It’s hard to put into words how tired I am and it’s hard to be honest. I know I don’t have the most difficult job in the world ... but it’s certainly not the easiest. This week has been arduous, I still haven’t heard from the university and I’m becoming more and more aware of the fact that I might encounter bouts of exhaustion once I start my lectures. I’m not sure how I feel about working from eight in the morning until well after eight in the evening, not to mention the tiresome commuting which adds at least two hours, if not more to the day. It’s not a single journey, there’re at least three forms of transport involved and going to two schools in one day just makes me want to cry. I’ve mentioned that I don’t mind it but when you work in one place all day, it’s easier, that’s obvious. I would switch in a heartbeat.
Teaching is great when you have time to plan decent lessons, I need at least a day to think about the week and at the same time, life isn’t just about teaching. It’s about living. There are other elements that come into play, the cleanliness of one’s apartment, of one’s self and lastly, any sort of normal relationship with another human being would be beneficial at the moment. I thought I would be teaching less because I would be studying, I thought it would work out better but as it happens I have extra hours, which means more money and less time. Less time ... I’ve met people who work on a pitiful amount of sleep a night and seem to function competently but I wonder how well they’d be able to teach six classes of students between the ages of 5 and 9 followed by adult learners. I wonder if the students would enjoy their classes. I wonder if I’ll be able to do it.
Last year made so much sense to me, this year my brain hurts from all the modifications, all the revisions. I understand the disruptive nature of change which enables a company to develop. I just wish I had taken a step back before diving in.
On a more positive note, I finally managed to update my blog with a post (albeit a slight moan).
Last month, I enjoyed a post written where a number of questions re listed to be answered in the comments section by the readers. Some questions haven't been changed (as the original post was so good) but I've adapted others to suit me (pizza instead of biscuits, even though I really like biscuits). If you would prefer not to comment, you can email me with your answers.
Answer as many or as few questions as you'd like, let's start a dialogue.
P E R S O N A L
+ What's your name?
+ How old are you?
+ Where can I find you (Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin etc.)?
+ What do you do?
+ How are you?
N O W & F U T U R E
+ What's your dream job? (No limitations)
+ Name three skills you have.
+ Name three skills you want.
+ Where do you see yourself in five years?
Y O U & I
+ How did you find my site?
+ How do you follow me?
+ Is there anything you'd like to ask me?
P I Z Z A S
+ What's your favourite pizza topping?
+ Are you vegan or vegetarian?
+ What's your favourite book?
+ What's your favourite film?
+ What's your favourite television series?
+ Do you have a favourite celebrity?
+ Name one song I need to go and listen to right now.
Here's a list of all of the products:
Kawaii Neko Plush
Tin Dinosaur Pencil Case
Macaron Ink Pen (I thought it was a doughnut, whoops!)
Cloud Memory Letter Set
Korean Deco Tape
Polka Dot Shoe Laces
Popsicle Squishy Charm
Mini Animal Spray Bottle
Alpaca Tin Case (I thought they were sheep, whoops!)
Puffy Paradise Stickers
Naru Naru Gumi Nomi DIY Candy Kit
Above is a video of me opening my reviewer of the month (August 2015) Kawaii Box and a giveaway where you can win your own! If you would prefer to enter through my Facebook page click here.
Pinky Paradise have accumulated years of experience in the beauty industry, making them a trusted and renowned online retail merchandiser. They specialise in fashionable and trendy circle lenses and colour contacts, both with and without prescription. Luckily for me there are toric lenses for astigmatism too (although the ones featured in the pictures are just a regular prescription)! I was searching for make-up I had used in Taiwan when I stumbled across their site. As far as the site itself goes, it's well designed and easy to navigate, which makes it quite pleasant to use. They also have a list of international delivery costs which includes how much one has to spend to be eligible for free delivery!
The lenses I chose are very similar to my natural colour, which is dark brown. I chose the GEO Grang Grang Choco HC-246 style as I felt that they were quite pretty. I wanted to enhance my look rather than completely change it. Perhaps I'll be brave enough to buy a pair in bright blue or green at some point but for now, I'll stick to brown. The lenses come with a free case, they sent me two really cute macaroon versions, one in pink and purple, the other in pink and blue. There was also a really nice little manual explaining how to put the lenses in your eyes as well as other safety tips. I love the illustrations.
I didn't find the make-up I was looking for but I decided that a box of face masks would be a worthwhile purchase. They have a lot of great beauty products, as well as wigs and other accessories. The face masks I chose are a brand I've used in the past and they really work very well. The brand is 'My Beauty Diary' and they're arbutin masks. My skin has some acne scaring so I find that using a mask helps and my entire face always feels so much better afterwards, especially if I've been at work all day.
This review was also posted on Trust Pilot.
I wanted to share another great recipe with you, this is another one from Damien Matter (check out his mussel pot recipe here). "This chicken wing recipe is one of my all time favourite ones. They are sweet, sticky and moreish. The whiskey marinade and sauce makes this a winner. Best cooked on a coal BBQ."
• Chicken wings
A little or a lot (you will want a lot they are too tasty for one).
Prepare them by twisting the wing so they cook flat.
• About a cup of whiskey
• 1 cup of stock (home made)
• Onion and garlic flakes
• Sea salt and pepper corns
• Brown sugar
• 1 onion
• 4 cloves of garlic
• Olive oil
I signed up for Reddit Gifts, Gifts for Teachers 2015 in early August. My 'secret Santa' sent me a message once I had been matched and it was great to chat with them about where I work and the students. My application mentioned that I wished there were more readers for the children, to be read to the younger ones or to be read by the older ones. Reading books in school is such a huge part of a child's education. I was delighted yesterday that I had come home from work when I did as a few minutes later the doorbell rang, it was a courier. I opened the box to find fifteen beautiful books for children. I've written a list of them all here:
Shampoodle (Step into Reading)
Wild Kratts: Wild Sea Creature: Sharks, Whales and Dolphins! (Step into Reading)
Disney Frozen: Hello, Olaf! (Step into Reading)
Disney Big Hero 6:I Am Baymax (Step into Reading)
Disney Frozen: Big Snowman, Little Snowman (Step into Reading)
Tangled: Kingdom of Colour (Step into Reading)
A Maths Reader: One Hundred Shoes (Step into Reading)
May I Please Have A Cookie? (Scholastic Readers)
Possum Magic (Voyager Books)
Sunshine, Moonshine (Step into Reading)
Disney Pixar, Inside Out: Welcome to Headquarters (Step into Reading)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Pizza Party! (Step into Reading)
Bean's Baker's Best Shot (Step into Reading)
Disney Princess: Friends for a Princess (Step into Reading)
Big Egg (Step into Reading)
I know the students will absolutely adore the Disney Pixar books but my personal favourites are Possum Magic (it's such a lovely story with nice illustrations) and One Hundred Shoes (which is actually an awesome maths reader for young learners). Every book on the list contains a click through link to where you can purchase each of them. I've enjoyed messaging my 'secret Santa' and the entire experience. I think I will definitely take part again next year.
I cried a lot yesterday (at home, in front of my co-workers, on public transport). For the entire day I just felt as though my body was shutting down. The past two weeks have been incredibly busy and today was the first day that I was finally able to relax. Unfortunately for me, the day flew by too fast. My S.O. went back to his home town early this morning, I ate leftover soup and straightened a synthetic wig. Before I knew it, it was dark outside and in two hours it'll be time for bed.
The reasons for my current wave of sadness are irrelevant. I won't go into detail about why I'm feeling low and instead I'll focus on how I attempt to bring myself back up.
This week shouldn't be as frustrating as the last, I hope. The university haven't got in touch with me yet so I presume it'll be the middle of September before I'm able to choose and register for my lessons. I might make myself a banana milkshake and save all of the tidying up for tomorrow.
This week, I returned to work, not as a teacher but as a teacher trainer. Next week, I go back to being a teacher. Sharing knowledge, experiences and ideas makes so much sense, especially when it comes to education. We all have our own stories and yet we've all ended up in the same place, in the same room. At some point, we all made the same decision.
My left eye burned, I couldn't open it, I wondered if I'd left a contact lens in, I hadn't. Was I awake? I wasn't sure. My entire brain felt heavy in my head. The pillow was too soft. Face to mattress. Discomfort. My left eye continued to burn. I was so nervous on Sunday night that I hardly slept. According to my SO, I sleep walked. The past tense of sleep walk is an interesting thought, I slept walked... no, definitely sleep walked. There was something about meeting six new people which worried me more than actually planning the training. I knew I could plan the training, I'm an organisational elf. Acting like a normal human being however, was another thing entirely. How can you plan your personality? You can't. My head space remained a sort of thought soup whilst everything around me was neatly piled and colour coded. I knew I'd be as overly talkative and shall we say 'animated' as usual.
It's not over yet. The first day started a little slower than the second. That's normal, especially when you're thrown into a new environment, surrounded by new people and given a lot of information to digest. By the end of the first day contributions grew, as did assertiveness, there were more suggestions and an overall sense of calm. Today, there was a lot of hard work but also more of a bond between colleagues. I hope that as the week progresses, everyone feels like they've made the right choice and that our school is one they're proud to be a part of.
Update: I was recently contacted by redditgifts as I applied for their 'redditgifts for the Teachers 2015' exchange, my details were pulled yesterday. A kind donor has agreed to send me something based on a detailed description of what might benefit my lessons. It's a complete surprise and more of a kind gesture than a lottery win. I mentioned how Maths and Science equipment is hard to come by without paying a fortune for shipping, how some supplies for Art might useful and that English children's books would be a nice classroom addition. Although it's referred to as an exchange, this particular project does not require that the teacher send anything more than a thank you note. If you missed it this year, you might want to apply next year. It's such a thoughtful scheme.
The last time I reviewed a book, I was in the classroom of an English teacher who despised me; I was fourteen years old. I'm now an English teacher myself (although, certainly not despised) and I'm about to review a book (well, a play). ‘The History Boys’ is a play by Alan Bennett, an English author, actor, playwright and screenwriter.
Fun Fact: Bennett was in an episode of Family Guy (Brian’s Play, 2013) as himself.
What started as an amusing and intriguing play slowly became a mass of uncomfortable, pseudointellectual dribble. Overall it seemed as though most of the themes only exist in order for you to question their existence. Admittedly, I enjoyed the occasional use of French. There are references to history; teaching, education and inappropriate (although not explicit) behaviour throughout, making this feel like a controversial but interesting piece of writing for a teacher to read. Had I read the play as a student, I might’ve been more accepting of it; I may have viewed the characters differently and empathised with their teenage struggles.
Being unable to relate to the staff or students in any way makes it all seem slightly alien and heavily fictional. The bizarre attitudes of the characters and the strange classroom encounters feel far removed from reality. The play contains various anachronisms which can be confusing at times. It’s set in the eighties and as a twenty first century teacher I know that there are considerable differences and major flaws in previous education systems but for a play entitled ‘The History Boys’ it doesn't exactly seem historically accurate.
The premise of this play baffled me, what was the point of it all? Perhaps something along the lines of foolishness leads to destruction? Although I'm referring to the foolish nature of Hector and his inevitable fate, I'm not really sure what I got out of reading this. Mrs Lintott seems a relatively sane and likeable character, until during mock interviews she goes on a rant about women in history. The whole scene feels like an afterthought, an ‘oh, we should probably think about the women’ moment as every other female character is either a silent nobody (the headmaster’s wife and Hector’s wife) or an object of sexual gratification (Fiona).
The film differs greatly from the play in several ways and having read the play first, I suggest doing so too before watching, particularly if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter films. Some differences are irrelevant such as the headmaster’s wife being replaced by a lollipop lady or Irwin’s loss of both legs becoming a broken bone but it’s interesting to play spot the difference. If you watch the film and then read the play, you might find yourself envisaging the cast of the film rather than characters developed using your mind’s eye.
The play can be read in about an hour depending on your own pace.
If you're interested in taking part in the Infinite Variety Book Club: click here.
If you would like to purchase a copy of The History Boys: click here.
I've mentioned Death to The Stock Photo in a previous post but I can't help but mention them again, they really are fantastic. There weren't just photographs in the latest email, there were recipes too and as we all know, I'm a big fan of recipes. The latest set of photos follows an Australian home chef called Damien Matter. I couldn't let such lovely content go to waste so here's a recipe by Damien Matter (plus some British spelling edits by me, sorry):
Mussel pot with beer:
"Steamed mussels are such an easy yet extremely tasty dish. You can make the broth with just water and a good tomato base but by adding a splash of wine or in this case some beer it goes to the next level of flavour town. For the broth I used 5 330 ml cans of Piston Head lager, Swedish beer with a really nice, crispy taste. Eaten straight out of the pot or in a bowl with a crispy baguette, this mussels dish so good you will make it probably the next day for friends that missed out on it the night before."
• Fresh Australian mussels (about 2 kilos)
• Tomato paste
• 1 chopped onion
• 4 cloves of crushed garlic
• Salt and pepper
• Olive oil
• About 1 and half litres of your favourite beer
Good Morning! It's now moved from PM to AM here in Poland and yet, I'm still awake. I plan on staying awake for at least three more hours. I haven't been able to sleep much this week. I'm nervous, really, really nervous. As some of you might know, I work as a teacher. I've worked as a teacher for a few years and it's great, it suits me. I love teaching. However, I've never trained teachers before so this is going to be a new experience for me. It's hard to imagine what it'll be like, there's one part of me that feels excited and another that is genuinely panicking. I have three presentations planned with three documents to go with each presentation, plus various examples. I think new responsibilities are a wonderful thing but I don't want to bore them. I keep thinking of jokes to throw in here and there, little anecdotes about classroom management and cool videos I can show but what I'm not doing, is concentrating. I'm procrastinating because although I know I can do this, I'm an anxious person and it's hard to focus.
I read online somewhere (no link, sorry) that a healthy lifestyle can help with stress, so this morning I made myself a bowl of tropical muesli with milk and coconut oil. To drink, I made myself a green tea with a whole lemon. It took so long to eat/drink that I was essentially meditating. For lunch, I had a pizza. For dinner, I ate a big bag of popcorn in front of my computer. I typed and crunched, typed and crunched. Popcorn helped. My SO bought me chocolate. Do you know what helps stress better than muesli? Pizza, popcorn and chocolate. I don't want to be the bearer of bad news but I typed up 2,000 words during that popcorn session yet wrote nothing whilst munching on muesli. Although, perhaps without the meditative muesli, I never would've had my moment of clarity.
This morning I decided to repot two of my houseplants. I bought a new bag of soil and two big, white, plastic planters from Carrefour about a week ago. I could've done with more soil but they both seem a lot more comfortable in the new pots than they did in the old ones. They were getting a bit too big, the roots must've been a little bit cramped. Is it strange to name your houseplants? I haven't named them yet but I might. If you have any name ideas let me know! I took some picture to show you how I planted them. I always start by putting a little in the bottom and pressing some up against the sides, making a little soil like bowl inside the planter. Then, once the plant is the right height, I add more soil. The soil is often quite soft so the plant might move around. Adding water at this point and gently pressing the soil to tighten it around the roots should anchor it better.
There are some really good websites out there with houseplant care tips and tricks. Pinterest is useful too. I found an article called 9 Ways Not to Kill Your Houseplants. I had used most of the ways listed, except the gadgets and apps. My favourite is using carbonated water every now and then, it really does work.
My Instagram feed isn't the prettiest; nor is it the coolest or the most consistent. It just exists. My SO and I spoke about it tonight; we sat down and looked at my recent photos. The ones which work stayed and two which didn't, were removed. I deleted a badly lit photograph of cucumber water and an absolutely horrendous one of the kitchen sink. It seemed to us that the images worked best when they were left untouched by horrible, grainy app filters. So much of the original photo quality is lost when I add a filter.
I decided to break a rule I set for myself. The rule was that I wouldn't delete, over edit, unfollow or unfriend unnecessarily. I was once a notorious serial deleter, unfollower and unfriender but I decided to change. I also promised myself that I wouldn't remove or replace any images I post. I broke that promise today. I wanted to stick to not deleting in order to develop and progress. I wanted to look back on terrible photos and think “well, at least I'm improving”… I downloaded Facetune and VSCO Cam, two apps which are great when they’re used by other people (as mentioned by popular lifestyle bloggers and vloggers) but I tried and failed. For now, I might just stick to simple, composed and unfiltered images taken with an actual camera, my phone and iPad photos just don’t cut it.
In my quest for beautiful images I did however find a site called Death to The Stock Photo. I’d recommend it as it seems like a useful blogging resource. They give you a free download and you can sign up to receive photographs via email. I also found the site of a blogger called Emma Davies who is offering an email photography course, so I joined.
Ten Things I Don't Like
Ten Things I Like
My blog is a little bit brighter at the moment; I think it’s heading in the right direction. I've decided that it’s not a good idea for me to compare my blog to the blogs of others. It’s best just to keep going and not to dwell. I still have some illustration work to finish tonight so I’ll work on that and then perhaps write another post. In my previous post I mentioned some work I was doing for a good cause, well the gofundme page is now open for donations if anyone is interested in raising money and awareness for mental health.
Yesterday, I managed to completely fill two of my white folders with maths and science resources. I organised them by topic rather than subject. It took me about eight hours to sort them all out and I still have two piles of paperwork to file before I start work again. I’ll probably go to Carrefour or Tesco tomorrow and buy some more folders. My boss and I were meant to meet today but we've rescheduled now so we’ll meet on Friday. I've got so many wonderful ideas for lessons and I think it’ll be easier this year as I'm more familiar with everything. There’s something rewarding about knowing you don’t have to worry about planning the special lessons because you've got most of them planned. I created three folders for Kids Clubs too, Halloween and Christmas in one, Easter and summer in another and the last one is for YLE clubs. The last one could do with being split into three so that I have individual activity folders for Starters, Movers and Flyers (Cambridge Exams).
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big fan of stickers. My family even brought some over for me on my birthday. My laptop is covered in stickers and although I sometimes prefer to keep them in their packets, working in education and seeing how much students (even the older ones) love stickers makes me so happy as I remember how much I used to love stickers too. I collected them for a while; it was a popular hobby when I was at school. I'd always have at least one "furry" sticker and one "shiny" sticker. The luckiest had brand new Lisa Frank collections. Admittedly, I used to pretend the stickers from bananas and apples were rare in the hope that I could swap them for a multicoloured puppy or dolphin. Unfortunately, it wasn't as popular in the UK as it was in the Middle East.
I noticed however that when you’re using stickers from various packets, you often end up with a few odd ones here and there so I decided to peel the left over ones from each packet, take a large empty sticker sheet and add the left overs to that one. I'm think the mix and match sticker sheet works quite well. One of the things I liked most about supermarkets in Taiwan was the absolutely brilliant supply of stickers and stationary (a lot of the stickers are from Korea). I think I’ll do a Taiwanese card and/or sticker giveaway at some point, an international one so that no one gets left out. I always feel a bit sad when giveaways are only based in the UK. I could use my parents address but then they’d have to send things on to Poland for me and I wouldn't feel right doing that.
The weather has been unbearably hot recently, we have all of the windows open including the balcony “doors” in an attempt to create a constant flow of air but there's hardly any wind so it's not dissimilar to being sat outside in the shade. I decided to move my work space so that rather than facing into the room, I'm now facing out with my back to the room. It’s much nicer to be able to open the doors wide and look out over the balcony at the trees and the sky, especially when you’re using a laptop all day. I took the comfort level one step further earlier and used a basin filled with a little warm water and mouthwash (it works) to soak my feet! I then scrubbed them with some Farmona Tutti Frutti Melon and Watermelon body scrub. My feet feel (and smell) amazing now.
I finally managed to finish a couple of illustrations for an exciting new venture today. I have one more to complete and a few borders to work on and then I'll be happy with what we've got. I'll let everyone know more about the details as soon as they're finalised as it's for such a great cause.
It’s been a while since I was really able to focus on studying. I've done a bit here and there over the summer (about 10,000 of my own words and a lot of reading) but it just seems to have flown by. I have a meeting at school on Wednesday and before I know it I’ll be back at work, studying for my PhD and hopefully keeping this blog going. There are so many wonderful Tumblr posts about studying and blogs dedicated specifically to learning that I've been spoilt for choice. I did notice that the posts I like the most contain beautiful images of stationary and equipment. I took some #LBloggers advice from Twitter and tried a different background today (my photographs are a little boring) to showcase my favourite (non-electronic) piece of studying equipment. It’s a Deckchair Bookchair which can be bought at Thinking Gifts. I've owned mine for about three years! I also enjoy using index labels and cute page markers when using real books, I bought some when I was living in Taiwan, they’re adorable and can make serious subjects a little more fun to research… even though I love serious subjects, it might help those who don’t! Sometimes I use the Deckchair Bookchair to hold my iPad when I'm reading an electronic book, especially if it’s on the desk; it’s like having another computer screen, although I'm always multi-screening anyway.
If you love books you might be interested in joining the Infinite Variety blogger's book club! This month's book is The History Boys. I can't wait to review it.
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.