Falling Forward: A Girl & Her Lists

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

See the whole list here

Friday Thanks

Posted by in Friday Thanks, Projects

Dear long car journeys,

Thanks for the opportunity for some uninterrupted thinking time. Concentrating on one thing allows me to really get introspective – I work out something new every time I’m alone on the road.

Love

Sarah

See other Friday Thanks here.

31 for 31: Make My Own Jam

Posted by in 31 for 31, Food Exploits, Projects

One of my 31 for 31 goals was to make my own jam.This was actually the first goal I ticked off the list, waaaay back in July, ha. I just forgot to, um, blog about it for a while. Oops?

I’ve always loved the idea of bottling and preserving my own foods, but wimped out every time the recipe got to the ‘now sterilise the jars’ bit. I’m not even sure why, really, it’s not like sterilising jars is at all difficult – I think I just got snagged on it and convinced myself it was way more difficult than it was!

My mum had some rhubarb in her garden, so rhubarb jam it was. It’s ridiculously simple really – boil up a load of fruit and sugar and shove it in a jar. Jam tarts optional, but delicious. Still, knowing how easy it is has boosted my confidence with preserves. Next stop, marmalade…

Colour 365: The Final Quarter

Posted by in Projects

I thought I’d do the final roundup of my colour 365 posts, since I did all the rest! :)

Colour 365: October 2014 PurpleOctober was purple, which was a bit of a challenging month. For some reason we just don’t have a huge amount of purple in the house,  so some of my photos are….kind of crap. I think the lint roller is probably the worst one, ha!

Colour 365: November 2014 SilverSilver was a fun month. I decided to apply the same filter to all of my photos, because I really like it when the collages look uniform. I promise that all the items were silver in colour ;)

Colour 365: December 2014 GoldGold! Finale month! Christmas! Thank goodness for Christmas, so many of these photos are of Christmas decoration and gifts which made it a hell of a lot easier to complete, ha. I particular liked my final shot, which was ‘2015’ spelled out in Ferrero Rochers.

My absolute favourite photo of the year was this one tho, perhaps unsurprisingly:

181/365: Yellow? It's Okay. I Guess.Mm. So pretty…

Colour 365: The Whole Rainbow

 Annnnnd here they all are together. (I know I posted this on my resolutions post, but look, it’s really pretty.) I was so happy that a) I managed to complete the year and b) that they looked so awesome when i put them all together!

I think that might be my 365 pot spent tho. Two is enough for anyone in one lifetime, this shit is exhausting.

Grace in Small Things

Posted by in Grace In Small Things, Projects

See the whole list here

Friday Thanks

Posted by in Friday Thanks

Dear Paperwhite,

Thanks for being such an awesome version of the Kindle.  I’ve probably almost doubled my reading time now that I can also read in the dark. Score!

Love

Sarah

See other Friday Thanks here.

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

Posted by in Books, Projects

I’ve been a member of Goodreads for about five years now, I think? At least. I love tracking my books over there – they give you all sorts of nerdy stats if you’re into that (which I totally am) but there’s also a really lovely community there. I get to see what all my friends are reading (mostly great stuff!) and sometimes something super fun pops up in my feed, like this.

My friend Jess joined a group called “Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge” and I was intrigued. Essentially, the idea is that you read at least one book from 24 different categories over the year. You guys, this is 100% my jam. Books? Good. Lists? Good. Challenges about books? Goooood.

I thought I’d repost the list here in case anyone fancies joining in. If you need some inspiration for any of the topics check out the Goodreads group or the original Book Riot post, there’s plenty in there!

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

  1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  3. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
  4. A book published by an indie press
  5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
  6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
  7. A book that takes place in Asia
  8. A book by an author from Africa
  9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
  10. A microhistory
  11. A YA novel
  12. A sci-fi novel
  13. A romance novel
  14. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
  15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
  16. An audiobook
  17. A collection of poetry
  18. A book that someone else has recommended to you
  19. A book that was originally published in another language
  20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind
  21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)
  22. A book published before 1850
  23. A book published this year
  24. A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

Book Riot have even created a cute hashtag: #ReadHarder. Share your books, share your challenge plan, share your recommendations! :) I am excited. In fact, because I’m a massive overachiever 3 of the 5 books I’ve read so far this year already fit into some categories! Score. I’m going to track them on my Books 2015 page if you want to follow along with my progress :)

Let me know if you join in!

Life List: Paint EE Cummings on a Wall in Our House

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

I am not the world’s biggest poetry fan, but I have long loved ‘I carry your heart’ by ee cummings. When we were deciding on readings for our wedding we wanted to use it, but I’d read it at the wedding of one of my bridesmaids, so in the end we chose ‘I love you much (most beautiful darling)’ instead.

“i love you much (most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

—sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life) the true time of year—

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing (or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each

nearness) everyone certainly would (my
most beautiful darling) believe in nothing but love”

ee cummings

There is something about it that makes my soul feel joyful. I’ve long wanted to paint an ee cummings poem on my wall (imagining myself doing it with an overhead projector and a tiny paintbrush – such madness, in hindsight), and I always thought it would be ‘I carry your heart’. After the wedding tho, this one seemed more appropriate.

I didn’t paint it (it’s a custom vinyl sticker) but I think it still qualifies.

I love it! :)

Completed item #87 from my Life List: paint ee cummings on a wall in our house

2014 Resolutions & Goals for 2015

Posted by in Projects

2015 is here, huzzah! Yes, I am aware that it is January 10th already – if I was a good blogger I would have had this post scheduled for 9am January 1st but hey, better late than never, right? ;) So! First things first, how did I do with last year’s resolutions?

2014 resolutions!

Year of code

I….kind of did this? Sort of. I did spend some time on Treehouse, but mostly my skills improved through doing. I built nine client sites in 2014, and definitely learnt something new each time! I want to work on my skills some more tho, so won’t be retiring the ‘year of code’ mantra just yet.

Colour 365

I did this and it looks amazing. 

Colour 365: The Whole Rainbow

See? :)

Wheat free – all year

I did this too! I only really slipped once all year, when I ate a Bulgar wheat salad on the plane to Italy because a) it was the only option b) I couldn’t remember if Bulgar wheat was actually wheat (spoiler: it is) and c) had no Wi-Fi to check. I’m calling this a pass.

Paleo in January

I did this too! It was actually pretty easy and the results were great. We’re going to attempt to incorporate Paleo back into our lifestyle for 2015. I’m not imagining it’ll be too difficult as I’m planning to carry on being gluten free and also want to cut right back on my sugar intake this year.

Less phone more face

I did this as well! Winner. I was a lot more conscious of when I was using my phone and whether or not it would be considered rude. One of the upsides of this was that I feel much less dependent on my phone now – we went away for a weekend in September and I all but turned it off and didn’t really miss it at all. Progress! :)

Onto my 2015 goals…

The big ones:

Finish the library

We started work on the library last year and got a lot done, but we still haven’t finished it and it bugs me every time I look at it. I’m hoping it won’t take much – a few extra shelves, swapping some furniture around and boxing in the boiler and the top of the stairs. Then I can actually start using it as a space to read in, rather than just a place to store our books.

Build a WordPress theme

 I feel like I’ve really honed in on an idea of what I want to do with my freelance career, and part of that is improving my WordPress skills. Treehouse has all the resources for me to achieve this one, I just actually need to commit the time and effort to doing it!

Have more patience

Oh boy, this is a big one. I am, um, an impatient person by nature. In some ways it makes me more driven but in most ways it just makes me a giant pain in the butt. I want to  spend less time wishing things would happen faster and more time enjoying the time it takes to get there.

Have a healthier mind and body

The last couple of years have been great for personal growth but absolutely shocking for health and fitness. I mean, just terrible. I’m not getting any younger (that’s a certified fact) and getting into the habit of healthy eating and exercise isn’t going to come naturally or overnight, so the sooner I start the sooner I get there. With that in mind, I’m going to attempt:

  • 200 sugar free days

Sugar is the devil. When I don’t eat it I feel great, but it’s so ubiquitous and so damn delicious that I have a hard time saying no for long periods of time. A sugar free day for me will be no eating anything that has sugar as an added ingredient (i.e. fruit is allowed).

  • Exercise 52 times

52 is such a pitiful number but boy, I do not move my ass enough. I’m also terrible if my goals are too ambitious because I feel like there’s too much pressure, so I’m setting a modest goal and hoping to smash it.

  • Weigh no more at the end of the year than I did at the start

 I put on two stone last year. Simply put: I do not want that to happen again this year.

Spend less at the supermarket than we did in 2014

 We spent a whopping £3296.68 at supermarkets last year. For two people (plus a not-very demanding cat) that seems like way too much, so this year we’re going to try and spend less. Less treats, less impulse buys, more planning.

Push against my comfort zone

I firmly believe that everyone should do this once in a while. I’m buoyed on by the reminders that every time I’ve done this in the past the results have definitely been worth it.

The regulars:

Clear my ‘to read’ shelf

 I have a physical shelf in the library that contains all of the books that I own, but haven’t yet read. Honestly, this shelf annoys me. The rest of my books are organised A-Z by authors and it bugs me that there’s 33 books that are just sitting there, waiting for me.

I’m really guilty of reading way more on my Kindle than real books anymore, so this year I am committing to clearing that damn shelf, mostly so than I can have more space for books I’ve read and adore.

Read 100 books

Last year I read 171 books – I got this.

Watch 100 films

 100 just feels like a nice number, for me. Not too many, not too few. Last year I managed this so I’m pretty sure I’ll manage it again, especially with the combo of our Chromecast and our Netflix account :)

Watch 26 films at the cinema

Q and I have Cineworld Unlimited cards. You have to see about two films a month at the cinema to make them pay for themselves, but 24 felt like an irritating number for some reason, so I plumped for 26 as that’s theoretically one a fortnight.

Be kind!

 Being kind always brings me more joy. Duh.

Be productive!

Less sitting on the sofa watching The Office, more learning, making, doing, seeing, living. Please.

& that’s it! Some big things, some fun things, all experiences. Here’s to learning and growing in 2015! :)

2014 – A Year in Review

Posted by in A Little Conversation

2014 is done – whoo! It was an interesting year for me – my first full year of freelance, our first full year in the house. I made some new friends, lost touch with some old ones and cut some ties that had been weighing me down for a while. I feel like 2014 was the first year where I panicked less and enjoyed more, so that’s pretty awesome.

I read 171 books, watched 120 films, completed my colour 365, took two flights and built nine websites. I also shaved my head, got laser eye surgery and put on almost two stone. Oops.

Here’s a mini review of the year, via Instagram which is basically where I post all my photos now that I’ve quit Facebook. This will be quick, I promise (ish!).

January

We went paleo for a month in January, and it was pretty fun.

I got a new tattoo that I’ve wanted for ages – Marc John’s ‘seek out the joy’ print

We held the first Life List Party and it was amazing.

February

We had all the windows replaced, and added french doors to our dining room. Best decision ever!

#Chongcat smashed my favourite lamp. I was not amused.

March

Q & I took a quick trip to Gloucester. It was…small!

We hosted our first Team Chong Supperclub.

I started to crochet a blanket for my nephew.

I got to briefly meet the wonderful Amber Marlow. She was a doll!

I went on a roadrip with my Mum and Amy to Wells, Stonehenge and Salisbury.

April

First picnic of the year! :)

I finally got to go to the Harry Potter Studio tours, with Liz and Amy. They had owls, it was brilliant.

& we briefly considered putting #chongcat up for sale after he broke another lamp.

May

We did a bit of demolition and removed the fugly built in wardrobes.

We went to Italy for a week to hang out with Rob.

I acquired a sewing machine.

& we went to our first murder mystery party (I was the murderer!)

We went to the Boring Conference in London (which was way more fun than it sounds)

& we got to see Matilda, which was as magical as everyone promised it would be.

June

Remember that blanket I started? Here it is! The first thing I ever crocheted.

I turned 31! We went to play laserquest, to celebrate :)

I went horse riding with Liz, to help her complete her “21 new things in 2014″ challenge.

& Q and I went to our first rooftop cinema experience!

July

The owl jumper began.

My attempts at chocolate chip cookies were a fail, as always!

But my lovely mum did teach me how to make jam! (This was rhubarb and it was delicious).

Rainbow Rowell came to town – she gave a really interesting talk, signed my books and I met some really sweet people in the queue! :)

August

I FINALLY got to meet Dianne, who was as awesome as promised.

We went to Cornwall for the day to babysit my nephew. He likes trains, ha.

I had laser eye surgery. No more glasses!

I learnt how to french braid my hair!

& then I shaved my head, nbd ;) I raised over £3000 for charity in the process which was pretty amazing.

Life long dream to pet a tiny owl = complete.

September

We went to Bluestone for our two year wedding anniversary, which included a stop at the beach for ice-cream :)

I organised a conference for 160 attendees, which was an illuminating experience!

Jen had a unicorn party for her birthday, so I covered my head in glitter for the night. It was awesome.

We finally got our butts in gear to finish the office.

October

9 of our friends came to stay, and we went to visit Caerphilly Castle in the rain.

Fun new wall art for the price of a £4 pack of card. Score!

We bought a super cute lampshade and spent two hours trying to work out how to install it. No joke.

Buying a breadmachine = home made gluten free bread from now on.

We FINALLY got some wedding photos printed, two years after getting married. This one was our favourite ;)

November

We went to Devon for the weekend to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday. I took zero photos but did come back with homemade, wheat free scones. Love you, Mum.

I played squash for the first time! It was hard, but super fun.

I switched to the dark side and dropped my iPhone for an Android ;)

Wahaca opened in Cardiff – whoo!

& I managed to find a gluten free Christmas Sandwich, i.e. my most favourite time of the year ever.

December

We went with Liz and Luke to watch the ice hockey for the first time, which was simultaneously hilarious and surreal.

I attempted to not swear for a day. I made it until 6pm, ha.

I accidentally bought some beautiful, yellow Le Creuset saucepans.

My BFF bought me the best gift ever.

Christmas Day was wonderful, and culminated with a side splitting session of Cards Against Humanity.

& we saw in the New Year by toasting with a Ferrero Rocher at midnight! :)

Phew. 2014 was a good year for me, especially in terms of the amount of opportunities I was given to appreciate it. Here’s to another joyous 12 months!