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24 March 2015

Life Update: Spring, Scrapbooking and Self Restraint

This year I've really wanted to hone in on the seize the day lifestyle. I've been saying yes to more things, trying new foods, putting myself out there more and trying to look at life from a far more positive perspective. I pinned two big lists of quotes and life values to the pin board above my desk, and as you may have noticed yourselves, I'm paying much more attention to self happiness. 

As part of my 'live life to the full' attitude, I've decided to take on scrap booking. I know a few other bloggers who did this through the Project Life scrap book, but I've decided to actually go for it and do it from scratch. Materials have been ordered, photo's have been printed and tickets have been saved up. Because I am such a hoarder it's really hard for me to refine what I've kept from over the years, so rather than keep it in a 'memory box' as I've done in the past, I think this is the most perfect way to keep up with everything I've done over the year! I was potentially thinking of writing a monthly blog post of my scrap book, and was wondering if that would interest any of you? To fill you in on what I've been doing outside of the blogosphere in one big old chat with lots of creative photographs, let me know what you think on that!

I can't really believe I'm writing this, but it's almost the end of March already! I feel like I blinked on March the 1st and woke up today, where did it all go? There's even been a couple of sunny days amongst the grey skies, clearly spring is upon us! I always find I'm most motivated when it's a gorgeous day outside, and over the past month or so I've been making a conscious effort to be the best form of me I can be. Despite being a student, I've been so busy lately that not going out hasn't been too much of a hardship, however if I've learnt anything over the past year or so, it's how important it is to know your limits. My worst habit is attitude of 'well I've started now, the damage is done, why bother stopping', and it applies to everything! Money, chocolate, alcohol, you name it. And so over the past few weeks I've been trying to put up more of a barrier to this attitude. Obviously it's been hard, but getting a job, going to the gym and being far too busy to breathe let alone go on nights out has made it easier. I am going through a massive 'Can Do' attitude change at the moment and I love it. It's just extremely hard to not eat white chocolate buttons when your friends bought them for you!

Alongside my self happiness mission, this year I also really want to concentrate on blogging about things which actually matter. There is so much media and press attention which is orientated completely around fashion and beauty blogs, they're always the ones which gain the followers and have their niche and get the sponsors. And please don't get me wrong, that is great. They know what they're doing and they do it well, I follow a lot myself. But a lot of lifestyle blogs get lost under this pile, and I'm really keen to continue blogging about the controversial bits of life which others push under  the rug! I really want Alice's Antics to be the most well rounded blog possible, a little bit of beauty, fashion, food and travel, but most importantly, not afraid to talk about the real things going on and make sure my readers know there's always someone to talk to, it's a huge goal of mine!

So there's a bit of some background life info, I hope you all had lovely weekends, we're almost (almost) half way to Friday again!

Ciao for Now!

16 March 2015

Mothering Sunday

My Mother's Day record has never been particularly great. In our family, every occasion is a big occasion, and in the same way myself and my sister get absolutely spoilt rotten in any and every way possible on our birthdays and christmas (and any other reason which might arise), we are expected to make a big deal out of every parent occasion, anniversary, mothers day, fathers day, anything. It's one of my favourite parts about my family, I couldn't imagine a life where we don't follow our morning ritual, no matter what the occasion. But for some reason, Mother's Day has never been a strong point of mine- from last year when I wasn't in the country at all, to that unmentionable year where I forgot altogether and decided to make... a powerpoint. So to make up for an inch of the last 19 Mother's Days, last night I decided to hop on a train straight after work, and four hours, three trains later, I arrived back in Dorset, ready to surprise my mum and spoil her rotten tomorrow!

After present opening and breakfasting, we had a slow paced morning, the perfect way to spend any Sunday in my opinion. Eventually we decided to continue the day, and headed out to Weymouth to browse in the vintage shop and see what any bits and bobs we could find. Me and my mum share our love of vintage and charity shops, so it was the perfect afternoon- and Dad didn't mind being dragged around too much either. Of course, when we spotted cream tea's, we soon heard our tummy's rumbling and decided to take a break from the shopping!

After a little while longer, we took our findings and headed back home to un-pop the bottle of fizz and have a couple of hours lazing around in true Sunday afternoon fashion. It passed all too quickly and soon enough we found the time for our dinner reservation was nearly upon us and walked up to Zizzi's, our favourite restaurant as a family.

As it was a special occasion, we decided to indulge, and so calamari was followed by a pizza which was followed by an espresso affogato... which is really, my idea of a perfect dinner, and each plate was practically inhaled. Zizzi's do a 'skinny pizza' which I actually prefer to the normal pizzas, as all of the toppings are fresh on top, and it means I can eat a delicious meal and justify dessert (kind of), so winners all around! We had to pause between starters and main to take a couple of photo's, it is Mother's Day after all! Unfortunately, I was clearly caught feeling a little bit sassy in this moment and have lost my ability to smile properly!

Unfortunately the diet I've been pursuing in aid of my girl friends summer holiday, was rather put aside today! But I can't say I didn't enjoy every mouthful. We walked home full as can be, and a little merry. To end the night, we stuck on some home video tapes from the early 2000's, crying with laughter at our little family. My mum took it upon herself to film a lot of us growing up, and although she may not be the next Tarantino (there is a lot of forgetting to turn the camera off/continuous floor filming), I am so happy we have the memories captured on film! They are a treat to  snuggle down to on a Sunday night, incomplete without chocolate of course- that diet was screwed for the whole day, so why not.

I'm extremely lucky in that my mum (and dad) supports me in everything and anything I do, and it really doesn't go unnoticed, particularly of late. The last 12 months have truly proved I am a home girl at heart, it took living abroad and moving away, but I'm really not as cool and care free as I  used to like to think. At the end of the day, nothing beats family time.

I hope you've all had wonderful weekends, and if you're lucky enough to have a mother who's around, I truly hope you've spoilt her rotten!

Ciao for Now!

11 March 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons

Over the last month or so, my life has taken a serious U-Turn. I've gone from lazing about, filling my days with Gilmore Girls binges and coffee catch ups, to having responsibilities that actually matter and impact on my life. A job, four 2,500 word essays (I thought first year was meant to be easy), an important competition which I'm creating a seventeen minute presentation for, and then all the usual lectures and seminars which fill my life. And for the first few weeks, I was left feeling like there just isn't enough hours in the day. I was knackered, getting up early for meetings and going to bed late due to working on essays, planning my days by the hour to make sure everything would be done. I didn't see my friends, I didn't go on nights out, and I definitely didn't have coffee catch ups. I was stressed. Probably more stressed than I have been in a long time, and it had an effect on everything I did and everything I am, I stopped being Alice-y and started being a robot. 

I've been asked a few times to write a post on how I deal with stress. So, I thought what better time to bring out this anti-stress post, then write about it during my most stressful week at university so far! If you live away from home, or even if you live at home, I would recommend the first thing to do is talk to somebody who is completely objective from whatever stress you're under. I ended up calling my mum, who told me to write a list and plan out what I needed to do and when I needed it all done by. It's likely that your peers will be under the same or similar pressure as you, and sometimes you need a fresh face to tell you it's going to be okay, and help you find a way to sort through the mess.

As suggested, I wrote out everything and although it made me want to cry briefly, because I really was not imagining how much I had to do, by separating it all into deadlines, I found I was able to think about one thing at a time and dedicate my time to that project in turn, rather than half heartedly rush everything. I still make 'To Do' lists at the start of everyday. Sometimes not even a literal one, but every single morning I have at least a mental list of what needs accomplishing today and what I can leave out for a while.

I also wrote reminders on my wall and stuck them up to make sure I didn't go back to my old method of just buckling under pressure. I have two lists on my pin board above my desk, one is called 'Key Quotes to a Happy Life' containing life quotes to put things into perspective and the other is 'It's a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life', which is a list of things to do when I feel like the world is on top of me. I've used them a couple of times throughout the last month, but generally it's just nice to know they're there.

The one point I can't stress enough (how punny!) is taking time out to do something for yourself. It doesn't matter what that is, whether you want to go to the gym or take a bath or read a book. I fit mine in right at the beginning and right at the end of the day, so I feel like the middle can be as productive as possible. I get up earlier than needed so I can spend an hour in the gym and start my day feeling motivated  and then just before I go to bed I take time to read a bit of my book, or watch an episode of something or other, just to take my mind off it! I also have an indulgent night once a week without fail, no matter how busy I am. It's so important when you're doing loads of things at once to take time for yourself, and doing this gives me something to look forward to for the week. I was lucky enough to be sent some face masks from Montagne Jeunesse (available at most drugstores) and oh my goodness gracious me, they've made such a difference that I actually went out and bought some when I'd finished the originals. It can be really hard to keep up a skincare routine, and I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm worried or stressed it makes me break out. Using face masks at least once a week is ideal, it keeps my skin hydrated and there's just an element of feeling like you've deserved to treat yourself! My favourite was the Very Berry one which I highly recommend for anyone with dry skin. But I've been a regular user of Montagne Jeunesse for years now, and I've never found fault in any of their products. The Very Berry one is just my new go-to!

Being stressed out can put a huge downer on life, I've learnt that recently in particular. But it's so important to take time for yourself and find a way to conquer the stress. Mind maps, lists, me-time, it all adds up and eventually you'll feel like time-management is a super power of yours!

Have a lovely rest of week,
I'd love some suggestions for blog posts if anyone has any, what would you like to read? Feel free to comment or email me!
Ciao for Now!


5 March 2015

World Book Day, My Favourite Books

Today is World Book Day, and as a result I decided I would spice up my blog and venture out of the normal posts of life antics and travels and controversial topics we all really want discussed. Instead, I'm toning it down and doing a book review. For those of you who don't know, reading is pretty much my only super power. I read more than anyone I know and ridiculously fast, sometimes so fast I regret it and have to reread the book. Every Saturday whilst I was growing up, my dad would take us to the library and myself and my sister would sit for hours mulling over which books to get out, I ever wanted was to be Matilda. To me, nothing beats getting lost in a good book, it's something I could discuss forever, but for the purpose of making this blog post a normal length, I'm going to continue.

Giving Emma Watson a run for her money at World Book Day 2003
1) Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

This is the only 'classic' I have in my top 5 books. Although I went through a phase of getting through all the 'must reads' a couple of years ago, Frankenstein is the only one which truly resonated with me. Brief summary, it's about a scientist called Dr. Frankenstein who discovers the equation for 'life' and decided to create a man, except the man does not look like anything he ever expected and is instead a monster, the story then follows Frankenstein's monster. This is a really beautiful story, and if you haven't read it then I highly recommend. It's nothing like what I ever thought it would be, and the old English isn't particularly old at all. I fell in love with this book on my gap year, and it's one of the only books I bought to university with me. 

2) The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller is one of those books you have to sit and think about afterwards.  I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan, she's my favourite contemporary author, but this book is above and beyond anything I've ever read by her (aka, every book she's written). The book is divided between three people who all tie in together, a young woman, her grandmother who was a Jew caught in the holocaust, and an ex-Nazi who lives in the same town as the young woman. Just writing about this book makes me want to read it again, it might be my favourite book of all time. It's hugely moving and impeccably well written on such a tough subject (to put it mildly). Just be warned, if you read it you will need tissues, and you will need a solid half an hour post-finishing to sort out your brain. 

3) A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns was a huge eye opener for me, despite my degree in Politics and International Relations, I really know very little about Afghanistan and the Middle East during the Taliban years. As a middle class white western woman, it's very easy to be caught up in the media and what they spoon feed you, and despite knowing my dad had traveled through these countries when he was younger, I automatically assumed Afghanistan was a country of war and destruction. This book follows the story of Mariam, from a young girl all the way through her life as the beautiful country of Afghanistan is torn apart. It's an incredible book and up there with The Storyteller as one of the most moving books I've ever read.

4) The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

I first read Dan Browns, The Da Vinci Code, when I was 12. My teacher showed us an excerpt in Year 8 (9th Grade) and honed in on how we couldn't read the whole book, so I obviously, stuck my hand up and boasted about having finished it the month before. Classic 13 year old Alice. Since then, I've reread it a couple of times and it never fails to inspire me. I love a good mystery, and The Da Vinci Code is a ridiculously well written take on the conspiracy surrounding The Last Supper. I read the sequels to this book but none of them lived up, this is a good'un, but it does make your head hurt a bit. It also made me want to be a cryptographer for the next year.

5) The Harry Potter Books (yes, all of them), J.K. Rowling

I couldn't write a list of my favourite books without including Harry Potter. In fact, I could probably write a blog post on my love for Harry Potter entirely. I read my first Harry Potter book when I was 7, and haven't looked back. I honestly believe Harry Potter played a huge part in developing my love of reading, and for the next 5 books (the first two had already come out by the time I'd started), me and my dad had a routine set of waking up at 5am to get the book on the day it came out, and then arguing over who was going to read it, and me ending up going and buying another one. As a result have 2 copies of every book, so if you need to borrow one, let me know. I feel so lucky to be in the generation of children which grew up with Harry Potter, and there really is something to be said about J.K. Rowling creating a book which can be read by anyone from age 5-105. If you haven't read the Harry Potter books, at least give them a try, billions of people can't all be wrong.

Writing this blog post made me feel all warm and tingly inside! I truly love reading, cosy-ing up on a sofa with a hot drink and a great book is my idea of a great night. If anyone has any recommendations then let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear your favourite books! How do you feel about these types of blog posts? Let me know if you couldn't care less!

I hope you're all having wonderful weeks- I am currently feeling like there just isn't enough hours in the day!

Ciao for Now!


2 March 2015

Generation Y are Not the Baddies

It's hard to be taken seriously whilst growing up. I know, I myself am a hypocrite, as I do tend to laugh at the year 7's who are rushing home from school with their ginormous backpacks as I get off my lunch break and I do occasionally judge the younger teenagers who hang outside various shops in the hopes of bagging somebody kind (or stupid) enough to buy them cigarettes and alcohol. But I feel like, as by being a part of this generation, I've earned my right to judge us. Yet the moment anybody over 30 judges them in the same way, I jump to their defence. It's a bit like siblings, I can call my younger sister all of the awful names under the sun -I'm sure I have- but if anybody else did or said anything against her, I would immediately jump to her defence.

We've all been compared to the generation before us. 'You have it easier'. 'You have no idea what it was like back in my day'. 'We actually had to go to libraries to research things.' 'Exams are nothing like what they used to be' Yada, yada, yada. And the other day, whilst waiting in a cafe for my family at a train station, I overheard a couple of elderly men talking about the 'youth of today', and how, I quote, we are '...all lard, sat about waiting for things to be handed to [us]'.

As somebody who drinks copious amounts of coffee, there are a lot of coffee shop conversations I wish I'd never heard, but this one ruffled my feathers like no other has before. I am from a lower middle class background, the further either of my parents got in education was O-Levels (GCSE's), I have been working solidly, alongside my GCSE's, A Levels and now my University degree, since I was 14, and these men sat at this table have the audacity to believe I don't know how to work hard to get what I want out of life.

Collectively, generation Y has been named the laziest, spoon fed, over sexed, immoral, narcissistic, antisocial, dumbest generation ever to grace the planet. We are told to get jobs, but if we get a job then we should be in education. We're told to go to university, but if we go to university we come out with a £50,000 debt and have no guarantee of a job. We're told to make a vote that matters, but last time we voted, our tuition fees tripled. If we stay in, we're antisocial, if we go out, we're causing trouble. We don't work hard enough, and if we do we spend all our money on electronics.

We know you didn't mean to ruin the economy and the recession wasn't planned, and we know the job market is near impossible for every generation. But the days of free school meals, free education, relatively uninterrupted long-term employment and government supported state-pensions are a thing of the past, and we may get called lazy and untuned and uninterested. But we care.

Getting a job after completing my degree is some three years in the future but it is something I worry and have frequent discussions about. Our £50,000 debt is a running joke throughout uni, but we know it's something which will be held over our heads for decades to come. I wasn't bought up thinking I was a special snowflake, and any ounce of thinking I could be anything I wanted to be was taken away the minute I learnt to read a newspaper. Our generation may be the first in the punch line of anybody born before the late 80's, but we're also the generation who don't care about sexuality, we have friends of any race and any colour, we are standing up against sexual harassment and we're trying to stop gender discrimination in its tracks. We let our hair down now, because we know we can't do it forever.

We will never stop being judged, and I will never stop hearing coffee shop conversations about the youth of today. We will be judged when we clean up the biggest economic recession to ever happen, we will be judged as we pay back our thousands of pounds worth of debt, we will be judged when we battle for jobs against more people than ever before and we will continue to be judged as globalisation becomes inevitable and unstoppable. We will always be judged as the generation who have been handed everything on a silver platter, but the reality is, we're the generation who are going to have to fight harder than ever to gain a place in society.

Ciao for Now!
(please note, this is a defence, not a complaint)

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