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!

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

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

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

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

soundtrack series: june

The last month of term is looming, and so are the summer vibes. This heatwave is making me crave the sea, and my bike, and the deadlines are standing firmly in the way. I’ve picked some of my feel good faves this month to give you a slice of the nice life whilst I’m typing away on my latest word count.

1. Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There

Not normally a fan of hers but this is one I will listen to. It’s a proper windows down, wind in your hair, dodgy truckers arm tan kind of vibe. She’s got some pipes on her, that’s all I’m going to say.

2. George Ezra – Shotgun

Bae is back and he’s done it again. I listened to this a lot this month, mainly whilst in the car with Nina, windows down and often late at night. It’s a proper feel good classic and has hit summer hard. George, I love you.

3. Post Malone – Better Now

Not an expected choice, but this song really grew on me this month, and I have to say I am now a huge fan. Well done, Post Malone.

4. Calvin Harris feat. Dua Lipa – No More Tears To Cry

This is one of those classic chart songs I always tell myself I shouldn’t like but guiltily indulge in when I’m by myself. It is good on long journeys but I have to be in the mood otherwise it doesn’t sit quite right.

5. Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

Not the most upbeat song in the world, but it’s been a good one to stop me procrastinating. It’s relaxing, for the nights you’re regretting being out in the sun so much, and wearing more after sun than clothing. His voice is melt in the mouth and I love this song and the lyrics.

 

What’s on your most recently listened to? Let me know!

love sophie