Saturday, 13 August 2016

What would you do if you were single?

And nooooooooo, I don't mean which guys would you instantly whatsapp/who would you grind on your next night out/who you'd swipe right on tinder for. 

Right now, I look forward to spending every minute of my spare time doing absolutely....nothing. I can chill/watch TV/laptop-it-up knowing that there's someone who's going to be there doing absolutely nothing with me. I don't have to get out of the house to have a conversation, don't have to do my make-up, don't have to have a shower. I don't have to plan any kind of occasion in order to get my social meter up as during the day I surrounded by peeps at work and by night I've always got someone there. I never have to worry about eating alone, the question is just what to eat. I'm totally, utterly and completely comfortable.


Anyone else find this? I don't have to arrange anything to see other people...so I kinda just don't. And not just social events. I could go for a run, could start going to the gym, start some kind of class...but ain't it just so difficult when you can collapse on the sofa and get tea made for you. And it's completely all on me, we're free to spend our time however we may choose, and I choose to do NAFFIN'. I have to make the choice if I want to go out and do something different, and I merrily happily don't.

I am so far down in my comfort zone than I don't even know anything else exists. But, wasn't there something before? Something that forced me to get out so I didn't spend my whole night tumblr-in' in darkness on my own? Something where you had to pack and plan in night out after brunch after night out just so you could see your mates and talk about anything but uni work? I think there was! And it seemed to coincide exactly with that time I was the singlest pringle. Most particularly, just after a recent break up.

You start saying yes to anything because beggars can't be choosers and you need a push to get out and have fun, going with the flow with anything anybody suggests because you need to keep the adrenaline going and keep your brain busy. You harness the acute unhappiness you feel and put all of your energy into changing your perspective, swapping over-thinking with experiencing. And it leads to the most fun, exciting times in the world and you think I am never, ever, going back. The hangovers where you can just spend the day laughing at the sporadic flashbacks. The weirdest conversations, the most random of friendships, events that are usually hilarious and only very very rarely shitty.

It's not just the social side that changes either. You realise you're fully on your own, but independence is great. You think I've only got me to encourage myself now. So you try that little bit more harder at whatever you're working on, using free time to better yourself. Take up yoga, eat healthier.

And then you start to have fun with one particular person and it nicely leads to being in a relationship again. You still go out loads, see your friends all the time, but eeeeeever so minutely it lessens and lessens month by month. Getting full time jobs means you just can't hack nights out as much, but why stress when you can have a film night in? The change is ever so slight that you can't see your habits changing, and you're pushing yourself less and less. Someone loves me so no need to improve, right?


Not DON'T DO IT to getting in a relationship, but DON'T DO IT to getting nice and cosy in your comfort zone.

When I think of how I spend my time, if I take Jonny out of the equation and imagine me doing the same day to day, I would be utterly stir crazy. I'd do what I do now, then in two weeks time I would feel completely isolated. I'd have to get in touch with friends, see what they're up to, do they want to hang out (please hang out). Without a partner in crime I'd realise that I'm lazing around way way too much, what have I achieved and done for myself?! Nada! Get out there, get moving, summon up the energy to do something after work. Start some kind of exercise class. Go to yoga. I think one of the biggest things I miss is how deep my friendships went. It was effortless because you were with them 24/7 and they saw you when you were moody/hangry/drunk/ecstatic. The I'm perfect facade gets blown away pretty quickly, which just serves to strengthen the friendship. 

Sooooo I'm going to pretend I'm single. CHILL. I mean just in terms of what am I doing for myself. What would I be doing next week if I was only going to be coming home to an empty flat? Loads and loads more. Friendships might take a bit more effort because I can't whizz through the practically-living-together stage, but I'm gonna make it work. Which will probably make a more fulfilled Jess, a happier Jess and therefore a happier Jonny. And he won't be forced to listen to CBB and TOWIE constantly. Everyone wins. 

Would you be doing anything else if you were single?

Jesska xxxxx

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Jess of All Trades, Master of None

My current conundrum: around working full time, chillaxing and doing normal housey errands (like searching for the ultimate oil diffuser), I also wanna learn things full time.

If it’s alright with the world, I’d like to opt out of modern life. I think what would be perfect right now would be to be a daughter of someone wealthy in the 1800’s and I can just loll around the country house getting through the mahusive library.  Just imagine all that free time to peruse whatever takes your fancy. Though I’d have to mighty careful not to marry someone who thinks that women shouldn’t read because it makes blood go to the head and away from their uterus – that old chestnut!

I want to learn how to code, I want to learn how to draw and paint, I want try learning a language and I’d love to try piano again. I want to write a book. 

I’m trying to write up non-fiction books after I read them so I can always go back to what I’ve learnt. 

I’m 3% through an online course I bought in Nutrition. I’m 0% through an online photography course I bought. 

I love reading other people’s blogs and I want to read every single link I come across on Twitter. I also want to read every article and thought piece I come across, and don’t even mention TED with their infinite amount of stupid incredibly interesting 20 minute videos. 

I want to go the gym more, maybe start a bit of lifting and I would love to finally take up a martial art class. 

I DID want to learn how to sew and mock up my own clothes, and I did want to spend more gaming, but a gals gotta prioritise and these things don’t quite make the cut!

This sounds like way too much, but it’s just because I want to do it all NOW. I think it’s all attainable. When you tell a 4 year old that they’re going to school to learn how to write, learn how to read, learn how to add, learn how to treat others, learn more about the world and instead of shouting I’M GOING BACK IN THE WOMB, they willingly accept it and toddle off happy as you like. They have no expectations and take it as it comes. I think it has to be a case of thinking that spending a couple of hours a day learning something as an adult is the norm, and then the norm it will become.

But even putting time aside and finding discipline isn’t simple. Like wanting to write a book.  Now, every time I pick up a book for fun, it’s no longer just for fun. They’re usually so good that I stick hundreds of sticky notes in them and I have to keep a notebook there whenever I read in case an idea is just too good to let slip. I’m yet to get around to writing up those notes!  And then there’s all the research on actually writing the book: characters, plots, themes, pacing etc. I read a book I loved and tried to note down what I liked and how the chronology works and how it all ties in with the plot…and I basically just rewrote the book by accident. It took ages, and I don’t think I’ve taken anything away from it!

When I was doing my dissertation and had to get through mountains of reading, I realised that the more I found out, the more I learnt just how much I didn’t know. You think you’ve got a handle on something, then you get a litttttle bit deeper and realise there’s loads more under the surface and you’ve barely scratched it. And when you’re trying to teach yourself, you’re also facing the challenge of not being sure on what you don’t know. How do I know what I don’t know? With school there’s a curriculum and a syllabus and recommended reading. And even at university, with all the pointers, you can still be an incredibly inefficient student. The student that spends hours copying from a text book word for word would learn far less than a student who spends a half hour writing down the bullet points and practising an exam question.

So, it’s not the amount of time you spend doing something, it’s about doing it efficiently. And that’s where I think I’m going waaaaaaay wrong. I’m spending way too much time doing tiny bits of everything and not really getting anywhere. I think rather than spreading myself thin trying to learn everything at once, it’s better to devote myself to one or two things at a time. But a week at a time, or a month, or a year? Maybe every two weeks I’ll switch it up! It’s better to rotate them rather than focusing on one sole thing until I’ve mastered it, because how long is a piece of string with mastering something?

SO, here’s the plan. I’m going to prioritise and choose the skill that I want to learn most and would be the most motivated for, coding. I’m going to add in learning a little bit of piano for variety, and also reading and making notes on the reading because I always gotta have a book on the go.

Hardcore researching for writing a book, learning how to draw and paint, and online courses can all go on pause. I’m going to take the books that I’ve taken out from the library back, as I’ve had them for a year and they’re STILL unread, and the librarians are getting a litttttttle bit judgey. I’m going to exercise lightly for now (she says as if it’s effortless). I’m still going to put a little bit of time aside weekly for Twittering and catching up on all the links I’ve saved, because it’s a millennial nightmare that something useful slips away without being read!

I’ll learn the syllabus as it comes to me and show what I’ve learnt on here – for future reference and in case anybody else feels like direction could be useful. Or to add anything if they see I’m missing out on anything. AND it means I have to keep it up – so you can tell me off if I say I have no time when really I’m not managing it efficiently or dossing around on t’internet. Hither goes!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

My Strange Diet & I

CW: Relationship with food

Recently I was recounting the kind of food that I eat in an appointment, and the lady was slowly becoming more and more horrified as I talked about the cookies, crisps, constant microchips, babybels and other processed delights of the mouth. I mix these foods up with healthy, but raw fruit and veg (although it's rare I get my 5 a day). Something that has fizzled out slightly is my love of snack plates, where you create a colourful plate of every food group and pick at it, instead of a hot meal that you have to eat all at once. I'd usually defend these snack plates to the death, as it was what I fancied and you should enjoy food, and they would be pretty healthy. Though I do admit the protein food group would be represented by a Peperoni! 

These make me happy just looking at them! Note the attempts to be healty, with avocados, yohgurts, seeds etc.

These snack plates came about as I was increeeeeedibly fussy when I was little, and only started to eat normal meals without picking it apart when I started cooking for myself at Uni. A wonderful selection of anti-pasti is by far my most favourite thing to order at a restaurant.  

Nothing better than meats, carbs & balsamic glaze

I sometimes shoot myself in the foot, in that if I find something I like, I have it every day, for weeks. At one point in my life I ate at least 3 Chicago Town pizzas a week for about 2 years. My current obsession is Carbonara, but I've managed to make that a once-a-week-affair to make the phase last longer.

I also look forward to my biggest and best meal of the day, which is supper in bed whilst reading...HEAVEN.

Suppers always consist of some sort of cheese, as if indigestion isn't going to disturb my sleep enough! That's beef jerky in the first picture - is there anything more suitable for a midnight snack?!

 But as I was recounting my habits out loud, it started to become more and more obvious that my diet, whilst enjoyable and varied and fun, wasn't the best for my body. Meals with a complex number of ingredients, processed food, eating large amounts before bed, and preferring raw vegetables - that still have all their nutrients, but can be harsh on the digestion - are starting to take a toll.

I have mild IBS, which manifests as feeling uncomfortable in my stomach a lot of the time, especially after a big meal like dinner. I prefer noisy environments as they make me feel more relaxed with my stomach churning, so working in an office where you can hear a pin drop is a big no! Chocolate is a BIG trigger, as is alcohol. I've tried to stop eating chocolate and have noticed an improvement, but it takes maybe a week before I can't handle it anymore and indulge in some triple chocolate cookies from Sainsburys and they feck me up big style.

Doctors have recommended the FODMAP diet, which can be really successful for other IBS-ers. But it pretty much eliminates EVERYTHING, and I didn't even keep it up for a day. But I've read around, and I think I've come up with a plan. Meals with a sensible amount of different foods, meals as unprocessed as possible, and, dare I say it, find some substitute for all the cookies, crisps and babybels! I also need to have a look at how I crave some sort of sweet after every singe meal. A meal without...dessert? Is such a thing possible? I think a good idea would be to stop having them daily (that was even difficult to type),and to indulge in a nice, high-quality treat maybe twice a week. 

Proof of how happy they make me: a splayed out foot!

It sounds so simple in words, but I've been eating like I do my entire life. I rely on everything I eat being tasty, but sometimes that can be the amount of sugar/salt/vinegar/intense flavour. I have all these pictures of my food because I create my snack plate and instantly feel happiness  Ever heard the phrase 'if you want to see what someone fears losing watch what they photograph'? This is a nightmare come true for me!

I'm just so attached to the way I eat, it cheers me up and I use my meals as treats for getting through the working day. My mood can really take a hit when I take these things out. 

BUT my IBS is really starting to have an effect on my life and it's come to a point where it's stupid not to change my eating habits. 

SO, the only option is to make this fun in another way. I'm going to research the hell out of it, and mock up a cool as heck menu. Part of the struggle of healthy food is having to decide what to eat. I'm gonna take that factor out of it and make this as easy as possible!

This post is like a farewell to one of my fave things :') I'll try and incorporate the good bits into my new diet, I promise I'll be seeing you again good food!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Vol 1 - Philips Lumea – Goodbye to Waxing?!

Okay before you read: Just be aware that the IPL hair removal systems don’t YET work well with light blonde  hair/light red hair/very dark skin tones. I didn’t want to get your hopes up!

Leg hair was seriously doing my head in. Shaving is a novelty when you're 16 and something fun to look forward to when you’re having your Sunday night bubblebath, and then afterwards you can slather on the Dove gradual fake tan so your legs are as orangey and slippery as hot dogs. This is what looks good, right?! Sorry young Jess, orange legs, white neck and that orange dream matte mousse foundation doesn’t quite go together.

Thankfully, over the years I’m smoothed out the do’s and don’ts. But for me, shaving has become a huge DON’T WANNA. It feels amazing for 000.67 seconds until it starts to grow back into itchy stubble, and then takes just 4 days for me to evolve back into the gorilla that I am. My natural hair state and laziness have led to countless situations in which people have seen far more than I wanted them to. A boy at school couldn’t hide his horror on a day I’d chosen socks and forgone the shaving (thinking, who would even notice?! Answer = everyone).  And then the time I wore knee high socks to a party and cleverly only shaved the bit of leg that was showing, wasn’t so clever when a guy guessed straight away – how did he know?! (Also his reaction of CAN I SEE! isn’t the usual response to hairy legs). 

Shaving gets the smooth results, but after a few years of having to do it daily-ish and dealing with the itchiness when it starts to grow back, I looked to other methods.

Epilating was next, and I researched different models and read hundreds of reviews, decided on one, accidentally bought two off Ebay, and I could begin! Enter, THE WORST PAIN EVER. It was like tweezing out the hairs one by one, but you had no choice but to go over big areas. You can practically hear the hairs being wrenched out – NOPE. It’s not as painful for people with thin, light hair but for me it was agony. Plus you had to deal with the droning BUUUUUUUUZZZ sound, a sound that my uni flatmates mistakenly thought was a vibrator when we all first moved in. Jesus, Jess is on it ALL times of the day! (Only because I could only face epilating for a tiny amount at a time – so it was an all day affair). Doing my pits (ahem, underarms) was another thing altogether, I’d try and numb the area with ice cubes just to stop myself weeping. 

Eventually I thought it just wasn’t worth it, and my epilator was sent to the depths of my drawers!

Depilatory cream just smelt like chemicals, made my legs redden and you could still see the hair in the follicle quite clearly – definitely not for me!

I toddled off to buy some Veet wax strips, and after a few wax mishaps (tip: water makes the wax 10x sticker and harder to get off, anything oily is perfect) we started to get along. It was incredibly painful, but at least it was a quick deal-with-it-pain rather than the torture of the slow epilator process. The only problems were that I tended to do one leg a week (it was as much as I could bear) so I never really had that goddess smooth leg thing going on. Plus the fact that you have to let it grow to about 1cm before you can do a good wax.  Several times I explained to my boyfriend to trust the process and that I knew exactly what I was doing and SOON, soon, I would be completely leg hair-free. But then I realised that all your hair doesn’t grow at the same time and the hairs are all at different stages of their growing cycle – get rid of one lot and the next grow through! Not to mention the fact that it would take about 4 hours because I’d put films on to ‘distract’ myself, then cue 4 hours later and I’m engrossed in the 372th viewing of Pocahontas and waxing has been completely forgotten and left for another day. Therefore, I kept reluctantly putting the painful effort in, and never really reaping the rewards of silky smooth legs.

AND THEN, I began saving up for my overdraft and for the first time in forever I found myself with a larger sum of money than usual (what? Saving means it’s meant to be off limits?). I was skipping through Boots one day, and an IPL hair remover caught my eye that was on sale. And so began a weekend of thorough review reading/price comparing/backing out until finally I took the plunge and spent a whopping £225 on a Philips SC2007/00 Lumea IPL Hair Removal System. It was more than I’ve ever spent on mere beauty, but I thought I go through so much PAIN and I’m not getting anywhere. This splurge will actually free up some of my life and I’d pay that much to make hair removal not a horrible chore that I put off for weeks on end. I’ve just had a look at the product (I bought it from John Lewis) and it’s currently on sale for £329.99. I’d say it’s well worth waiting till there’s a deal or even wait till after Christmas to see if the price drops as much as £100 again.

Basically, you shave the area, press the button, the area gets zapped by the light flash, and the melanin in your hair and the hair root absorb the light pulses. You do have to shave first or there can be a tingle of pain as more hair means more light absorption. The light pulse makes the follicle go into a resting phase, which results in the hair falling out and regrowth is inhibited. You do it every two weeks to begin with, which means you zap all the hair when it’s in the right stage and all the growth is paused…result! It can be used pretty much everywhere: legs, bikini area, underarm, and for the face with the facial attachment.

I think the biggest thing to say here is IT’S NOT PERMANENT. IPL is not the same as laser hair removal. The ideal with IPL is that after the beginning stages, you have to go over your legs about every 4-6 weeks. What made me prefer it over waxing is that it’s completely painless, it’s a lot more fun, the hairs grow back lighter and 6 weeks is a HELLUVA lot longer than any other amount of time I’ve achieved with other methods. It’s expensive to say that it’s not permanent, but I think of it as an investment piece, and so far it’s been worth it.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work with naturally light blonde, red, gray hair or very dark skin types (due to the amount of melanin). I have very pale skin and very dark hair, and this is the one time EVER that that combination has actually worked out for me.

There’s really not that much difference between the various models. I bought the 2007 model because it was on sale for less than a previous older model, otherwise I would have been absolutely fine with buying an older but much cheaper version.  Differences between the 2007 version and older models are:
·         Whether it’s cordless or not (not too important if it means saving loads of money!)
·         Whether it has a facial attachment
·         They all pretty much come with the same amount of flashes (250,000)

I read all the Amazon reviews, the John Lewis reviews and Boots reviews. Luckily there were loads to get through (anything worse than an expensive item with just 5 reviews?!) and they really did sell it to me. The high majority were positive saying that they saw a reduction after the beginning stages and the product was worth the price. Definitely have a read!

That’s right, there’s a handy app that you can put your individual options in, reminds you of when you need to start IPL’ing, and has loads more information.

I actually really wanted to show you pictures of my different hairy stages, but then I learnt that hair REALLY doesn't photograph well. I'd be looking at my legs in their natural jungle state but on camera they'd be all Jennifer Lopez-y. Thanks camera, I know you've got my back with your airbrushing usually but not right now!

After first use: Hairs are growing back after I first shaved and used my IPL. Can't see any change yet! Either it’s not been long enough for the hairs to fall out or it's just too gosh darn soon.

After second use: Hair is growing back after the second shave and treatment, I can see patches where it isn't growing back. More hair than no-hair patches though!

After third use: I’ve been a wee bit naughty and forgotten a few weeks, but that’s fine, because I’ll just have to keep on going till I’ve caught all hairs in their growing phase! I’ve accidentally let the hair grow back to quite a long length (about 1cm, please don’t imagine I mean long enough to plait it) and because it’s longer the no hair patches are REALLY obvious. So yay, it’s working!

And that’s it! I’ll be back to let you know how it’s going after a few more treatments and I may upload a vlog to show you my probably shoddy technique!