Earl grey and blackberry cake

Sounds like a strange pair of flavours to marry together right? Exactly what I thought as another late night facebook trawl lead me to the recipe by Buzzfeed Tasty. I was intrigued by the idea and the aesthetic was incredibly pleasing, so it didn’t take long for me to decide to add it to my list of ‘potential bakes’. I love tea, I love blackberries, and I love cake so in my mind, not a lot could go wrong if all three were put together. Excited to attempt this unorthodox cake, my fascination was met with a lot of doubt from some, convinced there was no way the flavours would compliment each other well in cake form. Still, I was determined to try, extremely curious, and rather hopeful that I’d stumbled across something uniquely amazing.

Ingredients bought, I started baking at around half seven, probably not the best idea considering baking time, cooling time, and decorating time (I finished at 1 am..) but nonetheless, bake I did.

I realised upon completing my batter that it was substantially wetter than the replica in the recipe I was following, I reckon the amount of tea incorporated was a little more than necessary so if you try the recipe maybe hold back on the tea a bit! All in all, it was quite a dense cake, I’m not sure why, possibly due to the excessive tea or maybe I needed a little more of my raising agent to help it along a little. I can’t fault the flavour though, the mellow earl grey really came though and paired with the sharpness of the blackberries, everything balanced out in this not too sweet desert. I was pleasantly surprised!

This is definitely a bake I’ll attempt again, of course tweaking the recipe a little to hopefully allow for a more fluffy and lighter cake, but for now, I’ll nibble away at what’s sitting in my fridge…

You can find the recipe below and also enjoy the aesthetically pleasing photos I took, because, did you really bake if you didn’t document it?

No fuss cinnamon rolls

Arguably the best dessert ever created, cinnamon rolls are everything that’s good in the world, packaged in a tightly wound spiral. Most recipes for this delectable treat are lengthy and tedious, requiring hours of proofing, and sometimes even a double proofing. Quite honestly, I do not have that patience, I love baking, but I hate waiting.

Luckily for me, a few years ago I came across a recipe from the Minimalist Baker, which is not only quick and simple, but is also vegan! If you don’t have the vegan ingredients like I didn’t, you can substitute all the ingredients for regular ones and they turn out just as delightful. All in all, there are absolutely no cons to this situation- if you decide to ignore the calories and macronutrients.

Nothing compares to the scent of warm, freshly baked, homemade cinnamon-y goodness filling the house, and enjoying these buns straight out of the oven is a top 10 experience, would definitely recommend!

Passivity is complicity.

It has taken me a while to find the words to write this post. Even now, as I stare at my screen I’m not entirely sure on what I want to say. However, a good friend of mine shared a blogpost which gave me the push I needed to start writing, and you can find it here.

Amidst a devastating pandemic, America is alight with rage. Rage that has stemmed from centuries of reprehensible racism, which has intertwined itself deeply into American culture. As a nation built by slaves, it only makes sense that it has been founded on racism.

I watched in gut wrenching horror as news unfolded on the police murder of George Floyd, just two months after Breonna Taylor was shot eight times whilst asleep in her home. Anyone who is familiar with police brutality in America knows one heartbreaking truth; these events are not isolated. Many of us are emotionally drained and desensitised from seeing these repeated offences; many police officers abusing their state given power- as if it were the Stanford prison experiment all over again-, acting without an ounce of humanity and taking the countless lives of innocent men, women and children.

All because they are black.

Let’s not equivocate just because the facts are uncomfortable to acknowledge. Statistics show that black people are three times more likely to be killed by police in America than white people, even though they are also 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed than white people are. So why is it, when we are 1.3 times less likely to be unarmed, excessive and fatal force is being used at an alarmingly frequent rate?

Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.

Mapping Police Violence, 2019

These huge disparities are shocking to read as is, but when you pair them with the names and the faces of those who have sadly fallen victim to the unjust and corrupt criminal justice system, it is impossible to feel anything but despair. I cannot list every single black soul I have seen perish at the hands of white supremacy and police brutality, for they are far too many. This however, provokes me to have the chilling thought; how many do we not see?

Since George Floyd’s death, I have watched America’s justified uproar. This is the last straw for many people who witnessed Tamir Rice (12), Sandra Bland (28), Philando Castile (28), and many, many more receive absolutely no justice for their deaths. It’s as if they are disposable.

As America stands tall, many around the world stand with them in solidarity, campaigning for black lives.

Not all of us can go out to protest, we are in a pandemic after all, and that is okay. What is not okay is remaining silent on this, as the title of this post says, passivity is complicity. In other words, it is not enough to just sit back and not be racist, we have to be actively antiracist in our thoughts, in our conversations and in our actions.

I also want to highlight the fact that the UK is not innocent. Negligence of black lives is also present here, most recently highlighted in the case of Belly Mujinga. As much as the situation in America is easier to condemn due to, quite frankly how overt it is, we have to look deeper than their rampant police brutality and realise racism is multi faceted.

Change does not happen overnight, we must be diligent and guided in this battle for equality. Racism has been present for centuries and has found itself engrained in the system, so in order to undo aeons of prejudice we must aim to destroy from the root. That is, for example, dispelling damaging stereotypes like ‘black women have a higher pain threshold’ which is linked to black women to being five times more likely to die in child birth (2016). Institutional racism is demonstrated in every pocket of society: education, employment and wealth, just to name a few. We need to ask ourselves, why are black people and other ethnic minorities at such a disadvantage? Rev. Al Sharpton put it best in his eulogy for George Floyd, ‘the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being, is you kept your knee on our neck.’ It was a physical knee that took the life of Mr Floyd, but a metaphorical knee has been acting against black people since slavery began.

There are plenty of resources available to help support #BlackLivesMatter. From petitions to donations, to books and other materials you can use to further educate yourselves, I urge us all to do as much as we can. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

This will be emotionally exhausting for a lot of black people, so please, do not feel guilty for taking some time out. Look after yourselves, and your mental health. For non black people, please check on your black friends, be their support system, and listen.

Eventually this will die down, hopefully after pivotal change is achieved, but the activism cannot stop. We all need to unify, regardless of race, gender, religion or sexuality and work to extinguish all wrongdoings in this world.

Rewind, what was life like a year ago?

For those of us who are fortunate enough to travel the world, I’m sure you can relate when I say ‘post holiday blues’ are REAL. You’ll come across a photo, hear a song, or the dreaded ‘a year ago today’ memory pops up on your snapchat and you’re immediately engulfed the bittersweet emotion of nostalgia. Reminded of when the sun gently illuminated your cheeks, or the air was sweeter, the laughs you shared with friends or family and the flavour of delectable cuisine.

Right now, things are infinitely worse, I haven’t the faintest idea of when I’ll next set foot on a plane, walk the aisle and jet off to a beautiful destination. My desperate yearning for a getaway has caused me to enviously long for the life of former me. She went on 3 holidays last year and a countryside getaway; whilst current me isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. So personally, I think my jealousy is warranted here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy these measures have been put in place because public safety is most definitely worth a thousand times more than a little holiday, but we are allowed to feel upset at how life has turned out this year, we’re only human!

I’m sat here now, thinking: I can’t believe it’s already been a year since my holiday to Greece with my housemates?? I guess due to feeling like I haven’t quite done a year’s worth of things, this reminder has come as a shock to me. I remember counting down the days with such excitement- the buildup can sometimes be just as good as the holiday itself don’t you think? We went just after exams ended, having only just clutched onto freedom which was fresh and exhilarating. We’d had a busy week of partying so this was the perfect time to jet off and keep the buzz going.

This holiday wasn’t entirely what we expected (we went outside of peak season so admittedly the night life was disastrously quiet) but by the end of the week we’d had so much fun together that we didn’t care. The trip had been indelible, we’d laughed so hard it hurt, somehow managed to further extend our already insane inside jokes by a mile, and even found a cheesy anthem to perfectly summarise our experience.

I won’t bore you all with the ins and outs of the week, but I’d love to share some of my favourite photos!

Sourdough & shakshuka, the perfect brunch

Pretty much everyone loves bread. After pasta, I think we can all agree bread is the next best carb (sorry potato lovers, sit this one out). I love fresh bread, especially from a local bakery but as we all know, obtaining fresh crusty goodness currently isn’t as easy as it was a few months ago. If you follow me on instagram you’ll know I’ve been spending copious amounts of time in the kitchen, I love to cook and bake but seeing as I don’t have much else to do, it’s become most of what I do (thank God for home workouts). I’ve always wanted to make sourdough, however the idea of curating a starter from scratch was a little daunting considering the only thing I’ve had to keep alive (excluding myself) are my houseplants. Nevertheless I found a recipe for a starter and committed to seeing this through until the probable bitter end.

After about a week and once I’d passed the ‘float test’ I reckoned my starter was ready to do what it was destined for, become bread. I followed this recipe for sourdough bread. Quite honestly, after dedicating a week to my starter and an additional 5 and a half hours to make and proof I was (maybe slightly over dramatically) distraught to find my dough had not risen as it was supposed to. My starter hadn’t developed enough but it was way too late and I was not about to give up on the last hurdle, if I had to bake what would turn out to be a rock I was going to do it out of principal. Eventually it was time to bake, and I was incredibly surprised to see some rising action as I peered into the oven! Somehow I’d managed to bake an acceptable loaf that appeared edible… I didn’t even wait for it to cool, as soon as I took it out of the oven I cut myself a slice of victory and although slightly dense, it was BREAD and I was PROUD.

I decided to make an indulgent brunch the next day, one of my favourites, shakshuka. This is a dish made up of a beautifully seasoned tomato sauce (I added chorizo to mine for some more texture and a kick) topped with eggs. It’s healthy, filling and absolutely delicious! I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get over this meal, it’s super easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. You can find the recipe below, hope you enjoy!

Shakshuka

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • one large red onion
  • Chorizo (about 3/4 of a whole sausage you normally buy in a packet)
  • One punnet of baby plum tomatoes
  • olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • all purpose seasoning
  • paprika
  • chilli flakes
  • salt
  • 5 eggs
  • one spring onion (optional)

Directions

  1. Blend the tomatoes, garlic, onion and seasonings to taste until smooth.
  2. In a large frying pan on medium heat, add the whole punnet of tomatoes (sliced in half) cook until soft and starting to get some colour/char on them.
  3. Add chorizo that has been chopped to your liking (I did mine in semi circles about half a centimetre thick). Sear until the chorizo gets some colour, about 5 minutes on medium heat
  4. Add your tomato mixture and let it cook until it starts to simmer. Add about 50 ml of water, and turn your heat all the way down.. At this point, taste test to see if you want to add any more seasoning and do so.
  5. Make 5 wells for your eggs, ensuring the well goes all the way to the bottom of the pan (this ensures the egg cooks a little faster and all the way through).
  6. Crack the eggs into the wells, lightly season with salt and cover the pan until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
  7. Take the pan off the heat, garnish with thinly sliced spring onion, and serve!

The journey to loving my blackness

With the media constantly battling with race and identity, I felt as if I’d like to shed some light on my experiences being a young black female born and bred in London. In no way does this encapsulate the entire black experience as the spectrum is so broad, however, it highlights a lot of issues I’m sure many black individuals have dealt with at some point in their lives.

Being the only black girl in my primary school class was something I didn’t reflect on until years after I finished year 6. In very simple terms, it never mattered, to me or any of my peers. I struggle to unearth a single memory in which I was alienated, because those memories are nonexistent. Instead, my uniqueness (if ever it was highlighted) was fascinating to those around me. I remember having beads in my hair when I returned from my first holiday to Uganda, and my best friend finding them ‘cool’, amused by the colours and variations I’d have (to this day we still fondly remember the sound they made as I’d walk). Quite honestly I don’t think I really knew the extent to which racism or colourism existed, in my naïve little mind all races were equal and differences were to be celebrated.
When I share these stories with some of my black friends however, I’m reminded that my encounters were not entirely the norm. My friends share traumas of their hair unsolicitedly being touched as if they were an interactive exhibit, how they noticed girls who fit into the Eurocentric standard being idolised, whilst they remained ostracised because they looked dissimilar to their peers.
I’m extremely fortunate that my early years were not clouded by me being hyper-aware of my race and feeling self conscious of my heritage, instead I was proud to be a young Ugandan girl who got to experience such vibrant culture when I would spend my summers in the ‘Pearl of Africa’.

Secondary school was a complete juxtaposition from my experiences prior. Going from a tiny primary school with less than 200 students of mainly caucasian descent, to then finding myself in a large predominately black secondary school was a culture shock, and it took me a long time to adjust. You’d think that seeing more people who looked like me and came from similar backgrounds would have made me feel more like I belonged, however it was in these few years, my formative years, that I felt incredibly alienated because of my blackness. It was the first time I faced colourism and harmful stereotypes, made solely to oppress dark skin black individuals.
Between the ages of 11-16 I was repeatedly told I ‘act’ and ‘talk’ ‘white’ which enforces the awfully damaging notion that using certain ‘black’ vernacular equates to lack of intelligence. Because I was well spoken and interested in things many of my black peers weren’t, my blackness was stripped from me. Eventually it got to a point where I was so indoctrinated that this seemed like a positive thing, if ‘acting white’ implied a higher level of intellect, then I was happy to fit the bill even if it made me uncomfortable to feed into such stereotypes. I found myself stuck in an environment that normalised eurocentric ideologies, ‘the lighter the better’ and believing that due to my dark skin I could never be as desirable as those who were lighter than me.
I think the worst thing about looking back on that period is that to an extent, I accepted my insecurities, I believed that my skin would never be regarded as a standard of beauty and learnt to just deal with that as fact. I buried my feelings about my complexion and went about my early teen years pretty normally, but suppressing my insecurities meant I never addressed them and every now and then they’d resurface, entangling me in a suffocating quilt of self hate.

I started sixth form in the autumn of 2015, desperate for a fresh start. Very quickly I noticed the contrast in the new friends I made, I was accepted for who I was and not a single comment was made about the ‘type of black girl’ I came across as, because why is blackness confined to a checklist? Where I’d previously felt as if I didn’t fit in with my black peers, I found sisterhood in a large group of black girls who embraced all of me. I could finally share my experiences with people who were likeminded and had been through similar journeys, and slowly I began to unpack the baggage I’d kept to myself for so long. In just two years I unlearnt so many of the harmful and scarring mantras I had been living by, I became hugely proud of my personal black identity and most paramount for me, I finally saw beauty in my skin, something that I’d never seen before.
I made friends from all different backgrounds and walks of life in those two years, who essentially taught me how to love myself, and I cannot even begin to explain how blessed I am to have stumbled across all of them when I did because I’m certain I would not be the woman I am today (you guys know who you are, I love you all).

In this current day and age we see a lot more representation of dark skin men and women which is imperative for upcoming generations of dark skin children. Seeing yourself represented in the media means more than a lot of us give credit for, it just makes it that bit easier to recognise and appreciate that beauty comes in all forms, dark skin absolutely included. Don’t get me wrong, the issue of colourism still has miles to go, especially due to the fact a lot of colourists are dark skin individuals themselves, ‘dealing’ with their own self hate by projecting their insecurities onto others in a classic ‘victim becomes the bully’ fashion. How is anyone ever going to see the beauty in a dark complexion if those who are blessed with it still tear it down? This is an issue many dark skin women face on social media, a large sense of betrayal from dark skin men who openly show their abhorrence of women with dark complexions, oftentimes concealed under the guise of ‘preference’.

Self love isn’t something you can grasp quickly, and that’s true for everyone, it takes unlearning damaging mindsets and slowly building yourself up with words of affirmation, surrounding yourself around the right people, and eventually facing your insecurities and negative emotions in order to slowly start chipping away at them, until hopefully, they no longer have a hold on you.

Chinese Pork and Chive Potstickers

This is a recipe that I hold very close to my heart, I first made it in the summer of my first year of university and I immediately regretted not having made it sooner. Potstickers are moderately straightforward and once you get the hang of how to make them it can be quite therapeutic, time consuming, but therapeutic nonetheless. These little dumplings pack a whole lot of flavour and I love how there’s an amalgamation of textures, all in all a 10/10 dish and although I had them about a week ago I’m craving them as I write this.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DUMPLING AND A POTSTICKER?

A potsticker is a dumpling, but not all dumplings are potstickers. The term potsticker comes from the way they’re cooked, by lightly frying them on the bottoms (sticking to the pot) before steaming them the rest of the way. You don’t have to cook the recipe below using the potsticker method, you can steam them using a bamboo steamer but I love the crispiness you get so I recommend you try it!

A little tip…

There are a lot of ways to roll out your wrappers and some ways are easier than others. After trialling a few different methods, I finally found a technique that works for me and makes cooking in large batches much easier, albeit a little unorthodox. Roll the dough until it’s thin enough without being too thin that you can see through it (roughly 0.2cm? I’m not that technical with if it’s too thick it’ll be way too doughy and if too thin the filling will spill out). So, find a biscuit cutter or a cup/glass/ anything with a sharp edge and a diameter of roughly 8cm and all you have to do is punch out your wrappers from your rolled dough! It’s super easy and very quick to do, great for beginners.

The recipe can be found below, if you try these out I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Chinese Pork and Chive Potstickers

  • Servings: A LOT
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Print

A delicious addition to chicken noodle soup or great as a starter!


Ingredients

    (for the filling)

  • 500g pork mince (I used 20% fat)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • one bunch of chives finely chopped/ 1/3 of a bottle of dried chives
  • soy sauce (about 100ml)
  • sesame oil (about 2tbsp)
  • balsamic vinegar/ rice wine vinegar (about 4 tbsp)
  • Chinese 5 spice seasoning (1tsp)
  • salt (1/2 tsp)
  • 100g cabbage
  • mirin (optional) (1tbsp)
  • (for the dough)

  • 300g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • (for the dipping sauce)

  • soy sauce (about 30ml)
  • balsamic vinegar/ balsamic vinegar glaze/ rice wine vinegar (2tbsp)
  • brown sugar/honey/mirin (1tsp)
  • sesame oil (2tsp)
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 spring onion (optional, finely chopped)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss together dumpling ingredients making sure to fully incorporate all the ingredients well, you can do this with a wooden spoon but I find it’s so much better with your hands! Cover and put in the fridge until ready to assemble.
  2. Place flour and salt in another medium bowl and add the water, and mix. At this point you’ll very clearly know whether there is too much/ too little flour so just add a tbsp of water or flour until the dough comes together and is slightly sticky to the touch. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth. place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a tea towel for at least half an hour.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead into a round ball and cut into 4 sections. Put 3 sections back into the bowl and cover.
  4. Roll out the dough and punch out your first set of wrappers. Get your filling out of the fridge and spoon about a teaspoon’s worth of filling onto the dough (if your wrappers are a bit bigger/smaller you can adjust this).
  5. Fold your wrappers, making sure the dumpling is securely closed as any gaps will cause the filling to spill out.
  6. Heat your frying pan up at a medium heat and add 2 teaspoons of oil (any oil is okay but I prefer sesame oil). Once the oil is heated place your dumplings on the pan making sure not to over crowd the pan.
  7. Allow the bottoms to crisp up until a rich golden brown and add a quarter cup/60ml water to the pan. Cover and let simmer until all the water is evaporated. at this point take off the lid and check if the bottoms are crispy. If not, leave them on the heat for a little longer before taking them off.
  8. Mix your dipping sauce ingredients together and serve!

Any excuse to make food is a good one..

Having ample time to scroll through my phone means many things, for one, both my thumbs are adequately exercised- daily. More usefully, I’ve curated a few recipes that I’d like to try and it’s reminded me of the recipes I love but don’t really have the time to make anymore (shout out to potstickers and chicken noodle soup). I’ll be honest with you all, I have been eating very well since I’ve been at home, and I intend to carry on in a similar fashion for the foreseeable future. So I thought, why not share some of my favourites? At the very least, I have somewhere to document my creations, and at the very most some of you will try these recipes and hopefully enjoy them! Here’s a regular day at home for me in terms of food, and an excuse for me to post a few of the hundred food pictures I have on my phone..

1. breakfast

As much as I wake up at a reasonable time (on most days), recently I’ve found that my first meal is eaten at around 12pm after I wake up, enjoy my well deserved lie in, work out and shower.

I’m often spoilt for choice when it comes to breakfast (or brunch) as my family is very big on breakfast foods. One of my favourites of late has been a surprising one for me, charred tomatoes on toast with cottage cheese. I am typically not a fan of tomatoes and I’ll always remove them from a meal, however baby plum tomatoes cooked with a generous dash of worcester sauce and a pinch of salt makes me feel like I’ve been converted. It’s so quick to make and a tasty start to the day. Oats are another staple for me, super quick and easy and very good for you! If I’m in a rush I’ll just dress mine up with some cinnamon sugar, but if I have time then I’ll be a little bit more eccentric, using fresh fruit and nuts (and spend way too much time decorating).

2. lunch

As I don’t tend to eat until a normal person’s lunch time, I don’t really have lunch, I’ll just wait until late afternoon to have a light snack which is often something that I had baked either that day or the day/s before.

3. dinner

I love making an elaborate dinner. Don’t get me wrong, a quick pasta dish is also undefeated, but there’s just something so satisfying about sitting down to enjoy a masterpiece after a few laborious hours in the kitchen.

My favourite but exceedingly time consuming dinner is a rice noodle dish served with pork and chive potstickers and a Chinese-style chicken. It’s a hefty meal and it really puts my multitasking skills to the test but it’s sooo worth it. I’ll be putting my potsticker recipe in my next post so be sure to check it out!

I also made a cottage pie last week when my parents were feeling quite under the weather. I thought that some hearty comfort food would uplift their spirits a bit and I’m pretty sure it did!. I’m not normally a fan of cottage pie (purely because I’m not the biggest fan of mash) but sometimes I like to revisit recipes I’ve previously been skeptical of just to confirm if my dislike of a meal is genuine or due to a youthfully underdeveloped flavour palette. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a big miss.

4. baking

If you know me, you know I love. to. bake. Like any excuse to bake and I’m all for it. So now that I have the time- yes I know I’ve said this a lot this post but I’m really just contextualising how much time there is, and it’s a lot- I’ve been trying to get more experimental and not go for the average bake. My favourite has been the orange polenta cake I made last week, I’ll be posting the recipe for this too as I made a little tweak that requires a bit of explanation. I also tried a lemon ricotta cake which in all honesty I don’t think I quite did it justice, but it was tasty nonetheless and I do intend to make it again- hopefully correctly! I found the recipe on Healthy Little Cravings, so if you’d like to try it out please go ahead, maybe you’ll make it better than I did..

I have so many more recipes bookmarked in multiple places and I do intend to attempt as many of them as I can, hopefully sharing it here with you all so watch this space!

SPONSORED: Love your skin!

I’m lucky enough to say that over the years my skin has been pretty good to me. I had my ‘teen skin’ phase when I was about 12, but after that my skin cleared up quite nicely. My main issue since then has been oily skin. My goodness, it didn’t matter what I did, my forehead and nose would get extremely oily. This was problematic for me as when I’d wear makeup I’d look so shiny by the end of the day/night and I felt very conscious of it. As a result I’d use a lot of products that were said to combat oily skin (e.g charcoal) and I’d moisturise my face less to compensate for the oil. This as you can probably imagine made things worse and giving my face less moisture lead to my skin peeling at my nose and forehead which quite frankly was worse than the oil. So I did some research and tried to find out what my skin needed and subsequently built up a skincare routine that I could follow religiously using products that were super affordable and I’m really happy with the results I’ve managed to get. I’d planned to expand my routine slowly, and just by chance a lovely skincare company reached out to me asking for me to try their Retinol Eye Cream. Coincidentally an eye cream was next on my list so I was more than happy to trial it!

So this post is just going to be a breakdown of my skincare routine and a little review of YEOUTH’s Retinol Eyecream.

1. Makeup remover

So I wear some form of makeup pretty much everyday, day to day it’s just filling in my brows and some mascara whilst leaving my face bare and other times it’s a full face with lashes and the lot. I used to use makeup wipes every time I’d remove my makeup but I found it just wasn’t very efficient so I decided to try micellar water instead. Garnier’s micellar water is amazing, I love the regular version and recently I switched to the oil based version (for no real reason to be honest other than it looked quite cool) which works just as well. It’s super affordable and a big bottle lasts ages!

2. Face wash

For so long I used a charcoal face wash which I had no idea stripped my face of all the oils it needed. I decided to switch up my skincare motives entirely and instead of removing oils and moisture, I tried giving my face more moisture in the hopes my skin wouldn’t try to counteract the lack thereof with more oils and have me glistening unnatractively. Lo and behold, as soon as I started using Neutrogena’s hyaluronic acid face wash, I felt my skin responding much more positively. I really love this product, and I’d probably say it’s my favourite new addition, it has a lovely neutral small and a good lather, leaving my skin soft and clean feeling but not stripped of natural oils.

2.5. Face mask

This is sort of an in between stage which I use about once a week just for a little bit of a pamper session and exfoliant. I do love how my skin feels after a clay mask and it does feel like a slightly more intense scrub down of my face which in this heavily polluted climate I really feel is necessary. 

3. Toner

Now this is the part of my skin care I feel I’m not 100% on. Maybe I’m not doing it right, (although it seems pretty difficult to apply toner wrong) maybe I’m not using the right product for my skin or maybe I’m expecting too much! But I haven’t seen much of a change in the evenness of my skin tone which is a bit disappointing as Pixi’s glow tonic seems to be a cult favourite so I am a little gutted I can’t join on the bandwagon. 

4. Serum

I’m not sure the exact definition of a serum but I wouldn’t expect it to feel like this one. Marine Hyaluronics by The Ordinary feels just like water but the hydrating factor is great. It’s a little bottle but it goes a long way! I got this instead of their hyaluronic acid as I’d read it was a bit on the viscous side. I do think I’ll give it a go as I am intrigued to see how it works!

5. Moisturiser

My holy grail moisturiser is Bio Oil. Honestly I can’t live without it! It gives the perfect amount of hydration to the skin without leaving a greasy film and making my face feel heavy and clogged up. It’s super lightweight and you only need a drop or two so it’s amazing value for money- I have the 200ml bottle and I’m very sure it’ll last a year if not more. My second moisturiser is an SPF moisturiser, protection from the sun is important but so is making sure I don’t have a pale cast over my face from the sunscreen. Again, I have to give credit to Neutrogena’s Hydro boost range, this moisturiser is extremely light and melts into the skin creating a protective veil that no one can notice!

6. SPONSORED: Eye cream

So as mentioned before YEOUTH reached out to me to try their retinol eye cream and so far I really like the product. It has a light formula and a mild fragrance so in terms of putting it on I have no issues at all. I don’t really have dark circles or anything like that however my upper eyelids are a little darker than the rest of my face so I would like to even that out but I’d never really decided to actually do anything about it so it was just my luck that YEOUTH asked me to try their product. This product contains hyaluronic acid which is one my essential ingredients when it comes to skin care. It allows for increased moisture to be drawn to the surface of the skin, leaving me feeling so hydrated. Retinol is great for anti ageing, tightening pores and smoothing the skin. This product states it’ll reduce the visible effects of ageing whilst and give more radiant skin around the eyes, diminishing uneven skin tones and hyper pigmentation. After using this for a few weeks, I do feel like my top eyelids have a slightly more even tone that fits the rest of my face, I hope that by continuing to use the product I’ll get even better results! A little reminder is to make sure you use SPF when using this eye cream as retinol makes the eyes more sensitive to UV.

It’s okay not to do 101 things whilst on lockdown.

Most of us are going through the same situation right now, if you’re not a key worker you’re stuck at home wondering how you can effectively keep yourself entertained for about 16 hours every. single. day. You may be working from home or be attempting to study but without a commute or more than 2 reasons to leave the house, it seems like there are way more hours in a day now, and way more hours that appear to be wasted. If you’re like me, you longed for a few weeks off work (which is an intense placement for me that was a complete 180 from uni life) and if lockdown was how you had to get it, it was worth the struggle. I promised myself I’d catch up on all the work I needed to do, re-organise my room and do all the miscellaneous tasks I’d been putting off due to the exhaustion of adjusting to working full time. The reality is, the current situation of the world is not the most ideal for kickstarting a full fledged life revamp. Days can get repetitive, you can start to feel boxed in, miss socialising with friends and the pressure to just do something can become overwhelming. Although I’ve managed to do a lot of the things I’ve been meaning to do, I’ve come to the realisation that some days it’s okay to deviate from being objectively productive and just do what you want, even if that is nothing. I’ve decided to have some days dedicated to working on ‘physical me’- focussing on health and education- and some days working on ’emotional me’- anything that makes me happy! This breaks up the week a little, because right now I’m in my third week of lockdown and even with my phone, I’m struggling to keep track of time. Although things may feel a bit tedious from time to time, I am constantly reminding myself that this is a minuscule sacrifice to make for the safety and wellbeing of so many people, so stay home I shall.

The media is crowded with bad news and I don’t want to cloud spirits any further, so I’m going to share some articles that may boost morale just a tiny bit:

Coronavirus: Happy Birthday sung to man, 100, by neighbours on street

Full article on BBC News.

Coronavirus: Teacher walks miles to deliver kids’ free meals in lockdown

Full article on Sky News.

Coronavirus: Junior doctors rehomed after eviction threat over rent during pandemic

Full article on Sky News.

Over the remainder of this quarantine period, I’m going to update you all on some of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself sane so stay tuned!