I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety lately for various reasons, so to remind myself of the good things I have going on, I’ve decided to take part in a tag that I’ve seen doing the rounds lately – 50 Things That Make Me Happy. Making this list has actually helped me feel a bit better and shift my focus away from the negative, so I tag anyone who’s been feeling a bit down in the dumps lately!
So in no particular order, here are my 50 things…
1. My fiancé, Charles.
2. My pet rats, past and present.
3. Cooking, and trying out and inventing new recipes.
4. Spending time with my family.
5. Seeing my friends.
6. Going to gigs. I love that feeling of being in the same air space as my musical heroes, and hearing them sing my favourite songs live.
7. Taking photographs. Whether it’s a snapshot for Instagram, or a shoot with my DSLR, photography is a definite passion of mine.
8. Being outdoors. I try to get out as much as possible as it makes me far happier than being cooped up inside all day.
9. Theme Parks. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you get from a massive rollercoaster!
10. Eating out at my favourite restaurants.
11. Being appreciated at work. It’s always nice to hear some good feedback, either from a manager, a colleague, or a student.
12. Running for charity. I try to complete an event every year. This year I’m doing the Race for Life.
13. That feeling of buying and wearing new shoes and clothes.
14. Glastonbury. The town, not the festival. It’s a beautiful place.
15. Dublin. Another of my favourite places.
16. Watching wildlife. Squirrels, foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, everything. I especially have a thing for birds. My mum likens me to Bill Oddie…
17. Volunteering. I recently did some volunteering at the local wildlife hospital and I loved it.
18. Chocolate, cake, puddings, pastries, ice cream. All the sweet food.
19. Chilling with my favourite TV shows.
20. Mine and Charles’ takeaway and movie nights.
21. Getting home from work.
22. A good cup of tea.
23. Coca Cola from a cold glass bottle, especially on a hot day.
24. Finding a bargain. It makes getting something new feel that little bit sweeter!
25. Going to carboot sales. See above.
26. Books. The way they look, the way they feel, the way the smell, the stories within them.
27. Watching Grav3yardgirl videos.
28. Listening to my favourite music. In particular, Kate Bush, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo and Mike Oldfield take me to my happy place these days.
29. Fireworks. And bonfires. And Bonfire Night in general.
30. Halloween. It’s one of the best days of the year.
31. Going to the cinema.
32. Writing. Blogging, scribbling in my journal before bed, jotting down stories. Love it all.
33. Saving money for a house. I smile every time I see my savings account balance go up.
34. Weekend breakfasts. They usually consist of pain au chocolat, croissants, fruit toast, or something like that. Yum.
35. Storms. Thunder and lightning reminds me that I’m part of something big and powerful, and it’s amazing.
36. Walking and hiking.
37. Geocaching. It’s been a while since I last did any but it’s a lot of fun.
38. My mum’s cats.
39. Boxing Day. I like it more than Christmas Day and Boxing Day lunch is one of the best meals of the year.
40. My birthday.
41. Family and friends’ birthdays.
43. Foot and back rubs.
44. New Walk Museum in Leicester. It’s been one of my favourite places to go since I was a kid.
46. People showing that they care, with a gesture, a question, a smile etc.
47. Getting a good night’s sleep. They’re rare, but damn do I appreciate it when I get one.
48. Winning things. Competitions, games of Monopoly. S’all good.
49. Swimming in the sea.
50. Camping. Feeling the grass on my feet, the fresh smell of dew in the morning, watching the sun set, cooking breakfast on a camping stove. God I love it.
What are 50 things that make you happy?
On Valentine’s Day I turned 25, and though I felt unwell (for the third birthday in a row!), I had a great day. Charles treated me to a lovely breakfast in bed of Belgian chocolate waffles, hot tea, and fresh orange juice. We then went for a long walk around Bradgate Park with my family, and had lunch at a tea room, and in the evening we had a pizza party with amazing chocolate birthday cake!
I was lucky enough to receive lots of cards, a few Highcross and Amazon vouchers from friends and family, and some gorgeous gifts, so I thought I’d do a little haul post to show you some of what I got.
My mum gifted me this watch, and it’s absolutely stunning. I love the marcasite detail and I’ve been wearing it every day since I got it.
My two main presents from Charles were these Kate Bush themed necklaces. The first one is from her official website, and features lyrics from one of my favourite songs, Cloudbusting. I actually saw this when I went to see Kate in London last year, but couldn’t afford it at the time. I really wasn’t expecting to get it for my birthday, so was so happy when I opened it! The second necklace is made of silver and was personalised just for me. I love it.
Charles also got me this awesome Game of Thrones t shirt. I can’t wait to style it for an outfit post in the coming weeks!
My dad gave me a few bits for the house, my favourite of which is the Moroccan lamp. It’s made of metal and is lined with purple fabric, and gives off a lovely ambient glow. It now takes pride of place on my living room fireplace.
Much to my delight I get quite a few books every year, and this year was no different. Charles gave me ‘A First Book of Nature’, and ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by my space hero, Chris Hadfield. The rat training book was from an old school friend, and my sister gave me ‘Wreck This Journal’ and ‘The Pocket Scavenger’, both by Keri Smith. I can’t wait to start filling them in!
All of the above were parts of gifts from my old school friends, who I celebrated with last night at my favourite restaurant. There was a definite rat theme to their gifts this year!
And of course, no birthday haul would be complete without an abundance of chocolate!
Last but not least, my talented mum made me this super cute heart wreath. She crocheted the flowers herself, and decorated them with buttons. This now adorns my bedroom door and it looks right at home.
Yesterday was a very special day for me, as I went to see Kate Bush perform live – something I never thought I’d have the chance to do. I’ve been listening to Kate Bush’s music for as long as I can remember. At the age of three I would put on my mum’s Kate Bush records and dance around to them, and her music has always provided comfort to me during tough times, but also so much happiness. But considering that her first and last tour occurred eleven years before I was even born, and knowing her reservations about touring, I never even dreamed I’d get to hear her music live. So when it was announced earlier this year that she’d be doing a 22-date run at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, I couldn’t quite believe it, but I was incredibly excited. Luckily for me, I’ve been a member of Kate’s mailing list for years, which meant I received an access code to the fan ticket presale, and as soon as they went on sale I snapped up four tickets as quickly as I could. When the tickets eventually went on general sale they completely sold out in less than fifteen minutes, leaving many people disappointed, so I feel so lucky to have got them.
During the run up to the show the media was buzzing with news about Kate’s first live performance in 35 years, but I managed to avoid hearing much about the show, so it would remain a big surprise, and after weeks of building excitement, the day I got to see Kate Bush finally came around! I won’t say much about the show as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it was so much more than just a concert. Obviously there was music, but there was also a theme, spectacular theatre, film and props. It was magical, and the mood in the room was really positive and infectiously happy. Kate’s voice is still just as melodic and soul-touching as it always was, and she’s incredibly beautiful in every way. She’s a born performer and her stage presence is quite something, and the best part was that she clearly enjoyed every second of the show just as much as the audience did. I feel so privileged to have been in the same room as Kate Bush and to have heard some of my favourite songs performed live. It was honestly one of the best moments of my life and I’ll never forget it.
Turn on the TV, scroll through social media, or open any magazine or newspaper on any given day, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a negative statement about how someone looks. Bodies and appearances are being shamed left, right and centre, and quite frankly I’m sick of it. Too fat, too thin, too hairy, not enough hair, too much make up, not enough make up, bad fashion sense etc etc. Basically, the media tries to sell us a completely unattainable and contradictory standard of “perfection”, and trying to achieve this impossible look just leads to unhappiness and low self-esteem. So, when Penny of Lillies and Love launched her #bodyUNashamed project, I knew I had to take part.
Penny’s project is simple, and aims to promote positivity and body confidence in all of us, whilst trying to put an end to body shaming and bullying, and it starts with bloggers like myself. Everyone taking part has been paired with another blogger, and must highlight three things about that person that are great, before highlighting three things about themselves that they love. I’ve been paired with Jan Ennis of StayHappyBeaut, and as soon as I saw her Twitter feed I knew it would be easy to find three great things about her.
1. Jan’s bio states that she is “obsessed with the value of a positive mindset”, and encourages us all to “stay happy stay beautiful”. Such infectious positivity is a really wonderful thing to have, and is perfect for this project as it promotes happiness and confidence, which can be difficult to achieve when we’re constantly being bombarded with negativity. Well done Jan for being such a positive person, and for advocating positivity in the rest of us!
2. Jan also has really pretty eyes! They look so striking and kind in her Twitter profile picture, and her eye make up also looks fab.
3. Her hair is gorgeous. The colour, the length, the style, the way it falls – it just suits her so much, and she knows how to dress to make the most of it. I wish I could get mine to look so nice!
A few years ago, I would have struggled to find three things about myself that I love, but over the past few years, particularly since starting this blog, my self-confidence has grown, and I’m now really content with myself. So here are my three things…
1. I really like my eyes. They’re bright blue and a nice shape, and people always tell me they’re very expressive. They’re definitely my favourite thing about my face.
2. I’ve always been the “tall one” – at school I was taller than my friends and I’m one of the tallest people in my family, and it bothered me for years. I always felt like I looked the odd one out and hated all the “wow you’re tall!” comments I’d get, but recently I’ve been embracing my height. So what if I’m 5’10″? If I want to wear heels, I’ll wear heels! Admittedly I still have issues finding trousers and jeans to fit my 36″ inside leg, but at least I have the advantage of being able to see over everyone’s heads at the cinema/concerts/crowds!
3. I’m also quite proud of my current level of fitness. A few years ago I was slightly overweight, which in itself wasn’t a problem, but it was affecting my health. I have mild asthma, but it was made a lot worse by my excess weight, and I got out of breath very quickly. I worked hard to improve my diet and lifestyle, and have since lost weight, which has led to me becoming a lot healthier. My asthma is now pretty much non-existent, and I can do so much more than I used to be able to.
If you want to join in with Penny’s #bodyUNashamed project, then please do! Compliment people whenever you can. Smile at people in the street. Call people out for body shaming others. Make a stand to the media for doing the same. And most importantly, be proud of who you are! Everyone is unique and that’s what makes us beautiful, so recognise your positive attributes and show them to the world!
I thought it was about time I wrote a little post about why I haven’t been blogging as regularly lately. As you may or may not know, in January I graduated from university with a Master’s degree, and since then I have spent MONTHS applying for jobs and attending interviews, whilst at the same time also working at my old job. As I’m sure you can imagine, that took up quite a lot of my time, leaving very little room for planning and writing blog posts. However, yesterday, after my eleventh interview of the year, I was finally offered a full-time job that I think I’m going to love. The job will start in September and involves working with and supporting university students, and I’m really looking forward to it. Now that that area of my life is getting some structure again, I hope that means I will be able to add regular blogging back into my routine, so expect to see more from me in the not too distant future! I already have quite a few posts planned, featuring lots of fashion and food, so check back soon for those.
I’ve also just got back from a little trip away with my fiancé. We can’t really afford big foreign holidays at the minute, but we both love nature and walking and suchlike, so we decided to go to Malvern for a while so we could go walking in the hills. We both had a brilliant time and spent hours and hours hiking, which was incredibly tiring but also relaxing! Whilst we were there we stayed in a gorgeous little private house called Uplands, which was cheaper than a B&B or hotel, but a thousand times nicer. We’ll definitely be going back, and I highly recommend it to any couples who like their own space when they’re away!
Here are just a few photos from our trip…
This week, Monday 19th May until Sunday 25th May, is National Vegetarian Week. All around the country individuals, companies, educational establishments, and communities are taking the challenge to go vegetarian, and in the process are having fun discovering new foods, and learning how to adapt their everyday favourites into easy vegetarian alternatives. As a vegetarian myself, National Vegetarian Week is something that I completely advocate, and I hope some of you will be taking the challenge too!
I stopped eating meat, poultry, and food containing gelatine thirteen years ago when I was eleven years old, and a year later, aged twelve, I stopped eating fish. The thought of mass animal slaughter sickened me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to support it anymore, so I made the decision to go veggie. Luckily I didn’t find the transition too difficult, as my mum was very supportive, and to be honest I’d never liked meat anyway, so I didn’t (and still don’t) miss it at all. In fact, I disliked meat so much that I was a fairly fussy eater as a child, and becoming vegetarian actually broadened my horizons and encouraged me to try new foods, and ultimately improved my health.
Since then I haven’t looked back, and I now spend my days experimenting with new foods and recipe ideas. I use a lot of Quorn products in my cooking, and will often make traditional meat dishes with Quorn instead of meat, so I never feel like my options are limited. Halloumi cheese is also an excellent ingredient to use if you want a meaty texture, and is especially great in the summer when grilled or barbecued. Being vegetarian helps me save money too, as meat alternatives and soya products tend to be cheaper than meat, and you can get quite a few meals out of one packet/bag. A definite positive when you’re on a tight budget!
As those who follow me on Instagram will know, I post a lot of images of my vegetarian creations, so I thought I’d share a few with you, just in case you’re taking the veggie challenge and want a bit of inspiration.
Aubgergine, Potato and Chickpea Curry (Vegan) / Sunday Roast / Quorn Moussaka / Grilled Halloumi with Mint and Coriander Cous Cous, and Tomato and Chickpea Salad / Courgette, Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Creamy Pasta Bake / Jerk Quorn Chicken with Rice and Peas / Homemade Tomato, Basil and Olive Pizza with Salad / Christmas Dinner / Tempura Vegetables with Noodles and Sweet Chilli Dip
If you’re interested in getting involved with National Vegetarian Week, you can visit the official website here, where you can find out more, and download useful literature to help with your quest. You can also check out what local vegetarian events there are in your area. I’ll personally be visiting one of my favourite vegetarian cafés, who are offering a free dessert with every main course!
Also, keep an eye out later this week for another installment of my Vegetarian Eateries posts! In the mean time, you can check out Vegetarian Leicester: Lunch, for ideas of where to get a yummy vegetarian lunch in Leicester.
Will you be taking part in National Vegetarian Week? How are you doing so far? I’d love to hear your stories!
For me, blogging is so much more than just sitting down with my laptop and reeling something off in a few minutes. It involves planning, making notes when the moment strikes, drafting, taking and editing photos, organising my time, and of course, writing and publishing the final post! Over time I’ve noticed that I’ve hoarded quite a lot of stationery to aid these stages, so I thought I’d share with you my stationery essentials for the process of blogging.
As a writer, and an Academic Support Worker, I always carry notebooks and copious amounts of pens with me at all times, as I need them for my work. But I have special notebooks that are dedicated to just blogging. I carry a little one with me in my handbag so I can make notes when I’m inspired whilst out and about, and I use a bigger one at home to roughly draft post ideas, make lists of upcoming posts, and doodle nail art designs etc.
I use sticky notes a lot when I need to remind myself of something, such as sending invoices or replying to PR emails. My notebooks and bedside table are covered in them!
I love to have a highlighter or two handy so I can highlight important points in press releases. It just makes getting all the relevant information into a post that little bit easier!
After 3 years my laptop is well and truly on its way out, so just to be safe I like to back up my blog posts and photos on a USB stick. That way they’re portable too, so I can organise posts on someone else’s computer or laptop if needs be.
Not an essential, but I like to be organised, so I use these to keep press releases neatly together!
After all this planning and prepping, I like to settle down on the sofa with my laptop and a cheeky chocolate treat, and type away whilst I have something good on TV in the background.
What are your stationery must haves for blogging?
*This stationery was sent to me on behalf of Viking Direct for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
After two years of hard work, and juggling studying with a part-time job, yesterday I finally graduated from the University of Leicester with a postgraduate degree in Modern Literature! It’s been a long and, at times, difficult couple of years, but I am so happy that I can now officially call myself a Master of the Arts. And to make things even better, my fiancé graduated at the same time with the same degree, and because our surnames are alphabetically next to each other, we got to cross the stage one after the other! I was very nervous before the ceremony, which is odd considering I’d done it all before in 2011 in the same place, but in the end I really enjoyed the day and I’m so proud of my achievement.
Between them my family took hundreds of photographs, but after a hectic day I’m yet to sort through all of them, so for now I can only share a few. Hopefully I’ll have some better ones to add some time next week which actually show my outfit properly!
On the day I wore a beautiful textured floral dress from Dorothy Perkins, which I bought especially for the ceremony. We were told to wear ‘sombre colours’ but I didn’t want to look too drab, so I chose something with a nice print and teamed it with red lips and nails to match the colour of my hood.
Illamasqua Lipstick in ‘Snap’ / Ciaté Nail Varnish in ‘Dangerous Affair’
Excuse the pose on that one!
In the evening, my family, my fiancé, my fiancé’s family and I went out for a meal to celebrate the occasion. I wore the same dress as I did during my graduation, but I swapped my low New Look heels (I didn’t want to fall over on the stage!) for my new Kurt Geiger Sally Ankle Boots, my red lips for pink lips, and I also took my Zatchels Gothic Lace Saddle Bag out for a spin.
Also, I feel like MUA’s Pro-Base Makeup Fixing Mist needs a special mention here. I used the spray in the morning after applying my make up, and it did an amazing job at keeping it in place. I expected to have to reapply my make up before going out for the meal in the evening, but it still looked great, and did so right up until I removed it at 11pm! A real saviour on a long, busy day.
What did you wear to your graduation?
You may have noticed that my blog hasn’t been as busy as usual over the last few weeks and months. That’s because I have been locked away in a room since June with a pile of books and my laptop, researching, writing and editing my postgraduate dissertation. I have been studying for a Master’s degree in Modern Literature since October 2011, and tomorrow I will be handing in a 20,000 word dissertation which signals the end of my time at university! Obviously I’m relieved that the dissertation is done and dusted, but I’m also sad that, after nineteen years in education, it has now come to an end. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to graduating and being able to think about the future. I’m hoping to find a graduate job as soon as possible so I can start saving up for a house, and of course I’m going to be dedicating a lot more time and effort to blogging, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me!
But before all that, I need a little break, so on Tuesday my partner and I will be heading to Dublin for a few days. Seeing as I spent pretty much all summer cooped up inside, I can’t wait to get out and about doing stuff. We have quite a few things we want to do and see whilst we there, and I’ll be taking my camera, so expect to see a LOT of photos upon my return!
Have a great week everyone,
Evening everyone, I hope you’ve all been enjoying the Great British summer so far. I’m not usually a sun worshipper, but I’ve actually been really enjoying the hot weather this year… Probably because it’s been so long since we last had a bit of sun! Get ready for some good ol’ summer storms though (my favourite!), they’re on their way.
On a different note, I can’t quite believe it’s been more than a month since I last posted on here. I guess that just shows how busy I’ve been though, as I’m not usually one for abandoning my little blog. I’ve missed it, and I’ve missed you too! Lately my weekdays have been filled with the monotony of writing my postgraduate dissertation, which is twice as long as the undergraduate one I did two years ago. So as I’m sure you can understand, when considering the planning, supervisor meetings, intensive research and 20,000 word limit I have to reach by September, I’m left with very little free time for other forms of writing. I’m getting through it though, so hopefully I’ll be around a bit more in the near future, and things will definitely be back to normal in less than two months time.
It’s not all been hard work though, I’ve also been having a lot of weekend fun, some of which I’ll tell you about now…
30th June – Race for Life
At the end of June I ran the Race for Life in memory of my Grandad, with my sister, her best friend, and her best friend’s cousin. It was a fairly hot day and we were all expecting to walk most of it, but we surprised ourselves and ran around 4 kilometres, on and off, of the 5 kilometre distance, speed walking the rest. We all had a lot of fun and the atmosphere on the day was really lively and exciting. I managed to raise over £110 in total for Cancer Research UK, so a big thank you goes out to everyone who sponsored me.
13th July – Friend’s Wedding
Last weekend my partner and I went to our friend’s wedding reception, and it was lovely and quirky, and all outside. There was a vintage tea party in the afternoon, a curry buffet at night, pick n mix sweets to help yourself to, great music, sunny weather, huge garden games (I particularly enjoyed the big buzzer game) and brilliant company.
I didn’t get any good pictures of my outfit, but this is what I wore…
Cat Dress – H&M – £14.99
Clutch – Irregular Choice – £7.00 (from TK Maxx)
Black Suedette Shoe Boots – New Look – £15.99
20th July – Tramlines Festival
Yesterday, my dad, my partner and I headed up to Sheffield for the Tramlines Festival. The festival happens every year and is usually free, but it cost £6 this year which is still amazingly cheap. We went specifically to see two of our favourite bands – Amplifier and 65daysofstatic – but we also saw a few other bands which we enjoyed. The highlight of the day for me was 65daysofstatic’s Sleepwalk City installation at the Millennium Gallery, which involved a half hour live set accompanied by projected videos and surround sound. According to the Tramlines website, the installation explored ‘submersion, noise, and the collapse of everything’, and it was absolutely INCREDIBLE. Such an awe-inspiring experience that I’d love to repeat. Amplifier were as excellent as ever too, and they sang one of my favourite songs which is always a bonus.
Here are a couple of photos from the day that my dad took on his iPhone…
So that’s me! Busy, busy, but I have a backlog of products to review, a few Thrifty Finds to share with you and potentially a VIP event to attend, so keep an eye out for lots of exciting posts coming to Bewitchery soon.
What have you been doing with your summer so far?