proud of what I’ve shared so far! It’s been a fantastic creative exercise so far and it’s been surprisingly self-reflective too, making me look me deeply within myself and giving me lots more to discuss with my therapist (which is a good thing).

Changing living situation is always hard, whether it’s moving house, being in a long distance relationship for a little bit or simple trying a new routine. But I suppose it’s mentally reframing change as an opportunity to be a good thing and not immediately react negatively (but this is hard and takes practice!).

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx