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Welcome to The Lazy Girl
My name is Hannah; I’m a 25-year-old freelance writer, I studied English Literature in London and have an incessant love for all things fictional, I currently live in Manchester with my partner; Nathan, and our growing menagerie of household pets...
20 Mar 2016
You're Just Being Lazy
Being labelled as lazy can be aggravating; when you are trying your very best in life it’s disheartening to hear people disregard your efforts. And when you’re only just holding on to some small semblance of normality due to depression or anxiety, it’s nigh on heart breaking...
11 Oct 2016
Advice For My 14 Year Old Self
As I think I’ve mentioned before, September sees the annual celebration of my birthday. You may not know though, that it also heralds the birthday of my youngest sister...
30 Sep 2016
On Friendship and Growing Old Together
September has always been, hands down, my favourite month of the year. I’m the first to admit that could have a little to do with my birthday; but mainly my love for this time of year is all about the way the leaves change, the baggy sweaters come out and the hibernation period begins...
24 Sep 2016

Monday, 22 May 2017

Always Be Prepared!

Cilla Said

Last weekend I went to Wales. Or at least, I told everyone I was going to Wales – only to discover that the road trip I had planned wouldn’t actually take me across the border.

Despite lots of lovely welsh signs and our proximity to everyone’s favourite welsh town, Barry, it actually turns out that the Air B n B myself and a group of friends had booked, was right here in merry old England. Although it did have a treehouse. So one can’t really complain.

Like everyone, I’m prone to cocking things up every now and again (say, planning a trip to Wales and ending up in England) but I firmly believe that if we can learn from our mistakes, they’re well worth making. And this most recent cock up was far from the worst I’ve made in relation to a road trip.

Which is why this time, I came prepared.Here are a few of my tips for getting yourself, and your car, ready for your next road trip.

Get Yourself a Map

With sat navs seemingly making our lives so much easier, it’s difficult to understand how our parents and grandparents ever got anywhere. It turns out though, that they used to have these things called maps, and that reading a map isn’t all that difficult. Also, you can read a map anywhere, which is perfect for when the signal on your sat nav disappears, slap bang in the middle of nowhere. Want to get there? Get a map. And yes, Mr Cartographer – you can have that one.

Check Your Tyres

Your tyres can seriously affect a whole range of things when taking a trip out in your car. Whether for a longer road trip or a short journey, it’s always worth checking your tyres and replacing them where necessary. Not only will this improve your safety, by giving you a much better grip on the roads surface as you travel along, it’ll also help give you a much smoother, and more economical driving. You want to look out for any puncture marks in the tyres, ensure the air pressure within them is correct and most importantly never head out in your car on a set of bald tyres. If you’re in Manchester (hi friend!) Point S offer cheap but reliable tyres, you can order online here – giving you absolutely no excuse.

Create a Playlist

Radio signals fading in and out, the same news bulletin every hour, on the hour and that annoying song they won’t stop playing – no one wants to take a long trip at the mercy of the radio. Make yourself a playlist and plug your phone into the car stereo, or go old school and burn yourself a car ride’s worth of CDs. Anything to keep things upbeat, even in the worst of traffic jams.

Stock Up On Snacks

Don’t get hit by service station surcharges – unless you just can’t resist the lure of the Starbucks mermaid – pack all your favourite snacks for the road ahead. You can make yourself some sandwiches and put together a packed lunch, you big bore, or simply make like an unsupervised child at a birthday party and fill the back seat with as many share bags and juice cartons as you can wedge in. Your childhood self will be so proud.

Seriously though, get those tyres checked and if in doubt, get them changed, because there is honestly no point in wasting a whole night of your much anticipated break (or your spontaneous jaunt to spot the northern lights) stuck in a ditch at the side of the road, all because it happened to rain a little yesterday and you hadn’t had the foresight to check the tread on your *very bald* tyres. And yes, that right there is another example of me cocking something up. But hey, nobody’s perfect. And roadside recovery did eventually find us.

Have you had a hilarious road trip experience? What did you learn? Hit me up in the comments section!


Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Crimson Wave Update

Cilla Said

A few months ago Trish Cartner and I founded The Crimson Wave and since then, you’ve probably seen us popping up across the internet asking for physical, monetary or donations of time to help us wage war on the homeless period.

Since I last posted about The Crimson Wave and what we do, which you can read about here, we’ve received lots of support from family, friends and strangers alike. We’ve even fangirled over a few celebrity mentions along the way, with Sara Pascoe and Natalie Bennet being some of the first to joining our campaign on Twitter and tweet their support.

Since then, we’ve raised a whopping £800 via our Just Giving crowdfunding page, around £100 in cash donations and whole tides of tampons, sanitary towels and panty liners. We’ve even had individually wrapped chocolates donated, which we add to our Period Packs for that little extra period pick me up.

Last month we ran a donation drive in our home town of Rochdale, letting people know they could pop in and drop off their supplies with us, and making people aware of the problems homeless women and trans men face during their periods. The event was a huge success and we put together 185 Period Packs, with the help of some lovely volunteers and got to meet plenty of The Crimson Wave's supporters.

What’s next?

This week we’ve teamed up with William Hill for their Close To the Community campaign and now have donation bins located in all of their north west stores, along with information on how else you can get involved with The Crimson Wave. The team over at William Hill will then be taking to the streets to distribute the packs they create on Thursday 23rd March – so look out for them!

If you’re local and listening to BBC Radio Manchester then you’re likely to hear their upcoming report on The Crimson Wave’s work in the local community and the larger issue of the homeless period within our city.

We’re also planning a Period Packing Party on April 1st a Touchstones in Rochdale. We’ll be excepting donations once again in money, sanitary products or time and you’ll get the opportunity to come along and put together some period packs yourself or join in with the other bits and bobs going on on the day.

We’d absolutely over to see you at our event, which you can find out more about over on our Eventbright page by clicking here.

You can also now find us across social media - so come and say a virtual hi on Twitter (@crimsonwaveorg), Instagram (@thecrimsonwaveorg) or Facebook (/thecrimsonwaveorg) and stay up to date with everything we're doing. If you'd like any more information, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

My First Lush Blogger Event

Cilla Said

Last week I was lucky enough to head down to my local lush store after hours for their first ever blogger event. I was a little nervous, as it was also my first blogger event – but it turns out both myself and the store had nothing to worry about. The staff were all on hand to demonstrate the eggcellant new Easter range to us and they’d ordered in a delicious, locally sourced vegan feast to keep us well fed. I ended up having a fantastic night, and met some fellow bloggers who I really enjoyed swapping stories, and lush tips with.

I’m pretty new to the lush obsession, but when I fell, I fell hard as you might have found out in Totally In Lusht, which you can read here, so I was eggcited (I’ll stop doing that now I promised) to get up close and personal with the first Easter range to come out since my love affair with Lush started last year. And boy, did it live up to eggspectation (I lied, sorry not sorry) – here are a few of my highlights from the range.

The Golden Egg

I captioned this, in order to highlight my true feelings for the golden one, DON’T CARE HOW I WANT IT NOW, only to discover, Lush made the same connection on their brilliant website – great minds? In all truth, I do want this bath bomb now, as I didn’t get one in my otherwise awesome goody bag, but that’s okay because the Easter range came out last Friday, so I can pop back to my local lush and BUY ALL OF THE GOLDEN EGGS just as soon as I hit publish on this post.

The reason this bath bomb is so desirable, isn’t just because it looks the bomb – covered all over in golden glitter which fills the bath tub and turns you into a glittery goddess upon emerging, it’s seriously beautiful – but the buttery softness of the bath water, which smooths over your skin as you soak, leaving you both super soft and subtly golden thanks to all that glitter.

Chocolate Lip Scrub

This I did receive in my blogger goody bag, and it’s fast rivalling my popcorn lip scrub as my favourite Lush product, It smells and tastes just like a chocolate orange and has a slightly finer texture than the popcorn lip scrub, akin to my favourite artisan coffee scrubs. It leaves your lips feeling so soft after just the first use and, when followed up with a lush lip-balm, keeps dry or chapped lips at bay.

Chick ‘n’ Mix

This is basically three bath bombs for the price of one – and it really doesn’t get much better than that – a huge egg cracked into two halves, with a smaller bath bomb inside which resembles the yolk of an egg, in the same orange shade as the chick's beak. When combined, the three eventually create a greenish bath, but the colour combinations mid-fizz look so fabulous, you’re unlikely to want to split these guys up.

With dark chocolate for eyes and a sweet scent, reminiscent of sherbet, this bath bomb is pretty luxurious and could easily replace the traditional gift of a chocolate egg this Easter. Just be sure to remind friends and families not to take a bite - this little guy may look and smell extremely sweet, but I highly doubt he tastes as good. 

Bunch of Carrots

These bubble bars are so adorable, I’m a little hesitant to use it, consisting of three ‘carrots’ in orange, purple and pink this reusable bubble bar smells far better than any carrots you’re likely to find at the dinner table. Little is needed to get the bath water filled with bubbles and the water will turn a lovely pastel shade as you swirl in your chosen carrot, when the bubbles run low, simply swirl your bathwater round some more and the bubbles reappear like magic.

Right, now that’s polished off, I’m going to stock up on some more Easter goodies including The Golden Egg, Which Came First and a slice of the chocolate Easter egg soap, which you have got to try.

Let me know which of the 2017 Easter Lush range takes your fancy, in the comments section. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

10 Cats All Cat Lovers Know

Cilla Said

Cats glorious cats. I have three myself; Lizzie, Fifi & Ruby, and if you ask me, they're the crazy ones. They spend the whole day sleeping, the whole night bounding up and down the stairs and any time they have left over making irretrievable keyboard mistakes on my behalf - but for all that, I can't help but love them.

They have their own personalities and their own bizarre quirks - and have brought me more laughs than I can count. So, here are a few of those quirks - that I'm sure you'll also have spotted if you've got your own fluffy friend around the house.

1. The one that follows you around

"Hi there! What ya doooooing?"

2. The one that just wants feeding

"Hello? Excuse me? I'm ready for my morning meal"

3. The one you can never find

"Nope, nope, nobody here. Have you checked the laundry pile?"

4. The one that makes her own rules

Gold star for trying. 

5. The one who thinks she’s a dog

And won't discuss it further. 

6. The one you think might be a dog

and probably is. 

7. The one who moved house

"Moi? Going Somewhere? Stop being so paranoid Steve!"

8. The one who sleeps on your head

"Is this not what you meant by bed head?"
9. The one that brings you presents

That you definitely don't want

10. The one with all the cuddles

Who provides the perfect excuse not to get up again all night.

Which cats do you recognise in this line up? I own at least three of them! Let me know in the comments. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Crimson Wave

Hannah Barnes

A few months ago a friend and I heard about a charity called The Monthly Gift, who work with people in our local community, in order to create period packs for the homeless women of Manchester and the surrounding areas. The Monthly Gift were hosting an event in Manchester town center, where people could come along, watch a movie, have some snacks and join in with the period pack production line.

My original plan was to go along and help out at the Friday night event, but as anyone whose a regular here will know, my favourite thing in the world is cancelled plans. So, when it turned out my friend had double booked, I was perfectly happy to stay home instead.

Neither of us though, were happy with the idea of having done nothing at all to help the homeless women in our local area. So, instead of attending The Monthly Gift's event evening, we decided to put our own period packs together and distribute them with the help of Petrus - who help out homeless men and women near us.

Homeless women on their periods isn't something that many of us will have thought much about. I was vaguely aware of the problems they face, before hearing about The Monthly Gift, but after researching things further, I began to realise just how huge a problem shark week can be without access to all the things I take for granted.

As we all know, sanitary pads, tampons and panty liners aren't actually necessary items for women, but as we all love luxury so much, we insist on buying them once a month, often doing nothing with them but flushing them down the loo, for want of a better use (n.b this is a joke, don't start flushing your luxurious sanitary wear down the loo. Have some respect for the environment, jeez).

Or at least, that's what the government thinks.

Sanitary products are, in fact, pretty much essential for all cisgendered women and some transmen - unless you're brave enough to free bleed, which is a hugely personal decision and one that many people will never be comfortable with.

When you come right down to it, we use sanitary wear in order to stop our periods offending other people, those same periods that  help facilitate LIFE ON EARTH I might add. And it is hard enough for those in a stable home environment to deal with this shit show, let alone those vulnerable women on the fringes of society. Whether it's homeless women, low income women or even women on benefits - no one at the top is taking into account how classing these necessary items as luxury products effects those who are all ready worst off in society.

Yes, it might piss me off that the luxury tax increases my monthly expenditure on these items, but it's the double standard that makes me red in the face, I can still comfortably afford to buy and use these products.

Women with little or no money don't have that luxury, the added cost in tax could be what keeps them from being able to purchase any defense at all against Aunt Flo. Periods are bad enough without having to sit in your sodden underwear for days on end, free bleeding because there are no other options available to you. Equally, living without a home is hard enough without having to sit in your sodden underwear for days on end, free bleeding because there are no other options available to you.

That's all there is to it. These are not luxury items, they're vital and should be made available to all homeless, vulnerable and low income women for free. Until then, however, my friend and I are going to do whatever we can in our area, and you should too!

It's so easy to put these kinds of packs together, we included 8 pads or tampons, 2 liners and some chocolate and paracetamol in each and we managed to make around 30 packs for our first batch. Since then, we've been asking for donations across social media and the response has been incredible.

If you'd like to donate anything at all, please get in touch with me today. You can send over pads, tampons, liners, chocolate treats or transfer some cash for us to purchase things on your behalf. Alternatively, get your friends together, get collecting donations from work, start spreading the word and team up with your local homeless charities to start helping the women near you.

We'll also be hosting an event at Touchstones on 11th February, where you can come along and help put the packs together, bring in your donations and find out more about what we're doing! We'd love to see you there - for any more info, or to let us know you'll be there, get in touch today.

If you'd like to help in anyway, or have an idea for a new way we can raise awareness and donations, let me know in the comments section. 

You can help us out with a monetary donation here - any amount however bid or small is hugely appreciated. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

All You Need Is Gin

Cilla Said

I've always been a gin drinker, choosing gin over anything else way before the revolution hit, which is why I was pleased when the revolution did hit - and brought with it a plethora of innovative new gin inspired ideas and infused cocktails.

Even so though, I feel as though there is a lot more gin has to over me than my usual tonic with a slice of lime mixer or the occasional holiday Gin Fizz. So, when Gin Explorer got in touch it seemed positively serendipitous. They challenged me to come up with some reasons why I enjoy gin so much and create a new years resolution inspired by my favourite tipple. In return, they sent out one of their fabulous Gin Explorer Subscriptions Boxes for me to share with you all. 

Subscription boxes are a brilliant way to explore brands you might not normal buy, or new ways to enjoy your favourite thing; be in makeup, organic veg or....gin and you won't even need to leave the house to get started! Delivered by UPS - in full army inspired regalia - I was delighted to receive my box, once I ascertained I wasn't in any trouble with the law, and discover its contents.

The luggage themed box itself contained; four 50ml flavoured gins, two retro bottles of mixer, a second mixer brand and a key ring bottle opener for the intrepid gin seeker as well as information on the drinks contained within and some delicious mince pie flavoured popcorn from Josephs.

I was completely blown away by the quality of this subscription box - having been let down by similar services in the past - and for £24.99 a month, think this is the ideal gift for the gin lover in your life (hi friend!) or anyone who wants to expand their gin horizons for 2017.

1. All you need is gin

To make most of the classic cocktails out there, gin, unlike spirits such as vodka or rum, is intended to be used in cocktails and thus the delicate flavours and hints only become apparent once you’ve treated yourself to something a little fancier, darling. Which leads me nicely onto number 2.

2. It’s Lorelai Gilmore’s drink of choice

Who, unlike James Bond, knows exactly how to make a proper martini - with gin. Once again proving my life mantra of ‘What would Lorelai Gilmore do?’ a sound one.

3. It has medical benefits

Believe it or not the internet makes many claims regarding the health benefits of gin. Traditionally drunk by sailors to help fend off scurvy, possibly even invented to make quinine (a natural preventative and cure for malaria) more palatable and packed full of antitoxins providing you’re drinking gin of the barrelled persuasion, whatever the truth, it sure makes ordering your 4th G&T of the evening, a lot easier to swallow.

4. Round the world in 30 gins

People drink and enjoy gin all around the world, with it first being distilled in Holland before becoming the quintessentially British spirit of choice. Nowadays it is most often enjoyed in the Philippines – but I’m sure we gave them a run for their money over the festive season. Not only that, but its easily customisable flavour makes for a drink which can be adapted to suit any country or culture.

5. That sterling Aldi advert

If you don’t remember this advert, then I’m about to change your life. Never mind John Lewis, back in 2012 it was Aldi cranking out the very best in Christmas advertising entertainment. I won’t say any more than that for fear of spoilers, but you can check it out here.

6. Prohibition couldn’t stop it

In fairness, the perseverance of those living in America during prohibition, ensured that none of our favourite alcoholic drinks were left behind, but I give particular credit to the survival of gin because of the reportedly disgusting taste of the innovative (if a little lacking in refinement) bath tub gin. The term bath tub gin also always conjures an image of Miss Hannigan, from the original Annie movie, drunkenly concocting her own homemade brew in the bathtub - and if that doesn’t make you smile, you’re probably dead inside.

7. World Gin Day is a thing

It’s in June each year - and any excuse to spend an entire day drowning in gin, is bound to put a spring in my step.

To explore gin a little further yourself, click here to pick up £5 off your first order by using the code TAKEOFF - and don't forget to let me know all about the fabulous things you find in your box!

And my gin inspired resolution?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

New Year, New Mindset

Cilla Said
I started this article with the decision to actively omit the phrase New Year, New Me and then found that it was virtually impossible to write without some sentiment of that kind. I initially wanted to avoid the phrase, as it carries with it so many connotations I disagree with.

For me, nothing represents societies obsession with the quick fix better than the annually reoccurring upsurge of 'new mes' across social media, office desks and advertising campaigns - a bandwagon I'm more than happy to let pass me by. The thing is though, making new years resolutions intrinsically suggests that we'd like to change some aspect of our lives - making steering clear of new things pretty impossible. So here we are New Year, New Mindset is a new take on the old phrase in an attempt a) to legitimize my use of it within this article and b) to re-frame the way we make our new years resolutions.

So rather than all of the impossible things I plan to change over night, preferably somewhere between the stroke of midnight and twelve o'one, here are a few things I want to work on during 2017.

1. My Health and Fitness 

This is something I've needed to work on for most of my life. Being a lazy girl, exercise has never really appealed to me. As an overweight child, I took the logical tack of many in my position, and avoided exercise all together for fear of proving everyone correct - fat kids can't run as fast, score as many goals, climb as high. Problem is, that's a self fulfilling prophecy, if you never try to run faster or climb higher then you'll soon find yourself stuck on the ground for good.

My health and fitness levels have thus always been a little lacking. I have asthma and I'm still a little squashy round the edges, but I'm not going to let those things hold me back anymore. I've booked a course of personal training sessions with a friend from uni who recently qualified as a fitness instructor and under her wing, I hope to start embracing exercise more and actually enjoy jumping around with my jiggly bits.

Ultimate Goal: To happily announce that I'm 'just off for a quick run' without a hint of sarcasm, panic or pain in my voice before the year is out.

2. My Understanding Of Cultural Appropriation 

The term cultural appropriation has been floating around on the internet for some time now and whilst I understand the larger aspects of the problem; frat parties with inconsiderate native american themes, sacred religious items being used to make a fashion statement etc, I've come to realise that it doesn't end there.

Cultural appropriation, or rather the avoidance thereof, demands constant checks on ones own behaviour, speech and thought patterns. So much of what we can now rightly point out as cultural appropriation already existed in our society but was never highlighted, which means that a lot of the finer points now get through even the tightest of filters.

I can't claim to have one of those tightly filtered brains, but this year I plan to make a concerted effort to understand more about cultural appropriation and the effects it has on those whose culture is being misappropriated by the west. Closer to home, I hope to be able to spot these finer points in my own language and actions and avoid culturally appropriated words, phrases and aesthetics.

Ultimate Goal: Remove 'ting', 'true dat', 'ain't nobody got time fo' dat', along with any other culturally appropriated language I notice, from my vocabulary.

3. My Intersectional Feminism 

Last year my amazing friend Leyya set up The Other Box, which seeks to highlight the lack of diversity within the creative industry, and in doing so tapped into a really important feminist movement which had been on the raise throughout 2016. 

From what I can gather, intersectional feminism is all about creating a space within feminism for all of the women who are not white, middle class, cisgendered and pretty well privileged. Critics believe that the most recent wave of feminism does not include enough diversity within its ranks and only really speaks to the white, middle class women who are first up for the token female slot on comedy panels, in the houses of parliament, at board room tables and across our entertainment industry. 

Feminism has been white-washed and it's about time we put down the spray gun. Whilst this all seems perfectly on point to me, I've been a little reluctant to prefix the 'feminist' tag in my twitter bio with 'intersectional' before understanding the beast a little better. However much like traditional feminism, there doesn't seem to be one clear cut answer for me to copy and paste. Deciding on what being an intersectional feminist means to you is a personal journey, and one I'm very much looking forward to taking in 2017.

Ultimate Goal: To understand intersectional feminism more fully and practice it in my every day life. 

4. My Knowledge of Global Current Affairs 

If  you're a regular visitor here, you'll know that every now and again I post a rather incongruous political piece (read huge rant) right here amidst the 5 minute milkshake recipes and mental health posts. That's because I enjoy engaging with our political system and the choices the UK makes within the political arena. I'd like to think my knowledge of our internal affairs is pretty up to scratch - everything is fucked - and I can enter a debate on these topics without breaking a sweat. 

Then Thursday happens, when I visit my Nan for dinner with her and my Pa, the topics range far further than the borders of our fair isle - and I am absolutely annihilated in every single discussion. Obviously, getting to grips with what's actually going on in the world will have benefits beyond joining in the family debate with some insightful point to make, but right now I'm holding out for that.

I'd also like to extend this voyage of discovery to include understanding the motivations of other countries and cultures - specifically from a religious view point, thanks to an extremely enthusiastic taxi driver I had recently. Knowing what's happening and where is one thing, but I think understanding why these things are happening, whether that be a historical time line of western mistakes, a religious belief or a cultural clash, is key to really getting to grips with world affairs. 

Ultimate Goal: Read the Quran, the Bible and the Torah. Better understand Hinduism and Sikhism and keep up to date with world affairs.

5. My Productivity Levels

When I'm at my most productive, I'm usually at my happiest. Getting shit done sends a dopamine boost from the reward systems in the brain that even a lazy girl can't get enough of. For some reason though, I never do get quite enough. Despite knowing how good it feels to complete an entire to do list, I very rarely do. Instead, I procrastinate harder than anyone has ever procrastinated - I'm a pro procrastinator, if you will. 

This year I want to try and get rid of some of my nasty procrastination habits, get more done and get my hands on those dopamine hits as often as I can. I work for myself, so upping my productivity levels is a no-brainer, but how I go about doing that is still a little up in the air. I've researched a few techniques and will be trying these out until I hit on something that works. The fresh start of a new year beginning lends itself well to this sort of thing and so far I've been kicking January's butt, despite only being back at work a week. 

Ultimate Goal: Locate a second space and head there once a week to work. 

6. My Self Esteem 

I've always had a poor self image, from impostor syndrome to body dysmorphia and social anxiety, I have been through the mill in regards to the way I view myself. As a child I assumed I would one day grow out of my self-hatred, shed the puppy fat and finally become a fully fledged adult. 

I heard something the other day, and I'm kicking myself because now I can't remember where, but basically it suggested that success for women had to include aesthetic success under the male gaze, on top of all the regular indicators of a successful career, life or achievement. I couldn't believe how much this resonated with me. Even as a small child, I believed that my 'real' life would begin only once I'd dropped to a size 0 and mastered the art of being beautiful.

Just imagine all the things we women could have achieved, in all that time spent obsessing over calories, researching make up and torturing ourselves in the name of beauty. The conspiracy is real, clearly.

Whilst I've already come a long way with my self image, I'd now like to start focusing on my overall self esteem and confidence. Long story short, I want to concentrate my attention on all of the things I missed out on whilst trying to improve my aesthetic by learning new things and taking on new challenges. I want to be confident in my abilities and my life choices and understand how I can use these things to achieve success in my life.

Ultimate Goal: To stop putting myself down and take pride in my successes, whatever I'm wearing. 

7. My Follow Through

This seemed like the most appropriate thing to sign off on. It links in with most of the things I'd like to work on this year and will ultimately decide if any of them work out. 

As a rule, I'm an all or nothing kind of person, if I can't give something my all, I'd rather not bother. I'm a perfectionist, so when I do take on a task I do it well and I enjoy taking pride in the work, which is probably why I steer clear of anything I'm unsure of. In life though, it's fair to say that the more challenging things are usually the most worth while and so this year I'll be working on my follow through for all tasks.

I have new ideas, creative inspirations and light bulb moments daily - my mind is absolutely brilliant at concocting amazing ways to get something done or start something new, but the rest of my body can often let the side down when it comes to the follow through. If my initial idea doesn't flow immediately, I tend to disregard it or, at best, add it to a long term to do list and forget all about it despite knowing that it's a great idea.
This year, my aim is to tease out those ideas a little more, play with them longer, enter the challenge zone and stop putting things off when they test my brain more than I'm comfortable with. Each and every one of these resolutions does just that, so this is really here to police the list - but even so it's something worth working on in all areas of my life.

Ultimate Goal: To use this point to keep myself focused on all others. 

Whether you've made more traditional resolutions this year, or just want to work on a few things like me - I'd love to hear all about them and how you're getting on.

Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

8 Reasons We Should All Be Grinding Our Own Coffee

Cilla Said

We all love coffee, and some of us can't function without it, but it's time to face up to the fact that, for far too many years now we've been doing our frothy friend a gross injustice.

We drink it and dash, never stopping to savour the full flavour or really take the time to enjoy it's ever changing tones and tastes. Some of even stoop to instant in the mornings, and even those of us with the luxury of enjoying the real stuff first thing, are all too guilty of taking our caffeinated companion for granted.

So, grab yourself a mug and check out my thoughts on why we should all be grinding our own coffee in the mornings.

1. The Smell - Oh my God the smell, if you think your instant roast smells good, then you ain't smelt nothing yet.

2. Your Morning Hit - You get an upper arm workout every morning before you've even tasted your first cup.

3. The Daily Grind - Okay, so it's not quite two hours of backbreaking work to turn your daily quota of grain into flour, but having to work for something - in a world where we're handed everything on a silver plate - is never a bad thing.

4. Getting Back To Basics – Who wants anything but coffee (and perhaps a little milk and sugar) in their morning cuppa'? Grind it from the bean and you know exactly what's in it. Coffee beans...and a little blood, sweat and tears.

5. Its Better Than Instant - This should go without saying. Freshly ground coffee is to instant what the ocean is to a pothole puddle.

6. It's Therapeutic – Your hands may be busy but your mind is free to roam and you've just bought yourself 5 more minutes of time in the mornings to mentally dissect your wardrobe.

7. Mindfulness – If you can make coffee more mindfully than this you obviously know something I don't. Be grateful to the bean.

8. The Rewards – You worked for this coffee, you put your early morning time and effort into this coffee, you gave up five minutes in bed and hopped around on the cold tile floor for this coffee. This is like no other coffee you've tasted before. If Carling did coffee, they'd get you to grind it.

So, go on, spend a little more time enjoying your morning wake up and keep the smile on that little guys face.

Coffee recommendations in the comments section please, I'm always on the hunt for new blends!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Crafts: Cupcake Toppers

Cilla Said

It's Christmas time and that means calories don't count, right? Well, probably not - but I, for one, certainly couldn't give a shit about how many calories I'm consuming at this time of year. Diets and health kicks are for New Years Resolutions and should probably just end there, if you ask me. 

Sure, being healthy is a wonderful thing, but so is stuffing your face full of mince pies, cup cakes and gingerbread. It's really just all about where you lay your festive priorities, and I'm firmly in camp cupcake. Care to join me?

I love to bake at any time of year, but there is something about making things during the festive season that really appeals. You can give them away as gifts, share them with friends who've popped in for a coffee, brighten up the office with a random act of kindness or simply keep them all for your well deserving self.

My only problem with baking, is that I'm pretty impatient when it comes to decorating my cakes. I find it very difficult to wait until they cool, which usually results in melted icing all over the show and my innate clumsiness leaves me with few options for fine art. So, whenever I can get away with it - I cheat!

Patience is a virtue I'm unable to manufacture but luckily cake decorating accessories are easy to come by, so I can jazz up my cakes without completely ruining them. So, when I was introduced to My Cupcake Toppers - they seemed like the perfect solution. Nothing fiddly, nothing complicated and the promise of a finished cake that looked professional and delicious!

The website itself is simple to use; with a variety of predesigned toppers as well as a design your own service, which I took full use of and loved, and an in house design service should you need a helping hand. I ordered loads of different designs for different occasions, so I always know I have the perfect home made gift to hand, but today I'm focusing on the Christmas toppers.

There are a few different options for Christmas designs, all of which are lovely, but I went for the Beige & Blue Christmas design and have to say I was a little disappointed when they arrived.

My Cupcake Toppers offers two different standards of rice paper as well as edible icing and I had ordered my Christmas Toppers on both rice paper qualities and found that neither really did the design justice. The colours didn't pop enough for the design to stand out, but I do think if I'd ordered something with a brighter baseline they would have worked better - as all the other designs I chose show up great, regardless of the material choice I made.

However, once on the cakes the colours did stand out a little more and I was much happier once everything came together. I probably wouldn't order the same design again, but even with the muted colours, they still provided a really simple, effective and affordable way to decorate my cupcakes.

I'd recommend My Cupcake Toppers to any bakers out there - especially the lazy ones and can't wait to share another set with you all soon.

Let me know if you have any tips for lazy baking below, I've just discovered icing in a can and am on the look out for other great ways to cheat a little with my decorating!

5 Ways To Reuse Your Amazon Packaging Materials

Cilla Said
Like many people this year I have chosen to completely ignore last year’s firm decision to quit buying all of my Christmas gifts from amazon, due to the sheer about of packaging they send over and their dubious ethics when it comes to tax here in the UK, and have instead, bought all of my Christmas gifts from amazon.

I am, therefore, once again left cursing the packaging each time it arrives at my door, bemoaning the sheer waste of it all and secretly trying to work out how it is, exactly, they get away with all that tax avoidance.

Could they somehow be laundering their money by posing as packing paper salesmen? Perhaps by hiding the purchase deep within the folds of a million miles of packing paper, a cartoonish concertina of boxes and enough bubble wrap to keep you busy for a week they simply hide the product so well, they can later convincingly claim they never actually sent anything out and thus have no profits?

But seriously, I understand how tax avoidance works – or at least I do now my dad explained the whole messy business to me over dinner last week and as there’s little I can do to recoup the UK’s tax losses, I’ve decided to tackle the second of Amazon’s sins – the overly enthusiastic way they package their products.

I was all too aware of this major flaw in amazon's design when I decided to shop there this year and having done so, now own enough cardboard boxes, air bags and packing paper to construct a tinyhome for myself and go on to win Shed Of The Year 2017. Realising this, I decided to see amazons inability to gage the appropriate amount of packaging needed to protect their products as an opportunity.

So here are a few ideas for ways to reuse the reams of packing material left over from your amazon purchases this Christmas!

1. Build A Fort – the best forts are Christmas forts. Make your own fort from the mountains of boxes amazon kindly donated to the project. Enlist some friends, some alcohol and some fairy lights, fill with cushions and blankets and before you know it, you might even be grateful to the fools who sent your key ring in eighteen different boxes for the window sills you’d otherwise have been unable to construct so symmetrically.

2. Wrap Your Gifts…again – brown paper wrapping can be really effective and teamed with the right tags and accessories will look unique and creative for friends and family on Christmas day. The packing paper amazon revels in filling their boxes with is the perfect stand in for brown paper and no one need know you simply rewrapped their gifts in the paper amazon sent them over with.

3. Fool You Friends – who hasn’t loved the idea of concertina boxed presents since childhood? The present turns up, it’s huge, the biggest by far, but as the wrapping is removed another box is revealed, and another, and another, and another, until voila a pretty average, pretty small present is finally unveiled. If anything, this is gift giving a la amazon and if the commercial giants see merit in it, they must be on to something...right?

4. Insulate Your Home – no kidding, cardboard is a great insulator, so why not make the most of the mecca? Line your loft spaces and any cupboards or cavities with the cardboard amazon has so kindly bestowed upon you and get settled in for a cosy winter. You can even use the packing paper to stuff areas in the loft, but be careful not to damage your existing layer of insulation whilst doing so.

5. Send It All Back – this might just be my personal favourite. Visibility wise, this stunt would be much more effective than simply ceasing to shop at amazon. If we all saved the excess packaging (recycling anything we deem truly necessary – which will amount to relatively little) and then reassembled the boxes within the boxes, tucked in the airbags to keep everything in tact, along with all that extra packing paper, that I guess is there just to make things interesting, before shipping them right back to amazon HQ on Christmas day, wouldn’t it be wonderful? I’d certainly enjoy my sprouts a hell of a lot more! Plus, the overall effect would have to give amazon pause for thought when packing our purchases in future.

Amazon may be a convenient service, and even more so when it comes to Christmas, but I am still having trouble reconciling myself to their gluttonous wastage of our planets resources and dislike the idea that the tax I pay when purchasing their products does not make it back into my countries coffers.

Next year, I will make the concerted effort needed to kick my amazon habit but, for now, by reusing the packaging where ever possible, I can at least try to put their wastage to good use.

Let me know of any bright ideas you have for recycling the annual amazon haul in the comments section!

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