May Goals

2021, goals

Hello!

April really flew – between moving house, the country opening up a little bit to get to unessential shops and doing extra hours at work, I seem to have blinked and missed most of the month but I’m looking forward to things feeling a little more settled in May. Hopefully I’ll get more on top of my workload, I’m definitely going to spend lots of time with my fiancé before his five week work trip to Italy over June and maybe I’ll even figure out how to look after myself a little better.

How we’re this far into 2021 I’m really not sure, it’s going faster than I can keep track of but here are my May mini goals!

– Work on my portfolio: now that I’m in the professional working world, I want to make sure I keep my CV, portfolio and showreel up to date so that next time I apply for a job it doesn’t feel like a huge task! This month I want to spend time working on building a website that encompasses everything I would want to show off to a potential employer. I’ve been working on designing a website for a tech festival with work called Ox Tech Fest (yes, I’ll take the shameless plug) and I’m so proud of how this website has worked out and having worked with a graphic designer and a web developer, I feel like I have ideas for my own website. I’m sure I’ll share when I’m ready!

– Work on my cosplay costume: with April getting away from me and moving house and stuff, I didn’t get round to what I wanted to do for my Team Yell cosplay from Pokemon Sword and Shield – hopefully I’ll balance my time a bit better to get my sewing machine out this month!

– Wedding planning: next stage in the planning is to research music and entertainment and figure out what we want that part of our wedding to look like. I have absolutely no idea where to start with this other than my fiancé and I have started a Spotify playlist but I don’t think an aux cable is quite what most people have in mind for a wedding! Any recommendations welcome please!

– Research dance classes in the area: I may have left dancing behind after 15 years when I went to uni, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely prepared to give up! I never got the chance to find classes at the old house because out of the 18 months we lived there, approximately 13 of them were whilst the country was in a pandemic lockdown! I know things aren’t back to normal yet but I’d really like to find a dance class, meet some new people and do some exercise! I want to get my tap shoes back on!

– Go for walks three times a week: and with exercise in mind… I’ve noticed I’m starting to feel a bit agoraphobic at the moment; I’ve managed to find excuses over the last couple of months but feeling trapped in my own house is actually quite scary, so I want to push myself and get to know the new area we live in and actually get some fresh air. Even if at first it’s just walking to a park down the road and sitting with a book, it’s a start.

My recurring monthly goals haven’t been very successful – I wanted to make more effort to save money but moving house is really expensive, even if you’re only renting. I wanted to have date nights with my fiancé at least once a month but we haven’t managed it yet. And I wanted to read 2 books a month and I didn’t make it through anything in April (though I got ahead in other months so I’m still good on my 2021 goodreads challenge!). Realistically, date night’s just aren’t a priority right now and finances need to be flexible to allow for ‘real life’. I definitely want to get back into my reading habit though.

Things are feeling a little flat at the moment, so I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to feel a little brighter but it’s a work in progress – making an effort not to spend my lunch break at my desk is a good start!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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easy crafts for beginners (who want to spend more time offline)

2021, crafting

Hello!

After a year of lockdown after lockdown (after lockdown), everyone’s coped in their own way – whether it’s fitness, writing quizzes or a new hobby.

I’ve seen more people learning to craft than I ever would have expected – I’ve found a collection of people who love cross stitch, I’ve seen so many Instagram profiles for new Etsy candle businesses and air dry clay earrings have become surprisingly popular (let’s not talk about the banana bread or the sour dough, okay?).

Crafting is a popular activity for a reason – it’s so broad, it’s so relaxing and it’s a relatively easy way to start a side hustle too. Whether it’s sewing face masks or digital drawings, I’d love to see the statistics on new Etsy shops that have been set up in the last year. I’ve really gotten into crafting myself – cross stitch, knitting, sewing, paper craft, anything I could get my hands on over Christmas! So I thought I’d write a ‘beginner’s guide’ of sorts (as I am still very much a beginner myself) to some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get into different crafting skills and spend less time scrolling twitter.

  • cross stitch

The entire reason I got into cross stitch was due to the little kits available to buy on Hobbycraft – I messed the first one up big time but I found it so therapeutic. Knowing how precise it all is without even trying due to the aida cloth (the one with holes in it!) and how it looks so cute and pretty but really homely – and such a thoughtful gift that shows how much you care!

I also realised cross stitch is like sewing in 8-bit which was really fun.

To start off with, I recommend these little kits from Hobbycraft – they’re really easy to follow and come with really clear instructions (if the link doesn’t work, look for the ‘mini’ cross stitch kits, less than 10cm). I then stepped up to a larger cross stitch kit from Etsy – you can pick any design you like, buying a kit means it comes with all the materials and generally very well laid out instructions, but a bigger project feels more advanced. Then, if you really fancy it you can buy your own aida cloth, a selection of embroidery threads and you can even make your own design on websites like stitchfiddle!

  • knitting

Knitting feels intimidating – the big needles and all the different kinds of stitches – but if you want a soothing, repetitive activity to do while you’re watching some background telly (that doesn’t count as screen time, does it?), then knitting can be just the ticket.

I started by knitting ear savers – my mum sent me the pattern and it was a small little project to get me into knitting. I was watching a new Youtube video for every kind of stitch in the pattern but there are so many brilliant tutorials that I could comfortably knit one ear saver from start to finish in about half an hour (not including sewing on the buttons).

From there, I tried to advance the skill but I found it was just a little bit too stressful and that’s not what I wanted! So I took my needles and a ball of wool (I like to call it a loaf) and just sat and knitted row after row. I find the repetitive motion very soothing and a great relaxing activity for me. If you did want to advance this skill, there are loads of patterns available online and buying wool is definitely something I can see becoming very addictive!

  • sewing

After making the ear savers, I figured it would make sense to try and make the masks to go with them! I lovingly cut up an old duvet into small squares (r.i.p space cats sheets) and found a pattern and I was off! The first pattern wasn’t ideal – it was too big to be an effective face mask and it was a lot of work to sew it by hand. I then bought a kit from Hobbycraft (don’t ask me how much money and time I’ve spent in Hobbycraft in the last year) and I found that pattern was better to use and included the metal nose strips that help your glasses not to fog up (in theory).

I have since found another pattern that uses a rounded shape which is easier to sew and looks better. I was very lucky to get a sewing machine for Christmas (thank you mummy <3) and it’s made the face mask sewing process both quicker and slower – quicker to sew, but slower because I’m learning how to use a sewing machine too! I’m absolutely adoring my sewing machine – I’ve taken in a skirt that was too big for me and I’m hoping to learn to make bunting this month! One day I’ll brave making my own clothes but for now that feels intimidating and fabric is expensive.

  • paper crafts

It sounds silly to include paper crafts on the list, but I made a cotton wool ball snowman at Christmas, a 2021 vision board and some spreads in my bullet journal and rediscovered a primary school-level love for cutting and sticking. It sounds silly, but it brings me joy, so I will talk about it!

This one isn’t quite as much of an offline activity, as for me it started on Pinterest – making a digital board of all the things I wanted to include; the aesthetics, the quotes, whatever you like! I then copy and pasted them into Word (which is probably more hassle than it was worth, but I couldn’t think of an easier way!) and, simple as, cut and stuck them! I have a little collection of scrapbooking bits and bobs that I could use to embellish the pictures – a bit of washi tape, some string and some patterned card to use as backgrounds (though I intend to up my sticker game when the shops reopen). But it’s such a therapeutic activity! Literally just cutting and sticking pictures.

There’s not much of a purpose to it – my 2021 mood board is going to go up in my new office when we move house (I’m getting an office!) and I make little collages at the beginning of each month in my bullet journal but I thoroughly recommend it if you’re feeling a bit fed up – find some pretty pictures, maybe line them up with any goals or resolutions or ambitions you have for yourself and give yourself an afternoon with a cosy movie!


This post is already far too long, but I thoroughly enjoy talking about crafts – I can definitely do more specific posts about cross stitch patterns, learning to use a sewing machine as an absolute beginners and recycling household items in craft projects (water bottles and cereal boxes etc!).

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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my recent craft projects

2021, crafting, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been very vocal about how much I’ve been loving crafts since all of this started with the initial lockdown last March, but cross stitch, knitting, sewing and paper craft have become part of my routine where I try to get away from screens. It’s been lovely for spending more time offline and learning a new skill in the process!

So I thought I’d share with you some of my most recent projects as a nice little diary of what I’m doing, maybe something sweet to look back on!

  • monthly bullet journal collages

2020 was the year of discovering that I still love cutting and sticking things like a primary school art project – call it a mood board, a mind map, whatever! I very much enjoy finding pictures on Pinterest that represent my intentions, my goals and generally a nerdy picture of something Marvel or Harry Potter related, sticking them all together and using it as a monthly divider in my bullet journal.

My next step is to invest in more washi tape and stickers. Maybe some stamps!

  • face mask sewing

My mum very kindly bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and although it took me a couple of months to find the time (and the courage) to actually start using it, I’m actually getting better at it! Usually if I’m not perfect at something straight away I find it very difficult to want to put the time in to build the skills to get better but already I’ve seen progress.

I’m getting to know the machine by sewing face masks – I’ve been sewing face masks by hand for about six months now, I’ve tried a few different patterns and I got a kit from Hobbycraft that I really liked and I have a few leftover material patterns to practice with.

Now I’ve found a different pattern that I prefer, my mum has sent me a bunch of material samples that I can practice with and I can already see that I’m getting to know my machine better and how it works! I’m going to keep practicing face masks, I’m considering starting an Etsy story but that will be a little while down the line for sure.

  • taking in a skirt

Another thing I wanted to use my sewing machine for was adapting some of the clothes in my wardrobe rather than ‘giving up’ on them and passing them on. I bought this green circle skirt from a charity shop before the first lockdown – it’s from ASOS curve and it’s lovely but I was optimistic that ‘a couple of sizes wouldn’t make a difference’… they did.

I had to wear it rolled up like I was in secondary school trying to make my skirt shorter or wear it with a belt that was very uncomfortably gathered.

But I took it in! It’s not the most professional job and it definitely doesn’t hang quite the same as the rest of the skirt but it now fits me! I’m still figuring out how to style it though.

  • knitting a ‘scarf’

I really like knitting – it’s a really relaxing, repetitive task that I can sit and do whilst I’m watching TV to occupy my hands.

But it turns out I just like doing the one basic stitch that I know how to do over and over again rather than following a pattern and actually making something functional…

So I’m calling it a scarf, but it’s just rows and rows of the same stitch because I find that kind of repetitive knitting very calming and a perfect thing to do just before bed with some evening telly. (and having both my hands occupied makes it harder to snack)

Next month I want to:

  • Start a new cross stitch project
  • Finish my knitting project
  • Sew something other than face masks

I’ll no doubt be sharing what I’m working on over on Instagram because I get overexcited and proud when I finish something, so if you’re interested that’s the best place to get the latest updates!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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February Goals

2021, goals

Hello!

I’m really excited for my monthly goals this year – when I made my yearly goals I accidentally planned out which goals I wanted to achieve each month so that I had a plan for consistent progress (which sounds much more organised than I feel).  So I don’t get the same sense of a ‘fresh slate’ each month, but I love anything where I don’t have to make decisions so knowing that most of my goals are planned for the year is exciting!

The way I’m planning my monthly goals is in alignment with my yearly goals – I’ve picked one from my professional goals, one from my personal goals, one from my home goals and one from my ‘bucket list’ goals – so I’m making progress in each category of my goals (if I want to) and I’ve got one monthly goal left (because 5 is a nice round number) for if there’s something more relevant I want to include. I don’t know if mentioning all my categories is more confusing (it’s very personal), but that’s how I do it!

Here are my February Goals!

  • Develop my online portfolio – I just got a job, so having a super duper up to date portfolio isn’t hugely important right now, but I figure if I do the hard work in revamping it now then maintaining it will be easier and when it comes to looking for work again I’ll have it ready to go. The three avenues I want to work on over 2021 are my blog portfolio, my Instagram portfolio and a proper showreel, as most of my showreel is footage from 2017 which was three years ago. This month I want to make a plan to make more specific achievable milestones throughout the year, update my Instagram page because that’s the easiest place to start and start researching free website builders to potentially take my portfolio off my existing website.
  • Find a therapist – perhaps a bit personal, but I think we definitely need to normalise going to therapy. I have a mental health condition! I need help to feel like I can get back to my ‘normal’ and I’m in a position where I feel like I can be in a position to be vulnerable with a stranger and go through the process of finding someone who I think can really help me. It’s going to be a lot of sending emails, booking introductory calls and being brave and vulnerable. I probably won’t share how it goes but definitely going to try and help normalise therapy a bit more!
  • Wedding planning – as I mentioned in my ‘how I planned my wedding planning‘ post, I have a 2021 list of steps I want to take to make solid progress on planning our wedding (which is next year! How mad is that?). This month it’s booking the registrar/celebrant (the person who actually does the marrying in a non-religious service) and finding a photographer and videographer for the day, as they get booked up very quickly. It’s not much but little steps every month will all add up!
  • Start sewing my clothes – I don’t mean making my own clothes! I have a few bits and bobs that I’d like to adapt – a scratchy sweater that I want to put a piece of material on the inside, a t-shirt I want to try embroidery on, a shirt I want to try and take the sleeves up on – little things that I think would help me learn about sewing and give a second life to clothes I otherwise avoid wearing!
  • Use Ring Fit Adventure at least once a week – my boyfriend treated me to the Nintendo Switch game ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ when I started my new job and I used it once and decided I needed a sports bra to commit to it… and I’ve not made time for it since. I need to make more time for exercise and going for walks and I think when it’s a video game that is also exercise it’s definitely a reasonable once a week goal! If I can schedule it for straight after work one evening I can definitely do it.

Then my repeated monthly goals are a date night with my fiancé, read 2 books towards my annual reading goal (I’m on my 5th book in January!) and save my goal amount of money.

I’m feeling really good about these goals – my January goals have gone surprisingly well despite starting a full time job and having significantly less time for personal tasks than before.

The first month of this year has flown by and it’s been weird – it very much feels like ‘2020 Continued’, so I hope you as you’re reading this you’re feeling okay mentally despite the circumstances and you and the ones you love are healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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my craft projects!

2020, crafting, creativity

Hello!

Since finishing my masters degree, my to do lists have been a lot shorter – I am applying for jobs, but in a pandemic there’s not a whole lot going on, so rather than beating myself up about it, I’ve started making my to do lists in a slightly different way (I’m going to write a post about it next week!) and it helps me keep a sense of structure and purpose in my day without being overwhelming.

A bit part of this has been making time for crafts – in the first lockdown, I fell in love with cross stitching and learning more about knitting and sewing and I’ve found that doing these offline crafts have been really therapeutic for me and have helped me slow down out of that ‘productivity mindset’ in a way I never have before.

So I thought today I’d talk you through some of the projects I’ve got going on at the moment! Obviously there’s a few I’m not going to mention with Christmas coming up but between kits from Hobbycraft, a Disney cross stitch magazine and personal projects, I’m doing something different every few days and I love it.

  • wooden cross stitch

I bought a small wooden cross stitch stand from Hobbycraft with a voucher I got for my birthday. Granted, I did think it was a proper kit that would come with the thread and a needle and it didn’t, but it did have a beautiful pattern for a mountain sunset and I’ve nearly finished it! It’s a little more challenging than I thought to get the needle through all the little holes (I’ve actually broken a needle doing this!) but I think it’s going to look so cute and it’s quite small so it’s a nice little project.

  • face mask kit 

I love a kit that comes with all the materials and equipment – it’s probably why I’m super tempted by Hello Fresh and those other expensive food services! But I bought this mask kit, again from Hobbycraft, a few months ago and I was initially intimidated by the fact the pattern had pleats in it and I thought there was no way I could sew it by hand. It took probably 5x as long because I don’t have a sewing machine but it was actually surprisingly simple! I’ve done one of the three materials that came in the kit so I’ve got two more and I can use the pattern on any other material I have lying around too! I’m going to have to set up an Etsy store or something at this rate!

  • knitting ear savers

This is something I did a lot of at the beginning of lockdown – ear savers are little pieces of fabric with buttons that can hook face masks on to, so it takes the pressure off the back off the ears. A lot of volunteer groups were knitting them for medical staff and key workers that have to wear masks for extended periods of time – my fiancé loves his so much that he’s stretched it out, but he works broadcasting live sport so he’s wearing his mask for 12-13 hours a day and says it’s really helpful. Another item for my potential Etsy store!

  • learning to crochet

I’m yet to actually make anything, because I’m still learning the basics, but I picked up some reasonably priced crochet hooks in Wilko, back in the days when we could go to shops, and I’m trying to teach myself crochet. I’m not very good at learning new things because if I’m not good at it straight away I get cross, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and give myself permission to be bad at something, regardless of how melodramatic that sounds!

  • cardboard crafts

At the beginning of the first lockdown, I started saving every cardboard box that we had because I was sending parcels to my family and they were useful containers. But now I have a pile of cardboard in the corner of my kitchen with no use and I feel like a craft project is calling to me, I just haven’t figured out what yet! I recently picked up a Christmas themed paper pad from Hobbycraft (my new favourite shop, apparently) so I think I’m going to make some festive decorations – things I can stick in our window, maybe some decorations for the tree! I need to have a proper browse on Pinterest and see if I can find any inspiration.

  • 3D cross stitch kit

Really random but my fiancé found it on offer in a Lidl I think while he was away on work – it’s a little beach hut that you cross stitch the design onto and then sew it together and stuff it. I think that might be a project for that weird week between Christmas and New Year where no one knows what day it is and there’s loads of comfort TV on.

  • t-shirt blanket sewing

I feel like I’ve mentioned this approximately three billion times, but when I was a teenager I had an extensive t-shirt collection and because I’m sentimental af but became very aware that I was wasting all of these clothes, I decide to cut out the design feature and sew them all onto a blanket. I finished the first side earlier this year but decided to use fabric glue in the end because the blanket is quite big and my house is quite small so I don’t actually have anywhere I can lay it out flat but my intentions are that one day when I have a sewing machine I’m going to go over all the designs and make sure they’re properly secure before I continue sewing the other side but the remaining t-shirts I have I am sewing to each other so there’s still progress on the project. I don’t know if I’ve described this very well, but it’s a big ongoing project that will make more progress when I live in a space I can lay the blanket out flat!

  • adapting/fixing my own clothes

I did a moderate clear out of my wardrobe in September, being brutal about the clothes I don’t wear, the clothes I don’t like, any that might be adaptable to enjoy wearing again and I have a little pile of clothes I want to try and work on – a high neck jumper I want to try and take the high neck off of, a shirt with massively wide shoulders that I want to try and take up and a denim jacket that is too big for me but I want to experiment with acrylic painting on clothes (as inspired by @lucid.seams.shop on instagram). I’m also going to try and use some of my clothes as material for other projects, so maybe I’ll learn more about sewing!

I know not everyone finds crafting relaxing or fulfilling, but I think having an activity that can pull you away from your screens for a bit is so good for mental health. My fiancé and I had an afternoon building a Lego Hedwig kit recently and we spent two hours on something we really enjoyed! Whether it’s going for a walk in some fresh air, colouring, doing a jigsaw or making something crafty, spending time offline doing something for no reason other than enjoyment is important to prioritise. I’m still learning how to.

My mum also sent me a festive colouring book so I think a movie night and some colouring is on the cards! I’m thinking a Harry Potter or a Marvel movie marathon!

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

Sophie xx

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October Goals

2020, goals

Hello!

Another month, another fresh start, another new set of goals!

September was potentially the least productive month I’ve ever had in terms of my goals – I achieved maybe 1 of 5 and even then that was half of one and half of another but I’m not going to dwell on it; I’m going to use what went wrong to learn how to be better this month and adjust my goals accordingly!

Last month was incredibly busy and this month I actually have nothing planned, which is probably for the best because my dissertation is due in less than four weeks now (eek!) so I need to figure myself out and finally finish this masters (though I’m reluctant to call it that because I’ve definitely not learnt anything to a masters level).

So this is what I’m going to focus on this month:

  • hand in my dissertation project – the deadline is October 29th and I’m not taking any more extensions, I’m 100% so done with this course and I just need it to be over. Next month I finally won’t be a student any more!
  • exercise twice a week – with the state of my mental health, exercising has been really hard to motivate myself to do so I’m hoping if I can just manage twice a week whether it’s running, doing a home workout on one of the many apps I have, a yoga video or even a dance video on YouTube, just twice a week feels achievable (I hope?).
  • practice self care and get back to a routine – I really haven’t been very good at looking after myself recently; my sleep schedule has gone out the window, my skin is a mess, I haven’t read a book in a month, my motivation is low and my productivity is gone. For the sake of my mental wellness and actually getting my dissertation done, I need to make the time to look after myself and get things done. I’m making more of an effort with skincare and my routines as well as taking more notice of how I make my to do lists and scheduling my time to tackle the feelings of being overwhelmed that I’m struggling with! I think that’s a pretty good place to start.
  • start and finish my new cross stitch project – as well as all kinds of routine, I’ve not made much time for crafting recently which is so sad because it has such a positive impact on my mental health. I have a specific project in mind that I want to do this month so setting that specific goal might help me actually achieve it!
  • finish planning the redraft of my book – November’s NaNoWriMo is going to roll around faster than I expect I’m sure! I’ve got about 11 chapters left to plan so I’m feeling pretty good about having my plan ready to finish the draft of this book by the end of the year!

And my additional monthly goals for the year of date night and read a book are still standing! September was so bad that I didn’t even manage to finish reading one book so I’m hoping to finish what I’m reading and find something I’m really excited about to kick start the habit again!

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

Sophie xx

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September Goals

2020, goals

Hello!

September feels like such a fresh start – a new school year, new season and a birthday for me! Though my goals this month are more building on goals I’ve set into motion in other months, I’m starting the month with a mix of a strange bout of anxiety that I’ve never felt before and a new found focus for finishing my dissertation (and kind of enjoying reading academically? Though I’m not very good at it!).

I’ve noticed a pattern in my 5 goals that they usually fall into three or four categories – uni, fitness, craft, writing (if it’s one of my writing challenge months) and then a spare! I often refer to my yearly goals if nothing immediately comes to mind for my monthly goals but I’m actually fairly on track with corona allowances, so looking forward to reviewing them all at the end of the year.


  • finish first draft of my dissertation essay

With two calendar months left to finish my dissertation it’s all beginning to feel very real. Granted I’ve had about five months with nothing else to work on but there’s a pandemic and there was so much pressure. But with my boyfriend going back to work and actually having some peace in the house, I’ve got myself a good little set up where I’m getting much better of actually working with more focus than I think I ever have before!

It’s a 5000 word essay so by the end of September I should be able to do that, considering my last goal of the month particularly! I’m going to make a plan with all the sections I have to include, how many words I expect to write in each section and what I want to achieve by what date at the weekend because having focused goals works really well for me! Any dissertation writing tips are more than welcome – I’ve never done this before!

  • get to week 3 of couch to 5k

I feel like I’ve not stopped banging on about Couch to 5k, but I picked it up again in July after trying it last summer and bar the last week or so, I’ve been running three times a week for the last 10 weeks or so? The C25K program is 9 weeks but I wanted to take it more slowly and at my pace.

But I’ve been doing week 2 for about 7 weeks now and I need to step it up a gear. This week I’ve reset my C25K app so I’m going to do week 1 again to ease back into it, maybe a couple of weeks of week 2 and then I want to get to week 3! If I spent two months repeating week 3 that’s fine – I don’t care how long it takes, if I’m still going running three times a week the consistency is more important to me than the progress!

Though I’ve hit lots of new personal records in Strava recently and it’s very motivating! I might do another post about running in a week or two so if you have any questions let me know!

  • visit new places around High Wycombe

We’ve been in talks with our landlord and we’ve officially renewed our contract for 6 months, which means we’ll be moving in April. We’re looking to move out of the town we live in – still close, as it’s where my boyfriend works, but hopefully I’ll be working in that time (I bloody better be!) so where we go depends on that. But I also want to explore where we live more! I miss small town life of where I grew up so somewhere more rural (but still really close to Hobbycraft Wycombe centre).

Currently I’m looking within about 10 miles of Wycombe but if I end up getting a job in London or Reading or Milton Keynes or somewhere we’ll look more towards one of those areas – it’s exciting to be moving and know that we can actually afford it this time!

  • learn to crochet

Over lockdown I’ve rekindled my love for cross stitch, knitting and sewing so I might as well learn to crochet too, right? I picked up some needles in Wilko relatively cheap and I got this Crochet Therapy book in Hobbycraft and I’m very much looking forward to properly putting some time aside to read and understand each exercise, calm my mind and learn something new all rolled into one!

  • writing challenge: 45,000 words

Every other month this year I’ve set myself writing challenges with increasing goals in ‘training’ for writing 1,667 words a day in the 50,000 word writing challenge that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Alongside reading through my old drafts of my book to write my notes for the new draft I intend to write in November, I’m going to be writing some nice, cutesy, fluffy fanfiction because I don’t want anything too intense while I’m trying to write a 5000 word Masters dissertation essay simultaneously!

The last couple of challenges I’ve done I’ve got into a good routine with my word counts so I’m hoping to figure that out again this month and use creative writing as a form of relaxation from dissertation writing!

And my recurring monthly goals remain the same!

  • date night
  • read one book

With my original goodread’s goal being to read one book a month, I maintain that minimum or one book a month and anything else is a bonus! I did finish six books in August though so I think I’ll manage this one!

I love planning out my little goals – I don’t know how interesting they are to read as a blog post for anyone who isn’t me, but I find it incredibly therapeutic! Maybe I should make it something I journal about rather than posting on the internet but that’s a debate for another time.

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

Sophie xx

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August Goals!

2020, goals

Hello!

July has been absolutely mad – every week I thought there’d be a ‘quiet week’ where I could catch up on some sleep and chill, I’ve been here there and everywhere! With my fiancé (I have to force myself to call him that because it still feels weird) going back to work and having the house to myself I’m having to get used to a whole new normal all over again (and it’s still not helping me make any progress with my masters dissertation project).

But a new month brings a new chance to achieve new goals! Do I need the start of a month to decide I want to try and achieve something new? Absolutely not, but it’s what works for me so I suppose what I’m saying is you do you fam.

Alongside my ongoing monthly goals of having a date night with my fiancé (though it’s mostly been ordering food and watching trash TV recently!) and reading at least one book, these are the five things I’m going to focus on this month.

  • plan 5 chapters of my novel

I’ve been worked on this book on and off since I finished the first draft eight years ago, but I’m planning for this next draft to be my last so I want to plan five more chapters ahead of the 50,000 word writing challenge that is NaNoWriMo in November.

  • make a new, more gentle dissertation project plan and make some progress

With everything that’s going on in the world and the complete disruption of the end of my masters, my diss project (the media bit, not the essay!) has been something that I’ve kept putting off and now it feels like this massive physical barrier that makes me want to cry every time I think about it. I’ve considered asking my course leader if I can defer and start the module again in September to finish next May, but this whole course has been an emotional and financial mess and I just want to get it done and over with. So I need to balance my anxious feelings about it with my Organisation Queen side that can get shit done and find a happy medium of ‘little and often’ (and not be scared of opening software).

  • exercise – three runs and one home workout a week

In July, I wanted to do the Couch to 5k program and I’ve managed three runs a week every week. Although I’m on my 5th week of running and I’m still on week 2 of the program, the fact I’m going out and trying and doing some exercise for half an hour three times a week is a big achievement. So I want to gently build on that – I designed a little home workout routine a couple of months ago and I want to use it. It’s a two sets of seven exercises focusing on different goals (full bodyweight and flexibility) and I tested it this morning and it went well – I set a timer for half an hour and just made my way through the number of reps in each exercise and both sets until the timer went off and it went well. I think having a set time to exercise for meant I knew that there was a definitive end point so I’m going to try and maintain this in August – we’ll see how it goes!

  • meditate every morning

Whenever I’ve set myself a task to do every day it doesn’t usually go very well, but there was a point where I was meditating every morning and I felt so much better for it so I want to try and do that again! I think it’ll help my anxiety levels, particularly in regard to my dissertation project, so hopefully I can start to see some benefits by the end of the month.

  • t-shirt sewing project

I’ve been banging on about my t-shirt blanket for absolutely ages but whilst I filled up one side of the blanket I do have more t-shirts left so I want to take a different approach this time and sew them together before I attach them to the blanket so I want to make a start on that this month. I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it because there’s 10-15 shirts and after the first few it might get a bit more difficult to sit and sew it by hand as it gets bulkier but we’ll see how it goes!

I’ve been feeling really low and demotivated recently but having written out all my goals for the month I think they’re achievable if I put my mind to it, but remembering to be gentle with myself is important too, so will be interesting to see if I can strike that balance!

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

Sophie xx

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dressing up for grown ups

2020, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been to MCM Comic Con a number of times and as someone who classifies themselves as a full on ‘nerd’, cosplaying is something I’m familiar with. In essence, it’s fancy dress for adults however most of the people who design and make their own cosplays are incredibly talented in making their own clothes, working with a variety of fabrics, making props, working with wigs, doing make-up, some even including mechanical works of engineering in their costumes. Each cosplay is a culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work borne of pure adoration and passion for the character and the story they’re replicating, giving themselves a tiny taste of living in that world for a bit.

Cosplay and conventions have a bit of a reputations for being a bunch of nerds being geeky about things they take too seriously. Granted, it’s kind of true but it’s so much more than that and the community and atmosphere at MCM is incomparable and I hate the negative association of people being passionate about things (especially when football fans rioting when the people didn’t kick the ball the way they wanted it to is apparently okay? Like, seriously?).

When I’ve attended conventions, I’ve always felt like my nerd-ness (it’s 4am as I write this, bare with me) is such a minimum level – there’s so much I don’t know about the shows and films I love, there’s video games I know so little about and the anime scene is a different kettle of fish entirely. My boyfriend and my sister are pointing out the cosplays of characters I’ve never heard of and I’m in awe of the capes, wigs and scythes.

My favourite three cosplays I’ve ever seen, hands down, are (in order) – Toothless and Lady Toothless (sorry I can’t remember her name) from How To Train Your Dragon; those poor people were in fur suits all day in the May bank holiday heatwave posing for pictures and sweating buckets, I felt for them but that has to be the sign of a great cosplay. Then a full on 9 or 10 foot tall Groot, though this may have been a proper ‘character’ rather than a homemade cosplay. And in the top spot – Lego Batman; cardboard lego legs, cardboard lego arms, cardboard lego head and body and it was just fantastic. I wish I had pictures.

So having witnessed thousands of amazing cosplays at cons, spent my entire childhood playing dress up for dance shows and school musicals and having found new hobbies in sewing, cross stitch embroidery and knitting in lockdown, I thought it was finally take my cosplay dreams and make them a reality.

Now, let me disclaim; I’ve never made clothes before. I never really used a sewing machine at school, I don’t own a sewing machine (yet) and I have literally no resources to start with but I have the advice of my cosplay wizard of a sister who’s been swanning around as Princess Anna from Frozen 2 during lockdown and she’s been helping me choose what characters to pick for my first steps into cosplay.

Whenever I’ve thought of cosplaying before, I always think of three characters for the three days of comic con – probably optimistic to have three full blown costumes but in my head it makes sense so I’m going with it. I’ve picked two definite ‘yes’ characters and I’ve got a few ‘maybes’ because my sister says they’re too hard but I want to aim high, so these might not happen ever but maybe one day!

Nintendo Switch - Pokémon Sword / Shield - Team Yell Grunt (Female ...

Team Yell from Pokemon Sword and Shield – there’s hasn’t been a con season since the games came out because of lockdown, but Team Skull from Pokemon Sun and Moon were always really popular at cons because they’re relatively simple. Team Yell also have simple elements – the pink tights, the distressed denim skirt, even the sweatbands would be simple enough. The challenging bit (for me as a beginner) would be the spiky wrist and ankle bands, the sleeveless jacket thing and the hair, though I may take some creative liberties on that.

I really want my first cosplay to be something I don’t just buy everything for, so whilst I can get a t-shirt with the Team Yell design on, I may try painting it on a shirt myself and I think I’d like to try making the sleeveless jacket and the spiky bands. I may even distress the skirt and rip the tights myself but I don’t know if I’m quite that skilled yet.

Dora the Explorer Costume - Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Dora The Explorer – okay, might sound odd. But my fiancé and I (still feels weird calling him that) watched the live action movie recently and I loved it in the most self-aware way. I thought the orange shorts, pink shirt, a purple backpack, yellow socks, white hi tops would be relatively achievable – super easy but super fun! Tempted to learn The Poo Song and the song and dance sequence from the end of the movie but that might be taking it too far…

This one I obviously won’t be making anything myself, but I just thought it would be something light and fun and any costume that has built in storage like a backpack is always a win!

And the three contenders for my last costume:

Sugar Plum Fairy Mercy from Overwatch:

Mercy Sugar Plum Fairy from Overwatch Free 3D Model

I appreciate this isn’t the most photogenic picture of the costume I could find, but it’s good for being able to see the costume and the parts that would make it up. I mostly just want to feel like a fairy and have an excuse to wear ballet shoes, ngl.

Rapunzel from Tangled:

Rapunzel - Kingdom Hearts Wiki, the Kingdom Hearts encyclopedia

Though I’d go for the after-hair-cut (sorry, spoilers) because 1) don’t have to think about a wig and 2) it actually suits my hair length and colour more.

Belle from Beauty and the Beast:

Royalty Free Download Belle Transparent Village - Belle Blue Dress ...

Although relatively simple and definitely not as ‘wow’ as the big yellow ballgown, I love this representation of who Belle is as a character and although the clothes themselves look simple, it could potentially be a good learning experience and starting point for me as someone who has no clothes making experience! I’m sure my sister would tell me otherwise, but I think that’s what sister’s are for.

And any excuse to sing ‘little town, it’s a quiet village…’ around a convention centre is a yes from me.

I think I’ve inadvertently made a decision by blogging about it, but Mercy and Rapunzel are definitely characters I would love to be able to create in the future – perhaps a big ask for my first attempt at sewing!

So there’s a big old ramble about nerds at conventions and cool characters I want to make costumes for. I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to start working on these, but it’s something I’m excited to learn more about! If I can make anything half as impressive as what my sister has made or some of the costumes I’ve seen from the cosplay community I’ll be so proud – my attempt at making an Elsa cosplay out of a dance leotard and a boohoo dress wasn’t my greatest moment…

Though I did sew the leotard and the dress together and added poppers to the cape to be able to attach it! In hindsight I’m pretty proud of what 2016 me made. (We were going for a Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians and Elsa couples cosplay… safe to say these costumes never made it to con!).

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

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2020, fitness, goals, writing

Hello!

Another month, another set of mini goals to work towards! Having reviewed my goals for the year and looked back on my June goals, in July I’m really working towards stripping things back, focusing on what’s important to me right now and setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound… I think).

Hopefully with the weather being a bit brighter and restrictions easing things might feel like they’re a bit closer to getting back to ‘normal’, but I’d rather be safe than shopping so taking things day by day!

Hopefully my July goals are SMART enough to make some progress! These are my goals for the month:

  • Start Couch to 5k again – it’s been over a year since I stopped the Couch to 5k program and I think I’m ready to start again. I’m going to aim for the three runs a week that the program suggests and even if I just start by doing laps around the park just to stay flat (there’s a lot of hills where I live) trying is the important bit. I’m nervous but determined!
  • Weigh less at the end of the month than at the beginning – hand in hand with the running, I’m going to try and do some at home workouts, be more mindful about what I eat, stop snacking and generally train my body into healthier habits. Lockdown has set me back almost to my heaviest weight in 2018 (which I’m trying not to beat myself up for) so I want to make some positive change.
  • Declutter my desk work space – our little house isn’t really designed for at home working but things have gotten so cluttered that I feel more stressed about it than it helps me get work done. I want to try and do a little bit every week to make the space less intimidating and more productive, even if it just means tidying it up a little bit.
  • Writing challenge – 36,000 words – every other month this year I’ve been setting myself writing challenges working towards NaNoWriMo in November (an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days!). Each month I do a writing challenge the goal is a little bit higher to get myself into the habit of writing a certain number of words per day. May’s challenge went really well so I’m hoping for the same kind of success in July, but simultaneously not putting too much pressure on myself. I have a Camp NaNoWriMo profile if anyone else is participating!
  • Craft goals – sew four face masks, finish knitting project, start new cross stitch project – I’ve written before about how handmade sewing related crafts, particularly cross stitch, have brought me such joy in lockdown so I thought setting myself some little goals would help keep me focused. Taking the decision element out of anything means I’m more likely to do it so rather than being faced with a box of embroidery thread and no direction, having something to work towards will definitely help me relax. At least, I hope it does…

And then my ongoing monthly tasks of have a date night and read at least one book still stand but I’ve managed six months with date nights and I’ve read 26 books so far this year so I think these two will be okay.

My motivation has been pretty bare minimum last month so I’m hoping to try and work to more of a routine in July. But with the world being so uncertain and changing so much, being adaptable and not putting too much pressure on myself is the main focus.

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

Sophie xx

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