I’m back and I’m, hopefully, going to be better than ever!

Based on your feedback last year (thank you to all of the wonderful people who filled in my survey) and some thinking I’ve been doing things are going to be changing a little bit around here.

I’m still going to be producing the content I want to make and I’m still going to be posting at the same times. But I’m going to be prioritizing quality over quantity which might mean that some weeks I’m only going to post twice.

I’m also going to be doing a few more regular features including a monthly “how to” design based post, monthly roundups of some of my favourite people/reads/links and a few more researched long-form pieces a bit like my design stories series last year. I also want to share a few more reviews, but we’ll see how that goes.

I’m also going to be way better at replying to comments – I got super overwhelmed at the end of 2017 and pretty much stopped, which doesn’t help foster the kind of community I want.

Personally, I’m implementing a few changes as well. I know that new year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone. A new year doesn’t have to mean a new you. But I’m the kind of person who likes to have a marker to review against, and a new year is as good an arbitrary marker as any other. So, I’ve set myself a few habit based challenges.

Just like last year, inspired by a friend from uni (the inimitable Tucker Cholvin), this year I decided to put together another poster of my new year’s resolutions to hang above my desk to remind me to stay on track because I really think it helped me stay on task. 

I’ve gone for 5 habits again this year, because it felt like a doable stretch last year and I succeeded (with a minor blip) on 4 out of the 5, which isn’t too bad. This year I’m going to:

  1. Read 25 books. This is 5 more than last year’s goal. I know for a lot of people, this might not seem like a lot, but my time to sit down and read full books for fun rather than articles is always very tight
  2. Take a photo/video of some kind every day. This is building on how much I enjoyed doing my one line a day journal last year (and am continuing).
  3. Learn 10 new skills. I really want to push myself to go to more classes and to try my hand and making a few new things – I’m kicking this one off with a screen printing workshop next month which I am super excited for!
  4. Do 120 hours of exercise. Last year I ran the equivalent distance from London to Edinburgh, this year I want to keep up that momentum but also start to try a few new things rather than just running, so I’ve gone from distance to time.
  5. Implement a better sleep schedule. Last year the resolution I failed (really hard) at was getting up without hitting snooze. One of the big issues was that I didn’t address the fact that I hit snooze because I’m tired, so this year it’s all about having a better, more regular sleep schedule.

Did you set any new resolutions or goals for the year? How are they going? If you’re struggling it’s not too late to put up something visual as a reminder (I really like the fill in as you go aspect of these posters) – they actually work!

And this is it, my last post of the year.

It’s been an incredible year, and I just want to take a moment to say thank you for the role you (yes you reading this) have played in it. Thank you for reading or commenting on anything I’ve made. It’s still weird for me to think that the things that I put out into the world get picked up by other people and resonate with them. Thank you for making this more than just a glorified online diary, for letting me make something just a little bit bigger.

Thank you so much for all of your support on my portfolio and shop. Whether you bought something, got in touch, or even just visited, it honestly means so much. This felt like a bit of a step up for me, and you all gave me the confidence to take that step with purpose.

Thank you to anyone who has dropped me a line to say hi! Hi back! I feel like I’ve made some really lovely internet pals this year, and I can’t wait to make more and for those relationships to grow. Also, I’m sorry that I’m sometimes really bad at responding, I promise it isn’t personal!  

And finally, thank you for all of the opportunities you have given me. So many of the things I’ve done and conversations I’ve had this year have been down to you giving me a platform. It’

I’m going to be taking around 3 or 4 weeks off blogging (and sporadically off social media) so that I can enjoy the holidays with my family and recharge ready for 2018. It’s been a big busy year and now it’s time for me to hit pause. But know that I will be coming back, hopefully, even better next year, especially now I’ve had the chance to really take your feedback on board.

Now that Christmas Christmas is almost upon us I thought I’d share a bit more of a personal post and share some of my favourite festive traditions.

 

CHRISTMAS EVE BUFFET

Christmas is 80% about the food for me (as you will be able to see on this list). On Christmas eve we always have a buffet which is a table full of all of the food that my mum has been “saving for Christmas”.

 

CHRISTMAS CAKE

The other big foodie even of Christmas eve is that we get to cut into the Christmas cake. It’s just a traditional fruit cake, but oh my is it tasty. Nothing says Christmas quite like it. When I was at home, my mum and I would bake it in September, at the start of the school year and let it develop (and soak up more and more brandy) in the run up to Christmas. Although I haven’t been there for the baking the last couple of years, I do still receive regular updates on how boozy it’s getting.

 

FESTIVE BATH

This is only a recent tradition, but because I don’t have a bath where I live now (or since I went to uni) I like to have a big festive bath and really take the time to soak and relax.

 

BREAKFAST BAGELS

As I said, there’s a lot of food involved in our Christmas traditions. Christmas breakfast means bagels (with Salmon and cream cheese normally) in my house as well as lots and lots of tea.

 

CHRISTMAS TV

The main activity in my family Christmas is watching TV. I basically become a vegetable over the holidays. We’ll watch pretty much anything from big blockbusters, to whatever the BBC has to offer, to Say Yes to the Dress and E! News we’re really not picky. Plus, if my dad gets a chance at the remote you can bet there will be some football on too.

 

PUZZLE TIME

The other thing we (well just my mum and I) do over the holidays is a jigsaw puzzle. I love puzzling. It’s so easy to get completely absorbed in finding the pieces, and it gets us away from the TV.

 

CHRISTMAS DINNER

Last but not least, you guessed it, it’s more food! Christmas dinner is probably my favourite part of Christmas. We have ours around 4pm so somewhere between lunch and dinner. It’s essentially just my mum’s roast dinner, but with some special festive touches. We’re talking crackers, Brussel sprouts, extra roast potatoes, and Yorkshire puddings.

I know we’ve only got a couple of days until Santa comes, but if you’ve got some time on your hands and you want to make the big day that little bit extra special I’ve pulled together a few of my favourite DIYs from some of my favourite blogs to give you a bit of inspiration.

 NUTE

DECORATIONS

Want to make your space even more festive? Well, here are just a few ideas of things you can make yourself at the last minute.

  1. Wit & Delight has not one, not two, but ten really lovely (and easy) DIY decoration ideas you can use to spruce up any room
  2. These mini paper trees aren’t just good for decorating cupcakes, you could put them on just about anything you serve in the next few days
  3. The Merrythought has the perfect table garland for your festivities

 

WRAPPING

If you’ve still got some wrapping left to do here are a couple of DIYs you might like.

  1. The lovely Hollie Arnett’s printable gift tags are as wonderful as all of her work if you’re looking for some labels
  2. Furry little peach, Sha’an d’Anthes has the best DIY gift wrap ideas in video form including using homemade rubber stamps and some abstract painting, both of which are super fun and come out with great results

 

FOOD

Does food count as a DIY? Never mind, if you’re cooking Christmas dinner this year or you’re looking for a little something to take with you to some one else’s here are a couple of my favourite things:

  1. My mulled wine recipe is great for any and every festive occasion
  2. Oh lady cakes’ gingerbread folk are the perfect sweet treats and super easy to make, plus they’re vegan
  3. Sweet, salty and simple, Katie Wahlman’s curry and brown sugar holiday snack mix is a great option for helping cure the pre/post-Christmas dinner munchies

I end up watching a lot of YouTube monthly favourites videos, the consistency of them is kind of soothing, and sometimes I genuinely do stumble across something I want to try. While, I’m not going to be doing monthly favourites – I don’t think I could ever buy enough to do that – I do want to share my favourites from the year almost gone with you.

This blog & my new portfolio

I know it’s a bit cheesy but this blog and my updated portfolio and store have been a real labour of love over the year, and it would be a real shame if they weren’t my favourites after all of the hours I’ve poured into them. They’ve offered me so many opportunities. But even if they hadn’t I’m so proud of the work that they hold, and the progress they evidence in my making.

Headphones

I’ve mentioned them before, but I’m mentioning them again now because this is a list of my favourite things this year and I’m not sure anything I’ve bought has brought me as much joy as my noise cancelling headphones. They have honestly changed my life a little bit. As someone who gets easily overwhelmed they’re the perfect way to help me focus, and also to block out the sound of the children next door murdering their piano.

Elizabeth Suzann Trench

I think I might have technically bought this jacket last year, but it only arrived in January so I think it still classes as a new favourite. From about March to October I wore this jacket every single day. It’s the perfect between weathers style and it really adds something special to whatever you wear it with. Plus, it has the most epic pockets you’ve ever seen – it’s like having 2 Mary Poppins bags in your coat.

 Illustrated Room Tour

Chair

If you read any of my home design mini-series you’ll know that the journey to me finding this armchair was a long and tricky one, but I’m so glad I waited until I found something that was right. It has been such an improvement not to have to sit on the floor to watch TV. Plus, I can imagine taking it with me wherever my home may be.

Book Club #3: Solar Bones by Mike McCormack alternative cover design

Solar Bones

Mike McCormak’s Solar Bones remains my favourite book of the year. It was featured quite early on in my book club – so if you want to find out what it’s about head over to my full review. But despite finishing it in February I still think about it from time to time, which for me is the sign that it’s going to be a personal classic. It’s one I can see myself going back to again next year for a re-read.

Oatly

This year I realized that dairy doesn’t love me quite as much as I love it. So Oatly (and Rude Health’s Almond Drink) has been an absolute savior. I think I actually prefer it to cow’s milk on my cereal and in my tea now. I do still miss cheese though – if anyone has any good non-dairy/vegan halloumi alternatives please let me know!

Necklace

I’m a big jewellery person, but I’m very picky. I don’t own a lot of pieces but the ones I do have to be just right, because I’ll probably never take them off. As well as adding to my Datter ring collection, this year I bought a lovely vintage opal pendant. After seeing La La Land (yes, this is another favourite for the year and yes, I can be that easily swayed) I really wanted a pendant, but it took me about 5 months to find one that really suited me. It’s a teardrop shaped opal (my grandma used to wear an opal ring I absolutely loved, because it seemed so plain until the colours caught the light) in a roped gold surround, and it makes me feel so fancy.

 hamish and andy podcast poster

Hamish & Andy

If you’ve read any of my podcast write ups, you’d know that I love Hamish & Andy. I’ve spent almost a decade listening to their podcast, and this year marked the end of their radio show (and so the podcast for all intents and purposes). They’ve been constant companions. I genuinely feel like I know them now, and the number of instant friends I’ve made when I’ve mentioned them and got a “oh wow I love them too, I had no idea anyone else in the UK listened” really shows the power of that bond. It was an incredible laughter filled final year. This one’s a bittersweet favourite.

Mechanical Pencil

This year I bought my first mechanical pencil and I fell in love. I’m now a complete Rotring convert. I love the consistency of the line. I love never having to bring a sharpener with me. I just generally love this pencil, I love it so much in fact that I now own 3.

 

Make up

In general, this year I feel like I’ve really enjoyed the make-up I’ve been wearing, whether that has been finding a base that really suits me or finally working out what to do with my eyebrows. But the hero product of the year, and it came in quite late, is the Glossier Generation lipstick in Zip which I have been wearing for any and every festivity I can. I would normally shy away from a bold red colour but this one is so easy to apply and because it’s a little bit sheer never feels too dressed up.