Back to ‘normal’

Life seems to be going back to normal, well at least the new ‘normal’. It started off with shops, retail opening again, the crazy queues outside Primark- which feels like years ago- and eventually everything else followed opening up too. We could finally enjoy a meal out, after scanning QR codes and finding menus online or talking to someone through a perspex screen or mask. Its taking a while to adapt to this new ‘normal’, life seems a bit alien at the moment.

I thought i’d share some of my new, weird experiences as a sort of reassurance (to myself really) that everyone is feeling a bit weird about it too and i’m not just being dramatic; maybe i am? The first experience i want to talk about is the shops. Granted, i was going on the food shops occasionally during lock-down so i had a vague understanding of how one way systems were working, limits on how many people were allowed in the shops and obviously, mask wearing. What i’m confused about is how some shops are very strict on the social distancing, the limits of people and the one way systems but, other shops don’t seem to reinforce anything? There seems to be a wide variety of ‘strictness’ from shops which is confusing because some shops i can sneak into an aisle i forgot about but in others, i’ll get told off by a Karen worker! The city center reinforces mask wearing a lot, i’d say 80% of the people i’ve seen in CMK are actually wearing a mask. However, i’ve seen some interesting forms of mask wearing, we’ve got:

  • The Pinocchio, the typical ‘i cant breathe in my mask’ nose poke
  • The chin strap, not even trying to cover anything, mouth out an’ all
  • The accessory, a new fashionable earring, a variation of the chin strap
  • The wristband, not even on the face, at least make an effort!
  • The plastic bag, my personal favourite. a literal plastic bag over your mouth, A for effort.

I have also gone back to work, well i use the phrase ‘back to’ very loosely. I had got a job back at Mcdonalds back in March, i had my ‘day one’ to introduce me to the job and then… lock-down happened before my first shift. Not ideal. But, i’m finally ‘back at’ or starting work and i’ve been really enjoying it. Obviously, work places have adapted to the current issues so, i’m wearing a mask at all times, there are dividers between different stations, there are a limited amount of people in the kitchen and there are ‘one person only’ zones such as the crew room so those on break can eat without their masks on (duh). It is odd going to work in these times, i obviously don’t know how it was before corona so i can’t create a comparison but, the procedures in place make it feel like a very safe place to work. A lot of people have gone back to work by now, after having almost six months off its very scary going back to ‘normal’ and obviously, there is a higher risk as you’re in more social bubbles but, its necessary to go back to he new ‘normal’ at some point.

School. Another new ‘normal’ we’ve had to adjust to. Let me describe it as clearly as i can. I am in school for 3 days, each day is a different subject: Monday = art, Wednesday = English etc. each of these lessons is a different bubble so, i move between three classrooms a week with different people. I’m in for 5 hours from 8:45-2:35 so its shorter than a normal school day but, i get shorter break and lunch periods. I’ve found it quite difficult to stay motivated and productive for the full 5 hours of one lesson. Before corona, i had 5 hours of each subject a week, one hour of each subject a day with two free periods. I do miss the free periods as a mental break, but its not awful or unbearable. I do admit that i’m doing more work in school than in lock-down so it is forcing me into ‘school mode’ but 5 hours of English Lit is A LOT of information in one day, especially as we have started two new books so i get very tired on a Wednesday!

Everything just feels alien at the moment, rules are constantly changing and its completely unprecedented. Its a scary time, honestly. But, we are all getting through it the best we can and that’s what matters at this point. Its a common theme that connects us all as everyone is experiencing it, its sort of reassuring in that way as it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, intelligent, old, young, its a global experience.

Zoe :))

Going vegan

I have been vegetarian for the past 4 ish years. It was a diet and lifestyle change I decided to make and honestly, I didn’t expect it to last this long. Going vegetarian was surprisingly easy, especially with the support I got from my family and, I typically cooked a lot anyway. The main swaps I made were to vegetarian meat substitutes such as Quorn, Linda McCartney and other major brands.

Once I had realised that going veggie was achievable and super easy, the goal was to eventually go vegan. Even in the past four years veganism has become more mainstream and accessible, especially when eating out. As I saw and tried more vegan options I saw it as an achievable goal. My first step was veganuary: the typical beginning for a lot of vegans, following a major trend. Unfortunately I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for this change and ended up not eating enough as I didn’t know what vegan food to eat or how much. As you cut out a lot of high fat and high calorie food such as cheese (a favourite of mine) you have to eat a lot more to stay healthy. I did not do this. After finding out that a lot of Quorn products we’re not vegan I felt completely lost and it fueled my unstable mental state even more. I stopped January but still made the effort to make more vegan options than I did before January.

Quarantine, although a stressful time for all of us, gave me the time to experiment with food a bit more. I decided I was going to do an 80-20 split: 80% of the time I would eat vegan food and 20% of the time I would be vegetarian. I did this as a slow introduction into veganism so the 20% was for eating out, cheese and for time I didn’t feel like being the awkward one. It wasn’t a big change for me. I had stopped drinking milk last year and changed to oat milk as my plant milk of choice so already started cutting out dairy. Turns out, I didn’t use my 80-20 split at all, I ate vegan food 100% of the time. I quickly realised that the best way for me to do this was to go mainly plant based, this meant I cut out the majority of the processed vegan meat alternatives from my diet and chose other alternatives such as grains, tofu, mushrooms and falafel. This was also a healthier choice in comparison to how I used to eat so, it helped me lose weight as a result. I still have meat alternatives when I eat out- I am partial to a beyond meat burger- but I really try and focus on eating a lot of vegetables and grains as my main diet.

I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on the benefits of going vegan and plant-based and how it really boosts your energy levels. I’ve been fully vegan now for 6 months and I personally don’t feel extra energised but, I feel healthier in myself. That might be because of the plant diet or it might be because of the weight loss due to the diet, I couldn’t tell you for sure. I think it’s definitely worth a go if you’re interested in the benefits of veganism because it’s a lot easier than I first thought, you don’t have to change your diet massively. I chose the plant based route but, there are so many amazing vegan alternatives (no-bull in Iceland is one of my favourites) that make the transition so much easier. Now that it is more mainstream, there are more alternatives being sold meaning more options, making it much more accessible for anyone.

This was my personal experience with going vegan, everyone has different experiences and reasons too. I originally went vegetarian for moral reasons mainly which lead me to veganism also mainly for morals. Going veggie or vegan for purely health reasons or a mixture or just to challenge yourself is completely valid too. I’ve found some of the vegan community are very passionate with their views which can sometimes give vegans an extreme reputation when in reality, there is a small percentage who preach but really, a lot of vegans are people like me who make a personal change and don’t expect anyone to change around us. It’s a personal choice which i’m so glad that I made!

Zoe :))

Isolation art

Hello, hello! I had previously mentioned that quarantine is making me feel more creative, it is giving me more time to sit and create random art without the restraints of coursework or perfection. Art is a big part of my life, my main hobby, the course I’m taking at A-level and I realised I hadn’t talked about it here which is odd to me, I normally can’t shut up about it! So, here is some of my favourite pieces I’ve made during quarantine and some just before all this kicked off:

I finally got around to finishing this piece I made of Dominic Harrison aka YungBlud which I started a couple of months ago. This was the first time I had properly tried a black and white monochrome painting and I really like how the slightly different shades add dimension and tone.

This is a painting of my baby cousin Darcy which I made for my auntie. Here I discovered how difficult blonde hair is! I put a lot of pressure on myself with this piece as it was a gift, I am critical about certain parts of the tone and colours that don’t quite match realistically but I’m still happy with the outcome and I believe my auntie is too.

I have previously used palette knives in some of my artwork to create texture, especially in the hair but, in this piece, I created the entire portrait using palette knives. I found it challenging to add detail and to keep in proportions at A4 size but, the texture it added and freedom palette knives give in contrast to brushes was really fun to try out. I used a photo of my younger sister Jessica from a photoshoot we did for my photography coursework.

Earrings! I have a slight obsession with random crazy earrings and I’ve had a bag of mini people- randomly – with no idea what to use them for. With hot glue and old jewellery set from our auntie Lisa, I turned a handful of these little people into creepy dangly earrings for myself!

I’ve seen a lot of people recently bleaching their jeans or their clothes so, I thought id give it a go. I didn’t want to completely ruin these jeans if it went wrong so, I did a small design on the back pockets of a happy and sad face expecting the bleach to turn out a brown/orange colour. the bleach worked really well and came out more white which I was so pleased with.

I tried out some animal portraits too, making one of my bulldog Wilson and a present for our American friends Vic and Carol of their dog Daisy -Mae. I found that texture was my biggest enemy in these portraits, trying to make them look fluffy and furry was difficult but, I think it turned out alright.

I have a couple more paintings on the go at the moment (one is a secret birthday gift) which I can show you once they’re complete. I don’t think I’ve ever made this much art in such a small amount of time. I’ve just been told I have to start my art and photography coursework at home so I’ve brought some more supplies and sketchbooks to start and I’ve been wracking my brain for some ideas too. I want to keep making my own art on the side of this coursework but I need some ideas of what or who to paint (if you’ve got any, let me know).

Zoe :))

Food and art?

I’ve seen so many delicious looking charcuterie boards going around on Pinterest and Instagram so I thought I’d give it a try.

My family make ‘floor picnic’ dinners which are essentially bits-on-a-plate like cheese, salami, pieces of bread and dips which we snack on throughout the night. I decided to pimp up our regular floor picnic and make one of these charcuterie boards. I kept all the meat and vegetarian food separate so we could all enjoy it and I’m very pleased with the outcome. These boards usually consist of: ” an assortment of meats that are paired with different accompaniments, such as toast, fruit, cheese, and sauces” so, I grabbed the antipasti meats, pepperoni and various cheeses and assembled. Turns out there’s an art to this, I didn’t realise how much went into making pepperoni look bougie!

My charcuterie board consisted of Emmental, cheddar, red leister, pickles, gorgonzola, pork pie, pepperoni, salami, parma ham, king prawns, beetroot and crackers. I also tried a greek yoghurt, honey and chilli dip and it was delicious. Although this took me 2x the amount of time it normally takes to set up the floor picnic, it was definitely worth it; it just makes food look more appealing. I can see how people do this as a career, could you imagine a massive board for an event? It’s also very therapeutic to stand there folding pepperoni into little flowers and arranging everything to make sure the board looks balanced, it truly is an art.

Would you try this out?

Zoe :))

I kinda did a thing…

What a surprise, I’m bored so I dyed my hair.

I’ve recently been dying my fringe a spectrum of colours since November and because of quarantine and no school, it’s now bright red. I used the dye ’crazy colour’ in vermillion and I am SO happy with the colour. Before this red, my hair was a dark ginger so I thought the colour would be a bit murky and I would have to bleach my hair again but I was very wrong! The red is so gorgeous and bright and even covered my dark roots and gave it a slight gradient. I would recommend this hair dye to anyone who wants huge colour payoff that’s cheap and reusable. My main struggle with hair dye is you can only use it once and I usually have so much waste because I’m not dying my whole head. I find that it’s a lot of money to only used 1/3 of the dye. This dye comes pre-mixed in a bottle and you can use it however often you want which is really handy. I definitely think this is the best colour I’ve had so far! Bright colours are definitely more my style and I’m so happy I didn’t have to wait until summer to try it. I guess good does come out of quarantine.

I’ve also learnt how to Dutch braid. As I couldn’t even French braid and honestly struggled with a tight normal plait, I am very proud of myself. This, of course, leads me to sport a Dutch braid pretty much every day and, I’ve learnt how to do cornrows on my sister’s hair. I found it’s just very tight Dutch braids using smaller sections so, hours have been spent on their hair too (I should start charging!) it’s impressive how much you can learn just by setting your mind to it and with an abundance of time. I have also definitely won the ’best hairstyle’ for the first day of school ( sorry mum )

To fill the time further, my dad and I have been baking. So far we’ve made apple cake, Apple crumble, two types of bread, pineapple and coconut cake, banana bread and easter baskets- bake off here we come! It’s nice to get the whole family involved and enjoy a tasty treat at the end of the night knowing you’ve made it. Although we’ve had a couple issues with density and missing flavours I’m glad to say everything we’ve made has been edible and very yummy (even if they don’t turn out how we envisioned it). I’ve always loved to cook and bake so being able to grow and improve on that has been really fun but, fighting for flour has made us improvise a couple of recipes with pancake mix- turns out it works pretty well.

Apart from baking, I’ve learnt how to make sushi too. I am a massive fan of asian food and I always crave it so, I got some sushi rice and nori sheets and I’ve been practising. The first time I made cucumber maci and vegetable gyozas which were delicious, the batter was slightly too thick on the gyozas but delicious nonetheless. The second time I attempted making red pepper and cucumber California rolls and, although they were slightly messy, I still count them as success. Count my sushi cravings fulfilled!

How do you fill your time at the moment? Are you learning anything new? Challenge yourself.

Zoe :))

Quarantine things

The world is kind of crazy at the moment, new information is coming out daily, both real and fake and you can’t escape hearing about corona at least once a day. It’s consumed most of our brains for the meantime, it’s difficult to focus on anything else so, here’s my attempt at focusing my energy into something good and healthy. I personally don’t think I’d live through something like this in my lifetime, I have the feeling a lot of people share that same mentality which is making this all slightly more difficult and unbelievable, I still don’t think it’s properly sunk in. I want to blog to share the changes in my day-to-day while we all adjust to this new way of living and learning while hopefully distracting from reality for a while. Saying that this post will be corona-heavy just so I can get it out of my system

I’m in my second week of social distancing/ quarantine/ self-isolation, whatever you want to call it. Now all my school work is online, I’m spending everyday at home with my family trying to just fill time. This has made me realise how much school was a distraction. It filled 6 hours of my day which I could spend with friends, spending at least 3-4 hours doing whatever I want and I took it for granted. Now I’m at home trying to find the motivation to do the minimal work I’ve been set so far. I used to complain about school, how much I hated it and I thought it was a waste of time but really, it gave me the opportunity to see most of the people I love with no effort what so ever and just spend time sitting doing nothing and God, I miss it so much. I miss being able to just talk to people face to face. Just being able to go and find who I wanted to see. However, I’m still in touch with people who make my life amazing and it’s different talking to them over text or house party and it’s not making me insane quite yet!

A painting I made of my Auntie

I have found myself finally doing some art for fun. For the longest time I’ve struggled finding the effort to finish a piece for myself, I put all my effort into my school art and not really just for fun so I lost quite a bit of creativity. Already I’ve finished 2 paintings, one as a gift, I’ve played about with different materials, practised more with palette knives, texture annnd tried an acrylic pour: all in 2 weeks. Although they aren’t perfect by any means, it’s nice to just sit and paint with no stress or perfection in mind. I also want this to become an outlet again for me, probably focusing more on my art and things I enjoy without putting too much pressure on every post being perfect and important (which I think caused me to stop a while ago) when my life isn’t that interesting! I guess this long break has already taught me a couple of lessons which is refreshing.

I was wondering what you guys are doing during quarantine? Are you picking up old hobbies or making new ones? Feel free to message me to let me know!

Talk again soon,

Zoe :))