twenty by thirty

I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared my age on here, and people that don’t know me tend to think I’m either in my late teens or early twenties. If I ever buy alcohol or, unbelievably, a lottery ticket, I tend to get asked for ID –  and when I tell people I’ve got two children, the response is usually, “oh, you don’t look old enough.” In actual fact, and I can hardly bring myself to say this, I’m *breathes deeply* thirty in February. Thirty. As in, not twenty-something anymore. Thirty. Erk.

I’ve got a real thing about turning thirty. In my head, I’ve always seen thirty as THE point in life where you should be sorted. Thirty means it’s time to stop arsing about and get on with things, your career should be in full flow, you should have your own home, and be…well…. settled. The thing is, my career always took a back seat to travelling and fun, I never managed to pass my driving test (there was an ongoing issue with roundabouts….), and unless we win the jackpot, we’ve got zero chance of buying a house any time soon. I struggle a bit with feeling like I’ve failed at life, and although I can’t do much about the bigger issues, I’ve decided to set myself a list of things to do before I hit the big 3-0. Little things that’ll hopefully make me feel like I’m achieving something and experiencing a bit more of what life has to offer, rather than just plodding along aimlessly, and moaning about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been given two such beautiful, healthy children – but I want them to grow up with a mother who can show them that there are so many things to see and do in life, rather than one whose catchphrase becomes, “I always wish I’d….”                                                           

So, that’s how The List came about. I’ve tried to be realistic, and put things like “begin to…”, rather than “finish….” – it’s not meant to be an exercise in tolerating stress, it’s supposed to be fun (I was going to do ‘thirty by thirty’, but decided that might be pushing it a bit…). So, here it is:

1. Get a haircut.

I have a thing about hairdressers – every time I come out, I wish I’d never gone in in the first place. My fringe always ends up too short, or they cut too much off, or it’s just generally…wrong. But, I do need a haircut – the ends are frazzled, it looks like it’s been badly dip dyed because my old colour has grown out, and my fringe seems to be off doing it’s own thing. It needs professional help. 

2. Sell at another craft and vintage fair.

Before I was pregnant with Daisy, I sold some of my vintage clothes, prints and crocheted bits at a little local fair-thingy. I loved it – it was like owning my own shop, but on a smaller scale. I basically sat down, crocheted, drank tea and talked to people all afternoon, and could call it work. Then along came the morning sickness, the tiredness, the loss of motivation, and the next sale just never happened. But I’ve now got fresh ideas, more energy and more (well, a little more) time to prepare, and I couldn’t be more looking forward to it.

3. Set up an Etsy shop.

Pretty self explanatory – I’ve been meaning to do this for aaaaages, and just never got round to it.

4. Finish my collection of prints.

If you’ve been with O&A since the beginning, you’ll have seen the bike print, camera print and typewriter print – I’ve got heaps of loose A4 sheets of paper lying around with scribbled notes and doodles. I just need to get round to getting them down properly and turning them into tote bags and flash cards (amongst other things!)

5. Find a use for Daisy’s old babygros.

When she was first born, little Miss had a selection of printed bodysuits and babygros that were particularly lovely – owls, cats, teapots… ace prints that are just too good to be shoved into a ‘keepsake’ box. I thought about framing them, but our walls are already pretty packed with shelves and prints, so I’ve decided to go all Clothkits, and make her some dolls from them. Fingers crossed they’re a success!

6. Make Benjamin a ‘Neep’.

Like most other kiddos his age, Ben is obsessed with Abney and Teal – he shrieks in delight every time it comes on, and utterly adores the character of Neep. I’ve searched high and low, online and in shops, on blogs and websites, but I can’t find a soft toy Neep anywhere – so I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll have to just *gulp* make one myself. Whether sewn or crocheted, I’m not sure, but the results should be interesting….

7. Plan my planting for 2013.
Although we were technically living in our house last Spring, we were so busy making it habitable, that there wasn’t much time for reading up on vegetable growing or planting flowers. By the time I got round to it, the wettest summer on record was in full swing, I’d missed the opportunity to sow any seeds, and my tomato plants were looking pretty glum. Next year, I’m really, really determined to have a garden full of colour and produce.

8. Start running.

I’m many things, but sporty isn’t one of them – I have running shoes that have only ever been on my feet when I tried them on in the shop, and I was one of those people who watched the Olympics passionately claiming, “I am definitely going to take up running.” Low and behold, the trainers remain pristine by the front door, and my interest in sport has waned again. Must try harder.

9. Do something for charity.
Regular readers will know that recently, my Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimers – my lovely, gentle, kind, funny Dad is going to be slowly robbed of his memory until he doesn’t know who we are anymore. I don’t talk about it much on here because a) it’s so personal and b) it’s not the cheeriest subject in the world, but one thing I do know is that the excellent care by the NHS, and the drugs now available to him are going to make the whole process a lot slower, something which we’re all grateful for. The amazing Alzheimers Society are constantly researching the causes and cures of this awful illness, and I’d love to be able to raise some money to help them. The second charity I want to do something for is Cancer Research – my Dad also has prostate cancer (although it’s dormant, so it doesn’t require treatment at the moment), and my Mum lost her Mum to cancer, so it’s another charity close to my heart. I have literally no idea what I’m going to do, but I want to do something.

10. Start learning to drive.
I am literally the only one of my friends who can’t drive. The Husband drives. My closest friends drive. Benjamin drives me up the wall. Literally everybody can operate a car, except me. I did start learning when I was younger, but had terrible instructors (notably, one who used to bang the steering wheel and holler, “ROAD HOG!” at me when I veered too close to the central line. Put me off a bit….) and then just sort of gave up. I’m the only person I know who will have to renew their provisional licence. Oh dear.

11. Make the Husband a hat.
Ever since I learned to crochet, he’s been asking for a hat. Hopefully this winter he’ll get lucky. Fingers crossed.

12. Bake a successful loaf of bread.

As a lifestyle-crafty-thrifty-foodish-ethical blogger (seriously – do I need to limit myself to post content?!), I really feel like I should at the very least be able to produce an edible loaf of bread. The last time I made one, it was meant to be crusty, but actually you probably could have used it as a weapon.

13. Look into OU degrees.

Another ‘something-I’ve-started-and-want-to-finish’ entry at number 13 – when I was 22, after spending a year and a half travelling in New Zealand, I did an Access Course, and then went on to start studying Writing for Fashion and Culture at a local University. For reasons that I’m not going to go into, I never managed to finish it, but did come away with an HNC. The plan is (money permitting) to transfer the credits from that year to an English degree from the Open University. Which hopefully, this time I will finish.

14. Read up on Aspergers.
I mentioned it in a post a while ago, but Benjamin is being tested for Aspergers, which is a mild form of autism. He’s as bright as they come, but his behaviour is… challenging and quite peculiar sometimes. His pre-school actually picked up on it, which I’m grateful for as I was starting to think I was just imagining things. Whether he has, or he hasn’t, reading up on it won’t hurt – and it can only help me manage his behaviour better. I realise that as a blogger, my child-related posts should be full of lovely independent boutique related clothing and pictures of them eating only healthy foods, but I’ll just tell you now that you’re out of luck. Being a parent is the pits sometimes, and I’m not afraid to tell it how it is!

15. Learn to knit.
I have been trying my entire life to learn. Surely, surely if I really, really concentrate, I’ll master it?! I bought The Gentle Art of Knitting by Jane Brocket a while back, and could cry with desperation at just how much I want to make the beautiful things featured in it.

16. Work through some retro art and craft projects with the kiddos.

I’ve got some amazing, amazing books from the seventies and eighties which have various quirky little projects and activities in, which I think will suit Benjamin down to the ground. He’s mad on anything that involved crafts, or science-y type experiments, so if nothing else it’ll entertain him for an afternoon!

17. Finish hanging our pictures and garlands on the walls.
By the time we get this house sorted, it’ll be time to move out again.

18. Go kite flying and make paper planes.
We bought a kite in the summer, and flew it on the beach, and I’m we’re dying to go again. The recent weather only makes me want to go more – we’ve got a few excellent hills nearby, so the next sunny Autumn afternoon will see us wrestling with twine and folding paper for planes. Ace retro, good old-fashion, outdoorsy activities.

Both of these are prints available on Etsy – click for links. Aren’t they ace?!

19. Plan more walks.
We’ve all got snow-coats, wellies and old jeans – I am actually chewing my own arm off to go walking through woods and fields – where we live, we’re pretty much surrounded by countryside, so there’s plenty of options. And think of the Autumnal photo opportunities!

20. See at least five new places in the UK.
I can sort of cross this one off already – when we went to Frome a few weeks ago, I’d never been to Somerset before. And now I have. One down, four to go.


  1. that kate
    November 5, 2012 / 6:05 pm

    I need to make one of these lists as it feels like this year has flown by and my goals always seem to take a back seat to all my other priorities in life. I am 32 now and still get asked for I.d. The other day took the biscuit when I got asked my age when I was buying some scissors in Lidl 🙂 I would also love to do something to raise money for charities! My gran had Alzheimer's and my mum has Parkinson's disease and I care for her full time so I would really love to contribute some money towards research for both! I hope you are able to get lots done off your list 🙂

  2. Squiggling About
    November 5, 2012 / 6:16 pm

    This is a great post, I hope you do all the things on your list. You can do all these things and more. Good luck! Sarah x

  3. Eleanor
    November 5, 2012 / 8:57 pm

    You so do not look 29! I've been working on a list just like this too – I've got 3 years before thirty but at the rate they are flying by I'll just wake up one day and be 40!

  4. Georgia Coote
    November 5, 2012 / 9:04 pm

    I love this list! I may have to do one myself! By the way, I've had to take my theory driving test twice because the time ran out on it, unfortunately I'm going to have to do it again, at some point, sigh……also updated my provisional, I need to drive!xx

  5. DrRusty
    November 5, 2012 / 9:42 pm

    Shakespears country has fields and rivers and things. Well worth a visit I hear.

  6. dolly mixtures
    November 5, 2012 / 10:40 pm

    Yeah, I love your prints – you must do more. And if you need a little inspiration re running check out my post today 🙂

  7. dawn
    November 6, 2012 / 11:24 am

    Great list ! 🙂 I found that when I hit thirty I was suddenly okay with not knowing what I was doing with my life. I'm at 32 and am still no closer to finding out. It was as though thirty made me realise that life wasn't about getting everything sorted, it was about realising that you are never sorted, you are always learning and changing. If we had all the answers we would get pretty bored. 🙂 Oh and I can't drive either, and I'm well on the way to renewing my provisional too 🙂

  8. zehra
    November 6, 2012 / 3:38 pm

    I'm going to be honest with you…I've stopped making lists, at least, I've stopped making rigid ones, and I stopped after something life altering happened to me in February which made me realise that anything can happen and life just doesn't seem to ever work out like that.30 is nothing to worry about, I'm 3 yrs away from it…in February by the way (22nd) when's yours? anyway it took a while for me to work out that age doesn't matter, it's a matter of getting where you want to be at your own pace. You have accomplished so much, you have two beautiful children and a lovely husband and are super duper talented! If only we lived nearby, you could teach me to crochet and I'd teach you to knit! For the life of me, I've tried!I'm so sorry to hear about your dad, it's devestating when a loved one becomes ill, I can only hope the meds do what they can.Anyway, I won't keep harping on, just to let you know, you're doing pretty darn well for a soon to be 30 yr old, better than a lot of people. And just like you, I tried to learn to drive but found it nerve racking but desperate to try again…my provisional license will expire soon! And the husband can't drive! We have a lot of catching up to do! Xx

  9. sittinginthekitchensink
    November 6, 2012 / 9:44 pm

    A lovely list indeed. I love the idea of making dolls from Daisy's baby clothes…I shall keep an eye out for a blog post about this as I fancy doing this too! I'm sorry to read your dad is ill – perhaps you can combine some of these and run a 10k for the Alzheimer's society? I'd really like to start running too – I fear winter time is not a good time to search for running motivation for me though!Your paragraph on reading up on aspergers reminded me of an article that was in the guardian on Saturday – might be worth a look? XP.s. would love to see some more of your prints, I love the typewriter!

  10. Laura
    November 10, 2012 / 8:46 am

    I feel your pain with the roundabout problem. I did manage to pass my test but I seriously hate roundabouts, especially ones I haven't been on before, which means I basically don't drive anywhere except to work and back for fear of a major roundabout collision!I wonder if you could host some sort of craftathon to raise money for your charities? Either get people to pay to come to a special crafty day or maybe recruit people to make things and sell them. Not particularly well thought out but craft + charity has got to equal a fun day at least! 🙂

  11. Eleni
    November 15, 2012 / 11:44 am

    A most admirable list! I'm 30 next year, too, but I really couldn't care less. I shall have a party like I do for every birthday, get drunk, and eat cake as per usual!My tuppence of advice with regards to your list works for both hairdressers and driving instructors: find one you like and stick to them! It's taken me years to find a stylist that I like, who understands me (ie: how little effort I make with my hair!) and doesn't tell me off for dying it myself or cutting my own fringe, and does what I ask her to do! And I didn't learn to drive until I was 27. It took me ages, I was so nervous, but because I trusted my instructor and waited until I felt confident enough to take the test, I passed first time! You can, too!

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