My most recent reads – Spring 2019

Not quite sure if it really means anything, or actually push me to read more, but I’ve recently updated my GoodReads 2019 reading challenge to try and read 11 books this whole year! 🎉

Obviously, I don’t have the highest expectations of myself, but I thought it was realistic considering half of my year has been finishing University. The GoodReads reading challenge option is really useful as it shows you the percentage you have completed of your ‘challenge’, if you are any books ahead or behind schedule, as well as some recommendations based on what books you’ve managed to read! Have a go at starting your own reading challenge here. They also encourage you to re-read your favourites (still counts as a read) and use audiobooks if that’s what you prefer. 🎧

So what books have I read so far in 2019? Well I won’t bore you with every single one (well there’s only 5 so far, but still), so I thought I’d quickly share the most recent 3 I have finished as well as give you a quick review!

Book # 1 – Pure by Rose Cartwright

I first heard about Rose Cartwright and her OCD story through an article she wrote for The Guardian. Dealing with a recent diagnosis of OCD (a story I may go into another time when I feel more comfortable) myself, I thought picking up her book would be a good idea to get somebody else’s personal insight into living with the disorder and it’s struggles. In this memoir, Rose talks about her ‘Pure O’ OCD in which she experiences intense sexual intrusive thoughts, she discusses how it felt before she even discovered that she had OCD, she discusses countless attempts at therapies and writing her story for the Guardian. Despite me and Rose’s experiences being completely different, there were moments where she’d talk about the anxiety and distress and I would be like ‘oh my god I do that’. It was an incredibly reassuring and emotional read and Rose also pokes in lovely bits of humour and references that made this a very enjoyable memoir read. 🌻

Purchase ‘Pure’ here.

Book #2 – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

‘The Bell Jar’ is a ‘cult classic’ from the 60’s that I hadn’t even considered picking up until this year. I have enjoyed Plath’s poetry before but randomly after spotting it in my University library, I decided to try the first chapter and I honestly could not put it down. It is said that the main protagonist Esther may be a ‘self-insert’ for Sylvia Plath, as Plath suffered with quite severe depression much like Esther did. When I read this, I enjoyed Esther’s first-person narrative incredibly because she showed such a blunt and realistic representation of how depression feels inside and on the outside. How frustrating it can feel when others do not understand how you feel. I would definitely recommend this to anybody, although the second half of the book has quite a lot of mention and scenes of suicide attempts and self-harm so it might be a bit intense for some readers.

Purchase ‘The Bell Jar’ here.

Book # 3 – You by Caroline Kepnes

This book literally left me sat up at night going ‘what the f*ck?’ but in a slightly good way. You (😉) have probably heard of ‘You’ if you have a Netflix account; recently a 10 episode series was released following a similar story to the book. If you haven’t watched the show – ‘You’ follows the first person narrative of bookstore manager Joe Goldberg. Joe claims he’s a big romantic and wants to do anything for the woman he loves. This not-so-lucky woman is called Beck. What Beck doesn’t know is Joe is willing to do anything. Even murder. She also doesn’t know that their future ‘coincidental meetings’ are completely manipulated and planned by Joe. Reading this book was so strange and creepy since everything is from Joe’s point of view. He believes everything he is doing – stalking, manipulating, stealing – is completely right. I did enjoy the book and got through it quite quickly but there were some parts that I just felt were too unnecessarily vulgar and didn’t make sense. Why you gotta bring Ben & Jerry’s into a scene like that?!😷 (People who finished the book will know!)

Purchase ‘You’ here.

So that’s the most recent books I’ve been reading. I have recently started ‘The Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled‘ by Ruby Wax that I am half way through and I also have ‘The Binding‘ by Bridget Collins on my TBR pile. Do you want to keep track of what books you have read or want to read? I highly recommend signing up for a GoodReads account. 📚

Feel free to share what books you’ve been reading in the comments below! I’d love to hear.

Thanks for reading,

Deaf Awareness Week 2019 : What do I, personally, want people to realise about my hearing?

My hearing loss ‘journey’, if you want to call it that, started when I was in Year 2, which in the UK means I was about 6-7 years old. Awkwardly, I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened with my hearing because it’s just a vague memory to me and I’ve never really had the guts or initiative to ask my doctor or audiologist the whole detailed story of how I lost my hearing as a child. I just remember one day in primary school having the most incredibly painful ear ache. The teacher had to call my mum to come pick me up and as I waited for her I cuddled the class teddy bear to my sore ear – the left one. My memory from that after is quite vague but before I knew it I was being taken from doctor appointments to hospital appointments to audiologist appointments and before I knew it, I was being fitted for my first hearing aid.

A teddy bear sits in the road.
Photo by Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

So, I’m not going to bore you with my complete hearing loss journey because, in all honesty, I couldn’t tell you the specifics of it all. I can tell you I’ve been wearing hearing aids for almost 16/17 years. I can tell you it’s been a difficult journey. I decided for Deaf Awareness Week 2019 (6th-12th May) I would share a couple of honest points about how I handle my hearing loss and being Deaf/hard of hearing. I was extremely inspired by an incredible Youtuber and Blogger called Jessica Kellgren-Fozard. Known online as ‘Jessicaoutofthecloset’. Jessica, to me, is a very amazing role model and inspiration because of how she talks so openly about being deaf and disabled. She created a video a while back that semi-inspired me to do this blog post, which you can find below!

Jessica’s Instagram: @jessicaoutofthecloset

Nevertheless, time for me to be honest about my personal experience of being deaf? Let’s see…

1.I don’t know BSL. Yes, I feel like a ‘bad deaf person’ for this.

Believe me, I want to learn! After getting hearing aids as a child, I remember really not wanting to adjust to them. Like, for my child self it was a huge no-no. I already struggled with confidence, making friends and fitting in so I didn’t want anything that, I thought, would make me separate or ‘different’. Unfortunately, because of refusing to wear the things that would help me hear, I struggled even more with communication which lead me to believe my ‘difference’ was the cause. I refused to wear my hearing aids for quite some years and didn’t enjoy acknowledging it or talking about it. Whenever I had audiologist tests to see how my hearing was coming along, I tried and strained so hard to prove I could hear ‘normally’. If sign language was ever offered to me, I probably refused it. It probably wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I started trying to slowly accept that this was who I am, and I shouldn’t be ashamed. However, I still don’t know the language that could possibly help me communicate better! I feel very silly for this and one day want to try and make time to learn it.

Tips for being Deaf Aware: Look at me. Turn your face towards the person with hearing loss so they can see your lip movements. Speak clearly: Not too slowly, and use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures. Don't shout: Keep your voice down. It's uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout.
From National Deaf Children’s Society Twitter

2. Yes, I need subtitles. No, my hearing aid doesn’t ‘cure’ my difficulty with hearing.

One of my ‘funnier’ deaf memories is working in a cinema and having to hear a woman complain that the film screening she had arrived to watch had subtitles – asking us to remove them because they would ‘distract her’ and she didn’t see the point. She eventually blurted out ‘who even needs them?’ to which I, without thinking, pulled my hearing aids out and said ‘people like me’. Probably the only power move I’ve made in my entire 23 years of living. She then stammered back ‘yes but surely then you can hear, and you don’t need subtitles’. I don’t think people realise how hearing aids work. I am no expert and can only explain in the bluntest of terms but hearing aids just take the sound and amplify it. If someone on a tv show or cinema screen is mumbling some important plot point that explains their dramatic backstory underneath even louder SFX noises. I ain’t gonna understand it.

My own hearing aids, which are purple Phonak models, sat in their box which has a bright green lining.
My old reliables

3. It can be incredibly isolating.

In the video Jessica made above, she advises particular things hearing people can do in conversations to help deaf people feel more included in conversations and social settings. I empathize with all of them and find myself wishing a lot of the things she requests was just common place. I think sometimes even my friends and family aware of my hearing don’t realise that even with hearing aids on, lip-reading and expression-reading is so vital to helping me communicate. As soon as you turn your back on me mid-sentence or cover your mouth, it’s almost like trying to listen underwater. Noisy bars and social spaces are also the absolute worst. There’s been times where I’ve just gone home from outings because it’s so incredibly draining trying to hear every single word of group conversations and involve myself. I’m spending so much energy trying to understand what’s going on and then asking people to repeat back that I end up barely placing myself in the conversation. It feels like I’m watching it from afar, in some bubble where sentences are choppy and every so often someone talks in gibberish.

People cheering their glasses of wine in a bar
Photo by Yutacar on Unsplash

4. I’m still learning to talk about it.

My brain is one of them silly ones that can hold negative interactions for years but the moments when someone’s been accepting and understanding can easily slip from my memory. I have had some unfortunate times where people, even ‘friends’, have randomly claimed I’m faking my deafness (ah yes, just picked these hearing aids up from the costume store obvs!), that I ‘talk’ about it too much and that I ‘use it as an excuse to not listen.’ It’s unfortunate that, at least 4/5 of these times, I’ve been told to shut up about it just as I was starting to not feel weird about saying ‘I’m sorry could you repeat that, my hearing’s quite bad’ or ‘Sorry, I hadn’t put my hearing aids on yet, could you say that again?’. It’s a massive confidence killer, more than most people even ones close to me understand. That moment when you huff, roll your eyes and go ‘It doesn’t matter.’ when I’ve asked you to repeat something? Literally the worst. Please be understanding with me if there are days where I’m suddenly a lot more confident about talking about it and then the next week I forget my hearing aids. I’m working on it. Yes, I know I’m not the only deaf person (I’ve had this exclaimed at me too when I’ve opened up about a hearing worry – it’s a tad rubbish).

Top Tips on how to be deaf aware: 1) Make sure you have the attention of the person before you start speaking. 2) Places with good lighting and little or no background noise are best for conversations. 3) Use plain language, normal lip movements and facial expressions. 4) Check whether the person understands what you are saying and, if not, try saying it in a different way. Never say 'don't worry about it'. 5) Keep your voice down as it's uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout. 6) Learn finger spelling or some basic British Sign Language.
From Action on Hearing Loss’s Twitter

The best thing to bear in mind if you are a hearing person – not all deaf people’s experiences are the same. Not all disabled people’s experiences are the same. This is a post from my personal view, so someone who has been deaf since birth will have a completely different life story and needs and requirements to me. What works for one person with a learning disability will probably not work for someone who is deaf. What works for someone who is deaf will probably not work for someone who only has one leg.

Thank you for reading, you can find out some more about Deaf Awareness Week and being ‘Deaf Aware’ below!

Everything you need to know about being deaf aware

Tips for communicating clearly

Information on British Sign Language

Action on Hearing Loss’s Instagram

Rainy day thoughts: coming to the end of my degree

It’s still not kicked in that I technically only have two weeks left of University.

Today, I went into University to help as a ‘student ambassador’ for a University Applicant day where we met applicants possibly planning to start their undergraduate degree in something along the lines of English Language, Literature, Creative Writing or Drama come September. I can still remember my own applicant day back in early 2016 pretty well. I remember the Creative Writing taster session involved poetry and me and my mum sat there and had a go at putting prose together on scrap paper. I still have them folded up in my old diary in my room at my parents.

Every so often in the past three years I get the mini poem my mother wrote back out and read it and I just feel so utterly grateful for her and my dad’s support during my degree. Sometimes during these past three years I have worried that I made too much of an impulsive choice to study an English degree. That maybe my writing skills were too mundane and all along I had been kidding myself. That I wasn’t cut out for this. But then I remember that all of my loved ones have hope in me and constantly pushed me and encouraged me and I know that I must have made a good choice.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

The path laid out for me after graduation right now isn’t a clear one, but I don’t think that scares me right now. If I was to visualise it, I think of myself walking through a forest on a summer’s day. The sun is shining bright and kissing the picking scars on my cheeks. All the leaves around me glisten like dripping emeralds and the air smells nostalgic. I look up and there are several pathways drifting ahead of me, they fade into the distance each with different flowers dotting the sides of the paths. I think if I had visualised this back after college or back in 2015, the paths would have been foggy and dark. Now anything seems quite exciting and I’m open to exploring wherever these paths may take me; especially if I have my family, partner and friends by my side.

Photo by Charles Black on Unsplash

These next two weeks are probably going to slip through my fingers without me even realising but I think it’s so exciting to realise that I’ve almost made it through three years of a degree. I feel in each year I have been a completely different person, constantly growing and changing. University has put my personality and my way of coping with situations in such a pressurized state that sometimes my flaws have come out but also sometimes talents and abilities I didn’t even realise I had have come out. The experience has helped me grow and develop. It’s helped me learn from my mistakes, admit to when I’ve handled things wrong and acknowledge parts of me that I need to work on.

Overall, as I come to the end of my undergraduate degree, finish my last essays (for now, my rambling blog posts might as well be essays) and await my final grades I think it’s good to accept the feeling of nervousness about the unknown but also acknowledge that it can only mean exciting things are ahead of me. I can’t wait to take on the long, winding pathways. It’s going to be strange not thinking about deadlines constantly but I’m excited to use the writing skills I have been taught to begin writing more on my blog as well as creatively in my own time.

Thank you for reading,

Header image: @gaellemarcel on Unsplash

Underground Gaming Gem: NQ64

Despite living in Manchester my entire life and being of drinking age for 6 years now, I could probably count the amount of Northern Quarter bars I’ve visited on one hand. Ah, the tribulations of being a poor student. However, last night I visited the recently opened NQ64 bar which is hidden away between the Short Street entrance of Afflecks Palace and next door to Crazy Pedro’s NQ for one of my closest friend’s birthday celebrations (Happy birthday Georgia!) and I thought I’d share what I loved about the nostalgic, underground bar. 🕹️

As you walk down the stairs you are immediately greeted with the vibrant, neon lights and nostalgic, arcade noises underneath the hip-hop music playing across the bar – a lot of beloved classics played throughout my night including Stan by Eminem and of course, Ludacris’s Move Bitch. A completely on point soundtrack for playing Mario Kart on the SNES.

NQ64 opened a month or two ago and it has definitely become a popular space for both gamers and non-gamers as the place was very busy and bustling, however the rule of ‘no game hogging’ seemed like a non-spoken manner that everybody abided which was nice. It wasn’t difficult at all to try out different games throughout the night with nobody spending too long on one thing. Throughout the night I got to play Street Fighter (which I sucked at), Space Invaders, Golden Axe, Mario Kart, Spiderman Pinball and Guitar Hero Arcade (which I thought I was decent at, until I came back later to go against a friend and realised I sucked if you put the difficulty any higher than easy, oops.) But there was tons of more consoles and arcade machines to try – even one in the ladies toilets! 👾

Sick bar wall!

The drinks menu at the bar was really cool – with Camden Pale on draught and a lot to choose from on the board behind the bar if you fancied anything specific but the real thing that sets NQ64 apart from other bars in Northern Quarter, for me anyways, is it’s game-themed cocktail menu. I went in to the night, personally deciding I’d try and stick to just one cocktail to save money, went away having tried at least 3 of the £8 cocktails. RIP bank account. I tried their ‘Root Beer Tapper’ and ‘Bubble Bubble’ but my absolute favourite was their ‘Dig Dug’ cocktail. Absolutely deeeeelicious. It just tasted like Irn Bru with a slight tequila tinge which is a dangerous game for me and cocktails! At least with some alcoholic drinks, you drink them slowly because your tastebuds are very aware it’s alcoholic and it doesn’t taste more-ish but the Dig Dug did. I finished my first one so quick because it was just so tasty! At £8 for all their cocktails though, if you want to save money try and not storm through your first drink or you’ll find yourself spending a lot of cash.

Overall I absolutely can’t wait to revisit NQ64 and I will be recommending it to a lot of friends. The atmosphere is great and nostalgic and the drinks are not to be turned down. I would quite like to see a mocktail maybe at a pound or two cheaper for people who do not drink but I imagine you can buy a glass of lemonade or root beer alone if you asked! £8 for their amazing cocktails though is standard Northern Quarter price I’d say though so if you plan to visit NQ and you’re open to paying the NQ price – visit NQ64 solely for the retro nostalgia trip.

Find out more at NQ64.co.uk 👽

How to take a break from social media

Last night I spent just under a good hour worrying about my Instagram. I used to have better hobbies, I swear. Instagram has become one of my favourite platforms to mindlessly scroll through in the past year or two and it’s the platform that I’ve lead myself to believe I can be more ‘genuinely myself’ on. Last year I told myself to curate my Instagram feed so that I’m only seeing things that make me feel good and inspire me but what happens when you get to a point where you’re not even taking in the ‘positive vibes’ that you’re pushing in your own face and sit bothering yourself for minutes on end about how many of your ‘friends’ are liking your posts or interacting with that dumb poll you put on your story? What happens when you feel literally agitated that your photos aren’t as ‘pretty’ and ‘high quality’ as an ‘Instagram influencer’?

Ridiculous Instagram obsession happens, that’s what.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

I found myself considering deleting all my accounts – to take a break and then if I wanted to come back to Instagram I could start afresh. But even that idea filled me with pathetic stress – but what if I regret it? What about the really nice photos I’ve taken, what if any new account in the future doesn’t look that cool? What if people won’t care if I delete my account?

If I’m worrying that people won’t care if I delete an online account that I literally survived my whole life not having up until like 2014 and that if people don’t acknowledge me deleting it is suddenly an equatable value to people not liking me in reality, then I think I’m having a completely different problem. Social media is both a blessing and literal hell. It can be a great place for sharing your art, sharing your creations, your achievements, building a career or finding people with common grounds to begin long distance friendships and communities – but it can also grind your confidence down until you find yourself putting your own worth into the number of followers or likes you have.

What I’d like to do is give some tips on how to reduce your social media usage. Scroll time, if you will.

Put your phone in the bottom of your bag

Sounds daft but almost everyone now keeps their mobile phone in their coat or trouser pocket. If you stuff your phone deep down into your bag, it makes the mindless act of grabbing your phone and tapping away much more of a chore and you can start teaching yourself to think ‘do I really need to check my phone right now?’ Obviously take safety into account with this one, if you feel much safer carrying your phone on your person when walking down the busy street do so, but when it comes to chilling at a friend’s house or in the library pop it away – it will help you stay more present in the moment.

Check in on a friend instead

Easier said than done from someone as shy as me, but if you are feeling nosey about what your friends are doing and find yourself opening Facebook or Instagram to seek out what’s occuring – consider texting or calling them instead and asking how they are – maybe see if you can meet up for coffee. There’s two sides to this idea; either you’ll start a lovely conversation with your friend and you’ll also make them feel cared for by checking in and you will then be distracted from endlessly swishing through your Twitter feed for gossip. Maybe even buddy up with a friend who wants to spend less time on social media and encourage each other!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Use the Forest – Stay Focused app

I have mentioned this phone app before but it really is such a good concept for reducing the time someone uses their phone! On the Forest app you pop in an amount of time you want to stop yourself from using your phone, start the timer and lock your phone. As your phone is locked and you don’t unlock it you grow trees and plants on the app to build a mini forest – if you unlock your phone, your tree dies. Using this and turning off your lock-screen notifications is a great way of reducing your scroll time. Perfect for when you need to be studying or you are sat down with a group of friends or loved ones.

Delete your social media apps

Stop panicking I’m not saying delete your accounts! Whenever you feel you’re spending too much time obsessing over an app or scrolling through a platform is just distracting you too often try uninstalling it for a bit. Maybe tell yourself you can have them installed on the weekend but on Sunday night 9pm you delete Instagram and you can’t reinstall it until Friday 5pm. Short breaks from a platform are better than nothing and eventually you might find yourself not even feeling the need to reinstall a particular app.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I know from experience, when you have a bit of a social media dependency, this is all easier said than done but I hope some of these tips help you take a much needed break from social media and it’s fierce grip. Remember to check in on yourself 3-4 times over a day and ensure you are looking after yourself in a way that suits you and your beautiful self. Not the ‘bubble bath and cheeky prosecco’ self care that Instagram shows off. Although there are more and more people acknowledging how fake social media photos can be and claiming they are showing a ‘truthful’ side to their lives, it’s very rare you will see anybody’s properly low days. Never equate yourself to a face, body or lifestyle that you’ve only seen through a screen.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a beautiful week!

Header source: lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

3 Eco-Swaps for the Family Kitchen

In the light of children across the UK taking strike from school to protest climate change and call on our government to declare the climate problem as a national emergency, I thought I’d make a post that would help anyone, no matter the age, discover some simple changes they can do that will make their day-to-day routine more eco-friendly and even reduce plastic waste.

I completely understand and agree with the voices that are speaking out in these strikes. It makes me feel a lot more hopeful about the future generation – seeing how many children and teenagers are speaking out and protesting. I hope because of this schools, youth centres and youth groups will take more initiative to teach both students and staff the little changes they can make to help them feel more at ease and less helpless.

Now, I’m not personally a mother myself and I can’t imagine that happening for a couple more years as I still feel like a child myself at the age of 23. However, from being so close to my older sister who is both a mum of my two amazing nieces but also a fierce, awesome eco-activist, I have heard of a couple of ideas that can make the kitchen and lunchtime more eco-friendly for both adults, teenagers and children. Here are 3 tips you may find useful!

Switch from clingfilm to Beeswax Wraps

Now, in all honesty, I have yet to try this tip mainly because it’s very rare that I use clingfilm at the moment. I tend to put my leftovers in tupperware boxes in the fridge and my sandwich for work goes in a container where it doesn’t touch any other food so I’ve yet to feel the need for clingfilm or sandwich bags. However, as a kid for my packed lunches, my mum would always put my banana sandwiches (I was a strange child ok – that’s for another story) in a plastic sandwich bag that would be disposed of pretty much after I had eaten it. But with beeswax wraps you can wash and reuse them, they keep your food as fresh as clingfilm and if at some point you feel you really cannot reuse or re-pasturise yours anymore – you can pop it in the compost!

A Red and White Patterned Beeswax Wrap from BeeBee Wraps. Labelled Organic Cotton.
‘The Single Wrap’ from BeeBee Wraps. Can be bought here.

Some amazing Beeswax Wrap brands include BeeBee Wraps and The Beeswax Wraps Co.

Encourage the use of reusable water bottles

I bloody loved cartons of Ribena as a child. Or the occasional capri-sun. Even in high school, I’d look forward to having an Innocent smoothie carton at lunchtime. The carton that I only had because I’d pester my mum to buy me a pack of them in Tescos at age 14 because they were ‘healthy’ and ‘cool’. However, there are some ways you could start encouraging either your kids or even yourself to skip the plastic bottles and cartons of drinks in your lunches and go back to refilling and reusing a water bottle. Chilly’s Bottles are beginning to become all the rage now however any BPA-free water bottle will do and they’re quite easy to find online. Eco online store FROG: Friends of Gaia do some nice stainless steel ones.

Once you’ve got yourself into the habit of using your reusable water bottle -why not spice things up by trying different water infusions? I personally love putting lemon slices in water but you could try strawberry slices and mint leaf, lime slices, cucumber and lemon or maybe even kiwi! Here are some fab ideas that even the kids might like!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Take on Meat-Free Monday… or Tuesday, Wednesday or whichever

Although it has been proven quite a few times that meat consumption and animal agriculture has a huge impact on the environment and that going vegetarian or vegan may be a good step if you want to shrink your carbon footprint; it is understandable that some people, especially families with children who are still quite picky about what they eat or may prefer eating particular meals to fit in with the other kids lunches at school, may struggle going completely cold turkey (pardon the pun) and transitioning to a plant-based household. It has been said that if ‘10 million people swapped meat to a plant-based protein for one meal‘ the impact would include reducing water usage by 13 million tonnes! (Find out more at World Meat Free Week)

(Left to Right) Quorn's Chicken Free Vegan Slices, Quorn's Cocktail Sausages, Quorn's Vegetarian Wafer Ham Slices and Cauldron's Middle Easten Falafels
Easy meat-free swaps for lunches

So to make your kitchen time more earth-friendly, how about making one day of the week a meat free day! Quorn do sandwich fillings that are quick and easy things to put in the kids sandwiches instead of ham or turkey – such as their Vegan Chicken-Free Slices or Vegetarian Ham Slices (£1.50 Tesco) or for a snack for either you or the kids you could use the Quorn Vegetarian Cocktail Sausages or Cauldron’s Falafel Bites (£2 Sainsburys). For dinner you could make a vegetable stir fry with all the good stuff like peppers, beansprouts, spring onions, carrots and tenderstem broccoli – the more colours, the better. There’s so many meat-free options that are tasty enough for the kids and you!

So that’s my 3 tips! The fight to be more environmentally-friendly is never a competition and don’t think you have to go throwing all your food out the window and blow tons of money on new Tupperware just to food prep. The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to start off small and work up because that helps you build habits faster. I hope you enjoyed my tips, let me know if you’d like me to share anymore!

Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend!

The little things of 2019 so far (Jan/Feb)

I might not express it too eloquently or obviously but deep down I am one of those people who tries their best to see the beauty in a lot of things and also gets easily excited and cheered up by little things. Whether it be seeing a cute dog when out and about or if the sunset looks really pretty that particular day. Although I suffer from low moods and mental health struggles, which I’m not really going to go into on this post, I do find a lot of things make me happy and cheer me up. One of my personal ‘new year’ resolutions coming into 2019 was to try and buy less and curb my habit of impulsive purchasing, purchasing things I don’t necessarily need and also just buying stuff for the concept of ‘cheering me up’. Although I am a big advocate of ‘treating yourself’, I want to recognise it more as treating yourself in a way that looks after my physical health and mental health first before you know, buying more clothes or something.

This post is going to be some of the things I’ve experienced over the first two months of 2019 that have made me happy, excited me or just cheered me up. You could call it another favourites post if you will. This is not to say I haven’t bought new things or given into that consumerist addiction yet in 2019 because we all fall of the horse sometimes. But this post and future ‘favourite’ posts I’m going to try and revolve them around experiences and habits instead of products.

Switching to loose-leaf tea

My first habit that I’m so glad I’ve brought into my life has to be loose-leaf tea. Now I’ve not managed to empty all my tea boxes I have sitting around both my student house and parents (I like tea ok?!), but I have managed to switch from using everyday breakfast teabags (my old reliable had to be PG Tips or Yorkshire Tea) to instead using loose leaf breakfast tea with a strainer. My main reason for trying to incorporate this switch was to be more eco-friendly. A lot of big brand teabags contain ‘polypropylene’ which is a sealing plastic, so even when you chuck your used teabag in the compost heap or food waste bin – it won’t all be broken down, thus contributing to plastic waste. Although there are some great brands who are making decisions to eradicate plastic from their teabags, I just thought it’d be nice overall to try the traditional leaves and straining. I bought my tea strainer and a bag of gorgeous Everyday Breakfast Brew tea from TeaPigs. Their teas are lovely, and I definitely recommend the switch! It barely changes the taste and it’s a good switch if you want to be a little more eco-conscious!

Next up I’d like to talk about a book I recently finished! My partner is a massive fan of the Cassandra Clare ‘Mortal Instruments‘ book series (most people would know it as the books Freeform TV series Shadowhunters is based off) and he has been very persistent throughout our relationship on getting me to start the book series; he gifted me the first book a while back for my birthday I believe and then gifted me the second one when I had gotten half way through the first book. I managed to finally finish book one, City of Bones, last winter and really enjoyed it! Last week whilst feeling quite under the weather I got around to completing book number two – City of Ashes.

Finishing City of Ashes

Although I have some points I could criticize about the Mortal Instruments stories, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy City of Ashes. Cassandra Clare does an amazing job of describing the scenes and world inside her stories. Everything she brings to the supernatural world in the Mortal Instruments seems very well researched and is then described beautifully. I enjoyed the main protagonist, Clary Fray, a bit more in this book than I did the first one and I’m glad this second book gave more depth to other characters such as Alec Lightwood and Simon Lewis. If you are a big fan of young adult supernatural book series or perhaps enjoy TV series like Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries or even the actual Shadowhunters TV show then definitely consider giving this book series a read.

Lastly, I struggled when thinking of what this ‘nice thing’ should be for my last favourite experience of the past two months. I wanted to add something that might be relevant or relatable to other people, but I also wanted to be honest. My last thing would have to be handing in my dissertation (Sad, I know.)

Handing in my dissertation

The experience of planning, researching and writing this dissertation was stressful. I had weeks where I was scared I’d never finish it. I had times where I’d pick up a book to read and assist my research and it just felt like all the information was jumbled up mush on the page that I couldn’t understand. When my mental health was bad, I felt like giving up – emailing my tutors saying doing this was a mistake and that I wasn’t cut out for it. But when I came out the other end and managed to complete it and hand it in. I was so happy with myself, I was unapologetically proud of myself. This was a bloody lovely feeling.

Removed my university logo for privacy reasons – that’s why it looks a tad weird!

My dissertation was essentially using corpus linguistics to explore the themes in children’s literature over history – so I was looking at traditional 19th century fairy tales and then looking at modern/recently published children’s literature like Jacqueline Wilson’s books. Because I picked a topic that was dear to my heart and interests sometimes I found doing the primary research weirdly fun. Would I offer to optionally write a dissertation again? Probably not. But did I enjoy the process of writing this one and do I buzz with excitement every time I look at my bounded copy? Yes.

Although I’ve had some weeks of pure stress where I’m worried that the anxiety and low mood are being clear indicators of what 2019 is going to be like for me. I’ve actually seen a lot of positive changes and experienced a lot of lovely feelings so far going into the last part of the winter. I’m excited to take on the Spring and possibly have new experiences or see better lifestyle changes in my day-to-day that I can share with you soon! What kind of positive changes have you made so far in 2019 and what little things have made you smile? Feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for reading,

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