it’s all gone quiet

The past few months – particularly the few weeks just gone – I have found myself really digging deep to find something to blog about. But life, right now, is silent. Metaphorically at least.

A new job, a new city, and some very exciting things I have to keep shtum about are all keeping me quiet.

Literally speaking, life couldn’t be louder. I’ve got twelve plates spinning at any one time (I’m sure you know the feeling) and I live with someone who might definitely be the loudest person on the planet – quite a feat considering my ears don’t always play ball.

But I’m at a loss for words (at least any of the worthwhile kind).

I’ve been muddling along with edits, checking off lists in my head, but never getting round to sitting and doing the things I love most. Writing, drawing, reading, or even just painting my nails.

We all run around like crazy people, trying to keep up with life, but in the end it’s life that should be kept on its toes, not us.

This week has opened my eyes up to the time I actually could save and the things I could do if I wasn’t worrying about spinning plates.

I’ve had no one at home to blame as a distraction (or use as a distraction), I’ve been cycling to work so I’ve felt more productive and spent less time commuting, and I’ve actually got into the routine of turning the TV off after I’ve eaten and instead I’m doing things like this. Things that make me happy.

I’ve finished reading a book I’ve been grazing for weeks, I’ve done edits on my own book, and I’ve even sorted out my room and sacked off my chair of clean clothes for one I can actually sit on.

I’m preparing myself for the three day weekend I’m having where all of this good fortune and clever plate spinning no doubt gets compromised and the return of the human megaphone brings me back to reality.

But… here’s hoping that isn’t going to happen. Or that I can manage it a bit better.

I’m making cycling to work a permanent fixture (in dry weather – let’s be realistic) and I’m hoping the addition of classes at the gym will mean I have more structured evenings (and abs – a girl can dream).

But my main mission is to update this blog more, maybe not every week, but once or twice a month when I feel I have something to say. (I’m hoping this post makes me accountable for my actions so if you don’t hear from me, I deserve a gentle nudge!)

I hope you’re all on top of your own spinning plates and making the most of the time you have in life to really live. 

love sophie

new year, new me (and other lies we tell ourselves)

I’ve made it my mission this year to ignore the mass of new year resolutions and appreciation posts I’m seeing over social media, deciding to just take this year as it comes and just simply live it, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, there is no ‘new me’ this year, and the idea of giving up something I like isn’t screaming out at me.

I have nothing against people wanting to set challenges for themselves, or plan things to look forward to in the new year, but sometimes it’s just a little too much. I’ve done it before, for many years, but the sense of failure looms greater than the sense of achievement I should be feeling if I don’t actually manage to see my resolution through. The pressure of being perfect all year, and doing lots of good things just gets too much.

This year, more than any others, I’ve also realised how much time I’ve spent on my phone and social media rather than what I should be doing in the moment. There are so many times, looking back, where I wish I’d have just put my phone away, or said yes instead of no to a crazy idea because I was too busy or had no money (I think we’re all guilty of that sometimes).

Those of you that know me will know that I keep a few ‘essentials’ in my car boot ‘just in case’, and I’m going to make the most of using them this year (and make up for the wasted petrol I’ve used up lugging it all around.) You might have your own set of ‘essentials’ and if you don’t, I’d recommend getting some. Having them on hand when you’re out and about somewhere is great.

My essentials are made up of:

  • walking boots (a given if you know me – there’s always a mountain to be climber or a path to be walked, and – if I have the time – I’m going to do it.)
  • wellies (for all those puddles I love jumping in, and boggy fields that need walking through. Life is too short to care about a bit of muddy water splashing your jeans.)
  • a swimming cossi and a towel (because wild swimming – even in winter – is my favourite thing ever and should be done at every opportunity – spontaneous swimming is the best swimming.)

I also have some sun cream, an empty flask and several pairs of warm socks chucked in for good measure.

I’m hoping 2019 will see these things used more and more (or at least that’s the plan.) It’s such an easy way of adding a bit of fun to a trip, and – as a lover of spontaneity – it is amazing

I got comfortable saying no to things this year, or at least not saying yes to enough, partly because I was too busy writing a book and finishing my Masters (no biggy), but I’m going to let that mentality go (where possible) and make the most of my time I do have when I come home from work.

I think having a job has definitely put time into perspective (it definitely makes you realise how many hours there are in a day.)

And now I’m used to the 9-5 malarkey (the longest hours I’ve worked, ever!) I’m actually awake after work and can happily make plans. Here’s hoping lighter evenings come soonish because hi-vis is not a good look for me.

And here’s to a year of being present and doing all the things we say we’re going to do. A spontaneous trip to Bangor this weekend should dust the cobwebs off (and I might even get my swimming cossi out!)

love sophie

the cat’s out the bag

I got a job. A big-girl, I-have-a-key-card, I-bought-new-tights kind of job.

The only down side being that to enter the office building I have to walk through a revolving door which I’ve so far failed doing at least six times. It wouldn’t sound bad if I’d been working there longer than eight days.

The job’s in Sheffield so I’m now living with Meg (just imagine lots of late night films, constant cups of tea, and Camembert and prosecco on tap). I’m absolutely loving it so far, but it’s been quite an adjustment. Within a couple of weeks I’d finished my MA, got a job, and moved house/city. Wonderfully mad and terrifying at the same time.

I’m currently in the process of compiling an 0114 bucket list of things to do whilst I’m living here, so any ideas are most welcome (hidden gems are always good). Having The Peak District on the doorstep is amazing, and I’m going to do my best to make the most of it (and my weekends) and explore as much as possible, both on bike and by foot.

It’s all very odd, and I’m still settling into it all, but it’s all very fun and new and the idea of having a proper-job pay cheque every month is all levels of exciting (I’m trying my best to keep it all saved up and unspent but we’ll see how well that goes…)

The best thing so far, however (other than Meg-sized cocktails) is the other two roomies I’ve gained: Simon and Dylan (Simon modelling in my cover photo above.)

Now, I’m not a cat person, and have never really ever been a cat person, but these two are the least catty cats in the world. They will happily come and sit on you (or on any surface warm and comfy) and Simon is partial to the left side of my bed, even though he knows that’s my favourite spot. They’re greedy things though, so you’re often welcomed home after work to the sound of them meowing.

I’m headed back home home for Christmas, which will be lovely, but I have a feeling I’ll miss the constant cat company (and Meg, obviously). I’m sure they’ll be meowing for food when I return, though!

I hope you all have lovely Christmases, wherever you’re spending it (with/without greedy fur friends.)

love sophie

soundtrack series: november

It’s been a busy bee kind of month (isn’t every month!?) and I’ve found myself rarely listening to music just for the fun of it. I’ve moved (yep, that’s right. You can read all about it here) and changed jobs and now my usual routine has vanished.

I am no longer singing (and dancing) along to eighties classics from a speaker in an empty bookshop, but rather I’m sat on a tram with headphones in, trying to drown out the tram speakers and the beeping doors constantly opening and closing to let on more commuters.

I’m excited to have a fun few weekends coming up where I’m out adventuring with good friends, good food, and hopefully some good music which will make an appearance in my December soundtrack series.

As for November, here goes:

1.Norah Jones – A Long Way Home

An absolute classic. The Long Way Home has been on my marmalade skies playlist since it was created, and I never bore of listening to it. I love her voice, and her songs are great to listen to at any time of day. I also enjoy listening to the Norah Jones Radio on Spotify. If you have it I’d 10/10 recommend!

2. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark

The Boss is back, but this time in true original glory. This one has made its way onto my soundtrack series before, but as a cover. This month the original has been blasted from my speakers more times than I can count. I blooming love Bruce.

3. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World

It’s all eighties at the moment, especially living with Meg! This is just one example of the tunes blasted out the kitchen radio when Heart 80s is on. We do like to have a boogie when we’re washing up, so what’s better to dance to than the 80s?

4. Sara Bareilles – She Used To Be Mine

I love Sara, but only came across this song when I listened to the Norah Jones radio. I absolutely loved it and added it to my playlist straight away. It’s now a regular running through my ears on my commute, and I love it. It’s good for getting me geared up for work, but doesn’t make me want to dance in public (apparently it’s not appropriate on an 8am tram.)

5. James Blunt – 1973

Last but no means least comes from this beauty. And what a tune. I absolutely love James Blunt and was devastated when I didn’t get tickets to see him when he showed up in Leeds for the night. I started singing the first line to Simon, the cat, when I moved to Sheffield and the song has since stuck.

Let me know what you’ve been listening to!

oh what a wonderful: trek

I find it unbelievably difficult to describe or talk about the adventures I’ve been fortunate enough to go on. There just aren’t enough adjectives, or the right words, to express exactly how incredibly challenging and life changing they have been.

When I come home and someone asks me how I got on, I am never able to truly do it justice no matter how hard I try. How can you really describe hanging onto the edge of the mountain you’ve been traversing across for eight hours, or walking along a tiny ridge in the pitch black with a thirty foot drop right next to you? Nothing seems to ever come close enough.

A year ago today, along with sixty other people, I headed to Heathrow: destination Oman. I was part of a group trekking across the Musandam Peninsula to raise money for breast cancer charity, CoppaFeel! We crossed wadis, scrambled up mountains channelling our inner mountain goats, and sweated our weight in water in the forty plus degree heat, all in the name of boobs. We were championed by the boob queens themselves, Ellie and Maren, as well as Gi and Mario who were our team captains, rallying the troops with constant enthusiasm and support.

It was one of the most inspiring and encouraging things I have ever done. And as soon as I got home I wanted to do it all over again (I’m sure a lot of the other trekkers would say the same thing.) But even to this day, I can’t do it justice when I try and explain the challenges we faced.

It was mentally testing trying to keep positive day in day out, and physically exhausting spending so much time on the mountains in the midday heat, with only the occasional acacia tree or tarpaulin for shade.

The friendships I made, and the stories we all shared on those mountains, will stay with me for life.

But, more importantly, the fact we managed to raise a quarter of a million pounds for CoppaFeel! makes me so immensely proud. We got the message out there that men and women everywhere should be checking their pecks, and knowing their bodies. We each played our own part in sharing CoppaFeel’s story, and helped them spread their life saving message.

The money we raised means that CoppaFeel! can continue to educate young people on the importance of knowing their normal, and what to do if they notice something out of the ordinary. Whether it be going to schools, work places, or just local community groups, they work hard to promote self checking and awareness of our bodies. The difference it can make is priceless.

“When we saw the team CoppaFeel! and Charity Challenge banners, we all linked arms in two rows, led by Gi, and walked up to the final peak of the mountain. Doing it together as a team felt amazing after the challenges some of the group had encountered earlier in the week. Once we reached the top we could hear The Foo Fighters blasting out of Dave’s 4×4. What a moment. What an achievement. We all chanted be more goat before a much needed and deserved group hug.”

For more information on CoppaFeel! and the work they do, have a look at their website! And, for anyone thinking of taking on a challenge like this: do it. I promise you it will be something you remember forever.

love sophie

lactose free loves: pea and bean dip

I’ve been trying out some new recipes with all the free time I seem to have on my hands at the minute, and this one is one I’m really enjoying. It’s quick and easy to make, super healthy, and tastes really good! It is also suitable for freezing so I made a big batch and put little pots of it in the freezer ready for lunch at work, or when I’m fancying some!

Let me know what you think!

Ingredients –

1 handful of podded garden peas

1 handful of edamame beans (could also use broad beans)

1 small handful of basil leaves

1 small handful of mint leaves

1 large handful of Parmesan (to serve)

2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil

one lemon

salt and pepper

 

Method:

1. In a pestle and mortar (or a food processor if you have one) smash up a few mint and basil leaves with your peas and beans until they look like mushy peas. It’s better to start with a couple of each leaves and then add to your own taste.

2. If you aren’t freezing the dip, add some of the Parmesan to the mix. If you are going to be freezing some of the dip, keep the Parmesan for after.

3. Loosen the mixture with a couple of glugs of oil, and balance out the flavours with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

4. Taste the dip and see if you need any more basil/mint.

5. Sprinkle a few bits of Parmesan on top of the dip to your own taste. You can either spread it on crostini/sourdough or use as a dip with crudites/pitta/breadsticks.

 

 

Super quick, super easy, super tasty!

Let me know what you think!

love sophie

soundtrack series: october

Along with the blog’s first birthday, and my new job, it’s been a busy one this month! I did however make it out of the house for some treat trips which was nice, including seeing A Star Is Born at Cottage Road which was AMAZING! I’d definitely recommend going to see it if you haven’t – it’s definitely had an influence on the soundtrack series this month.

In no particular order, here are my top five of October…

1. A Star Is Born Soundtrack

Okay, I know there is a lot more than one song on the soundtrack, but I just loved it. A firm favourite is Shallow, sung by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, as well as Music To My Eyes, and Maybe It’s Time. Gorgeous songs, gorgeous film!

2. Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

The lyrics in this song are absolutely divine (if you listen closely.) The soft piano backdrop is all her voice needs because it is stunning. It’s slow, one for a cold night reading, or snuggled up in blankets. Be warned, tears may be shed.

3. Trampled By Turtles – Wildflowers

I love this song. It’s got a bit of Noah And The Whale about it, and it’s a quiet but upbeat one I can imagine on in the background of a film where sandcastles are being built on the beach. It’s good in the car, and when you’re cooking (IMO.)

4. Nirvana – Come As You Are

I watched Definitely, Maybe on Netflix earlier this month, and ever since I’ve had this song practically stuck in my head on repeat. It’s a good one, and also features on my driving playlist.

5. Green Day – Jesus Of Suburbia/Whatsername

I’ve been spending a lot of time in and out of other people’s cars this month, particularly going on longish journeys with my brother, and I’ve found the only CD he seems to own is Green Day. I like them, and do listen to them, but now I feel like I know all the lyrics from their American Idiot album, and am all maxed out. It’s loud, and some of the songs make you want to drive a little faster, but they’re good, and I’m rather prone to a singalong.

 

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

love sophie

the blog turns one

It’s our birthday *does happy dance* and officially one year since write me wild began… where did that year go?!

It’s been a weird one, full of finishing off third year, starting a Masters, and handing in manuscripts, along with some other bits of busyness in between, but I’ve enjoyed sharing my blog with you all and hope to have more time to blog this year.

I’ve continued my monthly soundtrack series, my lactose free loves recipes, and my book club, all of which will be staying, and I also have some more super exciting things coming that you can look out for…

More recently I’ve even added a tab for my artwork, for those of you who don’t have Instagram, and tried to keep on top of my ‘a letter from’ series, which relies on me actually leaving the writing desk!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading my posts, and although I haven’t updated Instagram as much as I’ve blogged, I hope you’ve still had a mooch when you got chance.

If there’s anything you’ve particularly enjoyed, or something you think I could do more of, let me know! I want the blog to be a space of interest, and something you want to read.

Thank you for sticking with me.

love sophie

channeling my inner dolly parton

Welcome to the real world, Sophie.

After several applications, lots of CV editing, and interviews, I landed my first job – post MA – at the gorgeous The Little Bookshop in Chapel Allerton last week. It’s the only children’s bookshop in Leeds, and it’s right up my street.

As well as teaching me how to use a coffee machine, it’s keeping me on my toes about my knowledge of children’s books, as well as what’s current and up and coming in young fiction.

What I love most, apart from being surrounded by books all day, is seeing books I’ve never come across before. There really are some scrummy books out there for children, illustrated so beautifully. The big, hardback non fiction books are my favourite at the moment. They make learning about space, history, and the world so fun, and fancy.

I’m still getting used to how things work, and what sells, but I am thoroughly enjoying being back near books. If it’s quiet, I enjoy putting them back in alphabetical order and organising the shelves, getting a closer look at the covers and reading lots of blurbs. It’ll be chaos again after little fingers get intrigued, but I don’t mind. (I’ve got a to be read pile longer than my arm and I’ve only been in a couple of days!)

As much as I probably should feel like an adult now, I’m still enjoying letting my imagination run wild when kids, and parents, come in and ask me for recommendations or ideas.

As for the gorgeous autumnal smells coming out of the kitchen, it’s a heavenly torture. With the new menu, and increasing popularity, it’s lovely to see so many people trying it (even if it does make my jealous tummy rumble as I bring it out of the kitchen!)

I’m looking forward to a bookshop Christmas, and dressing the shop ready for it. There’s something so magical about bookshops, and the festive season, so I’m excited for what it will bring, and the books I’ll discover.

love sophie

 

lactose free loves: easy peasy pizza

I’m a Taurus, which apparently means I’m more than likely to become hangry if I’m left without food long enough. I’m not often like this, but when I am all I want is food, and quickly.

With the cold nights drawing in, I’ve also been craving some really hot food to keep me cosy. My easy peasy pizza recipe is perfect for a quick lunch, or a dinner. It can even be paired with my sweet potato wedges (coming soon…) for a real treat.

All you need is a tortilla wrap, some pesto, and any veg you can get your hands on! Simples!

I was very excited to discover that ASDA now stock a lactose free mozzarella which I would 100% recommend as it tastes/melts exactly the same as the good stuff.

So here’s the simple recipe, which can easily be adapted to suit the contents of your fridge, or to use up the leftovers:

(The recipe is based on one person/pizza)

Ingredients:

1 tortilla wrap (the multi-seeded ones are fab!)

3 tablespoons of sundried tomato pesto (can be exchanged for green pesto/tomato puree)

2 handfuls of spinach

3 mushrooms

1/2 red pepper

handful of plum tomatoes, halved

four olives, halved

1 ball of lactose free mozzarella

 

Method:

1.Heat the oven up to 190 degrees, and prep a baking tray. If you’ve got a pizza baking tray, fab, if not you can just use a normal one, or a bit of tinfoil.

2. Put the wrap on the baking tray, and dollop on the pesto, or alternative, spreading it around evenly so the wrap is covered.

3. Wash the spinach leaves and spread them around on top, covering the pesto.

4. Chop the mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, and pepper. Spread these all out on top, making sure the pizza is even (it’ll cook quicker). You can also add tuna/cooked meats to the pizza, but I made mine vegetarian.

5. Slice the mozzarella length ways, and arrange on top of the vegetables.

6. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the edges of the wrap are crisp, and the mozzarella and veg are cooked.

Voila! So simple, so quick, so yummy!

It’s especially good seen as most pizza dough takes an age to make, and this one is so much healthier. If you’re having friends over, why not buy mini wraps and make a selection of different pizzas to share? Or each put toppings on your own wrap? This recipe is so adaptable it can suit anyone.

Let me know how you make yours!

love sophie