Monday, 30 November 2015

21/94: Rebecca, UK

A note from Joelle... 
1.          What was your month of birth in 1994?
July
2.          Where were you born?
Staffordshire
3.          Who were your idols or role models when you were a child?
I never really had a role model as a child I was very wrapped up in TV etc. I absolutely loved the spice girls I even lost my first tooth during one of their films! I also loved Mr. Blobby but that’s kind’ve a weird idol.
4.   Name your favourite singer/band from your childhood (the cringier the better!).
Spice girls obviously! Destiny’s child, S Club 7, Britney, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Gwen Stefani, I was OBSESSED with Busted my first concert was seeing them, really anything chart music from the late 90s/ early 00s I’m one of those people who knows all the words to the cheesy songs.
5.   What did you want to be when you were younger?
I loved dancing when I was younger and went to dance classes from the age of 4-15, I even got to perform at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London with our dance school, as awful as it sounds I wanted to be a backup dancer for someone on stage. What low expectations I had.
6.  Do you still want to go into that profession?
No! I think I realized how talented you have to be at all kinds of dance styles to even be considered to be featured on stage and I just wasn’t that good to be honest. I’m now in my final year studying International Fashion Business at NTU, so it's still down the creative route I knew I wouldn’t go into physics or anything like that.
7. What were you like as a teenager?
My parents would say awful but I still think I was an angel compared to my friends. I was very unsure of myself and still am, I was always that friend that’s part of the group but just goes along with the others, fear of rejection I guess. I was a very nervous and anxious teen, which I masked with loudness. My music taste changed dramatically as the emo phase came around I went from Britney to Slipknot so yea.
8. What was high school like for you?
I couldn’t wait to finish. I was one of those kids that secretly enjoyed school and that made me stand out more than I would have liked. I enjoyed lessons just not the social side of it. I was very awkward.
9.  How have your dreams and goals changed through your life?
Massively. I am so much more driven, hardworking and focused person right now. I have realized that you can’t please everyone, go with your gut and do something you enjoy. I am more confident than ever and all that took was to surround myself with the right people and avoid the negative people.
10.  How do/did you feel about turning 21 this year?
Honestly I was scared. When you hear stories from grandparents etc. who say “I owned my own house was married and had 2 kids when I was your age” I think SHIT. Obviously that just isn’t possible nowadays with the state of the economy and all that but I always have this horrible feeling I should have my life together already and I don’t.
11.  Is turning 21 a big deal in your opinion?
No not in the UK, I think it's more of an American thing because of the drinking age but once you're 18 in the UK you’re an adult so 21 isn’t much different.
12.  What’s one thing you are looking forward to doing in the next few years?
Finishing uni (7 months and counting) getting a ‘proper’ job and building a life for myself.
13. Has anything shocked/surprised you about adulthood so far?
That other adults treat me like a child still, I have considered myself as an adult from the age of 18 and have been living independently since then but people still assume I’m not mature because I’m still young.
14.  Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
Erm I’ve kind of tried to turn that into a career, I love all things creative and fashion is central to that for me. Does YouTube count?
15. What would you say to a teenager who is worried about adult life?
One step at a time. Everyone makes their own mistakes its just important to learn from them. Trust your gut and find people with the same aspirations as you.
16.  If you could give your 13-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Wow where to start, this is some kind of therapy session, have I been too honest? Shit. Erm just remember everything happens for a reason and everything works out in the end.
17.  What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘future’?
Apart from paralyzing fear? Erm I’ll be positive and say opportunity.
18.  Who are your idols or role models now?
Caitlin Moran, Casey Neistat, I like people who think for themselves and have their own reasons for opinions, don’t just go along with the crowd. I like the weirdos.
19.  What steps are you going to take to make your twenties a smoother ride?
Make sure I plan in advance and always have a plan B, but take more opportunities when they come and try new things.
20.  In 2015, do you think that life for young adults is optimistic or full of pressures?
Erm a bit of both. It should be much more optimistic however there are still pressures and struggles in place from previous generations. This government isn’t helping the situation but i'll try not to let my political persuasion affect my answers. It is harder for relationships now due to technology and harder to stand out from the crowd I think.
21.  What sets your generation apart from the others?
I would like to think we are more open to other ways of thinking and the internet has really helped this generation. I did partly grow up without a computer but from a young age technology has had an impact and not bad like everyone makes out, however a lot of our generation are very self obsessed and this is only getting worse for younger generations. 
Thank you, Rebecca for sharing your thoughts with me.
If you'd like to take part in my final few interviews, please send me a blank email febgirl@hotmail.co.uk with '21/94' in the subject line, and I'll get back to you :).
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Sunday, 29 November 2015

RECIPE: Mulled Wine

A note from Joelle... 

Ahhhhhhhhh December is days away and you know what that means... non-stop talk about Christmas for the next three weeks. YAY! 
Kicking things off, today I am sharing with you a fabulous mulled wine recipe.

Homemade mulled wine is one of the most delicious things you can make this season (that, and mulled cider, of course) AND it's really easy. There really is no need to buy that questionable-looking mulled wine mix or bottle in the shops, where your own fresh one will always taste better.

So many people cringe at the thought of drinking mulled wine, because they imagine red wine that's just been boiled on a stove. Noooooooo! 
When done well, this incredible, promise!
Here's a variation of my Mum's incredible recipe:

You will need:
Orange juice (2 fresh oranges or 2 cups of cartoned juice
2 cups cold water
3 tbsp brown sugar
1tsp mixed spice
1 cinnamon bark
Sprinkle of whole cloves (AVOID GROUND CLOVES!)
Pinch of nutmeg
Half a bottle of cheap red wine

Method:
Pour the water in a saucepan and add all the spices
Allow them to simmer away on a medium heat before adding the orange juice
Add the brown sugar and do a little taste-test
Add wine and stir until almost boiling
Sieve to catch the cinnamon and cloves and then serve in heat-proof glasses!

Season's eatings!
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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Free The Nipple

A (longer than usual) note from Joelle... 
Free The Nipple
When I first heard about the 'Free The Nipple' campaign a few years ago, I thought it was bizarre. I thought it was a publicity stunt by radical feminists who were wasting time fighting for something that wasn't actually that important.

"Why on earth do women want to expose their breasts?"
"Children will become too desensitised to sexual things if they see boobs bobbing about everywhere."
"Men will feel awkward and it will probably make more women uncomfortable about their bodies."
These are all things I used to think about women wanting the same treatment as men when it came to going topless in public.

And then it hit me. Why isn't it okay?  What's so offensive about breasts?
How we view women's sexuality and bodies needs to be changed drastically and ASAP.

I'm going to address each of my old questions one-by-one:

"Why on earth do women want to expose their breasts?"
Why on earth do men want to? Not all men do, but they have a choice to on a beach or on a hot day somewhere. That's what it's about - the choice. Women and men are still not equal when it comes to their bodies within society and that is a big problem .

"Children will become too desensitised to sexual things if they see boobs bobbing about everywhere."
Are you sure about this one, Joelle? Because even today, when you're more likely to see a pig fly than a woman with bare breasts in the city centre, children still know what breasts look like - they are more digitally equipped than previous generations. It's on TV, on billboards, in magazines, in music videos and explicit adult films. However, these examples who breasts as objects before natural assets that actually have a biological purpose (e.g. breastfeeding). Removing the laughs and "glamour" around breasts to begin with may help both boys and girls respect them more.
And it all boils down to the sex and relationship education we received from our school and parents. The British syllabus is abysmal and needs serious reform. 
Research has shown that a lack of good sex/relationships (aka THE FACTS) education at school-age directly correlates with the rise of teen/uneraged pregancies and sexual assults.
Britain is the worst in Europe - suprise, suprise
Teen birth rates (even though the age of consent is as low as 15 in some European countries) continue to fall, because of sex education that is taken seriously. No "mock" names are given to sexual organs, just the scientific names and facts.
That takes the awkwardness and "jokes" out of the vital education and actually makes students appreciate and understand their bodies without feeling embarrassed.
"The Dutch take sex very seriously – and their focus on education for young children pays off when they grow up". - The Guardian, 2011. Boom. No messing about - just facts.

You could argue that they have a lower population so you can't compare, blah blah blah... but they are definitely doing something that we Brits need to get on board with.

"Men will feel awkward and it will probably make more women uncomfortable about their bodies."
"Feeling awkward" isn't a good-enough excuse to criminalise female nudity and censor female breasts. Instead of automatically judging, Joelle, I challenge you to think about why you/some men  feel awkward in those situations. Does it have something to do with the fact that breasts have become so sexualised that actually seeing one in the flesh (pun intended) puts you on edge? Hmmm.
In relation to female self-esteem, the sexualisation of breasts in the media has created a generation of females who currently think there's one acceptable aesthetic: symmetrical, perfectly-spherical, gravity-defying DDs. 
Removing the censorship around the female form will hopefully open up a discussion addressing the fact that all shapes and sizes are fine and desirable. It's normal to compare the stuff we have with other people - it's normal. But the key is generating conversations, promoting awareness about breast health and saving lives.

This campaign isn't actually just about giving the women the right to parade around the streets topless (male or female, it's cold out there, y'know).
Even in the day-and-age, women STILL don't have control over their own bodies and that's what the movement is challenging! In some US states, women can be arrested for going topless in public. And in the UK, well, we all know about that ridiculous breastfeeding scandal that happened during the general election.

In today's society, it's okay to pay to see women's breasts in a newspaper/"lad's" mag, strip club or porn site, etc. - for entertainment and arousal.
But when a woman is owning her own body in public (e.g. feeding her baby or sunbathing), she is made to feel dirty and ashamed for doing something so natural.

Bare breasts aren't only for the male gaze and it shouldn't belong just in a 2D glossy format. They are more than that and we all know that deep down, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

To be honest, can't even run up or down the stairs braless (#ThePainIsReal), so I doubt I'll be going topless around town anytime soon. 
But I want the choice to be there. I want to live in a world where I don't have to censor my own body and feel ashamed of having something so cool and natural.
This movement is the catalyst needed to drive the conversation along about many other injustices and issues regarding the female body.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, I know what you're thinking: "But Joelle, didn't you write an article about banning Page 3? One minute you want boobs banned, and next you want them free. You're a hypocrite!"
Well, banning Page 3 isn't about telling women to not expose their breasts - honestly! It's all about context and a family newspaper isn't the place for soft porn. How can you have an article about current affairs on one page and then a topless model posing on the nest? It doesn't make sense. 

Also, the models in Page 3 expose their breasts for the sole intention of arousing men. They are told how to stand, how to pose and how "desirable" they are from people they don't know that well. They are not in control even if they think they are because they chose to model.
"Look at the tits on that", *lots of laughter*, I once heard a boy of around 12/13 say to his friend on a bus to college. They were flicking through a camera roll full of topless women they had probably taken from a tabloid somewhere.
"Her" became "that" - a thing. The woman is now an object, not a person. And it's sad that most people wouldn't even notice that.

Furthermore, a woman owning her body and posting a topless image in social media, like Twitter and Instagram will be flagged and removed within hours, yet masses amounts of pornographic images of nude women are easily accessible on those same websites. Interesting.

Breasts have been so overly-sexualised (e.g. topless women in video games, porn, Page 3 etc.) that we have forgotten what their biological use is. What the fuck is wrong with us humans? How have we allowed ourselves to become so basic?
Free The Nipple

A mother breastfeeding her child in public has nothing to do with you or your wondering eyes. She will not let her newborn starve because you find it uncomfortable seeing a bit of breast. Look away.

A woman on a beach with her bikini off does not and will not ever make her a "slut" or a "slag", because guess what? She doesn't want those annoying tan lines. It has nothing to do with wanting attention or "asking for it".

We need to check our breasts often and love them no matter what anyone else thinks of them. If we are fortunate-enough to still have ours, we have a right to take care of them, enjoy them and do want we want with them.

Every single person on this planet deserves to have control over their own bodies without being judged. 

The male and female supporters of the Free The Nipple movement are reclaiming our nipples from the itchy nuisance that is today's unjust society and it feels great to be right there with them. 
It's time we set 'em free and be free in return.

Agree? Disagree? Not sure? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 
You don't have to agree with me, but you have to agree with yourself - no one else but yo'self.
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

RECIPE: Fisherman's Pie

A note from Joelle... 
I made this quite spontaneously after realising I had some seafood in the freezer that I'd severely neglected for two weeks. This is an original recipe (aka an experiment that turned out pretty well) and I hope you enjoy it!
There are 3 components to this dish: the mash, the sauce and the fish/veg filling. It may look like a lot of work and ingredients, but it can be done from scratch and ready to eat in just over an hour - trust me!

You will need:
For the mash potato
800g white potatoes, 1 tbsp butter, splash of milk, 50g grated cheddar, 2 tsp grainy mustard, pinch of salt

For the filling
400g cod fillet (or skinless white fish of your choice), 200g peeled prawns (I used king), mangetout, mushrooms (any kind, I used white button), sprinkle of salt/pepper/dried mixed herbs

For the sauce
2 tbsp plain white flour, 50g butter, milk, salt/pepper

METHOD:
The mustard Mash
  1. Peel and quarter potatoes
  2. Boil them until soft
  3. Mash them
  4. Add butter, milk and season to taste
  5. Once smooth, add in 2 tsp grainy mustard and stir
The standard white sauce
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan
  2. Add flour and whisk until is becomes a paste (or  roux, if you're fancy)
  3. Add a splash of milk 
  4. Stir continuously until it gets thicker
  5. Add more milk if it starts to get too thick  - you want a rich pouring consistency!
  6. Add a pinch of salt, ground pepper and dried mixed herbs if you have some (fresh parsley would be good too!)
The Fish/Veg Filling
  1. Chop up a white onion, a spring onion, two garlic cloves, some white button mushrooms and some mangetout
  2. In a frying pan add the onions and garlic into a pan of hot oil
  3. Fry off the prawns (can do it from frozen or defrosted) and then set aside once they change colour
  4. Stir in the mushrooms and mangetout
  5. Add a splash of white wine if you have some (not essential)
  6. In a separate pan, submerge the cod under 400ml cold water (or milk with 2 bay leaves) and leave to poach on a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes
  7. Once both the cod and prawns are ready, drain off excess liquid (mushrooms can create a lot of extra water) from both pans and put the contents into a pie dish.
Combining everything:
  1. With the fish/veg mix on the bottom, pour on the white sauce, making sure the coating is even
  2. Then dollop on the mash
  3. Using a fork, you can spread it easier into the corners and make a traditional pattern on the top at the same time
  4. Bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees C to get that crispy top and bubbling edges
Season's eatings! 

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Friday, 20 November 2015

21/94: Karishma, UK

A note from Joelle... 


What was your month of birth in 1994?

August, baby of the year.

Where were you born?
Leicester

Who were your idols or role models when you were a child?
I don’t actually think I thought about this when I was a child.

Name your favourite singer/band from your childhood (the cringier the better!).
S Club 7. Hands down was obsessed with them

What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was really young I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a teacher. But from about year 7, something to do with Journalism

Do you still want to go into that profession?
Yes, I’ve just graduated with a Journalism degree

What were you like as a teenager?
Shy, kept myself to myself, unconfident

What was high school like for you?                            
Not bad. I had major rabbit teeth (I used to suck my thumb a lot as a child) which affected my confidence and got braces during high school which definitely helped.

How have your dreams and goals changed through your life?
Career wise, no. I’ve always wanted a job to do with writing. In other senses yes. I’ve grown up so understand everything more.

How do/did you feel about turning 21 this year?
Excited, but nervous.

Is turning 21 a big deal in your opinion?
Yes and no. It’s made into a bigger deal than it is. But for me personally, it marked the start of growing up. Because I’d finished uni and am starting a whole new journey and chapter. It is just a number though so it depends where abouts in your life you are, if that makes sense.

What’s one thing you are looking forward to doing in the next few years?
Working towards my dream career.

Has anything shocked/surprised you about adulthood so far?
How time consuming looking for a job is. And money. I didn’t realise how much I depended on my student loan. You also want to make money on your own rather than get it from someone else.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
Blogging, cooking. I’ve recently started to learn how to crochet (It’s harder than you think).

What would you say to a teenager who is worried about adult life?
Take it as it comes. I’m a massive believer in everything happens for a reason so don’t stress if everything doesn’t happen as you expect it to. Jobs, family, relationships…they’ll happen as they’re meant to.

If you could give your 13-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be so shy. Come out of your shell more.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘future’
Family.

Who are your idols or role models now?
My parents – they’ve both worked as hard as they could to give me the future I have now. But also my oldest cousin and his wife – they’ve both got their goals and nothing will stop them from achieving it. It kind of makes you realise if you want something go and make it happen.

What steps are you going to take to make your twenties a smoother ride?
Just take it day by day. Take every opportunity and enjoy it.

In 2015, do you think that life for young adults is optimistic or full of pressures?
I think you definitely have to stay optimistic because there’s so much out there for us. I don’t think it’s full of pressures but of course there are pressures – it’s only natural. I don’t think the media and press help. But you have to go and find whatever it is you want I think.

What sets your generation apart from everyone else?
The ever growing world of social media. I’m not sure if it’s always a good thing. But boy do we use it a lot. 

Thank you, Karishma for sharing your thoughts with me.

If you'd like to take part in my final few interviews, please send me a blank email febgirl@hotmail.co.uk with '21/94' in the subject line, and I'll get back to you :).

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Black Friday #LittleBlackBox

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪ 'Paint It Black' - ROlling Stones ♫♪

Ladies, Gentlemen, keen shoppers and retail workers: it's time to brace yourselves, because the big day is coming.
We all know what day that is...
BLACK FRIDAY!
This is the most crazy/busy/thrilling/frustrating day of the year and it's just around the corner!
Last year I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in those 24 hours and didn't even leave my flat!
There's nothing better than shopping whilst sipping a cup of tea and resting in the knowledge that all your shopping is done. And then the pretty parcels arrive and you feel like Father Christmas.

The folks at TNT Direct were kind enough to send me a #LittleBlackBox filled with incredible goodies (thank you!). 

As you can see, the theme is black (my favourite colour!) and includes some candles (that are black but smell of vanilla!), a notebook, a rose, super-healthy chocolate, licorice, nail polish, lipstick and some coffee. 


In the spirit of Black Friday and all things black, TNT have challenged me to list my five favourite black things. Here they are in no particular order:

1. My skin - well, why not? #cringe. In a world where people make profit from our insecurities, I'm all for a bit of self-love!
2. Over-the-knee boots - I recently bought a brand new pair and I honestly feel like I can conquer the world in them.
Image 2 of ASOS KITCH Suede Over The Knee Boots
my ASOS boots
3. Little Black Book - Yup, I have one of these beauties. When I go to fashion events, I often get people to sign it or write their blog name. It's just a nice keepsake to remember to awesome people I've met during my blogging journey. 

4. LBD - I have to many of these to mention, but I just bought a scalloped one from Boohoo and feel a million dollars every time I put it on.
5. Tea flask - okay, I don't care if this sounds lame, but this flask has saved my freezing-cold life so many times up here in Aberdeen. The tea stays warm for almost 10 hours and I rarely leave the house without it!

Are you a part of the Black Friday hype? Let me know! 
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