I wanted to use the multicoloured balloons we had left over from my birthday, so I created a balloon garland! It works quite well with the colourful books. The glass cabinet was pulled out of our 'room of doom', a box room full of our landlord's junk. I took it out, cleaned it and moved the furniture around in the livingroom to incorporate it. The landlord's stuff was then placed in a box, broken items beyond repair were thrown out and I shoved all of it in the storage space above the kitchen. The only thing which was left in the 'room of doom' was an empty wardrobe which is now a fully functioning wardrobe. It's become a 'dressing room' now. Although, it still acts as storage for things like the mop and bucket, broom and suitcases.
As the title suggests, I made hummus (حمّص بطحينة) but due to a lack of tahini, I used blended sesame seeds. I also thought I'd mix it up a bit so I added a medium clove of garlic and a tomato. Here’s the recipe:
You will need:
Cooked chickpeas (I use tinned because cooking chickpeas takes forever)
A little water retained from the tin or cooking pot (I use most of the chickpea tin water)
One medium clove of garlic (raw and flavoursome)
One medium tomato
Tahini (can be substituted with blended sesame seeds)
Lemon juice (if you don't have any you can just leave it out)
A drizzle of oil (any kind will do but preferably olive)
A pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
Bread or crackers, to serve
Put all of the ingredients (chickpeas, a little water, garlic, tomato, tahini or seeds, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper) into a blender or if you're using a hand held blender, put them into a container or bowl. Blend. Serve. Eat.
I got an electric shock when I pulled a broken extension lead plug out of the wall last night, my whole body aches. It’s definitely sofa day. I haven’t done much but watch films, tidy up, make a balloon garland from my left over birthday balloons and just generally potter about. There’s something of a tension in my muscles and I feel slightly weak. I've suffered from minor electric shocks before. I’d say I've experienced at least ten shocks, an unearthed dishwasher; a phone charger and wet kettle are the three which stand out, until now. In the UK we have switches on our wall sockets, except the ones you can occasionally find in bathrooms which are often labelled “shavers only”. In Poland, there are no switches, so when you plug in an electronic device, or you try to take it out, there are usually sparks. Now, in this building, there is definitely a long list of things wrong with the fixtures and fittings because it seems quite clear that whoever is in charge of the building couldn't care less what the individual landlords, who rent out the individual properties, do or don’t do. As I previously mentioned, my SO’s father generously replaced our light by hand gas cooker with an electric one and my family contributed to making our home a little bit cosier, so I went shopping.
I considered going to IKEA but let’s face it, it’s not that cheap when you live and work abroad. So instead, I went to Arkadia, a nice shopping mall three or four tram stops from where we live. I bought the gear I needed to set up WiFi on my SO’s custom built desktop (he’s currently away for a week so I wanted to do something nice for him). I also bought a screen cleaner, duster and a can of computer cleaner (compressed air).
After the electronics shop I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. My face was darker than my neck, again. I thought to myself “I’m twenty five years old and I still buy the cheapest make up I can find as long as it covers. It’s always orange. Why is it always orange? Light Beige? Ivory? No, such lies, it’s orange.” I noticed a shop called Sephora and having heard about this shop from various beauty bloggers I decided to give it a try. I wandered around aimlessly as I had absolutely no idea what to look for. I spoke in Polish to one of the women on the shop floor; she walked me up to a very smart looking and friendly make-up artist at the Lancôme Paris counter. He spoke perfect English and had me sit on a tall black chair in front of a long mirror. He removed my make-up. I had so many red blotches all over my face and he must have gone through at least seven make-up wipes. My skin felt so tingly and fresh once it had been removed. He began to go through the products and gave me a makeover. He started with half of my face so that I could see the difference. I could. I really could. Once finished, I couldn’t stop smiling, I looked beautiful and I felt beautiful, maybe even elegant, like the fanciest of fancy ladies. The coverage was flawless and my face finally matched my neck, the slight blush on my cheeks worked so well and I realised at that moment that this is why most working adults don’t buy cheap make-up. In the end, I purchased two products, a foundation (Lancôme Paris Teint Miracle) and a blush (Lancôme Paris Blush Subtil). I was also taught how to apply it correctly, without using my hands (need to stop touching my face). They also put some perfume samples in my gift bag, which was lovely. I think I should probably throw away the cake like orange powder I bought in H&M now. It’s better to have fewer products, which work effectively, than several that don’t work at all.
As I skipped out of Sephora smiling like a maniac, I knew exactly where I needed to go next, Carrefour. I forgot to take a basket and excitedly headed to the back to school section. I just adore back to school shopping, especially when they start it early (in July). There were loads of really useful maths and science books, as well as really fantastic discounts on books for children in both Polish and English. They’ll be useful for my younger students as well as building my own Polish vocabulary skills. I then proceeded to the home section where I bought new bedding (sadly no standard white pillow cases or covers); the bedding I chose is white with dark blue ship wheels and anchors. I plan on laundering my sheets later so I will see how it looks soon. I then noticed a bargain bin full of small pillow cases for throw pillows. I have four throw pillows so I picked up two light grey cases to match the two white cases I already have on the others. Our apartment has a lot of white and grey, I consider it to be one of my favourite combinations. There are colourful elements too, such as the bookshelves and balloons. I purchased two packets of hangers for our clothes, paid and made my way back home.
The status update and matching tweet at midnight “so, I just turned 25”, the ‘Adventure Time: Jake’s Birthday’ YouTube clip from the ‘Joshua and Margaret Investigations’ episode, the impending doom (just kidding) of being an actual adult and not realising when that happened.
I had a nice birthday; it was a relaxing day because we were both quite tired. We did go out for a walk down by the river, something we weren't able to do while my parents were around as we had planned so many other activities with them. I think next time we’ll take them for a wander along the river bank. We watched ‘Modern Family’ and a programme called 'Ripper Street' on Amazon Prime. It's based in Victorian England so even though the title suggests it'll be quite graphic (Jack the Ripper), it's actually a really interesting drama similar to 'Sherlock'. I also watched 'Adventure Time' while I did the dishes and attempted to clean the kitchen while my SO went out to get multi-coloured balloons and fancy birthday cake. He also bought me a fizzy Vimto. He left the price on and I was a bit shocked at how much more it costs simply because it's imported. It was made in Warrington though which we thought was funny! I also received a pretty gift box with lots of things inside and a giant bar of Milka which I thought was going to be a multipack with lots of little bars until I opened it! We ate pizza for dinner cooked in our new oven. When we used our old oven it just smelled like gas but not this time, this time the kitchen actually smelled like food!
The title of this post is ‘Mid-Twenties, Now What?’ I did a little searching online and I’ve discovered several articles relating to being in your mid-twenties. Most of them are lists (some with photos or GIFs) related to things you should have done by the time you’re in your mid-twenties. Others include ‘25 Things That Happen to You in Your Mid-Twenties’, ‘13 Signs You've Somehow Reached The Awkward Mid-20s Phase’ and ‘16 Things That Make You Surprisingly Happy In Your Mid-Twenties’ to name but a few, none of this is exactly high quality literature…
There also seems to be some confusion as to what mid-twenties actually are, I would say they start when you’re half way between 20 and 30, so 25, that’s the middle isn't it? Most people think of it more as being between 24 and 26. This would mean that right now I'm in my mid-mid-twenties.
Here is a list of 10 things I personally like about being in my mid-twenties:
1. Leaving home young and preferring to live alone doesn't affect me as much as I thought it would now that I live with my SO. I am slightly OCD about making sure the apartment is tidy and occasionally needing my own space but I don’t think being organised or contemplative is a necessarily bad thing.
2. Friends, most of mine are online and although perhaps I don’t communicate with them as much as I should, I know they’re there and I think they know that if they need me, I'm here (albeit I'm on the other side of a screen). It’s the 21st century, it’s relatively normal.
3. Being able to look back on my life thus far and feel like although some of the paths I chose growing up were the wrong ones, somewhere along the way, I chose the right ones. Perhaps I took a detour down bad decision lane as a teenager and now I'm back on track.
4. My relationship with my family is stronger than it has ever been and I know that despite any arguments we've had in the past or might have in future, they always have my best interests at heart. They love me. I love them.
5. Not really caring about what other people think of me, I've had enough of that. I can’t please everyone and there will always be those who dislike you for no apparent reason. There will always be people you dislike too. There’s no need to pretend you like a person if you can’t stand them. Don’t let anyone live rent free in your head; if you get nothing from them and they get nothing from you, what are they doing in there?
6. Developing a sense of self. Although I find this one particularly difficult, I seem to be making progress. No matter how many times your confidence is knocked back, at some point, you’ll be fine. I'm not there yet but I know one day, I will be.
7. Finding time to learn and pursuing my dreams even though I have to work full time in order to survive. We’re forced to learn in environments we don’t like as children but as adults we can learn wherever and however we feel most comfortable. I can't wait to start my PhD in October.
8. Being a good teacher.
9. Not growing up. Who decided I can’t watch cartoons, read comic books, play board games, sing or dance foolishly, laugh in public, read books on the floor, jump on the sofa when I'm excited, get upset easily or cuddle a stuffed toy or pillow because I'm an adult? We should be able to do whatever we want, whatever makes us comfortable, be whoever we are and wear whatever we want without being judged by others. I'm no longer ashamed to admit that I have several child-like tendencies. I don’t mind any of them. Why should I? Why should any of us?
10. Shopping online and cooking with confidence. Nailed it.
Last week was one of the busiest I've had here in Warsaw; my parents and sister arrived on Thursday night, we met them outside their rented apartment in the city centre and had a few drinks. It was so amazing to see everyone, unfortunately my brother wasn't able to make it but he was busy so I’ll see him at Christmas. The following is a summarised (and slightly sparse) commentary.
On Friday, we went to Muzeum Techniki i Przemysłu and a restaurant inside the Palace of Culture and Science, then we headed to the top and after that to Łazienki Królewskie, a beautiful park. On Friday night, my SO’s parents arrived. Both families met one another, it was nice.
The weather was hot, as it has been for the past month, which is very. It’s still hot. We don’t own a fan or an air conditioning system so it was troublesome trying to get to sleep at night. The apartment my parents were staying in did have air conditioning, which I was glad of as it made their stay that much more pleasant. On Saturday, the two families joined forces and we went by bus to the old town. We had a nice day of walking, talking, interpreting, translating, taking photos, eating and drinking. Everything went smoothly. The highlight for everyone (tired and a bit too hot) was the sit down meal at Zapiecek (Polska Pierogarnia z Tradycjami). There are several Zapiecek restaurants in Warsaw but we chose the one in Nowy Świat as it has bigger tables downstairs. The seven of us sat down and ordered, first the drinks, then the food. There was so much food. It was delicious. My dad kindly treated us to everything and we were all excited when they brought a big stand to the table with a beer container on top and its own taps. My sister was in charge of pouring the beers using this new contraption as she and I were closest, she did a great job. I would've ended up handing around glasses of foam.
Sunday was quieter, we split up, my SO took his family to Łazienki Królewskie and as my family had visited said park on Friday, we went to the zoo. I wore the wrong shoes, without socks. I suffered. I think the highlight of the zoo trip might’ve been the hippopotamuses. My SO’s parents bought us a cooker and a chicken but left shortly after it began cooking as they had another family meeting to attend. It was really tasty chicken, cooked with herbs and served with rice. We stayed at my parent’s apartment on Sunday night as we needed to be up early on Monday morning. The view at night was incredible. It looked directly onto the Palace of Culture and Science, which lit up the sky with colourful rainbow lights.
At 4:30AM on Monday morning, we got ready and headed to the Metro; we then got a Polski Bus to Kraków. This was a particularly nice journey, although it took a while, it was comfortable. There was a woman (similar to an air hostess) handing out cake, biscuits, ice cream and drinks which was both unusual and fantastic. I was so glad my parents were able to experience what felt like a slightly luxurious coach trip when compared to the normal Polski Bus experiences. The day was spent exploring Kraków, my dad bought a nice mug as a souvenir and we ate a giant zapiekanka each in the Jewish District (Kazimierz). The bus journey home wasn’t as nice as the journey there, everyone was a bit too warm, the bus stopped twice and there were no tasty treats. It was past midnight when we arrived; we ran to the Metro station, caught an underground train, said goodbye to my family at Centrum and continued onto Świętokrzyska and finally Dworzec Wileński where we got out and walked home.
Tuesday was quiet, we relaxed, I was treated to some lovely gifts from H&M and my family got a taxi to the airport. After waving them goodbye, we went back into our apartment building and I couldn't help but get a little upset, it was so wonderful to have them here.
I went for a run this morning and it was a bit of a failure, I'm not very fit. I thought my chest was about to explode. It turns out I can walk for hours but I can only run for several minutes (about two). Now I'm drinking two lemons sliced into hot water with two lemon balm/orange tea bags. I call it "healthy tea" but it tastes a bit bitter. I might put some honey in it next time. I'm going to try running again tomorrow and perhaps even yoga. My mum assures me that using YouTube yoga will help me.
I visited a dermatologist on Thursday. I have a growing number of moles and freckles all over my incredibly pale skin, some of which I'm a little uncertain of. None of them are particularly large or horrifying but there were two, one on my face and another on my arm which made me a little nervous. As a child I suffered from severe sunstroke, my body was red raw and I had blisters the size of golf balls. At the time, I was under the care of a careless woman; she was the mother of my friend, a friend who it seemed, was always in the sun. Once I'd arrived home, my own mother, was not impressed. Unfortunately, I didn't learn my lesson, as an impressionable teenager and young adult, I burned myself to feel more attractive, I wanted to look “healthier” and growing up so white you’re practically grey comes with a lot of ridiculous comments. I especially liked “I thought you were brought up in the desert, why are you so pale?” That’s not how it works.
What does a visit to check for skin cancer involve? It involves taking off all of your clothes and being carefully examined from head to toe by a doctor with a fancy magnifying glass. The two moles I was worried about, the ones which had itched (and were subsequently scratched) were fine. The three or four tiny black moles I wouldn't have even noticed, although OK, need to be monitored. I've been told to check them often and I'm not to go outside without SPF 50. I bought some not so long ago, it says a lot about our culture when it’s easier to find a useless SPF (anything under 15 might as well be olive oil) for adults and only SPF 50 for children. Why do we consider ourselves less important as adults? Oh the damage is done, let’s do a bit more.
I found the scale of the images online surprising, when you search for skin cancer the images are somewhat unrealistic, talk about out of proportion, they should really feature the mole in situ and then a close up of it so that one can understand what they’re looking for. The moles I have to watch are so small; I would've had no idea had the doctor not pointed them out to me using a huge mirror (with the most unflattering lighting ever). I was paying attention to the slightly larger ones, each under a centimetre in size but I should've being paying the most attention to the mysterious, little, flat, black ones. I have so many it looks like a pattern all over my body. It was strange to see how many covered my upper back as I hadn't seen it in such light before, I'm freckled.
Watermelon is growing increasingly cheap here in Poland. I bought some. I ate it.
Obviously, I took a photograph and posted it on Instagram first.
If you’re interested in the various myths surrounding tanning, there’s a great Buzzfeed article about it.