Information Overload

16 Apr

We live in a world of constant approval and updates – the first thing the majority of us do when we wake up is scroll through our smart phones browsing social media; what our friends are up to, what our peers have been doing and how we measure up. We get coffee and we watch the news, and then we head to work where we sneakily check Instagram, tweet here and there, and wait till we go home, where we spend the evening doing it all again. Consumer brands are reporting that their biggest online sales times are coming from these periods, where we sit watching TV yet can’t focus, tweeting away or purchasing on iPads and phones.

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It doesn’t say much for quality time with our families and loved ones, does it?

A lot of it falls down to constant marketing; being shown products geared towards an aspirational lifestyle and being asked to buy into lifestyles we can’t yet afford. The results are detrimental to lives up and down the country with people being tied into credit agreements and wanting things before they can technically have them.

We need to start living for today, rather than chasing tomorrow, as for some people, tomorrow isn’t coming. By treating life like it’s the last day we will spend living it, and by appreciating what we have rather than constantly striving to gain what we haven’t got, we will start to see the magic in the moments we are living now, rather than looking back and wondering where so much time has gone.

What do you do to switch off from the world? UNICEF recently launched a pretty cool campaign to provide water to people who don’t have it. by not touching your phone for increments of 10 minutes, the phone companies will donate to the charity. It makes you realise quite how regularly you reach for your phone during the day.

I vow to make the most of my trip to Vancouver, and turn my phone off. I want to enjoy my time in a new city, exploring and visiting new places, without having to check to see what the rest of the world is up to.

How do you switch off?

Warning: This Will Change Your Life. Chicken, Edamame and Ginger Soup

2 Apr

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Pret – a -Manger inspired Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup.

A few weeks ago I forgot to take lunch into work, and nipped out to Pret to get food on the run. I opted for the Soup-er Healthy Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup for a quick lunch, and I’ve not been able to get it out of my head since, with it obviously not appearing on the menu again, like a mirage in the desert.

Like when I was a teenager and insisted on playing the same album on repeat until my sister threw it away, I have become somewhat obsessive about popping in just on the off chance that they have it again, totally prepared to throw my sandwiches at a passing seagull and stock up if ts on the menu. It hasn’t been.111

So I decided to recreate it. I Googled the soup to see if I could find the recipe, and all I found was a soup-er unhelpful pret page telling me about the fantastic wonder of said soup, sans recipe.

But wait……… it did have the main ingredients. I could totally work with this.

Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup

According to Pret: dairy free, egg free, gluten free and under 200 calories (unless you buy a cream cake to go with it, or a family pack of crisps).

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Ingredients

1 cooked chicken

3 spring onions

One red onion

3 tsps sliced ginger

1 tsp garlic paste

2tsps tomato paste

2 packs edamame beans

Handful kale (optional, freestylin’)

2 pints chicken stock

Method

Shred the chicken meat from the roast chicken, removing the skin. Heat some oil in a large stockpot and throw in the shredded chicken. Add the diced onion, ginger, garlic paste and tomato paste, and stir. Fry for 2 mins before adding 2 pints of chicken stock. Simmer. Stir in the tamarind paste and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 20 mins.

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Voila!!

Seriously, this soup will change your life.

Have you ever eaten something that you wish you had the recipe for or could recreate yourself?

2014 Travel – The Norway Edit

1 Apr

As part of branching out and extending my horizons, I booked a trip to Norway.

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There was no particular reason for choosing Norway as a destination, other than it was the cheapest place Easyjet went to, and I found a pretty little apartment on Air BnB. I was sold.

And the whole trip was amazing.

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As the plane landed we flew over show capped mountains and gorgeous expanses of water, and were glad we booked the fjord tour for the next day. The trip took us from Bergen through Voss, to Gudvagen and then on a boat trip to Flam, with the final part of the tour taking us on the old fashioned railway from Flam through to Myrdal, and then back to Bergen.

The tour was pretty expensive (it translated to £110 each), and took 8 hours from start to finish. It was a really great way to see a lot of different places when on a really short trip, and the scenery was breathtaking, especially the little villages on the shores of the fjords. I do think however that for the price you pay, it could have done with being a bit less of an independent tour; the bus was a local bus service and had no guide to tell you where you were, only a book that told you what to look out for.

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It was peaceful, pretty and out of the ordinary from what we normally see in London, and was a beautiful weekend. I would totally recommend it, however be aware that England is pricy, but it has nothing on the cost of Norway. £10 for a beer?!

Where have you been that surprised you?

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Lost in Translation

19 Mar

Going past the obvious physical things, there are some massive differences between boys and girls, a point that has become glaringly obvious since I moved in with one. Things like emptying the bins, “I didn’t notice they were full!” and hoovering “I like my feet black!” were expected, but there are some things that we see from totally different stand points.

Take last night for example.

Last night, I finally dragged my sorry ass to the gym, and not only did I do the most high intensity zumba class, which turned out not to be zumba but an eclectic blend of salsa, reggaeton and bowka, I also did 15 minutes on the stepper as I was there a bit early.

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I was really proud of myself, despite the fact that I had to consume a banana and half a bag of sweets on the way home due to slightly low blood sugar (ill learn the balance eventually of insulin, working out and food intake) but I was pleased all the same.

I trekked home, getting weird looks from fellow tube passengers (I have something to admit, five minutes after exercise has finished, I go puce and remain that way for a good hour. It’s my thang) and my boyfriend had done something really sweet. Something he thought I would really appreciate. He had got me a “well done for going to the gym treat”.

Just to add some background to this, I have given cheese up for lent. It’s my biggest vice, and I love ever cheese imaginable. I don’t drink a lot and wanted to test my willpower for the lent period, so cheese it was. And Lord, it’s been the hardest thing. But so far I have been cheese free since Pancake Day, and I have a month to go. A month of pure hell. Especially as I gave up cheese for January too, in a bid to make my tummy look less like cottage cheese.

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So my treat was……… a cheese board! I was a little taken aback. Why would it be a good idea to reward me with the same amount of calories I had just leaked in sweat, half way through a massive test of my willpower? And why does anyone need a reward for their first gym session? Well done for not being lazy for the first time in your life! I didn’t get the logic. He didn’t get my logic.

When I asked my girl housemate what she thought, her response was “I did have to bite my tongue when he got home with it”.

I totally appreciated the sentiment of the reward, I just thought it a weird one. Diamonds would have done just fine.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have done something / someone else has done something for you that has been totally misinterpreted?

A City’s Tale

9 Mar

O cities memories of cities
Cities wrapped in our desires
Cities come early cities come lately
Cities strong and cities secret
Plundered of their master’s builders
All their thinkers all their ghosts

Paul Eluard

London is a great city. For all I long to be elsewhere, in the summer months there is nothing more exciting that London; filled with excited voices speaking a cacophony of languages, smiling faces as the sun shines down and the hustle and bustle of the streets packed with pilgrims. The city turns its residents into explorers on these glorious days, and yesterday, the first day that the sun raised its weary head and decided to join us, I did the same.

I took the tube from my flat to Waterloo, and then walked back (in a round about fashion) home. I took a walk through the Southbank, switching to the North side of the river and wound my way through streets and cyclists taking the time to look up at the buildings.IMG_20140308_170625

I love London. My favourite thing is the architecture; one building built in 1800 juxtaposed with a modern skyrise that houses bankers and workers through the week. Its like the city is being stubborn; a cackle of pensioners resisting the pace of time and the urge for the city to move and evolve with its competition.

St Paul’s is a perfect example of this. All around that area are faceless glass monoliths, built to fence in the ever growing hoards of people, the same people that don’t make eye contact on public transport and line, like rats, to get in a line to queue for a train. The cages of the faceless. But then the Royal Exchange and The Royal Court of Justice pop up, like two old men from their armchairs, moaning about ‘these days’ and casting their minds back to ‘the good old days’. These buildings, weathered by the wars, the world and the pace of current society have stood their time, and are now complaining about their backs and the rush of the city.IMG_20140308_180611

I watched Monuments Men when I was away, and it really stuck with me. If you haven’t seen or heard of the film, it follows a team of Allied art historians and scholars who accompanied the soldiers in the war to protect our art, our history and our heritage. They told officers which buildings to protect, and as a direct result, over 22,000 works of art were protected from the Nazis, through Belgium, France, Germany and Poland. No mean feat. If you haven’t seen it I would strongly recommend it, and it was called to my mind when wandering the lonely streets of the Square Mile.

What do you love the most about your city? I’m trying to put together a bucket list of cities I haven’t visited so I would love to know where is good to go!

Feminism is Dead.

6 Mar

Feminism is dead. And if not, in its current form, I really think it should be.

Let me give you a little context. If I had been born in the days where women weren’t entitled to the vote I would have been the first to complain. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in women’s rights in their entirety, and am first in line to show how much I am the equivalent to my male counterparts across the board. Underestimate me because I am female and the joke will be on you because I am competent, diligent and able, yet this has nothing to do with which chromosomes my body is made up of. It’s to do with me.

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I wholeheartedly believe that feminism, although coming from a well meant place, is dead. Its something that I believe there is no need for anymore, and in my day to day life, I find that the girls that are campaigning for this stuffy idea are actually skewing the balance for the rest of us. What we should be fighting for is equality. The chance to be recognised for what we bring to the table, not for what we bring to the table as women.

This train of thought comes from a meeting I had this week. It was a brilliant idea; to promote National Women’s Day in a workplace that has a strong male workforce. Fantastic – we need to be ensuring that young and influential women starting their career recognise that being a woman isn’t going to hold you back. The idea came from a really good place; it just didn’t stay that way for very long.

The ideas bouncing around started to grate. I ignored them, for the sake of trying to not come across really opinionated, but then I had to say my piece. Someone suggested that to promote the event, we should get the women and the men to switch. So getting the guys to do a bake sale, and giving the girls an afternoon to go rock climbing, for example.

It hit me that in trying to promote a fantastic day, we were actually polarising the problem. By suggesting that we do this, we were reinforcing the negative (and downright wrong) opinion that as opposite sexes, our skills and abilities were always going to be totally different, and completely stereotypical.

OK, I don’t come from a place of out and out feminism. I actually like it when I have had a hard day at work and a man on the Tube offers me his seat. I like it when, every now and then, my boyfriend offers to pay for dinner. I see it as chivalry for these things to happen, rather than being completely affronted that they would even dare to suggest it. And I know that the term feminism covers a broad spectrum, but organising girls clubs and events is the wrong way to go about addressing the issue of equality. In the United States even as recently as a couple of years ago, women were, on average (and its wildly different between states) still getting paid 11% less than men in direct comparison roles.

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A conversation with my Uncle while I was away highlighted the issue with businesses employing women “of that age” which in reference to this conversation was 28 – 35. Marriage and kid’s age, in case you were wondering. A women, “at that age” (my age) is less employable than her male counterpart from a business point of view, as she is more likely to get married, have children, and take maternity leave, which in turn costs a business money.

Sure, this is the case, and empowering women is the way forward, but rather than putting us as women in a box, why don’t we try to highlight our individual differences?

We shouldn’t be celebrating our successes because we are women.

We should simply be celebrating our successes. Isn’t that what equality is?

What are your thoughts?

Make Memories

5 Mar

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For the past 2 weeks I have been back in the place I love the most, San Diego, California. The sun has shone and I have been happily ensconsed in family, ocean and sand, getting the fresh air into my lungs and loving the bones of life.

Don’t get me wrong, London has its appeal and this sprawling city full of life sings to me in the summer, yet my heart longs to ditch the faceless streets of the city for the fresh air of the cliffs and the song of the sea.
So here are some shots of my time. I hope you enjoy them, and I promise I’ll get my fingers moving again shortly, Samantha!

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Scripps Pier, La Jolla, California. Looks like a horrible cement pier from the top, but underneath its alternative beauty. I love it.

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Lifeguard post, La Jolla, California

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Palm trees are my absolute favourite, and this is why. They remind me of La Jolla Cove.

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Lifeguard post at Torrey Pines State reserve, a hike I love to do to see the ocean from a different angle and get some exercise!

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This sign got Nicki Minaj stuck in our heads. FOR THE WHOLE DAY

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

On The Road Again

6 Feb

Next week, I am heading back to the place I love the most, California. I plan to take the boy, hang out with my family and visit some of the places my Granddad loved to go to when he was there. Paying my respects, and filling my world with his happy memories.

So while I am busy packing and getting prepped for the trip, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite shots from my past trips, ready for hitting the locations again with my new camera! (I opted for a Nikon).

Enjoy!

Las Vegas by night (I know, not technically Cailfornia)

Las Vegas by night (I know, not technically Cailfornia)

La Jolla Shores, and the seal colony

La Jolla Shores, and the seal colony

Jellyfish at San Franscisco aquarium

Jellyfish at San Franscisco aquarium

The Bluffs, Del Mar

The Bluffs, Del Mar

 

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Cable cars in San Franscisco

Happy Snapping

1 Feb

I’ve been blogging for a long time now and my blog has evolved during this time. I have shared good times and bad, embarrassing (and funny for everyone else) situations, and loads and loads of inspirational quotes. Which I love. Even if you don’t.

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But I have never branched out and bought myself a good camera, and I am feeling like now is the time. Gone are the days when I can get by with my camera phone, complete with dodgy flash and go faster blurs if I geta little over enthusiastic. Nope, its time to make the change.

But I have a real issue with purchasing anything of value. If I see a pair of shoes over £60 I will always rationalise that I don’t need them and I can cope with what I have, and anything over the £200 mark makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

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So ive been doing my research. I’ve spent what feels like days on Amazon reading reviews, ive scoured the blog world for recommendations for all kinds of bloggers, and I have made a shortlist. But it still makes me, you know, a bit itchy.

I wanted to reach out to you guys and ask what you would recommend? I did a photography A level at school, but that finished 10 years ago and I haven’t picked up an SLR since. I want something that is easy to use (like childlike) and that is reliable, so does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks peoples!

Insta Catch Up – Bye Bye January!

31 Jan

I’ve been pretty busy this week, dashing about and planning the next (and hopefully very exciting!) chapter, but I have been neglecting Instagram slightly less, so I thought I would catch you all up.

1Can’t is so negative. I am guilty sometimes (like everyone else) of dwelling on the things that I can’t do rather than focussing on the positive and things I can do. This year I’m all about turning the frown upside down and taking those cants into YES I CAN!’s.

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My darling baby cousin Emily turned 15 this week, and celebrated accordingly. I am so excited to be with her in 2 weeks doing girly stuff and celebrating her (nearly) grown-up-ness!

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I fell in love with the lighting when we went to Lobster Burger recently, and began daydreaming of a beautiful loft conversion flat where I could accommodate these. And then I remembered it would be cold. And drafty.3

I’m not a girly girl, and so my nails remain very neglected. Sometimes I do a French polish, sometimes they go for month with barely a file. But left to my own devices in Topshop’s Flagship store on Oxford Street, I went dotty for the detail on these bottles! I was, however, very restrained. Small savings enable big dreams.

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Tulips are by far my favourite flower, and great for brightening the flat when the rain is lashing down. My housemate came home from an extended Christmas break, and I filled out carton shaped milk jug with flowers to brighten her day too. Its all about kindness in 2014.

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