Porridge O'clock

We are still in the depths of winter, even if the festive section has finished and the gloomy January blues are over, there is still a little while left until Spring is here. Which means the weather is still drizzley and rubbish (in the UK anyway), the evenings are still dark early, and I still insist on having porridge to keep warm in the mornings. Talking of porridge.. (see what I did there... segue queen...) I thought I would give my top five porridge topping combinations!

When I worked in London, I used to have porridge daily with my team (mainly my friend Andy, bless him, he had to put up with my morning grumpy/hyper-ness (theres not much middle ground haha)), and we would sing a little Porridge o'clock song and do a microwave dance while it was heating up, and we would go through phases of trying loads of different toppings. The overall fav was Nutella, and the biggest disappointment was peanut butter.

I would love to know your favourite toppings, and maybe some obscure ones I should try! 

A Week Of #OOTD's

I have seen so many 'look books' and 'outfit of the days', but haven't really seen many illustrated versions spanning a week of outfits. So I thought I would give it a little go all of last week, as a push to draw every day, but also a way to practise drawing humans, as it's something I struggle with (I draw too many pandas eh!!!) For the majority of these outfits, most of the clothes are no longer available in store as they are a few years old, woops, so I have linked the most similar item the same brand has at the moment to get the closest match!

Monday: For the majority of my Monday I spent it sat at my desk trying to organise myself, I have had an exiting commission come in to design a poster for an interactive cinema screening of Matilda, lots of blog posts to get organised and my Etsy shop launch! So I unintentionally dressed like a girl boss, with my suit style trousers and a slouchy striped tee, which are both really comfortable yet make me feel fancy (even if I didn't bother putting a bra on or any makeup and left my hair down in a matted mess... but you didn't need to know that...) Similar trousers and t-shirt.

Tuesday: Tuesday started off badly, with a poorly migraine morning (which will become a recurring theme this week), but when I woke up I popped to the post office to deliver my first ever Etsy order (eek!), then spent the majority of the afternoon designing and making cards for my Valentine's range. In the evening I cooked a yummy dinner for me and Mum. Queue mini recipe!!! First you cut new potatoes into chunks (about quarters) and boil them until they are fully cooked. At the same time fry green beans, peppers and spring onions, then once cooked put in an oven proof dish with tomato pasta sauce and sweetcorn. Pop the dish into the oven for five mins. At this point the potatoes should be fully boiled, so drain away the water and leave them to dry out for a little bit. With the oven dish, you want to crack two eggs on top of the veggies, and pop back in the oven for twenty minutes. While the eggs are cooking, you fry the potatoes on a low heat with garlic olive oil (or garlic and olive oil if you don't have that!!), cayenne pepper, ground ginger and ground nutmeg. Then it should all be ready at a similar time, and it's super yummy! Similar jeans, jumper and socks.

Wednesday: I popped to the post office again, with my second Etsy order (how exciting!). When I got back I sat and watched Matilda while taking notes and screenshots and doodling different layouts and elements. I then listened to my sisters uni radio show whilst making valentines cards and blogging, and can I just say she's bloody great at it, so impressed!! And then when my Mum got home from work we went shopping for craft supplies that I needed and home stuff that she needed in town, and just chilled out at home chatting afterwards. Similar dress, long sleeve top, denim jacket, necklace, shoes.

Thursday: Was another poorly morning, so I had an easy morning and started off with a little scanning session of my Matilda sketches, valentines doodles and ootd's so far. I then cracked on with laying out the Matilda poster which luckily wasn't that difficult as I had done most of the layout the day before. And then I just had soup for dinner whilst watching Real Housewives and took a long bubble bath. It was quite a tough day mental health and happiness wise, and I became quite lonely and sad, so found it really hard concentrating and spent most of the day in my pjs or in the bath, so decided to draw myself in the bath instead for this day as it summed up the day a bit better. However, here is a similar skirt (they no longer do ones at a shorter length, booo) and top that I wore during the day for a few hours.

Friday: Deja Vu here, but it was another poorly morning, went for lunch at a nice hotel nearby, making valentines cards whilst listening to my sisters last radio show for the week. Similar jeans, top, jacket, necklace (they no longer do the one I have, which was a lovely gift from one of my besties, but here's another cute on that is in stock) 

Saturday: Another poorly morning... so I had an easy day and just sat and watched housewives again, whilst finishing off a few more Valentines cards (slowly taking over my life), then had a chilled out evening eating pasta bake and pancakes whilst watching rubbish TV. with my Mum and Mike. Similar jeans (same as Friday), top and jumper.

Sunday: Didn't do an awful lot again, and spent most of the day chatting to Mum and Mike with the music channel on in the background. I did manage to sew a few panda heads and starting to design and make some dala horse badges though, so wasn't a completely unproductive day. Simalr shirt (the don't make shirt dresses anymore) and socks.

So there we have it, that was my week! I'm quite happy with how a couple of these illustrations have turned out, but can already see proportion mistakes and annoying bits I wish I could fix, but I think I might turn these into digital illustrations and fix those niggles! If you liked this little series please let me know, and I'll try think of similar ones I could do soon!

New Year's Resolutions

I decided to have a look at what the most popular New Year's resolutions were in the UK, and make a post with a few tips and tricks to help you guys on the right track with each!

Loose weight, healthy eating and more exercise

These three resolutions combined made up 50%!! That's a crazy percentage, and all three things go hand in hand in having a healthier lifestyle. 

To start off I have made this Pinterest board full of home workouts, yoga poses, as well as health and fitness tips. It might also be worth investing in a health tracker such a Fitbit (especially in the January sales with any Christmas money you might have got!), which also monitors your sleeping as well as tracking your activity and weight. I'd also advice in getting the Nike+ Training app available, with pre planned fitness routines, and a tracker for when you go running.

This time of year there are also plenty of gym membership discounts, but ALWAYS read the terms and conditions, and choose a plan where you pay monthly and can opt out any time, unless you know that you will commit to going for the whole year. I've always found it cheaper to go to local, non-chain gyms, which can be annoying if you travel around the country a lot, but perfect if you tend to spend most of your time in one area.

If gyms aren't your thing, there are plenty of home workout dvd's (my favourite is the Ministry of Sound Chillates) or there are so many amazing YouTube channels dedicated to fitness, such as Carly Rowena and Blogilates. If home workouts aren't your thing either, and regular run of the mill sports like football or netball aren't your thing either, it might be worth looking at trying a more obscure fun sport, like roller derby, laughter yoga, aerial yoga, hula dancing, horse riding, aqua aerobics, ice hockey, the list goes on!! Or you could even sign up to something like The Colour Run or Tough Mudder.

To help with having a healthier diet, I have made this board of Pinterest recipes which are all vegetarian and vegan (it has been proven that a plant based diet is better for your health, even switching to have meat free Mondays makes a big difference) where most are healthy and hearty dinners. You could even start by doing something as simple as swapping out unhealthy snacks like crisps and chocolate, with healthy snacks such as mixed nuts, fruit, nakd bars, propercorn, or smoothies. Another huge factor is portion control, you could be having really healthy dinners but not notice a change in health or weight, which probably means that you are eating too much of a good thing! A handy tip to help combat this is to use smaller plates and bowls when eating, so it tricks your brain into thinking you are eating more as your plate is more full.

A common misconception, is eating healthily costs lots of money. And yes this can be the case if you buy really fancy health foods from Wholefoods or Ocado (they are yummy though!), which is why I really love the 'Living on Less' series that Plant Based Traveller have made on YouTube, giving handy meal plans on how to eat nutritiously as vegans on a low budget.

Another huge factor of staying healthy, which usually is overlooked (I know I SUCK at this), is staying hydrated. A great way to do this is to buy a water bottle and refill it at certain times of the day. Below I have included nine bottles of varying styles and price points, but you can find some really lovely ones in TKMaxx if none of these take your fancy.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

A good way to stay healthy, is to notice patterns in you're eating, and try to correct those unhealthy patterns, such as eating lots of fatty foods when hormonal or feeling stressed, or doing the opposite and not eating anything. The best way to do this is to write a food journal. This can also be helpful if you are having health issues which could be caused by certain food intake; I've done this in the past when trying to find triggers for having migraines. Personally I just wrote down in a weekly planner what I ate day to day, but there are also apps available which make this easier. If you are doing this to loose weight then an app like Kudolife may be good for you, where it calculates your calorie and intake of each food group, and gives you tailored food plans to increase or decrease your intake of certain groups. If you are doing this maybe as CBT for recovering from an eating disorder, or to prevent one from happening/worsening (which I have done myself, there is no shame in being open and honest with your doctor or a close friend if you are struggling to take care for yourself) then an app like Rise Up is great for tracking your progress, and how you are feeling each time you eat.

Drink less alcohol

A great way to start this new year's resolution is to do something like Dry January or Dryalthlon, and use raising money for a good cause as a motivator to keep you going. And once you have completed the month drink free, try to limit your intake, as you know that you can do it, and this articles list of health benefits are unreal. 

If alcohol consumption is more of an addiction issue, it is important that you get specialist advice from a doctor, or contact a charity such as Alcoholics Anonymous. If you're unsure if your drinking habits are normal, the Don't Bottle It Up quiz will let you know, as well as pointing you in the direction of specialist help in your local area. The NHS website has lots of information and advice, as does the Alcohol Concern website. Drink Aware have a log in section where you can track your alcohol intake, and they will give you tailored advice and support on how to cut your intake down.

I included this video in my How To Cope With Mental Health Issues During The Holidays blog post, but for anyone who missed it and may need to watch it, this video from Lucy Moon on her Alcoholism is a very good watch.

Learn new things

There are SO many things that you guys could want to learn, so I don't really know where to start! Pinterest, Skillshare and Twitch (especially Twitch Creative), are my three go to websites for learning new skills. If you are wanting to learn skills with other people in workshops or events, then websites like Eventbrite or Meetup are great. I imagine one of the main skills people want to learn are languages, for that you can't really beat lessons with real tutors, but these days apps like Duolingo, get pretty close.

Career focus

Casey Neistat really is the god at career focus, and this video below has motivated me so many times.

Other than that, the Career Girl Daily blog has lots of insightful articles, or I have a Pinterest board full of creative business and blogging tips that I go back to when I need that extra help.

Relationships

I wasn't really sure what this resolution meant, but I imagine it covers toxic relationships, being scared to start new relationships/ building confidence to start dating, being okay being single, making a struggling couple stronger or rekindling friendships/connections with family members. And these are such personal and vast things to give advice on. If you would like a whole post on this then please let me know!

Quit smoking

The first thing to do with quitting smoking, is slowly limit your intake per day, and get yourself to a point where you could visit a pharmacy to discuss which stop smoking aids may be suitable for you. Boots has a great section on their website about this. The best online resource I've found for this is, Smokefree through the NHS, where they offer guidance in whichever way suits you, and everything is tailored to your needs to make it as easy as possible.

Travel

The first step to travelling more, is saving enough money to do so. The Money Saving Expert has loads of great money advice, and this is an article especially on saving money for a holiday.

It may seem obvious, but looking on websites like Wowcher, Groupon or Lastminute, save you lots of money if you're happy to go at strange times of the year and have a package holiday. Hostelworld is also amazing, please don't be put off by the word hostel, I have stayed in a few now, and each time had my own private room and bathroom and breakfast included, and I honestly couldn't recommend it more. If there are specific hotels you wish to stay, it might be worth trying to get a good deal on travel, such as getting an Interrail Pass or using a search engine like Google Flights to get the best deal.

Charity

The most obvious way to help charitably, is to volunteer, either for the charity itself, or maybe at one of their events or charity shops. If you don't have enough time to do that, maybe consider donating some of your old clothes or books or homeware to a local charity shop, or donate your hair next time you have a hair cut, or donate a couple pounds a month to a charity you want to support. Another way to be charitable, is by spreading love, sharing important links on social media, signing petitions you believe in, going to peaceful protests you strongly believe in, or just being a part of your community.

 

Whatever you choose to do this year, please take care of yourself and set realistic small achievable goals as well as long term goals which you can slowly work towards. Good luck, and Happy New Year!!!

Gingerbread Penguins

I got a recipe card from the White company, which you can find a similar recipe online here, which I used as the recipe to follow for this video. It is so easy, and I found all the ingredients already in the cupboard, so no need to go out and buy anything fancy! I hope you enjoy the video and have fun making these cuties!

Music:  Broke For Free - Only Knows & Broke For Free -  Something Elated