January Favourites

It’s been a little bit of a ‘dry’ January for me so this list might be a little bit short on purchases. However, I’ve done a lot of watching of things this month because of my lack of money, so expect to see a lot of suggestions for ways to occupy your time instead of a lot of clothes (though I suspect next month this list will probably contain a lot of clothes).

I’m going to start by talking about something that I’ve not actually bought anything from but I think is super cute and that is the Lazy Oaf x Betty Boop collection. I always loved Betty Boop as a child because of her stint in Roger Rabbit and because I  always saw her in vintage and alternative shops meaning that for me she always stood as a symbol for someone who liked to dress alternatively. And as someone who has always admired (even if they were at times too scared to dabble in) alternative fashion; Betty Boop always seemed pretty darn cool to me.

The showstopping piece from the collection (just to be clear I’m referring to the ‘Women’s’ collection because I’m not a fan of anything in the ‘Men’s’ collection) has to be the white double denim set, which I’d love to attempt to pull off- with the red beret and top as below- maybe with some red converse as well. However, the pieces are about standard for Lazy Oaf collaboration collections and would set me back £120 for the jacket, and £79 for the jeans. So, these pieces are definitely going to have to go on the back burner of things I like at the moment- plus there is no guarantee I would be able to find a pair of the jeans that would fit because of my waist to hip ratio.

I also wish I could style the pieces anywhere near as cute as @skumbagg_ did on Instagram. 

Also, @skumbagg_ highlights probably my favourite piece from the collection the red sheer heart jacket. And this is not only because I really love hearts but because this would look amazing in a Valentines day lookbook (which, I hope to do but don’t think I’ve got another outfits to pull it off- maybe then it will be a Valentines Outfit Of The Day).

My other favourite pieces are the stripe boatneck top (the top pictured below is actually a bodysuit, you can find it here) which would look so cute tucked into a skirt or high waisted trousers or of course the cute pin up jeans they have with the collection (see below- click to the next image to see the amazing bow detail). There is also an adorable crop top, which I love but also have no idea how I would style.

The crop top!

The one piece from the collection I do know how I’d style is the dress, which is the cut of my favourite Lazy Oaf dress pieces, which is referred to as a ‘Sally Sack dress’ (see below to see how one of my favourite Lazy Oaf wearers @reina_roo on Instagram styles it). This is the one piece I’m super tempted to get from the collection, as I know I wouldn’t regret it -I’m hoping it will still be available in March (but I know that’s a long shot with Lazy Oaf pieces- if you like a Lazy Oaf piece I very much recommend buying it then and there whenever possible because they only stock limited runs and finding the item after that can be hard and pricey).

So basically the one piece of the collection I am definitely going to invest in is the cute Betty Boop pin, as I like to try to have something from every Lazy Oaf collection (though that’s not being going well recently) and I love and am trying to collect more pins.

Little Viking Vintage

Now that I’ve sufficiently obsessed over the new Lazy Oaf collection let me talk about things I’ve actually bought. All of these are from the lovely Little Viking Vintage, so are unique to me, which I love, and as always were purchases I’ve been wearing again and again.

My favourite purchase was a beautiful silver and black onyx necklace. I got this because I’ve been noticing more and more how terrible I am at accessorising and wanted to change this. This looks amazing with a playsuit and crop top combo I bought recently (and basically is the only outfit I ever post about).

Ginger Hair Don't Care

I also got this pale yellow blouse for £9! It’s see through so I’ll wear a tank top underneath it but would look totally lovely I think with a nice long flowing skirt for when spring arrives.

Yellow blouse

The final thing I got is this bucket bag. It can’t hold a lot of items or weight because of its design but it makes me look a lot more fashionable than I actually am, and I love it. Also, I’d rather it get reused personally than waste it- see this post if you a bit confused about what I’m referring to.

Bucket Bag

Grace and Frankie Season 4 

I’ve been a fan of Grace and Frankie since the start. First of all, I love anything with Jane Fonda in, and second of all the show itself is hilarious and beautifully written. It’s not often (or more like barely at all) you see shows targeted at or featuring people over 50 on TV, and although I know why, it’s really a shame. I might be a while until I feel some of the problems of ageing but doesn’t mean I don’t want to know what they are or that I find them any less engaging than other problems I can’t relate to. I mean the majority of shows targeted to my age group would have me confronting someone at a masked ball, which I think somehow is unlikely to happen!

The show keeps up its momentum this season though I hope the show talks about it the way in which the children of Grace and Frankie approached the main issue of the season in a way that was not completely fair, next season.

Tofu scramble

Most of my attempts at cooking tofu at home have been fine, acceptable, but not as nice as the tofu I have eaten out. This recipe though I really enjoyed, though I only followed it loosely. For one thing my scramble isn’t yellow because I didn’t have any turmeric and instead of shallots I simmered garlic instead, and just had chilli powder, salt and pepper to flavour mine- it was however delicious (I also used soy milk as my milk substitute and it’s was great- soy milk is definitely my favourite milk substitute I’ve tried).

 

Tofu Scramble

I had mine with dairy free butter and spicy sriracha (a spicier version- I’m not saying Sriracha is spicy in itself). 

Turtles All the Way Down 

I have already wrote a review on this, however, I wanted to mention it briefly here, as I really enjoyed this book. I would also definitely recommend it for people both suffering with mental health issues or those who are not- it does a very good job at showing how both people cope with situations that arise in the life of someone who has mental health issues.

Turtles all the way down

Hamilton soundtrack 

This has been my favourite for more than a few months now and I keep forgetting to proclaim my underlying love for this soundtrack. Seriously, I probably listen to it at least once daily. I am very eagerly waiting for the day when I can finally get tickets to go see it in London.

The Women’s March 2018

I just want to give a shout out to everyone who attended the Women’s March both this year and last year. I couldn’t spare the money to attend this year (for the train ticket to London) but I very appreciative to everyone who took the time out of their day to make sure the important issues the march stands for were heard. Next year, I will be part of that crowd.

So there it is- my January. It’s been a bit of a long and cold one. Both mentally and literally. Here’s hoping there will be some more warmth coming up (though not too much as I am not ready for full on summer sun yet or ever- I’m thinking more Spring weather would be nice).

April

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My new favourite vegan banana bread recipe

Full disclosure before we start. This is not my recipe. I am not going to at any point pretend it is. It is however delicious and a good breakfast if you’re like me and like something a little bit sweet in the morning (and is at least healthier than straight up sweets- hopefully- probably not). I also love to read reviews of recipes before I try them out so see this as more of a review of a recipe!

It’s also I think quite a versatile recipe. You can add some nuts to it if you want. Or some currants. You can add some over spices other than cinnamon if you wanted to. My friend Callie suggested chocolate chips (and if anyone knows anywhere I can get some good vegan chocolate chips let me know- milk preferably- as I’m interested in trying them out). I think that the chocolate chips would taste great with how I like to eat it this banana bread- with peanut butter on top and extra bananas.

If you are into exercising and building up muscle you could probably add a little bit of protein powder as well (maybe one with a flavour might be nice!)- just be cautious of adding too many dry ingredients. Also, if you’re trying to gain muscle you probably (maybe) won’t be eating banana bread.

However, to get to my point essentially this post is about a recipe I really like that I didn’t come up with but I wanted to share with everyone. Also, apart from the initial cost if you don’t have the ‘baking essentials’ in your cupboard you can make this recipe time and time again by just repurchasing bananas.

Banana Bread 1

So without further ado here is the recipe (I would say it makes about 8-10 substantial slices).  If you want to go it a go please give the person who made the recipe some love and here is the original link to the recipe. I found the recipe on BBC Good Food (it was literally the first result that came up when I searched vegan banana bread into google). The recipe was submitted by the good food community on BBC Good Food so essentially it was user generated recipe- and this recipe was by the user helenrothwell (thank you so much you are literally my new favourite person). All the ingredients below (apart from my conversions are from the link I stated above).

Ingredients:

  • 225g Plain flour (or use Self-raising flour and reduce the Baking powder to 2 heaped tsp)
  • 3 heaped tsp Baking powder
  • 100g Brown sugar
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon or Mixed spice
  • 3 large Black bananas, mashed
  • 75g Vegetable or Sunflower oil (weight)
  • 50g Dried fruit or nuts (optional)

I’ve not used black bananas yet with mine (mainly because I only like to eat bananas when they are yellow and maybe with a brown spot or two otherwise they are too mushy) and it was still super nice. I think if you wanted a stronger flavour of bananas then definitely go with the black bananas.

Since I don’t currently have any scales I converted the recipe into American cups (because they were cheaper to buy than scales).

So this is what I used (through some googling- so apologises for the accuracy in advance- though it still worked for me!) and might be useful for anyone who uses the American cups system:

  • 1 1/2 cups of Self-raising flour
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 a cup of light brown sugar (I think you could use dark as well but I prefer the taste of light brown sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 3 large in my case ripe bananas (mashed by Martin)
  • About 75ml of a vegetable oil and olive oil blend

The method is also super simple, which is great if you’re like me and like baking but just don’t have the time anymore to do something complicated.

Method: (as mentioned before this is taken from this link)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Mash the peeled bananas with a fork. Mix well with oil and sugar.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and combine well.
  4. Add any additional ingredients.
  5. Baked in a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin for 20 minutes, before checking. Cover with foil, if the loaf cake is browning. Bake for another 40 minutes (approximately).
  6. Allow to cool a little before slicing. It’s delicious freshly baked but even yummier when it goes gooey the next day!

The first time I did the recipe I kept it in my oven for the full hour but the second time I went for 45 minutes instead to see if there was any difference. There was, the banana bread was definitely more moist but a bit more crumbly- I think I definitely preferred it though.

Banana Bread 2

This one was a darker colour than my first batch, and didn’t split anyway near as much as the first did. 

Also, fun fact the first time I did this I forgot the cinnamon and already had the cake in the tin but luckily not the oven so just added it to the mixture, stirred and hoped for the best.

So there it is, my trying out of a tasty vegan banana bread from BBC Good Food from a happy vegetarian who is trying to eat a little bit more vegan and try out some more vegan food (my Mac and Cheese recipes are currently not going well though Temple of Seitan’s Mac and Cheese was really nice and I can’t wait to have it when I visit their brand new restaurant Temple of Camden, which opens on the 31st January!).

Banana Bread 3

Banana bread 5

April

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Turtles All the Way Down: Review

Turtles All the Way Down centres on 16 year old Aza Holmes who suffers from multiple anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder. The plot covers friendship, loss, living with mental health issues and a bunch of other random bits that make the book great.

Turtles all the way down

As I don’t suffer with obsessive compulsive disorder, I found the look into the mind of someone who is living with the disorder insightful. The way I have always obsessed over a event feels more like a dark cloud coming over me, which is then all I can loop back to for that day. The next day though a lot of the time the feelings are gone. Sometimes, it can only be for 5 minutes, like every time I see a new email subscriber (I’ve seen a lot recently for some odd reason) and for some reason I’ve decided that instead of it being a totally normal thing, it’s some sort of conspiracy where people laugh at my blog (even though that makes like zero sense). So basically if you’re an email subscriber please comment below and reassure me that’s not that case! I can’t imagine what it would be like being constantly trapped in that kind of thought cycle.

I loved the characters in this novel, particularly the fan-fiction loving, hilarious Daisy who reminds me both of me and a few of my friends at times, which is probably why I love her. There is though refreshingly not too many characters to stress over, as most of the plot is centred around a core group of characters- I’ll admit I’m awful at remembering names if there starts to be too many characters in something.

Maybe the small ‘cast’ is linked to the fact that John Green has described this novel, as his most personal:

“This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.”
Source: Penguin.co.uk 

I think this really shows. I feel much more like I am in Aza’s mind then I have felt with characters in other John Green novels though maybe that is also because Aza’s experiences in life are a lot more close to home for me than say Hazel’s experience in The Fault in Our Stars.

Image: The postcard that came along with my copy of the novel.

The novel however is not without faults. Like, all John Green books the characters are a little bit too philosophical for their own good. I’m not saying people that age can’t have those sort of debates because they most certainly can (and I think social media has brought an immense amount of pressure to have everything all figured out even younger nowadays) but in my experience this was something largely internalised or restricted to things like blogs (which, one of the characters does have).

I think this is probably my only criticism of John Green novels- I remember talking about  the topics that are discussed but always in a roundabout way. Everyone does not also always have amazing vocabulary. But as an English Literature graduate I’ll admit I don’t hate it though I can understand why people might think it might come across as pretentious.

My other not really a criticism because I loved the book regardless, but perhaps instead then a little quibble, is that the mystery that makes up the plot, for me (it’s on the blurb so I really don’t think this is a spoiler!) is a bit anti-climatic. It felt like it was there to tie characters together but this could have been done in another way- the bit where everything was revealed was also just a little bit rushed as well.

There are though elements of this book that are specular. As mentioned the novel does an amazing job at demonstrating what it’s like in Aza’s mind. At the same time though the novel is able to show and explain what it’s like for both the people who suffer from mental health and their friends and family. There is a scene in the book (which, I am going to try my best not to spoil) in which the lead character, Aza has to confront the effect her mental illness has had on her friends and family. Of course, the book stresses this is not something that Aza has deliberately maliciously done but I think it is refreshing to see the effect that mental health issues do have on someone’s family and friends. Without making the person at the centre feel incredibly guilty or selfish- just making them realise what is going around them and come out of the bubble that their mental illness has on them.

What is important to me is that we also get to see Aza’s mum and friend’s opinions- we see the importance of having an open dialogue, as it helps stop a cycle of both parties acting in a certain way because they don’t know how to do anything else.

In fact, for me one of the most powerful scenes of the novel (mild spoiler alert, maybe?) is when Aza demonstrates exactly what it feels like to think like she does. Sometimes, it does take a metaphor to help people to understand.

I’ll admit I thought one of the characters was being overly harsh at first but after a lot of thinking about it (mostly on my bus to work) I realised that it was a totally justifiable reaction. Yes, they could have brought it up beforehand but I’m not immune from letting such feelings bubble up myself and then all come tumbling out.

It also leads to some truly beautiful scenes between the two characters afterwards (and demonstrates something I’m trying to do more and more, take the time to see what your friends are doing and show some love towards it- especially in terms of things they create). In one of the scenes one of the characters says it feels like they are actually in the moment and not “watching a movie of our conversation”- something that I can definitely relate to (the feeling like I’m not quite ‘there’ in a particular moment).

Another amazing point about this book is that it talks about fanfiction. And it’s not making fun of it but celebrating it and from what I know about John Green I would only expect as much (though to be honest that is not a whole lot- I really need to go on a binge of his content). Most importantly, fanfiction is praised as being something that should have fans and does showcase really great writers and to be honest it reminded me of how I need to read more fanfiction again!

Before reading this novel my favourite John Green novel was Looking for Alaska. Since, this is the book I’ve read the most recently it is now Turtles All The Way Down but I think if I read Looking for Alaska again there might be a bit of a war going on there.

This also counts as reviewing a Youtuber’s book (though I don’t think a lot of people counts John Green’s novel as ‘Youtuber books’ even though he is very well known on Youtube) so I’ve put it under that tab. I’m hoping to try to have different tabs on my blog soon where you can click for book reviews, fashion stuff, etc. but my theme is making it a bit difficult.

I think the phrase ‘Life goes on’ has perhaps been used too much so maybe instead what you can take from the novel is ‘Life happens’. Your mental health problems are not something to be magically fixed, sometimes there will be bad, sometimes good but amongst all that life just goes on- so capture the good moments whenever you can.

April

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Year in review: The highlights and fails of my 2017

I chose this picture of green tea because I’m ‘spilling all my tea’ about the year (yeah, the expression doesn’t sound as good when I say it) and the only tea I like is green tea. 

Is this post a bit too late? Yes, but I’m going to do it anyway. Plus, I wanted to reflect a little on my 2017 (and decided a whole 13 days was enough time for that) and not write something in a rush. My 2017 was overall a good year, but then I kind of count 2016 as the worst year of my life for me both mentally and consequently physically so in one way it just kind of couldn’t get any worse! However, I did manage to do some pretty cool stuff in 2017 and the year was what I would class an as ok year, though I’m hoping 2018 will be a great one.

Highlights 

Completing my Masters 

I’ve done a few blog posts on this but I made it through another year of higher education (woo!) and got my Masters in Journalism and Media Communications. It feels strangely distant now but I met some really great people on the course and it made me feel a bit more confident in my academic abilities again, which is always a plus.

Graduation with mother

I got my first (professional) job 

First of all, I want to make it clear I don’t think retail is not a professional job or any minimum wage job for that matter- what I mean here is I got my first job that was actually related to what I studied at University. Also, having paid holiday and not panicking about money if I am ill is such an amazing feeling.

My first day
The picture Martin took to commemorate my first day.

Mental health 

In 2017 I really tried to work through a lot of my mental health issues, and like to think I went from decidedly off track to kind of strolling along the tracks. It’s never something that will come easy to me, but sharing on this blog helped a lot, as did trying to better look after myself physically.

Dodie 3

I started this blog 

For a long period of my life I have wanted a blog. What can I say I love to write and rant about the world and a blog seemed a brilliant place to do that. Although, of course it is nice if people read your blog, like your posts or comment (which, let’s face it I’ll be honest a part of me craved); I personally just like writing and getting things off my chest. So here’s to 2017 for being the year I didn’t just post one blog post to a blog, not promote it and then delete it a week later because I felt too exposed to the world.

Year in Review post

Martin and I got our first flat 

Since Martin and I have been living together in some capacity for so long I forget sometimes that is our first ever flat together where it’s just the two of us. And the flat is cold (single glazing is not our friend), expensive (though not for the area- we got a good deal!) and still bare because we haven’t got a lot of furniture but it’s ours, it’s not tiny and is a lot better than a lot of other people’s first flats. Sure, ‘adulting’ and paying the bills sucks, but at least I have someone else to whine about it with.

Martin flat

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

2017 was also the year I got my love for reading back and I’m so happy about this. I forgot what it felt like to be so inspired. I forgot what it felt like to delay finishing a book because you loved it so much. Or to be able to stop yourself reading it all in one sitting. I forgot how much I truly was a bookworm. Basically, I love reading, it’s in every part of me from the fact that I prefer to read something rather than have someone tell me instructions (hence why audio books unfortunately aren’t for me) to the fact that I can spend longer in a book shop than most other shops.

The Power
My favourite image I took of a book last year (and one of my favourite books I read).

Fails 

Money 

Living anywhere remotely close to London/ in the South is expensive. Consequently, despite earning a good wage we are perpetually broke. This is looking up this year however as Martin has started a better paying job, and I will be shortly booking my trip to Japan (and trying not to spend all my money on clothes in order to afford it). Also, a lot of the problem last year was that Martin and I were fed up so we spent money to fill that hole and so consequently never had any money either. We’ve finally managed to claw our way out of that cycle and once again learn the value of tins of kidney beans and sweetcorn, as well as meal prep- so much meal prep!

Mental health 

So although I put this in my highlights this was also a ‘fail’ as well. Working through things it turns out is kind of hard and I am still running away from a lot of things. As we speak I am letting those familiar nagging thoughts worm their way back in again. While 2017 was the most I’ve actually analysed my mental health (which was a positive thing overall); the journey that came with that was not exactly pleasant.

Hair/ how I felt/ feel about my appearance 

For a large part of last year I let myself get very upset over my appearance whether it be that my hair was not the colour I wanted (it still isn’t) to the fact that I no longer felt comfortable with myself generally. My body in 2016 changed a lot in a short period of time and I still have not quite got over that. This year I am determined to just dress how I want no matter what and let myself be healthy. Also, to have really great hair (any suggestions are appreciated).

I also want to give a big shout out to all my amazing friends and family. I hope your 2017 was great, and if it wasn’t I hope this year will be better. Thank you for putting up with my rants, bossiness and general weirdo nature for another full year.

April

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Veganuary: Thoughts and reflections

Just to be clear before you read this post and perhaps get upset with me at the moment I currently have not gone vegan for January. However, I have been reflecting a lot of veganism this month and wanted to share some of my thoughts and reflections.

First of all, I have been thinking about making more of my diet vegan. One, because it makes me think about what I’m eating more and two because it encourages me to eat more vegetables (though to be honest I’m not struggling too much in that regard). I also have been thinking about this because of the ethical aspect and while I admire people who do have a fully vegan diet; at the moment this is not something I am ready to fully commit to. I do maybe want to try doing things like having one vegan week a month and generally having more fully vegan meals however.

Another thing I have been considering is the other parts of living a vegan lifestyle, i.e. whether your makeup is cruelty free (and uses animal products) and the role of fashion within veganism. I have touched on this subject before on my blog and generally adhere to a lot of these in my everyday life. I don’t buy products that I know are made of leather  (I check what things are made of but I’m sure that I have missed some things). I know veganism often considers other animal by-products like wool and silk and while I do wear wool I do not wear silk. While I am not as studious on this as I sometimes would like to be I try my hardest to keep to what I personally feel happy with.

However, I will admit there is a bit of paranoia that lies within that. I often imagine people are policing me and I sometimes even unconsciously police other people on whether I think they are wearing leather, etc. This especially increases if I visit a vegan place to eat, which usually happens everytime I go to London. While I do believe in thinking about these things; I do think I have a tendency to over think and be critical, especially when I start to consider what people think of me.

I have recently started watching the videos of the Youtuber Qcknd and came across this video in which she discusses her transition into veganism. She particularly discusses how she regrets throwing away some of her leather items that had memories because when she first turned vegan that is what she felt like she had to do. I too have had such thoughts as a vegetarian when thinking about some of the few leather products I own. I’ve not thrown my items away as I thought that was more of a waste but I felt like I needed to sell the items, despite the fact that they do hold memories.

After, watching the above video though I realised that I was too focused on what people thought of me. My white Dr Martens have special memories to me, as does my Cambridge Satchel bag. And keeping or wearing them is my business and no one else’s. She also discussed buying items containing animal products from vintage shops stating how she has no problem with that. In the blog post I mentioned I also said that I had no problem with it but felt weird about it myself. I think this to a certain extent stemmed a little from being scared to wear these items because of what people thought.

Now, I’m not going to consciously look for leather items in vintage shops but if I like something and know I am going to care and look after it I need to stop feeling guilty about wanting to buy it. I wouldn’t buy something leather new but honestly I would prefer people use vintage items, as these are items already made (and not only that they have a history about them that I love)- throwing or not reusing these items would be a waste.

I also want to touch on the other topic Qcknd discusses, which is what to do about receiving non-vegan gifts as a vegan. I personally would only feel weird about leather items or cruelty free makeup as a gift, which luckily I did not receive for Christmas. My response would be depending who it was to be open or honest. If it was from a close relative and came from a place of love who did not realise I would accept the gift and maybe mention at another point that I tend not to buy leather goods or makeup that isn’t cruelty free.

I have talked a lot in this post about being less hard on myself but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working towards being more ethically conscious (and this feeds into other things too- I haven’t forgotten for example about posting more information about where my clothes come from in regards to ‘fast fashion’ and sweatshops). I have switched to cruelty free perfumes, which I am very excited about but am yet to switch to things like deodorant. I have used cruelty free shampoo and conditioner but sometimes when I couldn’t afford to I didn’t. Also, to be honest I haven’t found one that works as nice for my hair. I think what everyone needs to remember you don’t have to do everything at once just working towards it is more than enough.

So essentially this Veganuary I want to reflect on how I can still bring more elements of veganism into my life but how I need to not worry about anyone’s judgement but my own. I also want to say a big shout out to all the vegans out there- thank you for bringing way more vegan and vegetarian food options into my life last year and I’m sure in the years to come!

April

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What I got for Christmas: 2017

This post probably comes more than a little bit late, but since my blog post talking about what I got for my birthday last year was one of my most popular posts; I thought that I definitely should stop procrastinating and get to writing this post. As mentioned in the last post, and as I will probably mention in every blog post about presents, I am a very lucky person who was very spoilt. I appreciate every gift given to me, and I am not doing this to brag but for the people out there who are nosy like me, or are interested in similar things to me. Also, that sounded a lot more blasé than I meant it to be- I am truly grateful- I promise!

First of all, before I get into this post I would like to give a shout out to the people who very kindly bestowed me with money, I’m not going to say who because for some reason that feels tacky (ha, ha) but if they are missed out of this list then you know who. Also, I would like to give a shout out to my boyfriend who bought me tickets to go see Dodie on the 1st of April in London!!! If you could not already tell I am incredibly excited for this, and happy that he is lovely enough to accompany me even though this is something he will not enjoy no where near as much.

From my Mother and close family

Some of my presents I actually bought and my mum gave me the money for because a lot of them only I could get, as for example I bought the Dodie merchandise from the Dodie pop-up shop in London. My mum did also buy some little presents so I had things to open Christmas Day, and wrapped my Danielle Nicole clutch, even though I was the one who ordered it because my mum struggled with the website (you have to sign up to order and the process takes a while!).

Dodie ‘I promise you it will all make sense again’ jumper

Dodie 3

I have written about this before in my Dodie pop up shop post (linked above), but I’ll speak a little about it again. I really love this jumper. It’s super soft and comfy. Unfortunately, at the moment because it tangled with something fluffy in the wash it needs attacking with a lint roller but I can’t wait to wear it again, and will probably have to be stopped from buying another one when I go see Dodie in April. If this jumper is something that speaks to you, you can now buy it on Dodie’s online shop along with other awesome merchandise.

Dodie Secrets for the Mad book

Dodie Secrets for the Mad

Again, I’ve already written about this before but I love, love, love this book. It is definitely one of my best reads of 2017. If you’re struggling to think about how you need to just take some time, reflect and look after your body this book is a read for you. It’s also interlaced with lyrics, and images throughout so is not a long read either if lengthy reads are not your thing.

Danielle Nicole Harry Potter Ravenclaw Uniform Clutch 

Ravenclaw clutch

One of the things that came a bit late last minute before Christmas was this Ravenclaw clutch bag. I was actually lucky to get mine on QVC UK (lucky because it kept going in and out of stock). The price was also good as well as it was £25 with £3 added on for shipping as far as I remember. At the moment the bag is still available on the Danielle Nicole website for $48.00 dollars for pre-order but combined with the international shipping price and likely custom fees the QVC UK price I thought was a bargain. Apart from wanting this to fuel my Harry Potter obsession (and to build up items for a *cough* *cough* Ravenclaw fashion lookbook); the bags from the Harry Potter collection are all leather free as well, which is a big plus for me.

My one annoyance with this bag is that the chain is not as long as I would like, as I would prefer the chain to be long enough so I could wear the bag across me, which would especially be useful for night outs (not that I’m a party animal in any way- I mean night outs going to eat food).

Overall, this bag is well made (the inside of it is gorgeous) and it gives you a little bit of house pride in everyday life, as well as a bit of glitter, which is always a good thing in my book.

Stocking fillers 

Stocking Filler

My mum had this adorable little stocking for me full of presents under the tree so I had something to rummage through on Christmas Day. It contained a bunch of beauty products from a brand called Flutter. Flutter is a Superdrug own brand, and when I searched through the cruelty free brands on Superdrug’s website Flutter came up as one of those brands.

Nail Files

These nail files have super cute patterns on and make me want me to file my nails more, even though I am useless at it. Also, if someone could show me how to use them properly that would be super helpful, as one of them has flying cats on it so I need to make them a part of my life.

Lip Balm

These lip balms are also super cute, I haven’t tried them out yet but I’m always in need of lip balm because my lips get super dry in the winter, and it has hit a cold spell again where I am (I swear my feet are doomed to be permanently cold).

This little eyeshadow set is also adorable, and I like how it is a neutrals palette, as I personally tend to gravitate towards shimmers or ‘fun’ colours and then forget that I need neutrals to actually build up most of the looks I like. Therefore, I can’t wait to try this out as I think some of the colours will pair nice with (spoiler alert) another eye shadow palette I received for Christmas. The shades all have a nice bit of gold sparkle to them, but I haven’t swatched them just because I don’t think the first two shades will show up on my skin tone very well (but if you are interested in me swatching them let me know)!

Primark Harry Potter pyjamas 

Hogwarts Alumni

My sister works at Primark so she picked me up these super cute fleece Harry Potter pyjamas for my mum as a present for me (and also the next present below, which was from her). Since it is very cold at the moment this is a present I am very grateful for!

Primark Bmo pyjamas 

BMO pyjamas

Please ignore the stain- food as usual has betrayed me lol. 

As I type I am sat in these pyjamas right now. They are incredibly comfy and go great with my Primark Bmo nightgown. Bmo is definitely one of my favourite Adventure Time characters, and I love all the Primark Adventure Time stuff- if anyone ever sees anything with Marceline or Princess Bubblegum on let me know!

From my Grandad 

My grandad got a variety of knick knacks that only he could pick out as usual (that is not intended to be a ‘dig’ though!), and this diary and owl purse are cute favourites of mine. One, because I always need a diary because I got through notebooks so quickly. Two, because this little purse is so cute, and would make a great Autumn purse (and yes I like to coordinate things by season!).

From Martin’s family 

I got absolutely spoilt by Martin’s family (well, I got spoilt from everyone lol) and I’ll be honest I love it. Prepared to see a mixture of makeup, books and more, as well as a big insight into the kind of things I like.

Paramore After Laughter Vinyl 

Paramore After Laughter

Although, I admit I was not sure about Paramore’s new album at first, I’ve grown to love it. No, it’s not my favourite ever Paramore album but some of the songs are absolute bops, and I’m gutted that I couldn’t get tickets to see them this January. Also, this reminds me that we really need to get some drawers to store our Vinyl in because knowing me I will find a way to damage it if I don’t have a proper place to store it.

Decorative Hedgehogs 

Decorative Hedgehogs.jpg

For those who are unaware I like hedgehogs ornaments and so am very happy that there are people willing to fuel that obsession. These ones are super cute as well, I just need to find somewhere to put them as I am in desperate need of a set of drawers.

American sweets (shared present with Martin)

American sweets

By some miracle of nature we have not devoured these already- if you know how much I love sugar- you’ll realise just how much of a miracle this is. I think Martin and I definitely need to have a movie night at some point and make our way through these (the Reese bar however is firmly mine).

Edit: This post was written over a few days- we have devoured (well Martin has) quite a few of these now. 

This One Summer graphic novel 

This One Summer

This was in fact a recommendation from the person I always talk to in my local comic shop (I won’t say their name for privacy reasons- I don’t know if they want their name splashing all over the internet!- ok in a little corner of the internet).

The first thing that grabbed me about this graphic novel is that the artwork and style is just so beautiful. The second, the plot, but the below will explain that better than me, so without further ado here is the official blurb that I saw on Amazon:

“Every summer, Rose goes with her mum and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mum and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.”

Also, an interesting and sad fact about this graphic novel is that it made headlines because it was banned from a Minnesota school library reportedly because it contained, “inappropriate language”. It has also been banned because it, “includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes”.

I’ve not yet finished this graphic novel, but what I have read so far it is bittersweet in the best way possible. I’m planning to write a review once I’ve finished so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Kiki’s Delivery Service DVD

As mentioned in my other blog post about the subject Kiki’s Delivery Service is my all time favourite Studio Ghibli film (so far!). I’m hoping to one day collect all of the films in the collection. Hence, why I took a picture to highlight that this is ‘number 5’ in the DVD collection. Martin is already prepared for me to watch this over and over again.

Chocolate coins 

Chocolate Coins

Martin’s family always get me chocolate coins, which I very much appreciate. There is something undeniably fascinating about ripping the foil off each individual coin that I don’t get with chocolates like Celebrations where I just find it annoying having to individually unwrap each one.

Kat Von D ‘Saint’ Perfume and Lipstick set 

I have mentioned previously how I’ve been looking for a cruelty free perfume to replace my old choice of Chanel, and when I smelled ‘Saint’ by Kat Von D Beauty I knew that it was definitely going to be one of my choices (another favourite I’ve tried is Vanillary from Lush). The lipstick that comes with this mini set it also very ‘me’, as while all my friends rock the dark tones I’m always there with the bright pink lip just bopping around.

Saint Swatch

That’s my fist by the way- it just looks like a weird blob in this photo so I thought I better mention it! 

Kat Von D Everlasting mini lipstick collection 

Kat Von D Lip

I would like to preface by saying that I absolutely adore the shade Lovecraft in this collection, in fact it might even beat my Lolita II as my favourite Kat Von D shade and I will definitely need to buy a full size tube when my mini one infinitely runs out.

In regards to swatches I’m going to make a full post with proper swatches on my lips for all my Kat von D lipsticks but for now I’ve swatched all the shades on my arm only for this post.

Kat von D swatches

From top down: Lovecraft, Ludwig, Sanctuary, Madrid, Hawkwind, Exorcism, Damned and Witches. 

Lindt and Baileys gift set 

Lindt and Baileys

Even more chocolate! I’m not a big drinker but Baileys is more of a sweet treat to most people anyway (including me) and it will be lovely in a hot chocolate when I’m cosying up at the weekend.

From my friend, Holly 

I think Holly and I are just obsessed with buying each other Pop! figures so I was unsurprised and delighted when this Yurio Pop! figure made it’s way to me. Also, this gives me an excuse to complete the Yuri! On Ice collection, as I am trying to not start buy Pop! figures from too many different franchises at once and instead build up sets.

Yurio Pop

From my friend, Callie 

As per usual my friend Callie got me way too much, and also proved how much she knows me/ listens to my social media rants.

Juvia’s Place The Magic palette 

Before you ask in the second photograph I have already used the eyeshadows a few times and that’s why they looked used! This palette is so beautiful and as a lover of shimmers this palette a dreamboat. You can definitely build some beautiful looks out of this palette, but I’d personally recommend pairing it with another palette for looks if you’re someone who likes quite neutral transition shades though there are a few really workable mattes on the palette.

On the left image from top to bottom is: Nubia, Zakiya, Osun, Kesi (hard to see on my skin tone), Zuba, Nana, Borunu, Kogi, Faso. 

On the right from top to bottom is: Aja, Vai, Yemoja, Ife, Yara, Buzo and Yejide.

As you can see I am not a brilliant swatcher but here are what all the colours look like on my skin tone. You probably won’t be able to see it but in between the pink and orange-gold on the left swatch there is actually a swatch of the shade ‘Kesi’. It does show up a bit more on my eyes and in person, but I like to use it as a base coat personally.

Snowflake Cookie Yankee Candle 

Yankee Candle

After being devastated when I thought this candle had disappeared after Christmas, I was very happy to receive this as a gift (we exchanged our gifts after Christmas). It just smells so good, and it so my aesthetic that it hurts. Until otherwise noted this is my all time favourite Yankee candle. Also, according to a quick google search Yankee candles are from what information I could see cruelty free and vegan.

Primark Pusheen Mermaid Slippers 

Once again proving how much Callie knows me she bought me these mermaid pusheen slippers (the black fluff is from a pair of leggings I own lol). These are super duper snug and since my feet are always cold I love these (our flat has a lot of wooden flooring though my feet are always cold anyway). Also, the tree is because Christmas (though I may have forgotten just a little bit to take it down). I love these though they are the second pair of slipper sock things Callie has bought me (the first being a Marie pair) so I think she just loves buying me slippers for some reason.

Mermaid Pusheen 

Mermaid cuddly

This pusheen lives at my workplace but I bought her home for the weekend to take a picture. I love all things pusheen and pastel so mermaid pusheen is a dream come true to me. Also, I am trying to collect a pusheen for each season (I already have a witch one for halloween) and for some reason this pusheen screams Spring to me!

The Boxing Day sales (or from myself)

One thing I’m not sure if I really liked is that the boxing day sales in a lot of cases started earlier than Boxing Day this year. For people like me who rely on Christmas money to fuel their bargains in the sale this was a bit of an annoying move though an understandable one- it meant less of the pressure on shops on Boxing Day so hopefully more people could enjoy their Christmas. Since, I massively missed out on the Black Friday deals due to being very broke at the time, I really wanted to get some good sale goodies.

Asos 

The first thing I purchased was this dress from Lazy Oaf on Asos that was reduced from £68.00 to £30.00. Having coveted this dress for a very long time I could just not resist this deal. In person this dress is so super cute and like all Lazy Oaf dresses it has pockets! I haven’t managed to get a good picture of me wearing this yet but check out these super cute babes who make this dress look amazing (and inspire me on how I’m going to wear mine).

Topshop and H and M

I also bought this super cute denim jacket from Topshop that was in the sale.

Topshop Denim Jacket

Mustard top: H&M (old) 

Playsuit: H&M (I can’t find the exact one online but it is this one but with a flower print)

Scarf: Platform 9/34’s shop

Bag: Primark (I got this from the Tottenham Court Road Primark in London, which is often referred to as the ‘Harry Potter Primark’ but I’ve seen it in plenty of other Primarks). 

Tights: Primark 

Loafers: Topshop (old)

I got very excited about this outfit, hence why I’m pretending I’m a model. The jacket is just so super cute. I had wanted it for a while, saw it in the sale and was determined to resist. I then realised I had made a mistake and saw it was sold out online! Therefore, when I went in my local Topshop and saw the jacket there I knew I had to have it. Which is my excuse to why I gave the person who was right in front of me stroking it evils. Luckily, she moved on and I quickly grabbed it. It’s slightly cropped, which I sometimes like in a jacket as it compliments my body shape. At the moment the jacket is out of stock on the Topshop website but try checking back because after I bought it I noticed it was back in stock again in a few sizes. The jacket was originally £49.00 and reduced to £34.00.

Game

One thing I also was excited to buy for myself in the sale for £12.99 at Game is this Kylo Ren Christmas jumper. Although, I will probably lose it before next Christmas and I wish it was more socially acceptable to wear it all year round I just couldn’t resist it, especially as I coveted it before but I didn’t want to splurge when it was £24.99.

Red Hair

Lush

I feel like my love of Lush is well documented on this blog and I couldn’t resist picking up a few goodies in the sale, especially as everything was half price! However, I did use the opportunity to try some products I’ve wanted to try, as well as pick up a favourite from Halloween.

Snow Fairy

I can’t find my receipt but after doing some digging I think the original price for this 250g bottle was £7.95 and in the sale it around £3.97 to £4.00. This shower gel smells AMAZING (translation: like sweets) and next Christmas I will definitely be stocking up on this again. Personally, I wish they sold this all year round because I will be super sad when it runs out.

Since I was a large fan of the Lush Halloween collection this year, particularly the Pumpkin bath bomb, I couldn’t resist picking up this little set, especially as I regretted not trying out the pink pumpkin bubble bar (it also looks super cute- it’s one of those ones that it is bittersweet when you actually use it!). This was £12.95 I think normally and about £6.47 or £6.48 in the sale.

Shoot for the Stars bath bomb

My final purchase from Lush was this Shoot for the Stars bath bomb. I really loved this bath bomb. For one thing it turns your bath a lovely cascade of blue shades, and I also really loved how it leaves the little gold stars floating in your bath for a while. There is something in this bath bomb that leaves your skin super soft as well afterwards. I am very gutted this is a Christmas special after trying it, as I would definitely buy this again! This bath bomb was somewhere between £3-£4 and so about £1.50-£2 in the sale. All I remember is that all together everything I bought from Lush was about £12 when usually just the Pumpkin set would have probably cost that.

There is all it is then- the many lovely presents I got and bought myself after Christmas (minus a 1kg bar of Cadburys from Wilkos that was half price, as I didn’t think that necessary to document!). I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to let me know what you’re favourite present that you got for Christmas was in the comments below.

April

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My top nine blog posts of 2017

So I was scrolling across Instagram and I saw one of those posts with a user’s top nine posts for the year, and I thought it might be fun to do it for my blog. Mainly, to be honest because this is helpful for me to see what kind of content everyone likes, and also because it gives me an excuse to reminiscence over what I’ve written for the year.

Overall, I’ve actually posted 44 posts this year (45 once the post before this post is published). Honestly, I hadn’t realised it was that many (though it might seem a lot to some) so it made me feel a little bit better about this blog, as lately I know I’ve not been putting enough time and effort in.

My first post if anyone is interested was on March the 15th 2017 (so this blog is still less than a year old!). At this time of writing 23 people follow this blog, which I know only makes this blog a small drop in the ocean but means so much to me.

However, before I get soppy, without further ado, my most popular post of 2017 was…

Lazy Oaf Sample Sale Haul 

I am still a bit upset that there has not been a part 2 to this post, as I was unable to make the sample sale in December. However, I am determined to make the sample sale in June next year, so be prepared for a part two. I tried to be as honest about the whole experience as possible, so I hope the post has helped some people who haven’t been to a Lazy Oaf sample sale before. I know the posts I read about the December sample sale were very useful (with my main take away being that prices have gone up due to more of the stock being one off pieces rather than samples), so I can only hope that my post has done the same for some people- especially as it’s my most viewed post!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.01.50

What I got for my Birthday: 2017 (Aged 22) 

Although, I know that I personally love watching videos or reading posts about what other people got for their birthday or for Christmas because I’m nosy; I am still shocked this is my second most viewed post. Mostly, because I find this kind of content interesting usually because I have been following someone for a certain amount of time, so know that the gifts they are likely to receive would also be something I’d want also. I don’t think that’s the case with my post, but thank you to everyone who has read it, and I hope it inspired you gift wise, or at least made decent reading.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.04.23

Hello Kitty Topshop Pop Up Shop Mini Haul 

I am not going to lie I’m quite pleased this is my third most viewed post, as when I did attend the pop up shop; I hadn’t been able to find that many blog posts or vlogs about the shop at all online. While, my photography skills are still very much lacking I did try to show the entirety of the collection, and give an idea about prices, so visitors knew what to expect. I still use the phone case I bought from that trip (though I think I need to update!) so it’s nice to know the trip that I am reminded of a lot in my everyday life is on this list.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.05.37

This Belle ‘Beauty and the Beast’ cosplay is goals 

This was actually the first ever post on this blog, so it will always have a special place in my heart. First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to the cosplayers and all the photographers who helped make this post a reality. Especially, as it really is the content that you all provided that make this post come to life. I have admired the cosplayers in this post for a long time so it was absolute honour to conduct this interview.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.07.20

Image: Laura Beresford Photography

Feminist Reading Journey: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

While my feminist reading journey posts are definitely not over though perhaps on a little bit of a hiatus; it is definitely encouraging to know that this is one of my most viewed blog posts. I have no idea why this post is so much more popular than the other posts in the series. Perhaps, I actually reviewed the book more than usual in this post, and didn’t go off on a tangent though I just read back the post and there was a big tangent before the post even started!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.09.12

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Dodie’s ‘Secret for the Mad’ Book Review (and Pop up shop) 

Since ‘Secrets for the Mad’ is up there with my favourite books of 2017 (let me know if you’d like a whole post about what were actually my favourite books of the year); I am very happy that this is one of my most viewed posts as it is also one of my last posts of 2017. I’m also very happy to say that I am going to see Dodie in April next year (I can’t wait!!!), so hopefully there will be a concert post coming your way (which, will most likely be my first ever concert review/ post!).

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.10.09

Riverdale’s Archie and Miss Grundy and the worrying repeated sexualisation of student-teacher relationships

Ok, so I have a major confession in relation to this post and that is that I really need to catch up with Riverdale. As I ashamed to say I still have not finished season one. Something, I am going to make sure I change this year, especially since so many of you seem to enjoy this post. If I can get organised enough, I’d love to do reviews of episodes or of seasons as a whole.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.11.17

Image: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix 

I’ve officially finished my Master’s degree 

This post was one of the posts I was most nervous about sharing this year, but I am so glad I did. Since then, my courage about what I post, and even what I say in ‘real life’ has gone up so much. Yes, I’m still nervous, and unbearably awkward when I don’t know someone well, but I’m a lot more honest, which is just such a relief for me on so many occasions.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.12.41

The Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf Collection is here 

I’m happy that there is at least one other fashion related post on this list because fashion is really what I would like to try and blog more about this year. This collection is what truly got me into Lazy Oaf, and since then not only has my ‘style game’ in my opinion got more quirky and improved, but I’ve had so much fun talking to people who love the brand also. I can’t wait to see what the brand comes up with in 2018, and I hope to expand my collection even more this year!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.14.00

So there it is, my top nine for 2017. I know since it’s New Years Day this post is coming maybe a bit late. But I also know I’m unashamedly going to be posting more reflective posts all this year (as long as it’s the first week of the year it’s ok, right?). I personally can’t wait to see what this year will bring from fellow bloggers, and on my own blog. I’m so happy that I finally actually have a blog after wanting one for years so to be honest I’m over the moon and ecstatic everytime I get a view or a comment.

Thank you to anyone who has read my blog and made that happen.

April

Facebook: @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog

Instagram: @aprilisthecruellestmonth (main account)

@aprilisthecruellestmonthblog (miscellaneous account- which I’ve not uploaded to in ages because I’m a horrible human being)

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