Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunday roundup

This week's activities were as follows:

Listening to - Daughter, Bastille, Florence and the Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce

Watching - Revenge, 90210, A Year of Making Love (I thought Cherry Healy would have had a more prominent role in this series actually), Modern Family, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Flakes, Jonathan Ross, Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway!!

Baking - rainbow fairy cakes (turns out food dye is gross), cheese and onion scones (yum), disastrous cookies with an Oreo cookie in the middle (too terrible to document visually as it turned out to be one huge cookie/more like cake - how can this be resolved?!)

Cooking - Toad in the Hole (first time), a really average honey and mustard chicken meal which I have made before really successfully but this time substituted creme freche for natural yoghurt and it all went wrong), steak and chips (yum) with the chips made following The Londoner's recipe

Eating out - more sushi at Wagamama, as well as trying gyoza for the first time - DELICIOUS

Painting - dotted patterns, photographs of Venice

Reading - "One Day" by David Nicholls, a book about pain management, finished Blade Runner" by Oscar Pistorius and various travel guides about Edinburgh.

Hope you've had a lovely week too x

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Lovely LUSH treats

And by "lush" I mean the company/noun, not the adjective that pre-uni I thought was only used to describe valleys and greenery but is increasingly employed as a synonym for "lovely". Am I the only one whose tongue it just doesn't roll off that naturally unless talking about grass?

ANYWAY, this post is a beauty-inspired post which is fairly uncharacteristic, mostly because I have no knowledge of cosmetics/beauty whatsoever. I have only just, at the tender age of 22, plucked up the courage in recent months to buy make up from one of those fancy make up concessions in a department store...yes, THAT is what we are dealing with here ladies and gents, a makeupophobe (no that is not a real word, you klutz)

My university friends will tell you that I don't know the difference between foundation and powder (what actually is the difference?), can't apply mascara without smearing it across my face and have no idea how to use a make up brush. Luckily this meant that getting ready for nights out was a lot less lengthy for me as I either stuck to basics (mascara and Vaseline HA!) or avoided it altogether. So no, this post won't be about make up as I truly have nothing to offer in that field whatsoever. Anybody who wishes to give me a tutorial in beautifying myself then please feel free; I will not be offended!

Instead, and only because they were (very generous) gifts (ie. I did not buy these items with a view to reviewing them), I thought I would share my latest LUSH items with you. Mostly because they look and smell yummy and in any case, they aren't cosmetics really.

In all honesty, the shop gives me a headache when walking past, let alone venturing inside, but I am beginning to think that it is worth it to retrieve a golden gem of a product. The individual items smell wonderful! The following items (bar the soap) smell good enough to eat which I suppose is on the whole fairly acceptable as one is honey flavoured (are non-edible things "flavoured"? Probably not), one is for the lips and the other smells of sweets!

The "Sweetie Pie" shower jelly is probably my favourite product as it is in a pot and needs to be kept in the fridge, which are interestingly characteristics shared with another of my favourite things - hummus. It also smells like it tastes of jelly babies so it is very aptly named. I also like things that are unconventional in nature like the fact that it is not a run of the mill standard squeezy bottle. It is a pot. For instance, I have a tin saying "biscuits for my sweetheart" on it, but which actually contains a mix of felt tip and fine liner pens. Gotta keep my sweetheart on his toes.

"The Kiss" is a very clever little item, I think. Perfect for those occasions when you ask somebody what they would like for their birthday and they respond with "just a kiss!" Gift sorted! It tastes sweet and delicious too and unlike the countless other lip items I own or have tried (ok, ok, just the Vaseline!) it makes my lips look happy and shiny.

Do my lips look happy? Sorry you've not caught them on a good day... Cringe either way.

I've not tried out the soap yet but it scores points on its excitably-patterned wrapping, and the shampoo is apparently ideal for brunettes. Perfect for mountain bears.

Wash time just got fun again! And the rabbits are happy too :) :) :)

Have you got any insightful comments to make about LUSH products that aren't to do with how they smell, the admirable ethics of the company or what they taste like?
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This week marks a national effort to raise awareness about eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating. This sensitive topic is not often spoken about openly and I think this may be due to a lack of general understanding about what it means to have an eating disorder and failure to comprehend that it is a mental illness, severe and deserving of the numerous efforts to help sufferers. It is really striking that anorexia accounts for the highest number of deaths out of all mental illnesses.

The trouble with mental illness can be that it is not always obvious that a person needs help and there is an old-fashioned misconception that there needs to be blatant visual evidence for something to be wrong. This is clearly wrong. There is a lot more to eating disorders than just physical appearance. There are complex intricacies involved which need careful attention to remedy.

The charity BEAT's slogan for this week is "everybody knows somebody", reflecting the statistic that eating disorders are found in 6.4% of adults (Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2007) and 1.6 million people in the UK. Often it is difficult to know how to help a sufferer and I am by no means anywhere near an expert on the issue but think it is important that certain misconceptions are dispelled which may help with trying to understand the point of view of a sufferer.

For example, recovery is a long and difficult process which, on average, can last 6-8 years with relapses. It is not just something that goes away overnight, nor is it a choice in the first place. However, during the recovery period, the fact that a sufferer is eating or has put on weight does not mean that they no longer have an issue or no longer need support.

I have come across a couple of websites/blogs which do a great job of painting a clearer image of what it is really like to have an unhealthy relationship with food to the extent that they suffer from an eating disorder. These include tobehonest.org.uk and raisingawarenessuk.blog.com. I find it sad that some think that a person needs to be a certain weight to have an eating disorder and indeed a tragedy that health resources do not stretch to all sufferers.

Charities like BEAT and Anorexia and Bulimia Care exist for the purpose of helping sufferers and their families, running support groups, providing information to the public and campaigning to raise the profile of efforts to tackle eating disorders. This Thursday (14th) Caroline Nokes MP will be speaking in the House of Commons with the aim of raising awareness of eating disorders. You can find out more at www.b-eat.co.uk

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My trip to Ipswich

Last week I mentioned that I had been to visit a uni friend (an old housemate in fact) for a few days. I actually went the furthest east I have been in England! Gosh I have been adventurous recently....furthest north in Leeds, furthest east in Ipswich....maybe I am doing the "travelling" that I wanted to do in my year out after all...

Fiona lives in a cute little village where there are no street lights and a bus only visits three times a day on certain days of the week. So in some ways I felt a million miles from home where there is nothing but light pollution and a gazillion modes of transport, but it was so lovely to spend time in a different part of the country and to see where Fi lives!

The train from Liverpool Street, albeit a little on the rickety side (step up your game East Anglia trains!), got me to Ipswich in 1 hr 20 mins which is nothing when you have the world of a good book such as "One Day" by David Nicholls to immerse yourself in. Lauren and Fi met me at the station with the car because it is too far to walk to the house and there is no convenient public transport which I found baffling for a while but the drive was about 20 minutes so it was very nice really that peg leg and I weren't subjected to such a trek :)

In the fashion of my previous post about Leeds, here is a list of five things I enjoyed in Ipswich (other than the fantastic company and excellent hosting):

1. The Orwell Bridge is pretty magnificent, with little cows/bulls chilling in a field underneath

We visited the Suffolk Food Hall which sold local produce and also had a garden centre, gift shop and cafe. We enjoyed some coffee and cake as a treat. Oh okay, the whole weekend was treat after treat after treat!

2. The smallest house that somebody actually lives in, in Aldeburgh.

I also enjoyed:

And this sign:

It was super windy but I love being by the sea :)

3. Kwan Thai restaurant in Woodbridge.

We had a delicious starting platter and I had a yummy Massaman curry and sticky rice.

4. Achieving some "firsts" on this trip! Before Ipswich I had never been to a Thai restaurant (although I have tried the food before so I was excited about this), I had never watched an 18 rated movie (this one I was less excited about) and I had never seen "The Sweetest Thing" which is apparently shocking but really made me laugh! Oh and that brings me onto....

...5. Making Slutty Brownies a la The Londoner finally! This was a February resolution so I can tick that off the list. And yes they taste as good as they look, if not better, and no, I don't feel it inappropriate to make a whole batch again only to be consumed by two people :) :) :) :) :) :) Much better than my cake pop venture ;)

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Sticks 'n' Sushi restaurant

I have recently starting eating and enjoying sushi. So much so I even bought it twice in one afternoon when in Leeds the other week! At home, as well as the little supermarket versions, I have tried a little bit in Wagamama but my new favourite restaurant is Sticks 'n' Sushi in Wimbledon! The restaurant has nine branches in Copenhagen and one in London so it is pretty cool that it is so close. I thought Copenhagen was an interesting place for all the other restaurants to be but I assume they get good fish there or something!

The restaurant offers a ridiculously wide selection of sushi, as well as chicken and vegetable based meals. This is ideal if, like I did this evening, you fancy sushi and your date despises it! Check out the menu (it has two!) at http://www.sticksnsushi.com/menu/menus.html . The layout of the place is pretty cool, although minimalist, with high ceilings and one wall exposing original brick. The service is also excellent – even the waitresses who weren't dealing with our table knew what was still to come from our order.

The highlight of the meal may have been me trying to teach mike how to use chopsticks which was a failure and resulted in beginners chopsticks and a fork being brought to the table. Maybe next time...

Afterwards we fancied ice cream so popped into a cute little Italian place for some homemade gelato :) :)

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Words and hot drinks

This week has flown by so I must have been having fun! At the beginning of the week I was in the east of the country visiting an old housemate (more on that in a future post - it also involves the completion of a February resolution...) so I am taking today as a much needed rest, recovery and relaxation day (I might coin that as RRR). When I started updating my blog regularly last year, I aimed to share one lovely thing each day in order to appreciate the little things in life. I have seen a little plaque which has the extremely accurate and wonderful quotation below on it. I ought to get one to encourage maintaining perspective. Very important.

These posts probably fizzled out as I started to get out and about a bit more and had to do my uni exams etc which is a shame because I suppose it reflects that it is all too easy to get caught up in the speed of life to stop and appreciate things. Oops.

Today I am appreciating the peace and quiet in having the house to myself for the day. I have spent the morning after getting back from the clinic drinking green tea (with mango and lychee - pretty yum) and hot chocolate, eating dried fruit, speaking to a friend I had been meaning to catch up with and reading The Guardian on my iPad. Pretty perfect morning if you ask me!

Hope you are all having a relaxing Friday too :)

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

February Resolutions

Okay so apart from the whole not drinking thing, I had no resolutions made in January and instead I think I will make little resolutions at the beginning of each month. Much more manageable to work in little baby chunks. I can't remember whether I made any resolutions for 2012 but if I did I probably did not achieve any of them so as you never know what life is going to throw at you, I think this is a much better idea for me anyway.

So without further ado, here are my February resolutions:

1. Finish three books - I am notoriously incredible at starting but not finishing books and this is how most of my reading has been conducted over the past four or five years so I feel now is the time for change!
2. Bake THESE - needs to happen asap.
3. Boycott Valentine's Day because it is commercial nonsense.
4. Build up to going out without a walking stick because that thing really has a mind of its own and I am bored of it now!
5. In light of number 4, aim to do my physio exercises more than once a day.
6. Avoid alcohol in February too :)

Both images from weheartit.com
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Friday, February 01, 2013

The end of the Dryathlon

I can't believe that it is February already! And this can only mean one thing....the Dryathlon is over! If we're connected via social media, it will have been hard for you to escape posts by my friends and I about the money we are raising for Cancer Research UK. We are pleased to report that we have managed to give up alcohol in January and have so far raised over £700 in total for the charity. We are so grateful for all your donations - thank you, thank you, thank you! Our sponsorship pages are open until 28th February 2013 so if you would still like to donate, you can do here and we would be over the moon.

Images from Cancer Research UK

As an indication of how exciting this money raised is, here is what the money raised can do (source):

£10 could buy enough glass slides for a scientist to examine 300 tumour samples down a microscope

could buy around 250 special sterile dishes to grow the cells in and keep them healthy, helping answer fundamental research questions that could lead to the breakthrough discoveries of tomorrow

could buy a key textbook to ensure our Cancer Information Nurses never stop learning. That way they can answer as many questions as possible that people have about cancer.

could buy around 50 thermometers – indispensable for many experiments that need to be performed at very precise temperatures.

could cover the cost for one woman to take part in a clinical trial aiming to improve survival for post-menopausal women with early-stage breast cancer.

could fund a trained counsellor to facilitate the nurses’ monthly clinical supervision meeting. Experienced cancer information nurses provide a confidential service for anyone with concerns about cancer. This will develop their skills in dealing with calls and help them cope with the emotional impact of the experiences they hear.

could buy a sophisticated microarray, a powerful piece of technology, helping scientists to scrutinise thousands of genes in a single experiment, and identify which are switched on in cancer.

could cover the cost of one person taking part in a clinical trial testing chemotherapy before and after surgery, and the antibody drug Vectibix, to improve survival for bowel cancer patients.

enables a man to take part in a study to help tackle the long term side effects of treatment for testicular cancer. In the future this could improve the quality of life for men who have had the disease.

could cover the basic costs for one patient to take part in a clinical trial to improve treatment for head and neck cancer. The trial is testing if a new way of delivering radiotherapy can help reduce hearing loss, a common side effect of treatment, improving the lives of people with the disease.

So once again, thank you so much for all your support and donations. Personally, I think that I will try and continue this and be dry in February too. Will keep you posted!

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