17 March 2017

golden cheesecake truffles | a recipe

 mini golden cheesecake truffles

I've mentioned before that I've got into the habit of baking most weekends. I find it an extremely therapeutic activity most of the time. Unless I make macarons or attempt something which is known to be difficult, in which case, it's the complete opposite and I get narky and throw things straight into the bin. But that's one of those things and for the most part, it's something I enjoy doing. However, sometimes I just can't be bothered to properly bake but I still want to make something. My oven is notoriously temperamental, so overused from all the years of being inside a little rented flat that the numbers have worn off and I know that it just won't be the day to make something which requires anything more than a microwave. And that's where these cheesecake truffles come in. They're simple, easy to make, don't require an oven and are still extremely pretty to look at and hand out at work. Plus there are only three ingriedients. 


15 March 2017

the ordinary cold-pressed rose hip seed oil | a review.

the ordinary cold-pressed rose hip seed oil a review

First things first, I am no beauty expert and this is by no means a beauty blog. But I have recently been trying to get into the scary world of skincare and take better care of my skin. This has involved a lot of research (Reddit has weirdly been a great source of help in this regard) and lots of scary words like retinol and AHAs. The first thing you learn is that there's a lot to learn. The second thing you learn is that this can be an expensive game.

So while I was searching on the beauty section of ASOS (because who doesn't spend a disproportionate amount of time window shopping on ASOS?) I came across The Ordinary, a pretty new skincare brand. I'll admit that at first I was pretty much taken in by their super pretty and simple packaging which is right up my street and secondly, I was taken in by the price. You can't get away from the fact that this range is just a hell of a lot cheaper than a lot of the skincare on the market - and not cheap in a naff way either. Cheap in a "oh, this is actually good value for money" kinda way. 

While making one of my many ASOS orders, I decided I'd give the brand a go and I picked up their Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, which sells for £9. I was looking for some Rose Hip oil for my skin anyway because there are so many benefits to it - this one contains linoleic acid, linolenic acid and pro-vitamin A which is great if you have acne prone skin (like me) and need something to reduce scars and even the skin tone. 

the ordinary cold-pressed rose hip seed oil a review

So let's start with the positives, shall we? The price we've already covered - a definite tick in the box. The packaging we've also slightly covered - it's slick, simple and appealing, I love it. Not only that, the bottle itself is UV resistant, which means the product won't degrade over time. Another tick in the box. It's glass too, which doesn't feel cheap at all. The only thing to be wary of is that it is a dropper - which is no issue for me but I know it can be an issue for some. 

But now to the negatives. For a start, I just don't see a great benefit to my skin from using it. And believe me, I've used it quite a lot (otherwise I wouldn't have bothered reviewing it yet, yadda yadda...). Secondly, I just hate the smell. I hate the smell so much that I can't face putting it on my face and so close to my nose anymore. Unfortunately, this means that this particular product has found its way to the back of my drawers, unlikely to be seen for a while. 

On a final note, the one off putting thing for a newbie like me are the names. As I've said, skincare is a confusing game and these products don't help. You have to have some idea of what you want from a product before you buy them as they can sound a little more like a chemistry set than a skincare brand (The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% anyone?), but that's a note about the brand rather than this product in particular. 

Having said that, it won't put me off buying anything from The Ordinary again (I may or may not have already purchased The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% and I'm already eyeing up The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%). It may not be the most indulgent of skincare brands, but it's shaping up to be one of the most real, at prices that novices like me can stomach - even if I do have to do my research first.

Have you tried anything by The Ordinary?

Annie x

13 March 2017

lemon curd shortcake | a recipe.

lemon curd shortcake recipe
I have to say, making a shortcake was an experience. It's not something that I would usually think of making - to be quite honest I wasn't even sure what a shortcake was. I knew what shortbread was, of course,* but shortcake seemed to be something different. My only context was those strawberry shortcake Muller corner yoghurts. So what possessed me to decide to make a shortcake? Well God only knows.

I must have remembered seeing this recipe from somewhere and one day I decided to get off my arse and make it. Thing is, I absolutely love lemon curd and I will always go out of my way to make something that involves it as an ingredient, even if I do have to stop myself from sitting there with a spoon and eating it out of the jar. This time I went a step further and made the lemon curd from scratch - it was a little easier than I'd thought, which is always a good thing. One major plus point is that you end up making more lemon curd than you need so you can keep it in jars if you promise not to polish it off with a spoon...

lemon curd shortcake

The thing to remember with this recipe is that it doesn't look the prettiest. A friend at work likened it to looking like a beige cow pat, which really isn't something you want to be putting near your mouth. The one thing I take away from it though is that it really didn't taste like what I assume a cow pat to taste like. 

*In case you were wondering - you probably weren't - shortcake can be made using vegetable fat instead of butter and usually has a leavening agent which gives it a different texture. 

10 March 2017

8 things no one ever tells you about living abroad.

8 things no one ever tells you about living abroad amsterdam film

When I was finishing my degree, at the grand old age of 21, I didn't feel ready to off into the real world. It wasn't because I felt I wasn't ready to find a job, move into the real world or anything like that, it's just that I didn't feel I'd finished studying. I was in the process of finishing a Law and Politics degree and although I'd adored the politics side, I'd hated the law side. Of course, the law side had been the majority of the degree. I wanted to learn more politics, it felt like my last chance and so I knew that doing a Masters degree was one of the ways I could fit in learning a bit more. 

Faced with not being able to afford to carry on in Cardiff to do a Masters degree, I made the choice to head abroad. I'd loved Holland on a small holiday when I was 18 and it kept cropping up as a choice. It was a relatively cheap choice (at £1,400 for a year's tuition compared to Cardiff's £5,000), was taught in English and did the course I wanted to do. Not only that, but it was only a 45-minute plane journey from Birmingham and from home. Of course, there was quite a lot of drama around the whole application process which meant that I found out I'd got into my University of choice only two weeks before I was due to start. If you've ever moved countries in two weeks, you might be able to guess at just how stressful that was. But it's how I ended up living in Leiden, the Netherlands, for a year of my life.

8 March 2017

how to spend 24 hours in berlin.

24 hours in berlin reichstag building

I think one of the main overhangs from my family holidays when I was younger is that I always think I can fit seeing a whole city into one day. When I was growing up, we often went on cruises. I know, everyone thinks they're for old people and while I would be lying to you if I said they weren't jam packed full of old people, I always really enjoyed them. They're a great way of seeing a completely different country without having to worry about travelling between them. It meant I got to see most of Europe before I was twenty and I'll never let anyone trash talk a cruise. 

Having said that, you can't fully experience a city in a day. I know that deep down. But life gets in the way of travelling so much, with only around 25 days of annual leave a year you really have to pick and choose what's important to you. And you really can get a good sense of a city in one day even if you can't explore it all - for example, I know you'd have to pay me to go back to Constanța and I'm so glad I didn't waste annual leave on a longer trip. I like picking places in Europe to see quickly so you can make a decision on whether to go back. Berlin was one of those choices.


6 March 2017

feuilletine chocolate biscuit brittle | a recipe

feuilletine chocolate biscuit brittle recipe

The problem with not feeling like I'm doing much of value at work at the moment is that I get home and feel like I've wasted a whole day and that there wasn't much point in me being in the office. I get that horrible feeling that I have to do something, anything, to make me feel like I was at some point productive during the day. And sometimes, the only thing I can think of doing is baking. Sometimes it's cleaning, sometimes it's organising a drawer and sometimes it's baking. I lead the most thrilling of lives. 

I arrived home the other day after sitting in my office for even longer than usual waiting for my boss to turn up for a meeting. When 7 pm ticked passed and I realised he probably wasn't going to come, I made a run for it. So now it's late, I'm in a bad mood and my brain feels like it's turned to mush. I needed to do something and it needed to be really quite easy and quick if I wanted to get into bed at a vaguely normal time. I still had to fit in the second half of Silent Witness too. Obvs.


3 March 2017

26 things i've learned in my 26 years of life.

26 things i've learned in my 26 years of life

PANIC STATIONS. I turn 26 tomorrow. How did this happen? How have I now become closer to 30 than to 20? Does this now mean I'm in my late twenties, or can I still get away with being in my mid-twenties? Does anyone know the real definitions? EEK. Would sixteen-year-old Annie still be devastated that she doesn't own a house yet? Probs.

Anyway, with renting being on the cards for a few more years yet (sorry little me), I thought I'd put together a little list of things I've learned in my years on this planet.

Comparison is the thief of joy. It's such a cliche, but it's really true. I'd be lying if I said I'd worked out how to not compare myself to others all the time, but at least I can recognise I'm doing it and that it's not always the nicest thing to do

Tourists in London will always be annoying. I don't know how I haven't managed to get over this one yet, but it's very difficult when you have to walk through Westminster Tube station or over Westminster Bridge every day. I remind myself every day that I'm just as annoying when I'm abroad and that I need to get over myself.

That I have size 10 feet, not size 8 feet. I haven't quite learnt this one yet, as I still buy the wrong size shoes (seriously, try buying pretty size 10 shoes...it's impossible) but I'm getting better. The last pair I bought were a size 9.5. It's closer.

That having an easy job is not the same as having a good job. There are so many elements of my job that should be perfect - flexible working, good salary, good annual leave etc - but I still need to move on and feel like I'm using my brain.

School days aren't the best days of your life. 

A good skincare regime is something I should have invested in earlier. Going in to Superdrug and throwing yourself at a shelf in the hope of something landing in your hands that at best doesn't make you spottier is not a strategy. 

Cleaning my wooden floor with polish was so bloody thick. My housemates and I spent weeks slipping and sliding everywhere. I may as well have plonked banana skins everywhere. Don't do this guys, not unless you fancy cracking your head open every time you wear socks.
It's okay to not want to go out-out. I'm quite happy to see that part of my life confined to the days of University, along with painful heels and shit clubs. Mind you, it's probably a good thing - I think if I went out-out in London I'd be bankrupt. 

Exercise is vaguely miserable but always worth it. You really do always feel better for it afterwards don't you?

You move at a different rate to your friends. Although it gets harder and harder to smile when someone else tells you they're buying a house.

Grandparents are everything.
First class Virgin train tickets are worth spending the ££ on. That free drink, separate seat and not having to run along the concourse with everyone else to throw yourself on a London Midland? I'd pay for that any day.

You can be lonely even when you're surrounded by people.

It doesn't really matter what qualifications you have. To a point anyway. No one has asked me what my GCSE results are for a long time and sometimes I even have trouble remembering what I took.

There is nowhere colder on earth than Clapham South tube station. I wish there was a way out that didn't involve that escalator into that wind tunnel. Colder than the South Pole. 

Never get into the habit of washing your hair every day. Because a) it's no good for you and b) it's so bloody boring.

You can't please everyone. To be honest, I'm still trying to learn this one. 

Life is too short.

Everything happens for a reason. I'm a genuine believer of this. I once spent eight months searching for a job getting more and more depressed and desperate when one didn't appear. I later secured myself one of the best jobs I could have ever started with which has opened so many doors along the way.

Even the nicest people can be toxic.
Social media is not real life. I will always remember being in exact same place as a famous blogger at exactly the same time and her tweeting complete bullshit about the weather. Such a small and silly little thing to lie about but it taught me to take everything online with a pinch of salt.

It's okay not to care. Equally, it's okay to care too much. For example, I really do not care about X Factor or BGT, but I really care about what happens on Eastenders. Shrug. 

Talking to people on the tube isn't the worst thing. 
Nothing good can come from Question Time. I can't remember the last time I watched this programme and didn't want to scream at the TV or get myself into a stupid twitter argument (seriously, I once got into a big argument with a man about whether you could have 52% of five people on a panel. You can't).
London isn't the be all and end all of life.

Investing in clothes is probably worth it in the long run. I think I'd cry if someone totted up how much money I've wasted on crap over the years in Primark.
Let me know if you agree with any of these. Or, let me know what you've learned in your time on this earth!

Annie x

1 March 2017

a must see in berlin: visiting the east side gallery.

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

On the top of my list of things I needed to do in Berlin was to head to the East Side Gallery. The East Side Gallery is possibly the largest open air gallery around and is a dedicated memorial for freedom. When the Berlin wall went up, the East side remained clear of graffiti, but on the free side of the West, it was covered in street art. In 1990, after the wall had come down in 1989, a group of artists from more than 20 countries came together and painted over 100 murals on a 1316 m long section of the Berlin Wall, stretching from Oberbaumbrücke to the Ostbahnhof, on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, near the real border which was on the River Spree. 

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