Wednesday, June 7

I Have A Voice, I Will Be Heard


“You’re so quiet”

 “You’re so shy!”

 “Can you just say something?”

 “Is something wrong?Are you alright?”


I heard these countless times. While you may think being called shy or quiet is a good thing. Perhaps even a compliment. To me it was as if someone was telling me how ugly I am, how fat I am. You’re so quiet. You’re so shy. These words followed me for years. Even today I sometimes still get told how quiet I am. The only difference is that I know that it’s okay.

Some people are sporty. Some are dramatic and some are chatty. I am quiet. But I am not just quiet. There is so much more to me than the amount of words I utter. I remember once when I was about 12. It was a new school which meant new people. I remember my friend and I talking with these new girls. I was happy. I didn’t realise at the time, that I wasn’t saying anything. It was normal for me not to say anything, as normal as breathing air. My friend turned to me, exasperated, and said “Can you just talk? Say something, anything”. I was stunned. I wracked my brain for things to say. Literally nothing came to mind. I probably spent 20 or 30 minutes sitting in silence, concentrating on something to say. As time itched on, I was getting more paranoid that I still hadn’t any input in the conversation. I felt sick and embarrassed. Until finally I asked, “What’s for Irish homework?”. I have no idea if anyone replied because I was so relieved that I actually said an entire sentence.

I wasn’t a mute. It’s not like I never talked to anyone. I had friends and family and chatted happily to them when I had stuff to say. But being told that I was shy, hurt my confidence so much. Like hello? Why would you tell a shy person that they’re shy? That’s like having a humongous spot on my nose and someone coming up to me to inform me that I have a spot, right there, on my nose. Well, blimey, how could I get through life without ever knowing? Gosh thanks, you’re my hero.


Through blogging I’ve found a form of communication I enjoy. You see, I do have a voice and I do have a lot to say. Just because I don’t stand on my soapbox and shout to everyone who passes does not mean my opinion is any less valid. I am okay with being quiet now because I know it really doesn’t mean anything. In fact I’ll take it as a compliment next time someone says it to me.

I've come along way since my 12 year old self. People are surprised when I tell them how very anti-social I am and how hard it can be to keep a conversation going sometimes. I'm much more comfortable in my self now. In fact I can be very chatty depending on the topic. I know a couple of people my own age who are even quieter than me at 12 years old. And that's totally okay. But it does not mean their voices won't be heard. When they are ready they will speak their mind, until then don't exclude them for being quiet.


I am a girl. I am human. I am a blogger, a feminist, a reader, a baker, computer scientist. And yes, I am quiet.

I am Marian.

Thursday, June 1

Poetry: The Last Goodbye



I first began to read poetry in school. Well actually if you count nursery rhymes as a sort of poetry then perhaps I've been reading it my whole life. In school though I've come across poems that I love, that I found a deep connection with, even though the writer is a stranger to me, somehow their words speak sense. Other times the study of poetry has been a nauseating chore. A dreaded 12 page essay on contrast and imagery. It's been years since I've read poetry for the sheer enjoyment of it. And even longer since I've written my own poem. You see, I am not a writer. I blog and I think up stories in my head, but when it comes to making those imaginations in to words, I can't seem to do it. But then today, as I sat by my desk in work, pondering my C++ program, I started writing on a yellow sticky note. I don't know why I've decided to share it on my blog as it really is a very personal poem. To me it is very clear what this is about and probably those who know me will understand but I wonder what others can see in it. That is why I like poetry so  much. It's open to interpretation. Some of my favourite poets are Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson. And although I did not capitalise randomly in my poem, the urge was definitely there. Hopefully I shall write some more from now on.

The Last Goodbye ~ Marian

Chips drowned in vinegar, peas turned to mush
Food meant to comfort on this lonely night
even the stars are dim in the black
I need my strength, but I just can't eat.

They flock in and out, each bringing
their sorrows and sorrys .
Their eyes red with pity.
Too many people, too hard to breathe.
Family but  more like strangers.

I look in the mirror, but that's not me
Eyes are flat.
Where are the tears? Why won't they come?
Is this a dream, a nightmare?

I'm at my friends. Dad walks in.
We wrap our young arms around him.
I do not need to hear the words, somehow I already know.

Outside, I play with my friends.
Day turns to dusk.
Where is she?
I fear the worst.

Three o'clock, it's home time.
One by one they leave.
Only my sister and I are left.
No one is here for us. If only they had questioned this.

We make our way to school, the three of us.
It's sunny on this winter morning.
At the front gate, I look back.
She smiles and waves.
The last goodbye.




Do you read/write poetry? Who are your favourite poets?

Happy Reading!
Always, M




Wednesday, May 10

April Book Reviews


Now I know the world believes it is May, but let's say for the sake of this post that it is still April ( and so that I don't have to re-edit the above image).  I was technically supposed to have these reviews written and published in March but you know me, I am a total disarray of a blogger. Recent events (hospital, surgery, chest infection, asthma... ) in my life became priority and so I do have a valid excuse ( this time )

My April book reviews features 3 books I have been very keen to read. One was sent to me, one was borrowed to me and one was bought almost 2 years ago. I was very excited to read all three of these so my expectations had been very high. And I'm happy to say there were no (major) disappointments.


Title: Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the R.M.S Titanic
Author: Iain Reading
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Stars: ★★★★
Origin: Sent to me by book publicity services

This 4th instalment in this series is located around Ireland and England. I got very excited when I found this out as you all know I live in Ireland and have been to London a few times. So naturally I was very picky when it came to reading the book. I wanted the descriptions of "beautiful rolling-hills Ireland" to be perfect. For the most part it was very accurate but I found it had a very tourist view on Ireland. A sort of western idea of what it is like here. The start irritated me because it seemed like madness having an opening day for some sushi restaurant and a sumo-wrestling match on Grafton Street.  On top of that there was an emphasis on Irish food like stew and Guinness and Whiskey. It's so stereotypical. I mean my staple diet is pasta and lasagne. Not very Irish now is it? But I won't get too bogged down by this as technically Kitty is a tourist visiting Ireland and so of course she's going to try the most "Irish" of things.

The second thing that bugged me was Kitty herself. Up until this point in the books she had been such a great role model and strong female lead.  I don't think she had enough time to grow and develop in this one. She was just missing that kick-ass-ness. Replaced more by badass-ness. She did some pretty reckless things that I admire but also dislike. She wasn't the hero she had been in the previous books.

Before you start thinking I've only negative things to say I must point out that there are so many wonderful elements to this story. The Kitty Hawk books are all so educational and fun that they only compete with themselves. From the four books my favourite topic is definitely the titanic in this one. I have a HUGE obsession with the Titanic. Always have. That and Anne Frank are my favourite parts of history even though they are extremely sad. I knew a lot about the titanic but this book definitely taught me some really interesting things. There is a bit near the end where Kitty googles some interviews from the titanic enquiry and finds some piece of information that helps them solve the puzzle. What's amazing about this is if you google the same thing - there it is! Mind blowing. I love how factual this book is and how Iain manages to tie it all into this gripping story.

I must mention Newgrange. If you don't know what that is then shame on you. I actually studied Newgrange in Art and all about the details on the stones so when Kitty was visiting there I was nodding along with happiness and approval. I have never been there but actually plan on visiting soon. This book rekindled my love of Newgrange and all the other historical parts of Ireland. It's wonderful how much detail Iain goes into in the story. He really does his research.

The only other thing that bumped down this rating to 4 stars is the treasure. I was utterly disappointed. I guess from the Titanic film I was imagining them finding the heart of the ocean. I know the actual treasure meant a lot to the family and it was necessary for the story to remain humble  but a diamond necklace would have been awesome.

I very much enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see where Kitty takes me next.



Title: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise 0'Neill
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian / Feminism
Stars: ★★★★
Origin: Borrowed from housemate

Can Louise O'Neill ever write a happy ending? After reading Asking For It and Only Ever Yours I guess the answer is no. So if you're looking for a fairytale this ain't the book for you. In fact this is one of the realest stories I've ever read. Now it is a dystopian, set sometime in the future so obviously it isn't real but the fact that this life in 2017 is an echo of this book makes me open my eyes to so many different issues highlighted by "Only Ever Yours". It is haunting to read.

Thank you to my housemate Margaret who let me borrow this book. She came home from a talk from Louise one day and we started gushing about her and other feminist related things. I was super excited to meet someone who is as obsessed with her as I am ( in an admiring way, not creepy stalker ). I love how this book dealt a lot with mental health, eating disorders and how we perceive people based on looks.

In a summary this book is about how women are only used for sex and reproducing. In fact women who will be mothers take medication so that they will only produce boys. Girls are made by scientists engineered to be perfect and then brought up in schools away from the outside world until they reach an age when they are shipped off as concubines, wives or chastities.

It is a sick and disgusting world. The girls compete against each other based on their looks. They must be perfect. And when they're under so much pressure to be this perfect girl you can see how their mental health suffers. They develop eating disorders and rely on drugs to be able to sleep. It is an exaggeration of what already exists in this world. There is so much pressure to be perfect from social media, magazines, celebrities and our own friends. Uploading pictures to Facebook and instagram you must look your best. It's all about how many likes you get. This book shows how ridiculous it is to base your value on a number. On how many people "liked" your profile picture. It is an addiction. Looking for approval and confirmation from other people that you are enough.

It is such a raw story that I hope will change a lot of people's opinions. Being beautiful is not just about your flawless skin or tiny waist. You shouldn't judge someone on how they look. To be cheesy: it's what's on the inside that counts.

And particularly how women are viewed in society in this book is so disturbing because we all know that gender equality is still a major problem in the world. Women do not belong to men. We are our own person and our body belongs to no one else. No one should have a say in what you do with your body. It is nobody else's business and certainly not any man's business.

I hope this book opens people's eyes.



Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genre: Young Adult / Mental Health
Stars: ★★★
Origin: Bought in Waterstones after reading raving reviews

I'm afraid this is a book that has become over-hyped. I bought this after reading a bajillion 5 star reviews but then didn't get around to reading it until only recently. It has been described as a mixture of The Fault In Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. I can see the resemblance and as I really didn't like Eleanor and Park then I obviously wouldn't be hugely obsessed with this book.

In short it's about a boy and girl who fall for each other even though their lives are entwined in grief, pain and suffering. It sounds like a good story but like many people I found that the subject of mental illness became the sole point of the book. The characters were engulfed by depression. They were walking bodies of bipolar and suicide. But this isn't necessarily criticism. For isn't that what mental illness is. It sucks you out and leaves behind a gaping hole. Sometimes filled with anxiety and fears or other times totally empty. A vacancy. It is not my right to say that this book is bad because it didn't show my "version" of depression. For many people how they live or exist with a mental illness is not just one single way. People react all different. You cannot condemn these characters for being overwhelmed by their suffering.

Unfortunately I failed to make a connection with this book. I thought I would, particularly with Violet because of losing someone in her immediate family but I just didn't relate. I didn't "like" the characters and I was just not as interested as I would have wanted. Now the ending did make me cry. How couldn't it? Only a robot could stay cheery through those last chapters.

I'm very glad I read this book as it opened  up some things about bipolar disorder which I knew very little about. Mental health is an important thing that everyone needs to be aware of. This book touches very much on that but loses its story in the meantime.

Have you read any of these?

Always, M

Monday, April 24

Blogging Struggles


Everyone wants their blog to be a success. Perhaps you're not interested in the amount of followers you have or the page views on your latest post but I'm almost certain that you don't blog with the intention of nobody reading it. If that were the case then you should have bought a diary and not a domain.

But success doesn't come over night. In fact it may not come for months or even years. That all depends on what you define as "success"though. To me it means I enjoy what I write and I look forward to connecting with other Hoomans of the internet through comments and other blogs. I love blogging and it is one of my favourite hobbies but it can be difficult. Blogging isn’t all daisies and dandelions. It requires an awful lot of effort and can be a bit of a struggle. Here are some things I often find issues with

Life

Whether you have one or need to get one, Life always seems to get in the way. I’m a busy person and like to be organised and have a routine. When Life decides to throw obstacles my way then my routine goes out the window and blogging along with it. For instance my recent absence is a result of moving out, starting my new job and then to top things off I suddenly wound up in hospital needing surgery. Don’t worry it wasn’t life or death. I’m now recovering and for the first time in a month have time to write this post.

Time

Blogging takes up A LOT of time! A post doesn’t just happen. It needs to be thought out, brainstormed, and eventually written. Then there’s editing photos, adding them to the post, pinning , tweeting and of course publishing the post. On average writing takes me maybe 2 hours but planning and photo editing could have me busy for a week. And if you’re writing regularly, even just weekly, that’s a lot of time you need! Trying to post regularly is a major thing I struggle with. I have bursts of motivation before I fall behind and then procrastinate because of all these reasons I am writing about today.

Content

What do I write about? I’ve used up all my ideas and now I got nothing. Nada. Blank. Zero. The answer to that question is I don’t know. If you do find out then please share with me.

Sometimes I wonder if what I'm writing about is fresh. Almost everything has been written about at some point.  And am I the right person to be talking about  that topic? Shouldn't I leave that to the experts? It's not my place to give advice on what you should wear or what cream is best for spots ( I don't blog about these because I have no clue and no interest in either of those areas )

Writer's Block

This is a bit different to not knowing what to write about. Writer’s block for me means I do have an idea but I just don’t know where to start. Think of it as a red brick wall between me and my keyboard. The words just aren’t flowing and I’m not sure if I know how to speak English anymore.

Effort doesn't always equal Results

And just because you spent hours perfecting that latest post that you think everyone on earth needs to read as a matter of life and death, it doesn’t mean you're going to go viral and be instantly famous over night. You can tweet all you want and pin lots of pretty pictures of your post but it just ain’t driving traffic. Why? Good question - I don’t know. It seems a little unfair though. You deserve appreciation for all your hard work.

Responsibilities and Community

In terms of the blogosphere I have a tiny following and an even tinier commenting readership. I would obviously love to have more followers but I find it much more manageable the way it is. I think it is hugely important to reply to comments and reply on their own blogs. Blogging is a two way street and to grow in this community, to make friends you need to give and take. I appreciate every comment and I always try keep up with blogs I follow. But again …. time… it’s an issue. I feel terrible when I miss a few days or weeks because then I am way behind and feel like I’m neglecting my role as a reader. I swear it’s not that your blog has become boring it’s because I’m such a disorganised lazy person that becomes terrified of the amount of unread posts in my bloglovin feed.

I constantly battle with all of the above but nevertheless am still happy to say I am passionate about blogging. 
Do you find you struggle with blogging? What problems do you encounter as a blogger? How have you made your blog successful?



Always, M

Tuesday, March 21

How To Make Your Perfect Bucket List


What is a Bucket List?

To me, a bucket list is something everyone should have. It is either a physical or virtual list of things a person wants to do before they die. Or according to google:
Bucket List Ideas
Bucket List Ideas

I wrote my first Bucket List when I was about 15. Perhaps I was a bit young to be thinking about death. Or perhaps it was about time I started thinking  about things I wanted to do in life. It was after I watched that brilliant movie "The Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman that I went mad with ideas, putting things down like "wear a different colour on each nail for a day" and "become a famous singer". They were far off fantasies that weren't really things I wanted. I mean, I can't even sing.

At 18, I revised my list and added it as a page in my blog [picture on the right, not sure if it's very readable]. It was much more me, containing things like see the Elephants in Africa and get a tattoo. Except a lot of these things aren't really that important to me. If I were to wake up dead tomorrow (or be reincarnated as a butterfly) would I regret not doing these things? Am I desperate to achieve all these things?


So here I am, at 20, making another bucket list. This time with utmost dedication and concentration.  Wish me luck!

 Why Should You Have A Bucket List?

The main reason you should have a bucket list is because you want to. If you have no interest in trying new things, then what's the point? I think it's important for some people to make a bucket list as it gives more purpose to your life. You have goals that can motivate and inspire you to achieve. Bucket lists help the imagination and can spark curiosity. You'd be surprised what you learn and maybe what new talents you find. It's also important to actually do things on your bucket list. Don't just leave these dreams on paper, make them happen.


How To Write A Bucket List

Bucket List IdeasIf you're stuck, the best way to kickstart the process is using Pinterest or WeHeartIt. There are so many ideas on those sites. Make a board and use that as your bucket list. But don't limit yourself to just pinterest. You can think of anything! Choose things that YOU want to do.

Remember, it's not a wish list. It's a list of dreams that you intend to do. These are things you will set out to do and most definitely want to  do. Anyone can write down "See the Eiffel Tower". I'm not saying it shouldn't be on your bucket list but if it is then be sure that it's not just filling up space.

The best way to start the actual list is with pen and paper. Write them all down. One per line. It's  your first draft. Then when you have them finalised you can write them on a big A3 paper and nicely decorate it. Perhaps hang it on the wall in a frame, that way you're less likely to forget about it.

And remember: Do Your Bucket List!


A few things from my Bucket List:

- Learn to drive
- Get a Facial Piercing
- Get a Tattoo
- Visit the Harry Potter Studios(London)
- Travel to every country in the world
- Write a Book
- Become a Vegetarian
- Take part in a protest/march for something I believe in
- Get a PhD

Even though I am starting a new bucket list, I'm keeping things I've already crossed off. These are important accomplishments to me. At 17 I got a nose piercing. At 19 I passed my driving test. At 20 I got my first tattoo ( that was only a couple of weeks ago, it hurt .... a lot). So I'm not finished my bucket list but I am certainly getting through it!

What is on your Bucket List?

Always, M 

Sunday, March 12

Female Role Models


Last Wednesday was International Women's day. Women, Men and Children marched on the streets all over the world. It was a day where many women striked in protest to the economic inequality, prejudice and insecurity faced by women in the workplace. In Ireland there was also a focus on striking to repeal the 8th ( if you want to know more about that total injustice to women I already wrote a post on that HERE). While I myself wasn't able to take part in the march because I'm fortunate enough to have a right to education but unfortunate to have an exam and team project deadline that same day. But I felt very proud to see the turn out of people in support of these basic human rights. Now that International Women's Day is gone, I think it is important to remember that the inequality that was here a week ago hasn't disappeared with one march. We must still  protest inequality and support human rights for men AND women!

There are many people out there who inspire me to do better. I guess you could call them role models. I know there are a lot of pros and cons to having role models and I myself agree with both sides of the argument. These role models that I have aren't people I worship like a God but they are just people who I admire and do things that I agree with. When I hear a speech from Emma Watson campaigning for equality I am reminded of the social injustice in the world and she inspires me to do more, to be grateful for what I have and to want a change in the world. Likewise when I see a post on instagram from Sarah Tyrell about body shaming and loving who you are, I feel more comfortable in my own skin and it makes me stop and think about judging people for how the look and what they wear. These women are people I want in my world. I think if everyone was a bit more like them then it would be a happier place.

Emma Watson


Emma has been a role model of mine ever since I was 7 and started watching Harry Potter. Even though it was Hermione who I was looking up to back then, Emma isn't all that different from her character.

She shows me you can be whoever and whatever you want to be. She shows me that being smart is a good thing and to never dumb yourself down for anyone. She fights for equality and gives hugely inspiring speeches. She accepts not being perfect and doesn't follow the crowd. She is strong and fierce.

She is someone I greatly admire.

"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals"




Louise O'Neill


Louise O'Neill is the author of Only Ever Yours and Asking For It. I first heard of her when she came to one of those festivals in Cork, it was probably the world book one. So I picked up a copy of Asking For It and was absolutely blown away by the book. I had never read a more relevant or horrible story. It sparked a rage within me to take more notice, to stand up for what I believe in, to fight against this rape culture. Because no one is EVER asking for it.

While her book had such an impact on me, I took an interest in Louise herself by following her on twitter and instagram and reading her articles in the paper. While I find her writings inspiring, it is the trolling comments on her pieces that ignite my anger at civilisation. How can people be so bloody ignorant? But none of this hate stops her and she continues to fight for justice and equality.
I'm very much looking forward to her new book.


Scarlett Curtis

The first time I heard of Scarlett Curtis was during English Class in 2012. My teacher Ms. Foley was talking about blogs and specifically Scarlett's blog Teen Granny. She suggested blogging as a way to improve essay writing and practise for the Leaving Cert exams. I wasn't a great English Student, much preferring maths and art, so I decided I better look into it for the sake of my future.

Surprisingly I was enthralled with Scarlett's blog because of my love for baking, knitting and crafting. Now it's 5 years on and I'm still blogging! So Scarlett is one of my role models because she inspired me to pursue something I love. She made baking, reading and knitting seem cool when at a time I was easily persuaded by peers and social media. Today she is still an inspiration as a blogger, activist, feminist, writer and girl. I follow her on twitter and instagram where she promotes equality, fashion and basically all things pink.

Just a couple  of weeks ago I tweeted a blog post as I sometimes do when I'm being organised. Not long after, Scarlett actually replied and followed me on twitter!! *dances around room* I was absolutely  thrilled. It means so much when one of your role models acknowledges your existence.

Sarah Tyrell

It was only a couple of weeks ago when I accidentally stumbled across Sarah Tyrell's instagram. I think Sarah is a hugely inspiring woman and so so brave.

For a girl whose struggled with body image and confidence all of my life, I felt very compelled by Sarah's blog. She posts pictures of herself on instagram and shows others that we shouldn't be ashamed of our own bodies because of how we look. Most people don't have that "perfect body" that is thrown in our faces by photoshopped magazines and advertising.

In her blog she talks about positivity and overcoming the pressure put on us by peers, social media and even ourselves. I think her message is so important and every person should hear what she has to say. It comes from her own experience so she knows exactly what she is talking about it. I wish I was as brave as her.

"One thing I've learned is that beauty isn't really visual. It's not something we can see. It's not something that can be bought, or applied, or created using products. It's also not really something we can strive for either. It's something that's already there, hidden, hurried deep down inside of each of us under a pile of bullshit expectations, rules, false beliefs, and fear. It's in there, desperately struggling to get out. And the thing is, even when you understand this and make the choice to let it out, you can't simply reach in and drag it out, through all of the clutter that's piled up and around it. It's not that easy"

*Disclaimer: none of these pictures are mine. If you are unhappy with me using them and want me to remove them then contact me and I will do so.

What is your opinion of Role Models? Who do you look up to?
Always, M






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Wednesday, March 1

Red Velvet Heart Cake


I know what you're thinking. Yes, it is March. And yes, I know that Valentine's was in February.But even though this cake is a Valentine's themed cake, it is still cake! And it is ALWAYS time for cake.

I actually made this and had a little photoshoot a year ago. But I didn't post it because 14th February had come and gone so instead decided to wait till 2017. And then I also missed that deadline.... What can I say? I am a terribly unorganised person.


Anyhoo, this cake is a three tiered red-velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting. The recipe belongs to the brilliant cake artist ( that's right, there's a profession called a cake artist, I think I've found my true calling in life)  Peggy Porschen.

Ingredients:


Red velvet sponge: 
105g butter
275g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A few drops of extra-red food colour
250g buttermilk
2 medium-sized eggs
235g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
2 pinches of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1⁄4 tsp white wine vinegar

Vanilla frosting:
250g full-fat cream cheese, softened slightly
250g unsalted butter, softened
625g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Decoration: 
Red velvet cake crumbs


Method

1. Make this one day ahead of when needed. Start by preheating the oven to 170°C.
2. Line three 15cm sandwich tins with oil spray and greaseproof paper. Place the butter, caster sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and, using the paddle, beat at medium-high speed until fluffy.
3. Mix the red food colour with the buttermilk, checking for lumps.
4. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl or jug and, with the mixer set at medium speed, slowly pour into the butter mixture. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to bring it back together.
5. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together and, once the butter, sugar and eggs are combined, add to the mixer with the coloured buttermilk and beat at low speed until just incorporated.
6. Whisk together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and quickly add to the cake batter.
7. Using a rubber spatula, fold through the batter to make sure everything is well combined.
8. Transfer the batter to the lined tins and gently spread it towards the edges with a step palette knife.
9. Bake for 20–25 minutes. The sponge is cooked when it springs back to the touch and the sides are coming away from the edges of the tin. You could also insert a clean knife into the middle of the sponge; if it is cooked, the knife will come out clean.
10. Once the sponges are baked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. When the sponges are just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tins, transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and leave them to rest overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed and the sponges firm up to the ideal texture for trimming and layering.


11. Make a cream-cheese frosting then flavour with the vanilla extract. Chill for at least two hours, or until set.
12. Trim the sponges (reserving the trimmings for decoration) and sandwich the layers together using the vanilla frosting. Mask the top and sides of the cake using the remaining vanilla frosting.

Red-Velvet is one of my favourite cakes. It is so delicious! What are your favourite types of cake?

Happy Baking!
Always, M

Tuesday, February 14

V-Day Feminism


Happy V-Day to all the men, women and and other genders out there. The ‘V’ in this case stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. Upon stumbling across Emma Watson’s instagram page at the start of the new year, I found myself joining her online book club. The book of the month happened to be The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Thus began my education on V-Day.

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day occurs on the 14th February whereby creative events take place around in the world to increase awareness, raise money and revitalise the spirit of existing anti-violence organisations. It all started with Eve Ensler, a woman who wrote a play about women's sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse, creating a new conversation about and with women. She based it on dozens of interviews with various women who told Eve about their own personal experiences. Many women who attended performances of the play felt inspired and compelled to share with Eve their experiences too. Then in 1998, a group of women, including Eve Ensler established V-Day. They felt by organising performances of the play that it would move people to act to end violence.

I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues...At first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one's ever asked them before.


After reading this book, the feminist within me wants to stand at the top of a tallest mountain and shout "VAGINA" to the world, while waving my bra like a flag in victory. However when I really sit back and think about this book, I am not as impressed as I thought I would be.
The Vagina Monologues was written back in 1996 ( the same year I was born). A lot of the people featured in the interviews have a tendency to be ashamed of their female "bits" or don't know enough about it. It's almost like a taboo topic. However, reading this twenty years on, it didn't reveal anything I didn't already know. Talking about vaginas and sex with my friends isn't an unpopular conversation, in fact, it's a favourite.  This is a positive thing, I think. It shows that we have come a long ways in twenty years. From my experience, we are much more comfortable with sex and talking about it. I do think the Vagina Monologues is an important book and probably far better seen performed.
I think it is definitely a more western/American story. Cultures are different everywhere so some people may not relate at all to the anecdotes in it, I think we can all appreciate an respect the stories and come away from it with a better understanding of ourselves and the world. ★ ★ ★ ★



I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Saying it made me feel cool. Belonging to a group made me feel strong. And being part of something that was important-, that was going to change the future made me feel inspired. It wasn’t until a few months ago, when I really started to take an interest in the world that I realised being a feminist wasn’t as simple as it seemed. I learnt that there are a lot of “types” of feminism and there is a whole lot more of people who disagree with feminism ( including women, surprisingly ). I had heard about femi-Nazis, man-haters and sexist-bigoted men. I just never believed they were real or that they were giving feminism a bad name.

Not too long, I scrolled through pinterest and came across an article about why women chose not to be feminists. This peaked my interest and I was baffled to think what reasons people could have to be against feminism.

"I don't consider myself a feminist but I wish more men would treat me like a human and not a stereotype" ~ tell me again what feminism means? Your oxymoron precisely says you want men to see you as a person, not a woman whose purpose is for raising children and working in the kitchen, YET you disagree with feminism EVEN THOUGH it promotes that women can work, have equal pay to men and enjoy sex as a thing of pleasure not just a method to get pregnant.

"I'm a girl, yet I hate feminism. I think demanding equality yet still expecting  chivalry is wrong. You can have one or the other. " Opening a door for a woman does not mean that they are too weak to do so on their own or that you're doing it just to look at her ass. Respecting a woman as a human being is not the opposite to chivalry. Being equal to someone does not mean you have to be unkind or unfriendly.

"I agree with equal rights but feminists are always so angry and aggressive. " Of course we're angry! And don't tell me it's un-lady-like to be angry. I think the best response to this is to read an article by Louise O'Neill [HERE]

There were many other reasons why women chose not to be feminists. After hearing both sides of the argument I can safely say that I choose to be a feminist. I want women to be equal to men because they are still (one of) the oppressed gender(s). I want to repeal the 8th and give human rights back to women to be able to take control for their own body. And I want men to be not ashamed to have feelings and that it is okay to talk because mental health and suicide in men is significantly high. And I want all genders to know and understand consent, because rape is wrong. Your body is your own and no one else should have a say in it.

There have been many feminist in the past like Betty Frieden and Nuala Fennell. They "burned their bras" and got women the right to vote and to contraception. The feminists today use media as a tool to inspire others and continue the empowerment of women. Books like The Handmaid's Tale and Asking For It spark conversations. Speeches from Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson motivate us to fight. Feminists like Scarlett Curtis, Mary Robinson, Louise O'Neill and Emma Watson encourage the on going movement to equality. If this has been the past, and this is the present, will you be part of the future of feminism?



Happy V-Day! {()}
Always, M

Wednesday, February 8

Art Journal


Art Journaling is one of my favourite hobbies. It's creative and fun. I love how there is no right or wrong way to make art. I've been keeping this journal for over a year now. On each page I like to have a theme or quote. Usually something inspirational and motivational.  The journal I use is a black leather back I bought in tkmaxx. It's the perfect size and the paper is just divine. I'm very picky when it comes to notebooks and honestly if the paper wasn't right or the pages didn't open properly I'd have to throw it away. I have a stack of empty notebooks in case of such emergencies. Here is everything I have done so far.













Do you keep an Art Journal?

Always, M

Tuesday, January 31

January Book Reviews

I’ll Give you the Sun

It’s taken me quite a while to find the words to write this review. And sadly I’m afraid I still have not found them. You see to some this book may be just another YA about love, pain and general life struggles but to me turning the pages was like walking through a secret garden with fairy lights hung in all the right places.


Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realise is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

Author: Jandy Nelson

The Cover: It’s yellow. And it’s that really nice warm yellow that looks like a sunset on a perfect day.

The Characters: Noah and Jude are the protagonists. I hated them and loved them during different parts of the book. Then finally at the end I understood who they truly were and not just the little snapshots I had previously judged them on. Truth be told I am madly in love with both of them and practically all the characters in this book.

The Plot: it was perfect! You know how you try to make a jigsaw without a picture to help and you have no idea what it is your making until its left until the last the few pieces. That is essentially this book.


 Why Should you read it? The best reason I can think of, is that it makes you feel something. I mean heartache, joy, inspiration, love, creativity, anger, sadness - it’s all there! If you’re a fan of art, you’ll enjoy the colour in this book and the personality of Noah. Major hyperbole but that’s just him.

Why Shouldn’t you read it? I can’t find any rational reason, but if you are a heartless, cold and non-dreamer then you may not like it ( that much )


Seeing as the max stars you can give a book is 5 I give it 5 but if I could, I’d give it all the stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Girl On The Train

I am not a thriller reader and therefore my opinion on whether this book is a good “thriller” is irrelevant but as I am a reader I can say for sure that it is a brilliant read.



Every day the same: 
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 
 Until Today:
 And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Author: Paula Hawkins

The Cover: The blurry train passing makes it look super creepy. I was a little creeped out but not enough to say it’s a horror. There is violence, murder etc. but not very graphic.

The Characters: Annoying. All of them. Not in a way that made me want to stop reading but in the way that is human. It makes for a more realistic story.

The Plot: The start is all about a woman who is now single, an alcoholic, unemployed and still in love with her ex-husband. As well as that she is so nosey and obsessive with other peoples’ lives. I guess there is nothing that interesting in her own. Things get very interesting when a girl goes missing. And the rest is all about trying to find out what happened to her.

Why Should you read it? It’s already a movie, and I think it is important to read a book before it becomes a movie ( no idea why I think that ) . The story is gripping and I would never have guessed the ending.

Why Shouldn’t you read it? Maybe if you’re too young or if the book is too depressing ( it’s sad watching a person becoming less of themselves as they spiral downwards with alcohol ).

I give this book 4 stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ 

Pigeon-Blood Red

A loan shark gangster, a lowlife gambler, a ruby necklace and a double murder. It’s your classic noir thriller.


After an unfaithful husband and his lover try to double-cross a loan shark, they endanger the lives of the man's unsuspecting wife and an old flame who comes to her rescue. Pursued by a "killer with a conscience" the wife and her newly found protector must decide what to do with a stolen ruby necklace worth millions. And their pursuer must decide what to do with them: murder them as ordered -- although one of them saved his life -- or refuse and risk the life of the woman of his life

The Cover: Without the dark, ominous cover and spatter of blood, I probably would have no idea what this book is about. Maybe something about pigeon raising and their red blood.... Turns out that Pigeon-Blood Red is a type of ruby necklace. Really great cover. 

The Plot: Even though a lot happened in “part one”, there was nothing unexpected and I found the pace quite sluggish. It just didn’t grab me the way I wanted. Things looked up though in the second part when I became very intrigued, particularly by the characters. It had the potential for a thrilling end but the suspense just wasn’t there.

The Characters: Without the in depth characters, this book would have failed. The main character appears to be Robert, an unfaithful husband who steals the ruby necklace from his loan shark, but in actual fact as the story progresses I was deeply enthralled by Rico. That guy is a mystery and a masterpiece. If this was a movie, I could see Sylvester Stallone playing him. You never really get to know him but from his actions and POV you can see glimpses of a good guy underneath all that muscle. Secondly, Robert’s wife Evelyn was another character that was essential. She brought the normal too it. It can be hard to relate to a thief and murderer but with her an Paul, I felt it grounded the story for me.

Why should you read it? It's a classic story and the characters are intriguing. Thinking about why characters do things and what kind of moral conscience they have will keep you captivated.

Why shouldn't you read it? It lacks the suspense it needs to make it brilliant. I wasn't up all night thinking about the ending.

Overall it had potential but never achieved what I was looking for. When I closed the last page, it didn’t leave me hanging or in shock. It will be interesting to see what is in store for the next two books.

I give this book 3stars.
★ ★ ★

Happy Reading! 
Always, M