A Week in Student Meals: Winter Edition

Now that the colder months have started to roll in (I say start, I’ve been freezing since September) we’ve been moving more towards warmer dishes like soups and stews to fill us up and warm us up.

You guys seemed to love my last post so I thought I’d come back with another what I eat in a week to showcase the delicious food we have had and more importantly how you can cook on a budget. I included how we shop each week and some helpful tips in my last post if you want some help in that department.

Like I said before, student cooking does not have to be continuous bowls of bland pasta or whatever you have in the freezer. Some careful planning before your week begins can revolutionise both your eating habits and your wallet. Don’t worry, if you are reading this and you aren’t a student these meals are great for family cooking or for storing in the freezer, cheap eating doesn’t mean it tastes horrible!

Monday

Soup and toasties have become a regular in our weekly food plan. It’s cheap, warm and gives you leftovers for lunches or another dinner. Plus its extremely easy to switch up (as you will see at the end of the week). Mara and I usually switch each week for making soup. Mara made this one which is a Roasted Sweet Potato and Tomato soup. It was super tasty and certainly packs a punch!

When making soup it is definitely one you can alter depending on what you have in the cupboard.

Tuesday

Now if you’re going to attach a meal to a student it will probably be a stir fry. However, there are many ways you can spice up a stir fry. To keep costs down we will purchase a stir fry pack from lidl and beef it out with any additional veggies we have left in the fridge. More often than not we don’t put meat in it either therefore the price is kept down.

How to spice up your stir fry: when cooking the stir fry we keep to some core ingredients no matter what type we are making; loads of garlic, ginger, honey, soy, sweet chilli sauce and some sesame oil. These are all great store cupboard ingredients which can be used for a variety of different dishes to add to your repertoire.

Spicing up a stir fry doesn’t always have to be in the cooking stage, toppings are just as important. We will often add sesame seeds, crispy onions (buy from most supermarkets), you can also add sriracha or a fried egg. Like I said before these are all ingredients we use several times during the week and are extremely versatile!

Wednesday

PASTA, PASTA, PASTA. But not any pasta, this is Pasta al Limone. You didn’t think a student would be having this now would you?! If you’re looking for something healthy I would probably skip this bit because the amount of dairy, more specifically butter and cream might make you cry. However I always say everything really tasty is rarely healthy ;).

I used Bon Apétit’s recipe which was fairly easy to follow and it really doesn’t take long to make but the flavour is great! We usually have butter in the fridge for baking and the parmesan (pre-grated parmesan found in lidl) was used the following week as well. So now you know the perfect way to spice up your pasta, enjoyyyy!

Thursday

Personally, whenever I think of the perfect winter warmer meal it usually comes in the form of a stew. It never used to be my favourite meal (in fact quite often I would dread eating it) however my sister has found a great recipe where there is a nice balance between the richness of the meat and a tomato flavour.

I know a beef stew is hard to keep in budget however like I mentioned in my last post it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the reduced section, especially in lidl. That way you can freeze the meat and cook it when you want.

Kirsty uses this BBC Good Food recipe for her stew as it doesn’t include red wine, another great way to cook stew on a budget. She also misses out the bay leaf and adds extra Italian seasoning such as basil and/or Oregano. She recommends tasting it while you go so you can add a dash more of certain things incase you prefer it a certain way, plus seasoning is important!

Friday

Another meal you can’t beat to warm you up and make you cozy is good ol’ sausage and mash. I must admit Lidl’s caramelised onion sausages are another level of tasty! However, I can’t say this and not mention the importance of supporting your local butchers, especially after this year. So, if you can, go show them some love!

Mara simply fries off the sausages and pairs it with really creamy mash potato and caramelised onions. The perfect combination, trust me!

Saturday

Image courtesy of Bon Apétit

If you couldn’t tell from the photo I had problems uploading my own however I promise I did have it that week!

Anyway, its another veggie meal and one of my new favourites. It’s Egg Fried Rice with broccoli and spring onions. The amount of flavour the sushi rice soaks up alongside the crispiness you get with frying it makes this absolutely delicious.

It is another recipe from Bon Apétit and once you get the hang of it, it is really easy. Although the recipe says you need to use a Skillet its not necessary. Just a warning that the rice will stick to the pan. It’s perfect for both lunches and dinners so great for meal prep if that’s what you prefer!

Sunday

It’s time for more soup! This time it is one of my favourites, the reliable lentil soup. I make this quite often and usually wing it. However I still haven’t mastered getting it thick enough. Either way it tastes great. I went off of these recipes for a general idea if you want something to go off of.

Soup recipe 1

Soup recipe 2


I hope you enjoyed another look into what we eat in a week. Did you get any inspiration? Let me know below and if you have any recommendations of your own favourite winter warmer recipes I’d love to hear them!

On a side not, yes the Christmas tree is up, I think we all deserve some Christmas cheer a bit earlier than usual.

Make sure to tag me in any of your photos using the links below! We love to see some fellow student foodies!

Much love,

Sophie x


Show of the Month: The Queen’s Gambit

Netflix Poster

If you couldn’t tell I love a good TV show. Lately I’ve found myself escaping in an hour long episode in the evening. Mostly because taking an hour out of my day doesn’t feel as bad as taking two hours out of work for a film. But with Netflix and Amazon coming out with highly produced and well filmed shows on the regular it is not hard to find your next best hit.

The Queen’s Gambit, a 7 episode mini-series which appears to only be picking up speed now, quickly became my favourite show last month. Set during the Cold War, Beth Harmon is orphaned at the age of 9 where she learns chess from the resident janitor who produces a young chess prodigy. Harmon quickly becomes a well known figure in the chess circuit but this is not without difficulty. Her young years of fame are steeped in addiction and isolation, the question is will she make it to the top or sabotage her chances with drugs and alcohol?

There is so much I could talk about when it comes to this show. From the apparent sexism in the chess circuit, female empowerment produced through Harmon’s character, the struggle of addiction especially with fame, orphanages and a lot more. However I do not want to spoil it and, let’s be honest, there are probably a mountain of articles on these topics. Instead I thought I’d share my general thoughts on the show, what I loved and what I think could have been done better (not that I am an expert or that there is much to comment on in that department).

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon

To start off with I have to mention the stellar acting of Anya Taylor-Joy and the other excellent actors that feature alongside her. I appreciated her ability to act alongside the predominantly male cast and the fact a female leading show has yet again graced one of the largest streaming servers. Her unique and extremely striking features and that eye-catching hair cut allows her, in a stylistic perspective, to stand out amongst the men who mostly wear dark clothing.

But more importantly, her ability to inhabit this rather complex character allows you to feel fully immersed in her journey from a young kid to adulthood. I must also mention that the TV show is based on the book by Walter Tevis although it certainly leaves you questioning at the end if it is a real story (that I wish it was). Which I also think is down to the impeccable acting and cinematography found in the show.

Now if you weren’t already sold the show also features Thomas Brodie Sangster as Benny Watts and Harry Melling as Harry Beltik (who plays Dudley in Harry Potter FYI) to name a few.

Harmon mid game earlier in her career

What really struck me was the intricacy and level of detail to their performances. In particular I was fascinated by Tayler-Joy’s ability to play these stellar games of chess. From the movement of her arms, to her facial expression to even the smallest detail of how she placed the pieces it is literally a work of art. Part of this will be down to the director Scott Frank whose cinematography was impeccable. Every shot could be a painting deserving of a place in a museum, which alongside the costume, in my opinion, is deserving of multiple awards. The Guardian did an interesting article on the costumes if you want to find out more.

The one thing that slightly irked me about the show was the length of the background episodes. I personally love a bit of character development but the time spent as young Harmon started to drag in my opinion however I understand that this was partly necessary to set up key themes like her addiction. I just wish they appeared less repetitive and more interesting.

Nevertheless, The Queens Gambit is a piece of art not only on a stylistic level but through storytelling, narrative, acting and drama. The show hits all the key points I look for and will leave you in desperate need to watch it in one sitting. How I wish they would come out with another season!

I hope this has enticed you into watching it or if you have let me know your thoughts below, I’d love to know what you thought!

Much love,

Sophie x


How I am Trying to Get Out of My Mid Term Slump

Yup, it’s that time of year again. I always find once I’ve finished my first set of assessments and have to go onto the next load I get handed this big lump of demotivation and tiredness. I’m not sure if it’s a combination of the weather, impeding lockdown, online learning and general stress or a select one of these factors but I never feel ecstatic that it’s nearly Christmas or that I have a short time left in my first term.

In all honestly right now I feel stuck. I know I should be starting the mountain of work I have due but I know that it’s a huge task and therefore I put it off for as long as possible (clearly I am a model student). Reading that back it just feels like I am extremely overwhelmed (that’s probably correct).

I also know that I am not the only one feeling this way and that actually it’s probably pretty normal.

Now instead of moaning (which I am also very good at) I thought I’d round up the ways in which I can improve my situation and try and find my mojo again. I know there are certain things I can do to make me feel more motivated which hopefully I can help you with as well.

Whether that is for work, studying or just getting you in the mood to do something productive, here is a list of things you can do to help.

Remove Yourself From Your Space

I know you might be thinking that this is a bizarre thing to suggest seeing I am trying to motivate you to do something productive rather than run away from it. However, one of the best things you can do if you feel stuck in your work is to go a quick walk or have 15mins to make yourself some tea and talk to a friend. I would recommend not going on your phone during this period so you can switch your brain off.

I find a lot of the time that removing myself from the negative space I’ve created around my work makes me feel better when I come back to it. You might also find that this makes you look at your task in a different way as well.

Find Motivation in Other Peoples Content.

As a creative person who enjoys watching the likes of YouTube I often feel myself being surprised at how motivated I get through other people working or ‘vlogging’. Watching other people be productive spurs me onto do my work and makes me realise it’s not half as bad as you think.

Content Creators I recommend you check out are;

I feel like this specific segment goes hand in hand with suggesting that having a break is always a good idea. With online learning making you stare at a screen for the majority of the day, picking up a book for 15mins can also be beneficial for resetting your brain. I’ve been finding more often than not my eyes have begun to hurt because of the length of time I am required to sit in front of a screen. So, if you can find ways to reset your brain that don’t involve a screen I highly recommend you try it. Even if its a quick doodle on a random piece of paper!

Have a Dance Party

As much as I would love to input a photo of myself having a dance party in my room by myself, I don’t think I would ever live that down. So, instead I recommend you get up from your desk/workspace and put on your favourite playlist for 10mins and just dance. When you’re stuck at your desk for a long period of time getting up and moving can make the world of a difference. Plus jamming out to your favourite music supplies you with some great endorphins to boost your mood (if you can get your flatmates etc. to join in then that is even better).

This is also beneficial for when your work space isn’t clean and is obstructing your quality of work. Set a timer for 20 mins, put your headphones in and clean for that solid amount of time. This way you are having a break, singing until your heart is content and being productive. 3 things which can all hugely improve your state of mind when you get back to work.

Stay Away From Your Bed

I know a lot of students will be working from their bedrooms which provides a great view of your extremely comfy bed (me being one of them). However, as soon as you go near it you’ll be laced with the need to sleep or to get more comfortable. Two things which will not make you feel productive. Your bed should be a zone for sleeping so marking it off as a no go zone during the day is the best way to go. This should help both your quality of sleep and your level of productiveness.

I’m also aware that I am no saint when it comes to this. I do have days where I will get into bed and not want to leave it. However, from one seasoned professional to another, just don’t do it. I have learnt that studying from bed has more negative affects than it does positive and if you simply can’t stay away, do your work in another room. You can thank me later.

Listen to Your Body and Plan Your Day.

Setting yourself reasonable tasks to do (3 is a good place to start) will start your day out in a good way and will clear your head of the work you have to do. When I say 3 tasks make sure you break them down into ones which are achievable. For example, rather than writing a whole essay in a day break it down into paragraphs over a week.

On the other hand it is a good idea to listen to what your body needs. If you are lacking sleep work out ways in which you can improve this or if you really feel like there is no way to improve the mood you are in just don’t do the work. Schedule it in for some other time during the week and take a day off. Sometimes you just need to rejuvenate and take some time to yourself.

Respect yourself and what your body needs. Sometimes it is actually more beneficial to just understand that the work you’ll get done just isn’t worth it and will actually end up providing you with more work rather than shortening it. Instead I recommend you do something for yourself; do something creative, cook dinner or bake. This way you are still achieving something while not wallowing in your guilt (trust me I have been there).


Nobody is perfect and I can assure you the person you think is an A* student or works all day in the office and into the night isn’t. We are not made to be like machines. Taking care of yourself is also important. Being productive comes hand in hand with looking after yourself.

I am going to try and be kinder to myself when it comes to my workload. Feeling guilty over it will not do you any good and you’ll soon find having a more positive outlook to even the negative days will make your work a lot better.

I hope these tips are useful and if you have any extra recommendations leave them below!

Much love,

Sophie x

p.s. I came out with a new launch of prints at the weekend so if you fancy checking them out you can find them here.


5 Books You Need to Read, Recommended by an English Lit. Student

Now beside the possibly pretentious title I did really want to write this. Not because I think I know it all and believe I am the fountain of all knowledge when it comes to reading but because I’ve genuinely received something from each and every one of these books.

To me I find walking into a library or a book shop really overwhelming. I’ll pick up one book thinking it sounds great but then put it straight back in the thought that there could be something better around the corner. Unless I know what I am going in for, I can almost guarantee you I will come out empty handed.

In a lot of respects that is why I like my course so much. I get educated on history, world views and issues, language, the birth of societal norms and stereotypes and finally, the evolution of the world, all from reading literature. A lot of the time people view an English Lit. course as a waste of time but I would not have received the chance to broaden my horizons and my character without it. I would still be picking up and setting down books in shops, overwhelmed and possibly naive with the world.

So, I thought I’d share 5 of my absolute favourite books from my course thus far (I am currently in my third year). Each book is a piece of fiction and each are extremely important in their own form but together might make you look at things slightly differently.

Book 1 – Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic piece of literature. Very short in form with it being a ‘shilling shocker’ but all the same it is extremely captivating. Stevenson managed to create a whole new form of character identity within the split persona that went on to influence many thrillers and horrors you probably watch today. I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, Stevenson’s focus on good vs. evil is highly applicable to today and is probably why it remains so popular.

If you want a short read and love stories centred around crime, mystery, science and relationships then this is definitely for you! Plus he was Scottish writer so what’s not to love!?

Book 2 – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

This is a more recent read but one I think would be important to add to anyones reading list. I must admit I have found Virginia Woolf’s reading particularly difficult to read in the past however I must give an exception to this particular novel. It’s written as a biography on Orlando inspired by Woolf’s relationship with Vita-Sackville West. Orlando is one of the first representations of a trans woman in literature, an inspiring tale which documents some of the hardships one faces being a woman, especially a trans woman in that era.

Woolf explores what it means to be female, a major part of this novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Her narrative was gripping and both educated and informed me on the issues trans women face.

Book 3 – Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Education through literature is one of the main things I am extremely grateful for. I think a lot of people believe we have to pick up non fiction books to become educated on matters of race, religion, gender, society, politics etc. but that is simply not the case. It is through reading and understanding experience that we can truly understand issues of representation and why such attitudes were created.

Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is one of my favourite novels, one I picked up in my second year. Detailing the story of Okonkwo we see the life of an African tribesman and the difficulty he faces when colonisers come to take over his territory. This novel is important for many reasons. To start with it is one of the first representations of African life that is not depicted through the eyes of a white man. Moreover, we see how colonisation really took affect and disrupted life for so many.

One of my favourite things Achebe has said is, “African people did not hear of culture for the first time from Europeans […] their societies were not mindless but frequently had a philosophy of great depth and beauty […] they had poetry and, above all, dignity.’ He highlights how his novel is there to depict how Africans were not brainless or culturally ignorant like many white men depicted them. African people have lives and a rich history one that existed before the colonisers arrived. A fact which seemed to be disregarded in literature and politics of the time. Achebe’s novel is one I could write about for ages but would probably disinterest you at some point. So instead, I implore you to give it a read. It’s engaging, educational and throughly interesting. A personal must have for your reading list.

Book 4 – Madeline Miller’s Circe

Circe is a reasonably new book, one I had the pleasure of reading in first year when it was new on the literary scene. If you love books based on myth and fantasy then you are bound to enjoy this.

The novel is a good example of how social issues can be intertwined into fiction, especially in places you would not necessarily think to find it. Circe deals with important themes of womanhood, abortion and fertility. A novel with significance to todays political climate as abortion is featured heavily across the world right now (read up on the horrible new laws in Poland for context).

Sarah Waters’ Affinity

This was another new read for me as it is part of my third year reading list. It tells the story of Selina Dawes, a spiritualist in a Victorian prison who plays with the mind of Margaret Prior, a Lady who visits the prison to conceptualise and understand her own mental ‘issues’.

Waters’ book is a mystery focussing on the life of both Dawes and Prior who eventually come together in this mysterious yet captivating story. It took me about the first quarter of the book to fully get into it but once you understand and are immersed into the novel you will not want to put it down.

As part of my course we looked into the idea of power and knowledge when it comes to prisons and the justice system. So, if that in any way interests you or you like stories based on magic and mystery then this will be right up your street.


As I said above, looking for new books can be daunting especially if you are looking for something with more critical merit or educational value. In that sense I hope you found this both interesting and informative.

I must also add that these books are in no way difficult to read, although Shakespeare is important I do not enjoy and nor would I recommend him to you (that is not to say his plays etc. aren’t great to watch, I just reallyyyy wouldn’t recommend trying to read them without the opportunity to have them translated).

If you want any more recommendations check out the ‘review’ section of my blog where you’ll find more novels and TV shows.

Let me know if you end up picking any of them up (tag me on instagram or Facebook with the links below!) or if you have any further questions let me know below!

Much love,

Sophie x


Some Happy News

This title is probably quite confusing but hear me out. Over the past 6-8 months I’ve repeatedly stopped looking at the news, mainly because it is filled with corona death tolls or the next impending lockdown. It is stress inducing and very much alters my mood.

Why is it as human beings we want to concentrate on the negatives so much?

I also find it largely difficult to look at because I know there are so many other important issues not getting reported on when they really need it. Through all of this I find myself on a cycle of anxiousness and disappointment and I know if I feel like this, there are probably loads more of you who are as well (at least I hope there is).

And that is not to say that the news on Covid isn’t important because I understand it is but when the thought consumes the majority of my head anyway why would I want to hear more about it ALL THE TIME?

So, I thought today I would highlight some more light hearted, positive articles and some general nice things going on in the world because we deserve to be informed and uplifted. It will literally take 10 mins and could make your day 100 times better. Remember looking after yourself is important!

The Happy Newspaper

I whole heartedly recommend you check out The Happy Newspaper where you can get a subscription to news that isn’t so downbeat and negatively driven. If you can’t afford the subscription their social media accounts are also a good one to follow for some more lighthearted content.

My sister started sending me their happy news updates from their socials and each time a huge smile breaks out on my face. It is refreshing to see people being celebrated and good things happening.

Newsround: Stories to Make you Smile

Newsround have been creating short videos documenting some positive news. This particular one concentrates on animals, including a young boy finding a very rare fossil. What’s not to love about some happy news surrounding some very cute animals? Find the video here.

‘Nigerian-Irish Teens Develop a Dementia App for Sufferers Coping With Lockdown–and It’s Won Awards’

I am all for celebrating peoples successes and these teenagers have done an amazing job at creating an app helping dementia sufferers during lockdown. Providing everyone with a bit more hope, this article is definitely worth a look.

Greek Athlete Helps Disabled Woman Reach The Top Of Mount Olympus […]’

I mean if there is going to be anything that restores your faith in humanity it’ll be with this guy. Sometimes it is hard to remember that good people and good things exist, especially when you’re stuck inside the majority of the time. Find the article here.

‘Man shelters 300 dogs from Hurricane Delta: ‘What’s beautiful is to see them happy”

If I am honest any story to do with dogs has me sold but when it has to do with someone saving 300, then I’ll click on it three times faster. This man’s story went viral and in doing so he has received so much needed funding for his animal shelter. Check out the story here.

Good Things Happening in the World

Although this was written in March it’s still highly applicable. It’s nice to remember what came out of such a bleak time and that it doesn’t have to be filled with dread and anticipation. Find the article here.

30 of the Happiest Animals in the World

Now this isn’t exactly news but it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face! It includes a variety of animals and they are absolutely adorable! If you click on any link make sure it is this one!


I know some people say that just looking at the good stuff is unrealistic and we have to be open to knowing the bad as well as the good. Well, I am sick of hearing about the negative so excuse me if I spend 20 minutes of my time looking at happy animals and some uplifting stories.

It actually surprised me when doing the research for this post how much major publications were filled with negativity. I looked at both The Guardian and The Times, 95-100% of their homepages all had news which either said something terrible, berated someone else or set out a bleak plan for the rest of corona. Not exactly something everyone wants or needs to hear.

Now more than ever the good stuff is needed so I hope I could put even the smallest smile on your face. Let me know what you think and if you have any happy stories to share let me know in the comments.

Much love,

Sophie x


Styling a Slip Dress for Autumn: Lost Stock Review

Todays post is inspired by one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe at the moment, the slip dress. It’s both versatile and extremely comfortable. Something I must admit I look for in all my clothing items.

The slip dress can be used for all seasons but in this post I want to highlight how it is perfect for Autumn. From dressing it up for a night out, to dressing it down for a more colder climate, this dress will soon become an essential in your wardrobe!

This particular slip dress comes from Lost Stock, a brand I featured in my post about where to shop sustainably, affordably. Lost Stock is a company that was started during lockdown and comes from Edinburgh! They support workers in Bangladesh who have been left without jobs because of coronavirus. Thus, every time you buy from Lost Stock, you are supporting a worker and their family. Lost Stock gives you three + items of clothing ‘from major retailers who have cancelled their orders because of Covid.’ Find out more about Lost Stock here.

I must admit the parcel took a while to arrive but if you follow their socials you know they faced an enormous amount of orders and obstacles which delayed the process.

Altogether we received three items. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of them all because I accidentally left one at home. We received a slip dress, a black tank top/loose vest and a navy top with lace detailing. In my opinion it was a good mix and although they weren’t all to my taste, we just supported a family who have been left with a horrible circumstance because of something out of their control. So really there isn’t much to complain about plus if you don’t like an item Lost Stock have supplied some fantastic alternatives or you can gift your item to someone you know will like it.

So now for the exciting bit! I’ve compiled 4 different looks with this dress (but I bet you can get a lot more!).

Look 1: Layers

White T-Shirt – Old New Look.

Belt – Old Primark

White Trainers – Adidas

This is one of my favourite ways to wear the slip dress. Perfect for pretty much all climates (apart from Winter but I have you sorted in the next few looks for that!). I love the detailing of the straps on the white t-shirt and paired with a belt means it looks a bit more casual and gives the outfit some shape. I also pair this with white trainers because (yet again) they are so versatile and comfy!

Add Another Layer

To make this more applicable to a slightly colder climate (which is pretty much everyday in Scotland right now) I add this wonderful cardigan from Becca Mac in Dornoch (one of the wonderful shops I featured in my post about Dornoch, who also have an online shop). The cream goes perfectly with the white shoes and t-shirt, while adding some texture and a much needed layer.

This cardigan has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe, functioning, I must admit, as both a cardigan and a dressing gown (the flat gets really cold okay!). Remember shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be about shopping at the most sustainable shop when you can’t afford it but more about how much you are shopping and what you need rather than what you want.

Look 2: A Simple Night Out

Such a simple dress is perfect for going out, especially if you have a dinner date or are out for drinks (which I hope will be soon, all going well). I pair it with trainers but if you really want to elevate it a pair of black stilettos would look amazing with this! It also looks great without the belt, perfect for having a big meal.

Look 3: A Cold Day Out

Find your favourite jumper, a pair of boots and your slip dress, then all combined you are set for a winner! I rolled the jumper up slightly and added my gold necklace. Transitioning this into a skirt means it is perfect for winter. This also looks great with a lighter jumper if you just want to chuck it on for ease.

Jumper – Old New Look

Boots – Old H&M (Similar here)

Look 4: Alternate Layering

This flips the very first outfit on its head. Take your favourite t-shirt, tie it with a bobble and tuck it under and you’ll get this cute but effective look. Paired with my black boots and an orange hat (which you can see in the video below) turns what is quite a simple slip dress into more of an ‘edgy’ dress.

T-Shirt: Old Topshop (Similar here and here)

Want to have a look at these outfits in motion? I challenged myself this week by making a TikTok/Instagram reel so you can envisage what these items look like in real life! If you enjoy it feel free to show it some love on these platforms, this way I can make you some more! Check it out here.


I hope you liked the multiple ways you can wear a slip dress! This is one of my favourite things about clothing, it makes you think out of the box. I promise you there are probably numerous ways you can wear every item in your wardrobe, you just need to take a moment and look at if differently.

Once you’ve done this, it is like you have a whole new closet!

What was your favourite look? Have you tried Lost Stock? Let me know down below!

Enjoy the rest of your week,

Much love,

Sophie x


Weekly Thoughts: Online Learning, Covid and Finding Balance

I’m back with another weekly thoughts post so I can update you on what has been going on in my life and why I’ve been a bit distant on this platform. Even if covid is still ruling our lives (ruining it would also be highly applicable at this point), more than I wish to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed.

You might have noticed I’ve had to scale my posts right back to once a week. A decision I didn’t want to have to make but unfortunately I genuinely don’t have the time to sit and write something, take photos, come up with interesting ideas and most importantly, come up with quality content twice to three times a week. I want you to enjoy what I write and make sure it is worth your time to engage with. This at the moment is a lot more manageable once a week. Hopefully you understand and love the one blog post I do put out.

This annoying decision comes from the increasingly stressful lifestyle I’ve encountered after moving back to Edinburgh. I say lifestyle, it is entirely filled by one thing and that is online learning. What I’d like to call it at this very moment is, ‘the bane of my existence’. Don’t get me wrong, there are pros and cons to doing it at home, namely the chance to do it safely, which will always exceed the negatives. However, I can’t ignore the constant feeling that I am going to fail, the week of near panic attacks I had even when out and about supposedly relaxing and the impending dread of assignments which I have no idea how they’ll get done on top of the already huge amount I have to do.

So, if you haven’t already gathered the first few weeks of third year have been an absolute joy. I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER.

You might be asking or just simply wondering if it’s just because I can’t deal with third year in general. Trust me I have thought the exact same thing. However, when your whole year feels the same and lecturers have openly admitted to giving you more work because you should have ‘more’ time, it’s hard not to get a tiny, tiny bit angry at the whole thing.

At this point I really wish there was more time in the day.

Balance on the other hand is something I’ve been trying really hard to implement because of this. I’ve never been good at looking after myself and I have a very long way to go but I’m hoping that soon (if my uni decide to be better in terms of workload) I can find a balance where I can get enough sleep in a night, don’t have to stress 24/7 and can actually take a day off. At least this way I can then sort my blog posts out, my print business can be less stressful and more enjoyable and I can generally feel better about myself.

Out of curiosity, how do you find online learning/working from home? Do you have any recommendations for finding balance? Let me know down below!

To top all of this off, this week (or the past month) has really got me frustrated at the medias perception of students and covid. Before you jump on me and start shouting at me in the comments, YES students really have not been doing a good job, mainly first years in halls. However, there are 18-23 year olds (including those both younger and older who are studying) who are trying really hard to abide by the rules. As someone who has friends and family who are high risk (who aren’t all in the older generation bracket might I add) I find it infuriating that people want to blame me for not sticking to the rules or being the cause of a second lockdown.

In fact I know A LOT of people who are older than I am, who have been a lot worse than my friends and I, when sticking to the rules.

If anything the whole thing makes me feel a bit disheartened. So please, if you are young, old or middle aged, please just do the right thing. I am sick to death of seeing my generation getting blamed, looked at or victimised in the press. But more importantly I am sick of being stuck in lockdown with the possibility of my friends and family being hit with covid.

If we all are a little bit less selfish and actually stick to the rules this can be all over with that bit quicker. Even if you somehow think you are invincible, or are ‘in a small area where it won’t touch you’ or generally couldn’t care less, take a second to think about the people who do care and who aren’t invincible. Do it for them.

I know this hasn’t been a completely upbeat post but I don’t want to paint a picture that everything is 100% great the whole time. I think if I did that you would expect the same for yourself and I don’t want that. Expectations aren’t good for anyone.

Whether you are having a good or a bad week, both are entirely valid, so don’t feel guilty for having either. If you’ve done something truly amazing let me know! Or if you, like me, have been bothered by a load of things recently or aren’t feeling great mention it in the comments. Life is crazy (especially at the moment) and that is fine!

Sending you all the hugs,

Much love,

Sophie x


A Week in Student Meals

If I haven’t banged on enough in my food blog posts about the frustration about not knowing what to cook, there is also the added pressure to do it cheaply.

This, I know, can be difficult so I thought I would combine both ideas in one and provide you with what we ate as a flat for a week on a budget of roughly £25-40 a week (for three people, including snacks, breakfast, lunches, dinner etc.), which roughly ends up being £10-15 a week per person.

Keep an eye out along the way for some tips on how to keep your weekly shop prices down and what recipes are perfect for giving you some leftovers for lunch the next day.

It is important to note that my flatmates (Kirsty and Mara) and I share cooking duties throughout the week and therefore split our shop. This in itself is a great way to keep costs down, so if you can, I highly recommend doing this.

Sunday

Homemade Fish Cakes

We pair our fishcakes with salad (which we buy in for lunches anyway), sweet chilli sauce and sometimes some peas or veg on the side.

Homemade fish cakes are one of the easiest and cheapest meals we make. Tuna for example is a staple in our cupboards and gets used for several main meals, therefore you’re not having to go out and buy fish (which I love but doesn’t usually come under our budget unless it is on offer). Plus this meal is super tasty!

Mara loosely used two recipes from BBC Good Food (we loveeee this website for our weekly meals). You can find all their fish cake recipes here.

Now if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something chocolatey and easy then this recipe is perfect for you. Kirsty made a slow cooker chocolate cake which we paired with Lidls own Ben and Jerrys fish food (tastes pretty much the same at a fraction of the price). It wasn’t the best chocolate cake however Kirsty has recommended scouting about for some different options because the slow cooker reduces cooking time drastically! Perfect for students.

Monday

Cauliflower Steaks

We serve this delicious roasted cauliflower with pea puree (the fancy term for blended peas with stuff in it) – Boil peas (a decent bit because they’ll end up being blended), drain them and add two tablespoons of natural yoghurt, some herbs of your choosing (we have dried mixed Italian seasoning), season with salt and pepper then blend away – and serve with some couscous.

If you recently read my post on ‘My Most Loved Recipes: Savoury Meals and Sweet Treats to Boost Your Week’ then you would have already seen this recipe. Cauliflower steaks constantly gets repeated in our weekly meal plan (also another great tip – plan your meals, this way there is no last minute dash to the shops when you’re hungry). It is a firm favourite and a great veggie option.

I recommend adding more paprika and garlic granules when baking the steaks. You can find the recipe here.

Leftover Tip:

We usually bake two cauliflowers for three of us, which depending on the size and how hungry we are provides a small amount of leftovers. I then had a sushi bowl with the leftovers the next day. Sushi rice is a great one to make throughout the week for lunch because it will last you a few days – we have it for dinner at the end of the week if you are looking for a recipe.

Tuesday

Sticky Cashew Chicken (GF)

This was a new recipe Mara was trying and it was a hit! Chicken thighs are a great way of getting protein while not breaking the bank. From lidl you can get a tray of 5 for about £1.75.

Mara paired it with some noodles and broccoli and it tasted great! (there was even some leftover chicken which I had with more of the sushi rice the next day for lunch).

Find the recipe here.

Wednesday

Baked Sweet Potato

Baked Sweet Potato is another favourite in our flat, it gets repeated weekly and is a great alternative to the usual baked potato.

It is also a great opportunity to use up some things you have in the fridge/cupboards.

I microwave the potatoes for around 20 mins (pierce them with a fork first) and then bake them for an additional 20 mins in the oven at roughly 200 degrees (fan).

This is another occasion where we use tuna (we add mayo and then either red onion or apple if we want) because its always in the cupboard.

It also provides the perfect opportunity to use the couscous from the cauliflower steaks which we also had with a salad, some leftover sweetcorn that was in the fridge and some beetroot which is also a staple in our cupboards.

Thursday

Corn Beef Hash

Corned beef is another cheap source of protein and potatoes are extremely cheap. So a win win.

Not the most appealing to look at I must admit but it is just what you need on a colder day. It very much reminds me of stovies (if you’re Scottish hopefully you’ll know what I mean), and reminds me of home.

You just need around 6-7 decent sized potatoes, all cubed and boiled until soft. Dice an onion and fry it in some oil, then add in the corned beef (break it up with a wooden spoon) and the potatoes. Fry unti it is nice and crispy.

I also decided when making this that I would spice up some ordinary baked beans by adding in some paprika, garlic granules and Italian seasoning. I like my beans over done (they go mushy) which means they go perfectly with this dish.

Friday

Lasagne

Now, who doesn’t love a good lasagne night, especially if it involves a side of dough balls or garlic bread! When having meat in our freezer we are lucky that we get to stock up from Costco however, we are also very good at finding a bargain. So, if you have a lidl close to you (which is our shop of choice) make sure to go earlier in the day because you’ll get great deals in their fridge section.

Tip: On the conversation of buying meat, we pretty much always freeze it, so you won’t need to worry about it going off. So if you see a good deal but its on its last day, don’t worry!

Kirsty loves making lasagne and is very good at it. She doesn’t really go by a recipe because they usually involve red wine, however she does recommend using a basic tomato base sauce, like a spaghetti bolognese (so any recipe should do) and then add a white sauce and lasagne sheets and top with cheese!

These dough balls were from M&S and were VERY tasty. Keep an eye out for Lidls ones too because they are also great!

This meal provided us with enough leftovers to have it again for our dinner on Sunday. So, a perfect meal to keep your costs down!

Saturday

Sushi Bowl

The prettiest looking meal, in the sense of it being one of the most colourful ones! This is very much a recipe which can be altered depending on what you have in the cupboard.

Make some sushi rice (instructions should be on the package), chop up some carrot, cucumber, fry some broccoli in soy sauce, garlic and honey, chop up some tomatoes, add some beetroot and if you want bake some salmon. When it comes to the salmon, this is something we found on offer (on reduce) in lidl so we decided to bake it in the oven for about 15-20mins in a soy sauce, ginger mix with some lemon and then flaked it over our bowl. However, this is often something we have as a veggie meal so don’t worry if you don’t have meat – this will also reduce the price. I also add a fried egg to the top (seasoned with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and paprika.)

When it comes to sushi bowls the toppings are just as important as the actual components to the main bulk of the bowl. Having sesame seeds, fried onions (this is pre fried and dried onions that you buy in a tub) and sriracha mayo are integral to the taste. Plus you’ll find yourself adding these things to a lot more of your recipes, trust me!

Tip: To finish off I thought I’d recommend what we always start with. Sit down before your shop and plan out what you’re eating when and who is cooking. This way you have a routine to your week and there is no last minute stressing. Additionally this is the perfect time to check what you already have in the cupboards, so you aren’t buying more than what you need plus you might be able to find a meal already available in your home.

It’s also important to note that all recipes are easily adapted. There is most likely some obscure ingredient somewhere or something you don’t have and that’s fine. The recipe will still be taste fine and substituting is always a great idea if you’re stuck. Google is your best friend!


So, that’s our week in meals! An assortment of veggie and meat meals, which can easily be interchanged depending on your preferences.

I think a lot of people have this idea that as a student you have to eat the bare minimum or beans on toast every night (not that there is anything wrong with beans on toast). But as three people who absolutely love food and cooking, that was never going to be an option.

It’s all about finding a balance and figuring out where you can spend more and where to spend less. Introducing more veggie meals and using what we already have is definitely huge steps we’ve taken to not only be more sustainable but also cheaper.

Feel free to let me know below if you want to see another blog post on our weekly meals. If you want some inspiration for lunch you can check out my previous post here.

Let me know if we’ve inspired you or you end up making any of the above recipes. We’d absolutely love to see your photos (tag me in my socials linked below)!

Much Love,

Sophie x


Review: A Look Into the Failings of the Police Force in ITV’s ‘Des’

*This post contains small spoilers in terms of statistics to do with the case that might alter your viewing experience.*

Des is a three part television mini-series based on the arrest of the Scottish serial killer Dennis Nelson. Debuting on ITV/STV on the 14th September, the show captivated and divided audiences with the horrific details of not only the murders but the investigation.

Dennis, otherwise known as Des, is played by the astounding David Tenant and is joined by fellow cast members Jason Watkins, Daniel Mays and Barry Ward (to name a few). All providing one of their best performances to bring this shocking yet highly interesting story to life.

The show is based on the biography by Brian Masters (played by Jason Watkins in the show) called Killing for Company: The Story of a Man Addicted to Murder and is directed by Lewis Arnold. The series expertly depicts the ongoings of the trial, the manipulative man that was Des and how the media and the economy affect murder investigations in the 1980’s (which is often highly applicable to today).

Not to summarise the show or give a detailed description of it, the series explores Des as a killer openly admitting his crimes and in a lot of ways not being ashamed of them. Tenant’s portrayal is done in such a way that you never side with Des but you also don’t hate him. To put it a better way it is more probable that you don’t understand him therefore you can’t have an opinion on him. A decisive way of acting which I applaud; I often find that serial killers can often be romanticised in such dramas.

Like I mention above, the show details the economic failings of the police force in bringing all of Des’ victims justice. We see that 6 out of at first a suspected 15-16 murders being investigated and proven. However, Dennis later admits to having killed 12, which means 6 murders are left without justice or knowledge. An upsetting reality for the families of those without a son/uncle/cousin/father etc.

This is a reality all too noticeable when the institution that should be running these investigation don’t get the funding to do so. A fact not just applicable to the 1980’s but also to today. The show outwardly highlights the problems associated with money and the justice system. A combination which many think should not be intertwined.

Trailer

Not only this but the show questions why such a man went undetected by the police for 5 years. After doing some research it doesn’t appear that this question has been outwardly answered, it certainly wasn’t in the show.

What I praise the mini series for is the lack of horrific detail or imagery about the murders. Like Daniel Mays said in an interview, it focuses a lot more on the psychology of Des. So much so that Mays woke up screaming to his wife one night because of the details of the case.

To briefly mention the aforementioned media, it was highly prevalent in the show how much stress they put on the police force. The amount of negativity it put the investigation under, makes you rethink their [the media’s] position entirely. I think in many ways we become so used to seeing such murders, especially such a high profile one like this, documented at an insane rate in the media. However, when does this become intrusive and actually delay the right for justice? On top of this the need to profile the murders in a sexual context was highly prevalent, making it more obvious that homophobia was a huge issue (and still is; the prominent nature of people automatically looking at this case thinking Dennis was doing it out of sexual attraction and desire is and was a huge issue.)

Thus, when combining the media and the economic short fallings of the police force it is no wonder they had to shut the case down. Not because there was insufficient evidence, not from a conflict of interest and certainly not because the arrested wasn’t guilty. It is a sad reality for all involved that such small and technically insignificant factors make such a huge difference in modern policing.

To suggest one final question, does this make you ponder the right for the media to be involved in such cases? Without them do you think the case would have been solved in its entirety? Or does it bring on the thought that people would deem such acts as not important if they weren’t broadcasted to the masses?

I highly recommend watching Des. I had never heard of the case before and with such complex issues being addressed, it is a show both entertaining and informational. Not only because the appearance of David Tenant and Des are eerily similar and his dead-pan acting enhances the storytelling but because it highlights some of the ugly truths of our justice system, which all too often go unnoticed.

Let me know your thoughts below!

Much love,
Sophie x


Sources used:

‘Des: True Story Behind new ITV Drama […]’ by Rhona Shennan, available here.

‘Daniel Mays: “I woke my wife up screaming because I had a nightmare about Dennis Nilsen”’ by Elizabeth Aubrey, available here.


Exploring Scotland: John O’Groats

I couldn’t not start a series on my blog talking about all my favourite places in Scotland and not mention one of the most visited and iconic spots. Plus it is (or was when I was at home) pretty much on my doorstep.

Growing up in the Highlands I have seen a lot of change when it comes to my local area, most notably in John O’Groats. Started in 2009 John O’Groats had a major facelift with the restoration of the hotel (which now looks amazing, although I am yet to see the inside of it), a new harbour square and the restoration of the commercial units (read more about it here). On top of this there is the addition of a recently opened Brewery and of-course the infamous sign.

Plus if you are looking for somewhere to stay there is also the lodges that were put up along with the development of the centre of John O’Groats, check them out here and of course the previously mentioned restored hotel which is by the same company and can be found on the aforementioned like.

I know that John O’Groats has never been some sort of hidden gem but I’d love to highlight the fact there is a lot more than just a sign in this lovely spot. There are a lot of independent, local businesses who are more than deserving of your support. So, I thought I’d highlight some of my favourites so you can plan out your visit and truly enjoy the amazing part of the highlands.

Eating

Stacks Coffee House & Bistro

From their Facebook @Stacks Coffee House and Bistro

Stacks is a must visit if you head to John O’Groats. I love their food and the inside is beautifully decorated and brings you a much needed sense of calm and warmth. Which is most likely highly necessary when you are visiting John O’Groats. They have a wide selection of seating with a log burner taking centre stage, plus they are dog friendly so what’s not to love!

Stacks are a family run business and often switch up their menu with amazing new dishes! While also offering cakes and special items to make you *extremely* happy.

One of my favourite dishes is their Mac and cheese toasted flatbread with crispy bacon, pictured here. The menu is filled with fresh and often healthy options so perfect if you are or know someone vegan.

Check out their socials for covid updates. The last time I was in it was more like a grab and go operation and we picked up a great selection of tray bakes!

Also from @Stacks Coffee House and Bistro Facebook page

Flavours

Probably one of the most talked about stops in John O’Groats, Flavours is a much loved day out for both tourists and locals. They have an impeccable selection of ice cream, toppings, sauces and confectionery to keep your sweet tooth happy for the afternoon.

A local business set up in 2012, there is no John O’Groats without Flavours. You may be wondering why you’d want ice cream when more often than not it is rather cold. Well, the ice cream is that good, you will want it in any weather, trust me.

Flavours have handled covid really well and the shop is set out with the upmost care. Plus the staff are lovely! See you just have to go a visit to see it for yourself now!

The Storehouse

Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the Storehouse and it is currently closed because of Covid. However, when it reopens and you want your hit of Starbucks coffee then this is the place to go. They offer a simple menu and have a little store of local goods to try out. I wasn’t hugely impressed with their offering but if you are looking for somewhere relatively simple with a great view then check them out.

The Seaview Hotel

I am purposely putting this here because I’ve never actually tried the food from the hotel (which is just as you turn into the long road to go into John O’Groats). However, I have heard really good things about it so if you want to add to my recommendation please do! I’d love some additional info on the place or to hear your own experience.

Visiting

John O’Groats Brewery Experience.

After only opening late July, this visitor experience is definitely one to try if you love beer and supporting local businesses. The John O’Groats Brewery have taken the brewing scene by storm, when working in a restaurant in my hometown last year the beer was flying out the door (or shall I say keg).

Set at the front of John O’Groats, my flatmate Mara thoroughly enjoyed her visit (I unfortunately haven’t been able to go yet but I must admit I am not a beer drinker. Mara, however loves the stuff).

They are also including a small bar in their experience (also yet to open) so you can try it right there.

Image from their Facebook @John o Groats Brewery

The experience itself is yet to open as of writing this however the shop is. So you can get yourself some great local beers right from the company itself!

Plus they also sell some merchandise, beer glasses (which are extremely affordable and well made) and they also stock some lovely local artists.

Mara was lucky enough to get a taster of the experience and was thoroughly impressed by what she was shown. So, if you are in the area now, defiantly go in a look and keep in mind that you should definitely go back once the full experience is up and running.

Image courtesy of their website

Puffin Croft

Puffin Croft is one of the best places to go for a wonder, especially if you have kids. Set amongst the owners home it is on the outskirts of John O’Groat, it is truly a lovely experience. They also sell produce which can be bought via an honesty box. Keep an eye out for the animals names to give you a giggle!

Go a Walk

I know this is probably one of the most obvious suggestions out there but Scotland, especially the highlands is known for its scenery. John O’Groats is especially lucky to be surrounded by both a lovely green landscape and the harbour/sea. This way you get the best of both worlds. Plus with the revamp it now boasts striking sculptural art, a newly done sign and some fabulous architecture.

Shopping

I wouldn’t say John O’Groats is overly known for its shopping however there are a few gift shops who stock local artists and memoirs which can remind you of your journey.

  • First & Last in Scotland is a small shop set right on the harbour front and is full of your cheesy mementos and local produce. There is probably enough magnets to last you a lifetime!
  • John O’Groats Knitwear and Cafe offer a traditional experience to shop for the most lavish wools and cashmeres. They also have a cafe in the back if you are in need of a pit stop
  • The North Coast Emporium is a large shop filled with local artists selling a range of different things from gifts, clothes and jewellery. It’s a great place to support local artists while purchasing something truly unique.

I hope you enjoyed my quick virtual tour of my favourite spots in John O’Groats. The place really has grown and now offers you not only spectacular views but numerous places to visit so you can make the most of your journey.

You can now spend all day in John O’Groats leaving fully satisfied and blown away by what’s on offer. Now more than ever local businesses need your support so go show them some love!

Make sure to tag me (@sophieseditblog on instagram or @sophiesedit on Facebook) if I influenced your decision to visit or similarly if you want to share your own experience please do!

Looking for somewhere else to visit? Check out my previous post on Dornoch here.

Where should I visit next? Let me know down below!

Much love,

Sophie x