Monday, 29 July 2013

54. Lifestyle // 50 Facts About Me

I love these kinds of posts as I'm inherently nosey. And, as it's one of my goals to be more 'me,' I think this is perfect timing, so here goes... 50 facts about me!

1. I've been dying my hair since I was 10
2. I got 100% in my ethics AS-level *proudest moment ever*
3. My favourite dessert is cheesecake (any flavour!)
4. I want to live in New Zealand by the time I'm 30
5. My favourite film is Last of the Mohicans
6. I have been with my boyfriend since November 6th, 2009
7. I've had 8 jobs, including my current one
8. I live in a small town in the North-East of England
9. I have no tattoos but I want one... I just don't know what
10. I have never broken a bone
11. I've only been abroad to France, Spain and Ireland
12. I watch Eastenders religiously
13. I love the smell of bonfires and sun-cream (not together!)
14. I'm short-sighted and wear contact lenses
15. I can't drive but I'm learning!
16. I would love to visit Thailand, Canada and Germany
17. I almost always wear skirts or dresses, not trousers
18. I was obsessed with the last series of The Apprentice
19. I get hiccups every time I eat bread
20. I work in advertising
21. My favourite make-up brand is Max Factor
22. I can quote entire episodes of Peep Show
23. My embarrassing crush is Jack Black
24. My not-at-all embarrassing crush is Gerard Butler *swoon*
25. My next holiday will be Amsterdam
26. I've struggled with anxiety and, less so, bipolar since I was 16
27. I only stopped biting my nails a month ago
28. I smoke about 7 a day, but I'm going to stop. Soon. I promise.
29. My favourite author is Cecilia Ahern
30. My favourite cuisines are Thai and Indian
31. I am 100% not a morning person
32. The best season of the year, in my opinion, is definitely Autumn 
33. I used to have a phobia of cheese...
34. I want to have kids before I'm 25
35. I'm obsessed with Native American culture and history
36. I suffer from migraines
37. Kebabs are my guilty pleasure
38. My favourites places to buy clothes are ASOS and New Look
39. I once left my camera on a bus in Edinburgh (I never got it back, *sob*)
40. I'm saving up to move in with my boyfriend by Christmas
41. I turn 21 in 79 days
42. I've been blogging 'properly' since May 2013
43. I cry at books, TV and films more than I do at 'real-life' stuff
44. I can't stand racism, ignorance and people who are rude
45. I love animated films
46. I would love to be a history teacher
47. I'm hungry and thirsty all. the. time.
48. Baking de-stresses me
49. Nigella Lawson and Holly Willoughby are my girl crushes
50. I'm a sucker for a Cockney accent

Becci xo

Sunday, 28 July 2013

53. Recipes // Oreo Cheesecake

I've been craving cheesecake all weekend. I don't know what set it off but I've not be able to get the thought of a delicious creamy cheesecake off my mind so when, whilst browsing recipes this morning, I came across an Oreo cheesecake I knew that it was 'the one.'

I improvised the recipe a bit, as I always do, but there are a few things that didn't get really go according to plan, so I'll write a little note of what I'd change next time, at the end of the recipe. If you'd like to give this recipe a go, it is super easy (and even more delicious).

120ml double cream
150g Oreo biscuits
200g cream cheese 
2tbsp sugar
2 x Kinder bars
80g butter

1. Separate the Oreo biscuit and the cream filling (I used a knife to scrape the filling off)
2. Break biscuits into a consistency you'd like the base of your cheesecake to be
3. Melt butter and mix in biscuits; cover the base of a dish and place in fridge to chill
4. Whip your double cream until it resembles soft peaks
5. Melt Kinder chocolate (I also added a little bit of cream)
6. Mix cream cheese, Oreo filling, sugar and melted Kinder chocolate together
7. Add cream to cream cheese mixture 
8. Once base has set, spread the mixture evenly over the top
9. Crumble a leftover biscuit over the top and leave to set


When it says 150g of Oreo biscuits, I think this means just the biscuit (not including the filling) so I'd suggest you use two packets of Oreo's and add a little more butter if needs be. As you can see from the picture below, my base didn't amount to much, so I had to make individual cheesecakes instead. 

I also forgot to save an Oreo biscuits (oops...) so I had to use chocolate buttons as decoration instead.

Despite the couple of little mistakes I made, the end product was GORGEOUS. Seriously creamy, rich and indulgent. I'd highly recommend making this for yourself if you like a sweet treat. I'll be making it again soon!

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend,
Becci xo

Thursday, 25 July 2013

52. Confessions

Two posts in one day?! I know, two posts in one WEEK would be good for me... My weekend plans have just changed and I won't be able to blog again for a few days so I thought I'd pop a quick post up again tonight instead and then shamelessly plug it all weekend on Twitter.

This post isn't going to be my usual recipe/review/lifestyle kinda "thang" but instead its going to be a little more personal. There are just a few things I feel that I need to get off my chest.

1. There will be no more health /weight loss posts for the time being.

This isn't to say that I won't still be making a conscious effort to live and eat healthier, it just means that I won't feel the pressure to admit when I've eaten a huge bar of Dairy Milk or scoffed a takeaway on a Friday night. I love sharing experiences and journeys with you all but I'm starting to think that maybe this is more of a personal journey that I need to make, rather than a public one. Please don't take this as me being sly about other people who do this because I'm not, AT ALL. I enjoy reading other peoples weight loss updates as they spur me on and also remind me that other people struggle with their weight too.

2. I'm no longer going to stress myself out about my blog.

I started blogging as a hobby and an outlet. A diary but one that I could share with other people with similar interests. However I feel like I've fallen into the blogger trap of convincing myself that I need to write something, no matter how obscure or halfhearted, just so that people don't 'forget about me.' From now on I'll blog when there's something I really want to share; whether its a great book I've been reading, a recipe I love, a product I've been testing or just what I've been up to, but on days when I have nothing to say or no energy to blog, I simply won't. I'll let my creative juices build up until I have something interesting to write!

3. I'm going to be 'me'.

Even with all my faults and bad habits. I love seeing peoples personalities shine through in their blogs but I don't feel like I've really nailed this yet. Maybe I'm trying to fit into the stereotype of a lifestyle blogger, or maybe I'm just a little nervous of being myself in case people don't like it? Either way, it stops here. I'm going to talk about my anxiety, my loves and my hates, and my life. No holds barred. If people don't like it/aren't interested, don't read it. Simple.

I hope this post hasn't come across as aggressive or rude, it's not meant to be. It's meant to be the total opposite, this is where my blog actually becomes MY blog; for me and for whichever other lovely people choose to read it.

Lots of love,
Becci xo

51. Recipes // Thai Red Curry

On Sunday night, after a long, hard week, S and I fancied cooking some real comfort food. Rather than a big Sunday roast, we went for something a little more exotic - our ultimate favourite: Thai red curry.

I only discovered my love for Thai cuisine late last year when, following a recommendation from a friend, we decided to try out our local Thai restaurant: The Thai House, Hexham. The service, surroundings and - above all - the food was amazing. 

Since then, we've visited a couple of times and also tried recreating some of our favourite dishes. Simple red and green curries are our favourite as they're so easy and quick to cook, yet taste incredible. Seriously, they taste like you've slaved away over the stove all day. So delicious.

Tonight I'm going to share my Thai red curry recipe which I hope you all like. I didn't make the paste from scratch by the way (I'm not a *real* cook) but it still tastes good, I promise.

Ingredients (for 4 portions)
600g diced chicken breast
1 x can of coconut milk
250g fine green beans
2 x large peppers, chopped (any colour)
1 x large onion, chopped
1 x jar of Thai red curry paste
Olive oil
Fresh coriander

1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the chicken,
2. Once the chicken is golden, add the onions and let them sweat,
3. When the onions have softened add the peppers and fry for a few minutes,
4. Begin to prepare your rice,
5. Add the whole jar of curry paste to the chicken - make sure it's all covered,
6. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes,
7. Once the sauce has thickened add the green beans,
8. Simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until correct consistency and rice is ready,
                                          9. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Do you like Thai food?
What's your favourite dish?

Becci xo

Monday, 22 July 2013

50. Reading // Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

Last week I read: Oh Dear Silvia, by Dawn French.

Dawn French's third literary offering is the wonderful 'Oh Dear Silvia,' which is a sharp, dark, hilarious novel. It took me about a week to finish this book, and it only took that long as I didn't have much time to really sit down and enjoy reading a book, not because it wasn't good (because it was).

The novel is written in an interesting third-person perspective as the main character, Silvia, is in a coma. Each chapter is an insight into one of Silvia's relatives, friend or lover, and I found it to be a brilliant way of 'getting to know' the character. Throughout the novel, we meet Silvia's ex-husband, children, sister, father, nurse, lover and the person who put her in the coma. 

It tells the story of bright, bubbly Silvia who is - now, somehow - cold, quiet and in a coma. We find out what led up to the coma, what has happened as a result and, in the end, why Silvia is in a coma? Along the way there are some hilarious little stories and some seriously funny, and very believable, characters who help the story to progress without it feeling jilted or predictable. 

Despite the quite dark surroundings and themes, the story is brilliantly funny and I absolutely loved reading it. It's interesting to get into the characters mind, to feel what they feel and to see how they react to Silvia's situation.

I must admit I did shed a tear but, at the same time, I laughed out loud on several occasions, so for me it's a winner. If a book can provoke emotions that are real enough to make you laugh or cry, then that book is a good book.

Have you ever read any of Dawn's French's books?
How about her autobiography?

Lots of love,
Becci xo

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

49. Lifestyle // What have I been up to?

Hello lovelies.

I'm really missing blogging at the moment. Since I start working full-time and staying at my boyfriend's more often, I've lagged a bit with updating my blog, as I've either not had the energy or not had my laptop with me, which is a shame. 

Blogging gives me a real buzz. I feel like I've achieved something when I blog and I feel like I'm connecting with my readers because, at the end of the day, you're not going to read a blog if the blogger never updates, are you?! So, I'm really sorry that I've been so naff lately. I'm hoping that once I've settled into a routine my blogging will pick up a bit and I'll be able to do more. So bare with.

I thought I'd do a nice little easy-reading post about what I've been up to lately, as I love reading these kind of posts on other girls' blogs. So, here goes! 

Last week, I worked my second week at my new job which is an office-based advertising job. I'm enjoying it so much as it's much more challenging than I'd expected, yet it's not stressful and I don't have to 'take my work home with me,' which is lovely. Everybody that I work with have made me feel so welcome and I'm looking forwards to getting more responsibility and building up a rapport with clients. I'm also *super* excited for payday. *cough* shopping spree *cough*

I've also been spending a ridiculous amount of time (when I'm not stuck in the office!) in the sunshine but struggling to develop even the slightest tan. So far, I've gained about 20 freckles but no colour, hmmph. I'm contemplating starting to usual some gradual tanner so I'd love it if a beauty blogger could suggest a good one for me... Hint, hint.

These last few weeks have seen a huge improvement in my 'social life,' which, for the last couple of months, has been pretty naff as I've not been feeling myself and I've kind of kept myself to myself really. But now that the sunshine is out and friends are back from university, and given the confidence I've gained from my new job, things are really picking up. I've spent a couple of evenings chatting over a pint (or two, or three...) of cider with my lovely best friend, and I caught up with one of oldest friends (who moves to Maryland for 12 months in August - *sob*) on Saturday; we spent the whole afternoon sat in her beautiful garden, drinking white wine and catching up. It was perfect. Saturday night was another great night in with Shane and his family; we watched films, ate kebabs and drank Kopparberg. 

On Sunday, I spent some time with my Mum at the local carnival which was also brilliant, especially given the fact that the sun was still shining. I got some pretty good snaps of the day, which are below, and we had a nice wander around the carnival field too which - for once - wasn't muddy!

In terms of health, I still suck. You may have noticed the words 'kebab' 'cider' and 'wine' above, which kind of suggest how crappy I've been. But, in my defense, I've not been as bad as usual. And that is saying something. During the daytime I've been pretty good, but I've allowed myself a few treats in the evening, which isn't really that bad. Everything in moderation and all that? Except cider. Cider seems to have become a staple of my diet in the last couple of weeks... Oops. I'll blame it on the sunshine!

My studying has also been pretty lax lately. Uh-oh. I managed to (somehow, don't ask!) get 87% on my last assignment which was all about the art of Benin, but I'm not 'working' (but not actually doing any work...) on my next assignment which is about the history of medical knowledge in Europe and the Middle East. It's something I find interesting so I'm hjooping that, at the last minute when I eventually decide to get started, it won't be too much of a struggle.

I have also - FINALLY - got round to getting my passport photo taken so that I can renew my passport in time for Amsterdam! If you didn't already know (which you will if you follow me on Twitter, as I just can't seem to shut up about it...) I'm heading over to Holland for 3 days in October to celebrate my 21st birthday, with Shane. Who knows what it'll involve?! One thing I know for sure: it will be amazing. Oh, and there will definitely be a blog post on it. Obvs. 

Finally, despite the couple of minor issues I've mentioned above, I'm feeling really positive at the moment. Work is good, I've got my family and friends close by, Shane and I are doing really well and looking towards the future in a very positive light, and - generally - I haven't got that much to complain about (apart from the minor day-to-day irritations!). I feel like I'm finally establishing myself as the sort of person I want to be, surrounded by the right people, and I know where I'm headed and what I want out of life so, yeah, happy days?!

Apologies that this post is crazily long! Let me know what you've all been up to!

Lots of love,
Becci xo

Friday, 12 July 2013

48. Health // Health Update #2

This week has not been great... I know, I know, I said this last week and I said I'd improve but - to be honest - working in an office, sitting on my bum all day in the centre of town surrounded by temptations, turns me into a big, fat pig. I've also been so exhausted from work that I've had no (seriously, none whatsoever) energy to do anything, plus the heat kind of makes me just want to sit in a beer garden and drink cider. Which is exactly what I've done. 3 times in the last 7 days. Oops...

Therefore it's no real surprise that I've gained 1" on my hips, bust and 2" on my waist in the last fortnight. Plus, I gained 1lb. In other words: it has been a disaster.

But, do you know what? I'm so happy at the moment. I'm so busy and I love it. I've been working hard everyday, learning new things and being challenged which has been great. I've also spent a lot of time catching up with friends now that they're back from university and the evenings are light, and warm, enough to go for a drink or a walk after work. S and I are going through a really good phase (hopefully it's not just a phase...) at the minute and things are just generally looking up.

Having said that, I'm not happy with my appearance. I do feel like I have really let myself go. I feel bigger than ever before, despite the fact that I'm still over a stone lighter than I was 6 months ago. 

When I look in the mirror all I see is a blob. Every outfit I try on, I hate. I hate the way I look in my clothes and I hate the way that I look out of my clothes. I feel bad for S having a girlfriend who is such a mess and I feel sorry for my body and what I'm doing to it.

It really is time to change. I will never be skinny and I'm OK with that, I don't want to be skinny, that's not me. I like being curvy, but I don't like the way I feel about how I look right now, and that is spurring me on to work harder until I can honestly say that I'm happy with every aspect of my life and, right now, my health and my body are the two main areas for improvement.

I promise (x 746404382) that I will try harder next week, I won't let you (or myself!) down.

Lots of Love, Becci xo

Monday, 8 July 2013

47. Lifestyle // 21 before 21 Update #1

A month ago I set myself a list of goals that I wanted to achieve by my 21st birthday (99 days to go!) and promised that I'd update once a month so that I - and anybody else who is interested - could monitor my progress. So, here goes, how have I been getting on?

Green = achieved
Orange = in progress
Red = not quite yet...

Health & Beauty
Lose another 20lbs (or reach a weight at which I'm genuinely happy) - erm, no.
Stop biting my nails – haven’t bitten them for 10 days! *proud*
Give up smoking
Get my hair in good condition (no more split-ends or hairs falling out all the time!)

Reach 50 followers on Bloglovin & 10,000 page views - this started off as 'reach 100 followers' but I don't think that will happen by October as I'm such a new and unestablished blogger so I've changed my goal to 50 followers. I'm currently around the 20 mark and just over 2,000 views, so I'm happy.
Attend a Bloggers meet-up or event - I've not managed to get to any of the events I've been invited to yet, but hopefully soon!
Get a proper blog layout

Friends & Family
Arrange my 21st birthday celebrations with friends - I'm planning on a cocktail night with all my favourite girls once I'm moved into the new place!
Have an amazing time in Amsterdam with S - so far we've booked the hotel and saved up some spendies too! Roll on October 12th! 
Have enough money saved for a deposit - we're getting there, but it's looking like we'll JUST get there by my birthday...

Read and review one new book each week (1/19)
The Boy in The River (9/10) - unfortunately, due to lack of time, I've not managed to read 4 books but I'm halfway through two books at the moment and now that the weather is better I can sit and read in the garden, so perhaps that'll spur me on!
Watch and review one new film each week (4/19)
Blood Diamond (6/10), Wreck it Ralph (8/10), World War Z (7/10), This is 40 (7/10)
Cook or bake something new each week (1/19)
Chai & Banana Cake - again, I'm not quite up to date on this one either... oops!

Save £600 towards Amsterdam & flat deposit - as I mentioned before, this is a work in progress!
Do not go overdrawn or miss any card payments or bills - so far, so good!

Material Matters
Buy a good camera
Treat myself to a Kindle Fire HD
Buy or create one item each week for our new home (1/19) – only got one new item so far, I'll do a little haul post once I've got a few more bits and pieces!

The Boring Stuff
Pass theory and practical driving test - finally got round to booking in some more driving lessons, hoping to book my test next month!
Find a job that meets my needs, e.g. hours, income, challenging - YES! FINALLY!
Pass first module (The Arts: Past and Present) with a minimum overall score of 70% - currently on 75% overall!

Apologies for the hideous colours but I hope you enjoyed this post!

Lots of love
Becci xo

Saturday, 6 July 2013

46. Recipes // Chai & Banana Cake

After a long, challenging day at work on Wednesday I decided to relax by baking something that I could enjoy whilst curled up on the sofa, whilst watching the television with my family.

I didn't have much spare money to spend on ingredients, so instead I scoured the cupboards and threw together what I could find and they just happened to be Chai tea and bananas... it's basically banana bread but with a twist.

The recipe is incredibly simple, it takes a while to cook, but the end result is delicious! I'm not really one for measuring things out, especially not spices, so you may want to chop and change the recipe a little bit as it won't be one hundred percent accurate anyway.

Just to note: I used 'cups' rather than weighing my ingredients. Where I say '1 cup' I mean short, fat tumbler.

2 cups wholemeal flour,
1tsp baking soda,
Pinch of salt,
1/2 cup of softened butter/margarine,
1 cup brown sugar,
2 eggs (I used duck eggs to make it that little bit richer),
4 bananas,
8 Chai teabags

1. Mash up your bananas and rip open the Chai teabags - tip the contents into a small bowl,
2. Add all your ingredients (inc. banana and Chai) into a large bowl,
3. Either whisk or mix all ingredients until it's a smooth (apart from the chunks of banana!) mixture,
4. Pour mixture into a pre-greased loaf tin,
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven on Gas Mark 4 (180 degrees C/350 degrees F) for one hour, or until cooked through.

This cake honestly is so tasty! The fact that it contains wholemeal flour, brown sugar and bananas sort of makes it healthy... kind of... a little bit? Maybe not. But, either way, it's a lovely little treat and is best enjoyed warm.

Becci xo

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

45. Health // Update #1

OK, I have an admission to make. Despite how motivated I thought I was and how much I was ready to get back into healthy eating: the last 7, or 8, days have been a disaster.

I've had one or two days where I stuck to my goals but the rest of the week I've either not thought about what I've eaten, or I've spent all day thinking about (and eating) food. So, yeah, not great.

The only positive change that I've made is that I've been 'doing' more. I now walk to work and back everyday (it's only a twenty minute journey all-in-all but it's half uphill) and, as I get a one-hour lunch break, I've been going for a wander every lunchtime also.

Next week, I'm hoping to go swimming for at least 2 hours with a friend. I did a bit of research and found that swimming is an amazing activity for weight-loss and general health and, in my opinion, it's not too strenuous. The only challenge is braving walking from the changing rooms to the pool in my swimming costume. I cringe at the thought of it.

I think that the reasoning behind my whole failed health-kick this week in particular is that I started a new job and so my routine has been messed about a bit. I've also been away from home so I've not had as much choice when it comes to meal times. I've had to eat what S wants and, trust me, he's not a big fan of salads.

However, I'm now back home and I'm going to write up a real, sensible meal plan for the next 7 days and hopefully stick to it and incorporate some exercise too. Once I get paid from my new job, I'm hoping that I'll be able to go swimming or go to an exercise class, a few times a week.

I hope you enjoyed my little update about my (un)healthy week. 

Note to self: can do better.

Love, Becci xo

Monday, 1 July 2013

44. Wishlist // Study Space

What with blogging and my degree, I often need my own little office space. I've got so used to writing essays whilst sat in the living room watching Eastenders, or just blogging in bed, but I don't think it's right. It's so lovely to be able to sit down, somewhere peaceful, somewhere tidy and organised, and write. 

When S and I eventually get ourselves a home sorted (hurry up November!) I'm hoping to transform the spare bedroom (as there are a lack of 1-bed flats in our area) into my own study space and here's what I'd love to be in it (beware, it's a rather eclectic mix).

1. Ollie Wise Fabric Bookends, RSPB Online, £16.99
Anybody who knows me, knows that I have a slight (okay, major) obsession with owls. I already have a beautiful, handcarved owl clock which sits on my desk currently, and I thought these gorgeous fabric owl bookends would look lovely on a shelf with all my study books. Cute or what? 

2. Glass Infusion Teapot, Amazon, £5.01
Some people may be thinking 'why has she put a teapot in a study wishlist?' Erm, hello? Who can study or write a blog post without a cup of tea? Not me. This teapot is really quirky and I love the bright red colour too. It would definitely help get me through hours and hours of studying (and it's so cheap, win-win!)

3. We Can Do It! Rosie the Riveter Poster, All Posters, £7.99-£9.99
Everybody loves a good motivational poster to get them through tedious hard-work and this one is perfect for me. I love the strong message that it conveys and the artwork is pretty cool too. I'd hang this just above my desk and use it to push me to keep going.

4. Floral Owls A5 Stitched Notebook, Paperchase, £10
Owls? Again? Yup. I currently write down blog ideas in my everyday diary and, frankly, it looks a mess and I quickly lose track of what I'm meant to be blogging and when. I spotted this adorable owl notebook on Paperchase (oh my God, I love that place) and loved it immediately. It'd be perfect to write down all my ideas, plan future posts and just generally scribble.

I'm sorry that this is such a short post but I had a super busy first day at my new job and all I want to do is get a glass of wine and relax. I'll be blogging my health update on Wednesday! 

Love Becci xo