Falling Forward: A Girl & Her Lists

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

  • Window shopping
  • Practicing a foreign language
  • Laughing with friends
  • Blue cheese
  • Constellations

See a list of my favourite Grace in Small Things here. What’s on your list this week?

Friday Reflections: Week 1

Posted by in Friday Reflections, Projects

Let’s try something new for 2016, hrm? I’ve been writing my Friday Thanks posts for quite a few years now. They’re fun and a helpful reminder (as with my Grace in Small Things) list to prioritise gratitude, but I suspect they are probably more useful for me than anyone else who might be reading my blog.

So, for the foreseeable future I’m going to write a weekly round-up post of things I’ve been reading / watching / doing / thinking instead. (Another list style post format? NO WAY etc etc 😉 I know. I was surprised too).

Let’s get started! :) The topics won’t stay 100% the same every week – I’ve given myself a selection to choose from depending on what I’m in the mood for. The only constant is change, right?


Thankful for: Electric blankets. It is hella chilly outside today, kids.

Watching: The first episode of Supergirl. Thoughts so far: Intrigued. It has promise (altho why they only refer to Superman as ‘him’ is er, ‘super’ weird).

Reading: I just finished Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it was delightful. Go, read! Perfect for teens but also great for adults. Especially great for adults who are trying to understand their teens, I suppose.

Listening to: A lot of SOHN.

Browsing: Men Making Movies About Men. The writers, directors and producers who make films that fail the bechdel test.” Fascinating but pretty depressing. Films made in 1995 failed the Bechdel Test 37% of the time. Today? it’s 38%.

Coveting: This beautiful mother of pearl tiling for our bathroom. Isn’t it dreamy? (This entire bathroom in general, actually. It’s so airy and light.)

Favourite word: 

Scurrilous (adjective)

1. making or spreading scandalous claims about someone with the intention of damaging their reputation.

“a scurrilous attack on his integrity”
2.  humorously insulting.

“a very funny collection of bawdy and scurrilous writings”

A photo that’s nice: “Sarah” by Laura Agathe (how appropriately named!)


Learning: French, mostly. I’ve been back at Duolingo since the New Year, working my way though the stages I previously mastered. Slow and steady, right?


What have you all been thinking / feeling / reading / seeing / doing this week?

Why We Should Stop Asking “When Are You Going to Have Kids?”

Posted by in A Little Conversation

(This is a polite, no shaming note.  Absolutely no shade to anyone who has done this to me. I’ve certainly done it in the past! You live and you learn, right?)

Please, please let’s make 2016 the year we stop asking people (women and men!) “When are you going to have kids?”  Or telling them “Oh, when you have kids you’ll get it.”  (often accompanied with one of those smug head nods, just for extra funsies).

I’m a 32 year old married woman so I hear these questions a lot. And I’m sure most of it comes from a good place, BUT! let’s just get this out there:

Having children is an intensely personal decision and journey. It’s not an easy one for everyone.

There are so, so many reasons why people don’t have children and it can be a really stressful, hurtful period of your life if you’re in the midst of your ‘childbearing’ years. Being asked about it can cause awkward conversations if you’re going through something you might not want to share with all and sundry. It can also put you in a weird space where you don’t want to make other people feel bad for asking, which is also a joy.

Some people don’t want children. Some people can’t have children. Some people aren’t sure if they want them OR if they can have them! Some people are desperately trying and not getting anywhere. Some people aren’t ready to have children yet. Some people can’t afford it.

Some people have miscarriages (an awful lot of people actually, but you wouldn’t necessarily know because people don’t talk about it). Some people might have genetic markers for something they don’t want to pass on. Some people might have medical reasons for avoiding it. Some people might be trying, but quietly.

(One of these is me! Holler).

Even if someone is happy, healthy and actively trying, asking someone when they’re going to have children or even saying, innocently, “when you have kids you’ll understand!” can potentially open up a whole world of pain and anguish (and in my opinion that second one is just downright rude/condescending, even if it’s not meant that way).

If someone wants you to know what’s going on, they will. Until they do, consider it off the table. (It’s also not okay to ask people with one child when they’re having another one, fyi. Maybe one is enough! Maybe they can’t have any more. Etc.)

Like I said – not trying to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad, just. Trying to explain how it can feel from the other side :)

In the immortal words of Maya Angelou:

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

  • Making our own cheese
  • Adventure Time
  • Running Parkrun for the first time
  • A brief respite from the endless torrential rain
  • Group Pikachu dancing

See a list of my favourite Grace in Small Things here. What’s on your list this week?

Life List: Have a Library

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

Guys, guys! Guess what! The library is finally finished! Hurrah! Rejoice, etc. We started working on it when we first moved in two and a half years ago (whoa) and it’s finally, finally finished.

It’s been on my Life List for as long as I remember, and I can’t express enough how much joy it brings me to spend time in this little room.


Oh, before. When we moved in the walls were pale blue paint over stripy blue wallpaper. The skirting boards were SILVER for reasons unknown, there were some strange shelves, an ugly lampshade and an incredibly fugly built in cupboard that housed the boiler (tucked around the corner in this photo).


It also had a very charming (and by charming I mean filthy) beige carpet and a window pane that was constantly full of condensation. It was a real winner.


We spent a lot of time and effort stripping everything out – wallpaper revealed lovely pale green paint – and then putting nicer stuff back in. We went for laminate floor that looked a bit like wood (but wasn’t really wood because that stuff is expeeeensive), replaced the window, had the boiler boxed in nicely and painted everything white.

It’s simple but since it was all going to be covered in bookcases I wasn’t really that bothered.


Chez Chong Library Makeover-2

Chez Chong Library Makeover-4

Ta da! Isn’t it beautiful? The answer to that rhetorical question is yes. Yes it is. I’m not going to talk through everything (it would bore me too) but we bought most of the items from IKEA. Billy Bookcases galore, basically.

Chez Chong Library Makeover-9

I wanted to add in some interchangeable art so I bought some cute, cheap clips from Tiger and hung up some postcards that were 70p each from Paperchase. Sorted! The little Hello sign was from Primark, believe it or not (their home section has been great this year) and the “love from me xx” signs were bought on Amazon a fair while ago.

Ps. Meet my new favourite candle – Scandinavian Log Fire – which was a bargainous £3 (£3!) from Matalan. I bought three because I love the smell so much and you just know they’re going to discontinue it eventually. (The big R E A D letters are also from Matalan, by the by.)

Chez Chong Library Makeover-7

Chez Chong Library Makeover-8

My beautiful BFF bought me an amazing set of yellow pencils that take pride of place on the ‘not books bookshelf’. I also have my ‘this book belongs to’ stamp (flipped so you can read it!), my print copies of Télégramme and our wedding guestbook.

Chez Chong Library Makeover-14

Chez Chong Library Makeover-18

We don’t have enough books to fill all the shelves (yet – so sad, I’ll have to buy more books) so we’re using the yellow shelf as a ‘favourites & recommendations’ shelf. I like it!

Chez Chong Library Makeover-21

Chez Chong Library Makeover-3

Chez Chong Library Makeover-22

I had a blank wall left so I ordered a ‘Read all the things’ banner from this glorious Etsy shop and taped up some more postcards around my favourite Marc Johns print. (You might remember that I also have it as a tattoo).

Chez Chong Library Makeover-1

Sigh. Welcome to the world, little library. I’m so happy that you’re here.

31 for 31/Life List: Knit Something Worth Wearing

Posted by in 31 for 31, Projects

Would you look at that. Only, oh, probably at least three years after downloading the pattern I finally managed to complete Kate Davies’ Owl Sweater.

Go team Sarah!

As you might be able to tell from the photos, this happened about six months ago, but I’m only just getting around to blogging about it. Oops?

Some of the instructions made me want to weep, and there are definitely a few mistakes in there where I dropped stitches or from where my stitch markers popped out and I had to re-count, but that’s okay. It’s not a perfect sweater, but it’s wearable.

Or at least, it would be if it weren’t so unseasonably warm. Bring on Winter, I say. Where is the snow?

The Warm Yellow Light

Posted by in A Little Conversation

— Conor Oberst, American indie folk singer/songwriter

Something to aspire to.

Side note: I couldn’t find a decent source for this image – Tumblr and Pinterest pervaded – if it’s yours let me know!

Picking Prints for the Library

Posted by in Books, My Life In Lists

Wait, you don’t have a library?

In all seriousness, we are very fortunate to have been able to buy a house large enough for me to indulge my childhood dreams. I’ve wanted my own library for as long as I can remember, and we’ve been working hard since we moved in to turn this dusty, neglected box room into a cosy, joyous haven.

The bulk of the renovation is done – we’ve removed the silver (!) paint from the skirting boards, stripped the stripy wallpaper and swapped out the hideous boiler cupboard for something much more unobtrusive. The bookshelves are in and we’ve even managed to decide on and buy a cosy chair so all that’s left now is a new ceiling light and some artwork to make it feel more personal.

Enter: the dilemma! Etsy is my go-to for affordable, unique art, since I made a promise to myself a few years ago that I wouldn’t buy any more ‘generic’ art and I’ve largely stuck to that. Which is great! But also terrible, because it means that choosing art is so much harder because there is so much of it and it would all look great on my walls. #firstworldproblems.

With that in mind, here are six prints that I’m considering. We only have room (and a budget), realistically, for one or two but I’m struggling to narrow it down.

Obviously I like the Ernest Hemmingway quote because yellow. But I think I’m leaning towards Jorge and Albert. (Related: where are the book quotes by women, please?)

Little help?

31 for 31 – My Year In Lists

Posted by in 31 for 31, My Life In Lists, Projects

Well gosh, hasn’t it been a long time since I completed my 31 for 31. I fell off the blogging wagon big time and I’m still not really sure why. In general life has been pretty stable but my motivation for all things has been lacking of late and it’s starting to show in every facet.

Still. As good Mr Frost says, the only way out is through, right? I wrote this waaaay back in June and it’s bothered me ever since that I didn’t get around to posting it, so here you go. 31 things I did to celebrate being 31, presented without commentary because if I have to write something about each one it will never, never get published.

Re-set / Re-align / Re-start

Here’s to trying to climb out of ruts.

1. Make my own jam Completed 11th July 2014 

2. Get my eyes lasered Completed 11th August 2014

3. Host a Team Chong Supper Club to raise money for the head shave Completed 17th August 2014

4. Learn how to French braid my hair Completed 27th August 2014

5. Shave my head for charity Completed 30th August 2014

6. Donate my hair Completed 30th August 2014


7. Finish my 100 cheeses Completed 6th September 2014

8. Give blood at least once Completed 6th October 2014

9. Eat at 12 new places in Wales Completed 10th October 2014

10.Read a Man Booker prize winner Completed 20th November 2014

11. Finish the Top Secret Project for Arthur Completed 2nd December 2014

12. Re-watch 31 of my favourite films Completed 10th December 2014

13. learn how to make delicious gluten free cookies Completed 14th January 2015

14. No swearing for a day Completed 2nd February 2015

15. Visit another European country / tick off another continent Completed 11th February 2015

16. Swim a length under water Completed 12th February 2015

17. Read 31 more books I’ve been meaning to read forever Completed 6th March 2015

18. Sew something I can wear Completed 21st March 2015

19. Donate to 31 charities Completed 9th April 2015

20. Send 31 surprise gifts Completed 18th April 2015

21. Take a ballet class Completed 23rd April 2015

22. Finally Knit that owl sweater Completed 26th April 2015

23. Go UV bowling Completed 2nd May 2015

24. Get the EE Cummings & Grace quotes printed for our wall Completed 8th May 2015

25. Print our family cookbook Completed 7th June 2015

26. Complete the British Sign Language online course Completed 9th June 2015

27. Be debt free Completed 12th June 2015

28. Swim in a lido Completed 12th June 2015

29. Take the same walk every month & photograph the changes Completed 14th June 2015

30. Complete Couch to 5K Completed 16th June 2015

31. Throw the 2nd annual Life List Party Completed 20th June 2015

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

  • Candles that smell like apple pie
  • Silly games to while away the time
  • Yellow bookshelves
  • Dim sum with friends
  • Tidying

See a list of my favourite Grace in Small Things here. What’s on your list this week?

Ps. I know it’s been a long time since I posted! Still around just struggling a little to find the balance while work is busy. Not a terrible problem to have, for sure.