5 Things I've Learnt Whilst On Furlough

28 June 2020

Furlough has been a strange ol' time. You're no longer in a routine, with set tasks and obligations, and this modern idea of 'productivity being king' goes totally out of the window. Rather than being paid to work hard during your 40 hour week, the government are paying you to stay at home (in return for your job still being there for you when things open up again.) 

What's more, you didn't choose to be in this position, well I personally didn't at least. It wasn't a case of put your hand up if you fancy some time off, rather, I was told I was being placed onto furlough for the best interests of the company. 

You're not allowed to do any work for your employer whatsoever, so a literal switch is flipped and Dobby is now a free elf. But, it's lockdown and everything is shut, so perhaps not all that free after all. 

My 14 weeks of furlough have now come to an end, so I figured I'd compile a little post reflecting on some of my thoughts and the things I've learnt during this weird old time... 

5 Things I've Learnt Whilst On Furlough. A summary of my experiences on furlough during lockdown in the UK.

5 Things I've Learnt Whilst On Furlough 

01. New normals don't take long to develop

To begin with, it was very strange not having to get up, get ready, commute to work and sit at my desk all day. I really didn't know what to do with myself and wasn't sure how I was going to get used to this new (temporary) reality. 

At work, I'm always putting 100% effort in, working hard, getting stuff done. So, to go from that to being a couch potato was a bit of a shock to the system. That being said, I did spend three years at university, so I'm very much used to a free day or two, and a three-month summer break. 

Getting into this new normal didn't take long at all, and before I knew it, spending my days baking, taking photos and writing blog posts was my new normal. On the flip side, I'm sure going back to work and that normal won't take too much adjustment either, it's just one of those things, eh?


02. Hobbies are important

Besides my blog, I've never really been a massive hobby person. I don't play any instruments, I'm not a member of any clubs or societies, and a sports team is the last place you'll find me. With everything being shut, and meeting up with friends being off-limits, Becca finally discovered a hobby she actually enjoys. 

This lockdown I started doing embroidery and I've actually been really enjoying it. I've written a whole guide to embroidery for beginners so if you also need a hobby, that's a good place to start. Besides my sewing, I've been doing a whole load of baking, and I think the Biscoff Cheesecake I made back in April might still be the best thing I've ever whipped up! 


03. Using your brain is also important

If I didn't have this blog, I'd dread to think where I'd be at having not used my brain for anything somewhat productive for three and a half months. It doesn't sound very long, but I'm just hoping that I haven't forgotten anything too important during this time! 

One thing I have been doing to keep those brain cells ticking is a lot of online training. I've been teaching myself SEO as well as how to use Google Analytics, so if anyone ever has any questions, hit me up.


04. Jealousy is rife 

This one probably doesn't need that much explanation and is also pretty justified. It's maaaad the number of people I've seen getting jealous to the point of spitefulness regarding the furlough scheme. Yes, we're very lucky to have had time off and have jobs to go back to, but again, this wasn't a choice, and we weren't allowed to leave our houses for the majority of it.


05. Life doesn't have to revolve around work 

When work is taken out of the equation, there are soooo many other things to focus on. I think lots of us are guilty of becoming all consumed by our careers during the week that we fail to schedule in anything fun. Moving forwards, I'm going to make a real effort not just to do 'fun' things at the weekends, and make weekdays just as exciting. Who's with me?



Have you been on furlough this lockdown?

5 Things I've Learnt Whilst On Furlough. A summary of my experiences on furlough during lockdown in the UK.

Soufflé Pancakes Recipe

24 June 2020

TikTok has very quickly become my favourite app, and one thing that's kept making its way onto my For You Page is Japanese Soufflé Pancakes... I'd never actually heard of them prior to my TikTok phase, but oh wow do they look incredible.

Now, if you've never seen them before and have no idea what I'm harping on about, Google them! The beauties in the photo below look nothing like they're supposed to but they taste INCREDIBLE. 

To make them rise properly you need crumpet rings, and what is one thing I don't have? Crumpet rings. 

I've had two attempts at making these now, and both times they've ended up looking more like normal pancakes than soufflés. That being said, they taste a hundred times better than normal pancakes and I absolutely think I've been converted to this new way of pancake-making. They take way longer to make, but taste waaaaay more like a dessert, making the effort, oh so, worthwhile. 

I've been serving mine with clotted cream ice-cream and fresh strawberries, have you heard of a boujeer breakfast? If there's one thing we can thank lockdown for, it's having the time to make soufflé pancakes and not just inhaling a bowl of porridge before work, thank you Rona.

The recipe I've been using is this Aldi one, and so far so good!
Souffle Pancakes Recipe. A step by step guide to making souffle pancakes at home.

Soufflé Pancakes Recipe

INGREDIENTS 

2 Eggs 
1½ tbsp Milk
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
3 ½ tbsp Plain Flour
½ tsp Baking Powder
3 tbsp Caster Sugar

METHOD

1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, and place the whites in the fridge.
2. In another bowl, whisk the milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of the sugar until thick and creamy. 
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the yolk mix, and fold with a metal spoon. 
4. Remove the egg whites from the fridge and whisk until they're pale in colour. 
5. Slowly add the remaining sugar, and continually whisk until the egg whites are glossy and hold a stiff peak. 
6. Add a little oil to a frying pan and place on a very low heat. (If you have crumpet rings, lightly oil these and place them in the pan too)
7. Lightly fold the egg whites into the yolk mix with a metal spoon, being careful not to overmix. 
8. Place a couple of tablespoons of the mix into a pile/the crumpet ring and leave to cook for about 5 minutes. 
9. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. 
10. Serve when they're a lovely golden colour!


Soufflé pancakes? Completed it mate. I do actually have some crumpet rings on the way, so I'm excited to have another go at making these when I've got all the correct equipment! Adding the vanilla extract and sugar, and whisking the egg whites is definitely a pancake gamechanger. Plain old batter pancakes are soooo pre-lockdown now, we're doing things faaancy from now on!



Have you ever had a go at making Soufflé Pancakes?
Do you have any tips?

Souffle Pancakes Recipe. A step by step guide to making souffle pancakes at home.

Summer Depop Haul

22 June 2020

Slow Fashion is something we've recently been talking about fairly often around these parts, and it's a movement I've been really trying to get stuck into. I've signed up to Slow Fashion Season, and besides replacing a pair of jeans that I'd ripped and a couple of tops that were in the sale, I haven't bought any brand new clothes the whole of lockdown. 

I've become a bit of a Depop fiend as of late and if you saw my Spring Depop Haul from earlier on this year, you'll know that I love to hunt out a bargain or two. I know people are always slightly hesitant to shop secondhand clothes online, but I personally haven't ever had any major problems. There's one top that I'm still waiting on from a couple of weeks ago, but I've raised a ticket with Depop and I'm hoping to have that sorted soon. Other than that, everything has always arrived super quickly and is exactly as described. No complaints here! 

Let's get into this Summer Depop Haul, shall we?



Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.

I have some pastel yellow coloured jeans that I bought in Primark a couple of years ago, and seeing as it's not all that warm in England at the moment, I figured I'd try and hunt down a matching jacket. Now, the colour isn't an exact match to the jeans, but it's definitely close enough and I CANNOT wait to wear them together. This jacket is a size 12 and an oversized fit, is originally from Primark and I paid a tenner for it including postage. Winner winner.

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
A lot of my little summer crop tops have been in my wardrobe since 2015, so I decided it was about time a few new ones were added to the collection. This little black and white striped number was only £3 and is originally from Miss Selfridge. I love chucking on little tops like these with shorts, skirts, jeans, basically anything in the summer as they're just so comfortable and low effort.

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
Following on from the previous monochrome number, here's another. This top is originally from New Look and when paired with the yellow denim is an absolute vibe. I like that this top is not a suuuuuper cropped crop top because sometimes having your belly button hanging out just isn't a look. I paid £4.50 for this and am going to get so much wear out of it. 

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
I don't have any other clothes in this gorgeous rust colour but figured it'd look really nice with all the neutrals I've got going on at the minute. This with a nice straw bag? Delicious. This was originally from H&M and was a grand total of £4. 

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
She couldn't just stop at the jacket, could she? When I was searching for yellow denim I came across the matching Primark skirt and I just couldn't not get it. I loooove how the oversized jacket looks with the tighter skirt, so if anyone wants to know what I'm going to be wearing all summer... Here's your answer. I have this in a size 6 and paid £7 for it. 

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
And finally, an item that I never thought would be something I'd buy, a lilac gingham dress. Whaaaaat? I've seen a lotttt of people wearing pastels at the moment and figured it was about time I tried something a little different to my usual style. This was originally from Nobody's Child and is a size 6, and I actually think it looks sick on! Paired with the yellow denim jacket? An absolute summer vision. If the sun could hurry up and come out that would be great - this girl has summery clothes to wear!


So, there we have it, my Summer Depop Haul for 2020. Also, for the record, I didn't buy all of these pieces in one go, parcels have gradually been arriving over the last couple of weeks... 

p.s. my Depop is @beccammartin19 if you fancy getting yourself some new pieces!


Do you shop on Depop?

Month Three On Roaccutane (NHS Experience)

18 June 2020

It feels like FOREVER since I wrote my last Roaccutane post, and whilst it’s only been a matter of weeks, I feel like I’m having a whole other rollercoaster of an experience now. 

Month three on roaccutane // a summary of my experience of roaccutane on the nhs
I mentioned last time we had a skin-related catch up that I was having problems trying to get my next prescription. Well, in the end, I had just over a week off the tablets and in that time actually developed a few new spots? Apparently, that isn’t normally a thing because the drug is still in your body for weeks after you take it, but I definitely had new spots during that week. Medical mystery? Who knows.

The dermatologist upped my dose to 60mg a day for three months (I was on 40mg previously) and explained that that should be all of the treatment I require. During that conversation, I also managed to exempt myself from the pregnancy prevention programme because of Corona. In case you hadn’t heard, having sex is illegal right now, so I don’t think I need to be travelling to the hospital, in a pandemic, to be having pregnancy tests that I categorically don’t need to be having. So, if anyone is in a similar situation, it’s definitely worth discussing it with your doctor - obviously, if you do end up having sex, stay safe my dudes.

Speaking of Corona, I’ve seen a lot of people say that their treatment has been cancelled or postponed due to the virus, so I just want to take a moment to count my lucky stars. This gal still has the drugs. Life is good. 

Since upping my dose I (and everyone around me) has noticed a massive shift in my mood, and not for the better, yikes. Obviously, I can’t put it all down to Roaccutane, I imagine some of it is to do with being stuck in my house and not working for 3 months, but yeah. It’s fair to say they weren’t kidding when they say it impacts your mood and irritability! Thankfully I haven’t had any of the depressive symptoms, I’m just way snappier than usual and a slightly less friendly Becca. 

Besides my mood, the other biggest side effect from this month has been my crusty nose. The inside of my nose is so dry that it bleeds and scabs, and I can’t tell you how annoying it feels. It’s almost as if I can’t fully stretch my face out, and no amount of blowing my nose is helping. I did see one girl was using a syringe full of vaseline to help her nose out, so that might have to be my next mission. 

As for my skin, it’s faaaar thinner and the most fragile it’s ever been. If I even just lightly scratch myself on the edge of a drawer, my skin bleeds and scabs over. I picked Murphy up the other day and he accidentally scratched me on the chin... Shall we place bets on how long that mark is going to last on my poor face? 

Besides the fragility, my skin actually hasn’t been painfully dry at all this last month. I think I’m really getting into the swing of my new Roaccutane Skincare Routine and it seems to be working out for me at the moment! I’m still washing my hair faaar less often too which is a massive bonus. 

Spot-wise, I have actually been getting a few new spots, so perhaps this is the ‘purge’ people often talk about? Who knows, maybe it’s all the sugar I’ve been stuffing my face with or the touching my face that I shouldn’t have been doing. 

The final two things I wanted to mention in this month's catch up are my permanent hunger and permanent tiredness. Again, some of this might be lockdown boredom related but over the last few weeks I have been soooo hungry and really tired when I get into bed at 10.30. These are by no means the worst side effects to be experiencing, but I’m certainly beginning to notice it more and more.

So, there we have it. My experience being on Roaccutane for a third month. Overall, the pros still massively outweigh the cons and I CANNOT wait to see how it all looks at the end of my course.

Month three on roaccutane // a summary of my experience of roaccutane on the nhs
 Before Treatment / After 1 Month / After 2 Months / After 3 Months

Month three on roaccutane // a summary of my experience of roaccutane on the nhs

What Is 'Slow Fashion Season'?

16 June 2020

If you've been following me for a while now, you'll know that I've been trying to make more conscious, sustainable choices. One area of my life that I've been focussing on in particular is fashion. I love buying clothes and have done for as long as I can remember. I couldn't even begin to tell you the number of times I've been in Primark in my lifetime, but I'm sure it's going to be an ungodly amount. 

But, with knowledge comes responsibility, and now that I'm more aware of the impact our fashion and shopping habits have on both the planet and the garment workers paid to make our clothes, I've been trying to do much better. 

What is slow fashion season? A discussion about fast fashion, what we can do and how to take part in slow fashion season.

What is Slow Fashion Season?

Before we get onto Slow Fashion Season, it might be more appropriate if we take it one step back and talk about 'Slow Fashion' more generally. 

In case you weren't aware, its antithesis, fast fashion, is defined by Good On You as 'Cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.' 

You know the culprits, don't you? The brands that spin out charity tees for movements they're not behind *ahem* and brands that post 1000 new products a day, all with questionable levels of quality and even more questionable ethics.

What is slow fashion?

So, quite simply, slow fashion is the opposite of Fast Fashion. It's taking time to think about purchases, investing in quality items that you know will get a lot of wear and buying from brands that don't exploit their workers, the planet, or animals. 

It's not buying 29 tie-dye t-shirts in alllll the colours because you've seen everyone on TikTok buying huge hauls of pastel coloured pieces, but instead, having a go at tie-dyeing a top at home from an old t-shirt you had tucked away at the back of your wardrobe. 

I think it's important to note that it is still absolutely possible to be 'fashionable' and 'on-trend' whilst avoiding fast fashion. Committing to slow fashion doesn't automatically mean you've destined yourself to a life of dull, ugly outfits, it's just not buying (and supporting) the brands doing more harm than good. 

Or, that's the approach I'm personally taking at least. As with any movement, there will always be different ways of doing things and different 'rules' people set, but something is better than nothing, right?

So, what is Slow Fashion Season?

It's '25,000 people committing to making only conscious fashion choices from June 21st to September 21st'. 

It's three months of making conscious decisions to actively avoid buying new items, with a particular emphasis on garments from fast fashion brands. 

It's people coming together to combat the fast fashion industry. 

Sounds good, but what are the rules?

  • Avoid buying anything new
  • Trade, upcycle or DIY clothing 
  • Buy second-hand or vintage
  • Support sustainable, local, small fashion labels who may be struggling due to COVID-19.

You can sign up to be a part of the movement here, and I definitely recommend you give it a go. We can all look at our shopping habits and make changes, and as Tesco would say 'every little helps'. 

If you're new to this whole new world of shopping and don't know where to start, I've written a whole post full of thrifting tips that might just come in handy. I've also posted a Spring Depop Haul which I think proves my earlier point about still being fashionable whilst being a slow fashion kween. 

Finally, if you want to start your slow fashion journey today, my Depop username is @beccammartin19 - come and get yourselves some *new* clothes. 

p.s. I've just checked when my ASOS premium delivery expires and it's the 22nd June - could that be any better timing?


Are you going to be taking part in slow fashion season?

What is slow fashion season? A discussion about fast fashion, what we can do and how to take part in slow fashion season.

AD: A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners

14 June 2020

Has lockdown not been the time for taking up new hobbies? I’ve personally found myself doing a lot of new bakes, attempting yoga and as of very recently, having a go at some hand embroidery. 

Now, if you’d told me this time last year, that 2020 would see me stuck at home for 13 weeks and doing embroidery, I’d have laughed in your face. 

But, a few embroidery TikToks made their way onto my homepage and I decided that it looked a) relaxing, b) a good way to pass the time and c) not toooo technical, seeing as my artistic abilities leave a lot to be desired. 

I’ve created a fair few pieces of work now and am so pleased with my progress already. My screen time is also really thanking me – it’s no nice to be doing something that doesn’t involve a phone, laptop or TV, nor any expensive supplies or equipment.

Anyway, let’s get into my guide to embroidery for beginners, shall we?

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners


What is embroidery?

A really succinct definition from the Cambridge Dictionary sums up embroidery as follows; ‘the activity of decorating a piece of cloth with stitches sewn onto it’. Quite simply, it’s sewing thread onto a piece of fabric. Okay, it’s way more fun than it sounds, trust me. There are lots of different types of embroidery, but for the sake of this post, we’ll group them all together under one umbrella term to keep this an easy, quick read. 


Can anyone do it?

YES! Trust me, it’s not difficult at alllll and really doesn’t require any previous experience. I haven’t had any lessons nor help from anyone, I’ve just been watching videos and reading articles online, and would say I’ve already got the hang of a lot of the basics! 


A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

What supplies do I need to get started with embroidery?

One of the things that drew me to embroidery was the limited number of supplies you actually need to get going. There’s nothing worse than stumbling across a new hobby to realise that the supplies cost more than a meal for ten at the local Italian restaurant. 

I ordered all of my supplies online (because COVID) and they weren’t hard to source at all. To get started with embroidery as a beginner, you will need: 
  • Fabric – I’m using a plain white cotton. If you’re struggling to source fabric or want to save some money, you could cut up an old bedsheet or pillowcase and use that to start with whilst you get the hang of it all!
  • Floss – Otherwise known as embroidery thread. It’s much thicker than your standard thread, in fact, it’s made up of six strands all twisted into one. If you already have an embroidery design* in mind, you could just buy the colours for that, if not, a black, a white, and a green are a great place to start! (I also bought a yellow because I knew I wanted to create some sorta bumblebee/sunflower creation).
  • Needle – For embroidery, having a needle with a large eye makes life a whole lot easier. Who wants to spend 5 minutes just trying to thread a needle? 
  • Hoop – Now, it is possible to embroider without one but I definitely recommend you invest in a hoop or two. They’re not expensive and they make life soooo much easier as they hold the fabric taut for you. They come in lots of different sizes, but I’m currently swapping between a 4 and a 5-inch hoop. I decided against getting anything too big because I didn’t want to get bored halfway through a project and give up. The smaller hoops are a far more manageable size meaning pieces don’t drag on and on! 

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

Where can I find ideas of things to embroider?

One place to look for embroidery designs* is Design Bundles, they have thousands of different ideas for projects, ranging from inspiring quotes to eggplant emojis, and from floral bouquets to cute dogs. Lots of the embroidery files cost less than a fiver and are a great place to start If you have no idea what to create with this new-found skill of yours. The majority of the files are PDFs (including colour charts) meaning you can just download them and get started straight away. There are also both hand embroidery and machine embroidery files available too, should you choose to take your hobby one step further! 

What stitches do you recommend a beginner learns?

These are the four stitches I’ve been using as a beginner and would recommend you attempt them too. If you only learn one, make it Backstitch – it’s just so versatile and you can use it for most things! 
  • Backstitch 
  • Satin Stitch 
  • Stem Stitch 
  • French Knots 
If you put these stitches into YouTube hundreds of tutorials will come up. I definitely found watching someone else do it made it far easier to understand than trying to read some instructions!


A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

How do you display your embroidery work?

I know a lot of people put their artwork in frames but I really quite like how the pieces look kept in the hoops. If, like me, you want to keep it in the hoop, simply cut off the excess fabric until it’s really short and not visible from the front. Alternatively, you can fold the fabric under and glue gun it to the hoop. 

Some people like to leave the back as is, whilst others sew a piece of fabric over the back to hide all of the stitches. Much like any other type of artwork, how you finish and display your embroidery is entirely up to you and your personal preference. I’m definitely team cut the excess short and leave as is, it definitely makes it feel more homemade! 


So, there we have it, a beginners guide to embroidery brought to you by yours truly. I hope I covered any questions you might have surrounding this new hobby of mine, but if not, get in touch and I can definitely have a go at answering any of your questions!


Have you ever had a go at any embroidery?

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

7 Things That Get An Immediate Swipe Left On Tinder

11 June 2020

I don't know about you but I've been spending an ungodly amount of time on my phone recently. After swapping between scrolling Instagram, laughing at tiktoks, catching up on emails, and reading tweets for hours on end, I've actually recently found myself spending more time on Tinder. *gasp*

Now, don't get me wrong, by 'more time' I mean approximately 2 minutes a week, but, for today's post, I thought I'd share seven things that get an immediate swipe left from me. 

I've never really been a hardcore Tinder user, I find it all a bit cringe and it's fair to say the talent pool in my local area often leaves a lot to be desired. That being said, swiping has been a good way to pass some time, so let's get into my Tinder turn-offs, shall we?

7 Things That Get An Immediate Swipe Left On Tinder. A list of my Tinder turn offs.



7 Things That Get An Immediate Swipe Left On Tinder 


001. Photos holding dead fish 

I'm sorry but does ANYBODY see a man holding a dead trout and think 'that's a bit of me' ?! If anyone out there could tell me where this 'trend' came from I'd be very interested to hear, because, for me, it's a big fat no thank you. I'm sorry if you're a fan of these awkwardly standing by a river with a dead carp photos but they're just not for me and highly doubt they ever will be. 


002. Thinking smoking weed is a substitute for a personality 

Of the seven things that made it into the list, this is definitely the one I see most often. I'm sorry to break it to you Dan but if being a stoner is the only noteworthy thing you have to mention in your bio, perhaps you need to google some Dad jokes or puns, anything would be more interesting. We get it, you smoke weed, surely there's something else you can talk about?


003. Posey gym photos

Okay so this one is definitely a personal preference but this is a big no from me. I'm all for exercising and taking care of yourself but if all of your pictures are those posey naked bodybuilder ones I know you're not going to be keen on going for a Nando's and 12 cocktails... Throwback to the time I was told off for getting a gym lad a vodka coke and not a vodka diet coke LOOOL. 


004. Having no photos 

Who are you? Why don't you have any pictures? Are you not who you say you are? Should you not be here? Having no photos always just seems a bit iffy to me, like what are you hiding? Whilst I'm all for getting to know someone personally and not just judging them on looks, how can I be sure that you're not Keith, 68, from Boscombe? 


005. Kids 

Personal preference but a potential match having kids is a no from me. I'm 22, I'm not ready for any responsibilities or duties, and watching Peppa Pig at the weekends certainly isn't on my bucket list. Well, not for a goooooooood few years at least. 


006. Unironically having 'Netflix and Chill' in your bio

I'm sorry is it still 2015? Can we not think of anything better to say than 'Netflix and Chill?' Anyone that uses that and that alone in their bio clearly has limited chat and is probably best avoided. 


007. Photos of cars 

I genuinely can't tell an A6 from an A8, and better yet, the car you drive really plays no part in my opinion of you. My trusty 2007 Fiesta is a testament to the fact that I'm really not bothered by the cars people drive, as long as they have seatbelts and working brakes, I'm all good! 


Looool, well there were 7 of my Tinder turn-offs... I could definitely have kept going (it's fair to say my friends always tell me I'm faaar too picky) so perhaps we'll have a part two and list another load of things if this one goes down well!


What are some of your Tinder turn-offs?

7 Things That Get An Immediate Swipe Left On Tinder. A list of my Tinder turn offs.
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