Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Life Lessons From My Friends

 I may no longer live with or near some of my best friends, but I like to think that we are still as close as ever. If anything, it makes me love them even more.

Most of my closest friends I met at University, all from different circles, but each have taught me and encouraged me to do things differently and become a better person. I am so grateful to have met each and every one of the them and so glad I have a solid support group, even though we still don't see each other every day.

1. A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved
Never underestimate the power of sharing your problems. A true friend will listen, and make sure they help. I can't tell the amount of times that we would often have a little cry about life, and know that it is totally okay. They have made me a more caring person with dealing with other people's problems too. Friendship is a two way street.

2. Build Each other Up, Not Down
There is nothing more uplifting than a simple compliment from one of your pals. From 'your skin looks great', to a group chat dedicated to someone's night out outfit. Even though we are in different parts of the country, we still give each other so much encouragement and I know that if I'm feeling low, they will always pick me up.

3. Be Creative
My friends are amazingly creative. Two of my friends are amazing at photography, another is a great cook and is always making something out of the box. Another is an amazing singer songwriter and draws brilliantly. They inspire me to do something different and creative. 

4. A Small Token Goes A  Long Way
From making someone a cup of tea, sharing a portion of your dinner, or receiving a letter out of the blue, you realise it's the little things that really put a smile on your face. 

5. There Really Is Nothing Better Than Sticking On Relaxing Music And Drinking Tea
My friends made me realise something can be so simple as to putting on relaxing music can make you feel relaxed. My favourite evenings used to be us sitting in a room with some candles, doing each others nails or studying. Even doing the same activities by myself make me think of those times and I feel instantly relaxed.


Sunday, 28 January 2018

Hamilton Review

I am still shook. 

Having bought tickets a year ago last January, and having the date moved as the show started previews later than expected, I finally got to see Hamilton last Thursday afternoon, and my goodness, was it worth the wait.

I went with my best friend from uni who was obsessed with Hamilton and we used to try and nail the Schuyler Sisters harmonies, as well as my favourite work friend from my previous job. It was the most perfect day, seeing old friends and watching a show that we all loved.

What got me the most about going to see Hamilton was the buzz and excitement from the audience even before the show. Knowing that everyone in the auditorium was there because they had bought tickets a year in advance and was a genuine fan felt incredible.

How amazing must that be for the cast members, knowing that everyone there is behind you 100%. 

We clapped when the first few notes were played and we cheered when the line "Immigrants, we get the job done" was said. It was like seeing a show with hundreds of your Hamilton obsessed best friends, all seeing the soundtrack that you've listened to come to life for the first time. Without too many spoilers, you could hear the sniffles and watch almost all members of the audience wipe their eyes during "It's Quiet Uptown" and "Who Lives Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story". It really was something magical.

Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton, a recent RADA graduate, had big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda, absolutely killed it, rapping seamlessly and filling the whole stage. Michael Jibson as King George has the best job in the world, only being in the show for the few odd scenes, got a laugh and a cheer every time. The Schuyler Sisters, Rachel John (Angelica), Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza) and Christine Allado (Peggy, and also incredible as Maria Reynolds) were perfect, and a shout out to Jason Pennycooke as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.

What I also loved about Hamilton was the ensemble. No scene felt flat, as the choreography and the ensemble cast didn't look out of place with some incredible contemporary dance moves. The bows at the end were also something special. There was no playing around with the audience, ending with a big song and dance with each character getting a cheer. The cast simply stood at the front and bowed together as one. It was incredible moving and a special moment.

I'm sure if you're reading this, you don't need any encouragement to try and get tickets, but listen to the soundtrack if you haven't already. You'll be obsessed.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

5 Little Changes For The Week Ahead

Last week, I hit a bit of a low point on my New Year's resolution. I wanted to try and eat a bit healthier, which I know is easier said than done, but Thursday night saw my dinner being two Linda McCartney Sausage Rolls and a bowl of chocolate cereal.

After getting over the initial shock of going back to work after the festive period, and now that we are already more than half way through January, it's time to change a few of my habits, and I'm pretty excited about it. I want to start thinking of every week as a new start, the time to make changes and try something different. Hopefully this will last, so not all my weeks feel like they are rolling into one.

1. Make Lunch The Night Before
It may only save me 10 minutes, but I would much rather have that extra 10 minutes in the morning! I've been scouring Pinterest for some interesting lunches that don't include sandwiches. So, I have planned for a week of salad / chicken wraps and chickpea and feta salads.. let's see how this goes. If anyone is interested in a meal plan / lunch ideas post, let me know. I love looking for food inspiration!

2. Get Out of the Office For Lunch
With the above in mind, I'm determined to actually take a lunch break every day and take those 35 minutes. I usually will open up my food at my desk, but feel guilty if I am not working, and no one else seems to take a proper lunch break. That's why, this week, I'm going to venture to the staff room. Who knows, it may be a good way to meet people too. 

3. Drink At Least Two Bottles Of Water 
I have a lovely water bottle (here), that keeps cold water really cold. It's perfect for the office, however, I forget to take it to meetings, or forget it is there during the day. So more water throughout the work day is definitely needed. 

4. Start Exercising After Work
I finally have enough room in my bedroom to roll out a yoga mat without hitting a piece of furniture . For the last few months, I have started to take my walk to and from work for granted, however, I feel it's time (especially as the evenings are starting to get lighter) to not rush home into my pyjamas, but go home, whip out the yoga mat and the Kettlebell that is sitting at my mums house, and actually do something. I've been researching some Youtube videos and I think I'm ready!

5. Read For Half An Hour Before Bed
One of my resolutions was to read 20 books this year. I'm already on book 3, but some nights I forget to read and just try to fall asleep after screen time. I want to definitely take half an hour out every day to put my laptop to one side and read. I'm currently on  How To Stop Time by Matt Haig, but I have a few classics (Jane Eyre & Emma) to read next. 


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Meals For One: Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is a great comfort meal to make. Once you have the ingredients, they will last you for quite a while, and are great to have in your food cupboard as a just in case! It isn't actually that hard to make either and there is very little that can actually go wrong. You just have to keep stirring!

This recipe serves one, so no need to worry about what to do with the rest. Of course, just double it for two, whatever floats your boat.

You Will Need...
75g Arborio Rice
3-4 Mushrooms
2 Vegetable stock cubes mixed with about 600ml hot water
1/2 Onion
Parmesan cheese
1 Clove of Garlic

1. Fry the diced onion and cut garlic in butter for about 10 minutes in a non-stick saucepan.

2. Add the rice into the saucepan and let it fry for about 1 minute. Then add the mushrooms. 

3. Pour in the stock bit by bit, waiting for it to be absorbed by the rice before adding any more in. If you run out of stock, either make some more or switch to hot water by the end.You can also add white wine. 

4. It will take up to 20 minutes until the rice is tender. I like mine with a little bite, but keep going if this is not how you like it. Keep adding more stock/water and season with salt and pepper. 

5. Just before the end, add in some parmesan cheese and a little bit of butter and mix in. This is up to you how much to put it, in just makes it a bit more cheesy. I also like some on top. 
The risotto should now be creamy, gloopy and smell lush. 

Serve immediately. I add parmesan on top too because there can never be too much cheese. 

Voila, looks like you made an effort, when really it was just stirring a lot. Whilst not as quick as my previous tortilla wrap pizza, this is perfect for weekends, or mid weeks when you want to treat yourself. 


Sunday, 7 January 2018

Meals For One: Tortilla Wrap Pizza

I'm all about the quick meals, especially on a week night. I also find it super hard to find recipes that cater for one person. So here is a new blog series, if you like, with some of my favourite week night recipes, for a little inspiration.

My new favourite meal (perfect for dinner, or lunch) at the moment is a tortilla wrap pizza. No, this is nothing new or revolutionary, but it tastes so so good.

All my ingredients were from Lidl, but this is still a super cheap and quick meal that you could have with garlic bread, salad and not feel bad about having dessert later (not that you should ever feel bad about having dessert whatever meal precedes it).

Simply set your oven to 180 degrees and dig out a pizza tray. It's super handy if you have spray oil to grease the tray as you don't want the pizza to stick. 

Lay out the tortilla and add passata to the base leaving a 'crust' around it. I read recipes that use tomato puree, which I find a bit too strong tasting, or even chopped tomatoes.  

Next, add your toppings. This one had tomatoes, peppers and cheddar cheese, but I've also done it with cooked chicken, feta, red onions etc. Whatever you fancy, bung it on top (although I would suggest frying the peppers or onions a little bit before putting them on top so they aren't too crunchy.

Cook in the oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and voila, instant pizza that tastes miles better than rubbish shop bought.

You can thank me later.

Tortilla Wrap
Cheddar Cheese


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Winter Skincare Staples Under £10

Lush Jelly Face Masks - FOMO
I have tried Lush's fresh face masks before (see my review of Cosmetic Warrior) and I did really like using it, but putting it in the fridge and having to use it within a month was not really ideal.

The jelly face masks are so much easier to use, last a lot longer and don't need to be kept in the fridge. Plus, mine is lasting a very long time which is always a bonus. I picked FOMO as it is apparently good for problem skin, but it is very moisturising too which was just what I needed.

Boots Tea Tree &Witch Hazel Shine Control Daily Moisturiser
I used to use the whole range in the warmer months, but having switched things up to combat my dry winter skin, I am still using the moisturiser and I love it. Other moisturisers break me out and feel tacky on my face. This one, which is more like a gel than a cream, makes my face feel moisturised, but also matte and oil free, perfect for my oily t-zone and chin. It is so cheap too, I don't think I'll be switching in a hurry.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser
To tackle the dryness further, I stopped using a foam face wash and went back to using a creamy cleanser. I was considering trying Liz Earle Cleanse And Polish again, but when I saw this on offer in Superdrug for £3, I knew this would do the trick.

It comes with a cloth, but I prefer to use my own flannel, but it is creamy, easy to use and really does get all my makeup off, whilst not dring out my skin and making it feel tight. For the price (it is really often on offer), you can't really go wrong.

Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide gel
Last year when I went to my GP for my acne and I was perscribed Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Gel. It worked fantastically when I first used it and it cleared up my skin so much, but it did dry it out. It is actually available from Superdrug Pharmacy, so when I ran out of my prescription, I ordered another one.

I think my skin may have got used to it now as my spots have come back - but no where near as bad as it was - so I use this once every two days to clear up my spots and scaring. It's definitely one to try if you are struggling with bad skin.

I have been struggling for weeks now with excema and very dry skin around my eyes and cheeks. I tried Oilatum with not a lot of luck and didn't know what else to try. Someone on twitter recommended Vaseline which I hadn't thought of at all, and my goodness is it a lifesaver.

I slather on a load at night onto the really dry areas like my eye lids and tops of my cheeks, and by the morning it is smooth and moisturised with the redness and soreness gone. Not too bad for a £2 tub.

What are your skincare stapes this winter?


Monday, 1 January 2018

18 Things For 2018

1. Go on a graphic design / photoshop / photography course
2. Catch up with friends who I haven't seen for a very long time
3. Find an activity to do after work once a week
4. Run a Race For Life
5. Drink more water
6. Stop buying pointless things
7. Actually keep a diary
8. Read 20 books
9. Travel abroad
10. Drive on the motorway for the first time
11. Be more adventurous with cooking
12. Listen to podcasts on the walk to work (recommendations please)
13. Finally invest in a good summer wardrobe
14. Put down my phone more often
15. Write a sponsored blog post
16. Learn how to draw
17. Learn the harmonies in Abba songs
18. Buy a new blog layout

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