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!


Friday, 14 October 2016

Mary Berry's Banana Loaf

It's best whilst it's still warm! (and yes, we do have mugs with our initials on)
It's best whilst it's still warm! (and yes, we do have mugs with our initials on)
It was Thursday when I felt like I could actually stop and breathe for the first time this week. Time has absolutely flown by and I haven't been able to do nearly as much in my personal time as I would have liked. This, unfortunately, meant being a bit lax on my healthy eating and exercise regime and left me with a bowl of over-ripe, half brown bananas.

If I'm honest, I've realised lately that I'm fussier with food than I thought I was. The thought of brown bananas does make me feel queasy but with brown bananas can come something beautiful... Banana loaf!


Monday, 10 October 2016 / Nottingham, UK

Why We Should Talk About Mental Health

talking about mental health

With it being World Mental Health day today, I thought I'd write a blog post about mental health. I want this to address this topic in a chatty, informal way. I'm giving you my opinion and I would love to hear yours too to get us all chatting about these issues.

With 75% of mental health problems starting by age 24, it seems to be young people that are hit the hardest with this issue. I’m sure you won't find it hard to think of someone you know who suffers from mental health issues straight away.  Whether it’s an acquaintance, a friend, or even yourself, it is such a common problem and one that needs addressing, quickly.

This isn't because we don't want to address it, I believe that it's due to lack of knowledge, resources and still that horrible stigma that surrounds the issue. It’s the high statistics that make me question why the topic of mental health is still so stigmatised. We don’t really like to talk about it. Lot's of people find it uncomfortable or even shameful to admit they have problems with their mental health even though so many people do suffer! 

Let's imagine you've spent months looking for a job and finally, you get invited along to an interview! You've waited so long to be given this chance and you can't mess it up. Are you going to tick the box that says you suffer with mental health issues, or just leave it empty?

Then there's the other side - admitting you're struggling. I understand that it’s hard to admit to having mental health concerns. What if people think you’re mad? Or worse, what if they think you’re just doing it for attention? These concerns, as much as they shouldn’t be, are worries that may go through a young person’s mind before they speak out. 

Mental health disorders aren’t like normal a normal illness. You can’t see them. You don’t always know who is suffering and it is sometimes hard to know how to help someone suffering. I would love for us all to be able to know exactly what to do or say if someone comes to us saying they're suffering from mental health issues but it is hard.

We are the young people that this is affecting. I think we all need to start making positive changes, no matter how big or small, to firstly understand mental health and secondly, de-stigmatise it. Below, I have devised a list of changes that we can all do to achieve this goal. They are things that could help others and 'self-help tips' if you are suffering yourself.

  • If you suspect or know your friend is suffering from mental health issues, take the time to ask how they are. Make it clear that you care and you are there to listen and help with anything they need.
  • Sometimes something so simple as smiling at someone can really brighten their day! We are all so busy in our own lives; thinking about what we’ve got to do that it is easy to just walk around with our heads down. So, next time you’re out and about, try and smile at somebody!
  • Attend a mindfulness walk. Most cities and some towns will have mindfulness walks where you are able to take a couple of hours from your day to really work on having a healthy mind.
  • If you have suffered and recovered from a mental health disorder, it might be nice to volunteer at one of your local mental health services. There are all sorts you could do from helping on fundraiser events to sitting down with a patient and having a chat one-on-one.
  • Start exercising. Not only will it help to have a healthy body but it is important for a healthy mind, too. Exercising releases endorphins into the brain which make you feel great! Also, if you’re feeling lonely, joining a fitness class is a great way to meet new people and make friends!

There are organisations that are trying their hardest to work upon solving issues surrounding mental health. I mean, today for example! #WorldMentalHealthDay is a brilliant way to get people talking about mental health. Also, if you are struggling with mental health issues, are supporting someone who is or suspect somebody may need help, these websites are excellent:
  1. Big White Wall
  2. It Gets Brighter
  3. Mind
  4. Student Minds
  5. Time to Change
Please feel free to comment with your opinion, personal story or question about mental health so we can all get talking about it sooner rather than later!


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Toffee Apple Cupcakes.

It’s Autumn. The weather is starting to get cooler, the leaves are turning brown and the Goose Fair has just arrived in Nottingham! As soon as it turns Autumn, I can’t wait to get my spiced candles out and have porridge with cinnamon again so it seemed the perfect time to bake some Toffee Apple Cupcakes.
This lovely recipe came from Love and Custard and it definitely didn’t fail to disappoint. Not only did my flat smell of cinnamon and toffee as soon as they went into the oven, they pretty much encapsulate Autumn in a cupcake! They are perfect to have on a cosy day, with a great film and a cup of tea.

For the apple cupcakes:

-          2 large Bramley cooking apples
-          3 tbsp caster sugar
-          1 tbsp water
-          1 tbsp caramel extract
-          115g unsalted butter (room temperature)
-          150g dark brown sugar
-          100g caster sugar
-          2 large eggs
-          225g plain flour
-          1 ½ tsp baking powder
-          1 ½ tsp cinnamon
-          ½ tsp salt

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