Monday, 27 June 2016

Simple Goodness




This month has been all about simple pleasures for me. I left my job at the beginning of June (which you can read about here) and started working from home as a freelance writer. This has meant many changes including learning to be strict with my time and being purposeful with my day as well as relishing in the fact I can go to work in pjs. It has also meant a massive cut in income as I am now living off savings, obviously this is quite hard but it has also been quite good for me as I have learnt more about enjoying the little things in life. My goal is to live a slow life and having less money has meant I've learnt to appreciate everything a lot more and so although difficult June has been very beautiful. And so I decided to do a sort of monthly favourites for June but focusing on the simple things in my life this month that have made it good.

1. Watching The Rain - I wrote a whole post on rainy summer days which you can read here, but for me watching the thunder storms in June has been amazing. I love the way it sounds, smells and looks as water cascades from the sky and falls out of the gutters of my house like a water fall. I find it very calming its helped me to enjoy being still in the moment.

2. Reading The Simple Things Magazine - If I could create my own magazine which had everything I loved in it this would be it. I came upon it completely by chance and I am so glad I did, I love to be able to sit down in an afternoon and read a whole magazine but I often find there are never any I want to read. I am really not interested in celebrity gossip, or how to lose 10 stone in a week or finding out about the latest sex tips. I like to read interesting articles that make me think and to learn new things. I want it to be relaxing and enjoyable and relatable and that is exactly what The Simple Things is. It is a lovely magazine all about enjoying The Simple Things in life such as food, travel, friends and nature. I would highly recommend you go and pick yourself up a copy!

3. Baking For My Friends - I used to bake a lot before I came to university but after putting on a lot of weight in my first year and then losing it again I became quite scared of making anything bad to eat. But having a little more time to myself now I have really enjoyed getting back into baking and have started to learn how to bake delicious and healthy cakes as well as the unhealthy ones. Although I try to lead a very healthy lifestyle I think having the odd treat is part of what makes life good and sharing that with my friends has definitely made it 10 times better. These cupcakes were baked especially for my bible study group and we really enjoyed them.

4. Doing Yoga - Whilst I was working full time I struggled to fit my exercise in and so now I am working from home I find it a lot easier. I love doing yoga, it really helps to calm and centre me as well as give me a good stretch out. I also use my yoga time to pray starting off with a bible study before hand and then continuing in conversation with God as I go. Its honestly the best way to start the day!

5. Watching The Harry Potter Films - I was lucky enough to get to go to Harry Potter Studios in London for my birthday this year with my fiancé and once we got back we wanted to watch all the films again. So we decided to watch all 8 in order and its been really nice just slowly watching them over the last month or so.

I've had a really amazing June and I've got a lot of exciting things coming up in July so look out for those. Let me know in the comments below the simple things you've enjoyed this month. 
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Friday, 24 June 2016

Wonderland





I didn't really intend for these photos to be styled or themed, they were just photos that Russell and I took when we went out for a walk one day. Once I got home, however, I was surprised to see they reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. I think it has to do with the way the forest looks so big around me and the peter pan collar probably adds to the look as well. These were taken at the Boarstall Duck Decoy, a device I had never heard of or seen that was used for catching ducks back in the day so they could be eaten. The Decoy is essentially a large pond with channels coming off it that get narrower and narrower, the channels are covered in a net and eventually what happens is the ducks get caught up in the net. It was quite interesting to learn about from the lovely volunteer at the entrance but what we enjoyed more were the beautiful woods surrounding the decoy. 

Russell and I love to go for country walks as you will know if you often read my blog and we are always looking for new and interesting places to go. Luckily with our National Trust membership we don't have to look far. The woods at Boarstall Duck Decoy were once used for hunting but are now full of wildlife such as bats and many different species of bird as well as a beautiful array of wild flowers. It was the perfect place to have a relaxing walk on a Sunday afternoon and we'd definitely like to go back. 

Life has been busy and a bit stressful lately but I am trying to make sure I relish those quiet moments spent outdoors with Russell. Living in the present has been a big part of my 2016 and I find that less and less I looking forward to the future and instead I am learning to enjoy what we have now. 





What I Wore...
Skirt - Asos | Top - H&M | Cardigan - M&S | Brogues - Primark

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Things To Do On Rainy Summers Days



Lets be honest a summer spent in Britain normally means as many rainy days as sunny ones and although I complain about the weather as any normal British person should I do love a good summer rain storm. We have actually been having quite a few this past fews weeks down in Oxford and so I've suddenly found myself with an excuse to keep cosy and snuggle down on my sofa. I thought I would do a post on all the things I love to do when thunder strikes.

1. Watch The Rain - when I hear that first crack of thunder I always get excited. I don't know what it is about thunder storms that make me happy, the dramatic noises, the way everything sparkles or the smell of fresh rain but whatever it is I love them. So one of my favourite things to do is simply sit on my sofa with the two french windows open into my garden and watch the down pour. I find it's like watching the ocean or a flame, very soothing and calming, I enjoy being still and sitting in the present moment watching Gods creation.

2. Go For A Walk In It - this is definitely one of the funnest things to do. I love a good rainy walk in my wellies and waterproof. I like to go out with absolutely no make up on and just feel the rain fall all over me without a care in the world. One tip would be not to wear jeans though as me and my fiancé experience during a rainy walk, it makes things a lot harder.

3. Cosy Up With A Book - I love reading be it in the winter in front of a fire or lying in the grass under the sun in summer so a rainy day is a perfect excuse for me to chill out on the sofa with a book. I love to open a window and let the sound of the pouring rain soothe me as I'm reading.

4. Get Creative - Be that singing, dancing, writing, colouring or baking whatever floats your boat! I love to colour on a rainy day and I have recently discovered a love for making floral crowns. I can happily spend a rainy afternoon crafting away at my dinner table. You never know what you might come up with!

So there you have it my rainy day activities! What do you like to do in the rain? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Birthday Cocktails





"Cocktails: Because no great story started with some one eating a salad"

Being a blogger has given me the excuse to do lots of things I've always wanted to do, mainly prancing about in pretty outfits surrounded by beautiful countryside whilst my fiancé takes pictures of me, but it also gives me the opportunity to try new and exciting things like going to a cocktail bar. Now I'm not a huge alcohol drinker much to my fiancé's dismay (you can read his drinks blog over here) but I am open to trying different drinks in the hope I will find one I like. So when the lovely people at Be At One Oxford sent me an invite to their first birthday party I knew I couldn't refuse.

Both me and my fiancé had been thinking about going for quite a while to Be At One as it looked like quite a fun place to spend a Friday night but as is often the way for one reason or another we just hadn't made it. So I was really excited to go last Friday and they definitely didn't disappoint. The staff were so lovely and friendly and I tried a couple of cocktails one of which I really liked and we also enjoyed the delicious complimentary pizza that was being handed around. At first we sat on one of the seats by the windows looking out at Oxford passing by but later on we joined the party downstairs in the basement. It was a really fun night and I think both me and Russell really enjoyed spending some time doing something we wouldn't necessarily do normally. I think it would be an amazing place to have a party and I definitely love to go back at some point.




What I Wore...
Dress - Retro Attire Tewkesbury | Shoes - Primark | Bag - Primark
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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Okay....I Trust You



"Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5

Something rather odd happened the other day. I was walking down a busy Oxford street, the bright sun shining down on my head when I heard God speak to me. Not in the way I feel I've heard before through others, through books, through songs - no this time I actually heard him speak. It was a little disconcerting to say the least and I did wonder if I had in fact gone mad or just imagined the whole thing, but then I remembered I believe in a God who moves mountains, creates rainbows and sacrificed himself so we can all live and so actually him talking to me first thing on a Monday morning wasn't really that big of a deal. And yet just in that moment it was exactly what I needed to hear. But for you to understand I will have to go back a little and give a bit of a life update so bare with me whilst I explain.

For those of you who don't know, after a long struggle I left university in November (you can read about that here) and decided I was going to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I decided to get myself a part time job earning enough money so that I could afford to live and spend every spare moment I could find to write. However after multiple job interviews, job offers and one false start I was left with a job working 40 hours a week, standing on my feet all day and absolutely no time or energy to do anything more than stick the tv on when I got home from work. I loved working with the girls in my team and I would have a lot of fun during the day but as it became increasingly obvious that I wouldn't have the time to dedicate to the things I actually wanted to do i started to get a little bit restless. All along I had been saying to myself that 2016 was going to be the year I tried to achieve my dreams and if I failed at least I tried but here I was getting comfortable in a job and to be honest just giving up. And so I started to pray. I asked God for a way out, I asked him to lead and to guide me, I asked him if he wanted me to stay in my job or to be a writer, I asked him if this dream in my head was something he wanted or something I wanted. I prayed so hard for weeks, I felt lost and confused but I kept on praying.

I am a great believer that pray is powerful but I also believe that you can't just sit around waiting for God to drop it in your lap you have to get up and push some doors and pray he will open the right one. And so as well as praying I started to push a few doors. I applied for multiple part time jobs, I tried to get a part time position at my current work and I went to job interviews. But despite all these efforts nothing came back, every door I pushed was closed. And so I started to get angry and frustrated and I prayed harder asking him if he wanted me to stay in my job that he bring me joy there. But still I was left feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, I wasn't doing what I had left university to do and instead I had just gotten myself into another trap. Why couldn't I get another job? Why were the doors not opening?

I thought about it constantly until finally one day I sat down with my fiancé and we looked at my accounts. I wanted to see if I could leave my job without having another job to go to. I had been saving and paying off my rent earlier than I was supposed to and I knew soon the only things left to pay for would be my food and living costs. After a few calculations and carefully thinking I realised I had enough money to live off until the beginning of September. Although this was becoming a serious viable option I knew it was a dangerous one. What if I ran out of money? What if something major happened and I needed more money than I thought I did? And so I continued to apply for part time jobs but again I got nothing back, the door was always closed. But I started to feel God speak to me through different things, the book I was reading, the bible verse I was looking at or a talk on Sunday. He seemed to be saying you can sit where you are at the edge of the cliff comfortable but always wondering what is on the other side or you can jump and let me catch you. And so I decided to hand my notice in without having another job to go to. I jumped but there was the possibility of a part time job at my current work coming available later in the month and I still had an interview in a few weeks so I didn't feel particularly worried but it was still quite scary.

My first day without a job I had an interview in a shop I loved, working 1-2 days a week with possible over time when people were on holidays. It was exactly what I was looking for. I would have time to write and try to make money that way but I would still have a safety net. I sat down to the interview feeling very confident that this was a door God would open and the first thing the interviewer said was "we need a Sunday girl" and I knew I couldn't do it. I left the interview feeling disheartened, worried and scared. What was going on? Had God not spoken to me at all? Was I making a huge mistake? Should I run back to my old work and beg for my job back? And thats when I heard him speak to me "Trust me my love" he said. At first I thought I was just imagining it but then it repeated itself in my head and was soon followed by a verse from proverbs "do not lean on your own understand". As I sat down to wait for the bus those words were ringing through my ears and I realised I needed to stop. I said I wanted to make this dream a reality with God at the centre and that was what I needed to do. I had to stop worrying and stressing and instead just follow this dream wherever it might lead me because God will always provide and look after those that are faithful to him and so I said "Okay, I trust you".

There was no massive clatter of thunder or a streak of lightening across the sky following that decision but God carried on talking to me. As soon as I made that decision I got a text from my fiancé to say he had finally got himself a summer job after dropping his CV off with the manager. She hadn't even interviewed him just given him the job straight away. I was then invited to my first event as an Oxfordshire blogger which I am super excited for and all the little things I had been worried about started to sort themselves out. I still don't know what will happen at the end of summer, I am hoping to be published in one way or another and able to make some kind of money from my writing so I can survive but I'm praying about it. I trust that God has got this. Its the biggest step of faith I think I have ever taken and quite hard for some one with anxiety but I trust he will take care of us and so I am living day to day, writing, blogging, reading, baking and creating the slow, calming life I want to live. Ive given it all up to God and I know that in the end he will always be there to catch me if I fall but at the moment he wants me to try to fly. 
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Monday, 13 June 2016

What I Read | May



One of my big resolutions this year was to find more time to read. I love reading, I always have but when you're working full time and planning a wedding and also trying to write your first novel there isn't always a lot of time for reading. Or should I say there isn't enough time for watching tv, exploring pinterest, catching up on other blogs and reading. But as I said in my previous post about my night time routine I have been trying to turn off screens by a certain time, not only has this helped me sleep but it has also given me an excuse to tuck up in bed with a good book. And so I find myself reading more than ever before and catching up on a few books I've been meaning to get into for a while.

The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After is definitely going on my list of feel good books. The author Jenny Colgan is one of my absolute favourites and I am now nearly always bound to buy her latest release. This book however was given to me by a friend after she read the back and decided the book was clearly specially written just for me (I love finding those books) and I have to say I agree with her. The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After is about a quiet book worm called Nina who after losing her job at the library in Birmingham decides to buy a van and turn it into a travelling book shop and move to a tiny little village in the Scottish highlands. The book is a story of self discovery, creating the life that makes you happy and romance - everything I ever need in a book.

I am never disappointed with a Jenny Colgan book but this one was particularly special due to the fact it was written for and about book worms and about the changing power of books as well as being set in beautiful Scotland. It was both hilarious and heart wrenching and definitely caused me to think more about what it was I wanted in life. I like a book that makes me think and this one not only caused me to wonder about what I wanted from life but also encouraged me to go out and get it. The protagonist is so relatable, simply a girl who bucks up the courage to follow her dream and inspired me to do likewise. Colgans amazingly realistic portrayal of the Scottish countryside, community life and the stark contrast with the city life of Birmingham made it all the more relatable. Having lived in suburbs and cities all my life I could totally relate with that feeling of utter peace and calm the countryside of Scotland brings. I really really enjoyed this book and it just goes to show how well my best friend knows me, it really was a book written just for me.


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