sophievictoriaroweart

In May, after a couple of nudges from eager friends, I set up an Instagram page for my cards and pictures. It was initially to help me reach my fundraising target for the wonderful CoppaFeel! but it has proved more popular than I thought so I have continued doing it.

All the profits I make head straight over to them, to help them continue spreading boob love and educate people about knowing their bodies.

If you aren’t on Instagram, but would like to order some art, you can find all the different things I do on this blog… I’ll update this art section with seasonal things, as well as recent commissions and things I just love drawing.

And if anything takes your fancy, or you have any questions about any of it, you can email me to place an order/have a natter.

Thanks for looking! (Now go check your boobs!)

love sophie

soundtrack series: september

The final month of my Masters is finished. My novel has been handed in. I am free (aka officially an adult). Here are my five favourite songs from the novel writing process. They got me, and my characters, through a lot of uncertainty, and inspired me in many ways. I owe them a beer (or several).

1. MIKA

Another Kilimanjaro reunion means another throwback artist. This time, one of those classics you just can’t forget. Mika came into full force in the car, with singalongs on the regular. What’s a car journey without some Lebanese love? Firm faves have to be Stardust, Live Your Life, Blue Eyes and Origin Of Love. But they’re all good.

2. George Ezra

A popular one on the soundtrack series this year, and popping up all over the place. One of my favourites, Hold My Girl, was on repeat a lot whilst I was writing the majority of the last half of the book.

3. The Coral

One of those controversial choices, The Coral are fab, and In The Morning was a song that would get me feeling motivated to get up and write (don’t ask me why – the lyrics tell a completely different story entirely!)

4. Fleetwood Mac

Absolute Legends. What more can I say? Dreams, Everywhere, The Chain, Landslide, Go Your Own Way… there are too many good songs to shout about. They were a constant background noise to my keyboard tapping, and I thoroughly enjoyed their company.

5. Birdy

The girl who started it all. I don’t think I would have got through the whole book if it hadn’t been for the beautiful music Birdy creates. Skinny Love was the first song I ever began writing to, and it will always be a firm fave. But there are many more that have made a name for themselves within my novel. What a babe.

What have you been listening to this month?

love sophie

reader, i finished it.

Reader, I finished it.

The pen has been dropped, the printer is out of ink, and I don’t think my hands would let me type another word if I tried.

I’m back in Bath after handing it all in, and it feels surreal.

I stayed with Nina, a friend I met at uni, and we celebrated by dancing to ABBA, drinking prosecco, and making vegan cookies. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I drove to Corsham Court to hand it into the uni drop box, making sure it was presented in pristine condition and that I’d filled out the correct course and the right details (knowing my luck I’d have put the wrong module number, or student reference).

I’d been in touch with some of my classmates and we all ended up meeting for a picnic before the ceremonial photo in front of the building and dropping our manuscripts off before heading to the pub! I don’t think I felt like I was sending my baby out into the real world.

It wasn’t perfect, and in places it was very rough, but it was a first draft novel. And what’s important, is I had finished it.

I’m heading back home to bask in my success before the job hunt and adult life seriously begins. That’s the bit I’m dreading most.

But I’m one chuffed writer. After the last few months of struggling to write paragraphs, I’m so pleased I managed to complete my manuscript and hand it in with my peers.

Now to celebrate properly back home in Leeds!

(And no, you can’t read it yet. I’ll let you know when it’s ready for eager eyes, don’t worry.)

love sophie

lactose free loves: chickpea and sweetcorn burgers

I always find it really difficult to find quick and easy recipes you can make for tea without either having the most random ingredients pre-stocked in your cupboard, or taking a shopping list longer than your arm to the supermarket.

I have finally found a simple, quick recipe for vegan burgers which relies mainly on a couple of tins and spices I usually have in the cupboard anyway.

Here it is…

 

Ingredients –

1 400g tin of chickpeas (drained)

1 can of sweetcorn (large)

3 tbsp flour, and some for the surface when forming the burgers

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 lemon

Optional to serve – 

ciabatta burger buns

salad leaves

tomatoes and gherkins (sliced)

 

Recipe – 

1. Drain the chickpeas and sweetcorn and pop them into a food processor. Whizz it up until it’s combined slightly.

2. Add in the flour and spices, as well as the zest and juice of the lemon. Whizz it up again so it’s all mixed together. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth – it’s good to have some texture.

3. On a floured surface, tip the mix out and divide into four burgers of equal size. It’s a good idea (if you have the time) to pop them in the fridge to firm up before frying so they stay together.

4. Fry them in a bit of oil on a medium heat until they’re golden brown, flipping them half way through.

5. Prep the bread/salad if you’re having it. Serve with any sauces you fancy. They go great with sweet potato fries!

Enjoy!

love sophie

book club: eleanor oliphant is completely fine

I closed the last page on this beauty yesterday, and I was sad. How could a book this good actually come to an end?

From the very beginning I was fixated with the main character, Eleanor, a twenty-nine-year-old, set in the odd ways she goes about her business. Her routines, her likes, her dislikes. The characterisation Gail Honeyman employs is incredible. Eleanor’s voice is sharp and clear throughout the whole story, keeping you with her and routing for her.

She’s far from ordinary, but also so totally ordinary that she’s relatable. Maybe we don’t all sink a few bottles of vodka over the weekend, or go days without a human interaction, but the principles are there and we can relate, along with hard hitting themes. Loneliness. Depression. Social awkwardness. The pages encourage it all. So much so that I couldn’t put it down.

She’s a complete creature of habit, so seeing her unhinge throughout the story keeps you turning the pages for reactions and her awkward emotions.

With her unusual appearance, including an eczema glove and a scar on her face left by her mother, she’s perceived as a loner. The only contact she has, other than with the people she’s always worked with and the man in the local off license, is a weekly phone call with ‘Mummy’, who’s in prison for an unknown crime.

Then we meet Raymond, someone Eleanor works with.

Slowly and surely, the cracks of the past start to fill, and Eleanor – with the help of Raymond – addresses her childhood, and the reasons why she is the way she is.

It’s a book that will no doubt speak to introverts, those who are unsure of themselves and their quirks, and those looking for someone just like them.

The book is bold, moving, and original.

With such skilled writing, you can’t help but follow Eleanor’s journey and feel familiar with it from the off. To say it’s a debut is insane. Hats off to you, Honeyman. You are ace. Eleanor is ace. I blooming loved it.

love sophie

soundtrack series: august

It’s been a crappy series of weeks, and I’m using music as an outlet more than ever. The writing is officially on hold whilst I try to get as back to normal as possible. Here are some of the songs that have helped me out:

1. Tee Shirt – Birdy

One of those songs I could listen to on repeat all day. Gorgeous guitar tangled around beautiful harmonies.

2. Higher Love – James Vincent-McMorrow

Up there with Birdy as one of my acoustic favourites. He is just captivating. I’ve seen him live and his performances are so personal and emotive, it’s hard not to love. This song is my favourite of his, although I like We Don’t Eat, too.

3. Tyrone Wells – You Make My Dreams Come True

One of my favourite covers. I love this song, and its upbeat quality. But this cover focuses in on the lyrics and it is simply wonderful.

4. Beautiful Birds – Passenger feat. Birdy

Two gorgeous voices in an acoustic gem of a song. What a treat. Something I could listen to all day. Harmonies galore, and simple piano to let the lyrics speak for themselves.

5. Silhouette – Aquilo

A stunning song. I have a love of simple lyrics paired with simple piano. This song is one you need to hear, so if you haven’t listened yet, do it. You won’t regret it. It gives me goosebumps.

 

What have you been listening to this month? Let me know!

love sophie

lactose free loves: honey and poppy seed carrot

One of my least favourite vegetables (cooked) is carrot. It’s always been that way, so I’ve tried to find a way to make them taste more appeasing. This recipe makes a lovely wintry salad, on a cold day, and can be added to lots of things to make a lovely meal.

I’ve got a slight sweet tooth, so I found adding honey really made a difference!

Here’s the recipe – let me know if you like it! This was based on a portion for two.

 

Ingredients – 

2 carrots

2 tsp honey (add to taste)

small handful of poppy seeds

 

Method – 

1. Grate the carrots either in a food processor or by hand. Drain any juice that has collected.

2. Fry the carrots in a pan on a low heat for a few minutes.

3. Add in the poppy seeds and the honey. Cook for a further few minutes.

And that’s it! Super duper easy, and still veg (albeit covered in sugar). You can reduce the amount of honey you use, or increase the amount of carrots to make it healthier.

I hope you enjoy!

love sophie

the power of grief: writing and living through it

Sometimes, there really are no words.

Sadly, my Grandma passed away last month so the pens have been dropped, my plans have been cancelled, and I headed home from Belgium to be with my family.

What I didn’t even think about at the time was the effect it would have on my writing ability. With little under two months to go until I have to be ready to hand in my manuscript, I wasn’t prepared for a complete lull in my writing.

But, the show must go on.

Change is something we all have to adapt to, and this was something I knew had potential to happen as she had been ill for a long time, but still wasn’t fully expecting. And finding my way back to my creative mindset was really tricky.

Initially, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t write, I didn’t make plans, I didn’t leave the house that much. I wasn’t depressed, and it wasn’t an active choice, I think I was just confused and my way of dealing with it was to shut away from the world for a while whilst I tried to process the massive change. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

A few weeks passed and my lack of writing started to niggle at the back of my mind. I started to meet up with friends who were around, tried to keep myself occupied and busy with other projects, and ultimately hoped that after a creative break the juices would start flowing again. They didn’t.

One of the most frustrating things as a writer is being unable to write. Whether you’re at your writing desk, sat on a bus, or scribbling on a napkin in a cafe, it can be blooming difficult. The glossy life of a writer, the one people imagine (lots of tea and cake in coffee shops, and lots of long chapters written in short hours) is totally false – unless you’re a writing god. So, when you can’t write, it’s often hard for people to understand why.

With my deadline looming, and my manuscript tutor worrying about my word counts, I had no choice but to get back to the basics, pen and paper, and write.

Firstly, I wrote about mundane things, like what the tree looked like from my bedroom window, or what I had done the previous day. Then, as this opened my head back up to writing, I began thinking of how my characters would act in the same situation. Would they sit on their grief? Would they showcase it in anger? Would they cry? Writing with pen and paper was more fluid and I enjoyed just being able to keep the pen moving, even if what I was writing wouldn’t be going anywhere because it was pants.

These things helped me work the niggle out, and got me back on track. It wasn’t easy – I’d often manage a whole paragraph over two or three hours – but I knew that it was working, so tried to stick at it. Some days, it was soul destroying, and I just wanted to give up. I’d try writing at home, writing out of the house in cafes, writing outside in the garden. Nothing seemed to make a difference.

Having just moved back home from uni for the first time in four years, this also saw a huge change in my lifestyle. Living at home is something I am finding really hard now that I’m here for good. Or until I find a job which means I can afford another option. As my mum works from home, I find trying to do work nigh on impossible without being interrupted by noises, or without having to plan my day so it fitted with her routines.

After a few weeks of feeling defeated, I took some time away in my Grandma’s house, which was standing empty. She didn’t have internet, there was barely any signal, and it’s not near a busy town centre or somewhere I could get distracted.

I didn’t know how I was going to find it, so originally just went for a couple of nights, but the first time I was there I managed 7000 words, the most I’d written in weeks.

I stayed a few more times, longer length, to try and bash out as much as I could. With my manuscript meetings every Friday, I got into the routine of staying for four days and then coming home to use the internet and Skype.

Being away from the world for that amount of time, and being left to just write at my own free will was priceless. It gave me back my confidence in my novel, and on my writing breaks I’d often flick through the photo albums left out in the living room from when my grandma was younger. It motivated me and cheered me on, and I really appreciated the time I spent there.

Having my independence back, to a certain extent, also did wonders. Running off my own schedule, without being questioned over my plans for the day or where I’d be for dinner, really helped me crack down on the word count.

I ended up changing the plot of my novel towards this period too, as I didn’t want to include my grief in it at the time, as it was something I was still dealing with. I took out a huge part of the story, something I’m looking at editing back in at a later stage, when I feel more comfortable.

I didn’t initially realise how much grief would effect my novel, but then again I never thought it would.

I’d definitely recommend taking some time away from your writing, unless you have the urge to write about what you’re experiencing, as I know that can sometimes help.

For me, having my own space, without the distractions of social media, was a saving grace.

It makes me sad that my grandma will never get to read my novel, or any books I write in the future, but I’m sure she’ll be pleased I stayed in her house and it helped.

love sophie

 

i’m basically a fish

I’ve made the most of my final months with a student discount and got myself a gym membership so I can procrastinate whilst getting fit. It’s just at my local sports centre, but I’m hoping it motivates me to start getting back into proper exercise. I am also starting back at rugby training in September, something I’m sceptical about, but also really looking forward to.

I’m thinking I’ll mainly use the membership to go swimming, or for classes. In the hot weather we’ve been having, I spent a lot of my few days in Bath going to Warleigh and wild swimming and I loved it! I’ve never been a big gym buff, and prefer doing s&c sessions instead of waiting most of the time for equipment to become free.

I’m thinking/hoping I’ll be able to get out on the bike at least once a week (which I was doing until some lovely kids told me I looked crap and to go home – aren’t they just lovely) as well as swimming most days. If I’m feeling really up for it, I might even do a aqua gym class, or zumba. (I know right, who is this girl?)

Truth is the reality of Belgium’s (wonderful) three course meals, three times a day, for three weeks, has had an impact on my waistline, not for the better.

That mixed with the fact I haven’t exercised in nearly a year and a half means I really need to get back to it. More than anything, it’s a great way of structuring my day, going for a swim mid morning and then coming home and writing for the rest of the day (or at least that’s the goal!)

I’ve been a member for a few weeks and have been swimming roughly 4-6 times a week (I know, I think I’ve developed gills) and I’m really seeing the benefits already.

I’m sleeping better, my day feels longer because I’m filling it with productiveness, and the excess puddings I’ve been living off are slowly starting to get lost. Win!

Although I enjoy my staple breaststroke, I’m hoping to try front crawl at some point to give my shoulder a test (truth be told I’m too scared a. it’ll dislocate, and b. of what I’ll look like) in the hope of strengthening it some more! Fingers crossed they don’t think I’m drowning…

love sophie

soundtrack series: july

And another month has flown, and this time it’s been a tough one. Instead of the upbeat and happy clappy songs I’m usually listening to, this month has been a more sombre soundtrack after some sad news. I’m sure you’ll still love them.

1. Place We Were Made – Maisie Peters

One of those beautiful, reflective songs which makes you think about your childhood. A gorgeous, believable vocal and some beautiful guitar.

2. Wildfire – Seafret

One of those voices that you could listen to all day. I love the folk-y side to this song, and that it’s still a bit upbeat with the addition of percussion. Those lyrics though, are just something.

3. I Try – Jasmine Thompson

A gorgeous version of a popular song. Very tranquil, very emotional, very beautiful.

4. Joshua Radin – You Got What I Need

One of my favourite staples for a quiet playlist, for those downpours and dark days. Joshua Radin has the most relaxing voice. Winter is another favourite of his.

5. Let It All Go – Birdy and RHODES

One of, if not, my favourite Birdy songs. It’s lyrics are so personal and telling and the eerie music, and simple piano is truly gorgeous. I love Birdy, and she will always be a writing soundtrack, but this song is one that I could listen to forever and ever.

 

What songs help you when you’re struggling? Let me know!

love sophie