HANDMADE DENIM SKIRT

IMG_20171010_103355-01

You may have seen a little while ago that I’ve been reigniting my love of sewing after a trip the The Great British Sewing Bee Live. Excitingly, I’ve already finished my latest project, and it’s a good one!

I’ve been working to balance my desire to make things, with my more recently acquired minimalist tendencies, so when it came to deciding on a new sewing project, I was mindful that it would have to fit with my wardrobe, and be something that I was actually going to wear.

Last year I made a skirt from the New Look 6843 pattern, View E, from a beautiful, bold floral fabric that my Mum kindly gave to me. I absolutely loved it, and wore it a lot last winter with a roll neck, thick tights and chunky boots. This year, though, while I did wear it to the Sewing Bee, I don’t quite feel like myself in it, so I set about recreating it in a fabric that would suit my current style – black denim.

The pattern itself is quite easy, and I find the instructions are really simple to follow, so I was able to whip the whole thing up within a morning, having already made sure I had the right zipper and buttons, something I’m not particularly good at doing!

IMG_20171010_103457-01

IMG_20171010_103525-01

IMG_20171010_103613-01

I have to be honest and say that I’m really pleased with the result. The fit is brilliant, and I can already see countless items in my wardrobe that I can wear with it, so I’m sure it’s going to see a lot of use over the coming months. I also think it’s long enough to wear with bare legs in the spring and summer, so I’m hoping it will become an evergreen wardrobe staple.

Advertisements

APPRECIATING THE CHANGING SEASON

IMG_20171011_123537-01

I’m grateful for the darkness in the morning, because it means I always wake feeling cosy.

I’m grateful for the crisp chill in the air, because it clears away the cobwebs like nothing else can.

I’m grateful for the changing colour of the leaves, because it reminds me of the beauty of time and the temporary nature of our world.

I’m grateful for the longer evenings, because they give me time to spend in snug settings with the people who mean the most.

I’m grateful for the fruits of the season, because root vegetables in a roasting tray bring me all the joy.

I’m grateful for the twinkling lights in the evening, because they show me the beauty of a town alive.

I’m grateful for seasonal celebrations, because they bring the family together through traditions long-since made.

I’m grateful for the falling conkers, because they hark back to memories of a youth well-lived.

I’m grateful for big mugs of hot chocolate, because nothing feels better than a warm, sweet hug from the inside.

CREAMY CHICKEN PASTA WITH GREENS

IMG_20171002_135530-01-01

I love a pasta dish. It’s definitely a staple in our house, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This creamy chicken pasta with greens is easy to whip up, and is the perfect filling meal to see you through the day, and get some of those much-needed veggies in.

I’m not much of a cook, so I tend to go for dishes that are basic, accessible and require little effort, and this really fits the bill. I also reckon it would tupperware well, so you could always double the quantities so you’ve got lunch for the next day.

CREAMY CHICKEN PASTA WITH GREENS

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into pieces
  • 150g wholewheat fusilli pasta
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 100g green beans, chopped
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Add the chicken and brown off
  3. Place the pasta in a pan of boiling water
  4. Add the spring onions, green beans and mushrooms to the chicken
  5. Cook until the chicken is cooked through
  6. Add the frozen peas to the pasta
  7. Add the creme fraiche, along with about 100ml of the pasta water and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, to the chicken and greens, and mix
  8. Once the pasta and peas are cooked, drain, and add to the pan with the chicken and greens, and give it a good mix
  9. Serve the creamy chicken pasta with greens into bowls, and top with some finely grated cheddar cheese

6 THINGS I DO TO RELIEVE STRESS

IMG_20171007_135448-01

Stress is not a stranger around here, I can’t deny that. I tend to try to live in the present, but when I look back over these past nine months or so, I can see why this hasn’t been my calmest year.

Life is always going to throw things your way. Whether it’s an hour, a week or a whole year of taxing times, it can be difficult to deal with, but one thing is sure – you can get through it.

While you might not be able to affect the situation, there are things that you can do to help you deal with it better. I’ve found these things so helpful when everything is getting on top of me, and so I wanted to share them in case they can help you, too.

Take five deep breaths

It might not seem like much, but, trust me, this can make a huge difference to how you’re feeling. I found this tip in September’s issue of The Simple Things magazine, and I thought it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. I always close my eyes, and focus on pulling in as much air as I can through my nose, then breathing out slowly through my mouth. It’s kind of magical to experience those stresses falling away as I re-centre myself with my breath. I always feel more ready to face whatever is in front of me after I’ve done it.

I’ve also set a daily reminder on my phone, so each morning I see ‘take five deep breaths’ and I always do it. It’s really had an impact!

Make a cuppa

They may joke that tea fixes everything, but it certainly helps me when I’m feeling stressed. I think there are a few ways this helps to calm me, really. It forces me to step away from whatever it is that I’m doing. I need to go to the kettle, pour in the water and wait for it to boil, so it refocuses my mind and gives me a change of scenery.

After that, there’s something I find so comforting about hugging that warm mug close to my chest, and sipping on the hot tea, which itself is like a hug from the inside. This also gives me more time to change pace. You can’t glug down a boiling cuppa so it forces you to take things a little slower, which I also finds helps with thought-processing in stressful situations.

Get a hug

I’m sure there’s something about endorphins here, but all I know is that a good squeeze does wonders. It helps to focus on someone else, and human contact is a winner. I always feel better after a hug!

Take a bath

This is one that I’ve only recently come back to. Since moving out of home, I hadn’t had a bath in around two years, but Sam recently convinced me that I should give it a go to help relieve my stresses and, of course, he was right. I like to have the water a little too hot, lots of bubbles, maybe a candle or two, and my favourite podcasts playing to keep me entertained.

Knit

Knitting is one of my favourite things to do, and I often say that it feels to me like a form of meditation. There’s something about the repetitive motion that calms me down and helps me to leave those stresses behind. Even if you’re not a knitter, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go. A basic knit stitch is easy enough to pick up, and remember, you’re doing it for the process, not the finished product.

Go for a walk

There’s nothing like being in nature to open you up and help to gain perspective. It’s a wonderful, healing thing to do, and it’s saved me on a few occasions this year. I also find walking is the perfect time for me to work through any thoughts that have been bothering me. It always helps me to find clarity, and I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while walking! Plus, exercise is a winner, so getting your body moving is sure to help, too!

I’d also encourage you to try a few different things to see what works for you. Each of us is different, and that’s what makes us all magical, so don’t worry if my tips don’t work – but something out there will.

 

TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WISH TO BE TREATED

IMG_20171007_135356-01

Treat others the way you wish to be treated. It’s kind of a cliché, isn’t it? It’s one of those sayings that I’ve grown to roll my eyes at, but perhaps I’ve been ignorant to what it could really mean.

I thought about this phrase recently. As with a lot of things that pop into my head, I don’t quite know why, and yet it left a lasting impression. Suddenly I could see beyond the words, the way they are bandied around but rarely heeded, and absorb something that gave me pause to think.

What would happen if I actually tried to do this?

What if, instead of hoping that something nice would happen to me, I did something nice for someone else. Wouldn’t I feel better if I gave that positive energy, instead of feeling resentful when I’m not receiving it?

What if I lived my relationship by constantly striving for my partner’s happiness? I read about this somewhere, a long time ago, a forgotten thought that now seems logical. Wouldn’t I feel great, surprising him to a nice dinner or going out of my way to do little things to make him smile? Wouldn’t that kindness beget kindness? Would it even matter if it did?

How would I feel if I set aside time each week to take actions for other people? Consider something that I would like to experience, and do that for someone else. Would it make me think less about myself? Would it bring me closer to my friends and family? Would it give me more reasons to smile?

Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Yes. But it takes work to do that. Effort that you have to make, the conscious decision to put it into practice until it becomes natural, but gosh, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Yes. But also treat yourself that way. Be as kind to yourself as you would like for others to be. Tell yourself nice things. Do those little things to make yourself smile.

I guess we all just want to be treated with kindness. Perhaps if we treated each other, and ourselves, this way, kindness would be our natural state of being. I’m not saying that I’m not kind, and that people don’t treat me well, they absolutely do, but imagine the possibilities if we all took this more seriously.

Perhaps I won’t need to imagine that soon, perhaps it will be clear as day, right in front of me. I’m certainly going to make the effort to try. Won’t you join me?

DE-CLUTTERING MY WARDROBE

IMG_20171003_113952-01

For a while now I’ve been on a desperate mission to de-clutter everything in my life. I think this comes from a bit of a love affair with minimalism, starting to understand the things I find to be truly valuable, and really getting embedded in my personal style.

I’ve been stripping my bookshelves, downsizing my yarn stash and being brutal with under-bed storage, but the thing that’s taken the biggest hit is my wardrobe.

I’ve never been particularly interested in the whole capsule wardrobe thing. There seemed to be rules around it, and while I’m a stickler for the rules with a lot of things in life, my personal style is not one of them. I prefer to be wholeheartedly, passionately and unapologetically myself when it comes to what I wear.

But lately I’ve been on a style evolution. I think it has a lot to do with getting older, growing up and finding my stride with who I am for the long haul, and the threads of my early twenties just don’t cut it anymore. I’d find myself in that awful sink-hole every morning, staring at a rail full of clothes that I just didn’t want to pick up. Whether they were too bold, too old or just too cold for the current weather I’m not sure, but one thing was certain – they didn’t make me feel good. And what use are clothes that don’t do that?

After three wardrobe edits, an eBay session and multiple charity shop drops, I still wasn’t satisfied. I started to do something I never thought I would, and found my eyes lingering on capsule wardrobe edits on Pinterest. 36 pieces. Seasonal splits. Closet essentials. I couldn’t get on board with those things, but I still couldn’t get enough. I think it was the simplicity of it. The ease.

So I did something that felt quite drastic at the time. I took every single thing out of my wardrobe and divided it into three piles. I love this and I’d buy it if I saw it now. I like this, but for some reason don’t wear it often. I just don’t actually like it.

Pile number three went straight to the charity shop, and pile number one went straight back in the wardrobe. Pile number two was given a little more attention. I tried each item on, asking myself what I liked and didn’t, and why I didn’t wear it. If it was because it was a seasonal item, or I didn’t have quite the right thing to wear with it, I held on. If not, I bagged it up and tucked it at the back of my wardrobe out of sight. A couple of months down the line and I haven’t given it another thought, so it’s out with the lot of it.

Looking at my wardrobe after this was kind of wonderful. There was barely anything left, but it felt so good. I was probably left with the only clothes that I’d actually been wearing, but it was so refreshing to see them there, not fighting for space with tonnes of items I’d fallen out of love with.

And one thing was drastically clear. I’m not a fan of colour.

Looking at my wardrobe now, I have just a handful of items of colour, and three of those are blue denim. The rest tend to be more occasional wear, that don’t sit with my daily essentials but that I know I’ll want when it comes to Christmas party season or the next wedding invite rolls around. Other than that, everything else is black, white or grey, and I’ve never felt better.

Getting dressed every morning is a breeze. I know that any item I pick up will be something I like, that makes me feel good and that will go with everything else in my wardrobe. I cannot tell you how much stress this process has eliminated!

One of the most freeing realisations I had during my wardrobe overhaul was learning to say no to things that aren’t comfortable. It was something Madeleine Olivia touched on in one of her videos, and the thought really struck a chord with me. Why am I wearing clothes that make me feel uncomfortable, just because they look good or it’s the ‘done’ thing to do? Since then I’ve given up underwired bras and spend my time in M&S cotton bralettes, which are honestly so comfortable. I’ve also ditched my favourite vintage Levi’s shorts and Wrangler jeans, because really, who wants to be living with a constant wedgie? It seems so obvious once you get there, but I definitely needed a hand to guide me along the way!

Now, I’m so excited about the changing season. I’m getting back into my favourite jumpers, and will be knitting up a new cardigan to fill the gap that’s missing. What’s even better though, is that almost everything I was wearing this summer is versatile enough to see me through winter, too. Vests will become base layers to keep out the cold, while skirts and dresses will be worn with tights, jumpers and chunky boots.

It sounds kind of superficial to be talking so much about clothes, but, honestly, the difference this process has made in my life is unfathomable. Now, my wardrobe is no longer a source of stress, and instead helps me to be the calmest, most authentic, version of myself, and I couldn’t ask for more than that.

SIX YEARS WITH SAM

IMG_20171004_124656-02

Six years feels like all of time and no time at all. It’s as if it’s always been this way, and yet as though it’s only just begun.

I don’t make a habit of looking back, but when I do it’s quite humbling to realise where we’ve been. I’m so used to the people that we are now, that I forget all of the people that we’ve been before.

We were just kids when we met. We have grown up together. We’ve become stable, well-rounded adults and we’ve helped each other to shape into who we are today.

We’ve learnt so much in the past six years, about who we are and what we want, individually and together. Thankfully, those pieces seem to fit together pretty well to create a tapestry of life and experience that we’re both happy with.

We balance each other out. I can’t remember how anxious I used to be, but I know that Sam has calmed me down. His personality has rubbed off on me, and I’m so much more comfortable with letting go of control, because he’s so chilled and relaxed. I also like to think that some of my organisation and preparation hasn’t gone amiss in helping Sam to grow, too!

These six years have been easy. It’s felt natural and right to have Sam as my partner through everything. He’s been my stability when things have been rocky, and I hope that I have been his. Our life is a quiet one, but it’s ours, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to celebrating six years, and many, many more.