Sunday, 24 June 2012

Scrubbin' Up

I popped into Superdrug yesterday to quickly grab some face products. Seeing that I had a bit of extra time to kill before starting work I ended up having a nosy around and came across these exfoliating body washes from their 'I love...' range. As I was running out of my mini Soap and Glory scrub (a fab product I got as a pressie) I thought I'd give these a try, especially as they were cheap and cheerful at 2 for £2.99 (£2.05 each).

I picked up the raspberry & blackberry and the coconut & cream ones. They also have them in strawberries & milkshake and mango & papaya varieties.

As with all bath products, the scent plays a big part in how nice I find it. The smell is quite subtle and not too overpowering or sweet, which I liked.

I could see through the packaging that it had little exfoliating beads in, rather than the rougher salt-type scrubs, so I assumed it would probably be quite a gentle product, which it turned out to be when I used it. If you're after a product that you could get away with using everyday as an all over shower gel for keeping your skin smooth this would be perfect - it's not too harsh at all so I couldn't imagine it would irritate skin easily.

Personally I prefer products that have a coarser texture - if I'm going to exfoliate I want to actually feel like I have afterwards, otherwise what's the point? I'll still be on the lookout for something else, but this isn't a bad product for the price, so will do to tide me over in the meantime. I'll just have to use it more often!

Have you come across any decent, reasonably priced body scrubs lately, or have a particular one you regularly use?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

"every single night's a fight with my brain..."

This week has been a bit up and down, I'm in that weird sort of place where I'm ready to just go and get on with what's next, but I'm still not quite ready to leave things behind here. I've only got two weeks left of my work placement, it's hard to believe just how quickly this year has gone! After that I'll be moving back to Plymouth for the final year of my degree - part of me is quite excited to get stuck into the academic side of my course again, part of me is definitely not looking forward to the stress of it all.

I've loved this year in Southampton, the city is great and I've been very lucky to have worked with such lovely people while on placement, I have learnt such an incredible amount in all respects. So as much as I'm keen to get on with things, I'm not quite ready to leave just yet.

The things getting me through this week include white chocolate chip cookies, whipped up due to feeling particularly lacklustre by the end of Thursday.

Safe to say I felt much better after having a couple of these squidgy, syrupy cookies with a cup of tea, while listening to Fiona Apple's latest after seven years.

Her album has been available for streaming over on before it's release this week  - if you're a fan of her previous stuff I recommend a listen. It's similar to what she's done before but there are some pretty great songs, my faves at the minute being 'Hot Knife', "Werewolf" and the first single "Every Single Night". The beautifully bizarre video for it can be found here.

A film night was also in order so we went to see Promethesus last night. Now, I only recently watched Alien (yeah, I admit a bit behind!) so I didn't really have any expectations for this film or anything. I thought it was brilliant, even though I didn't really have any idea what was going off, though I get the feeling there isn't actually a reason for all the stuff that goes off (but please enlighten me if there is!). The suspense of the film was very good and Noomi Rapace is brilliant in the lead role. I was looking forward to seeing her performance as I loved her in the Swedish "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

We saw it in 3D which I was initially sceptical about as the last time I saw a 3D version it was rubbish. Promethesus has actually been filmed for 3D though, rather than just edited later, meaning the effect actually adds something, rather than being annoying. And I can totally rock the glasses, haha.

To round off the weekend I made a big pot of chilli. I try and improve this every time I make it - tonight I added a big splodge (technical term) of barbecue sauce and a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder which seems to make the sauce that bit richer and flavourful.

I served it with rice, spinach and a generous topping of mature cheddar - yum!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mocha Cupcakes

I am terrible at making decisions. I'm in my penultimate year of university so it's not really the best time to have this as a trait. Having to attempt to trawl through an avalanche of postgrad courses, graduate schemes and job options over the next year is not going to be easy - and that's after I figure out which area I want to work in in the first place.

On the one hand having a psychology degree means I'll be fairly flexible with the kind of work I can do. On the other this just means they'll be even more choices I'll have to decide from. Which isn't something I'm complaining about - better that than to be limited at this stage - but when you're the type of person who gets caught up with excitement for one idea before swiftly moving onto the next it'd be nice if there was a more obvious path to follow.

I'm no better when it comes to the little things in life, such as recently trying to decide on which cupcakes to bake. I didn't want anything with too much chocolate, too much fruit, any kind of flavour that would overpower the cakes. I finally opted for a light, moist chocolate cupcake to satisfy my cocoa cravings, topped with a smooth coffee butter cream for a different dimension of flavour. Thankfully in this instance I could put everything I fancy into one thing and enjoy the best of both worlds.

While my final year of uni won't be quite such an easy task (and is possibly slightly more important), for now I can sit back knowing I've successfully made one decision and the outcome hasn't been a catastrophe.

And at the very least, I now have cake to help me with all this terribly exhausting thinking.

Mocha Cupcakes

Moist chocolate cupcakes finished with a glossy coffee buttercream and milk chocolate sprinkles smile

Makes 12

For the Cakes:


  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan oven)/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a muffin tray with 12 cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together using a wooden spoon.
  3. Crack the eggs into the bowl one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the syrup.
  4. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and gently fold into the butter mix a third at a time. Add the milk and continue to fold until everything is combined.
  5. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for around 20 minutes until the cakes are risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the Buttercream Icing:


  • 55g butter or margarine
  • 110g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp of boiling water


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the coffee mixture.
  2. Spread the butter cream onto the top of each cooled cake.
  3. Add chocolate sprinkles or any other decorations you fancy.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Stephen King - 'Lisey's Story'

I'm currently reading this book for the second time, after not having read much Stephen King for a while. I went  through a phase a few years back of reading loads of his stuff. I'd read some of his older ones and then got 'Lisey's Story' not long after it came out.

It's slightly different to Stephen King's other books, still with supernatural elements but focusing on the story of a marriage through the eyes of a widow of 2 years. As she begins to clear out her deceased husband's office, finding his work from his days as an author provokes memories of their relationship and of the troubled man that her husband was.

The thing that struck me the most when I first read this book was less the actual story (though it is an enjoyable read) and more how good the writing was, particularly it's consistency. This is something that has disappointed me with previous Stephen King books - a brilliant story that I've been eager to read and find out the ending... and then oh, it's rubbish. For me, some of his endings have never wrapped the story up in a way that I've felt it deserved, and in a way kind of seemed quick and half-hearted, just a way to get the story finished and out of the way.This book ended at what felt the natural place and in a way that felt like this is what the story had been leading to, this is why the other events took place. An explanation for some incidents seemed to lack in some of his previous work.

A lot of his stories have also tended to focus less on one or two particular characters and sometimes more on a town, and the way an event affects different people. Therefore the story would consist of different parts, with a chunk of the story dedicated to a certain character, before switching tactics and focusing on a related but separate group of people ('The Tommyknockers' is a good example that comes to mind of this style). While this does work for the type of story Stephen King is trying to tell with some of his books, it does mean the plot can feel a little drawn out at times. Having one main character who is followed for the length of the book in 'Lisey's Story' helped me engage better with the character and the overall plot, as more empathy is created.

After having read books from different points in Stephen King's career, it is commendable that the quality of his stories has noticeably improved over time: in general his other recent work that I have read has proven to be a better read and I'm looking forward to getting hold of his latest couple when I get chance.

If you're not sure where to start with Stephen King's work, I recommend 'Four Past Midnight' (the first of his that I read consisting of four short stories), 'The Shining' (an obvious classic), 'The Dead Zone', 'The Stand' (very long but worth sticking with) and 'Duma Key'. I've been meaning to try out one of his recent books, 'Under the Dome' next, hopefully worth the wait!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Adventuring Around the New Forest

Before moving to Southampton last year I'd never properly been down to this part of the country, so the whole area was new to me. Almost a year on and we realised due to one thing or another we still hadn't ventured into the New Forest yet, which is one thing we definitely wanted to do before we move this summer (again!).

We decided to go on a little road trip this weekend and check out as much of it as we could. Obviously it's a busy weekend here in England and plenty of other people had decided to do the same, which made the atmosphere in the little villages and pubs that bit more enjoyable.

We stopped off first at Lyndhurst, only a few miles outside of Southampton.

We spent the afternoon driving around other parts of the New Forest...

Before ending up back towards Lyndhurst and stopping off for a pub dinner...

I think another trip is necessary before we move this summer!

I hope you're all making the most of your four-day weekend too :)
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