“Sally,” you might be asking, if you actually know that’s my name (because I’ve got no bloody idea how to put one of those cute selfies with a lil bio that says something along the lines of ‘coffee, cats, cake’ or ‘lover of life!’ on the right hand side of my blog).
“Sally, where have you been?”

“I’ve been napping for six hours a day,” I would answer, should you ask me that question, “and not leaving my house unless absolutely necessary!” I’d give you a big, unconvincing smile (I’m really good at those; you just need to be dead behind the eyes) and you’d probably feel a bit uncomfy and leave me alone.

Ya girl has been THROUGH IT, if I’m being honest. You might have noticed that I’ve disappeared off the face of the internet, save for a few choice retweets of Mamma Mia memes (say that ten times fast) that I broke my self-imposed internet ban to enjoy. To keep you in the loop, I was signed off work for a month (because it’s not actually normal to full on ugly cry if someone politely asks ‘how are you?’), had a good ol’ early-twenties breakdown (think actual sliding-down-the-wall crying because I dropped a fork in my washing up water and it splashed me), was broken up with, and then made redundant. It’s been FAB.

I’ve decided I’m not having it, so there. I’ve got two months left of being 23, and, sorry 23, but it’s been horrendous. I’m determined to make the last two months of being 23 the best, most exciting, happy, self-love-y (that’s not a word, but you get the gist) months of my life. Without, you know, going on holiday or anything, because I don’t have a passport or anyone to babysit my dogs.

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So here’s 24 things I want to do before I’m 24. It can’t come soon enough. 

  1. Delete the Facebook app. I’ve actually cheated here a bit ’cause I’ve already done this. I’ve still got an account – mainly so my sister can tag me in obscure posts and I can snort Pepsi Max out of my nose on the bus – but getting rid of the actual app on my phone has saved me from countless hours scrolling down my feed, watching as everyone from my year at school is getting married, having babies, coming out, moving abroad, being hideously insensitively racist or sexist, and generally making me want to scratch my eyes out.
  2. Re-start my Masters Degree. Have I been utilising the iTunes U app and swotting up on all sorts of topics to prepare for my upcoming return to education, and finding I actually have a little spark of interest for subjects like politics in the media? Yes, as long as I’ve got a little bag of chocolate buttons to keep my strength up.
  3. Learn how to do my own eyebrows. Mate, I’m sick of paying out my precious funds for a lady (admittedly a really lovely one) to rip out my eyebrows regularly.
  4. Read 20 books. I was that kid who was given the Lord of the Rings trilogy to finish in Year 5 with a triumphant, “you’ll never finish that!” when I’d worked my way round every single book in the school, like Matilda, but with a really really bad fringe. Give me a pile of books and two months and watch me go.
  5. Focus on my blog. The time I’ve been given by losing one of my jobs can be used for internet purposes, which sounds like I’m a webcam model. I’m not. Nobody wants to watch me sitting in my pants eating Cheesy Wotsits and singing the Wicked soundtrack to my dogs.
  6. Speaking of Wicked, go and see Wicked. I think I deserve a little treat, and having only seen Wicked once, (I’m sorry to say I thought it would be overrated – I was very, very wrong) I’m ready to go again. I’ll try not to cry this time.
  7. Watch a LOT of documentaries – and not just animal ones. I love animal documentaries, even if I cried once because two albatrosses were cuddling up together and had been together for TEN YEARS. Relationship goals.
  8. Sort out my wardrobe. Although I haven’t been a size ten since I was about fourteen and living on a diet of hysterical anxiety, there’s an awful lot of sneaky little size ten clothes lurking in my wardrobe. Bye.
  9. Find a new hobby. Wailing along to musical soundtracks and trying to colour inside the lines of my Pokemon colouring book are acceptable hobbies, yes?
  10. Do something with my hair. I’m BORED. Suggestions welcome.
  11. Grow my nails. I bit my nails the second my first tooth came through and haven’t stopped since. It’s gross, and I really need to stop.
  12. Wallpaper my hall. I’m determined to do it myself, and have got a little supply of paper and paste and rollers and stuff. I just have NO idea how to do it. Will it go wrong? Probably. Does it need doing anyway? Absolutely.
  13. Go to the cinema by myself. This is sort of like a little indicator of my mental state – can I get a bus to town? Can I walk up to the cinema? Can I resist the urge to get an extra-large salted popcorn, vanilla pepsi and bag of Minstrels (absolutely not)? Can I concentrate on the film without wriggling around like a hysterical eel?
  14. Write more. The more I write, the more I remember how much I used to love it.
  15. Donate to charity. All those cheeky little size tens hanging out in my wardrobe? Charity bag. Old Christmas presents from well-meaning but extremely misled family members? Charity bag. My dog? Charity bag, if she doesn’t stop weeing on my carpet.
  16. Catch up on My Dad Wrote a Porno. Yes, I’m putting this on my list. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you NEED TO. Preferably not with your family members, although me and my mum actually used to listen to it as she took me to work, and laugh so much that it was probably a risk to other road users.
  17. Experiment with a bullet journal. Although I’ve actually bought the physical journal, I’ve been putting this off. I’m terrified of messing it up or misspelling something and having to rip a page out.
  18. Start cooking properly again. I’m an experimental cook (a phrase which here means “flings spring onions into everything and over-cooks Quorn”), but ahve been miserably surviving on ready meals and snack food.
  19. Go cruelty-free with my beauty products. No excuse.
  20. Sort out my YouTube subscriptions. I’m sick of scrolling past YouTubers I grew out of when I was fifteen who I can’t be bothered to unsubscribe from (three guesses who that might be)…
  21. Reach out more. Unfortunately, I’m one of those annoying people who whines about “having no friends”. I’m a liar – I do have friends, I just don’t know what to do with them, or what to say, or how to reach out. That needs to change, asap, ’cause I don’t know if it’s a bit sad to go to Pizza Hut by yourself.
  22. Up my Instagram. I’ve been fiddling about with photography and flatlays and actually beginning to enjoy it. Also I’m ignoring the fact that I lose roughly forty thousand followers every day. I’m kidding. I can’t get past 2k.
  23. Do more. Spending three days horizontal, playing Harvest Moon on my old Nintendo Wii and getting emotionally invested in my crops, animals, wife and child is all very well, but not when I’m also not eating real food (I actually ordered a giant takeaway pizza and spread it out so it lasted three days, and I’m rightfully ashamed), going outside or wearing actual clothes instead of pyjamas.
  24. Go easy on myself. I’m a master of self-deprecation (can you tell?!) and I need to be a bit nicer. I’m not all bad.

Have I just written over 1300 words? Yep. Kudos if you read all of it. This marks my tentative return to my blog and the internet as a whole – hooray! You can have a chat with me on Twitter @little_budget and let me know what your goals for this year are!

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Remember that episode of Friends where Chandler tells Rachel she needs to quit her job so she can experience ‘The Fear’? Yeah, that.

I’m well and truly feeling THE FEAR at the moment, and until very recently I couldn’t find a way out. I was drowning in work-based responsibilities (working two jobs and not having an actual day off ever gets a bit draining, y’know?); my newly bought house was falling to bits around me as I shambled about with a wallpaper steamer; my blog, my extra-curriculars and my Masters Degree were put on hold as I got stuck in a rut of depression, self-loathing and Mini Rolls.  It got to the stage where the very idea of *gasp!* seeing my boyfriend and *bigger gasp!* actually going out for tea(!!) was the most exciting thing I could comprehend. I’d work myself up daydreaming about actually sitting down with a menu and no time limit. Putting on shoes that weren’t my work shoes was a Big Deal. Walking my dog was a luxury I had to pay someone else to do.

This post isn’t going to take a 360 and state that I quit my jobs, sold my house, packed up a little bag of clean knickers and a KitKat and flew to Thailand to discover myself in an animal sanctuary (a literal dream I had the other night and was most disappointed to wake up from). Nah, didn’t do any of that – I’m still working 7 days, still locked in battle with the Wallpaper Steamer of Doom and the Hallway of Agony (basically my hallway. And a wallpaper steamer. You probably got that already).

Now I’m sitting at my kitchen table – which hasn’t got any actual rubbish on it for the first time in weeks – with my dog (who’s actually standing on the table despite my plaintive urges for her to sit in her bed like a normal animal), and I’m writing a blog post. And I have a little to-do list next to me. And some pastel highlighter pens, ’cause, you know, fancy. I’ve actually put a bra on today (hooray!). I’m wearing lipstick, and not a kids Frozen lip balm that I got for 40p in a charity shop because it had Olaf on it, and he was smiling, and I got emotional.

A couple of weeks ago, Old English Company got in touch and offered to send me some little bits and pieces. I had a little browse (pretending that I don’t stalk their website/instagram/twitter/blog religiously and have a wishlist already, sneaky ey?) and settled on THE MOST MOTIVATIONAL THINGS I COULD FIND.

 

I love a good inspirational quote. I stan little inspirational enamel pin badges (did I use ‘stan’ right? I don’t understand it. I’ve never felt older). Sticking this beautiful gold “Go Get ‘Em” tiger pin to my bag made me actually want to go get ’em. The quote “grow through what you go through” made me and my mum have a little wishful discussion about getting through life, taking everything as it comes and rolling with it. I’m saving this pin for my the first outing of my brand new denim jacket (which I can’t wear til ice-cream season is over because ya girl spills).

I decided I was just going to go with it. Accept that yeah, for now, I have to work all these hours. I can afford groceries, I can afford ridiculous amounts of rabbit treats for my two furry hoovers. I CAN do anything I set my mind to. I’ve never really believed in myself as much as I do now. Of course, an inspirational quote or a cute pin can’t really change your entire mindset, but I totally believe the messages they portray can.

I’m surrounding myself with productivity, happiness, inspiration, motivation. I’m trying to take criticism on board and not cry into my pillow, waking up six hours later looking like an actual carrier bag.

I am finding a way out – taking my medication, writing things down, reading, doing things I enjoy.  Am I still wiped out by 9pm and begging my boyfriend not to watch an episode of “House”, just to tuck me in? Yes. Do I wake up at 6:30 and wish I was still in Dream-Thailand drinking out of a coconut? Yes, although I genuinely feel like drinking out of a coconut would make me bork. But now I’m writing again – some of my favourite posts have been produced as the product of a last-minute Slimfast shake and a ten minute break between jobs (Why I’ll Never Be a ‘Proper’ Fashion Blogger, for example, which I may have written in the bath). I’m spending quality time with James, who is an actual superhero for putting up with me lately. I’ve pushed through my anxiety enough to hang out with friends, to ask for more responsibilities, to be ME.

Has anyone else felt this way? How did you get through? Let’s share some tips and have  a little chat in the comments, or you can hit me up on Twitter @little_budget for a proper chinwag.

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Before I start, I’d just like to let you know that I bloody LOVE fashion bloggers – yes, even those who meet every single #fblogger stereotype going. Do I envy their beautifully put together outfits, perfect hair and amazing fashion sense? Yes. Do I wish I could pull off a “oh, I just so happen to be standing gracefully in front of a pastel pink building with a pug and an iced coffee” Instagram shot? Yes. Am I more commonly found with a handful of Cheesy Wotsits and an Aldi Bag for Life than a DSLR and a Chanel clutch? Also yes.

I’ve never been the most *stylish* of individuals. When I was little I sported a gorgeous combo of unruly curls (think Little Orphan Annie if she stuck her finger in a plug socket), dungarees (‘dungas’, we called them, because casual) and probably not a lot else (there are an awful lot of naked Baby Sally photos knocking about in my family albums – serving body-ody-ody since day one). While I looked quite sweet in my matching raspberry duffel coat and beret, I couldn’t pull off Toddler Sally style forever.
Primary school saw my first realisation that I didn’t wear ‘cool’ clothes when I turned up to non-uniform day in a knitted poncho and tiedye trousers – and it’s a realisation that stuck with me til my early twenties. While I’m sure we’ve all got those embarassing photos of our cargo trousers and slogan tops (I distinctly remember a ‘Beach Babe’ and ‘Army Girl’), my fashion sense didn’t appear til… erm… probably about a month ago.

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Without further ado, here’s a few reasons why I’ll never be a ‘proper’ fashion blogger, not counting the fact that in the above photo, I have a burn on my hand from a STIR FRIED MUSHROOM.

Posing is one of THE most awkward and horrendous activities I’ll ever have to do. If I smile for a photo, I make audible ‘aaarrgh’ noises through my teeth. My eyes glaze over. I get a proper sweat on. It’s not good. It took my mum standing on my bed and cropping my head and legs out before I liked a photo enough to use for my last fashion post. And I still looked like Marina Joyce in all the outtakes. #freelittlebudget

Linking outfits in my Instagram bios would take about fifty years, and be the most unhelpful things ever. “I think I got this from a charity shop once but I can’t quite remember.” “Pretty sure this is my boyfriend’s teeshirt but I put it over leggings because they were see through at the back”.

Once I’ve said “’cause look how pretty”, I run out of ways to describe clothing. 

I’ve been known to go out in public with my pyjamas on under my clothes. Sometimes its an accident. Sometimes I just want to whip everything off the SECOND I get through the front door and live my best pyjama life.

I’m very, very small. This would be fine if I knew how to angle my photos so I didn’t look like I was the size of a Polly Pocket.

Blogger events, while I appreciate being invited, bring about a kind of panic I didn’t know existed. I DAREN’T take photos. I skulk around on the outskirts in case anyone gets an unflattering photo of me (fyi: 99.9% of photos of me are unflattering).

I don’t “get” catwalk fashion. I can appreciate a mannequin in H&M like nobody’s business, but stick a model in head-to-toe Tweety Bird yellow and draw something ‘geometric’ on her eyelids and I’m just a tad confused.

I am a serial outfit repeater. I spend my days in leggings, and if I’m not in leggings, it’s because I’m in the bath. You’ll find me in some variation of tee-shirt which never fits right, trainer socks and muddy trainers. #Goals.

I don’t have a glamorous group of friends to take outfit photos and borrow each others’ blazers. I’m most commonly found napping with my dog, or scruffing about eating pizza and watching Friday Night Dinner with my boyfriend, who would probably laugh in my face if I went for a ‘candid’ photo.

Speaking of my dog, I don’t have the perfect little dinky chihuahua or a doe-eyed Frenchie. I have a hyperactive crossbreed with smelly feet, wiry hair and bad manners. Don’t expect to see her getting any brand deals for Bark Box any time soon.

So, although you probably won’t be seeing any beautifully poised Starbucks-sipping, designer-bag-toting outfit photos from me, you’ll probably see me making a dick of myself in my newest Pep & Co pinafore dress, my dog-walking wellies, and a smile. Hope that’s okay.

 

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I’ve always suited red, according to my mum. She also says I suit anything ‘sporty’, which is ironic because I’ve been known to wear gym leggings to go to Pizza Hut, so we’ll gloss over that.

Red is one of my absolute favourite colours to wear: it’s a lovely happy bright pop of colour (my personal favourite hue is red-pepper red, just fyi) that works with literally EVERY neutral you could ever wish for. Red and white? Cute 90s American teen. Red and black? Super cool sophisticated ladybird. Red and denim? Literally the prettiest combination ever.

I’ve never been brave enough to go ALL OUT, though, til this lil’ beauty came along. It’s red. It’s lace. It makes me feel a little bit like a very sassy ballerina with the most flattering sleeves ever to protect the world from my very pale and larger-than-average upper arms. It’s from Simply Be’s Partywear Collection (which I browse adoringly despite last being invited to a party when I was about nine).

The dress has layers, which is great for a) hiding any tummy insecurities you might have (even though tummies are literally THE cutest and you should be proud of your lil’ tum and show it off at every available opportunity), and b) twirling round and feeling like an actual fire princess. The lace detail is SO pretty – all floral and intricate but nice and soft so you’re not getting all itchy (this is an important feature for me as I once had THE prettiest little lace cardi which felt like I was wearing a sandpaper poncho).

You get a cheeky little flattering flash of skin at the top of the dress without having to bung on a pushup bra (in fact, you can easily go braless in this dress, ’cause who’s got time to strap yourself in before you go out? The lace detail on the sleeves is SO flipping pretty – and I think looks lovely with my pale skin (imagine a paint chart – I’m literally skirting-board-white-gloss pale), but would look beautiful with a tan too.

Now for the serious stuff – except it’s me writing, so it’ll be serious but also have lots of really long sentences, brackets and sarcasm. I’ve been having a MAJOR confidence wobble in 2018. I started trying to tone up, lose a little excess weight and feel comfortable and at home in my body again, instead of seeing it as the enemy in the mirror wearing Pokemon pyjamas. I suddenly felt that I wasn’t good enough – and that applied to every single area of my life. I was struggling at work, with blogging (which took a back seat so far away it’ll be on a beach in Australia by now), with my appearance and with my health in general. So I took a little step back.

Red is really a powerful colour. It’s a don’t-mess-with-me colour; a capable colour. You can’t blend in when you wear red (unless you’re in the World Museum of Red, which doesn’t exist and I should never have written this sentence because it’s very silly, and I apologise).

I’m starting to express myself through fashion more. I wore black leggings and varying giant sloppy jumpers every day through college (mainly because my then-boyfriend told me I looked scruffy and he didn’t want me wearing them any more, so I wore them every single day as an act of protest). I started to only buy clothes if they were two sizes too big, and black. Now I vary from looking like a pastel fairy (this is a girl who went out IN PUBLIC in a baby pink pinafore dress, white turtleneck and a pink coat and felt like a flippin’ angel baby), to one of those really cool girls on Pinterest with big messy buns and interesting hemlines. I’m still finding out what MY style is going to be – but I know my wardrobe is going to include a heck of a lot of red.

What’s your powerful colour? Do you have an item of clothing that makes you feel amazing and powerful and essentially like the massive queen you are? Let me know! Hit me up on Twitter @little_budget and let’s have a chat.

Huge thanks to the lovely people at Simply Be for this dress – it’s so beautiful and PERFECT for my first Valentine’s Day with my new boyfriend (who hasn’t seen the dress yet and I’m hoping he won’t see the post ’cause you know, ya girl needs to knock him out with a LRD, right? That’s Little Red Dress. As opposed to Little Black Dress. See what I did there? Yeah? Okay. Bye!

 

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In Amber’s 10 months of life, she’s learned how to sit, shake my hand with her tiny little sharp-clawed paw, spin round like a Beyblade (remember those bad boys?!), give me a high five, and managed to eat about 90% of my underwear drawer.

She’s made tentative friends with my house bunnies. Actually, that’s a lie – she’s made friends with Paul (yes, my rabbit is called Paul and he’s a right dapper little gent) but Piper (Paul’s wife and the second most grumpy bun in the world – first place goes to my parents’ rabbit Pixie who I’m convinced in Ghengis Khan reincarnate) can’t stand her and puffs up all fat and fluffy, which is entertaining to watch but maybe not the most peaceful scenario to be carried out in my living room.

When I brought Amber home, she was the tiniest, squishiest, roll-iest (not a word, but this girl had serious chub rolls) puppy I had ever seen. Her little ears folded over like teeny burritos. She was a little angel in chihuahua-staffy form (yes, that’s her actual breed. “How did that happen?” I hear you cry. Not even a baby gate could separate her parents. True love). Her little legs were so stubby she could barely walk – she tumbled through the first few weeks of her forever home.

I bought her a crate – which she sat in for twenty seconds, peed in, and hopped out. She slept in my arms the first night – and has done so every single night since, with surprisingly minimal accidents (apart from the time she ate some couscous and things happened).

Then she got a little bigger and I could take her for walks! Her true contrary nature comes out in full force when her harness goes on – this little one refuses to walk in the rain. She just stops and looks at me as if to say, “are you ACTUALLY kidding”.

As she got bigger, so did her attitude. I shriek “Oh for the love of god Amber!” at least thirteen times a day as she deliberately lures me in with her bulgy little bong eyes only to bite my nose off. The nibbling is another thing. Dear LORD this girl and her teeth. She’s developed a charming habit of nipping my hands when she’s excited, something I’m desperately trying to train out of her (with lots of “gentle teeth! Gentle teeth!” as if she actually knows what I’m talking about).

I wouldn’t change her for the world – she’s ridiculous and chaotic, but then so am I, a little bit. She makes me go outside (but barks at me if I wear a hat, ’cause she doesn’t like hats) and we play fetch or go for a jog (read: she jogs, I walk behind her toting some poo bags).

Getting a puppy was a huge decision. I knew she would be a LOT of responsibility, but what I didn’t expect was the amount she would change my life. I became one of those dog parents – Amber went to Puppy Parties, went for Puppy Grooms; had Puppy Portraits taken.

She’s clever, but also REALLY stupid. This little one can pick up tricks no bother whatsoever (and won first place at an RSPCA dog show in ‘Best Trick’! This story is less impressive when I let you in on the fact that she was the only dog that entered that category…) but she also can’t quite navigate stairs. She can walk off her lead no bother but somehow manages to get tangled up in my pyjamas in the middle of the night and cries until I sort out her little blanket nest and pop her back into it. She sleeps with her head on the pillow next to me like a little furry human with really bad breath.

Sorry for the puppy spam, but really, Amber is like my little baby. My little baby who wees in the garden.

Have you got any pets? What have you learned from them? Hit me up on twitter @little_budget and let’s share animal photos because honestly, I’ll probably cry and steal your pets. Speak soon!

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