30 Jun 2015

Simple, Healthy Smoothie Recipe To Get You Through The Hot Summer

It's currently hot in the UK. Very hot. And I'm not someone who does well in heat. And to emphasize this point, I've so far handled the mini heatwave by refusing to go out, but instead sitting at home directly in front of the fan all day (not to mention the constant complaining). But amidst this unbearable heat I've found some relief; by making myself ice cold smoothies. Not only do they taste surprisingly great, but they also leave me cooled from the inside out. And suddenly the hot summer isn't so bad! So I thought I'd pass on the joy by sharing this little recipe I've come up with (my own take on the classic strawberry & banana smoothie) for anyone else wanting some refuge from the summer heat.

Here's what you'll need (to serve one)

- 1/4 cup of cold water
- 1/4 cup of coconut milk (can be replaced with cow's milk or soy milk)
- 7 small, or 4-5 large, strawberries
- 2 chopped and peeled bananas
- 5-6 ice cubes
- A blender


- Empty all ingredients into blender and then blend at a high power (with the lid firmly shut!)
- Blend for at least one minute, to ensure no large fruit chunks will be found.

And that's it! Your smoothie is now done and ready to be served. With the absence of any trendy upcycled mason jars I chose to serve my smoothie in a tall drinking glass, with a pink straw and whole strawberry for added effect. But feel free to be creative in your presentation.

Please let me know if you decide to make this smoothie, or have any of your own concoctions that you'd like to share! I myself am planing to experiment more with my smoothie making as the summer progresses.

Amani x

23 Jun 2015

UK Paper Towns Movie Q&A and Paper Towns 20 Minute Clip Review

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend the official UK Paper Towns movie Q&A in London’s Leicester Square. The event was advertised as a Q&A with author John Green, along with a few surprises. As John Green is one of my favourite novelists – having also written both The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, both of which are favourite books of mine- I was very excited to be able to witness him answering questions regarding his book Paper Towns and it’s film adaptation, along with whatever else the evening had in store.

As I made my way into the extravagant Leicester Square cinema - which has hosted many a blockbuster film premier – I was pleasantly surprised to find that the seats were lined with complimentary copies of The Fault in Our Stars, along with free bottles of water. As soon as the event began the first surprise of the night was immediately unveiled; Youtube duo Dan and Phil were to be hosting the Q&A (it took me about 15 minutes to recover from this as they are my favourite Youtubers). Within minutes they introduced John Green himself to the stage, who then announced that to start the evening we would be privy to an exclusive 20 minute clip of the film. Now, Paper Towns is not my favourite John Green novel, but nonetheless I’d been anticipating what the film adaptation had in store since it was announced. So being about to watch 20 minutes of the film – which turned out to be one of the most pivotal parts of the story – I was finally about to find out. And I was far from disappointed. All John Green fans will remember with fondness the segment near the start of Paper Towns the novel where Margo climbs in through Q’s window, and the rest of the events that unfold that night. And whilst watching those very scenes play out it was clear that a better job in adapting them onto the big screen couldn’t have been done. Nat Wolff (who also appears in the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars) and model turn actress Cara Delevingne make perfect sense in their respective roles as the awkward, love-struck teen and the unattainable and destructive high school love interest. The scenes played out almost exactly how I had envisioned them in my head when originally reading the book, but now with entrancing cinematography and a poignant soundtrack to boot. And as the screen turned to black the clip was met with a wild applause as John Green, Dan and Phil made their way back on stage, now ready for the Q&A segment to begin.

The Q&A consisted of Dan and Phil reading out pre-selected questions from Twitter users and audience members alike, and rallying them to John Green. Green delivered his answers with humbleness and humour throughout, whilst also offering substantial insight into both his writing process and his thoughts on the film. He provided in-depth answers to each question, revealing the thought process behind his storytelling style, the significance of the entomology behind his character names, and disclosing the scenes in the film he’s most excited for audiences to see come to life (the 20 minute clip the audience had just seen being one of them), and much more. When asked about why he had wanted Nat Wolff to play the role of Q, Green took the opportunity to introduce Nat Wolff himself to the stage to give his own input - his unexpected appearance getting the biggest cheer of the night. Cara Delevingne also surprised the audience (and John Green himself) by joining the stage for the last 10 minutes of the Q&A. Both cast members added their own thoughts and observations on the story and their characters; Nat revealed that Paper Towns was by far his favourite John Green novel, while Cara expressed the desire to both befriend and have a go at her own character, Margo.

I left the cinema feeling privileged at having the chance to be in the same room as one of my favourite writers and two of my favourite entertainers, and also to be able to learn more about the Paper Towns movie straight from the leading cast members themselves. I now eagerly await being able to watch the film in its entirety when it reaches UK cinemas, and to see yet another one of John Green’s imaginings come to life on the big screen.

Paper Town will hit cinemas on the 21st of August in the UK, and the 31st of July in the US. 


16 Jun 2015

Having Mental Illness Means You're Strong

I have a history of mental illness, namely anxiety and depression. A lot of my friends also have, or have had, mental illness. Seeing as I started particularly early with the whole mental illness thing, my friends have often come to me for advice when they've started to go through it themselves - as they know I've been there too and have learnt a lot from my experiences over the years. When listening to them offload about their respective mental health issues a reoccurring comment often comes up; ‘I feel so weak for having this issue’. Despite this being a common theme it still surprises me every time I hear it, as I've never felt this way myself, despite the many severe incidents of debilitating mental health that I've had. And I've certainly never thought that way about others with mental illnesses either. In fact, I truthfully have always believed the complete opposite. Having mental illness does not make you’re weak, it means you’re strong. When you have to deal your mind being ill and working against you then everyday can be a struggle, and the fact that you are able to get through those days despite living life on ‘hard’ mode is proof of that strength. Any accomplishment you achieve will mean that much more because everything has been working in favour of you not accomplishing it, but you did it anyway. And those things can be anything from larger accomplishments like completing a degree or going traveling, to simply getting through everyday tasks such as getting out of bed and brushing your teeth, because even those can be a struggle when dealing with an mental health issue.

I'm 23 and am only now coming to the end of my second year of uni. If everything had ran smoothly in my life I should have been in this position three years ago. And one of the main reasons for me being behind is because of having serious bouts of mental illness in my past. But I know that when I finally do graduate it’s going to mean that bit more to me than for those who were able to complete their schooling without major setbacks. And the fact that I’m even still trying, rather than giving up at the first hurdle, makes me proud. I've had friends who have been really upset and embarrassed about falling behind at university because of mental illness. But the fact that they keep getting up and trying again whilst their own minds keep pushing them down is admirable and proof in itself that having to deal with mental illness means being strong.

Even if you find yourself in a situation where you do have to give up on something, you are still not weak. Firstly, I wouldn't call it 'giving up', but instead allowing yourself the chance to recover, and not taking on something that you’re currently not well enough to do. If someone broke their leg before taking part in a marathon they had been planning on participating in would you call them weak for then deciding not to run it because of their injury? No, you wouldn't, because them pulling out would be completely understandable, as running a marathon in their condition just isn't realistic or healthy. And this goes form mental illness too. The best thing to do in a situation where you are not able to continue with something because of your mental health is to try to recover by giving yourself a break from it and getting the best help you can (for example seeing a doctor or therapist). This can then give you the chance to run that metaphoric marathon in the future when you are able. If you find yourself wondering why your peers haven’t ‘given up' whilst you have then remind yourself that they’re not dealing with what you are. Even if they do happen to have a mental illness then remember that everyone’s illnesses vary in severity and manifest themselves differently. Also people often struggle more than anyone can realise by only looking in from the outside.

So if you're reading this and have or have had a mental illness then try and remember not to ever be too hard on yourself. Mental illness is one of the hardest things anyone will go through, and guess what, you've gotten through it this far, and that itself is an accomplishment.

See the following article to find out how to find a nearby therapist: BetterHelp

Amani x

6 Jun 2015

My Favourite Feelings

Last week, Hank Green - from the Youtube channel Vlogbrothers - posted a video with the title ‘15 of My Favourite Feelings’. In the video, as its title suggests, Hank proceeds to list some of his favourite feelings; ranging from feelings derived from little things to more profound things, from feelings widely relatable to ones more unique to him. The video got me considering my own favourite feelings, but also had me wondering why I never really stop to consider my favourite feelings much in the first place. Things that make us feel good are what makes life worth living, so there’s really nothing more essential than stopping to actually appreciate those things and how they make us feel. Also, if we do have a tab on them we can then begin to think about how we can revisit those feelings when possible, by looking at what incites them.

So, off the top of my head, here are 15 of my favourite feelings:

1. When my favourite line comes up in one of my favourite songs and I immerse myself in it

2. Getting a notification from the guy I like

3. Receiving a new book in the mail, especially when the book has great cover art

4. The moment I get to an amazing and unexpected twist in the book/show I’m reading/watching

5.  Finding out the person I like feels the same

6. The moment I’m reunited with family when I return home from university

7. Realising people care more than I had realised

8. When I have the lights out and I’m listening to a song that gives me goosebumps

9. When I’m hanging out with good friends or family and I stop to think ‘I love these people and this is great’

10. When my body is aching after a long day and I finally curl up into bed in the midst of all my bedding and find the most comfortable position conceivable 

11. The comforting feeling when I fall asleep early and can hear the voices of my family in the background whilst I drift off

12. Receiving a good grade at uni

13. Realising that I finally don’t care about something that’s been bothering me for so long

14. The feeling of freedom as I look out onto the open road/track ahead of me whilst travelling to a place I’ve never been before

15. Realising, that in a particular moment, I am happy

To continue the conversation that Hank Green has started, why not compile a list of your favourite feeling? I know I’ll be excited to read about what makes other people feel good!

Watch Hank's video here

Ps. I am back! Stay tuned for regular posts from here on out. 
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