Monday, 28 April 2014

Journals: Writing For Yourself

Recently, I've noticed more and more people are eager to write and stay creative. There are loads of different ways to do this. Collages, drawing, DIY, craft...

One of the best ways - I've found - is keeping a journal. Be it a fashion, music, or personal journal, the key is to write for yourself.

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started and keep your journal going:

Stationery - This one is pretty important. If you like what you're working with it will keep you motivated. Take the time to dig out the essentials from your hefty stash or head to the shops and find a brand spanking new one. If you're a little unsure, play it safe. A pen/pencil and notebook will go far and are all you need if you're just starting out!

Ignore the 'be cool' thought - Admittedly, this can be tricky! When I first took to writing for myself I was still stuck in the mindset of leaving things out that I thought sounded silly. That mindset in itself was silly! If you want to let out your (only slightly) lame side, go right ahead! This is for you, remember!

Make the time - Just like with anything new it's easy to feel you can't fit it in to your already hectic life. Keeping a journal can make a positive impact in the long run - it helps with your own growth, linking feelings to behaviour and keeps memories in tact. They're fantastic to look back on and see progress in yourself and your writing. 
In short, setting aside half an hour a few times a week can make a real difference!

Helpful distractions - Sometimes silence isn't so golden - it can be a little off putting. Background noise can help your writing flow greatly. Tv, music, or a film have all been known to spark inspiration. Below are links to some of my favourite music to write to:

Stay interested - It's easy for keeping a journal to feel like a chore. You can jazz it up by collecting bits and bobs. Receipts, postcards, petals, notes and pictures will make brilliant accompaniments to your writing! 

These are just the basics. As you get further in to writing there are a multitude of doors wide open with opportunities!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

This Week #2

Monday was a pretty busy day, I worked over the Bank Holiday and then saw The Amazing Spiderman 2 in the evening. Surprisingly, it was one of the better sequels I've been to see. The narrative kept me interested and it ended with the promise of a third movie - let's hope that doesn't disappoint!

Also, I've been getting organised for my weekend away next week. Mainly this involved an unnecessary amount of list making - who really needs to make a list of the lists they need to make? Honestly, the most exciting part has probably been stocking up on travel minis. There's something endearing about tiny tubes of toothpaste!

The end of the week has been crazy! The BBC Good Food Show came to Harrogate from Friday to Sunday. My oh my work has been incredibly busy - I even spotted John Whaite, who won the third series of The Great British Bake Off.


Physically, I've taken a bit of a knocking this week. The curse of the extreme cold/flu was thrust upon me and I've definitely been feeling pretty weak and gross.
Hopefully I'll be fully recovered in time for my trip next weekend!

This week's teaching: "Bodies require: food, rest, attention, patience."

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Carol was fire the circulating in your veins. Fury, passion and pure intentions. She was a breath of fresh air - accepted, protected. 

A soft side graced her too. Lonely nights and time spent staring out windows. She was everything and anything. She was dusk and dawn.

Enough laughter lines graced her face to hide the tired ones. Soft and gentle. She was an earthquake, unsettling and cleansing. 
She hid in the middle of the spectrum, introvert and extrovert. Black and white. Absent and present.

A dove in a world of crows.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Recipe: Healthy Granola

Breakfast is easily my favourite meal of the day. Anything breakfast related excites me, including this wonderful quote from Hunter S. Thomspon. Although, this recipe doesn't involve four bloody Mary's.

During the colder months I tend to stick to warming bowls porridge (with lashings of cinnamon, which happens to be a great immune system booster). For spring and summer, I like to mix it up a little. Granola and Greek yoghurt is my combination of choice 80% of the time. Recently, when scanning the shelves of supermarkets, health food stores etc I've found the granola options on offer to be full of refined sugar, chemicals and ingredients I can't actually pronounce, leaving them lacking in vitamins, minerals and protein - essential to keep you going.

This encouraged me to make my own honest granola. No honey, syrup or sugar binding the oats together, just ripe bananas, apricots and dates. 
It's versatile and contains a natural sweetness. Brimming with fruit and protein, setting you up to be super productive (or relaxed), what better way to start your day?

Yield: 10 servings (at 50g each)
Time to prepare: Up to an hour and half
Lasts: a very long time! (best kept in an air tight container)
Equipment: blender, chopping board, mixing bowl, scissors, baking tray, greaseproof paper, spoon

Basic Mix:
2 slightly over ripe bananas
8 dates (medjool dates are perfect)
7 dried apricots
300g oats (gluten free if you prefer) + 50g extra for toasting
50ml water or milk (of your choice)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

70g raisins
40g chopped almonds or sliced if preferred
**Note: These are all optional and highly depend on your own taste! Other great toppings include: any seeds, spices, nuts, dried or fresh (best added at time of eating) fruit.

1. Start by preheating your oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Weigh out 300g of oats. Then, cut (scissors work well for this) the dates, apricots, and bananas in to small chunks - best kept in separate bowls.

2. Add half the dates and one of the bananas to the blender, leave to blend on medium power for 2-3 minutes - don't be surprised if the dates are tricky to completely break down, a few chunks taste great in the finished result.

3. Next, you want create the component that will bind the oats together.
Throw half the apricots and a few chunks of the second banana in to the mix. Maintain medium power on the blender. Slowly add 50ml of water/milk to the blender as the mix continues to blend. Follow with the remaining banana, dates, apricots and cinnamon - this should be done slowly if your blender isn't very powerful.
Leave to blend until smooth, adding more liquid if needed (this helps to break down the structure of the fruit).

I know it looks gross - stay with me!

4. In a clean mixing bowl, spoon half of the liquid mixture (It will most likely be quite thick) and half of the oats. Combine the two entities together until the oats are full coated. Repeat this action with the rest of the fruit mixture and oats.

5. Evenly spread the uncooked granola mix on to the lined baking tray. Break up the mixture with a spoon, leaving a few chunks. Sprinkle the extra 50g of oats on to the baking tray and place in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or until golden in colour. Check your granola every 10 minutes, turning/moving the chunks around so all cooks evenly.  
If you prefer your granola a little soft then 20-25 minutes in the oven should be just enough. 
Remember to take in to account that it will continue to cook and firm up until fully cool.

6. Leave the cooked granola on the tray to cool for 15/20 mins - if the cooked granola is left in the container before completely cooled it will turn soggy and not so scrummy. 
Pour the finished granola and your chosen toppings into an airtight container and gently shake so each spoonful gets a decent serving of all the yummies.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

This Week #1

This week has been a real mixed bag. I've been everything and nothing. Introvert and extrovert. 

Monday through Wednesday was great, my head was full with new ideas, goals and desires. I was able to accomplish a lot - my writing progressed immensely! I clear my head and even spent an evening with some friends. All of which felt great!

Towards the second half of the week I think I lost my footing a little. My judgement became clouded and my self awareness wasn't what I hoped it would be. A few lousy nights of little sleep didn't aid me, at all.

Sometimes, my perfectionism is detrimental and becomes a more self destructive than anything else.

Now, that's not to say the end of this week was a total flop. I spent Friday in Leeds with my younger sister. I'm glad she's got her priorities right, she's smart and has the whole world ready for her, just as she is.

In a little under two weeks my Dad and I are taking the weekend to visit some family in Italy. I'm hopeful this will be a chance for me to gain a little headspace and surround myself with humbling souls.

This week's teaching: "Are you scared? Or are you not ready? There's a difference."

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Music Morning No.1

Welcome to Music Mornings! This is a three part series where I'll be choosing an artist, album or piece of music that my ears have adored.

Music is really important for my writing flow. Usually, I'll stick to pretty plain sounds, things that won't cause a distraction but make great background noise.

This morning I've been loving...

"Majestic Casual represents the best of electronic music, experimental, hip-hop, indie, pop and many more. It's part of the majestic brand which is based in Stuttgart, Germany and was established in the year 2011 as one of the first audiovisual music blogs on YouTube."

Monday, 14 April 2014

Pick Me Ups

A list of things that feel good:

  • Having your class cancelled on a beautiful day. 
  • Laughing so hard your face hurts. 
  • Watching a child do something for the first time. 
  • A great idea. 
  • Getting mail. 
  • Walking out of your last exam. 
  • Seeing hard work pay off. 
  • Your favourite lunch.
  • Clean laundry.
  • Being told you did an excellent job.
  • A care package. 
  • Student discount. 
  • A crisp white shirt.
  • Seeing how happy your dog is when you take him for a walk.
  • An unexpected gift. 
  • Walking barefoot in the sand. 
  • Taking uncomfortable shoes off.
  • Singing in public and hearing a stranger say “You *GO* girl!” 
  •  Landing on the runway after a long flight. 
  • An almost dangerous sense of determination. 
  • Feeling needed.
  • The ability to listen.
  • Compassion. 
  • Travelling.
  • Writing something you're proud of.
  • Smiling at strangers and getting smiles in return.
  • Wide open spaces.
  • Knowing that we live in a world where most things are just a phone call away.
  • Snacking when you get home late. 
  • Latte art.
  • Being with someone you love when you need each other.
  • The smell of the first bbq of summer.
  • A sleep in the afternoon after a big meal. 
  • Making use of the whole day. 
  • Watching a black and white film.
  • Eating food you grew yourself. 
  • The first warm summer days.
  • Being brave enough to stand by your decisions.
  • Waking up next to someone you love. 
  • The smell of freshly cut grass.
  • Knowing that all is well.
  • Finding a starfish at the beach. 
  • The sound of wind in the trees. 
  • The sound of the ocean at high tide.
  • Meeting new people and having them become good friends faster than you thought possible. 
  • Finding common ground with someone you were unsure about.
  • Knowing and feeling that some person really likes you as you are.
  • When the weather is just warm enough for you to eat outside.
  • Listening to the falling rain drops. 
  • Watching the dew drops on flower petals early in the morning. 
Keep a look out for Pt. 2!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Be Tolerant Of Yourself

Take a moment to wrap your arms around yourself; self-soothe if you will. Know that it is not always damaging to be sad, but often essential. Curb that sadness with a lust for change. Feed your curiosity for new sentiments.

Imagine the sun is encased around you. Inhale; feel a beam of light channelling through mutual horizons. Exhale; communicate with yourself the sudden release of discomfort.

Know that you are powerful and gentle and are needed just as you are.


Monday, 7 April 2014

London Coffee Festival!

This year the London Coffee Festival hit Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. It opened on Thursday and Friday (3rd-4th of April) to trade. Then, during the weekend (5th-6th of April), they let consumers run loose. And boy, what fun did we have!

On the way in we picked up one of The Coffee Festival magazines. It's full great stuff! Articles including: 'The Science of Espresso' and 'The Importance of Water'. The writing is outstandingly articulate, easy for full blown coffee geeks and those just starting out to understand. Concise and clear. The images inside are also worth a mention. The photography shown is of the highest quality, making coffee and the different processes look beautiful.

We then headed downstairs to the True Artisan Café where the majority of coffee served was free - in response to this they kindly asked that you made a donation to Project Waterfall. This is a charity that focuses on providing safe drinking water and good hygiene to some of the poorest communities in the coffee growing regions of Africa. Undeniably a cause worth reading about and getting involved with.

The music downstairs was mind blowing! One DJ supplying the whole place with the most easy on the ears mixes - some of the best I've ever heard. It created an unimaginable atmosphere (and definitely kept everyone on their toes).

I was lucky enough to sample Nude Espresso's cold brew. Brewed for 18 hours with beans from Kenya gave it an overwhelming fruity taste that I just couldn't get enough of. That's my summer drink sorted!

The entire set up worked fantastically! Easy to move around, observe and talk to different stands and people interested in coffee (roasting, brewing, the science behind it etc). Everything you could have needed was right there.

The Festival also brought along a few treats! Everyone who entered was given a tote bag with a few goodies inside. The London Coffee Guide was also available to buy - I'm looking forward to having a read of that one!

All in all it was a cracking event - well planned, and executed. Bring on 2015!

You can find all of The London Coffee Festival's Links here:

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Travel: London

The day started with an early - surprisingly busy - train from York to Kings' Cross.

We headed to the market not long after arriving. Picking up doughnuts and becoming intoxicated by the smell of fresh bread and spices.

The view from Bankside was incredible! Pretty much clear blue skies and boats passing through every few minutes. 

I may have developed a slight infatuation with Soho. It was completely my kind of thing, interesting shops, eateries, buildings. I could have happily wandered around there all day.
I got a little snap happy!

The sandwiches were to die for! Full of quality ingredients and sold by the chattiest fellow.

Freshly squeezed blood orange juice reminded me of being home in Bari (Italy). Packed with flavour, made from oranges straight from Sicily - I can assure you it was worth the £3.50 it cost.

The three images above are all from Fernandez and Wells. A small but well utilised space. It was packed with locals and the staff were more than helpful - willing to chat and advise, ideal!

The view from the front window of Fernandez and Wells.

In the end, we calculated that our feet travelled around 14km, it was killer and I'm a little achey as I write this but it was so worth it!

One of the many amusing A-boards we passed on our journey. Spotted another that said 'Topless baristas here..." - cheeky, but I'm not sure it would go down too well in Harrogate!

Labour and Wait  - Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to take a peak inside but with all the commotion seen from inside and out it looked pretty cool.

Coffee beans from Nude Espresso.

Everything in London looked stunning! So well thought out and it really felt like people wanted to be there, selling their products.

The versatility of the art and graffiti that stretched throughout London was astounding!

Much to my dismay I did have to return to the North that night. It reiterated just what you can do 24 hours.

I am completely besotted with London. The amount of culture, fashion and food inspiration, coffee, art, writing (and all the rest!) that I absorbed in that one day is beyond measure.

A trip that was more than worth the 5:30am wake up.