Bloganisation | 21 in Feb

If you didn’t understand – which I have a feeling you might not have – I merged “blog” and “organisation” together to come up with this original title. You’re welcome. I also should advise you not to read ahead because I am a fraud. I am about to tell you how I managed to write 21 posts this month despite having my birthday and lots of university; I am about to tell you I am to be admired for my organisation skills. And, yet, the photo below is an alternative photo from a previous post because I wasn’t organised enough to get snapping a few days ago. So either suspend your disbelief or cross off and go and read something that is actually useful and legitimate.

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ONE) Ideas! I have been constantly writing down ideas this month and it’s something I will carry on with. I bought myself a funky new diary (which also helped me with having a schedule- whether it was loose or fixed) and have dedicated it to the blog. It’s just a 2017 diary where I’ll plonk some ideas down with a title and photo ideas. It makes me feel Hermione levels of organised.

TWO)  Form of “procrastination!” While I’ve been writing essays and completing university work, instead of going to my phone to procrastinate when I gave myself a break, I would head straight to WordPress and write even if I didn’t have an idea in mind. In this way, I was creating content without even realising it. Absolute trooper.

THREE) (By this point, I’m hoping you’ve forgotten about the very unrelated picture featured in this post.) Photographs! Since I had ideas floating about in my diary, I was constantly taking opportunities to take pictures of anything I knew I was to blog about eventually. Even if it took a few days to get a picture I was happy with, it meant I was – generally – quite organised. *Bows.*

I was starting to feel a bit nostalgic about this super fun month of blogging and then I realised I’m off to Paris today and so I will be bombarding you with far too many posts in a few days anyway!

Au Revoir!

~ Kat ~

P.S. 20/21

Dear Feminism | 21 in Feb

Dear Feminism,

I’ve not been shy of thinking of you this month. I’ve talked about you too. Not being your back- but others have. That’s something I wanted to write to you about, actually. Some claim to stand for what you stand for, but they’re adding weight to your name. And I’m afraid you’ll snap.

“And that’s the part of feminism I hate,” my friend said to me after he told me a story about a woman saying horror story, despicable things about “all men.” I stuck up for you, of course. “But that’s not feminism,” I tried to simply say, but I fear I exclaimed. I know you don’t stand for men-hating and flippant blame-throwing, but why don’t my peers not see this?

February also opened my eyes to not only the lack of understanding but the lack of wanting to understand. The uninspired, bored glares back at me when I gush about you. The ugly comfort my peers feel in their refusal to act in your name. How can they not adore and admire you when you’re one of the only things that makes sense? I constantly fear my passion is confused for aggression, and yet you teach me aggression is passion when used correctly. And in your important name.

A year or so ago a woman told me the move for feminism is selfish. “Ridiculous,” she laughed. She turned her nose up at equal pay and said those dreaded and haunting words: Women Belong at Home with the Baby. I’ve realised something quite recently that I concluded through thinking about you. It’s all about choice, isn’t it? Everything we breathe, see, hear and touch; it’s about choice. To have the choice to be a woman who strives for an empowering career; the choice to be a man to have equal rights in regards to his children after a divorce. You’d think you and your message would have come along way since way back when. But I’m worried it’s getting nowhere. It’s like you’re lodged in between two heavy forces and you can’t get out, now matter how much a lot of us are trying.

Feminism, you stand so tall when others try to knock you down. You shout loudly while some try to silence you. You’re a force of nature. I’ve worried about you a lot this month, but I believe we’ll get there. I’ll keep on spreading your message. Hopefully we’ll break through the fear and anger before you fall.

~ Kat ~

P.S. 19/21   ❤

The Little Ways to get your Heart Pumping | 21 in Feb

Doing something is often much better than doing nothing. And with exercise “something” might actually just be doing a lot of goodness. There are so many little – whether that means they are easy and/or not time consuming – ways we can step up our exercise game. Here are a few little ways I get my heart pumping on a regular basis.

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ONE) The piece of exercise I have been doing every single day without fail is sit ups. 100 a day. Having a strong core makes running all the more pleasing in a million different ways. I might spread out the sit ups throughout the day, do it as soon as I wake up or do it at night. I might do it as breaks between doing work. It doesn’t take long and feels awesome afterwards.

TWO) It’s so easy to underestimate how good walking is for you. At university my favourite way to explore Cardiff is to get my coat on (always necessary in Wales) and have a ponder. I walk more when I’m at home and that’s because my friends are further away and work is a 40 minute walk away.  I’ve been really enjoying walking to and from work this week. Yesterday was such a glorious afternoon that every now and then I would fling my head back like a child and just stare at the pretty sky. I felt very mindful doing this. Ultimately, walk to places that make sense to walk to.

THREE) Zumba/fun classes. Zumba is an intense class and yet it’s the most fun ever. It counts as a little way to get your heart pumping as the constant giggling and enjoyment makes it feel like it’s not exercise. Even when you’re also feeling how it really is some hardcore exercise you’re getting in. Grab your friend (my Zumba pal is my mum) and find a class that makes exercise beat any preconception you have about working out.

FOUR) Throwing in a cheeky ski sit is one of my favourite things. Mostly because I find it so challenging. I spend my life thinking my legs are so super duper strong but I’m very much put it my place when I finish a ski sit sweating and shaking before I slide down the wall with a painful but cheerful smile. A few times a week I’ll remember to ski sit and in order for it to not take time out of what I’m doing , I throw in another activity at the same time.  You might just find flicking through your phone, reading a book or replying to emails and texts makes it easier to do an extra thirty seconds.

FIVE) It’s often thought that short runs aren’t helpful in comparison to long runs. (Spoiler: this is not true.) Recently I have felt like I’ve had too much to do to also do longer runs. So, at the moment, alongside other pieces of exercise I do, I run one long run a week and then a few one mile runs. A one mile run can be as challenging or relaxing as you like- but they most certainly do you some good.

What little pieces of exercise do you do to get your heart pumping?

~ Kat ~

P.S. 18/21

The Gift that Keeps Giving | 21 in Feb

I’m a 21 year old that clings to nostalgia like 5 year old me clung to my blanky on aeroplanes. I love memories. And it’s exactly why what I’m about to talk about is the sweetest creation. Although I say this about most things I talk about on the blog, everybody should invest in this tiny book of memories. Simple but brilliant, One Line a Day is a 5 year memory book where you write about your day in some way, shape or form. I think you can write whatever you see fit. My mum says she writes down essentially everything about her whole day whereas I mostly write down one or two things that happened.

img_0584I got given this as a present for my birthday and therefore began this on my 21st which I think is a pretty cool place to start. Although any day is a worthy one to start filling in this little blue book. There are so many quirky books that instruct you to write in them in all kinds of ways but I can’t imagine another that would make me as excited as this one. It’s the perfect gift to someone or yourself. And it can definitely be used it super creative ways. I’ve been told a husband has secretly been writing it every single day for he and his wife as a surprise. (*Tries not to weep.*) Similarly, parents could document their children in a bit of a different way. It can be as creative or Plain Jane as you like.

We can become so busy that we don’t remember to remember. Memories are made for the present and for the future. This book encourages the old school pen and paper, write down your day and then pop your head on your pillow thing. I get quite giddishly excited to fill it in every evening and it does throw me back to writing my diaries when I was younger.

Of course I’ve only been filling this book in for a couple of weeks but here are a few of my favourite memories so far:

  • Tapas with mum, Jordan and Aaron
  • Girl’s night out at uni
  • Pub trip with Sarah

I’ll finish the post with a tip (that most are not silly enough to need): Each page has “20..” written five times down the page. That’s for filling in the year. Duh.

~ Kat ~

P.S. 17/21

Water Yourself | 21 in Feb

Of course the constant trips to the bathroom aren’t so elegant, but the advantages to drinking lots of water really are. We find so many excuses not to drink a sufficient amount of water despite the fact we are so lucky to have it at our fingertips. We should be drinking two litres of water a day and often we aren’t even close to this amount. Considering it’s so easy to follow this rule, I think it’s something we should all condition ourselves into doing.

IMG_0574.JPGI’ve recently discovered something as simple as this pretty and big mason jar gets me consuming the amount of water I need each day. It’s the first thing I reach for when I’m hungry (and know I shouldn’t be) or tired. A lot of the time it’s our bodies telling us we’re dehydrated and after a sip or two I’ll realise our bodies really do know what they’re talking about. Clever things, really. I recommend if a mason jar like this will catch your eye, remind you to drink and get you excited to drink (I’m aware I’m using techniques children benefit from!), buy one- they can be as cheap as £1!

When I’m hydrated my body is happy and thankful (the best metaphor to feel). When I’m not I’m sluggish, unmotivated and dissatisfied. I physically feel the difference in digestion when I’ve been drinking water and when I haven’t. We can often assume we are drinking enough but I do think it’s an important thing to keep track of whether that be mentally or noted down. That way we can’t kick ourselves when evening rolls about and we are on the sofa with a headache! “I didn’t drink enough water,” is the utterance that rolls off of our tongues before we head into our next dehydrated day.

Tips for drinking up:

  • Find a green tea or fruit tea you adore- you’ll drink lots of water without it even feeling like it
  • Pop some lemon, lime or anything similar into your water to make it that little bit more tasty
  • Wake up to some form of water (whether that be a nice cold glass of water or warm water with honey and lemon). I find it’s when my body adores water the most since I’ve had eight hours with no fluids at all
  • Leave notes on items you’ll be using throughout the day (such as your laptop/diary/recipe book) to remind yourself to keep sipping away
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of drinking water
  • Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere you go. This way there’s no need to pick up anything full of sugar or just simply not as beneficial as the good ol’ fashioned see through stuff
  • Be zen and think of yourself as a plant- we need watering too!

The benefits of water are plentiful. What are your tips for keeping hydrated?

~ Kat ~

P.S. 16/21

The Importance of Hamilton | The Ramblings of a Fangirl | 21 in Feb

You’d think the fact I haven’t seen the production of Hamilton: An American Musical would mean I couldn’t quite hit the “obsessive fan” level. But thousands of fans and I would disagree. After listening to Burn – THAT ballad that makes a musical just a sprinkle more special – I couldn’t stop clicking on the next song, the next song and the song after that. After all, true love can’t wait.

Written by the BRILLIANT (like seriously brilliant) Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton tells the story of Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. (If you know the musical, you’ll have sung his name along with me just then.) And his story is inspiring, heartbreaking, frustrating. And really really captivating. The musical is told through the medium of rapping, the cast made up of many black and Hispanic actors so as to represent America. And rightly so. This musical is at the top with my favourites Wicked and Les Mis… And I haven’t even seen it yet.

I try to subliminally make my mum, brother and friends adore Hamilton (and it happily doesn’t go unnoticed), not just because the music is incredible, but because Hamilton is important. I’ll tell you why if you fancy it.

Feminism

The females in this story are empowering in a lot of different ways. As they are in the history books. Eliza was kind with a big heart. In the history books we see women suppressed and stopped from being any more than that. (And being just that is just as acceptable too.) Eliza, however, created her own legacy- no one else did. Quiet and “lovely”, yes. But she wasn’t suppressed. And Angelica? Another female powerhouse: confident and self-assured, she shows the features some like to think are “unattractive” as more than endearing and charming. Incredibly stunning. And her character sings the brilliant lines: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel.” *Claps furiously.*

Diverse casting

How can the diverse casting not be something influential? Something important. As per usual Lin-Manuel Miranda is paving the way for the future. The musical tells the story of a trying time; an exciting time; a time of change. Why shouldn’t a reflection of America tell this story, when if it was truly translated into the 21st century, these would be the people telling it. It’s also another message Lin-Manuel is singing to us: Start representing the people better, world!

Hard work Vs. taking a break

A common theme of the musical is Alexander’s Hamilton work ethic. One of the most historic self-starters to have entered the world, Hamilton came from nothing, battled the worst and proved himself as he knew he would: “Just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry.” While Hamilton shows us what working hard means, we see the consequences of not taking a break; of overworking. Alexander Hamilton lived an incredible life but we can learn what not to do from him. He’s a tragic hero who is hard to idolise whilst being very hard not to idolise.

I could go on for for ever and a day. It’s a musical that will live on to teach and inspire. Lin-Manuel Miranda engages the modern world – young and old – with history some of us might not want to listen to. We live in testing times and it’s hard to watch America right now. But this musical gives me hope in America and in words, too. Words have so much more power than we are ever taught. I’m just a little bit invested in this musical and it deserves every success coming its way. I hope the world starts listening a little more intently. Every song is monumental; every word is important. I’m not sure if I’d recommend listening to as many songs as I have without seeing the musical (I have no regrets), but if you don’t want spoilers but some incredible musical showstoppers, I recommend you listen to:

  • You’ll Be Back
  • The Schuyler Sisters
  • My Shot

And now starts the saving of pennies for when Hamilton comes to London this year. Eek!

~ Kat ~

P.S. 15/21

Spicy Tomato Prawn Pasta | 21 in Feb

One of my favourite dishes to order at a restaurant or on holiday is some kind of seafood pasta. I’ve started making a version of the prawn pasta dishes I order which doesn’t take long at all, is ridiculously easy and is so super cheap! Despite it being very basic, the first time I made it I felt so smug, especially remembering how any pasta dish I’d have had three years ago would have been pasta plus a stir in sauce!

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Ingredients | For one student wishing they could afford a meal out

  • 120g whole weat pasta
  • 60g of pre-cooked and peeled king prawns
  • 1 pepper
  • 7 cherry tomatoes
  • Several handfuls of spinach
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 1/2 chilli (mine are super spicy so adjust this to whatever chillies you have!)
  • A few sprinkles of pink Himalayan salt
  • A sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/4 of a carton of tomato passata
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato puree
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (in 150ml boiling water)
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil

Method

  1. Boil the kettle with enough water for the pasta and heat a pan on high with the coconut oil. Add the crushed garlic and chilli
  2. Dice the pepper, cut the tomatoes in half and add them both to the pan (stirring often)
  3. Cook the pasta for 12-15 minutes
  4. Pour in the passata, vegetable stock cube water and squeeze in the puree
  5. Season next: salt; pepper; honey. Bring down the heat
  6. Stir in the prawns
  7. Tear the mozarella bowl and place it in the bowl
  8. Drain the pasta once it’s cooked and place in the bowl before stirring in the tomato sauce, veg and prawns
  9. Wollahhhh!

I recently fell out of love with pasta- which I wasn’t necessarily seeing as a bad thing as it’s easy to consume a smidge too much pasta. However this creation has meant I’ve wanted pasta every day. I have managed to restrain myself but I look forward to the day each week I make up this attempt at a restaurant-at-home meal!

~ Kat ~

P.S. 14/21

Taste | Review | 21 in Feb

For Christmas my brother bought me just about the best present for a foodie like me: Taste: The Infographic Book of Food by Laura Rowe. Falling in love with its front cover immediately (it’s oh so Instagram), I began to read that it’s a book that “explores the complex and colourful world of food through a collection of thought-provoking, beautifully crafted graphics.” The perfect present for me. And, I’m pretty sure, the winner of the (imaginary) category, “Best Coffee Table Book.”

img_0521IMG_0530.JPGIMG_0526.JPGIMG_0532.JPGTaste aims to outline the history of food, how it is used in cooking and creating as well as giving us plenty of facts to wow our guests at our dinner parties (I’m a student… my dinner parties include eating pasta with a knife on my bed on the phone to my mum). As you can understand just a little bit from the pictures above, this books is stunning. It’s colourful and bright- just like the history and usage of so much of the world’s food. Every single page makes me happy. And hungry.

I read a page or two of this book every day and consult it when I have a lot of time in a day to cook just that little bit “better.” It’s the dictionary for cooking. From veg and meat to honey and ice cream, Taste is full to the brim with brilliance. I am off to Paris in just over a week and am delighted to have found a recipe for macarons. In a couple of months I am off to Rome and have read up all about what gelato means. Its awesome tips and tricks even span to a favourite of me and my mum’s: Victoria Sponge. It suggests changing the buttercream to white chocolate and topping with fresh blackberries. I hope to make this with my mum as soon as possible! Taste is a 10/10 point of reference in a lot of ways.

A few of my favourite facts from the book:

  • Tomatoes came about in the 16th century
  • Blending avocado and raw cacao powder makes a chocolate mousse (since they are two of my favourite things, I must try this!)
  • In Italy it is tradition to have a feast of seven fishes on Christmas Eve (YUM!)

From naming an abundance of different type of pastas (enough to make any student want to broaden their pasta horizons) to showing the structure to a Cornish pasty, Taste is my pride and joy in my Coffee Table Book Collection*. It proves courgette’s versatility and tells us a tulip-shaped glass is best for whiskey (not a tumbler!). Ultimately, Taste is the best book for someone who adores food in all of its glory like I do.

~ Kat ~

P.S. 13/21

*I don’t really have a Coffee Table Book Collection

Bute Park | The Last Five Months | 21 in Feb

This week I took just another nostalgic walk to one of the places that makes me want to stay in Cardiff for ever: Bute Park. After being cooped up all day doing coursework, Aaron and I went for a late afternoon walk on a day that decided to tease us, pretending to be spring. It was a Wednesday afternoon and Bute is buzzing at this time because of university sports and the usual walkers and runners. It’s maybe the feeling I’ll miss the most about Cardiff.

IMG_0410.JPGIMG_0416.JPGIMG_0418.JPGIMG_0421.JPGIMG_0425.JPGIMG_0426.JPGimg_0428With naked winter trees dotted for as far as you can see and old fallen leaves beneath your feet, Bute Park is the definition of “really something” during any season. I’m trying to walk more “for no reason” and Bute Park makes it so easy. Although, as lovely as it was, it did, of course, get me excited for the warmer days.

My three favourite memories from Bute Park:

  • Running my first thirteen mile run in first year
  • Having a picnic with three of my university friends
  • My first Cardiff ParkRun

Three Bute Park goals to complete before I leave university:

  • Get my ParkRun personal best
  • Have a few more picnics there when the weather is warmer
  • Get a Bute Park sunset picture

Cardiff has become my second home and being so close to such an amazing and huge park has been amazing. It was my place to go when I was homesick in first year and now my place to go to soak up Cardiff in general. It’s my substitute for not having the beach like I do at home! You can find my last post about Wales here: Roath Park | The Last Six Months.

~ Kat ~

P.S. 12/21

Do Sweat It: Eight Skin Products | 21 in Feb

Recently I have been on a bit of a skin-kick. I have always been pretty lazy skin-wise despite knowing, personally, the harder I try with skincare, the better skin I have. Skincare is vital anyway but since reading up about how bad sitting around in sweat is (and being someone who exercises a lot alarm bells were ringing), I have wanted to step up my game. On top of that, since sweating also brings skin benefits in abundance, looking after my skin just seems like something that goes together with my lifestyle like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong (I’ve had a craving for watching Grease for a while now).

IMG_0451.JPGONE: Garnier 2 in 1 make-up remover. Although I use them sometimes, make-up wipes don’t often work very well with my skin. The only make-up I regularly wear is eye make up but wipes make my eyes irritated and red. Garnier’s 2 in 1 make-up remover is a brilliant substitute. It’s gentle and takes off a lot easily- something I rarely find with make-up wipes.

TWO: Clarins One-Step Facial Cleanser. I used to have a little bottle of this and my skin got on with it amazingly. For my birthday last week, my mum bought me a big bottle that is sure to last a long time. I use this both after taking make-up off but also after exercising. I feel a lot more fresh and clean and it’s definitely a far better move than not washing my face post-exercise. Although I don’t sit around after exercising in general and am likely to wash my face, sometimes I do. In these cases I feel SO much more healthy once I’ve cleansed my skin before I get on with whatever I am doing. It’s a greasy product but feels super effective and a little goes a long, long way.

THREE: Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser. As spoken about HERE, this product is my staple. It’s a I’ve-got-my-life-together skin product. I use it every single night and I go to bed feeling like I’ve done my skin a load of good.

FOUR: Simple Cleansing Lotion. Following using the foaming cleanser I like to put on a little bit of moisturiser and Simple’s cleansing lotion will always be what I’ll buy when I run out of my new Clarins daily energiser cream since it’s affordable but makes my skin feel healthy and soft.

FIVE: One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser. I recently found this product in my drawer at university and have started to use this in the shower. My favourite skin ritual is face wash however I have none at the moment but this product has been making me feel awake and my skin energised. After I have cleansed my skin following exercise I will wash and use this and any tightness or dirt I felt is gone!

SIX: Clarins Daily Energizer Cream. This is another product my mum bought me for my birthday and another incredible Clarins pot of joy. With the best texture a face cream could have, it feels GOOD on the skin. It’s creamy yet light and smells super duper fresh, instantly lifting my skin. Clarins, you are magical.

SEVEN: Beauty Flash Balm. I pop some of this on my skin before I put any make-up on my face and it just makes my skin feel a little more comfortable with it. As I don’t use concealer often and my skin reacts to it with an aggressive tone, I have found this has allowed my skin to get on a bit better with it and tells me off a little less.

EIGHT: Neutrogena Hand cream. I have suffered most of my life from chapped, cut and painful hands in the winter months. This last year, however, I have only experienced this on a few super cold days. It was when my hands started to crack a month or so ago that I realised I should be moisturising my hands anyway. On top of this, using weights and particular machines at the gym can create some rough areas on my hands. With both of these issues, this hand cream has improved them. I pop it on before I leave my house in the morning and take it with me for whenever I remember to use it and I have since not had any problems with dryness at all.

This post was definitely inspired from reading up about exercise, sweat and the product of these things. Exercise does amazing things for our skin but it does make sense that sweat can have a nasty side too. It’s important to look after our skin and this was just another reminder of that!

~ Kat ~

P.S. 11/21