Now I am very much they type of person who loves new stationary, especially when it comes to starting a new term. However, being away from all my usual bits and pieces (I’m studying from home rather than at my flat this term) meant I had to find new ways of finding productivity rather than being wasteful and buying everything new.
I might add that yes I am that person who finds motivation through the likes of a new notebook, don’t judge me okay?
So because I know a lot of people are in this predicament and it’s just been generally difficult to find productivity when stuck in lockdown at the start of a new year, I thought it would be useful to share some of my tips. I am by no means an expert but if it can help one person then why not, right?
Taking in Information
Retaining information when you’re not in the mood can be difficult at the best of times but for me, when I am reading a lot of books every week, I tend to forget very quickly what any of them are about. So this year I bought a small notebook to write little synopses and any questions out as soon as I finish it. This way I am writing my thoughts as they occur rather than dwelling on them.
Now don’t think this is purely useful just for me, moulding this for your own tasks/reading etc. can be important in giving you more headspace and a better long term memory.
Another good tip is to step away, just like with sleeping, if you can’t do it then don’t force it. Take a break; go have a dance, a walk or a snack. Most likely you’ll come back in a better mindset.
Create a Routine
You are probably sick and tired of hearing this but genuinely creating yourself a routine will help everything else come into place. Whether that is a routine for your day or a routine in the long term for tasks that need to be done. I set out to work 9-5 each day so I can have the weekend off (this sometimes changes depending on how I am feeling or how much work I have) but I also create a routine for my reading. I know what books need to be read when so I usually set out a plan for when I should read them by or if I need to start exceptionally early.
Routine effectively alleviates unwanted stress while getting your week off to the best possible start. It may sound repetitive but I promise it helps.
You may have heard a lot of people using an app called Notion lately and I promise it is worth it. I’ve only recently downloaded it after my laptop was decreasing in storage very quickly. So I use Notion to write notes for uni, journal online, write out plans for my website and Instagram and do write ups on my books. I’m hoping it will turn around my way of studying and since everything is well organised and in one place it is really easy to use.
Clearly you can use it for all aspects of life, it also gives you templates so you can personalise your pages to how you will best use them. The combination of my little black notebook and my Notion has decreased the amount of paper I use and my storage. I highly recommend checking it out whether you are self employed, a student or are in need of more headspace.
Setting yourself Manageable Tasks
Now I know we all think we are superhuman and at the start of the day we love to think we can get everything under the sun done. However, we all know that this isn’t always the case so creating a to do list with manageable aims and outcomes will help you achieve even more than you think because you’ll actually have the time and headspace to do it.
Rather than setting yourself a goal of reading a whole book in a day for example why not set yourself little goals of reading so much before lunch and so much before dinner. Or you can divide the total pages into 7 days and read the set amount over that time. That way you aren’t over exerting yourself or having high expectations of yourself and your brain.
Likewise if you don’t want to split your tasks into parts give yourself a maximum amount of things to do in a day, three for example.
Now productivity doesn’t always come natural to everyone, it definitely ebbs and flows for me, so I think the key thing to remember is to not be too harsh on yourself. I am my own worst critic and I am definitely a perfectionist so it’s hard sometimes to know when to step back or to recognise that I can’t do it all.
However, I also know that the work I have to do won’t go away on its own. So hopefully these suggestions will be useful, they’ve definitely helped me in the past few weeks.
If you have any productivity suggestions leave them below! I’d love to hear them and I am sure there are some lovely readers who would be grateful for some extra tips!
I’ve read a lot in the past year and to be honest I probably can’t remember every single book but I do want to share some of my favourites, ones I have reviewed and ones I have kept in the corner of my brain (in the hope I will write about them and never do).
Reading has proved ever so useful in the midst of numerous lockdowns and worrisome times. It brings a sense of escapism and adventure, an experience we all crave but can’t experience in person. Plus if you’re in the same position as me and read as part of your education then you also get exposed to a wide range of literature at the same time.
Luckily for you I can share a bit of both, I usually try and avoid writing on texts I study because my brain is full of my education anyway and I don’t always want it leaking into my hobbies. Plus I don’t want to give away all my secrets to my course-mates (not that they probably read this anyway).
Anyway, if you have a New Years resolution to read more, you want to start reading or you’re just looking for something to escape in then I have you covered. Here are my favourites;
Book 1: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other
I have banged on about this book to no end and probably am boring you at this rate however it really did stand out to me as both interesting in form and content. Proven in its award winning status, if you haven’t read this book yet, what are you doing?
Steeped in black culture and experience it highlights the lives of 12 women and their sexuality, insecurities and womanhood.
A book we can all relate to in some degree.
If you have read this wonderful book and want some thoughts on it or if you want to hear some more before buying it then you can read the review I did here.
Book 2: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
I read this not long after reading the aforementioned novel. Both were reaching a wide audience and sense of acclaim at the time, both highly deserving of it. Queenie is one of those novels I was supposed to look further into and write a post on…. and then life happened. However, even then I have not forgotten it.
Queenie is a 25 year old Black woman who has just split up with her white boyfriend Tom. The novel explores her mental struggles with this period in her life, her struggles to embrace her culture and understand that of others, and her battling feeling displaced in all corners of her life.
Queenie is filled with sorrow and laughter. It truly feels real. A factor which majorly attracted me to its narrative. I highly recommend you read it.
Book 3: Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners
This was assigned to me as part of my reading for a module I was doing. Modernist in style it depicts the story of Moses who goes to collect a fellow ‘Jamaican’ (I quote this because a lot of those coming to Britain were labelled Jamaican when they weren’t all from there) coming into London after the Great War. It’s one of the first stories where poor, black immigrants were depicted in fiction and made a name for itself because of how deep and real the narrative is.
Selvon effectively highlights how such a city in London, steeped in promise and wealth, was in fact shadowing a life filled with misery and struggle, especially for those of the Windrush.
Selvon’s novel is one I thoroughly enjoyed and I implore you to read it, not only for its fantastic narrative but for its relevance to todays wrongdoings. Please look into #jamaica50 and the sad reality that those of the wind rush generation are still facing.
Book 4: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
The Flatshare was a novel I read during lockdown, a cozy read with a particularly inviting narrative, it sucked me into the reality of Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey rather quickly.
The story had all the charm of a classic rom com while keeping you interested with the comical idea that both characters had never actually met.
This novel leaves you itching for more and, while reading, an urge to shake both characters into realising what they are missing. If you want an easy read that goes perfect with a cup of tea then this is the one for you!
Book 5: Affinity by Sarah Waters
This is another book that I read on my course this year, it is filled with superstition, history and apprehension. Not necessarily a genre I usually read, Affinity certainly took me by surprise.
I mentioned it in this blog post if you would like more recommendations from my studies.
Incorporating mystery, magic and plot twists, the tale of two women from different parts of society takes you on a journey steeped in history and spiritualism.
A must read if you want to broaden your horizons and are in need of a bit of escapism.
I was going to make this list longer but with my academic year being cut short in second year my reading list was abruptly stopped. Plus, if I am honest, my want to read after being pushed into a lockdown faltered and it took me a while to pick up literature for pleasure.
It’s something I’m going into this year trying to look at differently, I want to appreciate the books I read and take more time to understand them and importantly, remember them. I’ve started a Good Reads account so if you want to look at what I’ve already read and what I am currently reading, whether that is for my course or for leisure, you can stay updated there.
If you’re interested I might share a post on how I’m keeping updated with my reading and remembering them. Let me know below if you like the sound of this!
I wasn’t planning writing any sort of post that looked back at 2020 to any degree and I suppose this post doesn’t exactly do that either. However it didn’t feel right to start back up again and not acknowledge my feelings towards 2021.
I am definitely ready to move forward and hopefully go into a year that looks a bit more positive and I don’t mean that just with coronavirus. My education, personal health and surroundings definitely took a hit last year and I’m willing to fast forward to something kinder and happier (to some degree, after the fast changing world we live in I can’t exactly be wanting miracles).
Over the past few weeks during my break from posting I noticed hundreds of posts from people ecstatic about 2021 thinking it would be a new start or they were looking back on 2020 picking out all the positives. But I can’t sit here and gloss over a worldwide pandemic and not consider the affect that has had, possibly to numerous of my readers. I definitely couldn’t shove positivity onto a page and think it would make absolutely everyone feel better. So, instead I posted nothing.
Which could sound rather pessimistic but I’d rather use the term realist.
Instead, I am going into 2021 a bit more prepared mentally for the stress that could arise from online learning and an extended pandemic. I am purposely not being too hopeful because I don’t want to disappoint myself (this was written literally just before lockdown was announced so I was probably right in not being too optimistic). I turn 21 in February and I am slowly coming to terms with the fact this will probably be a very different birthday for me. Yet you have to make the most out of what is given to you and I am determined to carry a smile on my face for as long as possible.
If 2020 taught us all anything it is that we are strong, capable individuals who are prepared to make sacrifices for long term health and positivity. It might not seem like it but this will pass. At least that is what I am reminding myself daily (if we can do it for a whole year I am sure we can continue to do it for a bitty longer, right?).
I was never a goal setter or a New Years resolution type of girl however I have set some mental goals for myself that are completely manageable and lenient. I think I have realised there are things I can do to make myself feel a lot better, rather than any physical changes, I want to do what’s right for me.
I want to have a better relationship with exercise, which is something I plan to write on in the near future because it definitely is a can of worms which bothers me on the daily, I want to work hard at being creative and looking after my creative self, I also need to get a part time job (please send me all the positive vibes with this one because in an economic crisis I’m kind of scared about this one) and I want to take more time to be in touch with my emotions rather than chucking them to the back of my head.
I guess I look at these things as goals I can work towards and keep in the back of my head, I don’t actually strive towards them everyday, I understand that it will be a gradual journey which I am more than happy to be on.
For now going into 2021 looks more like an extended version of 2020. Which, surprisingly, I’m just rolling with. I’ve become a lot more easy-going with my emotions towards the constant changes because I know there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Does it suck that my time at uni, which only happens once, has been a fraction of what I’ve been promised? Of course it does. Is it frustrating that my future career prospects could be damaged because I can’t get any relevant work experience? Yes. Am I scared that I am losing out on opportunities to meet new people and experience new things? Yes. But can I change any of these things? No. I just have to deal with it and do as much as I can in the environment I am in.
I’m going into 2021 with my friends and family close, realising what matters to me most and hopefully getting a clearer idea of what/who is good for me and what I should let go of.
Let me know your thoughts towards the new year below, remember we are all in this together!
Happy Wednesday! It’s not long until the big day so before I sign off for a bit I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! This year has been difficult and certainly different, something which I might look back on in the new year but for now I want to try and be as positive as possible.
Thank you all so much for joining me in my first year creating content in the many places I inhabit on the internet. I’ve loved seeing all your support and lovely comments. It’s made the short few months I’ve been here so much better!
For the next few days I am on Instagram doing some festive illustrations and a Christmas challenge if you fancy checking it out, lookout for the hashtag #se5daysofchristmas on @sophieseditblog.
^recent instagram posts
My print store will always be open but the delivery of prints will only be put out in January. A restock will be estimated to be ordered in that time as well.
So for now I am going to take a much deserved break until some point in January where I’ll be eating far too much food and cuddling up with my dog. I hope you have a safe and healthy break.
It’s weird to say that my first term of third year is already done. From having so long off because of Covid I was very hesitant in starting back again. Would I know how to write an essay? (I’m an English Lit. Student if you didn’t know), would I be able to keep up with the enormous work load? And to top it all off I also had doubts as to whether the quality of my learning would be the same when done online. I held an enormous amount of pressure upon myself and the uni to give me the best experience possible for my first year as an honours student (my first year which actually counts).
But was this pressure actually useful and proactive when there was so much more to contend with? Did my experience get hindered because all I was trying to do was plough through everything as it was so new? Well, yes.
Honestly, I could probably write a whole blog post on the pressure of being a student, particularly a student whose course is based on personal opinion. This very idea deeply effected my learning when done online because discussion was extremely hard to navigate and instigate. When you have teachers telling you ‘you can put your camera on if you want‘ or ‘use your microphone if you want‘, caused the majority of the class to not actually be ‘there’. Let’s just say the chat function on every tutorial was a lot more full than the conversation happening through microphone.
So in that sense my learning was very much done independently, I had to generate discussions between friends rather than in classrooms just to make sure my points were valid. In fact the majority of those conversations were majorly fuelled by angst and frustration at the system as a whole. I think every emotion possible was felt through my first few months in third year.
To further this I was given group work for the first time in my 2 and a bit years at university. When I say it is nearly impossible to achieve this when places to meet up are extremely limited, I am telling the truth. Which is not helped when you are not sure what is expected of you in such work.
Now that’s not to say the teachers didn’t put in a lot of work, because understandably there was a lot they had to adapt to. Trying to navigate technology while making sure your students were getting the best possible experience is a tough job to take on. However, I think a lot of people forget that the students taking in this coursework have quite a bit more to adapt to (please hear me out). I found it extremely difficult to take on the pressures of third year, whether personally inflicted or through the workload, I also had to navigate a timetable that was largely empty (I had one tutorial a week and 2 other tutorials every second week) and thus had to arrange my own time and learn a lot more independently than what I was used to, I also, of course, had to adapt to online learning and the rigorous amount of work that came with supposedly having ‘more time’.
So one thought kept coming up; when do I stop adapting and when do I start learning?
Then there was the great reception to me feeling overwhelmed. The constant hammering of ‘you have more time’ or ‘it’s just third year’ made me feel even more alone, when the majority of my time was spent at my desk staring at a screen or a book. Do you get where I am going? Largely I felt like nobody would listen. I felt well and truly voiceless.
I don’t want to come across as ungrateful because of course having an education is extremely important to me and I am very lucky to be at uni. However, online learning did take an enormous strain on my mental health when trying to deal with copious amounts of stress from different areas in my education. I had countless thoughts of dropping out because I felt like nobody was listening to us as students. However, I also had many days when I was frustrated at my own student cohort for being insensitive to the teachers trying to do their best. In every-sense of the word I felt like there was a deep lack of communication. Whether that was through the lack of conversation in the ‘classrooms’ or the copious amounts of angry emails from both teachers and students ‘attacking’ each other for lack of support or lack of understanding. This then led to a lack of care and empathy for both sides of the education system, where the people who sat in the middle were left with very little idea as to what to do or where to go (hello, yes, that is me).
So for the majority of my time in third year, the year where I was supposed to be doing my absolute best because my grades count, I felt completely alone and snowed under. This then fills with me with anticipation and dread to go into my next term. A great start right?
However, I don’t want this to be filled with me hammering into you the emotional and physical drama of the start of my third year. There were some positives, mainly me being proud for getting through it all. I built stronger relationships with some people on my course, I gained the ability to find a way of learning that worked for me (although it did come with sleepless nights, a near panic attach in the shower and a week of me not being able to breathe properly), and yes this sometimes meant letting some things slide because I had to prioritise, but mainly it gave me the ability to understand my limits. And the sad thing is, the start of my third year was very close to being it.
I didn’t want to come on here and write a rosy picture of studying because I have talked to numerous students about their frustrations and they all seem to have similar feelings. Yes, I know everyone is trying their best and I understand the situation is very much unprecedented. But I shouldn’t have to feel constantly at burnout and left completely in the dark doing something I am supposed to love and feel passionate about.
It’s a mixed bag and I very much feel like I have been on a rollercoaster.
Whether you are a student or a teacher I send you a lot of love and gratitude. You’re all doing great but I think there are things we can all do to make the rest of uni online a bit more manageable and understandable. Certainly in my experience anyway.
I’m going into my next term probably just as apprehensive and scared. However, I am hoping that the same experience I’ve just lived out won’t happen again. I can’t imagine it’s very fun for the teachers or for my fellow students.
So, here I am again using my platform as therapy and to make a point. A great mix right? But if you have a platform you may as well use it! If anyone wants to reach out to share their experience or you just want a chat feel free to send me a message on instagram (@sophieseditblog). I know that this year has felt particularly lonely.
If there is one great thing about the Christmas holidays it is the chance to binge watch your favourite films and TV shows, guilt free.
Yes, I haven’t watched the likes of Home Alone or Arthur’s Christmas but I feel like that’s how you keep a bit of the Christmas magic in the air. I do actually want to watch a new film each year that doesn’t involve Vanessa Hudgens playing 3 characters in one film (sorry Netflix).
Thus, I have accumulated 10 of my favourite shows/films and placed them all into one blog post. I hope I have managed to provide a good mix of Christmas fun and genuinely good entertainment (not all being centred around Christmas).
Each show/film includes a star rating, category (kids, romance, comedy etc.) and my general thoughts. Christmas gives you the perfect opportunity to hunker down under a blanket with a large cup of tea (or wine) and watch several films in a row. Enjoy!
The Santa Clause
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Thoughts: When I think of a Christmas film which defined my childhood this one majorly sticks out. Full of nostalgia and crazy reindeer this one brings me back to sitting on the couch in my Christmas pjs. Plus Tim Allen is now an iconic Santa figure and he has done three Santa Clause films so you can now fill your boots (and your day) with these iconic films.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Thoughts: Yes I am probably your cliche 20 year old but you can’t have Christmas without Love Actually. The stellar cast provides copious amounts of entertainment to make you feel all warm and cozy. Plus you just can’t beat Hugh Grant’s fantastic dance moves!
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Thoughts: Now I only actually watched The Holiday a few years ago and it has swiftly overtaken my love for Love Actually. Jude Law and Cameron Diaz are my absolute favourites and it is the perfect film to make you feel cozy (and fill your head with unrealistic expectations of holiday romances). More importantly I desperately want the cozy little cottage that features in the film, if it doesn’t showcase the ideal Christmas location then I don’t know what does.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Thoughts: Frozen kept me highly entertained with Olaf in the first one and to be honest I didn’t think they could top that one. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the second instalment. The music is just as good, Olaf is just as cute and the storyline is just as entertaining. If you want a film to watch with the kids (and not get bored) then I recommend you give this a watch.
The Muppets Christmas Carol
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Thoughts: Now it’s not my absolute favourite Christmas film however in my opinion, it is not really the festive season if this doesn’t turn up in your watch list at some point. Usually popping up on TV this brings me straight back to primary school. The muppets are a nostalgic staple and a great way to introduce kids to Dickens’ tale.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised with this film. Largely I’ve been disappointed with the offering of Christmas films recently (if you couldn’t tell by my love for Vanessa Hudgens) but this one didn’t disappoint. The charm of both Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding shines through in this production while providing a wholesome yet light hearted storyline.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Thoughts: Now before you say anything, I know this is not a Christmas film. However, I know Christmas films aren’t for everyone and Nanny McPhee has always been a staple in my household. Great to bring a bit of magic into your home while possibly teaching your kids how to behave.
Dash + Lily
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Category: TV show, Teen Romance
Description: Recently added to Netflix, this TV show is perfect for getting your hit of Christmas in a short amount of time. Each episode is roughly 30mins and follows a red notebook around New York with Lily who loves Christmas and Dash who despises it. Cheesy but wholesome, a perfect mix right?
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Category: Romantic Comedy
Description: Now this is another show which doesn’t revolve around Christmas but just like the traditional films it provides you with copious amounts of romance, laughter and unrealistic expectations. The show is highly acclaimed and I adored watching it. The way it has been produced and shot is brilliant, for Christmas or not, I highly recommend you watch it.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Category: Romance, Comedy
Thoughts: Another film which always gets watched early December and like every other rom-com features Hugh Grant. Not the most christmassy I must admit but when you don’t have a lot of time throughout the year to watch films, classic ones like this always get watched in December. Spike will always be my favourite character and after only watching it last year I couldn’t get over how many times I laughed out loud at this. Notting Hill is very much a ‘cheer you up’ film.
So what’s your thoughts? Are you annoyed that the likes of Elf or the Grinch haven’t been featured. If I am honest I hold the probably very unpopular opinion that Jim Carey and Will Ferrell are particularly annoying. I know, I AM SORRY. However, if you hold the same opinion and want to watch the Grinch I do recommend watching the animated version with Benedict Cumberbatch.
If you want some more recommendations of films, TV shows or books to read then check out the Review section of my site.
Do you have any other recommendations? I could have had tripled the length of this blog post but for now I thought I would leave it here. If you want more recommendations then let me know!
You’ve probably heard recently that Christmas shopping, more than ever, has been directed to supporting small businesses. As everyone has pointed out Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) has enough money (too much in my opinion) whereas small businesses have really struggled.
As a small print seller I can understand the pressure and difficulty to promote your work when everyone is under financial strain. I think a lot of people could agree that every single purchase means the absolute world. So, why not support small this year when Christmas gives you the chance to put a huge smile on your loved ones faces.
I have wanted to put a small guide together for a while, not only with some amazing businesses but also some tips and tricks on how best to get the most out of your shopping.
Hand Embroidery Kits
The gift that keeps on giving! Something like an embroidery kit gives someone a new skill and something to hang on their wall/put on a cushion etc.
You can get them in a variety of different designs to suit any individual and the majority of them will tell you what skill level you will need.
I’ve listed a few below from Etsy which I have heard great things about!
Tip 1: It goes without saying but if you’re buying from the likes of Etsy stores it is a great idea to look at reviews and also where they are based. I always do research on the company and tend to go to Instagram to look at their pages. When on instagram it is also a good idea to look at tagged photos, this way you can see what people think of the products.
Resin products have become immensely popular recently, especially through lockdown. The variety of products you can get from them provides you with the optimum opportunity for gift giving. Plus every seller has their own way of putting their personal touch on their products.
I’ve listed two below who are trustworthy sellers and who provide a range of different things!
Food, in my opinion, is one of the best gifts you can give someone. There are so many businesses this year which have adapted their meals into delivery boxes or have taken their sweet treats right to your door. It’s a great ‘thinking about you’ gift and can often help with the day after Christmas cooking nightmare.
I’ve included 2 businesses which I have heard great things about however if you have any other suggestions please let me know below!
Another great gift is giving an experience to someone. This way you’re giving someone a memory which they will have forever (and in some cases an extra little gift at the end of it).
I’ve mentioned two below, one in Edinburgh and one in my hometown. If you have any classes local to you that you’d like to promote feel free to add them in the comments and I can include them in this post!
As you know I am a huge fan/advocate for shopping sustainably. For Christmas I would recommend double checking clothes sizes and getting something you know someone will want to wear over and over again. Christmas is a time where loads go to waste so the more thought that goes into these items the better!
I’ve listed a couple of my favourite small business fashion brands who you can either buy vouchers from or shop at.
Godiva (vintage, repurposed and independently sourced clothing, store and online)
I can’t mention a small business gift guide and not include one of my favourite things! Art is very subjective (which I have very much learnt when selling it) however it’s a great way to give someone something sentimental.
I have attached a few of my favourite sellers, all offering something a bit different depending on what you like. I also have my own print shop where I have a select amount left for Christmas if you fancy supporting my small business.
I’ve only mentioned a few of my favourite businesses however there are so many more you can support. Other places to look are Not on the High Street, Etsy, Instagram (check out hashtags such as #shopsmall or #supportsmallbusinesses), Depop and ask your friends and family! Everyone is bound to know someone.
And so there we have it. That is my list of some of my favourite small businesses which have a great selection of gifts on offer.
As always with small businesses it is better to get your orders in soon because you never know how many people will be dealing with the behind the scenes. Plus shipping can be really difficult at this time of year.
If you’re not in a financial position to support any of them this year, giving them a follow or a share on your social media channels can do the world of good!
Have you got your Christmas shopping organised or do you have any more small businesses to shout out? Let me know below!
Now that the colder months have started to roll in (I say start, I’ve been freezing since September) we’ve been moving more towards warmer dishes like soups and stews to fill us up and warm us up.
You guys seemed to love my last post so I thought I’d come back with another what I eat in a week to showcase the delicious food we have had and more importantly how you can cook on a budget. I included how we shop each week and some helpful tips in my last post if you want some help in that department.
Like I said before, student cooking does not have to be continuous bowls of bland pasta or whatever you have in the freezer. Some careful planning before your week begins can revolutionise both your eating habits and your wallet. Don’t worry, if you are reading this and you aren’t a student these meals are great for family cooking or for storing in the freezer, cheap eating doesn’t mean it tastes horrible!
Soup and toasties have become a regular in our weekly food plan. It’s cheap, warm and gives you leftovers for lunches or another dinner. Plus its extremely easy to switch up (as you will see at the end of the week). Mara and I usually switch each week for making soup. Mara made this one which is a Roasted Sweet Potato and Tomato soup. It was super tasty and certainly packs a punch!
When making soup it is definitely one you can alter depending on what you have in the cupboard.
Now if you’re going to attach a meal to a student it will probably be a stir fry. However, there are many ways you can spice up a stir fry. To keep costs down we will purchase a stir fry pack from lidl and beef it out with any additional veggies we have left in the fridge. More often than not we don’t put meat in it either therefore the price is kept down.
How to spice up your stir fry: when cooking the stir fry we keep to some core ingredients no matter what type we are making; loads of garlic, ginger, honey, soy, sweet chilli sauce and some sesame oil. These are all great store cupboard ingredients which can be used for a variety of different dishes to add to your repertoire.
Spicing up a stir fry doesn’t always have to be in the cooking stage, toppings are just as important. We will often add sesame seeds, crispy onions (buy from most supermarkets), you can also add sriracha or a fried egg. Like I said before these are all ingredients we use several times during the week and are extremely versatile!
PASTA, PASTA, PASTA. But not any pasta, this is Pasta al Limone. You didn’t think a student would be having this now would you?! If you’re looking for something healthy I would probably skip this bit because the amount of dairy, more specifically butter and cream might make you cry. However I always say everything really tasty is rarely healthy ;).
I used Bon Apétit’s recipe which was fairly easy to follow and it really doesn’t take long to make but the flavour is great! We usually have butter in the fridge for baking and the parmesan (pre-grated parmesan found in lidl) was used the following week as well. So now you know the perfect way to spice up your pasta, enjoyyyy!
Personally, whenever I think of the perfect winter warmer meal it usually comes in the form of a stew. It never used to be my favourite meal (in fact quite often I would dread eating it) however my sister has found a great recipe where there is a nice balance between the richness of the meat and a tomato flavour.
I know a beef stew is hard to keep in budget however like I mentioned in my last post it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the reduced section, especially in lidl. That way you can freeze the meat and cook it when you want.
Kirsty uses this BBC Good Food recipe for her stew as it doesn’t include red wine, another great way to cook stew on a budget. She also misses out the bay leaf and adds extra Italian seasoning such as basil and/or Oregano. She recommends tasting it while you go so you can add a dash more of certain things incase you prefer it a certain way, plus seasoning is important!
Another meal you can’t beat to warm you up and make you cozy is good ol’ sausage and mash. I must admit Lidl’s caramelised onion sausages are another level of tasty! However, I can’t say this and not mention the importance of supporting your local butchers, especially after this year. So, if you can, go show them some love!
Mara simply fries off the sausages and pairs it with really creamy mash potato and caramelised onions. The perfect combination, trust me!
If you couldn’t tell from the photo I had problems uploading my own however I promise I did have it that week!
Anyway, its another veggie meal and one of my new favourites. It’s Egg Fried Rice with broccoli and spring onions. The amount of flavour the sushi rice soaks up alongside the crispiness you get with frying it makes this absolutely delicious.
It is another recipe from Bon Apétit and once you get the hang of it, it is really easy. Although the recipe says you need to use a Skillet its not necessary. Just a warning that the rice will stick to the pan. It’s perfect for both lunches and dinners so great for meal prep if that’s what you prefer!
It’s time for more soup! This time it is one of my favourites, the reliable lentil soup. I make this quite often and usually wing it. However I still haven’t mastered getting it thick enough. Either way it tastes great. I went off of these recipes for a general idea if you want something to go off of.
I hope you enjoyed another look into what we eat in a week. Did you get any inspiration? Let me know below and if you have any recommendations of your own favourite winter warmer recipes I’d love to hear them!
On a side not, yes the Christmas tree is up, I think we all deserve some Christmas cheer a bit earlier than usual.
Make sure to tag me in any of your photos using the links below! We love to see some fellow student foodies!
If you couldn’t tell I love a good TV show. Lately I’ve found myself escaping in an hour long episode in the evening. Mostly because taking an hour out of my day doesn’t feel as bad as taking two hours out of work for a film. But with Netflix and Amazon coming out with highly produced and well filmed shows on the regular it is not hard to find your next best hit.
The Queen’s Gambit, a 7 episode mini-series which appears to only be picking up speed now, quickly became my favourite show last month. Set during the Cold War, Beth Harmon is orphaned at the age of 9 where she learns chess from the resident janitor who produces a young chess prodigy. Harmon quickly becomes a well known figure in the chess circuit but this is not without difficulty. Her young years of fame are steeped in addiction and isolation, the question is will she make it to the top or sabotage her chances with drugs and alcohol?
There is so much I could talk about when it comes to this show. From the apparent sexism in the chess circuit, female empowerment produced through Harmon’s character, the struggle of addiction especially with fame, orphanages and a lot more. However I do not want to spoil it and, let’s be honest, there are probably a mountain of articles on these topics. Instead I thought I’d share my general thoughts on the show, what I loved and what I think could have been done better (not that I am an expert or that there is much to comment on in that department).
To start off with I have to mention the stellar acting of Anya Taylor-Joy and the other excellent actors that feature alongside her. I appreciated her ability to act alongside the predominantly male cast and the fact a female leading show has yet again graced one of the largest streaming servers. Her unique and extremely striking features and that eye-catching hair cut allows her, in a stylistic perspective, to stand out amongst the men who mostly wear dark clothing.
But more importantly, her ability to inhabit this rather complex character allows you to feel fully immersed in her journey from a young kid to adulthood. I must also mention that the TV show is based on the book by Walter Tevis although it certainly leaves you questioning at the end if it is a real story (that I wish it was). Which I also think is down to the impeccable acting and cinematography found in the show.
Now if you weren’t already sold the show also features Thomas Brodie Sangster as Benny Watts and Harry Melling as Harry Beltik (who plays Dudley in Harry Potter FYI) to name a few.
What really struck me was the intricacy and level of detail to their performances. In particular I was fascinated by Tayler-Joy’s ability to play these stellar games of chess. From the movement of her arms, to her facial expression to even the smallest detail of how she placed the pieces it is literally a work of art. Part of this will be down to the director Scott Frank whose cinematography was impeccable. Every shot could be a painting deserving of a place in a museum, which alongside the costume, in my opinion, is deserving of multiple awards. The Guardian did an interesting article on the costumes if you want to find out more.
The one thing that slightly irked me about the show was the length of the background episodes. I personally love a bit of character development but the time spent as young Harmon started to drag in my opinion however I understand that this was partly necessary to set up key themes like her addiction. I just wish they appeared less repetitive and more interesting.
Nevertheless, The Queens Gambit is a piece of art not only on a stylistic level but through storytelling, narrative, acting and drama. The show hits all the key points I look for and will leave you in desperate need to watch it in one sitting. How I wish they would come out with another season!
I hope this has enticed you into watching it or if you have let me know your thoughts below, I’d love to know what you thought!
Yup, it’s that time of year again. I always find once I’ve finished my first set of assessments and have to go onto the next load I get handed this big lump of demotivation and tiredness. I’m not sure if it’s a combination of the weather, impeding lockdown, online learning and general stress or a select one of these factors but I never feel ecstatic that it’s nearly Christmas or that I have a short time left in my first term.
In all honestly right now I feel stuck. I know I should be starting the mountain of work I have due but I know that it’s a huge task and therefore I put it off for as long as possible (clearly I am a model student). Reading that back it just feels like I am extremely overwhelmed (that’s probably correct).
I also know that I am not the only one feeling this way and that actually it’s probably pretty normal.
Now instead of moaning (which I am also very good at) I thought I’d round up the ways in which I can improve my situation and try and find my mojo again. I know there are certain things I can do to make me feel more motivated which hopefully I can help you with as well.
Whether that is for work, studying or just getting you in the mood to do something productive, here is a list of things you can do to help.
Remove Yourself From Your Space
I know you might be thinking that this is a bizarre thing to suggest seeing I am trying to motivate you to do something productive rather than run away from it. However, one of the best things you can do if you feel stuck in your work is to go a quick walk or have 15mins to make yourself some tea and talk to a friend. I would recommend not going on your phone during this period so you can switch your brain off.
I find a lot of the time that removing myself from the negative space I’ve created around my work makes me feel better when I come back to it. You might also find that this makes you look at your task in a different way as well.
Find Motivation in Other Peoples Content.
As a creative person who enjoys watching the likes of YouTube I often feel myself being surprised at how motivated I get through other people working or ‘vlogging’. Watching other people be productive spurs me onto do my work and makes me realise it’s not half as bad as you think.
I feel like this specific segment goes hand in hand with suggesting that having a break is always a good idea. With online learning making you stare at a screen for the majority of the day, picking up a book for 15mins can also be beneficial for resetting your brain. I’ve been finding more often than not my eyes have begun to hurt because of the length of time I am required to sit in front of a screen. So, if you can find ways to reset your brain that don’t involve a screen I highly recommend you try it. Even if its a quick doodle on a random piece of paper!
Have a Dance Party
As much as I would love to input a photo of myself having a dance party in my room by myself, I don’t think I would ever live that down. So, instead I recommend you get up from your desk/workspace and put on your favourite playlist for 10mins and just dance. When you’re stuck at your desk for a long period of time getting up and moving can make the world of a difference. Plus jamming out to your favourite music supplies you with some great endorphins to boost your mood (if you can get your flatmates etc. to join in then that is even better).
This is also beneficial for when your work space isn’t clean and is obstructing your quality of work. Set a timer for 20 mins, put your headphones in and clean for that solid amount of time. This way you are having a break, singing until your heart is content and being productive. 3 things which can all hugely improve your state of mind when you get back to work.
Stay Away From Your Bed
I know a lot of students will be working from their bedrooms which provides a great view of your extremely comfy bed (me being one of them). However, as soon as you go near it you’ll be laced with the need to sleep or to get more comfortable. Two things which will not make you feel productive. Your bed should be a zone for sleeping so marking it off as a no go zone during the day is the best way to go. This should help both your quality of sleep and your level of productiveness.
I’m also aware that I am no saint when it comes to this. I do have days where I will get into bed and not want to leave it. However, from one seasoned professional to another, just don’t do it. I have learnt that studying from bed has more negative affects than it does positive and if you simply can’t stay away, do your work in another room. You can thank me later.
Listen to Your Body and Plan Your Day.
Setting yourself reasonable tasks to do (3 is a good place to start) will start your day out in a good way and will clear your head of the work you have to do. When I say 3 tasks make sure you break them down into ones which are achievable. For example, rather than writing a whole essay in a day break it down into paragraphs over a week.
On the other hand it is a good idea to listen to what your body needs. If you are lacking sleep work out ways in which you can improve this or if you really feel like there is no way to improve the mood you are in just don’t do the work. Schedule it in for some other time during the week and take a day off. Sometimes you just need to rejuvenate and take some time to yourself.
Respect yourself and what your body needs. Sometimes it is actually more beneficial to just understand that the work you’ll get done just isn’t worth it and will actually end up providing you with more work rather than shortening it. Instead I recommend you do something for yourself; do something creative, cook dinner or bake. This way you are still achieving something while not wallowing in your guilt (trust me I have been there).
Nobody is perfect and I can assure you the person you think is an A* student or works all day in the office and into the night isn’t. We are not made to be like machines. Taking care of yourself is also important. Being productive comes hand in hand with looking after yourself.
I am going to try and be kinder to myself when it comes to my workload. Feeling guilty over it will not do you any good and you’ll soon find having a more positive outlook to even the negative days will make your work a lot better.
I hope these tips are useful and if you have any extra recommendations leave them below!
p.s. I came out with a new launch of prints at the weekend so if you fancy checking them out you can find them here.
Now beside the possibly pretentious title I did really want to write this. Not because I think I know it all and believe I am the fountain of all knowledge when it comes to reading but because I’ve genuinely received something from each and every one of these books.
To me I find walking into a library or a book shop really overwhelming. I’ll pick up one book thinking it sounds great but then put it straight back in the thought that there could be something better around the corner. Unless I know what I am going in for, I can almost guarantee you I will come out empty handed.
In a lot of respects that is why I like my course so much. I get educated on history, world views and issues, language, the birth of societal norms and stereotypes and finally, the evolution of the world, all from reading literature. A lot of the time people view an English Lit. course as a waste of time but I would not have received the chance to broaden my horizons and my character without it. I would still be picking up and setting down books in shops, overwhelmed and possibly naive with the world.
So, I thought I’d share 5 of my absolute favourite books from my course thus far (I am currently in my third year). Each book is a piece of fiction and each are extremely important in their own form but together might make you look at things slightly differently.
Book 1 – Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic piece of literature. Very short in form with it being a ‘shilling shocker’ but all the same it is extremely captivating. Stevenson managed to create a whole new form of character identity within the split persona that went on to influence many thrillers and horrors you probably watch today. I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, Stevenson’s focus on good vs. evil is highly applicable to today and is probably why it remains so popular.
If you want a short read and love stories centred around crime, mystery, science and relationships then this is definitely for you! Plus he was Scottish writer so what’s not to love!?
Book 2 – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando
This is a more recent read but one I think would be important to add to anyones reading list. I must admit I have found Virginia Woolf’s reading particularly difficult to read in the past however I must give an exception to this particular novel. It’s written as a biography on Orlando inspired by Woolf’s relationship with Vita-Sackville West. Orlando is one of the first representations of a trans woman in literature, an inspiring tale which documents some of the hardships one faces being a woman, especially a trans woman in that era.
Woolf explores what it means to be female, a major part of this novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Her narrative was gripping and both educated and informed me on the issues trans women face.
Book 3 – Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
Education through literature is one of the main things I am extremely grateful for. I think a lot of people believe we have to pick up non fiction books to become educated on matters of race, religion, gender, society, politics etc. but that is simply not the case. It is through reading and understanding experience that we can truly understand issues of representation and why such attitudes were created.
Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is one of my favourite novels, one I picked up in my second year. Detailing the story of Okonkwo we see the life of an African tribesman and the difficulty he faces when colonisers come to take over his territory. This novel is important for many reasons. To start with it is one of the first representations of African life that is not depicted through the eyes of a white man. Moreover, we see how colonisation really took affect and disrupted life for so many.
One of my favourite things Achebe has said is, “African people did not hear of culture for the first time from Europeans […] their societies were not mindless but frequently had a philosophy of great depth and beauty […] they had poetry and, above all, dignity.’ He highlights how his novel is there to depict how Africans were not brainless or culturally ignorant like many white men depicted them. African people have lives and a rich history one that existed before the colonisers arrived. A fact which seemed to be disregarded in literature and politics of the time. Achebe’s novel is one I could write about for ages but would probably disinterest you at some point. So instead, I implore you to give it a read. It’s engaging, educational and throughly interesting. A personal must have for your reading list.
Book 4 – Madeline Miller’s Circe
Circe is a reasonably new book, one I had the pleasure of reading in first year when it was new on the literary scene. If you love books based on myth and fantasy then you are bound to enjoy this.
The novel is a good example of how social issues can be intertwined into fiction, especially in places you would not necessarily think to find it. Circe deals with important themes of womanhood, abortion and fertility. A novel with significance to todays political climate as abortion is featured heavily across the world right now (read up on the horrible new laws in Poland for context).
Sarah Waters’ Affinity
This was another new read for me as it is part of my third year reading list. It tells the story of Selina Dawes, a spiritualist in a Victorian prison who plays with the mind of Margaret Prior, a Lady who visits the prison to conceptualise and understand her own mental ‘issues’.
Waters’ book is a mystery focussing on the life of both Dawes and Prior who eventually come together in this mysterious yet captivating story. It took me about the first quarter of the book to fully get into it but once you understand and are immersed into the novel you will not want to put it down.
As part of my course we looked into the idea of power and knowledge when it comes to prisons and the justice system. So, if that in any way interests you or you like stories based on magic and mystery then this will be right up your street.
As I said above, looking for new books can be daunting especially if you are looking for something with more critical merit or educational value. In that sense I hope you found this both interesting and informative.
I must also add that these books are in no way difficult to read, although Shakespeare is important I do not enjoy and nor would I recommend him to you (that is not to say his plays etc. aren’t great to watch, I just reallyyyy wouldn’t recommend trying to read them without the opportunity to have them translated).
If you want any more recommendations check out the ‘review’ section of my blog where you’ll find more novels and TV shows.
Let me know if you end up picking any of them up (tag me on instagram or Facebook with the links below!) or if you have any further questions let me know below!
This title is probably quite confusing but hear me out. Over the past 6-8 months I’ve repeatedly stopped looking at the news, mainly because it is filled with corona death tolls or the next impending lockdown. It is stress inducing and very much alters my mood.
Why is it as human beings we want to concentrate on the negatives so much?
I also find it largely difficult to look at because I know there are so many other important issues not getting reported on when they really need it. Through all of this I find myself on a cycle of anxiousness and disappointment and I know if I feel like this, there are probably loads more of you who are as well (at least I hope there is).
And that is not to say that the news on Covid isn’t important because I understand it is but when the thought consumes the majority of my head anyway why would I want to hear more about it ALL THE TIME?
So, I thought today I would highlight some more light hearted, positive articles and some general nice things going on in the world because we deserve to be informed and uplifted. It will literally take 10 mins and could make your day 100 times better. Remember looking after yourself is important!
The Happy Newspaper
I whole heartedly recommend you check out The Happy Newspaperwhere you can get a subscription to news that isn’t so downbeat and negatively driven. If you can’t afford the subscription their social media accounts are also a good one to follow for some more lighthearted content.
My sister started sending me their happy news updates from their socials and each time a huge smile breaks out on my face. It is refreshing to see people being celebrated and good things happening.
Newsround: Stories to Make you Smile
Newsround have been creating short videos documenting some positive news. This particular one concentrates on animals, including a young boy finding a very rare fossil. What’s not to love about some happy news surrounding some very cute animals? Find the video here.
‘Nigerian-Irish Teens Develop a Dementia App for Sufferers Coping With Lockdown–and It’s Won Awards’
I am all for celebrating peoples successes and these teenagers have done an amazing job at creating an app helping dementia sufferers during lockdown. Providing everyone with a bit more hope, this article is definitely worth a look.
‘Greek Athlete Helps Disabled Woman Reach The Top Of Mount Olympus […]’
I mean if there is going to be anything that restores your faith in humanity it’ll be with this guy. Sometimes it is hard to remember that good people and good things exist, especially when you’re stuck inside the majority of the time. Find the article here.
‘Man shelters 300 dogs from Hurricane Delta: ‘What’s beautiful is to see them happy”
If I am honest any story to do with dogs has me sold but when it has to do with someone saving 300, then I’ll click on it three times faster. This man’s story went viral and in doing so he has received so much needed funding for his animal shelter. Check out the story here.
Good Things Happening in the World
Although this was written in March it’s still highly applicable. It’s nice to remember what came out of such a bleak time and that it doesn’t have to be filled with dread and anticipation. Find the article here.
30 of the Happiest Animals in the World
Now this isn’t exactly news but it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face! It includes a variety of animals and they are absolutely adorable! If you click on any link make sure it is this one!
I know some people say that just looking at the good stuff is unrealistic and we have to be open to knowing the bad as well as the good. Well, I am sick of hearing about the negative so excuse me if I spend 20 minutes of my time looking at happy animals and some uplifting stories.
It actually surprised me when doing the research for this post how much major publications were filled with negativity. I looked at both The Guardian and The Times, 95-100% of their homepages all had news which either said something terrible, berated someone else or set out a bleak plan for the rest of corona. Not exactly something everyone wants or needs to hear.
Now more than ever the good stuff is needed so I hope I could put even the smallest smile on your face. Let me know what you think and if you have any happy stories to share let me know in the comments.
Todays post is inspired by one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe at the moment, the slip dress. It’s both versatile and extremely comfortable. Something I must admit I look for in all my clothing items.
The slip dress can be used for all seasons but in this post I want to highlight how it is perfect for Autumn. From dressing it up for a night out, to dressing it down for a more colder climate, this dress will soon become an essential in your wardrobe!
This particular slip dress comes from Lost Stock, a brand I featured in my post about where to shop sustainably, affordably. Lost Stock is a company that was started during lockdown and comes from Edinburgh! They support workers in Bangladesh who have been left without jobs because of coronavirus. Thus, every time you buy from Lost Stock, you are supporting a worker and their family. Lost Stock gives you three + items of clothing ‘from major retailers who have cancelled their orders because of Covid.’ Find out more about Lost Stock here.
I must admit the parcel took a while to arrive but if you follow their socials you know they faced an enormous amount of orders and obstacles which delayed the process.
Altogether we received three items. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of them all because I accidentally left one at home. We received a slip dress, a black tank top/loose vest and a navy top with lace detailing. In my opinion it was a good mix and although they weren’t all to my taste, we just supported a family who have been left with a horrible circumstance because of something out of their control. So really there isn’t much to complain about plus if you don’t like an item Lost Stock have supplied some fantastic alternatives or you can gift your item to someone you know will like it.
So now for the exciting bit! I’ve compiled 4 different looks with this dress (but I bet you can get a lot more!).
This is one of my favourite ways to wear the slip dress. Perfect for pretty much all climates (apart from Winter but I have you sorted in the next few looks for that!). I love the detailing of the straps on the white t-shirt and paired with a belt means it looks a bit more casual and gives the outfit some shape. I also pair this with white trainers because (yet again) they are so versatile and comfy!
Add Another Layer
To make this more applicable to a slightly colder climate (which is pretty much everyday in Scotland right now) I add this wonderful cardigan from Becca Mac in Dornoch (one of the wonderful shops I featured in my post about Dornoch, who also have an online shop). The cream goes perfectly with the white shoes and t-shirt, while adding some texture and a much needed layer.
This cardigan has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe, functioning, I must admit, as both a cardigan and a dressing gown (the flat gets really cold okay!). Remember shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be about shopping at the most sustainable shop when you can’t afford it but more about how much you are shopping and what you need rather than what you want.
Look 2: A Simple Night Out
Such a simple dress is perfect for going out, especially if you have a dinner date or are out for drinks (which I hope will be soon, all going well). I pair it with trainers but if you really want to elevate it a pair of black stilettos would look amazing with this! It also looks great without the belt, perfect for having a big meal.
Look 3: A Cold Day Out
Find your favourite jumper, a pair of boots and your slip dress, then all combined you are set for a winner! I rolled the jumper up slightly and added my gold necklace. Transitioning this into a skirt means it is perfect for winter. This also looks great with a lighter jumper if you just want to chuck it on for ease.
This flips the very first outfit on its head. Take your favourite t-shirt, tie it with a bobble and tuck it under and you’ll get this cute but effective look. Paired with my black boots and an orange hat (which you can see in the video below) turns what is quite a simple slip dress into more of an ‘edgy’ dress.
Want to have a look at these outfits in motion? I challenged myself this week by making a TikTok/Instagram reel so you can envisage what these items look like in real life! If you enjoy it feel free to show it some love on these platforms, this way I can make you some more! Check it out here.
I hope you liked the multiple ways you can wear a slip dress! This is one of my favourite things about clothing, it makes you think out of the box. I promise you there are probably numerous ways you can wear every item in your wardrobe, you just need to take a moment and look at if differently.
Once you’ve done this, it is like you have a whole new closet!
What was your favourite look? Have you tried Lost Stock? Let me know down below!
I’m back with another weekly thoughts post so I can update you on what has been going on in my life and why I’ve been a bit distant on this platform. Even if covid is still ruling our lives (ruining it would also be highly applicable at this point), more than I wish to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed.
You might have noticed I’ve had to scale my posts right back to once a week. A decision I didn’t want to have to make but unfortunately I genuinely don’t have the time to sit and write something, take photos, come up with interesting ideas and most importantly, come up with quality content twice to three times a week. I want you to enjoy what I write and make sure it is worth your time to engage with. This at the moment is a lot more manageable once a week. Hopefully you understand and love the one blog post I do put out.
This annoying decision comes from the increasingly stressful lifestyle I’ve encountered after moving back to Edinburgh. I say lifestyle, it is entirely filled by one thing and that is online learning. What I’d like to call it at this very moment is, ‘the bane of my existence’. Don’t get me wrong, there are pros and cons to doing it at home, namely the chance to do it safely, which will always exceed the negatives. However, I can’t ignore the constant feeling that I am going to fail, the week of near panic attacks I had even when out and about supposedly relaxing and the impending dread of assignments which I have no idea how they’ll get done on top of the already huge amount I have to do.
So, if you haven’t already gathered the first few weeks of third year have been an absolute joy. I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER.
You might be asking or just simply wondering if it’s just because I can’t deal with third year in general. Trust me I have thought the exact same thing. However, when your whole year feels the same and lecturers have openly admitted to giving you more work because you should have ‘more’ time, it’s hard not to get a tiny, tiny bit angry at the whole thing.
At this point I really wish there was more time in the day.
Balance on the other hand is something I’ve been trying really hard to implement because of this. I’ve never been good at looking after myself and I have a very long way to go but I’m hoping that soon (if my uni decide to be better in terms of workload) I can find a balance where I can get enough sleep in a night, don’t have to stress 24/7 and can actually take a day off. At least this way I can then sort my blog posts out, my print business can be less stressful and more enjoyable and I can generally feel better about myself.
Out of curiosity, how do you find online learning/working from home? Do you have any recommendations for finding balance? Let me know down below!
To top all of this off, this week (or the past month) has really got me frustrated at the medias perception of students and covid. Before you jump on me and start shouting at me in the comments, YES students really have not been doing a good job, mainly first years in halls. However, there are 18-23 year olds (including those both younger and older who are studying) who are trying really hard to abide by the rules. As someone who has friends and family who are high risk (who aren’t all in the older generation bracket might I add) I find it infuriating that people want to blame me for not sticking to the rules or being the cause of a second lockdown.
In fact I know A LOT of people who are older than I am, who have been a lot worse than my friends and I, when sticking to the rules.
If anything the whole thing makes me feel a bit disheartened. So please, if you are young, old or middle aged, please just do the right thing. I am sick to death of seeing my generation getting blamed, looked at or victimised in the press. But more importantly I am sick of being stuck in lockdown with the possibility of my friends and family being hit with covid.
If we all are a little bit less selfish and actually stick to the rules this can be all over with that bit quicker. Even if you somehow think you are invincible, or are ‘in a small area where it won’t touch you’ or generally couldn’t care less, take a second to think about the people who do care and who aren’t invincible. Do it for them.
I know this hasn’t been a completely upbeat post but I don’t want to paint a picture that everything is 100% great the whole time. I think if I did that you would expect the same for yourself and I don’t want that. Expectations aren’t good for anyone.
Whether you are having a good or a bad week, both are entirely valid, so don’t feel guilty for having either. If you’ve done something truly amazing let me know! Or if you, like me, have been bothered by a load of things recently or aren’t feeling great mention it in the comments. Life is crazy (especially at the moment) and that is fine!
If I haven’t banged on enough in my food blog posts about the frustration about not knowing what to cook, there is also the added pressure to do it cheaply.
This, I know, can be difficult so I thought I would combine both ideas in one and provide you with what we ate as a flat for a week on a budget of roughly £25-40 a week (for three people, including snacks, breakfast, lunches, dinner etc.), which roughly ends up being £10-15 a week per person.
Keep an eye out along the way for some tips on how to keep your weekly shop prices down and what recipes are perfect for giving you some leftovers for lunch the next day.
It is important to note that my flatmates (Kirsty and Mara) and I share cooking duties throughout the week and therefore split our shop. This in itself is a great way to keep costs down, so if you can, I highly recommend doing this.
Homemade Fish Cakes
We pair our fishcakes with salad (which we buy in for lunches anyway), sweet chilli sauce and sometimes some peas or veg on the side.
Homemade fish cakes are one of the easiest and cheapest meals we make. Tuna for example is a staple in our cupboards and gets used for several main meals, therefore you’re not having to go out and buy fish (which I love but doesn’t usually come under our budget unless it is on offer). Plus this meal is super tasty!
Mara loosely used two recipes from BBC Good Food (we loveeee this website for our weekly meals). You can find all their fish cake recipes here.
Now if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something chocolatey and easy then this recipe is perfect for you. Kirsty made a slow cooker chocolate cake which we paired with Lidls own Ben and Jerrys fish food (tastes pretty much the same at a fraction of the price). It wasn’t the best chocolate cake however Kirsty has recommended scouting about for some different options because the slow cooker reduces cooking time drastically! Perfect for students.
We serve this delicious roasted cauliflower with pea puree (the fancy term for blended peas with stuff in it) – Boil peas (a decent bit because they’ll end up being blended), drain them and add two tablespoons of natural yoghurt, some herbs of your choosing (we have dried mixed Italian seasoning), season with salt and pepper then blend away – and serve with some couscous.
If you recently read my post on ‘My Most Loved Recipes: Savoury Meals and Sweet Treats to Boost Your Week’ then you would have already seen this recipe. Cauliflower steaks constantly gets repeated in our weekly meal plan (also another great tip – plan your meals, this way there is no last minute dash to the shops when you’re hungry). It is a firm favourite and a great veggie option.
I recommend adding more paprika and garlic granules when baking the steaks. You can find the recipe here.
We usually bake two cauliflowers for three of us, which depending on the size and how hungry we are provides a small amount of leftovers. I then had a sushi bowl with the leftovers the next day. Sushi rice is a great one to make throughout the week for lunch because it will last you a few days – we have it for dinner at the end of the week if you are looking for a recipe.
Sticky Cashew Chicken (GF)
This was a new recipe Mara was trying and it was a hit! Chicken thighs are a great way of getting protein while not breaking the bank. From lidl you can get a tray of 5 for about £1.75.
Mara paired it with some noodles and broccoli and it tasted great! (there was even some leftover chicken which I had with more of the sushi rice the next day for lunch).
Baked Sweet Potato is another favourite in our flat, it gets repeated weekly and is a great alternative to the usual baked potato.
It is also a great opportunity to use up some things you have in the fridge/cupboards.
I microwave the potatoes for around 20 mins (pierce them with a fork first) and then bake them for an additional 20 mins in the oven at roughly 200 degrees (fan).
This is another occasion where we use tuna (we add mayo and then either red onion or apple if we want) because its always in the cupboard.
It also provides the perfect opportunity to use the couscous from the cauliflower steaks which we also had with a salad, some leftover sweetcorn that was in the fridge and some beetroot which is also a staple in our cupboards.
Corn Beef Hash
Corned beef is another cheap source of protein and potatoes are extremely cheap. So a win win.
Not the most appealing to look at I must admit but it is just what you need on a colder day. It very much reminds me of stovies (if you’re Scottish hopefully you’ll know what I mean), and reminds me of home.
You just need around 6-7 decent sized potatoes, all cubed and boiled until soft. Dice an onion and fry it in some oil, then add in the corned beef (break it up with a wooden spoon) and the potatoes. Fry unti it is nice and crispy.
I also decided when making this that I would spice up some ordinary baked beans by adding in some paprika, garlic granules and Italian seasoning. I like my beans over done (they go mushy) which means they go perfectly with this dish.
Now, who doesn’t love a good lasagne night, especially if it involves a side of dough balls or garlic bread! When having meat in our freezer we are lucky that we get to stock up from Costco however, we are also very good at finding a bargain. So, if you have a lidl close to you (which is our shop of choice) make sure to go earlier in the day because you’ll get great deals in their fridge section.
Tip: On the conversation of buying meat, we pretty much always freeze it, so you won’t need to worry about it going off. So if you see a good deal but its on its last day, don’t worry!
Kirsty loves making lasagne and is very good at it. She doesn’t really go by a recipe because they usually involve red wine, however she does recommend using a basic tomato base sauce, like a spaghetti bolognese (so any recipe should do) and then add a white sauce and lasagne sheets and top with cheese!
These dough balls were from M&S and were VERY tasty. Keep an eye out for Lidls ones too because they are also great!
This meal provided us with enough leftovers to have it again for our dinner on Sunday. So, a perfect meal to keep your costs down!
The prettiest looking meal, in the sense of it being one of the most colourful ones! This is very much a recipe which can be altered depending on what you have in the cupboard.
Make some sushi rice (instructions should be on the package), chop up some carrot, cucumber, fry some broccoli in soy sauce, garlic and honey, chop up some tomatoes, add some beetroot and if you want bake some salmon. When it comes to the salmon, this is something we found on offer (on reduce) in lidl so we decided to bake it in the oven for about 15-20mins in a soy sauce, ginger mix with some lemon and then flaked it over our bowl. However, this is often something we have as a veggie meal so don’t worry if you don’t have meat – this will also reduce the price. I also add a fried egg to the top (seasoned with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and paprika.)
When it comes to sushi bowls the toppings are just as important as the actual components to the main bulk of the bowl. Having sesame seeds, fried onions (this is pre fried and dried onions that you buy in a tub) and sriracha mayo are integral to the taste. Plus you’ll find yourself adding these things to a lot more of your recipes, trust me!
Tip: To finish off I thought I’d recommend what we always start with. Sit down before your shop and plan out what you’re eating when and who is cooking. This way you have a routine to your week and there is no last minute stressing. Additionally this is the perfect time to check what you already have in the cupboards, so you aren’t buying more than what you need plus you might be able to find a meal already available in your home.
It’s also important to note that all recipes are easily adapted. There is most likely some obscure ingredient somewhere or something you don’t have and that’s fine. The recipe will still be taste fine and substituting is always a great idea if you’re stuck. Google is your best friend!
So, that’s our week in meals! An assortment of veggie and meat meals, which can easily be interchanged depending on your preferences.
I think a lot of people have this idea that as a student you have to eat the bare minimum or beans on toast every night (not that there is anything wrong with beans on toast). But as three people who absolutely love food and cooking, that was never going to be an option.
It’s all about finding a balance and figuring out where you can spend more and where to spend less. Introducing more veggie meals and using what we already have is definitely huge steps we’ve taken to not only be more sustainable but also cheaper.
Feel free to let me know below if you want to see another blog post on our weekly meals. If you want some inspiration for lunch you can check out my previous post here.
Let me know if we’ve inspired you or you end up making any of the above recipes. We’d absolutely love to see your photos (tag me in my socials linked below)!
*This post contains small spoilers in terms of statistics to do with the case that might alter your viewing experience.*
Des is a three part television mini-series based on the arrest of the Scottish serial killer Dennis Nelson. Debuting on ITV/STV on the 14th September, the show captivated and divided audiences with the horrific details of not only the murders but the investigation.
Dennis, otherwise known as Des, is played by the astounding David Tenant and is joined by fellow cast members Jason Watkins, Daniel Mays and Barry Ward (to name a few). All providing one of their best performances to bring this shocking yet highly interesting story to life.
The show is based on the biography by Brian Masters (played by Jason Watkins in the show) called Killing for Company: The Story of a Man Addicted to Murder and is directed by Lewis Arnold. The series expertly depicts the ongoings of the trial, the manipulative man that was Des and how the media and the economy affect murder investigations in the 1980’s (which is often highly applicable to today).
Not to summarise the show or give a detailed description of it, the series explores Des as a killer openly admitting his crimes and in a lot of ways not being ashamed of them. Tenant’s portrayal is done in such a way that you never side with Des but you also don’t hate him. To put it a better way it is more probable that you don’t understand him therefore you can’t have an opinion on him. A decisive way of acting which I applaud; I often find that serial killers can often be romanticised in such dramas.
Like I mention above, the show details the economic failings of the police force in bringing all of Des’ victims justice. We see that 6 out of at first a suspected 15-16 murders being investigated and proven. However, Dennis later admits to having killed 12, which means 6 murders are left without justice or knowledge. An upsetting reality for the families of those without a son/uncle/cousin/father etc.
This is a reality all too noticeable when the institution that should be running these investigation don’t get the funding to do so. A fact not just applicable to the 1980’s but also to today. The show outwardly highlights the problems associated with money and the justice system. A combination which many think should not be intertwined.
Not only this but the show questions why such a man went undetected by the police for 5 years. After doing some research it doesn’t appear that this question has been outwardly answered, it certainly wasn’t in the show.
What I praise the mini series for is the lack of horrific detail or imagery about the murders. Like Daniel Mays said in an interview, it focuses a lot more on the psychology of Des. So much so that Mays woke up screaming to his wife one night because of the details of the case.
To briefly mention the aforementioned media, it was highly prevalent in the show how much stress they put on the police force. The amount of negativity it put the investigation under, makes you rethink their [the media’s] position entirely. I think in many ways we become so used to seeing such murders, especially such a high profile one like this, documented at an insane rate in the media. However, when does this become intrusive and actually delay the right for justice? On top of this the need to profile the murders in a sexual context was highly prevalent, making it more obvious that homophobia was a huge issue (and still is; the prominent nature of people automatically looking at this case thinking Dennis was doing it out of sexual attraction and desire is and was a huge issue.)
Thus, when combining the media and the economic short fallings of the police force it is no wonder they had to shut the case down. Not because there was insufficient evidence, not from a conflict of interest and certainly not because the arrested wasn’t guilty. It is a sad reality for all involved that such small and technically insignificant factors make such a huge difference in modern policing.
To suggest one final question, does this make you ponder the right for the media to be involved in such cases? Without them do you think the case would have been solved in its entirety? Or does it bring on the thought that people would deem such acts as not important if they weren’t broadcasted to the masses?
I highly recommend watching Des. I had never heard of the case before and with such complex issues being addressed, it is a show both entertaining and informational. Not only because the appearance of David Tenant and Des are eerily similar and his dead-pan acting enhances the storytelling but because it highlights some of the ugly truths of our justice system, which all too often go unnoticed.
Let me know your thoughts below!
Much love, Sophie x
‘Des: True Story Behind new ITV Drama […]’ by Rhona Shennan, available here.
‘Daniel Mays: “I woke my wife up screaming because I had a nightmare about Dennis Nilsen”’ by Elizabeth Aubrey, available here.
I couldn’t not start a series on my blog talking about all my favourite places in Scotland and not mention one of the most visited and iconic spots. Plus it is (or was when I was at home) pretty much on my doorstep.
Growing up in the Highlands I have seen a lot of change when it comes to my local area, most notably in John O’Groats. Started in 2009 John O’Groats had a major facelift with the restoration of the hotel (which now looks amazing, although I am yet to see the inside of it), a new harbour square and the restoration of the commercial units (read more about it here). On top of this there is the addition of a recently opened Brewery and of-course the infamous sign.
Plus if you are looking for somewhere to stay there is also the lodges that were put up along with the development of the centre of John O’Groats, check them out here and of course the previously mentioned restored hotel which is by the same company and can be found on the aforementioned like.
I know that John O’Groats has never been some sort of hidden gem but I’d love to highlight the fact there is a lot more than just a sign in this lovely spot. There are a lot of independent, local businesses who are more than deserving of your support. So, I thought I’d highlight some of my favourites so you can plan out your visit and truly enjoy the amazing part of the highlands.
Stacks Coffee House & Bistro
Stacks is a must visit if you head to John O’Groats. I love their food and the inside is beautifully decorated and brings you a much needed sense of calm and warmth. Which is most likely highly necessary when you are visiting John O’Groats. They have a wide selection of seating with a log burner taking centre stage, plus they are dog friendly so what’s not to love!
Stacks are a family run business and often switch up their menu with amazing new dishes! While also offering cakes and special items to make you *extremely* happy.
One of my favourite dishes is their Mac and cheese toasted flatbread with crispy bacon, pictured here. The menu is filled with fresh and often healthy options so perfect if you are or know someone vegan.
Check out their socials for covid updates. The last time I was in it was more like a grab and go operation and we picked up a great selection of tray bakes!
Probably one of the most talked about stops in John O’Groats, Flavours is a much loved day out for both tourists and locals. They have an impeccable selection of ice cream, toppings, sauces and confectionery to keep your sweet tooth happy for the afternoon.
A local business set up in 2012, there is no John O’Groats without Flavours. You may be wondering why you’d want ice cream when more often than not it is rather cold. Well, the ice cream is that good, you will want it in any weather, trust me.
Flavours have handled covid really well and the shop is set out with the upmost care. Plus the staff are lovely! See you just have to go a visit to see it for yourself now!
Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the Storehouse and it is currently closed because of Covid. However, when it reopens and you want your hit of Starbucks coffee then this is the place to go. They offer a simple menu and have a little store of local goods to try out. I wasn’t hugely impressed with their offering but if you are looking for somewhere relatively simple with a great view then check them out.
The Seaview Hotel
I am purposely putting this here because I’ve never actually tried the food from the hotel (which is just as you turn into the long road to go into John O’Groats). However, I have heard really good things about it so if you want to add to my recommendation please do! I’d love some additional info on the place or to hear your own experience.
John O’Groats Brewery Experience.
After only opening late July, this visitor experience is definitely one to try if you love beer and supporting local businesses. The John O’Groats Brewery have taken the brewing scene by storm, when working in a restaurant in my hometown last year the beer was flying out the door (or shall I say keg).
Set at the front of John O’Groats, my flatmate Mara thoroughly enjoyed her visit (I unfortunately haven’t been able to go yet but I must admit I am not a beer drinker. Mara, however loves the stuff).
They are also including a small bar in their experience (also yet to open) so you can try it right there.
The experience itself is yet to open as of writing this however the shop is. So you can get yourself some great local beers right from the company itself!
Plus they also sell some merchandise, beer glasses (which are extremely affordable and well made) and they also stock some lovely local artists.
Mara was lucky enough to get a taster of the experience and was thoroughly impressed by what she was shown. So, if you are in the area now, defiantly go in a look and keep in mind that you should definitely go back once the full experience is up and running.
Puffin Croft is one of the best places to go for a wonder, especially if you have kids. Set amongst the owners home it is on the outskirts of John O’Groat, it is truly a lovely experience. They also sell produce which can be bought via an honesty box. Keep an eye out for the animals names to give you a giggle!
Go a Walk
I know this is probably one of the most obvious suggestions out there but Scotland, especially the highlands is known for its scenery. John O’Groats is especially lucky to be surrounded by both a lovely green landscape and the harbour/sea. This way you get the best of both worlds. Plus with the revamp it now boasts striking sculptural art, a newly done sign and some fabulous architecture.
I wouldn’t say John O’Groats is overly known for its shopping however there are a few gift shops who stock local artists and memoirs which can remind you of your journey.
First & Last in Scotland is a small shop set right on the harbour front and is full of your cheesy mementos and local produce. There is probably enough magnets to last you a lifetime!
John O’Groats Knitwear and Cafe offer a traditional experience to shop for the most lavish wools and cashmeres. They also have a cafe in the back if you are in need of a pit stop
The North Coast Emporium is a large shop filled with local artists selling a range of different things from gifts, clothes and jewellery. It’s a great place to support local artists while purchasing something truly unique.
I hope you enjoyed my quick virtual tour of my favourite spots in John O’Groats. The place really has grown and now offers you not only spectacular views but numerous places to visit so you can make the most of your journey.
You can now spend all day in John O’Groats leaving fully satisfied and blown away by what’s on offer. Now more than ever local businesses need your support so go show them some love!
Make sure to tag me (@sophieseditblog on instagram or @sophiesedit on Facebook) if I influenced your decision to visit or similarly if you want to share your own experience please do!
Looking for somewhere else to visit? Check out my previous post on Dornoch here.
Where should I visit next? Let me know down below!
I know when shopping for makeup it can seem really overwhelming and a lot of the time we get sick of what we use. So, if you’re looking for any new products to try out or want some tried and tested recommendations then keep on reading.
I might add that if you are completely new to makeup or want some tips on how to apply it then Youtube is your best friend. So many people make tutorials nowadays so just search exactly what you want and you’ll get helpful advice straight to your phone.
If you are having problems with your makeup sitting on your skin it is quite possibly your skincare affecting this. A lot of the time your skincare products won’t react well to certain products being applied on top. This is definitely worth researching and if you want some advice on skincare I have done a post here.
Product 1 – Setting Powder
I am not one for ‘baking’, I don’t like overusing powder because I find it dries my face out, takes the glow out of my face and quite often makes my makeup look thick and overdone. For me, I like to use a quick swipe of powder especially if it’s sunny or I am doing something that will make my products slide of my face. This particular product Maybelline FaceStudio Setting Powder is one I have used for ages and is quite possibly a dupe for the Laura Mercier translucent powder. You get a decent amount of powder in it and importantly it has no smell (not that fragrance actually affects your skin in a negative way I just prefer fragrance free).
I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s both affordable and will become a staple in your bag. I have heard reviews that if overused you will get flashback so maybe not one to try if you like baking. After doing some research it has also been rebranded to Master Fixer by Face Studio.
Product 2 – Brow Kit
This is what I have used since I first started filling in my brows. The Eylure Brow Palette has been a staple in my bag for a long time. Using the brush they also supply I can get definition where I want it and have a lot of control. I recommend using a ‘spoolie’ brush to disperse the product once applied.
I am not sure exactly how widely available these are anymore but I have linked one above from Ocado if you want to give this amazing product a try.
Product 3 – Concealer
I have used A LOT of concealers and like a lot of people this is my holy grail. I’ve only used it for just under a year but the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer gives enough coverage that on most days I don’t wear foundation. Best blended out with a wet sponge, this concealer has honestly changed the game when it comes to my collection of concealers.
My mum bought this as part of a set from QVC and it’s probably the only place you can get this concealer from the UK. It is pricy but I would say totally worth it. Plus, you get quite a lot of product and you definitely don’t need a lot of it when applying it.
You’ll need to be quick when buying it or keep a close eye on the website because they sell out very quickly.
Product 4 – Liquid Eyeliner
Now I now a lot of people have trouble when it comes to applying eyeliner. Trust me, I was once in that exact position. However, with practice and patience (which I usually have none of) you can do it.
Collection’s Fast Stroke Eyeliner is one I have bought time and time again and will continue to repurchase. I started applying eyeliner with this, hence recommending it as both a good place to start or to continue getting that classic cat eye.
If I haven’t sold you yet it is an award winning product plus it has great staying power. To add to this it is extremely affordable! I even got my flatmate Mara trying eyeliner with this exact product. What is not to love!?
Product 5 – Cream Highlighter
I personally have moved away from more of the powdered formula highlighters because I prefer a natural glow that looks part of my ‘healthy’ skin. I have a few products I could recommend for this but one that I keep going back to (and which coincidentally has the label rubbed off of it because I’ve used it that much) is Pixi’s Flawless Beauty Primer. I think since I last purchased this product they’ve rebranded because instead of being called a face illuminator it has been branded a primer.
I can’t say I’ve used it as a primer however the natural glow it gives and the fact it stays on my face all day makes it a win to me. The full bottle is quite expensive however this stuff lasts AGES. As you can use it as both a highlighter and a primer then you’re getting 2 products in 1. If like me you want to try it out then have a look at Pixi’s sets. I was gifted this mini as part of a set with some other great products, they have a variety of sets available here.
I also know that makeup isn’t for everyone and that ideally we should all embrace our natural skin because it is BEAUTIFUL! However, if like me you enjoy the process of painting your face then I hope these suggestions helped.
As I’ve gotten older my taste for makeup has evolved and now more than ever I like my makeup to embrace all the imperfections it has while adding a subtle glow and bronze. Fuss free is kinda the way to go! I think, like with everything else, your attitude to putting makeup on is so important!
If you have any makeup recommendations leave them in the comments below!
Considering I am moving back to Edinburgh today (I am writing this a few days before because to be honest there is no way on earth I could write a blog post in the car without being sick). On top of this uni is about to start *sends shiver through my spine*, so to round off the 6 months at home, I thought I’d share my highlights.
I must say that considering the summer was tinged with good ol’ Covid, (tinged is probably too light of a word to use in these circumstances but we’ll roll with it). I have to preface this with the fact I am in no way waving a wand to pretend it didn’t exist. All memories were part of lockdown and a constant feeling of ‘this could be my last day on earth according to the news’. Hence why I am stating the sorry old fact that Covid is and was a thing. Despite that, you have to look at everything and remember you still managed to be happy and experience great things even when the world was basically doomed.
To add another disclaimer, I have a veryyyy bad memory, so most of this came from my camera roll. So don’t be sad if I missed you out.
Long walks with the dog
I can’t even tell you how many walks I went on with the dog in these 6 months. One that particularly stood out to me is when we ended up going on an *extremely* long walk. You may be wondering why this memory particularly stands out, well that walk was 4-5 hours long. I couldn’t move for days afterwards and I’ve never felt hunger like that before in my life. However, to make the walk even better my lovely dog Ruby (who actually belongs to my brother but we’ve had her during lockdown) decided it was an optimum opportunity to stick half her body in a dead whale and this whale was HUGE.
I have never smelt anything like it.
Ruby was happy.
I was not.
To end off the note about this glorious animal I couldn’t not mention the countless amounts of smiles she brought to my face. I know that is super cheesy but coming from someone who never owned a dog I never understood, until now. Honestly not sure what I am going to do without her.
Not that she can ever read this.
Early Lockdown Catch-ups
I love catching up with friends on a normal day but when you’ve been stuck inside for what feels like too long and you can’t see them, a zoom call goes a long way. I feel like I am going to look back on this thinking how bizarre it is that we had to video call people just for a little bit of human interaction. Quiz nights were a highlight of my week even if I was so so bad at them.
I don’t think I will ever take for granted seeing people in person or even giving hugs.
I feel like this is a mindset rather than a memory but it made summer all the better.
This is the first time since coming home that I have fully appreciated where I have grown up. Not that I didn’t before but I think getting made to explore and find new areas that maybe I hadn’t spent so much time in, made me look at my surroundings in a different way.
This photo is from a time when my sister, the dog and I sat at the top of the salmon river and just chilled. We actually also watched a salmon jump for the first time which was great.
So at least I can say I gained something from the awful situation that is coronavirus. Looking at the positives definitely makes the negatives seem a bit less extreme.
Watching the Sunset.
If you haven’t checked out my Instagram (@sophieseditblog) then you wouldn’t have seen the post about watching the stunning sunset at Dunnet beach. I in-fact had never watched the sunset and considering we have optimal views for such a thing is quite shameful.
There is something quite calming about watching the sun slowly disappear while it paints beautiful colours across the sky.
I will have that beautiful view engrained in my brain and I am very happy with that.
I had a lovely walk around Dunnet Forrest. It’s a well kept area full of little sculptures and hidden gems. You can easily spend hours in it (we did). It’s a great place to feel fully connected to nature and gives you the chance to forget everything else.
This moment is particularly important because we managed to see two Deer in the Forrest. One extremely up close. Now I have seen deer before but never as close as this. So, if you get the chance to go a visit then do it and see if you too can spot some deer.
Starting a Business
I didn’t really want this to come across as a self promo but I couldn’t not mention the fact that my summer was extremely filled up with writing two blog posts a week and releasing two drops of prints. Thank you all so much for the support. I have nearly 50 followers getting emails every time I post and a Facebook and Instagram audience that grows weekly. I am just so glad that people enjoy what I write and on a personal note it is great for me to expand my writing knowledge. So, thank you and if you want to subscribe then please do. It’s a great way to stay updated and read when and where you want.
This is a personal achievement for me. I have never been a baker, in fact the majority of the time my bakes ended up being a massive fail. However, after nearly baking every week, especially at the start of lockdown, I now feel more comfortable in the kitchen and actually enjoy it. Plus I have had some delicious bakes from it.
There are definitely more things I could have written about. For example my two trips to Dornoch which I’ve written about here or my countless trips for ice cream to John O’Groats but I would have been here for ages and that’s not to say they won’t feature in other posts.
I’d love to hear one of your favourite moments of Summer 2020. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end already.
Hopefully summer 2021 won’t be dictated by a global pandemic.
I am very well aware that Scotland is my home country and exploring it may seem a bit odd however, there are so many hidden gems that I am yet to see and what better way to share them than in a blog post.
I thought I would start a mini series on the blog that is purely focussed on showcasing lovely spots around Scotland. Not that I am made of money or will be travelling a lot (however if anyone wants to fund that sorta thing feel free to get in contact (I am sort of joking, secretly sorta not). Instead I’ll be posting about spots I find on a basis of spontaneity, so enjoy!
Dornoch is a town situated an hour from Inverness. It is especially quaint and picturesque with their town centre being immaculately looked after. Filled with cute little restaurants and quirky shops, a day in Dornoch is a day well spent.
Each time I go to Dornoch something new has opened and with the current situation there is never a better time to support small independent businesses.
Charity Shops – The Highland Hospice
Dornoch’s charity shop game is not one to be scoffed at. As of my knowledge they have two (who stock clothes, accessories, home goods etc.) and they are both worth a look. Unfortunately the cute one that is in a church is shut at the moment because of Coronavirus but when it reopens I highly recommend giving it a try; I found a second hand mens Ralph Lauren polo shirt for £10 once.
The next one (and the charity shop that features in the above photo and the two below) is the Highland Hospice. I am not sure who curates the items for the shop but the layout and vintage charm of the place makes it an extra special experience.
I bought a red thick knit for only £12 and I swear there is probably an item in there for everyone. Their Covid measures were great (hand sanitiser on the door plus only two people in at a time) and the women at the till was lovely. Overall a great experience and a shop that is both helping you add pieces to your wardrobe sustainably while providing you with a warm and eclectic atmosphere.
A great place for kids and adults alike, the bookshop is bright on the outside and charmingly small on the inside.
I have to say it might be difficult to navigate when busy but if you are able to get in when its quiet you could easily spend 30 mins admiring the lovely selection of books.
They have a variety of kids, history, science fiction and Scottish books on show (plus many more) so if you’re looking for anything in particular its a great place to seek out the newest release while finding some great pieces of older fiction as well.
As you can see from the first photo they also have some random bits and pieces to keep the kids entertained. It’s a win win.
Becca Mac – Ladies and Gents Fashion Store
If you are looking for a bit of ‘high street’ fashion but independently bought then this is the place to go. Newly opened in September 2019, this shop has brought upmarket mainstream fashion to the highlands. Ranging in price the shop is beautifully decorated and immaculately looked after. Plus the ladies in the store are extremely helpful and kind. I bought a chunky knit cardigan (can you tell I’m getting prepared for autumn), which is both fantastically made and will last *hopefully* for years to come. Stocking both men and women’s clothes I’d highly recommend checking it out.
Now if you are a huge foodie like me and like to try new and interesting things then this is the place to go. I will never go to Dornoch and not visit this place. They offer a multitude of fresh ingredients, baking, coffees, teas, local produce and a variety of different sauces/foods you’ve never heard of. The layout is great and they offer things I’ve honestly never seen anywhere else (especially outwith the city). If you are a local or are staying in Dornoch they also offer a freezer section full of homemade meals, croissants, chips and a load of other foods to satisfy your appetite.
I recommend picking up some of the strawberries or raspberries they have sitting out on the counter alongside a Mango dressing which honestly is one of the best I’ve ever tried.
I only wish they’d open in my hometown.
I must admit I have not tried every restaurant in Dornoch but I have tried two. I’ll leave all other restaurants at the bottom of this section.
Milk & Honey
Milk & Honey is another relatively new addition to Dornoch. It’s a cafe that specialises in coffee, tea, spiced milk & honey (which is seriously something you need to try) and food; brunch, lunch and cakes. Its a cute little spot that definitely leans more on the modern/clean side of things.
Kirsty, Mara and Katie (all of whom I visited Dornoch with – don’t worry we were extremely safe) had the Asian Pulled Pork toasted sourdough sandwich with either salad or lentil soup. All of whom gave the dish rave reviews. I had the Chicken Cesar Wrap with a side of chips. I wouldn’t say it was anything special but likewise there was nothing wrong with it. To drink however I had the spiced milk and honey. Which is what I would describe as Christmas in a cup, it was delicious and extremely warming. I couldn’t finish it purely because the spices are a lot to take but all the same it was delicious.
To add to this we shared a chocolate cake and a mars bar slice. The mars bar slice was probably on its last legs and definitely tasted like something I could have made at home. However, the chocolate cake was a solid 10/10. Moist and filled with the right amount of chocolate I would definitely go back for more. Plus it was a huge slice of cake.
I’m gonna keep this review short and sweet. Luigi’s is a popular restaurant in Dornoch, often very busy. They serve great food in a lovely space. However, when I visited recently (about a month ago) their covid measures were disappointing and made me feel uncomfortable. Yes they did have hand sanitiser and masks but the masks were rarely where they should have been and more often than not staff members were a lot closer than they should have been. If you want more information I did a review on my instagram (@sophieseditblog). The food don’t get me wrong is delicious I just wish they were more attentive when it came to social distancing measures and wearing their masks.
Other restaurants to try in Dornoch;
Dornoch Castle Restaurant
The Courtroom Dornoch
Royal Golf Hotel
I always say the best way to explore somewhere new is going a wonder. Being a big lover of architecture and interior design, one of my favourite things to do is explore and admire my surroundings. You never know where you might stumble upon.
We decided once we had walked around the idyllic centre of town (which apart from the photo at the very start of this post, I didn’t really get many photos of *a complete fail on my part*) we decided to go find the beach, which I did get some photos of.
Being lovers of the sea air, Dornoch beach was a great size. However, it was sitting in between/behind the caravan camp site and the golf course so it is good to be wary of that during the current pandemic. It would be great to sit at if the sun was shining either with a fish supper or a picnic. Guess I’ll have to go back?
Even then I say we probably didn’t see all of what Dornoch had to offer but this is a good start. Let me know if you end up going a visit or if you have any other recommendations.
Also if you have any suggestions of where I should feature next then let me know in the comments.
Instead of trying to alter or come up with some new recipes for here, I thought I’d share some of my favourites from fellow bloggers, chefs and websites. To share the love and all that. This list includes sweet treats and savoury meals, all pretty easy and equally delicious.
I know that it is hard to come up with new ideas and a lot of the time we end up eating the same thing over and over again. Hopefully, this will change that and you’ll end up with new staples for your cookbook.
BBC Good Food’s Sesame Salmon, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Sweet Potato Mash
This has been a huge hit in both my flat in Edinburgh and at home. Full of flavour and healthy benefits, this recipe is super simple but super tasty!
I must admit I’ve never actually served it with the sweet potato and I always end up throwing any leftover broccoli that’s in the fridge (doesn’t necessarily have to be purple sprouting broccoli) into the tray. A good tip to make sure the broccoli gets cooked is putting it in a bowl with a small amount of water, covered with clingfilm and then put in the microwave for 2-3 mins before putting it on the tray. This way it should be properly cooked when finished.
Scroll to the bottom of the post on the recipe linked to get the full ingredient list and method.
When I say you NEED to try this, I mean you NEED to try it. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of cauliflower (like my sister) I promise this will convert you. The Cauliflower gets a nice lightly crispy texture with a soft inside bursting with flavours of garlic, paprika and salt. It says to serve with Coriander but I’ve never had it so never use it. It’s a recipe which you can alter depending on your preferences of flavour.
To serve with it I make Pea Purée. I boil a decent amount of peas, drain them and then put them in a blender (you will need quite a lot of peas to make a substantial amount of purée). Next add 2-3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt, salt and pepper and then some mixed herb seasoning or mint sauce (use whatever you have available) and blend. Make sure the mix is smooth and add any extras of the ingredients if needed; remember you can add ingredients but you can’t take away.
This recipe goes particularly well with couscous.
BBC Good Food’s Chicken, Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry
This two step curry is one of my favourites. If you aren’t a massive fan of overly spicy foods but still love flavour or are looking for a curry great for both adults and kids then this is one you need to try. It’s my sisters go to and I get very excited when she makes it. I once gave my old flatmate a try of the curry and it was a massive hit. Just like any curry it tastes great the next day too!
My sister recommends also adding Garam Masala to the curry and if you are confident enough adjust certain flavours to taste. She will often include cumin or turmeric to the recipe as well. I’d probably suggest that this can also be easily made vegetarian too!
My Yorkshire puddings have become a huge hit in my house since coming home due to lockdown. I must admit I tried them once before and they turned out extremely deflated so I tried this recipe instead and they worked great! I get requested to make them on a weekly basis. It’s extremely easy and once you get the hang of it you can’t go wrong.
Make sure the oil is very hot and watch your hands when pouring the mixture into the tin. It’s also important that you leave them in for the required time because if you don’t they will collapse.
Now this isn’t the most attractive thing to eat I must admit but boy is it tasty! Filled with mozzarella, pesto and a rich tomato sauce, what is not to love about this!? It’s a firm favourite in my flat in Edinburgh and one of Mara’s (my flatmates) favourite things to make.
If you have leftover sauce it’s perfect to add to pasta and can be put in the freezer for a rainy day. If you don’t want to have this in a roll you can also make meatball subs out of them. Thankfully the recipe is now available online!
I have struggled to get a decent pancake all my life and I must admit these aren’t like my granny’s pancakes which were amazing. However, they are pretty good and a recipe I can trust to give me results every time.
Expect fluffy, thick pancakes that go great with either savoury or sweet toppings.
Now I must put a disclaimer here before I even start telling you about these delicious cookies. I do not support the actions of the BA/Condé Nast team in terms of the treatment of their BIPOC staff and the lack of equality in their company. However, I support the staff who have worked tirelessly under these conditions as they are amazing chefs and provide excellent recipes. I just wish for better and hope the staff get what they deserve.
These cookies are probably the best ones I have ever made, deliciously soft on the inside with a slight bite on the outside. Gooey with a hint of sugary caramel to them. I highly recommend making them.
If I am honest there are a lot of recipes I’d like to try from Jane’s website however I can very much recommend the one I have tried. It is great! A moist chocolate sponge, rich in flavour and soft in texture, it even got my mums approval.
Perfect to fill the stomach of any chocolate lover, this one is a must try. Plus the recipe makes a decent amount; the first time I tried it, we managed to get a whole loaf plus an additional 3 mini ones.
Another tried and trusted recipe from the Queen of baking. This is perfect for any leftover banana’s that are starting to go off. Plus you can get inventive by adding in chocolate chips, cinnamon or pecans. Banana Bread is the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea on a rainy day.
Just like any baking the smell of it filling your house is irresistible.
Zoella’s Four Berry Pavlova
I am still trying to figure out whether attaching a Zoella recipe is going to get me hate or a lot of people cringing. I don’t understand why but sadly I see it too often (but that’s a whole other blog post in itself). Anyway, this pavlova recipe is very tasty. Perfect for eating on a nice day. My sister made this a month or so ago and it was demolished very quickly.
The good thing about a pavlova is that they are so light you can fit a lot more on your plate and thus, into your belly.
It genuinely only feels like yesterday that I was leaving to go on my new adventure. Uni felt like this huge new thing that was extremely intimidating and scary. Full of ‘what-ifs’ and stereotypes.
Today I thought I’d go through those stereotypes and look back at my two years in higher education. Reflect on mistakes I made, what I wish I’d done differently and what I loved about them.
Uni is always painted out to be this massive stepping stone into adulthood, and in some ways it is but it doesn’t just hit you like a ton of bricks. You encounter different things at different times and that’s okay. You do you and don’t try to pressure yourself into copying everyone else.
Brief thoughts on First Year;
I think when reflecting back on first year there are a lot of things I would have done slightly differently. However, I am also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and the past is in the past. Yet, if I can help anyone else or provide some insight into how to make your life easier then of course I will share it!
I know this is something repeated often and is probably over used in a lot of speeches. However, in the first few weeks of arriving in Edinburgh I wish I had agreed to do more things with people who asked me too. In a lot of ways I held myself back, constantly asking myself ‘why would they want to hang out with me’ or ‘I’ll just be the awkward one sitting in the corner’ so often, or more often than not, I made up an excuse. Instead I really should have looked at it in the manner of; if they are asking me to do something it’s because they genuinely want me to.
I think this grew from a place of having a solid group of friends at home, and because this quickly went away for the first few weeks purely because they weren’t right there with me, it was like my comfort blanket was stripped off and I just didn’t know what to do. I was lost and probably far too in my head. Part of me was still holding onto these friends (which I am still really close with by the way, its not like I said goodbye to my friends because I am at uni) I just shouldn’t have let that stop me from making more friends.
Alternatively, I couldn’t include this without mentioning the benefits of joining a club. If you feel like you don’t quite hit it off with your flatmates or fellow students or are just looking to expand your circle then going to a club is great! I joined Netball in my first year because I’ve been a competitive player for as long as I can remember. Finding people who like the same things as you really boosts your morale and confidence. At least this way you are broadening your friends and even if you don’t like the club at least you can say you’ve tried and who knows, you might still get friends from it.
Listen to Yourself!
If something isn’t right or you are in a situation you don’t agree with, get yourself out. Talk to anyone that will listen and if you get someone saying no then try someone else. There will always be a better way of handling things, especially in student accommodation. If something happens that is not your fault and out of your control, you shouldn’t have to put up with it. A lot of the time it definitely isn’t something you should have to deal with.
Under the same bracket, if you need some time to yourself, don’t feel bad. I often had to spend a lot of time in my room, whether that was because I had a lot of reading to get through or just because I needed to breath and rest. Everyone is different and that is fine. I am an extroverted introvert, which means I am extroverted around a lot of people (that I know and am comfortable with) but also need time to recharge and be alone. This is something people should understand so never feel guilty for looking after yourself.
Nights out aren’t for everyone. Just because it might not suit you doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in your city. I often would jump on a bus, get off at a point, and then go on really long walks. This way I found beautiful places I never even knew existed. Finding local restaurants and cafes are great and making a routine out of getting out the house is especially important. Additionally, so is letting your hair down and relaxing. Make the most of every moment because trust me, those first two years go in quickly!
First Year on my Course:
The first year of my course (English Literature) went in really quickly but that’s not to say I didn’t struggle. I soon found out who was there to be friends with me and who, in my opinion, were there to use me. Sadly, I feel like that happens to quite a few people. It’s not to say they aren’t nice people, they might just be struggling or not used to academic work. All the same though, it’s not your job to give your endless amounts of hard work to someone else because they don’t want to do it. It’s also natural to compare yourself or feel pressured to perform in class the whole time, this is not realistic and you’ll just tire yourself out. I struggle to speak in front of classes and that’s just something I’ve come to terms with. If you acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses you can work on them from the get go. I mostly look back and wish that I engaged more with my classmates, like I said before, don’t shut yourself down because of nerves. Everyone is in the same boat.
Second year brought a small wave of change in terms of finding accommodation, dealing with bills, slightly harder learning and generally getting my footing. I feel like this was the year I transitioned to seeing Edinburgh as more of a home.
I moved in with my sister and one of my best friends (Hi Mara!) after only just getting a flat before moving home for Summer. Flat hunting is a whole other ball game so if you want a separate blog post on that then let me know. I think this is the year that you become more independent and feel like more of an ‘adult’ (if that is even possible?).
Be more Spontaneous
This is a lesson all of my friends have taken away from our second year being cut short. Although third year is obviously extremely important, so is enjoying the ‘university experience’. Doing more things off the cuff and enjoying having the ability to be more free in terms of my schedule should be celebrated.
I think it is a great idea to think of things that you always put off. Go to see live music, go to the pub spontaneously, take a trip to a random place or go speed dating. Anything that you’ve always wanted to do, should be done at some point right? If you’re ever stuck for conversation at a random dinner party these will hopefully provide the opportunity to fill the gaps and put a smile on someone’s face. Surely that’s reason enough?
Use Your Voice
I was/am too scared to open up to my peers in class, constantly thinking that everyone else is a lot smarter than I am. However, your voice is just as valid and hey, people make mistakes! Even the smartest person in the room won’t always be right. Plus there is always the chance that those people who sound the smartest will struggle to transition their thoughts onto paper. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself or downgrading your opinions because of someone else.
Use your teachers and resources
For the longest time I’d dread asking questions or asking for help. I perceived it as a sign of weakness rather than using my lecturers etc. for what they are there for. After just finishing second year I’ve realised that I probably should be using the resources that I am paying for. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
I probably could go on for a lot longer but I don’t want to bore you or loose you attention. I think however, that these are the most important takeaways from my first two years.
I haven’t gone into detail exactly on what experiences I enjoyed purely because most of them won’t be happening this year, for example cocktail week or freshers week. Once they get the go ahead to return I’ll be sure to write a post all about them.
I hope this encourages you to be more open to new experiences and to take care of yourself at uni. If you’re looking for helpful tips on how to set up your new flat and what to take, check out this blog post here.
And if you aren’t going to uni, I hope you enjoy a sneak peak into what I’ve discovered about the experience and also myself. Everyone can take at least one message away from this post, whether it is applicable to you or not; be yourself and don’t waste time on worrying.
Along with clothes, books are one of the most thrown away items that clog up our landfills each year. An enormous amount of novels get published in a year but the number of them actually being well received and bought, unfortunately, isn’t high.
How can you help solve this? Well,A Box of Stories, have come up with a helpful way in which you can stop a select amount ending up in the landfill.
As the company states, 177,000,000 books get destroyed every year in the UK alone. Purely because only 17% are lucky enough to receive a decent marketing budget. Due to this a large proportion of decent, well written books don’t make the shelves and therefore don’t end up in peoples hands.
As a lover of books and escaping into the world of the next cleverly thought out universe it is a shame that such hard work can be put to waste. That is why when you buy a box of books from A Box of Stories, you are saving 4 from getting destroyed.
So, are you still confused as to what I am talking about? Let me explain…
The company offers a range of different boxes that include 4 different books. The cheaper options are a mixed box of fiction or a general mixed box (of fiction and non fiction), both at £14.99 (£3.75 a book!!!).
Or if you want to hone in on a certain genre they offer boxes of 4 books from these different genres; Crime Thriller & Mystery, Young Adult (YA), light reads, Historical fiction and non fiction.
Each of these boxes which are curated around a certain genre are £21.99 each (£5.50 per book).
Now are you wondering how they sort the books or are concerned you’ll end up with a novel that just isn’t quite up to scratch? Don’t panic, they curate books that have sold in decent numbers and then use an algorithm that sorts them on the basis of book reviews, blog posts and critics reviews etc. so they can put them in boxes to delight book lovers across the globe. So you are getting quality at a great price!
To add to this you are getting a surprise right to your door and allowing yourself to read things that you might have never picked up before. It’s a win win right?
I must admit it was my mum who really wanted to order the box, however I was more than happy to share it considering the idea behind it is great! Plus who doesn’t love books!?
The ordering experience was very easy and it didn’t take long to arrive. We chose the mixed box of fiction and I have to say I was quite intrigued by the contents of the box.
*As a quick disclaimer I must say that I haven’t had time to read the books myself, I am currently preparing for uni while trying to sort my business out however when I get the chance (which could be Christmas time) I’ll be sure to give them a read. What I have done however is read the blurbs, asked for my mums perspective on the one she has read and done some research. Either way if I don’t get a chance they’ll be passed onto another book lover.*
Book 1 – The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway
Without copying the blurb the book is set in 1838 and tells the story of a young seamstress May Bedloe who is dirt poor and abandoned on the shore of the Ohio River. This is when she takes on work from the famous Floating Theatre, filled with colourful personalities and characters. However, it is not all as it appears to be as she travels the boarder between the slave-holding South and the ‘free’ North. She is duty bound to transport secret passengers across the river and along the Underground Railroad, which not only endangers herself but those close to her.
This particular story enticed me the most, a piece of historical fiction with a gripping storyline based on fear, love and bravery, it sounds like it tells much more than just a story of a lost woman. From reviews I have read the novel depicts slavery in a new and interesting way (I do not mean that in the sense that slavery is not interesting in the first place, it’s an issue that everyone should be well versed in). Historical fiction, although not always completely accurate and can often be romanticised for the sake of storytelling, is a good way to learn if you want a starting point.
This is a novel I definitely want to read. A pleasant surprise for Book 1 from the box.
Book 2 – The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
The novel tells the story of Nolan Moore, a ‘rogue’ archaeologist hosting a documentary shunned by the experts but loved by conspiracy theorists. He is retracing the steps of an explorer in 1909 who found a mysterious cavern in the Grand Canyon. When he finds what he assumes is this cavern, it begins to take a nasty turn on him in odd ways. This tale then turns into one of survival, against odds that seem to be well out of his reach. Leaving the reader with several questions. (description based on a blurb from Good Reads)
A story that combines both the Thriller and Sci-Fi genre, which is part of a series that is dubbed to be put onto the big screen (yet to happen). From research the author was a bit of a mystery at the beginning. Turns out it is by Michael Marshall Smith, who now also goes by Michael Rutger apparently. He has won several awards under his actual name while also collaborating on several film/TV projects under the Sci-Fi, Comedy and thriller genres.
This is when the box comes in handy. The novel is definitely not what I would reach for in a store however that is not to say I wouldn’t like it. I am all for trying something new and if I didn’t like it, it could easily be turned into a gift for someone who would.
Book 3 – The Moon Pool by Sophie Littlefield
A tale about the loss of two boys from the perspective of their mothers. Colleen lost her boy to the snowy, oil filled landscape of North Dakota which she describes as both beautiful but disastrous. In the same town, another mother is out searching for her boy, who also disappeared in the oilfields which he worked at. Alone they are both lost in grief without answers but together they could help each other and find out the long-awaited answers they’ve been searching for.
A Crime novel which from the blurb describes both the landscape and grief with a deep sense of sensitivity and kindness. Although, from reading the blurb and what you might have gathered form my rewritten description, the oil industry appears to take centre stage but from reading reviews actually has little importance to the narrative. Which is a shame.
A book which goes into themes of motherhood, crime and grief which I must admit is not something I’d jump at reading and will probably have to be in a certain mood for. However, I do like the crime genre, in particular in TV, so it’s not to say that I won’t like it.
Book 4 – The Secrets of Primrose Hill by Claudia Carroll
A story detailing the lives of those behind the doors in Primrose Hill, Dublin. A mother is grieving for her child as she waits silently outside the house of the boy she thinks is responsible. Across the street, a young woman has just moved in. She is an aspiring director who is running away from a scandal while simultaneously possibly running into another one; her landlord is absent and doesn’t quite add up. Then a few doors down a widow sits alone in her bedroom. She has just told her family something rather surprising, meaning her life is about to change forever.
A heart-warming story about neighbours, their difficulties and how they come together to support each other. One reader, who stated on Good Reads, said the novel was usually not for her as she labelled it a ‘chick-flick’ before reading it. However, it surprised her with its tenderness and how there were moments for humour but also for sadness.
This was the book my mum has started and although she isn’t anywhere near finished it, she has said she’s enjoying it and is going to carry on reading. I must admit this is also a book I would pick up for some easy, light reading. I like escaping into the normality of other people lives, so I will definitely give it a read when I get the chance.
General Notes on the books we received: They are all paperback and in pristine quality. Actually, what surprised me is how big the novels are. They aren’t the typical size of those on the shelves, they appear to be longer. Probably hardback in size, so not the most portable.
To buy your own box or find out more info on A Box Of Stories click here.
So if you are looking for some new books but don’t know what to go for or are stuck for inspiration why not get surprised. The boxes are also great for gifting to someone, either as an individual book or a whole box.
Alternatively, if you are new to reading (welcome!) and don’t know what genre to go for or get a bit overwhelmed in a book shop then this is perfect for you!
I might add that if you are looking for a specific book or want to try one of the ones mentioned above why not go on Amazon or eBay and buy them second hand, this way you are using ones already in circulation and looking to be rehomed. This can also be done in a charity shop if you’re looking for a new read but don’t have any idea of what you want. You can also go to your local independent book store and support them in this much needed time.
Let me know if you end up ordering a box or if you have any thoughts on the initiative.
It’s a bit scary to think I’ve already written 30 posts. To be honest I wasn’t sure if I’d make it past 8. However, in saying that, the reception I’ve received and what I’ve gained from not only being more honest to my readers but with myself is something I will always cherish.
I thought I’d round up my thoughts and share with you not only the highs but the lows, because yes, even in these short few months, I’ve had lows when it comes to this fantastic platform.
I want to start with the fact that Blogging is scary. You are putting yourself – your thoughts, feelings and emotions – into one place for absolutely anyone and everyone to read. That definitely plays a big part in second guessing yourself and doubting whether sharing your sacred thoughts to your potential future employer for example is the smartest idea on the planet. This is exactly where the lows come from (and the creative drought that leaks into your brain every so often).
Yet I wouldn’t have started this if I wasn’t aware of the fact anyone could be reading it and it is that (even though it scares me) which pushes me to make my writing even better and talk about subjects which people might not feel 100% comfortable broaching. I’ve always been scared of writing and the judgment that comes with it but if I want to better myself and my techniques then writing 2-3 blog posts a week is most likely the only way that’s going to happen. I think if anything I’ve learned that if someone reads this it is because they are interested, those who don’t want too aren’t forced to come here and I am extremely okay with that.
For me these 30 blog posts have given me the chance to share my struggles and frustrations with things that I come across, and as a 20 year old there is quite a lot of them (trust me). But on the other hand, it also allows me to share things I love and give support and admiration to those who deserve it. I feel empowered and invigorated having an outlet that is completely mine and I love the creative freedom it gives me.
However, with this creative freedom comes the feeling A LOT of the time that I am imposing on a space I’m not good enough for or feeling down about what I am not achieving. As a competitive person who is also a perfectionist this has always been a difficult subject for me. Although I must admit I am doing better at this and coming to terms with the fact that it’s a long process to get where I want to be and definitely involves a lot of hard work. Hard work on the other hand which I am willing to put in.
I thought I’d compile just some of the things I’ve achieved in the past few months. More for myself than anyone else;
Released 2-3 blog posts a week
Used my instagram as a creative outlet which has allowed me to see my progress as I post
Gain a small following from what I started with
Start my own print business within my website (available here)
learned how to professionally promote my business through interesting graphics
Joined the #caithnessmarket
Grow as a person
Supported businesses through my website
Created a campaign on sustainable fashion which was shared by leading brands (check out my instagram highlights and this post for more info)
Created a supportive community on Facebook
Found what I love and enjoy doing!
I know you probably read through that thinking “wow she’s really promoting herself here” but, like I said in a recent blog post, it’s important to celebrate the successes along the way and I do not do that nearly enough. Plus I don’t think I ever recognised how much work I’ve done in such a short space of time! I adore what I am doing and am so glad there are some of you out there that seem to be loving it as well.
It’s never too late to start something which you have wanted to do for a while or have always dreamt of. If you keep making excuses when will you actually do it? The right time will always be now.
Here is to 30 more blog posts and continuing to feel at home and free in this wonderful space on the internet.
If you haven’t already gathered I am a lover of TV. It gives you short bursts of entertainment and education whenever you want. Leaving you inspired, needing more or, on the one off occasion, ready to turn off your TV from fear or disgust. TV brings a range of emotions and even the oldest of shows brings about the fondest of memories.
Today I am going to share 6 of my favourite TV shows which will most likely grip you in your seats and, I apologise in advance, leave you stuck in your bed/couch for a good few hours.
Grey’s Anatomy can be found on Amazon Prime (Season’s 1-15) and is soon to arrive on Netflix UK.
As they say, this is an Oldie but a Goldie. After only recently starting it, I’ve managed to get through 6 seasons in only a matter of weeks. Filled with trauma, drama, relationships and some extremely gory injuries, this series will leave you unable to switch the television off. Not only that but a lot of famous faces fill the screen, whether that is through the main characters like Christina, played by Sandra Oh (most notable for currently playing Eve in Killing Eve) or Izzy Stevens (played by Katherine Heigl who starred in Suits). Or, through their patients which have often been young actors in the early days of their careers for example Elizabeth Moss and Dylan Minnette. It really is a feast for the eyes (both literally and figuratively).
3 Seasons are now available on Netflix.
Now if you like reality TV and fancy viewing homes selling at ridiculous prices, this is a show you need to watch. I have never been an avid watcher of reality shows however I love interior design and (like I imagine a lot of people) love to see the inside of homes that on a normal day I probably would never encounter. It follows the Oppenheim Group, owned by twin brothers Jason and Brett, who are in charge of 7 (on the show) agents battling it out to sell the most expensive properties in LA.
This show, like many reality programmes includes; intense stakes, extreme emotions and a lot of arguing but it adds to the whole experience and in the end makes it a show you can’t resist.
Normal People, is available on both Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
Now I am aware I have banged on about this A LOT. However, I couldn’t write a post like this and not include it. If you still haven’t watched it, then please do. Based on Sally Rooney’s best selling novel, the show follows Marianne and Connell on their journey to adulthood, including their exploration of the relationship they constantly find themselves in and out of. I’ve written a review of the show if you want to read it (available here) or if you want to read with me, I’ve done a post on the novel as well, here.
Both central actors have propelled themselves into the starlight after the show, so if you want to get to know the actors who will most likely be appearing on your screens more often, then give it a watch.
3 seasons available on Netflix.
A Netflix Original, following one of the Marvel comic characters.
If you like Superheroes with an edge then this is the show for you. Jessica Jones is not a conventional ‘superhero’, she is full of grit, determination and well, alcohol. The show follows her life as a private detective with a tricky past and condition which makes her have super strength and the ability to jump to insane heights. You’ll end up being tense with anticipation the whole way through.
This mixed genre show (crime, thriller and superhero drama, to name a few) complements the main character and allows you to get attached to not only the over arching storyline but also the crimes that she is encountering in each episode.
All 5 seasons are available on BBC iPlayer.
Another oldie but one of the best crime TV shows to grace the BBC, this is a thrilling must-watch. DCI John Luther, played by the incredible Idris Elba, has won numerous awards for the portrayal of the iconic character. Luther is an incredibly complex character who often gets violent and possessive in his fight for justice.
Not only this but the show documents his relationship with Alice Morgan, without spoiling it, someone he should not be engaged with. If you like crime shows that are both captivating and thrilling then this is one you need to give a watch.
All 2 seasons are available on Netflix.
This iconic show, which has become a staple on Netflix, is one of my favourites to watch for some lighthearted relief. The comedy drama stars Asa Butterfield who plays an insecure teenager that battles with his mothers job as a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson). Asa’s character Otis finds himself in the tricky position of taking on his mothers role in school, secretly giving out advice around love, relationships and sex (without his mothers permission). Which notably he has very little experience in.
As I mention this show, I have to mention the incredible Ncuti Gatwa, a Scottish-Rwandan actor who plays Eric, Otis’ best friend. He is utterly fabulous and leaves me laughing at every possibly opportunity. But this is not a letter of admiration for him, so please just watch it and see what I mean.
I hope this covers a lot of bases when it comes to TV and different genres. Don’t be put off by the length of some of the shows, the fact the post is called binge worthy, really hints to the fact that no matter the length it probably won’t last too long.
Let me know if you have any TV shows you recommend below and if you end up watching one let me know!
As a third year uni student (which is extremely scary considering it feels like I only just went into first year) I think I’ve gotten a good idea of what is necessary and unnecessary to take to your new home. Whether that is in student accommodation or private renting.
I’ve accumulated suggestions from a range of different students living in different accommodations (thank you!) and different places. This way you are getting suggestions that will hopefully serve you well.
Before I get into a list of things I think its important to preface this with some things you should do before you even start shopping;
If you can, try and find your flatmates. This way you can speak to them and make sure no one is taking double of items. No one needs two kettles and toasters etc. In some cases doubles are not a problem however it’s important to make sure you’re not overcompensating and filling up your car unnecessarily.
Check what your accommodation provides. Like I mentioned above often your accommodation will actually have toasters and kettles but if not its good to get them in advance so check just incase. Similarly, when I moved into private renting accommodation there were already plates, bowls and glasses there which I was unaware of, which meant we didn’t actually need to take any.
Make a list. Properly think of what things you’ll be cooking or what you’ll need to feel comfortable. Everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to this. There is no point taking things just for the sake of it.
When packing make sure to pack your things in rooms so, toilet, bedroom and kitchen. This makes unpacking a lot less stressful; you’ll thank me later.
What to Bring – Kitchen:
Make sure to have cutlery which has an individual style to it. Pure metal ones are overused and you’ll most likely see more than one pair in your accomodation. If it has a design it means your cutlery is less likely to be stolen or go missing.
A few cups and glasses. I know right now you’re only catering for one but most likely you’ll have friends over at some point so a few of everything is the way to go.
Individualistic plates and bowls (also take a few)are important. Plain white is also most likely going to appear in your accommodation by someone else. This will make moving out difficult if they’ve all gotten mixed up.
if you love a toastie, then a toastie machine/George Forman is very useful and can be used for many things, This is definitely one I’d speak with your flatmates about because one of my friends ended up having three in her flat.
A few trays for the oven will be one of your most used items, especially if you’re not much of a cook. Think about one big enough for a pizza and then a smaller one that could always fit half the shelf so someone else can cook in it at the same time.
A few dish towels are important and get dirty quickly so make sure to get at least two so they can be replaced.
Decent Knives: these will last you a while, in fact you should be thinking about the fact that all these items will do you through your uni years. Decent knives makes cooking a lot easier.
Stir Fry’s are incredibly popular because they are cheap, easy and quick. I’d advise getting a Wok. They last ages and are very useful. You can also get single Woks which are smaller if you’d rather.
A range of pans in different sizes. Make sure to have a decent one for pasta, a frying pan etc. Think about how you cook at home (or how your parents cook) and what pans are most often used and how many.
Measuring cups/spoons and a measuring jug are very handy. If you’re wanting to do some baking, be a bit more adventurous or simply need a jug to mix drinks or put something in the microwave, jugs are multipurpose and measuring spoons are useful.
A sieve/drainer for draining pasta is one often forgotten about but is actually very useful.
A few wooden spoons, potato masher, a serving spoon/ladel, spatula and something to hold them all in, is useful and keeps everything in one place. (the potato masher is something I didn’t use a lot so it depends what you prefer).
A small oven dish for cooking pasta bakes, shepherds pie etc. is very handy and one often forgotten about.
A good pair of oven gloves are important. *Don’t do what I did and nearly set them on fire by accidentally setting them on a hob which was recently turned off.*
Chopping boards. This is something you don’t need to overdo but a few will do you well.
Things you don’t need: Personally I gave up with ironing. I did take one with me because a family friend kindly gifted me money to get something. A few of my flatmates used it but even now it only comes out of the cupboard every so often. I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity, a good way to get wrinkles out is hanging it in your bathroom after a shower.
Tip for the Kitchen: Aside from the kitchen utensils etc. a good idea before moving is getting a package of your favourite foods so when you’re there you feel more at home and don’t have to feel stressed about doing a big shop. Taking some cereal, biscuits, pasta, pasta sauce, diluting juice, tea, coffee, any condiments etc. will be a life saver, basically any non perishable goods which will last a while.
Tips for living with flatmates: As soon as you are there make a rota for cleaning and taking out the bins. Trust me, it is much easier to get this out of the way at the start when you’ve got nothing personal going on and you’ll avoid conflict if its just part of your routine.
Look at what you have in your bedroom currently. I know you might view your new flat as semi permanent and not worth doing anything too but a year is a long time. To make your stay more comfortable try and take some pieces from your current bedroom. When I went I took some fake plants I had (don’t come for me), some frames (not allowed on walls but can be leant against a wall), photos of friends, fairy lights and some little mementos of my favourite things.
Your bed is most likely not going to be the most comfiest of things so a mattress topper, mattress protector, a decent duvet and some good pillows will go a long way in not only making you more comfortable but getting you a goodnight’s sleep.
If your room is lacking colour then adding some decorative pillows will not only brighten up your space but make it extra comfy and will be handy if friends pop around.
Take an extra set of bedding so when one is in the wash you don’t have to rely on it drying that day because a lot of the time the drier doesn’t work properly.
Over the door coat hanger. To save space in your wardrobe, this is really ideal. You can hang your bags, jackets and reusable shopping bags here and it makes it easy to grab whatever you need and go out the door. This will depend on what door you have, if it is a fire door you aren’t allowed to have it there however instead you can hang it on your bathroom door.
An important thing to stock up on either for your kitchen or bedroom is medicine. Including; Cold medicine, ibuprofen, paracetamol and plasters and most likely a flatmate will need it. Just a warning FRESHERS FLU IS REAL. It’s nasty and I probably spent most of first year with some sort of cold so be prepared.
I feel like you probably already know this but some blankets really are useful. Not only for adding a layer of coziness to your room but are also great for taking to your living space If you’re cold and can also add some colour to your room.
Hangers. You will definitely need these. I came to uni with a decent amount and still had to go and get some more.
A basin. One of the more recommended items from friends, this will be handy if you go mad at freshers or get ill. Plus while it’s not being used you can easily store it away with extra bits in it. Your kitchen most likely will already have one in the sink, but having your own is probably preferable.
A laundry bag. I had both a basket and a bag and hardly ever used the basket. It was more of a storage item than anything else. The bag makes taking your washing to the laundry bit of your accommodation a lot easier because more often than not you’ll have to walk to it.
This isn’t exactly an item for your room but more for your comfort. Taking some hoodies and/or a dressing gown and some lounge wear is something I didn’t really keep in mind when I first moved down but needed and used a lot once I got some.
A drying rack for your washing is extremely useful and something which can be discussed with your flatmates if you feel comfortable sharing one or two. The washing machines and driers in the laundry room are not reliable.
To add to this a hot water bottle is great for period pain and to keep you warm.
*Remember you aren’t allowed to take electrical goods because they need to be PAT tested so go for battery operated things. Straighteners etc. are okay.*
What you don’t need: Remember your room is going to be small (or most are). You don’t need to pick up your entire life and throw it into your room. You’ll be going back home for Christmas soon enough so you can get anything you’re missing then. This also goes for summer clothes. It is slightly warm in September but you definitely don’t need all of it down with you, be more prepared for autumn/winter and take some more summer clothes with you at Christmas or Easter.
The doorstop is something you’ll hear a lot of people rave about and say is essential. I never used one and when speaking to friends about it no one suggested this as a must have. Instead why not just use a box or something you are unpacking from?
Things like curtains aren’t necessary, they are provided. I know that is a bizarre thing to include but I can imagine someone doing that.
To keep those pesky germs away take some cleaning products, especially for your bathroom. It gets dirty easily (which you rarely notice if your parents usually do it for you).
Like I said for the kitchen stocking up on your bathroom essentials is extremely useful. This way you have them when you arrive and probably will last you a decent while.
Take a bath matt, it saves you sliding getting out the shower and makes the space look nicer. It’s also an easy way of adding colour.
Towels. Make sure to have around 2-3 large towels, some hand towels and whatever else you usually use. It’s also a good way to add colour.
Stock up on toilet roll. Say a 24 pack will do you a while and saves you the hassle of trying to take them home on a shopping trip.
I hope this is useful and provides some clarity on what you need to take and what might not be on the top of your list.
Please share with any friends or family going away, I personally wish I had something like this when I was moving.
And good luck! It’s an exciting opportunity! I think I’ll do a blog post soon on my thoughts and feelings of my first year experience and debunking some expectations of it.
But don’t worry and take it as it is. If you’re not in a great flat ask to move or wait until you are on your course. Just because you are in a flat with some strangers doesn’t mean they have to become your best friends (but some do and that is great!).
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who left suggestions! It made writing this post a lot easier.
This is a question that has been bothering me for a while. That much it was nagging me in my sleep.
After starting my own business and writing this blog for over 6 weeks it’s come to my attention that I keep asking myself when is it deemed *right* to say I am successful?
Is it how much money I have in the bank? How many likes and follows I have on Facebook and Instagram? How many people read my posts? How my family and friends are doing? How my mental health is? The problem I see with success is that it is completely up to you where in your life you place it. I think in loads of ways we are ingrained to see success as a large corporate job that barely leaves us any time to do anything else which makes us happy; is that really what we call being successful?
All my life I’ve been working for my future and what will keep me busy and provide me with the means to do stuff which makes me happy. But surely I can stop right now and be proud of what I’ve achieved. Recognise that I have done a lot, maybe not as much as others, but that doesn’t mean its not noteworthy. I don’t have to reach the age of 35 and only then, finally say I am successful.
Even if my social media accounts don’t have over 1,000 followers and I am not rolling in cash, that doesn’t determine my worth or show me that what I am doing isn’t right or working. It is a slow process but one a competitive, perfectionist finds hard to digest.
I think that when so much of what we do is on social media; a business promoting on there or simply celebrating a success via sharing it on a platform, it all makes us feel self conscious about our own rate of success. A thing I majorly struggle with is self comparison and imposter syndrome, purely because I am constantly seeing people doing great things and comparing myself to them. This way I decrease my own self-worth and what I have done.
If I were to hone in on that point it would be to suggest that more people need to integrate all parts of their life onto social media so people can stop perceiving others as robots who simply swim in success. But this is something which has been suggested for SO LONG and I am still to see a viable difference. Might I add that you can also tell yourself however many times you want that you ‘just shouldn’t think this way’ and it does little to change that mindset, I promise (I have tried).
Content Creator Claudia Sulewski recently said that there is no point in comparing yourself to others when their success and how they look does nothing to change your life or impact you. So why then are we made to feel so horrible when it comes measuring our own successes to those we see on a screen. Even though I perfectly understand that this is a mental attitude that is completely down to the person feeling it rather than hatred towards someone else, it’s still hard to grapple with.
It is also possible that someone reading this is thinking the same things towards me (and even when writing that I feel an overwhelming sense of self gratification which is cringe worthy). Not that I’d quite understand that or really get why but if you do then I am sorry. Trust me, my life is not full of roses or celebrations (definitely not talking about the chocolates) and I don’t look at myself like that either. But if I have this mindset then I know someone else most likely does too.
It is a horrible cycle and one that typically decreases other major things that may contribute to you being considered successful, like your mental health. If you have any tips when it comes to this I’d be very interested to hear anything you have to say down below.
If anything it sounds like I should just strip the word ‘successful’ out of my vocabulary altogether. I have done major things in my life so far; I was part of a long squad for the Scottish Netball team, I designed a logo for the local book festival, I did well in school, made change in my community, I am a Captain of my uni’s Netball team, launched a website and a print space, but after all that I am still not content with absolutely anything I have achieved. Most importantly, and quite sadly, I can’t look at the majority of them with fond memories purely because I didn’t appreciate what was happening. Surely each of those can be considered a success? But do I? No.
I don’t know if this is a mentality ingrained from school, where you are always looking for the next thing. Looking for a future rather than the present. It is not healthy and not right. In fact I’d consider it dangerous because if at no point you consider anything successful what is the point in doing it in the first place? You’ll be a cog in a machine rather than a human being doing great things.
Now this isn’t a sob story, I promise there is an overarching point to this post. With all the things I have done I’ve never sat down afterwards and gone ‘I’m proud of myself’ or ‘that took a lot of work, well done!’ or ‘that actually went well and it’s because I put a lot of effort into that’. Instead I looked onto the next thing and ignored what I just burnt myself out for.
It’s something I think a lot of people can learn from and do better at. Sit yourself down and celebrate even the smallest of things because at the end of the day you can’t get where you want to be without those small successes. Don’t instantly look forward and try to do the next best thing, instead ride your own wave (as cheesy as that sounds) and try, as best as you can, to remember that you are your own person. Celebrating everyone else is extremely important but there is nothing wrong with appreciating what you yourself have also achieved.
Well that is my thought for this week. Even calling it that makes me sound extremely philosophical, considering it sounds like I have profound thoughts 99% of the time. I don’t. I just have a sense of curiosity when it comes to sentiments like this and when I get myself into this headspace it bothers me a lot. Hence me writing about it.
But this is a step in the right direction and if we all start treating ourselves with a bit more respect, I think we would all be doing a lot better.
I would love for every person reading this to share something successful in their life, with me, or the closest person to you and if you can’t do either of those yet just tell yourself. Even if you tell yourself there is nothing to celebrate, I promise there is something. At the end of the day success is relative, you decide.
I am delighted to announce that I’ll be joining the fabulous #caithnessmarket this Saturday (1st August) between 11am-3pm.
Set up due to Covid-19, a bunch of different businesses (often changing/growing each month) have come together to produce a range of content to help promote their products when they can’t get out and about to do so. More than that each business gives £10 each month which goes to a nominated charity.
Its not just Caithness businesses which join the market, anyone is free to do so but I am extremely proud to support something coming directly from where I’ve grown up. Might I add you also don’t have to be from Caithness to buy anything on Saturday! Anyone and everyone can buy from a business who joins under the hashtag.
On the day I will be releasing Drop 2 of my print collection, letting you know more about myself and how I create my prints. It’s a great chance to connect to different businesses and see what everyone has to offer.
On an honest note I feel slightly like I have imposter syndrome when it comes to this market. Am I really good enough? Should I be there? Will it work? But there is no point asking these questions if I don’t give it a try.
The market is a great place for me, especially because I seem rooted online at the moment with both my website and digital art. I suppose if it was me in person behind a stall I’d feel quite nervous and probably crumble in front of everyone. So why not start here, in the humble position of my home with just me and my laptop, praying that maybe one person might be interested in what I have to offer.
Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me please and If you fancy coming to say hello then I’d be very, very happy. Plus if you can’t make it between 11am and 3pm the posts will still be there on the hashtag and my page for you to scroll through. I’ll be there all day to answer and queries you may have.
Make sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram (both linked below) and the hashtag #caithnessmarket so you can get updates as soon as they go out.
I thought I’d give you some background information on buying my prints so when it comes to the market day you know exactly what to do.
If there is a print you want or are interested in message me directly on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook: @Sophie’s Edit, Instagram: @Sophieseditblog
Similarly if you have any questions message the above accounts
Once the message has been replied to I will ask for you to pay the total amount to my Paypal account (making sure to use the Family and Friends option)
Conversely, if the print is currently not available you will be put on a preorder list and the aforementioned steps will commence once the print is back in stock. Don’t worry it shouldn’t take too long and you will be updated along the way.
Once payment is confirmed I will get your delivery details and send it out ASAP (often the next day)
I will confirm once it is out for delivery. Your parcel should take 3-5 days to arrive.
If there is anything I’ve eaten a lot of in the past 3 weeks it is this stuff. It tastes very good. Yes tiffin is not the healthiest (by a mile) but whoever said good tasting things were never healthy is on point when it comes to this.
Filled with delicious layers of biscuit, chocolate and crunchie, there is simply nothing you cannot love about it. Plus you can easily swap the crunchie out for other sweet treats like maltesers.
A recipe for both kids and adults to enjoy while being relatively easy to make, means it is a win win recipe. What’s not to love?
Also, I might add, Kirsty is my twin sister and has been fuelling me with this fabulous treat for the past few weeks.
200g Milk Chocolate
100g Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp’s Golden Syrup
125g Digestive Biscuits
3 Crunchie Bars
100g Milk Chocolate
100g White Chocolate
25g Unsalted Butter
1 tsp Golden Syrup
2 Crunchie Bars
Step 1: Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water).
Step 2: Add the Unsalted Butter and Golden Syrup (for the base) into the bowl and wait until fully melted (stir occasionally).
Step 3: Meanwhile you will need to prepare the base and the chocolate. Start with adding the digestive biscuits and crunchie bars in an airtight bag. Smash until broken up.
Tip: The biscuits should be a crumb like texture however if the crunchies are not fully broken, do not worry! Also keep an eye on the bag and make sure it doesn’t break, using a ladle is the perfect instrument for breaking this up!
Step 4: Chop the chocolate for the base finely. Once the butter and golden syrup mixture is fully melted, take it off the heat and add the chocolate to it.
Tip: It is important this is done off the heat and not stirred frequently as you risk splitting the mixture. If you do split the mixture slowly add cream and whip vigorously once cooler in temperature to bring back to a normal consistency (which will be slightly thicker than normal melted chocolate if you do split it.)
Step 5: Add this chocolate to the biscuit mixture and combine.
Step 6: Line a 20-25cm tin which is deep with baking parchment and spread out the chocolate biscuit mixture.
Tip: Use the base of a glass to flatten the mixture. This gives an even base for your topping to sit on.
Step 7: Now repeat the melting process for the topping; place the butter and syrup over the simmering heat.
Step 8: Again, chop the milk and white chocolate finely. Repeat step 4 for this, keeping in mind the chance of the mix splitting.
Step 9: You now want to add your melted chocolate to the top of the biscuit mix in your tin.
Step 10: Chop up your crunchies for the topping. This does not need to be small but keep in mind it will be chopped into bite size square pieces.
Tip: if you cut the crunchie down the centre horizontally and then cut smaller pieces from this you should get pieces that stand up.
Step 11: You will also get excess crumbs from the crunchie, simply sprinkle this on the top for added texture and less waste.
Step 12: Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours.
This can last a while if kept in the fridge in an airtight container. It also tastes better when cold.
And that’s it. The perfect tiffin for everyone to enjoy! It also makes a great gift because you can easily cut it up and divide it into whatever size you like.
It has quickly become one of my favourites and because it doesn’t actually need baked its relatively simple and not much can go wrong.
If you try it let me know by tagging me on Facebook or Instagram! I love to see your bakes!
I know taking care of yourself is probably never too far up on your list of things to do, it’s never on mine anyway (and if it is for you then well done! You’ve mastered what I need to do). Mainly because I find other things to prioritise or simply forget. However that is not exactly healthy and like me, you’ll probably find yourself in a state of panic or crying on your sofa every month or so because you have neglected yourself.
Like the good saying goes, you have to look after yourself before you can look after anyone else.
So I thought I’d compile some ways in which you can put yourself first without it breaking your routine or making you pay £40 for a facial.
This is probably an obvious suggestion but I always look at having a bath as a huge effort so never end up having one. I also know that not a lot of people have baths and that this is a luxury. If you do have one I recommend dimming the lights, using a bath bomb and watching an episode of one your favourite shows.
Baths are a great time to switch your brain off and because you can’t do anything else but stare at your laptop when watching a show, you can’t not concentrate on yourself and relax.
If you want a cheap but decent bath bomb, The Body Shop do bath bubbles which change the colour of your water while providing bubbles and great smells! Therefore, your 40mins of relaxation don’t have to cost the earth.
2. Going on a walk
Again extremely simple but focussing on putting one foot in front of the other and admiring your surroundings does a lot for the soul. Especially if you are anxious or pent up about something, walking it off really does help.
If you want to switch your walk up why not try a new route, phone a friend or listen to a podcast. Walking is actually the perfect time to have conversations you have been ‘too busy for’ or podcasts you never quite have the time to listen to.
Another thing you can do on your walk is simply sit on a bench and listen to the birds or take time to admire what’s around you. This is great for clearing your head, especially if you are near the sea.
3. Looking after your skin.
Simply adding a few steps into your routine where you concentrate on yourself can perk you up instantly. Whether that is as simple as moisturising your face day and night, applying some lip balm or doing a face mask once a week. A little goes a long way.
If you want tips on looking after your skin and some products check out my post here.
On the other hand I have extremely dry lips and have had problems with them my whole life, so for me taking time to take care of them is a small step in looking after myself. Some of my favourites are Carmex, The Body Shop’s Hemp lip care and Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream.
Carmex: This lip balm has solved all my worries when it comes to my lips, and I have tried A LOT of lip balms. Its highly moisturising and doesn’t dry them out after.
The Body Shop’s Hemp Lip Care: This stuff is a recent addition to my collection. One I wouldn’t claim to be moisturising, but instead it protects my lips from the elements and is best put on in the morning before applying anything else. When you live in the North of Scotland this is important.
Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream: This is not cheap, in fact we got it out of our local Factory Shop for a fraction of the price. However, it does what it claims and restores the skin and can be used in a number of places. So it could be claimed for all it does and for how long it lasts, it is actually worth the price.
I don’t know how strange this may be but I believe to fully recharge you need some alone time. Now I am not talking about taking a holiday by yourself (however that would be nice), I more mean spend some time in your own company. This way you can process your thoughts and not feel like you need to be switched on 100% of the time.
Why not read a book, watch a film or like I said above, go for a walk. This way when you go back to being switched on you can do it affectively.
Now before you roll your eyes or skim past this section. I have never tried yoga or meditation either. I know it isn’t for everyone but why not try it because A LOT of people love it and maybe you’ve just not found the right place or way yet.
You can even do it really simply by sitting on your floor and just closing your eyes and letting your thoughts flow around your head. This way you can think about them rather than ignoring them.
It is the perfect time to just tune out the noise and sit in silence with absolutely no one bothering you.
Or if you’d rather do some movement why not try doing some yoga or stretching. Even if you aren’t listening to your thoughts or ‘centring’ yourself, you’re still doing some light exercise to look after yourself.
I hope that in some way these gave you some big or little ideas for improving how you take care of yourself. Or even help to remind you that at some point you actually need to stop taking care of everyone else and listen to what you need.
I am by no means good at doing any of the above and I am not here to preach about it either. However, I do know that when I do at least one of the above, when I remember, that it helps. Even simply by registering that you are doing it for you and that it is important will help shift your mindset and could help you be kinder to yourself.
I think in a lot of ways it’s about not making it become ‘something else to add to the list’ or part of normality, in that it should be special so you can feel special.
As an English Literature student I think it is important to get back to the roots of things when reading. To take pure enjoyment out of the task and instead of looking for absolutely every metaphor, hidden meaning and plot twist, purely soak in your thoughts and enjoy the book.
I decided when reading Normal People that I would jot down on my phone the thoughts and feelings I had when reading it and attach the page numbers so you can go find how I felt exactly when I encountered it. This, I think, provokes a feeling of intimacy when reading and maybe if you are also reading the novel/have read it, it may also appear somewhat like a book club but without the face to face contact. So please leave me any of your thoughts below!
As a general overview I thought I’d give some context into how I started reading NormalPeople and how I felt going into reading it. I feel like if this was me writing a novel I’d be setting the tone if you get me? If you haven’t read my previous review of the show then you wouldn’t know I have already encountered the turbulent relationship of teens Marianne and Connell. The show was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it however I did wonder if there was more depth to their characters/events through the original text (which usually there is – who would deny the chance to get the original curation of such popular characters). As a general rule I don’t particularly like watching the adaptation then going to the original but I wouldn’t say this hindered my experience, I was more just apprehensive whether the show did it justice.
Anyway, here are my thoughts as I read the novel…
P20 – By this page you are fully immersed in the chemistry and tension between two teenagers who you are yet to know to any degree. However, at the same time it feels like you’ve known them for years, that you understand the characters without knowing the intimate details about them. Rooney not only makes you feel like you are connected to the characters and their inner workings but also to every word on the page. Since turning page 1 it is impossible to sit the book down. A true highlight of the authors capability to do what a lot of writers find the most difficult; gripping their audience from the very beginning. If you thought the tension and emotion you felt towards Marianne and Connell in the show was a lot, you are yet to experience anything.
The chapters are split into months/varying time periods and change between both perspectives seamlessly. (*interjected thought – this makes a lot more sense after finishing it considering Connell always refers to Marianne as the only one that can understand him. Therefore, it is fitting that their thoughts and dialogue fit perfectly amongst each other.*) So far, the jumps appear non existent in that Rooney gives you enough information to know exactly what will happen in between; she gives the reader a certain amount of expectation. Within a few pages you are already subconsciously aware of the routine set out for each character.
P70 – ‘she has never believed herself fit to be loved by one person.’
A sad reality for Marianne and I think a lot of people. Everyone deserves to be loved.
P91 – The jump to uni is one that is extremely important in the novels narrative in that it signifies the shift in the central characters social standings. What Connell always feared is now a reality (he has limited friends, is self conscious and I guess doesn’t have the same immediate respect from his social position) and surprisingly what Marianne always shunned seems to have become her new environment (loads of friends, being ‘popular’, known about widely for the right reasons). It is very much like they have switched, something which Connell clearly can’t quite grasp.
P94 – I think the book is better than the adaptation mainly due to the fact you are connected to the book through overlooking such intimate moments. You’re part of everything going on and therefore feel everything at a more intense rate than what you would watching it from a distance. I think this is largely what novels are good at, imparting choice on the reader and their imagination. No two people when reading will probably view the characters in the same way, they most likely will never look the same to two different individuals. This way you are more invested because although it is someone else’s writing, it is still asking you to be involved, you are always going to be apart of the creative process as a reader.
With any novel you see more of the characters thoughts, little details of locations and perceptions of other characters which you don’t receive in a TV show, not to say the TV show did a bad job however.
P97 – Sense of romanticism is imparted not just around their relationship but also the surroundings and their day to day activities.
P.98 – It is rather refreshing and inviting to see a male teenager/young adult being so connected with his emotions in the sense of his anxieties and insecurities surrounding their relationship. All too often I feel that male characters in novels and film/TV are made to feel indestructible or emotionless in terms of the affects of loss, grief, relationships (of any kind) and just day to day feelings. He doesn’t fully understand them but he acknowledges that they are there.
P.111 – At this point I’ve realised there is no certainty to a single thing in their life, especially in their relationship. They don’t commit to labels and in some ways that is their downfall because if they shared half of how they felt they’d feel more rooted and comfortable in their relationship. Very much stresses the importance of communication. (*Can you tell at this point I was most likely frustrated at the impending parting of them AGAIN*)
P.166 – Sorry about the large jump between notes, Marianne is now in Switzerland and clearly has an eating disorder and mental health ‘issues’ (not entirely sure if I like calling them issues). As a character her complexities are rather interesting but also harrowing. Someone who always claimed she didn’t care, especially about what other people thought about her, in fact, I think does. She has now lost all sense of care for herself and on top of this no one seems to care for her, especially when she needs it the most.
P.199 – Reading about the emotions Marianne faces on-top of the abuse she gets in Switzerland is difficult to read. It fully epitomises the point in life she has gotten to and how fed up she is with her life. Relating to my previous point, the affects of friendship and her disconnect to the world around her is felt with force in this chapter. Yet the glimmer of hope in the end , when Marianne stands up for herself and I think, realises the gravity of her situation is reassuring. It is poignant in that she feels insulted that Lukas suggests they love each other and that this ‘awakens’ her – it is almost saying no love will compare to Connell’s and that she is still in love with him. This situation is nothing like what she has with him and it is disrespectful to suggest it is. However, it is concerning that it is this that pushes her over the edge and not the manipulative relationship she is in.
P.238 – At this point it is even more evident the scale of Marianne’s trauma revolving around violence and abuse, she is a lot more complex than what was evident at the start of the novel. I guess in some ways it mirrors the evolvement of Connell’s views of her because he too, now understands there is more than meets the eye when it comes to her family. However, in this particular chapter it is hard to even distinguish if Connell fully understands her because no one else did.
P.239 – ‘While she herself has been degenerating, moving further and further from wholesomeness, becoming something unrecognisably debased.’
P.240 – her brother is a manipulative character and at this point in time there would be various words I’d like to call him. In other news I find it very interesting that Marianne mentioned her mum only as ‘Denise’ and not something more familiar. I feel this fully summarises the current state of their relationship.
P.248 – ‘That’s the very part of himself he wants to protect, the part that exists inside her.’
P.262 – It has now come full circle. Back in their hometown they are fully comfortable in their own skin and with each other to fully embrace the idea of them being seen as a couple. I think it highlights this idea that you don’t know what you’re missing until you leave it behind; this idea that what they imagined really wasn’t that bad in reality.
P.266 – Just when you think things couldn’t be better and they appear settled, they decide to go their separate ways. Even worse because it is stated in such a nonchalant way. The novel ends on such a tone that everything is up for question; does he leave? Will they remain together? Will they both cope? Will they find someone else? However, annoyingly it is probably well suited in the sense the frustration you feel all through the book never even leaves you in the end.
I’m not sure if this is particularly relevant to the novel or if it’s a printing mistake or they just chose to leave a lot of pages blank at the end (I swear more than what is usually there) however I think it is very fitting for the novel. It is a story about coming of age, the transition between a teen and an adult, exploring their sexuality, their careers and aspirations, and most importantly each other. But that doesn’t just stop then. There is so much more to their story, just like the pages suggest. No one ever figures everything out by the time they reach 21.
Well. That was a journey. I hope you enjoyed getting an insight into my thought process while reading Normal People. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I guess as a young adult it was quite nice to hear the inner workings of other people my own age when currently I can’t quite do that.
I respect Rooney’s writing a lot and was rather impressed just by the first few pages. I’m very intrigued to read Conversations with Friends (her first novel I think) which I hear is also getting turned into a TV show.
I think you can learn a lot by just writing some thoughts down while reading. Everyone has different ways of doing it and even if you aren’t doing it for coursework, you can surprise yourself with your thoughts and how they may transition to other aspects of life.
Let me know if you liked this way of ‘reviewing’ a novel and If you have any other thoughts on Rooney’s ‘masterpiece’.
If you want to check out my review of the show it is available here.
I am very lucky to have thick, relatively fuss free hair. However I do find it still needs taken care of, just like your skin. It’s only something I’ve recently implemented into my routine as I am generally more of a lazy person and simply want to jump in and out of the shower.
However, I think I have cracked a way of taking care of your hair without waiting in the shower for an extra 10mins or spending an excess amount of money on it.
Before I get into the details, it is probably important to mention the current condition of my hair. It is very thick, has the odd curl (or kink) in it and can be quite frizzy. As of right now I am in desperate need of a haircut – which is coming on Monday, thankfully! I think that is why I have wanted to bring steps into my current routine so the split ends don’t look too obvious and my hair can feel nourished.
As I stated in my skincare post, I am not a hairdresser or an expert on this matter. I am purely sharing what I have been loving and what works for me.
Step 1: Shampoo
I have never been a spender on shampoo, at all. I know it is probably good to invest in a decent one but to be honest, when I look at the bottle and it tells me a load of things that sound like chemicals, I want to run from the hills rather than slathering it on my head.
Instead I have a shampoo and conditioner which I use on the daily and one slightly more expensive shampoo which refreshes my hair to make it feel extra clean. The perfect combo I think.
Alberto Balsam – Coconut & LycheeShampoo
For years I used the apple version of this which I never had any problems with but I have to say this one has been my favourite. It suggests that it will have a lasting fragrance for up to 12hrs, restores shine, gently cleanses and has Vitamin B5.
It smells amazing! The perfect scent of coconut and I have to say my hair has a great shine to it! However, what is even better is you can grab a bottle of this for as little as a £1, plus it is for all hair types.
I usually find it in Home Bargains, Tesco (or any supermarket), Poundland etc.
*Excuse the quality (darkness) of the photos, they were taken in an impending storm and I didn’t get a chance to take new ones.*
It is a useful thing to add that when washing your hair with shampoo you are supposed to do this twice. The first wash removes dirt, styling products and pollution. Then the next wash lets the goodness of the shampoo do its thing.
I don’t do this every wash purely because I don’t use styling products everyday and right now I am not around much pollution however I will do it at least once a week. It’s a good idea to use the Balsam shampoo first and then The Body Shop one.
The Body Shop: Fuji Green Tea Shampoo*
I have heard a lot of things about The Body Shop’s shampoo range and this one has not disappointed. Marketed as ‘refreshingly purifying’ and for normal hair, this has done the trick for my often dry hair.
It is formulated without silicones and is enriched with Japanese Green Tea and community trade Honey from Ethiopia.
My hair has felt really clean (which is a weird thing to describe) and comes away feeling smooth after using this. I do this every so often in my routine which means the £7 bottle lasts a while.
*My cousin (@Emma’s Skincare Essentials) kindly offered me a discount to try some products from The Body Shop, this is one of the ones I have been trying. However all opinions are my own and I genuinely am impressed with this product.
Step 2: Conditioner
I love conditioner! It thoroughly nourishes my hair and makes brushing it 100 times easier (which is often highly necessary with my hair).
When using conditioner I just apply it to the ends of my hair on an everyday (I wash my hair 3-4 times a week) wash routine although every so often, once maybe every week/two weeks, I will do a full condition to my hair, applying it all over my hair but still trying to not concentrate it to much on my scalp so it doesn’t get too oily/greasy.
Alberto Balsam Coconut and Lychee Conditioner
To add to my shampoo above I use this for an everyday conditioner and I have to say it fully smoothes and conditioner my hair. Again for only £1 I can’t complain (and nor can my bank account).
On the plus side it is silicone free, detangling and smoothes the hair, improves the manageability (not sure if this is necessary to the list of positives but that is what is printed on the bottle) and also has vitamin B5.
When using conditioner it is better if left for a bit. I usually apply a decent amount to my ends and then swing it around my shoulder so I can wash my body, shave etc. then rinse it out. This way your hair will be ten times more smooth and will let the product do its thing.
If you couldn’t tell I really like the smell of coconut. This is also a relatively new addition to my routine but I have seen quite a big difference after using it. The plus side to this product is that it can be used multiple ways; as a simple conditioner, as a mask which is left on wet hair for 3 minutes and then rinsed, or as a leave in conditioner which can be done on wet or dry hair applied to the lengths of your hair to tame frizz which leaves the hair smooth.
I use the second option, leaving it in wet hair for 3 mins. More so I can do everything else in the shower and then just rinse it out at the end. No fuss, just how I like it. However, I am tempted to try the leave in conditioner way purely to see if it tames my frizzy hair.
This is what I like about the product; it smells great and has multiple uses while being affordable. Not only this but you can feel the difference in your hair after using it. A solid 10/10 from me.
Step 3: After the Shower Products
I used to do the bare minimum when coming out of the shower, more concentrating on my skincare rather than my hair. However, I have added this one simple step which doesn’t take the time of day to use.
Pantene Pro-V Repair and Protect Hair oil.
This is a step I never thought I’d implement into my routine. Hair oils in particular always used to scare me, more because I always associated them with greasiness rather than improving the hairs condition.
Due to the fact I have really dry hair at the moment and far too many split ends, this product is extremely useful. Infused with Vitamin E it protects the hair, especially at the ends. Just what I need.
You apply it after shaking out your wet hair and you only need a pea size amount. It is also another amazing smelling product which lasts!
And that is it. That’s what I do to my hair to keep it from annoying me and looking like I’ve rolled around in a bush. It is after using these products that I am now comfortable doing my day to day activities without feeling like I need to put a straightener or curler to it. My natural hair for once looks fine!
These work for me and are affordable plus they don’t scare you with ridiculously named chemicals on the front of the bottles. I finally have approached hair care with a level head and no longer feel intimidated. Plus I still take roughly the same amount of time in the shower and don’t need to go out of my way to try and tame my hair.
If you’ve tried any of these let me know what you think or if you have any haircare stories/recommendations then send them my way!
If you haven’t noticed a new tab in the dropdown bar or have seen my announcement on my socials, my print shop is now open! I’ve always been a lover of graphic design and art but after being knocked down a few times I fell out of love with doing it.
However, after starting blogging and finding my creative energy again I started ‘doodling’ using my iPad and drawing in a sketchbook. Now, after some consideration, I’ve turned them into prints with the hope I can share my passion and love of design again.
One of my main goals when releasing prints was to make sure they are affordable. I know from a students perspective it is hard to decorate your flat or spend money on art, that is why they are both reasonably priced and simple; they will add a touch of colour to any space you put them in. In particular, the smaller prints are marketed for those who want something small to say add to a gallery wall or place on a pin board. For me it is the perfect reminder of home.
Drop 1 can now be found here at my print shop or it is located in the drop down bar. Only a select amount are available of each one. If they sell out, drop 1 will only become available when I have announced drop 2, this way both can be ordered at the same time and I can reduce my carbon footprint. More information can be found on the page.
On top of this I will be selling the odd limited edition print where only 1 will be available and will be hand drawn on quality paper using a mix of different media. To keep updated on the release of new prints follow my social media accounts (all linked below)
I know it is a hard time for everyone but if you could buy a print or share it with your friends it would mean the world!
When it comes to shopping, the word ‘affordable’ is key for a lot of people, me being one of them. Sustainability is something a lot of people don’t tend to associate affordability with, mainly because it is marketed as ‘if you want something sustainable then it has to be more expensive so those making them can be paid fairly.’ This sentiment I fully agree with, however it does not mean a garment such as a simple T-Shirt has to cost £100. When shopping sustainably is a must have for our environment, it needs to accommodate those who simply can’t afford the £100 T-Shirt.
If you want to hear more of my opinions on sustainability, how to achieve it without spending more money and some views on its marketing check out my recent post here.
With this in mind, I have accumulated some affordable brands from a varying price point (never being far too expensive) and sellers perspective. Some being very commercial others reselling clothing and making items by hand. Both equally important to achieving a sustainable wardrobe and mindset.
I asked over on instagram (@sophieseditblog) for some recommendations, so thanks for sending some in! If they weren’t included its purely because either they were a bit out of the price range or I couldn’t find any sustainable information on them.
Nu-in Fashion is relatively new (no pun intended), but in its short time span I’ve noticed them making waves in the fashion industry. Their ethos is ‘Fashion. Sustainably Driven’ making ‘Beautiful clothing that doesn’t cost the earth.’
I’ve seen influencers such as @hellooctober endorse the brand and I am eager to get my hands on a piece. Ranging from both mens and women’s wear, I’d say they are on the level of Highstreet brands such as Topshop. But with much better values.
Along the same lines as GYMSHARK, TALA has made a considerable difference to the sportswear market, proving these brands can do a lot better. They aim to bridge the gap between fast fashion and sustainability, even though they do produce a high rate of clothing, they plan to create products which are 100% up-cycled and are currently 92% of the way there. Plus they are doing it with recycled packaging and their tags are made from plantable paper.
A brand I was dubious whether to include but I do believe they are making promising steps to being more conscious and better with their clothing. They have set up a global garment collection initiative where you can hand in old clothes (regardless of condition or brand) and receive a £5 voucher to spend in store. The fashion giant have also released a Conscious Collection and have a goal to use only recycled and sustainably sourced materials by 2030. Although they are not perfect, they are making huge strides when it comes to Highstreet fashion.
‘Buy a box. Support a worker for a week’. This Edinburgh based company have achieved great success doing something truly commendable. ‘Leading brands have cancelled over $2 billion USD worth of clothes that have already been produced. This leaves millions of workers in countries such as Bangladesh unpaid, and at risk of starvation. With Lost Stock you get a 50% discount on 3 or more pieces of clothing while supporting workers and decreasing waste.’
I currently have a box on the way, the delivery time is long however everything is handpicked to a quiz you take at the beginning. I’ll do a review as soon as it arrives.
Georgia is a friend I made at uni and has her own brilliant business selling sustainably sourced clothing and avidly advocates for sustainability. She is more than happy to help with finding clothing for you and keeps you regularly updated with new pieces via her instagram (@shopgeethanks). More importantly her clothing is sold at affordable price points for quality clothing. My sister has bought a great pair of Levi jeans from her for such a great price, alongside my flatmate buying one of her more popular pieces, a cropped shirt, which looks great!
A lot of people forget that shopping sustainably can also be done through shopping at small, independent businesses. It is a small step in the right direction. Jess is an independent seller on Etsy and is avidly making changes to her packaging to become more sustainable. She recently reached 5,000 sales and has some very popular items on her store.
More on the upper end of Highstreet pricing, Organic Basics focuses on making simple things well. They only partner with factories who care about their environmental impact as well as choosing fabrics that are sustainable. Importantly, they design everything to last. They do activewear, underwear and everyday essentials for both men and women.
Although you may be spending more than the brands suggested above, they are quality items, recently endorsed by fellow Edinburgh student and blogger Nayna Florence.
A bit more of a broad suggestion, however just as important. As a good friend said, ‘If people want fast fashion we should facilitate it with sustainable behaviours.’ This is the perfect place to get it. Instead of buying from shops like Misguided, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (to name only a few) why not buy the pieces from Depop instead.
Not only this, a lot of people use the site to sell vintage clothing or pieces they have up-cycled, this way you can truly get something different, for most likely a decent price.
By Megan Crosby
If you are looking for quality, colour and something handmade this is your place to go. Now before you read any further, this isn’t your cheapest option when buying sustainably however I have included it because you are paying for made to measure garments made from sustainable, ethically sourced and organic materials and packaging. You are not only paying for the quality of the material but also the sewing and attention to detail, so if that’s what you’re after, why not give Megan a shout?
Lucy and Yak are well known for their dungarees but should be appreciated for their entire range of clothing which is made sustainably and ethically. A brand highly focussed on comfort and colour, their garments bring a sense of joy to each user. Check out their website not only for the fabulous clothes but also the great story of how they started!
I know that shopping sustainably can be daunting and lets be honest there are only a few who are very good at it. No one is perfect but what we can do is try our best. If this post highlights anything, I hope it is that shopping sustainably affordably isn’t impossible and that there are outlets there for absolutely everyone to do better.
Like I said in my previous post, shopping sustainably doesn’t have to mean going out and buying clothes, it means you buy what you need. Look at your wardrobe like a collection for all year round, not just for part of it. More importantly, you do not need to invest in trends, instead invest in yourself and your own personal taste.
Please go and support these brands if you can, or at the very least check them out. They are doing important things in a market which is often looked down upon.
Keep me updated with any of your own sustainable finds and let me know if you end up getting anything from any of the above!
Lunch time. The one time of day where I dread going into the kitchen to think of what to make. Being more of a creative person, part of me doesn’t want to waltz in there and purely make a sandwich or a plain salad. I want to rustle up something that is exciting yet doesn’t take the time of day to make.
Therefore, I’m sharing two recipes for easy but exciting lunches and also ways you can interchange items to keep it fresh. Lunch does not have to be boring (although there is nothing wrong with a sandwich)
Recipe 1: Sushi Bowl
Serves 3-4 people but can be amended for smaller portions.
250g of sushi rice
2 tbsps. Japanese Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp. Mirin
2 tbsps. Caster Sugar
1 tbsp. Salt
Alternative: In Supermarkets you can also find readymade sushi rice that just needs put in the microwave. These can be handy for smaller portions.
handful of tomatoes
Optional – Sticky Chicken or Salmon or any other meat.
Place your sushi rice in a bowl and wash with cold water, this needs repeated 3-4 times before draining in a sieve. Next add 330ml of water and the washed rice into a pan. Bring this to the boil and simmer for 10 mins with the lid on.
Tip: It is important to note that you should keep an eye on the rice regularly because it can very easily come out of the pan and bubble over.
Next turn the heat off and leave the pan to stand for 15-20 minutes with the lid on. While this is standing you should make the rice seasoning.
In a separate bowl mix together the above ingredients; Rice Wine Vinegar, Mirin, Caster Sugar and Salt (measurements above).
Transfer the rice into a bowl and fold in the seasoning mix (should be done gradually). Once mixed leave to cool (sometimes I don’t wait).
This should then be placed into your bowl of choice – you do not need too much sushi rice.
The quantity of toppings are completely up to you, just remember that sushi rice is deceptively filling.
I cut my tomatoes in quarters and tend to use baby tomatoes. The cucumber is cut into match sticks while I tend to either peel the carrot into shavings or cut matchsticks out of them. With carrots I recommend shavings.
In order to fill 3 portions I usually use around half a pepper and again just cut them lengthways. The same with the beetroot (which I get out of a jar and cut).
Place each vegetable onto the top of your rice, I tend to place them into separate bits.
Toppings such as crispy onions and sesame seeds can be found in your local supermarket and easily add depth of flavour to the bowl.
Finally drizzle your sriracha mayo onto the top. This lightly adds moisture to the dish while incorporating a bit of heat.
Optional Topping: I also sometimes include Sticky Chicken (which is actually bought out of Tesco’s freezer section and they come on sticks which I then take off), smoked salmon or tuna is also a good topping or any other meat. I would advise shredding it and placing it onto the veg.
Alternatives: You can swap the sushi rice for the likes of wholegrain rice, other toppings include; Edamame beans, Red Cabbage, Radishes, Ginger (if you have it pickled ginger is a great topping), Avocado, plain sriracha also works, or you can simply add this to mayo and make your own.
Recipe 2: Fried Potato and Egg bowl
This was entirely thought up when I was starving and wanted something quick but tasty. Makes 2 portions.
1 tin of Peeled New Potatoes in water (these are available from supermarkets and are ready cooked. There is nothing wrong with them and are also perfect for using in tray bakes)
Salt and Pepper to Season
1-2 tsp of Italian Seasoning
1 tsp of Paprika (or more to taste)
1 tsp of garlic powder
Around 1 tbsp of butter
1 large egg
First you need to drain the potatoes and roughly chop them either into halves or quarters (they come in various sizes). Then melt a nob of butter in a frying pan. Transfer the potatoes into the pan and start frying them on a medium heat. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let this fry for a few minutes, while the butter is still wet you want to add the other seasoning ingredients onto the potatoes. This includes the Italian Seasoning, Paprika and Garlic Powder. The goal is for the potatoes to be slightly crispy.
Once the potatoes are finished transfer them into your bowl of choice. Now, in the same pan, you want to melt a bit more butter and crack your egg into the pan. This is where you need to act fast. An egg should be seasoned well with salt and pepper. I usually also add a shake of Italian seasoning and Paprika while the egg is cooking (you want it so it will soak into the egg). I cook my egg sunny side up, so you want the white to fully harden and no longer sit on the top. It’s a technique that may take time to master because you also want a runny egg. I must add it definitely doesn’t take too long.
Now transfer the egg onto the potatoes and drizzle with sriracha. Enjoy!
Tip: If like me you are going to eat the second portion the next day, make the egg on the day you are actually going to eat it and reheat the potatoes in a small amount of butter so you can get them extra crispy. Alternatively, you can also cook the potatoes in a small amount of vegetable oil on either day.
Alternatives: If you don’t have/want to use the new potatoes you can chop potatoes into little cubes and fry them instead (this will take considerably longer and it is probably easier to parboil them first), alternatively you can also use ready cubed potatoes often found in the freezer areas of supermarkets. The fried egg is also nice on pretty much any leftovers, I like adding it and the sriracha to leftover couscous with veg.
I know thinking of different things to cook can be challenging so I hope this helps.
Make sure to tag me in any photos of anything you make from my website, all socials are linked below.
An Exploration of Motherhood, Subliminal Racism and Internal Struggles.
In this eight-part adaptation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 novel, we see the series start out with the burning of Elena Richardson’s (Reese Witherspoon) perfect suburban house in Shaker Heights, Ohio. This opens the rest of the series to explore who is to blame for the fire and why it happened.
Starring; Kerry Washington (Mia Warren), Reese Witherspoon (as mentioned above as Elena Richardson), Joshua Jackson (Bill Richardson), Lexi Underwood (Pearl Warren), Megan Scott (Izzy Richardson), Jade Pettyjohn (Lexie Richardson), Jordan Elsass (Trip Richardson) and Gavin Lewis (Moody Richardson), they each give a stellar performance in this show. I don’t usually name more than two or three of the central characters but in a show like this, it would be a disservice not to name them.
Facts on the Show
Available on: Amazon Prime, originally released on Hulu.
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington were producers on the show
The ending of the show is different to the book because Reese and the creators wanted the reasoning behind the fire to be less obvious and more confusing to the viewer.
Set in the 1990’s the show explores a myriad of themes from motherhood, colour blindness, sexuality, interracial couples, racism and jealousy (to name a few). It is within this that some critics have said a few [of the themes] have failed to ‘land’ when it comes to highlighting them effectively. In my opinion, the show accurately portrays, in its short eight, one hour episodes, the turbulent atmosphere in such a picturesque town. To put it blatantly Shaker Heights takes on the classic trope of a horror film where such dark secrets are kept within what seems a picture perfect scene. Appearing at first that no one can do anything wrong, especially the Richardsons.
I must admit the show took a while to get going, in that my attention was not gripped until the final 4 episodes. In saying that, once you reach these final episodes everything clicks into place and the ‘evidence’ placed in front of you at the start all makes sense.
It is hard to write a review on such a complex story, in that I truly don’t know where to start. Do I begin with the blatant racism and colour blindness that Mia and Pearl have to face, or the struggles of Izzy and her sexuality alongside her negative relationship with her mother, or the court case about the rights to May Ling Chow (alongside the coverage of economic hardship on adoption and the reasons for giving up a child, the rights to be a mother and xenophobia). Then there is the relationship between mother and child which encompasses everyone in the show alongside abortion, interracial couples, lies and their consequences and honestly the list goes on.
However, it is at the mercy of the creator Liz Tigelaar, the directors; Lynn Shelton, Nzingha Stewart and Michael Weaver, the writers and producers that they managed to pull off all of these sentiments in such a short space of time. In fact, the way they were interwoven made the whole show extremely interesting and important. In my opinion, I don’t think this show could be released at a better time.
It is important to appreciate in this eight-part series the use of art as symbolism. The importance of Mia expressing her true self through her art was something so heartwarming and without realising it, it gave you so much more than just a picture. It gave you description, pain, suffering and information without it being spoken. To add to this the art with the combination of fire made it, even for those who struggle to appreciate art, a sight for the eyes. Without spoiling anything, the final piece of art was enough to convey a whirlwind of emotions; if that does not intensify or justify the appreciation of the art in the show I do not know what will.
To partially comment on the acting in such a series without dragging my heels and going on for too long, I have to mention both Lexi Underwood (who played Pearl) and Megan Scott (who played Izzy). Both being characters who had troubled relationships with their mothers, both for different reasons, Izzy’s arguably worse. The fact both children sought solace in each others mothers perfectly presented the blindness each had to the people that were comforting them. It both confused and manipulated the viewer into hating (particularly Elena) but appreciating them at the same time. Of course both had completely different outcomes, and rightly so.
Underwood created (I say this in the sense of her performance) a character who was, in parts, unaware of the struggles she was going to face because of the societal injustices put upon her because of her race. This allowed the viewer to grow with her as the curtain dropped from her eyes in such a short space of time. It was not just an important, well thought out performance on her part, but a character who taught the audience (from a white females perspective) a lot about subliminal racism in schools and the way her upbringing was dramatically different because of the colour of her skin.
On the other hand Megan Scott’s performance was, without sounding too harsh, a surprise. Her character grows on you from the beginning but the way it is portrayed means you are constantly battling whether to like her or not. Like a lot of other cases in the series she fights a mental battle which is only unravelled towards the end of the series. Every piece of frustration, anger and sadness comes across as genuine and it is only as the series moves forward that you begin to appreciate the way she is and why she is like that.
If you couldn’t tell Little Fires Everywhere highlights the hardships each and every character faces in the series. The way each character is interlinked, while their struggles are not necessarily always touching the person next to them, perfectly showcases how secrets and hardships faced by one person is not always known by the person sitting next to them. What simply looks perfect from the outside is not what it seems on the inside. In fact those with what looks like an ‘imperfect’ life, is what should be the most desirable, because it is filled with love.
The only reason I can not give the show 5 stars is because I don’t think a lot of people could sit through the first 4 episodes without losing their concentration on it. Which makes me sad to think someone is missing out because I promise it is worth the watch.
If you’ve watched the show let me know what you think, if not I hope I’ve encouraged you to give it a try.
I am in favour of anything sustainable. I am a firm believer that the world needs to take active steps in reducing factors like its carbon footprint to make the world we inhabit last a lot longer. I am not in favour however of guilt tripping people about their habits without knowing their economic reasons, or any reason for that matter, behind their attitude.
Without getting too political it is frustrating as a 20 year old that our government, filled with *mostly* white old men, are too economically driven to see the catastrophic affects their actions have on this planet. Yes they won’t be here to see it, but their kids and grandkids will be. We are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of the naive older generation.
*Might I add that if you are a part of the older generation and get angry at this statement because you ‘aren’t part of this problem’, please take an inward look at your actions and what you are doing/can change. Try and remember who it is that governs us and how very little they are doing*
I’m not here to sound bigger or better than anyone else, because I am not perfect. I am not a poster girl for environmental change but like anyone else I want that change to happen. We can do as much as we can as consumers however there is a much bigger change that is needed and that comes from people in a position of power.
When it comes to sustainability, my insight into it has been largely around the fashion industry and the abundance of fashion brands who produce clothing at affordable rates but in terrible conditions. Brands such as PLT, Boohoo, Missguided and Shein are only a few who are guilty of being extremely harmful to the environment.
Unfortunately there is a stereotype many people brandish our generation with. One which is extremely harmful and purely distasteful to the work that many people are doing. Work that needs to be done. It shouldn’t be brushed off because it is some ‘snowflake’ getting angry about a ‘trendy’ topic. Or people saying ‘It’s just the younger generation trying to be “woke”‘. It is young people taking ownership for YOUR mistakes.
Before I get too angry and go off on a tangent about the misconception of 16-25 year olds, I want to write an honest piece about how you can ‘afford’ sustainable fashion through not going out and buying clothes out-with your budget. I think a lot of people get scared to go off piste when addressing sustainability, however I believe there are major problems with the industry, especially surrounding students (who are one of the major consumers of the brands stated above). There are ways in which you can make changes to the way you shop without feeling guilty about not affording a £200 dress made of organic fabric.
I am a big believer that simply changing your attitude to your closet can stop you from shopping for unnecessary items. This way you can find what you need rather than what you want (or simply buying on impulse).
You wardrobe is full of clothes that can be repurposed in ways that will look completely different to the last time you wore it. Don’t look at a dress purely as just a dress. Why not tuck it into jeans or put a jumper over it. If, unlike me, you are good with a sewing machine, why not completely change something that has been sitting in the back of your wardrobe for 3 years.
At the end of the day your wardrobe should not be a shop.
A good way to think differently about the clothes you already own is having a look on sites like Pinterest (my account is linked below) and see how other people style similar pieces to ones you already have. This way you can change your mindset from ‘uh what do I have to wear, I don’t have anything’, to a creative challenge; ‘what can I do differently/switch it up’.
If you’re in a creative mood or are looking for something to do, another way to look at your wardrobe differently is taking photos of your outfits, so when it comes to being stuck for ideas, you have a folder on your phone for inspiration. Like previously mentioned, turn this into a challenge and see how many ways you can style one item.
Charity Shops are your best friend.
Sustainable clothing doesn’t have to be ‘new’. I once got a Ralph Lauren Polo Sweatshirt (Mens) for £10 from a charity shop. It is a great way to add designer items and unique pieces for a fraction of the price. This way it’s not ending up in a landfill.
Don’t be scared to go into a charity shop and have a good look around. Yes you might not find something every time and yes it probably smells like something out of your grandparents house but the chances of you finding something completely unique, interesting and well-made is a lot higher there than in a cheap Highstreet shop. On top of this, don’t be afraid to go into the mens section. For example that ‘trendy’ oversized blazer would be a perfect find in the mens section.
Online shopping does not have to encompass stores like the aforementioned ones. Looking at sites like eBay, Etsy and Depop are perfect for when you are looking for pieces you’ve seen on other people but at a smaller price tag. Plus you can repurpose them.
On another note if you have clothes that are in a good condition but are no longer used, why not sell them on one of the sites?
Reduce your Shopping Habits.
This is a huge aspect of fashion which I believe once changed is much more attainable than feeling ‘forced’ into buying sustainably. As a student, we have this perception that for every night out you need a different outfit, or for a special occasion you need a new dress. This is extremely harmful to the environment and frankly an outlook which is probably quite harmful to your bank balance: hence the success of brands like Boohoo.
Instead buy what you need not what you want. Buy pieces which will last for years rather than a day or a month (these don’t have to be expensive, they just need well looked after. If you buy from places like Shein however they will only last a short time). Don’t invest in trends, invest in your style and what you feel comfortable in. Simplicity is quite often key to this outlook.
If you want to buy from H&M because it is at an affordable price point, then do so, but don’t go buying 20 pieces because you have a summer holiday coming up or are in need of some winter clothing. Look at your wardrobe as a collection of items for all year round, which are multipurpose. You don’t need a new wardrobe every month.
Stop spending every month browsing cheap sites and feeling the need to buy something every time you need to go out somewhere special. This will often do more than feeling forced to spend money on more expensive ‘sustainable’ clothing you can’t afford.
On a personal note, this year I haven’t spent much at all on clothing. At most I’ve probably bought one or two items. This is not because I’ve been forced to stop buying clothing excessively, I’ve just looked at what I’ve got differently. It’s purely because I don’t need to buy anything.
The Perception of Sustainability
This is something that irks me the most. In a world based around consumership the need to shop sustainably is extremely important, that is something I would never disregard. However, what does annoy me is how guilty I feel even when I am not shopping.
As a student who is not fuelled with money, I can’t support local businesses at the moment, especially when they need it the most. On top of this I can’t afford to buy sustainably because the majority of it is extremely expensive (when buying ‘new’). It’s the same feeling when I go into a supermarket: an organic broccoli for example is always more expensive than the ‘standard’ one.
I recently read an article that Good Housekeeping did called ’20 Sustainable Fashion Brands – Ethical Clothing for Women’, don’t get me wrong I didn’t get through the full list as when the first 4 websites I clicked on were overpriced I was put straight off, purely because a standard t-shirt cost £25-30 (a price point which yes, is great when you have an income that can sustain spending that much for quality, however when your food shop for that week costs the same as one t-shirt, it’s not ideal).
I am scared at most that being sustainable is only a lifestyle attainable for those from middle to upper class backgrounds. I am even more worried that it is looking more like a ‘trend’ than anything else.
On top of this I don’t want people to be put off from even trying to alter their lifestyle slightly because on a large scale they can’t afford it.
Furthermore, like I said before, I also don’t want it attached to those ‘snowflakes’ wanting to be ‘woke’. It is a real life issue which needs addressed in the real world with practical solutions. Not by people applying stereotypes to ignore their own issues.
I’ve decided I am going to accumulate some business that are sustainable but affordable so if you can afford to and are looking for something you have a place to shop.
I can’t vouch for a lot of brands because I can’t afford to shop at them. This goes for any business at the moment. So, don’t feel guilty for not being able to shop sustainably or if you haven’t ‘yet’ done it (Just remember that those cheaper brands work with numbers – the more people that order from them means the more they will produce). Do it when you can, instead look at what you currently have and ignore the trends; they only last a while, instead invest in yourself.
However, what I want to reinforce is that it is your decision. Sustainability, especially when it comes to fashion, does not mean you have to go and shop at the nearest business that uses recycled fabrics etc. It means you change your mindset to what you have, and adapt your outlook to the world of fashion in general rather than feeling bad for not affording what is largely on offer within this market.
I am by no means an expert but have seen enough of people berating others without thought into what their current lifestyle is. You don’t know what happens behind closed doors.
However I hope this helps and changes your mindset on sustainability and what you already have in your wardrobe.
How many weeks are we now into staying at home? I think I have well and truly lost count. In fact I don’t think I started counting in the first place, mostly because I didn’t (and still don’t) know what day it is.
I have lost the plot. From my last post about life in lockdown it probably sounded like I was doing fine, having the odd down day, but mostly pushing through.
Now though. Now it is a different story.
Now I am bored. I am restless. I am frustrated at knowing this could go on for many more months.
Now I am ready for a mojito on a beach with the sun in the middle of nowhere.
Not in stormy Scotland (which is currently blowing a gale force on my window) *which was a few days ago now – we are currently back to sunshine.*
I know this probably sounds like I am having a good moan, and you know what I probably am. I am going to own the fact I am at the end of my tether because usually I’d apologise straight after about boring you with how ‘bad’ my life is. Yes in the grand scheme of things I haven’t had Covid so I don’t know the worst of it but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
But lockdown has different ways of affecting everyone. Right now I think the best way to describe it is that I feel ‘stuck’. I just don’t know what to do because I don’t have anything to do (this is a weird thing to say seeing I do have things to do, I think it is more the repetition of them and the feeling of not getting out of that cycle). I’m telling you this more because I am curious if anyone else feels the same?
I have even started to notice that small things can put me in a really bad mood. Like if someone says something that I disagree with or something doesn’t go to plan, it will put me in a slump for the rest of the day and I can’t shake it. It’s like having a period everyday – I just don’t know what emotion is going to come my way next.
Maybe this is because I don’t have the usual outlets to expense excess emotions that build up. I’m never one for talking about how I feel (which if you can avoid I recommend) but before lockdown my life would be semi busy so then at least that way I’d have ways of avoiding coping with them. I know that if a psychologist was reading this they’d probably have alarm bells ringing in their head but here we are.
I’m now reading this the day after writing it. I’d usually delete a post like this, looking at it more like a way to get my frustration out rather than being useful. But this is useful. It is important to know that you’re not alone and that if you feel like this then it’s okay. I don’t want to glamorise lockdown, it’s hard and not everyday is filled with amazing memories which you can hold onto for a lifetime (if I’m honest most of lockdown doesn’t have many of those for me, so no pressure).
It may sound extremely overdone, and for an English Lit. student, there are probably better metaphors to use but lockdown is very much like a rollercoaster, to me it is anyway. From one day to the next I never feel the same. It definitely throws curve balls at you and sometimes its quite scary.
So far the best ways I have found at coping with this utter mix of emotions is just listening to them and owning them. If I don’t want to do anything one day I won’t. If I am in a horrible mood I’ll try and do things to perk me up or just sit by myself for a bit. Reading is a good way of escaping when you can’t necessarily go outside. On top of this, what I’ve really found surprising is that running is a good way to escape the horrible feeling.
I am currently doing Couch to 5k, and I am on week 4. I stopped and started A LOT but I’ve now realised it helps to purely focus on my breathing and my technique. When you’re nearly dying because of the heat, you don’t have time to think of anything else.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is, no I’m not having the best of times all the time. I get more down days now than I did before lockdown. Yet that is understandable, it’s not enjoyable, but it happens. So now apparently you are my therapist (I’m joking). I hope to at least one person this makes you feel less alone.
I have always over examined how I feel but doing that is not going to change it.
Sending you lots of love, whether you are still in lockdown or not.
When I used to think of skincare I would perceive it as a chore and would do the bare minimum. That being, taking off my makeup before bed and putting on the odd bit of moisturiser.
Now after watching/reading multiple blog posts/videos from Caroline Hirons (who is one of the skincare gods in my opinion) and just generally noticing the increase of spots etc. I knew that an actual routine would be helpful.
Before talking about what products I use (which is unsolicited advice might I add, I am not a trained professional, this is just what works for me) I want to state how simply having a routine is not just important for your skin. I find that having something to do at night, which doesn’t change no matter the occasion brings structure to my day. It also helps to relax me before bed. If you’re anxious or stressed on a regular basis simply adding this to clear your head might do wonders.
Conversely, and just as important, is a morning routine. I find having a system in the morning actually wakes me up and gives me a small amount of time to concentrate on myself. Most of my skincare is done in the evening however washing your face and applying some moisturiser is just as important!
I’ve also added some cheaper alternatives below because I know some of the products can be more expensive.
I have used these two products for years. They are easy and work well. Garnier’s Micellar Water is a great product to remove all of your makeup, some do use it for eye makeup as well but I have sensitive eyes so this tends to end in tears – not exactly what I want. So, instead I use the Simple Eye Makeup Remover, which, might I add, is packaged with recycled materials (that is why the bottle looks grey rather than clear). This stuff removes eye makeup, especially mascara, really well and doesn’t react with my eyes.
However, for the cleanliness of your skin it is important to do a double cleanse, to remove firstly any makeup on your skin and then remove dirt/clean your pores. I must confess this is a step I don’t do regularly enough however I do recommend usingBody Shop’s Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter. It is a bit on the oily side however, once used, your face feels extremely clean. If you’d rather you can also use this to remove makeup.
I also recommend giving your face a quick clean in the morning before applying any makeup but let it dry properly before applying anything else, this way your makeup will stay on properly.
After cleansing I will swipe a cotton pad of Pixi’s Glow Tonic over my face. I love this stuff, it gently exfoliates your face (‘removes excess oils and impurities’) and leaves it glowing. However, it is pricy and I usually get it at Christmas time. I find this bottle will last 3-6 months depending on how much you use it.
However I have also used Aldi’s Lacura Glycolic Skincare tonic (unable to link because it is already out of stock online), which has been haled the best dupe for the Pixi product. You have to watch this product though because they go fast, which is no surprise at £3.99. Same with the rose version they sell, which I have also used. If you see them in store or online I’d recommend grabbing a few. They are great!
I’ve only been using Vitamin C for about a year now after visiting The Ordinary store in Edinburgh complaining of dull skin. At first I got given the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% which I recommend, it doesn’t sting and sits comfortably on the skin like a cream, the employee said its a great place to start when using Vitamin C as you have to build a tolerance to it. Now I use the Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone which does sting when using it (was expected). If I am honest I ordered this by accident after thinking I ordered a repeat of the previously mentioned one. It’s smooth in texture because of the silicone and is supposed to brighten the skin while reducing signs of ageing. I do like this, the stinging however is unpleasant but you get used to it.
I might add that when using Vitamin C products you must use a SPF, Vitamin C products makes you more susceptible to burning. I haven’t recommended one because I am still on the hunt for one that isn’t too oily, if you have any recommendations please let me know. SPF is one of the most crucial steps in anyones routine and is supposed to be used both in summer and winter (yes, even when the sun isn’t shining).
Vitamin C Peel
I got this product in February for my birthday from my good friend. I was extremely surprised by the affect it had and I’m genuinely impressed. It’s a Body Shop product from their Vitamin C range, available here. This particular product is made to strip away dead skin and impurities, particularly pollutants that are left on the skin. I use this as recommended twice a week. It has removed the drier bits of skin I used to have and my skin has an improved texture. Highly recommend using it; it is pricy but I believe it will last a while and is worth it.
I feel like when it comes to moisturiser I still don’t fully understand what I need. However I do have 2 products that I love and recommend. The Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. This moisturiser is one I have been using for years. However, because of its price I’ve only been using it in the morning rather than twice a day. It has a great texture and glides onto the skin. I can definitely feel the difference on my skin after its applied.
On the other hand, I know Clinique is expensive so I use the E45 moisturising lotion at night. I do have sensitive skin and have been prone to breaking out in random rashes therefore this product is great. It is multi use; I use it on my face and body, and it’s perfume free. I would be careful with it because it is supposed to be for eczema prone skin or extremely dry skin. A little definitely goes a long way with both products.
It must be said that my skin is not perfect. I have pigmentation on my chin, have problems with applying makeup on my nose for some odd reason (which I am guessing has something to do with my skincare) and have small spot like bumps on my forehead but it is a lot better than what it used to be and I am proud of where my skin is at, at this moment.
I feel it is important to address the fact that society has always told us to be ‘pretty’ is to look ‘perfect’. Therefore, our skin should look immaculate. The chances of this are very slim, especially as a female with hormones. I still haven’t gotten to the place where I am comfortable walking around without makeup on but I’m getting there. Don’t beat yourself up for your skin, its part of who you are, and it’s a journey.
If you have any recommendations or questions leave them below.
Like I said before I recommend checking out Caroline Hirons blog, where there are extensive amounts of research, products and advice plus she has released a book if you want an even more in-depth insight into how you should look after your skin.
If you haven’t read my last post then you won’t know that I went dairy-free for a week (for health reasons). So, when it came to eating or making anything sweet I was stuck for choice.
Then my mum came home with a reduced chocolate trifle from Tesco and all I could do was stare at it longingly. I knew then that the time had come for me to break out the baking tools and make myself my own sweet treat. Plus, the cake is vegan and can be changed to Gluten Free very easily.
Conversely to the photo above this was originally supposed to be a round cake so if you’d prefer that just change the choice of tin – be warned that the mixture is very runny so you need a springform or solid tin.
This recipe was based off of Nigella Lawson’s ‘Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake’ available here.
225g of Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (Original recipe suggests fine sea salt)
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Ground Coffee (Nigella suggests Espresso Powder)
75g Cocoa Powder
300g Dark Brown sugar
375ml of Hot water (kettle)
75g of coconut oil (90ml soft)
1/2 teaspoons of Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
Bunch of Raspberries to decorate
226g of Dark Chocolate (around 70%)
Coconut Cream (1 box)
2 cups of Icing Sugar (alter this on how thick you want the icing)
2 teaspoons of Oat milk (or any other milk)
1.Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180°C
2. Add all the dry ingredients besides the sugar into a bowl; Plain flour, Bicarbonate of Soda, Sea Salt, Coffee powder and Cocoa Powder.
3. Use a fork to mix the ingredients so they become fine, like below.
4. In another bowl you need to mix all the wet ingredients with the sugar; Dark Brown sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar. Don’t stir until the coconut oil has melted.
5. Next stir this into the dry ingredients., it should look like below.
Tip: The mixture won’t be smooth but make sure you give it a good mix because a lot of the dry ingredients will stick to the bottom of the bowl.
6. Line your tray, a 20cm/8inch either springform tin or a solid tin, with baking paper. The mixture is quite runny so if it is not in the correct tin it may leak.
7. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-35 mins. Nigella advises checking at 30mins incase.
Tip: It is supposed to be a gooey cake so the stick should come out relatively clear but don’t worry if there are a few crumbs on it. Make sure to check right in the centre.
8. Once cooked leave it to cool for at least 30 mins. The cake will need to be properly rested before taking it out of the tin as it won’t be stable enough.
9. Now make the icing. Pour the coconut milk into a pan and heat up.
10. While it is heating up place your chocolate (roughly chopped up if yours is a bar) into a bowl. When the milk starts bubbling pour the milk over the chocolate.
11. Don’t stir the mixture, instead leave it for 5 minutes and then whisk it into a thick consistency.
Tip: If you prefer this you can leave the icing sugar out. However I added the icing sugar so the mix wouldn’t be so rich.
12. If, like me, you want to add icing sugar then this is the time to do it. I added roughly 2 cups but the best way to do it is until you get the required consistency. Add the oat milk (or normal milk if you don’t mind dairy) to loosen the mix up.
13. Cover the cake with icing using a palette knife if you have one, a piping bag, a spatula or even a knife dipped in hot water.
14. If you have done a square cake you can cut it into little mini cakes and top them with some raspberries.
Alternative toppings can also include white chocolate (if you wanted to add dairy), pistachios or any additional topping which might cut through the rich sponge.
This cake is honestly one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had and can be perfect for a celebration or just a treat. Plus for any family member who struggles to find puddings without dairy or are vegan this is perfect; it is tasty no matter your requirements.
On a side-note don’t be put off by the coffee or coconut, you don’t taste them at all once its finished. They purely just add to the consistency and richness of the cake/icing.
I hope you enjoy it and make sure to tag me/send any photos if you decide to make it!
If you haven’t seen my last post, I shared my love for jewellery in regards to necklaces and how to shop them on a budget. So, this time I’m dedicating a whole post to rings.
Rings were never something I wore, I thought they would be extremely annoying (because jewellery, or accessories altogether, have to be practical) but I’ve fallen in love with layering them. It adds more detail and interest to your overall look, while also giving you something to twiddle if you are nervous (yes I just said ‘twiddle’ and y