Sunday, 28 August 2016

Who Am I?

Today brings you a quick lowdown about myself. I thought it wouldn't hurt seeing as all you've ever known about me was a sentence crammed into the side bar, or up there in the 'about' tab (which might also be two years out of date- woops -I'll hopefully have that sorted by the time this post goes up).

  1. I live for food/cooking/baking/all of the above
  2. I don't have a middle name
  3. I once spotted The Cheeky Girls at a restaurant in London  
  4. Speaking of London, I love the city and always feel so buzzed and happy when I visit
  5. I studied Geography, History and English Literature at A2 Level, and have just finished school. Leading on to..
  6. I have absolutely zero clue of what I want to pursue now sixth form is over (help)
  7. I cannot go a day without some sort of music (Noah and the Whale, The Wombats, Kanye West to name a few favourites)
  8. I have dreamt of road tripping across America from NYC to LA for as long as I can remember 
  9. I unexpectedly met Lily Pebbles and ViviannaDoesMakeup in Oxford Circus in December and it served as a huge reminder of how much I wanted to kick-start my blog again (they were just as kind as they are in videos despite me butchering my words, quelle surprise)
  10. I've become incredibly emotional in my old age concerning TV and films, recently I cried at least 6 times during 'Up' (don't even get me started on rom-coms)
  11. I have one older brother who is an absolute ledge
  12. For my Year 3 nativity I had to memorise 3 A4 pages to narrate in front of the whole assembly hall.. public speaking has made me shudder me ever since
  13. I have no sporting talents whatsoever but for some reason can touch the top of my head with my foot (I don't understand either)
  14. Anything regarding the sky, stars and the expanse of the universe has always fascinated me; these days I often just look up and gaze whenever I can 
  15. I used to be an incredibly fussy eater, nowadays there's not much besides olives, pomegranate seeds or parsley that I won't eat (what did I tell ya, food is life)
  16. I despise making and answering phone calls
  17. I love graphic design, fashion, interior design and typography (shoutout to the handwriting competition I won in primary school) and would love to involve such things into my life or career in the future
There you have it, some fragments of my life which hopefully gave you a pretty good summary of me for now. Let me know one fact about yourself down below and you never know, we might just have some things in common:)

Thanks for reading,

Friday, 19 August 2016

Nailing Your Saturday Job

I've worked in retail for nearly two years now, and whilst I'm only a weekender, I feel informed enough to let you in on my personal tips for a shop job. If you're a fellow weekend worker like me, here are several ways to withstand your hectic Saturday without wanting to flee the shop/cry in the process:
  1. Confidence. For the solid 18 years previous I should have perhaps taken some of my own (or more so my parents') advice here and exuded some of the stuff. This is no overnight transformation and confidence can take years to work on, but is a quality undoubtedly worth displaying in a retail workplace. The best remedy for naturally shy folk like myself is to fake it till you make it. Even if the thought of this in your usual school or social setting makes your toes curl, a Saturday job is the best way to practise this method. Chances are, nobody you're super close to is around, and a good 80% of the customers you encounter you will never have to see again (SO important to keep in mind). Start yourself off by remembering some good small talk icebreakers to use with customers, or by simply smiling or introducing yourself to a new colleague; every little helps here. You will likely slip up just as I did, and mince your words or suffer a few uncomfortable silences, but the experience gained all amasses until you find yourself quite easily breezing through sales and those co-worker chats.
  2. Posture. Following on, posture is so important not only for your spine (think of those poor elderly people who walk around completely crooked), but also to boost your confidence and self-esteem. Again something I used to (and still occasionally do) forget about, a 'walking tall' stance immediately radiates confident vibes to those around you. Particularly in a mobile retail position where you find yourself on your feet serving the public, a straight back does surprisingly positive things to you and even when you could be feeling crap about a part of your appearance or have messed up something you've said, this body-language helps reduce you displaying any vulnerability; something which brash customers can pick up on and will sometimes take advantage of. Even if you aren't 100% certain of a response to a query or complaint, the combination of a well-executed reply and good posture will make you seem confident and in control. Now all you have to do is smile politely, call over the manager and wait;)
  3. Maintain a façade for anyone acting rude or ignorant. For me personally, the best way to respond to somebody kicking off at an incorrectly ticketed product or begins criticising you for some policy out of your control, is to be completely transparent. Smile politely, and call a manager or colleague to come over and quell the situation. Simple as. The trick here is to keep this thought in the back of your mind: "I'm getting paid for this", and then the problem is all theirs. Always remember to retain a degree of politeness and keep composed so that the customer has nothing to accuse you of personally in the instance a supervisor or manager gets involved. Having this mindset significantly reduced any anxiousness I had over angry customers, and means I know how to respond in sticky situations. However, under no circumstance tolerate abuse or personal comments, and immediately gain a colleague's assistance until a manager is called; never be made to feel threatened or uncomfortable by anyone in the shop.
  4. Be flexible, not walked-over. Agreeing to assist a busy till-point or clean a set of shelves is perfectly reasonable and when you may be quiet, often helps pass the time and distract you from staring at the clock. This willingness and flexibility will most likely get you a good repertoire, making you all the more favourable for any new positions or promotions. However, similar to the posture/vulnerability advice; the occasional co-worker will perhaps target this willingness and can ask you to do much more than your fair share. If you feel strongly you are getting repeatedly exploited whilst others are chatting, do tell someone managerial or ask a less busy co-worker to split the job. It's all about fairness and balance here.
  5. Take what you can from it. Money, experience, a friendship, confidence; 9 times out of 10 you can take something positive from a retail position. Even being a christmas temp, you've pocketed some cash you didn't have at the start and can put that valuable experience on your CV ready for your next role. As much as sometimes I dread going into work, I can always count on either the days wages or a memorable chat to lighten my mood. Just remember to smile, relax on your breaks and look forward to that well earned pay-slip:)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Vegan Meal Ideas

I could sit here and talk about food all day long, but I'll save you from that and condense my favourite meal ideas into little post-sized chunks like this one. Drumroll for the new series... Vegan Meal Ideas (did I give that away already?) Nothing weird around here, just tasty sweet and savoury dishes I make on an everyday basis, hoping to inspire you to try something new or to give you some inspiration on those days where you've stared at a full fridge and thought 'there's nothing for me to eat' (been there) Enjoy and happy cooking!

Breakfast: Vanilla Banana Smoothie Bowl
Blitz around 3 frozen bananas with a splash of vanilla essence until smooth (for a more tropical taste add mango, for more of a cake-sweet flavour add peanut butter). I topped mine with strawberries, blueberries, chopped medjool dates and coconut, but practically anything fruity/breakfast-y/sweet works here.

Lunch: Minimalist Baker's Trashy Vegan Sandwich (from their 'Everyday Cooking' book)
Toast two slices of bread. Stuff with all the goodies you can find; hoummus, avocado, pickles, tomatoes, beetroot, lettuce and caramelised onions. Do not forget the caramelised onions.

Dinner: Minimalist Baker's Chickpea Masala Curry (also from their 'Everyday Cooking' book)
This is definitely one of my favourite dinners so far. Can you tell I'm a big fan of Dana's recipes? The sauce is a blend of coconut milk, fried carrots, onions and garlic and a bunch of spices, which is topped with toasted chickpeas. I serve mine with brown rice, avocado and leafy greens for a nice hot/cold mix.

Hope you enjoyed this foodie line-up, I'd love to add more of this stuff to the blog so feel free to leave any requests in the comments, and tell me some of your favourite dishes so we can share delicious recipes :D

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Dream On...

For some reason there seems to be pretty limited encouragement these days to talk about your actual deep down dreams, perhaps because we are expected to strive for a conventional career in order to pay bills and fulfil the usual 9-5. Despite this being the ideal or the reality for some, I wanted to throw my thoughts into the mix. I've never been one to have insanely high aspirations before, I wouldn't say I had a talent nor a specific life-strategy to attain any particular career, and have only recently started visualising a bucket list. Besides these few notes in my head, I am completely clueless. For any of you in this boat of un-known-ness with me, or if you're the opposite and have a big career established or your own crazy journey planned, I'd love to hear about them. We must spread positivity and encouragement, letting serve this as a reminder for us to strive more towards what we want in life to help us feel happy and content. If we don't achieve an ounce of this, or if we never even try to follow what feels right, would we actually be happy - say in 10 years time looking back? Or would we feel regret? By putting this post out there I'm hoping to push you to strive for what you want, rather than having future you feel the dreaded 'what if', were you to never pursue whatever it is you love or daydream about doing. How crazy is it to think that we (even the most organised among us) have absolutely zero notion of where we will be or what exactly we will be doing in 5 or 10 years time? This notion alone would mean it makes complete sense to work towards fulfilling your dreams each and every day.

To zoom in on my current position, a whopping 14 years of school has now ended and 99% of my year group are heading off to university. I like the idea of university and was set on going throughout the whole of secondary school, but just as I was supposedly 'ready' to go I felt the complete opposite. I still couldn't tell you which course I would apply for. All I was set on was studying in London, a pretty useless factor without a subject or campus in mind. Avoiding the path most taken was not part of my plan, which makes the decision to hold out for a year (or more, who knows) one big concoction of scary and exciting emotions. My gap year is technically starting and in the free time available to me now, I thought it would be fitting to document a couple of things I want to do or achieve/attempt within my life, in the hope that you guys would share the same. Not necessarily all to accomplish in this coming year, but in general bucket-list fashion.
  • Live in a teeny apartment in New York, just for a little while
  • Road trip across vast ol' America
  • Take a snowboarding holiday, and actually push myself to improve day by day
  • Pass a driving test and save for a first car (Inbetweeners style cinqicento here I come)
  • And the big one, put more energy into CloudEsmé because I loove it and the little community we have here (also looking into giving it a makeover/export to wordpress by the end of the year..)
So there's a few snippets; I'm hoping they're pretty realistic, and can't wait to come back to this in a few years time to see what's unveiled in between. I'd really enjoy hearing some of your guys' dreams and want to say to any of you who worry over the future (like I do) to transfer some of the panic into excitement instead. As Baz Luhrmann once said, "Worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum". Wise words. Ultimately, everything happens for a reason; life is short, so dedicate time towards making your visions a reality, and aim to spend your time doing what you want to deep down. And if 'ultimate dream #1' doesn't work out as you planned, remember there is always something around the corner. It'll work out. Have a lil' faith :) Your happiness is your priority, so don't keep postponing these ambitions and certainly do not let anybody else discourage you from them.

Update - A few weeks after writing this (it's been in my drafts for a while) I watched Cartia Mallan and Emma Mercury's #TheMessyEffect video and got really pumped to start ticking off this list and fulfilling (currently distant) dreams. If you haven't watched it, what are you waiting for! Check it out!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Good Songs #1

Music is such a huge part of my day-to-day life. From my alarm going off and getting ready in the morning to plugging in earphones on the weekly return from work, I love having access to songs, and am one of those people who feels totally lost without music. Because of this, I thought it would be nice to let you in on my favourite tracks every so often, starting with today's list...

Any all time favourite music, or songs you're loving right now? You know what to do, drop em below!

PS. Is SoundCloud the best way to link these for you guys, or is there some sort of media/playlist thing I could make that would be easier? Let me know ;)