Updates

Well, I’m sick. And as everybody knows, I am a massive drama queen. This means I’ve barely had any time to do anything what with all of the feeling-sorry-for-myself, snottily-moping-around-the-house and coughing-resentfully-at-anybody-who-will-listen. It’s a hard life. I even had to take the day off University on Monday so that I could have a full day of wallowing in self pity. Okay I’m sort of exaggerating but I actually am desperately ill. This aside, so much has happened recently that’s been pretty awesome, and I thought I’d share some unseen footage of the little bits of my life that I haven’t blogged about recently.  This is quite a picture-heavy post, but because I’m constantly taking photos of little happy moments, it’s always nice for me to look back  and remember all the good stuff. IMG_7906IMG_8016
I found this oh-so-romantic note from Rob. He left it in my copy of The Wasteland nearly three years ago and I just came across it when I pulled out Eliot again for my Modernism class. I love the idea that one day little notes like this will remind us of the first few years of our relationship and will be a cute reminder of how we used to be. IMG_8034IMG_8010
My Mum and my Granny came up to London to visit me and I got to take them both to Brick Lane. It was so nice to be able to share my favourite place ever, and my Granny was totally blown away by pretty much everything. I have so much love for the amazing women in my family (particularly these two) and spending time with them just fills me up with happiness and love for weeks afterwards. We went to see the awesome ‘take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder’ sculpture in Covent Garden (which is only there for a few more weeks so go check it out if you’re interested!) The Toy Story characters climbing all over the Brick Lane coffee sign also sort of made my day. IMG_8042 IMG_8020
In honour of their visit, I had a good old tidy of my room, and also added these fun gold typography posters to my last blank wall, just to fill the space and make it feel more completed. I thought these might end up being temporary, but I actually really like them! I completed them in a couple of hours with a gold sharpie and some glitter and I think the simplicity actually really works as my room is pretty full up of ‘stuff’ already! (sorry I realise the photo is a little blurry, I will give you a better look in a future blog post). I also had fun (yes, I had fun, I know how sad that sounds – don’t judge me) sorting through my makeup and other products and tidying up how they sit on my desk and bookcase. My makeup collection is such a mix of stuff that I’ve picked up over the years – which is no surprise as it’s a well known fact that I’m a #hoarder ;) IMG_8041IMG_5191
Some very miscellaneous stuff from this week – Rob and I went to Chichester (on a Wednesday afternoon, like a pair of pensioners), and I got some amaaaazing bargains in the River Island sale including the leopard print shoes of my dreams (and yes Rob was horrified too, but they’re lovely, I promise!) and this Mermaid notebook from Paperchase. Mermaids. Glittery. Mermaids. I love it! Also, how majestic is Noodles (our adopted house cat) looking nowadays? She is obviously thriving on the many hugs and kisses I give her when Tom is not looking… IMG_7871 IMG_7869 IMG_7832 IMG_4738IMG_4736IMG_4734
 Finally, some photos I found on my phone which just make me so happy. I love being able to pull out my phone and capture sweet moments (and selfies). Look how happy we look! Also, I know I look like I’m strangling Chelsey but I’m not! (or at least, I’m doing it with love…) and Tom and Imogen are just too cute (but don’t tell Tom I said that). I’m off to cover myself in blankets and sit in the living room coughing at everyone until they make me a lemsip ;)

PV x

Moon Phases ‘Headboard’ DIY

I made a thing. And it’s not pineapples. *applause*

You guys, I’m so happy with the way this DIY turned out – I went back and forth on the method for a little while and made some mistakes, but the end result was just as I’d hoped.

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Searching for something to fill the space above my bed, I was inspired by some beautiful images of the phases of the moon. I initially wanted to frame large prints of each phase, but since the wall beside my bed already has three chunky frames hanging on it, I decided to use an embroidery hoop as the ‘frame’ instead.

The phases are made out of black paper which I ‘marbled’ with gold nail varnish. I know that sounds desperately confusing (or at least it did to me!), so let’s get right into it.

First, you can prep your embroidery hoops, if you like, by painting them black. I used 10″ (or 25cm) diameter hoops, and bought them from John Lewis. It cost me £12.50 for all five, but this was the most expensive part of the project so I figured that wasn’t too bad!

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Next, I prepped the marbled paper. For this, you will need black paper (I used ten sheets) and gold nail varnish (you can use any brand, but just pick the cheapest you can as you’re going to be painting with it!). You will also need a shallow tin (I used a roasting tin lined with tinfoil so we don’t get nail varnish in our next roast dinner), and a cocktail stick or similar stirrer.

Fill your container with 2-3cm of water, and prepare to be utterly confused by the process of marbling. I joke, but it might help you to look through this tutorial before you start!

It’s a very simple process but I would suggest practising on some scrap paper first to help you get your head around it. First, pour the nail varnish onto the surface of the water (it helps if you move the nail polish bottle around in circles or in zigzags very quickly while you pour, rather than letting drips fall, as they’re too heavy and they’ll sink.

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Once you’ve got a good swirl going on the surface of the water, use your cocktail stick to swirl the paint even more and create a gorgeous swirly pattern (am I saying swirly too much? I think it’s the nail varnish fumes…). Once you’re happy, place your black paper flat on the surface of the water, apply light pressure, and then lift it out. The nail varnish will have stuck to the paper, and you’re left with an awesome gold marbled effect for your moon phases. The first time I did this I had the genius idea of leaving the marbled paper to dry in between sheets of tin foil (I have absolutely no idea why I thought this would be clever), it got stuck to the tin foil and I had to throw it all away. Sad face. The second time around, I was careful to let the paint dry completely, and then leave them overnight under some heavy books to flatten them out.

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NB: for the full moon you’ll need two A4 sheets stuck together in order to fill the embroidery hoop. I would advise using glue or double-sided tape to join these two pieces before marbling, so that the pattern matches up. Including these two you’ll need to ‘marble’ six pieces in total and leave four black.

Now you’re ready to construct the different phases. For the full moon, you’ve already got your two pieces all ready and marbled. For the half moons, you’ll need to stick a marbled piece to a plain black piece, and for the quarter moons you’ll need to cut the curved shape out of a marbled piece and then stick this onto a plain black piece. It’s pretty straightforward, so go ahead and get cutting and sticking. I made a template first so that the shape of the quarter moons would be consistent, and then went right ahead.

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NB: make sure you pay attention to which side your half and quarter moons are so the hook on the embroidery hoop is still at the top – you’ll want one facing left and one facing right to make your display symmetrical.

Once you’ve got the shapes ready, pop them in the embroidery hoops by carefully sandwiching the paper between the inner and outer hoops, in just the same way that you’d do with fabric. Trim the excess paper, and fold the remainder closely around the hoop (see picture).

Now you’re ready to hang your hoops on the wall. I used string and command hooks and arranged them in a lil’ semicircle (while wishing I had about four more hands!) but you should do whatever works best in your space.

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I’m so so happy with this, I’ve been dragging all my housemates into my bedroom to admire my handiwork – it was totally worth the effort and now I’m searching for more things to marble!

PV x

My Top 5!

Let’s talk Winter essentials. And yes, I’m using the word ‘essential’ in sort of the same way that Waitrose seems to think ‘scented ironing water’ and ‘Vermicilli baskets’ are essentials, but bear with me here. We all have them – items that we reach for every single day and wouldn’t leave the house without.

Now that winter is really, really here (I’m almost sure it’s here this time, we keep getting strange cold snaps and then sunshine – madness!) I’ve been focusing on my little survival kit, and thought I’d share my top five things which I would absolutely recommend to anyone – seriously if you haven’t tried this stuff – I can’t recommend it enough. (But I’m going to try..)

Top Five YEs

1: Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm. I probably own about six of these and my absolute favourite is the rejuvenating formula with Acai berry. In cold weather it’s so important to keep your lips in good shape – I probably use my Burt’s Bees about fifteen hundred times a day and my lips love it!

2: Citymapper. This app is an absolute must have for anybody who lives in London or visits regularly . Download for free from the app store and you can effortlessly calculate routes to or from anywhere in London – it will even show you exactly how long your journey will take, and provide alternative routes if it’s raining! Genius.

3: Massive scarf! After about a year of seriously coveting my housemate Imogen’s huge gorgeous scarf (literally so big it’s like a picnic blanket) I found my own fluffy version in H and M. I love it. It makes a nice big wrap around your neck to keep you toasty warm, and doubles as a sort of peasant-style-shawl for when you’re in the library,  you’re cold, and you don’t care who judges you. Also, seriously useful for when you’ve got cold feet on the bus. It’s a blanket, and a scarf. That is sort of an essential, right?

4: Okay, and this isn’t an essential, but it is the bag that I use every single day. It’s a Longchamp tote bag, and after buying a fake version in Turkey two years ago *slaps own wrist*, I wore it until it fell apart and then shelled out for a real version. It’s durable, it goes with everything, and it’s big enough to fit in a scarf and a million cardigans (and a thermos, an inflatable igloo and a medium sized gas lamp).

5: This pretentious looking water bottle has a built in filter, and it’s the best thing ever. It purifies the water, makes it taste better, and also means that I can be lazy and refill from the bathroom tap without the yucky taste. Having a bottle that doesn’t get crushed and eventually lost means that I drink so much more water, and always remember to have this bottle with me. You do have to replace the filter once every three months, but at £8 per filter this is the same as buying four or five disposable water bottles, and I know I’d end up buying way more than that because I’m so so forgetful about keeping and refilling disposable bottles.

So that’s it – I’d love for you to check out the things I’ve recommended, and I’m always on the look out for recommendations, so holla at me!

Keep warm, winter really is coming!!

PV x

Stencilled Wall Art DIY

Recently I heard that Abi (my sister) was trying out an ambitious stencilling project and I forced asked her to blog about it. She obligingly did, and it looks amazing! Here’s how she did it…

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Since it has been more than ten minutes since we redecorated something in the flat we felt the time had come for a change, but being on a budget meant I wanted to spend the smallest possible amount of money but see the biggest change.

I therefore decided to re-vamp our tiny spareroom.

I really like feature walls as I think they are a great way to inject some colour into a room without the danger of shrinking the room with a bright colour on all four walls. Wallpaper is great for this, but can be expensive to get the pattern you want and you have to be able to hang it yourself (or be able to exploit the help of a charming relative) which can be tricky. I therefore decided to try my hand at stencilling, which has the added bonus over wallpaper that when you come to move out of your rented flat you don’t have to spend the best part of a month scraping at the walls with a spoon quietly weeping as your try to convince stubborn scraps of paper to part company with your walls, you can just repaint!

I was inspired by this blog post on A Beautiful Mess

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Firstly, you will need to choose your base colour and then a design you want to stencil on to it. You can choose any colour you like but bear in mind some factors like warmth of the colour and whether it will clash with existing furnishings. The stencil pattern should be something quite simple so you can stencil it effectively and it will stand out as a bold repeating design.

It turned out to be harder than I thought to choose a design that we liked that wouldn’t prompt awkward questions about whether we were making the spare room in to a nursery (No Rob, it may not be dinosaur patterned) but eventually we settled on origami cranes.

Materials:

  • Oiled stencil card (NB. I don’t know what oil was used on this card but I suspect oil-of-dead-badger as it smells really, really bad! Keep in well ventilated area!)
  • Sharp craft knife
  • Paint Pen in colour of your choice
  • Temporary spray adhesive or masking tape to hold your stencil in place
  • Acrylic wall paint in a colour of your choice (measure your wall to see how much you will need)

All of these are available from your local HobbyLobby or Homebase for a reasonable price (my total bill came to £27) and you can keep the cost down further by using this as an opportunity to use up any left over paint and tools from other projects.

Firstly, prep and paint your chosen wall with a brush or roller, some people seem able to get a beautiful straight line in the corners but if you are anything like me this feat will elude you and you will have to resort to masking the edges, skirting boards and sockets with copious amounts of masking tape. It is better to do 2 thin coats than to try and do one thick one and remember it may take more coats depending on the original colour of your room.

Once it is completely dry remove the masking tape and then it is time to start stencilling.

Depending on your artistic bent you may choose to draw the design yourself or simply apprehend the design of a more talented person for your own uses, but either way lay your design (the size you want it to appear on your wall) on your stencilling card, secure it with tape so it doesn’t slip and carefully cut around it with a craft knife.

I made 3 stencils of the same design in varying sizes but you are limited only by your imagination (or your desire to spend large portions of your day cutting stencils).

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This done, you are now ready to start stencilling your wall. It’s a good idea to have a test run on a spare piece of cardboard or something so you are confident you can get a sharp line before you progress to the wall.

Apply a light layer of the temporary spray adhesive to the stencil and stick it in position on the wall. Then carefully trace around the inside with the paint pen, taking care not to press too hard or the lines could bleed under the stencil card. Leave the stencil in place until you are certain that the paint is dry and you can remove it without smudging. Depending on the complexity of your design you may also have additional lines to add so just make sure you allow each layer to dry completely first.

I was so happy with how this feature wall turned out. It can be hard to get the lines perfectly sharp with no smudging or bleeding but how much this will affect you will depend on your levels of perfectionism and how close up the wall will be viewed.

Overall its a really fun project, it’s very easy to do and is incredibly diverse with pretty much limitless design potential… get stencilling!

Thank you so much Abi for sharing your home with us today – I love the cranes design!

PV x

27/52 – Mr Fogg’s Cocktail Bar

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Hidden in a small back alley, in the heart of Mayfair, London keeps an intriguing little secret. Mr Phileas Fogg, triumphantly returned from his recent circumnavigation of the globe, (in a record time of just eighty days), has settled down with his loyal manservant, a few treasures from his travels, and a small number of incredibly talented cocktail barmen.

Approaching this eccentric establishment, one is first introduced to Mr Fogg himself (a rather gruff bouncer gorgeously attired in a small waistcoat), and then, responding to the sound of the good old fashioned doorbell, Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout, ushers his esteemed guests into the wonderland of exotic cocktails and neatly dressed waiters which is Mr Fogg’s front living room.

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Tom recommended this amazing cocktail bar as a fancy destination for Rob’s 21st Birthday, and so, suitably attired in our finest clothing, we headed into Mayfair one Wednesday evening in search of the famously elusive establishment. Mayfair itself is such a lovely part of London. Although many of the designer shops and fancy restaurants would be a little outside the common budget, it’s fun for us East Londoners to wander the streets (especially in the evening), casually stroll past the Ritz, window shop the many boutiques, and enjoy the sophisticated atmosphere of the W1 nightlife.

Not far from Green Park stations lies the door to Mr Fogg’s. It’s definitely not obvious to a casual observer, but luckily Tom knew where he was going, and the waistcoated doorman makes it easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. I had booked ahead because there were six of us, and I would definitely recommend doing this because it can get very busy, (and also it’s so fun telling ‘Mr Fogg’ your name, and then having him invite you inside and thank you most cordially for your reservation!)

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The inside is so impressive. It’s a (relatively) small space, which makes the atmosphere just intimate enough to feel special, but when it’s busy it’s full of conversation and life without being too loud. It’s light enough to see the menu (why are some bars so dark?) and the music is just loud enough to promote conversation without being overpowering. Also, there’s a taxidermied otter driving a mini horse and carriage.

Yep, did I mention the decor? It is amazing! A genteel drawing room mixed with a curiosity shop, with lots of comfortable sofas and armchairs – the walls are lined from the floors all the way to the high ceilings with books and pictures, and literally everything else that Mr Fogg could conceivably have collected from his travels, from skulls and spears to pith hats and pairs of skis.

The bar, which takes up one whole wall, is incredibly well stocked, and the menu is the most diverse I have ever seen. Cocktails of every conceivable kind, as well as champagnes, wines and fine spirits are available, ranging from the £12-£20 cocktail to a £40 measure of whisky, a £350 bottle of wine, or, if you’re feeling spendy, perhaps a £4000 bottle of champagne?

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We spent so long poring over the menu, because every single cocktail sounds so good! We eventually made up our minds, and a lovely lady in a swishy skirt took our order. All of the cocktails looked and tasted amazing, but Scott managed to pick the most interesting drinks of the night – first the ‘Smoking carriage’ which arrived in a small wooden box, which, when opened to reveal the drink, spilled out a cloud of delicious smelling steam (so mysterious!) and next a shot of black absinthe which came with a gorgeous water decanter (with little taps which reminded me of the bit in Harry Potter where the sink opens up to reveal the Chamber of Secrets), which could be delicately strained through a lump of sugar presented on a silver slotted spoon.

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Apparently the diluted absinthe with sugar actually tasted pretty good, but I was happy to stick to the ‘Trans-Siberian Express’, a gorgeous pink cocktail with champagne, pineapple juice and grey goose vodka. We stayed for three hours and happily sampled a couple of cocktails each. The atmosphere is so relaxed, it’s easy to make conversation and just chill out with friends, and is clearly a popular destination for the after-work-drinks crowd.

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Although a little pricier than some London destinations, I honestly think it’s worth it for such fabulous surroundings (but don’t forget that they will add a service charge to your final bill). We had such a good time celebrating Rob’s birthday, and must heartily thank Mr Fogg for being such a gracious host.

PV x

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* To find out more about Phileas and friends, or to reserve your own corner of Mr Fogg’s abundant living room, you can visit the website by clicking here *

Shirts for dayssss

I’m writing this from the depths of my duvets and many many blankets, because, seriously, Winter is Coming. It is so freakin’ cold, guys! I’m wearing so many socks I can’t even walk so I’ll be staying in bed for the foreseeable future. Netflix, here I come. (Also I don’t have any food so I’m going to resort to eating my lip balm unless I can convince somebody else to bring me food… do you think Dominoes will deliver to my bedroom?)

With increasing fear of the cold weather which is approaching oh so rapidly, I’ve been trying to bulk up my wardrobe appropriately. I own a coat now, which is something I’ve never done before (I’m such an adult – and also so toasty warm – coats are amazing, I want more), and I’ve also been trying to add some long sleeve items as well as items which I can easily layer with other clothing. To this end, I’ve totally fallen in love with patterned shirts. They layer with everything, go great with jeans (my go-to A/W wear) and there are so many patterns and styles available. It’s a good staple wardrobe for the lazy fashionista. Just to save you a job, (I’m the best) I’ve picked out some lovely shirts to brighten up your wardrobe and save you from the frostbite in the coming months. Button up, kids.

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The best thing about a see through shirt is that everybody can see how tanned I still am from Turkey… I’M KIDDING. The best thing about it is that you can easily layer under and over it with a camisole and a cardigan in the day time, and then maybe swap to a bandeau or a crop top for nights out. Twice the wear out of these gorgeous sheer tops!

1: Mango, £34.99 2: Asos, £22 3: H&M, £12.99 4: Asos, £36 Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 05.00.11 pm

Apparently leopard print is a thing again? You can bet I’m celebrating. Remember when leopard print used to be sort of tacky? Maybe that was just all the 90s sitcoms I used to watch but I am so happy it seems to be making a come back! (That blue shirt in the middle is made of silk by the way – so luxurious. Now I own a coat I feel like the next step is to own something made of silk, right?)

1: Dorothy Perkins, £15.40 2: Topshop, £42 3: H&M, £29.99 4: Topshop £38 1

Yeah, wasn’t kidding when I said I was loving the leopard print! I’ve also found more ‘vintagey’ (as if that’s a word) prints cropping up everywhere this season. I like the subtler ones, like number 2, above, and I especially like that if you do buy vintage from a vintage clothes shop, this style of shirt can easily be tucked in, so even if it’s a little oversized, you don’t have to look like you’re wearing your dad’s old shirts (Although I did actually rock this look in my early teens…)

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I just love the variety of patterns and designs that all fall under this one easy style. It’s also a pretty style that’s going to last a good number of winters (and maybe summers for that little pink palm tree number), and that’s why I think that even the pricier shirts in this list would be worth the investment. And If the weather carries on like this, anything with long sleeves could turn into your favourite investment yet!

1: New Look, £17 2: Topshop, £38 3: New Look, £8 4: Dorothy Perkins, £18

Now.. which one do I choose?!

Hope you’ve also been inspired to protect yourself from the harsh and vicious winter with some gorgeous patterned shirts!

PV x

Honestly?

In answer to the question ‘how are you?’ I don’t think that I have ever, in my nineteen years of long, long life, said anything other than ‘I’m fine, thanks’.

I think this is truly a British thing. Even if I am incandescently happy, or even if I’m feeling like I’m at my lowest point, I am forced, by the unspoken laws of civil and polite behaviour, to assure the enquirer that ‘I’m fine’, and thus absolve them from any further social niceties on the subject of my wellbeing. Honestly, if ever asked somebody how they were and they said ‘I’m amazing!’ or ‘I’m having the worst day of my life’, or even ‘I’m good’, or ‘I’m okay’, or basically anything other than the accepted, familiar ‘I’m fine’, I would be all like ‘excuse me! How selfish of you. Can’t you see I’m totally disinterested in how you are and I’m only asking because greetings are awkward and because I’ve already said ‘hello’ and I like your shoes’ and ‘how are you’ was all that I had left in my arsenal of greetings, stop sharing your feelings with me.’

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^(a suitably moody picture)

Obviously, I am truly interested in how my friends and family really are, but if I’m serving you at work and you tell me you’re anything other than ‘fine’, I will certainly make a point to give you your change in pennies and claim we had no other coins. ;)

This being said, I feel like it’s time for some real talk. Sometimes, we’re not fine. I think that the good old British stoicism in all of us means that a lot of the time we just press on through and try and ignore the problems until our brains start bleeding through our noses (if the problem you’re ignoring is a poison gas explosion), or until we burn ourselves out, run ourselves down or just plain make ourselves unhappy (if the problems you’re ignoring are causing you stress, anxiety, emotional or even physical pain.)

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In case you doubt my ability to ignore, hide or otherwise run from my problems, I woke up today with a huge red swelling on my left cheekbone and my right temple, as if I had literally punched myself in the face in the middle of the night. I thought for a couple of seconds about how it was maybe a terrible allergic reaction, or the symptoms of some horrible disease. And then I slapped on some concealer and went about my day. Well, friends, as many of you will have learned, concealer only goes so far. I was rudely reminded of the terrible disfiguration I had attempted to ignore when, walking cheerfully into work, ready to declare to anybody who might ask that I was ‘fine, thanks’, I was instead met with the horrified face of our chef asking ‘Georgi, what is wrong with your face?!’. Um, rude.

‘Oh don’t worry, I think I’m dying of yellow fever but I put on some concealer and I haven’t even thought about my uncomfortable deformity for at least two hours so I’m pretty sure it will go away soon‘.

The point being, some problems can be ignored, and others have to be faced. Even if you tell other people you’re fine just because you don’t want to discuss your marital problems with your barista, or because your acquaintance from the gym doesn’t need to hear your medical history, it’s important not to lie to yourself.

Of course, I know all this is pretty easy to write in a blog post, and pretty difficult to do in practice. So this is where the main point of my blog post comes in… It’s okay to ask for help.

We actually had a flyer pasted up in our flat kitchen in my first year of uni which said just that. It appeared mysteriously after a particularly weird night of partying, and we all suspected our more reserved flatmates of sticking it up and judging us severely for our antics. But now, I think that it’s actually a pretty helpful piece of advice.

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^ It’s hiding on the left of the picture

The next time someone (who you know and trust) really asks you how you are – try being honest. You might feel completely overwhelmed, stressed out, or unsure about a situation. While you could struggle on by yourself, ignore the problem, or burn yourself out trying to solve it, why not ask for help? You wouldn’t break your back lifting a slab of marble just because you were too embarrassed to get a friend to lend a hand. (Okay, that was a ridiculous metaphor, why would you be lifting a slab of marble?! Maybe for a particularly ambitious home decor project?! But where would you be lifting it to?) But you get my point. Nobody expects you to do this stuff by yourself, and the first step to getting help is to be honest about your situation! Even if that’s the only step you feel able to take, being honest means that the people who want to support you will have an idea of where to start.

And of course, if you’re happy, you should shout it from the rooftops! Nothing wrong with sharing what an amazing day you’re having, or how happy you are about your chocolate milkshake.

Quote - Kurt Vonnegut

And that’s all I have to say about that. (Which turned out to be quite a lot, I hope you found it insightful, or helpful, or interesting, or that you at least chuckled at that cartoon of the dog. That one cracks me up every time.)

Guys, today has been a pretty good day. Honestly.

How about you?

PV x