Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I Forget Where We Are


Are you looking for the perfect autumnal 54 minute album to fill the void in you life - look no further! If you're not, then just listen to it and you'll find a whole is now filled that you didn't even know existed. So Mr Howard, Ben, has been a firm love of mine for a good length of time now. When his first album 'Every Kingdom' came out in 2011 I fell head over heels.

Now he's back with a brand-spanking new album, 'I Forget Where We Are'. Much like his previous album, this has just the right mixture of melancholy and positivity. It's perfect for studying, or for going on long autumnal walks crunching through the orange-tinged crispy leaves. But truly, it's perfect for any kind of time. My favourites, if I had to pick, would be: 'Rivers In Your Mouth', 'I Forget Where We Were', 'She Treats Me Well', 'Time Is Dancing', 'Evergreen', and 'End Of The Affair'. The whole album is so pretty though. Gahhh - I just love it far too much! It's literally been on repeat whilst I've been writing trying to write my assignment for uni. I think I would go as far to say that it's my soundtrack to autumn - it's love at first sight, so to speak.

Do you have an autumn soundtrack? If so, let me know!

Monday, 27 October 2014

The beauty in the broken

image source: http://becuo.com/broken-mirror-reflection
There's something beautiful about those things in the world that are broken, both in objects and people. It's effortless and delicate. It's almost magical how something so intrinsically designed and thought-out can just disintegrate right before our eyes.

A mirror, for example, lets us see all that is beautiful and ugly within ourselves and others. The object itself is nothing without us, it does not hold the beauty. As a piece of glass it is relatively irrelevant. When it shatters all the shards of glass disperse amongst the ground, the light reflecting off each individual segment sending a glittered reflection to every surface it greets.

It's much the same idea with people. There's something slightly breathtaking about breaking; it gives you a chance to rebuild yourself. You can learn from the things that sent you shattering and make the changes to ensure that they do not have the same effect on you again.

And just like trying to fix a mirror, you will never be the same again. But that's okay. You see, breaking does not mean defeat and you should never let this thought take over. Just think of the caterpillar, because just when it thought the world was over it became a butterfly.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Always remember how far you have come


I found this whilst procrastinating my assignment (again) on Pinterest this afternoon and it just hit me - metaphorically slapped me around the face if you will. I spend far too much time worrying about where I want to go in life, what I want to do, who I want to be. Instead of stressing about the future and how far I still have to go, why don't I admire how far I have come? 

Imagine it as if climbing a mountain - something you will never find me doing, but still. When you pause half way up to rest, you don't look around you and think "Gah, I'm not at the top yet and this view here is so unattractive". Instead, you'd probably recognise how far you have to go, but you would also look at how far you've come. You'd give yourself a big gee up, look around and take in the awe of the beauty surrounding you. Because if you'd have stayed at the bottom of the mountain you would have never seen the wonders you're taking in right at this very moment. If you hadn't taken your first steps up this mountain there would be no way of you reaching the top. You quite simply have to start somewhere, and then every step from there on out is an achievement in itself. As I've said many, many times - just keep taking those baby steps

Moving away from that beautiful (I'm far too modest, I know) analogy, in my life in general I have conquered so much and battled so many demons. And you know what, I'm still here and I am still fighting. With every step forward it gets easier and the view gets better and better. 

In reality, life is no mountain - more like a never ending treadmill on steep hill mode. There is no end point; we fight and fight until we forget that we are fighting and we just start living. And by that point we don't even realise that's what is happening. There's a difference between looking behind you to help you admire your current view, and simply walking with the shackles of the past tied around your ankles dragging you down. 

So when you think that you cannot keep going, just remember how far you have already come. Don't ever doubt your own strength or your determination. Life is whatever you allow it to be.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Billy and Me


I've done a few book reviews on Jemma In Words, all claiming that they are my favourite - truly they are. Some months ago now I did a mid-way review of Giovanna Fletchers second novel, 'You're the one that I want', which you can find here. I finished it soon after and loved it. I have been watching Giovanna's youtube channel and it became apparent that she was writing a christmas version of her debut novel 'Billy and Me'. I knew I had to read her debut and it was only a matter of time before I downloaded it on to my iBooks on my iPad. 

I downloaded this book on friday, and it's now Tuesday. To say I loved it is an understatement. It was incredible and I was hooked from the get-go. Without ruining it I'll try and give you a brief summary: 
It's about an ordinary girl who falls in love with a movie-star. Think of it almost as a modern day Notting Hill (coincidentally my favourite film in the world). It makes you laugh, cry and fills your heart with both sorrow and hope. It builds dreams, and shatters hopes and futures. 
I think that's as much as I want to say about what happens, I think the best thing about this book is that there are so many unexpected things - I actually squealed "Nooooo", on more than one occasion. 

For me to say that it's amazing is an understatement. It's enriching and nourishing. There is so much more that I could, and want to, say. But I won't. I will let you discover the story for yourself - it's breathtaking. I really hope you love it as much as I did - I'm sure that you will. 

What's been a favourite book of yours recently? 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Staying cosy this autumn

If you ask me what I think of when I hear the word 'autumn', I think of warm knitwear, comfortable clothes and layering. So today I went shopping and did a bit a lot of damage in H&M - I find that they have the best things for this time of year and it's not too expensive either. 

This is arguably my favourite thing and I feel like I'm going to wear it 99% of the time. It was only £14.99 and it's lovely and thick, cosy and the mustard colour is absolutely gorgeous. I originally tried on a medium size but it was far too big and baggy, so I ended up with a small (goodness knows how - I've haven't had a small in years), so I would definitely go at least one size smaller as it just makes it fit better and look even more snuggly. 

If I were going out then I would throw on my thick parka from Peacocks many moons ago - it's quick and easy, but just looks really perfect for this time of year.
Secondly I got this little pull-over jumper - I opted for the large size so that it was super relaxed and easy wearing. It was the most expensive at £19.99, but it was totally worth it and still not really that bad price-wise. It has a fleecy inside which honestly makes me feel as snug as a bug in a rug. Mmm. 
Finally I got this 3/4 sleeve top in a burgundy colour - it was £9.99 and is just perfect for layering and looks so flattering on. For something so simple it does wonders. I wore this with a chunky black cable knit scarf and a coccoon type cardigan from Dorothy Perkins a long time ago.


I am totally in love with everything and they're just some simple basics that are perfect for layering however you fancy. They are great for autumn and can be easily layered to take you through to winter and back around to early spring. Absolute gems if you ask me! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Hummingbird Bakery: Red Velvet Cupcakes


When I'm at uni I don't get chance to bake, and so whilst I was home this weekend I decided that I needed to get in the kitchen and cook/bake some good food. After scanning our recipe books for far longer than I needed (the usual life of the indecisive), I thought that I would have a go at these Red Velvet cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery's cook book.

Even though it took a while, it was definitely worth it and I would highly recommend it. So here's the recipe (with a few little extra hints that I found out the hard way):

ingredients :
(cake)
120g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
2 large eggs
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring (I would highly recommend using more than this as mine definitely don't have the distinctive red colour)
1tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1tsp salt
240ml buttermilk
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

(frosting)
100g unsalted butter
600g icing sugar
250g full fat cream cheese
things to decorate (I used pink edible glitter)

method :
(cake)
1. pre-heat oven to 190°C and line muffin tin with cases (it says it'll make 12-14 but somehow I managed to get 23, so I'd just play it by ear)
2. beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. 
3. add eggs one at a time, mixing between each one. 
4. in separate bowl mix together cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence, once combined add this to the mixture and mix. 
5. sift flour and salt in to separate bowl and add half to mixture, mix. 
6. add half of the buttermilk to mixture and stir in. 
7. add remainder of flour and mix, then add remaining buttermilk, ensuring mixture is well combined. 
8. in another bowl add the white wine vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, once combined add to mixture and stir. 
9. spoon batter in to cases (about 2/3's full) and pop in the oven for about 20mins - keep checking on it though as mine took closer to 30mins. You know they're cooked when they're springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
10. leave to cool in tins for about 10mins and then move to wire rack to cool completely. 

(frosting)
1. beat butter and icing sugar together in a bowl - I would recommend adding the icing sugar bit by bit as it is pretty messy. I added water to help combine mine together but honestly I would resist from doing this or if you do then use the smallest amount ever as I had a nightmare trying to get it thick enough after adding too much water. 
2. once all combined add the cream cheese and mix until all combined and evenly distributed. 
3. once cupcakes are totally cooled, cover them using the bluntest knife you can find and then add whatever decorations you want to. I had lots of cream cheese icing left over (due to the water 'incident') and so I put it in to a small container and put it in the freezer to defrost so that I can use it another time. 
4. (optional) after icing them I put my cakes in the fridge for a little while just to stop the frosting from running anywhere - you don't have to do this obviously, but I just think it's a great idea if the buttercream looks a little untrustworthy.

I could not recommend this recipe enough - the cakes are so light and springy, they're delicious. They're obviously not something to have everyday, but every other day should be okay, right? Let me know if you've tried this recipe, or if you have any others you think I'd enjoy.   

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The art of sleep

I'm writing this from my desk at 2.25am. I should be sleeping, but I'm not. Sleep is such a beautiful, natural thing - yet so hard to get right. As babies we learn to sleep, and as we grow we are taught of how important those hours with our head against the pillow truly are for our development.

I wish I had a good sleeping routine, really I do. I want to be able to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at around 8am feeling totally refreshed and ready to start my day. Does that ever happen? Not a chance. Even with all the good will and intentions in the world I just cannot seem to do it. In fact, I could not tell you the last time that I went to sleep before 12am.

Maybe it's all the distractions that i harbour within the confines of my bedroom. Should I try a technology ban and turn everything off at 10pm - go back to the good old days with a mug of decaffeinated tea and read page after page of a new book until I my eyes become weary. Then blow out the zen-like candles and cocoon myself in my floral printed duvet?

Everyone says how good sleep is for you, and I do not doubt them for a second. I have lost track of all the times I've said "I need to get my sleeping pattern sorted". Do I ever get around to it? Shock horror, I don't.

It's not even that my brain goes in to overdrive and I have thoughts racing around my head, because I really don't. I just have an aversion to early nights. It's like I'm programmed a little bit wonky, surely I just need some re-wiring though? A few early nights to get me in to a good habit.

I am prepared to do whatever it takes to actually fall asleep at a decent hour and not waking up with the realisation that in fact the whole morning has disappeared and it is now 1pm. Yes, that's happened on multiple occasions. Could it be that I'm a student? Possibly, yes. But in 1.5 years I will no longer be a student and will be entering the wide world. I'll have early starts and busy, filled days - 2.38am (currently) sleeps will not allow me to function well with a 7am start.

So body, mind, sleeping fairy - whichever it is that controls my inability to sleep. Buck your ideas up, because this just won't do.

Okay. Let's give this whole sleeping thing another shot for tonight shall we? It's not as if I have to be up at 7am anyway. Oh wait. I do. Terrific.