Leaving the Ghost of Autumn Past

Oh I LOVE Autumn!

*Edit* I've always loved the idea of autumn, and falling leaves, and all things mustard... basically anything you'd want for an #basicblogger flatlay. Glastonberry, I'm looking at you! On paper, Autumn is Sophie in a nutshell, and I'm not just talking about my love of squirrel decor.

There's the cosy knitwear for one thing, and the fact it's now socially acceptable to order hot drinks.... with the exception of that Trumpkin spiced latte #unpopularopinion. The TV is better, the vlogger hauls are dreamier and there are SO MANY opportunities to unleash my inner crafter (hello pine cone bunting and knitting my dog a Weasley jumper ) Last but not least, those falling leaves... 
Oh Autumn
I want to swipe rightleft *google* right and Fall into your Love Story. Yet like the snowman I plagiarised at the start of this post, my idea of you always seems to surpass reality. For when you put throw me in Autumn, I'm not such a happy snowman human. If past experience is anything to go by, I'm more likely to sing Look What You Made Me Do/I Knew You Were Trouble/We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.... until next Autumn, when we Begin Again with the same old story and realise there is such a thing as too many Taylor Swift references. 

These negative associations go back to my school days, when Autumn meant the pressure of a New Academic year, proving myself to teachers, essay-writing perfectionism and pushing through mock exams in a freezing cold hall (Apparently a new Head Girl plaque was more economical than heating). In my first year of University it got better; I remember Halloween/Bonfire Night celebrations and *trying* to join in. However, a bereavement in September 2014 triggered old coping-mechanisms: perfectionism and anorexia. By Autumn 2015 I was pushing my mind/body beyond what was healthy; juggling Newspaper Press Days with Essay all-nighters and not even allowing myself a plain-old latte. Anorexia enjoyed stealing the milk from my coffee.
By Christmas 2015 it finally caught up with me and I was suspending my studies to start IP treatment for 3 months. Upon discharge, I did make progress and sustain recovery for several months. By August 2016, I was starting a part-time job and planning a return to University in January. Long story short, I couldn't cope. It was zero-hours contract and there were huge issues with management. My anxiety rocketed, my physical health deteriorated and I was readmitted in November 2016. 

In a (rambling) nutshell, that's the Ghost of Autumn for you. My mind gets so muddled at this time of year, because I don't know how to feel. I want to embrace all the things that speak to Sophie, yet I have this shadow behind me that I can't shake off. I'm scared. There I said it. I am scared. I'm scared of that 12 month mark since my admission and what feelings that will bring. I'm scared that I'm not strong enough. So yes, I'm scared... just in case you missed it! But I will not run scared

How do we solve a problem like Last Autumn? How do we catch the ghost and pin it down? (I really need to Let It Go with the soundtrack references). Well, I have an idea. I might not be able to get Olaf's Naivety on instant download, or become a ghostbuster and erase those memories, but I can create new ones. So to end this post, here's how I'm building my own personal flurry....


     TEACHER TUESDAYS     


I currently volunteer at a Primary School each Tuesday and I absolutely love it. I will be talking more about this in a Video for Mental Health Awareness Day, but it truly is the highlight of my week and the best motivation for recovery. Tomorrow I am going to check that the placement is for the full Autumn term, as my last school placement was just 6 weeks. I would love to continue until christmas, so hopefully they feel the same! Simply the thought of a school nativity makes me as excited as Hermione on World Book Day

     MINDFUL DOG WALKS     


I've made no secret of my love for nature rambles  and when I see those falling leaves... there's no comparison. Yet that's the thing - you have to see them! At University, I didn't. I was on auto-pilot, rushing up and down hills, running between lectures and the library, obsessively walking around supermarkets and refusing to get a taxi in the pouring rain. I barely noticed the trees change colour, or felt the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. 

This is where mindfulness comes in. I want to truly savour autumn. I want to frolic through the fields of wheat leaves with Millie and do my best impression of Theresa May Sandi and Noel. I want to take my camera with me and capture the beauty of it so I can look back and remember. I want to walk and then stop. Take a second to stop and see Autumn awakening. , rather than keep my eyes shut in the past. 

One month in and I'm pleased to say this has happened! If I ever find negative thoughts creep in, telling me to walk faster, I tune into a Podcast or stop and take a photo. They're only small things, but they really have helped... as does Millie! power walking isn't an option when there are leaves to roll in nuts to scavenge and branches to attempt to pick up. Bless her little cotton paws. 



     IN A KNUTSHELL     


My Etsy Store! Specifically, Harry Potter meets Etsy, which hopefully explains the Knut pun. I have Galleons of ideas for autumn/winter themed crafts, but I am reminding myself to take small steps! is just a little acorn right now and I must be careful of the perfectionism/pressure trap. So I've started to list down my ideas and create realistic, attainable goals for the rest of Autumn. The last photo in the collection below, may give a clue as to my latest thought... Warm Hugs anyone? If there are any digital prints/crochet creations you'd like to see, please share your ideas in the comments!

     Pick A Pumpkin Or Two     


Mum, Dad, Millie and I all went to a Pumpkin Patch last year and it was a childhood dream come true! However, it was very close to my admission and I my physical/mental health prevented me enjoying it to the full. This year, I will have the energy to chase after Millie and not feel frozen to my fingertips. I want to carve the pumpkin and not let perfectionism take over/tell me it's not 'good enough'. No doubt it will try, but to that I reply with some wisdom from JK Rowling...

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case you have failed by default."
 

     FALLING FLAT WHITE     

Coffee with all the frothy, soya goodness. Need I say more? Actually, no. You don't need to say anymore Sophie. You don't need to ramble. Coffee, soya, frothy goodness = priorities sorted.

     IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY     

Honesty. The last flake in my Autumn flurry, but possibly the most important. This time last year, I was once again falling wearing the mask of "I'm okay". I was pushing people away. I was writing blog posts that, in all truth, didn't convey the reality of what was happening. I was scared... like I am now. Like I am most hours of most days. But the difference now is that I'll try to say it. I won't shame myself into silence, because I won't follow the Ghost of Autumn back to hospital. 

Compared to a year ago, I have this will and reason to fight. It was the thought of my future Matildas that led me downstairs five minutes ago and to the snack cupboard. When I saw a double-digit blood sugar number and the idea of eating felt "impossible", the possibility of future Miss Honey Miss Harrison led me back upstairs with snack-in-hand. A snack I am currently eating, through tears, as I write the final words of this post. 

Perhaps this is too honest, or I'm too weak. Perhaps no one even reads this, in which case I'm talking to myself and none of that even matters. Last night, I tweeted about deleting my blog; I thought that I wasn't good enough/it was self-indulgent/no one reads it. I very nearly acted on those anxieties this morning... yet somehow I ended up writing this and it has reminded me of what does matter: writing. Just writing, even if no one reads, because it's made me believe in myself and this little Autumn flurry. Perhaps that is enough.

NEW Fortnightly Favourites #8

When I began Fortnightly favourites, the plan was to post every fortnight... not that the name gives this away or anything. That being said, I think I let my inner literature-student call the shots here and shot my functioning self in the foot. Alliteration is a lovely thing, but it doesn't look so pretty when you're stressing out over another week gone, another post not published. 

If you're unfamiliar with my Fortnightly Favourites series, it is where I round up my favourite blog reads from the 'fortnight', from travel inspiration to wellbeing lessons to live by. I always chose posts that spoke to me, so never picked them for the likes; no offence to the 101 reviews of MAC's latest lipstick, but I'd choose 101 coffee recommendations or fluffy dalmatians any day. That''s just me.

*This com-paw-ison just reminded me that MAC aren't cruelty-free, so I hope they do take offence.* 

Yet despite sharing blogs that resonated with me, I still focused exclusively on the lives of other people. This became apparent to me last month, after reading Dawn O'Porter's #ShoutAboutYou piece in Glamour; unless I'm giving an advice post/celebrating other people, I do feel anxious and I want that to change! So I've decided that #Blogtober will start a new chapter...

I still love the concept of spotlighting bloggers and will continue to do so; however, I want to free up my favourites and talk about other things! For example, I love series' such as Katy's 10 Good Things and Ella's 10 Things that Make me Smile and have wanted to do my own version for a while; why not bring it all together? A fortnightly roundup of my little life joys, from that "it's-so-fluffy" ball of yarn, to that perfect Pret-uccino or Liam finally winning star baker... it WILL happen.

I can't promise to know How Far I'll Go with these posts, but I will promise to find positivi-tea in something, however small - even if we're talking free coffee! And on that note....

    TASTING    

It happened... I got a free Pret coffee! After two years of waiting, wondering and frequent flat-whiting, I was finally on the receiving end of their 'Make Someone Smile' scheme... and smile I did. My friend Yasmin also got her Green Tea for free, alongside our main guy guys Godfrey (take a leaf out of Joey's book!). It was also then that I realised Godfrey practically spells out Good-For-You. So the next time you see one of those "Fat free! Sugar free! TASTE free!" adverts, listen to Joey and Godfrey - not the gumdrop button thieves!
 If we were in Hogwarts and pictures talked, you'd hear me squeaking "not the gumdrop buttons!" for all of Pret to hear... 
In other nom-news, I'm loving the new Graze Protein Bites. I'm not quite sure why they're called this, as it's basically their delicious flapjack in a multipack, but I have one virtually everyday and can't see that changing anytime soon! My favourites are the banana flavour, because I'm basically a minion and they're all jam-packed with seeds. I've never been a huge fan of flapjacks, as I find them overly sweet, but the seeds really balance it out here. I also just really love my seeds. Perhaps I was a squirrel in a past life? 

Speaking of nuts, I'm still loving the Deliciously Ella Cacao, and Almond Balls that I mentioned last month and was so excited to spy her new oat bars on my Twitter feed - which even come in a cacao and almond flavour! I needed 280 characters for those heart-eye emojis. After learning that they're exclusive to Tesco, I visited the Express branch in Broadmead, Bristol full of hope... and my heart was broken. It's hardly the back end of beyond! Thankfully, Starbucks was nearby and I could keep my date with cacao goodness; it just happened to be in nutty, dried fruit form. So to end on a cliff-hanger, my oat search continues... 

Last by by no means list, September was the month I discovered Pip & Nut's Maple Peanut Butter in Holland & Barrett. Oh Pip... Oh Nut... How did it take so long? It's only been two weeks and we're already two three peas in a pod. Along with toast topping and apple dipping, it also marks the first time I've eaten nut butter straight from the jar... Messrs Pip & Nut, you are officially my new recovery mascots! On a final happy note, I keep thinking of Pip from Enchanted and  singing "happy little working song" as I savour this spread of DREAMS in true Disney style.

Do you have any (bunny-friendly) food favourites?


    LISTENING    

One of my happiest discoveries of late has been Podcasts. After being spellbound by Mugglecast in August (sort out your priorities if you don't know what I'm talking about), I've widened my horizons and am currently hooked on Glamour's Hey It's Ok. I've actually scheduled a full post on it, as I love it so much, but let's just say I've been listened to 8-months-worth of episodes in around 8 Days #HeyItsOKToBeAddictedToHeyItsOK. One minute I'll be laughing out loud (12-year-old Jenna Coleman singing operatic-karaoke), yet they're not afraid to contemplate the deep stuff - I'm talking serious-Dawn-French kinda deep. So bumble along my lovelies and bee swift about it; Jenna is looking for a new best friend... 
Between Podcasts and Barking dogs, I've not really listened to much Music lately. In truth, I'm still mourning 2008 Taylor and what she's turned into... I want the Love Story days back! Watching her Look What You Made Me Do video was like watching my favourite Sim get bitten by a Vampire/Werewolf and there's not even a "no save" option here. The death of Country-Taylor is Forever & Always and #ItsNotOk with me (sorry Glamour). 

So I think we've established that Look What You Made Me Do is on my "September Sorrows" list; however, there have been a couple of lights in the musical tunnel, starting with Emma Blackery! She's one of my favourite vloggers (as of last month, when I actually started watching vlogs), but  is also a rather amazing singer-songwriter and realised her Magnetised EP this year. I first heard it last week and Human Behaviour may be my favourite song of 2017. Thank-you Emma!  

My other musical discovery of September was also thanks to Youtube... could pre-video ads could be the new Spotify!? At first, I was simply counting my lucky stars that Karlie Kloss decided to take a nap (has anyone else seen her Wix ad a gazillion times ?), yet my focus was quickly pulled by  her replacement: an advert for BIC and its accompanying music. It turns out that the song - Jeans by Lily Finlay - was the winner  of BIC's "Write and Shine" contest and that I was also not the only person searching for it. 

Do you have any favourite Podcasts? 


    WATCHING    

Bloggers! Until this summer, my Youtube world pretty much consisted of Zoella hauls and Game Of Thrones Conspiracies... now there's a combination you don't see everyday! Nevertheless, after stumbling upon a certain Emma Blackery, I quickly established that YouTube is the Mary Poppins version of a Christmas Stocking; otherwise known as the gift that keeps on giving, for those poor unfortunate souls who can't appreciate a disney metaphor.... Two vloggers in particular are firm favourites:  

Just in case you missed it... Emma Blackery! She's funny, honest, relatable, does 80-minute Lush hauls and lived like a Sim for a day. I rest my case. My more recent discovery is Melanie Murphy, whose video Dreams Into Reality was like a giant hug at the end of a difficult day, or that first sip of tea in the morning. I love how simple it is, with no jump-cuts or edits; it is just Melanie reading a chapter from her book - Fully Functioning Human (Almost) - which is so beautiful it genuinely had me in tears by the end. There was one part that struck me so much, I instantly went back and wrote it down. I so often say "I'm trying", yet perhaps I need a different approach? 

"With this approach to life there is no try. There is only do, or do not. In trying, a person isn't really expecting it to work out. So actually, just do it!"
Beyond the really small screen, I have a couple of TV standouts. Firstly, I have to give a mention to The Great British Bake-Off. I'll admit that I was so righteous beforehand, swearing fealty to Queen Berry and the Mel-Sue sandwich. Yet one month later... I may actually prefer it on C4?! Thanks to watching Great British Menu, it doesn't feel strange to see her in the judging role and she's a bit more forthright than Mary. Sandi was made for this show and even sounds like Sue. As for Noel... he's basically a male version of Luna Lovegood/ Miranda Hart - could frolicking be the new galloping? 

My Other TV highlight is the return of Dance Moms, aka my ultimate guilty pleasure. Abby isn't even there and the drama is at a new level! I do miss JoJo and her Bow Bows, although I love that Chloe is back - I was always #TeamChloe from day one! To be fair, it doesn't seem like leaving the show did JoJo any harm; for starters, around 50% of the girls from my first school placement wore a JoJo Bow and she now has a collection in Primark. To paraphrase Mean GirlsYou go Glen Coco Miss JoJo!

My final favourite is Designated Survivor, the latest series my parents and I are devouring. We always like to have a series on the go and this was recommended by people who love House of Cards and Billions. Given our obsession with the latter two shows, the expectation was high, yet I can confirm that it gets an O.W.L Exceeds Expectations.... Outstanding! You probably have no idea what I'm on about - to be honest I rarely do - but Mr Wikipedia does and I will trust him to win you over (Universities can pipe down). All I will say is that this political drama has the biggest twist since GOT #RIPNed and Tom Kirkman may be the most likeable character in TV history.... and I'm including Tyrion here! 

What TV have you been enjoying lately?

Bumble & Be flies over to...

Come and (et)see for yourself: BumbleandBeMakes is open for businesss on Etsy! It has has been months and months (and a few millenniums) in the making, yet it was still a surreal moment when I clicked  the launch shop button. I'll be honest, my anxiety was so high that it may as well have read launch Armageddon.

Nevertheless, the proof is in the trending and I've spied no #EtsyShopEndsWorld in the twittersphere; we're all good|! All we need to worry about now is actual World Leaders threatening Armageddon... oh, and Crimes against Caramel #GrainGate #WaffleWoes. Speaking of waffles, I'm treading dangerously close to Waffle Wood, where I get completely sidetracked and lose about 99% of readers - if I'm lucky.

So let's head back to Etsy Land and start at the very beginning (aka, how my bumbling  business idea actually came to be.) I've been a devoted Etsy shopper for many years now, whether it be customising christmas or discovering doggy tea. Yes, DOGGY TEA is a thing and Millie approves! That being said, I never really thought about the other side of the Etsy fence: the land of makers and whimsical dreamers (cue image of Luna Lovegood + knitting = lifetime supply of House Elf hats...)
This began to change two years ago, when I discovered the therapeutic wonders of wool during IP treatment (thanks to post-meal 'observations', you get a lot of sit-and-knit/stitch-and-bitch time...) From knitting to crochet, I have been quite hooked ever since and have a particular love of "make-it-up-as-you-go" projects. It also sparked my love for Pinterest, which led me to widen my craft horizons further.

In the past year,  I developed a love for calligraphy, typography and, most recently, digital illustration (as illustrated by the photos in this post!). Like with knitting and crochet, I find it hugely therapeutic. Not only does the process distract me from negative thoughts, but it has recaptured the creativity of my childhood. In recent months, my therapist and I have incorporated "creative therapy" into CBT, which includes sharing my creations on Instagram/Twitter and challenging perfectionism. I've never really spoken about this before, but it is one of the reasons you say have seen more crafts on social media!

On occasion, I vocalised my wish to open an Etsy Store; however, it's always been that. A wish. Yet over the past few months, more and more people started to ask me if I sold my makes. At first, I was taken aback; as the 'perfect' perfectionist (see what I did there), I couldn't see people spending actual money on a crochet cat... I've only ever given away my crafts as gifts. During my second admission, I developed a bit of a signature gift -  crochet animal coasters - and people were always so delighted to receive them! However, I was convinced they were just being polite.
Nearly one year on from treatment and Eight months into CBT, I admit that part of me still believes this. My mind still tries to default to self-criticism... it even tries to criticise the fact that I'm still so self-critical. Work that one out?! In short, these moments make me question if I've actually made any progress. However, I can think of one example to disprove this...

BumbleandBeMakes is officially live and on sale! My crafts, that is, not an actual bumblebee: No animals were harmed in the making of my Etsy. Cruelty-free, always. Speaking of Always, that brings me nicely onto one of the biggest inspirations behind my products: Harry Potter, along with Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings... can you spot a theme here? Perhaps I should crochet a "captain obvious" for my christmas range. Yet for now, at least, I'm starting small.

I decided to launch my products in stages, starting with predominantly my digital prints. They are all designed and drawn by me, using Adobe Illustrator and my English Literature Degree (aka Catleesi and Dograki puns). I'm selling these as instant downloads, which will remove initial uncertainty over product stock/reliance on the fickle postman! This also mean that you receive it straight away after purchase and can can print them as many times as they like.
Once I am a bit more established and can see which designs are most popular, I may also sell them as physical prints. That being said, my crochet creations will have to be an  exception to the "no posting" rule, unless I can locate Hedwig or figure out the flu network! There is currently one fantastic beast in my store - Nahla the Niffler - and I am in the process of photographing some Niffler/House Elf companions to join her. In the coming months, I would love to sell patterns too; all my creations are custom designs and this is something I'm learning to be proud of!

Less than a year ago, BumbleandBeMakes was a mere compilation of dreamboards, doubts, drawings, doubts, demiguise wool, doubts dograki puns... oh, and did I mention doubts? I'll be honest, there has been a lot of over-thinking involved, which doesn't exactly follow my plan to remove negative over-analysis (NOA) from my life. My main anxiety right now is photography; I've spent whole days on photoshop/with my camera, trying to decide a 'look' to go with. If you have any thoughts/opinions on the photo front (for example, which photo style is your favourite in this post), please do let me know!

Yet I've done it. I've actually done it! I know I've said this before. I know I'm waffling again and Prue and Paul left the tent about twelve hours ago. I do hope you'll stick around though, especially if you are a fellow crafter/Potterhead/Khaleesi or anyone who wants more magic in their life. I would also love to hear any ideas for future projects, whether it be DireWolf coasters or anything else the kids are Tolkien about these days...

Choosing YOUR Values and Changing House Colours


After 11 long years, she was still waiting for her Hogwarts letter... A little extract from my 2017 autobiography, coming to a Floundering & Blotts near you! If it gets to 2015 and I'm still waiting,  it will officially be 19 years later  and we may have to accept defeat. Until then, I live in hope. That being said, it's been around 19 years since I first opened the pages of Philosophers Stone, boarding the Hogwarts Express with Harry, Ron and co. I definitely know it was before my 6th birthday, as I still lived in my Cupboard above the stairs in Newcastle (Note to parents: this is the best way to up-sell a very very small bedroom). 

With the help of my parents and Steven Fry, it wasn't long before I arrived at the Castle, added a Snowy Owl to my Christmas list and stepped through the doors of the Great Hall. It was then that the Sorting Hat sung. It was then that I declared myself a Gryffindor. By christmas, I even had the Quidditch robes to prove it - the Owl was still a work in progress.

For a woodlice-fearing bookworm, it wasn't an obvious match, yet I used Hermione and Ron as sounding boards. You can be petrified of spiders and love doing homework and still dwell with "the brave at heart". You can even be hopelessly clumsy, because there's a reason the Accio Spell and Remembralls exist! (shame on you spellcheck for red dotting this word.)

On a more serious note, my Gryffindor identity really helped me come to terms with my diabetes diagnosis. In a post several years ago, I talked about the importance of Harry Potter in helping me through my diagnosis, yet I didn't mention the specific importance of house values. From the age of 7, I was giving my own injections multiple times a day; experiencing the daily roller coaster of blood sugars; to a large degree; being exposed to things that strip away the innocent of childhood. I had to be brave... and I could be.
When I started secondary school, however, I faced a bit of an existential crisis. Not only was I sitting in Biology, rather than Herbology; three different online quizzes placed me in Slytherin (is it obvious I wasn't too pleased with the outcome?). What's more,  my dad went onto claim he "always knew"... how was this happening?! I admit that I took the quiz a bit too literally, and proceeded to force my sure peg values into the round eye of the serpent.
1. Cunning: Confession time - I once swiped £500 out of the monopoly bank when I thought no one was looking... well, clearly the sorting was looking. All that time I was wetting about coal from St. Nick, I had MY PRIORITIES ALL WRONG. Where is Ron wisdom when you need it!? I looked at the Slytherin characteristics and tried to fit my square peg into the round eye of the serpent. 
2. Ambitious: I have always been competitive, from egg-and-spoon races to school report Aces.   I admit that, in school, I did compare to those around me and wanted to be among the top grades. I was I am ambitious. Yet, on reflection, much of this is rooted in my perfectionism. While I compare to others, the person I most compare to is myself. It isn't necessarily Sophie who is ambitious, but a part of my head that often compromises my wellbeing.
That's the thing with characteristics; they are not necessarily the same as your values. I've talked about this distinction before - Are We Out of the Shoulds Yet and New-Sky Thinkingas it's been central to my journey through CBT. For so long, I've been preoccupied with doing the 'right' thing, being the 'good girl' and painting by numbers - often literally in terms of diabetes and, later, the rules of anorexia.

At the time I took those Slytherin quizzes, I was wandering ever deeper into the world of the shoulds. The whimsical stories of my childhood were replaced with essays. Hard work wasn't a trait to be celebrated in itself, as the Hufflepuff outlook would do. It was simply a given... as was being brave. The longer I lived with diabetes, the more self-critical I became. As with academia, there was success or failure. No middle road.


It is only in the last couple of years, since taking a break from education and receiving treatment for my mental health, have I realised that this was not Sophie. I may have adopted black-and-white thinking through time and experience, but it was not a reflection of my true values: patience, forgiveness, compassion and imagination, to name just a few. It's not that I believe being a Slytherin makes you a fundamentally bad person; we will always remember Severus Snape. I simply know that the world of "greatness" isn't for me.

Too much buzzing and not enough being, thank-you very much. At least, that's what I've come to realise in the past two years. So when Pottermore relaunched and brought the most official sorting of all, I was curious as to what it would say. In choosing health over education, I temporarily put aside "Bleed Green" of Exeter University, but would my socks still be green? There's the question Hamlet really meant to ask... having put health before academia, would I still bear the green of Slytherin house?
After all this time, it turns out I'm meant to be singing the blues in my converse shoes, along with my kindred spirit and fellow Ravenclaw Luna. If "your House is like your Family", as McGonagall says, we're officially sisters now and the world makes sense again! This was actually one of my biggest issues with being a Slytherin, aside from the obvious drawbacks of Dark Lords and Dungeon living. I think I'd rather sit on a table with Regina George than Pansy Parkinson... at least I could wear pink on Wednesdays (Did you hear that Dolores? only Wednesdays!)
On a more general note, it is rather flattering to be told you have "wit beyond measure" - the sorting hat must have acknowledged my dedication to the pun community. I have to admit, Ravenclaw is a nice little throwback to my childhood days spent buried in a book! Even today, I get this rush of adrenaline when I start an essay and - as of now - my dissertation. This is the part of academia I savour the most; the research process, where I want to drink in everything that I possibly can. Dumbledore was right when he said that "words are our most inexhaustible source of magic", especially when we've chosen to listen.
Choices. That's it, in the end. Technically, we can do or be anything. I could wake up tomorrow and decide to be a "hat" person (you know those people who can wear any style of hat, yet always look effortlessly fabulous?)  The fact is, I could. So when I found this quote by Evanna Lynch - whom I've made no secret of adoring - it was immediately typed out and printed for my new room. Luna is your quintessential eccentric , yet is so often dismissed as "loony" throughout the books... and in our own World (Some Muggles on Twitter are RIDDIKULUS).

Luna is judged by her cover, but she doesn't judge herself for it. In doing this, she shows the true wisdom of a Ravenclaw.. Her outlook is the one I am learning through treatment; how to plot my vales onto the page, overriding the narrative that do not write Sophie. Luna's ability to rise above judgement is the "greatest treasure" of all. She is absolutely brave enough to be a Gryffindor and, as her similarity to Newt Scamander shows, she would feel right at home with the bumbling Badger. The cover is never as important as the story behind it . For this reason, I'd like to think that present-day Sophie would accept any house - even Slytherin - because we all have a part of them in us. Like Luna, I am a Ravenclaw, a Hufflepuff, a Gryffindor and a Slytherin. Yes, really! 

I am hard-working and loyal like the Badger. I have the Eagle's love of learning and a fondness for puns. Since the age of seven, I have had to be brave in my attitude to diabetes - both physically and mentally - while recovery from mental illness requires  round-the-clock-courage. So that leaves the Serpent... the house with a reputation worse than Taylor Swift. It's tempting to leave a blank space on this section, but I will not tell lies. Fact: one of my favourite traits is resourcefulness. and it belongs to Slytherin. Around 90% of my craft projects would be non-existent without my ability to adapt. Short of yarn? Pack your trunk and turn that elephant into a mouse! When I misplaced my camera strap, the day before my holiday to New England, I decided to DIY an old belt and had no need for a Remembrall #MuggleManaged.
Multi-house life really is what it's all about... and if you needed me to make this official, look no further than Pottermore! Earlier this year, I took the Illvermorny house quiz I was sorted into Pukwudgie - the house for healers. Not only is it a welcome reminder of my recovery journey, but the description for Pukwudgie is most similar to Hufflepuff. I guess that makes me a flying badger? There could be worse things. In the past week, I've decided to make it official and embrace the Ravenwudgie life, complete with my own sigil. This may be winding its way to my etsy store, along with a Wampuff or two... 

I'm also starting to think that Dobby was onto something with the multi-coloured socks. Alas, Dumbledore was right again. You can never have enough socks, especially when it comes to magical YOU. There's only one of those in the world and that, in itself, puts you in a magical house of your own. Embrace your traits, love your values and live by them. Don't be afraid to watch bake-off at University, or wear the fedora hat into town. Wear it to a club if it's what makes you happy! Wear it, say it, dream it and be it - as long as it makes you you. 

9 Novel Ways to Beautify your Bedroom


Two weeks ago, my mum and I decided to replace the bedroom furniture I've had for 19 years. Yes, it is officially 19 years later. I can practically hear the Hogwarts Express in the distance, transporting a vintage dresser from the Room of Requirement. Complete with a stowaway Niffler. A girl can dream...

Given that my Hogwarts letter got lost in the post (I bet it's Errol), I am unlikely to achieve anything quite this magical. Nevertheless, with a Pinterest swish and some DIY flicks, I am determined to cast my own spell. I've spent the last week collecting Pins like a Niffler collects Galleons, so I have gallons of Pinspiration to share with you. 

Ft. upcycled planters, book-page bunting and House-Elf freeing storage, these Pretty Little DIYS are are too magical to keep secret...

     TYPEWRITERS AND BOOK PLANTERS       

If I had to pick two things that can always bring a smile to my face, it would be books and flowers.... and coffee and yarn. Okay, make that four; no Sunday is complete with cappuccinos and crochet! Yet all the espresso shots and alpaca yarn in the world can't rival that old book smell, along with the beauty of meadow rambles. In short, I am the living embodiment of Hermione's love potion in Half-Blood Prince; on this occasion she definitely had her priorities sorted. Sorry Ron.

That being said, I think that Newt, Neville and Luna would be most tempted by these DIYs. The DIY Typewriter Terrarium by Apartment Therapy s the stuff of dreams - aka a practically perfect instagram flatlay - but  is possibly too ambitious for my first attempt? I do have a habit of doing that, as my first knitted bear will would testify; He was quickly renamed Actually Headless Nick.
The Book Planter project seems a bit more manageable, and is still pretty magical! I've pinned the tutorial - another gem by Apartment Therapy - and plan to find the chosen text in a charity shop. Three guesses what book I have in mind... I'll be honest, my completion rate with pinterest isn't the best, but I am determined to try this one! I can already envision it on my windowsill, to sit alongside my Christmas squirrel. An animal is for life guys.

On that note, it's probably best to pick plants that won't instantly die, so no Lilies here (with the exception of enchanted goldfish). So there's just another excuse to buy all the cacti! Personally, I'm more of  a Mimbelus Mimbletonia kind of girl. 

Which novel would you choose for a DIY Book Planter?

     BOOK BUNTING, FAIRY LIGHTS AND PAPER FLIGHTS       

Ever since the girls from University sent me a paper rose last year, just after I went into hospital, I have been In love with paper crafts. One of the other girls in treatment was an amazing book folder, turning second-hand novels into true works of art. For a time I was obsessed with card making and would incorporate book pages in my designs; however, since discovering Adobe Illustrator I've left the pages behind.

Thanks to Pinterest, I may be heading back again. I love the idea of attaching paper roses to fairy lights, although the potential fire risk does have to be considered... the wellbeing of my bookshelf comes first, always! Just to be safe, I could opt for this equally pretty heart garland  by Fabulously Frugal; I was expecting the tutorial to be really complicated, but it's actually quite simple!

These Harry Potter flying keys just had to be included in this post, but somehow I can't see the magic becoming reality - where do you find all the keys, for starters? That being said, it would be the perfect mobile for a baby's room, which gives me a few more years to search for keys. Can anyone please tell me where to buy a Niffler?

    STORYTIME TELLERS AND STORAGE SOLUTIONS         

I have a bag that says "books are my bag", which pretty much defines the bibliophile life. We dream of books and power through the boackache (backache from books). Our dream house has a Belle library, book nooks in every room and a wardrobe leading to Narnia. We  love books like Dobby loves undergarments.... so the following DIYs are the literary equivalent of an Odd Sock Emporium.

This DIY book clock looks like it belongs in Kate Spade, especially with the pastel colours. I like the fact it's quite minimalist, as even I have my limits with the "quirky chic" style. This clock strikes the perfect balance, so my heart sunk when the picture didn't come with a DIY. Thankfully, a bit more Pinterest browsing let me to this tutorial, along with a new blog discovery: Pretty Simple Ideas has joined the blogroll!
The we turn to book boxes. I already own a beautiful one from India Jane, which has become my go-to prop in blog photos! So when I spied this DIY by Kate's Creative Space, which uses actual books, I was in wonderland...Until I opened my current book box and reality called! It may look dreamy on the outside, but has become my own Room of Requirement; a home for magazine samples, 1p coins and all the single earrings. So if I really like the DIY version, it's time to turn the page and organise my life!

What would you store in your Book Box?

     TERRARIUM TALES AND TRENDS         

I talked about book planters being a Lovegood love-in, but that was before I discovered Terrariums Tales. Thanks to Pinterest and the Totoro creation below, they might by my chosen one! I spent a good hour pinning to my heart's content, even after my mac's "rainbow wheel of death" joined the party. It was  obviously too good to miss. My only disappointment was the lack of Harry Potter creations!

I'll be honest, some were possibly too quirky for Luna - I'm talking R2D2 and Ewoks. Yet others are far more subtle, like this enchanted rose design on the right. On the whimsicality scale, I think I'm in the middle of these two - on par with Totoro - as the world needs more pure imagination. Here's what I currently have in mind: a miniature forest scene, complete with needle-felted Doe and a Deathly Hallows stone. Not that I've thought much about it or anything...
If you're looking for something a bit less quirky, Terrariums are perfect for that scandi-style. They're also very much on-trend, despite what I may have led you to believe. At one point, I swear Urban Outfitters had more Terrariums than T-shirts; now they've completely sold out, along with every other shop on the high street. Thankfully, the gods at Not on the High Street will always have your back.

For more minimalist inspiration, Pinterest is also your friend - I promise you it's not just Totoro and friends! The pictures below are practically crying out for an instagram #Shelfie, and that's before we mention the blogger's best friend - rose gold. Yes, terrariums come in rose gold, and can be up-cycled to store your makeup, jewellery, nail polish, swab-sticks... the possibilities are endless.

Personally, I'm more inclined to let terrariums be terrariums, especially if I could come close the designs of American Etsy seller Doodle Birdie. With her Bio bowls, the forest is literally at your fingertips and I can already spy a place for my little Doe... and on that note, I think my attempt to be "on trend" has come to an end! You can take the girl away from her Harry Potter book, but the stories we love most stay with us forever.

What would you put in your Fairytale Terrarium

Self-Care and Filling Your Own Cup

... and breathe. Step off that hamster wheel you constantly run around, sit down and breathe. Think of the last time you encouraged a friend to "take a break", or did a good deed for someone else. Now ask the same question, but imagine you are that person. What advice would you give to a friend, a relative or a small child? Would you tell them to stay on that wheel, despite how tired their legs were? Would you judge them, or admonish them, simply for being human? 
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."
Oh, Pinterest. You truly are a golden one, apart from the fact I couldn't trace the author of this quote 0 if anyone knows, please enlighten me! For it couldn't ring more true. I instinctively pour care onto others, whether it be making gifts to 'bring a smile', or reaching out in their time of need; nevertheless, the concept of giving myself is altogether more foreign.

Moreover, I've realised that this is quite a common trait for those with mental health struggles. I've talked before about the incredible girls I met through treatment, but it is a case-in-point. From the little notes posted under my door, to the "toast for toast" poem that greeted me at breakfast, they would shower care in abundance. Until the last petal fell on their own stem, they would water every flower in the field before themselves. 

A few months ago, I taked about my self-care conundrum in Are we out of the Shoulds yet? At the start of CBT treatment, we explored the imbalance between my self-perception and how I see those around me. After so long convincing myself that I am less worthy than others, we questioned the logic of this belief. Fun fact 1: very little logic exists. Fun fact 2: Facts are your friend!

When my therapist asked "why are you less deserving of self-care?" I responded with diabetes and anorexia. My reason? They have placed me in a "care deficit" that must be resolved. Her response? "You didn't cause your physical or mental illness and they cause you the most pain." You can't argue with that cup of liquid logic; even a Wonderland Tea Party would be covered! So now we've talked the talk, there's just one thing left to do... actually, you know... ACT.

In the short-term, it will involve going against our instincts. Joey Tribbiani may have said "there's no such thing as a selfless good deed", but for the "empty cup" crew I think the opposite is true! Can we find a a selfish good deed? An act of self-care that is entirely our own, with no obvious benefit to the outside world. In the past few weeks I decided to put this theory to the test. and can confirm (despite a few stray trolls in the dungeon) I lived to tell the tale! Here are four ways I've filled my own cup....  

     READING A BOOK     

I adore books, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. What may come as a surprise, is the fact that I've not done much reading at all in recent years. I have no problem with "productive reading", aka course texts, newspapers and Coding for Dummies blog posts. When it comes to reading for pleasure, however, I hit a brick wall.

Growing up, I loved nothing more than burying my head in a story. It is a natural form of self-care for me, which is probably why my head has such a big issue with it! In the last month, however, I've started a new chapter. Inspired by the return of GOT, I've finally started the books and am completely hooked! I was a bit worried that it would change my response to the show, but in my opinion it only adds to the story. I absolutely adore this world and my guilt is far less than I imagined. 

If my mind ever does try to give me grief, I try to imagine Miss Honey telling Matilda not to read. In short, I can't imagine it! Depriving someone of books is what Geoffrey or Ramsey Snow would do, not anyone with half a heart or brain. I'd far rather listen to Tyrion: "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone." Read on...

     TUNING INTO PODCASTS & YOUTUBE     

If you saw my last post, you will be no stranger to the magic of MuggleCast! If you didn't, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! Since tuning in for the first time last week, I've trawled through the archives like a rampaging Hippogriff and am definitely converted. The same goes for Vlogger Emma Blackberry, who made my week with her A Day in the Life of a Sim vlog! Throwback to the noughties and my most valuable life lesson: never attempt Lobster Thermidor on a Grilled Cheese cooking skill...

When you think of "self-care", Podcasts and Youtube are probably not your first thought! For most people, they're just a natural part of their life and routine. So why did my head kick up such a fuss? I think it's because, like books, there's no obvious benefit beyond my own entertainment (with the exception of those Coding for Dummies tutorials!) Writing this out now, I realise it makes NO SENSE and I was half-temped to delete it...

... but I won't, because that would contradict a key part of self-care; self-compassion! Just because I think my guilt is "silly", doesn't mean it is silly. Would I tell a five-year-old that their fear of goblins was irrational? No, I would crochet a "Goblin-fighting Fox" to protect them at night, while encouraging them to return to their bed. I would never invalidate their feelings, but I would also encourage them to challenge it. Only by changing our actions, can we hope to change our feeling. So if you feel guilty for self-care, practice self-care! No goblins allowed.

     NOURISHING BODY AND SOUL      

When you are in recovery for an eating disorder, you could follow your meal plan to-the-letter and still miss the most important word. YOU! Perhaps we should call it RecovYOUry? Or perhaps we'll stick with something a little more abstract... quite simply, you. Meal plans are great for nourishing your body, but you have to nourish yourself too. I'll be the first to admit I struggle with this, finding it easier to eat 'by prescription', rather than for pleasure Yet is this approach healthy for my mind? Not in the long-term, if I truly want to be free of anorexia.

So I set myself some self-care challenges goals, namely choosing more foods I enjoy and cooking for myself. Two months ago, I fell in love with the Cacao and Almond Energy Balls by Deliciously Ella and didn't have another one for a few weeks. My avoidance had nothing to do with numbers; it was the simple fact that I really really enjoyed them! In the name of operation "nourish soul", August has been the month of enjoying them some more.

I've also been branching out from the world of rice packets, ravioli and Quorn sausages, with a little more help from Ella. Most recently, I made the Cannelloni Bean and Kale Stew and it was the perfect comfort meal. As the only veggie in our house, I tend to avoid big-batch cooking as it feels excessive to do "just for me." Yet after a little motivation from the end of Ella's book - which I've turned into a little postcard for my wall - I popped on the stove and ended the night full of beans. Literally.

*For the critics who group Ella with the clean-eating brigade, please read her book first! More than the recipes, I love her philosophy around food and the language she uses - there's no mention of numbers or restriction, which is helping me work on my relationship with food. So if by some miracle Ella is reading this - thank-you! 

      BUYING THINGS FOR MYSELF     

I know for a fact I am not alone with this one! I get so anxious about spending money, unless it's buying things for other people - anxiety seems to take a holiday come Christmas. When it comes to myself, that's an altogether different matter! So for my CBT homework the other week, I visited the Holy Grail of cruelty-free, otherwise known as my local Lush Store. I initially went to buy some of the Happy Happy Joy Joy conditioner for my sister; I started using it a few months ago and wanted to share the joy.

Twenty minutes later, I left the shop with not one, not two, but four Lush goodies in my bag... and three were for me. Admittedly, one of them was a 'staple' buy - my foundation - but two were spontaneous purchases! My skin has become more dry in recent weeks, so I bought the Full of Grace serum bar for some TLC. Then, in an frantic till-shelf-till dash (we've all done one - and have all lost lost our space at least once), I picked up the Toothy Tabs I've been eying for months. I have no idea what to expect, so will be sure to update you!
I wanted to end with the act of self-care I'm most proud of. While it wasn't the most obvious, it was important to me because of the context: it was self-care when my self-worth was most vulnerableIn the past few weeks, my dad has been in-and-out of hospital and is currently waiting for surgery. My anxiety has really put its foot on the accelerator, as I just want him to be okay and feel powerless to help. 

Consequently, I have never been more thankful for therapy; however, thanks to an AWOL bus last week, I ended up missing half my appointment, while also enjoying an extra 30 minutes of bus-stop ruminating - why oh why did I forget my headphones?! By the time  I finally arrived for CBT,  I was responsible for every wrong in the world, including truant bus drivers and hospital waiting lists. Thankfully, my therapist was there to help with the fact-checking: Evan the bus driver has no clue I exist and the NHS is in crisis - a crisis that wasn't caused my own use of the service!

Yet even she can't work miracles in half an hour, so I was still a bit of a muddle by the end of the session. I managed to get myself into town and track down a veggie sandwich (good old M&S), before heading to the Sophie-friendly magazines in WHSmiths (crafts and wellbeing). I was instantly drawn to the Breathe Creative Journal, which has a range of mindful and creative exercises to "calm your mind". 
Any other person in my situation: you might as well stick a prescription label on this.

Me in my situation: I can't possibly leave this on the shelf, but I can't possibly buy it 'just for me'.

In a textbook case of "empty cup filler", I resolved to buy it for a friend... In that moment, I forgot the quote I love so much; I ignored the words that I would so readily say to another. In that moment, they didn't apply to me. So thank goodness for the gift of time. Later that day, I opened the journal and drank in the contents. Only then, as I felt a moment of calm, did I appreciate how drained I was. Two weeks on, the journal has found a home on my bedside table! I am hesitant to actually start, so I hope that this post will give me the final push. 

I may still buy one for a friend, as I know one in particular who would love it, but this one is staying with me. I need to fill my own cup too. 

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