Category Archives: General

Review of 2016

I’m a little late with my review of the year this year, mostly because I was away from home over the festive period but also because I wanted to write up some really considered ‘resolutions’ for 2017.

I was pretty busy in 2016, although almost the entire first half of the year had a definite rowing focus.

– I went on rowing training camp to Gent, Belgium again, and was deemed ‘most improved’ at the end of it
– I was happy to be chosen to compete for my rowing club at the Henley Women’s Regatta and we made it through the time trials and two competitive rounds before going out in the semi-finals to the eventual winners
– I was asked to do the decorations for the rowing club annual dinner and managed to do some pretty nifty things on a very low budget
– My efforts earned me the Lady Rower of the Year trophy at my rowing club – all the blood, sweat, tears, DOMS, blisters, fatigue, hunger and doubts were worth it in the end!
– I volunteered at the Oxford Half Marathon for the third year, this time handing out medals at the finish, and also assisting with the local schools’ event
– I got my first ever work promotion
– I met my boyfriend!
– I went on a romantic vacance to Paris with said boyfriend – we visited the Louvre, Pompidou centre, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Montmartre and Versailles amongst other places
– I became a volunteer writer for the International Paralympic Committee
– I was a social media volunteer at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Madeira
– I joined a Biobank and found out some interesting facts and stats about my body! (Thankfully all good ones)
– I finally managed to visit the Thermae Bath Spa – lovely on a cold, slightly snowy winter’s night
– I did another Creative Sprint in October 2016, and even got one of my creations featured on Instagram!
– Way back in January 2016 I won the Charity Award at my work’s New Year party for my efforts organising cake sales for fundraising
– I moved house (again)

So, to my ‘resolutions’ – though they’re not set in stone. After the continuing success of my resolution a few years ago to ‘be more positive’, these days I am all about making long-term, lasting lifestyle adjustments.

I’ll continue to improve the eco-friendliness of my life – I’m already seeing good results from this, it’s making me use my imagination more, be healthier, and be more mindful of how I go about doing things.

I was guilty last year of buying lots of things via mail order, mostly because, what with all that rowing, I very rarely had the time or energy to go to the shops. The trouble was I spent a lot of time and money sending things back, and the packaging that items are sent out in is often both copious and non-recyclable. Plus I was missing out on trying things on and experimenting. Last year my standout purchase was an amazingly flattering pair of dungarees (of all things) which I would never have bought via the website, but thought ‘why not’ in the shop! This is part of a ‘try new things’ kick which I have been on for a couple of years. The only time I am planning to make an exception to my mail order rule is when either the brand does not have a physical shop or offline stockists, or if I am able to support an independent Etsy seller by buying something from them.

I’m still working on finding some happy mediums with all of the things I do. I can be very much an all or nothing kind of person and I need to learn to exist in the middle ground a bit more.

What with all the being eco-friendly and kicking my mail-order habit, I’m hoping to be able to save some money this year. My stepdad pointed out the other day (if evidence of the above all-or-nothingness was needed) that I like to have Big Experiences. So instead of, for example, just going to the Winter Wonderland event in Hyde Park in London, I readily sold many of my worldly belongings to be able to afford to go to Norway to see real snow, real alpine forests, real Northern Lights. Similarly, he said, I don’t want to go to a mere zoo, I want to go to New Zealand to save an endangered parrot! All these wonderful experiences cost money so I’m going to make it my mission to save up enough to do another one soon.

Becky

Treehugging

Back in the day, I was very much into anything to do with the environment. I was into recycling, saving the animals, protecting the rainforests, you name it!

As I got older, and had more life stuff to think about, I began to lose some of my eco-focus. Not all of it: I still recycled; I avoided anything that might be particularly harmful to the planet; I used canvas bags as an alternative to plastic bags for years before the 5p bag tax was introduced. But I just lost interest and got a bit lax with my habits over time.

A new friend has inspired me to get back into being a treehugger again. She’s doing a project for a year (at least) that involves living a lifestyle that generates zero waste – with a focus on single-use plastic. When she first told me about this, it made me realise that I’d lost sight of how I used to be, and that I should probably make more effort!

She’s recording her efforts and thoughts on the project over on Instagram. My favourite photo (so far) can be found here, and it’s my favourite because of the caption she added:

{ Plastic Free July tips – for everyday… }
Whenever I leave the house, I nearly always have my [Kleen Kanteen] waterbottle and my keepcup with me – I love them so much, they fit in my bag, and it’s super easy. It means that I never really need to buy bottled water, as I can normally find somewhere to refill, and I can always have tea/coffee on the go. I also normally carry a cotton tote bag, in case I buy anything and need some way to carry it. If I’m going out for the day (or longer), I will often also carry a container (such as a jar, or old tupperware) and a spoon/fork, in case I want to buy lunch, or a snack, on the go. If I forget these things, which I do, coz I’m only human …then I will just enjoy tea, or a meal sitting down which is a nice way to slow down a bit anyway. Sometimes I will even pop a stainless steel straw into my bag…

I’m terrible for rushing around all the time so the idea of having a proper sit-down meal as the ‘green’ option really resonated with me. It would actually be more effective at making me slow down than any kind of concern for my own personal welfare!

It’s very early days for me and I’m clearly not as experienced as Hannah in these matters, but I’m going to concentrate on improving things bit by bit and see how I get on.

I’m going to try to get back into upcycling and recons too, so hopefully I will have some craft and design based posts to share soon.

What are your tips for living a greener life?

Becky

2015 – Year in Review

Here it is, my now-traditional review of the year as it comes to an end. As usual, when I began to write this post, I didn’t think I’d done anything of note, but it turns out that I was as busy as ever!

– I volunteered as part of the Ceremonies Team at the inaugural British Rowing Indoor Championships, and even made it into one of the promotional videos!
– I also volunteered as a course marshal at another local half marathon
– I won another two rowing finals as part of a women’s 8+
– I graduated at the Barbican in London
– I finally watched the Thames Barrier being tested!
– I went on my third rowing training camp
– I did another screen-printing workshop and made some rowing-inspired prints
– Along with my friend Sarah, I did another 30 Days of Creativity
– I rediscovered books, and reading, in a non-study context. I had missed reading for the joy of it!
– I had my custom jewellery featured in a gift guide
– And my standard range found its first real life stockist
– I was a social media journalist for the Women’s Sport Network at Henley Women’s Regatta

I wonder what 2016 has in store for me?

Becky

Cut Out & Keep – Oxford

I was recently asked to write an article for crafting website Cut Out & Keep, on the subject of Oxford. They have very kindly allowed me to publish it on my own blog too! I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Oxford – the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ – is steeped in history and knowledge. It has spectacular architecture, glorious open spaces, and its own unique brand of eccentricity. It is probably best known for its university, and, with so many students living here, there’s an atmosphere of new beginnings, dreams and aspirations…

Continue reading

2014 – Year in Review

Well. Where do I even start? It’s been an….interesting year, full of highs and lows and everything inbetween. This year, I:

– Finally finished my degree with the Open University, gaining a 2:1 Bachelor of Science (Hons) after seven years of study
– Ticked off a lot of ‘firsts’, including travelling on a ferry, a tram and the Eurotunnel
– Attended not one but two rowing training camps and lived to tell the tale
– Went on a whistle-stop tour of Belgium
– Volunteered at the London stage of this year’s Tour de France as a Tourmaker
– Volunteered at a local half marathon as a Racemaker
– Had my volunteer interview for the Rugby World Cup 2015… watch this space!
– Ate Party Rings biscuits for the first time in about twenty years after they made them vegetarian
– Rowed in WEHORR (Women’s Eights Head of the River Race) on the Thames, for the first time
– Had one of my necklaces featured in a magazine for the first time

I’ve spectacularly failed to do any of my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions but I’ll discuss them anyway!

1) Enjoy the moment
This one started well, but I it’s going to take me a little longer than expected to train my brain not to worry about the consequences of my actions so much. There were glimpses of success at various points this year but ‘enjoying the moment’ needs to become something I don’t consciously think about.

2) Eat well and add to my cooking repertoire
The stress and sheer boredom of writing essays propelled me towards my kitchen oftener than it should have, with ‘just making a snack’ (invariably something unhealthy) offering good opportunities for procrastination! However, I did make a point of going through all of my recipe books (more procrastination) and mark the recipes that I would actually use. So I guess the plan for 2015 is to work my way through some of them and see what new dishes I can add to my diet. I also need to find some new ideas for lunches to take to work because I’ve got stuck in a routine with it. Any suggestions?

3) Write more blog posts
I think it’s quite obvious that this one didn’t go as planned! It’s been a pretty quiet year for doing anything in my spare time other than study. My final course was in Design and was at third-year university level, the combination of which meant that not only was it quite difficult, I had to come up with design ideas for every essay, and my final project. All that thinking takes up a lot of time you know! Also, I spent so much time looking at a screen and trying to extricate thoughts from my head into coherent essays that, to be honest, my laptop and I needed to spend a little time apart…

4) Have more fun!
Fun was occasionally had this year, in between work and training and study and worrying about the future! Everything took over my life more than I expected and didn’t leave much room for anything else. Looking forward to next year, there should be lots more opportunities to cut loose a bit – if I am only brave enough to take the leap.

I’d like to apologise for the blog silence this year. I’m definitely looking to get back into making stuff next year: edible, stitched, laser cut, who knows. We’ll see where life takes me 🙂

Becky

New Year’s Resolutions 2014

I am going to be very short of time again this year, what with work, training, studying, making, baking, creating…the list goes on! So I need some manageable yet still challenging goals to aim for in 2014.

1) Enjoy the moment
I’ve sometimes got the tendency to look to the future too much, pondering the consequences of my current actions and being unable to fully enjoy whatever I’m doing. This is going to change this year.

2) Eat well and add to my cooking repertoire
As I mentioned in my review of 2013, although I have increased my fitness, my diet needs a bit more work. Most of what I eat is based on carbs (pasta, rice, bread etc) and some combination of tomatoes and/or cheese. I need to increase the amount of muscle-building protein and nutritious veg in my diet, no mean feat given that I am a vegetarian and very fussy to boot!

3) Write more blog posts
I’m sure none of you noticed but I have definitely written a lot less blog posts this year, not least because I didn’t have time to do 30 Days of Creativity this time around. This year I will write more blog posts, which means making and baking and creating more things to blog about.

4) Have more fun!
I spent a lot of time studying and training this year and I need to make more of opportunities to kick back, relax and have some fun in what remaining spare time I have in 2014.

What are your NYRs for 2014?

Becky

2013 – Year in Review

It’s that time of year again, to mull over what has happened in the last 365 days and look forward to what might occur in the next 365. In 2013, amongst other things, I:

– Somehow gained a Distinction in my latest (now discontinued) OU course: T211 Design and Designing
– Started supplying rowing-themed button badges to Rock the Boat
– Made an unexpected wedding cake for my friend’s wedding
– Celebrated my one year rowing anniversary
– Watched Luisa Omielan’s comedy show What Would Beyoncé Do?
– Had a ‘Health MOT’ and passed with flying colours
– Started a challenging and interesting new job
– Watched The Leisure Society live (again!)
– Won my first race final at a rowing regatta
– Had a Hawaiian-themed joint birthday party for my 30th
– Watched my friend’s long awaited, much anticipated and
very funny debut film ‘Dead Cat’
– Moved house
– Did a screenprinting workshop at Print Club London

As usual, at the start of the year, I decided on my New Year’s Resolutions. This year’s were intended to be more about ‘doing’ and less about ‘thinking’, though I could not have foreseen that a combination of rowing and studying would take over my life for nine or ten months of this year, leaving me little time for anything else (including writing blog posts)!

1) Make marshmallows, macarons and madeleines.
I managed to make marshmallows (and very tasty they were too), and some madeleines for my friend Madeleine’s birthday (though I didn’t get to try them). I’ve not quite got around to making macarons, though having not ever actually tried one I might find that I don’t like them after all! I was tempted by the make-your-own-macarons kits that I spotted in Sainsbury’s the other week, but alas the raspberry ones contain cochineal (off-limits to vegetarians) and the chocolate ones are out too because I don’t like chocolate. So this might be a longer term project. Perhaps I’ll take a class in how to make macarons, because by all accounts they can be tricky little so-and-sos!

2) Make fewer excuses.
This was the obligatory ‘floaty’ resolution but one I’ve been meaning to do for a number of years. I’ve had a tendency to blame stuff on things that are outside my control or that I could change if I really wanted to. Working on making less excuses (both spoken and in my head) has actually resulted in a lot of inner peace this year. I’ve learnt to change things and to just get on with life without coming up with feeble reasons not to do things. Hurrah!

3) Work on becoming very healthy and fit.
This was all to do with rowing, which I think I was a bit cagey about at the start of the year when I wrote about this resolution. Suffice it to say, a year’s worth of rowing training has done wonders for my fitness and figure; I actually have definition in my bicep, calf, stomach and thigh muscles for the first time in my life. The being healthy bit is going to need some work into next year though, as I rely far too much on carbs and dairy products to keep me going, and need to try to get more protein and good stuff into my diet.

4) Make my own clothes (or modify more).
I still have a pile of ‘to do’ projects in my craft room but didn’t really have any time to do them. This year, instead of making and modifying, I made a point of seeking out small boutique shops (such as my current favourite, Aspire Style), clothing brands that I know work with my figure, and investing in higher quality items that are properly tailored and will last a long time. My shape changed so much from all the exercise that I had to donate two thirds of my wardrobe to the local Oxfam charity shop (resulting in an amazing Tag Your Bag total) so really I have had to start again from scratch. I also bought my first pair of skinny jeans this year, a lovely high-waisted stretchy version that actually fits! Only a decade after everyone else started wearing them…

5) Do a photography project.
This went right out the window when the aforementioned epic rowing-and-study combo kicked in. I managed a few weeks (six, to be precise) but I think that I may have fallen out of love with my camera. Perhaps one of my 2014 NYRs should be to save up for a new one?

Did you make any resolutions for 2013, and if so how did they go?

Becky