Lifestyle: Long Distance Love

I’m sure most of you know by now, but I’m in a long distance relationship due to university. I told the details in full a few months back, but basically we met at the beginning of sixth form at the sweet age of sixteen, got together within a few months, spent two years together before we travelled to university 200 miles apart. We’ve now been long distance for nearly two years, and we have at least another two years ahead of us. This Sunday will mark the start of our third year apart, as I move to Surrey to commence my placement. It’s bittersweet – the end of a short summer together, but we’re hopefully over halfway there! Here’s my tips for going long distance, and how to cope:

 photo 1157450_10151785402043516_1823432763_n_zps74278bb0.jpgDon’t compare yourself to other relationships. Be they people who live together, or people who are in an LDR with a lesser distance between them, you don’t know the details of their relationship. I’ve had people look down on me when I’m struggling ‘cos he’s still in the same country; yes, but that doesn’t mean I can see him, it doesn’t make me feel any closer! Yes, its only 200 miles, but its also a minimum of four years – I’ll be nearly 23 by the time I can even think about trying to move in with my boyfriend. Equally I know I’ve gotten extremely jealous of couples living closer to each other, but I do try not to show it. Most of my friends are coupled up, I’d soon see them and their partners as opposed to sit sulking on my own!

Try to have a long-term plan. I know where we are going in the future, and that helps an awful lot. Wanting the same things is ultimately what keeps a LDR going; if you are about to embark on one its probably a good idea to have a frank discussion.

In terms of a plan, it’s also useful to try and plan out visits in advance. This is easier when you are in the same country, but even international relationships should try and have an idea about when they will see each other next – even if its ‘by XXX date’. When we first started university our plan was to see each other every four weeks. That never happened, and we see each other every fortnight, with the occasional three-week gap.

 photo 2014-04-26123410_zps4e0140e9.jpgCommunicate. This is really the main point, and its a must-do. You need to make time to speak to your partner. Not just a quick chat, but real conversation. What you’ve been up to, what’s been the highlight of your week, everything and anything. Really listen to what they have to say too. We try and call each other every other night, and have a Skype around 3 times a week (Skype will seriously become your best friend!) – I’ll also call my boyfriend if I’m walking home in the dark on my own!

That said, try to communicate in ways other than through your phone. I found that when we first went long distance I become unhealthily attached to my mobile, it was like having a relationship with a handheld electronic object! We try and write each other old-fashioned letters – and I loved it when I used to be surprised with a parcel of goodies he’d baked!

 photo 27918_10151267754238516_1513098207_n_zps73521391.jpgMeet each other’s friends. Obviously you need your own friends, but introducing your partner and vice versa means you feel a little more involved in each other’s lives. My boyfriend seems to naturally have more girls as friends than boys at university; whilst I know that’s just him, I can truthfully say that meeting them all, hearing them say “we’ve heard lots about you” made me feel a lot better!

Have boundaries. We trust each other absolutely, but we do ask that neither of us put ourselves in certain situations. These will be different for different couples – I have no problem with my boyfriend going out with just a few of his girl mates, but I know others would. Above all though, you really do need to trust each other. If you don’t you will be eaten alive with jealousy, and to me jealousy isn’t a good thing in a relationship.

 photo 10464251_10201833358628057_7137741447011300528_n_zpsda2dc99f.jpgMake visits exciting. Sure you might want to spend the whole weekend cuddled up, but building memories means you’re far more likely to look forward to the next visit. Explore their area, go for brunch, cook for each other. One of my favourite weekends was when we paid (a ridiculous amount) and caught the bus to Whitstable. A day by the sea with ice cream and a giant sausage roll just can’t be beaten! If you can’t manage a whole weekend, arrange a day-trip in a central location. During my exams I knew I couldn’t cope with a whole weekend off of revision, so instead we met up in London – got soaked in the rain, explored Borough Market and had a yummy dinner at Wahaca.

My biggest tip of all – have fun! Whether it be together in person, laughing along on the phone, giggling over Skype, or apart and with your friends. Try not to mope away when you’re in need of a cuddle, but do something to cheer you up and remember: if it’s meant to be, you will get through it!

What are your relationship tips?

 

Baking: Peanutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

 photo 2014-07-10113127_zpsdf574723.jpgThe eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed some colourful bits looking out of place in last week’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Here’s the explanation;

 photo 2014-07-10113141_zps98925580.jpgYou see, whilst my sister let me photograph (if I did the annoying bits – the creaming, the dolloping, and the washing up…) “her making” cookies I wasn’t actually going to be allowed any. We halved the recipe and she needed 12 to take to the stables (lucky horses!) BUT there was a little bit of mixture leftover. I quickly claimed it, but then spied some Peanut M&M’s on the side. Knowing we had peanut butter in the fridge I got mixing, and after a quick bake I had chewy, nutty, salty, chocolatey, crunchy delights. Not quite as good as my boyfriend’s cookies, but pretty damn good all the same!

 photo 2014-07-10110419_zpsafb3566d.jpgTo make these delicious cookies, you simply need to follow the recipe above, adding in a couple of spoons (I used a tablespoon for a small amount of mixture, so use your judgement) of crunchy peanut butter at the butter-sugar stage, and peanut M&M’s with the chocolate chips. Dollop onto the baking trays and bake – I found these took slightly less time.

 photo 2014-07-10112459_zps6291bb7c.jpg photo 2014-07-10113127_zpsdf574723.jpgThere you have it – a quick and easy adaptation that takes a simple recipe a step further. And it combines peanut butter and chocolate, what could be better?!

What do you add to your cookies?

Lifestyle: Packing A Small Suitcase

 photo 2014-07-17164523_zps39cee783.jpgAs I’ve mentioned before, my long-distance relationship often means I have to back a small case/bag for a weekend quickly (I have managed to pack and make a train 85 minutes after a lecture finished once, though never again!), and I often need to pack sensibly. I’ve been caught out by heatwaves, and become stranded due to snow, so a few extra outfits is a must! Recently I went away to Devon with my family and was told I could take one case and one satchel only. As this case is a cabin-sized wheel-on I thought it would be a great post opportunity as I can show you just what I can cram into a small space!

 photo 2014-07-17165349_zpsdc3e81da.jpgI actually ended up getting seven outfits into this case, as well as shoes (two pairs) and toiletries. The only thing I didn’t fit in was my walking boots – but they take up half the case so I decided to wear them! Oh, and just to point out that although we only went for a weekend I spent the surrounding nights at my boyfriends so packed extra, I didn’t just go too mad! My key packing tips are to stick to ‘convertible’ outfits. I went for dresses that look great with sandals, but work equally with black tights, shoes and cardigan – perfect in most weathers! I also picked neutral colours cardigans, so the few I took went with everything. You may notice that I also stuck to florals, they’re definitely my favourite kind of print! Finally I stuck to rolling everything up. This saves so much space, although it is a little time consuming!

 photo 2014-07-17181404_zps674b85a2.jpgIn terms of makeup I pretty much followed what I took to Edinburgh, but without foundation (I just relied on concealer and Java Rice Powder instead!) and with a hair gel instead of tousle cream. I’m still loving the Wilkinson’s plastic bottles I bought – I’ve noticed them still on sale in my store so if you’re going away I’d highly recommend you pick some up! There was a new addition of an MUA cream blusher, and I also stuck to just MUA power pouts for a more sheer wash of colour – I have a dog that seems to love the smell of the Revlon Matte Balms, and sitting next to him in the car would not have been an enjoyable experience had I been wearing them! I ended up having a great time – posts to come soon!

Are you off on holiday this summer?

Beauty: Pampering with Lush

Confession time: I’ve never really liked Lush. I don’t particularly like the bath bombs (without fail all the ones I have tried have left me with sore skin), and the smell really, really puts me off. I can’t stand the smell of the bathroom after one has been used, let alone a full shop of them. I’ve used a couple of products in the past; Volcano foot mask (effective, but messy); King of Skin (probably my favourite, but hard to use – I would repurchase this if I could brave the store again!); and some form of solid cleansing bar that I can’t find on the site (caused spots galore). You get the impression, I’m just not a Lush kinda gal! Even so I couldn’t help get excited when my boyfriend came home from work with a bag crammed full of goodies. Here’s my mini-reviews of what I received.

 photo 2014-07-08103846_zps74c21797.jpgDisclaimer: These products were given to my boyfriend free of charge by our local Lush store, something to do with the neighbouring shops helping each other out. They were unaware of my blog, and all opinions are my own. I haven’t marked this with a * as it isn’t really a blog ‘freebie’ as such!

 photo 2014-06-28212331_zps1e8baf15.jpg photo 2014-06-28212650_zps7b2898dd.jpgCupcake is a chocolatey face mask, and was the product I was most excited about. The day of receiving this I happily slapped it on my (normal-dry) skin, and persuaded my boyfriend (combination skin) to try it too. Not sure if it was a coincidence, but my trip to see Coldplay at the Royal Albert Hall had me fashioning a side-fringe to hide the growing mountain on the side of my forehead. It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t come alone. Yep, pretty sure this mask broke both of us out. My love for Lush certainly wasn’t growing at this point…

Things started to look up with the Brightside Bubble Bar. I love all things citrus but rarely get to indulge seeing as my sister has a severe allergy. This zingy bar produces loads of bubbles and bright orange water, smells delicious and leaves my skin soft. It does feel odd to soak in orange water so I do shower down afterwards – but this did win me over.

 photo 2014-07-08103827_zps6f7b2e86.jpgOnto another facemask; Oatifix has actually really impressed me. The smell isn’t pleasant, but it isn’t the typical overpowering Lush smell so I can cope. Yes it looks like you have spread sick around your face, and it does make a bit of a mess, but for me the results are worth it – this leaves my skin soft, hydrated and glowing. And, wait for it, it doesn’t break me out! I’d actually buy this again, if I could work out how on earth you could use it all before the best before date. I was unable to, and I only had a teeny tester pot…

Now soap. I love bar soap, I’ve even confessed to use one as my cleanser of choice. I was intrigued by Noriko soap, particularly as I can only find this one the US site. Having said that, mine looks nothing like what is featured there, so I wonder what I’ve actually got! I actually adore the smell as its subtle, fresh and just rather nice. It’s also a pretty moisturising soap too – I’ve taken to using it instead of a shower gel as it also has a teeny amount of scrubby bits. Bonus, it looks great on the bathroom side too!

 photo IMAG2306_zps1496a0b4.jpgI’ve still got a couple of products to try; Mask of Magnaminty (the one I have is self-preserving, something I’m quite intrigued by as one of my problems with Lush is the short shelf life) and Hair Doctor. I can’t say I’m particularly willing to try Hair Doctor due to reports of it stripping colour out – I’m pretty picky about my hair colour, and having had my preferred and back up colours both discontinued I’d sooner not dye my hair unless absolutely necessary!

I have to admit, some of these products have changed my mind slightly about Lush. I still won’t be tempted to venture into a shop, but I’d consider an online order if I needed a gift for someone and a few treats for myself.

What are your favourite Lush products?

Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies

 photo 2014-07-10113141_zps98925580.jpgI may have mentioned this before, but many years ago my boyfriend pretty much wooed me with his cookies. It’s a long standing joke that I’m with him for these cookies, and whilst that’s not true, his cookies are pretty yummy! A few months ago he gave his recipe to my little sister (who I’m hoping isn’t using them to woo someone!) – she’s done a bit of adapting and today I’m going to share the results with you!

 photo 2014-07-10112602_zps50eecb9a.jpgThese are pretty much the perfect cookie – crispy on the outside, but chewy and almost gooey in the middle. They even have the classic wrinkly look about them! And the best thing? They are absolutely crammed full of chocolate chips. I will be honest here and say I prefer to buy a dark each of dark, milk and white chocolate and chop into rough chunks, whereas my sister buys chocolate chips and neglects to use any dark chocolate at all – either way is delicious so do what you prefer.

Disclaimer: I’m entering this into the Bakespiration Challenge run by Stuck in the Tree – you can find more details here. I’ve received no compensation for entering, and this recipe is entirely based on adaptations to my boyfriends. 

 photo 2014-07-10112459_zps6291bb7c.jpgIngredients (this makes a LOT of cookies – as in 24 massive ones)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (I use salted, but add 1/2 tsp of salt if you don’t)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups worth of additions – chocolate, nuts, fruit etc – I don’t measure here, just through in whatever looks like enough!

Lets make cookies! 

 photo 2014-07-10103209_zps7234925f.jpg photo 2014-07-10103723_zps013f11dd.jpgCream the butter and the two sugars together. I find it easiest to beat the butter on its own first before adding the sugar. And obviously make sure the butter is well softened before starting! Though if you use fridge-cold butter you’ll burn loads of calories, so treat yourself to an extra cookie…

 photo 2014-07-10103916_zps5759dbab.jpg photo 2014-07-10104152_zps97ff4dab.jpgBeat in the eggs, best to do this one at a time or it could get messy.

 photo 2014-07-10105145_zps4782deb1.jpgMix the bicarbonate of soda into the flour, along with a little salt (if you used unsalted butter). Stir this into the egg-butter-sugar mixture, but don’t overstir. If the mix looks a little dry, add the water.

 photo 2014-07-10105332_zps40c7ca05.jpg photo 2014-07-10105404_zps813f4aa2.jpg photo 2014-07-10105430_zpsb5a2478b.jpgStir in the chocolate chips.

 photo 2014-07-10110413_zpsdccfbf11.jpgNow get ready to bake – heat your oven to 180C, and line several baking trays with baking parchment (thrifty tip – I’ve found Tesco’s own to be the best quality). Using two tablespoons, dollop 6 golfball sized amounts of cookie dough, evenly spaced, onto the tray. You may be wondering what the colourful bits are – come back next week for an explanation!

 photo 2014-07-10104931_zpse1c2184c.jpg photo 2014-07-10105123_zps5921205e.jpgIgnore the beautiful brown eyes that are begging for some to be accidentally dropped on the floor…

 photo 2014-07-10111208_zps7848a28a.jpgCook for 9 minutes, or until golden brown. They will be soft, but they firm up whilst cooling. To get a really classic wrinkling, bang the tray on a side just after they come out of the oven.

 photo 2014-07-10112633_zps368eadd1.jpg photo 2014-07-10112602_zps50eecb9a.jpgThere you have it – classic American style chocolate chip cookies. Serve with a glass of milk and a good book and you have my idea of a perfect mid-morning treat. Package up nicely and you have (my relationship is proof!) the perfect cupid’s gift. Now I’m off to find any that are still left…

What’s your perfect baked treat?

Lifestyle: Preserving Memories*

For a few years now I’ve been meaning to sit down and go through the several thousand images on my laptop, printing off the best, the most important, the most memory-provoking. Of course more important tasks always got priority, and I never did it. I sorely regretted that when my laptop died before university – I’m still working out a way to get it to stay on long enough to copy them over to a memory stick. The photos I do have left unsurprisingly still didn’t get printed, until a few weeks ago.

 photo 2014-07-08105041_zpsdbd5fbe7.jpgI was offered money towards products of my choice from Cartridge Discount, which I promptly put towards ink cartridges for my printer. The printer we have at home is a pretty good one, not only can it do double-sided printing on its own (wonderful for printing exam papers – I can just leave it to it and not waste tonnes of trees paper) but it also has a separate little section for photos. This means I can print out photo-sized images without having to trim them myself, and there’s no messing around trying to size the image either. The quality is pretty damn good too, I was quite pleased my work paid off as I have some lovely images to put into albums, frames, and make into presents…

 photo 2014-07-08105826_zps250e464a.jpgI printed out some of holidays and scenery. I was amazed at how clear some of my photos from Switzerland (I holidayed there in 2012) printed out. Obviously I had to print some of my Edinburgh Zoo photos too!

 photo 2014-07-08105724_zps7e93b646.jpgMy ever-so cute dog had to make an appearance. I actually think I printed more photos of him than anything else!

 photo 2014-07-08105917_zps2bada689.jpgThen there’s my pictures from university. My house organised a BBQ to celebrate end of exams, and we got some lovely pictures. It’s great I can know put them in an album knowing I won’t accidentally delete them!

And finally there’s the obligatory couple pictures! I’ve put this little arrangement together to show how much we have both changed since the beginning of our relationship – him more so than me! They also show how my boyfriend now cannot pull a nice face when presented with a camera lens…

 photo 2014-07-08110119_zpscd552875.jpgI’ve loved having physical copies of my photos – I’ve been showing them to everyone I’ve seen since I printed them! I can’t wait to buy some more pretty frames and albums and begin putting them together.

What do you do with your photos?