a blog about an Essex girl living in Swansea, chatting about baking, rowing, other bits and bobs, and some crazy teaching times in India

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Similes - what are they like?

I went to London a week ago to see one of my good friends from home. He's someone I can tell everything to, and I am not too bothered what he thinks of me. He's going to be my friend no matter what, and I am certain we'll remain close. We haven't known each other a huge amount of time, but we click. We're total opposites, but somehow that makes us fit together quite well. Like the age old cliche, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. I'm the rather jazzy piece with a couple of odd ends, he's shaded in more sensible colours, rounded edges, more whole.

This day has been my favourite out of the many of recent weeks. The coach trip was hideous, a ten hour round journey on public transport could never be described as exciting, but it was bearable. Waking up realising you've napped for the majority of the way with your head of your own shoulder in some awkward position isn't exactly the ideal. Especially when you then have neck cramp and notice you may have been dribbling for some of your nap. I am the epitome of all beauty. It's a good thing I don't wonder why I'm single because I think that pinpoints it.

Cutting it short, we had a bit of a tourist-inspired day out. Madame Tussauds, Covent Garden, Winter Wonderland, and dinner in Leicester Square. Pretty knackering for one day.

We ate these cupcakes.

And I found a boyfriend.

Big love, xo


One step forward, two big steps back. Funny how one small thing, one little conversation can change the world. Or at least, your own little world. The one that's been rebuilt in a matter of weeks, now it's deconstructing itself again and the builders are back. Plans are being redrawn, new foundations are being dug. It's made me feel more at ease but somehow my head is swimming. Watery mess. I can't quite make out what is there; it's a bit murky to be honest. I've got to stop with these water-related metaphors. I'm obsessed. I need to start writing in a plain and simple form. Or would that be boring? I'm a bit of a boring person sometimes, I quite like being that way. Sometimes it's easier not to think and just sit back, take things in.

Big love, xo

Thursday, 29 November 2012

You sound you're from LAAANDAN!

I went to London on Tuesday. I'm convinced I want to live there when I'm older. The Megabus drove through the streets of Chelsea and Kensington; my face pressed to the window in awe. One day I'll be living in one of those houses, traditional and white, or cream, the inside will be furnished with bare wood and pale coloured rugs, and there will be at least one mirror encased in a wicker frame. Crowded with various things from quirky shops, hand-decorated photo frames, macrame plant pot holders...

Dream big, think bigger, do even better. Push yourself to the limits and you might end up where you want to be. That's what they say isn't it? We want to push for success and money, material gains. What's wrong with making mediocre plans nowadays? Wishing for the basics, a good family, a place to live, and a job you like. I could settle for that. It's nice to have lots of pretty things, but I guess it's not essential. I like showing off, but what is there to show off if you're not happy? It's always nice to dream as well. I did it when I was younger, I'd draw and draw, crafting my ideal family in pencil, or sometimes pen. It'd be modelled on my family, that's where I drew my inspiration from. I'd be the Mum, I had a husband, 2D figure in the style of Nick Sharratt's illustrations for Jacqueline Wilson's books. Sideways noses, thin necks, hardly supporting the head of the disproportional bodies I drew. Three children, one girl, two boys, one of them still a baby. All with mildly popular names. Nuclear family. I wanted all this by a certain age. It's strange how plans change, I would be horrified if I'd completed all these things within the timescale I set up in my eleven year old self. I'm not entirely sure what I want now, which is good. I'm only young, I have the rest of my life ahead of me.

I'll write something about London properly in my next post, maybe?

Big love, xo

Saturday, 24 November 2012

So many plans!

I'm far too excited for Christmas! It's almost December, which means it's almost celebration month. December has always been a succession of birthdays for me, mine, my Dad's, and my Grandad's; they're all pretty close together. My friend Lucy's has been thrown into the mix as well, she's born the day before me. Then there's Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Eve. I feel exhausted listing them, let alone actually partaking in them. 

I have so much to look forward to this coming month, other than these dates. I have a sea rowing race in December in Norwich, which I cannot wait for, even though it'll be bitterly cold. It's going to be fun getting back into one of those big gig boats and rowing with my club back home! Then with the university there's the Welsh Indoors (which I won't say I'm looking forward to, we have to do a two kilometre test on a rowing machine - painful!) and also the Monmouth Head Race. I'm working over Christmas too, and whilst that may not sound exciting, it is slightly, because my shop back home gets so festive in the run up to the holidays - plus I'll get to see all the girls who work there (I say girls, some of them are my mum's age, but nevertheless they are brilliant)! Plus, I'll get to see all my friends back home that I am missing huge amounts at the moment. I have a Skype date with two of them tomorrow night!

Some things are even nearer on the horizon than I expected, too! I am going to London this week to see my friend from home - I have my fingers crossed that we'll go to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and do some skating or something. Well, I don't really have my fingers crossed. I just know I'll whine and whinge about it for long enough that he might give in and we'll go there because he'll want me to be shut up about it. Actually, just walking around London to see the lights will do, as long as there's a bakery stop at some point. Cupcakes in London are the best. It's a ten hour round trip on the coach though. I am going to have to invest in some kind of entertainment - I'll probably end up buying some trashy magazines. You know the ones with the ridiculous stories; 'Aliens stole my toe,' 'Big Macs made me go blind,' 'I got married in a giant shoe' or some other nonsense. They're my favourite for long haul trips.

I guess the point in this post is that it's not all bad. It might be dreary outside, with the constant drizzle (or if you live in Wales, the flood-like quantities) of rain might be less than appealing, and everyone is experiencing the winter blues (it's mostly homesickness from what I've gathered), but thinking of all those lovely things you have happening to you is definitely going to cheer you up. 

My Dad is a very wise man. I am definitely one of the ones with the winter blues, because I'm calling home everyday! But he gave me some very good advice - to focus on what's happening now, and what good things you have coming up. Not to dwell on things that have happened, or what might happen that you're worried about, just to focus on the here and now. My Dad is wise for more reasons than that, though. 

So that's what I'm doing. I'm getting all festive. I want to wrap myself up in fairy lights and bake gingerbread, cutting it out in bauble and tree shaped patterns. Christmas definitely makes me crazy.

I am doing an essay right now though. That's less exciting. Much less. 

I wonder if they'll ever decorate the library with tinsel? They definitely should. 

Big love, xo

Monday, 19 November 2012

This time it's on paper

Writing in blue pen is something of a novelty for me. Always black, always a biro, always made by Bic. I've convinced myself that I don't trust any other pen manufacturer; I am skeptical of any writing instrument without an immediately recognisable brand stamp. This one is pretty though. Pink hearts of varying shades cover the middle section, the silver clip at the top printed with neat lettering: Emma Bridgewater.

I'm a sucker for brands. I'm that typical materialistic market consumer, enjoying owning anything with a label on it. I tell myself it's because those items are better quality than cheaper brands, but I know it's more to do with looking good. Truth is, you can look good in a charity shop outfit. I have Primark tops which have lasted years and still look pretty damn good on, even if I do say so myself. Just because you're showing off your Hollister and Ralph Lauren logos, emblazoned on the front on that cute cable knit jumper you're sporting, doesn't make you a better person.

I can hardly speak. I went to Cardiff on Thursday for a talk (uni-related, I got terribly lost trying to find the building), and ended up doing some late night shopping afterwards, getting sucked into the overperfumed realms of Gilly Hicks to buy, ironically enough, a bottle of perfume. It does smell nice though. I'm surprised I found the fragrance section. It's so dark in there. I almost walked into a mirror, I'm not even joking. The sales assistant was definitely laughing at me.

I wonder if we'll ever change? I wonder if people will stop this desperation to own expensive brands? I know I've only talked about high street designers, but its like a brainwash effect. Will there be a day when I don't actually see anyone on campus dressed in a Superdry hoodie?

I say this as I slip on my Hollister top.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Recipe Time: Spiced pear cupcakes

FINALLY. A recipe. Make these little winter warmers and brighten up those chilly evenings in.

Okay so this is an easy one. I'm such a cheater. Refer back to my Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe, and follow the instructions until you reach step 3, just before you fold in the flour.

This will make about ten cupcakes.


What You'll Need...
All the ingredients from the vanilla cupcakes recipe
Two tinned pear halves, chopped finely
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
150ml double cream

1. After following the steps from the previous recipe, you'll be at the point where you'll want to be folding in the flour. Make sure you add the spices to the flour mix, and then you can begin to fold in the dry ingredients.
2. Now add the pear pieces. Stir these in until they are well distributed among the mixture.
3. Pop the mixture into the cake cases that you've lined your trays with. Fill to about three-quarters full, as usual.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
5. Leave them to cool after taking out the oven.

6. Whilst waiting for the cupcakes to cool, whisk the double cream until it is light and fluffy.

7. When the cakes are cool, use a teaspoon to place the cream on top of each one. You can do it as messy or neatly as you like! I then finished with a dusting of cinnamon.

Beautiful! Now go eat!

Big love, xo

Hitting rock bottom

This is the beginning of a multiple post spree. After a week of hell (I'm not even exaggerating), which I did partly bring upon myself, I am setting myself up in the library. Ready to work/at least pretend to be working. Getting things done. That doesn't necessarily mean doing university-related studying, it includes a manner of all things. I have my belongings spread out around me, laptop case to my right (one of my most pretty studious possessions, it has a Cath Kidston-esque rose pattern; it makes me feel better about lugging my laptop onto campus); a block of lined paper to my left, covered by forms I have received this week (all shall be explained); and then my slightly battered pencil case rests on top of this slightly disorganised pile. I had full faith in nabbing the corner desk; the basement part of the library is never packed out unless it is exam time, but have had to settle for another. It's not quite the same. Massive evils for the guy who is sitting in my spot. Go swap seats please, and take your massive folder with you. It's not even a nice coloured folder. I need to stop being so possessive. Or stop being a bitch. One of the two.

I shall start by explaining a bit about That Week. I've began the words in capitals because it is that type of experience in my life that I know I want to forget but will have to refer to it at some point in future. It has to have a name, because it is a relevant piece of history. It's like the Easter weekend or something, only a lot less festive and a lot more depressing. But maybe a similar amount of chocolate is needed. If only I wasn't pretending to be healthy... (This consists of eating less junk-type food but huge portions of it, so, in effect, I'm still a little piggy whatever I do. Dieting doesn't seem to work on me, ever).

Back to the story. I went out with a boy. A really lovely one at that. Lovely isn't even the word. Kind of indescribable. I was one of those cringey relationship people that I now hate - not hate, really, but I am probably just massively jealous of. I was soppy, I was so willing to please, I would have done anything for him. But this summer, everything took a turn for the worse. Bloody hell, I think I'm going to have a little weep in the library. Pull yourself together woman! We went through the break-up motions. There wasn't really any sense to it; I didn't see any sense to it. And it hurt. Feelings changed, things wobbled, the balance was thrown off. It's never returned either. It's like a boat. Hello rowing reference. We're sitting in a pair, one behind the other, and our hand heights are terrible; my oar is hitting the water, and his is somewhere up in the air. We're trying, we're trying so hard to get it back, but somehow we can't readjust. We're always somewhere far from getting it right. The boat shudders, halts, I fall in. I'm now in a entirely different place altogether from him. Dragged underwater, the current is pulling me... I'm trying to swim, trying to breathe. I am struggling. We're totally separate. Apart.

I should have told him. I should have done things differently. I should have considered the future. We can't change the past though can we? My silly decisions have led me to this outcome, and now I have to live with it. I think I might have accepted that, but I think a tiny part of me is telling me it's all a bad dream. I wish it was a nightmare - I will wake up soon, in my bed at home, perhaps in a hot sweat and clothed in my Eeyore nightie (I don't bring this to uni, it's too embarrassing). I'll be eighteen, I'll be full of ambition and dreams and idealised university nonsense. Nothing will have hurt me, hurt anyone. Innocence is bliss.

I don't really wish that. I kind of do.

This week has been horrible because I lost him again, when I thought things were coming together. Hopes were crushed, again. It's hideous when you've built yourself up numerous times and every time you've been pushed back down. Flattened. Fly swatter. Smack in the face, squished on a wall. Destiny is the black bin bag, joining the rest of the unwanted rubbish.

'It's good you hit bottom. Now the only place you can go is up.'
You're totally right, Jill Clayburgh. I love the film Bridesmaids.

That was deep for a library session. I stopped midway through this for a food break, and am now a bit spaced out, sipping on my Praline and Cream Latte (oooohhhh Christmas coffee!) from the Costa outlet which takes pride of place in the front foyer of the library, raking in buckets of dollar from the caffeine junkies of Swansea University. I happen to be one of those, buzzing in the library, diffusing my tiredness. Bit disappointed. I got cream  (of course. I already said, I'm a little piggy) but underneath that it was more foam than coffee. No good. Should I email them complaining? RA, RA, RA, I DIDN'T GET ENOUGH COFFEE IN MY CUP.

It's sad that talking about the quality of my coffee is an interesting topic for me right now.

Big love, stay safe. Tell the truth always. xo

P.S. You're not just the main character in your life story. You're the author. Don't get stuck on one page, write that book for yourself. You have the opportunity to begin a new chapter, slowly but surely.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Recent Bakes

I will try and post recipes for these as soon as I can. I'm hideously busy with university work at the moment, but here are a couple of pictures you can have a nose at. I got into a bit of bake-off with myself, making three different types of cake in one morning. Productive, as always.

These are the spiced pear cupcakes that I made - they have whipped cream on the top. Yummy!

Rainbow cake is so much more colourful than normal cake... 

Finished rainbow cakes

Banana and chocolate loaf. Most calorific thing ever!

Big love, xo

Remembrance Day, a day late

Lest we forget.

Remembrance Day is so important in our history, it is entrenched in our calendar and our culture to remember those that fought for us in the many wars our country has participated in. I'd like to take this day to remember someone who was very special to me - who is still very special to me. He holds a place in my heart still, and if I'm being honest, I haven't completely accepted that he is gone. My lovely Grandad, my mother's father, who lived a fabulously long life, and hopefully was super proud of all of his achievements.

This man was brilliant. He served his Queen and country, working during the Second World War, and he had even worked as a guard for Buckingham Palace. Sadly, later in life, he suffered from an accident at work where hot liquid rendered his leg permanently in a dressing. Despite this, he never complained about it. I never heard him complain. He had a lovely wife who I never had the fortune to meet, but my Mum has talked about her... That's my Mum's mother. His first wife died. Then a daughter who could sometimes be a bit bossy and concerned, but was only wishing for the best for him (a bit like me, I sometimes think). Then three grandchildren. I hope you're proud of us now, Grandad.

I love you.

Lest we forget. I will always remember you, Grandad. I hope you're smiling down at me from heaven.

Big love, and big love to those that will never be forgotten, xo

Friday, 2 November 2012

One of those moods

I'm in one of those moods. I want to curl up in my bed with a huge box of chocolates and eat all the good ones, and pretend to eat the ones that aren't so nice, but really put them back in the box half-eaten. I want to put on P.S. I Love You and pretend I'm going to go to Ireland soon. I want fizzy water. Lots of it. That Pear and Elderflower flavour that the Tesco Express has now started selling. I want to wear my comfiest (and possibly ugliest) pair of pyjamas, and roll myself up in the fluffy pink blanket. Of course it's pink. I want to watch Like Crazy without crying myself a little river.

All these things are perfectly doable, but I am busy. I don't have time for moping today.

I want, I want, I want. "No Naomi," my Mum says, it's "I would like." I'm being a bit self-absorbed, really.

I am missing people.

I'll post a recipe tomorrow, why not? And bake. I want banana loaf.

I'm just in one of those moods.

Big love, xo

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sing along

Calm song for the morning. I'm sitting here with my cup of tea and my bowl of porridge, completely relaxed, having a flick through a couple of blogs. I have the perfect background music too; my room is filled with the sound of guitar strings, and some thoughtful lyrics are floating through the air. Have a little listen and see what you think of the video below.

This song is by Gabrielle Aplin. Doesn't she have such a beautiful voice! She's been around for a couple of years now, but is slowly receiving more and more attention. Check out her videos on Youtube, especially her cover of Fix You by Coldplay - it's on the BBC Introducing channel. 

Gabrielle's voice is so soft and gentle. I think I'll be taking a nap soon, I'm very chilled out.

I'm hoping to see her live soon... Does anyone want to come with me? 

Big love, stay warm on this chilly Tuesday! xo

Monday, 29 October 2012

Recipe Time: Ghost cupcakes

These could be made to look more like little ghosts - I admit they're a poor effort on my part but I've been almost too busy this weekend for any Halloween cooking. I've been camping out at the marina again... In other words, devoting a lot of my Saturday and Sunday to go get my toes wet and hang around boats. I'm positive I'll end up with trenchfoot one day, the amount of time my feet spend in waterlogged wellies!

These little cuties are simple to make, and barely take any time at all. And you can even use the cocoa powder afterwards to make yourself a nice, warm hot choccie, and snuggle up on the sofa with it and one your Halloween cupcakes! Perfect for those cold nights in.

What you'll need...
75g butter/magarine
125g caster sugar
75g plain flour
35g self-raising flour

2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
25g cocoa powder
100g plain yoghurt

For the marshmallow topping...
125g caster sugar
60g golden syrup
2 egg whites
Bag of dessicated coconut

Whack the oven up to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 to preheat

1. Sieve the two flours, and the cocoa powder, and put them together in a bowl.
2. In a seperate bowl, cream the margarine/butter so it is soft, then add the caster sugar and cream the two together so the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Whisk in the egg gradually, add to the butter and sugar mix bit by bit. If the mixture looks like it is about the curdle, add in a tiny bit of the flour mix.
4. Fold in the flour mix gradually.
5. Then add the yoghurt. Make sure it is mixed in well.
6. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases - fill them until they are just over half full.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
8. Take out to cool. Whilst the cakes are cooling down, you can begin to make your marshmallow topping!
9. Pop the caster sugar in a saucepan with the golden syrup and heat until it comes to the boil. Leave this on for about 5 minutes.
10. Whilst it is boiling, whisk the egg whites on a high setting until they stand in peaks.
11. Still whisking the mixture, slowly add the syrup mix.

12. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes, until the topping mixture is stiff.
13. Now decorate your cupcakes! Put the marshmallow topping on with a spoon, layering it in blobs. Then sprinkle on some of the dessicated coconut. (You can make little ghost eyes by putting two strands of chocolate sprinkles on.)

They're like little ghouls! Tasty too.

Big love, and good luck with your Halloween costumes! xo

Saturday, 27 October 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... Wait, too early?

Oh no, winter is almost upon us. I know weather is the most mundane topic ever, but have you noticed how cold it has become in the past couple of days? I stepped outside my front door yesterday in just my lycra three quarter lengths and a hoodie and ended up retreating to the hallway in search of more clothes. Don't worry, I was going to the gym - I don't love lycra that much to wear it as part of a normal outfit. Most of the time. Even after putting on a chunky cardi (I looked like a bundle of wool, I was so wrapped up), I regretted my decision to not layer up even more for the cycle to the gym.

Where has this hideous weather come from? And why has it struck Wales with such force? Well, I'm demanding that it goes back to where it came from. I'm a big sucker for thick jumpers and big coats, but not arctic conditions. I'm freezing my toes off here. A certain part of me could definitely cut glass right now. Two certain parts of me. Someone whack the heating up please?

With the cold conditions comes the inevitable excitement about a certain holiday that crops up towards the end of the year. Yes, my birthday, obviously! No, sadly, people aren't exactly over the moon about that date, they're more concerned about the event that happens exactly a week afterwards. Starts with a big fat 'c' and ends with a little 's.' Oh, you got it in one! Gold star for you. CHRISTMAS. I'm a total scrooge at this time of year. I'm one of those people that will get excited about Jesus' birthday, but not until the calendar rolls around to late November/December time. I really do not like the fact that, in what seems to be late August now, the department stores and supermarkets begin to make room for their Christmas aisles. It's sneaky, they start off with a small section, perhaps a couple of baubles and some selection boxes. Nothing too noticeable but enough to get people talking. Then BAM, the shelves are piled high with tree decorations, stocking fillers, giant bars of chocolate, Christmas cards... The list is never ending. 

Christmas shopping panics me. I start early enough, browsing around town a couple of times, buying the majority of my presents. Then it gets to December, usually around the 20th, and I realise that everyone has an uneven amount of presents. I like to be fair, and make sure everyone has near enough the same amount spent on them. Saves arguments. I sound like a parent. "Well, darling, even though your brother's present is the size of an elephant, we did spend the same amount on both of you, so don't complain." 

I'm becoming too sensible I think. Hideous. 

So this fair-share business creates a bit of a tough situation. It's always easier to buy for women, isn't it? You go to Boots and have a whale of time with the 3 for 2 offers, stocking up on bubble bath and hair-care sets; then it dawns upon you that you haven't devoted any of your time to thinking what you're going to buy for those males in your life. They're a pain in the bottom to shop for. I normally end up getting random things, or a lot of Amazon gift vouchers. "There you go - I thought long and hard about this present, appreciate it!"

Or just buy Toblerones. A lot of them. They always go down a storm.

I knew chocolate was the solution to everything...

Big love, xo

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Where's my railcard?

Sometimes you need to take yourself out of a situation to view it entirely. Detaching yourself and looking upon it with fresh eyes is how I think I can get myself through it, or at least help me understand it.

Sitting in a Costa Coffee in Reading is helping me to see some things in a new light. I spotted a sign for it outside the Waterstones in the Oracle shopping centre and ducked inside, scared to venture outside of the main part of the town as I'd never been here before, and didn't want to get lost. I was hoping for a cute cafe in which I could snuggle on a sofa and order a cappucino, but no hope. I'm meant to be waiting for my Dad to come and pick me up - I'm only halfway home after a spur of the moment decision to leave Wales and take a break back at home. It's a very noisy and busy coffee shop; I have an impromptu mother's meeting taking place behind me, where a very pretty and slim tanned woman sat down not too long ago with her two squabbling children, spotting her friend across the not-so-careful arrangement of tables, and motioned for her to join the coffee party. They're now discussing birthday parties.

I feel hopelessly detached from this home-life talk, and am feeling more like a student than ever. At university I sometimes forget children exist, wound up in my bubble of teens, 20-something year olds and the odd mature student. Reading is a university town, but I can't spot anyone pulsing student vibes quite the same as I feel I am. Dressed fairly nicely - for me, anyway, I've actually made an effort past the usual jeans combo - I am still sporting my SURC gilet. It's times like these when I can't wait to grow up properly and surpass the stages of graduation, finding a job, finding a flat... I want to be in control of my future already. I am incredibly excited for the days when I'm not dependent on Student Finance and the perilous worries of overdrafts.

I often wonder what I'll be doing in five, maybe ten, years' time. Will I be just another contribution to the forever increasing percentage of unemployed youths? I don't want to be just a number. Or a fraction of number, even. I want to make something of myself. I want to be self-sufficient with the means to survive comfortably. I'm not aiming for the stars; I could never imagine myself in a slick office suit, sitting at an impeccably tidy desk, with my pens arranged in size order to my right. Not that every high-powered person has a case of OCD. I'm going to be one of those scatty women who are always trying their hardest to keep their shoes shiny and their clothes free from wrinkles. I'll have a desk area, if not my own office (high hopes!), and it'll be littered with cuttings from newspaper articles and magazines that I have found interesting. My stack of Margaret Atwood novels will be to my side, and a couple of books featuring Plath's poetry, maybe a potted plant or two trailing the desk.

In other words, I'm setting myself up for a Bridget Jones-esque life.

Distracting yourself is one way of taking yourself out of a situation. As you can see, I'm pretty good at that. But in all seriousness, being away from Swansea for a couple of hours has already made me feel a bit more revived. Kind of ready to head back? Almost, not quite.

I'm one of those people that has to be constantly on-the-go. If I'm not doing something, or seeing someone, I feel lazy. Apparently, it's important to have a little 'me' time. What are you meant to do with yourself? How do you cope for a couple of hours on your own?

That's HOW you cope though, I've realised. I wrote this on my jotter and then my Dad called so I had to round up my belongings and leave, placing my huge coffee cup (they're more like bowls, aren't they?) on the counter, and running back to the station. Having a time-out isn't being lazy, it's being normal. It's called recovering. I'm finally feeling less ill, and I feel like I have a bit more energy than before, because I was totally drained and having to rely on energy drinks to keep me half-awake. Or once, mistakenly, Lucozade. But that brings back a lot of memories, and I don't want to get started on that one yet.

Sit back, have a cup of tea, get out a good novel or switch on the telly. Make sure you're providing yourself with a little bit of 'R&R,' as my friend referred to it the other day. Rest and relaxation is definitely key!

Big love, xo

P.S. I'm baking Hallowe'en treats before I head back to Swansea. I'm so excited! Praying that I don't fall asleep in the mixing bowl though, my tiredness isn't completely sorted...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Man, I love college

"Freshmen! Freshmen! Freshmen! Do somethin' crazy, do somethin' crazy, do somethin' crazy."

Beware of the marker pen.

You MUST have heard that song. If you haven't, I'm sorry, but I'm going to discount you as a university student. Don't worry if you're not a student, I'll let that one pass, just make sure you take a peek on Youtube. I think the amount of times we played I Love College by Asher Roth in my flat in Fresher's Week when I started first year totalled a stupid number. "Ooohhh, this song is about Freshers! Totally relates to us, right?" It's the same with the Tinie Tempah song, Pass Out. There's a line that talks about raving with the Freshers. I remember always shouting that part when I sang along. If I'm singing along, I'll always shout the parts of a song that I think relate to me.

"Fresher Flat Photo!" I look so young.

First year makes you feel like you're super special and you're the first ever people to go to university. Like, ever! I know, I've been there. I've felt the same, got the t-shirt. Or actually, all the t-shirts, and I now use them for the gym. Seems a bit ironic sometimes, sporting a Smirnoff-or-similar-sponsored top when you're on a mad one on the cross-trainer.

Back on topic. You do feel like you're brand new and shiny when you become a first year undergraduate at uni. It's partly because you are. But the same goes for all the other people in previous years that began their time in higher education - they lived in your halls, they partied as hard as you, they had a bit of spending spree with their loans, too. It's really odd to think it's just the same thing every single year, and that the university staff must see the same thing happen all the time. They can probably predict how you'll lead your educational life from just watching a couple of your actions. It's just a repetition. A circle. Round and round we go, through the motions, turning like cogs in a machine.

Don't become just one of those cogs though. You want to break the mould, right? I certainly do. I don't want to just be that girl that went off to Swansea, studied some humanities degree, ended up with an alright result, and got some monotonous office job. That's not what I want my life to become. I have ambitions, finally. It took me the entirety of my teenage years to actually form them, but they are here. They've taken up residency in me; I don't want any flimsy dream-like plans that have only arrived on the basis that they're taking out a short-term rental agreement.

First years: make sure you're making full use of your time learning about the big wide world. Being away from home means you should take all those opportunities that you're presented with. Don't shy away. If you could believe, I was one of those shy people last year who was so scared of trying new things because I didn't know whether I was allowed, or if I would fit in. It's the big U.N.I. for crying out loud: everyone is in the same boat and we're all desperate to make friends and try new things!

JOIN THOSE CLUBS I know it seems a bit late on in the term to be announcing this, but there's still time. You can just drop an email to the club, and usually they'll be really friendly and let you know when their practice sessions are, or when they meet up. There are so many things to choose from too, so try a couple of things out until you find your new passion.

Swansea Uni Rowing Club 2011-12

GO TO SOCIALS - Either join in with your new flatmates, or go to your society's socials, and get yourself along to those nights out. This is how you'll meet new people; this is how you're probably going to end up with friends that you'll have for the rest of your life. They're not always nights out either. My club is probably a bad example because it is oriented towards the Wednesday-night-out scene, but we also have sober socials too where we go to buffets and meals out and things. There are plenty of things you can do without drinking.

SURC Varsity Dinner

KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR WORK - It's easy to think, 'Oh, it's first year, it doesn't count.' No. No that's not true. It does count, you can make foundations for your next couple of years at uni now. Do those essays properly, listen out in lectures, attend your seminars. Those notes that you have now, all that feedback you receive, that could be useful for future modules you take. First year is definitely more laid back but don't take it with too much of a breeze.

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BANK BALANCE - Don't hide from the account total like I love to do. Just because you're not checking how much is in there doesn't mean it's not slowly decreasing. Just make sure you're double checking the amount you spend every week. Keep enough in there for your rent! Set a budget for the week, and only get out the money you intend on spending, and hide your card in your room to prevent yourself getting it out again.

UTILISE YOUR NEW STUDENT STATUS - Start getting student-savvy. Student discounts are everywhere. Make sure you ask in the shops, because it will get you a reasonable amount off your purchases. Some restaurants are the same, too, so watch out for meal deals. Oh, and get a railcard. I have one and it saves me extraordinary amounts. I can get home without forking out an arm and a leg.

Big love, xo

Friday, 19 October 2012

Fancy dress queen

I'm on a blogging high. Hello multiple posts! I'm actually organising myself for once; finding the time to do everything I so desperately need to do. And I think it helps that I only have one lecture today, so I can begin to fit things in, and possibly get my geek on and spend some well needed time in the library.

I had a really good night last night. Thursday is officially known as Hangover Day in my circle of friends. Wednesday nights out are unforgiving, and you've been blessed with a miracle if you don't wake up with some sort of bad head or dodgy stomach. Usually I like to treat myself by ignoring any semblance of a meal plan for the day, and eating whenever I want, and however much I want. Calories don't count after a night out - that's my motto, anyway. Yesterday I was obviously in life's good books, because I woke up and didn't feel totally wrecked. I went to Nando's after my lecture, with Lucy and one of the rowing boys, and ordered a bit of a feast. Normally I over-exaggerate. I think I might be under-exaggerating this time. Does a double chicken burger with cheese, peas, and also chips sound enough? I was absolutely stuffed by the time I'd finished. And of course I finished my meal. Never leave food behind at restaurants. Ever. Just don't do it. I don't know whether it's the student mentality kicking in - 'I will not waste ANYTHING! I paid for this!' - or just my appetite, which seems to be equivalent to that of a very hungry walrus at the moment.

Salivating. Again.

Want to see some pictures? Wednesday night the rowers were dressed to the nines in their finest army gear. I'm telling you, face paint isn't easy to get off. I spent about half the morning scrubbing my face red-raw to get it off. I wasn't hugely keen on wandering through campus covered in paint from the night before - that kind of thing lies in the same realm as the ever-famous walk of shame. I am dreading the day I buy the wrong sort of face paint and it sticks permanently to my face and I have to sit in lectures covered in it. And that day will come. And it will be some horrifically bright glow paint or something similar. It might happen.

Reporting for duty. Cringe poses by my housemates and I.

Why sit on a chair when you have the floor?

Outfit: courtesy of one of the girls' housemate's boyfriend (bit of a mouthful, that was). He had a huge bag of army kit he no longer wanted. So I bagsied an army jacket, which I cut up a bit, and belted round my waist. Being short has its disadvantages. Then I had a lovely time running riot with the paint, covering my legs, arms and face with streaks of camouflage-like colours. Also I splodged my nails with various different dark colours. Bit of a mish-mash (the nails, not me, although that is kind of true as well), and they looked slightly pre-schoolian. I didn't take a picture because I'm slightly embarrassed by my efforts.

'OLD MCDONALD HAD A FARM... EE-I EE-I EE-I OH!' Last Wednesday I dressed up as a farmer. Or, more accurately, I was meant to be shepherd. The first social for the rowers is notoriously known as sheep-and-shepherd night. To put it simply - previous rowers (dressed as farmers) and new rowers (dressed as sheep) get paired off with the opposite sex. They're tied together for the night, and the farmer pretty much has full say on how the night will go.

It's safe to say that night was a messy one. I think everyone had a whale of a time (hopefully). There were trails of cotton wool across the street, so you could kind of map where everyone had been. Cotton wool being from the sheep, obviously... It was like shearing season on a farm; even super-strength glue doesn't seem to stand a chance.

Just getting ready to round up our sheep...

Sofa smiles

I have more pictures, but I'm getting a bit bored of seeing my face. I'll finish up now. Have a lovely day, enjoy the sun if you're in Swansea!

Big love, xo

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Recipe Time: Cookie Craving Cupcakes

These little things are possibly the most chocolatey things I have made in a while. Whilst I'm not the biggest fan of overly chocolate cake, I like chocolate pieces. Would you believe I used to hate chocolate cake? Those were crazy days... I don't look back on that phase very fondly. All the slices of birthday cake, all the chunks of brownie, all the gooey chocolate fudge cake that I didn't have a problem turning my nose up at... I would definitely be waddling with the weight of my chocolate belly now though if I'd have accepted all those offers, so I suppose there are upsides.

You're going to need to pop down to somewhere like Lidl to do some industrial stocking up on chocolate, okay? Fill those cupboards to the brim. I may have also bought enough so that in the event I would snack on my ingredients I would still have enough for the cake. Of course I snacked. I don't advise eating an entire bar of chocolate and also a couple of large spoonfuls of chocolate spread whilst baking. You will feel slightly sick afterwards.

What You'll Need...
150g caster sugar
150g butter/margarine
3 medium eggs - beaten together
Pinch of baking powder
2 halves of large bars of chocolate, milk and white, chopped into small pieces
225g self-raising flour, sifted

And for the buttercream...
140g butter or margarine
300g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract 

To top it all off...
Jar of chocolate spread, preferably one of the 'duo' ones with white and milk swirled
The other halves of the milk and white chocolate bars, also chopped
Chocolate sprinkles
Cookie pieces

Turn your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 to preheat, and fill your cupcake mould with the cases.

1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Make sure it's nice and soft when you're done.
2. Now start beating in the egg, bit by bit. If the mix looks like it's about to curdle, pop in some of the sieved flour.
3. Now stir in the rest of the flour and baking powder gradually. 
4. Now empty the chopped chocolate into the bowl, and mix it in well.

5. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases, filling to about three quarters full.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

7. After taking them out and letting them cool, cut out the centre of each one of the cakes, keeping the leftover cake on the side. You'll need it later.

8. Using a teaspoon, put the chocolate spread into middle of each of the cakes. Be generous with your helpings! :)

9. Now for the buttercream. Make sure the butter is soft, and beat it a bit before gradually adding the icing sugar.

10. If it is hard to cream the two together, start adding the milk. Then add the vanilla.
11. As messy as you like, top the cupcakes in the buttercream.
12. In whatever way you fancy, arrange the toppings on top of each cupcake. I put the cookie in the middle then went crazy with the chocolate. With the leftover cake from the middle of each cupcake, you can crumble and put on the top too.

13. Perfect! Now eat.

Hope you enjoy these guys!

Big love, xo