Welcome to the next interview in the series, 'Where I'm At'. It's a voyeuristic, yet helpful look into the lives of women who are finding where the light plays within them.
Their daily rituals, ways of managing stress and advice to you, the readers, are captured in these interviews.
This month we have our very first UK guest and one of my ‘internet friends’, Bethan from Ply. Bethan and I connected through Jess Lively’s site over a year ago, and have been supporting each other through a number of life aspects, including our blogs. Bethan is an architect and ‘maker by nature’ (as she puts it). Her creativity radiates from her blog and after interviewing her, I’m even more certain we’re going to stay close – her views on life and her interests (hello Lisa Eldridge, Nick Hornby and Mexican food for brunch!) really align with mine. Enjoy!
What is your usual wake up time?
Around 7am in the week (a lot later at weekends!) I always mean to get up earlier but I’m not a morning person. I’m not a night owl either though, I have a sweet spot of around 3–8pm where I’m fully switched on!
What is your morning ritual?
The first thing I do is a really new element to my morning routine: bed yoga! I’ve only been doing it for a week, but I’m enjoying this new addition to my routine. I use the routine in this video by Rochelle Schieck.
Then I wander through to the kitchen and make myself a cup of hot water, sometimes with a slice of lemon if I remember. Then I settle on my sofa to meditate with the Headspace app (which I love) and after I might jot down some thoughts.
If I’ve got up early enough I read for a few minutes, but the risk of using Headspace is it puts my phone in my hand first thing in the morning, and so I tend to have lost that time to Facebook or Instagram by then. I haven’t quite worked out a system to allow me to have my meditation cake without the social media suck, so I’m currently relying on my own willpower, which frankly is hit and miss!
After, I’ll hit the shower, dress, pack my bag for the day and make myself breakfast, usually overnight oats, cold with fruit and yoghurt in the summer or hot with cacao and peanut butter in the winter.
Of course a lot of this goes out of the window on the weekend! Long lie ins with my beau, followed by brunch at home or out at a favourite cafe. Then see where the day takes us. A lot less structured but I like that it plays a counter point to the weekdays.
Tell us about your commute.
I’m lucky to live only a few miles from work and I try to cycle as often as possible. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to work on the bike, I never have to worry about getting stuck in a traffic jam, and I’ve got a good chunk of exercise too! Combining a workout with my commute means I can devote more time to other things that I’d rather spend my time on.
Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?
I work in a conventional office environment so the day is pretty structured from that point of view: 9–5.30, with an hour for lunch.
I organise my time within that in blocks, as I find batching similar tasks is most effective for productivity. I tend to deal with a bunch of small tasks and email responses in the morning, as I can do these while I’m warming up. Then the bigger, more involved tasks I leave to the afternoon. I always have a list of the current tasks in priority order, so that defines the afternoon schedule.
The evenings I tend to be pretty spontaneous about, with a mix of time with friends, self-care, blogging and whatever project I have on at the moment spread over the week.
How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?
I’m a terrible one for not getting up from my desk at lunch! I usually take my full hour, but I tend to spend it reading blogs I follow or writing for my own. I know I’d feel much better if I left the screen for a while, but it doesn’t happen as much as it should.
If I have the car with me that day I usually run errands like food shopping or going to the dry cleaners. It keeps my weekends clear of chores so there’s more time for fun!
What kind of workout schedule do you adhere to?
Errr ... I’m pretty relaxed about workouts and there’s no schedule at all! Exercise is good for my body and my happiness, but I still feel there’s so many things I rather spend my time on that I try to keep it from encroaching on my free time too much, which is why I cycle to work. Having said that I love yoga, and try to hit a yoga class once or twice a week, but some weeks it doesn’t happen and that’s OK too.
How do you like to end your day?
I try to shut down all screens around 10pm, and then do a bit of a wind down routine before bed. I like to take some time to do a thorough oil cleanse in the evening. I apply the oil using facial massage techniques (this is the video from Lisa Eldridge I learnt that from) which has really helped improve the texture and health of my skin, plus it’s a nice way to wind down from the day.
Once I’m into bed I like to have half an hour with a good book to ease me into falling asleep. I just finished Funny Girl by Nick Hornby and loved it.
What time do you doze off?
I aim for 11pm, so usually around 11.30pm!
What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)
Going to bed early enough is where I fail. I usually get engrossed in what I’m doing and then end up getting to bed later than I’d like, which knocks on when I can’t get out of bed.
I know that getting up earlier would make such a difference to my day, to start it in a more relaxed way, and I’d be able to expand my morning routine to include more yoga and reading.
Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?
In the words of Gretchen Rubin, “Know thyself!” Find what works for you, and makes your day better, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing.
In an interview with Danielle La Porte I heard recently, she said she only does 15–20 minutes on her elliptical trainer every day, because any more and she resents it. I loved that precision! Find that sweet spot where you want to do it every day without resenting it.
Finally, can you give my readers your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?
This is one of my favourite brunch dishes, but it works well as a mid-week dinner too! I vary it quite a lot based on what I have in the cupboard, but this is the usual recipe I use.
Heuvos Ranchos (or a version of!)
- Oil (olive, coconut, whatever you like to use)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 sweet pepper, sliced
- Half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes or paprika
- Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
- Chorizo sausage, cut into half moon slices (optional)
- 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- A couple of handfuls of spinach (fresh or frozen, optional)
- 4 eggs (I prefer free-range, organic and local)
- To serve: tortilla wraps/pita/flatbread, grated cheddar or crumbled feta cheese, chopped herbs (parsley, coriander)
Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan, one that has a lid (you’ll need it later, although a large plate also works).
Fry the onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften, then add the peppers, spices, garlic and chorizo (if using). Fry for another 5 minutes or so until the onions are translucent and the peppers are beginning to soften. Add the tomatoes and a little water to rinse out the can. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. This is the point to stir in the spinach, if you have it, until it wilts in the heat of the sauce.
With the back of a spoon, make four little wells in the sauce. Crack an egg into each well, season the tops with salt and pepper and put the lid on the pan. Cook with the lid on, roughly 3.5 minutes for runny eggs, 4.5 minutes for set. It’s best to keep an eye on the eggs and check them around the 3 minute mark. Cooking this way seems to turn them from un-set to solid really quickly! I’m usually a runny yolks girl, but in this dish I enjoy them either way.
Serve scattered with herbs and cheese to your taste, and bread on the side to mop up the sauce!
I hope you all enjoyed Bethan’s interview as much as I did. Go and give her some love at the links below!
You can find Bethan at:
Website – ply.squarespace.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/plyinterior
Twitter – @plyinteriors
Instagram – @plyinteriors