Wednesday 31 March 2021 / Norwich, UK

Goals for April 2021

It’s April tomorrow! I don’t know about you guys, but this year has absolutely flown by for me. It’s weird to think we are now over a quarter of the way through the year now. It’s gone by so fast!


So as usual let’s have a look at how I did with last month’s goals;


Run 20k in February

I covered just over 24K through the month of February, so this one is a win!


Finish painting

All done! Well, more or less. The wall I wanted to paint is done, but I need to tidy up the edges a bit before I can declare it as totally finished.


Wardrobe refresh

None of the new clothes I’ve ordered have arrived, but I have a few bits and pieces on the way. I’ll be doing a clear out as well to make room for my new bits and pieces.


Try some new recipes

My husband very kindly brought me a cookbook that I wanted, and I’ve followed three different recipes from it in March. I liked them all, but one of them immediately became a favourite.


Finalise my flexible working

This is almost done but not ticked off, but that’s okay because this one isn’t totally within my control. Things are looking pretty promising at the moment though so fingers crossed.


Finish my hair

I think I need to go over it one more time, but this is essentially done! I have transitioned from red hair, to silver / grey, and I have to say despite what I had been warned it wasn’t that bad a process. Although I did have a period of orange hair somewhere in the middle. This of course probably would have been better done by a professional hairdresser, but with the salons still closed that wasn’t actually an option.



And here we’ve reached the end of my goals for last month! All were fairly simple and achievable, as I wanted to make sure I set things I would actually stick to. So, let’s have a look at my goals for April, some of which are a little more challenging;



Blog views

Since I took out an advertising package recently with the lovely Jordanne over at ‘Lift of a Glasgow Girl’, my views have more than doubled – so I highly recommend you check her out! I want to keep up the momentum and try and up my views even more. A lot of that will come from actually promoting my posts on social media which to be honest I’ve been a little slack on of late.  


Resume the lookback posts

Those of you who have been around for a while may remember that I used to post a look back of what I got up to over the previous month, which I put on hold while we were in lockdown. Let’s face it, my only trips out of the house were to run around the same field or go food shopping, and I’m sure no one wants to read about that every month! With things now starting to open back up I will tentatively be resuming these posts. I’ve put this as a goal because I tend to write these posts throughout the month, otherwise I forget what I did!


Complete my Strava challenges

I’ve signed up to several challenges on Strava, which include a 5k run, a 10k run, walking 50k in the month and to take part in Yoga once a week for four weeks in a row. All should be achievable if I keep up the momentum, although I haven’t run more than 5k in a while, so that 10k run will certainly be a challenge.


Catch up with Maria

Now that we are allowed to see each other outside I want to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I haven’t seen in person in far, far too long. We have some plans to finalise for the weekend, but I’d really love to see her more than once.


Take more photos

I’ve run out of images to use on the blog again so it’s about time I took some more soon.


Saving plan

After having to move our trip to America twice, and then eventually cancelling completely we didn’t have any trips away set for the future. That was until last week when we booked a trip to Mexico towards the end of the year! As I’ve been putting money away lately anyway I could pay for most of it straight off the bat, but I want to get the rest of it paid off in the next month or so, so that I can arrange some other fun trips when lockdown starts to relax!



So that sums up my goals for April! Again, nothing too taxing, but a slight step up from last month, especially the Strava challenges.


Do you have any goals for April?


Friday 26 March 2021 / Norwich, UK

10 Lockdown Activities to Inspire Creativity*

There are three main components when it comes to creativity; expertise, creative thinking skills and motivation. I think it’s very safe to say that motivation, for many of us has taken a rather significant knock in the last 12 months. Speaking purely for myself here, I find that I am either hugely motivated, or not motivated at all. There is no in-between at the moment. With that in mind, todays post is 10 activities, or things you can do to help get that creative spark glowing again.

1. Unplug for a bit

Regular breaks are a must no matter what you are doing, be it work or play, and sometimes all you need to do to allow yourself to recharge is do absolutely nothing. Have an evening, a day, a week, whatever you need to just chill out and relax. I have a go to routine when it comes to needing some time to unplug, that usually includes a long bath with a bath bomb, a full on skin pamper, and some fun movies while I’m snuggled up under a blanket.


2. Do some exercise

Personally I find going for a run and blasting music loudly into my brain to be very therapeutic, and it really helps me clear my mind as well. It is especially useful if I’ve had a long or stressful work day. Once my mind has had a chance to clear, I find picking up other tasks easier because I have the capacity and space for other things. This is why most of my photos and such are usually done after I’ve come back from a run.


3. Go for a walk

Unlike when I go running I tend not to listen to music when I go for a walk. The reason being is that we have a lovely woodland to wonder around in, and a lot of it gets lost if I’m playing music. I rather enjoy being able to hear and observe the various wildlife that lives just off my doorstep, and normally have a little surge of creative motivation either while I’m still out, or when I get home.

4. Browse online

Sometimes scrolling online can help spark an idea. I find that I don’t even need to be looking at anything in particular, and will suddenly draw inspiration from a colour I see, or from a fancy fonts collection. Inspiration and creativity can be sparked from all kinds of places.

5. Look over your previous posts or work

Sometimes you just need a little bit of a kick to get you started. Have a look over your previous writing, photos, paintings, whatever creative outlet it is you choose to do, looking over what you’ve done before will help inspire you to do something new.

6. Do something different

Stepping out of your comfort zone is often a good thing to do, and in some ways it’s ‘safer’ when it comes to helping spark creativity. If you try something different you don’t have to share it if you aren’t sure about it, but in going through the motions of whatever it is you are doing, you may spark several other ideas that you do want to share.

7. Take the plunge

One of the biggest killers of creativity is fear. This kind of ties in with my previous point a little bit, but sometimes it’s worth taking the plunge and just posting. Be it a photo for your Instagram, a post on your blog, some photos for a portfolio, just take the plunge and share them. You never know, you might just attract a new audience.

8. Draw from others

Sometimes advice from others, or drawing from other areas of your life can be a massive help. When I changed my blog banner, I ran the final two designs by a friend of mine, Jordanne from ‘Of a Glasgow Girl’. When I created my background for my grid feed over on Instagram, I ran the designs and ideas past Katie and Chloe from my other account, The Plant Trio. Not only did they give great advice, but the final design was miles apart from the first one, and I ended up with something I was really happy with.

9. Step away from what you are doing

Something I do at work every now and then is ‘take 5’. If I am in the middle of a difficult task, or have just had a particularly difficult call I leave my desk area and normally go have a tea or coffee in the kitchen. The break gives your brain a chance to rest and decompress, so you’ll be re-focused when you then come back to whatever you were doing. This isn’t just a good thing to practice at work, it does well with creative outlets such as writing or photographing flat lays or images for a blog – or whatever creative thing you might be doing!

10. Just start

Sometimes getting going is the hardest part, but once you have started, you start to get into the flow. Start small with whatever you are doing, and build from there as and when you feel that you want to. When I come to doing Flat Lay shots, I have a goal that I want to have at least one by the time I’m finished, and I normally have it somewhat planned before I start – or at the very least, I’ll have chosen what I’m going to photograph. Once I get started with my one photo goal, I find it is then easier to do another, and then another and I am usually left with a handful of shots I like.

I think the most important thing at the moment is to remember to be kind to yourself. You can’t expect normal levels of creativity or motivation, when our circumstances are still far from normal.  

What do you do to help get you into a creative mood?


* This is a sponsored post, please check my disclaimer for further information.



Wednesday 17 March 2021

The secret to happy plants with Soil Ninja!

Something I have started to really appreciate since getting into house plants, is that you need a large stock of supplies to keep various plants happy and healthy. Before I really got into collecting tropical plants, I would have probably deemed it perfectly acceptable to pop down to my local Sainsbury’s or garden centre, pick up a generic potting mix and plant away. With the knowledge that I have now, I can say with much certainly that the vast majority of my current plants would quickly start to die.


Now I’m not knocking generic potting mix. There is clearly a use for it, and plants that it will work for, otherwise we probably wouldn’t see it being sold in shops. The main problem when it comes to regular potting mix, is the lack of aeration within the substrate. If you’ve ever watered a plant in regular potting mix, you’ll probably notice that you end up with a pot of stodgy mud, that allows very little air to get to the roots – which most plants need and like to at least some degree.


So what do I put in my own potting mix? Well, quite a lot actually! I have a shed full of all kinds of different components to mix together in various quantities depending on what plant I’m working with. However, there is rather a lot to store, and getting a mix together can be a bit of a faff when I just want to re-pot one plant. The core components I tend to stick with are;


Lecca / Clay Pebbles

These are probably my least used component and I tend to reserve the use of Lecca for propagation only. Lecca is used for what is known as a semi hydro set up. Simply plant your plant or cutting in the balls of clay, and add water to the bottom of the pot – I find the best method is to put water into a drip tray that the pot is sat in. The clay balls will then wick the moisture upwards, bringing hydration to the roots.


Coco Coir

This finely milled substrate is made out of coconut husk, and can be purchased either as a block, or an already broken down substrate. Coco coir is known to provide good drainage and won’t leave you with that pot of thick mud when you water it. This is used in every single one of my mixes and forms the base of my substrate.



Perlite is made out of volcanic glass that has been superheated, and it added to a Coco coir mix to help provide aeration. Due to this, these little white grains help get oxygen to the roots which helps them grow and also helps prevent root. The balls are lightweight so they can start to float towards the top of the pot overtime during watering. Perlite can also be used for propagation in the same way that Lecca can.  



This is typically found in shops as ‘orchid bark’ and is used to provide further aeration on top of what the perlite has to offer. Plants with thicker or chunkier roots will need a little more bark than those with fine, thin roots. It you’ve ever taken a look at the roots of a standard orchid, you’ll see why bark is good for them.


I tend to use bark as a top coating to my pots as decoration, but this also helps keep pests like fungus gnats away as it stops them from getting to the soil, which is where they lay their eggs.


Worm castings

This is the fertiliser for the substrate mix. Contrary to what some people think, this stuff isn’t made out of ground up worms… it’s worm poop! Worm castings look like a fine powder and can be either mixed into the substrate you are mixing, or, can be sprinkled on top of soil if you wanted to fertilise a plant but not re-pot it. On that basis there’s no reason this couldn’t be used on garden plants too, especially those that are in large pots or planters.


Activated charcoal

This helps stop the build-up of impurities within the soil and can also help absorb a little moisture if you’ve overwatered once or twice – although it can’t save you from regular overwatering! You’ll tend to see activated charcoal added to terrariums to help keep them balanced.



So, that’s all quite a lot to store and buy right? Well, I’m pleased to tell you, that with the likes of Soil Ninja, you really don’t need to! I stumbled across Soil Ninja while on the hunt for worm castings that didn’t come in a massive bag, and was pleased to see that they stocked bags as small as 1 litre, for the very reasonable price of £2.50.


At this point I started to look through the rest of their website and was pleased to see how much variety they have. Not only can you buy all of the items I’ve mentioned above (and more) in both large and very small quantities, you can also buy a substrate that has been pre-mixed, with ratios tweaked to suit different plants.


Be it that you are planning on sculpting a terrarium or need to re-pot your succulent, the mixes are put together with different ratios and ingredients to meet the different needs of different plants. For example, a cacti and succulent mix will contain things like sand and finely ground pumice to help the substrate drain faster and replicate the natural environment of these plants.


This one stop shop also offers substrate mixes in bags as small as 1 litre, which is perfect for if you only have one medium sized pot to deal with. If you have more to do, or just want to keep some mix on hand to use as and when you need it, they also have bags available at 5 litres. Having ordered a few bags of different mixes, I was pleased to see that they did indeed all have very different ratios of ‘ingredients’ depending on the plant type they were for. I myself needed to repot a single Syngonium on the weekend, and found it incredibly useful to be able to do so using a single bag or substrate that had been mixed up ready for me.


If you aren’t sure which mix is best for you, they are an incredibly friendly bunch to ask. I also needed a mix for my Caladium bulbs, so dropped them a message over on Instagram to see which mix was best. A lovely lady named Amy came back to me (really quickly I might add) and not only told me which mix would be best, but also told me why it was best. So if ever I need to put my own together, I am now armed with the information I need to do so correctly.


Whether you are a house plant enthusiast, or just have the odd succulent knocking around your home I would highly recommend checking Soil Ninja out!


Wednesday 10 March 2021 / Norwich, UK

Curried Vegatable Soup

Whilst I know it’s a meal traditionally associated with the colder winter months, I’m been absolutely obsessed with making soup lately. It’s probably because I treated myself to a new handheld blender recently. Not only is it a great way to pack multiple veggies into one meal for that all important ‘5 a day’, it’s also useful when it comes to to using up left over things you might have knocking around in the fridge.


Today I’ll be sharing a recipe I threw together one day that has quickly became my go to; roasted curried vegetables. I personally like to cook this meal 2-3 batches at a time so that my lunches are prepped for the week. I’m starting to go for either a run or a walk at lunch time now that the weather is getting better. So it’s nice to be able to come home and just pop my lunch into the microwave so I can get back to work on time. Plus who doesn’t love hot soup after a chilly walk?


So, the ingredients you will need are;


3 Sweet potatoes

4-5 carrots

1 medium onion

A pinch of black pepper

A generous sprinkling of tikka curry powder

Vegetable or olive oil



To start, you will need to chop all of your vegetables roughly and put them in a foil lined tray. They don’t need to be uniform in shape or size, but I have found that smaller pieces work better than larger ones when it comes to the later steps. Sprinkle over your pepper and curry powder, with a drizzle of oil and pop in the over for around 20 minutes at 180-200 degrees centigrade. You may notice some chopped boiling potatoes lurking on my tray. I threw these in as we had a few left over from another meal, so feel free to experiment with your own veggie leftovers.   


Once you have baked your vegetables and they are starting to turn brown, transfer them to a slow cooker, set to high and pour in just enough boiling or recently boiled water to cover them. Leave for at least an hour, although the longer the better. A lot of your veg will have already started to soften during their time in the oven.


When you are satisfied that all of your veg has turned soft from the slow cooker, you can bring out the handheld food processor and blitz it down to a soup like consistency. I personally like my soup to be smooth, but if you prefer a chunky soup, just don’t use the hand blender for as long.


If your soup is too thick, just add a little water and stir it in while the soup is still in the slow cooker. If it is too thin and watery, just leave it for a little longer, with the lid off to allow excess moisture to evaporate away.


Voila! You’re done!


Personally I like to accompany my soup with a bread roll that I’ve baked in the oven before serving, because let’s face it, warm crusty bread and fresh soup is one of the best combos in the world!  


Let me know what you think if you give this a try! Do you have any favourite recipes at the moment?


Tuesday 9 March 2021 / Norwich, UK

The nightmare continues │ Graveyard City

A little while ago you might have seen my post sharing my review of the NightmaresTruth, which I absolutely loved, and have now read a couple of times. During my review I gave a little bit of background as to why I was writing a book review in the first place, as book reviews are not within the usual scope of this blog – not at the moment anyway. If you missed it, the summary is that the book was written by an old friend and work colleague of mine, Luke Dalton. I’d known back when we were working together that he was slowly bringing his world to life in the form of his first book; The Nightmares Truth.

Now, at the time he gave very little away, but what he did divulge left me excited to see what was in store, so the moment The Nightmares Truth was released on Amazon I of course brought myself a copy. Whilst Graveyard City isn’t the sequel to Nightmares Truth as such, it does follow chronologically from the end of the book and it is set in the same universe.

Graveyard City is a short, bite sized story of the aftermath of the end of Nightmares Truth. From what I can tell it picks up fairly soon, probably a matter of weeks, after the end of the previous book, and follows a small group of newly introduced, interesting characters in their fight for survival in their changed world. Being a shorter story at only 76 pages long, I would say this book was much faster paced, but there was no loss of the deep, descriptive writing style I loved in the previous book. The character development was as wonderful as Nightmares Truth, and the combat scenes lengthy and detailed. The descriptive nature of Luke’s writing makes it easy to see the scenes play out in your mind’s eye.

Whilst comparatively short, this book still contains multiple twists and turns, some of which I didn’t see or predict at all – which is what I love. After all, no one wants a story where they can predict everything that’s about to happen do they?

You do get to meet some of the much loved characters from the Nightmares Truth, and others are referenced at various points in Graveyard City. However, whilst it would provide some good context to who some of these people are and the stories behind them, I wouldn’t say its crucial to have already read Nightmares Truth prior to reading Graveyard City. I found it was nice to have the background already, especially as I’d already formed attachments with a few characters, but they are introduced as if totally new.

The story kept me gripped, and at many points at the edge of my seat, especially towards the end as the story builds pace. I did not want to put this book down, in fact I didn’t. I got through the whole thing start to finish in a single sitting, which is quite unheard of for me as I tend to dip in and out of regular reading.

I truly enjoyed reading Graveyard City, and found it a lovely way to get my fix, pending the release of the sequel to Nightmares Truth – which I have been assured will be in 2020! I would highly recommend this for those who want a taste of the main story, without committing to a lengthy book.

Now comes the impatient wait for the sequel!

Friday 5 March 2021

The Nightmares Truth

Ok, so you may be thinking this post is a little strange, and you may even think that a book review is somewhat straying away from my usual style of posts. You would be absolutely correct of course, and I’ll admit it’s not really in keeping with my usual beauty and lifestyle posts, but in this case I decided to make an exception. For very good reason. This particular book was written by a friend of mine, whom I used to work with. We sat next to each other for a long time, worked in the same team, and got on really well.  Even all those years ago, I distinctly recall him talking about his writing and his goal to publish his own book in the future. All these years later, from hard work and determination, he’s finally achieved his dream and done it!


For a start, this is a pretty incredible achievement that only goes to prove that if you keep pushing, keep working, and keep your eye on the goal ahead of you, you really can accomplish some pretty amazing things.


Now, much to my frustration at the time, Luke didn’t disclose too much about the story he was writing. He shared teeny tiny snippets of information, but decided to hold the suspense until it was absolutely perfect, and ready to be let out into the world. So you can imagine how excited I was when the release date was shared and I could finally get my hands on a copy of my own!


So, I think I’ve probably babbled on enough about why I have the book in the first place, now I should probably tell you a little about it right? Right!


From the very moment you turn to the first page, you are instantly transported into an epic battle of Gladiators, Spartans and Barbarians. Even by the first few paragraphs, the language and imagery had me captivated. I’m a Legionnaires, and I love when broad vocabulary is used, especially in books. You can’t help but feel totally immersed,  right up until the battle is rudely interrupted by the stories central character, Tyler Onorare, otherwise known as Ty, awaking from his dream.


The tempo only increases from here on out. With a classic overarching story line of good against evil but with many twists, turns and side plots that eliminate the usual predictability you’d typically find in this kind of genre. Not that you can really peg this book down to a singular genre, as it encompasses many, from horror, fantasy, mythology, suspense and history, to name but a few.


I actually took a while to get round to reading this, as I was already in the process of reading another book, that I didn’t get through particularly quickly. When I did finally pick it up however, I couldn’t put it down and got through the whole thing in as little as three sittings, which is quite unheard of for me. The story has a way of sucking you in, as you quickly get to know each of the characters in such great detail it’s almost as if you know them personally. Their personalities, their quirks and their dialog is extremely well written. When getting to the end of each chapter, I was so enthralled in the story that I just couldn’t help moving straight to the next one.


The purchase of The Nightmares Truth was primarily to support a friend, but I’m really glad I got it, and really enjoyed reading it, to the point that I've now read it twice! This book is available on Amazon, so for those of you out there who are searching for your next read, I’d highly recommend picking this one up!


Monday 1 March 2021

March Goals - 2021

Wow, hasn’t this year flown by? We’re a quarter of the way through already. Although it doesn’t feel like we’ve managed to do very much thanks to another lockdown. Although that being said, March does mark something special for us – today Mike and I have been married for six months!


So let’s have a look at how I did with last month’s goals;


Get on track with the blog

Whilst there won’t have been much going on as far as you guys can see, there’s been a fair bit going on in the background. I’ve been writing posts, taking photos and I’m even switching up things like logos and headers. The result should be more posts throughout March and hopefully in the future!


Change my hair colour

This is in progress, but I have started. So far all I’ve done is strip the red colouring out of my hair, leaving a kind of blonde / orange tone. Next up I will be bleaching it in order to lighten it up to a blonder colour and then once I’ve achieved a lighter shade I can start working towards my actual goal colour.


Be better with my skincare routine

Since getting a few new bits and pieces I’ve been much better with my skincare, which is just as well because it has been feeling awful lately. My usually oily skin seems to have switched to rather dry, so my usual routine simply hasn’t been cutting it. I’ll be covering some of the new products I’ve been trying in a post very soon.


Pick out paint and wallpaper

A few weeks ago I brought some paint samples and swatched them on the wall I intend to paint. I have picked my favourite of the lot, brought the paint and started to get it up on the wall. I pretty much know the wallpaper I want to use, so it’s just a case of getting it, and I’ve even found some furniture I like as well.


Assemble the ‘greenhouse’

So… I still haven’t actually assembled the greenhouse, however, that is because it is going to go in the room that I am currently decorating. Once I’ve painted what I want to, it can then go up as there’s no point in assembling it just to have to keep dragging it out of the way, especially given that it’s fairly heavy. I also need to get hold of a drill that can go through metal so that I can get all my wires and such in for the lamps, fans and heat mat.



I didn’t do too badly in last month’s set of goals, so let’s have a look at my goals for the coming month;


Run 20k

Although I hasten to add.. not all in one go. My running has been pretty non-existent since January. It’s been muddy, it’s been cold which hits my asthma, but more than any of that I just couldn’t be bothered to go. Given that I usually cover 5k when I run, a 20k total through the month should be more than achievable.


Finish painting

Now that I’ve brought everything I need, I want to get the new beauty room painted. I’m somewhat stalling on the wallpaper, simply because I’ve never done it before and don’t want to mess it up – so if any of you have any tips, I’d love to hear them! Although fortunately the wall I want to paper is small, with no plugs, switches or windows to work around!


Wardrobe refresh

I haven’t brought myself new clothes for ages, mainly because there hasn’t been much point while we’ve been in lockdown. With the end somewhat in sight I want to get a few more bits for my wardrobe, as well as clear out the things I know I no longer want.


Try some new recipes

It’s very easy to sink into a routine, especially when it comes to meals so I want to try some things that I haven’t made previously. I have recently started to watch Hu’s Kitchen on YouTube and he shares some great recipes that are really easy to follow.


Finalise my flexible working

Now, I don’t have full control over this as it depends on other people, what they approve and so on. However, I am in the process of trying to secure agreement for part time working from home once everything has gone back to ‘normal’. So far things are looking promising, and this is one of the biggest things to sort before Mike and I can look at getting a dog, which I’ve wanted to do for years. To be honest, he was somewhat put off by the idea due to experience with a dog he and a previous partner had – although it sounds like shared blame, and a bored dog that was left during the day due to work commitments. One of the factors that has persuaded him is that we will (hopefully) both be able to work from home part time, which means any future job will always have at least one of us in the house.


Finish my hair

I’m in no rush with changing my hair colour, and I want to save it from damage as much as possible The next step is to bleach it, and then depending on the colour I get from it I’ll either need to bleach again, or, I can start to tone it and get ready for my final colour. I’ve spent a bit extra on a bleach that contains bond builders, which will hopefully help save my hair from damage.



And here we’ve reached the end of my goals for the month! Again, all are fairly simple and achievable. With dwindling levels of motivation the last thing I want to do is set a load of goals and not hit any of them because it’s overwhelming, there’s just no point.


Hopefully when I check back next month I’ll have most if not all of these crossed off!


Do you have any goals for March?

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