Life, Music

12 songs from my emo years

May 28, 2015

Recently, I’ve been rediscovering bands and songs I used to love as a teenager, so I thought it would be fun to share 12 of my favourites. 

I was an “emo kid”, despite my protests at the time that I wasn’t, so some of these songs will probably come as no surprise at all if we have similar music tastes. 

 

Good Charlotte – Girls & Boys 

This album is the whole reason I ended up becoming an “emo kid”. When I started senior school, I rapidly became best friends with a girl with an awesome music taste, and this was the first album she recommended to me. 

I grew up listening to Def Leppard, and glam rock, so Good Charlotte were probably my first experience of (then) modern rock. 

 

My Chemical Romance – Helena

What list of emo songs would be complete without a nod to My Chemical Romance? I don’t even need to say anymore about this. 

My Mum even made me a Helena-style dress, because that’s how cool she is. 

 

Panic! At The Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies 

Oh, these guys were the masters of incredibly long and passive aggressive song titles. 

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was, and still is, a fantastic album. But much like my feelings towards The Killers, I only loved their first album. But boy, did I play this to death. 

 

Fall Out Boy – Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying 

Fall Out Boy are also well-versed in incredibly long titles. 

It’s going to sound incredibly “emo” of me when I say “these guys saved my life”, but there were honestly nights where I felt it was true. 

My OCD was particularly tough to deal with with I was a teenager, which was probably made harder as I didn’t tell anyone. But Fall Out Boy’s bassist was vocal about his struggles with mental illness, and I think that was probably the first time I’d seen a musician talk about it, so the lyrics and music were really helpful to me. 

From Under the Cork Tree is still one of my favourite albums to this day, I just wish I felt the same way about their new music. *Weeps* 

 

Fightstar – Paint Your Target 

I was skeptical of Charlie Simpson’s foray into rock, but as soon as I heard this, I fell in love with Fightstar. They featured heavily in my music taste in my teenage years, and I’m so glad they’re back together and working on new music. 

 

Mindless Self Indulgence – Shut Me Up 

I had completely forgotten about these guys until I checked out my Last.fm to see what some of my most played songs were. 

They’re a lot of noise, and daft sound effects, but they’re so fun. One of my friends introduced me to them and I loved them right away. We went to see them live the next year, and it was one of the funnest gigs I’ve ever been to. 

I’ll give you a gold star if you can make it to the end of this video! 

 

Paramore – Misery Business 

This video came out at exactly the right time for me. It came out just as I was becoming obsessed with colouring my hair, and I spent the summer this came out with my hair looking like Hayley’s does in this video. It is still my favourite ever ‘hair era’. (Yes, my hair has eras.) 

 

Alexisonfire – Rough Hands

Oh I love this song so much. It’s one of those songs where you can really feel the emotion behind every single word. 

I wish I could have seen Alexisonfire live. They’re reforming to do a few shows over the summer, including Reading & Leeds, but a £60 ticket just to see one band seems like a lot, especially when I don’t like the headliner on that day. 

 

Mayday Parade – I’d Hate To Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About 

In case you haven’t noticed, super long and passive-aggressive song titles were all the rage back in the day. Are they now? I don’t know. I’m out of touch with new rock music, it’s all about country in these ears right now. 

Mayday Parade were one of my favourite bands that I never got to see live. They had two singers back when I first discovered them, and it worked so darn well. One of them left and, despite their efforts, it was never the same for me. The emotion was lacking, so I like to just pretend they no longer exist. 

 

The Blackout – Go Burn City Hall To The Ground 

The Blackout supported Lostprophets the first time I saw them back when I was about 14 years old. I think they’d only released a few songs at that point, and I spent months listening to those songs over and over until they released The Beijing Cocktail. 

I am still truly gutted that The Blackout have split up. IT’S JUST NOT FAIR! 

 

Lostprophets – Last Summer 

Oh man, I don’t know how I feel about posting this, because of the whole disgusting lead singer thing. I’m not even saying his name, but does what he did change their music and mean I shouldn’t enjoy it anymore? I don’t know. 

What I do know is that Last Summer was one of my favourite songs ever. Whenever I listen to it, I’m taken back to being in my early teens, in my room on a hot evening, surfing MySpace. Because, what else would I be doing? It makes me feel so, so nostalgic. 

 

You Me At Six – Save It For The Bedroom 

It took me a while to warm up to these guys, but when I saw that the video for this song was a mickey-take of The Jeremy Kyle Show, I couldn’t ignore them anymore. 

Their passive-aggressive songs were also particularly useful as angsty MSN names, remember those? 

It’s nice to see how far YM@6 have come since their first album, and it’s always fun to be able to say “Oh, I liked them back when…” because you feel like being a bit of a hipster. 

 

What were some of your favourite songs as a teenager? 

food, Recipe

How to make strawberry basil lemonade

May 27, 2015

How to make strawberry basil lemonade

Here in England, we occasionally get warm days that leave you wanting to sit in the garden, talking, and drinking something refreshing. Strawberry basil lemonade is exactly the drink you’re looking for on those days.

I first discovered strawberry basil lemonade at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh. I’m not a fan of fizzy lemonade so I’d not had it in years, but there was something about the idea of strawberry and basil lemonade that piqued my interest.

Since coming back from Edinburgh at the start of the year, I’ve been saying I wanted to make it and with a little bit of warm weather, I found myself craving it. 

My recipe is bitter because that’s the way I like it, but if you want it sweeter, just add more sugar. 

I’m going to walk you through it step by step with photos, but if you scroll further down you’ll find a recipe card.

Quartered lemons

1. Cut your lemons into quarters. You can remove the pips if you want, but it doesn’t really matter as you’ll be sieving it anyway. 

Lemons, water, and sugar

2. Put the lemons and sugar into the blender, and add 1 / 4 litre of water.

Lemonade in blender

3. Blend until the lemons have been reduced to mush, add another 1 / 4 litre of water, and blend for another few seconds. You may need to place your hand, or a towel, over the lid of your blender if the water is likely to escape. 

4. Taste it at this point. Though you will be diluting it in a bit, you should be able to figure out whether it’s way to bitter for your liking. If it is, add more sugar. 

Lemonade mulch

5. Pour the mixture through a sieve and press the mulch with a spoon to get as much lemonade out as possible. 

Homemade lemonade

6. Add the remaining 1 / 2 litre of water to the lemonade, and mix. 

Strawberry and basil in a blender

7. Cut up 1 and a half cups of strawberries, and put them in the blender, along with half a cup of basil leaves, and blend. You don’t need to press the basil leaves down in the cup, just throw them in. 

8. Pour the strawberry and basil mixture to your lemonade and stir. 

Homemade strawberry and basil lemonade

9. Serve with ice, a strawberry on the side of the glass, and a few basil leaves. Enjoy in the garden on a warm afternoon with good company, or a good book. 

Strawberry basil lemonade

Strawberry basil lemonade
A delicious, refreshing strawberry basil lemonade, which is perfect for lazy summer afternoons in the garden.
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
605 calories
150 g
0 g
5 g
22 g
2 g
723 g
64 g
90 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
723g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 605
Calories from Fat 39
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 64mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 150g
50%
Dietary Fiber 41g
163%
Sugars 90g
Protein 22g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
549%
Calcium
173%
Iron
375%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3 unwaxed lemons
  2. 1/3 cup of sugar (this is fairly bitter, so use more if you want it to be sweet)
  3. 1 litre
  4. 2 cups of strawberries (1 1/2 cups for the lemonade, the other 1/2 for decoration)
  5. 1 cup of basil leaves (not pressed down, just thrown in the cup)
Instructions
  1. 1. Quarter three lemons. You can remove the pips if you want, but as you'll be sieving them it doesn't really matter.
  2. 2. Put chopped lemons and 1/3 sugar in the blender, and pour in 1/4 litre of water.
  3. 3. Blend for a few seconds. Once the lemons have been reduced to mush, add another 1/4 litre of water.
  4. 4. It's worth tasting it at this point. Though you're going to dilute it with the remaining 1/2 litre of water, you can get a good idea of whether it's too bitter or not. If it is, add more sugar.
  5. 5. Pour the mixture through a sieve and press the remaining mulch down with a spoon to get as much lemonade as possible.
  6. 6. Add the remaining 1/2 litre of water to the lemonade and mix.
  7. 7. Cut up 1 and a half cups of strawberries and put them in the blender, along with half a cup of basil leaves, and blend.
  8. 8. Add the strawberry and basil mixture to your lemonade and stir.
  9. 9. Serve with ice, a strawberry on the edge of the glass, and a few basil leaves. Enjoy in the garden, with a BBQ, and a good book.
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calories
605
fat
5g
protein
22g
carbs
150g
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Have you ever tried strawberry basil lemonade?

books

The Heir – Kiera Cass – review & is it just a cash cow?

May 26, 2015

Reading The Heir by Kiera Cass

I loved The Selection trilogy; it wasn’t perfect, but it was really fun. When the trilogy ended I was sad, and wanted to know more, but when I heard there would be more books I was wary that it might just be a cash cow. 

Nevertheless, I pre-ordered The Heir as soon as I could. 

This review will contain spoilers about what happened in the first three Selection books, so don’t read ahead if you don’t want to know.  Continue Reading…

The Heir Book Cover The Heir
The Selection
Kiera Cass
Young adult, romance
Harper Teen
May 5th, 2015

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Photography, Scotland, travel

Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

May 25, 2015

Urquhart Castle

I’ve wanted to go to Loch Ness since I was a little kid. The whole idea of ‘Nessy’ is something that captivated me since I was a kid. 

The loch was a good three hours away from where we were staying, a journey that was made even longer by a car we followed for about 40 minutes who insisted upon driving at 30mph in a 60 zone, for no reason.

Loch Ness Forecasting StoneJacobite Loch Ness cruise boat

To my surprise, there aren’t many places that you can get down to the shores of Loch Ness. We decided to do a boat trip around the loch, and to Urquhart Castle to see more of the loch, and because we’re all big castle fans. 

There are a few points you can get cruises around Loch Ness from. Out of interest, we went on the Jacobite Freedom, The Clansmen and the Castle from Clansman Harbour. 

As we set off towards the castle, we could see big grey clouds ahead. Thankfully, the changeable Scottish weather was kind to us, and it cleared up.

Rain clouds over Loch NessLoch Ness from a Jacobite boatNo puffin

We stepped off the boat to glorious sunshine and blue skies. Oh, and a trebuchet, which instantly caught Tom’s attention. He loves trebuchets and wants to build one of his own. Urquhart Castle from Loch NessUrquhart CastleUrquhart CastleTrebuchet Urquhart Castle

The ruins of the castle were beautiful, and I can only imagine how stunning it must have been when it was in it’s full glory, perched at the edge of Loch Ness. It must have been quite a sight. 

The main tower had been renovated a little so that you could climb it and take in the views. 

Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle arrow slit

Something that always amazes me about castles is how ridiculously tiny, tight and uneven the staircases are. It must have been awful to try and climb up and down those stairs all the time, especially in the dark when you might have been carrying a candle or a light to see by. Or perhaps, we’re just used to nice, wide, even staircases? Maybe it was a piece of cake.

As we headed back on the boat, I had a good look for Nessie but I couldn’t see her. However, I did begin to understand why people might have thought they saw things. The loch is so deep, and the water is dark, so I can imagine how the waves might play tricks on the eyes. 

Visiting Loch Ness was a childhood dream come true, and I’d love to go back again. I’m sure I’ll watch Nessie documentaries with even more excitement knowing I’ve been there now. 

Have you ever been to Loch Ness? 

beauty, haircare, Product wars

Product Wars: LUSH Veganese vs LUSH American Cream

May 21, 2015

Product wars: LUSH Veganese vs LUSH American Cream

Product Wars is going to be a new series where I pit two similar products against each other to see what worked best for me. A bit of an English essay style “compare and contrast”. 

For the first instalment of Product Wars, I’m comparing two LUSH conditioners to each other: Veganese and American Cream. 

Performance 

LUSH say that both of these conditioners are lightweight, and I do agree with that. Neither of them feel like super thick conditioners, but Veganese has a thinner consistency, and a little goes a long way. They both apply easily and neither of them make your hair feel greasy or weighed down. 

Both conditioners do a brilliant job of making your hair feel silky smooth, so much so that I couldn’t choose which one is better. 

Scent 

American Cream is supposed to smell of strawberry milkshake, but I’m not really picking up on a strawberry scent. To me, it smells more like vanilla milkshake. The scent seems to last a long time as well, my hair smells nice the day after washing, which isn’t something I’ve experienced with a conditioner before. 

The scent of Veganese is harder to describe though. It just smells fresh to me. 

Price

There’s no denying that LUSH conditioners aren’t cheap. A 100g bottle costs £4.50, a 250g bottle is £8.95, and the 500g bottle is £14.25. Not super cheap, but I guess it depends on how often you need to wash your hair. 

I acquired my 250g bottles of both about 4 – 5 months ago, and I’ve been swapping between both and I’ve got about a quarter left in each. So for me, they do last a while and I feel they’re worth it considering how nice they make my hair feel. 

The verdict

Well I suppose this is a slightly disappointing outcome for the first Product Wars, because both of them perform exactly the same. For me, Veganese has the edge though because it is vegan, while American Cream isn’t. 

Have you tried either of these conditioners? 

 

Life, Outfit, Photography

A picnic in the ‘Secret Forest’ & OohLaLaSpring with Joules

May 20, 2015

It’s finally happened; I’m doing an outfit post. I’ve wanted to do one for a while and a picnic in the ‘secret forest’, proved to be the perfect location. 

A few weeks ago, Joules got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to take part in their Spring #OohLaLaSpring campaign. I jumped at the chance and Tom happily agreed to the idea of getting to play with his new camera and eat food outside.

We packed our picnic rucksack full of tasty goodies and headed off to the ‘secret forest‘. 

George's Hayes

We found the ideal spot amongst the tree stumps and I opened the picnic blanket as soon as possible. Did you ever play “the floor is lava” as a child? Yeah? Well that’s what me on a picnic blanket in the middle of a forest looks like. 

I have a fear of things I cannot see, and grass / plants that are a couple of inches high are excellent places for snakes to hide. At least, it is in my head. 

Once the picnic blanket / serpent banisher was on the ground, it was time to whip out the food. We don’t mess around. 

The rucksack comes with everything you could possibly need for a picnic, apart from the actual food. It even has a place for you to keep your wine cool, which we severely underused with a bottle of Ribena. #LivinItUp. It was really comfortable to carry, and I think I could have fit my camera in there too, which makes it ideal for me on one of our day-long camera adventures. 

Hampers look beautiful and fancy, but they’re impractical for walking with and there’s no way I could carry one around all day. 

Can we also take a moment to appreciate the fact that a matching dress, picnic blanket, and rucksack makes me look like I’ve got my stuff together for the first time ever? 

Things have been hectic for Tom and me for the past few weeks; he’s been working nights and I’ve been busy with general stuff, so the picnic was more in order than I realised. 

The ‘secret forest’ was so quiet that as soon as we sat down and started eating, I felt lighter. Of course, I mean that metaphorically given the amount of hummus and cake I went on to eat. 

You could be anywhere in the world in that forest, and it’s nice to feel like you’re the only people in the world every now and then. And it feels even better when you feel like the only person in the world wearing a darn pretty summery dress. 
Reading in a forest

Then came outfit post time. I have a reputation with myself for being hopelessly awkward in front of a camera. Think Chandler from Friends in front of a camera. I can’t help it, I blink as the shutter closes and my face does things I didn’t know it could do. 

But you know what? The outfit shoot turned out to be much more fun than I expected. It was a little awkward to start with as I gave Tom a list of what kind of shots I needed and it got a little easier. 

My directorship (is that the right word?) obviously worked fairly well because I’m really happy with these photos. 

And last but not least, the dress. The dress. It’s not the kind of style I normally wear, which is partly which I picked it. I love the colour, the pattern, and the style. It’s really comfortable, and it has pockets! I have instant love for dresses with pockets because being without pockets is so impractical! 

Yes, there’s a good chance I picked up a stick and decided it was a wand. 

All in all: we has a fun time, my dress was beautiful, the rucksack was perfect, the blanket protected me from snakes, food in a forest is fun, and Tom will be asked to take more photos from now on, muahaha. 

Wearing 

Joules floral dress in Opal Blue Blossom* // Joules Picnic Rucksack in Chocolate Blossom* // Joules Fold and Carry Picnic Blanket in Chocolate Blossom* // New Look ballet flats (Super old) // M&S black cardigan (Even more ancient) //

* The items were provided by Joules for the purpose of this adventure. 

Special thanks to Tom also, for being a photography wizard. 

When was the last time you went on a picnic? 

Photography, Scotland, travel

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

May 19, 2015

Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery

I must confess, I’m not a whiskey fan. I adore the smell of whiskey, but the taste? Nope. If it tasted the same as it smells, I would love it, but I’m not a fan of the burny taste. 

My Mum and Tom are big whiskey fans though, so when we decided to go to Scotland the Glenfiddich Distillery tour was at the top of the list. 

Glenfiddich Washback

Glenfiddich Underback

The tour was really interesting, but the best bit for me was the smell. As we walked through the first building, the delicious smell of whiskey got stronger and stronger. I was practically salivating. 

Whiskey always reminds me of cosy nights by a log fire. Which is interesting because I’ve never drunk whiskey by a log fire, but that’s just the image it conjures up in my mind. 

We were taken into a couple of the storage rooms, where we heard about the barrelling process, and how they experiment with new flavours. I felt pretty old when I saw barrels of whiskey that were barrelled the same year I was born.

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos in there, which is a shame because they would have made fantastic photos. But I guess you have to go for yourself to see what they look like! 

Glenfiddich tasting

Glenfiddich whiskey tasting

The best part for my Mum and Tom was the tasting session. I was driving so I couldn’t take part in the tasting, but I was only really interested in the sniffing. 

We were given four different whiskeys, a 12 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old, and 18 year old. They all sniffed amazing to me. Apparently they all tasted incredibly nice also. 

The Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery

The Glenfiddich Distillery

I’ve been on a couple of brewery tours before (including the Guinness one I posted about here), but neither of them had grounds as pretty as the Glenfiddich Distillery. We didn’t go to any other distilleries, but we saw a few on our rounds and they all appear to surrounded by beautiful scenery. 

While we’re talking about fancy and grand, the toilets. The toilets. The toilets, wow. I have never been in a bathroom so grand in my entire life. The bathroom had a waiting area with a logfire and ARMCHAIRS! WHAT EVEN?!

Glenfiddich Distillery fancy bathrooms

Have I been using bathrooms wrong my entire life? Because I have never needed to sit in front of a logfire before or after going to the toilet. 

Looking at these photos makes me want to go back to Scotland *sobs*. 

Have you ever been on a distillery or brewery tour? Have you ever needed to sit in front of a logfire in a bathroom?