My ‘surf holiday’ essentials

On a whim I booked a holiday to go surfing in Portugal which is approaching imminently. As pay-day cometh very soon (the only day of the month where I raise my hands to the sun in quavering praise akin to Rafiki with a lion cub) I thought you all might like to know what is on my shopping list:

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1) Serena 50s Palm Tree Dress – currently on offer in Fat Face and perfect for those casual nights out in the summer sunshine
2) A good book – I’ve been recommended The Book Thief (helpfully) and Dr Seuss Green Eggs & Ham (unhelpfully) … any suggestions appreciated (!)
3) Topshop earrings – Love the colour pop of these earrings which will set off a tan perfectly
4) Relaxed prints – Adore this entire look… from Urban Outfitters
5) Cute, flat sandals – Like these ones from Nine West
6) A slogan tee – LOVE this from FCUK… makes me feel ‘naughty-cal’

Are you getting paid soon, or perhaps going on holiday? What are you planning on spending?

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How to revise (and not go crazy)

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From – http://zulaikhahatta.tumblr.com/page/6

It seems at the moment that everyone is studying. My little sister is currently in the middle of studying for her A-Levels; I wrote this mainly with her in mind. My best friend is also coming to the end of her degree, another studying for a law post-grad.

It is no little understatement that I hated revising. I generally hate any form or period of time where I’m trapped indoors so the self-enforced social exclusion killed me.

I’m also not very good at long periods of concentrated thought. My mind wonders, I doodle; half an hour later and I’ve drawn an exquisite picture of a dragon rather than my actual work. Unfortunately, pictures of dragons count for nothing in an actual exam (although my Physics AS level – which I spectacularly failed first time round – I gave up half way through and drew a sketch of the guy to my left – which got a big ‘beautiful’ in red pen) so I’m here to give you a couple of hard-earned pointers to help you concentrate and focus on revision. And most importantly, not go mental.

1) Rome wasn’t built in a day
Start early. Trust me.

2) But if you need to build Rome in a day…
We’ve all been there. The sheer Oh-My-God panic followed by despair and gibbering, head scratching and flailing.
Let it wash over you then stop. Yes, you should have started earlier – but no, you can’t invent the time machine. So sit down and write a clear plan of the key points you need to know or cover before your exam. Assign time for each slot. Then learn like a mother. At this point, procrastination isn’t an issue as you should be sufficiently terrified.

3) Look after yourself
When you’ve not seen the sun for 5 days straight there is a very high chance you feel & look like a sh*t sandwich. Don’t give into that feeling. Some days I used to wear nothing but pyjamas all day and eat yesterday’s Chinese takeaway – and then wonder why my concentration was shot. Thing is, if you’re knee deep in a pit of self loathing you will be worrying about the effect of said Chinese on your waistline rather than chemistry… No need to get glam, but make sure you’re scrubbed and clean every morning and dressed – so you wouldn’t feel ashamed if you had to run out and get milk.

4) Life doesn’t stop
Ok, don’t go on a huge bender every night. But if you know you’ve got a heavy one coming up, plan for it in your schedule. If you’re more hungover than a fraggle on crack you aren’t going to want to do calculations at 9am. Similarly don’t let socialising or the gym slip – you’ll need those endorphins for when you feel like textbooks are eating your soul.

5) Finally, it doesn’t really matter..
Honestly, it really doesn’t. As a World Class Olympian of worrying, I can honestly tell you that most of the things that keep you up at night aren’t actually that important. The things that really matter are your family and friends and your general well being – everything else is white noise. A good exam result might mean a easy career path – but a bad one can be character building. Do your best and accept that ‘what will be will be’ – no matter how badly or well it goes.

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Take a moment: May

viaabsolutelybeautifulthings

Click the jump for FEELINGS, EMOTIONS and all that other stuff, direct from the month of May…

When I first started writing I really didn’t want to blog about personal things if I’m totally honest, but they say writing is a form of exorcism for the mind. With that considered, I thought I’d write a monthly update (originally named Take A Moment by yours truely) as a catch-up on what has been going on. I’ve put these updates as ‘after the jump’ text – so if you don’t want to read them, you don’t have to.

If I cast my mind back a mere couple of months ago it seems phenomenal to see how far I’ve come and how much things have changed for me. I’m now solo, living in central London with new flatmates and a new job – but previously I was coupled up, shacked up and heading nowhere fast.

I don’t really want to write in great detail about my previous relationship – but although I miss the security, I am glad in a way that I had the strength to end it. However comforting something might be & however much you care about the person, if it saps your energy and makes you feel small & insignificant it probably isn’t a good thing. Illusion and time are powerful blinkers.

It has all served to make the last month sharply more real; like the optician switching the lenses at an eye test. “Which is clearer?” I can’t shake the fact that I’ve not really been living life properly and to the fullest for a long time. Everything feels more real; from a simple walk to work to choosing what I’ll have for dinner. A couple of days ago, I booked a holiday solo to Portugal to surf; something I never would have dreamed I’d have the confidence to do before.

Everyone has said to me – meet someone new, go dating, meet up with exes or old flames or people that nearly-where-but-never-happened – but to be honest the one thing that this has taught me is that isn’t what life is about. Which isn’t to say that boys are out of the equation either, but more to realise that partnering up with someone should not be a life goal, however pressurised I’ve felt into doing it by others in the past. I want to just be me – and if someone thinks I’m awesome enough to come along for the ride, I’m not going to tell them to go away just for the sake of it. (Isn’t it the case that people seem to fall into two camps – the omg-you’re-25-your-ovaries-are-wasting-away and men-are-the-devil-FEAR-THEM…)

I’m hurting too – friends have abandoned me (the perils of dating within a set social circle) and people I thought would stand by me have shown their true colours. After living with someone for two years, you are amazed to find how many buddies have dropped off the face of the earth and how few people have stuck by you. I don’t blame them. Wherever I go next, I will never let someone forceful deprive me of my friends or define who I am. I have good days and bad days – days where the hours roll by and I seem to be stuck in a constant inertia, and days where I’m genuinely happy & productive. I’m not going to lie, today hasn’t been the latter, but I feel immeasurably better after writing this.

So now is a time for healing, for licking wounds and patching up grazes; for looking after myself and making the best of myself. For the first time (in what feels like 5 years – two relationships back to back) it is time to actually figure out what it’s all about. Yes, it scares the bejesus out of me, but I hope it will be a marvellous adventure.

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Honey glazed Paprika sticky ribs

The weather in London has been absolutely beautiful over the weekend – but I’ve been somewhat of a homebody over the past couple of days, staying in with the windows open. I’m not sure what has come over me as I’m normally the outdoorsy type, but as we’ve got a balcony I’ve been making sure to eat all my dinners there.

Anyway, Saturday had rolled around and I found myself hankering for a good, old fashioned rib ‘n’ burger mashup. Without a to-hand American diner, this was the next best thing. This is a great little recipe if you have a barbeque on the go, but if not never fear – you can use a griddle pan or a wide-bottomed pan with good results too.

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Firstly buy some good quality pork ribs with lots of meat round the bones. I got a good deal on mine from Sainsburys, but if I had my time again I’d definitely walk down to my local butcher, The Ginger Pig.
Cover them with garlic salt, and leave to come to room temperature. If you can, sit them, packet still on, in a warm, shallow bottomed roasting tray full of hot water – this will soften the meat. Garlic salt can be grabbed at most supermarkets, but I’d advise you make your own – mash 2 cloves of garlic with rock salt and a little bit of olive oil.
Next for the cooking. Heat olive oil in the pan (or stoke the barbie) and coat the ribs with Paprika. Wait until the oil is smoking and then add the ribs. Give them the once over so the outside has caught, then turn down the heat.
Next, drizzle Agave Nectar onto your ribs. Coat one side first, allow to cook, then spin over and repeat. Use agave nectar if you can – it’s low GI and doesn’t burn like honey does – not such an issue for barbeque cooking, but I don’t want your kitchen smoked out!
Now leave the ribs to do their funky thing in the pan – or leave a man to, er, ‘man’ the barbeque (nothing pleases a man more than waving a pronged instrument at a smoking barbeque wearing a dodgy apron – TRUST)
Now, ribs aren’t the healthiest thing for your waistline, I’m not going to lie. So we’ll make it a bit better with a healthy salad.
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This is a thai-inspired fusion salad, with mango, rocket, chillis, cherry toms, cucumber and a healthy drizzle of lime juice. It’s zippy and HOT and the perfect partner to the fatty, honey-fied ribs.
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All you need to do now is lovingly plonk the ribs ontop of your salad and serve with a big glas of wine (or in my case, raspberry & cranberry juice as I’m off the booze)

What do you think of my first recipe? Would you like to see more on my blog?

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Montagne Jeunesse – Skin Heroes

Montagne Jeunesse Skin Heroes

When I was contacted by Neil from Montagne Jeunesse I simply could not say no to a cheeky review – as these products literally were the first ever beauty & skincare product I ever bought. I distinctly remember being 15 and going into Superdrug and being bowled over by the beautiful ladies with fruit on their faces and desperately wanting to be them (!) Now I’m a little older and wiser and keen to see how they measure up to more premium products.

This range are called their ‘Skin Heroes’ – their strapline “With great power comes great skin” was a little nod to my geeky side which made me laugh. They are suitable for veggies and use all natural ingredients. I actually had no idea of their green credentials which really impressed me!
1) Shine Control mask – The smell of this one is delicious. I had to stop myself from eating it (I doubt it would have been pleasant) my skin felt really taught afterwards and the little treatment moisturiser afterwards was lovely.
2) Breakout mask – This comes in a 2 step treatment of mask, then moisturiser. This is possibly my favourite of the bunch, as I really love a deep-cleansing mask that you can feel working. It also features one of the more daft pictures of the bunch – the girl looks thoroughly embarrassed to have flowers and leaves on her face!
3) Pore De-Clog strips – I prefer these to my normal Biore ones as they really do draw out the blackheads (not that I get them… ahem) I also am pleased about the minimum packaging involved – many brands would do well to learn from this!
4) Dry Skin mask – This really felt like it was hydrating my skin. Although I think if anything I suffer from combination skin, I reckon if you had dry, saharah desert skin this would be a gem
5) T-Zone Peel-Off – For me this was my least favourite. I could feel it working, but more to the point I really didn’t enjoy the whole peeley-skin thing (!) But if you don’t mind looking like a swamp monster, then you’ll probably really like it.

You can buy the Skin Heroes Montagne Jeunesse range in ASDA. They are very reasonably priced, and if I’m honest more sensible to buy than a huge bottle of premium gunk that you use once or twice and then is consigned to the back of the cupboard. I speak from experience!

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