Do I go to university? A review of my three year degree

Firstly, I want to say hi! It’s been a while! So much has changed hasn’t it?! Dare I say the dreaded C word? Coronavirus is obviously unavoidable in today’s society, so I guess it’s unavoidable here too!

The last time I wrote about university on this page, I was giving advice on Freshers week, and now here I am, a fully fledged graduate with a full time job. There have been lots of changes for me since then, as there have been for everyone! Covid-19 struck and shifted a lot of aspects of people’s lives. I think it’s important to remember whilst Covid has been the main change, everybody has had their own changes over the past two years, and whilst some are unfortunately not so good, there are so many things to celebrate too. For me, one of these was graduating.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but I studied Psychology and during my three years, I have had so many questions about my degree I thought I would band together the most frequently asked and then finish off with my own quick review of university as a whole experience. So if that’s something you’re interested in, then keep reading!

1a. What did you study? and bonus follow up question… 1b. What do you want to do with it?

Wow, this is a big one, and probably the most frequently asked. Anyone that has done a degree/chosen their GCSEs, A-Levels or any other type of course can tell you, this is the first thing people ask. And I suppose rightly so, surely we have good reasons for choosing our subjects? What we enjoy, what we’re good at, what peaks our interests and makes us want to know more… For some people they have a passion, such as they are brilliant at Art, a great sportsman or they really geek out on History, their choice might be easy! But for a lot of us we are fairly average at everything, and the choice can seem tougher.

In short, I chose to study a degree in Psychology because I think in the world today, a lot of young people in the job market have a Bachelors or higher. I knew I wanted a degree but had to choose which one. At the time, I was studying English, Maths, Spanish and Psychology, with that being my strongest and most enjoyed subject. It is also known to be widely applicable to a variety of career paths, and I was also acutely aware that most people take jobs in a completely unrelated field to their degree subject. So I wasn’t backing myself into a corner of becoming a Clinical Psychologist; it gave me options and more time to decide beyond the degree what I would do.

Tying into part b, I am as of yet to find out what I will ‘do with my degree’, however I have started a new job recently (my first full-time job) and I am really enjoying it! It’s not anything that I would have imagined I’d be doing but it is an exciting role in a lovely work environment with room for progression. Beyond that, I’m not sure where I’m heading, but I know that I have the foundation of a degree behind me. Whether that is actually beneficial or simply it gives confidence of knowing that I have some sort of qualification.

My final year Dissertation title

2. How did you decide where to study?

Another excellent question but with a fairly simple answer. Do your research, look at prospectuses (not tonnes), visit their websites and social media pages, watch virtual tours and visit the campuses (again don’t do a tour of the whole UK!). I found when visiting universities, I knew fairly quickly if I liked a campus or not, for example I wasn’t a huge fan of the Loughborough University or Cardiff University campuses, but when I went to Nottingham and Oxford Brookes University, I knew I loved them. You honestly get a feel for the university and you have to trust your instincts. Yes, you do have to consider entry requirements, distance from home etc. but at the base of it you have to like to campus and accommodation. So my advice; see what feels right and trust yourself.

3. Did you join any societies/clubs?

Whilst at university I was part of the Psychology Society and I played tennis socially. Personally I love playing sport and keeping fit, but I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Universities have so much to offer. Sport societies can sometimes get a bad reputation, but they are what you make of them and you decide what you want to be a part. If you love going out every night and getting plastered, go for it, you do you! But if you don’t, that shouldn’t be a reason to stop you taking part in sports you enjoy. There are also lots of events that aren’t focused on drinking, with universities pushing for a more ‘healthy’ social culture.

Most (if not all) universities will hold a Fresher’s Fair in the first week (see my post on Freshers here), and I’d encourage you to go and check out what is on offer. Pop your name down for some bits and see how you feel about them later if you’re not sure you want to commit. Change your mind? Take your name off the list, or just don’t show up! But it is a brilliant chance to try new things and probably one of the rare points in life when you have time. Make the most of it! Cliche I know, but if I could go back and do it again, I would take part in a lot more.

4. When did you choose 2nd year housing?

We were fairly organised and as a group, had found a house by Christmas. A bit of a different story in third year; in April we found out the house we were in was suddenly unavailable for the following year and we had to change our house very last minute. This gave me experience of being both very organised and being in total panic. Here’s how it went:

Organising yourself early is definitely preferable, you have more time to look for houses and you have more time to get closer with the people you will live with. You can also sort out all paperwork, tenancy agreements and deposits earlier and this can be done and dusted, no longer a stress. However, if you have left it a bit late and you are desperately looking for a house, there are options. Luckily for me, my housemates didn’t change much, so we just needed a house. We viewed a house 10 doors down from our old one in the morning, and by the afternoon we had secured it and received contracts. One tip, if it is a last minute scramble, you have to have perspective. You may not find something super nice, and you’re going to need to use some imagination when viewing these student properties. Think about how your things will look in the rooms rather than how it looks with a strangers stuff lying everywhere and it being (probably) a lot dirtier than you would keep it. Keep an open mind, and remember look for something in your budget. Just because it’s last minute, doesn’t mean you have to pay through the nose for something left on the market that’s too expensive for what it is – awful student digs.

5. Do you miss it?

Yes and no. I would say the bits I miss the most are the socialising and the university lifestyle. Realistically I’m not sure many people ‘miss’ the work, so it isn’t a surprise I’d be happy to not write another social psychology essay again. But I do miss certain parts of the work, such as the experiments and the research projects, they were (at times) fun.

The social aspects of university, such as living with friends, going out, having a very free schedule (honestly there are not enough contact hours for the amount it costs!), these things were great. But whilst I miss them, I also like having my full time job, I still see friends and go out, play sport etc etc. I just have to priories and manage my time more.

My final thoughts:

It’s so difficult to summarise whether university is worth it in a blanket statement that applies to everyone, because each person’s case is different.

Generally speaking, I would say for certain careers there is a definite set path to get there, e.g. clinical psychologist, vet, orthopaedic surgeon etc. But for the majority of us, if you are considering university simply as something to do for 3 years I would suggest you strongly consider other options, such as Apprenticeships (earn as you learn) or finding a job and working for the three years. Sometimes, working in a professional environment gives you valuable life experience that university cannot. Along those lines, and mentioned in previous posts, find a part time job whilst you’re at uni, at minimum this will give you a bit more cash and I found it helped to structure my week.

As I’ve said, everyone is different and a simple yes or no is not going to fit for everybody. Personally I am pleased I studied for three years and think even though I won’t necessarily go into a ‘Psychology-based-job’ it has given me good experience in other ways that I have enjoyed, and there a definite aspects of my degree that I use in my job now and will in future careers too.

There’s no doubt university is fun, you’ll have an absolutely amazing time, but it is hard work too. At the end of the day, you’re there to get a qualification and at some point that will need to be a priority, but do enjoy yourself, three years will whizz by so quickly and you have to make the most of it!

Thanks for reading and look out for more posts on student/graduate life!

Imogen x

5-Ingredient Indulgent Cherry Chocolate Mousse

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to write anything on my blog in such a long time (middle of summer I think!). I have been busy at University and haven’t had time to do any writing, or even much baking! But, I’ve got a nice month off now for the Christmas break and I am making use of my time by baking and cooking when I get a free moment.

For Christmas I received Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick and Easy Food cookbook, which although includes mostly savoury dinner meals, it does include a lovely dessert section at the end. Today, I made one of these dessert recipes, the Cherry Chocolate Mousse. I am going to quickly run through how I made them, and add in tips on how to make these your own.

Ingredients:

200g Dark Chocolate (70%)

400g Tinned, Pitted Black Cherries in Syrup

200ml Double Cream

4 Eggs

2 Tbsp Golden Caster Sugar

This recipe makes enough for 6 desserts, however I halved the ingredients to make enough for my parents and I. It takes around half an hour to make, and although I suggest leaving them in the fridge to set slightly before serving, they would be just as lovely at room temperature.

Method:

Using a glass bowl over simmering water in a saucepan, melt the chocolate down, and leave for 10 minutes, or until fairly cool. To speed this process up, boil the water in the kettle first and then continue to simmer over a medium heat in the pan.

Next, measure out your cherries. If using a whole tin, then just include all the syrup. However, as I used half of the ingredients, I used 175g of cherries and 50g of syrup. I used about half a jar of Opies Black Cherries in Luxardo Kirsch, a cherry liqueur. This added a lovely alcoholic flavour to the dessert. Once measured, simmer the cherries and syrup in a non-stick frying pan, until the syrup begins to thicken and the cherries soften. This took me roughly 5-10 minutes. You will start to notice the syrup thicken slowly, but don’t let too much of it evaporate off, especially if the syrup is alcoholic!

Next, measure the cream into a medium bowl, and whip with a whisk (either electric or hand whisk if you’re strong!) until it forms soft peaks. Separate out the egg yolks from the whites (keep the whites for later) and place into the whipped cream. Add the sugar (I used soft brown sugar instead of caster sugar, which works just as well), and whisk together until combined.

Take your egg whites, adding a small pinch of fine sea salt, and whip until very stiff. Be sure to use a clean whisk for this, to make sure your egg whites become fluffy and not contaminated with egg yolk!

Add the cooled chocolate to the cream mixture, folding it in until completely mixed.

Then very gently, fold the chocolate-cream mix into the egg whites. Be sure not to knock any air out, as this is making your final mousse texture which should be light and airy.

Finally, place into small glasses or glass bowls, adding a layer of mousse at the bottom, then a few cherries with some syrup, then some more mousse, and then a final few cherries to top the dessert off. Clean up the edges of the glass and you’re good to go!

If you fancy boozing this up even more, try adding chocolate Baileys cream liqueur into the mixture, just before you add the egg whites. This will give the mousse a warming kick, as well as the Kirsch cherries of course!

To finish, you could add a pair of whole fresh cherries to the top of the glass! Just don’t forget to tell people there are stones!

These were super delicious and I hope to be making some more yummy things from this recipe book in the future, whilst I have some time off.

I hope you enjoyed this post and think about giving these gorgeous desserts a go at your next dinner party, or perhaps just an indulgent mid-week treat! They’re so quick and easy, even easier if you have an electric whisk! And they look beautiful! What more could a chocolate lover want?!

Thank you for reading and come back soon for more yummy cooking inspiration!

P.s. – all recipe inspiration comes from Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick and Easy Food cookbook .

Keto Brownies

My Keto Cookies were a success! In the same Keto Baking magazine, there are lots more recipes, so I will be making many more sweet treats in the near future! As for this week, I made my own variation of their Brownies. Instead of adding walnuts I used cacao nibs, which are a favourite of Ed’s.

These brownies were moist, rich and full of flavour! I made them twice this week, as the first time, they went a bit wrong (you’ll see later!). The second time they came out a bit thinner, but were still nice and gooey!

The Ingredients:

60g Cocoa Powder

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

6-8 tbsp Hot Water

2 Eggs

6 tbsp Vegetable Oil

170g Sweetener

96g Almond Flour

85g Chopped Walnuts (I used Cacao Nibs instead)

The Method:

Preheat your oven to 180° C / 160° C fan assisted, and line an 8 inch square baking tin with baking parchment. I greased my tin with a little butter to ensure the parchment stuck to the sides, making it easier to put the mixture in later.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cocoa powder, salt and hot water. Start with 6 tbsp of hot water, and if the paste that forms is uneven or has a lumpy texture add one tbsp at a time (up to 2 extra tbsp) until the paste evens out. You can always add the extra water after adding the eggs if it hasn’t smoothed out.

In a glass jug or medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the vegetable oil, making sure the egg yolk have broken and the oil and eggs are fairly well mixed.

Once the cocoa paste has cooled down, which shouldn’t take long, add the egg mixture slowly, adding it in four parts. This allows for an even mixture and makes it easier to mix the oil into the rest of the ingredients. Give this a good stir, making sure the mix is nice and runny, effectively like melted chocolate.

Add the sweetener and almond flour to your mixture and stir. Using a silicon spatula (or just an ordinary one if that’s what you have), scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure all the dry ingredients are combined.

Finally, add the extra bits and bobs, like nuts, cacao nibs, raisins, etc. whatever you choose to add… if you want to add anything that is!

Pop this mixture into the pre-lined tin, smoothing out the surface of the batter and getting rid of most air bubbles. If you wish to add anything (bits and bobs) to the top, sprinkle these on top before baking in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

You want the brownies to be cracking at the edges but still be gooey in the middle. A kebab skewer should come out clean when pulled out of the middle of the brownies when they are ready. If not quite ready, bake for an extra minute, checking each time. If you bake for too long, they will begin to burn around the edges and the ‘burnt’ flavour will come through.

Once you have taken them out of the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from tin and pop on a wire cooling rack until cool. Finally, slice the brownies into squares, triangles, whatever shape you choose! Just be careful! They are soft and gooey and will fall apart if you try and pick up the block in one go! (see below!)

I found them better once they had been in the fridge for a while, as they held their shape nicely, but were still lovely and gooey!

The were a success (the second time round anyway!) and tasted very yummy. Personally, I would suggest popping a scoop of ice cream in a bowl with one of these and enjoying it as a dessert, but Ed has been liking them as a snack all the same! I would highly recommend giving these brownies a go. They taste just as good as ordinary brownies, Ed thinks they are the best he’s ever had! Maybe he’s just being nice, but they were very tasty so you make up your minds once you’ve tried them!

Thank you for reading and I hope you come back soon for more baking recipes soon!

Keto Cookies – Chocolate and Chilli

I love baking, and since I’ve been home from uni for summer, I’ve been experimenting with new recipes, instead of remaking the same Victoria sponge recipe over and over. Finding a ‘healthy’ sweet treat can be tricky. This can be made even trickier if you add carbs and sugar to the list of things you can’t bake with. This knocks out pretty much any type of flour, gluten, sugar (obviously!) etc.

There are several diets that focus on cutting carbohydrates, one of the most popular being the Keto Diet. As such, when I saw the magazine Keto Baking in the newsagent, I picked it up to see what it was all about. And sure enough, there was a huge selection of recipes for me to try out! From cakes, biscuits, breads and sweet bites, the magazine has given me a bunch of ideas for for experimenting with.

To start off, I tried making some cookies, as I haven’t made a batch of cookies in years and I have been baking quite a few cakes recently, so this sounded different and fun! Here’s the recipe and how my Keto baking adventure went!

The Ingredients:

340g Unsweetened Chocolate/ Dark Chocolate of a high percentage

115g Unsalted Butter

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract/Paste

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

144g Almond Flour/Coconut Flour

400g Sweetener

A note about the ingredients:

I swapped a couple of my ingredients (listed next to originals) such as the almond flour, as when I was making these, I didn’t realise that almond flour is the same as ground almonds so I couldn’t find any. However, there is nothing wrong with using coconut flour, it will just taste slightly of coconut and it may have the slight ‘gritty’ bite to it that often comes with coconut flours or dessicated coconut.

Most recipes for Keto baking will be using a lot of eggs, and I mean a lot. But don’t worry, the finished product doesn’t taste ‘eggy’ and you can take special measures such as cooling it in the tin for about 10 minutes and then removing it- this helps with the possible ‘eggy’ flavour.

Be careful which sweeteners you use. For example, I use Xylitol or stevia. However, something like Truvia (a brand of stevia sweetener) claims that 1/3 tsp of Truvia = 1 tsp of sugar. Meaning, if you use 1 tsp of Truvia that’s the equivalent of 3 tsp of sugar! In Keto recipes, the amount of sweetener will often be quite high, because you require more sweetener than a normal amount of sugar because it isn’t as sweet. But, as I mentioned, some sweetness are sweeter than sugar, so you won’t need as much. If you’re not sure, just ask Google, but sweeteners like Xylitol are readily available at most major supermarkets.

The Method:

Firstly, preheat your oven to 180°C and line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment or reusable liners. Put the trays to the side until later.

Next, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl with the butter. You can either do this by heating it over water in a saucepan using a hob or in the microwave. I used the microwave and did 30 second intervals, keeping an eye on it once it begins to melt.

In large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and give them a quick mix so they are all incorporated together. Whilst doing this, let your chocolate cool slightly, no need to put it in the fridge, it just needs to be cool-‘ish’.

Once the chocolate is cooler, add one egg at a time, whisking them into the chocolate and butter mixture between each addition. Then add the sweetener and mix together into the chocolate. A word of warning- the mix is going to get noticeably thicker when you start adding the eggs, so just be prepared for a little arm workout!

Next, add the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl. Mix these together and scrape the bowl, making sure all the dry ingredients are mixed in thoroughly. You will be left with a thick cake-like batter, but it is so liquid that it won’t hold its shape.

Lay a large sheet of clingfilm over your kitchen worktop or table and place the batter in the middle. Wrap the batter up, I double wrapped mine to prevent leaking, and leave in the fridge for an hour to harden.

After an hour, remove your batter from the fridge and unwrap it. The mixture makes 12 cookies, but if you want to make them smaller or bigger, then that amount will change. For 12, section off the batter either using a spoon or just grabbing a handful of dough and mould/squash into a rough cookie shape with your hands. Repeat this for each cookie. This can be messy so I’d recommend taking off any jewellery!

Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes. I put mine in for 10 and they were still a tiny bit too soft when I put a skewer in, so I gave them another 3 minutes and they were perfect. Baking time will vary depending on oven strength etc. but they should be harder at the edges and still slightly soft and gooey on the inside.

Leave them on the baking trays for 15 minutes, then remove them and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. And you’re done!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and you give this recipe a go! I’m pleased to report they were a great success! They’re not too spicy, but there is definitely a kick there, so you can try the recipe and then adjust as you like!

Thank you for reading and come back again for more Keto recipes soon!

Summer Berry Viennese Whirls

Whilst at university, when I’m not studying or working, I enjoy cooking and baking to fill my spare time, and when I’m home for holidays, I enjoy sharing my cakes and sweet treats with my family. Recently, I have been experimenting with recipes that I haven’t tried before and one of those was from the Waitrose recipe magazine for Strawberry and Raspberry Viennese Whirls! It was a little messy and I was juggling five different pots and pans most of the time whilst baking four different batches of biscuits but they were sooo yummy and totally worth the work! Here is the recipe and my cooking process for these yummy afternoon biscuits!

The Ingredients:

The biscuits –

200g Unsalted Butter (needs to be very soft)

75g Icing Sugar (sifted), you’ll need extra for dusting later

1 tsp Vanilla Paste

20g Custard Powder

200g Plain Flour

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tbsp Milk

The filling –

100g Unsalted Butter (softened)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste

200g Icing Sugar (sifted)

75g Fresh Raspberries (crushed)

1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

2 tbsp Strawberry Jam

The Method:

Preparation-

Preheat your oven to 180° C or gas mark 4. Then, line 2 baking trays with parchment or a reusable tray liner, like this one from Lakeland. Make sure you have a shelf positioned in the middle of the oven.

The Biscuits-

Beat the butter using an electric handheld mixer for 5 minutes until it’s pale and soft. You can do this by hand, but be prepared for a work out! Add the icing sugar and vanilla paste and beat for a further 2 minutes. I chose a hand held mixer rather than a food processor so I had more control over the ingredients. Swapping to a metal spoon, use it to fold in the custard powder, flour and baking powder, adding a small pinch of salt if you wish. Finally add the milk and finish stirring the dough.

Fill a piping bag with the dough mixture using a star nozzle at the end of the bag, in order to get the swirled effect on the top of the biscuits. I put the piping bag over a medium pyrex jug so the bag stayed open whilst I filled it with the mixture. If you don’t have a piping bag, then using a sealable sandwich bag works just as well. Once the bag is full, pipe a spiral of the mix from the outward edge inwards, about 10 – 12, 5cm diameter spirals. My mixture made more than this, so perhaps I made some too big or too small, but I just ensured I had an even number of biscuits so they could pair up later on. To make the biscuits exactly the same size, find a circular shape that is the right diameter and draw around this on the baking tray liners. This may be easier if you are using paper baking parchment. This will ensure all your biscuits are the same size!

Chill your biscuits in the fridge for 20 minutes before you bake them. Once they’ve been cooled, bake your biscuits in batches of one tray at a time on the middle shelf in your oven. Bake for roughly 13 minutes, but keep an eye on them, ensuring they don’t burn; they can turn in a matter of seconds. They should be golden at the edges once done. Leave them to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack for the remaining time until fully cooled. Do not try to fill them until they are cool, otherwise the buttercream won’t set and will ooze out.

The buttercream-

Use an electric beater to beat the butter for the buttercream for 5 minutes, again until pale and soft. Next, add the vanilla paste and icing sugar and beat again until fluffy and light. Using the same method as before, move the buttercream into a piping bag with a star nozzle at the tip. Again, a sandwich bag is a suitable replacement for a piping bag if you don’t have one.

The jam filling-

Crush the raspberries either with a pestle and mortar or just in a glass bowl with the back of a spoon. Add them to a small saucepan with the lemon juice and let them simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl. Add the strawberry jam and mix together. Set aside too cool. Again, don’t attempt to put the jam in the biscuits until it is fully cooled, as it won’t stay put, and you’ll have a big mess on your hands!

Filling the biscuits

It is recommended that you don’t fill the biscuits until you want to serve them, as they can get soft and soggy overtime. However, I filled mine straight away and kept them in a tin in the fridge and they were absolutely fine. It meant they kept some structure rather than being a squashy mess!

Pipe the biscuits leaving a small border between the filling and the edge. Half of the biscuits should have jam spread on them using a teaspoon and the other half piped with a swirl of buttercream. Make sure you put the filling on the underside of the biscuits, on the flat side without the pattern. Squeeze the two halves together, one side buttercream and one half jam. Just before serving, dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

They turned out great and they were super yummy! I really enjoyed baking them as well, even though I was covered in biscuit dough at the best of times, but that’s just because I’m clumsy and am always being messy! I would absolutely recommend this recipe, and I hope you can have fun making them yourselves!

Thank you for reading and I hope I’ve inspired some of you to get your hands dirty and get baking! Have fun!

MooGoo Skin Cream: Review

MooGoo Irritable Skin Balm, the skincare ‘miracle cream’ that I introduced you guys to about a month ago, has been my go to for a month now and I want to share with you my thoughts.

Here is my skin before (left) and after (right) using MooGoo for a month. I am wearing no makeup whatsoever in either of the photos and, as you may have noticed, my hair is now blonde. This might have a tiny effect on how brunette contrasted with my skin compared to the blonde now, but I am noticing differences in my skin’s redness in general even with my hair up.

Straight away, I am noticing less all over redness, so where my face was red sort of under my skin, it added a general rosiness to my face all over. I would say this has toned down and there is more of ‘uni-colour’? over my face now.

On my forehead the redness has completely disappeared and around the lower half of my cheeks, it is also noticeably less. Around my nose, which is where I am most red, you can still see some redness, especially where I have a couple of blemishes and spots at the moment. This is the same on my chin, which is still a little red but this may be down to individual differences of this morning.

Other things to note is that your diet changes a lot of your body’s physical appearance, not just weight wise but skin quality too. I cant remember what my diet was like before but I would say as the warmer weather (or not as the rain seems to be proving) has come in, I have been eating less stodgy carbohydrates and more salads and protein. This may be having an effect on my skin. Another thing is I am still using the Medik8 Calmwise Serum every morning and every evening with the MooGoo so this could be a joint effort. However, previous to using the MooGoo I was not noticing such a dramatic difference.

One more thing to point out is that I am noticing most difference after washing my face in the morning or evening, before I reapply MooGoo and my serum. So, my suggestion for application and use is that if you have a favourite moisturiser and you still want to use this, you could use MooGoo overnight and your moisturiser in the morning as I think the effects of it are seen several hours later when your skin isn’t inflamed or irritated by rubbing oils and moisturisers all over it.

Overall, this skin cream has seriously made a difference in the quality of my skin and I have had comments on the improvement of the redness from people that I know. Unfortunately this cream doesn’t come with SPF, however, MooGoo does a suncream, anti-aging SPF cream and a moisturiser with SPF in it, so they are definitely worth looking at.

I will carry on using the MooGoo and hopefully it will continue to improve my skin as I use it more. Thank you all for reading and coming back to find out how the product performed! New recipes will be up soon (in the next week!) of cookies and cakes I have been busy making!

Anthropologie Cheltenham Store Opening

Anthropologie, founded in 1992 is a store which takes inspiration from around the world and combines fashion, beauty, home decor and gifts to create a quirky and stylish, personalised style for each individual. They work with small local brands including beauty products and jewellery, as well as their own range of clothing and home furnishing.

Their most recent store, in Cheltenham, opened this Friday and I popped in to look around, as well as pick up a couple of bits for myself, obviously!

Image result for anthropologie cheltenham
The front of their store is absolutely gorgeous, with Wisteria-esque plants hanging down over the entrance.
Upstairs is a mixture of beautiful free floating shelving displays with candles and kitchen bits and bobs, and furniture examples such as armchairs, bedding, side tables and even door handles and door knobs!
In the centre of the square balcony hangs a spherical art piece of dipped candles hanging upside down. These are beautiful and such an eye-catching centre piece, really separating upstairs and downstairs nicely.
The store is full of beautiful summery clothing, interesting stationery and kitchen accessories and a stunning collection of jewellery, hair bands and accessories!

I thought the store was beautiful and really nicely laid out. There was plenty of space for the many customers that were in which is a good sign, due to the fact it was opening day!

All weekend they held an array of activities and free events such as hand massages courtesy of a local beauty company based in Oxfordshire and G&T tastings!

Of course, I purchased a couple of things and I am really looking forward to using my new items! Here they are!

They have a beautiful selection of fashionable sunnies and I picked up these cat-eye tortoise shell frames. They came with a free cotton bag/case which is so handy for my handbag so I don’t scratch them!

These hair clips were in their hair accessories section and are beautiful natural shades, complimenting blonde or brunette hair. The orange and neutral beige have glitter throughout them so add a shimmer to your hair in the sunlight. I can’t wait to wear these all summer long!

These little (I say little but they’re actually rather big!) hair clips are covered in faux pearls and can dress up an outfit easily! You can use them to secure your hair off your face or pop them over some plaits to add some detail! They are on yellow gold clips which looks so summery, especially in blonde hair! These would be perfect with a summer dress and curly hair!

There is so much more to look at and I would absolutely recommend a visit if you are near the area. They also have other locations across the UK and USA, so it’s worth checking if there is a store near you! And of course, there is an online store too, so they can ship wherever you need!

What would you pick from the store? New earrings? A gorgeous scented candle? A new throw for you bedroom? Take a look at their website and get inspired for a new look this summer!

References:

https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/whats-on/shopping/gallery/first-look-anthropologie-store-cheltenham-2918812

Anthropologie.com

MooGoo Skin Cream

Hi everyone, just a quick post today! I have just finished first year of university, so hopefully I will be posting more frequently and maybe shake it up a bit!

Some of you may remember I spoke about the Medik8 Calmwise Colour Correcting serum and moisturiser, which I have been using and really enjoying! The serum is working really nicely to calm the redness on my skin overtime, and the moisturiser does a great job of reducing redness instantly for a temporary fix.

My boyfriend was reading through the news the other day and found an article by a gentleman who had been using chemotherapy cream, which had caused extreme redness and irritation. He was commenting on how good the MooGoo Irritable Skin Cream is and called it a ‘miracle cream’ after the results took his dry, red irritated skin back to his original condition.

Although the cream is originally used for eczema, the company MooGoo have commented on how brilliant it is that people can use it for other issues, especially when suffering from something like cancer.

I have only just received the MooGoo cream, but I will post an update after 3 weeks of applying it every evening, and I will wait for the results! I am very excited to see how it works and see if there is any difference in my skin!

Thank you for reading and I will keep you all posted with how it goes!

References:

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/grandad-hails-1250-miracle-cream-15316060

https://moogooskincare.co.uk/skin-problems/irritable-skin-balm.html

My time on Northcote Road, London

I L O V E London. I would love to get a job in the city and live there. I visited some friends who live in Battersea, which is home to Northcote Road! This is a haven for not only your everyday stores and restaurants like Oliver Bonas, Franco Manca, Waitrose etc. but small independent stores selling ecologically friendly products and organic healthy foods, including the fabulous Whole Foods.

A couple of my favourites were Hamish Johnston Fine Cheeses, a small store selling so many different types of cheeses! They also sell quirky chutneys and jams, and real honeycomb (which I thought was pretty awesome!). The staff were really friendly and helpful with choosing the cheeses, adding to my knowledge about new and different cheeses!

Something else I thought was pretty cool was The Fish Stall again on Northcote Road. Although the smell was pretty shocking, especially as you don’t expect fresh fish to be on the streets of London, it was so refreshing to see fresh produce being sold.

In a smallish town where I live, or even Oxford when I am around, although there are independent sellers of meats, cheeses, cakes, beauty products etc. etc. it is no where near being on the scale London is on. I described Northcote Road as Oxford on steroids, it has everything that I love about the city, and more.

Going back to Whole Foods, I had a burrito from their cafe/food service area of the Clapham Junction store on Lavender Hill. It was amazing! They were absolutely full to the brim and they had warmed the tortilla up before they begun to construct, so not only did it hold its shape a bit better but it also made the whole experience much warmer and yummier! I would highly recommend popping in to get one if you are passing a store and they offer the service. They can be taken to a local park, or just eaten as you explore the city, although I warn you, they are a little messy!

One more thing I thought was REVOLUTIONARY is The Source Bulk Foods store in Battersea. They are a brand that are all about absolutely zero waste. They sell foods and products in bulk, and you bring your containers/bags/pots etc and you pay for the product you buy. No paying for expensive packaging, and you’re saving the planet too! This place is honestly an incredible idea and I think they would do so well in somewhere like Oxford. They sell almost any dry good you can think of, as well as household cleaning products and shampoo and conditioner! You just take your pot along and you can refill it! This is something I have a good feeling is going to appear across the country (I think lots of brands will start jumping on this band wagon), so expect to start seeing similar concepts near you in the next few years!

So, honestly, I could say so much more about how much I adore London, especially smaller areas outside the city centre, but I will stop here! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my lengthy post about one (amazing, awesome, incredible) road in London, but it means the world that people are reading my content and coming back to read more!

Keep watching this space, as I talk about reusable plastic ideas and how we can reduce how much plastic we use in everyday life over the next couple of weeks. Also, check out my previous post Eat your way to Mindfulness where I tackle the topic of healthy diet and reducing anxiety!

Thank you!!

Imogen ❤

Eat your way to Mindfulness

I have been trying to spend a little less time on my phone recently and more time relaxing, away from the pressures of modern day social media platforms. I have been taking some time to myself, either reading, listening to a podcast or doing a lot of gardening with the good weather recently.

Caroline Foran, author of no.1 bestseller of Owning It: A Bullish*t Free Guide to Living with Anxiety, has begun a podcast this January: Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast. I have been listening to the odd episode here and there and from an episode in April they were discussing how important diet and healthy eating is for a healthy mind.

This I already somewhat knew, as I am very aware of the effect blood sugars have on your mood, due to my boyfriend having Type 1 Diabetes. In March 2019 I did a ‘Live Like a Diabetic’ for the month where Ed and I reduced to the minimum amount of carbohydrates and eliminated sugar from our diets. After only a month, I could feel the incredible impact that reducing artificial sugars and simple carbs (the bad ones!) has on your mood. You feel less groggy and tired – I found I was sleeping better and falling asleep faster.

Sugar in food either comes as ‘added sugar’ or ‘natural sugar’ and for a normal person’s healthy diet, there should be a balanced amount of natural sugars. Added sugars can be eaten but this should be as a treat or the odd occasion. Added sugars will have a larger effect on your blood sugar levels, and this can make you feel jittery and shaky which will contribute to feeling anxious.

That said, if you blood sugar levels are on the low side, then you might experience what is close to a ‘hypo’ (hypoglycaemia). This, again, feels very jittery and shaky, struggling to string a sentence together and feeling very dizzy and out of place. If you have ever had a panic attack, some of these feelings may sound familiar. As someone without diabetes, you are unable to experience a genuine hypo. If your blood sugars are low-ish then you may, however, begin to feel panicky and anxious. This can be controlled and negated by eating a healthy balanced diet.

So what should we be eating to balance our diets?

Fruit and Veggies:

The NHS and numerous health organisations recommend 5 portions of fruit and veg everyday. This could be all fruit, all veg, or a mixture, and the latter is probably the easier and better option. I know, however, that it isn’t easy and I can’t remember the last time I consumed 5 portions of these even once. That said, I do eat more vegetables and fruit than a lot of people my age, so as long as you are getting some form of fruit or veg at least once a day then that is a good start.

Carbohydrates:

These are often described as ‘starchy’ foods and should be about one third of your daily diet. These include things like potatoes, pasta, bread, rice, etc. These are all great sources of fibre, and when choosing, try to go for wholewheat or wholemeal alternatives, such as brown rice or wholemeal bread. These will be a big chunk of where your ‘all-day’ energy comes from. As someone with anxiety, you can often suffer with a feeling of low energy or tiredness, so eating a healthy source of carbohydrates could impact this brilliantly.

Dairy:

Dairy is something our generation probably doesn’t eat enough of, due to the ever increasing numbers of dairy allergies and intolerances. But, soya milk and other dairy alternatives do have the nutritional values that ordinary milk would contain, so don’t panic if you don’t drink dairy milk. Other good sources are yoghurt and cheese. Be careful not to go overboard with your dairy intake though, as it can be very high in fat! Moreover, excess amounts of dairy have been linked to heightened levels of adrenaline which may lead to a feeling of higher anxiety. So although dairy is important, we need a balance.

Protein:

A good source of protein can come from meat, fish, beans, pulses and eggs. I found when I cut down on carbohydrates, I replaced them with a lot of protein, as these give energy and are good at helping the body heal and repair itself. For this reason I eat protein before and after going to the gym or doing exercise, as not only does it give a slow release of energy throughout the exercise, but it helps my muscle repair after stretching them. Anxiety can be hugely helped by doing a small amount of exercise everyday. Just a walk down to the shops, or with a dog (if you have one!). Or, if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you could for for a run or go to the gym! It is recommended that everyone gets 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, so thats about 20 minutes everyday!

Fat:

Although you should try and stay away from saturated fats, like meats, dairy, butter, biscuits and cakes, as well as many others. These can be eaten (obviously!) but in small quantities and your sources of fat should come from unsaturated fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and healthier cooking oils. There are not too many papers linking anxiety to fatty foods, but it has been linked to heart conditions and poorer health as you get older.

Of course, there isn’t an out and out list of foods that can cure anxiety! But, I cannot stress enough that a balanced diet can help your mental health improve! Your brain and your body are linked and that means the more you take care of your body, the more it will take care of your brain!

This has been my first post for my new topic on my blog, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading and it may have given you some insight on your diet and how it might be affecting your mind and mood. I am not a healthcare professional, neither am I a dietician or a chartered psychologist (yet!) so my words are not coming from a scholarly background as such, but more experience, Caroline Foran’s book (The Confidence Kit: Your Bullsh*t Free Guide to Owning Your Fear), her podcast (which I would H I G H L Y recommend listening to, whether you have anxiety or not!) and just reading online!

Thank you again for reading, and I hope to be adding some more posts including some of my favourite recipes which I will be sharing!

Imogen ❤