Falling Forward: A Girl & Her Lists

Happy 32nd Birthday To Me

Posted by in A Little Conversation

It’s my birthday! Yay! Hopefully as you read this I will be eating a large Belgian waffle in Brussels, exploring and enjoying the break.

Contrary to my last couple of birthdays, I’ve decided not to write a 32 for 32 this year. My 31 for 31 was fun, but not quite as fun as my 30 for 30 and I definitely don’t want to get caught in a loop of doing things just because I have to rather than because I want to.

Instead, I’ve decided to pick 12 things from my Life List that I want to try to achieve or meaningfully work towards this year. If I don’t complete them, that’s okay. I need to learn to give myself fluid deadlines. So, here’s my list for the forthcoming year:

Things to do as a 32 year old:

1.Taste 100 cocktails

I’m on 87 already, so this one should be fairly do-able!

2. Read all the ‘Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction’ winning and shortlisted books

I don’t think I’ll get all of these done this year (there are over 100 shortlisted books alone and I’ve read very few of them), but I’d like to make a sizeable dent in the list and hopefully discover some wonderful new female authors along the way.

3. Publish 10 issues of Telegramme [8/10]

I’ve published 8 issues of Télégramme so far and I’m thinking that 10 might be a good place to stop. It’s a big job every issue and while I love doing it there are so many other things that I’d like to learn/do/see. I might keep the blog up, I might not. I am undecided as of yet!

4. Learn how to poach an egg

I still can’t do this but it really cannot be that hard, lots of people do it all the time.

5. Develop a good meditation practice

I feel like this would be so good for me.

6. Learn a card trick

Because don’t you think it would be fun?

7. Learn how to reverse park

You are an adult, Sarah, this skill would be useful to you.

8. Buy a set of chefs knives

This is kind of a cheat one since I only need a bread knife to complete our set, heh.

9. Go down the big slide in Roath Park

Because slide.

10. See the sunset/sunrise in 15 countries with Q [2/15]

It’d be nice to tick off another couple of sunsets and sunrises, since that means we’ll have been able to travel somewhere new, and I like to travel. We’re in Brussels as you read this so maybe I’ll catch one there!

11. Visit every city in the UK

I like visiting people, I like little road trips and I like not having to get on a plane so this goal is perfect for me. Maybe Scotland this year, I’ve only been once before, when I was a teenager, and I really don’t remember much about it.

12. Complete the French course on Duolingo

I’m not sure I’ll finish this but I’d like to be a hell of a lot closer than I am now. Oui?

So there you have it. I’ve ticked eleven things off my Life List so far in 2015 so 12 in a year seems fairly doable but really, if I don’t complete them I think I’ll be okay.

I actually often forget that the joy of the goal is also in the journey towards it. This year I’m going to make an effort to keep that at the forefront.

Happy birthday, me.

2015 Goals: May Round-Up

Posted by in A Little Conversation

I’m doing a monthly round-up of how my resolutions are going, as a way to encourage me to stay on track and plan goals, rather than leaving everything to the last minute! Here’s my May round-up. 

Progress Made – May

  • 200 sugar free days: 25 (102/200)

I passed the halfway mark in my sugar free goal this month – it’s continuing to get easier altho finding snacks still proves to be problematic when I’m out of the house. I’m finding that if I binge on sugar now I actually feel really rough the next day, like a sugar hangover, which makes it easier not to eat it as I don’t really enjoy feeling like that, ha.

  • Clear my ‘to read’ shelf: 2 (16/48)

I managed to finish Bad Feminist this month – it’s given me a lot of food for thought! I also sped through The Time of Your Life by Cecelia Ahern which wasn’t the most amazing book I’ve ever read but also not the worst. I’ll take that.

I’m now at the point where I’ve read like, 16 books and…am back to my original number that I started with at the end of the year. I didn’t, however, buy a single book in May so at least that number didn’t increase? Heh.

  • Read 100 books: 9 (54/100)

Slow book month. I had a run of terrible books at the beginning of the month, sigh. It seems to be on the turn tho, thankfully! I haven’t quite finished Bel Canto yet but I’ve been loving it so far. Plus isn’t the cover pretty?

  • Watch 100 films: 7 (54/100)

I barely watched any films this month. Yawn. The only one worth noting was Short Term 12, which was a definite must watch.

  • Watch 26 films at the cinema: 4 (12/26)

The lack of interesting films at the cinema continued. I watched Age of Adaline, Top 5, Pitch Perfect 2 and Man Up. None of them really did much for me (even PP2. I mean, it was fun but nowhere near as good at the first one.)

  • Weigh no more at the end of the year than I did at the start: -3lbs (-11lbs overall)

The running and calorie counting continued and is obviously working. Whoo!

Push against my comfort zone

I ran a 5K! Comfort zone, pushed.

Spend less at the supermarket than we did in 2014

This goal is continuing nicely – we’re looking like we’ll be saving around £1000, which is kind of nuts, no?

Be kind!

I gave a friend some fun flavoured Oreos because I know that he likes them, because I am nice like that ;)

Be productive!

More progress made on the remaining 31 for 31 tasks. We went UV bowling (the UV part was actually pretty lame, sadly) and the cookbook is almost ready to print. Plus I’ve been learning sign language, which is really fun :)

Have more patience

Maybe? Or maybe my patience just hasn’t been tested as much this month. Who knows.

No Progress Made

Finish the library

Hahahahahahahahaha.

Build a WordPress theme

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

 –

#BuzzCutChong – Eight Months On

Posted by in A Little Conversation

When we last spoke about my hair it was two months after I shaved it off for charity and it was kinda fluffy, kinda cute. I carried on taking gratuitous photos of myself (hey, why change the habit of a lifetime right?) so here’s a quick update on the last six months of hair growth! :)

+ 2 months

Just long enough to make me permanently look like a damp baby duck.

+3 months

Brief faux hawk time!

+4 months

Bedhead reached critical levels of ridiculousness.

It was also finally long enough to look like a genuine haircut choice. Huzzah!

+4.5 months

At this point it definitely qualified as a pixie cut and I apparently upped my lipstick game to match.

+5 months

Oompa Loompa? Or iced-gem? Either way, it was way too long for a faux hawk by this stage. Boo.

But it was still short enough to take moody photos in your boss’ flat, looking kinda French.

+7 months

Long hair is long. You can’t see the disaster that was the back, but trust me when I say it was starting to look distinctly mulletesque.

+8 months

Puffy hair everywhere, forever. The fringe looked cute but everything else just looked..wide.

So I got the sides and the back trimmed down a lot and now I feel much better!

A side by side comparison, just because:

Part of me didn’t want to cut it, because it makes tracking the growth harder. “Well, it’s this long after 8 months but I had 3 inches cut off so really it’s actually grown blahblahblah”. I know that no-one but me would possibly care about that kind of thing but it genuinely did stop me from getting it trimmed for about a month, not even joking. Yes, I am ridiculous. Hi.

The overall plan now is just to grow it out – with a spot of cherry red hairdye in the next couple of weeks, for funsies – I’m too lazy to get it cut all the time and I’m not going to lie, I really miss being able to put it in a ponytail!

It’s been fun charting the growth tho. Next stop, bob! :)

Cheer Up Monday

Posted by in A Little Conversation

Need another round of Cheer Up Monday? Well okay then. Six things to make you smile, coming up.

First of all, let’s all collectively ‘aww’ at this tiny horse! Amazing. Like Li’l Sebastian (spoilers under that link, beware!), only li’ller. (H/T: @hayles)

Second: My friend Amy took this pretty photo of some blossom, which was a nice reminder that Spring is here. Yay!

Third: Sleeping Totoro is my new spirit animal. (Also, if Totoro is your jam check out this super cute tutorial for making a Totoro bag)

Fourth: If you like hot men/& or men who can dance, then the trailing for Magic Mike XXL should do it for you. It definitely cheers me up, anyhow ;) Yay, casual objectification!

Fifth:  If you are feeling overwhelmed, Cookie Monster has some sound advice:

Sixth: & if you’re struggling with mean people, so does Dita Von Teese:

So go and enjoy your day, because the only opinion of yourself you should care about is yours. Mwah!

Bedside Table Decisions

Posted by in A Little Conversation

In the most first world of problems, we’ve moved all our bedroom furniture around and now I don’t know what to use as my bedside table. My previous bedside table was a set of drawers/shelf unit that is firmly affixed to the wall, so I need an alternative now we’ve moved our bed. Woe is me, etc.

We’ve been selling a lot of our old furniture – we had a lot of black-brown items from our previous place that just don’t fit with the style of the house – and we recently got rid of our mammoth wardrobe, clearing some wall space for some nice, bright Malms. Maybe a bit like this?

   
Mm. Malms.

I don’t really need much from a bedside table, especially as I’m embracing the minimalist way of life more and more these days. Clutter upsets me – I want my sleeping space to be calm, inviting and most of all tidy. I actually feel like the traditional bedside table units make me more untidy, not less, because I shove everything in the drawers and don’t actually put things away in a meaningful place.

So! Down with dull drawers, in with something a bit more interesting. I’ve narrowed my choices down to these five options from IKEA, because we buy pretty much all our furniture from there and I like it. (Did I ever mention that I hate change?)

First up, we have the Selje (£20). On the surface I love this – it has everything I need (legs, a bright colour, a single drawer and a fun cable management system) but it’s made of metal and I don’t know if that would drive me bananas.

I suspect that it might – I am odd about texture and the noises that furniture makes (yes, I know.) It would, however, go really well with my beautiful yellow lamp. So. Possibly. I don’t know. life is hard and I hate everything, etc.

Next we have the Ragrund (£20). This is, apparently, designed for a bathroom but I like the appeal of the warm wood and the triangular shape – sharp squares are not my jam since I’m clumsy as all hell – plus three shelves would probably be pretty useful.

There’s no escaping, however, that’s it’s pretty…dull. I mean, I guess it’s versatile (we could use it in a few other spaces in the house) but it’s not the most interesting thing to look at, really.

My next choice is the Bekvam step stool, in white (£14) or pine (£13). I like the idea of being able to use it as another piece of furniture if required (or as an extra seat in a pinch), and the pine finish seems ripe for a coat of bright paint. I’m not sure if the top surface is quite big enough for my things tho, and you can bet #Chongcat will be climbing up and down it all night if I let him.*

Cheap and cheerful Oddvar (£7) is next. Sure, it’s a little boring in its plain state but I could potentially make it fancy with enough time/inclination. Plus, bonus stool! The price is a nice incentive but I think it’ll probably end up not quite being what I want, long term.

 Still tho, for £7 it might be worth the gamble. We’ll see.

 

Last and probably already out of the running is the Nordli (£55). £55 seems like a lot of money to spent on what is essentially a small white box, and while I love it’s cute hidden features (the drawer is split and you can run cables down the legs) I’m just not sure I can justify the price for something that looks so plain.

I do like the slim profile tho, I am over bulky furniture like whoa. I like its little twiggy legs, too.

So. Apparently my dilemma is that I’m fussy and cheap. Which I guess probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many people reading this ;)

Seriously tho – help me pick. What would you go for?

*Lolz – like I have any control over what my cat does. As if.

Holiday: Activate

Posted by in A Little Conversation

We’re off to Tunisia for two weeks – sans laptop! Crazy times. I’ve scheduled a couple of my regular posts, but for the majority of the time Falling Forward will be quiet until we get back to the UK.

I’m actually really looking forward to the digital detox – we’re not really going to have a lot of access to Wi-Fi so I’m going to spend my time reading, doing crosswords, swimming and hanging out with my beautiful husband, all of which sounds pretty awesome to me.

Adios, kids! :)

My First Year As A Freelancer

Posted by in A Little Conversation

My spiffy looking portfolio. Why yes, I do like yellow. How did you know?

2014 was my first proper year of freelancing. Booking clients, invoicing people, submitting a tax return – all fun stuff. I thought it’d be a fun exercise to share a little bit about what I learnt in my first year as a freelancer, in case any of you are considering taking the plunge! First up, some background.

How I ended up as a freelancer in the first place

I actually fell into it by accident, to be honest. A combination of being unable to find a permanent contract anywhere and a couple of friend’s with small businesses offering me some contract work and boom, there you go, I’m suddenly a freelancer. I’m pretty outgoing so I talk to people a lot, which is also handy for a freelance career. Most of my work comes through word of mouth!

I’ve been dabbling with coding for about 15 years now, and I’ve been online for a loooong time (I am 31, it happens), so even tho my general job skills were based in administration it didn’t feel like too much to transition what I was doing in my spare time (chatting on Twitter and building websites) to my actual job.

What I do, and how I do it

My lovely clients and their lovely logos. Lovely.

I mostly do marketing and social media, and WordPress dev altho I also create content and provide customer service support. Multi-faceted! I’ve always been interested in the internet and building websites, and I’m supremely chatty and people based, so they seemed like a good fit for me.

I don’t have a set in stone routine, but I usually start work at around 10 (altho I do wake up earlier than that, I swear! Ha). I usually work with certain clients on certain days, so I’ll either be doing some marketing stuff or I’ll be working on a website design depending on where in the week I am. I’m a completely paperless operation so everything is done via my laptop, which is pretty sweeet. It means I can work from anywhere in the world, essentially, which is a pretty nice feeling.

I normally stop for lunch at around 1pm and try to take a 45 minute break away from my laptop and my phone. Then it’s back to work until 5 or 6, depending on when Q gets home / how much work I have left.

Sometimes I work in the evenings, but I try not to because it doesn’t feel like a great use of my time and my brain is definitely more tired then.

What I learnt this year

I am good at talking to people and self-motivating but I’m bad at time-management and sticking to one task at a time. 2014 was an interesting year – I definitely made some mistakes (make backups, kids. Seriously), but overall it went well. I built a small core of happy clients who like to tell other people to hire me. They’re really the best.

Pros of being a freelancer

  • You set your own hours
  • You can work from home
  • You’re in charge of what you do (mostly!)
  • You can work for people who have the same ethos as you
  • You get to set your own prices

Cons of being a freelancer

  • The hours can be irregular
  • It can be pretty isolating
  • The fear that you don’t have anyone to fall back on
  • You have to motivate yourself, constantly, forever. No-one else will be around to do it for you
  • Some months you will have money, some months you won’t

The future

One of my favourite sites I did last year – Costa Sister Productions

I really want to move more towards WordPress dev (themes and bespoke stuff next!) and maybe an app or two? Who knows. The world is my proverbial oyster, really.

Tools for freelancers

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer, these are some of the tools that I use on a daily basis that you might find useful.

  • Toggl – for time tracking
  • Trello – for organising your stuff
  • Debitoor – I use this for my invoicing and it works a treat
  • WeTransfer – for sending big files that are too large for email
  • Copy – like Dropbox, but with a way bigger allowance (if you sign up via my link we both get an extra 5GB! Nice.)

They’re all free tools (some have premium options), which is nice if you’re just starting out as you can see what works for you before you commit to anything.

I also use Treehouse to learn new coding languages and skills, and while it’s not free I do think it’s worth it!

Honestly, I would recommend freelancing if you’re sick of your job and want to try working for yourself. It’s an interesting process and it won’t suit everyone, but I really think that it suits me well :) Here’s to 2015!

Cheer Up Monday

Posted by in A Little Conversation

Apropos of nothing, here are some cute photos from the internet, in case you need cheering up. (Click through for links to original sources)



 

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!

#BuzzCutChong – Two Months On

Posted by in A Little Conversation

It’s been two months (and a few days) since I shaved my head for charity – can you believe that? Time. Flies. I thought people might like to see the progress that it’s making, so here are a few quick shots of it growing! Apologies if we follow each other on Instagram, you’ve already seen these my friends ;)

+ 0

Head shave day! It was shaved to a number 1, so it was pretty damn short. In fact, I think my eyebrows were longer than my hair which is a pretty weird thought, actually.

+ 4 days

On bald days we wear pink.

+ 1 week

There was a small triangular patch at the front that started to grow back in a different colour, which was pretty weird. Heh.

+ 3 weeks

Jen had a unicorn party so I sprayed my head with glitter and rocked it.

+ 1 month

At this point it was starting get fluffy, but I still couldn’t really point it in any direction and have it stay there.

+ 6 weeks

At six weeks you take gratuitous selfies, apparently, because you can barely see my hair in this, ha. The different coloured section turned into a strange cow-lick, because that’s always fun for everyone.

+ 2 months

& this is where I’m at now! :) It’s just starting to get to the stage where I can manipulate it, and if I move around a lot in my sleep then it sticks up like a fluffy baby bird in the morning. It looks kinda tall in this photo, I think I have a tendency to mohawk it with my fingers subconsciously, ha.

I’m excited to see how it moves on from here, it’s pretty much at the point now where it looks like a deliberate haircut choice, heh. Next stop, pixie cut!