Monday, July 27, 2015

recipe: lemon and thyme bars

I find it interesting how your tastes change as you get older. The twenty-five (ew) year old me lives for the sharpness of lemons, the tang of olives, the acidic taste of white wine, and the bitterness of black coffee; all things that the eighteen year old me would have turned her nose up at. At eighteen, I wouldn't have gone near a gin and tonic with a twist of lemon, last night found my hunting the cupboards because I couldn't find any gin!

It is weird that now I am twenty-five I think that the bittersweet taste of a lemon perfectly sums up summer. It reminds me of drinking cloudy lemonade outside on hot days, of squirting it on fresh cooked fish, and eating lemon ice-lollies.

Anyway, when this unsuspecting little recipe popped up on Pinterest the other week, when we were having that amazingly hot weather, I ran out as quickly as I could and bought a batch of lemons... I did not regret it. 

lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars

For the recipe, keep reading;

Sunday, July 26, 2015

weekend wanderings #69

weekend wanderings - lifestyle blog links

Thursday, July 23, 2015

taking stock #10

taking stock

Making: I'm still knitting my brothers sweater, but I'm getting so close to finishing, now...
Cooking: not a whole lot - it's been too hot!
Drinking: trying to drink more water. Realistically, iced coffee, iced tea, iced anything.
Reading: Vermilion Sands, JG Ballard.
Wanting: to spend long lazy days in the sun.
Watching: Hannibal, season two, because I wanted to watch season three and couldn't remember what happened...
Eating: way too much junk food.
Deciding: nothing - nothing at all.
Wishing: I could heal a bit quicker!
Enjoying: sleeping with the window open - blissful.
Waiting: for my New York trip - impatient as always.
Loving:  lie-ins, slow sunsets.
Needing: more days off to finish my knitting and reading!
Smelling: this Instant Texture Mist - it smells so good.
Wearing: a pyjama top from Next with bunny rabbits on it... and some blue pyjama bottoms.
Thinking: about trips, my head in the clouds, as I often am.
Hearing: old Bruce Springsteen songs.
Feeling: a bit anxious, but I'm not sure why.
Buying: peony plants for the garden.
Getting: ready to return to work!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

haul culture + finding your niche

This is a post I've had sitting in my drafts for some time - I have been debating posting this, and generally I don't like stepping outside the box and discussing Bloggers as a wider issue - mostly because I feel like it inevitably rocks a few boats.

However I've recently realised that I just don't care upsetting people that much - and I wanted to talk about two topics that have become my main gripes with this little bubble we've created for ourselves: the haul culture that we have created, and this drive to find your 'niche'.

finding your niche in blogging

Let's start with this culture of 'hauling'... If you look back in the Uncia + Tigris archives (please don't, those posts are awful! haha), you'll see that I used to be a beauty blogger. I even ventured into the world of beauty youtube, and had some relative success in that arena, before packing it in and realising it wasn't for me. I kept up with the blogging, though, for several years: I was a bit mad about it. I used to do friends makeups for parties and proms, and did a bit of work at college for photo shoots and stuff, and I sort of felt like that justified the amount of makeup I had.

It was a weird thing, though, because even though I knew I had a ridiculous amount of makeup, I felt like I never had enough, there was always the newest thing I felt I had to buy - my favourite makeup artist or YouTuber was recommending it, it had to be good! I look back then and I realise how naive I was, I didn't realise that all those YouTuber's and makeup artists are paid, sponsored, or given products for free. I felt like I had to have designer bags, shoes, clothes, sunglasses, makeup, because all the blogs and things I read had them too. I used to go to London and spend £200 on makeup, because I felt like I needed it all, or get my dad to buy me all of the newest MAC collection on his trip abroad.. I justified it by lying to myself, saying that I needed it I wanted to become a makeup artist, or that I wanted to share in on my blog (which was getting popular, but not by that much). I was spending it just to flash about in a new haul video or post, and it was ridiculous, really.

I think it was when I was in my first or second year at university, I realised the money I was spending on that kind of stuff was stupid, and it gradually faded out. I'm still sort of ashamed at the amount of makeup I own now, as I know I'll never use it all. I try and give it away to friends that I think will use it, or my mum to try and convince her to wear lipstick (never works). Even still, though, I get the urge to spend. I was in London recently and I literally had to walk away from the shops, because I was going to buy stuff for the sake of it! I actually left the city that day, with only a few pens from Muji in my bag, and it felt amazing!

I remember reading this post by Michelle from a little while ago now, and thinking that she was exactly spot on, and I felt so much better that I wasn't alone in this way of thinking. These days, I try to be a lot more savvy with my purchases. I rarely buy things on a whim, I research products properly, outside of paid advertisements on some pretty coloured youtube channels. I try and use stuff up, only buy new mascaras or foundations when I've run out, and although I do have a lipstick vice, I am getting better in that arena. I didn't like that desperate need to keep up - what was I trying to keep up with and why? Obviously, if you are super passionate about beauty products, have the funds and the love to buy everything, then there's nothing wrong with that, I would just suggest caution...!

finding your blogging niche

This brings me nicely to the topic of finding your niche. I had a bit of a crisis, when I decided that beauty blogging, in it's current form, was not for me. What was I then? Was I a food blogger, or a craft and knitting blogger? At the time, I had an allotment and spent a lot of time outdoors, I was also studying art and had a real passion for that... I was at a lost end. If you look back through my archives, you can probably see my phases!

Which leads me to where I am now... It's taken a long time, but I'm finally happy with what I post here. It's completely me, completely honest, and I don't have to spend a penny on it, if I don't want to. And really, it's only recently that I've discovered that I am a true lifestyle blogger. Essentially, I have no niche! If you came here hoping for a how-to-guide to what you should be blogging about, er, sorry? As I have been blogging for so long, I have noticed that there is this real trend of blogs become identical. Same photos, same style, same bloody marble trays and peonies! The same churning out of content, like 75+ 'Blog post ideas', etc.

I just think there is less individuality about these days - I always find it so refreshing when I see blogs that I think are really unique! I follow a few super cutesy blogs, all dyed pink hair and kawaii images, and some dark, all-black wearing goth bloggers, hippy wannabes and wanderlust filled travellers, stay at home mums and career driven bloggers... But the one thing they'll probably have in common is a uniqueness - they do something different and step outside this cookie-cutter blogger image that saturates the market these days.

If you've found your niche - good for you! But if you haven't - don't worry, you might never find it. I am finally happy with the little space my blog has become, but it's taken me six years of blogging to get to this point.

I hope this makes sense, and if you want to start a discussion in the comments, please do - I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a niche, or have you ever felt the need to buy something, just to keep up with your favourite blog?

Some great posts I've read on similar topics, that have inspired this one:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

weekend wanderings #68

lifestyle blogs
  • Did you miss my summer reading update this week, or the summer fragrance I've been loving for these sunny July days? 
  • I'm a sucker for photographs of an idyllic summer afternoon.
  • Sock knitting is amazing for travelling and picking up and putting down, but it comes with it's own challenges, here is a great post of sock knitting FAQ's.
  • Katie, of Long May She Rain, has got an adorable new arrival: Mia. The cutest puppy I've seen in a long time! 
  • Some great tips for working from home. Even if you don't have a team or an office and are just a blogger, these are really great tips.
  • Strobing is now apparently a thing, contouring is done, apparently. Is it weird that I have literally always contoured and/or 'strobed' (if you will)? Since I got into makeup in a big way at like 14-16, I've contoured and highlighted. Am I a trendsetter or just weird? Answers on a postcard. 
  • For all you hipsters/illuminati out there - an Instagram of triangles. That grid though, oh wow.
  • The pictures in this 1946 yearbook are beautiful - such great hair, clothes, style, and sayings. So cute!
  • I really want to see a bit more of Scotland, particularly the islands, and this tour of historic sites around Orkney is not helping matters. Everyone says Scotland is beautiful in the summer and I really want to see for myself...
  • Ohhhhh yes: peanut butter granola bars. Need I say more?
  • I'm certain I featured Homestead Seattle in one form or another last week - but their aesthetic is literally my dream. See their tumblr for more joy.
  • I probably feature Door Sixteen most weeks too, but they've found a collection of pink kitchens, which I oddly really love.
  • Found on Pinterest this week, chocolate pull apart rolls. You're welcome!  
  • These adorable little knitted jumpers remind me of things my mum would've knitted for me and my brothers; so sweet!
  • These photographs of Tollymore Forest Park and a Yeats poem go so well together. 
  • A mammoth post, but well worth sitting down to read: Ruth's Hong Kong photo diary is spot on. 
  • I thought these Star Wars prints were so cool, very Japanese and just perfect.
  • Why is it when me and mum start reminiscing about certain dishes, I see recipes for it everywhere? I've seen two for a pineapple upside down cake, this weekend alone..
  • I also found and fell in love with The Salty Sea Blog this week. Sarah takes us on a trip along the ocean road: one my parents used to take us on every year to the seaside town of Croyde for our family holidays. So many adorable memories.. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Smell of Summer; Blood Oranges by Anthropologie

I bought this little fragrance on a whim in Anthropologie recently - it caught my eye, as so many things in that shop do with its adorable packaging - since discovering there is a store in Guildford, it's been so very bad for my bank balance... I thought it would be great for keeping in my work handbag, and for travelling (as I usually lug about my giant bottle of Miss Dior or some such, and I'm terrified its going to crack all over my suitcase).

blood orange perfume anthropologie
blood orange perfume anthropologie

I was drawn in by the cute paper tube packaging (although I initially thought the bottle would come out of the tube, but thats okay, it makes it more travel friendly) decorated in blood oranges and vines. I am a sucker for anything that tells me it smells like blood oranges. I think I just have some faux-romantic connection between them and holidays in Italy - who knows, but they really are the scent of summer (that or lemons, or perhaps roses or honeysuckle, or strawberries...).

What I do know is that it smells dreamy, and just like summer in a little bottle. As I am writing this the sky is a flat grey and it's drizzling down (hopefully by the time this is published the weather will be sweeter, too) however one whiff and I can imagine we're in the midst of a glorious English summer. It's sweet and citrusy enough that it makes me long for the hot weather, but there is a touch of something bitter and spicy running underneath that make me think of London in the summer, for some reason; when everything is hot and lovely, and then a bus comes by and all you can smell is exhaust.  I realise that isn't the most beautiful analogy, but I'm not one for sickeningly fruity perfumes these days, I like something with a bit of tartness or bitterness thrown in, and this manages that.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

in progress: to be read this summer

I had all these intentions of using my sick-time to provide you with loads of great content... It's still all sitting there, in dribs and drafts and unedited photographs - and it will be with you sooner or later. I didn't realise how tired recovering makes you, though! Thank-you, by the way, to everyone that left lovely comments on my sick-bed post, you're all sweethearts. :) Anyway, what I have been doing, is reading. Reading a bit, snoozing a bit, waking up and reading some more....

to be read july 2015

Here is the pile that I'm slowly working my way through. I talked a bit about Clariel previously, and it was a nice, fantasy read that took me back to my youth, and was easy to flick through and occupy me for a short while. Stardust by Neil Gaiman was such a sweet little book that I finished it in one sitting over a few hours, I'd like to write a proper review of this, so hopefully I'll get around to that.

Hyperion was recommend to me by my good friend Tam, and has since been pinched by my mother, who has told me it's quite interesting, and Satantango I bought years ago, whilst at uni. I started reading it and was interested, but as is the way with university courses, you have to put leisure reading on hold and read things for your course, particularly whilst writing a dissertation or some such essay. I think recently it has come out in paperback or had a resurgence, as I've seen it around in bookshops quite a bit - I remembered I left it unfinished, so will try again.

to be read july 2015

I'm currently in the middle of Vermilion Sands, which is a series of short stories by Ballard (annoyingly, I didn't realise I had all these already in an anthology of his short stories, but it's a nice edition to have, and a bit more easy to read than the giant tome of his short stories). The stories within it are all centred on a fictional desert resort, with the usual dreamy decay that he writes so well, and although I've read a couple of the stories in the collection already, it's nice to have them collected like this. 
The Drought (also known as The Burning World) has been on my list for quite some time, and I'm quite excited to read this - it comes as part of an unofficial collection with The Drowned World (which I am yet to finish) and The Crystal World, which is one of my favourite books of all time, so I have high hopes for liking this one, as well. 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you got any recommend summer reads?

And also, whilst we're on the subject, I know there is a whole world of 'book-tube' out there, however this is distinctly driven by the young adult audience (which unfortunately, I no longer am); so if you have any recommendations for more adult book bloggers, vloggers or youtubers, please leave below!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

weekend wanderings #67

lifestyle blogs

Saturday, July 11, 2015

from my sick-bed

Well, it's not quite my sick-bed. It's my regular bed, and I'm feeling very sorry for myself, and fancied a bit of a chat with you all.


I went into hospital this Thursday just gone, to have my gallbladder removed. I wasn't that worried about the procedure, until I started thinking about the anaesthetic. I've never had a general one before, and I was worried about all sorts of things, like waking up in the middle of the operation, or not waking up afterwards, or of being sick from it. Anyway, there was a whole host of things running through my mind as I sat in the waiting room, politely smiling as a woman told me about her 'waterworks' problems.

Turns out I was sat in the wrong waiting room (I was told to sit there, mind you) and had to be rushed into theatre last minute. This caused a bit of a flap, you see, as I wasn't mentally prepared, no-one had told me anything, or what was going on. A few shouted words at nurses later (they started it, trust me!) and I'm being whipped off to theatre on a bed by a lovely porter, who did his best to keep me calm. A few mumbled words through an oxygen mask later, and I'm being woken up in the recovery room in an intense amount of pain. I was watching some videos yesterday about where they remove the gallbladder from, and all of them are really ramming the tubes in and out of the individuals stomachs - no wonder I feel like I've been punched in the gut repeatedly! No-one tells you how much a laparoscopic procedure will hurt! A minor operation, pfft. 

Maybe it's minor compared to heart surgery, but considering until then, the most invasive thing I've had done at the hospital was an endoscopy (which was traumatic in itself!), it's quite major. I think to doctors and nurses who see this day in, day out, they become very blase about the whole thing, and they don't understand why people get so panicked. I'd never say I have anxiety, because I've never been diagnosed, but I've suffered some similar mental health problems in the past, and have suffered from panic attacks for a long time - so I know when I'm approaching that state, beyond the usual nervous worries. I think more doctors and nurses need to be aware that for some people, it goes beyond just being a bit nervous, which I get is totally normal.

Anyway, now I've been signed off for two weeks, and I was hoping to go back to work sooner than this, but as I can barely keep awake for most of the day and can't walk more than a few paces without being overwhelmed from the pain... this doesn't seem likely.

So have you got any recommendations of what I watch, read or do whilst I'm confined to my room? I have a stack of books I want to read, some knitting to finish, and Orange is the New Black to get on with, so hopefully these will keep me occupied for a little while?!

Or, if you fancy a chat or a gossip - get in contact with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or follow on Bloglovin', I need people to keep me occupied so I don't go stir-crazy!


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

ode to an english summer

In the winter I have visions of an English summer, of prancing around in sun-dresses and Birkenstocks, drinking Pimms, and tossing my hair back without a care in the world. But the reality is a humidity that makes you look like lion, hippy sandals that rub, being so sweaty on the train it should be illegal, and I forget that I don't even like Pimms. It's like a crappier sangria.

english summer
english summer
english summer
english summer

Sometimes the humidity will break, though, and you get those really excellent, snatched summer moments, when you can smell flowers in the evening and listen to the red kites calling above, whilst drinking chilled white wine in the garden and you feel all pleasantly tired from a long walk somewhere, and the tops of your shoulders and your nose are just a bit too pink but you know it will fade to a soft brown, taking the edge off your year round paleness.

This is how I spent Saturday afternoon - the garden table broke so I just stretched out on the lawn with a bowl of sushi to pick at - my favourite magazine and a glass of iced tea (which turned into white wine as the sun set). The rose-bush in my parents garden is in full swing - I'm trying to persuade my dad he needs a peony bush - it began to feel like a good English summer, not a smidgen of humidity could be felt.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

weekend wanderings #66

  • I'm giving away a copy of Clariel by Garth Nix
  • I also shared with you my recipe for Pina Colada ice-cream - I'm officially off ice-lollies (so last summer!) and into ice-cream with a passion. 
  • All the colour and texture in Louise Zhang's artwork and studio, is like a visual feast, I could spend hours staring at her work. 
  • I really want to up my game with my food photography, so I might have to source some props over the next few weeks, so this is really useful to read.
  • I'm beginning to master the heatwave makeup (SPF and as little as possible!) but I loved Oly's skincare for a hot day moving house. 
  • If I could be bothered to caramelise some bananas in the morning, I would definitely have them on my porridge.
  • Small houses full of greenery and wood is all I want from my future. Mardi Doherty's home is a close contender.
  • These vintage colour photos look like they've come out of an issue of Oh Comely, I'm in love with the soft focus of them. 
  • Black houses are seriously cool. 
  • York is one of those places I've wanted to visit for ages, and Stephanie's photos are aboslutely amazing, particularly those in the museums she's visited. It looks so gothic and ancient, and has definitely jumped up my list of places to visit. 
  • What is the most beautiful thing you've read? I want to do this on my blog...  
  • My friend and I are off to New York in the autumn, and I can't wait to do some shopping in the city.
  • Of recent years, I've been quite lucky with heatwaves, as I used to work inside a heavily air-conditioned supermarket. This week I endured it in an office - such a different game, I understand #heatwave, now.
  • Summer is a time for salads and thrown together food - so I've fallen in love with the look of this sweet potato salad, and I want to give it a go.
  • Since making my ice-cream the other week and realising quite how easy it is - it makes me want to try out other kinds, and this peach and bourbon ice-cream looks amazing.
  • I'm also seriously tempted by this roasted cherry and lavender ice-cream
  • As always, Eleanor talks seasonal living in July - it is my absolute favourite month to spend lazing around outdoors whenever possible. Our garden table broke this week so I spent yesterday sprawled on the grass with my magazine - so perfect.
  • I've also discovered two new blogs that are beautiful and amazing. I feel like they've captured my youth, somehow, in completely different entities. Mitenska looks like everything I remember from my childhood, but with more horses, and Sophie Isobel Asher just reminds me of my mum in an odd way.