Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sick Days in Bed & Introducing Blogtober

Yesterday's late breakfast/lunch in bed - oh boy!
 Yesterday I went to see the doctor, because I have had some trouble with my eyes for a while.
I supposed that she would tell me it is nothing special and that she would prescribe me some eyedrops and the whole affair would be done and dusted.

But as always life likes to get in the way. Turns out that my left eye is suffering from a keratitis. So, yes, she did prescribe me two different kind of eye drops and a salve, but she also suspended me from work for three days and told me to keep my eyes closed as much as I can.

So, after I handed in my essay for university yesterday I jumped back into my pyjamas and since then I haven't really left my bed (it's now past 6 p.m.). So far I have spent my days mostly listening to audiobooks, sleeping, dreaming and listening to my favourite films - because I can imagine them perfetly in my head without even watching them. Yes, I'm that badass! *cough*

Anyway, so even though my doctor told me to stay away from the tv and my computer as much as I can to rest my eyes, I have a small announcement to make.

Starting tomorrow I will take part in Blogtober 2014!

I came across this project a few weeks ago on The Daily Tay and really liked the idea to challenge myself a bit. But still there will be a few changes:
First of all, there won't be a new blogpost every day, but every other day. Simply because I do want to challenge myself, but I do not want this to turn into a chore for me. It should be fun after all, right?
The second thing is, that I changed up the topics a bit. I picked a few of her suggestions for my version of Blogtober, but I also added a few titles of my own.

I do not want to spoil you guys too much, but there will be some Autumn related posts about literature and films, a bit of fashion and beauty and of course some snippets of my personal life.

So, I hope to see you guys tomorrow for Blogtober day #1!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

[Meal Peek] Baked Butternut Pumpkin


It has been quite a while since my last meal peek, but recently I have been trying out a lot of new dishes which I might share with you in the future. The reason being is that I was stuck in my cooking routine a long time, always making the same dishes. I liked them, but I needed a bit more variation.

I tried out chili sin carne, ratatouille, soups and today I used my first butternut pumpkin in the kitchen.

I cut it up and put the pieces on a baking tray. Then I added some zucchini and an orange bell pepper (though a red one might be a prettier option) and drizzled a bit of garlic infused oil over it. A bit of salt and pepper and into the oven it went for about 20-25 minutes at 180°c.
In the meantime I jumped under the shower and got ready for my afternoon.
This is really a great dish for those days when you feel lazy and do not want to spend hours in the kitchen. 

When I took the tray out of the oven the veggies still had a bite to them, but were not raw.
What I like the most about this dish is that it is so unbelievably easy to prepare and so variable:
You can use pumpkin, potatoes, bell peppers, aubergines, carrots... basically any kind of vegetable you have at home. Add some cloves of garlic or an onion or fresh herbs (like thyme and rosemary) for some extra taste.
A nice, healthy bowl of veggies that's low on carbohydrates
 Yummy!


 What are your easy go to recipes for lazy days?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Appreciation Sunday #13 [Autumn and new hair]

Today is officially the beginning of Autumn, my favourite season. Many people I know are not really happy about the fact that Summer is over now, but to me wearing cozy sweaters and boots is a lot more comfortable than shorts and T-Shirts.

Furthermore this is my first Appreciation Sunday in September. I took a break from it to put my "writing energy" into other topics that were on my mind. I will continue this series in the future, but it won't be a weekly thing.

So much for the introduction, now let's get to the things that made my life sweet and easy recently.

First of all I got myself a haircut on Tuesday. Have you ever experienced this strong urge to just chop all of your hair off when you look in the mirror? Well, this is what happened on Tuesday night. Suddenly I could not stand the way my hair looked. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut it to shoulder length and I am really satisfied with the outcome. It is so effortless and chic!

Another major favourite was grocery shopping. On Monday I had to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. When I left the office it was such a lovely, sunny late afternoon and even though I was extremly tired I was looking forward to go shopping. Somehow it felt quite therapeutic browsing the shelves and  discovering new products.
It is really amazing how grocery shopping can sometimes turn out to be more exciting than shopping for clothes and make-up.

Talking of make-up: caramel or brownish shades on the eyes with bare lashes have been a big thing for me these days. Mascara has never been one of my favourite make-up items, because it is such a hassle to remove, but when I watched a video by Essiebutton about Burberry's make-up trend for SS 2015, this look was taken on to a whole new level.
I am talking about the red lip and glowing cheeks. This look in combination with my new haircut came pretty close to perfection - if I may say so myself.

So, these were the things that excited me during the past few days. How do you feel about the arrival of Autumn? And more importantly:

What are you grateful for this week?

Monday, 15 September 2014

What blogging means to me

In recent years blogging has lost a lot of its innocence.
Of course I am not the first one to observe this development and I do not want to complain. I just want to share my feelings about this subject.

When I had my first blog years and years ago blogging was a simple way for people to write about what they thought and to connect with other people. Today it is the still the same, but things got a lot more commercialised. There are actual careers made from this segment which is a good thing.

After all people are enabled to do what they love and make a living from it. However it also means that some people start blogging primarily for the money - to put it bluntly. This is not supposed to be an accusation, because to me those who succeed with creating something that lucrative from their passion might be among the luckiest people on earth.
Busy and always working, but utterly happy.

On the other hand I cannot deny that I sometimes ask myself why everything seems to turn into a competition? Most blogs tend to look so damn professional - and the photographies to editorial. It feels like flipping through a high quality magazine.
This tendency can create pressure, because one might feel like his/her own voice gets lost in this endless sea of perfectly presented blogs.

Yes, I feel this pressure sometimes as well, but then I wonder:
"What for? What are you actually worrying about?"
This blog is not a way for me to gain money or prestige, but an outlet where I can release everything that occupies my mind. If someone stumbles across this little island and agrees with me, feels inspired or simply starts to think about things differently, I am glad. If I am all alone in here, it's fine too. At least I was able to ease my mind.

Some of you might ask now:
"Then why are you writing a blog? Wouldn't a simple journal be enough?"

Actually, the answer is yes and in fact I am just getting started to writing by hand again, because I was afraid of it for a long time, but as I said before a blog offers the possibility of interaction. It doesn't matter if there are real interactions or just people who read my texts and think about them.
I will be read and the thought that I might be able to change even little things is exciting.

This blog is not about fame, popularity or money.
It is about me, my weird mind and about all of you crazy people out there who are like me.

What do you think about the shift in the blogging world? Why do you blog?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

self love and knowing your weaknesses

Original picture taken from Unsplash
Nowadays, especially on social media, people like to advertise the concept that "you are perfect the way you are".
First of all I don't think it is wrong to promote self love that way, but I also believe in not closing your eyes from reality and in reality "nobody is perfect" (another popular and probably completely overused phrase). 
To me self love means to acknowledge your positive traits as well as your weaknesses without giving one of these two more attention than it actually deserves. 

Everybody has some likeable features about him/her. They are not always obvious or visible to the eye, but they are there, but a lot of self concious people tend to see only all the things they don't like about themselves.  It is not healthy. It is not healthy to talk yourself into believing that there is nothing special about you. 

For a long time I have struggled with my self-perception and to be honest I am still struggling with it. When you are like me you look into the mirror are not appalled nd you by the way you look. Actually you never even thought yourself to be ugly, but you are also unable to anything special in yourself - neither in your looks, nor in your character and abilities. This left me with feeling like an ordinary, bland dish that is immediately forgotten after being eaten, but over the time I learned to appreciate certain aspects about myself:

"Hm, those freckles are actually kinda cute."
"Your hair looks really nice today."
"That's a really nice pair of boobs you have there, girl!"
This development started slowly and unconciously, but the most important thing is, that I realized that I am "lovable". Friends and family will always tell you that you are beautiful, smart and nice to be around, but as long you don't believe it yourself it is a forlorn hope, even though they are right.
Right now I am at a point where I see certain strong points in myself, but there are many doubts as well, especially when it comes to my personal qualities.

If I had to name my top five weaknesses, they would be:
  •  shyness/ being unable to socialize properly
  •  general idleness
  • Cellulite (yes, I call that a weakness and yes, I know that most of the women have it, but that doesn't make it better)
  •  my little muffin top
  • my nervousness
The good news is that most of these can be worked on, but I feel like getting rid of a muffin top is a lot easier than trying to fight shyness. Mental or emotional problems are always SO hard to deal with! And even though these are not my favourite parts of myself, they do not ruin the entire picture anymore. They are just a fragment, not my entire being.

People will never be perfect. That is for sure and what does perfect mean anyway? After all everybody has got different standards and the ones that are most important are your own.
I for myself made the decision that I do not want my insecurities to overpower my mind and instead try to achieve a more realistic view of myself.

What do you think about self love and how do you deal with your insecurities?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Why paper freaks me out

Recently I read a very interesting article about writing and how you have to start out with only little skills, but still keep going to improve. However what struck me the most about this article were the notebooks.
Actual stories and texts written down with pen and paper - just the plain thought of it freaks me out.

Writing is a process. In most cases you start off with a rough idea. You draw it up, change it and leave details out to add new ones. You reread and revise it until you are satisfied or just keep working on it, because you are a damn perfectionist. But there is one thing to be completely sure of:
Writing is rarely smooth sailing. 

And you can see it all when you write it on paper: every crossed out phrase or expression which you initially thought to be perfect, but turned out completely unfitting. Every mistake is right there waiting to be judged.

Naturally making mistakes in order to progress is an essential aspect of every hobby we cultivate, but the thought of direct confrontation with it makes me shiver.
On a computer it is so easy to delete phrases and change words. At the end you won't even be able to see that the finalized version used to be completely different - like the perfect crime it leaves no traces. The only thing that seems to matter is what remains at the end.

Imperfect.

When I look at this blank, unsullied page it takes a lot of courage to write down even a single word.
It has to be perfect.
Because it is permanen.
It can not be deleted.
It will always be there. 

Of course this entire concept inside my head is completely wrong-headed. Even Oscar Wilde needed several attempts for his prose to become the way he wanted it, but being the stubborn coward that I am, I am afraid of seeing my deficienies.

But by now I decided that it is time for me to do something about this irrational fear. So I got myself a notebook and I try to write in it as often as I feel the need to. I would not say that it is a diary, but it is still a way for me to release my emotional ballast. Eventhough I love writing on a computer, the process of using pen and paper feels very relieving.

My personal goal is to fill up this notebook until the end of the year and eventually contine with writing more by hand without being afraid that I will be embarrassed about what I wrote later on.

What are you afraid of and how do you want to tackle it?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

My essentials for a cosy Autumn

Autumn is by far my favourite season of the year.
The temperatures slowly start to drop and once again we can wear our beloved chunky knits. Of course I know that a lot of you are sad, because summer is about to end, but I feel like there are so many little things that make autumn hugely enjoyable too.

Knits: Because it is not yet winter, it might not be very wise to put on your very thick knits yet, but a loose, soft pullover conveys that keeps you warm during those chilly mornings creates the feeling of security and comfort.
My personal favourite is my oversized cashmere pullover that I got for 20 pounds from Anderson and Sons in Edinburgh. I can honestly say that this my most valued possession (at least fashion wise).

Keep your feet neat: Most women put an emphasis on their feet during summer, because they want to them off in little sandals. During autumn they disappear in our booties and sneakers. However that is when they need even more attention.
So, in the evenings right before bed timeI like to sit down and massage them with my Lush Lemony Flutter balm, which leaves them soft and refreshed. Afterwards I put on a pair of fluffy socks (another crucial essential!).

One pot dishes: Whether it is a soup, a chili or one of the infamous one pot pasta dishes, these babies are perfect for the colder months. Sometimes you just feel like doing nothing and that might include standing in the kitchen to prepare something to eat. On those days it is always good to have some leftovers in the freezer to heat up.
Moreover there is a somehow calming feeling about putting all of your ingredients into one simple pot. Slowly but surely they transform into a lovely meal you can indulge on a rainy day.

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.": These famous lines were spoken by Clark Gable at the end of the film classic Gone with the Wind. Films are always a good option to keep you entertained, but especially now I have a sweet spot for them. Covered up with a blanket and a cup of tea I am ready to watch my all time favourites over and over again. Most of them tend to be either classics and/or costume films.

Personal Favourites:
  •  Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  • Some like it hot (1959)
  • Charade (1963)
  • Marie Antoinette (2006)
  • Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  • Casanova (2005)
  • The Duchess (2008)
A strong lip: During the summer I often prefer to put on light coral lipsticks or reds with only light coverage and a shiny finish. Now I gravitate more towards flamboyant, visible colours. I'm still too conservative for bright fuchsias and berries, but I do love a deep red to brighten up my complexion.

How do you create your perfect Autumn?

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Lives of Others

I just came home from a friend and on my way I could not resist looking into a few apartments. Now that it starts to get dark outside ealier and people have to turn on the lights in the evening it is quite easy to get a glimpse of their homes. And that's when little stories start to form inside my head.

The houses in my neighbourhood are quite fancy - except mine of course. Buildings from the late 19th century with these ridiculously high, ornamented ceilings. Just beautiful! One of the rooms I saw had these wonderful ceilings paired with a chandelier. It looked like a ballroom!
Well, a very small one I have to admit, but at least like a room appropriate for a Jane-Austen-esque party with fancy people talking about fancy things and sipping at fancy drinks.

I immedately imagined the people living in this house as an educated couple and this was the dining room where they would sit down with a small group of friends. They would drink some red wine and talk about politics, literature and society.

Moments like this give me the chance to create my own short stories. By taking a few given facts like the surroundings, the furniture and the house itself and taking it as a frame I add some details to it. I think about what kind of people could live there, what they do for a living or how they like to spend their freetime. What kind of relationships exist in this household? Is it harmonious? Maybe there is some kind of a dark family secret?

Some of the stories I make up tend to be a bit over the top, but that's what imagination does, right? But at other times it is just a simple scene like a man sitting in his room with book shelves that end right under the ceiling. He is just sitting there in his huge armchair and enjoying a good book. Nothing special, right?

On the other hand I will never know what the daily life is like for these people and to me it is exciting that there might be a small truth in the things I imagine. Moreover this "method" combines all of the elements I enjoy about stories: apparently ordinary people with ordinary lives with a hint of mystery and darkness.
At least if that's where my fantasy takes me.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Animal Testing in the Cosmetic Industry

It is no secret that most of the big cosmetic companies are in some way or another involved in animal testing. Whether we are talking about high end brands such as M.A.C., Lancôme and Dior or about high street brands like Maybelline, L'Oréal or Rimmel - a lot of them test their products on animals.

While I love reading beauty blogs and watching beauty videos on Youtube, I still can't oppress the impression that this topic doesn't get enough attention. Of course I am aware of the fact that I am in no way an expert, but I do feel like it is my duty to spread awareness in my own way without dogmatising.

The first time I really got in contact with animal testing was a few years ago. By accident I came across the website (in German) of a girl who still dedicates a lot of her time into writing about animal friendly, vegan cosmetics. I was truly appalled when I saw her endless list of companies that test on animals - companies whose products I had used for years.
Even though I had always known about the general circumstances I had never given it a second thought. But this enumeration of brands burned itself into my mind. After that I could not enter the drugstore without feeling guilty whenever I looked at certain shelves. Soon I started to ignore them completely and just went for the brands that were "safe".

Nowadays I rarely feel the urge to even inspect the products of Maybelline and the like, because the thing with make-up and beauty products in general is that it is so interchangeable. Every product seems to have a dupe in at least three other brands, so there at least for me there is no need to buy that particular eyeshadow or this specific lipstick.
That way my selection of buyable products is a bit limited, but sufficient for my purposes.

Naturally I do not want to blame anyone who buys products that are not cruelty free. I can understand it. The only thing that is important to me is that people put a bit more effort into thinking about what they actually purchase.

Also I am not perfect myself. I still use my M.A.C. blushes that I had bought before I changed my mind, because well, they were expensive and I don't want them to go waste. I also buy products from The Body Shop.
The Body Shop itself is cruelty free, but ever since it became a part of L'Oréal I avoided it like the plague until I realised that I might be able to change more once I start supporting branches of animal testing companies that are "safe".
Another big and probably the most argueable exception are perfumes. When it comes to scents I do not look at the brand, mainly because compared to make-up it is not as easy to find a dupe for my beloved Miss Dior Chérie.

Please keep in mind, that this is not a perfectly researched study about animal testing in the cosmetic industry. It is merely my two cents to add to the overall discussion and hopefully it was still interesting for some of you.

What are your thoughts about animal testing in the cosmetic industry?