Call Me Monthly | August

I've decided to mix up my monthly round ups a little bit, so obviously I've also given them a jazzy new name. I'll be broadening them out to include what I've been watching, listening to and reading each month because I was getting bored of just telling you what I'd been doing (so goodness knows why you guys stick around but THANKS).

R E A D I N G  |  I don't read half as much as I'd like, but a train journey gave me the much needed excuse to start a new book. I read The Passenger by Lisa Lutz and it was the first book in a long time that I haven't been able to put down. It follows a woman on the run from the law who takes on multiple new identities throughout her life to keep her true identity hidden. It was one of those annoying books that made me wish I'd come up with the plot and written it first (this happens to me a lot).

W A T C H I N G  |  Aside from Love Island Australia which I appear to now be addicted to, I started rewatching Alias this month, which I first watched as a teenager and absolutely loved. For anyone who doesn't know, it's a spy/action series featuring Jennifer Garner as a bad-ass CIA agent. Because it's been so long since I first saw it, I've forgotten a lot, which is good because it's exciting all over again, but bad because I'm not sure I really know what's going on any better than the first time round (there's a lot of spy lingo/complicated plot lines).

L I S T E N I N G  |  I've been listening to Coup de Grace, Miles Kane's new album on repeat and have just booked to go and see him in Hull in November. I'm a big fan of The Last Shadow Puppets (Alex Turner and Miles Kane's duo), but I was never that keen on Miles Kane's first album. This one is a right banger though (SORRY for not being literate enough to think of a better word to describe it), I'm fully obsessed and can't wait to have a dance in November. Fun fact: I used to have a hamster named after him. RIP Miles <3

E A T I N G  |  August was the month I finally took the plunge and became fully vegetarian. After taking part in Veganuary I'd cut down massively on meat and dairy, but it got to the point where I actually couldn't justify eating meat to myself anymore. If anyone has any tips on making sure I get enough protein and, more importantly iron, in my diet please hit me up cause this gal is hella anaemic and is currently living off pasta and sweet potatoes.

D O I N G  |  Aaaand just a little section to update you on what I've actually been up to...August has been a bit of an odd month in that I've simultaneously been horribly busy yet feel like I've done nothing at all. My blog and everything that goes with it has taken a bit of a backseat and I've been in a weird mindset. But that's totally OK...I'm coming at September with a renewed motivation (I'd be a millionaire if I had a pound for every time I've said that) and the realisation that it's OK to not do everything - I'm not a machine!

What did you get up to in August?

Amy x

Redefining My Personal Style

I wrote recently about being in a bit of a style rut; I ended up having a huge clear out of my wardrobe and had a fair bit of time off from clothes shopping because I generally find that if I'm in a rut with anything, it helps to take a step back. Now I know being in a style rut is very much a first world problem, and yes boo hoo poor Amy didn't know what to wear, but the way I dress actually massively affects my self-confidence and if I'm not feeling my outfit, I'm not really feeling myself.

I've always raved about how much I love personal style because I think everyone should wear whatever they want without any judgement, but somewhere along the way I think I actually lost a sense of what personal style means and began massively restricting myself. I found myself disregarding things that didn't 'fit' with what I saw as my style and I actually started feeling less comfortable with myself because I wasn't wearing things that made me feel good.

The moral of the story is, personal style doesn't have to mean choosing your style and sticking with it; it's ever-changing, experimental and, most importantly, non-restrictive. It's wearing whatever makes you feel good, whether it's something you'd usually wear or not. I'd got very much stuck in the mindset that my summer style was all about floaty floral dresses and whereas I do love a good dress, I'm often more comfortable in something a lot more casual.

Jeans - Topshop | Jacket - Asos (sold out) | Top - Boohoo

With that in mind, I made an Asos order (obviously) fully made up of things that were far too cool for me (or so my restrictive style brain told me). Some of the things definitely were too cool for me (orange jumpsuit that was so wide-legged it looked like a parachute anyone?), but some of the things stuck, including this dreamy oversized denim jacket. The thing about experimenting with clothes that you think are too cool for you is that sometimes they actually have the power to make you feel really, well, cool. (Side note: I swear I am the only person in the world to still use the word 'cool' non-sarcastically to describe something other than temperature.)

This was the first outfit I'd worn in a while that made me feel really good about myself, proof that you can wear all the pretty floral dresses summer can throw at you, but sometimes you just need some stripes and a bit of oversized denim to feel like you.

There's not really a point to this post, other than to say hey, I was in a style rut and now I'm not so will hopefully be back with more regular style content and also to say don't let the trends get you down (I'm talking to you summer dresses); and to quote one of the most overused, but one of the best phrases, YOU DO YOU.

Amy x

Photography: Olivia Lennon

My Own High Standards Are Stifling Me

I've been sat at my computer for about an hour now, starting then scrapping blog posts, wasting time researching how long it'll be until Venice sinks and occasionally just staring out of the window, hoping that somehow my view of the washing I currently have out on the line will spark some sort of genius inspiration within me and I'll write my best ever blog post. Ha ha.

I'm lucky that I don't get writer's block very often, but when I do it scares me a bit. Ever since I wrote my very first story at the grand age of five (titled The Lost Dady because I couldn't even write the letter 'b' yet, it was an oddly dark story about a girl who found a lost baby, then lost it herself, then found it again) writing has been my creative outlet and way of escapism. Writer's block makes me worry that I've just lost it, that I'll never actually be capable of writing anything again.

Whenever I write anything, whether it's a blog post or the book I've been meaning to write for the past six or more years, I often start with such a sense of optimistic motivation, only to do a complete u-turn a few moments later and decide that lol, what a rubbish idea, why was I ever excited about it and maybe I should just not write anything today. And it's not just writing this mindset of mine applies to, it's pretty much everything I do. Take something as simple as housework; one moment I'm full of motivation and being super productive, the next I'm sat down watching Love Island Australia having only done half the job I'd started, fed up at myself for not being good enough.

I impose such high standards upon myself for absolutely everything and it means I'm never 100% happy with anything I ever do because I always feel that I could have done better. The funny thing is, because I set myself up to fail, I actually always could do better. I spend so much time fannying around (yes I did just use that expression on my blog) and worrying about doing a good job, time that could have been spent actually getting on with it.

How do I stop myself from doing this? I don't really know the answer to that. I do know that at the moment I'm spending more of my time enjoying living rather than stressing about my next blog post or what my house looks like so that seems like a good start. It's important to remember than we're not superhuman and we simply can't do everything to the best of our ability, nobody can.

Do you impose high standards upon yourself?

Amy x

How I Made My Instagram Background

This isn't really a post I would ever have thought of writing, but I get asked about this a fair bit over on Instagram (hi shameless plug follow me pls) so I thought I'd do my best at explaining it in a blog post (because I am certainly awful at trying to explain it to people over on Instagram). I put it off for a while because I wasn't 100% happy with the background and I had a few teething problems with it, but I'm now v happy with how it looks so hopefully y'all appreciate the effort and think it looks nice too.

And if you want to create your own background or do something similar, hopefully this will help! (Totes copyrighting the leaves though, soz). It's actually much easier than you would think and it's not super restrictive, which is why I didn't opt for a collage feed.  I actually vaguely followed this tutorial that I found by googling, but as that's actually for a collage feed I had to adapt it for what I wanted. Here's what I did:

1: Create a blank canvas in Photoshop, 3000 pixels wide by 5000 pixels high. And decorate it with whatever you want to be in your background! I went with leaves because it fits my general style and aesthetic and I just bloomin' love plants. (To note, if you want to see where each photo will sit, you can add grid lines - you can see how to do this in the tutorial I linked above.)

2: Save your background as separate images.  First, you need to slice your background into separate images - select the slice tool and make the settings 1000x1000 pixels. To create a slice, click in the top left corner of each square. You should end up with 15 slices. When saving you need to select save for web then when the options box comes up select save again and make sure you're saving images only, which should be the default setting anyway. 

3: Airdrop the images to your phone. The images will appear separately on your camera roll; mine usually go on in the opposite order you'd want to use them in so make sure you use them in the right order otherwise they most definitely won't match up!

4: Use the Canva app to drop images onto your squares. This is the step that I think makes me a genius because I'm able to do it on my phone, using any image without relying on a computer and without planning my feed in advance, which is what put me off a collage grid. I created an Instagram post in Canva, then for each post I pop the correct image in the background then import whichever photo I want to use as a logo so I can pop it on top. Because all my photos are squares I have a stock square photo underneath all mine so I can make them all the same size. Obviously make sure the photo you drop onto the background is already edited exactly how you want it because if you tweak it afterwards it could throw your background colours off. 

5: Save and post your photo! Export to your camera roll, post to Instagram and watch your feed grow into a pretty background! 

Let me know if you've tried or are going to try something similar!

Amy x

On Not Getting Complacent

Oh hi, hello, it's me again. 

I took a blogging break last week because I'd fallen into that awful trap of not getting anything ready for a post until the day before, rushing to get it all done and then not being 100% happy with the result (not that I am EVER 100% happy with anything I do, sucks to be a creative type eh?). I also wanted to have a little refocus, to make sure that everything I was doing was 'me' enough. 

Although I am very much team don't-be-too-hard-on-yourself, I do think it's important to do a bit of self-evaluation every now and then and to not get complacent in anything you're doing. And complacent is definitely what I'd become. Complacent at work, complacent with my blog and complacent with life in general; simply letting the weeks tick over and not doing much else. 

In a way, complacency is a nice feeling; you know you could happily carry on exactly as you are and life would be just, well, fine. But with complacency comes a loss of passion in what you're doing, the lack of a challenge and I don't want my life to be just fine. If you're feeling in a bit of a rut, take a break and spend some time refocusing because actually, exciting things can come from that.

Complacency makes me feel sluggish, like I'm just going through the motions week after week and almost just watching my own life go by. It's a very easy trap to fall into because there's no feeling of pressure to change and essentially there's no need to change, but as a person (and as the human race in general I think) I'm always craving more. Sometimes this is a negative thing because I feel like I should be doing more, achieving more and I end up putting unnecessary pressure on myself to succeed (whatever succeeding may be, but that's a whole other kettle of fish). I've spoken about being in that situation before, but that's not the only thing that can come from kicking complacency. It can also inspire you to try something new, put the passion back into something you already enjoy and essentially mean you get more from life.

Amy x