Monday, 14 January 2019

Taking Ownership Of Your Online Space

As the new year rolled around, I started mentally preparing myself for January. Because January is a lot. It is a month of newness - a fresh start to set goals and reflect on what has passed over the last year. But it is also the month that diet culture really goes full force and, unfortunately, it is the month that leaves me feeling a bit rubbish about myself and my body. So, I was preparing myself for an influx of salad pics on Instagram and quotes on Twitter about how 'summer bodies are made in winter' and what actually happened shocked me. I didn't see one mention of dieting. There were no lettuce leaves in sight as I scrolled through Insta (only Body Posi Panda dancing around like the absolute babe that she is) and Twitter was much more concerned with Chrissy Teigen getting walloped in the face with a brolly to even notice that a new year had rolled in. 

Then I started to wonder what was going on. Had diet culture finally died? Had detox teas been banned? Had we all finally got to the stage where the size of our bodies isn't that big a deal anymore? Perhaps - I still haven't seen any January diet posts online - but the more likely explanation is that I have been having a bit of a detox of my own.

Instead of wasting money on repackaged laxative powders and horrible green juice, I have spent the past year or so detoxing my social media platforms. I unfollowed, muted, and blocked to my heart's content in order to remove any negative energy from my online spheres. Anyone who made me feel in the least bit bad about my body was automatically gone. Even people who I constantly seemed to compare myself with were removed. Any account that didn't help me on my journey to being ok with just being me had to go. I replaced fitness gurus and clean-eating influencers with body positive role models - and I am finally feeling the benefits of that.

The thing is, by following someone on social media, we are almost inviting them into our headspace. Their content is what we see whenever we log onto our favourite sites and, much like if someone was a guest in your home, you need to feel comfortable with them. If their content upsets you or makes you feel like you're not good enough then you have every right to ask them to leave. You own that space. You wouldn't let a dinner guest make you feel bad about yourself and then invite them back to do it again every day so why should it be any different online.

Taking ownership of my social media sites was probably one of the best things that I did in 2018. And I would advise everyone else to do the same. 

Jumper: Primark (similar)
Body: Miss Selfridge (similar)
Jacket: Topshop (similar)
Trousers: H&M (similar
Necklace: Voice International (here)*

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Shooting With A Tripod: My Top Tips

Since this blog was born back in 2013, I have used many methods to take my outfit pictures. Everything from mirror selfies to getting my dad to shoot my pics in the garden back in 2015 (you can actually see them here lol) and, more recently, coercing my husband into using all his free time taking a whole lot of photos of yours truly. Well, that is until he got busy with work and I worked out how to extend the legs on my tripod that I had owned for about a year at that point (I'm not much of a logical thinker ok). Since then, I have been taking Ava out in the pushchair with the tripod and camera stuffed underneath and shooting my shots wherever I can - sometimes even in the rain because I am one dedicated woman (who may have a slight Instagram addiction). Ava just sits there laughing at me as I twirl around in front of the camera then self-consciously pretend to scroll through my phone as people walk past but, I have to say, I have kinda got the hang of this whole tripod thing and can usually get a few good shots in under ten minutes. So, I thought I would share a few pointers.

Remember why you are doing it 
Something I have been hearing a lot lately is people talking about their 'why' and about keeping it at the front of your mind and I think that is kinda true of shooting with a tripod too - you have to remember why you're there and what you want to achieve. Personally, I am mega shy and awkward so anything where I could make myself look silly in public is a no-go area but shooting by yourself can kinda set you up for this. You almost have to embrace that you look a bit weird and just remember the reason you're doing it. Be it to improve your blog or delve into fashion more, build a model portfolio, or just get some pics for the gram - just keep it in your mind because it is so easy to let one odd look off a stranger knock your confidence and make you pack up and head home.

Know your location
Researching the location you want to shoot at is fairly important as you will probably be there alone so you need to know the place you're at and if there are any rules or restrictions in terms of photography and filming. I know places like government buildings or royal buildings sometimes have restrictions so be sure to check before you head out to shoot. And, if you are shooting in a residential area, be a bit wary of the fact that some people don't like you taking pictures outside their house/sat on their doorstep. Also knowing whether a place has a lot of people passing by and which times are more quiet can help you not get interrupted too much - and not have too many people to edit out of the background later on.

Have fun with it
Over the last four or five months that I have been shooting with a tripod, I have built up way more confidence than I thought possible. And I do enjoy taking pictures this way. I love that I have absolute creative direction over the shots and that gives me so much more opportunity to try new things. I have recently been experimenting with movement and it is still totally a work in progress but I love being able to explore new things and retake a shot twenty times over if I choose to.

Have an excuse
One tip I came across online when I first started was that you should tell people that you are doing a photography course and that really helped me to overcome my nerves. The fact that I had something to say that I felt was really legit if anyone asked me what I was doing gave me a bit of confidence. And no one ever questioned it.

Experiment with different angles
Shooting with a tripod is totally different to having your photo taken by someone else because the tripod can't move around and find the right angle for you - you have to do all the hard work yourself. But it also means you can experiment too. Instead of just taking head-on shots, try shots from above and below. Try out different things and keeping looking at the pictures as you take them. See what is working well and what you can do differently.

Have you ever tried shooting with a tripod?

Skirt: Topshop (here)
Jumper: Primark (similar)
Necklace: Voice International (here)*
Coat: New Look (similar)

Monday, 7 January 2019

Everything We Ate In Berlin

Yknow how most people draw up travel itineraries for a trip? Well, I do that but for food. I love searching the location feature on Instagram for the best snacks, prettiest restaurants, and most unusual local delicacies and then casually dropping them into conversation when my husband asks where we should eat like I haven't already planned my exact order in my head.

For Berlin, I only had a couple of things in mind. I knew I wanted to get a vegan donut of dreams from Brammibal's Donuts and I was also interested to try kartoffelpuffer after years of making it myself at home. Things like German sausages and pretzels were also pretty up there - oh, and I really had my heart set on getting a hot chocolate from a market in one of those mugs you can pay to keep.

Although I have done a little section on what to eat in Berlin in my travel guide, I decided I would do an entire post dedicated to all the delicious goodies we feasted on whilst away.

Brammibal's Donuts
So, I want to start with potentially one of the best things I ate in Germany - this donut. It is vegan, it is has hibiscus flavoured icing, it is huge, and the donut itself was so doughy and lush. They do so many different varieties of donuts and they change seasonally too. I kinda wish I had tried a few more flavours and at about 2-3 euros, you really can afford to.

Doner kebab
When you think of Germany, you probably think of sausages. Or sauerkraut. Or sauerkraut over sausages. But the real favourite food of the German seems to actual be the good, old doner kebab. I mean, I am already pretty partial to a kebab (even when I am stone cold sober) so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. But it was just a kebab. A pitta bread filled with long shreds of meat and salad and covered in whichever sauce you choose (aka garlic mayo unless you are actually mad). It was no different to the kebabs we have here - was still nice tho.

The currywurst and chips mountain
At the Potsdamer Platz Christmas market near our hotel, they had a stall selling these fried bread nests and you could fill them up with whatever you wanted. They had wedges, chips, or these fried potato slices and a choice of toppings ranging from pork casserole to garlic mushrooms. For 8 euros, we decided to share one and Isaac was pretty persistent about wanting currywurst (slices of sausage in a tomato sauce) as his topping. So, we had that. And it wasn't half bad. Granted, I am not a huge currywurst fan but I liked the fried potato slices.

Pretzels and other famous faces from the bread family
One thing that Germans do well is baking. Especially savoury baking. I loved the giant pretzel that I bought from the market that was seasoned with salt and pepper and tasted like a really crusty bit of tiger bread (yknow the French bread one). We also got some other bread that was similar to this at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) at one of the bakery kiosks. I can't say I know the name of it now - or even at the time - but it was lush and had that same salt and pepper flavour.

These were little donut balls which were sold at almost all of the markets and were so nice (and so moreish that I almost ate the entire cone of them before Isaac even got a look in). They are coated with icing sugar and have an almost frangipane taste. Deffo the best snack.

Meatballs at Stadtklause
I wrote about this restaurant in my travel guide but it felt right to mention it here too (since it is food and this is about, yknow, food). So, one of the evenings we were there, we wanted to try out a restaurant and Isaac was adamant that it should be German cuisine - despite my hankering for a biryani. So, we asked one of the lovely ladies at the hotel reception and they directed us to this little German restaurant about five minutes walk from the hotel. It was a really traditional tavern/pub kinda place run by people who didn't speak a huge amount of English (and also couldn't seem to comprehend any of my admittedly rusty German either - awks) but it was an authentic German experience. I ordered some meatballs with bread, pickled gherkin, sauerkraut, and mustard and Isaac had the pork schnitzel. It was an interesting meal and oh so German. I loved the bread they gave me and gherkins are my fave. But I am not a huge meat eater so one meatball was more than enough for me. Isaac loved it though!

Just a whole lot of sausage
This may not seem like enough food to fill 4 days - and you're right. Most of our other meals were sausage in various forms. Currywurst, Krakauer, Bratwurst - basically all of the sausages. But when in Rome!


Do you love trying local food when visiting a new country? Or are you someone who knows what they like?

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

New Year, Same Me

A few days ago, I had a bit of a revelation. This is the first year since I was a pre-teen that my new years resolution isn't just a goal weight. In fact, my appearance hasn't even made the list (and it is a pretty long list). And realising that fact just felt so liberating. I guess, I always saw a new year as a chance to reinvent myself. Whether it was back in the days of sitting in my almost entirely Bang On The Door themed bedroom noting down tips and tricks from the Angus, Thongs etc etc series on snogging, boys, and push up bras to scrolling through Instagram as a uni student thinking how I can change up my work out routine to get a bigger butt or firmer thighs or get rid of that one last roll at the bottom of my belly that just won't budge, self-reinvention has dominated every new year's resolution I ever made. And the truth is, none of my resolutions really changed me much. I still have rolls on my belly (a few more post-Christmas than I would care to admit tbh) and I never did get any of secondary school crushes to go out with me (not from lack of trying, I will tell you that much). 

This year, I am not trying to change myself. Instead I wrote out a list of things I would love to do rather than a list of things I would love to be. And I am pretty excited about them. 

So much so that I want to share a few of them here. Mostly so I can look back in a year and see how many I actually managed to achieve. 

Travel to a new country
In 2018, we travelled to Edinburgh, the Lake District, Cardiff, London, and Berlin but, in 2019, I want to do more international travel. I would love to explore more of Europe - especially places like Krakow, Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam, and more of Germany too. Maybe even New York! Here's hoping we win the lottery, eh?

Invest more time into my blog
Over the last six or so months, I have really gotten back into blogging. I have started to enjoy the whole process again - everything from brainstorming post ideas, writing posts, going out with my tripod and shooting pics, and just engaging with all you lovely people who read and comment on my blog and social media sites. I have even started to enjoy the emails too! This year, I want to have more fun with my content and take more risks. And buy a lot more outfits to shoot.

Have more adventures with Ava
As Ava has gotten older, I have loved being able to do more stuff with her. Don't get me wrong, I loved having a newborn but a little toddler is just more fun (although she runs me ragged). In 2018, we did a few fun things together like going to the Britax Roemer blogger breakfast in the summer and going camping with my parents and I am excited to do even more in 2019. I already have the aquarium on the cards and a whole lot of soft play too. Maybe even weekly swimming??

Try to live a more environmentally-friendly life
Since getting my anaemia diagnosis, I have kinda been using it as a get out of jail free card for all the meat and dairy products I could ever wish to consume. But not anymore. In 2019, I want to try to run a more environmentally friendly home and that means eating a little less meat, using a little less plastic, and just being a little more aware of how my actions affect the planet. Goodbye, pigs in blankets, you may be my last.

Have more fun with fashion
Way back in September, I wrote a post about how I wanted to take more fashion risks and, over the last few months, I feel like I have kinda achieved that. I am wearing more of what I want and less 'safe' options and I am just enjoying clothes more. In 2019, I want to carry that on and continue to have fun with fashion. I am already looking forward to spring and having a bit of fun with dresses and skirts.

Get back into baking
Back in the early days of married life, I used to bake all the time. I would make bread each week and scones and biscuits almost everyday but, since Ava came along, I have slowly stopped bothering and I let Mr Kipling take the reins for a bit. But, this year, I want to get back at it. I have a book of Jewish bakes that I want to try and I am pretty excited about it all tbh (and excited to eat it all too).

Start thinking about my career
As you guys may know, I got pregnant just before I graduated uni. I did manage to get my degree (BA (Hons) English Lit don'tcha know) but then I couldn't really use it as offices seemed weirdly adverse to hiring the lady who is definitely 6 months pregnant wobbling up for an interview in heels. Can't think why? Lol. But Ava is one now and I am still at my part-time chippy job and I have that itch to start doing something again. It is a bit of a tricky one since childcare is so expensive but I would love to feel like I were using my degree for something - whether I am working from home or elsewhere for a few hours a week.

What are your goals for 2019?

Jumper: New Look (similar)
Necklace: Voice International (here)*
Trousers: Nasty Gal (similar)
Shoes: New Look (similar)
Coat: New Look (similar)

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Berlin Travel Guide

If you follow me on social media, you'd be hard pushed to have missed the fact that we recently went to Berlin. I mean, it is pretty much all I have been speaking about for the past week - but for good reason! Our trip to the German capital was probably one of my favourite parts of 2018 and I would encourage anyone I meet to consider taking a trip there too - especially if you can make it around Christmastime. It was fun, festive, and filled with food. What more can you ask for?

What to see
There is so much to do and see in Berlin that it can be a little overwhelming. Despite the fact that we were there for four days, we only covered a small percentage of the attractions that Berlin had to offer.

Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a famous landmark and a very popular tourist attraction. All of the times that we passed by this place, it was filled with people taking pictures (hell, we even saw some cute pooches posing for a snap). But you can't do Berlin without checking this place out - if only for a pic for the gram.

Reichtag Building
The Reichtag Building is Germany's government building and it is basically a huge, glass dome that has a winding slope throughout the inside that brings you up to the top. You have to register and show your ID to book a slot to visit this attraction and then go through security before entering but it is definitely worth the hassle. It is completely free and you are also given a headset to hear the audio guide as you move around the building. Also the view over the city is beautiful once you get to the top. 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
My great-grandmother was a Polish Jew and most of her family were killed by the Nazis so I felt obliged to pay my respects. The feeling of uneasiness as I walked through the memorial was almost tangible. But paying this memorial a visit is important. The Holocaust is part of German history and it is important that it is isn't forgotten - that the consequences of racism aren't forgotten.

Berlin Wall
We came across the Berlin wall kinda by accident. We went for an evening walk around our hotel and saw part of a wall with some words and pictures scrawled across it behind a mesh fence so I asked a passing couple and they told us that it was, in fact, part of the Berlin wall! They also told us that the main touristy parts of the wall were two trains away on the other side of the city so we made do with the wall we had. But, if you are invested in seeing all of the wall, then they have a few different parts in different locations across the city so make sure you do your research (or just accost an unsuspecting German couple).

Museum Island
Museum Island isn't situated far from the Brandenburg Gate and Reichtag Building and is deffo worth a visit. There are about 4 different museums (including one about the history of Islam which looked interesting) and the Berlin Dom (cathedral) is located right beside it too. I think it was 18 euros per person to access all the museums. We didn't pay it because we just didn't have enough time but, if you have a whole day, then this could be a good (warm, indoors) option.

Mall Of Berlin
Although we didn't have time for the museums, we did have time for this mega mall. It had all your usual faves but also loads of German brands too. And some awesome designer shops that I looked around like I could afford anything more than a pair of socks. They had a Lindt pop-up shop when we were there and Isaac bought me chocolate covered macadamia nuts so I have very fond memories of this place. And those chocco nuts. 

Where to eat
One of my favourite things about visiting new places is trying the local food - and Berlin didn't disappoint! By the end of the trip, my jeans were definitely feeling a bit tighter after all of that German food. Not that I am complaining!

After doing a little insta-research, I came across this donut company that have a few different locations across Berlin (we went to their little shop on Potsdamer Platz which was 5 minutes from our hotel) and instantly fell in love. All of their donuts are vegan and cost around 2-3 euros each. They have so many different flavours but I opted for the hibiscus one almost solely because it looked like a cartoon donut straight out of The Simpsons. And it was lush. And huge. I could have easily eaten about 5 of them.

This place was recommended to us by the hotel staff as a traditional German restaurant and I am glad that we visited it. Nestled down a back street with a black curtain covering the entrance, this restaurant has the feel of a traditional tavern or pub. They serve beer and non-alcoholic cask brews too and a small menu of traditional grub. I opted for the meatballs with bread and pickled gherkins whilst Isaac went for the pork schnitzel with potatoes. Both came with sauerkraut and mustard and were quite the experience. Isaac, a meat lover, wolfed his down and then came for mine. But, if like me, you aren't much of a meat lover, this may not be the place for a repeat visit besides for a large stein of beer and somewhere to practice your German on willing subjects.

Street food
Most of what we ate in Berlin was bought at the various Christmas markets or in little takeaways. Donner kebabs are big in Germany so we had to give those a go too. We ate everything from currywurst to pretzels as big as our heads. If you are travelling outside of the Christmas period, you may not find as many markets or street food venders as around Christmas time but I am sure there will always be a man at a stall trying to sell you sausages somewhere in Berlin so try to give those a go (I recommend the Krakauer).

Ok, this is a bit of a niche one but the McDonald's in Berlin are pretty fancy. They even have a McCafe section where they have things like caramel lattes and cream cakes - and their own line of pretty cute mugs and Maccys merch. We went to McDonald's a few times on our trip mostly for drinks (because we didn't want to pay 5 euros for a cup of tea at the market) and we were pretty impressed by the German Maccys experience. Guys, they even had Earl Grey tea! Their food menu was quite similar to the British menu apart from a few small differences like breaded shrimp, chicken wings, and a Pizza Big Mac which looked as good as it sounds. 

Getting around
Berlin is quite a vast city and, in order to see everything, you will probably need to use public transport at some stage. We invested in a two day 'hop on, hop off' city tour bus for a painful 26 euros each (or 22 euros each for one day) but it was kinda worth it as it takes you to all of the main hotspots across the whole city and stop at each stop every 15 minutes. Otherwise, you can try to navigate the routes yourself via public transport. You can get a day travel pass that can be used across all modes of transport (buses, trains, underground, overground) for 7 euros per person. The only trouble we had with this is that the buses can get pretty full so be prepared to stand/fight with strangers.

The language
My German is pretty serviceable whilst Isaac doesn't speak one word but we mostly didn't need anything other than English at all (although I pushed myself to speak German as much as possible). The only times that Isaac would have used German was when we arrived at Berlin airport and Isaac used the baby changing bathroom instead of the men's and got a mouthful from the cleaner and couldn't even defend himself as he didn't know what she was saying. I stood nearby giggling as I understood every word. Other than that, English and knowing how to ask if a person knows English (Sprechen Sie Englisch?) is all you really need. 

Have you ever visited Berlin?


Monday, 17 December 2018

An Ode To IRL Friends

For as long as I have been blogging, I have wanted to have 'blogger friends'. Yknow the type that you meet up with to shoot outfit pictures and get brunch and discuss 'how to beat the algorithm' Instagram strategies. I wanted that Louise and Zoe circa 2013 friendship. And I have made a few online friendships over the last few years that I do value very deeply - and, despite not actually meeting any of these people in person, I consider these online friends to be true friends.

But, when I was dreaming of meeting my blogging girl gang, I wasn't seeing the value of the friendships I already had. I didn't appreciate how awesome it is that the friends I have don't use social media all that much and how that keeps me so much more grounded. Meeting up with my IRL friends forces me to live in the moment more and not have to think of putting it on insta stories or getting that perfect outfit shot.

As much as I am so far from one of those people who complain about people using their phones in social situations - I mean, I basically live on Twitter - it is nice to have time away from it all without anyone just checking their emails. It is something of a revelation to go for a whole meal and not take a photo of anything or spend a whole day exploring a new town without taking a few snaps for Instagram. And I do get that worry that I will forget these times because I haven't documented them but I also know that I won't forget them because they are so much more special to me because they weren't lived looking at a screen or through a lens.

As a blogger, I feel like my world has become very much centred around the internet and being constantly available to reply to emails or DMs or comments or mentions is a big part of what it is to be a blogger. But, because this world is accessible 24 hours a day, it can be difficult to switch off. I find myself picking up my phone when I don't even need to and scouting for outfit picture locations when I am just going to buy some milk. I feel like I am always on. But my friends help me to get out of that routine. They give me a reason for not having to scroll through Instagram for another twenty minutes. And I have come to realise that I don't need to be on all the time. If I let a DM sit in my inbox for a day, the earth won't spontaneously combust and cause the whole of mankind to perish. People get it - they understand that even bloggers have lives outside of social media.

Of course, I would still have to be part of a blogger girl gang to go to Peggy Porschens with but I am also really appreciative of the friends I already have and what I have learnt from them. They're pretty fantastic.

Shirt: Primark (similar)
Skirt: Fashion Union (similar)
Coat: New Look (similar)
Boots: New Look (similar)

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Friday, 14 December 2018

What To Eat At Exeter Christmas Market

If there's one thing I love, it is a market. In any form. I love flea markets, farmers markets, and antique markets but my true passion is a Christmas market. Nothing can compete with a bustling Christmas market full of stalls of handmade goodies and food you have never heard of. The smell of caramelised nuts and the sound of Christmas songs is enough to make me feel giddy. Oh, and the churros! Those Spanish delights that you only seem to find at this time of year. Nothing makes me happier than wandering around looking at cute wooden figurines and paper light garlands whilst dipping my churros into a pot of melted chocolate.

So, naturally, I have visited Exeter Christmas Market multiple times since it opened in late November. And I am loving it. Exeter has really upped its game as a relatively new Christmas market destination. Me, Isaac, and Ava have been to the market most weekends so I want to give you a little insider's guide on which food stalls I think are the best (I would do a guide on all of the stalls but most of them rotate weekly).

Chubby Churros
What can I say? I am a loyalist - especially when it comes to anything deep-fried and covered in sugar. But these aren't your usual churros. Oh, no! These are chubby churros. They are a little more doughy and a bit more like long donuts and they are even more lush than normal churros. You can pick up a tray of them for £4 or pay an extra £1 for the melted chocolate dip (worth it). I would live off of these if I could.

German sausage
It wouldn't be a Christmas market without a good, old German sausage, would it? They sell three varieties - plain, spiced, or cut up and served in a sauce. We have tried all three and my favourite with definitely the spiced one. I smothered it in ketchup and mustard then scattered a few crispy fried onions on top. The other two options I could take or leave. Also I wasn't a huge fan of the one in sauce but Isaac loved it so it is a bit of a mixed bag.

Camper Coffee
Camper Coffee is a bit of a big thing around here so, ofc, they have a huge truck right in front of the cathedral selling all of your faves. I would recommend anything and everything by this coffee company but, for me, a hot choc always wins.

Chocolate marshmallows
These are another market classic - the chocolate covered marshmallow. I have tried a few of them in my time but I still have many to tick off of my chocolate-related bucket list. We had one covered in nuts last time we were there which was nice but I have my sights set on the mint chocolate one next. And for £1 each, it really is a slippery slope.

Gyros pitta
Ok, I haven't actually tried this yet but I did queue for 20 mins to be told that it would be a 15 minute wait last time (it was a very busy Saturday afternoon) so that kinda counts - and deffo doesn't put me off. A gyros pitta is kebab meat with sauce, salad, and chips in a pitta bread (yeah, basically just a kebab tbh) but it looks so heavenly and I need to bag one before the market packs up in a week or two.

And I have so much that I still want to try. There is gourmet macaroni cheese (um yes!?!), whoopie pies, and I haven't even started on the mulled wine yet! My list is pretty extensive and it is a hard job testing all these goodies - but someone has to do it, right?

Have you visited any Christmas markets yet?

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