sophie didn't do anything at all.

Friday, 31 May 2013

| food | review | Olive and Bean

I just want to start by saying this is probably my favourite coffee shop - if you want to treat me, take me here. Described as the 'best coffee shop, deli and cafe in Newcastle' Olive and Bean does not disappoint, and I have been there many times.

Personally, we go there for the cakes.There's always a huge selection and the slices are huge - not only is it amazing value, but you will genuinely never have tasted anything so rich and delicious. My only criticism today was that they had run out of the caramel slice (I'd been craving it) and we had to choose something else.

The cafe is split over two floors, downstairs is where most of the magic happens, upstairs most of the seating. They sell a lot of 'interesting' coffees, teas, jams, chutneys and drinks - I was ogling for quite a while!

don't you just want to try them all?
The boyfriend and I had to wait for seating (so much demand you see), but eventually were able to place an order. I went for a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, he a cappuccino and oreo tiffin (my intention being to eat half obviously!!).

My hot chocolate was amazing, and having a couple of mouthfuls of tiffin satiated all desire for anything sweet. He almost finished all of that slab, before asking for a box to take the remainder home (student!). The only downside of Olive and Bean is the cost of the food food. It is really tasty, but a little on the steep side - it has to be a truly special occasion!

What a way to celebrate the end of my second first year at University, it was then off to the pub... ;)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

| 2013 | 30 day snap | challenge

This 30 day challenge was set by Louise (A Sprinkle of Glitter) and I thought it would be a lovely way to track my month of June.

Every day, for 30 days, I'm going to take photographs. I'm going to upload the one that sums up my day and tell you all about it - on top of my usual content - so you'll have lots to read.

I've gotten a new instagram account as well (link here) so head on over. Fun times. This is so hard setting up a blog again from scratch but I am absolutely loving the learning curve (last time I had it too easy!) but things are starting to click together.

Here's a preview...

This photograph is almost 3 years old, but every time I look at it it makes me smile. That day was probably the proudest one of my life (to date) and whenever times get frustratingly slow I can look back and remember when I surpassed expectations... and had ridiculously blonde hair. The race those four girls accomplished was so brave, and still to this day almost brings me to tears. It's amazing what one picture can bring back!


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

| food | my super simple sponge (cake)

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Hi you cheeky bunnies,

I thought I would share with you my regularly requested bake (it really doesn't last long in our house) - which luckily takes no time at all to whisk together!

Firstly, and most importantly, please arrange all ingredients in a photo-ready pose. Pep talk if needs be.

250g/6oz self raising flour

250/6oz caster sugar

250g/6oz softened butter

3 eggs

vanilla essence
an oven, preheated to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 
Cake tin. Pick a shape. Then line it (butter and greaseproof paper)
Cocoa powder! (level 2 cooks only)

Now what?
Just mix everything together. Blend. Whisk. Cream the butter and sugar into a smooth paste before beating in the eggs (one at a time please!). Then gently fold in the flour. 
Because I have advanced cooking skills, I took this a step further and decided to make this into a marble cake. Half the mix, and add (to taste) cocoa powder to one of them. Voila!

Line your tin. It should be snug.


Splodge the two mixtures together to give a marbled effect.

Bake for 24 minutes at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 until its cooked. 

I like to cover mine in icing. This is buttercream (2 parts sugar to butter). I marbled it too.



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

| please may we go to the zoo?

At Christmas (wait for it) my boyfriends best friend decided to fulfill one of my life's wishes and take me to see a Hippo. What a guy. It just so happened the day he chose was the 27th December. A popular day for zoo trips. 

We left at a reasonable time, noting the atrocious weather, and arrived to an almost empty car park. My shoes were so inappropriate. 

The animals were having such fun in the mud.  Especially the sun bear - he wouldn't lie still.

I felt kind of bad for the penguins. I know in the wild they deal with ice cold temperatures, but here in England the summer gets rather toasty and surely they get used to that? 

A moose!

He just looked so pleased with himself. 
The man himself who made it happen.

I shall explain why I didn't get a better picture of the hippo. She was a little too busy splashing around in the murky pool to be disturbed, and when I tried to get her attention she jumped straight back in. Some celebs just don't like to be papped. 

If anyone wants to take me back in the summer - we can have a picnic and pimms - much appreciated!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

| summer is here?

Hi chaps,

Last Friday I flew down to Heathrow from Newcastle to visit my family and attend to events which required my presence. Given that it was freezing up here I packed a lot of jumpers and long sleeves. Rookie. It was actually more like a different season down south.

For me, summer is synonymous with rowing, and all associated activities. This means long days, early mornings, road trips, river water and long pauses. It's how we've been brought up, and I still struggle to lie in on Sundays. So I was home ,in part, for a race run by my dad which occurred on both Saturday and Sunday (it's actually quite a big deal), and we were up at 6 on both days. You can see in the photo that no one looks too impressed. 
I really am photogenic. 
However, spending a day on a sunny river, despite wearing totally inappropriate clothing, was beautiful. 


The whole week at home was really nice actually. The weather was perfect given the poor luck we've had as of late. Going from where it's been solid 'drear' to actual sun was a lovely change. Plus, given it's mid revision period and stress levels are running at an all time high I felt almost on holiday!

This little chap was having so much fun running around.
This will be our first proper summer in the new house, my 21st among other things. The garden isn't too bad, it's not quite as big as our old one but I think my dad will be able to manage it better and the little hut (on the right) is perfect for entertaining.

We were all quite busy in the garden. Things to do people.
We still need to buy some garden furniture for the decking. At the moment it's just quite spacious.

Eating dinner with the doors open was divine. In all honesty the above photos sum up my time at home as I relished in not having to do anything. I didn't really want to leave for Newcastle, but on Thursday morning I was up for the ridiculously early flight. Read more about that day here. Sorry my posts are a little out of order.



Tuesday, 21 May 2013

| fitness | my injuries

Before I start over-complicating the matter, I thought I'd tell you a bit about my exercise history, and why I am so keen to embrace it wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, so that when I start discussing the likes of Insanity - you will catch  my drift. 

I'm an 'ex-rower'. During my rowing 'career' (if it can be called that) at age 14 I managed to severely injure my left knee and hip resulting in a debilitating secondary injury in my lower back. To top it off I developed numerous problems with my wrists and elbows. I wasn't really the ideal able-bodied individual. 

The chronic pain in my back lead to numerous physiotherapy appointments which were just draining.  Improvements were slow and it just added to my discomfort. They were quite low times, two years passed and I was still suffering. No one knew what had caused that first injury (I had only slightly twisted my leg, it shouldn't have been so severe), nor did they know how to fix me. My rowing coach was supportive and introduced me to the idea that where I couldn't row, I could coach.- blah blah gap year as a rowing coach, and spend a lot of time slowly building up my fitness, focusing solely on balance and good posture. I also went completely off painkillers and ibuprofen (that's what happens when you take them solidly for around 3 years) but definitely prefer them to the electric shocks my physio used to offer as the alternative - ouch. Sixth form was slow recovery-wise. My main dilemma was revision and exams. To sit still for more than about half an hour could cause me excruciating pain - which I just had to be put up with until it went away, not cool.

Not only was I in constant pain from my back, I had my knee to deal with. I'm still really nervous that I'll injure it again for fear of having to go through all this again. I 'nicked' my cruciate ligament, and an x-ray revealed a piece of something solid inside my knee. This can sometimes turn sideways and put pressure on everything in there (it still happens occasionally and makes me cry).

Looking back - it's quite clear to see how much that pain affected the quality of my life. It was just horrible; I can't imagine what that's like for people who can't recover.

My osteo finally came to the conclusion the inflammation in my lower back was self aggravating - and that my ligaments and tendons weren't responding as they should (too elastic?!). I don't really understand it, but it was swollen and if one bit 'got better' it would be caused to flare up again - by my body over using these seemingly 'healed' muscles to take the pressure off the others which had yet to improve. Cyclic. The only way to totally get better would be patient care and attention to allow the whole lot to fix itself. So. I started swimming. Doing all the strength exercises under the sun. Wearing a proper rucksack to school. I got expensive insoles (posture), had to sit up straight all the time, and wasn't allowed to use comfy furniture (that's no sofas or cushions for me!). I was also back on painkillers which isn't good for anyone.

Over the course of the total 7 years (yes you heard correctly) I can't believe the differences I've seen. To not have constant pain in my back and hip is something I appreciate every day, and honestly I don't know how I dealt with it back then. To be able to run and jump on my left knee is also something I shan't be taking for granted - there was a time I couldn't run, hop, jump or even stand on just my left leg, and it caused me a lot of distress. Words don't describe how excited I am to now actually do exercise without having to stop or adapt exercises. Muscle strength takes time, but I never realised until now just how much it would take.

I am ready to push myself and see what I can achieve. You'll be hearing about Insanity soon enough ;)!

| beauty | No7 | Beautifully Matte Foundation

You might have seen the advert where a woman within the space of her lunchtime  manages to satisfy all her lifelong cravings and buy the foundation matched perfectly to her skin. As you can imagine, I was filled with some pretty big expectations when I walked into my local Boots store and approached a smiling beauty assistant, her lips closely matching the shade of a postbox. 

I knew what was going to happen though. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes so high.

As I placed my request ('please use that zappy thing to measure my face colour like paint') her face dropped and we both nodded sadly. There was no need. I may as well have asked her how many hands I had - for the answer was blindingly obvious.

'I can tell just by looking! You need our palest shade of foundation, calico. I hope it's white enough!' 
I ended up with a full coverage foundation as I prefer those to the medium ones. Honestly I have the palest skin on the planet, I cannot physically tan, it is beyond my abilities. 

There was a deal on at the time - buy 1 get 2nd half price - so I also ended up with some mascara (I'll get around to a review of that sometime!).

The claims (as provided by their website)
Matte finish.
Medium/full cover.
Best for oily skin (I don't have oily skin).
Lasts for up to 12 hours, leaving a 'flawless complexion'.
No powdery grey finish, leaves your skin cool and refreshed.
Hypo allergenic.

The reality (as provided by yours truly)
Right, lets get down to it. The actual product. It comes in a plastic bottle with one of those moving bottom things, no idea what it's actually called, but it means that as you used the product it moves up and hopefully you'll get most of it out. Plus one bonus point here. Secondly, a little does go a long way despite it being full coverage, so when they say 'dot a little where you need it' - they mean a little. It covers well but I still used my concealer  under it because I like to have a perfect complexion (obviously). 

I wear my foundation with a Rimmel powder on top and it definitely lasted 12 hours another bonus point, in fact I was tempted to take it off early just because I hate wearing make-up for so long. The things I do for you guys. I'm not sure how well it would last if you had oily skin (as mentioned above, I don't, so can't help you there), but its definitely matte. The colour has a yellow undertone which I love being the english rose I am, there was no need to put on my green primer, and it smells quite 'clean'. 

The only thing with this foundation is how easily it rubs off. I know no foundation sticks to your face, but I did have to be extra careful with this one!

Available from boots at £12.95 it's definitely great value for the price. I'm not going to rule out buying this foundation again, but for now I'll keep trying other pale colours to find the perfect one for me!

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