Monday, 22 December 2014

Chocolate Chip Shortbread | Recipes



I have always loved baking, but I am a bit of a disaster in the kitchen. Something always goes wrong, whether it burns, gets stuck or tastes disgusting.

But, I tried to make chocolate chip shortbread this afternoon, and was pretty happy with the result (well one batch was okay!).


They only used three ingredients (plus the chocolate chips) and were actually surprisingly easy to make - but I'll get onto the things that I did wrong later! 
Ingredients 

125g Butter
55g Caster Sugar
180g Flour
Chocolate Chips


1. Combine the sugar and butter together until it is smooth - it helps to cut up your butter into little chunks and keep it out of the fridge for a little while.

2. Stir in the flour and add the chocolate chips - it will take a while to combine it, and don't be scared to use your hands.

3. Use your hands to combine it into a ball of dough. It shouldn't be too wet, there is no need to add any water. The butter should combine it together.

4. Flatten with hands - if you are using cookie cutters (which I advise) use a rolling pin until the dough is just under a cm thick.

5. If you aren't using cookie cutters, take a small amount from the dough and roll into a small ball. Flatten slightly and place on a greased baking tray. Continue until all the dough it used.

 6. Prick the shortbread with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar

7. Place in the fridge to cool for about 10 minutes

8. Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas mark 5)

9. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden on top

10. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle more sugar (optional)

11. EAT!

Okay.. so they weren't a complete disaster - just a few odd bits. The paler ones were actually pretty burnt on the bottom which was a shame (but I managed to scrape some of it off). I also advise to use cookie cutters (but I left mine at uni!). I did attempt to do cut a star though!

Happy Baking!

xxxx
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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Guilty pleasures songs 2014

So I am not known for my great music taste - my 'getting ready' playlist usually consists of my favourite Steps classics with a few other 80/90/00s gems (super cool right?) 

Okay, so my music taste is a bit of a train wreck, but there have been some songs in 2014 that I have absolutely LOVED and these find themselves sneaking into my night out playlists. 

So have a listen - has my music taste been redeemed? Probably not! 


   

What have been some of your favourite songs of 2014?


xxxx
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Monday, 15 December 2014

Why Shopping by yourself is awesome!

photo credit: mripp via photopin cc

I think I have said this before, but I am a bit of a loner. I much prefer doing things by myself. I guess I like to get things done quickly and efficiently. Here is why shopping by yourself is just so awesome!

1. You can go when you want to
you can make it a spontaneous trip, or just go when you are ready. You don't have to wait around for someone else who is probably going to be late.

2. No waiting around
You can spend as little or as long in a shop as you like. Therefore, no traipsing around Topshop when you really want to be in New Look

3. You can be daring
Especially with clothes shopping, I try on things that I wouldn't usually pick up if I was with friends or family.

4. You can go back to shops
I do this all the time. I always look around and then go back to places - other people don't always like to do that!

BUT, don't go too overboard - you will have no one there to tell you that you are spending too much money (been there, done that!)

Do you go shopping by yourself? 
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Friday, 12 December 2014

Pinterest | Christmas Baking Inspiration

1,2,3,4
I LOVE baking. I definitely don't do enough at university (because I procrastinate too much!). 

I turned to Pinterest for some festive inspiration (because that's the first thing to do!) 

It is my dream to make a gingerbread house - hopefully I will have enough time to actually try and make one, along with a yule log which just looks divine. 

Things are starting to get so christmassy now, and I can't wait! 

xxxx


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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Top 4 Christmas Films!

If you didn't already know, I am home from university for christmas. As none of my friends are back yet (my university breaks up super early!), I have spent the last few days just doing chores, blogging and of course, watching Christmas films.

I have seen this post on quite a few blogs and thought I would join in the party!

1. The Holiday



I LOVE this film. It's so heart warming and just so damn cute. And Jude Law <3 p="">

2. Love Actually

                                     

 A christmas classic bringing together some great british actors. I especially love this film for some of the greatest early 00s fashion ever - those turtlenecks! Plus, who can forget Keira Knightley's baker boy hat you don't want to admit that you ever had.



3. ELF




If you do not know all the words to this film, then you are doing it wrong. As a huge fan of Will Ferrell, I laugh every time I watch this. Plus, a blonde Zooey Deschanel? Who knew?!


4. The Santa Clause


In my eyes, this film is so underrated. with Tim Allen becoming Santa after Santa falls off his roof. Plus, the little kid is so cute! Shame about the sequels though!

Do you have a Christmas film that you watch every year? 

xxxx

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Student Christmas Gift guide - Under £20

It is 16 days until Christmas - how crazy is that? The big day is almost upon us, but you haven't started your christmas shopping yet? Here is a cheeky little gift guide for you. If you are a student buying for a friend, or looking for a gift for a student, here are some ideas of what you could buy.



1. Slippers 
No one can have too many pairs of slippers. My ones this year are officially broken and am in definite need for a new pair to keep my feet warm in the winter months. 
(Mouse slippers - NEXT £12)

2. Lunch box
This could be a slightly weirder present to buy someone, but if you live off campus, in a bid to save money, you take lunch in. By the time I get to eat it, but sandwich is crushed as are my fruit. So a lunch box would be extremely useful! 
(Yay Lunch box - Happy Jackson - £5.99)

3. Cutlery 
Another practical present, this time, cutlery. Despite having a new set at the beginning of the year, mine have already gone missing. Tip - buy ones with coloured handles as they are much less likely to get lost! 
(Colourplay cutlery - Wilko - £6)

4. Dressing Gown
See how many of these gifts revolve around keeping warm? A dressing gown is a student must have.
 (Cream bear hooded dressing gown - New Look - £14.99)

5. Pyjamas 
Again, you can never have too many pyjamas as I always forget to put mine in the wash. 
(Blogger PJ Set - Forever 21 - £10.65 - although not too great for the winter, how perfect are these?!)

6. Socks
Much like cutlery, socks can be very easily lost. Any socks, ankle, trainer, fluffy would be absolutely perfect! 
(Red slipper socks - New Look - £3.99)

7. Mugs 
For an avid tea drinker, mugs make a perfect gift. And if not, it can be used as a pen holder! 
(Retro Mug - Wilko - £2.00)

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas! 
What is on the top of your Christmas list?

xxxx
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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Experiences every University student has when they come home

1. Everything is so clean - like really clean

2. The kitchen isn't filled with dishes and saucepans and doesn't have a funny smell (probably as your parents actually take out the bins when they need doing!) 

3. You then have a little cry (just me... okay) 

4. You realise how much you missed your family

5. Having your first roast dinner 

6. Spending all evening in front of the TV

6. Realising your 12am bedtime is a lot later than everyone else in the house (no midnight cereal snacks for you!) 

7. Icecream isn't on the weekly shopping list... what?!
8. Having to tell your parents if you are going out.

9. Always being asked by extended family about university (and the dreaded question - do you have a boyfriend yet?) 

10. Realising how much you miss your uni friends

11. Despite everything, you realise how much you have missed home (and the warmth.. goodness it is so warm right now!)

xxxx
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Friday, 14 November 2014

A Student's Guide to keeping warm

photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc


It's mid November.... November! I remember it being August not too long ago, and today I have woken up to grey and rainy skies, lovely. 
Don't get me wrong, I adore autumn and winter (just check out my Pinterest boards.. do you see ones for summer?). But, let me tell you, student houses are so cold. Gone is the warmness of your own home or halls and what you are left with is an extremely cold place where you can see your own breath. 

So here are my top tips for staying warm, without increasing your gas bill... 

1. Layer up
I cannot stress this enough. If that includes multiple socks, jumpers, blankets whilst you are working, do it. Even fingerless gloves help for those late night essay writing sessions. I am even considering buying thermals... yes, I know.

2. Candles
Ah the humble candle. I am not talking about tea lights here, I am talking about big fat candles that may actually let off a little bit of heat. Also, they are pretty good too at having a cheeky hand warm up. 

3. Tea, tea and lots of tea
... Just because

4. Stay in the kitchen after you have cooked
Make sure you have a lovely warm meal at the end of the day. Shut the kitchen door whilst you are cooking and absorb that heat. Once you have finished cooking, turn off the oven and leave it open ever so slightly. The kitchen will stay toasty for a while, so bring your work into the kitchen for a little extra warm time. 

5. Blanket under duvet
I am sure that if you are living in a cold house, you will definitely have a blanket (if not... get one!). I have a fluffy throw from BHS from a few years ago, but Primark do some lovely ones. Okay, so here is the real game changer, sleep with your blanket under the duvet instead of over. Who knew? 

6. Electric Heater
So this is maybe defeating the point a little bit with saving money on bills, but, it is so useful when there are only a few of you in and want a quick warm up. Because my room is so small, it only takes 5 minutes to heat it up for a little moment of bliss. 

7. If all else fails, head onto campus
Especially if you have a day off and you are home freezing, head onto campus, or alternatively a coffee shop or library and heat up for a while whilst doing some work. 

Enjoy the cold! 
xxxx

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Monday, 3 November 2014

University Food Diary + Bacofoil Student Cook 2014 Competition!

Cooking at university is hard... I mean super hard. Trying to think of meals every night usually ends up with a trip to Iceland and chucking in some chicken and chips into the oven, with a few vegetables if you are lucky.

This week, I am trying to be a lot more healthy, cooking more nutritious meals and making sure that I have vegetables with every meal.

So I thought I would do a food diary for the week, to maybe give you some inspiration of food to cook. Yes, some nights are worse than others, but I'm a university student, what can you expect?

Day 1 - Peri Peri chicken, Mediterranean rice and Corn on the Cob
Okay, so tonight was one of those nights where I put stuff in the oven, but the corn on the cob was so good!

Day 2 - Chilli con carne and rice
To save time, I used a jar sauce, but I did put in extra tomatoes and peppers to make me feel like I am eating a little healthier!

Day 3 - Chilli con carne and rice (leftovers) 
Leftovers are your best friend, especially if you can't be bothered to cook. Just chuck it in the microwave and eat. Yum!

Day 4 -  Vegetable and chicken curry and rice
Instead of just using chicken in my curry, I now add carrots and peppers and a few tomatoes just to bulk it out a little bit and add some vegetables.


Day 5 - Pizza 
So I couldn't really keep up the somewhat nutritious meals and had to have pizza that night. Admittedly, I had to take dinner on campus with me, and cold pizza is just perfect!

Day 6 - Chicken Fajitas
An essential student dish. I must have fajitas about once a week. Add it extra peppers, an onion and tomatoes with the chicken and spice, add some salsa (or make or own if you are extra fancy) and serve with tortilla wraps. Perfect!

Day 7 - Vegetable and chicken curry and rice
Again, another leftover dish!

So there is my typical evening meals for a week at university. I pretty much live off curry most of the time, but I am feeling so much better with putting (or hiding!) vegetables in my dishes. 

Think you can do better than I can? 





I was recently contacted by Bacofoil who have launched their 'Student Cook of the Year' competition where students can win £1000 worth of groceries! 

If you are a budding chef, check out their website for all the details and send your dishes on twitter using the hashtag #BacofoilStudentCook before the 31st December 2014!

Time permitting, I will be hopefully putting up some recipes or even entering my own dish into the student cook of the year! 

Happy Cooking! 

xxxx












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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Second year problems


photo credit: Stefan Leijon via photopin cc

Congratulations! You've made it to second year of university and ready to make the move out of halls of residences and into your own house! Paying rent, bills, setting your up your own internet may seem daunting at first, but you are no longer a scared fresher, you are a second year! You're mature, and ready to take on your new independent life. 

But then you realise that it isn't all it is cracked up to be...

Your kitchen will still be a mess

How excited you were to not have to clear up the mess of 17 other people that you lived with. But in second year, you are still clearing up other people's stuff... 

You will be cold all the time

Goodbye are the days of inclusive bills. You have to be responsible for your own gas bills which means sacrificing the heating and inevitably getting a cold. Boo! 

You will still eat rubbish

I thought I would have so much space to cook lots of great meals and be really healthy this year... nope, I still eat mostly the same rubbish that I ate last year. 


The furniture will be broken

I had dreams of living in a beautiful small house with cute furniture and nice bedrooms.... I needed to lower my expectations. More than often, something is always broken. And then trying to get hold of your landlord is another issue!

You live off campus

No more being able to roll out of bed to a 9am. A 9am lecture now requires me to get up at 6.45am to catch a bus that takes half an hour to go to campus. Plus, the days are long. A lot of time wasting is happening waiting for your next lecture. There is only so much work you can do in one day!

Uni work counts! 

No more doing assignments the night before because you only have to pass them to get into Second year (which I definitely don't advise you do anyway!). All your work actually will count towards your degree, which is a super scary thought 

However much I am complaining about second year, it really is great. Not being the new person is such a bonus - you know what you are doing, you have great friends and generally it is a ball - with a tad of added pressure of actually doing your degree! 
  
How has your first month at university been so far? 
xxxx




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Friday, 10 October 2014

Being Organised - Uni advice


Organisation is a key skill, especially at university. Being able to juggle working for you degree, social life and other aspects of university life can be a struggle. It is one of my aims this year to be more organised, so here are some of my tips that I will be doing this year to help me out!

1. Write out your timetable

I find that having a printed out copy of my timetable pinned on my noticeboard (and colour coded!) means that I know exactly when and where my lectures and seminars are. I also add regular society meetings/sessions and anything else that occurs on a near weekly basis. 

2. Buy a diary

This may be pretty self explanatory, but buying a diary can also help with information on your reading/assignments or being able to write in urgent things, to do lists or last minute events. This can also be done on your phone, which may be better if you forget things! 

3. Organise your notes

Keeping paper/lecture handouts safe and together can be a struggle. This year, I am doing all of my seminar prep reading in separate exercise books and then lecture notes on paper and keeping them in one folder. This way, I can grab the book that I need before running out of the door to my seminar. I don't have to faff around with lots of papers

4. Organise your laptop

Spend a little bit of time making new folders on your laptop. I personally have a 'UNIVERSITY' folder under my documents which is broken down into years, then into modules. If I have to download readings, power points or podcasts, they all go in there. I also have sorted out my 'One-drive' folders so I can get all of my documents on my tablet, laptop and phone. (I assume the Cloud is the same for apple users?)

5. To do lists

I write so many (probably too many) to do lists for days, especially when I have days off from university (let's take some time to appreciate my amazing timetable in which I have Wednesday afternoons, Thursdays and Fridays off!). I even write household chores on them. Seriously, there is nothing as satisfying as crossing off a task! 


I have only been back at university for a few weeks and am already noticing the difference between first and second year work load. My days off cannot be used to browsing the internet and eating all the food in the cupboard any more! 

xxxx






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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Last 20 years

To my younger self.

Tomorrow, you will turn 20. It seemed a lifetime away when you were dreaming about this day. But it has crept up on you, and you haven't really noticed. But that's okay.

I remember you dreamt of being the big 20. How different your life would be. You wondered if you would be madly in love, getting into your dream job, living independently. You thought that by 20, you would have you life sorted out, knowing exactly how you would live out the next 20 years, and the next.

I'm sorry to break to news to you, but the life that you dreamt, well... it kind of hasn't happened. By the time you are 20, you will still look 16. You won't know exactly what you want to do in life. You won't have found Mr Right (but you will still find the cliche 'Mr Right' cringy!). You won't suddenly not be nervous or scared any more. You will still worry about the stupid things. And sometimes, you will still feel a little bit alone.

But, don't let me put you off the good things that will happen. You will be living three hours away at university, in a rented house where you pay your own bills (it sounds scary, I know!). You will have great friends who will always pick you up after a bad day. You will have the best family ever. Whilst you haven't gone to far away countries or experienced a lot of things others have, you will be happy with the greatness you have achieved.

But remember, it's okay to be scared, and it is okay to not know what the future holds. But most of all remember to have fun - YOLO (wait, you won't know what that means yet!)

Lots of love
Abbie (aged 19 and 364 days)


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Friday, 3 October 2014

University bag essentials

I am back with more university related posts! This week has been quite busy, but hopefully, I will be able to continue blogging and getting a degree. I have some more recipes and advice posts to put up as well as some personal lifestyle things, so hopefully, in the next few weeks, I can get back into the swing of blogging.

I have been back at university now for a week, attending meetings, introductory lectures etc. So here are some of my university bag essentials...

This is the bag I am using this year. If you read my Backpack Wishlist, this was featured on there. I actually ended up ordering it from Amazon instead of Asos. It was pretty cheap at about £20, but it is a little uncomfortable! 


  • Purse - an old one from accessorize
  • Pencil case - I am using a Cath Kidston washbag from a few years ago
  • Bus pass
  • Simple wipes
  • Headphones
  • Ipod - Yes, this is 7 years old and hasn't failed me... yet *touch wood*
  • Pens
  • Diary
  • Notebook - for my to do lists and blogpost ideas. This one was £3.50 in Paperchase
  • Page markers 
I also carry around a little 'Hello Kitty' makeup bag which I carry around hair ties and pins, lip balm, Rimmel Stay Matte Powder, Natural Collection Lash Lengthening Mascara and Superdrug anti-bacterial blemish gel. I also usually carry pain killers with me too. 

Last but not least, I have my Microsoft Surface RT tablet which I take to my lectures as well as some paper. I am using exercise books that I bought off amazon. 

I am thinking about doing a note taking/how to get the most out of your lecture post, so let me know if this is something that would be useful!

What are your university/school/college essentials? 

xxxx
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Monday, 29 September 2014

Being an adult is hard!





Sorry for the lack of blogging in the last few days. I have just moved into my new student house for the next year so things have been very busy sorting out my room and the house. 

But boy, is being an adult hard. Having to ring up gas companies, doing a lot of cleaning when we first moved in and sorting out rent payments is a bit of a faff. But, there really is nothing that makes you feel more grown up when you have to (and successfully) manage to set up your own wifi! 

Everything is starting to come together now, but I really miss the easiness of being on campus. Being and adult is hard, plus, having to try and get rid of your own huge massive spiders is a challenge. And I turn 20 next week.... I want to stay a teenager forever!


My lectures actually start next week, so will have a bit of time to make some posts. I am going to try my hardest to continue blogging maybe 3 times a week whilst keeping up with university work, but please bare with me for the next few days!


Hope everyone who is at uni has settled in now! 

xxxx


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Monday, 22 September 2014

Tips for Insomniacs


Sleep. Something that we all need to do, but it is not always something that comes easily to some people. I wish that I was one of those people that can sleep at any time of the day without fail, however, not all of us can be like this dog.

My first year of university was great, but it did come with struggles - my main one being my problem with sleep. I found my anxiety got even worse when I didn't have enough sleep, and then, not getting enough sleep was making the problem even worse.

I tried everything - cutting caffeine and alcohol from my diet, listening to music, having a hot bath, drinking a warm drink. Nothing worked. Some nights, I don't think I even fell asleep. Thankfully, my sleeping has improved. I still get odd nights or 3-4 days when I only have about 3 hours sleep, but here are some of my tips on how to get to sleep easier!

Don't have an alarm clock

By alarm clock I mean a clock that you can see in the dark, instead use your phone or a watch to check the time and set an alarm on. I would literally sit and watch the hours tick by when I had an alarm clock on my table and then count how many hours I would get before I would have to wake up. Eliminate the anxiety of counting down the hours and check occasionally.

Don't drink alcohol before bed

I can never sleep after a night out. Occasionally, this is fine, but if you are going out for drinks a lot, don't drink too near bed time. My heart and mind would race after a drink, so take it easy.

Take your mind off sleep 

I know that there is a lot of advice saying to stay away from electrical at night, but I find it easier to sleep after I have had some downtime scrolling through the internet. It takes my mind off the worry of 'am I going to sleep tonight'. This may not work for everyone, but do something before you go to bed.

Try mindfulness

If I am feeling anxious or just want to relax, I turn off the lights and lay on my back and close my eyes. I listen to my breathing, going in and out and try to focus on only that. This is also a good tip if you have background noise (like living in a hall of residence!). Become focussed on the noise and only the noise and keep breathing.

Act out a conversation in your head

Again, a trick to take your mind off the worry of not sleeping. Make up a conversation between you and a friend, or just words in your head. This sounds crazy, but it really does work - don't think of anything to dramatic though!

Stop worrying

This took me a long time to get over, but what is the worst that will happen if you don't get any sleep. You feel a bit sluggish for a day or too, but you will catch up eventually. Your body is not going to let you be awake for days on end without some relaxation. Make sure you are active, tire yourself out. Obviously, be careful when driving etc, but if you wake up thinking that you had more sleep than you actually did, you will feel a lot better!

I hope these tips help you out a little bit - as usual, here is a relevant Buzzfeed article to read through if you can't sleep! 
Have you got any more tips on how to get a better nights sleep? 

xxx

photo credit: ejbSF via photopin - no this isn't my dog... though I wish he was!



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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Uni Tips - How not to act on 'Moving in Weekend'

September is finally here - hurray! Am so ready for not feeling guilty for not going out in the sun and wearing boots and scarves and drinking lots of hot chocolate. I am also definitely feeling the back to school vibe even though I still have 3 weeks until I go back to university.

Instead of doing a university tips post on moving in weekend, I thought it would be best, and possibly a little more interesting, to share my university moving in experience from last year. Hopefully, it will give you a little bit of an idea of what NOT to do if you are moving to university this year! But I must warn you.. it's a long one. So relax, and grab a cuppa.

_____________________________________

Everything was packed in the car by about 8.30. The car was full and I just had enough room to squeeze myself in with the rest of my stuff. I lived about 3 hours away from my university so we set off at about 9. At this point, I thought I was feeling calm and collected... how wrong I was. 

We got to a service station and had some lunch. We were due to arrive at about 1ish, which at the time, I wasn't happy with. I was worried that I would get there too late to do everything that I wanted to and that I wouldn't meet any of my flatmates in time. 
Lesson 1 - don't stress out, everything will be done! 

_______________________________________

So we arrived. We were placed in a car park possibly the furthest away from my accommodation. So I picked up my keys and went back to the car to start taking my dozens of boxes into my room. This was exhausting in itself. I opened up the door to my room and instantly was disappointed. My room was tiny, not what the pictures online looked like at all. Again, I put on a brave face. To make matters worse, the building and my room were absolutely boiling, and I do not cope well with heat! 

_______________________________________


The next thing on my list was to go and pick up my student card. I thought I was so prepared, but when we got there and was asked for some paperwork, I realised that I didn't have my enrolment certificate. I literally went into meltdown mode. I wanted to cry. I made such a fuss and was frustrated and my parents had no idea what to do as I stood in tears in front of a room full of parents and other new students. However, it turned out I didn't really need it and picked up my student card anyway. What also panicked me was that everyone else looked like they knew exactly what they were doing, and I didn't. Plus, they all looked so much older than me! 
Lesson 2 - Other people really don't know what they are doing! 

_______________________________________

Okay, so to make matters worse, there were tickets being sold for the nightclub event for that night. Because I was freaking out, they sold out, and I was so worried that everyone in my flat would have already bought a ticket and would go without me. I didn't need to freak out because this didn't happen. We all bought tickets on the night and got in anyway. 

Next, we went to the nearest tesco and bought some food. I spent the whole time freaking out that everyone in my flat would be meeting eachother and I wouldn't be there. I ended up not getting half of the stuff I wanted to and felt really panicky because there was so many people. 
Lesson 3 - Get your parents to get you the essentials as well as a few meals. It is so useful!

_______________________________________

We finally made it back and by this time I was a complete mess, as was my mum who, she told me this a few weeks later, wanted to take me back home. At this point, my flatmates, who I couldn't thank them enough for doing, asked me whether I wanted to go around the building and meet some other people, which my mum pushed me to go and this gave them the opportunity to leave. I then cried... not a good start. 

_______________________________________

So, if you have made it to the end of this very long post, well done! If you haven't... well you will never know how the story ended. Basically I went out that evening with my new friends, ended up coming home early because we didn't want to stay, and drunk hot chocolate in our pyjamas until the early hours of the morning. - so all worked out well in the end. 

Hopefully, this will give you some idea of what not to do on your first weekend at university. It is a stressful time, and it is not a weekend that I ever want to experience again, but once you get over the hurdle, things get a lot better! Just keep calm! 

Please don't tell me that I was on the only one who had a stressful moving in weekend?! 


xxxx







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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Harry Potter Studio Tour



On Friday I went to 'The Making of Harry Potter' at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan - I have all the books multiple times and went to see all the films at the cinema. I went with some of my family members, but I think that I was more excited than the children that I went with!

I was really surprised with the amount of things that there were to see. There were also short videos and extracts that were really interesting. Even though it ruined some of the 'magic', it was so interesting and when I watch the films back, I will definitely look out for some of the tricks that they used. 


We spent about 3 hours there, but we could have stayed for longer. I was expecting it to be very busy and was a bit worried about not getting the chance to take photos of things close up or having to queue for various bits, however, I was really impressed with how they managed the amount of people that there were (wow you know you are getting old when the way that an event is managed makes you extremely happy!) 

Price wise, tickets were expensive, as was the gift shop etc - however as a Harry Potter fan, I wasn't disappointed with the props, costumes and sets that were on show. 

I took way too many photos, so here are a few below! 


xxxx
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Uni Tips - How to Budget Like a Boss


Keeping track of your money is vital for university. Student Finance is a pain in the bum, and getting too much into your overdraft is not ideal. So here are some of my tips on how to budget your money and spend a bit less

1. Work out how much money you will have per week 
Once you have your letters from student finance, take off your accommodation and that is how much you will have to spend that term. Divide it by however many weeks until your next loan and tadaa! Remember to take off any other monthly expenditure such as phone contracts, netflix etc. Also, remember to save some money for the time that you are at home as well!

2. Use cash instead of card
If you are serious about sticking to your budget, get out the cash for the week rather than using your card. You know then that you can't spend any more than your weekly budget. This is also important when on a night out. I often don't take my debit card with me so that I don't spend a lot of money!

3. Keep tabs on what you are spending money on
If you do use your card, write down what you spend on food/going out/online shopping - this is not only useful for looking at how much you are spending, but you can also make sure that nothing fishy is going out of your account.

4. Save your change
Saving your £1/50p/20p to pay for washing machines and bus fares etc can all add up if you save a bit every time you get some change.

5. You may have to make some sacrifices 
You will not be able to afford to do your food shopping at Marks and Spencers or constantly go clothes shopping. Just be cautious and don't go crazy.

6. Save Save Save
Don't spend all your money for one week? Don't spend it, save it!

7. Get an NUS Extra card
I think that they save a lot of money. I bought a 3 year one so that I wouldn't have to remember to renew it. Although your normal student card will offer you some discount, you can often get extra discount with the NUS extra card

8. 16-25 Railcard 
One of these is also a must! You can save a third off rail travel, vital for going home or visiting friends. Santander give a 4 year one away for free when you sign up to their student accounts.

9. Don't let it stress you out
If you are having problems with money, the student union can give you advice. It is just about having a bit of restraint and being responsible. There is no point using all your money in Freshers Week and not being able to eat, but don't feel bad if you don't stick to your budget for one week, just save some money the next.

Hopefully this will be useful!
University is getting close now for many - I don't start until the 29th of September which is really late. 


xxxx


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Monday, 25 August 2014

Introverts Unite!

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I have always liked being in my own company. I spend too much time inside on the internet, I get too attached to TV show characters and I love going shopping by myself. It's not that I am anti-social, I have friends who I absolutely love, but I know that I am an introverted person. 

When I was younger, I thought that this was a bad thing. Especially at school when everyone would go out and I would be quite happy staying in. I would turn down opportunities to go out, and soon I found that I was stopped being invited to things because they assumed that I wouldn't go. I felt that even some of my best friends didn't really understand, and that they still don't. 

I thought that at university I would make myself become this person who would suddenly love going clubbing and wouldn't feel nervous about meeting new people - of course, this didn't happen. I lived with some very big characters who were the complete opposite of me. They thrived off other people's company and hated being alone. I soon realised that I was never going to be that person. I have grown to love my 'introvertedness' and you all should too! 

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After some persuasion at university, I do go out a lot more than I did and actually have a good time. However, my friends know that I need some time to recharge and don't judge me for the maybe too many lazy days that I spend in my room just watching youtube videos and reading blogs. They understand that this makes me happy. It's just the little things.

So.. Introverts Unite! There is nothing wrong loving night ins watching another re-run of Bridget Jones in your pyjamas whilst scrolling endlessly through Tumblr. 

(Plus check out this buzzfeed on what all introverts love - I totally agree with all of them!)

xxxx
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Uni Tips - Living in Halls

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Living in university halls of residences was something that I never prepared myself for. The accommodation that I was put in had 19 of us on one floor with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. It doesn't sound very glamorous does it? Luckily, I got on really well with the majority of my flatmates this year, but here are some tips and tricks on living in halls.

1. Set up a facebook group
If you live with a lot of people, or just a few, set up a flat/floor facebook group. It's a good way to communicate about problems throughout the year and also through holidays as well to keep in touch

2. Set up rules early on
I am not talking about written down rules, but things such as 'you can use my kitchen things if you put it back' etc. Setting these up early will make it a lot more easier. Also sorting out cupboard/fridge space early is also a must. 

3. Keep Communal spaces tidy
This goes without saying... *cough* although some people will not follow this! Clean up after yourself whether this is in the kitchen area or bathrooms. It really isn't nice when it is dirty!

4. Noise
If you live with a lot of people, it will be very noisy, with different people coming in and out. This is what I found quite hard at the beginning. Earplugs are great, and don't be afraid to ask people to be quiet. A good nights sleep is crucial!

5. Try not to fall out with one another
If there is a problem, take it up individually and nicely. I couldn't imagine what my first year would have been like if I hadn't got on with some of my flat mates. It can make the atmosphere tense not only for you, but for the rest of your flatmates. 

6. Quiet time
What I found the hardest about living in halls was the constant amount of people. I felt like I didn't have any time to myself - I couldn't watch some tv or a DVD without someone knocking on my door wanting to join. It can be very hard for an introvert like myself. So remember to have some time to yourself! 

Living in halls can be challenging, with fall outs, breakups and misunderstandings. However, this is a new time for you all, so the best thing is to support each other. And of course have fun! I regard most of my flatmates from last year as really good friends. It's like having your own family away from home. 

Check out more of my Student Advice posts HERE 

xxxx
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Saturday, 16 August 2014

How to have fun clubbing when sober

This may seem a slightly weird blog post, but over my first year of university, I have had some great nights out, as well as some truly awful ones. I enjoy a drink, but don't like being completely out of it when I am out clubbing - I like to remember what happened in the morning. And sometimes, I don't drink at all.

So.. I am writing this to debunk the common myth that you can only have fun when alcohol is involved.


1. Positive thinking
Don't go into the evening thinking that it is going to be awful because (a) all your friends are drinking and you aren't (b) you are going to be the odd one out etc etc. Go in thinking that you are going to have a good night with your friends. 

2. Getting ready 
Be geared out to go out! Get involved with getting ready with a group of friends. Or if you are by yourself, get dressed up, put your favourite music on and jam out. Get your mind into the partying spirit

3. Have a drink in your hand
This is mainly one for pre-drinks (especially at university). Don't awkwardly stand there. Join in, take your own soft drink and keep it with you, talk to people and get involved. 

4. Stay with your friends
Whilst this may seem a little clingy, don't let them out of your sight. Stick with them. If they are your true friends they will stay with you for the night and not leave you by yourself. There is nothing worse than that. 

5. Boogie! 
Dance, have fun. Even copy what some of your friends are doing. If you are dancing or singing along then it will be a lot more fun

6. Don't constantly look at the time

7. Suggest to be the designated photo taker
Great if it is a friends birthday. Take a camera or use your phone and take photos of the night. Then you can be in the action and with your friends

8. And if it all goes wrong... Make sure you have enough money to get a taxi home and chalk it up to experience. 

If you don't drink, or choose not to on a night out, it does not mean that you can't have fun! Plus it is hilarious to update your friends the next day of the funny things that you saw them do

On a sidenote, thank you to everyone who is following me on bloglovin'. I hit 100 followers last night and am so grateful, so thank you so much! 

xxxx
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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A-Level Results Day: Tips!



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If you are receiving A-level results Thursday, I know how you are feeling. This time last year, I was a nervous wreck - I couldn't sleep properly and couldn't enjoy myself until I knew what my future held.

So, if you are getting your results (and consequently University Places) on Thursday, I have put together some tips on what to do before and on the day.

Before the day... 

1. Research 
I know it's not what you want to be thinking about, but have a think of your back ups. If things don't turn out the way that you hoped and you go through clearing, it will be better to have an idea of what you may want to do. Whether this is changing courses or university choices, have a snoop around. Some universities will have some clearing spaces up a few days in advance, so have a quick look. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

2. Talk to your parents/someone you trust
It is no use suffering in silence by yourself. Have a chat with your parents or your friends about your worries. They may help you think of potential back up plans or just talk through your concerns. 

3. Have your UCAS number/ID/username/password written down
There will be nothing worse if you wake up on the Thursday morning with no idea how to log in to check your results. 

4. Organise a gathering/drinks on the night before results 
Make a pact with your friends that you will not talk about results. Instead, suggest going out for drinks or have a film night. It will be a nice way to relax before the big day. 

On the day... 

1. Wake up early
As you probably know, you can check UCAS when it opens. Last year it was due to open at 7.30/8, but it opened earlier. Start checking from 7am - this way, hopefully UCAS won't crash with the increased traffic. 

2. Do it by yourself
I found it most comforting to sit in bed with my laptop and checking myself. With the added pressure of family members there, it can all be a bit much. Wake up early, make a cup of tea and try to relax. You can then share your news with them afterwards

3. Social Media
Checking sites such as Facebook or Twitter on the morning can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If you got the results that you wanted, it is a great way to share your success. Facebook last year also told me that UCAS was open earlier. However, if you are celebrating, be sensitive to those who may not have got the results that they were hoping for. 

4. Get your results
At my school, I found out in the morning on UCAS that I got into my university and then went into school a few hours later to pick up my results. This can be a great time to talk to your teachers, either sharing your success or asking their advice on what to do next 

5. Clearing
If you do need to go through clearing, if you have prepared the night before, it should be straight forward. Try ringing your university first, asking whether there was anything else that they would offer you or simply see whether there are clearing spaces on your course. The worst they can say is no. Then try ringing other universities. It can be tedious and upsetting, but doing it sooner rather than later will ensure that you get the place that you want. 

6. Celebrate
If you do get what you were hoping, congratulations. But again, be sensitive to those who weren't so happy. 

I hope these tips will be useful - remember to share them on to others who may be getting their results too. 

And once you find out, let the fun begin. Check out my Student Advice page for what to pack and some more tips coming soon!

Good Luck! 

xxxx

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