Friday, 23 December 2016 / Cambridge, UK

Pressure (At Christmas)

I haven't done a 'Let's Talk About...' post in a while now and I thought, just before Christmas, it would be the perfect time to remind everyone what the festive period is all about. So, why not grab a cuppa. relax and listen to me ramble about my thoughts on pressure?

I remember, one Christmas morning when I was probably around 13 years old (so crazily hormonal anyway) I had this horrible feeling all day like I wanted to cry and I had no idea why. I had received lovely presents, the Christmas dinner was cooking and we had family on their way over (in hindsight, it was a lovely day) but I just couldn't shake this overwhelming feeling that I wasn't having a good enough Christmas...

I look back on it now and I think I'd built this 'day' up so much in my head that nothing could live up to it. I put a considerable amount of pressure on this day being perfect and if I didn't feel ecstatically happy at every single point, in my head, I wasn't having a good Christmas.

Pressure is something I've always felt strongly which is strange because I grew up in a family that was pretty much completely pressure free... I was allowed to dress how I wanted, my parents didn't put any worth on what grades I got at school and I was just able to be whoever I wanted to be. So, why did I put pressure on myself?

I really don't know why perhaps it's just the way I am and I guess that's another blog post in itself. It did get me thinking, though, in the modern age we're living in, is it actually possible for us to just relax and not feel pressure from other people?

I'm sure a lot of you feel the pressure to be perfect, like me. Take Instagram, for example. I'll flick through Instagram and it just seems to be photo after photo of people having 'the best time' or flaunting their 'perfect bodies' whilst boasting about some top of the range makeup they've just bought.

A lot of us are guilty of it, though, including me. If I'm having a chilled day doing nothing, I'm not going to post a photo of my ugly beans on toast but in reality, that is what I'm doing. So, I wait and post something that looks aesthetically pleasing and skim over the boring, ugly parts of my life.

I understand everyone posts that are just beautifully glossed snapshots of quite their mundane realities. I do it too! So why do I still feel that pressure that I'm sure a lot of you all do too?

I think it's a similar thing to how I felt on that Christmas day. We put so much pressure on having the 'perfect' everything that if one thing is slightly out then we feel absolutely crap about ourselves...

This is where I need to stop. Join me if you want?

I know as well as the next person that no-one's life is perfect. So why on earth do I strive to achieve this beautiful, faultless existence? I have many faults and demons to battle against like everyone else but I have also been blessed with so many positive things in my life.

So, instead of making people feel rubbish about their lives by posting photos of 'how much we've been spoilt' (arghhh, I've always hated when people do that) why don't we use Christmas to use what we have got to make other people feel good. For example, I have spare time today so I'm going to my local soup kitchen to give homeless people a hot meal. All they want is something to keep them warm and energised. How can I eat my dinner on Christmas day knowing that I could have helped provide that for them and didn't?

Anyway, that's just an example of what you could do. I'm no angel. 

When I was young, I desperately wanted whatever the latest trend was to fit in with my friends. I craved that feeling of satisfaction which would soon fade when I realised that there was another thing everyone had that I wanted. Ir's this cycle that leads to us feeling more pressure. 

I wasn't allowed a lot of it, though (and, shock, horror, I'm still alive to tell the tale). We had a really sensible budget and it was up to us what we got within that budget but I was never 'spoilt' (I really hate that word, it makes my skin crawl even writing it)

I am honestly so grateful that I wasn't 'spoilt rotten' now because I've seen how the people that were have turned out. My parents did me a favour by not lavishing me with expensive things every time I asked for them and, actually, perhaps I don't feel as much pressure as the kids that did get everything they wanted.

I actually felt so grateful when I did get something special and the feeling of satisfaction lasted a lot longer because I was feeling true gratitude and happiness over what my parents gave me. There probably is some truth in the idea that people with little are happier because they are grateful with the small amount they do have.

I'm sorry, I've really rambled. To sum it all up, I urge people to step back and look at what they really do have this Christmas instead of focusing on what they want. There are so many people out there that want the simplest things like a hot meal, a roof over their head or even a loving family.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and really take the time to appreciate everything you have been blessed with. 


Monday, 12 December 2016

"The sky turned to a light, dusky purple..."

- The quote in the title is from J.K Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'. She is an author that can instantly capture me and hold my attention with her vivid images and strong characters. 

This weekend, Tom and I had our little Christmas together because we are both going to see our families for Christmas and they live pretty much opposite ends of the country!

We woke up Saturday morning and opened presents with my festive playlist on and then we watched Christmassy films and cooked a Christmas dinner, it was so nice!

On our 'Boxing Day' we had a wander around Nottingham. We wanted to have a little explore of parts we hadn't been to before so went past the castle and into a part of Nottingham called 'The Park'.

This photo diary is a few of the snaps we took whilst exploring! They are very 'wintery' shots and the sunset that even was beautiful.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Not My Gumdrop Buttons

Who doesn't like making gingerbread men? It was definitely one of my favourite things to bake when I was younger and it still is. I absolutely love anything gingerbread, taste or smell, it just reminds me of Christmas!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

I really do think that, as much as we don't want to, we all tend to judge people so quickly and don't sometimes bother to look deeper than our initial perceptions.

I generally do try to get to know someone first, before I make a snap judgement, and when I do slip up (and I definitely do) I always feel really disappointed in myself. This is especially true when that person acts or says something completely opposite to what I expected...

Anyway, that's the reason why I wanted to write this post! I want to give you 10 (very random) things that you probably wouldn't know about me unless you really looked past your initial perception and found out. So here goes...

1. I am the deepest thinker.

Honestly, if there was an award for over-thinker of the year I (or my mum, actually) would definitely win! I will always find something to worry about. Or, I will think so deeply that I will turn something that was perfectly fine into a worry! This is only ever resolved by talking to someone. Then I realise I was being stupid and never think about it again! (thanks, Tom and mum for listening to my rubbish).

2. I want to road trip around America.

This has always really appealed to me. I'm really not interested in the commercial side of America (New York, Florida etc.) but I really want to travel through the deep South of America and see some of the wondrous sights that you just can't get in the UK. It has just always really appealed to me! 

3. I could sing 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles' at 18 months old.

OK, so I had no choice in this. My family have been die-hard West Ham fans for generations and it was probably the first song I learnt! I was a really confident child and used to sing it for the family when we went to visit my great-grandad in Twickenham. Those were the days...  

4. I used to be really OCD about towels...

So, I went through this really weird phase of having to have the towels in the bathroom in a particular order before I went to bed. I couldn't sleep if I hadn't sorted them. Don't ask me why. It drove my mum mad. I grew out of it. The end. 

5. I met my boyfriend in a club.

I always said you couldn't meet a long-term boyfriend in a club. I was wrong. Tom and I met in a club in Nottingham. I didn't think it was going to go anywhere, I couldn't barely remember what he looked like before we went on our first date! Obviously, it worked and we're very happy a year later!

6. I can't be alone.

If I have more than two hours on my own I HATE it. I just need company. Maybe it's linked to the over-thinking I was talking about earlier because I just talk too much in my own head and need to share it with someone. Ha ha!

7. I hate sandwiches.

You're probably thinking 'What! How can you hate sandwiches?' and I guess it isn't strictly true. I'm very fussy with them. For most of my childhood I could only eat them if:
  • The sandwich was made by my mum or gran.
  • The sandwich had cheese in it.
  • The sandwich had no butter, mayonnaise or 'sloppy' stuff in it (occasionally Branston pickle).
  • The sandwich wasn't pre-made from a shop.
Basically, I would eat one type of sandwich made by my mum or gran and no-one else.

8. I got my only A in English.

I was a pain in the arse in school to say the least and I don't know how I got an A because I played up a lot for my English teacher of 4 years (sorry). I guess I'm just a natural at it. I have always loved English and writing stories so I achieved my only A in the subject (yay).

9. I have to be dead to take a day off sick.

Even if I am dead, I feel an over-whelming amount of guilt for taking the day off. It's weird, it's hereditary (my dad's the same) and I can't help it!

I even completed my shift at my little part time job, when I was 16, being sick throughout the day. Now, I have learnt to live with the guilt and don't push myself quite as much!  

10. I am really nosy.

My mum was constantly telling me to "stop staring" as a child and tom says it to me now. SORRY I am a starer. I'm intrigued by people. Their mannerisms, their appearance, their business (if they're speaking)

My creative writing tutor told us it's good practice for a writer to observe and ear-wig so I just use that as my excuse now!


Monday, 14 November 2016

The Best Home Comfort

Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie.
Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie.
It's November. I call it the 'middle month'. It's freezing and it seems like ages until I will be back for Christmas, eating my mum's home-cooked food and spending time with my family again.

So, if like me, you find November a dull time of the year whilst you wait in anticipation for the Christmas festivities to begin, this wholesome pie should bring a little bit of comfort to you. This pie feels like home wrapped in a warm pastry blanket... (am I selling it to you yet?)


Thursday, 27 October 2016 / Peterborough, Stamford PE9 3JY, UK

Home Was Calling

Shots of Tom at Burghley House.

This weekend, Tom and I got up at 6.30am (a time I am annoyingly used to now) to get an early train back home to see my family for my mum's birthday. I love going home because I actually appreciate being there now I live away. I really like just doing normal things like watching TV together, walking into town and visiting my gran. 

After learning how to use a camera properly I was so excited to practise and thought this weekend would be perfect! Here's a shot of the view from our flat in the morning: 

Nottingham skyline from our flat window.
Nottingham skyline from our flat window. 
We always get the best sunrises/sunsets and my iPhone camera can never capture how beautiful it looks so Tom and I enjoyed having a go on the Canon camera.

We had a smooth journey there and had leftover cheesecake for breakfast on the train (Tom tempted me to a few bites) and my dad picked us up from the station. I couldn't wait to get home and see my mum. I'm one of these weird people that enjoy giving presents to people more than receiving them.

I bought my mum the Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely perfume from Marks and Spencer, The Girl on the Train book, a mug I'd been eyeing up in Asda for weeks and some Thornton's chocolates!

Tom went to get his haircut at the Turkish Barbers in town (they do the best haircut) and then Tom, mum and I went to visit my gran and grandad. I think this is the longest time I'd gone without seeing my gran and I couldn't wait to get over there! My grandad enjoyed having his picture taken (nothing has changed there) and we caught up on everything I'd been doing in Nottingham.

My house is absolutely freezing the second it starts to get colder so after hours of me whinging my dad put the fire on (having a real fire was the best decision he's ever made)!

Our fireplace.
Our fireplace.
Our fireplace.
Our fireplace.
The next day, after Tom and dad had run 5k, we all got ready to go on a day out for mum's birthday. I was the longest to get ready as always, so when I'd finished we got in the car and drove about an hour up to Stamford in Lincolnshire.

We went to Isaac Newton's house which I had no clue was anywhere near us! It was really interesting and we actually saw the tree that dropped the apple on his head!

Isaac Newton's house.
Isaac Newton's house.
Isaac Newton's apple tree!
Isaac Newton's apple tree!
Practising my photography skills.
Practising my photography skills.
 After that, we went into Stamford to have a wander around the town and the shops. We also stopped and had a cream tea which was delicious! Tom and I really liked Stamford. It is a really nice little town and the buildings are all lovely.

We had about another hour to kill before we wanted to eat out so we went to Burghley House to just have a wander around the grounds.

Burghley House.
Burghley House.

Shots of Tom at Burghley House.
Shots of Tom at Burghley House.
We were so lucky to see lots of deer wandering around at the back of the grounds and I managed to get some lovely shots of them. They seemed to stay all together and we couldn't get too close as they ran away.

Little Bambi look-a-like.
Little Bambi look-a-like.
Deer ready to cross the path.
Deer ready to cross the path.
My beautiful mum had a lovely birthday. We finished the day with a meal out and went to visit family for the rest of the weekend. I really love going home and spending time with my family. I guess the next time will be Christmas which, I'm sure, will be here before we know it!

My beautiful mum enjoying her Birthday weekend.
My beautiful mum enjoying her Birthday weekend.


Monday, 24 October 2016 / 50 Shakespeare St, Nottingham NG1 4FQ, UK

University Q&A: Should I Go To University?

Deciding on whether to go to University or not may feel like the hardest and biggest decision you will ever make. Luckily (or unluckily) it won't be. I'll start by saying that University will always be an option so however pressured you feel to make a decision stop and really think what is best for you.

If you study A Levels, schools will generally push for the next step to be University. Whether this be because they genuinely do think you will thrive there or they want their statistics to look impressive, you don't have to do it because you think they want you to. I battled this throughout my A Level studies because I was pretty certain that I didn't want to go. My teachers definitely had my best interests at heart as my school wasn't academically pushy at all but at the time I just found it annoying. I was, however, very lucky in the fact that my parents are very relaxed and have always told me to do whatever makes me happy (as long as I work hard and to the best of my ability)

I did end up progressing straight into University and I made this decision when I received my A Level results, a month before University began. Although, I wouldn't advise this late decision at all and I wish I had listened more to my teachers. I had to rush to visit my chosen University and was very lucky that I was able to obtain the last room in the whole campus! This really was down to luck so if you are in two minds about going, definitely secure all the boring stuff first because you can always turn it down if you decide not to go. 

If you know for certain that you don't want to go don't be pressured into it. I am generally quite indecisive and impulsive so it was no surprise to my parents that after two years of saying 'I'm not going to University' I decided to go a month before. My sister, on the other hand, is completely opposite to me. She knew straight away that University wasn't for, this never changed and she hasn't gone to University. She entered full-time work after finishing her A Levels and absolutely loves it! She has met a group of brilliant friends and is working her way up without a degree.

So, what about if you do want to go? It sounds like the most exciting idea ever, you can't wait to get away and study a subject you love! Well, great! I went to University and had the best experience of my life. I met lifelong friends, my boyfriend and, as cliche as it sounds, I felt like I completely grew as a person. My outlook broadened and my aspirations widened. I guess I am a 'University Success Story'. Although finding a graduate job was a struggle at first, I am slowly finding my feet and understanding what career path I want to go down.

My advice is to do whatever you want to do. I know it can be hard to go against what your friends are doing or what your teachers and parents expect you to do but it is your life. If you're anything like me, you won't be able to do well at something you don't enjoy so do what you love! Thrive in whatever you want to do and enjoy it. University can drag if you don't want to be there and you could end up dropping out or not passing your course. On the other hand, you might never have even considered University. I was the first in my family to go to University and it was a new experience for all of us. As a child, I'd never even thought about it but I knew I wanted to learn more about my subject and the best way for me to do that was to go to University.

Whether you feel like you're letting people down by not going or even going, it is your life and your decision. If you end up enjoying whatever you decide to do, are kind to others and are a genuinely good person, what does it matter whether you went to University or not? I say, do whatever makes you happy and always remember University will always be an option. 

Please feel free to comment with your own experiences of deciding whether to go to University or not, I'd love to hear them!


Tuesday, 18 October 2016 / Nottingham, UK

October Favourites

I know what you're thinking, 'We're only half way through October!', but I already have so many things I'm loving this month that I couldn't wait to share them! From beauty to baking utensils, October has already given me so many favourite products. So, let's begin!

1. HP Pavilion Laptop
When I entered Year 10, all those years ago, my birthday present was a new laptop so I could use it to do my GCSE work (or not) on it. I was so happy with it as I'd never had one before and it's safe to say it did me proud. This was the month that I had to say goodbye to my trusty, cracked laptop that was held together by gaffa tape and welcome to my life a swanky new laptop, the HP Pavilion.

My Dad and I came to an agreement that we would go halves on it for this year's birthday present and I'm so happy I did!

Personally, I was more bothered about what it looked like and took great pleasure in learning that it came in my favourite colour for electricals, gold. (My dad is a technology whizz so researched all the boring parts).

I would really recommend this laptop. Not only does it look great but it's actually really worth the money (so my dad tells me). Hopefully, it lasts me as long as my old laptop, I'll report back in 7 years!

I think my dad found some crazily good deal at the time but here is a link to the laptop on PC World. 

HP Pavilion Laptop in Gold.
HP Pavilion Laptop in Gold.
2. Puma Sportswear
Since re-joining the gym (yay, go Liv) I thought it was time to give my workout clothes a refresh! I searched pretty much every website I could and for the look, quality and price decided on Puma for a lot of it. 

The item I've been loving the most this month is my new Puma sports bra in a Camo print. The fabric is so soft, light and fits beautifully. I'm also obsessed with the print as it really jazzes up my usually black attire. 

I really do think that Puma is underrated and this month, I am absolutely obsessed! I wonder how many things I'll buy before October is over...

I bought this sports bra in the sale from ASOS. They always have good deals on the brand, so click here to see the Puma range!

Puma workout bra.
Puma workout bra.
3. Dove 'Derma Spa Summer Revived' Gradual Tan

Now summer is over (booooo) I have had to turn to the tanning bottle to keep some kind of sun-kissed glow. I am a massive lover of a tan and, to be honest, summer is my favourite season so I have tried so many products to stay glowing.

Achieving a tan hasn't been simple for me, though. As I explained in my blog post about using natural oils, I have problem skin which has suddenly taken a strong disliking to fake tan.

After upsetting my skin time after time with my old tan I gave up using it. I was using a mousse which, I now know, just completely dried my skin out leaving sore eczema in its place.

I hated being pale so I decided to opt for a different consistency tan, hoping this would be the answer to my problems. It was! Although you have to build it for a strong colour, this tan gives me the even glow I want without causing a reaction!

This tan regularly goes on offer for half price in Boots and Asda! Click here for a link to it on Boots website.

Dove 'Derma Spa Summer Revived' Gradual Tan.
Dove 'Derma Spa Summer Revived' Gradual Tan.
4. Copper Baking Utensils
Conveniently (or not if you're trying to resist chocolate) I live next door to a big Asda which means I'm in there a lot. This month, I've started to collect some form of copper baking utensil each time I go in there!

As far as baking utensils go, they're very good and strong but it's the fact that they're copper that I really love! I think they look so much more expensive than they were and really effective in my kitchen (I leave them out because I love them so much)!

Here is the link to these lovely copper utensils. I'm sure once you start buying them you'll get as addicted as I have!

Copper Baking Utensils from Asda.
Copper Baking Utensils from Asda. 
5. New Look Nail Varnish
I was on the search for some muted nail varnishes in nude/pink shades and when I came across these in New Look, I fell in love instantly!

The colours are so nice and were exactly what I was looking for. They're a really nice consistency and don't take too long to dry! They seem to chip similarly to most nail varnish brands I have tried but I think this is just because I'm quite heavy handed. 

There was also a 3 for 2 offer across all makeup when I bought these, so it worked out around £7 for all three! Click here to see New Look's nail varnish range. 
New Look nail varnishes.
New Look nail varnishes.
6. Q&A a Day Journal 
My sister surprised me with this journal on my Graduation day in July so I've had it for a while but I felt I couldn't write about it until I'd actually kept up writing in it for a few months!

Basically, next to every date there is a question which you have to answer. You are supposed to fill this book out for 5 years so you can look back and compare your answers each year. I guess this is meant to show you how you have changed as a person and what things are important to you at that time.

I have absolutely loved filling them out and can't wait to be able to finish the book and go back and look at my answers in years to come!

I didn't buy the book but I'm guessing my sister would have got it from Amazon, here

Q&A a Day Journal.
Q&A a Day Journal. 
7. Clarks Pure Canadian Maple Syrup
So, as well as joining the gym I'm trying my hardest to cut down on my sugar intake and trying to eat natural food where I can. I think this will be a slow process if I want to go 100% clean in my eating because it is a massive change but I am willing to make some first steps now in achieving this. 

I have such a sweet tooth so I found myself getting more and more sweet cravings when I started cutting down on it. I wanted to find something satisfying but not artificial so I tried adding this pure maple syrup to some Greek yoghurt and cinnamon whenever I was craving. It worked a treat and tastes so nice! You only need a tiny bit so I can see this lasting me a while. 

Click here for a link to this yummy maple syrup!

Clarks Pure Canadian Maple Syrup.
Clarks Pure Canadian Maple Syrup.
8. NYX Liquid Lipsticks
Now, I had been trying to achieve the 'matt' lipstick look by just using lipliner for a long time. This does work, it looks great but it just doesn't last very long if you plan on eating or drinking anything in the day!

I first tried Kylie Jenner's liquid lipstick a few weeks ago and as much as I loved the finish and colour I found it extremely drying. Trying Kylie's range did kick-start my search for a much cheaper and less drying liquid lipstick. I'd heard lots of good things about NYX's and I wasn't disappointed. 

I thought that the finish was very similar to Kylie Jenner's lip kit but the feel on my lips was so much nicer! I'd say it have medium-strong staying power and I have found you can only wear one (two at a push) coat because, similar to Kylie's, it just flakes off and looks awful!

I tried the Liquid Suede and Lingerie and they both felt similar on my lips. If you want to try an inexpensive (I think better) liquid lipstick to Kylie Jenner's lip kit, look no further and click here!

NYX Liquid Lipstick.
NYX Liquid Lipstick.
October has already been such a brilliant month for finding my favourites! Please comment and let me know what you've been loving too as I'm always so interested in seeing what other people are finding great at the moment!

Also, don't hesitate to contact me for any more information on anything I've spoken about, I'd love to hear from you!

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