Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Why You Should Start A Project 365

On Monday I finished my Project 365, a challenge wherein you aim to take one photo every day for a whole year. I am not someone who always finishes a personal challenge (I've secretly gone veggie and then secretly failed or forgotten more times than I can count) so this felt like such an achievement.

If you've never done a Project 365, I am here today to convince you to at least give it ago - with some of my tips from the experience to help you along!

It is an amazing record of your year. It's really lovely to go back and see what I was taking photos of a year ago; there is photographic evidence of when I started knitting again, what my favourite breakfasts are and lots of photos in my ugly but very zen uni room.

You can see how far you've progressed: my first shots are all night time ones, with artificial light, because I took a while to work out when to fit photo taking into my daily routine... As such they are certainly not my best work. I can also clearly see when I started getting to grips with framing and editing - my mistakes were not pretty but they were most certainly educational!

Every day, you have an opportunity to be creative. Taking a photo was, at times, a real struggle; if you look through the album you will see evidence of cheat days where I forgot and days where my shot was far from polished, but it meant that nearly every day I was pushing myself to find a new subject and to try again.

Tips and tricks: I'm not going to pretend I am the best photographer - I am a rookie who loves learning, plain and simple! That said, I did learn a lot through this experience, so I thought I would put together my best advice for you...

  • Make time for your photos. I used to tidy my camera in a box under my bed, but I ended up setting the habit of having it within arm's reach from my bed. It was one of the first things I would see each morning, meaning I could shoot first thing. In the winter, it is usually too dark in the morning, so I wish I'd set an alarm at lunchtime so I could take a photo on my lunch break - it would have meant fewer cheat days!
  • Don't worry if you miss a day. Just keep going. Some weeks involved nearly as many cheat days (when I'd post a snap that wasn't from the day in question) but I am very glad I carried on.
  • Consider posting to a private album. I didn't share the link for my Project the whole way through doing it, which worked for me as I felt less pressure.
  • Get inspired. I love Ines' project, and this one by M. Klasan.
  • Aim for consistency, not perfection. Simply taking photos every day means you will improve, so don't sweat it if yours start out as bad as mine did! As I said above, seeing where you went wrong is actually super helpful.

Apart from that, just get out there and have a go!

I hope you guys consider trying this project... It is a great challenge! If you are interested, here is mine to snoop at. In the meantime have a wonderful week!


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Cosy Weather Reading Material...

I don't know about you, but there's nothing like some super cold weather to make me feel appreciate a night in with a good read! As I write this, the house is being battered by a vicious storm and I am very glad to just be sat inside listening to it...

I'm hoping to share my cosy weather playlist with you soon; so far I've got a few tracks that I love for capturing the sad beauty of this time of year, but it's still in its infancy at present! In the meantime, here's what I'll be enjoying this winter...


I first read this last year and immediately fell for its intense and delicious prose. It's one of those stories that takes you by the hand with its first line and doesn't let you go until the last. If you are unfamiliar with its premise, the tale opens on a sleepy French town and a north wind that brings two wholly unexpected visitors... Vianne Rocher and her young daughter Anouk instantly cast a spell of intrigue on the town's conservative population, drawing admiration and distaste in equal measure when they open a chocolaterie during Lent. It's a beautiful read, but be warned - it will leave you very hungry indeed...


I've mentioned my love for this beauty before (it made it into this roundup, in case you missed it) and the latest issue has proven to be my favourite so far. This is a gorgeous British women's magazine, which showcases lovely visuals and some of my favourite writing I've seen in any publication of its kind. Its stories are unique and endearing, written excellently and still retaining a sense of play too... I could truly waffle about its merits all day long.


A read that I purchased after hearing Lilly loved it, I quickly fell for this simple but stunning tale. We follow Etta, an elderly Canadian woman, as she begins a trek that will take her thousands of miles from the home she shares with her husband Otto. While her voyage takes her across Canada, we are led on a journey into her past, following her history with both Otto and their dearest friend Russell. You will adore its gentle storytelling style, perfect for bringing you intimately close to each of the characters. It feels effortless, immediately pulling you into its hold.


Yes, it's another read I've told you about (in this video in case you missed it) but this story is that darn good. Proving that you don't have to chuck in a load of vampires when writing about young romance, Eleanor and Park is about love and all its complications. I'll be frank and say that I can't truly summarise the power of this one without inadvertently making it sound banal when the opposite is the case... this book is funny and painful and nuanced and gorgeous. Expect to be sharply reminded of every raw love you ever felt as a teen.

That's my roundup done! What are you reading at the moment? Leave me the sweet sweet recommendations in the comments. In the meantime, I hope you are doing well and that this week is going better for you all...


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

THOUGHTS ON: Friendship Breakups

While relationship breakdowns have been heavily documented in our culture (with all of us knowing that the secret is to sob in your slobby pyjamas while devouring trashy films and too much ice cream) the friendship breakup gets far less press. This said, I would argue that the latter can be just as painful as the former, with many of the same emotions surfacing in both experiences. Whereas we can't move for tropes and stereotypes on how to get over an ex-lover, there is almost no guidance to be found on moving on from an ex-friend... So how do you go about it?

I'm not much of an expert on any kind of breakup, but like most people I have gone through this particular situation as both the "dumper" and the "dumped" (or as Facebook might put it, the unfriended). Neither end feels particularly pleasant, so I thought I'd round up what I have by way of "advice", with some suggestions for getting you through that raw, foetal-position-adopted-friend-loss stage and the oh-crap-I-just-don't-see-us-as-friends-any-more-what-do-I-do stage.



First of all, please don't overreact and assume a friendship has died because someone hasn't texted in a while. I know that this may sound like the most non-advice advice ever, but it never does hurt to remind ourselves that we all maintain our friendships in different ways. I'm someone who may not get in touch for any length of time, but it rarely means that I'm upset with my buds. Your pal's pace of friendship may be slower while your own may be faster... It's something to bear in mind.

Test the waters. Whereas relationships tend to end with a clear sense of separation*, friendship breakups can be murkier. A couple of attempts to extend the hand of friendship should suffice; if you find that attempts to arrange meeting up get blown off repeatedly or that messages and calls go unanswered, it's wisest to step back and leave things. As the other party in this scenario, it's not nice to receive a massive, accusatory message outlining where they have failed to maintain contact with you, so don't bother. True friends will come back without you needing to ask.

Accept what is. Seeing a friendship dwindle away is totally normal. It's often not about either of you having done something wrong, but more about changes of circumstance; you may have simply grown apart or literally moved further apart from one another. In these instances, it helps to simply accept this and not let the hurt get to you too much; by maintaining a level head, you may even find that a bond gets rekindled later down the road (and boy is it great when it does).

Friendships ending in betrayal are less common, and it's often harder to see these ties being repaired. Even in this situation, take the high road. My family is big into saying the expression least said, soonest mended, even if it's not something we can always stick to... but it really does help to do your best. A few years ago I ended up losing some of my dearest friends at the time and I still wish I'd handled things with more dignity; now I am that little bit older I can see that things could have ended more easily.

Let yourself heal. It may involve multiple sadness baths, millions of late night phone calls and more Parks and Rec marathons than you can shake a stick at, but you'll get there. Allow the loss of one bond to give strength to others, by making the most of the buds that are looking after you while you get through your friendship breakup.

*unless you are Ann Perkins




Don't beat yourself up too much. We all need to move on sometimes and especially from friendships that bring us down instead of up. Sometimes drawing a line in the sand to say that enough is enough really is the kindest thing; struggling on with a bond that is just making you unhappy can lead to toxicity and real misery. It is okay to say no thank you to something that is no longer healthy for you.

Withdraw quietly. Again, writing an accusatory letter just isn't an option. Writing that letter and keeping it may prove cathartic, but any interactions with one another should be gentle and respectful. With a close friend, I truly can't imagine anything more hurtful than being told in detail, blow by blow, why they no longer want to be your mate, so don't do it to someone else no matter how justified you might feel. If you can't drift away quietly, perhaps a more direct interaction is necessary, just saying that you feel differently but that you wish them well. Don't have another friend do your dirty work and don't say anything that you wouldn't be comfortable hearing yourself.

Let them feel their hurt. They are likely to react with upset and our unhappy selves are not our best selves, so a thicker skin may be needed. Accept that they may feel lost and betrayed, but don't forget that you are doing so for the right reasons.

Feel your pain too. It is still an awful experience, even if you are the one who instigated a friendship breakup, so be prepared for your own upset. You may miss them and feel angry at them at the same time; this is again normal and just needs to be felt and dealt with patiently and with lots of chocolate based snacks.

Do you guys have any advice on this subject? Are you going through a friendship breakup at the moment? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments...