Dear 2016,

You scare me. 

You scare me because you're the year that, if everything goes to plan, will see me graduate and move forward into a new chapter in my life. A chapter that will include moving location and finding a career. 

You scare me because that new chapter is yet to take shape, so still remains a mystery from where I stand on the edge of 2015. 

You scare me because the latter part of this year consisted of endings, meaning the only way forward next year is to start again. To re-learn, to re-evaluate, to re-trust. To say goodbye, but also to say hello. 

You scare me because I've spent many first midnights of years past wishing for the next 12 months to be better. But to only look back with sorrow once the year reached its end, with the retrospect that things didn't go to plan. That I had experienced more hardship than I could have seen coming.

You scare me because I have no real control of what you may hold.

2016, yes, you scare me. But I won't let the idea of you overwhelm me. I don't have many resolutions for the next 365 days, but I do have one:

My resolution is to take you a day at a time. And to simply do my best. 


Amani x

To 2016, From Me

29 Dec 2015


With Christmas and New Years impending I thought it was time to update my nail varnish collection, so I recently engaged in a mini drugstore nail varnish haul in search of the perfect holiday nail look. As I was really happy with a few of my purchases I thought I'd share a few of my favourites! 

So here are some nail looks I've been sporting at Christmas parties, and that I'm looking forward to wearing for the rest of the holiday season:


Maybelline, Colour Show - Let It Snow, 353 Red & Precious Pearl
I actually got this set free along with my other two Colour Show purchases, which I was glad about because I did have my eye on the set. This is now one of my current favourite nail looks, I love the coat's snowy look against the festive red base.



Rimmel, Glitter High Coverage - 002 Ruby Crush
I also experimented with coating the same red shade by Maybelline with this glittery varnish from Rimmel. I find it also worked really well with the red base and creates a nice shimmering golden-red look, perfect for party season.



Rimmel, Salon Pro - 135 Frankie My Dear
I really love this simplistic metallic-gold varnish from Rimmel which makes for a bold yet sophisticated look, perfect for the Christmas period.


Rimmel, Love Glitter - 031 Mistletoe Mischief 
I also tried applying this glittery top coat to the gold for a more dazzling effect. I'm actually on the fence about it as I'm not sure it works well with the gold base, but I may try it with another colour in the near future as I do enjoy the golden confetti look of it.



Maybelline, Colour Show - 107 Watery Waste
Similarly to the metallic gold varnish from Rimmel I really love this silver nail varnish from Maybelline. The silver creates an icy feel which I really enjoy for the winter months.




Maybelline, Colour Show - 231 Light Up

Using this as a coat over the silver base actually makes for my favourite party season nail look this year, and so far the one I've been sporting the most!. I absolutely love the texture of the glitter and think the two nail varnishes compliment each other perfectly.



Elegant House, House of Ho Ho Ho - Avalanche & Xmas Xcess
I recently attended the East Midlands Bloggers Christmas Meetup and Elegant Touch were kind enough to gift us East Mids bloggers with a selection of their Christmas themed acrylics. I had actually never worn acrylics before, but it's something that I've wanted to delve into for a while and found these really easy to apply and to wear. The two sets that I received provide really fun nail looks for the Christmas period!



What is your favourite nail look for the party season?

Amani x

Party Season Nail Favourites

16 Dec 2015

Nottingham fog

Uni selfie, Happy selfie

Traffic in the rain, Antler chandelier 

Colourful shots, Gingerbread lipbalm

       
Christmas tree, Skirt and tights

Nottingham Christmas lights

       
Christmas lights, Takeaway

 Lucky Charms, Flowers for me


Amani x

November '15 In Pictures

4 Dec 2015



It's that time of year again when many of us find ourselves craving hot and cosy drinks - so this year I thought I'd experiment with making home made hot chocolate! As I was extremely happy with how it turned out (it tasted amazing!) I thought I'd share the recipe for others to try out as well. 



Ingredients (To serve 2):

- 300ml milk

- 70ml double cream

- 50g milk chocolate pieces (can be replaced with dark chocolate for a less sweet taste)

- Pack of mini marshmallows



Directions:

- Empty the milk, double cream and chocolate pieces into empty pan 

- Simmer on a high heat over stove and stir ingredients with a fork

- Keep stirring until the chocolate pieces have fully melted and all the ingredients have mixed together into a single consistency 

- Carefully pour the hot chocolate into your mug(s)

- Topple as many mini marshmallows as you wish into the mug(s) on top of the hot chocolate

- Serve immediately and enjoy!


I hope you enjoyed this recipe and please let me know if you try it out yourself!


Amani x

Indulgent Hot Chocolate Recipe (Easy)

30 Nov 2015


Designs by IO are a brand who offer an array of cute and trendy digital prints for the home. Their vast selection of prints include quotes, artwork, seasonal designs and children's prints. After making a purchase on their site you are able to download your print immediately and then print it out yourself in any size that you desire. You are also able to print it out as many times as you wish. With prices starting from £1.50 per print, Designs by IO are perfect for anyone wanting to add more character and personality to their home for an affordable price!


With their website having been launched just this weekend I was excited to get my hands on one of their products. I opted for their set of Nautical prints as they fitted in perfectly with the theme of my bedroom, and I'm really pleased with how they look in my room. I stuck them directly onto my wall but may have them framed in the future for a more polished look.


They have also added a lovely Christmas range which will help add some festivity to your home - and will also sort out any dilemmas as to what to buy your workmate as Secret Santa!


Designs by IO were kind enough to give away one of their prints to a selected winner for free - so if you enter the giveaway (through the form at the bottom of this post) you will have the chance to win a print of your choosing from their website! 


Term of conditions: The winner will be chosen at random on the 2nd of December, once the competition has been closed. The winner will be notified by email and will then be contacted by Designs by IO to discuss their chosen print, which they will then receive straight away. If the winner does not respond within 2 weeks another winner will be chosen at random. Note: you must have access to a printer to enter this giveaway as the product is sent out digitally and thus needs to be printed out. 



Good luck!



Amani x

Digital Prints from Designs By IO | Review & GIVEAWAY

22 Nov 2015


Thank you so much to the lovely Pao from Pao Loves Fashion who kindly nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award!


The Versatile Blogger Award rules:

 1. Thank the person who gave you this award and include a link to their blog
 2. Write out 7 facts about yourself
3. Nominate up to 10 blogs of your choosing for The Versatile Blogger Award


7 Facts About Me

1. Spiders are my biggest phobia
2. I love cake, my favourite is chocolate cake with vanilla icing 
3. Petrol is my favourite smell
4. Summer is my least favourite season 
5. I have about 200 books on my shelf and I only started reading a lot a couple years ago, so I'm expecting that to grow!
6. Black is my favourite colour to wear, but baby pink is my favourite colour for homeware
7. The Dark Knight is one of my favourite films and I saw it in the cinema 11 times


My Nominations:



Hope you enjoyed my facts and checking out the blogs that I've nominated!


Amani x

Versatile Blogger Award Nomination

16 Nov 2015


Sunset, First Lecture of the year

                                                             Manning Freshers Fair stall


Sunset at Hockley Hustle, Sprinkle of Glitter book signing 

Sprinkle of Glitter book signing, Train ride to Sheffield

Stormy weather in Sheffield

Dan and Phil at the Sheffield City Hall

Autumn walk to campus, Autumn selfie 

Autmun walk to campus 

Autumn leaves out the window in London, Selfie

Gran's 70th birthday, Halloween sweets

Giant poppy in Kings Cross Station, Velma Halloween selfie


Amani x

October '15 In Pictures

4 Nov 2015

         

One common misconception about mental illness is that it exists only in someone's mind. In some cases a mental illness can primarily manifest in such a way (which in no way makes the illness any less crippling). But often mental illness manifests itself physically, sometimes with the only thing mental being the root cause (or a mental reaction to the root cause).

What prompted me to write this post was that I had a terrible panic attack a few nights ago. I hadn't had a full blown panic attack for at least a year or two, and it seems to be in the nature of them that you forget how bad they actually are until you're experiencing one. So I was in for (even more of) a shock.

I woke up bolt right, already in a panic. In hindsight I believe the reason for this was that I was breathing incorrectly in my sleep. My heart was going so extremely fast that it almost sounded like one long beat. When I touched my chest in an attempt to calm down my heart rate I could feel that the area of veins around my jugular notch was violently moving outwards with every rapid beat. I tried to calmly tell myself that in order for the rapid beating to stop I had to realise that I was safe and that what I was experiencing was just anxiety. But then what really scared me was that even once I had managed to calm myself down the extreme heart palpitations did not stop. It felt like my heart now had a mind of it's own and I had no control over it. I couldn't fathom how my heart could continue to beat at such an alarming rate with such vigour without just stopping. I truly thought that my heart was about to fail and that I was a moment away from dying (this of course does not happen from just a panic attack, but a panic attack can mimic a heart attack, so in the moment it's hard to tell the difference).

Thankfully my heart soon began to slow down to a more regular pace. But as a result of the high anxiety my arms started to go numb and my fingers were stiffening and were beginning to curl inwards - I was starting to lose function of them. The numbing sensation in my arms also spread to other parts of my body (my body was aching for days after as a result). I actually started to get my phone ready to call an ambulance as I was worried that I was having a stroke or indeed a heart attack, and I didn't want to lose full control of my hands/the rest of my body before being able to dial emergency services. All these symptoms are common after you experience extreme panic but even when you know that can still be very scary when you're actually experiencing them. I spent the next half an hour lying down with my phone in my hand trying to calm down and assure myself it was just anxiety and that the symptoms would soon pass. But of course it's hard trying to calm yourself down when the nature of anxiety is to make you worry. Anxiety/panic is your body reacting to a perceived danger which it is trying to draw your attention to.

Depression is also something that can manifest itself physically - as well as mentally - in many ways. For example, the last time I had a bout of severe depression I was so fatigued that my bones felt as if they were physically weighing me down, which ,made it very difficult for me to do simple activities such as even getting up to walk to the next room. Other physical manifestations of mental illnesses can include loss of appetite, light-headedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, stabbing pains, change in speech, disturbed menstrual cycle, change in blood pressure, change in blood oxygen levels and more. It is also possible to experience any or more of these physical complaints without realising that they are actually caused by an underlying mental illness.

If you think that you could have a mental illness, or have any physical complaints that you don't know the cause of, it is important that you see your doctor.


Have you ever experienced major physical symptoms as a result of mental illness?

Amani x

Mental Illness Isn't Always Mental

3 Nov 2015

A few months ago I purchased Plum Paper's monthly planner from their Etsy store. And as we're now coming to the end of the year, a time where many people will be considering purchasing a new planner for 2016, I thought this would be a great time to review the product!

Firstly, when you go to Plum Paper's store to make your purchase you are met with a load of options as to how you would like your planner to look. There are dozens of unique cover designs to choose from, all including a space for your name to be added. Some cover designs also include a logo that will made up of your initials, or a place for a photo of your choice. I settled with this dark purple, dandelion cover design, with just my name at the bottom.



You also have a choice of 4 options as to how your day-to-day planner pages will be set out. Options include columns being divided up into hourly segments, or being separated into blocks pertaining to morning, afternoon, evening. I chose one of the options that excluded any time restrictions for more freedom, as I don't necessarily have a set time for things I need to do in the day. 

Personalisation options are easily selected before checkout. 



Something that's very handy is that you can choose what month your planner will start in, meaning you can make your purchase at any time of the year but still get a full 12 month planner. When choosing your starting month bear in mind that processing takes a few weeks. And if you are not in the US it can take 6-8 weeks for you to receive your planner. 



Above is an example of how I use my planner. Note: I have a dysfunctional breathing condition meaning that I have to do at least three breathing exercises per day, hence having to remind myself to breathe! The check-list boxes at the bottom of the page come in handy for little things like that. 

         

Notice how each month is colour coded!

 

There are many other features through the planner, meeting pretty much all possible organisation needs. There are pages set aside for notes that come before and after each month, pages dedicated to noting down passwords, spaces for contacts, yearly calenders, a space to write down special dates for each month and more. The shop also allows you to purchase extra add-ons such as to-do lists, a bill tracker, extra notes pages and even pages for blog planning! 

The planner I bought is their regular planner, but they also sell student planners, family planners, fitness planners and more. 



I fell in love with this planner as soon as it arrived and I'm still loving it months down the line. It has proved to be a very neat, practical and satisfying way to organise my life, whilst also being pretty to look at and small and light enough to carry around in my bag without hassle!


Amani x

Plum Paper Planner Review

27 Oct 2015


I suffer from anxiety. My anxiety manifests itself in many aspects of my life, so it’s not a surprise that I would also have social anxiety on top of everything else. But though I’ve never managed to identify the root cause of my general anxiety, I can recognise the reasons why I have social anxiety.

During my late childhood and most of my teenage years I didn’t quite fit in. There were many occasions where both my peers and even total strangers would call me “weird”, “ugly”, “annoying”, and even much worse. I was made to feel inferior and ‘different’, and like I was someone whose company wasn’t worth having. From the age of sixteen I stopped being as negatively received, but as these experiences were so prevalent in my formative years, the beliefs that I had about myself as a result of how others had received me didn’t dissipate, and still haven’t.

I’m now in my mid-twenties (*has existential crisis*) and when I meet new people around 8 out of 10 times I convince myself that they automatically don’t like me. It isn’t even a worry that they may not like me, in my head it’s a 100% fact. I believe they find me “weird”, “ugly”, “annoying”. The vast majority of times I’m proven wrong, but that only confuses me and makes me not trust my own mind. And despite the fact I may be proved wrong in many cases my initial beliefs will have already left me withdrawn and cautious. Thinking that new people you meet do not like you leaves you with a huge lack of confidence which doesn’t just disappear when someone is nice to you. I still worry that people will learn not to like me. My reaction to this mind-set is usually to stay quiet and keep to myself and become what a lot of people would call ‘shy’. But it only adds to the vicious circle. Because I retreat within myself so much and speak very little due to my fears of how I'm being received, I then worry that people think I’m boring and not worth hanging around with. I know my personality is far from boring but I’m not confident enough to even begin to show it to many people. There are times when I am fully myself in social situations, but it’s not consistent (which I think confuses people). For example, I could be having a conversation with two people I’m confident around and if a third person who I haven’t reached that level of comfort with enters the conversation I will retreat again. And the fact that I’ve become quiet will make me feel even worse about myself and confirm to me that I’m socially inept in comparison to others or that I'm being boring and my confidence will dip again.  I do have some good friends who I feel fully comfortable with and don’t feel socially anxious around. There are also acquaintances and strangers I meet whom I also feel comfortable with and don’t have any issues of shyness or anxiety with. But I don’t know how to extend that feeling of ease to all people.

The reason that I’ve felt prompted to write this blog post now is that I feel that over the last year or so my social anxiety has been getting a lot worse. There are some reasons for this which I can identify. One is due to recently being out of action for a year due to illness; it left me with a knocked confidence and new apprehensions. Another is (more recently) being in a phase where I’m not confident with my physical appearance (something I struggle with on and off). Since people have outright called me ugly in my past, feeling it definitely does not make me exude confidence around others, as I think they’re thinking the same thing. In the last year I've also started tripping up on my words a lot. I had no clue why, until I read up on it and discovered it was a symptom of anxiety. This contributes to me not wanting to talk unless I’m fully comfortable and adds to my typical socially anxious trait of fear of embarrassment and saying the wrong thing.

It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I don’t have a voice any more. It's lonely and it's isolating and I want it to change. 

I’m sorry that this post is a mess. One of the aims of this blog is to help others, and I have posts lined up in the future that hold tips on how to manage general anxiety and panic attacks. But unfortunately social anxiety is something I don’t know how to overcome. Not yet. I wrote all this because I needed to get it out. But I also hope it might help people to stop and consider what could be going on behind the scenes of someone who appears to be quiet on the outside. And maybe there will also be people reading this that can relate to what I’m saying and find some value in it.



Amani x

My Social Anxiety

17 Oct 2015

Gifts upon exam results, Gryffindor socks

Sunflowers in the street, Pizza night

Front garden roses in Hampstead, Home made Oreo cheesecake

View from my window, Black and white selfie

Houses in Hampstead, Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

Early birthday celebrations 

Early birthday celebrations 

Kings Cross station

Keys to new flat, Drive through Nottingham

My 24th birthday

My 24th birthday, Dan and Phil are coming to Nottingham

Post-picnic selfie, Nottingham at night

Nottingham at twilight 


Amani x

September '15 In Pictures

3 Oct 2015

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