Friday, 28 April 2017

April Favourites


Golly gumdrops, how is it nearly May? Seriously? This year is speeeeding by, and I know that's what I/everyone says when they talk about monthly favourites, but I just can't get over it. April has been a fairly emotional month, lots of stress and health related stuff...HOWEVER. It has had lots of positives - I'm starting volunteering with a couple of mental health charities which I am SUPER excited about, I ate near my body weight in food over Easter, and I found a new area of London that I've fallen in love with. And I'm going on holiday soon, wooooohoooo

Here's the best bits of April...

Big Little Lies
This is a fairly new show that I actually finished at the start of April - it's amazing. It's based on the book by Liane Moriarty, but set in Monterey, in California, where a group of mums are part of a community full of rumours, scandal and murder. I've not read the book but now I want to! It's got pretty much an all-star cast, and Reese Witherspoon is particularly amazing. It's even got the guy from Revenge in it which I did not see coming?! Basically the whole show is so addictive, the music is insane (google the soundtrack or find it on Spotify as it's SO good), and now I just want to move to the California coast. Be prepared to want pretty much every house.


Girlboss
I'm hooked on this. The show is based on the book #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso (i.e. Nasty Gal Vintage) and the brilliant Britt Robertston plays Sophia who is all the cool I wish I was but at the same time love to hate because she's pretty mean. The fashion is in-cred-ible, and now I'm seriously thinking about whether or not I want to get a fringe and channel the look that 5-year old me rocked in the 90s. I swear this show is gonna fill up my quote bank because it's packed with one liners that just get me. Watch watch WATCH.


We Were On a Break - Lindsey Kelk
I've not finished this yet, but I'm very much enjoying it. Lindsey Kelk is one of my favourite writers, because I find her books so uplifting and happy, even when things are rubbish. Pretty much the entirety of the 'I Heart' series were my comfort blanket when I was travelling around the States, and you can definitely count on her for a good girly read. So far, this is no exception and I am thoroughly enjoying what's happening, as well as the classic Friends reference in the title. It's about a couple called Liv and Adam who are basically meant to be getting married but EVERYTHING is preventing them because they don't know how each other are feeling and aren't speaking properly. Frustrating but oh so reflective of life, isn't it?

Pretty Little Liars
MY FAVOURITE IS FINALLY BACK! And in about 7-8 weeks now it'll be gone for good! Which is very sad but now that I have Netflix, I can enjoy forever mwahaha. And then when Netflix eventually removes it in years to come, I shall buy the box sets and rewatch it all and work out how A was A the whole time and I just didn't get it the first time round. At this point, I genuinely have no ideas as to who it'll be, but if this fan theory about AD being Aria is true, I will not be happy. #ezriaforever


Little Thoughts Blog
I came across this wonderful blog fairly recently, and it's so bloomin' refreshing to see people talk about mental health in such a welcome, open light. I know there's a growing MH community online, which is amazing and one day I hope to be part of it, but Hannah's blog is so inspiring to read. She runs a Twitter chat called #talkMH and I need to get involved ASAP because it's so nice to be able to speak to people who just get it without a lot of explanation! Anyways, check out her blog at http://www.littlethoughtsblog.com - it's really useful particularly if you don't know a lot about some or all of mental health conditions and want to know more! I really love how honest she is about what she goes through, and as cringe as it might sound, as soon as I started reading, it reminded me of how I'm a little less alone in this.

Creme Egg Brownies
I know everyone and their mothers go on and on and on about these every Easter, but there's a reason why, and that's because they are indescribably good. I made some for my family for the occasion, and even my brother (who doesn't have a massive sweet tooth) enjoyed them, so that was very heartening and happy and they went down an absolute treat, if I do say so myself. I followed the recipe from Good Housekeeping which you can find here if you feel so inclined.


I've clearly spent a lot of time online/watching tv this month huh?

M x
Thursday, 27 April 2017

Charmed by Chicago


One of my favourite cities in the whole wide world, Chicago. The home of the utter joy that is deep dish pizza, several sports teams that Paddy and I have now pledged allegiance to, and probably the only other city in the USA (bar New York) that felt like it could one day be called home. I love this place.

The windy city was our final stop on the wonderful American holiday, and we went out with a bang - literally, because we saw the final night of the summer fireworks over Navy Pier whilst we were there, on a boat. (If you're there in the summer, I recommend you do this as it's the best view of them over the city!)

We travelled to Chicago via a Greyhound bus from Toronto, with a stop in Detroit. Do not do this. It is not worth the money! It was a 6 hour journey which then got delayed for another 4 or so hours due to going through customs at the border, plus a delay at the Greyhound depot in Detroit. If you're doing this route, I'd definitely suggest a flight or even a train instead as it'll be MUCH more comfortable.

We stayed in an Airbnb in the New East Side area of the city, which was just a short walk from Millennium Park. It was honestly one of the best views I could've asked for, and it was so close to loads of attractions in the city. I'm not sure exactly how much it was, but it didn't come cheap! We were lucky enough to stay in a condo, which had access to a gym, a rooftop pool, a room with hot tubs and tvs....ahhhh it was amazing!

We visited Millennium Park and saw the Bean - which is a famous piece of sculpture for those who don't know - as well as walking through downtown and going up the John Hancock tower. We decided to go up for drinks, as this meant you could get a view from higher up without having to pay for entry, which you would if you just wanted to take a tour. The drinks were cheaper than a ticket would've been, so it actually worked out better money wise! I'd really recommend this for great views of the city. We also visited the beach while we were there because it was SO hot - how often can you do this in London?! I really loved how close it was but still being in a big city; and there are several beaches! It's a really lovely view over Lake Michigan.

You can't not go to Chicago and not try the pizza. I can't even begin to explain how good it was. We went to a place called Giordanos (they have restaurants dotted around the city) and it was honestly probably the best pizza I've EVER had. Not even kidding. We went back twice, unashamedly. If you're heading to Chicago, GO THERE BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!

Something we didn't have time to do but would definitely try to fit in if we ever come back, would be to take an architecture tour of the city. It's really quite amazing when you see all the beautiful buildings everywhere, and we've heard that the tour is worthwhile. You can go by boat as the river runs through the main city, meaning you get a good view everywhere. We also tried to get to see a NFL or a baseball game, but annoyingly the only time a game was on was literally when we were flying home! :( next time!

I fell in love with this city and it was one of the highlights of my entire travelling trip. See for yourself...
























Sunday, 16 April 2017

Why distance between friends can be for the best.


I have purposefully put distance between myself and some friends. Likewise, I've also had distance put between myself and other friends. Neither side of it is fun or easy, but sometimes it's necessary, and sometimes, it can be a blessing in disguise.

When I was 10, I was friends with a group of girls and we were all choosing which secondary schools we were going to go to. They all chose the local school that most people from my primary school attend, but I was going to a different school a bit further away. Suddenly, they started leaving me out. I wasn't invited to friends' houses, I had to sit on different tables; I wasn't part of that friendship group anymore. And even now, I can't underpin why, but I've just assumed over the years that it was because I was going to a different school. I remember thinking 'what's going on?' and 'why am I not included anymore?' I didn't get what I'd done - and I assumed I had done something wrong. I came home from school really upset, as if the fact that I was leaving friends I knew to go to another school wasn't hard enough, those friends didn't even want me anymore. We left school barely having anything to do with each other.

When I was about 15 or so, I happened to come across those same girls on social media again. Being still unsure of what had really happened, I decided to reach out - just to ask how they were, all very positive and no resentment etc. It was fine, really; I even ended up meeting up with one of them, before we went to meet some people from a boys' school we knew. It wasn't until I was on my way home from that meeting that it finally clicked: that girl still didn't really show any feeling towards me; she didn't care if I had been there or not, she just wanted to see the boys. She was distant and passive, and she left me to get a lift home while I waited for the bus (we don't live far from each other). I finally realised, that what had happened had been such a blessing, and we've not spoken since. I don't feel any loss now, looking back on it. What happened, happened. It was for the best, though I didn't realise it at the time. I spent so much time and energy getting upset over someone who has zero relevance in my life now. One of her family members still asks about what I'm doing when my gran goes shopping though, which I find quite funny haha..!

Another friend and I were best friends throughout school. We used to talk about our future weddings and how we'd be bridesmaids for each other, and what we would wear, and what our first songs would be. Now she's getting married and I'm not invited. I honestly don't resent her or feel negatively towards her at all - it's just what happens sometimes in life. I wish her the best, but honestly, I'd feel out of place there even if I had been invited. It's been too long with too little contact. Sometimes, you do grow apart and you change, because you grow up, and you realise what you once had in common no longer exists.


But, I've also been that person who has distanced herself from others, for various reasons, and let me tell you - it feels just as shit to be that person as it does to be the one on the receiving end. I don't like doing it. A few years ago, when I was university, I distanced myself from a very close friend because I couldn't cope anymore. She was living her life and I was living mine, and I found out she had told other friends things I'd told her in confidence. Had I been in the best of states at that time (I was dealing with a very very very bad and very long episode of mental illness) I might've dealt with it better, but I decided to keep my space and stay away. This obviously upset her a lot, and I really didn't like it either. We finally came to heads about it and both of us walked away upset. We've not really spoken since, but I honestly don't have any negative feelings towards her at all. It was a bad time for us both, and maybe had things been different, it might not have worked out the way it did, I don't know.

The point I'm trying to make is that it can feel awful to do that to someone. It gave me so much anxiety, and I beat myself up about it for a long time; sometimes, I still do now. But I had to put my feelings and my mental health first, because I just couldn't keep going with it the way it was: there wasn't the same trust anymore, and I became paranoid about who I could trust with sensitive issues (to me, anyways) that I wasn't dealing with. She has since had a lot going on and she's been through a lot - I don't resent or hate or dislike her at all; I think she's made a lot of brave choices since then, and maybe one day she'll understand why I had to walk away.

On the other hand, there are some people who I've distanced myself from, and it feels bloody brilliant. These people used to make me feel so shit about myself, and since I stopped engaging with them, my mood has been better, my self-esteem has had a boost, and frankly, I'm just much happier. They made drama out of every. little. thing and good god, it was draining. These were the kind of people who loved to stir shit up. They would get involved in relationships and say one thing to one, and another thing to another. They would hurt people they said were friends, all because they thought it was 'banter' or 'funny'.

It's not fucking funny, it's hurtful. And after a while I got so fed up with them not only hurting me, but also people I cared about, so I decided I was done with that 'friendship'. I realise now they weren't really friends, because real friends don't go out of their way to intentionally hurt someone. I left, because really, why on earth would you stay around someone who literally does not care about your feelings and your wellbeing?

Again, it's still far easier said than done, and that situation also gave me a lot of anxiety and made me question what I was doing at times, though mainly because they put up a fuss. But now that it's pretty much done, I have no regrets, and I know what I did has been the best decision. It is a shame, but if they learn from it, then that's great, and I really hope they do.

It happens to us all, no matter how old or young we are. It hurts, and it feels strange and horrible and awkward and uncomfortable, but I think everything happens for a reason. And no matter if you're the distancer or distancee, if it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be. You never know, maybe it's just bad timing. But frankly, I don't want to be around anyone who doesn't have my best interests at heart.

M x
Thursday, 13 April 2017

Holiday Outfit Wish List | Mykonos 2017


Next month, Paddy and I are off on holiday to Mykonos to celebrate our 5 year anniversary and I am in dire need of a revamp in the wardrobe department. So, for as much my need than anyone else's, I've attempted to make a few inspo boards to see what's out there and remind myself of what I've seen - so I don't go spend far more than necessary...!

I'm really loving the romantic look that's available in stores at the mo - lots of pinks and blushes, mesh, flowy style (she says, like I have any expertise on the matter) as well as the trend of embroidery that's just everywhere. As I'm still studying and paying off my fees, I'm on a budget, so I've selected 3 stores - Primark, Matalan and H&M - that have affordable prices (with a couple of treats) and really great items that I've set my eye on!

H&M


1. Embroidered skirt £79.99 2. Silver skirt £19.99 3. Pink mules £24.99 4. Silver pleated midi skirt £34.99 5. Floral playsuit £19.99 6. Polka dot slip midi dress £17.99 7. Red patterned headband £4.99 8. Cream embroidered dress £34.99

Matalan


1. Embroidered pleated shorts £14 2. Embroidered trim shorts £12 3. Tiered denim dress £12 4. Tie-dye shorts £10 5. Tile printed shorts £8 6. Khaki viscose shorts £10 7. Lattice sunglasses £6 8. Burgundy slingback mules £10

Primark


1. Mermaid tie-dye headband £2 2. Set of chokers £3 3. Palm tree print shorts £12 4. Embroidered mules £6 5. Tie-dye playsuit £8 6. Leaf print playsuit £8 7. Blush frill sleeved mesh dress £13 8. Grey spotted mesh midi skirt £10 9. Embroidered shorts £8 10. Earring pack £3

I'm SO excited to go away - it's sorely needed at the moment - and I hear Mykonos is beautiful. It's actually my first time going to Greece and I cannot waittttt!

M x

[N.B. This post is not sponsored. All items of clothing and accessories are taken from the retail store's website.]
Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Quick Bites: Tina, We Salute You, Stratford, London

It's not every day that you stumble across the perfect brunch spot, in the sunshine, in 25C weather. At least not in the UK.

A spontaneous and brilliant decision to go for brunch on Saturday by yours truly led Paddy to find this truly amazing little place in the East Village in Stratford - Tina, We Salute You. It turns out they have another branch in Camden (so I'll have to go find that) if you're more North London based, but since we seem to end up in East London a fair bit nowadays, we're enjoying exploring what's more local.

Anyways, Paddy found this great place through the power of Google, so off we went, through the Olympic Park, with me trying to ignore the beginnings of blisters on my feet. The cafe is located right on the edge of the East Village, with views over the park, and just a stone's throw away from Stratford International and the beast that is Westfield Shopping Mall.

Right, onto the good stuff that is the FOOD. Given we hadn't had breakfast and our bellies were empty, I took this as a good opportunity to devour more than one course. I chose an iced coffee, a salmon and cream cheese beigel (note: I thought they'd just spelt bagel wrong on the menu; turns out, it's not a bagel. It's like a crusty bread roll cut in half and toasted. Still glorious) and then American-style pancakes with fruit coulis for after. Of course I did not miss the opportunity to quote Joey Tribbiani when it came down to the coulis (#friendsfan). Paddy went for an orange juice and poached egg and avocado on sourdough bread, and with a side of toast and marmite, and occasionally helped out with the pancakes because my eyes were ever so slightly bigger than my belly.

IT. WAS. WONDERFUL.

The food is delicious, the staff were lovely, the prices aren't awful...and it was just the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday. We FOR SURE will be back.










M x
Thursday, 6 April 2017

13 Reasons Why - My Thoughts


If you've not heard of the new show on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why, you need to watch it.

It's a series about a girl called Hannah Baker, who commits suicide. She leaves behind a set of tapes detailing the 13 reasons why she decided to kill herself. The series focuses on her friend, Clay Jensen, as he goes through the tapes one by one learning what really happened to Hannah.



It's a really poignant and moving series; I watched it all in about 3 days, and I had to take breaks throughout just to get a breather from the story. It is quite intense. But then again, mental illnesses can be intense and difficult and hard to get through.

The main thing I think about the series is how important it is that it has been made, and how important it is to watch. It is very rare to have a series that is centered completely around mental illness, without portraying it as something 'scary' or 'negative' or 'dangerous'. It's great that the series now exists, and I think this shows the shift in perspectives around mental health in general. It's about time that someone focused purely on mental health and went into detail about it, showing the world really what it's like and how easy it is to forget that someone might be going through something unknown.


I liked that it showed all the different perspectives surrounding suicide - from the people who think it's for attention, to those who are angry and frustrated, and to those who are simply devastated. Even if you're someone who thinks suicide is selfish and wrong, I think the series will be able to help people to understand how difficult things can be and how hard life can be for someone to think about taking their own life. It does not support suicide, but it shows a completely different side to it that I don't think any show has shown before.

I can't say I 'enjoyed' watching it, but I couldn't not watch. As someone who has self-harmed and had suicidal tendencies in the past, and come through that too, I wanted to see what the show had to say, and how everything was portrayed. I think it's brilliant, to be honest. It's real; it shows how quickly lots of little things do build up and how, together, they can have such a huge impact on a person's life. It demonstrates how easy it is to pass these by as an outsider; how easy it is to assume that everything is fine, just because someone isn't showing it or talking about it. And that's exactly what it's like with mental health, in my experience: you keep things to yourself. In my case, I did because I didn't know how to make someone understand what I was going through without sounding ridiculous - I didn't want to hear the standard 'get over it' 'it'll get better' or 'that's life, I'm afraid' phrases that a lot of people throw around. I didn't want to be a burden, nor for anyone to see me differently, or even judge me.


Having said all this, it really can be triggering. I found the final episode to be the hardest to watch, as that is the one where everything comes to an end, and the story catches up with the present day. It shows graphic depictions of suicide, and I won't lie, that is hard to watch. Not because it's scary or gross or whatever, but I found it hard because I saw myself when I watched it, and honestly, I cried buckets and buckets and felt so bloody happy and grateful that I didn't give up on myself, but that's a personal thing. It's not an easy watch by any means, but I think it's important to get that other level of understanding that the media often overlooks. I am no mental health professional, but my personal feeling is that if you are struggling at the moment and are watching it/want to watch it - take regular breaks and don't rush. I found it helped to watch a couple of episodes and then go do something else completely unrelated.


The acting is amazing; Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah, frankly deserves some sort of award. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to portray her character, but I think she did it really well and she was real and upfront about the experience. Dylan Minnette plays Clay, who is fantastic and gets it completely right. I also thought Kate Walsh and Brian D'Arcy James, who play Hannah's parents, were excellent.

All I can is: watch it, take your time, and remember the message.

M x