Beautiful Soul – Noelle Johnson

I am absolutely loving this wonderful song –  Beautiful Soul by the indie singer Noelle Johnson. It has such sweet, kind, loving lyrics. It brings such a smile to my face. I’m literally playing it on repeat at the moment.

Other songs I’m obsessed with, that make me feel super awesome like I could take on the world and am infinitely strong are:
Wilson Philips – Hold On
Sara Bareilles – Brave
Sixpence None the Richer – There She Goes
The Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian
Blondie – Maria
Dess’ree – You Gotta Be

Packing for a camping trip

Anyone remember when I created this epic (if I do say myself) packing list for Europe, and styled 40 outfits out of it? (Dude, I know  – 40 freaking outfits. And I printed them out, took them with me and showed them to Ben on the first day – he fell in love and was weirded out, in equal amounts.)

Well, I’ve done it again for this little 9 day camping trip that Ben and I are going on. I’ve chosen 18 simple items from H&M, Forever21, Miss Selfridge, Topshop and River Island that are currently for sale online. You can find links to each of them below. To top that off, I’ve styled 9 fun Summer outfits that are just perfect for all sorts of eating-marshmallows-round-the-fire-after-a-beach-day camping related activities. Enjoy!

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one | two | three | four

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five | six | seven

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eight | nine | ten

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eleven | twelve | thirteen | fourteen

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fifteen | sixteen | seventeen | eighteen

I always find that I need to be able to see outfits on paper because I can’t imagine what to do with all the (inevitably) creased clothes that are lying in my bag. It’s hard when you don’t have a hotel cupboard to hang your clothes up inside. But for only a couple of days I can definitely Iive with it! Often what I do, is just before I pack my clothes into a bag, I arrange them into a couple of outfits and snap them with my iPhone – that way I can scroll through my images and see what potential outfits I could wear, and once I’ve decided, simply pull out the according pieces. Voila! It’s like having a mini personal stylist on holiday with you!

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Sex and the City

I’m a huge advocate for Sex and the City. It’s hands down the very best Series I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s witty, hilarious, cringe-worthy and fabulous. (My favourite ever fictional female character, Sam Jones, is in it!) You can watch each and every episode of every single season right here… it’s my pleasure!

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Josie and the Pussycats

Remember this movie? I sure as hell do. I used to absolutely love watching Josie and the Pussycats and was completely convinced that I was going to be a rockstar one day. (This is true in a sense, only now I like to think of myself as a creative rockstar… hee hee!) Here’s a clip of the main song from the movie – ‘3 Small Words’ – it’s honestly still on my running playlist. The words are just absolutely adorable and completely awesome at the same time.

Camp-tastic

As you might already know, I am a lover of traveling, and so is Ben. (Contiki, Paris, Pamplona, Rome, Greece… looking forward to adding Auckland to that list very very soon!). I’m currently in the UK until August, and am absolutely loving exploring different places. In two weeks time, Ben and I are off to Norfolk for a spot of camping. We have yet to buy any equipment, but we should hopefully be getting to that on friday.

The place that we’re staying at directly overlooks the beach – it’s called Overstrand Campsite and seems to have some great reviews. Although I camped all over Europe for about a month last year, I’m not sure how I’ll fair if it starts to rain and our tent leaks or something. I’m a bit of a miserable lump if I’m wet. Even more so if my belongings are wet. Here’s hoping it’s only ever sunshine and seashores for us. That’s a picture of Norfolk beach below. Ohh yeeeah!norfolk201358image via

I’ve been searching the internet for ideas to make our trip just a little more special, but have really been struggling to find creative ways to make an adults camping trip feel exciting. I’ve scoured pintrest, and Google images, but all I can really find is suggestions for children’s parties, weddings and ‘clamping’ (which just totally defeats the point of camping!). The closest I’ve come to seeing something camping inspired and unique was on A Cup of Jo – she wrote a post about Shelter Co. who have a super awesome camping service. In my mind, I imagine camping to be like the images on their site – strategically planned and dry. I know that neither of those things are feasible, but I like to keep my hopes up, especially about the weather (did I mention my hatred of rain?).

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Can you even deal with how gorgeous these are?! I mean, I’m not one to glamp, but daaaamn. I guess when I thinking of glamping, I think of a girly backyard sleepover. Or manicures in a tent. But this style of camping by Shelter Co. – I could definitely do it!

So I’ve decided to try and come up with some creative ways to make our camping trip a little more special… It’d also Ben”s birthday while we’re away, which aside from French toast for breakfast on the 16th, means it needs to be extra extra special. 26 is a big deal!

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Tasteful Tuesday: Mouthwatering Meatballs

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Yummy Butternut pasta with a sage and butter sauce:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 1,5 hours
Feeds: 2 people

• Lean mince
• one slice of white bread
• pepper
• salt
• penne pasta
• 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
• 1 red onion
• mozzarella ball
• 3 garlic cloves
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• sugar
• 1 celery stick
• 1 carrot
• olive oil
• spaghetti

1 || Turn your oven up to 180 degrees Celsius.

2 || Get all you ingredients ready – first dice your onion finely and cut up your garlic. Chop your carrots into small pieces, as well as your celery. (I like to add carrots and celery because I like to think it makes my sauce a tiny bit healthier.)

3 || Then fry half of your onion and half of your garlic in a dash of olive oil in a pan on the stove, until cooked. Take out, and drain on a paper towel.

4 || In a bowl comine the mince, onion and garlic, as well as some salt and freshly ground pepper. Tear the bread into small pieces and drop it into the mixture. Use your hands to combine the ingredients.

5 || Divide your mixture into half, and each of those halves into half – so you’re left with one quarter quadrants in your mixture. Divide each of the four quadrants in half again (you can do this with a knife, or just your fingers) and that amounts is exactly how much you’ll be using for your meatball.

6 || Roll each of the meatballs in the palm of your hands and place on an oven proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. (If you find that the outside is burning while the inside is under cooked, cover with tin foil and place back in the oven.)

7 || While your meatballs cook, fry the rest of your onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a pan on the stove. Once cooked, add the can of chopped tomatoes and the basil, as well as some salt and pepper to taste (at this point you may need to add some sugar, if your mixture is too sour – depending on the brand of chopped tomatoes you used). Allow to simmer away on the stove.

8 || Cook your spaghetti as you usually would – in a pot of boiling water on the stove. Don’t forget to add salt to your water. Once cooked, drain and put it into a bowl to serve on the table and toss with a bit of olive oil.

9 || Remove your meatballs from the oven. and place them into your tomato sauce. Mix them around, so that they are covered in sauce.

10 || Take out your mozzarella, and tear it into chunks, placing them into your sauce mixture. Pop the lid onto the pan, and allow the mozzarella to melt.

11 || Once the mozzarella has melted, turn your stove off, sprinkle with some fresh basil and serve the pan straight to the table, ready for everyone to enjoy.

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Keeping it inside the box for a change

I’m a runner. That’s been my thing for a few years now. I love running 10km races, and throw in the odd half marathon to remind me just how much I really do love those 10km races (Honestly, I limp around for days after a half). But I’ve recently – and by recently I mean I’ve only done 2 lessons – started boxing. And my oh my, I LOVE it! My boyfriend has been trying to convince me to do it for a month or two, and I finally took the plunge. I started taking classes with him and some other guys at The Locker Room, a brilliant boxing gym out here in Southend.

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I was super nervous at first, especially being the only girl. And I kept asking Ben “Do you think anyone minds that I’m here?” as if I needed everyone else’s approval to be there, just to try it out. But I’ve done 2 lessons now and I feel like I’m improving a bit. It’s a great way to exercise. I never manage to work up a sweat by running, or doing sit-ups. But when I walk out of boxing, I’m literally soaked. Or at least glowing. I love the fast pace, and the way that I feel while I’m hitting the punching bag. In my mind, I think that I look like Erin Heatherton from one of the past Victoria’s Secret shows.

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Images via Victoria’s Secret

Anyone interested in boxing should really check out this seriously cool Victoria’s Secret workout video on Youtube. Adriana Lima and her way cool trainer, Michael Olajide, Jr. (How awesome is his eye patch??!) go through a couple of moves.

I also came across this awesome infograph (below) on Pintrest. It’s all about how a boxing workout can tone your body. I especially feel it in my back, shoulders, bum and ( as expected) arms. Boxing is a breath of fresh air in my otherwise usual routine of running. I love it, and I’m sure you might too. There’s nothing better than learning how to punch like a girl.

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#LikeAGirl

Have you seen the new Always advert? It is simply brilliant – a fantastic look at the way society has been indoctrinated into thinking that girls do things in a very silly manner.
Here – take a look before I go any further.

This really ignites my fiery feminist sparkler. I’ve been thinking about this for ages now. “You punch like a man” vs. “you punch like a girl”. A positive vs. a negative. I hate having attributes or characteristics that are seen as being either male or female. Why can’t men be feel sensitive, and why can’t women be tough? And it’s generally things perceived to be feminine attributes that are plagued by being negative (“stop crying like a girl”). I watched a fantastic Ted Talk called ‘A Call to Men‘ by Tony Porter. This is an extract from it:

“I come to also look at this as this fear that we have as men, this fear that just has us paralyzed, holding us hostage to this man box. I can remember speaking to a 12-year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, “How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you you were playing like a girl?” Now I expected him to say something like, I’d be sad; I’d be mad; I’d be angry, or something like that. No, the boy said to me — the boy said to me, “It would destroy me.” And I said to myself, “God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?”

It’s sad to think that the world’s general view of the way girls do things it lesser than that of boys or men. And still, so many people ask why Feminism is necessary. It’s because of this. And because of hundred of other reasons just like this one.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I do nothing like a girl. Because I’m a woman. And so I do things as a woman would, which is generally just my best. But as a girl, I was too embarrassed of the way that I ran to ever play a sport at school, or to ever run a race on Athletics day. I always felt like I was the proverbial awkward skinny girl who looked like a fool when she ran. So I never did it. And that’s sad, because all I was doing was running like a little girl. But I never thought it was good enough.

Tasteful Tuesday: Butternut Pasta with Sage & Butter Sauce

I’m a total Italian food nut. While I was on holiday in Italy, I was testing and trying out every single bit of Italian food I could find. However here in the UK, I noticed that we’ve got a huge sage bush in our back yard. Naturally, being an Italian fanatic, I thought , “hell-o! Sage and butter sauce!” And so here it is. A pasta so good I made it for 2 nights in a row!

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Yummy Butternut pasta with a sage and butter sauce:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 1 hour
Feeds: 4 people

• Half a large butternut 
• salt
• pepper
• ground cinnamon
• penne pasta
• 2 cups of fresh sage leaves
• half a red onion
• mozzarella ball
• 3 garlic cloves
• three quarters of a stick of butter
• olive oil

1 || Turn your oven up to 180 degrees Celsius.

2 || Get all you ingredients ready – first chop your butternut into chunks (about 1,5cm squares. Not too small, or they will cook away in the pasta), dice half an onion finely and dice up your garlic.

3 || In an oven proof dish, place your chopped butternut. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle about 3 or 4 table spoons of cinnamon, season with salt (I used rock salt) and freshly ground black pepper. Place into the oven. I suggest checking your butternut every 10/15 minutes and tossing it around to keep it from burning. Allow to cook for approx. 30 minutes, or until soft, but firm enough that when you stab it with a fork it doesn’t fall off/apart.

4 || While you wait for the butternut to cook make your pasta. Place enough penne into a pot of boiling water to feed 4 people. Once cooked, drain and put aside.

5 || Meanwhile, fry your onions and garlic in a pan. Once they are cooked, put them aside.

6 || By now, your butternut should be cooked. Remove it from the oven and leave to cool.

7 || Put 3/4 of a bar of butter into the same pan you used to fry the onions and garlic. Melt it on a medium heat. Once it has melted,roughly tear the sage leaves once – I find that this releases their flavour better than just whole leaves.

8 || Allow your butter and sage to cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes. Then add your penne pasta to the mixture. Allow it to cook for a further minute or so, to absorb the flavours into the pasta.

9 || Tear up your mozzarella ball into coin-sized pieces and turn up the heat on your stove to help them melt.

10 || Add in the onions and garlic, as well as the roasted butternut blocks. Try to fold your mixture together instead of stirring, to prevent the butternut from ‘smooching’ :)

11 || Be careful not to let your food burn. Once the mozzarella has melted and the butternut and pasta is hot, decant into a bowl to serve, or alternatively plate up yourself.

** I garnished mine with a poached egg. It was delicious having the running yolk ooze all over the pasta. I highly recommend it, if you’re not feeding too many people (or it would be too much pressure to poach eggs for loads of people AND cook & eat all of this yummy food). I also added fresh sage leaves to spruce up my plate.

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Cosmetic Infographic

This is something I’ve been working on for the past few days. It’s one of the first times I’ve actually started and finished a project that I simply decided to do, and wasn’t just paid to do…. Also, I made a delicious butternut pasta and went for an 8km, so I feel pretty awesome about myself today as a designer, runner and food making extraordinaire. Here you go – an awesome infographic I made using information from a this source – this Delineo company has some great data. I might use it to do a few more data visualizations in the future.

What I love about data vis. is that when you see physical shapes in relation to one another, the data takes on a new meaning all together. As one might have guessed, I have a Ted talk that I favour entitled The Beauty of Data Visualization by David McCandless. The simple way in which he groups data makes it seem to come alive, and new connections can easily be seen.infograph-01