Treasured in… May

2020, books, creativity, film, lifestyle, student

Hello!

As we come to the end of our second full calendar month in lockdown, little posts like this full of things I enjoyed and want to share are more important than ever. Everywhere I look people are complaining about the government, singing the praises of the NHS and arguing about what are appropriate social distancing activities (though how anyone could defend packed beaches I really don’t know) so having this little list of happy things will be a nice little mood boost for me as well as you!

Here are my the things I treasured in May!


blog post:

I really made more of an effort to read more this month – I’ve been on the hunt for bloggers that don’t exclusively talk about beauty, fashion or other stereotypical ‘successful blogger’ categories. I really want to find people like me who don’t necessarily blog for income, writing about the ramblings trapped in their heads and talking about all their random hobbies without limiting themselves to a ‘niche’.

I’m still hunting, but these two blog posts from YouTube influencers I follow were topical and well written.

recipe:

I don’t think I’ve tried anything that particularly blew me away this month – I made this creamy chicken chorizo pasta bake which was nice but we’re not rushing to make it again. I’m still really enjoying the bacon and pea risotto that I linked last month, I’ve somewhat rediscovered a good jacket potato and we made a really nice lasagne but it all came out of jars so it wasn’t anything to do with my ability to cook!

Top tip for ‘homemade out of jars lasagne’ – use a Mac and Cheese sauce rather than a white sauce, it worked really well for us and is making me hungry just thinking about it!

online course:

Again, this month I didn’t find anything new – I had one last big assignment to finish off my semester 2 work for my masters and with lockdown and a generally not good course, my friend and I who were working together on it (group project, not cheating I promise!) spent more time teaching ourselves than knowing what we were doing.

So I learnt a lot about the Maya animation software, modelling environments, materials, different animation types and multi-camera set ups, but I didn’t find a course online to take myself.

Next month I’ll be starting all the self-teaching I have to do for my dissertation project so I’ll be rambling all about designing a video game, making a 2D animation and writing scripts for both!

music:

The only time I really listen to music is when I’m cooking – when I’m trying to write or work, it means I can’t concentrate and if I’m knitting or doing my cross stitch I use it as an excuse to catch up on YouTube videos (I’m 300 videos deep on my watch later…).

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been craving a bit of nostalgia so my partner has been finding playlists on Spotify along the lines of ‘year 6 disco’ and ‘the best of the 2000s’ and we’ve been listening to everything from S Club 7, Steps, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers to Bob The Builder’s ‘Big Fish Little Fish’. Thoroughly recommend a throwback disco if you need a little boost!

YouTube video:

Most of the YouTubers I’m subscribed to are vloggers, so watching vaguely ‘normal’ home life vlogging has been most of what I’m watching and it’s been nice to feel that little bit ‘normal’ by watching the creators I’ve been following for years just living their daily lives.

So I’m going to use this section this month to talk about one of my own videos – it’s currently unlisted on my channel because it’s for a uni assignment and I always feel funny about publishing my work while it’s still being marked (so it’s a fun little secret for my blog!). But this is the animation my friend Agata and I made for our assignment – the main character is animated from motion capture data and we built pretty much everything in the environment ourselves.

I’m so ridiculously proud of this little animation and I loved working on it with one of my best friends (even if we did the majority of the work in the three days before it was due…), so here is Life After Lockdown; a little topical comedy animation for our  assignment.

books I’ve read:

loved this book – this take on life after death and the way the characters have conflict without antagonising each other (except Evie’s mum, she was actually evil). It was one of those books that made you think about what life after death really is like – I genuinely think this is a pretty good idea and worth a read in these challenging times.

I read this because my boyfriend loves the Game Grumps and recommended it but it wasn’t for me – I didn’t find it funny but it felt like they were trying way too hard to be funny, the murder mystery was a bit too Scooby Doo for me, but it was entertaining enough.

This book is taking me actual weeks to get through – I like the writing style, but it feels almost non-fiction and there are so many characters that Pomerantz clearly expects the reader to remember who they are, how they were relevant and details about their life and career. It’s about a plane crash and it’s really depressing and long and there’s not much of a story yet and I’m about 75% through? I think the main thing putting me off is that on the back it declares that this back will become a classic but… it definitely hasn’t and I just can’t vibe with someone arrogant enough to assume their work deserves to become a classic. But I’m nearly done and a review will be on my Instagram when I do!

snack: 

I never thought I particularly liked minty chocolate – I can appreciate a few After Eights at Christmas and maybe a packet of softmints every now and then but not big on mint. I thought I’d prefer plain chocolate aero bubbles to the mint aero bubbles but my boyfriend opened my eyes and I have to stop myself buying them or I will eat the entire packet.

I also picked up a packet of Tesco’s own Salted Caramel Munch Bars thinking it would be an easy breakfast option – they’re really good but they’re so not good for you in any way that I’d be better off going back to a slice of toast in the mornings. But they’re really yummy and if you’re not really a breakfast person then something is better than nothing right?

visual entertainment: 

I’ve not watched any new TV this month but my mum, my sister, my boyfriend and I have started a remote film club using a 52 Week challenge book my mum picked up on Amazon – 52 challenges, divided by 4 people means 13 categories each. This month we watched Pulp Fiction, Eighth Grade, Dumbo (the live action one) and Top Gun and I’m really enjoying the excuse to watch all the ‘classic’ films I haven’t seen but should have as well as some newer films that I want to see.

Pulp Fiction was an interesting choice and having done a unit where one of my lecturers tried to teach us artsy-fartsy film theory (when he shouldn’t have been) it did make it more interesting to think about the decisions the director made, but then I thought about if a film makes you think about the decisions the director made and takes you out of being fully immersed, is it really a well made film? Either way! Eighth Grade was fun and a really accurate portrayal of life as a 13 year old, Dumbo was alright but I prefer the original (and Colin Farrell’s character was literally useless) and Top Gun was an action for the sake of action, ‘put it on in the background’ kind of film that really proved that Tom Cruise literally only plays one character in all his films.

Other than that I’ve watched a lot of Kim Possible on Disney+…

wedding planning update: Before lockdown, I attended a couple of wedding fairs and one of them was near my old hometown. There we spoke to a lady who was representing the most beautiful venue near a lake that my boyfriend and I are very sentimental about. It was beautiful, it’s a great location and it makes me feel a little bit emosh just thinking about it! We’re 90% sure it’s the venue we want to go with but we don’t have the deposit money yet. However, with two months of lockdown, people are re-planning weddings for years to come and our date of November 2022 is looking like it’s going to get infringed on quite quickly, so I want to contact the venue and at least get our foot in the door for our date so we don’t lose it. Otherwise, there’s nothing much more I can do in lockdown other than coming up with more and more ideas on Pinterest…

So I’ve not done any wedding planning this month but we have reached this decision, so there’s a bit of progress there!


On the one hand, I hope that the country is safe enough for some restrictions to be lifted in June so we can do more things, I can visit my family etc, but I really don’t want restrictions to be lifted early just because people are getting grumpy about not having their hair cut, so I’m apprehensive.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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Treasured In… April

2020

Hello!

Whilst in isolation, I thought it would be fun to come up with a new series to work on whilst I’ve got a little bit more time to think about blogging. Essentially, I thought of a more structured ‘favourites’ that I’ve decided to call Treasured In… [insert month here]. But there’s the scope to do more – if I go travelling I could do it themed to a place, or I could do it about a year around New Years or…  other stuff…

I’ve selected a bunch of categories that I’m going to pick ONE thing I’ve loved this month and share it! I’m really excited about this and I hope you enjoy it too.

First category: blog post – though going to go with the ‘bad news’ first… I’ve not really read a blog post that I loved this month? I know I need to make more of an effort to read blog posts but it’s so much easier just to scroll through Instagram. If someone links a blog post on an Instagram story I generally read it but generally my favourite bloggers are the ones that don’t have enough followers to do swipe up. So this is a note to self to do better and read more engaging bloggers posts’!

Recipe: I’m not very good at trying new things but I love learning to cook new things. I’m really enjoying risotto at the moment and I found this recipe for a bacon and pea risotto which we tried and I loved. Granted, it doesn’t sound like it’ll be nice because anything with ‘pea’ in the title isn’t usually promising, but it’s risotto rice with bacon lardons and peas – it’s SUPER SIMPLE and it was really yummy, thoroughly recommend.

Online course: I’ve been ‘self-teaching’ for over a year now – I was working on Google Digital Garage’s Digital Marketing course for the best part of a year, then I worked through a bunch of the other free courses but this month I did the first week of An Introduction to Screenwriting course from UEA via Futurelearn. I’ve been creative writing for over a decade now but never had the facilities to learn about formal scriptwriting, so I’m teaching myself! There are so many free courses out there that I’ve found, would it be useful if I wrote a blog post on it? I’m no expert and it’s not difficult to find them but having a bunch of links all in one place might be helpful!

Music: two new albums that I’ve really enjoyed came out this both so I’m already going to cheat and give two for this one – firstly, my all time favourites All Time Low released their first album in a couple of years Wake Up, Sunshine and I’m obsessed. It’s fantastic, it’s fun, it’s beautiful; Alex Gaskarth is my favourite singer of all time and always will be.

The second album I loved was CALM by 5SOS and I still kind of hate to admit it because I’ve had such a rocky relationship with the band, but it’s a banger of an album and I had a good dance in the kitchen while I was making dinner so I had to mention it.

YouTube video: ‘The Crippled Suffragette’ // Rosa May Billinghurst // Historical Profiles [CC] – Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

I only recently subscribed to Jessica Kellgren-Fozard though I’ve been aware of her for a while (that’s a weird sentence when you don’t think of it outside the context of YouTube). I really love the variety of her content and I actually thoroughly enjoyed the way she told the story of this woman who I never would have heard of without this video. Always love a bit of unintentional learning!

Books I’ve read: My intention for this category is to list everything I’ve read in the last month and give you a couple of lines of whether I actually enjoyed it or not!

Love, Rosie (Cecelia Ahern) (previously published as Where Rainbows End) – absolutely loved this book, such an interesting writing style and just wonderfully kind and lovely characters. 10/10!

The Centauri Device (M. John Harrison) – refusing to link because I think it was awful. Overly complex unnecessary language to mask a pushover protagonist, a lack of plot and no emotional engagement between characters. Amazing potential as a concept for a sci-fi adventure but literally hated reading it.

Skarrs (Catherine Forde) – kind of stereotypical YA book ‘good kid fell in the wrong crowd’ but I was taken aback by it’s subtle way of describing how grief can effect people in such different ways.

One Day (David Nicholls) – I get the hype around this book now and I think Love, Rosie took a lot of inspiration from it. Kind of anticlimactic ending through, didn’t really see the emotional side that I’ve seen people talk about…

Currently reading: The Eve Illusion (Tom and Giovanna Fletcher) – I’ve been waiting for this book for what feels like ages but has only been a few months. I’m about halfway through and currently very intrigued about what will be left until the final book in the trilogy… keep an eye on my Instagram for a full review!

Snack: I’m all about the snacks and in lockdown, resisting them is even harder. When I finally got my hands on some self-raising flour, my boyfriend and I made dark chocolate chip banana bread muffins and they’re to die for. Far too many calories than I should have in one sitting but so good.

Visual Entertainment: this is the way I’m describing all things film, TV, Netflix, etc! With the release of Disney+ I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve barely watched it, but I have been watching a couple of episodes of Kim Possible with dinner and having a fantastic time.

The other thing I’ve started is a 52 week movie challenge – my mum sent me this little review book in the post and rather than doing it on my own, between my mum, my sister and my boyfriend we’ve all been allotted 13 categories and each week we’re having a virtual movie night. We started by watching Forrest Gump, a film which I definitely should have seen but haven’t and I really enjoyed it.

Then because we had to pay for the Now TV Cinema pass to watch it, my boyfriend and I watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to make the most of the pass – considering all the negative hype I got, I thought it was pretty cool and we’re excited for the third part to see how it all ends.

Wedding Planning Update: Literally nothing. When I planned this series I thought it would be nice to see month by month progress but now that we’re in complete lockdown there’s no progress to be made, but I thought I’d introduce the category regardless!

And that’s ‘Treasured In…’! I’m really enjoying this new format to talk about things I love so I hope you enjoy it too. Let me know your favourite things in each of the categories in the comments if you like!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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How to make brownies! | Recipe

2016, Uncategorized

Hello!

I love baking, but I don’t often get the chance to do it because ingredients are expensive or I’m trying to eat more healthily or I don’t have time. But I have, however, perfected how I make brownies and I love writing these recipe posts so I thought I’d share!

Ingredients!

  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 lb soft light brown sugar
  • 3 oz cocoa powder
  • 4 oz self raising flour
  • 4 oz plain chocolate
  • 4 eggs

The first step is to pre-heat the oven to about 180 degrees. I always feel like I’m doing it too early but if I don’t do it now I forget to do it at all.

Next step is to measure out the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder and melt them all down. Don’t do this until all the ingredients are fully liquidised otherwise they’ll burn – do it in thirty second bursts until it’s just a few lumps that disappear when you stir them. I find two bursts of thirty seconds in the microwave is fine.

Whisk the eggs and the brown sugar in another bowl (yes, you do need that much brown sugar). Then add the previously melted chocolate and mix it all together. I find it works just as well with a wooden spoon than an electric hand whisk and it keeps it all light and fluffy and airy or something.

Measure out the self raising flour on top of all the other ingredients and mix it all together gently, making sure all of the flour is definitely mixed into the rest of the ingredients.

Line a rectangular tin with grease proof paper – personally I find it makes it a lot easier to remove the brownie in the end but that might just be me being very lazy. If you don’t use paper, grease your tin properly! It’s meant to be quite a gooey brownie.

Once you’ve transferred your mixture to your tray, put it in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes! I thoroughly recommend checking it at 30 minutes (if not earlier) then deciding how much longer you want to leave it in for, then if you want it particularly gooey in the middle, or any other feature to your preferences, you can monitor it more closely.

If not, cook it for around 35 minutes (it worked best for me!) and just poke a knife straight through the middle to make sure it’s cooking – if it comes out completely clean it’s done!

Remember to turn the oven off. That helps.

Leave the brownie in the tin for five minutes, then take it out the tin and leave it to cool for five more minutes than tuck in to your hearts content! I find between me and two hungry male flat mates, half the brownie is gone in one night.

Last tip! Whilst milk chocolate does make a nice brownie, to get that rich gooeyness that makes people pull really funny faces of pleasure when they take that first bite, plain or dark chocolate is the way forward.

In general, plain or dark chocolate is the way forward but particularly in brownie.

(Yes, I know I missed another Wednesday post – I’m going to make some mental changes to the diary to make sure Wednesday posts can continue to go up on time in the future!)

Thank you for reading and good luck with your brownie!

Sophie xx

 

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