December 27, 2016

End of 2016

I wanted to keep posting once a day till the end of the year, or at least till Christmas, but I failed, so here I am trying to sum up all I wanted to say in a few lines.

First of all, Christmas has been wonderful for me. Full of good and bad news, happy moments and low ones, but still magical just as I always hope it will be. I miss it already and I'd love to go back to Christmas Eve, but I'm happy anyway.

The present my boyfriend got me is some new headphones (mine were falling apart so I'm really thankful, he has saved my day and my binge-watching-YouTube moments) and a blog domain (we still need to pay for it actually). So, guess what Internet? We'll see each other again in 2017, with a brand new URL! Now I only need to find out how to make it work.

All the posts I had in mind for the next few days will be postponed so I'll know what to talk about in 2017, I guess.

That's it for now, have a nice week and see you next year! Let's hope it's a good one.

Marti xx

December 22, 2016

Really Random

Let me tell you a little secret.

You know videos like "Morning Routine", "My Everyday Makeup", "What I Eat in a Day" and so on? Well, I like to watch them when they're filmed by my favourite youtubers, but... I'd really like to see videos of that sort about housekeeping. Like "How I Clean My Bathroom", "Laundry Routine" and "What I Do in a Day to Keep My Flat Tidy". 

Sounds silly? Maybe. Most followers are underage and don't have to take care of that kind of boring stuff because their parents do that for them? True. I know this kind of stuff is only interesting for people like me, who like to keep their flat clean and that still don't have a routine to follow because they've just moved out. But I always end up looking for directions online and wish I had a nice video to watch instead.

Do you know some channels or blogs that focus on this sort of stuff? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear some names.

Marti xx

December 21, 2016

Winter is here!

Things I love about winter, in no particular order:

Soft sweaters
Cinnamon everything
Fairy lights and city lights
Hot chocolate and hot drinks
Snow, snowflakes, snowy roofs
Everything about Christmas
Giving (and receiving) gifts
Heartwarming music
Snuggly blankets
Long scarves
All the food

The truth is, I am much more comfortable in cold weather. My philosophy is, you can always add a couple layers whenever it gets colder, while there's little you can do when the weather is too hot. I love winter, especially December, and there are only a few things I can't stand. The one thing that bothers me the most about this time of the year is that the days are super short, and I'm a daylight person, I'm not comfortable in the dark. Short days tend to put me in a bad mood, but luckily they also mean Christmas is approaching, and that's something that brings back all the happiness in me.

Marti xx

December 20, 2016

Butternut Squash & Courgettes Lasagne

Quick post because it's late and I have 178943 things to do tonight.

One day I was grocery shopping at Sainsbury's and I saw some butternut squash lasagne sheets. I didn't buy them straightaway but saved them in my mind-list (is that a thing?). I told my boyfriend about them and he sounded interested - he just found out he likes butternut squash so he was keen on trying some more recipes.

So, today I attempted to bake veggie lasagne for dinner, and I'm really happy with the result. They are quite easy to prepare and require just a few ingredients.

One pack butternut squash lasagne sheets
Two courgettes
500ml oat milk
50g whole-wheat flour
A teaspoon of coconut spread
A pinch of salt
A spoonful of olive oil

I started with the white sauce. I follow the same white sauce recipe when I bake pesto lasagne or any other kind of lasagne. I mixed oat milk and flour in a saucepan and put it on the hob, mixing it from time to time and keeping it on the hob until it started to get creamy. Then I removed the saucepan from the hob and added a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of coconut spread (and a bit of parmesan cheese, which is totally unnecessary and turns the dish into a non-vegan friendly thing, which is not cool - but I had this leftover cheese and didn't want to throw it away so I put it in there).

I moved on to the courgettes. Washed them in the sink, cut them in small cubes without removing the skin or the inner part, put the cubes into a frying pan with a spoonful of olive oil and let them cook for five to eight minutes, just to make them softer. I put the courgettes into the white sauce and mixed them.

Then I took an oven tin for two and started layering the courgette+cream, then the butternut squash, then the cream and so on until I finished my ingredients (I tend to start with the cream and end with it, so the squash sheets end up in the middle of the lasagne).

I put the tin in the pre-heated oven (200°C) and let them cook for about 35 minutes. I was planning to leave them for 45 minutes but the top layer was starting to burn, so I had to take them out earlier, but they turned out just fine. Everything was soft and well baked and really really good, I think I'm going to repeat this recipe again soon.

Let me know what your favourite butternut squash dishes are, I'm eager to learn new recipes!

Marti xx

December 19, 2016

Tiny Collections

I'm not a hoarder. I like to tidy up, rearrange things, get rid of everything I don't like or need anymore. I like to keep my 'material possessions' to a minimum, not to the extent to call myself minimalist though - I only see myself as organised and I don't like to feel too attached to material stuff.

That said, I should admit I have my own collections and there are things I'm definitley way too attached to. I have an extensive collection of Harry Potter books, gadgets and memorabilia, some of which might make sense to me and myself only, because they belong to my childhood and just bring back the best memories. My Harry Potter collection is the only thing I don't keep all neat and tidy, because I like to go through it quite randomly. Everything, except for books, is kept in a green old wooden trunk my auntie got me ages ago.

Other than Harry Potter, the other thing I really have a hard time getting rid of is old toys. I'm really attached to my childhood, I was one of those kids who never wanted to grow up, and I have played with my toys so much they have almost become a part of me. My Barbies, my soft toys, my ponies. I'm a grown up but I still love toys, even modern ones, I always take a sneak peek at the toy section in stores and wonder what my seven year old self would buy. The thing I wanted to talk about in this post, though, is vintage toys.

I was born in 1994 so I don't have many memories from the past century (I do remember when my brother was born, in 1996 - I remember daddy took me to McDonald's for the first time that day) but I have older cousins and whenever I visited them when I was little I remember playing with some awesome toys that I never had the chance to get. One of the things that is stuck in my mind the most is a tiny Disney's Lion King box that contained the smallest Simba and Nala and had some kind of 3D landscapes to let you play within the box. I grew up kind of wanting those tiny Disney boxes but never got around to get one.

Before I go on you need to know that another thing that I absolutely love, apart from keeping things organised, is small things. I love anything tiny. And I love Disney, and I love toys. So it's no surprise that those toys are still in my mind now that I'm twenty-two years old.

After thinking about them multiple times and talking about them with my brother, I realised that I had never searched for them on Google, silly me. So today I did. And now I am in love with what I found out being called Disney Tiny Collection, some sort of collaboration between Disney and Polly Pocket/Bluebird. If you are not a child of the nineties and you don't remember them or have never seen them, just look them up online. 

There are Lion King sets, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, even a tiny Hercules box shaped like a cloud (it has always been a favourite of mine, Hercules). They even made a teeny tiny Disneyland set - how cool is that?

I know it's crazy and it makes no sense, but I'd like to start collecting them at some point. I'm not even sure it's possible to find all of them on sale, but I think I'll try to get at least a couple of them. I'll keep you updated if I do.

Now excuse me as I go check out eBay ;)

Marti xx

December 18, 2016

Sunday Pancake Brunch

My boyfriend had a rough, sleepless night and I woke up around 10 AM feeling meh, so after cleaning up the kitchen (don't judge) and having a shower I decided it was time for a nice meal. Lunch was approaching but none of us had had breakfast yet, so the idea of pancakes came to my mind. Pancakes are one of the best ways to merge breakfast and lunch, I believe.

I looked up recipes online and mixed some of them according to what I had in the cupboard. I tried to make honey pancakes topped with soft apple slices. The final result was better than I expected, but unfortunately I didn't take pictures so I had to make up a little design on Canva (I enjoy creating things on Canva, so I suggest you check it out too. It has lots of free designs and ideas).

Here's my recipe for the Apple & Honey Pancakes.

Ingredients for the batter:
2 eggs
90g self-rising flour
2 tbsp honey
A pinch of salt
120ml oat milk

Ingredients for the apples:
1 apple
A spoonful of coconut spread
3 tbsp agave syrup
A pinch of cinnamon

I started with the pancakes. I mixed all the ingredients together, heated up a pan, greased it a little with some coconut spread and proceeded with pouring a large spoonful of batter onto the pan, turning it when the batter started to look bubbly. I did so until the batter was finished, ending up with fourteen small pancakes.

At the same time (I tried to prepare both the pancakes and the apples together because I didn't want either of them to get cold) I peeled and sliced the apple. I warmed the slices up in a pan with the coconut spread and after a couple of minutes I added the agave syrup on top, let it all cook in the pan for another couple of minutes, then moved all of it into a small saucepan, added a glass of water and let it boil for a while. I was hoping the water-agave-coconut mix would turn into some sort of syrup, but it actually remained quite watery. I let it on the hob for a while anyway, then added in the cinnamon and removed the saucepan from the hob.

I split the pancakes in two stacks on two small dishes and poured apple slices and the sort-of-syrup on top.

My boyfriend really appreciated our brunch, so I'm quite proud of today's cooking session.

Marti xx

December 17, 2016

Vlogmas vs Dissertation

As I sat in front of my Costa Hot Spiced Apple typing down ideas for the third chapter of my dissertation, I thought "I wish I could catch up with vlogmas instead."

So here we go, as I spent my day between my dissertation and zero ideas for this blogpost, I decided I'd write down a list of the vlog channels I'm watching this December, in no particular order.

Rhiannon Ashlee - She's my latest YouTube crush, I have only started following her a couple of months ago (I was living under a rock, I know) but I've caught up quite quickly. I love her personality and her chilled vlogs, and I'm a huge fan of baby Delilah, she's adorable and it's nice to see her growing up a little bit video after video.

Katie Snooks - I've been following her for quite a while, I love the fact that she's always down to earth and relatable in her videos. I've often seen comments under her videos saying that she complains too much or that she never looks happy, but honestly I think she's just real, nobody really lives the perfect life and she has her ups and downs as well, but she's great at picturing both low moments and happy ones. She's just strong and mature, not everyone would allow the world to see them crying or open up about their problems.

Gabriella Lindley - I've been following her religiously for years, that's all you really need to know. Plus I love the fact that her videos are always super long, the longer the video the happier the Marti (?).

Niomi Smart - I love Niomi but I wasn't planning on following her vlogmas. She's one of those people that have so much going on with their lives, I don't really feel like I can relate, but I'm glad I decided to give her vlogs a go because I'm loving them (the Paris ones are so much fun and don't even get me started on the 33.41 minutes long 'Real Time Makeup Tutorial').

Samantha Maria - I'm a big fan of pregnancy and baby related stuff, so when I found out Sammi was pregnant I knew I would eventually end up watching her videos. I love that she seems so chatty and honest about what she's going through and I can't wait for her to meet the baby.

Giovannasworld - I really really wanted to watch Gi, Tom and Carrie's vlogmas videos but I still have to catch up, I'm halfway through Giovanna's and I guess I'll watch Tom and Carrie's after Christmas as I really have no time to fit all those videos into my day at the moment.

And you? Are you all caught up with any vlogmas? Let me know your favourites!
Marti xx

December 16, 2016

Time to Get Into the Christmas Spirit

This post is a little less deep and a bit more christmassy than the previous ones.

Today I finally got around writing my friends' Christmas cards. I put off this task for so long because I feel like I'm bad at writing them, I'm always either too cheesy or extremely cold, there's no in-between. This year I decided to go for the cheesy messages though, because I hope to make them smile and remind them that I care about our friendship even though I never text or call. I actually only wrote four, because I'm seeing most of my friends around Christmas so I'll tell them all the nice things when we meet in real life, but some of my friends live quite far and I don't even know if I'm going to see them next year, although I hope I do, so I went for the cards for them.

I think I'm much better at getting presents than I am at writing cards. I actually bought my friends' presents in October and have already wrapped them all up nicely. I bought my brother's and boyfriend's presents as well, the only one it's missing is my parents' because I wanted to do something handmade and I still haven't had the time.

While I was on my way to Starbucks this afternoon (#commonwhitegirl) I was thinking about what I would say if I were to film a Christmas Gift Guide (because I watch so many YouTube videos I end up planning things in my head pretending to be a youtuber, as you do) and I thought I might as well write those things down here, just as a sort of reminder.

First of all, I think handmade things make the best presents. I'm not talking about things that require crazy skills, just tiny projects that show how much personality you've put into making the present, like a giant gingerbread man or a painting or a personalised t-shirt or a themed box full of yellow items, and so on. A hand cream, a lipbalm and a face mask might not mean much on their own but if you put them together in a nice box they end up looking like a lush personalised present, no matter how little you've spent on them.

My second point is all about planning ahead. Christmas comes every year, so you can't really go wrong if you decide to buy your presents in advance, especially during mid-season sales or 3x2 discounts. This gives you plenty of time to plan and find the perfect presents and allows you to avoid the crazy messy winter crowds that invade every single shop around Christmastime.

Another thing I like to do to avoid the crowds is to check some shops online before actually visiting them, so I don't have to visit a hundred places but just those that sell whatever I'm looking for.

The last thing I'd like to add is, if you are running late and have no idea what to get to someone, visit a bookshop to find some inspiration. I always see plenty of things I'd like to buy for myself there, and I'm not just talking about books. I believe bookshops really have something for everyone, every price and something unusual for those friends who seem to have everything. For example, this year I've fallen in love with a journal I've seen in Waterstones called "99 Things That Bring Me Joy" and I'm sure that would make the perfect gift for many friends out there.

That's it for today, I feel like I haven't said much in this post but I'm sticking to my challenge of posting once a day so I'm quite happy with myself.

Marti xx

December 15, 2016

But Thoughts Are Always Travelling

My day started quite abruptly. I woke up and found out it was way later than I expected, I felt bloated and my joints were quite sore. I didn't do much in the morning except thinking (more on that later) but in the afternoon I went to Charing Cross Road with my boyfriend (he is called Lorenzo, by the way). We visited some places - Starbucks, music shops, Starbucks again, a book shop... The usual tour - and he took me to the House of Minalima, a truly wonderful place that I hadn't visited yet. I loved it, I wish it was a café or something like that, I would totally sit next to their potteresque christmas tree and illustrations and sip some tea.

Anyway. Back to the morning, today I realised two great things.

The first one was that yesterday, after I wrote my post, I felt better. Writing down my thoughts and reprocessing them helped me see the good sides of everything and made me feel so much better than I was feeling previously. That's one thing I love about writing.

The second thing was even deeper, hey. I thought of how much you can think of in a day, how fast thoughts travel, how you can be in the same room all day, not accomplish a single thing and yet your thoughts haven't stopped moving for a single second. Thoughts keep travelling. I think that's amazing, though it might not be a big revelation to any of you, but I had never seen it that way myself I guess and I don't know, it felt wise, it felt great. The human mind is unstoppable, it's so fascinating.

Today's quote is Mark Twain's, or so I heard. I found it while reading an interesting thread about Harry Potter

Marti xx

December 14, 2016

Experimental Risotto and Being Thankful

Today I felt a bit thoughtful and moody, but I can't exactly pinpoint why. I started the day by cleaning the flat and doing the laundry, then I showered and cooked lunch. I was on my own at midday because my boyfriend had some lessons, so I decided to prepare a risotto. I called it "experimental" because I put together random ingredients and hoped for the best, without following any recipe. I dressed it up with some leftover spinach and ricotta pesto. The final result didn't look too appetising but tasted great. Yay for me.

While I was having lunch I caught up with a couple of youtubers. I watched Katie Snooks' latest vlog and found out about her health issues, and I must admit that made me feel sad for her. I hope it's nothing major and she'll manage to keep the problem at bay. I wholeheartedly wish her all the best.

During lunch my mum texted me to tell me the blood tests I took last week came out unexpectedly fine, the only thing I'm lacking of is vitamin D. I was quite surprised because I expected to have iron deficiency and all that jazz, since I'm sort of anemic (I have vWD to be exact) and I stopped taking my iron tablets after summer. My mum said this might be the first time that all my iron related values were normal.

This couple of things made me think about how lucky I am. I usually try not to take things for granted anyway, but sometimes it's easy to only look at what you're striving for and not what you've already achieved. I am healthy, possibly more than I've been in the past few years; I have an incredible boyfriend, which is definitely something that's not easy to find; we are renting a flat in London, and moving to London has always been one of my biggest dreams. Last but not least, I have the option to choose whatever I want to do with my life, I don't have to rush into things because I have a supportive family and a helpful boyfriend.

I'm starting to believe I really couldn't ask for more right now.

Oh, and as I type this I'm waiting for a pizza delivery. Again, lucky.

Marti xx

PS. While designing the quote on Canva I realised the colours and graphic reminded me of The Little Book of Hygge, which by the way sounds really interesting. I think I'll check it out next time I'm in Waterstones. Also, I have no idea whose quote this is, but some attribute it to Walt Disney. 

December 13, 2016

When in Doubt, Write It Out

I'm at that stage of life when you have every single choice, every opportunity in front of you and you have no idea where to start. I'm about to graduate and move to London, I'll soon be supposed to find a job and sort of know what to do with my life (I know deep down nobody ever knows what they're doing with their lives but I hope you get my point). The problem is I have no idea. I've never really had a blue French horn (my boyfriend just sat next to me and typed that, don't ask) never really had a career in mind, there are many things that I like of course, and things that I'd rather not do as well, but I really don't know where to start.

My boyfriend told me that I've been neglecting my hobbies and passions way too much lately, and that even if most of my favourite things are not proper jobs (for example, I am obsessed with Harry Potter and I'd love to sit and read books all day - or watch YouTube videos) I could always turn them into careers of some sort. He challenged me to do one thing that I love for a week everyday and see how I feel afterwards. I decided to write blog posts, because writing has always been a way to sort out my thoughts and that's something that could definitely come in handy right now. I used to keep a diary and I've always wanted to write a book, maybe a children novel as children literature is one of my favourite genres, even though I worry I might not be good enough for that.

Anyway, I'm going nowhere with this post, I hope I'll make more sense tomorrow.

(Quote by A. A. Milne)

Before I leave, let me just tell you a couple of funny stories about my day:

This morning I travelled from Milan to London via Zurich. During the flights I read some chapters of "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, which is a book that is supposed to help but it's actually making me feel more anxious about my life than anything else, although I still like it and I think I'll try to memorise some of her tips.

I tried to cook potato wedges and cod in the oven for dinner and ended up burning my right index finger with oven steam. I don't even know, I can't really explain how it happened. Right now my finger looks normal but I can't use it to type as it kind of hurts and feels weird, super sensitive and tingly, I hope it wears off during the night.

I've just finished the apple juice I bought earlier at Starbucks and I've noticed that inside the label it says, "You've really nailed being a human. Good job." So yeah, thank you Apple, that's nice of you.

Going to bed now, see (?) you tomorrow.

Marti xx