*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.
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
‘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.
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.
Stacks Coffee House & 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I know when shopping for makeup it can seem really overwhelming and a lot of the time we get sick of what we use. So, if you’re looking for any new products to try out or want some tried and tested recommendations then keep on reading.
I might add that if you are completely new to makeup or want some tips on how to apply it then Youtube is your best friend. So many people make tutorials nowadays so just search exactly what you want and you’ll get helpful advice straight to your phone.
If you are having problems with your makeup sitting on your skin it is quite possibly your skincare affecting this. A lot of the time your skincare products won’t react well to certain products being applied on top. This is definitely worth researching and if you want some advice on skincare I have done a post here.
Product 1 – Setting Powder
I am not one for ‘baking’, I don’t like overusing powder because I find it dries my face out, takes the glow out of my face and quite often makes my makeup look thick and overdone. For me, I like to use a quick swipe of powder especially if it’s sunny or I am doing something that will make my products slide of my face. This particular product Maybelline FaceStudio Setting Powder is one I have used for ages and is quite possibly a dupe for the Laura Mercier translucent powder. You get a decent amount of powder in it and importantly it has no smell (not that fragrance actually affects your skin in a negative way I just prefer fragrance free).
I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s both affordable and will become a staple in your bag. I have heard reviews that if overused you will get flashback so maybe not one to try if you like baking. After doing some research it has also been rebranded to Master Fixer by Face Studio.
Product 2 – Brow Kit
This is what I have used since I first started filling in my brows. The Eylure Brow Palette has been a staple in my bag for a long time. Using the brush they also supply I can get definition where I want it and have a lot of control. I recommend using a ‘spoolie’ brush to disperse the product once applied.
I am not sure exactly how widely available these are anymore but I have linked one above from Ocado if you want to give this amazing product a try.
Product 3 – Concealer
I have used A LOT of concealers and like a lot of people this is my holy grail. I’ve only used it for just under a year but the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer gives enough coverage that on most days I don’t wear foundation. Best blended out with a wet sponge, this concealer has honestly changed the game when it comes to my collection of concealers.
My mum bought this as part of a set from QVC and it’s probably the only place you can get this concealer from the UK. It is pricy but I would say totally worth it. Plus, you get quite a lot of product and you definitely don’t need a lot of it when applying it.
You’ll need to be quick when buying it or keep a close eye on the website because they sell out very quickly.
Product 4 – Liquid Eyeliner
Now I now a lot of people have trouble when it comes to applying eyeliner. Trust me, I was once in that exact position. However, with practice and patience (which I usually have none of) you can do it.
Collection’s Fast Stroke Eyeliner is one I have bought time and time again and will continue to repurchase. I started applying eyeliner with this, hence recommending it as both a good place to start or to continue getting that classic cat eye.
If I haven’t sold you yet it is an award winning product plus it has great staying power. To add to this it is extremely affordable! I even got my flatmate Mara trying eyeliner with this exact product. What is not to love!?
Product 5 – Cream Highlighter
I personally have moved away from more of the powdered formula highlighters because I prefer a natural glow that looks part of my ‘healthy’ skin. I have a few products I could recommend for this but one that I keep going back to (and which coincidentally has the label rubbed off of it because I’ve used it that much) is Pixi’s Flawless Beauty Primer. I think since I last purchased this product they’ve rebranded because instead of being called a face illuminator it has been branded a primer.
I can’t say I’ve used it as a primer however the natural glow it gives and the fact it stays on my face all day makes it a win to me. The full bottle is quite expensive however this stuff lasts AGES. As you can use it as both a highlighter and a primer then you’re getting 2 products in 1. If like me you want to try it out then have a look at Pixi’s sets. I was gifted this mini as part of a set with some other great products, they have a variety of sets available here.
I also know that makeup isn’t for everyone and that ideally we should all embrace our natural skin because it is BEAUTIFUL! However, if like me you enjoy the process of painting your face then I hope these suggestions helped.
As I’ve gotten older my taste for makeup has evolved and now more than ever I like my makeup to embrace all the imperfections it has while adding a subtle glow and bronze. Fuss free is kinda the way to go! I think, like with everything else, your attitude to putting makeup on is so important!
If you have any makeup recommendations leave them in the comments below!
Considering I am moving back to Edinburgh today (I am writing this a few days before because to be honest there is no way on earth I could write a blog post in the car without being sick). On top of this uni is about to start *sends shiver through my spine*, so to round off the 6 months at home, I thought I’d share my highlights.
I must say that considering the summer was tinged with good ol’ Covid, (tinged is probably too light of a word to use in these circumstances but we’ll roll with it). I have to preface this with the fact I am in no way waving a wand to pretend it didn’t exist. All memories were part of lockdown and a constant feeling of ‘this could be my last day on earth according to the news’. Hence why I am stating the sorry old fact that Covid is and was a thing. Despite that, you have to look at everything and remember you still managed to be happy and experience great things even when the world was basically doomed.
To add another disclaimer, I have a veryyyy bad memory, so most of this came from my camera roll. So don’t be sad if I missed you out.
Long walks with the dog
I can’t even tell you how many walks I went on with the dog in these 6 months. One that particularly stood out to me is when we ended up going on an *extremely* long walk. You may be wondering why this memory particularly stands out, well that walk was 4-5 hours long. I couldn’t move for days afterwards and I’ve never felt hunger like that before in my life. However, to make the walk even better my lovely dog Ruby (who actually belongs to my brother but we’ve had her during lockdown) decided it was an optimum opportunity to stick half her body in a dead whale and this whale was HUGE.
I have never smelt anything like it.
Ruby was happy.
I was not.
To end off the note about this glorious animal I couldn’t not mention the countless amounts of smiles she brought to my face. I know that is super cheesy but coming from someone who never owned a dog I never understood, until now. Honestly not sure what I am going to do without her.
Not that she can ever read this.
Early Lockdown Catch-ups
I love catching up with friends on a normal day but when you’ve been stuck inside for what feels like too long and you can’t see them, a zoom call goes a long way. I feel like I am going to look back on this thinking how bizarre it is that we had to video call people just for a little bit of human interaction. Quiz nights were a highlight of my week even if I was so so bad at them.
I don’t think I will ever take for granted seeing people in person or even giving hugs.
I feel like this is a mindset rather than a memory but it made summer all the better.
This is the first time since coming home that I have fully appreciated where I have grown up. Not that I didn’t before but I think getting made to explore and find new areas that maybe I hadn’t spent so much time in, made me look at my surroundings in a different way.
This photo is from a time when my sister, the dog and I sat at the top of the salmon river and just chilled. We actually also watched a salmon jump for the first time which was great.
So at least I can say I gained something from the awful situation that is coronavirus. Looking at the positives definitely makes the negatives seem a bit less extreme.
Watching the Sunset.
If you haven’t checked out my Instagram (@sophieseditblog) then you wouldn’t have seen the post about watching the stunning sunset at Dunnet beach. I in-fact had never watched the sunset and considering we have optimal views for such a thing is quite shameful.
There is something quite calming about watching the sun slowly disappear while it paints beautiful colours across the sky.
I will have that beautiful view engrained in my brain and I am very happy with that.
I had a lovely walk around Dunnet Forrest. It’s a well kept area full of little sculptures and hidden gems. You can easily spend hours in it (we did). It’s a great place to feel fully connected to nature and gives you the chance to forget everything else.
This moment is particularly important because we managed to see two Deer in the Forrest. One extremely up close. Now I have seen deer before but never as close as this. So, if you get the chance to go a visit then do it and see if you too can spot some deer.
Starting a Business
I didn’t really want this to come across as a self promo but I couldn’t not mention the fact that my summer was extremely filled up with writing two blog posts a week and releasing two drops of prints. Thank you all so much for the support. I have nearly 50 followers getting emails every time I post and a Facebook and Instagram audience that grows weekly. I am just so glad that people enjoy what I write and on a personal note it is great for me to expand my writing knowledge. So, thank you and if you want to subscribe then please do. It’s a great way to stay updated and read when and where you want.
This is a personal achievement for me. I have never been a baker, in fact the majority of the time my bakes ended up being a massive fail. However, after nearly baking every week, especially at the start of lockdown, I now feel more comfortable in the kitchen and actually enjoy it. Plus I have had some delicious bakes from it.
There are definitely more things I could have written about. For example my two trips to Dornoch which I’ve written about here or my countless trips for ice cream to John O’Groats but I would have been here for ages and that’s not to say they won’t feature in other posts.
I’d love to hear one of your favourite moments of Summer 2020. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end already.
Hopefully summer 2021 won’t be dictated by a global pandemic.
I am very well aware that Scotland is my home country and exploring it may seem a bit odd however, there are so many hidden gems that I am yet to see and what better way to share them than in a blog post.
I thought I would start a mini series on the blog that is purely focussed on showcasing lovely spots around Scotland. Not that I am made of money or will be travelling a lot (however if anyone wants to fund that sorta thing feel free to get in contact (I am sort of joking, secretly sorta not). Instead I’ll be posting about spots I find on a basis of spontaneity, so enjoy!
Dornoch is a town situated an hour from Inverness. It is especially quaint and picturesque with their town centre being immaculately looked after. Filled with cute little restaurants and quirky shops, a day in Dornoch is a day well spent.
Each time I go to Dornoch something new has opened and with the current situation there is never a better time to support small independent businesses.
Charity Shops – The Highland Hospice
Dornoch’s charity shop game is not one to be scoffed at. As of my knowledge they have two (who stock clothes, accessories, home goods etc.) and they are both worth a look. Unfortunately the cute one that is in a church is shut at the moment because of Coronavirus but when it reopens I highly recommend giving it a try; I found a second hand mens Ralph Lauren polo shirt for £10 once.
The next one (and the charity shop that features in the above photo and the two below) is the Highland Hospice. I am not sure who curates the items for the shop but the layout and vintage charm of the place makes it an extra special experience.
I bought a red thick knit for only £12 and I swear there is probably an item in there for everyone. Their Covid measures were great (hand sanitiser on the door plus only two people in at a time) and the women at the till was lovely. Overall a great experience and a shop that is both helping you add pieces to your wardrobe sustainably while providing you with a warm and eclectic atmosphere.
A great place for kids and adults alike, the bookshop is bright on the outside and charmingly small on the inside.
I have to say it might be difficult to navigate when busy but if you are able to get in when its quiet you could easily spend 30 mins admiring the lovely selection of books.
They have a variety of kids, history, science fiction and Scottish books on show (plus many more) so if you’re looking for anything in particular its a great place to seek out the newest release while finding some great pieces of older fiction as well.
As you can see from the first photo they also have some random bits and pieces to keep the kids entertained. It’s a win win.
Becca Mac – Ladies and Gents Fashion Store
If you are looking for a bit of ‘high street’ fashion but independently bought then this is the place to go. Newly opened in September 2019, this shop has brought upmarket mainstream fashion to the highlands. Ranging in price the shop is beautifully decorated and immaculately looked after. Plus the ladies in the store are extremely helpful and kind. I bought a chunky knit cardigan (can you tell I’m getting prepared for autumn), which is both fantastically made and will last *hopefully* for years to come. Stocking both men and women’s clothes I’d highly recommend checking it out.
Now if you are a huge foodie like me and like to try new and interesting things then this is the place to go. I will never go to Dornoch and not visit this place. They offer a multitude of fresh ingredients, baking, coffees, teas, local produce and a variety of different sauces/foods you’ve never heard of. The layout is great and they offer things I’ve honestly never seen anywhere else (especially outwith the city). If you are a local or are staying in Dornoch they also offer a freezer section full of homemade meals, croissants, chips and a load of other foods to satisfy your appetite.
I recommend picking up some of the strawberries or raspberries they have sitting out on the counter alongside a Mango dressing which honestly is one of the best I’ve ever tried.
I only wish they’d open in my hometown.
I must admit I have not tried every restaurant in Dornoch but I have tried two. I’ll leave all other restaurants at the bottom of this section.
Milk & Honey
Milk & Honey is another relatively new addition to Dornoch. It’s a cafe that specialises in coffee, tea, spiced milk & honey (which is seriously something you need to try) and food; brunch, lunch and cakes. Its a cute little spot that definitely leans more on the modern/clean side of things.
Kirsty, Mara and Katie (all of whom I visited Dornoch with – don’t worry we were extremely safe) had the Asian Pulled Pork toasted sourdough sandwich with either salad or lentil soup. All of whom gave the dish rave reviews. I had the Chicken Cesar Wrap with a side of chips. I wouldn’t say it was anything special but likewise there was nothing wrong with it. To drink however I had the spiced milk and honey. Which is what I would describe as Christmas in a cup, it was delicious and extremely warming. I couldn’t finish it purely because the spices are a lot to take but all the same it was delicious.
To add to this we shared a chocolate cake and a mars bar slice. The mars bar slice was probably on its last legs and definitely tasted like something I could have made at home. However, the chocolate cake was a solid 10/10. Moist and filled with the right amount of chocolate I would definitely go back for more. Plus it was a huge slice of cake.
I’m gonna keep this review short and sweet. Luigi’s is a popular restaurant in Dornoch, often very busy. They serve great food in a lovely space. However, when I visited recently (about a month ago) their covid measures were disappointing and made me feel uncomfortable. Yes they did have hand sanitiser and masks but the masks were rarely where they should have been and more often than not staff members were a lot closer than they should have been. If you want more information I did a review on my instagram (@sophieseditblog). The food don’t get me wrong is delicious I just wish they were more attentive when it came to social distancing measures and wearing their masks.
Other restaurants to try in Dornoch;
Dornoch Castle Restaurant
The Courtroom Dornoch
Royal Golf Hotel
I always say the best way to explore somewhere new is going a wonder. Being a big lover of architecture and interior design, one of my favourite things to do is explore and admire my surroundings. You never know where you might stumble upon.
We decided once we had walked around the idyllic centre of town (which apart from the photo at the very start of this post, I didn’t really get many photos of *a complete fail on my part*) we decided to go find the beach, which I did get some photos of.
Being lovers of the sea air, Dornoch beach was a great size. However, it was sitting in between/behind the caravan camp site and the golf course so it is good to be wary of that during the current pandemic. It would be great to sit at if the sun was shining either with a fish supper or a picnic. Guess I’ll have to go back?
Even then I say we probably didn’t see all of what Dornoch had to offer but this is a good start. Let me know if you end up going a visit or if you have any other recommendations.
Also if you have any suggestions of where I should feature next then let me know in the comments.
Instead of trying to alter or come up with some new recipes for here, I thought I’d share some of my favourites from fellow bloggers, chefs and websites. To share the love and all that. This list includes sweet treats and savoury meals, all pretty easy and equally delicious.
I know that it is hard to come up with new ideas and a lot of the time we end up eating the same thing over and over again. Hopefully, this will change that and you’ll end up with new staples for your cookbook.
BBC Good Food’s Sesame Salmon, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Sweet Potato Mash
This has been a huge hit in both my flat in Edinburgh and at home. Full of flavour and healthy benefits, this recipe is super simple but super tasty!
I must admit I’ve never actually served it with the sweet potato and I always end up throwing any leftover broccoli that’s in the fridge (doesn’t necessarily have to be purple sprouting broccoli) into the tray. A good tip to make sure the broccoli gets cooked is putting it in a bowl with a small amount of water, covered with clingfilm and then put in the microwave for 2-3 mins before putting it on the tray. This way it should be properly cooked when finished.
Scroll to the bottom of the post on the recipe linked to get the full ingredient list and method.
When I say you NEED to try this, I mean you NEED to try it. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of cauliflower (like my sister) I promise this will convert you. The Cauliflower gets a nice lightly crispy texture with a soft inside bursting with flavours of garlic, paprika and salt. It says to serve with Coriander but I’ve never had it so never use it. It’s a recipe which you can alter depending on your preferences of flavour.
To serve with it I make Pea Purée. I boil a decent amount of peas, drain them and then put them in a blender (you will need quite a lot of peas to make a substantial amount of purée). Next add 2-3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt, salt and pepper and then some mixed herb seasoning or mint sauce (use whatever you have available) and blend. Make sure the mix is smooth and add any extras of the ingredients if needed; remember you can add ingredients but you can’t take away.
This recipe goes particularly well with couscous.
BBC Good Food’s Chicken, Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry
This two step curry is one of my favourites. If you aren’t a massive fan of overly spicy foods but still love flavour or are looking for a curry great for both adults and kids then this is one you need to try. It’s my sisters go to and I get very excited when she makes it. I once gave my old flatmate a try of the curry and it was a massive hit. Just like any curry it tastes great the next day too!
My sister recommends also adding Garam Masala to the curry and if you are confident enough adjust certain flavours to taste. She will often include cumin or turmeric to the recipe as well. I’d probably suggest that this can also be easily made vegetarian too!
My Yorkshire puddings have become a huge hit in my house since coming home due to lockdown. I must admit I tried them once before and they turned out extremely deflated so I tried this recipe instead and they worked great! I get requested to make them on a weekly basis. It’s extremely easy and once you get the hang of it you can’t go wrong.
Make sure the oil is very hot and watch your hands when pouring the mixture into the tin. It’s also important that you leave them in for the required time because if you don’t they will collapse.
Now this isn’t the most attractive thing to eat I must admit but boy is it tasty! Filled with mozzarella, pesto and a rich tomato sauce, what is not to love about this!? It’s a firm favourite in my flat in Edinburgh and one of Mara’s (my flatmates) favourite things to make.
If you have leftover sauce it’s perfect to add to pasta and can be put in the freezer for a rainy day. If you don’t want to have this in a roll you can also make meatball subs out of them. Thankfully the recipe is now available online!
I have struggled to get a decent pancake all my life and I must admit these aren’t like my granny’s pancakes which were amazing. However, they are pretty good and a recipe I can trust to give me results every time.
Expect fluffy, thick pancakes that go great with either savoury or sweet toppings.
Now I must put a disclaimer here before I even start telling you about these delicious cookies. I do not support the actions of the BA/Condé Nast team in terms of the treatment of their BIPOC staff and the lack of equality in their company. However, I support the staff who have worked tirelessly under these conditions as they are amazing chefs and provide excellent recipes. I just wish for better and hope the staff get what they deserve.
These cookies are probably the best ones I have ever made, deliciously soft on the inside with a slight bite on the outside. Gooey with a hint of sugary caramel to them. I highly recommend making them.
If I am honest there are a lot of recipes I’d like to try from Jane’s website however I can very much recommend the one I have tried. It is great! A moist chocolate sponge, rich in flavour and soft in texture, it even got my mums approval.
Perfect to fill the stomach of any chocolate lover, this one is a must try. Plus the recipe makes a decent amount; the first time I tried it, we managed to get a whole loaf plus an additional 3 mini ones.
Another tried and trusted recipe from the Queen of baking. This is perfect for any leftover banana’s that are starting to go off. Plus you can get inventive by adding in chocolate chips, cinnamon or pecans. Banana Bread is the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea on a rainy day.
Just like any baking the smell of it filling your house is irresistible.
Zoella’s Four Berry Pavlova
I am still trying to figure out whether attaching a Zoella recipe is going to get me hate or a lot of people cringing. I don’t understand why but sadly I see it too often (but that’s a whole other blog post in itself). Anyway, this pavlova recipe is very tasty. Perfect for eating on a nice day. My sister made this a month or so ago and it was demolished very quickly.
The good thing about a pavlova is that they are so light you can fit a lot more on your plate and thus, into your belly.
It genuinely only feels like yesterday that I was leaving to go on my new adventure. Uni felt like this huge new thing that was extremely intimidating and scary. Full of ‘what-ifs’ and stereotypes.
Today I thought I’d go through those stereotypes and look back at my two years in higher education. Reflect on mistakes I made, what I wish I’d done differently and what I loved about them.
Uni is always painted out to be this massive stepping stone into adulthood, and in some ways it is but it doesn’t just hit you like a ton of bricks. You encounter different things at different times and that’s okay. You do you and don’t try to pressure yourself into copying everyone else.
Brief thoughts on First Year;
I think when reflecting back on first year there are a lot of things I would have done slightly differently. However, I am also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and the past is in the past. Yet, if I can help anyone else or provide some insight into how to make your life easier then of course I will share it!
I know this is something repeated often and is probably over used in a lot of speeches. However, in the first few weeks of arriving in Edinburgh I wish I had agreed to do more things with people who asked me too. In a lot of ways I held myself back, constantly asking myself ‘why would they want to hang out with me’ or ‘I’ll just be the awkward one sitting in the corner’ so often, or more often than not, I made up an excuse. Instead I really should have looked at it in the manner of; if they are asking me to do something it’s because they genuinely want me to.
I think this grew from a place of having a solid group of friends at home, and because this quickly went away for the first few weeks purely because they weren’t right there with me, it was like my comfort blanket was stripped off and I just didn’t know what to do. I was lost and probably far too in my head. Part of me was still holding onto these friends (which I am still really close with by the way, its not like I said goodbye to my friends because I am at uni) I just shouldn’t have let that stop me from making more friends.
Alternatively, I couldn’t include this without mentioning the benefits of joining a club. If you feel like you don’t quite hit it off with your flatmates or fellow students or are just looking to expand your circle then going to a club is great! I joined Netball in my first year because I’ve been a competitive player for as long as I can remember. Finding people who like the same things as you really boosts your morale and confidence. At least this way you are broadening your friends and even if you don’t like the club at least you can say you’ve tried and who knows, you might still get friends from it.
Listen to Yourself!
If something isn’t right or you are in a situation you don’t agree with, get yourself out. Talk to anyone that will listen and if you get someone saying no then try someone else. There will always be a better way of handling things, especially in student accommodation. If something happens that is not your fault and out of your control, you shouldn’t have to put up with it. A lot of the time it definitely isn’t something you should have to deal with.
Under the same bracket, if you need some time to yourself, don’t feel bad. I often had to spend a lot of time in my room, whether that was because I had a lot of reading to get through or just because I needed to breath and rest. Everyone is different and that is fine. I am an extroverted introvert, which means I am extroverted around a lot of people (that I know and am comfortable with) but also need time to recharge and be alone. This is something people should understand so never feel guilty for looking after yourself.
Nights out aren’t for everyone. Just because it might not suit you doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in your city. I often would jump on a bus, get off at a point, and then go on really long walks. This way I found beautiful places I never even knew existed. Finding local restaurants and cafes are great and making a routine out of getting out the house is especially important. Additionally, so is letting your hair down and relaxing. Make the most of every moment because trust me, those first two years go in quickly!
First Year on my Course:
The first year of my course (English Literature) went in really quickly but that’s not to say I didn’t struggle. I soon found out who was there to be friends with me and who, in my opinion, were there to use me. Sadly, I feel like that happens to quite a few people. It’s not to say they aren’t nice people, they might just be struggling or not used to academic work. All the same though, it’s not your job to give your endless amounts of hard work to someone else because they don’t want to do it. It’s also natural to compare yourself or feel pressured to perform in class the whole time, this is not realistic and you’ll just tire yourself out. I struggle to speak in front of classes and that’s just something I’ve come to terms with. If you acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses you can work on them from the get go. I mostly look back and wish that I engaged more with my classmates, like I said before, don’t shut yourself down because of nerves. Everyone is in the same boat.
Second year brought a small wave of change in terms of finding accommodation, dealing with bills, slightly harder learning and generally getting my footing. I feel like this was the year I transitioned to seeing Edinburgh as more of a home.
I moved in with my sister and one of my best friends (Hi Mara!) after only just getting a flat before moving home for Summer. Flat hunting is a whole other ball game so if you want a separate blog post on that then let me know. I think this is the year that you become more independent and feel like more of an ‘adult’ (if that is even possible?).
Be more Spontaneous
This is a lesson all of my friends have taken away from our second year being cut short. Although third year is obviously extremely important, so is enjoying the ‘university experience’. Doing more things off the cuff and enjoying having the ability to be more free in terms of my schedule should be celebrated.
I think it is a great idea to think of things that you always put off. Go to see live music, go to the pub spontaneously, take a trip to a random place or go speed dating. Anything that you’ve always wanted to do, should be done at some point right? If you’re ever stuck for conversation at a random dinner party these will hopefully provide the opportunity to fill the gaps and put a smile on someone’s face. Surely that’s reason enough?
Use Your Voice
I was/am too scared to open up to my peers in class, constantly thinking that everyone else is a lot smarter than I am. However, your voice is just as valid and hey, people make mistakes! Even the smartest person in the room won’t always be right. Plus there is always the chance that those people who sound the smartest will struggle to transition their thoughts onto paper. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself or downgrading your opinions because of someone else.
Use your teachers and resources
For the longest time I’d dread asking questions or asking for help. I perceived it as a sign of weakness rather than using my lecturers etc. for what they are there for. After just finishing second year I’ve realised that I probably should be using the resources that I am paying for. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
I probably could go on for a lot longer but I don’t want to bore you or loose you attention. I think however, that these are the most important takeaways from my first two years.
I haven’t gone into detail exactly on what experiences I enjoyed purely because most of them won’t be happening this year, for example cocktail week or freshers week. Once they get the go ahead to return I’ll be sure to write a post all about them.
I hope this encourages you to be more open to new experiences and to take care of yourself at uni. If you’re looking for helpful tips on how to set up your new flat and what to take, check out this blog post here.
And if you aren’t going to uni, I hope you enjoy a sneak peak into what I’ve discovered about the experience and also myself. Everyone can take at least one message away from this post, whether it is applicable to you or not; be yourself and don’t waste time on worrying.
Along with clothes, books are one of the most thrown away items that clog up our landfills each year. An enormous amount of novels get published in a year but the number of them actually being well received and bought, unfortunately, isn’t high.
How can you help solve this? Well,A Box of Stories, have come up with a helpful way in which you can stop a select amount ending up in the landfill.
As the company states, 177,000,000 books get destroyed every year in the UK alone. Purely because only 17% are lucky enough to receive a decent marketing budget. Due to this a large proportion of decent, well written books don’t make the shelves and therefore don’t end up in peoples hands.
As a lover of books and escaping into the world of the next cleverly thought out universe it is a shame that such hard work can be put to waste. That is why when you buy a box of books from A Box of Stories, you are saving 4 from getting destroyed.
So, are you still confused as to what I am talking about? Let me explain…
The company offers a range of different boxes that include 4 different books. The cheaper options are a mixed box of fiction or a general mixed box (of fiction and non fiction), both at £14.99 (£3.75 a book!!!).
Or if you want to hone in on a certain genre they offer boxes of 4 books from these different genres; Crime Thriller & Mystery, Young Adult (YA), light reads, Historical fiction and non fiction.
Each of these boxes which are curated around a certain genre are £21.99 each (£5.50 per book).
Now are you wondering how they sort the books or are concerned you’ll end up with a novel that just isn’t quite up to scratch? Don’t panic, they curate books that have sold in decent numbers and then use an algorithm that sorts them on the basis of book reviews, blog posts and critics reviews etc. so they can put them in boxes to delight book lovers across the globe. So you are getting quality at a great price!
To add to this you are getting a surprise right to your door and allowing yourself to read things that you might have never picked up before. It’s a win win right?
I must admit it was my mum who really wanted to order the box, however I was more than happy to share it considering the idea behind it is great! Plus who doesn’t love books!?
The ordering experience was very easy and it didn’t take long to arrive. We chose the mixed box of fiction and I have to say I was quite intrigued by the contents of the box.
*As a quick disclaimer I must say that I haven’t had time to read the books myself, I am currently preparing for uni while trying to sort my business out however when I get the chance (which could be Christmas time) I’ll be sure to give them a read. What I have done however is read the blurbs, asked for my mums perspective on the one she has read and done some research. Either way if I don’t get a chance they’ll be passed onto another book lover.*
Book 1 – The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway
Without copying the blurb the book is set in 1838 and tells the story of a young seamstress May Bedloe who is dirt poor and abandoned on the shore of the Ohio River. This is when she takes on work from the famous Floating Theatre, filled with colourful personalities and characters. However, it is not all as it appears to be as she travels the boarder between the slave-holding South and the ‘free’ North. She is duty bound to transport secret passengers across the river and along the Underground Railroad, which not only endangers herself but those close to her.
This particular story enticed me the most, a piece of historical fiction with a gripping storyline based on fear, love and bravery, it sounds like it tells much more than just a story of a lost woman. From reviews I have read the novel depicts slavery in a new and interesting way (I do not mean that in the sense that slavery is not interesting in the first place, it’s an issue that everyone should be well versed in). Historical fiction, although not always completely accurate and can often be romanticised for the sake of storytelling, is a good way to learn if you want a starting point.
This is a novel I definitely want to read. A pleasant surprise for Book 1 from the box.
Book 2 – The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
The novel tells the story of Nolan Moore, a ‘rogue’ archaeologist hosting a documentary shunned by the experts but loved by conspiracy theorists. He is retracing the steps of an explorer in 1909 who found a mysterious cavern in the Grand Canyon. When he finds what he assumes is this cavern, it begins to take a nasty turn on him in odd ways. This tale then turns into one of survival, against odds that seem to be well out of his reach. Leaving the reader with several questions. (description based on a blurb from Good Reads)
A story that combines both the Thriller and Sci-Fi genre, which is part of a series that is dubbed to be put onto the big screen (yet to happen). From research the author was a bit of a mystery at the beginning. Turns out it is by Michael Marshall Smith, who now also goes by Michael Rutger apparently. He has won several awards under his actual name while also collaborating on several film/TV projects under the Sci-Fi, Comedy and thriller genres.
This is when the box comes in handy. The novel is definitely not what I would reach for in a store however that is not to say I wouldn’t like it. I am all for trying something new and if I didn’t like it, it could easily be turned into a gift for someone who would.
Book 3 – The Moon Pool by Sophie Littlefield
A tale about the loss of two boys from the perspective of their mothers. Colleen lost her boy to the snowy, oil filled landscape of North Dakota which she describes as both beautiful but disastrous. In the same town, another mother is out searching for her boy, who also disappeared in the oilfields which he worked at. Alone they are both lost in grief without answers but together they could help each other and find out the long-awaited answers they’ve been searching for.
A Crime novel which from the blurb describes both the landscape and grief with a deep sense of sensitivity and kindness. Although, from reading the blurb and what you might have gathered form my rewritten description, the oil industry appears to take centre stage but from reading reviews actually has little importance to the narrative. Which is a shame.
A book which goes into themes of motherhood, crime and grief which I must admit is not something I’d jump at reading and will probably have to be in a certain mood for. However, I do like the crime genre, in particular in TV, so it’s not to say that I won’t like it.
Book 4 – The Secrets of Primrose Hill by Claudia Carroll
A story detailing the lives of those behind the doors in Primrose Hill, Dublin. A mother is grieving for her child as she waits silently outside the house of the boy she thinks is responsible. Across the street, a young woman has just moved in. She is an aspiring director who is running away from a scandal while simultaneously possibly running into another one; her landlord is absent and doesn’t quite add up. Then a few doors down a widow sits alone in her bedroom. She has just told her family something rather surprising, meaning her life is about to change forever.
A heart-warming story about neighbours, their difficulties and how they come together to support each other. One reader, who stated on Good Reads, said the novel was usually not for her as she labelled it a ‘chick-flick’ before reading it. However, it surprised her with its tenderness and how there were moments for humour but also for sadness.
This was the book my mum has started and although she isn’t anywhere near finished it, she has said she’s enjoying it and is going to carry on reading. I must admit this is also a book I would pick up for some easy, light reading. I like escaping into the normality of other people lives, so I will definitely give it a read when I get the chance.
General Notes on the books we received: They are all paperback and in pristine quality. Actually, what surprised me is how big the novels are. They aren’t the typical size of those on the shelves, they appear to be longer. Probably hardback in size, so not the most portable.
To buy your own box or find out more info on A Box Of Stories click here.
So if you are looking for some new books but don’t know what to go for or are stuck for inspiration why not get surprised. The boxes are also great for gifting to someone, either as an individual book or a whole box.
Alternatively, if you are new to reading (welcome!) and don’t know what genre to go for or get a bit overwhelmed in a book shop then this is perfect for you!
I might add that if you are looking for a specific book or want to try one of the ones mentioned above why not go on Amazon or eBay and buy them second hand, this way you are using ones already in circulation and looking to be rehomed. This can also be done in a charity shop if you’re looking for a new read but don’t have any idea of what you want. You can also go to your local independent book store and support them in this much needed time.
Let me know if you end up ordering a box or if you have any thoughts on the initiative.
It’s a bit scary to think I’ve already written 30 posts. To be honest I wasn’t sure if I’d make it past 8. However, in saying that, the reception I’ve received and what I’ve gained from not only being more honest to my readers but with myself is something I will always cherish.
I thought I’d round up my thoughts and share with you not only the highs but the lows, because yes, even in these short few months, I’ve had lows when it comes to this fantastic platform.
I want to start with the fact that Blogging is scary. You are putting yourself – your thoughts, feelings and emotions – into one place for absolutely anyone and everyone to read. That definitely plays a big part in second guessing yourself and doubting whether sharing your sacred thoughts to your potential future employer for example is the smartest idea on the planet. This is exactly where the lows come from (and the creative drought that leaks into your brain every so often).
Yet I wouldn’t have started this if I wasn’t aware of the fact anyone could be reading it and it is that (even though it scares me) which pushes me to make my writing even better and talk about subjects which people might not feel 100% comfortable broaching. I’ve always been scared of writing and the judgment that comes with it but if I want to better myself and my techniques then writing 2-3 blog posts a week is most likely the only way that’s going to happen. I think if anything I’ve learned that if someone reads this it is because they are interested, those who don’t want too aren’t forced to come here and I am extremely okay with that.
For me these 30 blog posts have given me the chance to share my struggles and frustrations with things that I come across, and as a 20 year old there is quite a lot of them (trust me). But on the other hand, it also allows me to share things I love and give support and admiration to those who deserve it. I feel empowered and invigorated having an outlet that is completely mine and I love the creative freedom it gives me.
However, with this creative freedom comes the feeling A LOT of the time that I am imposing on a space I’m not good enough for or feeling down about what I am not achieving. As a competitive person who is also a perfectionist this has always been a difficult subject for me. Although I must admit I am doing better at this and coming to terms with the fact that it’s a long process to get where I want to be and definitely involves a lot of hard work. Hard work on the other hand which I am willing to put in.
I thought I’d compile just some of the things I’ve achieved in the past few months. More for myself than anyone else;
Released 2-3 blog posts a week
Used my instagram as a creative outlet which has allowed me to see my progress as I post
Gain a small following from what I started with
Start my own print business within my website (available here)
learned how to professionally promote my business through interesting graphics
Joined the #caithnessmarket
Grow as a person
Supported businesses through my website
Created a campaign on sustainable fashion which was shared by leading brands (check out my instagram highlights and this post for more info)
Created a supportive community on Facebook
Found what I love and enjoy doing!
I know you probably read through that thinking “wow she’s really promoting herself here” but, like I said in a recent blog post, it’s important to celebrate the successes along the way and I do not do that nearly enough. Plus I don’t think I ever recognised how much work I’ve done in such a short space of time! I adore what I am doing and am so glad there are some of you out there that seem to be loving it as well.
It’s never too late to start something which you have wanted to do for a while or have always dreamt of. If you keep making excuses when will you actually do it? The right time will always be now.
Here is to 30 more blog posts and continuing to feel at home and free in this wonderful space on the internet.
If you haven’t already gathered I am a lover of TV. It gives you short bursts of entertainment and education whenever you want. Leaving you inspired, needing more or, on the one off occasion, ready to turn off your TV from fear or disgust. TV brings a range of emotions and even the oldest of shows brings about the fondest of memories.
Today I am going to share 6 of my favourite TV shows which will most likely grip you in your seats and, I apologise in advance, leave you stuck in your bed/couch for a good few hours.
Grey’s Anatomy can be found on Amazon Prime (Season’s 1-15) and is soon to arrive on Netflix UK.
As they say, this is an Oldie but a Goldie. After only recently starting it, I’ve managed to get through 6 seasons in only a matter of weeks. Filled with trauma, drama, relationships and some extremely gory injuries, this series will leave you unable to switch the television off. Not only that but a lot of famous faces fill the screen, whether that is through the main characters like Christina, played by Sandra Oh (most notable for currently playing Eve in Killing Eve) or Izzy Stevens (played by Katherine Heigl who starred in Suits). Or, through their patients which have often been young actors in the early days of their careers for example Elizabeth Moss and Dylan Minnette. It really is a feast for the eyes (both literally and figuratively).
3 Seasons are now available on Netflix.
Now if you like reality TV and fancy viewing homes selling at ridiculous prices, this is a show you need to watch. I have never been an avid watcher of reality shows however I love interior design and (like I imagine a lot of people) love to see the inside of homes that on a normal day I probably would never encounter. It follows the Oppenheim Group, owned by twin brothers Jason and Brett, who are in charge of 7 (on the show) agents battling it out to sell the most expensive properties in LA.
This show, like many reality programmes includes; intense stakes, extreme emotions and a lot of arguing but it adds to the whole experience and in the end makes it a show you can’t resist.
Normal People, is available on both Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
Now I am aware I have banged on about this A LOT. However, I couldn’t write a post like this and not include it. If you still haven’t watched it, then please do. Based on Sally Rooney’s best selling novel, the show follows Marianne and Connell on their journey to adulthood, including their exploration of the relationship they constantly find themselves in and out of. I’ve written a review of the show if you want to read it (available here) or if you want to read with me, I’ve done a post on the novel as well, here.
Both central actors have propelled themselves into the starlight after the show, so if you want to get to know the actors who will most likely be appearing on your screens more often, then give it a watch.
3 seasons available on Netflix.
A Netflix Original, following one of the Marvel comic characters.
If you like Superheroes with an edge then this is the show for you. Jessica Jones is not a conventional ‘superhero’, she is full of grit, determination and well, alcohol. The show follows her life as a private detective with a tricky past and condition which makes her have super strength and the ability to jump to insane heights. You’ll end up being tense with anticipation the whole way through.
This mixed genre show (crime, thriller and superhero drama, to name a few) complements the main character and allows you to get attached to not only the over arching storyline but also the crimes that she is encountering in each episode.
All 5 seasons are available on BBC iPlayer.
Another oldie but one of the best crime TV shows to grace the BBC, this is a thrilling must-watch. DCI John Luther, played by the incredible Idris Elba, has won numerous awards for the portrayal of the iconic character. Luther is an incredibly complex character who often gets violent and possessive in his fight for justice.
Not only this but the show documents his relationship with Alice Morgan, without spoiling it, someone he should not be engaged with. If you like crime shows that are both captivating and thrilling then this is one you need to give a watch.
All 2 seasons are available on Netflix.
This iconic show, which has become a staple on Netflix, is one of my favourites to watch for some lighthearted relief. The comedy drama stars Asa Butterfield who plays an insecure teenager that battles with his mothers job as a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson). Asa’s character Otis finds himself in the tricky position of taking on his mothers role in school, secretly giving out advice around love, relationships and sex (without his mothers permission). Which notably he has very little experience in.
As I mention this show, I have to mention the incredible Ncuti Gatwa, a Scottish-Rwandan actor who plays Eric, Otis’ best friend. He is utterly fabulous and leaves me laughing at every possibly opportunity. But this is not a letter of admiration for him, so please just watch it and see what I mean.
I hope this covers a lot of bases when it comes to TV and different genres. Don’t be put off by the length of some of the shows, the fact the post is called binge worthy, really hints to the fact that no matter the length it probably won’t last too long.
Let me know if you have any TV shows you recommend below and if you end up watching one let me know!
As a third year uni student (which is extremely scary considering it feels like I only just went into first year) I think I’ve gotten a good idea of what is necessary and unnecessary to take to your new home. Whether that is in student accommodation or private renting.
I’ve accumulated suggestions from a range of different students living in different accommodations (thank you!) and different places. This way you are getting suggestions that will hopefully serve you well.
Before I get into a list of things I think its important to preface this with some things you should do before you even start shopping;
If you can, try and find your flatmates. This way you can speak to them and make sure no one is taking double of items. No one needs two kettles and toasters etc. In some cases doubles are not a problem however it’s important to make sure you’re not overcompensating and filling up your car unnecessarily.
Check what your accommodation provides. Like I mentioned above often your accommodation will actually have toasters and kettles but if not its good to get them in advance so check just incase. Similarly, when I moved into private renting accommodation there were already plates, bowls and glasses there which I was unaware of, which meant we didn’t actually need to take any.
Make a list. Properly think of what things you’ll be cooking or what you’ll need to feel comfortable. Everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to this. There is no point taking things just for the sake of it.
When packing make sure to pack your things in rooms so, toilet, bedroom and kitchen. This makes unpacking a lot less stressful; you’ll thank me later.
What to Bring – Kitchen:
Make sure to have cutlery which has an individual style to it. Pure metal ones are overused and you’ll most likely see more than one pair in your accomodation. If it has a design it means your cutlery is less likely to be stolen or go missing.
A few cups and glasses. I know right now you’re only catering for one but most likely you’ll have friends over at some point so a few of everything is the way to go.
Individualistic plates and bowls (also take a few)are important. Plain white is also most likely going to appear in your accommodation by someone else. This will make moving out difficult if they’ve all gotten mixed up.
if you love a toastie, then a toastie machine/George Forman is very useful and can be used for many things, This is definitely one I’d speak with your flatmates about because one of my friends ended up having three in her flat.
A few trays for the oven will be one of your most used items, especially if you’re not much of a cook. Think about one big enough for a pizza and then a smaller one that could always fit half the shelf so someone else can cook in it at the same time.
A few dish towels are important and get dirty quickly so make sure to get at least two so they can be replaced.
Decent Knives: these will last you a while, in fact you should be thinking about the fact that all these items will do you through your uni years. Decent knives makes cooking a lot easier.
Stir Fry’s are incredibly popular because they are cheap, easy and quick. I’d advise getting a Wok. They last ages and are very useful. You can also get single Woks which are smaller if you’d rather.
A range of pans in different sizes. Make sure to have a decent one for pasta, a frying pan etc. Think about how you cook at home (or how your parents cook) and what pans are most often used and how many.
Measuring cups/spoons and a measuring jug are very handy. If you’re wanting to do some baking, be a bit more adventurous or simply need a jug to mix drinks or put something in the microwave, jugs are multipurpose and measuring spoons are useful.
A sieve/drainer for draining pasta is one often forgotten about but is actually very useful.
A few wooden spoons, potato masher, a serving spoon/ladel, spatula and something to hold them all in, is useful and keeps everything in one place. (the potato masher is something I didn’t use a lot so it depends what you prefer).
A small oven dish for cooking pasta bakes, shepherds pie etc. is very handy and one often forgotten about.
A good pair of oven gloves are important. *Don’t do what I did and nearly set them on fire by accidentally setting them on a hob which was recently turned off.*
Chopping boards. This is something you don’t need to overdo but a few will do you well.
Things you don’t need: Personally I gave up with ironing. I did take one with me because a family friend kindly gifted me money to get something. A few of my flatmates used it but even now it only comes out of the cupboard every so often. I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity, a good way to get wrinkles out is hanging it in your bathroom after a shower.
Tip for the Kitchen: Aside from the kitchen utensils etc. a good idea before moving is getting a package of your favourite foods so when you’re there you feel more at home and don’t have to feel stressed about doing a big shop. Taking some cereal, biscuits, pasta, pasta sauce, diluting juice, tea, coffee, any condiments etc. will be a life saver, basically any non perishable goods which will last a while.
Tips for living with flatmates: As soon as you are there make a rota for cleaning and taking out the bins. Trust me, it is much easier to get this out of the way at the start when you’ve got nothing personal going on and you’ll avoid conflict if its just part of your routine.
Look at what you have in your bedroom currently. I know you might view your new flat as semi permanent and not worth doing anything too but a year is a long time. To make your stay more comfortable try and take some pieces from your current bedroom. When I went I took some fake plants I had (don’t come for me), some frames (not allowed on walls but can be leant against a wall), photos of friends, fairy lights and some little mementos of my favourite things.
Your bed is most likely not going to be the most comfiest of things so a mattress topper, mattress protector, a decent duvet and some good pillows will go a long way in not only making you more comfortable but getting you a goodnight’s sleep.
If your room is lacking colour then adding some decorative pillows will not only brighten up your space but make it extra comfy and will be handy if friends pop around.
Take an extra set of bedding so when one is in the wash you don’t have to rely on it drying that day because a lot of the time the drier doesn’t work properly.
Over the door coat hanger. To save space in your wardrobe, this is really ideal. You can hang your bags, jackets and reusable shopping bags here and it makes it easy to grab whatever you need and go out the door. This will depend on what door you have, if it is a fire door you aren’t allowed to have it there however instead you can hang it on your bathroom door.
An important thing to stock up on either for your kitchen or bedroom is medicine. Including; Cold medicine, ibuprofen, paracetamol and plasters and most likely a flatmate will need it. Just a warning FRESHERS FLU IS REAL. It’s nasty and I probably spent most of first year with some sort of cold so be prepared.
I feel like you probably already know this but some blankets really are useful. Not only for adding a layer of coziness to your room but are also great for taking to your living space If you’re cold and can also add some colour to your room.
Hangers. You will definitely need these. I came to uni with a decent amount and still had to go and get some more.
A basin. One of the more recommended items from friends, this will be handy if you go mad at freshers or get ill. Plus while it’s not being used you can easily store it away with extra bits in it. Your kitchen most likely will already have one in the sink, but having your own is probably preferable.
A laundry bag. I had both a basket and a bag and hardly ever used the basket. It was more of a storage item than anything else. The bag makes taking your washing to the laundry bit of your accommodation a lot easier because more often than not you’ll have to walk to it.
This isn’t exactly an item for your room but more for your comfort. Taking some hoodies and/or a dressing gown and some lounge wear is something I didn’t really keep in mind when I first moved down but needed and used a lot once I got some.
A drying rack for your washing is extremely useful and something which can be discussed with your flatmates if you feel comfortable sharing one or two. The washing machines and driers in the laundry room are not reliable.
To add to this a hot water bottle is great for period pain and to keep you warm.
*Remember you aren’t allowed to take electrical goods because they need to be PAT tested so go for battery operated things. Straighteners etc. are okay.*
What you don’t need: Remember your room is going to be small (or most are). You don’t need to pick up your entire life and throw it into your room. You’ll be going back home for Christmas soon enough so you can get anything you’re missing then. This also goes for summer clothes. It is slightly warm in September but you definitely don’t need all of it down with you, be more prepared for autumn/winter and take some more summer clothes with you at Christmas or Easter.
The doorstop is something you’ll hear a lot of people rave about and say is essential. I never used one and when speaking to friends about it no one suggested this as a must have. Instead why not just use a box or something you are unpacking from?
Things like curtains aren’t necessary, they are provided. I know that is a bizarre thing to include but I can imagine someone doing that.
To keep those pesky germs away take some cleaning products, especially for your bathroom. It gets dirty easily (which you rarely notice if your parents usually do it for you).
Like I said for the kitchen stocking up on your bathroom essentials is extremely useful. This way you have them when you arrive and probably will last you a decent while.
Take a bath matt, it saves you sliding getting out the shower and makes the space look nicer. It’s also an easy way of adding colour.
Towels. Make sure to have around 2-3 large towels, some hand towels and whatever else you usually use. It’s also a good way to add colour.
Stock up on toilet roll. Say a 24 pack will do you a while and saves you the hassle of trying to take them home on a shopping trip.
I hope this is useful and provides some clarity on what you need to take and what might not be on the top of your list.
Please share with any friends or family going away, I personally wish I had something like this when I was moving.
And good luck! It’s an exciting opportunity! I think I’ll do a blog post soon on my thoughts and feelings of my first year experience and debunking some expectations of it.
But don’t worry and take it as it is. If you’re not in a great flat ask to move or wait until you are on your course. Just because you are in a flat with some strangers doesn’t mean they have to become your best friends (but some do and that is great!).
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who left suggestions! It made writing this post a lot easier.
This is a question that has been bothering me for a while. That much it was nagging me in my sleep.
After starting my own business and writing this blog for over 6 weeks it’s come to my attention that I keep asking myself when is it deemed *right* to say I am successful?
Is it how much money I have in the bank? How many likes and follows I have on Facebook and Instagram? How many people read my posts? How my family and friends are doing? How my mental health is? The problem I see with success is that it is completely up to you where in your life you place it. I think in loads of ways we are ingrained to see success as a large corporate job that barely leaves us any time to do anything else which makes us happy; is that really what we call being successful?
All my life I’ve been working for my future and what will keep me busy and provide me with the means to do stuff which makes me happy. But surely I can stop right now and be proud of what I’ve achieved. Recognise that I have done a lot, maybe not as much as others, but that doesn’t mean its not noteworthy. I don’t have to reach the age of 35 and only then, finally say I am successful.
Even if my social media accounts don’t have over 1,000 followers and I am not rolling in cash, that doesn’t determine my worth or show me that what I am doing isn’t right or working. It is a slow process but one a competitive, perfectionist finds hard to digest.
I think that when so much of what we do is on social media; a business promoting on there or simply celebrating a success via sharing it on a platform, it all makes us feel self conscious about our own rate of success. A thing I majorly struggle with is self comparison and imposter syndrome, purely because I am constantly seeing people doing great things and comparing myself to them. This way I decrease my own self-worth and what I have done.
If I were to hone in on that point it would be to suggest that more people need to integrate all parts of their life onto social media so people can stop perceiving others as robots who simply swim in success. But this is something which has been suggested for SO LONG and I am still to see a viable difference. Might I add that you can also tell yourself however many times you want that you ‘just shouldn’t think this way’ and it does little to change that mindset, I promise (I have tried).
Content Creator Claudia Sulewski recently said that there is no point in comparing yourself to others when their success and how they look does nothing to change your life or impact you. So why then are we made to feel so horrible when it comes measuring our own successes to those we see on a screen. Even though I perfectly understand that this is a mental attitude that is completely down to the person feeling it rather than hatred towards someone else, it’s still hard to grapple with.
It is also possible that someone reading this is thinking the same things towards me (and even when writing that I feel an overwhelming sense of self gratification which is cringe worthy). Not that I’d quite understand that or really get why but if you do then I am sorry. Trust me, my life is not full of roses or celebrations (definitely not talking about the chocolates) and I don’t look at myself like that either. But if I have this mindset then I know someone else most likely does too.
It is a horrible cycle and one that typically decreases other major things that may contribute to you being considered successful, like your mental health. If you have any tips when it comes to this I’d be very interested to hear anything you have to say down below.
If anything it sounds like I should just strip the word ‘successful’ out of my vocabulary altogether. I have done major things in my life so far; I was part of a long squad for the Scottish Netball team, I designed a logo for the local book festival, I did well in school, made change in my community, I am a Captain of my uni’s Netball team, launched a website and a print space, but after all that I am still not content with absolutely anything I have achieved. Most importantly, and quite sadly, I can’t look at the majority of them with fond memories purely because I didn’t appreciate what was happening. Surely each of those can be considered a success? But do I? No.
I don’t know if this is a mentality ingrained from school, where you are always looking for the next thing. Looking for a future rather than the present. It is not healthy and not right. In fact I’d consider it dangerous because if at no point you consider anything successful what is the point in doing it in the first place? You’ll be a cog in a machine rather than a human being doing great things.
Now this isn’t a sob story, I promise there is an overarching point to this post. With all the things I have done I’ve never sat down afterwards and gone ‘I’m proud of myself’ or ‘that took a lot of work, well done!’ or ‘that actually went well and it’s because I put a lot of effort into that’. Instead I looked onto the next thing and ignored what I just burnt myself out for.
It’s something I think a lot of people can learn from and do better at. Sit yourself down and celebrate even the smallest of things because at the end of the day you can’t get where you want to be without those small successes. Don’t instantly look forward and try to do the next best thing, instead ride your own wave (as cheesy as that sounds) and try, as best as you can, to remember that you are your own person. Celebrating everyone else is extremely important but there is nothing wrong with appreciating what you yourself have also achieved.
Well that is my thought for this week. Even calling it that makes me sound extremely philosophical, considering it sounds like I have profound thoughts 99% of the time. I don’t. I just have a sense of curiosity when it comes to sentiments like this and when I get myself into this headspace it bothers me a lot. Hence me writing about it.
But this is a step in the right direction and if we all start treating ourselves with a bit more respect, I think we would all be doing a lot better.
I would love for every person reading this to share something successful in their life, with me, or the closest person to you and if you can’t do either of those yet just tell yourself. Even if you tell yourself there is nothing to celebrate, I promise there is something. At the end of the day success is relative, you decide.
I am delighted to announce that I’ll be joining the fabulous #caithnessmarket this Saturday (1st August) between 11am-3pm.
Set up due to Covid-19, a bunch of different businesses (often changing/growing each month) have come together to produce a range of content to help promote their products when they can’t get out and about to do so. More than that each business gives £10 each month which goes to a nominated charity.
Its not just Caithness businesses which join the market, anyone is free to do so but I am extremely proud to support something coming directly from where I’ve grown up. Might I add you also don’t have to be from Caithness to buy anything on Saturday! Anyone and everyone can buy from a business who joins under the hashtag.
On the day I will be releasing Drop 2 of my print collection, letting you know more about myself and how I create my prints. It’s a great chance to connect to different businesses and see what everyone has to offer.
On an honest note I feel slightly like I have imposter syndrome when it comes to this market. Am I really good enough? Should I be there? Will it work? But there is no point asking these questions if I don’t give it a try.
The market is a great place for me, especially because I seem rooted online at the moment with both my website and digital art. I suppose if it was me in person behind a stall I’d feel quite nervous and probably crumble in front of everyone. So why not start here, in the humble position of my home with just me and my laptop, praying that maybe one person might be interested in what I have to offer.
Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me please and If you fancy coming to say hello then I’d be very, very happy. Plus if you can’t make it between 11am and 3pm the posts will still be there on the hashtag and my page for you to scroll through. I’ll be there all day to answer and queries you may have.
Make sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram (both linked below) and the hashtag #caithnessmarket so you can get updates as soon as they go out.
I thought I’d give you some background information on buying my prints so when it comes to the market day you know exactly what to do.
If there is a print you want or are interested in message me directly on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook: @Sophie’s Edit, Instagram: @Sophieseditblog
Similarly if you have any questions message the above accounts
Once the message has been replied to I will ask for you to pay the total amount to my Paypal account (making sure to use the Family and Friends option)
Conversely, if the print is currently not available you will be put on a preorder list and the aforementioned steps will commence once the print is back in stock. Don’t worry it shouldn’t take too long and you will be updated along the way.
Once payment is confirmed I will get your delivery details and send it out ASAP (often the next day)
I will confirm once it is out for delivery. Your parcel should take 3-5 days to arrive.
If there is anything I’ve eaten a lot of in the past 3 weeks it is this stuff. It tastes very good. Yes tiffin is not the healthiest (by a mile) but whoever said good tasting things were never healthy is on point when it comes to this.
Filled with delicious layers of biscuit, chocolate and crunchie, there is simply nothing you cannot love about it. Plus you can easily swap the crunchie out for other sweet treats like maltesers.
A recipe for both kids and adults to enjoy while being relatively easy to make, means it is a win win recipe. What’s not to love?
Also, I might add, Kirsty is my twin sister and has been fuelling me with this fabulous treat for the past few weeks.
200g Milk Chocolate
100g Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp’s Golden Syrup
125g Digestive Biscuits
3 Crunchie Bars
100g Milk Chocolate
100g White Chocolate
25g Unsalted Butter
1 tsp Golden Syrup
2 Crunchie Bars
Step 1: Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water).
Step 2: Add the Unsalted Butter and Golden Syrup (for the base) into the bowl and wait until fully melted (stir occasionally).
Step 3: Meanwhile you will need to prepare the base and the chocolate. Start with adding the digestive biscuits and crunchie bars in an airtight bag. Smash until broken up.
Tip: The biscuits should be a crumb like texture however if the crunchies are not fully broken, do not worry! Also keep an eye on the bag and make sure it doesn’t break, using a ladle is the perfect instrument for breaking this up!
Step 4: Chop the chocolate for the base finely. Once the butter and golden syrup mixture is fully melted, take it off the heat and add the chocolate to it.
Tip: It is important this is done off the heat and not stirred frequently as you risk splitting the mixture. If you do split the mixture slowly add cream and whip vigorously once cooler in temperature to bring back to a normal consistency (which will be slightly thicker than normal melted chocolate if you do split it.)
Step 5: Add this chocolate to the biscuit mixture and combine.
Step 6: Line a 20-25cm tin which is deep with baking parchment and spread out the chocolate biscuit mixture.
Tip: Use the base of a glass to flatten the mixture. This gives an even base for your topping to sit on.
Step 7: Now repeat the melting process for the topping; place the butter and syrup over the simmering heat.
Step 8: Again, chop the milk and white chocolate finely. Repeat step 4 for this, keeping in mind the chance of the mix splitting.
Step 9: You now want to add your melted chocolate to the top of the biscuit mix in your tin.
Step 10: Chop up your crunchies for the topping. This does not need to be small but keep in mind it will be chopped into bite size square pieces.
Tip: if you cut the crunchie down the centre horizontally and then cut smaller pieces from this you should get pieces that stand up.
Step 11: You will also get excess crumbs from the crunchie, simply sprinkle this on the top for added texture and less waste.
Step 12: Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours.
This can last a while if kept in the fridge in an airtight container. It also tastes better when cold.
And that’s it. The perfect tiffin for everyone to enjoy! It also makes a great gift because you can easily cut it up and divide it into whatever size you like.
It has quickly become one of my favourites and because it doesn’t actually need baked its relatively simple and not much can go wrong.
If you try it let me know by tagging me on Facebook or Instagram! I love to see your bakes!
I know taking care of yourself is probably never too far up on your list of things to do, it’s never on mine anyway (and if it is for you then well done! You’ve mastered what I need to do). Mainly because I find other things to prioritise or simply forget. However that is not exactly healthy and like me, you’ll probably find yourself in a state of panic or crying on your sofa every month or so because you have neglected yourself.
Like the good saying goes, you have to look after yourself before you can look after anyone else.
So I thought I’d compile some ways in which you can put yourself first without it breaking your routine or making you pay £40 for a facial.
This is probably an obvious suggestion but I always look at having a bath as a huge effort so never end up having one. I also know that not a lot of people have baths and that this is a luxury. If you do have one I recommend dimming the lights, using a bath bomb and watching an episode of one your favourite shows.
Baths are a great time to switch your brain off and because you can’t do anything else but stare at your laptop when watching a show, you can’t not concentrate on yourself and relax.
If you want a cheap but decent bath bomb, The Body Shop do bath bubbles which change the colour of your water while providing bubbles and great smells! Therefore, your 40mins of relaxation don’t have to cost the earth.
2. Going on a walk
Again extremely simple but focussing on putting one foot in front of the other and admiring your surroundings does a lot for the soul. Especially if you are anxious or pent up about something, walking it off really does help.
If you want to switch your walk up why not try a new route, phone a friend or listen to a podcast. Walking is actually the perfect time to have conversations you have been ‘too busy for’ or podcasts you never quite have the time to listen to.
Another thing you can do on your walk is simply sit on a bench and listen to the birds or take time to admire what’s around you. This is great for clearing your head, especially if you are near the sea.
3. Looking after your skin.
Simply adding a few steps into your routine where you concentrate on yourself can perk you up instantly. Whether that is as simple as moisturising your face day and night, applying some lip balm or doing a face mask once a week. A little goes a long way.
If you want tips on looking after your skin and some products check out my post here.
On the other hand I have extremely dry lips and have had problems with them my whole life, so for me taking time to take care of them is a small step in looking after myself. Some of my favourites are Carmex, The Body Shop’s Hemp lip care and Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream.
Carmex: This lip balm has solved all my worries when it comes to my lips, and I have tried A LOT of lip balms. Its highly moisturising and doesn’t dry them out after.
The Body Shop’s Hemp Lip Care: This stuff is a recent addition to my collection. One I wouldn’t claim to be moisturising, but instead it protects my lips from the elements and is best put on in the morning before applying anything else. When you live in the North of Scotland this is important.
Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream: This is not cheap, in fact we got it out of our local Factory Shop for a fraction of the price. However, it does what it claims and restores the skin and can be used in a number of places. So it could be claimed for all it does and for how long it lasts, it is actually worth the price.
I don’t know how strange this may be but I believe to fully recharge you need some alone time. Now I am not talking about taking a holiday by yourself (however that would be nice), I more mean spend some time in your own company. This way you can process your thoughts and not feel like you need to be switched on 100% of the time.
Why not read a book, watch a film or like I said above, go for a walk. This way when you go back to being switched on you can do it affectively.
Now before you roll your eyes or skim past this section. I have never tried yoga or meditation either. I know it isn’t for everyone but why not try it because A LOT of people love it and maybe you’ve just not found the right place or way yet.
You can even do it really simply by sitting on your floor and just closing your eyes and letting your thoughts flow around your head. This way you can think about them rather than ignoring them.
It is the perfect time to just tune out the noise and sit in silence with absolutely no one bothering you.
Or if you’d rather do some movement why not try doing some yoga or stretching. Even if you aren’t listening to your thoughts or ‘centring’ yourself, you’re still doing some light exercise to look after yourself.
I hope that in some way these gave you some big or little ideas for improving how you take care of yourself. Or even help to remind you that at some point you actually need to stop taking care of everyone else and listen to what you need.
I am by no means good at doing any of the above and I am not here to preach about it either. However, I do know that when I do at least one of the above, when I remember, that it helps. Even simply by registering that you are doing it for you and that it is important will help shift your mindset and could help you be kinder to yourself.
I think in a lot of ways it’s about not making it become ‘something else to add to the list’ or part of normality, in that it should be special so you can feel special.
As an English Literature student I think it is important to get back to the roots of things when reading. To take pure enjoyment out of the task and instead of looking for absolutely every metaphor, hidden meaning and plot twist, purely soak in your thoughts and enjoy the book.
I decided when reading Normal People that I would jot down on my phone the thoughts and feelings I had when reading it and attach the page numbers so you can go find how I felt exactly when I encountered it. This, I think, provokes a feeling of intimacy when reading and maybe if you are also reading the novel/have read it, it may also appear somewhat like a book club but without the face to face contact. So please leave me any of your thoughts below!
As a general overview I thought I’d give some context into how I started reading NormalPeople and how I felt going into reading it. I feel like if this was me writing a novel I’d be setting the tone if you get me? If you haven’t read my previous review of the show then you wouldn’t know I have already encountered the turbulent relationship of teens Marianne and Connell. The show was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it however I did wonder if there was more depth to their characters/events through the original text (which usually there is – who would deny the chance to get the original curation of such popular characters). As a general rule I don’t particularly like watching the adaptation then going to the original but I wouldn’t say this hindered my experience, I was more just apprehensive whether the show did it justice.
Anyway, here are my thoughts as I read the novel…
P20 – By this page you are fully immersed in the chemistry and tension between two teenagers who you are yet to know to any degree. However, at the same time it feels like you’ve known them for years, that you understand the characters without knowing the intimate details about them. Rooney not only makes you feel like you are connected to the characters and their inner workings but also to every word on the page. Since turning page 1 it is impossible to sit the book down. A true highlight of the authors capability to do what a lot of writers find the most difficult; gripping their audience from the very beginning. If you thought the tension and emotion you felt towards Marianne and Connell in the show was a lot, you are yet to experience anything.
The chapters are split into months/varying time periods and change between both perspectives seamlessly. (*interjected thought – this makes a lot more sense after finishing it considering Connell always refers to Marianne as the only one that can understand him. Therefore, it is fitting that their thoughts and dialogue fit perfectly amongst each other.*) So far, the jumps appear non existent in that Rooney gives you enough information to know exactly what will happen in between; she gives the reader a certain amount of expectation. Within a few pages you are already subconsciously aware of the routine set out for each character.
P70 – ‘she has never believed herself fit to be loved by one person.’
A sad reality for Marianne and I think a lot of people. Everyone deserves to be loved.
P91 – The jump to uni is one that is extremely important in the novels narrative in that it signifies the shift in the central characters social standings. What Connell always feared is now a reality (he has limited friends, is self conscious and I guess doesn’t have the same immediate respect from his social position) and surprisingly what Marianne always shunned seems to have become her new environment (loads of friends, being ‘popular’, known about widely for the right reasons). It is very much like they have switched, something which Connell clearly can’t quite grasp.
P94 – I think the book is better than the adaptation mainly due to the fact you are connected to the book through overlooking such intimate moments. You’re part of everything going on and therefore feel everything at a more intense rate than what you would watching it from a distance. I think this is largely what novels are good at, imparting choice on the reader and their imagination. No two people when reading will probably view the characters in the same way, they most likely will never look the same to two different individuals. This way you are more invested because although it is someone else’s writing, it is still asking you to be involved, you are always going to be apart of the creative process as a reader.
With any novel you see more of the characters thoughts, little details of locations and perceptions of other characters which you don’t receive in a TV show, not to say the TV show did a bad job however.
P97 – Sense of romanticism is imparted not just around their relationship but also the surroundings and their day to day activities.
P.98 – It is rather refreshing and inviting to see a male teenager/young adult being so connected with his emotions in the sense of his anxieties and insecurities surrounding their relationship. All too often I feel that male characters in novels and film/TV are made to feel indestructible or emotionless in terms of the affects of loss, grief, relationships (of any kind) and just day to day feelings. He doesn’t fully understand them but he acknowledges that they are there.
P.111 – At this point I’ve realised there is no certainty to a single thing in their life, especially in their relationship. They don’t commit to labels and in some ways that is their downfall because if they shared half of how they felt they’d feel more rooted and comfortable in their relationship. Very much stresses the importance of communication. (*Can you tell at this point I was most likely frustrated at the impending parting of them AGAIN*)
P.166 – Sorry about the large jump between notes, Marianne is now in Switzerland and clearly has an eating disorder and mental health ‘issues’ (not entirely sure if I like calling them issues). As a character her complexities are rather interesting but also harrowing. Someone who always claimed she didn’t care, especially about what other people thought about her, in fact, I think does. She has now lost all sense of care for herself and on top of this no one seems to care for her, especially when she needs it the most.
P.199 – Reading about the emotions Marianne faces on-top of the abuse she gets in Switzerland is difficult to read. It fully epitomises the point in life she has gotten to and how fed up she is with her life. Relating to my previous point, the affects of friendship and her disconnect to the world around her is felt with force in this chapter. Yet the glimmer of hope in the end , when Marianne stands up for herself and I think, realises the gravity of her situation is reassuring. It is poignant in that she feels insulted that Lukas suggests they love each other and that this ‘awakens’ her – it is almost saying no love will compare to Connell’s and that she is still in love with him. This situation is nothing like what she has with him and it is disrespectful to suggest it is. However, it is concerning that it is this that pushes her over the edge and not the manipulative relationship she is in.
P.238 – At this point it is even more evident the scale of Marianne’s trauma revolving around violence and abuse, she is a lot more complex than what was evident at the start of the novel. I guess in some ways it mirrors the evolvement of Connell’s views of her because he too, now understands there is more than meets the eye when it comes to her family. However, in this particular chapter it is hard to even distinguish if Connell fully understands her because no one else did.
P.239 – ‘While she herself has been degenerating, moving further and further from wholesomeness, becoming something unrecognisably debased.’
P.240 – her brother is a manipulative character and at this point in time there would be various words I’d like to call him. In other news I find it very interesting that Marianne mentioned her mum only as ‘Denise’ and not something more familiar. I feel this fully summarises the current state of their relationship.
P.248 – ‘That’s the very part of himself he wants to protect, the part that exists inside her.’
P.262 – It has now come full circle. Back in their hometown they are fully comfortable in their own skin and with each other to fully embrace the idea of them being seen as a couple. I think it highlights this idea that you don’t know what you’re missing until you leave it behind; this idea that what they imagined really wasn’t that bad in reality.
P.266 – Just when you think things couldn’t be better and they appear settled, they decide to go their separate ways. Even worse because it is stated in such a nonchalant way. The novel ends on such a tone that everything is up for question; does he leave? Will they remain together? Will they both cope? Will they find someone else? However, annoyingly it is probably well suited in the sense the frustration you feel all through the book never even leaves you in the end.
I’m not sure if this is particularly relevant to the novel or if it’s a printing mistake or they just chose to leave a lot of pages blank at the end (I swear more than what is usually there) however I think it is very fitting for the novel. It is a story about coming of age, the transition between a teen and an adult, exploring their sexuality, their careers and aspirations, and most importantly each other. But that doesn’t just stop then. There is so much more to their story, just like the pages suggest. No one ever figures everything out by the time they reach 21.
Well. That was a journey. I hope you enjoyed getting an insight into my thought process while reading Normal People. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I guess as a young adult it was quite nice to hear the inner workings of other people my own age when currently I can’t quite do that.
I respect Rooney’s writing a lot and was rather impressed just by the first few pages. I’m very intrigued to read Conversations with Friends (her first novel I think) which I hear is also getting turned into a TV show.
I think you can learn a lot by just writing some thoughts down while reading. Everyone has different ways of doing it and even if you aren’t doing it for coursework, you can surprise yourself with your thoughts and how they may transition to other aspects of life.
Let me know if you liked this way of ‘reviewing’ a novel and If you have any other thoughts on Rooney’s ‘masterpiece’.
If you want to check out my review of the show it is available here.
I am very lucky to have thick, relatively fuss free hair. However I do find it still needs taken care of, just like your skin. It’s only something I’ve recently implemented into my routine as I am generally more of a lazy person and simply want to jump in and out of the shower.
However, I think I have cracked a way of taking care of your hair without waiting in the shower for an extra 10mins or spending an excess amount of money on it.
Before I get into the details, it is probably important to mention the current condition of my hair. It is very thick, has the odd curl (or kink) in it and can be quite frizzy. As of right now I am in desperate need of a haircut – which is coming on Monday, thankfully! I think that is why I have wanted to bring steps into my current routine so the split ends don’t look too obvious and my hair can feel nourished.
As I stated in my skincare post, I am not a hairdresser or an expert on this matter. I am purely sharing what I have been loving and what works for me.
Step 1: Shampoo
I have never been a spender on shampoo, at all. I know it is probably good to invest in a decent one but to be honest, when I look at the bottle and it tells me a load of things that sound like chemicals, I want to run from the hills rather than slathering it on my head.
Instead I have a shampoo and conditioner which I use on the daily and one slightly more expensive shampoo which refreshes my hair to make it feel extra clean. The perfect combo I think.
Alberto Balsam – Coconut & LycheeShampoo
For years I used the apple version of this which I never had any problems with but I have to say this one has been my favourite. It suggests that it will have a lasting fragrance for up to 12hrs, restores shine, gently cleanses and has Vitamin B5.
It smells amazing! The perfect scent of coconut and I have to say my hair has a great shine to it! However, what is even better is you can grab a bottle of this for as little as a £1, plus it is for all hair types.
I usually find it in Home Bargains, Tesco (or any supermarket), Poundland etc.
*Excuse the quality (darkness) of the photos, they were taken in an impending storm and I didn’t get a chance to take new ones.*
It is a useful thing to add that when washing your hair with shampoo you are supposed to do this twice. The first wash removes dirt, styling products and pollution. Then the next wash lets the goodness of the shampoo do its thing.
I don’t do this every wash purely because I don’t use styling products everyday and right now I am not around much pollution however I will do it at least once a week. It’s a good idea to use the Balsam shampoo first and then The Body Shop one.
The Body Shop: Fuji Green Tea Shampoo*
I have heard a lot of things about The Body Shop’s shampoo range and this one has not disappointed. Marketed as ‘refreshingly purifying’ and for normal hair, this has done the trick for my often dry hair.
It is formulated without silicones and is enriched with Japanese Green Tea and community trade Honey from Ethiopia.
My hair has felt really clean (which is a weird thing to describe) and comes away feeling smooth after using this. I do this every so often in my routine which means the £7 bottle lasts a while.
*My cousin (@Emma’s Skincare Essentials) kindly offered me a discount to try some products from The Body Shop, this is one of the ones I have been trying. However all opinions are my own and I genuinely am impressed with this product.
Step 2: Conditioner
I love conditioner! It thoroughly nourishes my hair and makes brushing it 100 times easier (which is often highly necessary with my hair).
When using conditioner I just apply it to the ends of my hair on an everyday (I wash my hair 3-4 times a week) wash routine although every so often, once maybe every week/two weeks, I will do a full condition to my hair, applying it all over my hair but still trying to not concentrate it to much on my scalp so it doesn’t get too oily/greasy.
Alberto Balsam Coconut and Lychee Conditioner
To add to my shampoo above I use this for an everyday conditioner and I have to say it fully smoothes and conditioner my hair. Again for only £1 I can’t complain (and nor can my bank account).
On the plus side it is silicone free, detangling and smoothes the hair, improves the manageability (not sure if this is necessary to the list of positives but that is what is printed on the bottle) and also has vitamin B5.
When using conditioner it is better if left for a bit. I usually apply a decent amount to my ends and then swing it around my shoulder so I can wash my body, shave etc. then rinse it out. This way your hair will be ten times more smooth and will let the product do its thing.
If you couldn’t tell I really like the smell of coconut. This is also a relatively new addition to my routine but I have seen quite a big difference after using it. The plus side to this product is that it can be used multiple ways; as a simple conditioner, as a mask which is left on wet hair for 3 minutes and then rinsed, or as a leave in conditioner which can be done on wet or dry hair applied to the lengths of your hair to tame frizz which leaves the hair smooth.
I use the second option, leaving it in wet hair for 3 mins. More so I can do everything else in the shower and then just rinse it out at the end. No fuss, just how I like it. However, I am tempted to try the leave in conditioner way purely to see if it tames my frizzy hair.
This is what I like about the product; it smells great and has multiple uses while being affordable. Not only this but you can feel the difference in your hair after using it. A solid 10/10 from me.
Step 3: After the Shower Products
I used to do the bare minimum when coming out of the shower, more concentrating on my skincare rather than my hair. However, I have added this one simple step which doesn’t take the time of day to use.
Pantene Pro-V Repair and Protect Hair oil.
This is a step I never thought I’d implement into my routine. Hair oils in particular always used to scare me, more because I always associated them with greasiness rather than improving the hairs condition.
Due to the fact I have really dry hair at the moment and far too many split ends, this product is extremely useful. Infused with Vitamin E it protects the hair, especially at the ends. Just what I need.
You apply it after shaking out your wet hair and you only need a pea size amount. It is also another amazing smelling product which lasts!
And that is it. That’s what I do to my hair to keep it from annoying me and looking like I’ve rolled around in a bush. It is after using these products that I am now comfortable doing my day to day activities without feeling like I need to put a straightener or curler to it. My natural hair for once looks fine!
These work for me and are affordable plus they don’t scare you with ridiculously named chemicals on the front of the bottles. I finally have approached hair care with a level head and no longer feel intimidated. Plus I still take roughly the same amount of time in the shower and don’t need to go out of my way to try and tame my hair.
If you’ve tried any of these let me know what you think or if you have any haircare stories/recommendations then send them my way!
If you haven’t noticed a new tab in the dropdown bar or have seen my announcement on my socials, my print shop is now open! I’ve always been a lover of graphic design and art but after being knocked down a few times I fell out of love with doing it.
However, after starting blogging and finding my creative energy again I started ‘doodling’ using my iPad and drawing in a sketchbook. Now, after some consideration, I’ve turned them into prints with the hope I can share my passion and love of design again.
One of my main goals when releasing prints was to make sure they are affordable. I know from a students perspective it is hard to decorate your flat or spend money on art, that is why they are both reasonably priced and simple; they will add a touch of colour to any space you put them in. In particular, the smaller prints are marketed for those who want something small to say add to a gallery wall or place on a pin board. For me it is the perfect reminder of home.
Drop 1 can now be found here at my print shop or it is located in the drop down bar. Only a select amount are available of each one. If they sell out, drop 1 will only become available when I have announced drop 2, this way both can be ordered at the same time and I can reduce my carbon footprint. More information can be found on the page.
On top of this I will be selling the odd limited edition print where only 1 will be available and will be hand drawn on quality paper using a mix of different media. To keep updated on the release of new prints follow my social media accounts (all linked below)
I know it is a hard time for everyone but if you could buy a print or share it with your friends it would mean the world!
When it comes to shopping, the word ‘affordable’ is key for a lot of people, me being one of them. Sustainability is something a lot of people don’t tend to associate affordability with, mainly because it is marketed as ‘if you want something sustainable then it has to be more expensive so those making them can be paid fairly.’ This sentiment I fully agree with, however it does not mean a garment such as a simple T-Shirt has to cost £100. When shopping sustainably is a must have for our environment, it needs to accommodate those who simply can’t afford the £100 T-Shirt.
If you want to hear more of my opinions on sustainability, how to achieve it without spending more money and some views on its marketing check out my recent post here.
With this in mind, I have accumulated some affordable brands from a varying price point (never being far too expensive) and sellers perspective. Some being very commercial others reselling clothing and making items by hand. Both equally important to achieving a sustainable wardrobe and mindset.
I asked over on instagram (@sophieseditblog) for some recommendations, so thanks for sending some in! If they weren’t included its purely because either they were a bit out of the price range or I couldn’t find any sustainable information on them.
Nu-in Fashion is relatively new (no pun intended), but in its short time span I’ve noticed them making waves in the fashion industry. Their ethos is ‘Fashion. Sustainably Driven’ making ‘Beautiful clothing that doesn’t cost the earth.’
I’ve seen influencers such as @hellooctober endorse the brand and I am eager to get my hands on a piece. Ranging from both mens and women’s wear, I’d say they are on the level of Highstreet brands such as Topshop. But with much better values.
Along the same lines as GYMSHARK, TALA has made a considerable difference to the sportswear market, proving these brands can do a lot better. They aim to bridge the gap between fast fashion and sustainability, even though they do produce a high rate of clothing, they plan to create products which are 100% up-cycled and are currently 92% of the way there. Plus they are doing it with recycled packaging and their tags are made from plantable paper.
A brand I was dubious whether to include but I do believe they are making promising steps to being more conscious and better with their clothing. They have set up a global garment collection initiative where you can hand in old clothes (regardless of condition or brand) and receive a £5 voucher to spend in store. The fashion giant have also released a Conscious Collection and have a goal to use only recycled and sustainably sourced materials by 2030. Although they are not perfect, they are making huge strides when it comes to Highstreet fashion.
‘Buy a box. Support a worker for a week’. This Edinburgh based company have achieved great success doing something truly commendable. ‘Leading brands have cancelled over $2 billion USD worth of clothes that have already been produced. This leaves millions of workers in countries such as Bangladesh unpaid, and at risk of starvation. With Lost Stock you get a 50% discount on 3 or more pieces of clothing while supporting workers and decreasing waste.’
I currently have a box on the way, the delivery time is long however everything is handpicked to a quiz you take at the beginning. I’ll do a review as soon as it arrives.
Georgia is a friend I made at uni and has her own brilliant business selling sustainably sourced clothing and avidly advocates for sustainability. She is more than happy to help with finding clothing for you and keeps you regularly updated with new pieces via her instagram (@shopgeethanks). More importantly her clothing is sold at affordable price points for quality clothing. My sister has bought a great pair of Levi jeans from her for such a great price, alongside my flatmate buying one of her more popular pieces, a cropped shirt, which looks great!
A lot of people forget that shopping sustainably can also be done through shopping at small, independent businesses. It is a small step in the right direction. Jess is an independent seller on Etsy and is avidly making changes to her packaging to become more sustainable. She recently reached 5,000 sales and has some very popular items on her store.
More on the upper end of Highstreet pricing, Organic Basics focuses on making simple things well. They only partner with factories who care about their environmental impact as well as choosing fabrics that are sustainable. Importantly, they design everything to last. They do activewear, underwear and everyday essentials for both men and women.
Although you may be spending more than the brands suggested above, they are quality items, recently endorsed by fellow Edinburgh student and blogger Nayna Florence.
A bit more of a broad suggestion, however just as important. As a good friend said, ‘If people want fast fashion we should facilitate it with sustainable behaviours.’ This is the perfect place to get it. Instead of buying from shops like Misguided, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (to name only a few) why not buy the pieces from Depop instead.
Not only this, a lot of people use the site to sell vintage clothing or pieces they have up-cycled, this way you can truly get something different, for most likely a decent price.
By Megan Crosby
If you are looking for quality, colour and something handmade this is your place to go. Now before you read any further, this isn’t your cheapest option when buying sustainably however I have included it because you are paying for made to measure garments made from sustainable, ethically sourced and organic materials and packaging. You are not only paying for the quality of the material but also the sewing and attention to detail, so if that’s what you’re after, why not give Megan a shout?
Lucy and Yak are well known for their dungarees but should be appreciated for their entire range of clothing which is made sustainably and ethically. A brand highly focussed on comfort and colour, their garments bring a sense of joy to each user. Check out their website not only for the fabulous clothes but also the great story of how they started!
I know that shopping sustainably can be daunting and lets be honest there are only a few who are very good at it. No one is perfect but what we can do is try our best. If this post highlights anything, I hope it is that shopping sustainably affordably isn’t impossible and that there are outlets there for absolutely everyone to do better.
Like I said in my previous post, shopping sustainably doesn’t have to mean going out and buying clothes, it means you buy what you need. Look at your wardrobe like a collection for all year round, not just for part of it. More importantly, you do not need to invest in trends, instead invest in yourself and your own personal taste.
Please go and support these brands if you can, or at the very least check them out. They are doing important things in a market which is often looked down upon.
Keep me updated with any of your own sustainable finds and let me know if you end up getting anything from any of the above!
Lunch time. The one time of day where I dread going into the kitchen to think of what to make. Being more of a creative person, part of me doesn’t want to waltz in there and purely make a sandwich or a plain salad. I want to rustle up something that is exciting yet doesn’t take the time of day to make.
Therefore, I’m sharing two recipes for easy but exciting lunches and also ways you can interchange items to keep it fresh. Lunch does not have to be boring (although there is nothing wrong with a sandwich)
Recipe 1: Sushi Bowl
Serves 3-4 people but can be amended for smaller portions.
250g of sushi rice
2 tbsps. Japanese Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp. Mirin
2 tbsps. Caster Sugar
1 tbsp. Salt
Alternative: In Supermarkets you can also find readymade sushi rice that just needs put in the microwave. These can be handy for smaller portions.
handful of tomatoes
Optional – Sticky Chicken or Salmon or any other meat.
Place your sushi rice in a bowl and wash with cold water, this needs repeated 3-4 times before draining in a sieve. Next add 330ml of water and the washed rice into a pan. Bring this to the boil and simmer for 10 mins with the lid on.
Tip: It is important to note that you should keep an eye on the rice regularly because it can very easily come out of the pan and bubble over.
Next turn the heat off and leave the pan to stand for 15-20 minutes with the lid on. While this is standing you should make the rice seasoning.
In a separate bowl mix together the above ingredients; Rice Wine Vinegar, Mirin, Caster Sugar and Salt (measurements above).
Transfer the rice into a bowl and fold in the seasoning mix (should be done gradually). Once mixed leave to cool (sometimes I don’t wait).
This should then be placed into your bowl of choice – you do not need too much sushi rice.
The quantity of toppings are completely up to you, just remember that sushi rice is deceptively filling.
I cut my tomatoes in quarters and tend to use baby tomatoes. The cucumber is cut into match sticks while I tend to either peel the carrot into shavings or cut matchsticks out of them. With carrots I recommend shavings.
In order to fill 3 portions I usually use around half a pepper and again just cut them lengthways. The same with the beetroot (which I get out of a jar and cut).
Place each vegetable onto the top of your rice, I tend to place them into separate bits.
Toppings such as crispy onions and sesame seeds can be found in your local supermarket and easily add depth of flavour to the bowl.
Finally drizzle your sriracha mayo onto the top. This lightly adds moisture to the dish while incorporating a bit of heat.
Optional Topping: I also sometimes include Sticky Chicken (which is actually bought out of Tesco’s freezer section and they come on sticks which I then take off), smoked salmon or tuna is also a good topping or any other meat. I would advise shredding it and placing it onto the veg.
Alternatives: You can swap the sushi rice for the likes of wholegrain rice, other toppings include; Edamame beans, Red Cabbage, Radishes, Ginger (if you have it pickled ginger is a great topping), Avocado, plain sriracha also works, or you can simply add this to mayo and make your own.
Recipe 2: Fried Potato and Egg bowl
This was entirely thought up when I was starving and wanted something quick but tasty. Makes 2 portions.
1 tin of Peeled New Potatoes in water (these are available from supermarkets and are ready cooked. There is nothing wrong with them and are also perfect for using in tray bakes)
Salt and Pepper to Season
1-2 tsp of Italian Seasoning
1 tsp of Paprika (or more to taste)
1 tsp of garlic powder
Around 1 tbsp of butter
1 large egg
First you need to drain the potatoes and roughly chop them either into halves or quarters (they come in various sizes). Then melt a nob of butter in a frying pan. Transfer the potatoes into the pan and start frying them on a medium heat. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let this fry for a few minutes, while the butter is still wet you want to add the other seasoning ingredients onto the potatoes. This includes the Italian Seasoning, Paprika and Garlic Powder. The goal is for the potatoes to be slightly crispy.
Once the potatoes are finished transfer them into your bowl of choice. Now, in the same pan, you want to melt a bit more butter and crack your egg into the pan. This is where you need to act fast. An egg should be seasoned well with salt and pepper. I usually also add a shake of Italian seasoning and Paprika while the egg is cooking (you want it so it will soak into the egg). I cook my egg sunny side up, so you want the white to fully harden and no longer sit on the top. It’s a technique that may take time to master because you also want a runny egg. I must add it definitely doesn’t take too long.
Now transfer the egg onto the potatoes and drizzle with sriracha. Enjoy!
Tip: If like me you are going to eat the second portion the next day, make the egg on the day you are actually going to eat it and reheat the potatoes in a small amount of butter so you can get them extra crispy. Alternatively, you can also cook the potatoes in a small amount of vegetable oil on either day.
Alternatives: If you don’t have/want to use the new potatoes you can chop potatoes into little cubes and fry them instead (this will take considerably longer and it is probably easier to parboil them first), alternatively you can also use ready cubed potatoes often found in the freezer areas of supermarkets. The fried egg is also nice on pretty much any leftovers, I like adding it and the sriracha to leftover couscous with veg.
I know thinking of different things to cook can be challenging so I hope this helps.
Make sure to tag me in any photos of anything you make from my website, all socials are linked below.
An Exploration of Motherhood, Subliminal Racism and Internal Struggles.
In this eight-part adaptation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 novel, we see the series start out with the burning of Elena Richardson’s (Reese Witherspoon) perfect suburban house in Shaker Heights, Ohio. This opens the rest of the series to explore who is to blame for the fire and why it happened.
Starring; Kerry Washington (Mia Warren), Reese Witherspoon (as mentioned above as Elena Richardson), Joshua Jackson (Bill Richardson), Lexi Underwood (Pearl Warren), Megan Scott (Izzy Richardson), Jade Pettyjohn (Lexie Richardson), Jordan Elsass (Trip Richardson) and Gavin Lewis (Moody Richardson), they each give a stellar performance in this show. I don’t usually name more than two or three of the central characters but in a show like this, it would be a disservice not to name them.
Facts on the Show
Available on: Amazon Prime, originally released on Hulu.
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington were producers on the show
The ending of the show is different to the book because Reese and the creators wanted the reasoning behind the fire to be less obvious and more confusing to the viewer.
Set in the 1990’s the show explores a myriad of themes from motherhood, colour blindness, sexuality, interracial couples, racism and jealousy (to name a few). It is within this that some critics have said a few [of the themes] have failed to ‘land’ when it comes to highlighting them effectively. In my opinion, the show accurately portrays, in its short eight, one hour episodes, the turbulent atmosphere in such a picturesque town. To put it blatantly Shaker Heights takes on the classic trope of a horror film where such dark secrets are kept within what seems a picture perfect scene. Appearing at first that no one can do anything wrong, especially the Richardsons.
I must admit the show took a while to get going, in that my attention was not gripped until the final 4 episodes. In saying that, once you reach these final episodes everything clicks into place and the ‘evidence’ placed in front of you at the start all makes sense.
It is hard to write a review on such a complex story, in that I truly don’t know where to start. Do I begin with the blatant racism and colour blindness that Mia and Pearl have to face, or the struggles of Izzy and her sexuality alongside her negative relationship with her mother, or the court case about the rights to May Ling Chow (alongside the coverage of economic hardship on adoption and the reasons for giving up a child, the rights to be a mother and xenophobia). Then there is the relationship between mother and child which encompasses everyone in the show alongside abortion, interracial couples, lies and their consequences and honestly the list goes on.
However, it is at the mercy of the creator Liz Tigelaar, the directors; Lynn Shelton, Nzingha Stewart and Michael Weaver, the writers and producers that they managed to pull off all of these sentiments in such a short space of time. In fact, the way they were interwoven made the whole show extremely interesting and important. In my opinion, I don’t think this show could be released at a better time.
It is important to appreciate in this eight-part series the use of art as symbolism. The importance of Mia expressing her true self through her art was something so heartwarming and without realising it, it gave you so much more than just a picture. It gave you description, pain, suffering and information without it being spoken. To add to this the art with the combination of fire made it, even for those who struggle to appreciate art, a sight for the eyes. Without spoiling anything, the final piece of art was enough to convey a whirlwind of emotions; if that does not intensify or justify the appreciation of the art in the show I do not know what will.
To partially comment on the acting in such a series without dragging my heels and going on for too long, I have to mention both Lexi Underwood (who played Pearl) and Megan Scott (who played Izzy). Both being characters who had troubled relationships with their mothers, both for different reasons, Izzy’s arguably worse. The fact both children sought solace in each others mothers perfectly presented the blindness each had to the people that were comforting them. It both confused and manipulated the viewer into hating (particularly Elena) but appreciating them at the same time. Of course both had completely different outcomes, and rightly so.
Underwood created (I say this in the sense of her performance) a character who was, in parts, unaware of the struggles she was going to face because of the societal injustices put upon her because of her race. This allowed the viewer to grow with her as the curtain dropped from her eyes in such a short space of time. It was not just an important, well thought out performance on her part, but a character who taught the audience (from a white females perspective) a lot about subliminal racism in schools and the way her upbringing was dramatically different because of the colour of her skin.
On the other hand Megan Scott’s performance was, without sounding too harsh, a surprise. Her character grows on you from the beginning but the way it is portrayed means you are constantly battling whether to like her or not. Like a lot of other cases in the series she fights a mental battle which is only unravelled towards the end of the series. Every piece of frustration, anger and sadness comes across as genuine and it is only as the series moves forward that you begin to appreciate the way she is and why she is like that.
If you couldn’t tell Little Fires Everywhere highlights the hardships each and every character faces in the series. The way each character is interlinked, while their struggles are not necessarily always touching the person next to them, perfectly showcases how secrets and hardships faced by one person is not always known by the person sitting next to them. What simply looks perfect from the outside is not what it seems on the inside. In fact those with what looks like an ‘imperfect’ life, is what should be the most desirable, because it is filled with love.
The only reason I can not give the show 5 stars is because I don’t think a lot of people could sit through the first 4 episodes without losing their concentration on it. Which makes me sad to think someone is missing out because I promise it is worth the watch.
If you’ve watched the show let me know what you think, if not I hope I’ve encouraged you to give it a try.
I am in favour of anything sustainable. I am a firm believer that the world needs to take active steps in reducing factors like its carbon footprint to make the world we inhabit last a lot longer. I am not in favour however of guilt tripping people about their habits without knowing their economic reasons, or any reason for that matter, behind their attitude.
Without getting too political it is frustrating as a 20 year old that our government, filled with *mostly* white old men, are too economically driven to see the catastrophic affects their actions have on this planet. Yes they won’t be here to see it, but their kids and grandkids will be. We are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of the naive older generation.
*Might I add that if you are a part of the older generation and get angry at this statement because you ‘aren’t part of this problem’, please take an inward look at your actions and what you are doing/can change. Try and remember who it is that governs us and how very little they are doing*
I’m not here to sound bigger or better than anyone else, because I am not perfect. I am not a poster girl for environmental change but like anyone else I want that change to happen. We can do as much as we can as consumers however there is a much bigger change that is needed and that comes from people in a position of power.
When it comes to sustainability, my insight into it has been largely around the fashion industry and the abundance of fashion brands who produce clothing at affordable rates but in terrible conditions. Brands such as PLT, Boohoo, Missguided and Shein are only a few who are guilty of being extremely harmful to the environment.
Unfortunately there is a stereotype many people brandish our generation with. One which is extremely harmful and purely distasteful to the work that many people are doing. Work that needs to be done. It shouldn’t be brushed off because it is some ‘snowflake’ getting angry about a ‘trendy’ topic. Or people saying ‘It’s just the younger generation trying to be “woke”‘. It is young people taking ownership for YOUR mistakes.
Before I get too angry and go off on a tangent about the misconception of 16-25 year olds, I want to write an honest piece about how you can ‘afford’ sustainable fashion through not going out and buying clothes out-with your budget. I think a lot of people get scared to go off piste when addressing sustainability, however I believe there are major problems with the industry, especially surrounding students (who are one of the major consumers of the brands stated above). There are ways in which you can make changes to the way you shop without feeling guilty about not affording a £200 dress made of organic fabric.
I am a big believer that simply changing your attitude to your closet can stop you from shopping for unnecessary items. This way you can find what you need rather than what you want (or simply buying on impulse).
You wardrobe is full of clothes that can be repurposed in ways that will look completely different to the last time you wore it. Don’t look at a dress purely as just a dress. Why not tuck it into jeans or put a jumper over it. If, unlike me, you are good with a sewing machine, why not completely change something that has been sitting in the back of your wardrobe for 3 years.
At the end of the day your wardrobe should not be a shop.
A good way to think differently about the clothes you already own is having a look on sites like Pinterest (my account is linked below) and see how other people style similar pieces to ones you already have. This way you can change your mindset from ‘uh what do I have to wear, I don’t have anything’, to a creative challenge; ‘what can I do differently/switch it up’.
If you’re in a creative mood or are looking for something to do, another way to look at your wardrobe differently is taking photos of your outfits, so when it comes to being stuck for ideas, you have a folder on your phone for inspiration. Like previously mentioned, turn this into a challenge and see how many ways you can style one item.
Charity Shops are your best friend.
Sustainable clothing doesn’t have to be ‘new’. I once got a Ralph Lauren Polo Sweatshirt (Mens) for £10 from a charity shop. It is a great way to add designer items and unique pieces for a fraction of the price. This way it’s not ending up in a landfill.
Don’t be scared to go into a charity shop and have a good look around. Yes you might not find something every time and yes it probably smells like something out of your grandparents house but the chances of you finding something completely unique, interesting and well-made is a lot higher there than in a cheap Highstreet shop. On top of this, don’t be afraid to go into the mens section. For example that ‘trendy’ oversized blazer would be a perfect find in the mens section.
Online shopping does not have to encompass stores like the aforementioned ones. Looking at sites like eBay, Etsy and Depop are perfect for when you are looking for pieces you’ve seen on other people but at a smaller price tag. Plus you can repurpose them.
On another note if you have clothes that are in a good condition but are no longer used, why not sell them on one of the sites?
Reduce your Shopping Habits.
This is a huge aspect of fashion which I believe once changed is much more attainable than feeling ‘forced’ into buying sustainably. As a student, we have this perception that for every night out you need a different outfit, or for a special occasion you need a new dress. This is extremely harmful to the environment and frankly an outlook which is probably quite harmful to your bank balance: hence the success of brands like Boohoo.
Instead buy what you need not what you want. Buy pieces which will last for years rather than a day or a month (these don’t have to be expensive, they just need well looked after. If you buy from places like Shein however they will only last a short time). Don’t invest in trends, invest in your style and what you feel comfortable in. Simplicity is quite often key to this outlook.
If you want to buy from H&M because it is at an affordable price point, then do so, but don’t go buying 20 pieces because you have a summer holiday coming up or are in need of some winter clothing. Look at your wardrobe as a collection of items for all year round, which are multipurpose. You don’t need a new wardrobe every month.
Stop spending every month browsing cheap sites and feeling the need to buy something every time you need to go out somewhere special. This will often do more than feeling forced to spend money on more expensive ‘sustainable’ clothing you can’t afford.
On a personal note, this year I haven’t spent much at all on clothing. At most I’ve probably bought one or two items. This is not because I’ve been forced to stop buying clothing excessively, I’ve just looked at what I’ve got differently. It’s purely because I don’t need to buy anything.
The Perception of Sustainability
This is something that irks me the most. In a world based around consumership the need to shop sustainably is extremely important, that is something I would never disregard. However, what does annoy me is how guilty I feel even when I am not shopping.
As a student who is not fuelled with money, I can’t support local businesses at the moment, especially when they need it the most. On top of this I can’t afford to buy sustainably because the majority of it is extremely expensive (when buying ‘new’). It’s the same feeling when I go into a supermarket: an organic broccoli for example is always more expensive than the ‘standard’ one.
I recently read an article that Good Housekeeping did called ’20 Sustainable Fashion Brands – Ethical Clothing for Women’, don’t get me wrong I didn’t get through the full list as when the first 4 websites I clicked on were overpriced I was put straight off, purely because a standard t-shirt cost £25-30 (a price point which yes, is great when you have an income that can sustain spending that much for quality, however when your food shop for that week costs the same as one t-shirt, it’s not ideal).
I am scared at most that being sustainable is only a lifestyle attainable for those from middle to upper class backgrounds. I am even more worried that it is looking more like a ‘trend’ than anything else.
On top of this I don’t want people to be put off from even trying to alter their lifestyle slightly because on a large scale they can’t afford it.
Furthermore, like I said before, I also don’t want it attached to those ‘snowflakes’ wanting to be ‘woke’. It is a real life issue which needs addressed in the real world with practical solutions. Not by people applying stereotypes to ignore their own issues.
I’ve decided I am going to accumulate some business that are sustainable but affordable so if you can afford to and are looking for something you have a place to shop.
I can’t vouch for a lot of brands because I can’t afford to shop at them. This goes for any business at the moment. So, don’t feel guilty for not being able to shop sustainably or if you haven’t ‘yet’ done it (Just remember that those cheaper brands work with numbers – the more people that order from them means the more they will produce). Do it when you can, instead look at what you currently have and ignore the trends; they only last a while, instead invest in yourself.
However, what I want to reinforce is that it is your decision. Sustainability, especially when it comes to fashion, does not mean you have to go and shop at the nearest business that uses recycled fabrics etc. It means you change your mindset to what you have, and adapt your outlook to the world of fashion in general rather than feeling bad for not affording what is largely on offer within this market.
I am by no means an expert but have seen enough of people berating others without thought into what their current lifestyle is. You don’t know what happens behind closed doors.
However I hope this helps and changes your mindset on sustainability and what you already have in your wardrobe.
How many weeks are we now into staying at home? I think I have well and truly lost count. In fact I don’t think I started counting in the first place, mostly because I didn’t (and still don’t) know what day it is.
I have lost the plot. From my last post about life in lockdown it probably sounded like I was doing fine, having the odd down day, but mostly pushing through.
Now though. Now it is a different story.
Now I am bored. I am restless. I am frustrated at knowing this could go on for many more months.
Now I am ready for a mojito on a beach with the sun in the middle of nowhere.
Not in stormy Scotland (which is currently blowing a gale force on my window) *which was a few days ago now – we are currently back to sunshine.*
I know this probably sounds like I am having a good moan, and you know what I probably am. I am going to own the fact I am at the end of my tether because usually I’d apologise straight after about boring you with how ‘bad’ my life is. Yes in the grand scheme of things I haven’t had Covid so I don’t know the worst of it but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
But lockdown has different ways of affecting everyone. Right now I think the best way to describe it is that I feel ‘stuck’. I just don’t know what to do because I don’t have anything to do (this is a weird thing to say seeing I do have things to do, I think it is more the repetition of them and the feeling of not getting out of that cycle). I’m telling you this more because I am curious if anyone else feels the same?
I have even started to notice that small things can put me in a really bad mood. Like if someone says something that I disagree with or something doesn’t go to plan, it will put me in a slump for the rest of the day and I can’t shake it. It’s like having a period everyday – I just don’t know what emotion is going to come my way next.
Maybe this is because I don’t have the usual outlets to expense excess emotions that build up. I’m never one for talking about how I feel (which if you can avoid I recommend) but before lockdown my life would be semi busy so then at least that way I’d have ways of avoiding coping with them. I know that if a psychologist was reading this they’d probably have alarm bells ringing in their head but here we are.
I’m now reading this the day after writing it. I’d usually delete a post like this, looking at it more like a way to get my frustration out rather than being useful. But this is useful. It is important to know that you’re not alone and that if you feel like this then it’s okay. I don’t want to glamorise lockdown, it’s hard and not everyday is filled with amazing memories which you can hold onto for a lifetime (if I’m honest most of lockdown doesn’t have many of those for me, so no pressure).
It may sound extremely overdone, and for an English Lit. student, there are probably better metaphors to use but lockdown is very much like a rollercoaster, to me it is anyway. From one day to the next I never feel the same. It definitely throws curve balls at you and sometimes its quite scary.
So far the best ways I have found at coping with this utter mix of emotions is just listening to them and owning them. If I don’t want to do anything one day I won’t. If I am in a horrible mood I’ll try and do things to perk me up or just sit by myself for a bit. Reading is a good way of escaping when you can’t necessarily go outside. On top of this, what I’ve really found surprising is that running is a good way to escape the horrible feeling.
I am currently doing Couch to 5k, and I am on week 4. I stopped and started A LOT but I’ve now realised it helps to purely focus on my breathing and my technique. When you’re nearly dying because of the heat, you don’t have time to think of anything else.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is, no I’m not having the best of times all the time. I get more down days now than I did before lockdown. Yet that is understandable, it’s not enjoyable, but it happens. So now apparently you are my therapist (I’m joking). I hope to at least one person this makes you feel less alone.
I have always over examined how I feel but doing that is not going to change it.
Sending you lots of love, whether you are still in lockdown or not.
When I used to think of skincare I would perceive it as a chore and would do the bare minimum. That being, taking off my makeup before bed and putting on the odd bit of moisturiser.
Now after watching/reading multiple blog posts/videos from Caroline Hirons (who is one of the skincare gods in my opinion) and just generally noticing the increase of spots etc. I knew that an actual routine would be helpful.
Before talking about what products I use (which is unsolicited advice might I add, I am not a trained professional, this is just what works for me) I want to state how simply having a routine is not just important for your skin. I find that having something to do at night, which doesn’t change no matter the occasion brings structure to my day. It also helps to relax me before bed. If you’re anxious or stressed on a regular basis simply adding this to clear your head might do wonders.
Conversely, and just as important, is a morning routine. I find having a system in the morning actually wakes me up and gives me a small amount of time to concentrate on myself. Most of my skincare is done in the evening however washing your face and applying some moisturiser is just as important!
I’ve also added some cheaper alternatives below because I know some of the products can be more expensive.
I have used these two products for years. They are easy and work well. Garnier’s Micellar Water is a great product to remove all of your makeup, some do use it for eye makeup as well but I have sensitive eyes so this tends to end in tears – not exactly what I want. So, instead I use the Simple Eye Makeup Remover, which, might I add, is packaged with recycled materials (that is why the bottle looks grey rather than clear). This stuff removes eye makeup, especially mascara, really well and doesn’t react with my eyes.
However, for the cleanliness of your skin it is important to do a double cleanse, to remove firstly any makeup on your skin and then remove dirt/clean your pores. I must confess this is a step I don’t do regularly enough however I do recommend usingBody Shop’s Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter. It is a bit on the oily side however, once used, your face feels extremely clean. If you’d rather you can also use this to remove makeup.
I also recommend giving your face a quick clean in the morning before applying any makeup but let it dry properly before applying anything else, this way your makeup will stay on properly.
After cleansing I will swipe a cotton pad of Pixi’s Glow Tonic over my face. I love this stuff, it gently exfoliates your face (‘removes excess oils and impurities’) and leaves it glowing. However, it is pricy and I usually get it at Christmas time. I find this bottle will last 3-6 months depending on how much you use it.
However I have also used Aldi’s Lacura Glycolic Skincare tonic (unable to link because it is already out of stock online), which has been haled the best dupe for the Pixi product. You have to watch this product though because they go fast, which is no surprise at £3.99. Same with the rose version they sell, which I have also used. If you see them in store or online I’d recommend grabbing a few. They are great!
I’ve only been using Vitamin C for about a year now after visiting The Ordinary store in Edinburgh complaining of dull skin. At first I got given the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% which I recommend, it doesn’t sting and sits comfortably on the skin like a cream, the employee said its a great place to start when using Vitamin C as you have to build a tolerance to it. Now I use the Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone which does sting when using it (was expected). If I am honest I ordered this by accident after thinking I ordered a repeat of the previously mentioned one. It’s smooth in texture because of the silicone and is supposed to brighten the skin while reducing signs of ageing. I do like this, the stinging however is unpleasant but you get used to it.
I might add that when using Vitamin C products you must use a SPF, Vitamin C products makes you more susceptible to burning. I haven’t recommended one because I am still on the hunt for one that isn’t too oily, if you have any recommendations please let me know. SPF is one of the most crucial steps in anyones routine and is supposed to be used both in summer and winter (yes, even when the sun isn’t shining).
Vitamin C Peel
I got this product in February for my birthday from my good friend. I was extremely surprised by the affect it had and I’m genuinely impressed. It’s a Body Shop product from their Vitamin C range, available here. This particular product is made to strip away dead skin and impurities, particularly pollutants that are left on the skin. I use this as recommended twice a week. It has removed the drier bits of skin I used to have and my skin has an improved texture. Highly recommend using it; it is pricy but I believe it will last a while and is worth it.
I feel like when it comes to moisturiser I still don’t fully understand what I need. However I do have 2 products that I love and recommend. The Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. This moisturiser is one I have been using for years. However, because of its price I’ve only been using it in the morning rather than twice a day. It has a great texture and glides onto the skin. I can definitely feel the difference on my skin after its applied.
On the other hand, I know Clinique is expensive so I use the E45 moisturising lotion at night. I do have sensitive skin and have been prone to breaking out in random rashes therefore this product is great. It is multi use; I use it on my face and body, and it’s perfume free. I would be careful with it because it is supposed to be for eczema prone skin or extremely dry skin. A little definitely goes a long way with both products.
It must be said that my skin is not perfect. I have pigmentation on my chin, have problems with applying makeup on my nose for some odd reason (which I am guessing has something to do with my skincare) and have small spot like bumps on my forehead but it is a lot better than what it used to be and I am proud of where my skin is at, at this moment.
I feel it is important to address the fact that society has always told us to be ‘pretty’ is to look ‘perfect’. Therefore, our skin should look immaculate. The chances of this are very slim, especially as a female with hormones. I still haven’t gotten to the place where I am comfortable walking around without makeup on but I’m getting there. Don’t beat yourself up for your skin, its part of who you are, and it’s a journey.
If you have any recommendations or questions leave them below.
Like I said before I recommend checking out Caroline Hirons blog, where there are extensive amounts of research, products and advice plus she has released a book if you want an even more in-depth insight into how you should look after your skin.
If you haven’t read my last post then you won’t know that I went dairy-free for a week (for health reasons). So, when it came to eating or making anything sweet I was stuck for choice.
Then my mum came home with a reduced chocolate trifle from Tesco and all I could do was stare at it longingly. I knew then that the time had come for me to break out the baking tools and make myself my own sweet treat. Plus, the cake is vegan and can be changed to Gluten Free very easily.
Conversely to the photo above this was originally supposed to be a round cake so if you’d prefer that just change the choice of tin – be warned that the mixture is very runny so you need a springform or solid tin.
This recipe was based off of Nigella Lawson’s ‘Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake’ available here.
225g of Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (Original recipe suggests fine sea salt)
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Ground Coffee (Nigella suggests Espresso Powder)
75g Cocoa Powder
300g Dark Brown sugar
375ml of Hot water (kettle)
75g of coconut oil (90ml soft)
1/2 teaspoons of Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
Bunch of Raspberries to decorate
226g of Dark Chocolate (around 70%)
Coconut Cream (1 box)
2 cups of Icing Sugar (alter this on how thick you want the icing)
2 teaspoons of Oat milk (or any other milk)
1.Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180°C
2. Add all the dry ingredients besides the sugar into a bowl; Plain flour, Bicarbonate of Soda, Sea Salt, Coffee powder and Cocoa Powder.
3. Use a fork to mix the ingredients so they become fine, like below.
4. In another bowl you need to mix all the wet ingredients with the sugar; Dark Brown sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar. Don’t stir until the coconut oil has melted.
5. Next stir this into the dry ingredients., it should look like below.
Tip: The mixture won’t be smooth but make sure you give it a good mix because a lot of the dry ingredients will stick to the bottom of the bowl.
6. Line your tray, a 20cm/8inch either springform tin or a solid tin, with baking paper. The mixture is quite runny so if it is not in the correct tin it may leak.
7. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-35 mins. Nigella advises checking at 30mins incase.
Tip: It is supposed to be a gooey cake so the stick should come out relatively clear but don’t worry if there are a few crumbs on it. Make sure to check right in the centre.
8. Once cooked leave it to cool for at least 30 mins. The cake will need to be properly rested before taking it out of the tin as it won’t be stable enough.
9. Now make the icing. Pour the coconut milk into a pan and heat up.
10. While it is heating up place your chocolate (roughly chopped up if yours is a bar) into a bowl. When the milk starts bubbling pour the milk over the chocolate.
11. Don’t stir the mixture, instead leave it for 5 minutes and then whisk it into a thick consistency.
Tip: If you prefer this you can leave the icing sugar out. However I added the icing sugar so the mix wouldn’t be so rich.
12. If, like me, you want to add icing sugar then this is the time to do it. I added roughly 2 cups but the best way to do it is until you get the required consistency. Add the oat milk (or normal milk if you don’t mind dairy) to loosen the mix up.
13. Cover the cake with icing using a palette knife if you have one, a piping bag, a spatula or even a knife dipped in hot water.
14. If you have done a square cake you can cut it into little mini cakes and top them with some raspberries.
Alternative toppings can also include white chocolate (if you wanted to add dairy), pistachios or any additional topping which might cut through the rich sponge.
This cake is honestly one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had and can be perfect for a celebration or just a treat. Plus for any family member who struggles to find puddings without dairy or are vegan this is perfect; it is tasty no matter your requirements.
On a side-note don’t be put off by the coffee or coconut, you don’t taste them at all once its finished. They purely just add to the consistency and richness of the cake/icing.
I hope you enjoy it and make sure to tag me/send any photos if you decide to make it!
If you haven’t seen my last post, I shared my love for jewellery in regards to necklaces and how to shop them on a budget. So, this time I’m dedicating a whole post to rings.
Rings were never something I wore, I thought they would be extremely annoying (because jewellery, or accessories altogether, have to be practical) but I’ve fallen in love with layering them. It adds more detail and interest to your overall look, while also giving you something to twiddle if you are nervous (yes I just said ‘twiddle’ and yes they probably do act as a comfort blanket).
They don’t have to be expensive though and for me, like with necklaces, the simpler the better.
The best selection I can find available at Primark at the minute are these ones here. They do feature different coloured stones however paired sparingly I think they’d be perfect, plus for £3 you can’t complain. They also have a charming vintage feel to them which makes them look slightly more individual.
Another place I’d take a look is Accessorize, like previously mentioned in the Necklace Post, they do cheap alternatives.
The place I have found cheap stackable rings is Primark. Yup, don’t get me wrong they do turn silver eventually but for what they are, they are great.
I usually take out the ones that have pearls on them because they definitely look cheap however the solid ones are perfect to mix with your other rings.
These two rings actually belonged to my mum and are solid gold. What I love about them is the detail and sentiment to them.
The best place to look for more expensive rings are charity shops, vintage stores and your mums/families/friends/granny’s house (please ask for permission first, I don’t want to be blamed for you stealing your grans favourite ring)
Like I said in my previous post, look at the more expensive retailers and then try and find similar things elsewhere. Therefore you’re getting what you want but on a budget.
On the other hand, charity shops and vintage stores offer you the chance to find something one of a kind, while attaching your own sentimental story to them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my jewellery and how I shop for them. If you have any other places that are great for finding simple, individualist pieces then please leave them below.
Now before anyone says anything I did not go dairy free because I thought it was ‘cool’. A lot of people don’t get to choose this lifestyle and I don’t want to disregard that. However, I did go on it for health reasons which unfortunately this didn’t help.
It was worth a try.
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to share what I learned/made this week and what dairy-free products I enjoyed.
Day 1 – Tuesday
The first day I didn’t quite anticipate how ‘difficult’ (couldn’t think of a better word because obviously it didn’t hurt me but you get what I mean) this would be. More because my house (parents household) is full of things with dairy, in fact 90% of the things probably had the dreaded dairy in it.
On the other hand it was the first day I tried dairy free milk. I must confess, I have tried almond milk before and absolutely hated it. So, this time, with recommendations from other bloggers I went for oat milk. Specifically Oat-ly’s ‘oat drink’ and I highly recommend it.
The oat drink made porridge taste ten times better with its creaminess and tea didn’t taste horrendous (I still prefer semi-skimmed milk in tea I think, but if I had to go dairy-free for the rest of my days I wouldn’t be angry at drinking purely oat milk).
The one thing I noticed about dairy-free ‘milks’ in general is the shocking price of them. I had to get two cartons of oat milk for a week which were £1.90 each. So, compared to normal milk prices and the amount you’d get in them, it wasn’t exactly cheap. *My student self cringed deeply at the price.*
Day 2 – Wednesday
After the realisation that this would be a bit harder than I first anticipated, mainly because my family kept eating chocolate or ice cream in front of me, I was determined to get into a good routine.
For me that starts with breakfast. As you read above, Oat milk made my porridge A LOT better. Its creamy texture infused with honey (probably a bit too much, but I love the stuff) and topped with strawberries and….. more honey, made my breakfast a 10/10 experience.
Day 3 – Thursday
Lunches and dinner were never exactly a huge problem. Thankfully when I got some dairy free butter I could make decent mash potato and just had to ignore the cheese sitting on the table when we had pasta or fajitas (which was more difficult than I’d like to admit). However, if you want a lunch recommendation Lidl’s pulled pork put into a wrap, then toasted is very tasty and so is a sushi bowl (if you want the recipe or a blog post on lunches let me know).
Day 4 – Friday
I thought I’d dedicate this day to telling you my thoughts on dairy free butter.
As you can see I used the Vitalite Dairy free spread, which after being a devoted lover of butter wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be. Mash potato didn’t taste any different, nor did sandwiches or toast. It did have a slight after taste but as a whole I would recommend. I didn’t try it in baking though so I can’t quite tell you how versatile it is.
Day 5/6 – Saturday/Sunday
Now snacking was the thing I struggled with the most. Considering my mum bought a chocolate trifle, opened matchmakers in front of me, and my sister ate crunchy rocks opposite me, I was desperate for a chocolate fix. Thus, I made one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had/made and it was VEGAN. I’m sharing the recipe in a few days (hence no photos yet, I’ll leave you in anticipation) because I tweaked it but if you want the original its from Nigella’s ‘dark and sumptuous chocolate cake’ available here. It was just the right amount of chocolate and was lovely and moist. I highly recommend making it.
What I did miss with the cake was ice cream, something which I was scared to try considering texture and taste plays a huge part in the icy delight. However, mum found this ice cream in the co-op and I was surprised by how good it was, you definitely couldn’t tell it was dairy-free. (In fact when I stopped being dairy-free I continued eating this and also I didn’t want to waste anything).
Day 7/8 – Monday/Tuesday
I thought I’d put these last two days together so I can round off my thoughts down below while not boring you too much. Adding to the above I highly recommend Oreos and Chocolate Bourbons as some dairy free snacks, plus fruit of course. I think I went through 2+ packs of Oreos (which yes is shameful but I didn’t have much else).
Monday was the day I finally tried Tesco’s free-from ‘White Choc Buttons’, let’s just say I wish I hadn’t. My mum said exactly the right thing to describe them ‘they don’t have the silkiness of ‘normal’ chocolate and have a horrid aftertaste’. Severely disappointing – I know I shouldn’t necessarily expect much when it comes to dairy free chocolate but I wouldn’t recommend them at all, go for a chocolate biscuit (they taste much better).
I have to admit that this is one thing I have noticed when looking at the dairy free/free-from selection is that everything doesn’t look that appealing. Or it makes you feel isolated for not eating a certain ingredient. In my opinion it would be more helpful to compile brands that you wouldn’t think are dairy free/don’t advertise as free-from instead of plastering it all over the packaging.
Final Thoughts – I must say I didn’t feel any radical changes and I don’t weigh myself so I can’t say it altered my weight (which I don’t know how I would feel about promoting anyway) however on the first day I did feel particularly faint during the afternoon but I can’t clarify if that was related. I got hungrier a lot quicker especially before dinner and did get frustrated at how much things had dairy in it which I didn’t quite register before.
However, I did really enjoy the oat milk. Plus I am a very competitive person so even though it didn’t improve my health the way I wanted it to (which I won’t go into detail about) it did make me have something to stick to and think about.
If you have any dairy free recommendations which you’d like to suggest to anyone currently dairy free, please leave them below.
I LOVE JEWELLERY. I particularly love expensive jewellery. However, I am a student with struggling finances so spending the odd £60+ on one item is not happening.
Therefore, I wanted to share the ways in which I’ve managed to add interest to a lot of my outfits, without breaking the bank.
Some I might add are quite obvious, however I think sometimes it takes that reminder that shopping cheaply doesn’t mean it won’t look great. Granted it might not last long but it will give you an idea on what you like and what you should invest in later.
So to start with it’s all about necklaces.
Necklaces are a great way to make something as simple as a white t-shirt look great. I have a mix of slightly higher end necklaces and then more highstreet ones.
The layering necklace (on the far right of the photo) is from New Look and I’ve had it for a fair few years. It’s great to add to graphic tees and also plain shirts. It has gone a bit rusty at the top but the overall affect of the necklace has not changed. A layering necklace is a great thing to add to your collection and because they tend to be more pricy starting off with a budget piece is great!
Tip: Especially when buying cheaper jewellery, the simpler the better. I love simplistic pieces anyway but when buying them on a budget the more there is to it the cheaper it will look.
The middle necklace (see on the photo above and the aside photo) actually sits in between a chocker and a normal lying necklace (available here). It is a perfect substitute to a layering necklace or if you simply want to add something small to an outfit. Accessorize is a great place to shop for jewellery because they mimic a lot of the higher end designs but on a budget. This one in particular has stayed in pretty good condition.
Upper End Highstreet
I must admit the two upper end pieces I own have been gifted to me by my fabulous friends. However, they are my most worn necklaces and if you can’t get them yourself asking for birthdays etc. is a great way to ask for things that may be a bit of a stretch on a normal day.
This particular one I believe is from Oliver Bonas (the shop in Edinburgh is beautiful!). The necklace is simple and goes with absolutely everything. Mixing and matching more expensive jewellery with your budget pieces (especially when they are such simple pieces) means the budget ones are elevated.
Tip: If you don’t necessarily have the budget for an expensive necklace, looking around the upper priced websites is still a great place to start. This way you can find what you like and look elsewhere for a cheaper option.
Tip: When shopping for more expensive pieces looking at the sales are a great way to afford them. I’ve noticed that Oliver Bonas tend to do great in store sales, particularly on Jewellery.
The next necklace was also kindly gifted by a friend and it is the well known pendant from Anthropologie, available here. They come inscribed with an initial on it so a great gifting piece!
However it has slightly disappointed me with its lasting quality. I am not sure if this is significant to the Edinburgh store (seeing there is a similar review based on there) but the piece has turned copper like and has scratching on the front. I tend to take great care of my jewellery ( I don’t sleep with them on, they get hung up and I don’t shower with it on either) so its a real shame that it has not lasted more than a year. It definitely doesn’t look gold anymore.
I do still wear it, just not the same amount as what I have done and it certainly doesn’t have the same affect.
Please let me know if you’ve had a similar experience.
If you have any recommendations on jewellery, feel free to leave them down below. When I am finally back in Edinburgh I am particularly looking forward to finding some options there!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next jewellery post, all about rings!
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Miss C.J.Walker (available on Netflix) documents the real life story of an African American self-made millionaire (one of the first) and her invention of hair care products for hair loss and curls, predominately for African women. She was not only known for being one of the first African American female millionaires but was also known for her Philanthropic endeavours, especially her donation towards the making of the Indianapolis YMCA.
If you couldn’t tell this was one amazing woman! However, her past was not without hardship; she was born on a cotton plantation in 1867, with her parents being recently freed from slavery. One of five children, she was the first to be born into a life of freedom.
The programme sees Sarah (Miss C.J.Walker), played by the wonderful Octavia Spencer, grow into a business woman. It details the hardships, competition, sexism, racism and jealousy that she faces to get to the top. Not only this, the programme accurately details that money does not eradicate any of these problems, in fact, in many cases it makes them a lot worse.
As a female it was refreshing and interesting to see the hardships she faced to build a business and how she did not let any of her setbacks get in the way of her success. More importantly, it is great to see an African American business women represented, especially in such a large institution like Netflix. I must admit I did not know about her story before watching the show. That in itself perfectly describes how important the show is.
Family plays an integral role to the life of Madam C.J Walker, with her husband Charles Joseph Walker, or C.J (played by Blair Underwood), having an illustrious affair with one of Sarah’s employees. On the other hand there is her daughter A’Lelia (played by Tiffany Haddish) who is secretly a lesbian and finds her true self in Harlem, New York. It is hard to say whether the lesbian affair or the ‘wounded pride’ of her husband is purely there for dramatic affect. A’Lelia did host extravagant queer parties in her lifetime but it is never once spoken about that she was queer. In fact her descendant who wrote the biography that the show is based on is planning writing one on A’Lelia, so perhaps we will find out more about her extravagant yet hazy past.
It must be said that I was rather surprised when doing research after watching the show that there wasn’t more emphasis on Sarah’s philanthropic endeavours, for example her involvement with the anti-lynching movement. Conversely, like Mike Hale said in his review, it was a shame there wasn’t more emphasis on the earlier experiences she had at trying to build the business from the ground up. For example, she was married three times and started experiencing hair loss because of the extreme labour and stress she faced. I think it is here that we would have seen a more raw and endearing performance from Octavia Spencer.
It appears that they missed out two really important parts of her life, parts which could have made the show a lot more impactful and true to her life story. I understand that focusing in on one particular element will dilute what can be mentioned, its just a shame that such large parts were skimmed over.
It is not to say that it is not important to watch the story of such an inspiring woman. I just wish that the important issues of racism and sexism were dealt with in more depth and that such a woman was highlighted as not just a businesswoman with a problematic husband, a lesbian daughter and a conniving, jealous competitor. She had a rich history and a rich future who dealt with issues far beyond her business.
Unfortunately the show appeared more like something that suited the stage rather than the screen. At points I was actually surprised it didn’t break out into song – something quite disappointing when I believe the story deserves more than the apprehension of whether music is going to fill my ears.
Please watch the show and form your own opinion. However, at the very least, research the strong woman behind such a company and what she did for African Americans, particularly women.
Lockdown has stopped a lot of things, one being celebrating getting a year older with your friends and family. It was my mum’s birthday on the 1st of June and unfortunately the plans we did make for making lockdown a bit more exciting got cancelled. So not only could my mum not go out and celebrate but she couldn’t have the afternoon tea she booked to be delivered to the house either.
I appreciate that this is not important in the grand scheme of things and there are definitely much larger things going on. However, I believe every single person should feel special on their birthday, lockdown or not.
Therefore, the idea for this post was created. I thought I’d share the things we did to make her birthday exciting and also some different ways that you can make your loved ones day a lot better. Even if you don’t have a birthday coming up (or don’t know anyone who does) these things are also applicable to anniversaries, special occasions or simply just making someone’s day that bit more special.
The best way to start off someone’s day right is breakfast (or that is my opinion anyway seeing breakfast/brunch is my absolute favourite). My sister and I made these waffles for my mums birthday.
Some of my breakfast suggestions include: Pancakes, Full Scottish Breakfast, Avocado and Bacon with a poached egg on toast (really stereotypical I know) or a bowl of natural yoghurt with granola, fresh fruit (often strawberries and raspberries or banana) topped with lots of honey.
Friends and Family
During lockdown we all miss interacting with people outside of our household. So why not make someone’s day a bit more special and different to all the others through engaging with those we miss the most. You can have someone come visit your garden (correct as of writing this post on the 2nd of June in Scotland), create a surprise zoom call or even create a short video with little messages from family and friends. Even something as simple as a chat over a wall can bring a smile to that persons face. These gestures don’t need to be large, the smallest of things can make the biggest difference.
I think in these circumstances it is remembering that each person will feel comfortable doing different things. So, if someone doesn’t want to visit don’t feel ashamed or heartbroken. These things take time and it definitely doesn’t mean that they aren’t thinking about you.
Do Something Special
Even with the lack of resources it doesn’t mean you can’t do something to make that day extra special.
For example, my mums afternoon tea was cancelled so we decided to make our own at home with bits and bobs from Tesco. Making sure she was sitting down and relaxing while we did the stressful bit. We even used her old china which was handed down to her and has been in a box for far too long.
Another great thing to do is hang up banners and balloons. Something to lift their spirits when the day might not be how they expected.
I think the most important thing to do is to keep that person busy. If you are looking for some different things to keep you occupied check out this post. Maybe try some baking or think of their favourite thing to do and put it indoors/in your garden. You could even recreate their favourite restaurant.
I think now is one of the best times to gift something sentimental. Even something as little as some flowers or a card with a nice handwritten message in it has a great sentiment to it. If you wanted to go the extra mile you could gift a box with your favourite memories together or create a photo album; a great way to reminisce, even when you aren’t together.
I hope these suggestions have come in handy and if you have a special day coming up I hope can you enjoy it.
Also, if you have any other suggestions that you’d like to input just mention them below.
Nothing easy is ever worth doing. I heard that once and have never let it go. This applied to this post. More than I want to admit. Because this isn’t easy.
Why you may ask?
I didn’t know what was right to say or what to do. I had this uneasy feeling in my stomach because as a white female, someone who is privileged, where do I begin? How can I help? More importantly WHY IS THIS STILL HAPPENING??
Through countless amounts of research and self reflecting I believe the best thing I can do is share the things I have come across that have helped and I believe are highly useful. More importantly, this should not become a ‘trend’ or a ‘phase’. This is important. It should be understood and changed.
One of the easiest ways to support the movement is by donating (if you can) and signing the countless amounts of petitions. Putting your name and email on a petition is not difficult and should not be excused. This is a way of making change and getting it into an office which can make that considerable change.
Introduce Mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting, found here
A twitter thread to countless important petitions found here
From an English lit. student’s perspective I believe one of the best ways to educate yourself on race and historical matters in general is reading about them. Fiction or non-fiction both are integral to expanding your knowledge and perspective on such matters.
I recently read “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo. An important piece of fiction that looks into 12 Black Women’s struggles. I highly recommend reading it.
I am going to make an effort to read more from black authors, to support their work and give myself a better understanding. This photo above found on @jane_mount’s instagram is a great place to start.
Instagram has a load of content regarding racism, white privilege and racial injustice (to name a few) . I highly recommend checking out @ohhappydani, @mireillecharper, @femalecollective and @ajabarber
@das.penman has useful links on educating yourself on UK racism
Please share more in the comments!
Support black content creators, if you share their work TAG them.
If you can’t donate, you can watch Zoe Amira’s video ‘Stream to Donate: how to help with no money or leaving the house’ found here. It is full of ads which means 100% of the ad revenue will be donated to several charities/organisations she has linked. Make sure the ad blocker is turned off and it is recommended you watch on the YouTube app if the ads don’t appear.
Not only that but YouTube is full of resources to educate yourself on the history of racism, about white privilege and how you can be an ally.
Video on Systematic Racism (based on the US), found here
Tedx talk on the root of racial injustice by Megan Ming Francis, found here
Again, please let me know more down below.
Change Your Lifestyle
One thing I have noticed from the research I have done so far is the amount of things that can be changed in our day to day lives.
Stop supporting brands like L’Oreal who have only now openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement because it is deemed ‘palatable’. They once fired Munroe (@munroebergdorf) a black trans woman from a campaign after she spoke out on white supremacy.
Furthering this point, do your research on Brands, influencers etc. Who deserves your attention? Who is using the movement purely to benefit themselves and the algorithm?
Start supporting more smaller businesses owned by black people whether that is in literature, fashion, cosmetics etc.
Diversify your social media accounts and continue to share and support their content
Check out the resources available on websites like blacklivesmatter.com
I will never understand what black people have to go through. But what I can do is educate myself and support the movement. Please go and watch the videos, sign the petitions and support black creators.
This outrageous violence needs to stop but that can only happen when everyone registers that racism is a problem. It can only stop when white people realise that it is not enough to just be ‘not racist’.
I am not making this post to be ‘helpful’ or some sort of educator. I want you to go and educate yourself and share the resources YOU find.
Like I said, have those uncomfortable conversations, speak up and listen.
I know a lot of people are having nice weather and are probably lying out in the sunshine. However, the probability of that where I live (in the Scottish Highlands) is not a guarantee. On top of that even when there is nice weather there is a cold breeze. Which is what I am currently experiencing sitting out in my garden writing this – with a blanket wrapped around me.
I know when stuck inside for over two months you become lost for ideas on how to keep yourself busy, both inside and out. Therefore, I thought I’d be super nice and share my tips (I say ‘tips’, I more mean that I will divulge what I have been doing and probably what everyone else has – I’m hoping though that I have included something semi original).
At the start of lockdown I bought myself a paint by numbers. Which my brother calls the idiot way of painting. I must admit I can paint to some degree however that was a long time ago. Therefore I don’t want to sit down and hope that the outcome is something I like. So, instead, I bought this and it has been keeping me busy ever since. Don’t get me wrong it is still not finished but I think that is the beauty of it – it will last you the whole of lockdown!
*The paint by numbers took 3 weeks or so to arrive so if you want to order one I would do it as soon as possible*
If you don’t like the sound of a paint by numbers you can always grab a colouring book. I find this really therapeutic and is great to do both inside and out. You don’t need to do a traditional mandala one. I recently gifted one that featured scenes of the sea – a perfect reminder of where you can visit after lockdown.
If like me, you don’t consider yourself very good at sketching but enjoy it all the same, this is the perfect chance to brush up on your skills. This way there is no pressure and you can just sketch when you want to. I quite enjoy doing my one walk a day and taking the odd photo. That way when I get back I can try to replicate it as best as I can. Don’t worry, its not like there is an art teacher screaming down your neck, do it at your own pace and just enjoy it!
Find a Course
Something which I have started (and not yet finished) is a google course. They offer a few free ones but if you are willing to pay then they also have an expanse of different ones. I’ve started a course on The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing (free). It is a great thing to add to your CV plus engages your brain when uni is cancelled. They are all available here.
*It is worth looking at universities and other organisations to see if they also have courses available. Also check reviews and see what you get at the end of the course before signing up*
Get in the Kitchen
The above photo is a Yoghurt cake which I’m currently trying to improve. *Fingers crossed a recipe will be coming soon*
I know with the increase in banana breads being baked and people saying they will learn to cook that this is definitely a trend for lockdown. However, it is extremely useful. I used to hate baking but lockdown has managed to spark an enjoyment in it for me.
Baking for other people and trying different things has been calming, unless of course it goes terribly wrong.
If you are not a baker I highly recommend ordering a new cookbook, I bought this one by Jessica Elliot Dennison (who also owns a restaurant in Edinburgh).
Get Yourself a Book or an Audiobook
I know this is stating the obvious but I think a lot of people forget that reading is a really good way to relax and also improve your vocabulary/speech. Don’t put pressure on yourself to read a literary masterpiece (although I have a feeling all authors class their books as this). Just grab a book from your local supermarket and enjoy it. I recommend ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ which I just reviewed here.
On the other hand if reading isn’t your thing I recommend listening to an audiobook, especially before going to bed. I really enjoy Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter (although I’ve already read the books and watched the films numerous times, the story never gets old). Or you can access various actors *including Daniel Radcliffe* for free reading the first book here.
If reading books and Harry Potter aren’t your thing (I am disappointed) or you’ve already listened to it then I have a great alternative. Instead you can transport yourself to your childhood or listen to this audiobook with your kids. Taika Waititi has joined Road Dahl HQ to read James and The Giant Peach each Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a bunch of famous people joining him. You can find it here.
I recommend watching it in your own time rather than before bed as Taika brings a lot of fun to the video. He makes his own sound affects, and engages his famous guests who act brilliantly of course. Making it great for both adults and kids. It’s also for charity so I highly encourage you to donate if you can.
Writing is a great way to take whatever is bothering you out of your head. This way you can give your brain a rest and see what’s bothering you as actual words rather than information floating in your brain.
Conversely, creative writing is a great way to give you an escape. Planning your own world for your own characters can last a good while, giving you a much needed distraction. You can even just start by writing some prompts on your phone, no pressure. Make it fun, it doesn’t have to be the next Lord of The Rings.
Like I mentioned in my last post about lockdown, don’t feel bad if you don’t want to do any of these things. If this list puts you off, you’ve basically just read a pile of things I’ve started but not actually finished. So, don’t worry.
If you have any suggestions of what else I (or anyone else) can do to occupy themselves let me know below. Also, if you use any of my suggestions make sure to tag me on instagram (@Sophie_mcivor) and share it with your friends.
I want to start this post by highlighting the fact it is not going to be about ignoring the rules. PLEASE FOLLOW THEM. Instead I want to remind you that how you deal with it is your choice, don’t feel bad for not doing exercise, eating copious amounts of chocolate or lying in bed all day.
Lockdown does not mean you have to start a new hobby, decorate a room or get absolutely ripped.
I personally have pretty much done nothing out of the ordinary. I started running and then I stopped running. I started reading lots and now I am not reading lots. I started looking at the news and now I have stopped looking at the news.
All of that is okay!
The countless Facebook posts from strangers ripping people apart for simple little things are making me scared of actually being honest. That is not okay.
I know that of course there are extremes where people need to be called out on their actions. I think the latest in British Politics explains that. However, people should not feel isolated during self isolation. Surely when people are already being scared and examined for their cleanliness; what they touch, if they sneeze, how they breath etc. the last thing they need is to be hounded for a mistake? or made to feel like this is a probability?
I’ve written this post three times. Each time it has had a new title and a new body of text. I guess that resembles the inner workings of my brain at the moment, a mess.
Personally, I feel like during such an isolating period, people should be able to be themselves without questioning their behaviour. I guess that’s what happens when people have more time to spend on social media.
Anyway, I don’t want this to sound like you can waltz around and ignore the rules. That you can’t do. However, I want you to not feel bad for feeling confused or fed up. Everyone is going to feel that way at some point. I definitely have. What I’ve come to realise is that everyone deals with situations differently; some like to broadcast their stress on social media, some like to internalise their thoughts and feelings and then some like to drink copious amounts of wine.
I’m not saying any of the above are long term solutions but if that is how you cope then that is okay. Don’t feel bad. Enjoy the glass(es) of wine!
Just remind yourself that another person will deal with it differently to you.
I hope you are safe and well. I’d love to hear how you are and what you’ve been up to in isolation in the comments.
When I say I’ve never been messaged so much about one thing, I mean it. The recipe for these iced cinnamon buns have been highly requested. Trust me, they are worth it!
I know a lot of people freak out when it comes to working with yeast or kneading dough. I was one of them. However, this is the perfect recipe to calm your woes. If I can do it, so can you.
This recipe has been tweaked from the lovely people at Steampunk Coffee, check out their instagram where the original recipe is available on their highlights. I’ve definitely learnt a lot when making them and can’t thank them enough for the easiest recipe I have found for my favourite thing!
Makes 8-13Cinnamon Iced Buns
Time – Around 3 1/2 hours (first prove lasts 30mins, second lasts 2 hours). We start making them at around 10am so we can enjoy them after lunch at around 1.30/2pm.
What You Will Need:
5 cups of plain flour (plus extra for dusting the surface)
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1/2 tbsp of salt
2 cups of warm water
3tsp yeast (or 1 sachet)
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp butter (melted)
3 tbsp butter (softened)
1/4 cup of brown sugar – light or dark (I used light)
3 tsp cinnamon
2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla (I found 2 too much so I changed it to 1tsp)
2/3 tbsp milk
Step 1: Prepare the yeast mixture. For this add 1/2 tsp of caster sugar to 1 cup of warm water. To this add 3tsp of yeast (or one sachet). Lightly whisk and leave for 5-10mins.
Step 2: while the yeast mixture is sitting you can start to get the dry ingredients for the dough mixed. So in a separate bowl add 5 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of caster sugar, 1/2 tbsp salt and lightly whisk. It is just so the dry ingredients can be combined, you don’t need to mix it too well because you’ll be using your hands soon to combine the yeast.
Step 3: So once the yeast mixture has been sitting long enough you’ll want to add it, 3tbsp of melted butter (I melt it in the microwave for around 20-30 seconds) and a second cup of warm water to the dry ingredients. Then mix with your hands until combined. TIP – I use one hand and grab the mixture from the bottom turning it, you do not want to press it or start kneading it. As you can see it will be lumpy and not completely incorporated. Don’t worry, the kneading will make it smooth.
Tip – If there is leftover flour in the bottom of the bowl add a very small amount of warm water to help bring it together.
Step 4: tip out the combined mixture onto a floured surface, don’t worry if it feels sticky. This is when the kneading starts, what you are aiming for is a smooth dough like the photo.
Push it away from you with the palms of your hands, fold it over (take the end furthest from you and fold towards you) then turn it around and repeat the process.
It should only take a few turns for it to go soft and bouncy.
Step 5: pop it into a clean bowl and cover for 30 mins (we cover this with a tea-towel and leave it out on the counter). The perfect time to get dressed, shower or grab a cup of tea.
Step 6: Once the dough has proved, sprinkle the counter with a good amount of flour. Next use your hands to shape it into a large rectangle. Make sure the middle is not too thin, aim for about 2cm in thickness.
Once the dough has been shaped you’ll need to rub on 3tbsp of softened butter, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 3 tsp of cinnamon.
Step 7: Roll the dough towards you, keeping it as tight as you can.
TIP – I recommend just taking your bag of sugar, breaking it up with the end of a teaspoon and then dust the dough with as much sugar as you’d like – ideally so it covers the rectangle, likewise with the cinnamon. Make sure to go right to the edge.
Step 8: using a serrated knife, divide the dough into a minimum of 8 rolls. Every time I have made it, I have made around 13. Of course the less you do, the thicker the iced buns will be. *keep in mind these will expand on their second prove as seen below*
Step 11: once they have been proved for 2 hours they should look like the picture on the right. Now they are ready to go in the oven.
Bake them for 25 mins at 180 degrees fan or Gas 6.
Step 9: place them into either a circular or square tin, lined with greaseproof paper, making sure there is enough room between each bun for them to expand.
Step 10: tightly cover with tinfoil and leave out in room temperature for 2 hours.
Step 12: While they are baking you can now make the icing. Melt 3tbsps of butter, 2 cups of icing sugar and either 1-2tsp of vanilla (I use 1). Next add 1-2tbsps of milk and whisk until you get a thick consistency. If it is still not coming together add another tablespoon of milk.
It should cling to the whisk and look like the aside picture.
Step 13: Once cooked let the buns cool for 5mins and then put thick layers of the icing on top.
Coming from someone who doesn’t like icing I promise it tastes great!
Now they should be perfect for eating! I highly recommend eating one as soon as they are ready. The fresher the better! If you are eating them a day later I’d advise heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds (watch because the bottom can get very hot). I’d say they can last 2-3 days but 3 days is probably a push.
I hope you enjoy them as much as my family do! They are perfect for sharing and definitely don’t last long in our household.
Make sure to tag me in any photos if you make them and let me know what you think.
Again, a huge thank you to Steampunk Coffee for this fabulous recipe, if you’re in the Edinburgh area make sure to check them out and try the originals out for yourself.
Yes I am sitting here writing another post to add to the already insane amount that has circulated the internet about this awesome show. Yet I am extremely okay with that, because it deserves it.
The internet has become inundated with memes, reviews, instagram accounts (hello @connellschain) and women everywhere getting hot in the head about Connell Waldron, played by Irish actor Paul Mescal. Originally released by Hulu, it graced BBC 3 in April and amassed over 16.2 million views in its first week. The largest amount BBC 3 has ever received.
When I say you ‘should’ watch it. I mean you have to watch it. It is the first show, in a while, that I’ve been totally gripped to – I finished it in a matter of days (which for some of you will be disappointing seeing they are only 29 minutes long but I do have a life outside TV – until that shrivels up the longer lockdown keeps on going).
The chemistry, as you might have heard, between Marianne (Daisy-Edgar Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) is immeasurable and captivates your attention from the start. As a 20 year old it was refreshing to see a late-teen couple on TV who had issues and weren’t absolutely perfect. Yes the show is very racy (I don’t think I’d like to watch it with my parents) but the perfection of the shots and the acting takes the awkwardness out of it. Instead it just feels real.
Apart from the important issue of consent and sexual abuse, I really appreciated how they showcased someone who wasn’t completely comfortable at uni. Connell felt like he didn’t belong in his classroom, felt very undervalued and not good enough. A thought I highly resonated with. Just because you’re not the talk of the class does not mean you don’t deserve a seat at the table.
I applaud the cast and crew of this programme for not glorifying any aspect of life as a teenager/young adult. Relationships are complex and they should be portrayed like that. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a second season.
Finally, to Sally Rooney, the author of such a world, I think I need to read the books now. Thank you!
There was a time where I did not enjoy baking, I was never like my mum where the random need to bake would take over me and I definitely did not find baking relaxing.
Yet during lockdown I’ve been finding myself in the kitchen more often trying to bake the things I either eat on a regular basis or wanted to conquer in the baking world. Now cookies might not be overly difficult to you but it is a first for me.
These ones are relatively easy and should make around 12. They take 35 minutes plus an hour for chilling and time for cooling.
*I have tweaked the recipe from Lucy Blackwell’s biscuit recipe*
What you will need:
125g unsalted softened butter
110g of brown sugar (I mixed 55g of light brown sugar and 55g of dark brown sugar)
1tsp vanilla extract
170g plain flour
2tbsp of cocoa powder
1/2 bicarbonate of soba
45g milk chocolate chips
45g dark chocolate chips
45g white chocolate chips
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together in a mixing bowl using an electric whisk until combined.
Next beat in the egg until combined
Then sift together the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and the cocoa powder. Stir into the mixture.
4. After you should fold in the milk, white and dark chocolate chips.
5. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
6. Make sure to pre set the oven to 180 degrees (fan 160 degrees, gas 4). While the mixture is chilling line two large baking trays with a sheet of baking paper.
7. After they have been chilled for an hour, take tablespoonfuls of the mixture and roll them into balls, slightly flattened (as seen in the photo). Place them 5cm apart on the baking sheet.
*TOP TIP – slightly wet your hands – this will help rolling them*
8. Once they have all been rolled, bake for 18 minutes or until ready. (Bake on two trays, once at a time) Cool on the trays.
It is important to remember that they will come out the oven soft to the touch, they will crisp up when cooling.
Make sure to tag me in the photos of your wonderful cookies @Sophieeditblog
I’m not sure this book exactly needs an introduction seeing it was the winner of the Booker Prize 2019 and became one of Barack Obama’s 19 favourite books of 2019. However, here I am, telling you about the fantastic novel Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo.
I’ve been a bit lost when it comes to reading over isolation (I’m currently isolating at home because of Covid-19) because I’ve gone from reading books 24/7 for my degree to having all the time in the world to read leisurely but not having a clue where to start. Yet, this book might have reignited my passion for reading.
For a start, who ever designed the cover of this book (yes that is important) needs commended because it is visually stunning and also very important. You definitely won’t be able to miss it in your local book store (for those wondering – it should be available in your local supermarket, I got mine from Tesco – so grab it during your essential shop!)
The book focuses on a range of black women, from all walks of life and all ages. It is an important telling of how women, importantly African women, feel in British society and how racism, sexism, homophobia, sexual and verbal abuse, transphobia and a whole load of other factors affect women in this day and age.
Evaristo manages to effortlessly intwine the stories of twelve women while making the reader feel entirely connected to their stories.
Not only that, the writing style is unique but fits perfectly with the story. Yes at points I did need to stop and think about what was happening because sentences ran onto each other and paragraphs were abruptly jolted by uncommon spacing.
However, it is this chance to stop and think that is so important. It would be rude to not think about what was happening – these women need care and attention, their stories have depth and are very complex – even in the short space of time that Evaristo grants them. The book is that well written you’d think you were reading stories of women who have ventured the earth before.
Most importantly, and what grips the reader right through the novel, is her ability to connect the women together. The novel is separated into chapters, each containing several women who are either related or close friends. The women explored in each chapter, also connect to someone previously mentioned in a different chapter. To me, on a simple basis, this made the novel special. The reader gets to continually connect the dots and figure out the complexity of the relationships, which mirrors the complicated relationships we have as humans.
It must be acknowledged that yes, I am a white straight female, however this does not mean I do not relate to the stories Evaristo has created. Of course I do not relate to all of them and that is why it is so important to read this novel because every women can relate to at least a part of this and if you are reading this and do not identify as a female, think about what you can learn from such a novel.
I promise there is something for everyone in this and wholeheartedly hope you will read it.
If you’ve already encountered Evaristo’s fantastic novel I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you have any book recommendations send them my way.
I don’t know, for those who know me, if this exactly comes as a surprise but yes the website you’ve stumbled upon (or maybe I’ve made you read) is from my *I was going to say mouth but technically is actually my fingers*.
Yet for those who don’t know me, thank you for taking the time to read my blog in this little corner of the web. Please check out the About section of my blog for some more information on myself. I hope you’ll find something of interest here, whether that is an upcoming recipe, review or just a general glance at life as a student.
Anyway, it is hard to put into words exactly why I wanted to start my blog. It definitely started out as a love for food bloggers and the constant temptation to spend all my student funds on the array of food in Edinburgh (thank you @plateexpectations). However, I’ve also grown up watching and reading various amounts of content across the web, which, when studying English literature, prompts me to share my opinions, advice and interests.
I feel it is important to continue to share your voice even when that market may become oversaturated with wannabe instagram models *no disrespect might I add*. I’ve become more frustrated at myself for overthinking posting on social media and not being able to be authentically myself, therefore here I am. Trying really hard to not over think what I am saying and really hoping you’re not too cringed out.
Blogging is a platform extremely accessible to anyone. So, honestly, when struggling to find any internships and with the current health crisis (thank you Covid-19) I’ve decided to look at my life proactively and actually do something I’ve always wanted to.
Gone are the days of Sophie being scared, thinking she’s not good enough or is going to get relentlessly teased by all her friends (I do love you all really).
Keep an eye out on my instagram @sophieseditblog for further updates, any thoughts or ideas are more than welcome, please share them in the comments below!