Life is a Roller Coaster

Ronan Keating was right. Life is a roller coaster, and right now I really am riding it. The past few weeks have been so up and down I don't even know how to feel. You may or may not know that I've recently been suffering with anxiety, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, and although things are getting better Im definitely still struggling. Although the medication I'm on for my anxiety is definitely helping it's by no means gone, and although Im not anxious every day like I was before, and it's not holding me back in the same way, I do feel like Im very up and down at the moment, like a roller coaster!

The past few weeks I've had some really great days, my anxiety hasn't held me back and I've felt pretty great about myself. One of the really great things I've done in November was visit the Harry Potter Studios with my friend as a massive Potter fan I was so excited and had a really great day, I'd definitely love to go again and recommend it to any fans as it's such a great experience. As I live quite close to the studios I had two of my uni friends come stay with me for the weekend, which was so great as I got to show them around and introduce them to some of my home friends. 
[Butterbeer Moustache// Hogwarts!]

I've also managed to get back on top of my uni work, starting this year of with some pretty bad anxiety effected my work quite a bit and I've been working hard to catch up when I'm having a good day. This week I attended my first lecture in 6 weeks after a really encouraging chat with my lecturer who calmed my worries about not doing well after having missed so much. I've also got cracking with planning and reading for my dissertation, I'm still a bit behind where I would want to be, but Im feeling motivated about it and although the thought of writing 12,000 words makes me want to throw up Im just taking it slowly so I don't get overwhelmed. If any of you wanted to know, my dissertation is going to be looking at sexual violence towards women during armed conflict. Which sounds like a horrible topic but is something that really interests me as a Human Rights student. 

After my housemates and friends found out about my blog I've received a lot of encouragement which has inspired me to get back into it and start working hard again, so hopefully my blog can keep growing! This week I also had another great 'high' on this roller coaster with attending the premier for Audax, a film created by the UCLAN film production course that a lot of my friends, and boyfriend are part of. They worked on the film in second year and I saw how hard they worked, in fact I spent a lot of evenings helping my boyfriend Josh paint the set as he was the production designer of the film. Watching the film I was so proud of them and we all had a great evening, everyone dressed up in suits and nice dresses and then after watching the film we spent the rest of the evening in the pub celebrating. 
[Audax Premier//Hitting the pub] 

As I said before, this month has been very up and down, and I've got to be honest the down parts have been really bad. I'm still struggling with anxiety that somedays just hits me totally out of the blue and makes me want to curl up in my bed with chocolate and biscuits, which is usually my first response. In fact my eating habits have become so bad recently, when I start feeling down or anxious or sad I head to the shop and buy so much junk food which I just pig out and eat in bed. I've put on a lot of weight, over a stone in a month, which makes me feel so upset and angry and disappointed in myself. I don't feel comfortable or confident in clothes I used to love wearing, Im just not very happy with myself at the moment.

Im currently seeing a councillor which has so far been really helpful in just getting me to open up and to also explore some of my issues and things I've been struggling with. Some days I feel great, motivated, confident and I know things are going to be okay, some days I feel so unsure and unconfident in myself and everything Im doing, and some days I feel so crap that I really hate myself and anxiety takes over and stops me doing anything. I hope this roller coaster Im on starts to slow down soon, because Im definitely ready to get off! 
[Uni friends come to stay// Autumnal Walks]

I know lots of people are struggling with things, whether thats mental illness, physical illness, bullying, personal struggles, money struggles. Whatever it is I just want to let you know things will get better, no matter how crap they feel right now. I'm in a weird place at the moment where I have no idea how Im going to feel each day, I feel like Im just all over the place, but I know things will get better eventually I've just got to keep on keeping on and trying my hardest to keep my head above water. 

I know that the night must end and the sun will rise. 

Stress Free Personalised Calendars*

With New Years just around the corner, and as someone who likes to plan ahead and know whats coming, I was starting to look out for calendars and diaries for 2015 so I could start adding in important dates. So when StressFreePrint* got in touch and asked if I'd like to review their personalised calendars I said yes please and thank you very much! 

I find personalised calendars are a really nice touch to something that could be quite boring and they give you a chance to be reminded of great memories each month. The other great thing about personalised calendars is they make great gifts, which is perfect with Christmas coming up. I'm going to be wrapping some up for my family so they can look at a new photo of me each month! 

StressFreePrint are an online printing company who are a little bit different from other companies. They're self proclaimed printing experts who have a real passion about producing great printed products and ensuring customers have a great experience, as it says on the tin they are Stress Free, and even have a 100% Stress Free Guarantee! They've got an easy to use and understand website, and a fast delivery service which you can track 24/7 to find out exactly where your package is. They even send you an email on the day of delivery letting you know what time your package will be arriving. 

Their customer service is great as well. I received a phone call from StressFreePrint as some of my photos weren't a very high resolution and they wanted to let me know they were a bit fuzzy and wondered if I wanted to change the photos. I thought this was a really great touch for a printing service to have as there is nothing worse than not knowing if your photos are going to look good once they've been printed. 

The calendars themselves are a really great quality, the paper is thick and glossy but not too shiny, and the photos are large but without leaving too little space for the calendar. The colours are lovely and bright and even though some a bit fuzzy due to them coming from Facebook, they still look great. Obviously I'd recommend using original files and not getting them from Facebook if you can, but they don't look bad at all, and StressFreePrint will be sure to check your artwork and let you know if any aren't going to look good. 

I can't wait to start filling in my calendar and I'm looking forward to 2015 so I can get excited to reminisce on some great memories every month when I flip over my calendar. I'd definitely recommend StressFreePrint if you're looking to order some personalised calendars as Christmas gifts, or even just to have for yourself. They also do lots of other personalised items such as Christmas cards and business cards, they even do menus and invitations. 

I'll definitely be using StressFreePrint in the future as the service and quality is great and they really are stress free. Maybe It's time to get some business cards printed for Writing Essays With Wine! 

I was sent these calendars by StressFreePrint for the purpose of a review. However all opinions are my own. 

Amazon Student Membership*

For me Amazon has always been the place to go when you want to buy something online. They have a huge range of products and the prices are always really good. As a student online shopping is definitely the quickest and easiest way to get the things I need, I can shop from the comfort of my bed and don't even need to get dressed! I use Amazon for buying textbooks, replacing iphone chargers, finding unique Christmas presents and buying kindle books for when I want to read something that's not academic. 

When I found out Amazon had launched a new Student Membership, Amazon Student* I knew it was going to have some great features. When you sign up to Amazon Student you get a 6 month free trial of the service which includes Free One-Day Delivery on over 7 million items! This is such a great offer and definitely one to be taken advantage of by students. It means if you're in desperate need for a certain textbook to finish an important essay it can be at your door within a few hours, or if you've totally forgotten your brothers birthday you can have a gift sent out to him that will arrive before he's even realised you haven't remembered. From blenders to hdmi cables, vegetable peelers to vitamins, Amazon has got you covered and no more waiting three weeks for things to arrive!

At the end of your 6 month trial the student membership can be converted into a discounted Amazon Prime membership for only £39 a year, which is over half the price of the standard cost. This works out at only £3.25 a month, which is an absolute bargin for what you get. With the discounted Prime membership you still get unlimited One-Day Delivery, along with access to Amazon's Prime Instant Video service which offers access to over 15,000 Movies and Tv episodes, and also access to the Kindle Owner's Lending Library with 500,000 books available to borrow! 

Student's are known for spending a lot of time online and watching films, and I know I've spent far too many hours getting sucked into tv series or watching films with my housemates, and Prime's Instant Video is definitely helping me carry on that habit! At £3.25 a month it's the cheapest service out there and you get all the other benefits of Amazon Prime along with it. The other great thing is the choice of movies available, Amazon has some great exclusives such as Dark Night Rises, Ted, and Taken 2. Along with other classic films and ones you might not have heard of, theres something from every genre and for every mood. I love that you can create a watch list and add the movies you want to watch, you can also be logged in on multiple devices including Playstations, Xboxs, tablets, phones and computers. My account is connected to the house playstation meaning me and my housemates can watch films together, and have a constant list of ones we all know we want to watch, so theres no longer half an hour of scrolling through trying to find something we all want to watch. It's also connected to my laptop and phone so I can watch what I want when I want, whether that's a film curled up in bed or a tv episode when Im spending all day in the library and i just need a little break. 

I've been loving the Amazon Student* membership, I think it's a really great service for students, with the discounted price of the Prime membership you get so much for such a small price, and even just the 6 month free trial of the One Day-Delievery is definitely worth signing up to! 

To sign up to Amazon Student* you must be a current student in higher education and over 18, you also need a university email address. You can sign up here for the Free 6 Month Trial, and at any time you can upgrade to a discounted Amazon Prime membership for £39 for the year.

I was provided with a year long Amazon Student Membership for the purpose of a review. However all opinions are my own. 

Yummy, Cheap & Easy Homemade Breakfast Bars*

As a student I'm always looking for the cheapest things and the best deals, and as a lover of breakfast I always make sure I've had something before I head out for the day. However sometimes I just don't have much time to spare and would rather spend an extra 10 minutes in bed than putting together breakfast, this does usually mean I grab something from the shop on the way to lectures but a breakfast bar for 65p barely touches the side! 

I decided to take matters into my own hands and get my bake on, well get my 'microwave and mix' on as this recipe doesn't involve any baking! These Homemade Cereal Bars are perfect to grab in replacement for breakfast or just as a mid day snack to get you through your essay. And they're easy and cheap to make! The recipe comes from Sal Godfrey's Cheaper Than Chips* recipe book

500g Granola 
200g Dried Fruit or 100g Dried Fruit & 100g Chocolate Chips 
60g Butter
80g Honey 
80g Soft Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp of Salt 

The beauty of this recipe is that you can really make it your own, you could use plain granola, or one with added fruit, mine has Raisins & Almonds in it. You could also use muesli or plain oats. Also you can decide which dried fruits to add, or like me you can substitute some fruit for chocolate chips!  I also used Sweet Freedom as an alternative to Honey as it's just a bit healthier. 

The first step is to measure out your honey, butter and brown sugar into a bowl and microwave it in 30 second bursts until it's all melted, make sure to stir in between each burst and that at the end you've got a smooth mixture that's doesn't feel grainy. 

Next weigh out your dry ingredients into a big bowl together, so that's the granola, dried fruit and chocolate chips, and half a teaspoon of salt. 

Then you just need to pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until everything is combined. Then pour the mixture into either a brownie tin or a tupperware box lined with tin foil should do the job just as well. Make sure to push down the granola with a wooden spoon into the corners of the box and to make sure it's tightly compact. 

Then it's just into the fridge for an hour or so to cool and harden before you can cut it up with a sharp knife. You can decide the size of the pieces, the recipe says 12 but I reckon you could make them smaller and have more. Then just wrap these up individually in tin foil to keep them fresh and you can easily grab one on your way out the door. 

Now Im no baking pro and something always seems to go a little bit wrong for me, and I did have my problems with this recipe as when I went to cut it up into squares it wouldn't stay together and just feel apart. I'm not sure if this is because I didn't push it down together enough, or because I didn't use Honey. But none the less it still tasted amazing! I ended up rolling the mixture into little balls and wrapping in tin foil and putting them back in the fridge. They were still a bit flakey but they tasted amazing! Really sweet and crunchy and the perfect little snack. 

All in all this recipe was delicious and pretty inexpensive, especially if you've already got some of the ingredients in your cupboard. The Cheaper Than Chips recipe book has some really great cheap and easy recipes, and some great tips on how to spruce up your day to day meal recipes without spending a lot of money. The recipe for Pull Apart Pizza Bread looks delicious, and I can't wait to try Sal's recipe for Spag Bol as it's one of my favourite meals! 

I'd definitely recommend this recipe book to anyone on a budget, and especially to students as it keeps things simple and easy and doesn't add in hundreds of ingredients you're never going to use again! Each recipe has very easy to follow instructions and little tips and tricks or how to change things up. The other great thing about this book is that it's an E-book and therefore cheap at only £5, and you can get it up on your phone, tablet, kindle or laptop and you don't need to worry about always having the book on you! 

You can purchase Cheaper Than Chips* on amazon, and you can also check out Sally's other great recipes over on her blog Sal's Kitchen.

I was provided with a digital copy of Cheaper Than Chips for the purpose of a review. However all opinions are my own. 

Sugar & Fat Free Snacking. Slim Fruits Review*

As a self confessed sugar and snacking addict and someone who is constantly attempting (and failing) at loosing weight, when Slim Fruits got in touch and asked if I'd like to review their product I immediately said yes. 

The main appeal of these sweets is that they're a healthy snacking alternative. They're sugar free, fat free and high in fibre, much healthier than a chocolate bar and more filling. Each packet has 25 little sweets in and they come in two different flavours, Luscious Peach Melba* and Luscious Rhubarb & Strawberry*. Not only are these sweets free from both fat and sugar, something which is very difficult to find in a sweet treat, they're also very low in calories with a whole 24g packet containing only 49 calories

These little sweets are a perfect option for anyone looking to loose weight or a sweet tooth whose looking for healthy alternatives. Personally I loved these sweets, they were perfect to have in my bag during the day to grab a quick snack if I was starting to feel peckish. I found myself staying away from the chocolate isle as I'd just chew on a couple of these instead. At 2 calories per sweet I have no guilt in eating these, yet I still get my sugar fix.

Usually with diet products I find that the taste never really lives up to it's high calorie competitors, however with the Slim Fruits that can't be said. These little sweets taste so good! The flavours are really great and taste lovely and sweet but not too artificial. My favourite was Peach Melba although I'd recommend them both. 

At only £1.89 a packet they really are a bargain and would last a few days depending on how many you eat, I normally have 3 or 4 each time I feel in need of a snack. You can find Slim Fruits on Amazon, at Holland & Barrett and at Boots who currently have a two for £3 offer on! 

If you're after a sweet healthy snacking alternative I'd really recommend trying a packet of Slim Fruits, I'm definitely going to picking some more up and Im hoping they'll bring out some new flavours to try soon! 

Slim Fruits provided me with these products for the purpose of a review. However all opinions are my own. 

Lets Get Personal: I've Been Struggling

Saying it's been a while would be an understatement. My last post was over 3 weeks ago. I've neglected my blog, I haven't been reading other blogs, I haven't even been on twitter much. I've been struggling to be honest. 

I've always put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, but sometimes that pressure becomes too much. Coming back to uni and starting my third and final year was scary. It's my last chance to do well and also live the student life before entering the real world! I wanted to make the most of my final year, get good grades, volunteer, earn money, blog, get fit, and have an awesome year with my friends, but this meant putting a lot of pressure on myself. 

For the past year or so I've been struggling on and off with Anxiety and Panic Attacks. It was something that came and went though, and although it became a bit of a struggle sometimes I managed to get through. However with the pressures of third year along with personal struggles I began to suffer more and more from anxiety to the point where I struggled with almost everything including seeing friends, blogging and uni presentations. Every day I would wake up with the sick feeling in my stomach and I'd feel so nervous and anxious about even the smallest things. 

The past few months I've spent a lot of time in bed, watching netflix and eating chocolate because it distracted me and made me feel happy, but obviously I couldn't spend the whole year doing that and I knew I needed to get some help. I've started on medication to help with the anxiety, and although the first few weeks were pretty bad I've finally started to notice a change. I'm having some good days where I feel motivated and although Im still getting nervous and anxious it's becoming easier to control and manage. 

The bad days are still outweighing the good days at the moment but there are some good days! My boyfriend's always telling my to take baby steps, and I've found this is really the best way to do it, little steps lead to bigger steps and although some things are still very daunting I can see it getting better.  

Blogging is definitely important to me, I love my little space on the internet and I love interacting with other bloggers, so I'm not going anywhere. However I'm trying to keep pressure and stress to a minimum so posts may not be as regular as they were, but Im going to try and get back into the groove. 

I've decided to be quite open about my anxiety and have talked about it with most of my friends and also on twitter where I've received an overwhelming amount of support and friendship from other bloggers, a lot who suffer from anxiety themselves. Talking is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better, and don't feel ashamed about how you're feeling, it's likely that someone will understand how you're feeling. 

It feels good to get this off my chest and come back to blogging. I'm excited to write, and think, and post about the things I love. I'm also not going to worry if my anxiety means I need to take a step back again, my health and well being always needs to come first. Having a break has shown to me that I don't need to worry so much about schedules or views. This blog is for me and I want to make something I'm proud of.