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!