My March Goals

a close up of small, multicoloured flowers in square pots

Three months into 2021 and I’ve already started doing some of the things off my ‘Manifestations for 2021‘ post. (Like knitting an Icelandic jumper!) I am so impressed at how writing down those goals and manifestations actually motivated me to get up and do it. So, here I am again with some shorter term, every day lifestyle changes I want to make this month. Calling it my “March Goals” but it could easily be called “improvements” because that’s really all I’m hoping for.

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Things To Love This February

Every week, I share a newsletter called “The Watched Pot”. It’s a weekly email to share a little bit of light and love, and shed some optimism on life and the week ahead. I write a short personal essay in email style about the things I’ve been doing, the things I’ve been loving, or the ways I’ve tried to make my life and the people in it a bit happier. This month, the month of love, I wanted to bring that self-love onto the blog. So, here are some things to love this February.

Disclaimer: not material things. Consider this the anti-gift guide.

Small pets that do things that they shouldn’t do but they don’t know they shouldn’t do it.

I love that they’re so innocent even when they’re bad! Example: This morning my kitten Betty got spooked when I walked into the kitchen 2 hours earlier than I normally do. And, I mean spooked. She did that cat thing where they run with their back arched high and their tail goes all bushy, terrifying predator. She, in her scramble to scare me off, knocked over two of my plants and spread wet dirt all over the kitchen.

I’d gotten up early to do yoga, and instead I spent my early hour sweeping up dirt. I didn’t love that but my god I love the teeny tiny kitten who was so afraid. It was my penance for making her so scared! She wasn’t trying to punish me. Sometimes I forget she’s just a little scaredy cat and needs me to be the gentlest version of myself.

Waking up early

It was still dark when I woke up this morning and I did not. Want. To. Get. Up. But I did. Only because I had a meeting, but still! Once I was up, and after Betty had calmed down, I was able to enjoy that blue-morning light that only exists in the hour before the sun comes up. It’s nice. Being up early is like having a harmless little secret that only you know. Everything is quiet. Everything is still. Your consciousness is something that you share only with you.

A really good hot chocolate

I had a really good hot chocolate a few days ago from Konj Cafe in Edinburgh. The owner was just the nicest person, the hot chocolate was decadent and delicious like all hot chocolate should be and I got a nice cookie. There are few small moments better than these.

Staying hydrated with a pretty jug

Water bottles are out – jugs are in. You heard it here first.

Ok. Story time: I don’t have a water bottle that doesn’t leak. I also received a gift certificate for a fancy Nordic Design shop for my wedding, and I bought a pretty Hay jug. So, when I set up my desk, I thought “instead of my grimy Primark water bottle, I’ll just use the jug today as a treat to myself” and oh what a treat it was! The water stays SO cold! And I don’t judge myself based on how much is left in the jug, I just pour and drink a glass and enjoy it and then pour some more when I want it! Zero shame! Just cold water and a very lovely jug! Do you need a jug? Yes is the only right answer.

Putting new things on the wall

Maybe it’s because I’m home all the time, but I really love to look at something new on the wall. It gives me more satisfaction than it should. I’m constantly moving things around on my walls, changing prints in picture frames and adding new pictures because I love the little surprise I get when I walk into a room and see something that makes me happy. And, I love that I’ve learned that I like pictures, picture frames, and prints that have a lot of bright colours like pink, yellow, blue and purple. And anything that looks vintage – even better if it’s not in a frame! I have an old plate from my Nonna’s house – it has a clown on it and I love seeing it on my wall. Now, I’m considering hanging some of my favourite hats.

Sending (and receiving) mail

Of all the things to love this February, this is number one. I have been alllllll about the mail-surprises lately. Gift-giving via surprise mail is my very specific love language. The sheer joy I get from putting together a little box of things I know the person will love and writing a little note full of my love for them personally, my goodness. Not to mention the slow-burn of the postal system in a pandemic. When will they get it?! Who knows! Hopefully on a day they really need it.


What do you think of my things to love this February? Have any things you’re loving you’d like. toshare? Please, leave a comment! Comments should also be in my list of things to love because I really, truly do! They remind me of a simpler time of internet blogging. Alas.

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What I’m Manifesting 2021

I don’t have many resolutions or goals, instead I’m manifesting 2021. To be honest, I don’t even really know what this year will look like! I’m not sure when I’ll graduate from my MA as I’m working remotely. From what I can tell, there won’t be any big trips but there might be a few big things happening. Here are the things I *hope* will happen in 2021, trusting that if they don’t it’s because it wasn’t meant to be.

A girl stands in a heavy, fur-trimmed parka in front of a snowy winter city skyline.

2021 Manifestation 1: Buying Things

We will (definitely) buy a car

A major thing I want to get done this year is transferring my Ontario license over to a U.K. license. It’s such a hassle to do because you have to mail everything in. I couldn’t do it in 2020 because I needed all my IDs to wait for my Visa to come in… all the life admin! I swear life admin runs my world. Anyways, this year everything is a bit more settled paperwork-wise.

I don’t want a fancy car, just something used and safe. There are a lot of things I never do in Scotland (like camping!) because living here always felt temporary. Getting a car felt sooooo out of reach, now that we’re planning to be here long term I can justify the cost a bit more. It means we’ll be able to drive to see family which makes visiting them a lot easier. Cannot wait to have the freedom that comes with a car!

We will (probably) buy a flat

Buying a flat is more on Angus’s “manifesting for 2021” list than mine. As both a student and an immigrant, there is no mortgage available to me so that’s on him! He wants to buy a flat and I’d quite like to be paying back a mortgage rather than paying rent. I’m looking at it as an opportunity to have a big change, which I reaaaaaaaally I’m hoping for. 2020 has felt very stagnant, I’m so ready for a change of scenery and new challenges.

We might move!

Along with buying a flat, we’ve been looking at places outside of Edinburgh. With only one income to factor into a mortgage, it’s not easy to find somewhere liveable in Edinburgh. If I’m honest, I’m also really ready to move on and find somewhere that feels a bit different. We’ll still look in Edinburgh, but we’re also looking in Glasgow and East Lothian, only time will tell what comes of it!

2021 Manifestation 1: Doing New/Old Things

Doing more of what I enjoy

Like I said before, there’s a lot of stuff I used to do that I stopped doing when I moved to Scotland. Moving was supposed to be a big (temporary) adventure, a time to try new things! And then… it never ended. Looking around my teenage bedroom at Christmas reminded me of just how much I used to do, and stuff that was easy and enjoyable! I used to paint! I used to write letters! Print off all my photos and create themed photo albums! Collect art books! Sketch! Read! Up-cycle! Hike! So. Many. Things. And I stopped doing all of them. I used to still write, and I kind of started reading again but I completely lost the mentality of just doing the stuff that I like.

More of that this year. Maybe I’ll start sharing poetry on my instagram again.

Knitting jumpers and Fair Isle and Icelandic patterns!

I’ve gotten mega into knitting again this winter. In need of cheap, homemade Christmas gifts I turned back to knitting and I (finally) broke away from standard stocking stitch patterns. I’ve made a lot of makeup wipes, a fair few pair of mittens, a cushion and a cover, a blanket and a pair of slippers. In 2021 I bought the easy Sable jumper pattern and I want to knit that this early this year and then hopefully practice some more complicated patterns mixing colours! In a perfect world, Angus lets me move to a croft where I can raise and spin my own wool, have a big knitting machine and make a ton of pretty 100% wool products. Unlikely, but a girl can dream.

There is something really, extraordinarily satisfying of coming away from binging a TV program with a new knitted product. It’s saved my mental health during the pandemic because I feel like at least I’m doing something.


What are you manifesting in 2021?

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Goodbye 2020!

A smiling girl wears a red beanie hat and nordic style knit jumper in front of a snowy fence.

2020, see ya never babes!!! Don’t get me wrong, I hate to wish away time. I always catch myself whenever I’m wishing I was in the future. Wishing I’d already met my goals, wishing I was already on holiday, the list goes on. This year has been a mega challenge for that. Equally, I’ve had nothing really to look forward to, and nothing felt certain.

There were times I wished I could fast forward. I desperately wanted to skip to when I finally got a job… But I never got a job and went back to school instead. There were a few months where I wished I could fast forward to when I finally could get married. Then we had two weeks notice and it was over before we knew it! Now I feel like there were so many moments I missed for my wedding. Truly a year of highs and lows.

I’m not sure what to make of this year.

I switched from doing #MonthlyMemo blog posts to doing The Watched Pot enewsletter in May, and to be honest it was really because I had no life updates. Monthly Memos were always big – I got a new job! Got engaged! Went on holiday! Saw family! Fun stuff like that, and The Watched Pot was just “this is what I’ve been cooking in lockdown” – still fun, just less… big. It’s supposed to be a “the watched pot never boils” joke as in, this is what I’m doing week to week and nothing is happening. It’s pretty accurate with how this year went.

And yet. And! Yet!

Somehow this year I got both engaged and married. I got a kitten! I went to two new countries. Angus came to Canada for the first time. We celebrated the weddings, engagements, pregnancies and new homes of friends and family.

I rang in the 2020 New Year with my family in Edinburgh, and now I’m ringing in the 2021 New Year with my family in Thunder Bay. At the very beginning of the year, I was wishing away the time until I would be done my work contract, until I would find a new job, until I would get engaged, go to Tallinn, go to Canada, and in March it all stopped.

I had finished my contract work, Tallinn had come and gone, our trip to Canada was cancelled and we didn’t know when we would be able to get married. I wished time away until I could know we would be able to stay together. It felt like less superficial wishing time away and more “I can’t wait until I know where I’m allowed to exist again.” Actually, a lot of my wishing away time this year felt like waiting to exist again.

Now 2020 is gone

And I am in Canada, a married woman, isolating with my parents because the pandemic has gotten out of control again. Ontario is (and everywhere else seems to be) in lockdown again. It’s fair to say this isn’t the end of the weirdness that 2020 was. But, boy oh boy it was a year of emotional growth!

I feel a lot better heading into 2021 having lived through 2020. I’m better equipped for alllll of the wonderful and horrible things life can throw at me.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it yet, if you’re reading this, you are too.


How are you feeling about the new year? Optimistic? Pessimistic? Realistic? A combination?

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Where I’ve Been Christmas Shopping 2020

It’s time for Christmas shopping 2020! Last year I put out both a Scottish Gift Guide and an Edinburgh Gift Guide to let all my local pals know about my favourite local shops. I always think it’s nicer to gift something from a small business: it’s always good to support small businesses and Christmas is a huge revenue boost for them, but it just feels more special as a gift receiver! I love learning about my family and friend’s favourite shops in their hometown and it feels more like they were out doing what they love and thought of me.

Buildings in Edinburgh with external red staircase

This year, I thought I’d share where I’ve been buying gifts specifically – so if you’re getting one from me, spoilers ahead! I’m the only person in my family who lives in Scotland, so I always buy Scottish-owned shops for gifts, and I’ve been isolating on and off so most things were ordered online. Here’s where I’ve been Christmas shopping in 2020.

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Ultimate Christmas Movie Schedule 🎄

A television with a screen for the series "Dash & Lily" Season 1 now available.

I asked, you answered. Everyone has their own traditions of what Christmas films to watch in the lead up to Christmas. Some people start with Love Actually, others save it for the big day itself. Here is my Ultimate Christmas Movie Schedule – either watch along with me or come back to find inspiration when you’re debating which Christmas film to watch next!

Lead Up to December🎅

It’s November, it’s “too early”. Whatever. I don’t care. I’m getting started on my Christmas films. This November we started off strong with Home Alone to kick us off. I firmly believe you need to start off with a classic to really get you in the Christmas spirit. After that, I tone it down a little – gotta ease into it, don’t want to waste any sweet sweet serotonin. Especially not this year.

November is for any old American Christmas classic, and Hallmark movies/corny Netflix Christmas films. Also – films that technically aren’t a Christmas film but have Christmas in it. Here are my top picks for November:

Classic American Films🎁

Home Alone 1 & 2

Santa Clause 1 & 2

Deck the Halls

Christmas With the Kranks

British films that snuck their way into my Canadian heart🧣🍁

Nativity

Harry Potter – at least the first one, right?!

Corny Netflix/Hallmark films ☃️

The Princess Switch

The Princess Switch 2 – out on Netflix on November 19th 2020!

The Christmas Calendar

The Knight Before Christmas

Holiday in the Wild

A Christmas Prince

Dash & Lily – a new Christmas series out this year on Netflix. Binged it in one day. Obsessed. Bought the books to read over Christmas.

Not-Christmas Films That Are Still Christmas Films🤫

Bridget Jones Diary

You’ve Got Mail

Die Hard

Little Women

Ding, Ding, Ding, it’s December!🎅

For me, December must start with Arthur Christmas. December 1st it is on and I’m in full festive mode. After that, I slowly work my way through the classics. Sometimes on repeat. Sometimes a corny Netflix film sneaks its way in too.

The List of Ultimate Classics🎄

Arthur Christmas

Love Actually

Home Alone

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – live action is the one for me!

Elf

The Holiday

Miracle on 34th Street

The Polar Express

The Muppets Christmas Carol – not one I’ve ever watched but I have been heavily influenced to include it 😂

THAT is *my* Ultimate Christmas Movie Schedule. To be honest, there are just so many fantastic Christmas films I couldn’t possibly fit them all! But rest assured, I will watch them if I come across anymore. Leave a comment with your favourite, especially if I missed it out! ❄️

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FREE Things To Do In Edinburgh

A girl looks over a fence at the side of a terraced street, looking at the street below. In the middleground are buildings of grey stone, orange and white plaster. In the background is George Heriots School, a large stone building in the 1600s.

Edinburgh is a stunning city, so stunning in fact that you don’t really need to spend money to enjoy it! Whether you’re a tourist or a local just tryin’ to have a penny pinching weekend (preach), here are some free things to do in Edinburgh:

Museum Hopping in Old Town

ALL the museums in Edinburgh are free to enter, and that makes museum hopping one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh on a rainy day. This is especially useful for the tourists here! If you’re curious about Scottish history, the National Museum of Scotland and the Edinburgh City Museum are both fab places to visit. If you’re into old architecture, the Writer’s Museum is one of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh and it’s winding stairs and small nooks and crannies are so fun to explore! The Museum of Childhood and it’s room of creepy dolls are just the icing on the cake. All of these museums are within walking distance of each other in Old Town.

Don’t Forget About Art Galleries!

If museums aren’t the one for you, try an art gallery. Despite my history degree, I’m not a fan of walking through museums. Art galleries, on the other hand, I just love. I don’t even spend a lot of time looking at the art, I just like the feeling of walking around them. The National Portrait Gallery is a stunning building and has a great exhibit for those interested in the history of the Scottish monarchy. The National Gallery of Scotland’s permanent (free to visit) collection takes you through the Art history canon with pieces from ‘great masters’ of the renaissance right up until impressionism.

Both have touring exhibits that are sometimes free, sometimes not. Check before you visit, you don’t want to miss out!

Dean Village and the Water of Leith

Dean Village has been on so many ‘hidden gems of Edinburgh’ videos and blogs that it is no longer a hidden gem if you ask me. However, if you make the trek there and you want to find a hidden gem – cross the bridge to the far side of the water and walk left towards Corstorphine. The walk along the Water of Leith on that section is so pastoral – it’s like something out of an impressionist painting! Bonus point – it’s very near the Modern Art gallery – but right now you need to book ahead to visit and buy a ticket.

Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and Edinburgh’s Other Peaks

One of the most popular free things to do in Edinburgh is go up Arthur’s Seat – and for good reason! It’s an amazing thing that the city has this mountainous hill right in the middle of it, and it’s quite an experience to climb up. Other than Arthur’s Seat, there are six other hills – Calton, Corstorphine and the Braid Hills are probably best for tourists or those new to the city. That said, I’ve been up all of Edinburgh’s hills but I never regret a day I spend out on one! Top tip: Calton Hill is a great spot for a sunset picnic – as long as your dressed for the weather!

Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens are free to visit outdoors only – maybe not the best option for a rainy day. For a small fee you can also visit the glasshouses, but check ahead of time! They close in high winds.

Watch Seasons Pass in the Meadows

The Meadows are a giant park just beyond the University of Edinburgh in Old Town. They border Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Morningside isn’t too far either! They’re pretty central. In the summer, the Meadows are usually packed on sunny days with barbeque-ers and picnic-ers alike. In Autumn, the trees turn into a kaleidoscope of orange hues, a walk up to Bruntsfield Links then has a beautiful view looking back on all the Autumn colours against the backdrop of Old Town’s grey skyline. Their pink blossoming trees are a sight to behold in Spring. In Winter… it’s mostly just rainy, but still a nice place to walk through! Particularly on a (dry) frosty morning.

What about free walking tours?

It’s a bit complicated, there are plenty of free walking tours in Edinburgh, but I feel bad putting them on a “free things to do in Edinburgh” list. If you genuinely do not want to spend any money, please just do a self-guided tour. If you’re just on a tight budget, go ahead! Just know that each tour guide has to pay the company whether or not you pay them, so they’re not really free – money will be exchanged on your behalf even if you don’t pay. If you go and don’t pay, it means that guide paid for you.

*As a former free walking tour guide: it’s totally fine if I lost one or two people to weather, but I definitely had days where I paid to work. Usually it was really quiet day to begin with and no one paid enough to cover their own charge. Or because it suddenly started torrentially down-pouring. Can’t win em all!


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