Let It Grow

This year I decided to try and grow some garden plants. We don’t actually have a garden, only a small balcony, but you can still do quite a lot in such a small space.

My track record with plants isn’t great, I once killed a succulent by over-watering it. Succulents are probably even easier to keep alive than cacti! Nevertheless I am determined to get better at this and to do my small part in keeping plants alive and thriving (and also bumble bees!).

Currently, we have a yucca plant, some lavender and a large pot containing a variety of flower seeds. I don’t know what any of them are but I know they are ‘bee friendly’; they were a Christmas present from a relative.

Something I didn’t know about growing new plants and flowers, is how exciting it is. When I first saw the greens shoots poking through I couldn’t contain myself. I counted 7 of them yesterday, there are now 20!

Here’s some photos:

I’ve planted the yucca in quite a large pot in the hope it will grow much bigger.
I’m using a nice jug to water them all. Not sure what to put in the spare pot yet as it’s very small! I’m thinking about some basil or another herb.

And here’s a photo of the large pot with the miscellaneous bee-friendly flowers growing in it from yesterday:

Look at them go!

I’m really excited to see what sort of flowers they grow into. Expect another update on my compact-sized garden very soon.

Back to it

A photo from Times Square, New York

It’s been a very, very long time since I last blogged. 19 months, to be exact.

I’ve really enjoyed the break. In those 19 months I’ve become a far less stressed person and now have no intention of reverting back to pre-19 month blogging break me. But I’ve missed blogging. Or as my boyfriend put it, I’ve ‘missed keeping track of everything’.

It’s true! I love documenting, listing, recording and reflecting, and a blog is a great way to do all of those things.

Since the lad hit the nail on the head with exactly what it is I miss I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to write about. I’ve never ever stuck to one topic – just in the same way I’ve never stuck at one ‘thing’ in any area of my life.

First I blogged about my daily life, and books. Then it was travel when I spent two years backpacking on and off. After this I moved to Melbourne for a year, and my blogs morphed into being about setting yourself up in a new city and seeking out cool things to do.

Then I came home and started putting the same spin on the cities in my home country – places like Sheffield, Leeds and even Doncaster. I gave seeing these places in the same positive way I saw Melbourne a really, really good go, but ultimately it wasn’t where I wanted to be.

Eventually, I got a job in Manchester and put the same spin on my blog there too, but after a few months I became incredibly burnt out and bored with what I was writing. I was also fed up of having to mirror every blog I did with posts on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook blah blah blah.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t even upload images to any of the posts and I miss that simplicity. I miss just writing for me, without even thinking about site analytics.

All’s well that ends well though, because learning about the promotional and analytical side did interest me and I was good at it. Fast forward to now and it is how I’ve ended up building a successful career in digital marketing. I’ve gone from freelancing and working part-time at a charity to managing and growing my own team in my current role at a big corporate company. Pretty chuffed with that to say the least.

Anyway, back to blog topics. I think what I’ve settled on is: How I Manage My Life. I mean things like living within my means, finding new ways to save money, learning to live in a more sustainable way. All stuff like that.

It’s exciting to be back!

Christmas at home

Today I’m back in Manchester after about a week at home for Christmas.

As always it’s been a much needed rest, I actually feel like I’ve been on retreat! I spent most all of my time eating, snoozing, watching films and reading books, and also exercising – we managed a three mile walk on Christmas day, an almost-six-mile walk on Boxing day, and the day after that my dad and I went for a nine mile run (!).

I always use Christmas as a chance to switch off and take stock, deciding which direction I want to steer myself in next year. This time I’ve decided I want less stress and more fun.

I want to focus on doing a good job at work and to keep learning new, relevant skills. I want to keep this blog ticking along nicely without putting any pressure on myself for it be to ‘established’ or ‘professional’. It’s mine so I can do what I want.

I want more time for leisure next year. I want to do a bit of travelling and really explore every last nook and cranny in Manchester. I also want to get my second book published, but you know what? If it’s late, it’s late!

Mum’s coconut and limoncello cake

This morning I baked shortbread and cooked a vegetarian bolognese, now I’m lounging around watching rubbish films and idly writing bits and pieces on my laptop. I feel very relaxed. This is what I don’t make enough time for – time where I can be idle, even lazy!

If I’m going to significantly reduce stress in my life it means I’m going to have to stop caring about a lot of things. I need to declutter my mental space. I did this after leaving Sheffield, and possibly took it a little bit too far (always one extreme to the other me!), but bloody hell it worked.

Less stress, more fun, and giving less of a f*** in 2017!

Focus on you

When I lived in Melbourne and in the two years after that, I really learnt how to focus on myself.

What happened as result, was that I started finding I could make time for the things I truly wanted. I started forming new habits and making different lifestyle choices. The people I was surrounded by changed too – I started meeting the kind of people I’d always wanted to meet. I lost my FOMO (fear of missing out) and replaced it JOMO (joy of missing out – real term!).

It’s carrying on here in Manchester. I am surrounded by good people. People who also focus on themselves.

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It makes me giggle when folk say social media makes people fake, I find the it’s the opposite. I can remember when I first found Lima’s Twitter page, I think it was just before or just after I moved here. I immediately knew I wanted to meet her – my first digital impression was that she was proactive, creative and enthusiastic about the things she cared about. She also has opinions – and I think that’s a sign of a person who thinks about things bigger than them. I really like people like that.

I had the same gut feeling the first time I digitally met Daisy, Sophie and many other good people. I even had the same gut feeling when I first viewed the flat I now live in! My housemate wasn’t actually here when I came to look around, so her friend let me in instead. Even though I hadn’t yet met her, straight away I knew I wanted to live in this flat. It’s the flat of someone who knows they want and is focussed on themselves.

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All the good in my life has come from focussing on me. I’ve been able to become fitter, healthier, more confident and less anxious about what the future might bring.

Le Pain Quotidien, Leeds

Last weekend I went to Leeds to catch up with some Yorkshire bloggers.

We’ve been having these meet ups for a couple of years now, it’s nice to get together and just chat with no pressure to blog (although I did take my camera, hence this blog post).

It was organised by Fran and there were new and old faces alike there. It was a great afternoon chatting with some lovely people!

We met at Le Pain Quotidien inside the new Victoria Gate centre in Leeds. I was very impressed with the design of the place, it’s gorgeous! Inspiring without being pretentious or too fancy – in my opinion. As for the restaurant, it well very blog-worthy. Light, pretty, lots of attention to detail and great food. Cue photo essay:

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Sarah’s beloved Pentax above there. It was great to catch up with Sarah, we haven’t actually seen each other since August!
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