Thursday, 28 July 2016

White & Milk Chocolate Cookies - #TanyaBakes



I received a copy of +Tanya Burr's new book, Tanya Bakes, for my birthday this year, and I fell in love with it. I've always loved baking since I was a little'un, and any excuse to do some is fine by me. So when I got the book, I knew I had to make something ASAP.


Cookies are  a weakness I'll admit, and usually they're the quickest thing I can whip up with whatever we've got in the house. If I've had a rubbish day at work, or have a particular craving, or even if it's THAT time of the month again, I'll bake cookies. Luckily my family love our food, so everyone gets a more even number each haha! When I saw these white & milk chocolate cookies, I thought they'd be my next target.


I won't write up the recipe here (you'll have to get the book I'm afraid), but what I will say is that they were DELICIOUS. I usually use a recipe by +The Hummingbird Bakery which is also amazing, but what made the difference for using Tanya's recipe was that my twin, who does not have a big sweet tooth, could not resist having these cookies and even said 'they're really good, and they're not too rich either, which is what I like'. So there you go!


The recipe itself is for 10 cookies, but I've now made these twice - I made 20 out the mixture the first time, and over 30 the second time! It depends a lot on how big you like your cookies to be, and I usually go for a little smaller as it means I can give more out to people, but it's up to you!


They're so simple to make - prep time took me about 15 minutes at the most - and they cook really well. One thing I noticed is that the recipe says to bake them for 12 minutes in the oven; I found if the cookies were on the top shelf, this was perfect timing, but if they were on the middle shelf, you need to give another 2-3 minutes to get them a little brown around the edges, which is perfect. (Just don't do what I did and be cocky, thinking that the cookies will stay stuck to the greaseproof paper - I tried to tilt the baking tray to show my mum the cookies and 3 broke in half and fell off...!)


They got the family seal of approval, and I'm yet to give any to Paddy but I know he'll like them too. Will be using this recipe very often! :)
Tuesday, 26 July 2016

5 Positive Changes I've Made


Over the past few months, I've been feeling a lot better and happier in myself. It's been quite a change in where I feel I've not only grown up literally, but within myself too; like I have a whole new perspective on things and how I view myself. It's meant I've had to learn a whole new way to look after myself, but it's been for the better; I feel so mentally happy and healthy, getting so much more out of life. This sounds incredibly lame and cliche, but it's very true! Here are the 5 things I've learned:

1. Not only appreciate, but treat myself to the little things
It's important now and then to remember the things that don't necessarily cost money, or that are naturally around you. Whilst I was unemployed I did a lot of exploring around where I live through exercise, and it was lovely just to be outside, even if it was cold and grey and rainy! And when the sun came out, it made me that bit happier. Now it's sweltering hot in the UK (which rarely happens) I realise how much I miss the cold and grey cosiness we're used to! It takes time, but whether it's just having an extra half hour in bed, a big cup of tea, or reading a book, remember how happy these things make you, and don't be afraid to treat yourself to them every so often; even a lot if you need, it's definitely not a bad thing! One thing Paddy and I like to do every so often (though not now as he's moved flats) is to go down to London City Airport and watch the planes take off and land across the river. It might sound lame to anyone else but it's our little thing and it makes us really happy so we do it! I also love to buy flowers every so often; nothing fancy, but a £3 bouquet from Tesco will put a smile on my face and I'm happy! It's about focusing on everything individually.


2. Move more
I'm not a hugely active person by nature, but over the past few months I've tried to focus myself to get out more; I walk to and from work every day, I walk everywhere I go around Oxford and London at weekends, and I try to fit in more exercise when I can. When I was unemployed I was trying to go running every day, and this definitely improved my mood! I'm still trying to fit it in around my job (which is wearing me out at the mo), studying, and everyday life. I'm not amazing at it hahaha...but I want to be!

3. Move away from negative people
Within the past year, a lot of negativity and drama has dipped in and out of my life through various people. I got to the point where I was just tired of putting up with it all, with myself and my friends getting hurt, and going along with these story lines people kept spreading - whether they were real or not. I realised the people who brought this to my life didn't bring anything else with them, and every time I was dragged back into the drama, it either made me feel unhappy, stressed, or anxious, and it wasn't needed at all. I decided to separate myself from them, and since I've done so, I have no worries or drama within my friendships and it's so much better! It's so important to surround yourself with the right people who care about you and have your best interests at heart. The photo below is of me and my best friend Annie last year at Christmas time; we just threw on a couple of Christmas jumpers, did some baking, and chilled at her house and it was so much fun! Times like that are always my favourite! I always love hanging out with her as we've known each other since we were 11 and she's always someone I can go to; definitely a keeper in my life! (if you ever read this Annie, hey STUUUARTTT - private joke)

4. Stand up for yourself
A year ago, I was someone who didn't like tension, and who usually hid from it when I could. I would do whatever was easiest to settle something, even if it ended up with a resolution I didn't really like. Now, however, I'm much happier and more confident in myself, and I've learnt to feel comfortable with putting my views forward and not necessarily accepting what's thrown at me if I don't like it. I feel more able to say when I've been hurt and to say it's not ok with me. Again, this has taken a huuuugely long time to get to this point, but it's really made me feel better in myself and has sorted any issues that might've grown bigger and made me truly unhappy had I left them be.

5. Relax; don't be hard on yourself
This one has been one of the harder things to accept. I'm one of those people who turns everything into an internal matter - so if I forget to do something, I beat myself up about it. This is a really common thing we're all capable of, but it's not healthy. So many things are out of control, so why blame ourselves if they don't happen or go wrong? I've learnt to give myself a break if I feel like rubbish and want a day in bed instead of reading for my masters; I'll catch up another and rethink my schedule. It's ok. It's so important to give ourselves a time out - i.e. I got back from a long day at work yesterday where I ended up working overtime; I'm supposed to be doing my reading for my research project proposal at the moment, but my feet were in pain, I was exhausted and worn out, and I just had no motivation, so I decided to run a bath instead and not stress about not reading things that I probably wasn't in any mindset to read anyways. In my mind, I wouldn't have done a good job, so it's no loss, and I'll figure it out when I'm less tired and more in the right frame of mind. Can't tell you how much this attitude has helped me de-stress!




Monday, 18 July 2016

Electric Daisy Carnival Festival 2016



Last weekend, I, alongside my best friend Harriet, my boyfriend Paddy, and his friend Rob, went to Electric Daisy Carnival, or EDC. For those who don't know, EDC as a company holds festivals across the globe showcasing some of the world's most famous electronic acts, and the UK version was held at the Milton Keynes Bowl, about an hour or so outside London.



Whilst I've not grown up so much with electronic music (being more into Rock and Pop) Paddy loves it and since we've been together, has got me into it to an extent - mainly Martin Garrix, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, and Avicii (to name a few), who were all performing this year. It turns out, Avicii is actually not going to be performing live anymore due to personal reasons I think, so this was probably our best and last chance to see him live; of course we had to go.

I'd never been to the festival before and neither had Harriet, but both of the boys had so we were in good hands. The weather wasn't amazing, but it didn't rain and it wasn't especially cold, so for England I'd call that a win. The venue was completely packed - the bowl holds up to 60,000 people - and there was so much going on.





There was the main stage, and 3 other tents to spread out the acts. The decorations were pretty cool, with decor made out of umbrellas and inflatable daisies and large pinwheels, as well as a load of different rides we were not going on! We mostly split up as the boys wanted to see more obscure acts we'd never heard of, and Harriet found some people she really liked so we went to see them instead.

First up was Sigma, who were amazing! I didn't know a whole lot of their stuff, but they tend to play a lot of remixes too so there were a definite few I was singing along too with Harriet. We got quite near the front at one point, which was really fun and we really enjoyed the whole set; the tent was full!





We wandered about for a bit after - got some more drinks including a Pimms each, of course - and generally just chilled. The weather was getting nicer by this point so it was actually just great to sit out on the grass and relax! We then went to see Martin Garrix on the main stage and just chilled on the side of the grass with a drink. He was pretty good!



After that, we went back to meet up with the boys, who were in one of the tents seeing a guy called John O'Callaghan. He wasn't bad, but not really my type of thing, nor Harriet's. So, back for another drink it was!


We all grabbed some food at a Mexican stall, which was sooooo good but so filling and my burrito completely dismantled itself. Worth it.

Next we headed to the main stage for the final 2 acts of the night.


Axwell /\ Ingrosso were up first. If you haven't heard of them, they were once part of Swedish House Mafia, who have since split up. I was really looking forward to seeing them because I love so many of their songs, and because they're old favourites from uni. However I have to say I was a little disappointed with their performance; it just didn't seem they were playing loads of songs that everyone really knew, and the crowd wasn't really going for it. Perhaps it was just an off day?! We still had fun dancing around and singing along though!




After them was AVICII. I'd wanted to see him for so long so I was so excited! So many of his songs are ones that bring back memories from uni, as well as reminding me of significant moments for Paddy and I, so it was really special.



It was such a good performance! Everyone knew the songs and were singing and dancing along, the lights were like a show in themselves, they were so atmospheric. It was unbelievable and the perfect way to blow off some steam after what had been a pretty hellish week!



Getting out was a bit of a nightmare though! We rushed back to the train station and got caught up in the humongous crowds to head back towards London. The stewards had to separate people into waves to let them down the stairs to the platform, it was so busy! Once we got onto the platform, we got really lucky as the train doors stopped right in front of us so we could get on and get a seat straight away...the train was rammed and we finally got back to London around 1am. Such a great day out though!
Friday, 8 July 2016

June Favourites | 2016


It's that time for another favourites...

1. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

I can't rave about this one enough; my skin was a bit dry earlier in the year but since using this, not only has it felt more moisturised, it looks healthier and it holds my makeup so much better! Whilst it was a little on the pricey side at £26 for 30ml, you only need to use a pea-size amount for each application, so it lasts for so long. I have mine in the colour correcting adjust version as my skin can go a bit red, and it's amazing; I swear it starts taking it down as soon as I put it on.


2. ASOS Avocuddle Pocket Vest & Short Pyjama set

(image taken from www.asos.com)
I am in love with this set and apparently, so is everyone else because it's now out of stock on ASOS! It's one of the comfiest pj sets I own, and since I'm a big avocado lover it suits me down to the ground. If it comes back into stock I highly recommend buying; or like me, keep looking on ASOS' nightwear range because they have some really really fun and gorgeous stuff on there!

3. Benefit Goof Broof Eyebrow Pencil


I got this free with a copy of ELLE magazine (the new Benefit range seems to be in freebies with loads of magazines at the mo so I thought, why not) and was really excited. SO many people have been raving about the new range and I can see why; the application with this pencil is so easy! It's perfect for filling in your eyebrows that recently I've been preferring it over my beloved Studio 10 eyebrow pencil. The slanted angle means it's easy to shape your brows too and make it look a bit more natural. This is making me very interested in looking into more of the range...

4. Pretty Little Liars


I've been OBSESSED with this show since the beginning and now it's on its 7th and possibly final season I am hooked once again. If you've not watched it, it's a little complicated at this stage of the game to explain, but basically, these girls keep getting a load of messages from someone called 'A' who is a murdering, manipulative, troublemaker. It's gripping! Watch it!

5. Tanya Bakes




I may be an amateur baker, but it's one of my all-time favourite hobbies. I was lucky enough to receive a signed copy of Tanya Burr's new book for my birthday and I'm in love! Not only do the recipes look incredible (I literally can't decide what to make first), the photos are beautiful, and there is literally something for everyone. I really love as well that she put themed recipes in there too - I've been searching for a yule log recipe I can use every year for aaaaages! :)

6. The Mindy Project


Another long-time fave, this show never fails to make me laugh. It's one of the few tv shows (including Friends, Scrubs, etc) where I can pretty much guarantee I will laugh and feel better about whatever is going on in my life. The season 4 finale has recently aired so I've been catching up and I just love it. Mindy says all the things we think but would never repeat and it's hilarious.

7. Topshop backpack


Can't say it's the most flattering picture of a backpack I've ever seen, but I'm not a professional photographer. I bought this from Topshop a few weeks back for around £35, and I use it every single day. It's perfect for work and travelling because it's got loads of space and lots of different compartments. There's one in black too but I preferred the grey!

8. Wings - HAERTS


I recently rediscovered this song and at the moment it's all I've been listening to! I wasn't such a fan at first as I didn't think it was really the music I go for, but having played it multiple times I'm hooked. Definitely a good one for a rubbishy day!
Thursday, 7 July 2016

Weeks 10,11, & 12 - The 16-week challenge

12 weeks down, 4 to go!

Well the title of this post says it all really. I've not kept up.

However: I am literally feeling so so so much better now my exams are over, my birthday is over, there is no more stress and finally I can relax again. WOOOOO! *all the celebration emojis*



Physical exercise-wise, I've slacked because I've had a million things on my mind and I've been working all day and revising all night so it's taken a bit of a backseat. I still walk to and from work every day so that's something I think, but definitely not where I should be at this point.

I know I won't be able to reach my goal as I hoped, but I'm actually ok with that :) this whole idea was to get me to become more conscious of what I was eating, how I was feeling in myself, and trying to do things to get me a bit healthier and feeling good. 9 times out of 10, it's worked. Any time I felt like rubbish was because of stress or illness - NOT because of working out/eating well etc; and that says a lot! I feel like I've learnt a lot, and now I've turned 23, it's a new start and I can get back on track again.



Mental health-wise, like I said, it's been stressful. What with exams and work, and getting ready for birthdays, and friends, and thinking about my dissertation, and family health problems - the last month or so has been pretty much a write-off. I've felt very emotional and crappy and low on and off but now I can tick off how much I've done and gotten through and it's a like a weight has been lifted. (Though not physical weight of course. Still gotta work on that.)


Point is, I'm happy 99.9% of the time and I'm enjoying it.I have 4 more weeks left of my challenge, which is slightly less than before my holiday, but I'll be making the most of it; I've learnt it's so important not to be hard on yourself when something doesn't happen, and I'm getting much better at it!

Life is on the up...



Monday, 4 July 2016

HUGE June Shopping Haul! Feat. ASOS, Space NK, Topshop, H&M...

I finally got paid a couple of weeks ago, and since I've been broke for a good few months, I figured now was the time to treat myself to some new things, so I went on a bit of a spree....(beware, this is a long post!)

+Space NK apothecary - Hourglass Ambient Light Palette

Get it here

It's sooooo beautiful I almost don't want to touch it at all. While this cost a small fortune from Space NK, it's selling so fast and I didn't want to miss it, as so so many people have been raving about it! I'm so so happy to have it and know I'll get so much use out of it, especially this summer!

+H&M:

(image taken from www.hm.com)
I bought this simple jersey striped top from H&M for about £7 which is a very good price. It's so comfortable and easy to wear, goes with everything...what I needed!


I really love this necklace - I wear a lot of rose gold jewellery but don't have a necklace so this was ideal, and only about £3.


I also picked up a black and white striped sleeveless blouse (I like my stripes) which goes with pretty much anything; can be worn to work, on a date, when out for drinks etc. Definitely see it going with a bold lip!

+Superdrug:

+Tanya Burr Cosmetics Nail Polish in Duvet Day


I absolutely adore this colour. I picked up the nail polish in +Superdrug when I was in London at the weekend, and it's the perfect colour to wear everyday! It really does make me think of lazy duvet days too (if that makes sense haha) and the quality is really good. Will be buying more!


+Zoella Beauty Fizz Bar and Le Fizz


I realise I've bought two of the same sort of product, but I love buying things for the bath and I couldn't resist these as I'd heard so much about them! 'Le Fizz' from the new collection caught my eye immediately with the beauuutiful packaging, and since I saw 'Fizz Bar' was still in stock - and going soon - I thought I'd might as well buy it as I love that collection.

+Topshop:

both images taken from www.topshop.com
Now that I finally had some money I had to indulge in a bit of Beyonce's line didn't I? I bought the Ivy Park grey bra and leggings for £22 and £25 each; I did think that was a little expensive for a bra but then it's actually good quality and soooo comfortable! I'm really looking forward to getting back into working out again so I can wear these haha - it makes such a difference when you love what you're wearing!

+MAC Cosmetics:


I popped into the MAC store in Covent Garden (partly to get out of the torrential rain, but also because I wanted to) and finally bought these very much-coveted lipliners in Whirl and Soar. I know most people know them already but I finally have them, and I'm very happy about it! The quality, as always, is amazing and the colours last a really long time; worth the money!

+Primark


When it comes to a spree you can't not go to Primark, or at least I can't. I love this top so much that I changed into it very soon after I bought it. You can't quite tell from the photo, but alongside the grey stripes, there are actually very line lines of sparkly rose gold, so I was sold instantly. I've worn it with the shoulders covered but it can be worn bardot style too. It was only about £7 and it's so comfortable - very happy with this find!


I'm obsessed with these cold shoulder tops which are everywhere at the moment, but this one I love in particular because of the boho-style embroidery and mini pom-poms around the hem. Again it's very comfy and light so perfect for the summer - this will be coming on holiday with me!

+ASOS
(all photos taken from www.asos.com)

Get it here
Get it here
I'm in the mindset to buy some more plain-ish tops and t-shirts nowadays, having lived in jumpers and thick coats during the autumn, winter, and most of the spring (we've not had brilliant weather have we?). I found these t-shirts by a brand called Daisy Street on ASOS who I've bought from before and really like; while the t-shirts are able to be worn with anything, they have a small print on each so they're not just your average white t-shirt. The quality is really good and they're only £13 each.

Get them here
Pyjamas with tapered legs are my favourite kind to wear because I find them so much more cosy and warm! I saw these deckchair-stripe style-pjs by ASOS and added them straight into my basket! They're a little bit more pricey at £26, but I don't think that's a reason not to buy them! Even the top is a little boxier than I would've liked, I'm still really happy with them and in a way, I hope we do have a proper English summer so I can wear them to keep warm...!

Get them here
I fell in love with these as soon as I saw them and had to have them. They're comfy, fun, and only £18. No regrets.

Get it here
I was a little hesitant about this dress; usually jersey = bodycon, and for those, like me, who aren't the slimmest, that's mostly a bit of a no-no. However I was pleasantly surprised by this dress! It's a shift dress that clings a little, but actually in the right places, and not in any problem areas, giving a smoother silhouette. I loved wearing this dress - and it's just £14 in the sale!

Get it here
Again, another cold shoulder top, I've been living in this recently because it's so comfy and can be pretty much worn anywhere! It's only £8 in the ASOS sale, which is frankly a bargain, and is made by a brand called Brave Soul, which I've only just discovered and really like. I feel this may be a bit of a staple in my wardrobe...

Get them here
I am like bigfoot I swear, so I sometimes need a wider foot when it comes to shoes. These flats by New Look at ASOS are some of my favourites I've bought in ages. I've seen lots of people with similar buckle-style or perhaps a moccasin-style flat, and I thought it would make a nice change to boots or trainers. I have to say, they're still going through the wearing-in process which is more painful than I'd like to admit, however, I love them so I'm persevering!

Get them here
Aren't they lovely? I don't know if it's a sub-conscious desire to have smaller feet or just to appear to, or maybe I just really like the shoe, but these caught my eye - and shoes like these don't normally. I really love the tan colour that goes with everything; but they also have an open feel to them, meaning for those with wider feet (like yours truly) it's not such an issue as we can adjust the laces to our comfort. Definitely a plus, and they're £32 in the sale.


Get it here

Get it here
It turns out, buying winter coats in the summer sale is actually a very good idea. So why it's taken me this long to realise, I have no idea haha! Though I practically lived in my Zara duffle-type-parka for the past couple of winters, it is quite heavy, and it was always the only coat I had, so I decided to invest in a couple more that would last and go with lots of things. The khaki cocoon coat suits me very well as I love wearing khaki, and the style is similar to lots of things I've worn before too that I really liked. It was only about £40 in the sale too, which is an excellent price for a good quality winter coat! The second, beige coat, is something I've wanted for a long time, as I feel beige really does go with everything and I like the longline look of this coat - plus I fancy myself as tall enough to fit into the ASOS tall category...I live in hope. Again, it was only £24 down from £75 in the sale which is an amazing find! It's really warm and cosy and the lapels don't go down too far either, so I keep cosier!


So that's it! God only knows how much money I've spent but it was soooo worth it! Hope you enjoyed reading! :)