Five Things I Did In May

Here's a little round up of what I got up to in May:

Had the loveliest delayed bank holiday | I worked the first bank holiday weekend in May, but then had the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off as a result and managed to have three days in a row full of lovely plans. I met up with Sophie to explore somewhere new, eat good food and have a natter. I went to see Frank Turner with Ashton and I had a lovely spa day with my mum. Then I went back to work for two days before it was the weekend again. So all in all, the first week of May was gurrrrd.

Reignited my love of gigs | I used to really enjoy going to gigs, but I couldn't actually tell you when the last time was I went to one before this month. I think I thought I'd got too old and that I'd hate them now, but despite the fact that Frank Turner was a bit of a throwback for me (which meant I didn't know any of his new stuff and felt like a bit of a fraud) I loved being in that environment again. I'm off to see Arctic Monkeys in September so who knows, maybe I've caught the bug again.

Became a little bit obsessed with the idea of being a paramedic | I've been fascinated by programmes like Ambulance and Junior Paramedic for years and have always thought if I didn't do what I do now, I'd be a paramedic. This month I went on a first aid course and got really into it; I feel like it might be something that some people would find a bit boring and only do because they have to, but I absolutely loved it and lapped up every word/activity. I'm definitely not going to quit my job and become a paramedic, but it would certainly be my backup if I ever lost my job.

Put myself first | I'm usually a very reliable person - if you make plans with me, I will not cancel them. But I've been really focused on looking after myself and making sure I don't get run down so when I got a bit of a cold I actually did end up cancelling plans. I felt all the guilt, but it meant I had a really chilled weekend to myself, probably the last I'll have in a while, and I needed it so much so I'm very glad I was a little bit selfish for once.

What did you get up to in May?

Amy x

Photo: Sophie

How I'm Trying To Be A Better Friend

For a long time I think I've happily floated through life, safe in the knowledge that I have some very good friends for life, but I think that's a fact I've kind of taken for granted. I've not always been the best at keeping in touch and definitely haven't been the best at making sure my friends are OK; don't get me wrong, I'm an excellent listener, but previously I've only really listened when spoken to rather than striking up any sort of conversation myself surrounding my friends' well being. It feels like we're bombarded with tips on how to keep our romantic relationships healthy, how to make them last and how to make our partner happy, but it's only recently that I've come to realise that I should be putting the same amount of effort into my friendships as I do into my relationship. Here are some ways I'm trying to be a better friend:

C H E C K I N G  I N  M O R E  O F T E N  |  We're all busy adults with busy lives; we all have work, weekend to-do lists, fitness regimes and the need for some chill time every now and then so it's easy to let weeks, sometimes even months pass by without even checking in with the people we care about. It's mainly because we don't realise how much time has passed; I know that I for one am awful for thinking 'I must message so-and-so this week' for multiple weeks in a row until I finally get round to it (or until they do so first, leaving me feeling like the worst friend ever). So this is a vow to check in with my nearest and dearest more often because if I've got time to play Hogwarts Mystery I've definitely got time to send a message.

D I R E C T  Q U E S T I O N S  | As someone who finds it rather difficult to open up and who generally tends to keep her feelings to herself, I know how easy it is to brush off a 'how are you?' with a 'I'm OK' so apologies to all my friends who may become annoyed by my specific probing questions, but I'm going to start asking more direct questions; think more along the lines of 'how are you feeling about...?' etc etc. Asking a more direct question is opening up the arena for them to talk about something if they want to without them having to bring it up (or alternatively they can shut me down and that's fine too).

M A K I N G  T I M E   As I said above, we're all busy adults with busy lives, but if I can find time to watch three episodes of Married At First Sight in a row, I can find time to see my friends. I suppose it's the same as checking in with a message; weeks can go by without seeing someone. Aside from my best one in New Zealand (because there's the slight snag that we can't actually afford to see each other in person), I'm going to be making much more time to meet up with friends even if it's just for a coffee.

M A K I N G  M Y S E L F  V U L N E R A B L E  As I mentioned above (and as I've mentioned multiple times before on this blog because #introvertproblems), I don't find it easy to open up. But if I'm expecting my friends to open up to me, I owe them the same in return don't I? So I'm making a promise to myself to talk more openly and honestly with my friends and realise that listening to each other is essentially what we're there for.

How do you think you could be a better friend?

Amy x

Photos: Sophie
Stamford PE9, UK

You've Got Time

Watch* - Ice-Watch

Oh hey, it's me walking along the tightrope that is my life; as you can see, I've got more of it ahead of me than behind so this post is a reminder to myself (and to you) that we've got plenty of time to do all the things we want and achieve our goals.

Let me tell you about a certain cycle that occurs frequently in my life and that I'm probably safe to assume is familiar to many of you too. It goes something like this; I decide on a goal I'd like to work towards, I put my heart and soul into making it happen, I cause myself an unnecessary amount of stress until I achieve what I'd hoped to. When I've achieved said goal, instead of giving myself a pat on the back, saying 'well done Amy' and giving myself a break, I move straight onto the next goal, the next milestone in my life I feel like I should achieve. And therein lies the problem. I'm always wanting to achieve more, hoping to better myself further and I will never ever be satisfied because there's always going to be something else to do.

As a generation, I think we're quite greedy; not for money or for food, but for success. We want to be the best at everything we do, we want to achieve an impossible amount of things in a short space of time and we want to do it all right now. We want to be the best possible version of ourselves now, we want to achieve everything we want to now, but what we don't stop to think about is that in the process we're wishing our lives away.

I'm twenty-seven and, not to blow my own trumpet (although we should totally do that more often), I've actually achieved a fair bit, I'm at a very good place in my life and I'm happy. But instead of sitting back and recognising that, I don't think it's enough. Having goals is healthy and ambition is definitely an attribute we should celebrate, but we don't need to always be so hasty about things. I have this constant feeling of restlessness because I can feel myself hurtling towards my 30s and all I can think about is the promotion I want to achieve, the babies I want to have, the places I'd like to travel and the things I'd like to see. There's a sense of urgency for me to achieve all of these things as soon as is humanly possible. But then what? I have so much of my life, my career, my marriage (eek) ahead of me, so much time to achieve and do all those things so why do I feel like I need to do them all now? Because I don't. I've got time.

And you, sat there reading this, I imagine you've got to the end of the post because you're feeling somewhat similarly. You've got time. So let's take a little bit of that time and use it to celebrate the things we're achieving and appreciate the things we're doing now, rather than rushing onto the next goal without stopping because all that's going to achieve is the sense that we haven't actually achieved anything at all.

Are you rushing through life one goal to the next?

Amy x

* denotes a gifted item

Appreciating The Old Timers In My Wardrobe

Dress - Topshop | Shirt - Topshop | Shoes - Next | Shocking tan lines - My own

Contrary to what the title of this post may suggest, I don't have a crowd of OAPs chilling in my wardrobe (it's far too full of clothes for any of them to fit in). What I do have chilling in my wardrobe is some (by modern day standards) rather old items of clothing that came to my attention after a recent wardrobe clear out. Despite the fact that I (attempt to) clear my wardrobe out at least once a year, there are some clothes that have survived every single time, which says something about them doesn't it I suppose? It struck me that because these items are so old, they've never made an appearance on my blog; despite my best intentions I still have a tendency to feature primarily newer clothes on here. So I grabbed a couple of my faves and this old-school style outfit post was born. 

At the grand old age of ten years, this dress is probably the oldest item in my wardrobe. If you were to ask me before I sorted through my wardrobe, what I thought the oldest item in my wardrobe might look like, I would have guessed that it'd be something classic, probably black, that would have survived not only the coming and going of trends, but also my own fickle style preferences. I certainly wouldn't have guessed it'd be a colourful, uniquely patterned summer dress that's much shorter than anything I'd actually buy these days. It would appear that despite it being a little different, this is the dress I've consistently liked over the years so I thought it deserved a little shout out on here. Thanks babin' dress.

I think the reason it's stood the test of time is because it's a real fail-safe holiday dress. It's floaty, has a nice colourful summery pattern and also it has pockets and I don't think I'll ever throw away a dress that has pockets (that would just be madness wouldn't it?!). It's safe to say it will be coming to Italy with me in a few weeks time and hopefully many holidays after that.

Another item that's been in my wardrobe for a similar amount of time, but one that I have actually featured on here before, is this denim shirt. I wore it for my first day at university (complete with leggings, a vest top and a waist belt) and I thought I was cool as. Contrary to the dress, this is the sort of thing I'd expect to stay in my wardrobe for a long time. A denim shirt is a classic and if there's nothing wrong with it, there's no reason to ever get rid of it. I have two denim shirts in my wardrobe (which is pretty restrained isn't it?), this pale one and then a darker denim one and both have been in my wardrobe a very long time. Side note: the darker denim one is now relegated to a house shirt because Barney ripped a hole in it #catmumlife. I wear denim shirts all year round; on their own with jeans/trousers in the autumn and winter then as a cover-up in spring and summer so there's actually a strong possibility that this one might make it to Italy with me too.

So there you have it, the two oldest items in my wardrobe still going strong. What a shame I feel like I need to carry on buying things eh? What's the oldest item in your wardrobe?

Amy x

Hessle, UK

Making Friends As An Adult

A few weeks ago I tweeted about how making friends as an adult is on a par with dating (not that I know anything about dating at all, but I imagine it to be) and it ended up being my most retweeted tweet ever so it's obviously something that a lot of people find difficult. I find it odd that it's not really spoken about all that much; we spend a lot of time discussing dating tips and the like, but friendships are still seen as something that should just naturally happen and are, in a way I suppose, taken for granted.

As children it's fairly easy to make friends; you have an array of barbies and soft toys between you to break the ice and allay the need for small talk, you get sent off to play together by your parents who have decided you will be friends and you don't really worry as much about what sort of impression you're making. As an adult, you're at a standing start and because of that it takes time, which as adults, isn't something we have an awful lot of.

Playsuit - Byer Too California (old) | Trainers - Pimkie (similar) | Bag - Asos (old) | Sunglasses - Primark

In my experience, I've found that the reason it takes a lot of time isn't necessarily because I'm busy or that I'm not sure whether we'd get on or not, it's the same sense of reluctance and self-doubt that I imagine comes with dating and that resulted in me making that comparison. What if the other person doesn't want to be my friend? What if they don't even like me, or worse, they only agree to meet up with me because they feel sorry for me? All these doubts (which are most likely going through the other person's head too) make me tentative so instead of 'making the first move' I'll throw a few hints just to gauge their reaction and they might throw a few hints too. And so these vague suggestions of us maybe wanting to be friends are thrown back and forth over weeks, months, years, until we finally take the plunge and do something about it.

With the end of the first 'friend date' doesn't come the end of the awkward shall-we-be-friends dance. It's like an actual first date; you're left wondering whether the other person liked you, whether they had a nice time along with overanalysing absolutely everything you said in case you came across as a weirdo/bitch/loser. Usually by the second or third 'friend date' I start feeling comfortable and secure in the fact that this person probably does in fact quite like me. But boy it takes time and stress to get to that point doesn't it?

 The reason for this? I suppose we're all scared of rejection, just as we would be with dating. In reality, the worst that could happen is the other person could say no, they might fob us off a few times until we get the message and our feelings will be a little hurt, but we'll find other friends and no harm will be done. I'd conclude this post by saying go for it, if you want to take the plunge and ask someone on a 'friend date' then do it, but that would be hypocritical because as much as I'd like to do that myself, I know I'll still feel that doubt. So what I will say is, I may not need dating tips, but send me all the making friends tips you have!

Do you find making friends as an adult hard?

Amy x

Photos: Sophie

Peterborough, Stamford PE9 3JY, UK

The Lazy Girl's Guide To Getting Ready

Playsuit* - Tessies (in store) | T-shirt - Pull and Bear (here) | Shoes* - Boohoo (here| Bag - Topshop  (old) | Earrings - Primark 

When it comes to prioritising my time in a morning, I put having a good breakfast, squeezing in as much shut eye as possible and, I'll admit it, having a good scroll on Instagram ahead of any prepping and preening. It's not that I don't get up early enough, it's that I spend most of my time procrastinating and doing anything apart from what I actually need to. That means that I'm sometimes left with a limited amount of time to actually make myself presentable to the world, which despite having spent a good half hour lying in bed after my alarm has gone off, always seems to take me by surprise and results in a bit of a rush around. Because of this trend, I've got getting ready quickly down to a fine art (ish) so I thought I'd share my general routine for any similarly lazy gals/procrastination experts. And as a case in point, these photos are from my trip to Stamford with Sophie, where I had to leave the house relatively early, but for some reason decided to only give myself an hour to get ready, have breakfast and decide on three outfits to take with me.

Stamford PE9, UK

House Plant Hacks

The only reason you wouldn't know that I am way into my house plants is if you're new here. (If you are new here then HI I'm Amy and I'm a house plant addict and I hope that doesn't put you off coming back). Although I have a lot of plants in my house and post them so frequently on Instagram you'd think they're my children, I've always dodged the comments asking me how I keep them alive and whether I have any house plant tips. Why is this you may ask? Well, as with pretty much any other topic I cover on here, I simply don't feel qualified to actually give any advice. However, as with most other topics that I don't feel qualified to give advice on, I'm going to give it a good go anyway. So, if you haven't been put off by my lack of confidence or completely unnecessarily long introduction to this post, here are my plant lady hacks.

R E S E A R C H  |  When I bought my first plants, I went to IKEA, picked ones that looked nice, sat them on my windowsill and wondered why on earth they were dying even though they had light and I was watering them. Well, what do you know, turns out that different plants need different amounts of light and water and you should really find out what kind of plant you have and how much of each it needs, rather than simply guessing and hoping for the best. If you don't know what kind of plants you have (which was pretty much my problem), it's easy enough to find out if you google common house plants and look at some pictures.

P L A N T S  T O  S U I T  Y O U  | Following on from doing your research, choose plants that suit your lifestyle and mentality. If you don't have much spare time or tend to be a little forgetful, cacti and succulents are your best friends. If you have pets, you need to look into which plants are toxic to them (I've spent far too much time in the garden centre on my phone googling which plants I can actually buy). If you live in a basement flat you need to choose plants that are happy with indirect light. The plant chooses the wizard remember...

D O N ' T  O V E R W A T E R  Generally, I've found that when it comes to watering, too little is better than too much. Once you've overwatered there's not much going back, but you can always add more. You can usually tell whether a plant has enough water or not by how dry the soil looks and by how heavy it is, but if you're worried about overwatering I'm a big fan of the pots that come with saucers that you can just fill those up with water for the plant to take as and when it needs.

G R O O M  T H E M  | OK, so that may sound odd, but just as you would brush the old moulting fur off your pet, you need to get rid of any old, dead leaves and twigs from your plants so they can grow new ones. I don't know if this at all helps your plants to thrive, but I also clean the leaves whenever they're looking a little dusty...#crazyplantlady

D R A I N A G E  Something else I wasn't aware of when I first began my plant lady journey was the need for drainage (so any excess water has somewhere to go until the plant needs it), which is why plants are so often kept in two pots. If you don't like that look or if you want to plant up smaller ones together, I've found that a layer of pebbles works just as well for drainage purposes.

And I'm all out of hacks! How do you look after your house plants?

Amy x

Sexism And Self Confidence

Top - Asos (here| Skirt* - Tessies (in store, online soon) | Trainers - Pimkie (similar) | Earrings - Primark

This is a post I first considered writing for International Women's Day so, as you may have gathered from the fact that was at the beginning of March, the idea has been floating around in my head for a while. It's been sat in my drafts, entirely empty bar the post title, for at least three months. There are a couple of reasons I've taken so long to write it I suppose; the usual fear that it's a topic I won't be able to do justice and then a fear I haven't felt before - that I'm somehow not allowed to discuss an issue so huge, despite the fact that I am (if you hadn't noticed) a woman and one who has suffered low self-confidence in the past. On questioning why I felt this fear, all I could assume was that as with writing about any large issue in society, I could face backlash and I came to realise that this was evidence of exactly what I wanted to write about. On writing a post about sexism, I'm most likely to face backlash from people who are, well, sexist obviously and therefore I've spent months putting off writing it because I haven't had the confidence to. Uh-huh.

Last month I had the pleasure of working with Tessies on a lookbook and they've kindly let me shoot for them again this month. The ethos at Tessies is all about female empowerment; they're against societal beauty standards and there are even little notes of confidence in the dressing rooms that you can take away with you. So I thought what better post to tackle this issue than one where I'm styling one of their pieces?

I hadn't thought about how sexism could affect my self confidence until I was walking down the street feeling all sassy in one of my favourite dresses and I was given a proper look up and down by a guy walking past. Here's where some people will argue that maybe he was looking at my dress or possibly even just in a daze, but if you are a woman you just know don't you? That look that lingers for too long on your chest and that somehow makes you feel violated even though you're only being looked at. There is nothing that angers me more (although there are a lot of things that anger me equally as much) than men who seem to think they have the right to look at my body in that way, and how it makes an outfit that I felt amazing and sassy in suddenly feel a little dirty. That's how one simple sexist look can affect my self confidence. Don't even get me started on being in da club (although it's a while since I've been in one of those so you never know, it might have improved?).

I'm definitely under no false illusions that only men can be sexist. Society in general has certain expectations surrounding gender, for both women and men. When it comes to getting married and changing my name, I know it would be seen as some sort of rebellious feminist statement if I didn't, whereas it should be seen purely as a matter of choice and shouldn't actually matter either way. That's just an example (and an irrelevant one in this case because I am changing my name), but in general, anything I do that goes against the expectations of what women 'should' be doing or that is opposite to what we supposedly want does actually affect my confidence. Because completely normal things such as sharing the housework seem like a rebellion against the norm, I feel like I have to justify perfectly rational decisions. And when it feels like your actions are constantly being called into question, it is extremely draining on your self-confidence and means you begin to question yourself.

It's all well and good me mouthing off about sexist men checking me out, but that's actually only part of the problem because in a large part, it's down to me. In essence, I shouldn't let it bother me so much. I'm often worried about coming across as 'too feminist' or that people will just think I'm oversensitive, but I don't think there's even such a thing as being 'too feminist' and the only reason I would ever feel that way is down to other people's reactions. I'm also very much a people pleaser so instead of standing up for myself, I'm much more likely to sit and stew in a casserole of self-doubt (similar to the doubt I'm feeling about that oh-so-hilarious metaphor) and end up scolding myself for being so sensitive or passing it off as a difference of opinion. If it is a difference of opinion, then I need to become better at vocalising mine.

Has sexism ever affected your self-confidence?

Amy x