YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL, BUT YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL AT ONCE

IMG_20180610_111944-01-01

So it’s been some time again, hasn’t it? My friend and sort-of-sister-in-law Amy says something that I feel best describes why I’ve not been here for a few months…

“You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once.”

Pretty true, right? I really love this phrase, and it definitely feels like an accurate description of why writing on this blog hasn’t been at the top of my priority list. I’ve been doing all of the other stuff, but now that things have started to settle down, or at least in this moment they feel they’ve settled enough for me to take some time out to write, I hope to be here a little more often.

Things are basically the same as they’ve always been, and also pretty different from when I was last sharing here.

I live in the north now! Sam and I have relocated to Leeds, where we’re closer to some of our family and we’re getting settled into city life. It’s been kind of an adjustment, but it also feels easy and just like home already.

The biggest thing for me to get used to is not having everything I need a short walk away. We’ve got our local shop, and a whole stretch of amenities just around the corner, but often things take a little more travel planning than they used to. It’s OK though, it’s just evidence of having so many more options of things to do and places to go!

I haven’t had too much chance to explore yet, but I know Sam and I are looking forward to discovering all of the fun things on our doorstep. We’re in a great location, and I know there are things I want to check out in every direction so I’m glad we’re on the bus route in and out of town!

I’ve also been working hard on Knits Please. I’ve been writing and releasing knitting patterns, including my first garment pattern, and I even started a YouTube channel. I would love for Knits Please to become something more than ‘not quite a hobby, not quite a business’ and I know for that to happen I’m going to need to treat myself with a firmer hand.

In my mind I know that forming goals and plans, and giving myself tasks will certainly help to grow Knits Please into a business, so I really need to dedicate the time to doing that so I can see the results.

Generally, I’ve learnt something about myself that relates, here. I used to be an excellent planner, but now I feel like I should be doing. I should get up and get on and do something. But the problem with doing things is that you don’t necessarily know why you’re doing something, and it may not be the best thing for you to be doing at that time.

Planning allows you to look at the bigger picture and get some perspective, and see which ‘things to do’ will get you closer to where you want to be, and which might be ‘things to do’ for the sake of doing.

So I need to book out some time to sit down, get messy, and plan. Where do I want to be, and how do I get there?

This is true for Knits Please, but I also think it’s true for so many other things, too. In life, how do I want to grow? What’s important to me in my career? What are my values, and how do I live by them?

It’s all pretty big, and therefore kind of scary, but it’s terribly exciting, too. I’ll update you when I’m done!

Advertisements

ALL THE GOOD THINGS LATELY

00000IMG_00000_BURST20180127082911_COVER-01-03

It’s been a while since I last sat down to write here, and the time has gone by in quite a whirlwind. The last thing I knew, it was the second of February and now we’re well into March! So I’m going to look back at the good things that have happened in that time, and there’s been a lot of them!

Starting to watch Game of Thrones for the first time and finding it the best way to spend an evening.

Buying some natural, package free beauty products and feeling good about treating myself, and the environment, with a little more care.

Recovering from the flu just in time for our trip to the USA.

Being present for the moments, and laughing when it all went wrong, just like I hoped I would.

Receiving my first (and second) Willoughby Book Club books and feeling excited about reading something unexpected.

Seeing the sights in NYC and grabbing that much-anticipated New York Slice. It didn’t disappoint.

Welcoming ourselves back home with a Black Dog brunch, and there couldn’t have been anything better.

Watching Black Panther and feeling grateful that the world has the superhero movie it needs.

Embracing spontaneity with a surprise trip to Leeds for Sam’s sister’s birthday.

Getting in cuddles with Benjamin while we can.

Eating waffles for breakfast with salted caramel sauce and ice cream, and deciding to make more room for this kind of decadence in life.

Taking a walk in the thick snow and spending a moment appreciating how incredible the world is.

Feeling grateful that I didn’t have to venture out in the snow again, and wrapping up warm indoors.

Cooking up two great vegetarian meals, which I’m sure will become staples. This veggie korma and Amy’s lentil and mushroom ragu, if you’re interested.

Finally getting on top of my self-organisation, and feeling so much more productive with my time, and better in my mind.

Taking over the LoveKntting Instagram account with my side project, Knits Please, and feeling super, super proud.

Finally getting to my smear test after all of the above got in the way!

A LOVE LETTER TO MYSELF

You’ve come a long way to get to where you are today. It’s difficult to remember, but there have been enough ups and downs along the way to build a resilience that stands firm. Now is a good time, and you’re doing great.

I love the way you put yourself first. Give yourself the time, energy and attention to be who you need to be and to do what you need to do. It’s been a long time coming.

I love that you’re learning more every day, about who you are and what you want, finding more of that powerful and passionate voice that means so much.

I love that people turn to you. That you offer yourself to those around you in the ways that you can. I also love that you’ve learnt when to say no.

I love that you’re embracing yourself for exactly who you are. The scrutiny of the outside world hardly ever crosses your mind, and that’s a magical and freeing thing.

I love that you’re not perfect, and that you have your moments when everything falls apart.

I love that you can always put the pieces back together.

I love that you’re independent, but that you rely on the people closest to you, even if you might not ever let on how much.

I love that you’re kind and caring, and that you extend those things to yourself and don’t reserve them only for others.

I love that you’re straight-talking and that you know what you want and believe, even if you’re a little stubborn with it. But I also love that you’re learning to open up more. You’re no longer afraid to be wrong, and you want to learn, now more than ever.

I love that you can do the things you set your mind to. You can use your hands and your body and your brain to achieve things you never thought you could achieve. But know that it’s OK to ask for help more often.

I love that you’re not afraid of change anymore. That you’re embracing the uncertainty of what’s to come and you’re excited for new experiences and new normals. I love that your excitement still allows you room to feel a little nervous.

I love that you’re becoming intuitive, and learning to listen to the nuances of yourself. It’s an incredible journey to be on.

I love that you’re being kinder to yourself, that you’re growing in patience and that you’re OK with it when you constantly change your mind.

I love that you’re trying, and that you look at the things that don’t go so well as lessons more than anything else, and that whatever happens it will be OK.

WHAT I HOPE FOR MY TRIP TO THE STATES

daryan-shamkhali-109777
Daryan Shamkhali

There are only two more sleeps until we jet off on our biggest holiday yet, and there’s still a lot to do to make sure we’re properly prepared! Now though, I wanted to spend some time thinking about what I hope for my trip.

This is my first trip to the USA, and in fact, my first trip outside Europe. I’m really excited, but I’m also trying not to set too many expectations, because who knows what will happen.

We’re travelling for Sam’s friend’s wedding in Connecticut, and we’ve got the best part of a week to do some exploring. It’s difficult to know where to start when there are so many things to see and do, and a pretty tight budget to stick to, but there a few things I’m hoping for, and will try to make happen.

We’re already planning to visit New York City, because how could we not? I want to stop off at Purl Soho and Everlane, but other than that I’m looking forward to a day of sightseeing, wandering and hopefully stumbling across a few hidden gems. Sam’s keen to get a New York slice, and I hope I have the easiness not to stress too much about finding the best one!

I’d like to create a new timeline in my 1 Second a Day app, and capture lots of the moments of our trip. It’s hard to remember to get your phone out when you’re caught up in wonderful experiences, but my memory is awful and I know I’ll love to look back on it in months and years to come, and remember what a time we had.

I hope to get to know Sam’s friends better. I’m meeting the bride for the first time, and another friend’s partner for only the second, so I’m hoping we all get on well and can get to know more about each other during our time there.

I’m hoping to just go with the flow. I’m easily stressed when there isn’t a plan, and I’m sure I could get overwhelmed in all of these new cities with all of these new experiences, but I’m hoping to remain calm and peaceful, and take everything as it comes. Enjoyment comes more from our frame of mind than from the experience itself, or something?

I hope to really enjoy the food. To me, food is one of the best things about any trip, so I hope we find some cool places to eat, and also get to enjoy meals together at our rented house. I’m not too fussy about what, I just want to be well-fed!

I hope I make the time to soak it all in. To look up, to smile and to take a deep breath and appreciate where I am.  I’d like to try to savour each moment and to really be right there. I’d like to enjoy the little things, to be struck the novelties and to laugh when it all goes wrong.

I hope I will be good company and good conversation, and that I’ll help to make the trip a great one, for all of us.

TRYING TO EAT MORE VEGETARIAN MEALS

IMG_20180122_131123-01-03.jpeg

Towards the end of last year, I started to make a conscious effort to eat more vegetarian meals. I’m not about to cut out all of the meat from my diet, but I want to vary my consumption more, in the hope that I’ll feel better, physically and mentally.

I’ve been aware that I’m not sure what it’s like to feel refreshed. I often feel a constant fogginess and tension in my head, and while I am most definitely a morning person, I’m always low on energy in the evenings and I’d rather not be.

I want to take the time to try different things, and see what kind of impact they can have on the way that I feel. One of those things is to eat more vegetables!

I kicked of with some simple stir fries, and a couple of recipes from Madeleine Olivia’s Versatile Vegan recipe book, but I’m really hoping to get into my stride over the next few months.

Here are some recipes that I want to try out:

Thai satay stir fry from BBC Good Food

Spanish chickpea and spinach stew from Lazy Cat Kitchen

30 minute vegetable korma from Don’t Feed After Midnight

One pan mexican quinoa from Vegan Heaven

Sweet potato and coconut curry from BBC Good Food

Have you got any vegetarian or vegan recipes that you love? Where do you go for inspiration? I’m after any suggestions I can get!

HOW I’VE BEEN LOOKING AFTER MYSELF IN JANUARY

IMG_20180130_074652-01

January can be a tricky time of year, can’t it? It starts off so dark and it’s often pretty gloomy, and for me, given that it’s my birthday month, it’s a time when celebrations come to an end until late in the year. It’s full of expectations and good intentions and you’re always meant to get off on the right foot, because it’s the start of something new.

It can be pretty overwhelming. The combination of the pressure to be your best self, and the outside world feeling kind of bleak can really hit home. I don’t think it’s unusual to struggle in January, and I’ve certainly had my difficult days this month, favouring days indoors over brisk walks in the cool air, and at times I’ve felt down because of it.

However, I’ve also been sure to take small actions that I know will make me feel better. No one is going to look after me, but me, so I’ve made it a priority this month and have focused on some of the things that are good for me.

I’ve been patient with myself, and that’s been a gift. Letting myself have those lazy days, letting myself feel down, letting myself stress and moan about everything and nothing. I’ve allowed myself that time, I’ve been kind to myself during it, and I’ve know that I’ll come out of the other side, if I just have the patience to let myself get there.

I’ve been trying to plan. I realised that a lot of my stress came from having so many things to do and not knowing where to start. To be productive I felt like I just had to get on and do, but in doing so I found that not all that much got done. More recently, I’ve allowed myself the time to plan. I took a few hours one afternoon last week to go through everything that I could possibly think of, for work, my blog, my knitting, my house, myself. I committed time to organising lists, and scheduling tasks, and I’ve already been so much more productive for it.

I’ve been meditating almost every day. It’s something that I’ve worked into my morning routine, but I’ve also been managing to make time for it later in the day when my mornings are too busy, or too lazy, to do it first thing. It’s difficult to say how much of an impact meditation has had on me, because I’ve got to that stage where my current state is normal, so all of the benefits I’ve experienced don’t feel new anymore and are therefore harder to pinpoint. I do know that I’m more easygoing, I’m more peaceful within myself and I’m subconsciously putting into practice a lot of the lessons that meditation has taught me. If you’re interested, I use the calm app, and I love it.

I’ve been eating more vegetables, and trying to get into the habit of snacking. It’s an aim of mine to be more intuitive about the way that I eat, and learn which foods make me feel good, physically and mentally. Eating more vegetables definitely falls into that category, and it’s something that Sam and I have made a conscious effort to do throughout January. Through listening more to my body, I’ve learnt that hunger starts to express itself through headaches and a lack of concentration, just before lunchtime, so I’ve been trying to remember to add in a morning snack to help see me through. Satsumas and trail mix have proven to be good companions so far.

I’ve been tracking my water intake. It doesn’t always encourage me to drink the recommended daily amount, but it has provided me with a frame of reference, which again helps to understand why I sometimes might not be feeling my best. There’s no doubt about it, drinking enough water has an apparent affect on how I feel, and it’s amazing to see that in action.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading. Usually, knitting it my go-to down-time activity and my first port of call for evenings in, but this month reading has been more of a fixture. I’ve got a goal to read 30 books this year, but I don’t think that’s why I’m picking them up. I’ve got to the stage, having encouraged myself to read more for the past two years, that reading is really one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable things for me to do. It’s no longer a case of dedicated reading time to progress towards a goal, but instead a natural desire to turn the next page, and the next, and the next, and that’s wonderful.

I talk a lot about how important I believe it is to be kind to yourself, to be loving and to do what you need to, to look after yourself at a given time. I’m glad to be putting that into practice, and I hope I continue to do so.

How have you been looking after yourself in January? Is there anything that you’d like to make the time to do in February? I’d love to know!

ON FINDING IT HARD TO REDUCE MY WASTE

huyen-406544

huyen.

The past year has seen me make some big changes in the way I think about the environment, and my contributions to its decline.

Progressively I’ve become more and more aware of the issue, and more determined to make good, positive choices myself to help tackle it in the small ways I can.

I always carry canvas shopping bags, try to take my stainless steel water bottle with me wherever I go and never accept a straw, but I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a wall when it comes to reducing my waste.

I know there are more ways to progress, but they’re harder habits to break and I’m feeling in a bit of a funk about the whole thing every time I’m laden with plastic for the recycling bin, which I’m forever grateful that my council collects.

Thinking about my waste, and plastic waste in particular, there are a few keys areas that it comes from – meat packaging, vegetable packaging and the few beauty products that I still use.

Wherever possible, I always buy vegetables loose, and we’ve recently stopped using those thin plastic bags which is a good step, but I sometimes feel a little bad when the checkout assistant is trying to round up all of our rolling veggies! However, a lot of the vegetables we buy just aren’t stocked loose in the supermarket, and it would take a lot more schedule negotiation to visit a green grocer every time we need to do a shop.

And then there’s the meat. Now I know that the meat industry is hugely harmful to the environment, and I’m working to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan meals into my diet, but it’s a work in progress and Sam is very much a firm carnivore, so meat’s still a common presence in our house.

For the sake of ease, and apparent cost-effectiveness, we purchase our meat online through MuscleFood. The process has been a saviour for us, but it’s come at a cost. Everything we receive comes in some kind of plastic packaging, and there’s certainly not as many bulk options as I would like.

But without entirely overhauling our shopping, and perhaps eating, habits, how do I continue to reduce the waste that we’re producing?

I’ve got a couple of ideas that I’m determined to try, and I’m going to be patient and realistic with myself about them.

Firstly, I’d like to try to get loose vegetables from the green grocer once a month.

I also want to visit the local butcher, and stock up on some of our meat. They’re just around the corner, and honestly it’s a travesty that I haven’t been before now.

Finally, I’d like to review the way I get beauty products. My ideal would be to make my own, but in the meantime I think I’ll aim to buy products in glass jars, and trade bottles for bars wherever I can.

Thinking of just a few small actions I can take helps me to feel better about the whole situation, and makes it seem much more achievable that I definitely can continue to cut back on the waste I produce.

Have you got any waste-saving tips? I’m after anything you’ve got, so please drop me a comment and let’s get chatting!