Saturday, 30 November 2013

How To Stop Biting Your Nails. For Good

This post is for a very particular, special group of people. If you are a nail biter, my dear you are not on your own. I feel your pain. Until very recently I was a nail biter, an all-singing, all-dancing, bite 'em until they're red raw (and more often than not, bleeding) nail nibbler. It's grim, but unfortunately it's completely true. It's a miracle that I didn't get an infection or something worse!

People think that nail biting is a purely nervous thing. Of course this is sometimes true, but in my experience it didn't matter if I was anxious, excited, bored or even not thinking and my hands were free, they would creep towards my mouth and I would be doing it without even realising it. And don't even get me started on the people who comment on your nails. I'm sure that they didn't mean to make me feel bad, but I was well aware of my biting and how they looked without having it pointed out to me. It was always a big self-confidence blow, which only made me bite more! A most vicious of cycles.

So I want to talk about how and why I have stopped, to hopefully give advice to anyone in a similar situation. This u-turn has not been a snap decision kind of thing. I'd say that throughout my whole time as a biter I thought of quitting at least once a week, and I actually made some good attempts at stopping from time to time. I would say that this was it, grow them, and they would start to look lovely; but no matter how nice my they looked I would always relapse and end up undoing all my hard work in a few minutes flat. Very frustrating! 

I've tried to think of some helpful tips that worked for me to help you stop too. To be perfectly honest with you this time started practically the same as any other time, I'd told myself I was going to stop for good, and more to the point I had told my Mum who was supportive and encouraging as ever (I wouldn't have blamed her if she didn't believe me, I would if I were her, she has heard this many many times from me...) I suppose this time was different because I had made a promise to myself that I would start my new degree and life in Paris with nice nails. Horrible-looking bitten nails just don't go with my style anymore. So here are my pointers for helping you to stop, full stop, when it comes to biting your nails.

1. First of all, have a goal. You need motivation, something you're working towards. I wanted to have nice nails to go to uni with, but yours might be for a wedding, a party or function. Give yourself time in advance and get on with it!

2. Keep your hands busy. For me, revision was always a killer for making me bite. I would be stressed to start with, but then because I was just memorising off a page, I would have free hands that would go straight in my mouth. Now I have no exams, so I'm always holding a book or typing up essays, so I don't give myself the opportunity to chew. Keep your hands going when you're watching tv, sketching, knitting, stroking your cat, cuddling someone. Any of these are good band distractors!

3. Invest in a good (or bad!) anti-biting varnish. The clear nail varnish stuff that tastes rank so you don't bite any more. It's damned awful stuff, but it works. Stop 'n Grow is a good one, and costs just £4.50. I recommend highly, but don't do what I did and blob it straight on to your tongue. One of my less smart ideas. It definitely tastes bad, trust me!

4. Buy some nice nail varnish as an incentive. I always admired my friends' lovely painted nails from afar and wished that it could be me with those cool nails. The thought of having some nice nail varnish really spurred me on. After 3 months I realised that I had nice enough nails to paint so I got going! The one I'm wearing in the pictures is Barry M's Mint Green (304) varnish. I love pastels and I love this mint colour. It goes with a lot of stuff and is girly without being pink. My beautiful housemate has the nicest nails and nail polishes, so she has been a massive source of nailspiration. Of of my favourite things to do is have a girly evening, watching movies, eating things that are bad for us and painting our nails. Sally Hansen does an amazing strengthening nail varnish called Double Duty Base & Top Coat, which you paint over the top of your dried nail varnish. It's excellent, and is definitely worth the £5.25 price tag. 

5. And finally... Will power. There's no substitute. Just promise yourself that you're going to kick the habit and bloody do it! Show 'em what you're made of.

I haven't bitten in nearly 4 months! It's hands down the longest time I have gone without biting and as time goes on, much like with any habit, I can only see it getting less likely that I will do it. I'm pretty strong-willed, and now I've seen what I can achieve fingerwise I really want to keep it up! If you want to quit, I hope that my advice helps you even a little. Just go for it, it will be worth it. Good luck!!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

What's In My Handbag?

I think it's about time that I did this post. I know we all love having a nosey about in people's wardrobes, rooms, bags... And I'm no exception. My bag is a J&D Paris one, I don't know whether many of you guys will recognise the make, but you'll probably have seen them at some point or another - they're stocked in my favourite fashion boutique at home and do really good quality luxe-look bags, that look like they should be much more expensive than they are! This on was around £35 if I remember rightly (I have two or three more..!) 

I absolutely love this bag - it's perfect for the days like today when I'm on campus at uni, carrying it round putting cumbersome notebooks and textbooks in, and also just for general use. So without further ado let's go inside! This is sort of a 'What's In My Handbag - Campus Edition', all the things I need with me for long uni days like today.

First up are the essentials like my purse. Mine is an LYDC London one - again from the little boutique in my village. I bought it back in the summer for just £14. It's perfect because it's got lots of card holding compartments, receipt section and a separate coin zipped up part. I like the kitsch, cheerful cupcake design too. Obviously my iPhone is always bobbing around in my bag, and a pair of headphones are a must, but you all know what those look like so I'll leave that to your imagination. My iPhone case is pretty cool - it's a Jelly Belly red cherry one, which used to smell of cherries but doesn't any more. True story.

Second up is my stamp design notebook that I jot down all my meetings, assignments, ideas and stuff in. All the things I need to remember goes in this. I love this, it cost me just £4 from an artisans handmade market in Canterbury centre a couple of weeks ago. When I fill this up I will just get a new notebook to go in the case!

My pencil case is possibly the most high school pencil case in all the world. It's a throwback to school days where we could only have see throught pencil cases in exams, and I've just kind of stuck with it until now! There's no faffing around looking for the pen you want. There's my pink Stabilo, straight to it. No messing about! I think it's kind of trendy in its own geeky way.

I have to say I don't really go for all that much makeup for my daytime look, I prefer a more fresh faced kind of thing. (Partly because I'm lazy and would ether have the extra 20 minutes in bed!) I always wear mascara and a little nude sparkly No. 7 eyeshadow though, and I love my lip glosses - they have to be nice ones though that don't go funky on your lips. Not nice!

I have been loving my Clarins Instant Gloss lip gloss lately; it enhances the natural colour of your lips and moisturises them at the same time. The level of glossiness is perfect, and makes you look like you've gone to a lot of effort, when you really haven't. Always good!

I also like to have this Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer with me, just in case. It's discrete and easy peasy to use if any skin disasters pop up during the day.

Next up, I nearly always take a pre-made packed lunch with me when I go in to uni - but I often get nibbly throughout the day, especially if I'm in the library or in long seminars. I would like to lie and say I only ever have fruit and healthy snacks, but that would be a big old lie guys. I can honestly say I eat pretty healthily most of the time but sometimes you just need something to keep you going you see. Crisps and chocolate are sound choices for those pesky inevitable sweet and savoury revision-induced cravings.

And that's about it! I'm also never without my faithful Paperchase lightweight umbrella that I can just pop in and forget about. If you live in the UK and don't have one then why the hell don't you own one. They are the bees knees.
I hope you enjoyed having a peek in my university-day bag! I enjoyed showing you, and best of all it made me throw out all the receipts and random bits I had hoarded. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

'20s Flapper

Hello lovelies! I hope you've got that Friday feeling, it's the weekend! Today I want to show you the latest addition to my dress collection, and I've been fawning over it no end. I was going to include it in my last restaurant post, but that would just not do for this dress. 

I love the 1920s flapper look; the beads, the embellishment, the nude pallete... but I've always thought the clothes are rather expensive. For a Daisy-from-Gatsby beaded maxi dress you're looking at paying nearly £200, and to be honest which student has that kind of money for one dress? Not to mention, when would you actually get to wear it? They are rather dressy and unless you're a part of the cast of Made in Chelsea you probably won't get many opportunities to wear such a frock. 

That's where my H&M Flapper Dress comes tearing in to save the day. I fell head over heels for this dress as soon as I laid eyes on it. I love the colour, the mesh shoulders, the pleating and the way it nips in at the waist. It's one of those dresses that looks sophisticated and dressy but is unbelievably simple too (my absolute favourite kinds!)

The length is also a big plus point for me. I'm 5'7, which isn't huge but is taller than average for us girls. Therefore dresses can sometimes be a bit on the short side on me. Not a problem with this frock though, as it swishes comfortably above my knee. I wore it with flats this time to make sure I was comfortable walking to pre-dinner drinks, but I would also wear with a pair of classic court shoes (because the dress is a decent length there will be no threat of startling on-lookers if there is a sudden gust of wind!) 

I kept accessories low-key, teaming it with my Rose Gold Michael Kors watch and Rose Gold bangle and a clutch bag. At just £30 I reckon this dress is an absolute bargain. I absolutely loved wearing it and seriously got so many complements! Now all I need is a feathery hairband and the look will be complete!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

La Trappiste

Being in the centre of Canterbury sometimes feels like being in Little Belgium or Little France. The winding streets are full of bistros, patisseries, and the best part is that you can even pay in Euros in some places. Great for the novelty factor, or on the off-chance that you have some left over from holidays or trips to Europe! I knew exactly where I wanted to take my parents for our final meal of their visit. After a long but lovely day of sight-seeing, shopping and generally catching up on everything that has happened since I've come down to Canterbury, we spruced ourselves up, put our shiny shoes on and headed out for pre-meal drinks. 

La Trappiste is in the centre of "Little France", sticking out in to the street. It's a lot ike the Flatiron Building in New York but on a much smaller, much more Frenchified way. My housemate had been a couple of weeks previously, and had nothing but the highest of praise; I needed to sample the La Trappiste for myself. 

From the outside you can taste the atmosphere of the restaurant; there is a piano player nestled in the corner, and the lighting is low, mainly lit by candles on each table, hence the rather dark photos I have taken!

We were pre-warned that because it was a Saturday night, and because they make all their dishes from scratch to order that we might be in for a wait, but we were happy to chatter away to one another and get busy with the wine menu. 

But it wasn't actually long at all until our sharing starters arrived.
 Baked Camembert, caramelised onion chutney and crusty bread (my absolute favourite!)

King Prawns with garlic and tomatoes. I like the odd King Prawn, but my Mum is obsessed, so I donated my last one to her cause. I think she might have been a crustacean in a previous life. 

Both starters were absolutely delicious, the perfect way to start off the meal. A short interlude followed during which time my parents told me about the new chickens they have just rescued. Apparently they don't lay eggs any more, but their owners are moving abroad and don't want them any more. So, of course, my parents said absolutely they can come to us! I am looking forward to meeting them when I go home for Christmas.

The restaurant had really filled up and come to life by the time it was mains time. I went for the Seafood Risotto, which was a great choice and delicious, but wasn't the prettiest of the dishes so I didn't get a picture. My Mum and Dad both went for the Kentish Moules, cooked in a cider-based sauce. I got to try some, and I can say they were also fantastic! I will definitely have to get them when I go back. And of course thin cut chips and more crusty bread for dipping are essential moules accompaniments.

I turned the flash on to get the steamy effect!

I would have quite happily thrown the towel in there, the portions and food were ten out of ten. But my Dad was feeling the love and insisted we have a cheeseboard (OK, Dad, if we absolutely must, I said!) Between you and me, he might have been a little bit tipsy by this point!

But look how amazing it looks. A cheeseboard is always a good idea in my opinion. I love all kinds of cheese, French especially, so this was perfection. There was plenty of it too, I can tell you.

Very full and very happy, we finally came away from the restaurant four hours later, saying that we absolutely must return some time soon. I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed with La Trappiste! I would say it's a special occasion or family meal kind of place, but I can imagine a date would also be great here because of the great atmosphere, music and the sumptuous food.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Shift Dress

Hey lovelies. Today I want to talk all about my new favourite dress. Yep, it's that shift dress from Missguided; first seen on MIC's Lucy Watson, and then on many a blogger and pretty-dress-lover since.

I am one of the many people who couldn't resist this classy little shift. I have seen this a lot when browsing blogs and the official Missguided site of course, and it has never failed to capture my attention. But I have nearly always seen it in peach, not the green. After much deliberation and conferring, in the end I went for this green one instead of the peach, and I am very happy with my choice. It was a gamble but this colour is a little different and snappy. I think it looks quite eye catching.

 The close-up.

I love the feel of the material, the length and the shape. I find that some shift dresses can be a bit shapeless, but not this one. I will be wearing it whenever I can!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


At the weekend my parents took the 220 mile dash all the way from Yorkshire, down the A1 to come and visit me and suss out my new home. It was bloomin' brilliant catching up with them and showing them around Canterbury; they were very impressed with the whole situation, and I was treated like a Queen the whole time.

To say my family like their grub is a bit of an understatement, we like just about everything. However, I don't think that anything says Friday night more than a banquet at a curry house. After being on the road for 4 and a half hours my parents arrived and whisked me out in search of liquid refreshments and more importantly, a curry feast. 

Kashmir Tandoori on Palace St. slap bang in the centre of Canterbury is everything a good curry house should be. Cosily lit, with a good energy and a menu that just keeps on going and going. Curry and lager is a match made in heaven, or so I'm told, but sadly I'm not a lager girl in any way. I'd like to be, I think being the sort of girl who drinks pints would be sort of cool, but unfortunately I'm not sold just now; it's Kopparberg all the way, baby. 

After scouring the menu, our waiter returned after the fourth attempt to take our order. We couldn't decide in between happily chatting away, and these are the sorts of decisions that shouldn't be rushed! 

One conclusion was drawn fairly speedily though. Poppadoms and pickle are an absolute necessity. 

And onion bhajis. They gave us plenty of sauces with our poppadoms, so the leftovers were perfect to dip these crispy little balls of goodness in to.

Shortly after the starters the warming plates arrived, always a good sign; almost instantly we were presented with the main event. Here we have King Prawn Bhuna (right) and Lamb Garlic Tikka Masala, which was the most amazing red. We each picked out our own, but always end up sharing between each other and trying all of them. 

I'm glad we did because the surprise dish of the night for me was my the chicken and dhal (lentil) dish that we ordered. So delicious! I would never have gone for it myself but it was so good, I'd definitely pick it next time. 

My Dad was impatient and couldn't wait for me to take a picture before diving in!
Peshwari (my fave!) and Garlic naans, and pilau rice were the perfect accompaniments.

Even though we were full to bursting, there's always room for dessert! This real little coconut shell filled with coconut icecream was light and tasty, and a perfect end to the feast.

The next installment from the weekend will be along the way very shortly. Have you tried any good curry houses recently?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Angels Haul: Winter Edition

The advance of Winter equals the need for a major sartorial update. I am not one of those people who dislikes winter, oh contraire, I love it when it starts to get chilly. It means you can hunt out the new season coats, new boots, gloves, hats, scarves... see how easy it is to get carried away. I have been wanting to do this post for well over a month now, I have to confess, but I feel that now the time is right to show you guys what I've picked up for my Winter wardrobe. 

I freed up an afternoon for my shopping mission and hit Canterbury high street. Naturally I went in to all the major chain stores, but I wasn't really having all that much success. That was until I walked past a little boutique named Angels. I eyed up the front of the shop from the outside not entirely sure what they sold or even what it was, the exterior is quite understated; but when once you step inside there's no mistaking it as anything but a luxurious boutique. This is a strong statement, but I would go as far to say the best boutique I have ever been in to. Gorgeous individual pieces in all different styles, ages and all at unbelievably reasonable prices. I was in my element, I actually spent 1.5 hours in here chatting to the staff who are all just lovely. I have never been in the shop before, but decided to call this post the 'Winter Edition' as I assure you that there will be further editions in the future from this little place!

I could have gone crazy and bought twice as much as I did, but instead I decided to stick to a few key pieces that I absolutely love that will really spruce up my Winter outfits and that will go with the stuff I already have. So here goes!

Nude Ankle Boots
These babies were the first thing that caught my attention. I was gushing over them for about five minutes, I made sure that I held on to them just in case another sneaky shopper pinched them! They were just £30.99. I needed a pair of ankle boots, and I just think this colour is so classy and different, especially with the gold heel. I was wearing a black tea dress, black tights and black blazer at the time, which I think looked really good! I will dress these up with my other dresses and tights, and down with straight blue jeans and a cardigan.

Gold Bow Loafer/Pumps
Next up in the shoe stakes are these little beauties. I have a bit of a thing for loafers at the moment, but I find that some of them are a bit too casual for my style. I like simple things that are easy to wear, which look like you've made an effort. I think these shoes are the poster-child of that. They are so comfortable and I love the luxe look of the bow decoration.
They could be £40+ from Zara, right? Nope, just £16.99. I will wear these all the time with a dress or skirt and fur coat, or black jeans for a more casual day look. I also love the shape of the toe, not rounded and not pointed, just right.

Big Fluffy Cardy
The snuggliest item award goes to this big fuzzy piece of fluff. I fell in love with this as soon as I laid eyes on it. The waterfall effect is really flattering. There are so many things I can wear this with, for example the pairs of shoes above! It's super warm, so will keep me toasty walking to and from campus, and I really like the funky pattern too. The almost hairy look is really cool too I think. It was £36.99 but I will pretty much live in this until it starts to get warmer again, so it's an investment piece! With this and the other items too, I like the fact that it's a bit different to the stuff in the high street chain shops. 

Nude Leather Gloves
Just look at those pom-poms. They're adorable aren't they?! I have always liked the look if leather gloves, but I think that the plain black ones look a bit boring and potentially a bit older than my age. However I think these are the perfect compromise between sophisticated an fun (the fun being the fluff!) The colour of these are gorgeous and will go so well with my boots. They're not real leather, so were £16.99. I think they're very ladylike, and I probably won't take these off all winter either!

What new bits have you bought for your Winter wardrobe? 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Apple and cinnamon to me are a match made in flavour heaven. I just love the combination, in fruit pies, on top of porridge, and those Go-Ahead fruit slices are pretty good too. I've never had it in a cake, though. 

The other night I was scouring Frugal Feeding; for those of you in the know, isn't it amazing?! For those of you who don't know about this, where have you been? You have a lot of catching up to do, my friend, here's the link This guy blogs wonderful recipes made from responsibly sourced and affordable ingredients, and the photography and his writing is just a delight to read. I have a lot of his recipes bookmarked for future experimentation!

I raised my eyebrows when it specified that the apple was to be grated in to the cake, skin and all (not the core though of course). However, you're assured that what you'll be left with, as well as a lovely appley flavour, is a moist and dense cake, due to the water that the apples release in the cooking process.

Being a cinnamon fiend I was very liberal with my dosage of this, but you can go a bit easier if you like. I like to know that I'm eating an apple and cinnamon cake, but you can go steadier if you're not as keen as me.

Ingredients (Serves 8)

200g/7oz Unsalted Butter/Stork
150g/5oz Caster Sugar
3 eggs
200g/7oz Self-Raising Flour
3 tsp Cinnamon
3 medium-sized apples

Method (Takes 1.5 hours)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c/gas 4. Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm/9 x 5 inch) with grease proof paper. Cream the butter and sugar together till creamy, add the cinnamon throughout this process. 

2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour each time as you go, until all the flour is combined.

3. Grate 2 of the apples, skin included, but discard the core. Tip the apple in to the batter and gently fold it in until thoroughly incorporated. (Add a smidge more cinnamon if you are that way inclined! Combine)

2. Pour the batter into your lined tin. Level it off with the back of a spoon and decorate it, like so, with the other apple, thinly sliced. Sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar over the top.

3. Bake for an hour and 20 minutes, or until golden brown and set. When you insert a knife in to the centre of the cake it should come out clean. 

4. Allow the cake to cool a little before turning it out. Enjoy warm or cold. The cake can be stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container, if it lasts that long!

This is a fantastic little autumnal recipe to use up any of those leftover apples. It doesn't matter what kind you use or even if your apples are going a bit floury. In this way the cake is much like banana bread, they're going to be baked anyways so chuck them in! No bad apples though, of course. Perfect for an afternoon work break enjoyed with a cup of Yorkshire tea!

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Garden of England

Just look at that view. Isn't it simply gorgeous? I'm lucky enough to be able to say that that is the view I have from my University, Canterbury Cathedral and the City tucked beyond the trees and hills.

Kent is known the world over as 'The Garden of England'. I can safely say I agree, the bit of it I've seen so far has been very green and very pretty indeed. The air is starting to become a tad more chilly and the leaves are beginning to go that beautiful goldeny brown.

At the weekend my housemate and I filled up our flasks and walked the short walk down the hill to the city. In need of early Christmas present inspiration (I know, it's early November, but I like to get ahead of the game) we headed out in the morning sunshine. There are all sorts of farmers markets and artisan stalls in Canterbury to plunder. I picked up some absolutely lovely bits, but just in case any one in particular is reading this I'm keeping the rest under my hat!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Skeletons and Pumpkins and Bats

Oh my!!! I hope that you all had a fabulous, fiendish and frightening time whatever you got up to last night. 

For me, University Halloweens are by far and away the best Halloweens I've ever had, period. It's sort of an unspoken guarantee that there will be at least one gargantuan party going on, and because we're all students it doesn't matter what day of the week Halloween actually falls on, we're students with stupid amounts of free time so it's all good! Everybody goes above and beyond with their outfit efforts trying to out-do the competition, and there are some truly genius costume ideas. My favourite spot of this year was definitely a group of freshers as the cast of the Wizard of Oz, and another as a bunch of bananas. Simple but effective. I think group fancy dress is the hardest to pull off but the most effective if it's done well! 

My posse dressed up as a Victorian circus. I was the snake-charmer, not particularly Victorian I know, but I got to wear harem pants, head jewels and a Britney-style snake draped round my shoulders! My housemate Livvy also looked amazing as the Ring Master; she wore a top hat, corset and even sewed a tailcoat for her blazer!

Livvy is pretty big on Halloween, and I like any occasion where there's an excuse to have a party, so we thought we deserved a fun afternoon off, away from reading and writing up seminar notes, so our afternoon was fully dedicated to getting in to the Halloween spirit! 

First of all, we decked out the kitchen in the cheesiest decorations that the pound shop had to offer. Pumpkin fairy lights, sticky skeletons and 'enter if you dare signs'! Skeletons, pumpkins and bats were definitely (inadvertently) our theme.

We dominated the kitchen and spent our afternoon messing around, sipping 'witches brew cocktails' made of blood orange juice and rum with floating eveballs (green grapes). We made all kinds of ghoulish treats, whilst listening to Alice Cooper's spooky Halloween set on Planet Rock fm, the perfect soundtrack!

Firstly we hollowed out pumpkins saved the seeds to roast. Roasted pumpkin seeds taste amazing, so never throw them out! 

Just drizzle with olive oil, pop on a baking tray and roast at 180c/gas 4 for 45 mins. It's a bit fiddly to excavate them but stick with it. They can be eaten as a snack, put in muffins, tea loaves or saved in the store cupboard for later. Thrifty and delicious.

My favourite treats by far were the Spiced Pumpkin muffins! Look at the colour of those babies. 

The recipe uses canned pumpkin and can be found here only had 6 silicone muffin cases so it took rather a long time to make the lot, it's a good job we had time to spare. When they were still warm we delivered a batch to our delighted neighbours; they didn't last long!

Then there were our Spiced Sugar Cookies. Lacking proper cookie cutters we enlisted the help of friends to cut them freehand resulting in the crudest looking Halloween cookies ever! 

Again lots of skulls, pumpkins and bats. Still tasty though! This is the link to the recipe we used

Here's Livvy looking very pleased with her pumpkin artistry in her cute batty Halloween-themed jumper! All ready to be lit...

Happy Halloween everyone!