Putting a Spring in Your Step this Season

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So it’s come to that time of year again, where we’re thinking about our holidays, sunbathing by the pool or a beach, and keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed that the British weather will be kind to us this summer. I say it’s come to that time of year again, as it happens in January too – spurs of motivation to get fit, whether it’s for the new year, or to reach your dream beach bod for your holiday. The snapchats, the hashtags and the grimace that forms on your face when you force yourself to order a caesar salad over a burger. Yep, I’m guilty too.

So in light of this, I’m going to show you my favourite athleisure must-haves and essentials that I keep inside my gym bag this season…

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Sportswear

I’m not incredibly fussy when it comes to sportswear, however I am always drawn to brightly coloured and patterned details when it comes to choosing my workout clothes. I tend to go for something that I feel comfortable in, both literally and physically. Both of the black gym bottoms I purchased from New Look, and the green coloured one is 3/4 length, and blue detailed one is full length – always nice to have a bit of variety.

Although I love patterns, I tend to keep it to one patterned item at a time. For example, patterned leggings, and a plain top, or a patterned top, and plain leggings. If you want to check out some patterned sportswear, check out Adore Me‘s collection, and if you’ve not got the time to mix and match patterned outfits, they even have patterned althleisure sets! The only choosing you’ll have to do is deciding which weights you’re going to lift this session!

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Footwear

Footwear is one of the most important things to consider when searching for your gym gear – they need to be flexible, comfortable and supporting, especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of cardio or running exercises. I have always been partial to Nike trainers, just because I know I am guaranteed all of these three things. I live in my Nike Flyknit Roshes, as they are not only the most comfortable shoes I own at the gym, they are also my favourite driving shoes! I would suggest investing in a good pair of trainers if you’re thinking of starting the gym or exercise, as it’s not only important to be comfortable, but if you exercise in flimsy (or the opposite – too hard) shoes, you can result in injuries.

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Gym-Bag-Essentials

One thing I cannot go to the gym without is music. Once my headphones go in and I press the play button, I am instantly in the zone. Even on those sluggish days. Keep going till the end of the chorus… you’ve got this far, might as well smash this set until the end of the song. Music is my mini PT (Personal Trainer) cheering me on. Perhaps try this type of motivation if you’ve not challenged yourself before, or find it hard to motivate yourself during a set. You’ll be surprised at how you actually can finish the set if you put your mind to it.

Another gym bag essential I always bring with me is my padlock. The gym I use, padlocks are the only way you can use a locker, so this is an absolute must!

Towels are an essential, whether it’s a sweat towel to carry around with me in between sets, or an actual body towel for my post-workout shower (my favourite bit!).

Water. If you don’t drink during or after a gym session, then shame on you! Losing sweat at the gym, it is vital that you put back the water you have lost from your body to avoid becoming dehydrated and feeling lethargic. Depending on how much cardio I perform, I usually tend to drink 1 litre of water per gym session.

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Photography by Charlotte Jackson and Rachel Jefferies

Olympus Pen E-PL8, 45mm

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How to Find Your Perfect Bag

I’m usually a one-bag-girl. Not in the sense that I only have one bag, oh hell no. But when it comes to my everyday bag, I don’t switch up my bags very often. I will most likely wear one bag continuously, until I find the next bag of my liking. Any particular reason? Yes, laziness.

Not going to lie, I’m basically Mary Poppins when it comes to having too much stuff in my bag, meaning that transporting this ‘stuff’ from one bag to another every. single. day. can be a tad impractical. Keys, purse, mirror, lipstick(s), tissues, hand sanitizer, a pen, paracetamol, Kindle… and usually an abundance of receipts that seems impossible to not exist in my bag. About 98% of the time before I have to leave on a morning, I am running around like a headless chicken, so believe it or not – I don’t have the time to transport my ‘stuff’.

What’s important when shopping for your perfect bag…

I bought this bag for the intention to become an everyday bag, meaning that it needed to be big enough to hold my ‘stuff’ previously mentioned. However, seeing as I am quite a busy girl, hopping from coffee shop to the library (and, let’s be realistic, probably to another coffee shop), I also wanted a bag big enough to be able to hold notebooks and my laptop if required.

The colour of your bag is everything

One thing that instantly drew me to this bag was its colour. Anyone who knows me well will know that natural/neutral colours are my absolute go-to, meaning that khaki is most definitely one of my preferred colours when it comes to my style. It matches every other colour in my wardrobe (brown, grey, black, white, beige shades), and its classic style is perfect for all-year round.

The tip when searching for a bag you are planning to wear copiously is make sure the bag is a dark(ish) colour. This means that you are guaranteed to be able to wear this bag with almost every outfit. And as a bonus, any dirt or even dye from your jeans won’t be as noticeable – win win!

My Top Tip

When I search for a bag, I also like to think about the hardware tones. It seems a little extravagant, but this really is one of my most important tips when it comes to nailing your bags. Firstly, I consider what type of bag I am searching for (casual/daytime, a work bag, evening, smart, special occasion). Knowing that this bag was going to be for everyday, I then thought about the jewellery I tend to wear on a day-to-day basis – which is gold. Choosing a bag with gold hardware accents will complement the jewellery I am most likely to wear, meaning the bag will match almost any outfit I choose to wear. This is a smart way to make sure you get the most wear out of your bags.

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SHOP THIS BAG

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Images: Harry Dyer, Rachel Jefferies

February Favourites

Hello all!

This blog post I am wanting to share the products I have been absolutely loving throughout February and want to rave about it to you all. Read on for some secrets and product recommendations on how I nourish my hair and skin. And who knows, you might be loving it this March!

Haircare

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Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

Okay, so I could not rave about this product more if I tried. This little magic potion is called Bumble and Bumble (or Bb.), and will do absolute wonders to your hair. Before I first used this brand, I had read that the ‘invisible oils’ consisted of Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Safflower Seed Oil, Grapeseed Oil – all great for your hair, however it did make me wonder how that would sit my hair. I was worried it was going to be a greasy, oily product that leaves an unwanted residue in your hair. Oh how I was wrong. So very very wrong.

I have always desired to have silky-smooth hair, however bleaching my hair has left my strands quite textured rather than soft. Yet after using this product, I have had comments about how soft and nourished my hair look/feels (which is always a brightener to my day may I add).

The only down-fall to this product, I’m afraid, is the price. I stumbled upon Bumble and Bumble through receiving it as a free gift from Stylist Live, however since looking into this brand, this miniature travel pack costs a whopping £33. WHAT?! This leaves their bigger bottles retailing at £23 for shampoo (sulphate free), £25 for conditioner and £20.50 for heat/UV protection hair primer spray. Ouch. £68.50 on hair products + student budget = I don’t think so. Although the price is a little steep, this product really is that brilliant, and I will definitely be purchasing it at some point. Even if it is with Boots points!

Shop Bumble & Bumble here

Skincare

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Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

I’ve never actually used a Clarins product before, however I have fallen in love with this facial balm. I have been using a small amount of product before I apply my make up, and its thick formula almost sets a base for my make up. Half a pea-sized application and this miracle product brightens, tightens and preps my face, smoothing out any pores before applying my foundation. Anything else to rave about? Yes, you can also use a little more than usual and it will also act as a facial mask. Uhh… how brilliant is that?!

I also received this product from Stylist Live’s goodie bag that came with the Bumble and Bumble set. If I’m honest, a product like this normally wouldn’t have caught my eye (especially at £30), but being lucky enough to try this little gem out for free, perhaps I won’t be so quick to judge a product by its price. I am absolutely loving it.

Shop Clarins here

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NSPA Skin Glow Mud Mask

By far the best face mask I have ever come across. And I’m really not exaggerating! This mud mask is my go-to when I fancy pampering myself. The pot of goodness dries on your face (and cracks when you make a facial expression. Top tip: Don’t look in the mirror with it on – you will crack up, in both senses).

Removal with warm water and a damp flannel leaves your face feeling incredible. Smooth, tight and cleansed are the right words. Not only is this a pot of genius, but it is also cost-effective as you get multiple uses out of the pot. Not to mention it’s only £8. I have roughly had about 4-5 applications and I’m only half way through the pot! Definitely worth a purchase.

Shop NSPA here

Make Up

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Urban Decay Ultimate Basics Palette

Urban Decay. Where do I start? Perhaps at the fact that it’s possibly my most favourite make up brand of all time. And this palette is no exception. I received this as a gift from Harry for Christmas, and it was by far one of my favourite presents. A palette of colours anyone would ever dream of, all with pigment that holds more promise than a pinky finger ever will. Whether it’s a natural day-time look, or a dramatic smokey eye, this palette is a MUST for your make up bag. Trust me on this one.

Shop Urban Decay here

 

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

This is a potion, UD got that right! I can’t tell you enough how much I love this eyeshadow primer. Its purpose is to prevent your eyeshadow from creasing or smudging, which is especially vital if it’s a special occasion and you need your eyeshadow to last! Although £17 may seem a little hefty, I can promise you it is worth it. And the great thing is, you only need a tiny bit each use so it lasts ages!

Shop Urban Decay here

Let me know if any of my February Favourites have made it into your March Favourites at all, or if you already dig these products!

Rach x

How to Style Jewellery From Day-to-Night

Up until the last 3 years or so, jewellery really wasn’t my thing. In fact, accessories weren’t my thing. And if anything, I used to forget to accessorize my outfits. However, when I started to interpret jewellery and accessories within my style, I quickly realised that something so simple, such as the small detail of necklaces, can transform your outfit – from casual, everyday wear to sophisticated evening-style.

What I wear: day

When it comes to jewellery, I am a watch girl. By that, I mean that watches are my favourite pieces of jewellery. Ironic, because I’m late to pretty much everything in my life. But hey ho, at least the watch looks good… A simplistic and modest style, my Cluse watch is an accessory I wear everyday without fail. Complementing any day-time outfit, I am hugely fond of the clear face, and the watch’s design is timelessly modern.

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I’ve never been a loud costume jewellery lover, as I always feel like the little details speak much louder when styling your outfit’s accessories. Pretty and simple is what I look for. Through the courtesy of my work with Stylist, I was given a My Shining Armour necklace and I have not stopped wearing this beauty! 18ct gold-plated necklace, this simplistic yet stunning necklace is definitely one of my new favourites to accessorize any day outfit with.

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I have recently rediscovered my love for chokers, completing any daytime outfit that needs that little bit more detail to finish its ‘look’. Velvet, lace, you name it – chokers are now available in various materials, adding that finished edge to any outfit that needs a little more oomph!

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What I wear: evening

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You can probably tell that this watch has been worn endlessly. That’s because it has. Working in a jewellery store, this was the first piece of jewellery I treated myself to, and I am still in love with it just as much as the day I did the day I spotted it behind the counter. The secret when it comes to evening-wear abides by the famous rule, less is more. Petite pieces of jewellery are always a winner, especially if you only need to polish and complete an outfit due to your evening outfit already being a statement itself. Although this dainty watch is considerably smaller than my day-time Cluse watch, this Rotary classic never fails to introduce a subtle charm to any evening outfit.

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Switching the colours up, these two pieces are my absolute favourite for when I’m feeling less gold, and more silver. Both complementing each other, the eternity ring my parents bought me for my 18th birthday, and the Casio Sheen Bijou watch I bought afterwards to match with the blue diamonds and silver tones from my ring. Casio describe their range of Sheen Bijou watches as “[showcasing] delicate and petite styles, that radiate femininity for those who love their accessories to be simple and subtle”, which is exactly what this watch does! Although I wear this ring every day, I feel as though the watch’s sparkle details completes the classic look during evening outfits.

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You can probably guess the theme here… Rose gold bangles/bracelets. Rose gold took me a long time to become fond of, as I was so used to just the plain old silver or gold. However I’d probably go as far to say that rose gold is possibly one of my favourite colours of jewellery to wear. The pretty, delicate colour isn’t too overpowering, and it is the perfect colour to transform from day-to-night.

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Products featured:

Rose gold Cluse watch: Cluse

18ct yellow gold tone ‘O’ necklace: My Shining Armour

Khaki material choker: River Island, £5

Pink nude velvet choker: River Island

Gold tone Rotary watch: Rotary, £175

Silver tone Casio Sheen watch: H Samuel, unknown 

Sterling silver & blue diamond eternity ring: Ernest Jones

Ted Baker rose gold button bangle: Ted Baker

Ball rose 14ct gold-plated bangle: Pia

Chamilia pink leather braid charm bracelet: H Samuel

Photograph credits: Rachel Jefferies

A New Chapter

Why hello there, stranger.

So, it has felt like an extremely lengthy time since I last published a blog post… and that’s probably because it has been an extremely lengthy time. Normally I would bombard you all who kindly do take the time to read my blog posts with apologies, excuses and how I am embarrassed at how long it has been. However this time, I’m not sorry. And I’m not embarrassed. And without the cheesy cliche embellishment that nobody wants or needs (and nor does this blog), I’m coming clean.

the truth is, I just didn’t feel like writing”

I have had an abundance of people say to me “Rachel! When’s your next blog post coming out?”, and as flattered as I have been to hear readers are genuinely interested and follow my blog’s progress (a concept I still can’t get my head around), I would reply with “aww how sweet, I plan to post one shortly” – knowing it probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon. I tried blaming it on just being busy and not finding the time to write, and I tried blaming the fact I don’t have ‘blogger’ equipment to reach the standard I aspire. But the truth is, I just didn’t feel like writing.

If I had a pound for every time I sat down to finish just one, from the handful of unfinished blog posts I have lying in my drafts, well let’s just say I probably wouldn’t have to pay for a latte for the rest of the year. (Just take a look at my blog name if that has triggered any confusion). I just somehow found each post increasingly difficult to finish. Or just to even create content I was happy with. My inspiration had depleted to zero, and it took me a long time to stop feeling guilty about it. It was becoming more of a duty rather than something I enjoy. And that’s when I asked myself, I have created this blog as a hobby, as a creative outlet, as a way to put my writing ‘out there’. So why was it becoming almost a chore?

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“Your blog should reflect you”

Despite saying all of this, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy blogging – it would be terribly ironic of me if that were the case. I enjoy blogging, however I think I have concluded that the content I was making wasn’t one hundred per-cent what I wanted to blog about. I am aiming to spruce up the content, style and appearance of my blog, meaning that what I put onto my platform will reflect more personality, but in a more tidy and polished sense. That, I think, is the art of creating and tailoring a blog, making the work you publish onto it a much more enjoyable process. Your blog should reflect you. And that’s not completely how I felt mine has been doing.

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After this sort of ‘break from blogging’, it has enabled a reflection on not only my blog, but the efforts I put into something I love. I’ve always been a strong believer in, if you’re not happy about something, then make the effort to change it instead of sitting and complaining. Because, let’s be honest, the alternate attitude gets you nowhere in life. Certainly not half as near as where you could be if you don’t take the time to put effort in to change something you’re not completely satisfied about.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I am back to the good ol’ blogging, which I will be adapting to my aspirations (to their maximum feasibility). Because let’s face it, my dream blog can’t happen overnight.

I hope you all enjoy the future plans I have for Coffee and Chapters, I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

Rach x

What I’m wearing:
Outfit 1:
Black top: H&M
Sunglasses: Quay Australia @ ASOS
White skirt: River Island

Outfit 2:
Grey crop top: Topshop
Black lace detail shorts: Zara
Sandals: Warehouse
Bag: Michael Kors

Image credits: Georgia Lidington and Kevin Jefferies
Editing thanks to: Aneesha Grewal

The Importance of Not Going To The Gym

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Photography by Ryan Winterbotham

The pressure to exercise has been growing rapidly over the past few years. The expectation to be active, fit and healthy is higher than ever. When I first started this blog it was a 50/50 split of Fashion and Fitness. That’s something I recently announced I’m going back to.

I will always love exercising and always highlight the importance of it. But to kick off my process of going back to 50/50 Fashion and Fitness I want to start by highlighting the importance of not going to the gym.

One of the side effects of grief is loss of appetite. I’ve suffered with this greatly. Since Dylan died I’ve been trying hard to eat enough and eat regularly but it’s been a struggle.

With this post I wanted to share the message that if you haven’t eaten enough, you should not go to the gym. Not only…

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Stylist Live 2016 – A Festival of Inspiration

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Stylist magazine has been my post gym routine pick-up (and also my post gym pick-me-up on those lethargic days) for over a year now, and as some of you may know, I attended Stylist‘s very own magazine event last October, Stylist Live. Finding out that Stylist, my favourite magazine that I religiously collect, was holding a magazine event for readers like myself to attend, greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne and spending the day indulging in everything fashion, beauty and writing related – how long do you really think it took for me to decide whether to go or not? Five, six seconds? Most likely. And it meant I had an excuse to take a trip to London… As if my decision needed any more reasons to say yes. There was no need for persuasion, because a few mouse clicks later and my tickets were purchased.

If you want to read about my experience at Stylist Live 2015, follow this link: https://coffeeandchapters.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/stylistlive-magazine-event/

Some of you may have gathered where I am going with this… yes, you’ve got it; Stylist is back this October with Stylist Live 2016. Having such a brilliant time first time round, I have made sure Stylist Live is reserved in my diary this October. So what exactly is Stylist Live, I hear you ponder.

 

Stylist Live – A Festival of Inspiration

Fashion | Beauty | People | Life | Books | Ideas

http://live.stylist.co.uk

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Following last year’s hugely successful event, Stylist Live returns from 13 – 16 October 2016 at the Business Design Centre in Angel, London.

Stylist Live is hosted by inspiring idols, such as journalist and author, Caitlin Moran; journalist and writer, Sali Hughes; author of The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, actress, producer and fashion designer, Sadie Frost; novelist and non-fiction writer, Marian Keyes; British television presenter (BBC), Cherry Healey; Journalist, broadcaster; cook, writer and presenter, Thomasina Miers along with many more. This year’s Stylist Live brings guests talks, workshops, pop-up shops, food & drink and catwalks… everything you could dream of, all in one place.

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Image taken by: JOHN NASSARI PHOTOGRAPHY

Talks & Workshops

Stylist Live weekend features over 150 talks and workshops across seven stages, where Stylist ‘aim to inspire each and every guest’. So if it’s beauty tutorials, tips on how to write a novel (umm, yes please!), a cooking master class, or life and relationship advice, Stylist will have you covered. Find the full list of talks and workshops here http://live.stylist.co.uk/talks-and-workshops

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Image taken by: Rachel Jefferies
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Image taken and provided by: Stylist

Pop-ups

And you’d be silly to assume that is no such thing as a lifestyle magazine event without that one thing we all go crazy for – shopping. Over 100 boutique pop-ups with our favourite brands such as Clarins, Swarovski, Tangle Teezer, Caudalie, Coco’s Liberty and many more. Not to mention the holy grail of quirky and unique gift brands – notonthehighstreet – where guests are able to ‘make and customise a range of gifts and homewares’ at the ‘Create Lab’, presented by notonthehighstreet.com. Offering tutorials and advice for this season’s latest trends, make up brand (and without a doubt my absolute favourite), Urban Decay will be making eyes pop… with make up, and probably most definitely literally. Find the full list of pop-up boutiques at http://live.stylist.co.uk/pampering-pop-ups.

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Image taken by: Rachel Jefferies

Catwalks

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Image taken by: Rachel Jefferies

 

Supported by Swarovski, Stylist’s catwalk shows run throughout the day for every guest to experience, strutting fashion looks such key a/w 16 trends featuring Swarovski’s latest season jewellery and high street style ideas. The ambience of the show is unforgettable, pulling together some perfect pieces making you leave cat-walking through the London Underground.

Food and Drink

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Image taken by: Charlotte Jackson

And if all of that isn’t enough to look forward to, Stylist Live 2016 partnered with Chambord means that receiving a complimentary cocktail on arrival will kick start your day the best way. Additionally, The House of Peroni, Toastits and Crosstown Doughnuts will be available to tempt, and satisfy (once you inevitably give into temptation) your taste buds. Stylist Live 2015 introduced me to Pukka tea, converting me into a herbal tea lover, transforming my dull, solo choice of Breakfast Tea into an exotic herbal selection. Cheers Pukka.

Give me the deets!

Stylist Live 2016 – A Festival of Inspiration is held at London’s Business Design Centre, commencing between Friday 13th and Sunday 16th October 2016, and tickets are available now. ‘Standard tickets allow purchasers to reserve a place at their choice of talk or workshop as well as one catwalk show. You can attend more than your reserved sessions on the day, on a first come, first served basis.’

Tickets are available as Standard or VIP, where VIP includes exclusive access to hair styling, a make-up station, cocktails, shop & drop and more, plus a Stylist Live goodie bag. For more info on tickets click here.

Sounds like your cup of tea? See you there!

To view the full programme, buy tickets and reserve your place for talks, workshops and catwalks visit live.stylist.co.uk

For more info please contact fiona.swanson@stylist.co.uk

Stylist Live

13th – 16th October 2016

Business Design Centre, London, N1 0QH

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All images credited in image captions.

All quotations (of information) given: Stylist.

Coffee O’Clock – 7 Top Coffee Places

What’s your kind of drink? Tea? Coffee? Juice? Or maybe a glass of wine on a stressful day? If it’s the latter, I feel you.

Just over eighteen years I had been a religious tea drinker. Every morning before school/college I had my breakfast cuppa, and it would be the only hot drink I would order in a café, besides hot chocolate of course.  I had never understood the obsession people have with coffee. I mean, people posting Instagrams of their morning coffee, writing about how much they appreciate coffee in their Twitter bios – it never seemed obvious to me what the fuss was about. Why are people running off coffee? Welcomed by the pungent smell of bitter beans as I walk into a coffee shop, only to order my Breakfast Tea was never one of my favourite things to do, I must admit. In fact, I even remember Christmas shopping for my mum, with my dad, and I had found the perfect present. My dad replied with “Well done Rach, I’ll treat you to a coffee”. “But I don’t like coffee, Dad”, of which he smirked “exactly”. I was not amused, to say the least.

Yet when I think back to confused and ignorant sixteen-year old Rachel asking these questions to herself, I almost want to pat her on the head with pity. Because since coming to university, I figured that all-nighters would probably occur, meaning that needing something high in caffeine is inevitable. And being repulsed by energy drinks, I knew that it was time to give coffee another go. Starting with milky and sugary lattes, I softly introduced myself to coffee, slowly taking out sugar until my taste buds could adapt to the strength of coffee. I was basically training my tastebuds, that’s the only way to put it. However two months later, coffee was the only thing I was drinking, and out of choice. Mochas, lattes, filter coffee, black coffee (with no sugar for those last essay struggles). And now I claim that it is by far my favourite drink, which is quite surprising when I think back to how much I used to despise it. And since becoming a coffee lover, I have answered all of my previous questions, and I now understand why so many people rave about coffee. And Instagram it. (Guilty).

Some students like to spend their money on partying, alcohol or Dominos. Me however, I tend to spend it in my favourite coffee houses and cafés. Being an avid caffeine addict and forever searching for somewhere new to read and relax, I have discovered my favourite aspect of Cardiff; the quirky and creative coffee houses that are tucked away in arcades. So, since I have filled you all in about my coffee sob story, I thought why not give a list of my favourite coffee shops and cafés I have discovered.

Barker Tea House, Cardiff

 

You can tell I come here a lot, can’t you? A vintage tea house, reminding me of the 1920s is by far my favourite place to sit with friends, family or read my book in peace. Not to mention how delicious their paninis are, which are usually brimming to the edges with delicious fillings. With an endless amount of herbal teas, this place is the epitome of English stereotype. Old-fashioned décor, jazz music and a relaxed atmosphere, Barker Tea House is my favourite lunching spot ever. I have even considered making a trip to Cardiff over the summer just to come to Barker Tea House to satisfy my withdrawal symptoms.

Coffee Barker, Cardiff

Okay, I come here a lot too. Sister company to Barker Tea House, Coffee Barker offers a slightly more chilled, groovy atmosphere, where the interior décor is yet again, incredible, but perhaps more ‘New York’/city -coffee-house vibe. Like Barker Tea House, the coffee-house is hidden in one of Cardiff’s old-fashioned arcades, meaning that it is hidden away, yet popular enough – the perfect place to socialise with friends, or write blog posts *cough cough*. I would be right in saying I have probably tried almost everything Coffee Barker has to offer, and I would 10/10 recommend their Nutella tart. “Would you like it warmed up with cream?” was like music to my ears. Not to mention they make THE best milkshakes you will ever taste.

Pinkman’s Bakery, Bristol

Although this is not in Cardiff, stumbling upon this golden place at the top of Park Street excited my inner coffee-house fangirl. This place was like no other I have been to, filled with baked goods and deli sandwich choices to choose from. The simplistic, modern layout felt very aesthetic and I hope you understand what I mean by ‘a typical city cafe’. After a long indecisive debate with myself, I chose a cherry liquor chocolate cheesecake and a latte, and oh wow. Indulgence at its finest. My taste buds were greeted by heaven. The rich chocolate cheesecake slice was huge, and I honestly haven’t tried a better latte since having one here. I definitely recommend this place to any of you fellow Bristolians, or even if you choose to visit Bristol.

29 Park Place, Cardiff

29 Park Place welcomes with a cosy-bar ambience, all whilst feeling sophisticated and pleasant. Menus creatively attached to vinyl record covers and a bookshelf of books and VCRs, the bar is perfect for a coffee by day, and cocktails/beverages for evenings. I am yet to test out the meals 29 Park Place has to offer, however the selection looks incredibly appetising. Typically ordering a coffee, I can confidently say that their mochas are one of the smoothest I have tasted, and at a reasonable price of £2.

Hoffi Coffi, Cardiff

Every day this place is bustling with students, sometimes making it difficult to find a place to sit. However the buzz of uni students makes it a friendly place to have a coffee break, or even sit down and do some work. Hoffi Coffi seem to have this student cafe nailed, as the acoustic playlist and chilled staff makes your coffee trip a de-stressing one. Every Cardiff Uni student will be familiar with this place, and have probably tried it out too.

Hogwurst, Cardiff

Every day I walk past Hogwurst on the way to lectures, peering in to see if it looks any good, and it has taken me until 2 weeks ago to actually get round to having a drink in there. Taking a revision break with some friends, we were amazed at the quirky, contemporary restaurant that is filled with books, ornaments and authentic décor. I tried the banoffee pie milkshake, which was (almost) as good as Barker Coffee’s. Sorry Hogwurst, I’m partial to Barker Coffee due to my unwavering love for the Barker duo.

Buffalo, Cardiff

Not your typical coffee, aye? But it gets to that point of the night when drinking alcoholic beverages, where you are a little giggly, your mouth is numbing and you just think to yourself, “My two favourite drinks: cocktails and coffee. Why not have them both at the same time?”. That’s right. And 30 seconds later, one espresso martini is coming up. (Shaken not stirred). But quite possibly one of the best alcoholic drinks I have ever tasted. £8 for an espresso martini meant that was my Treat-of-the-Week spent, and a little more expensive treat than usual too. However, every sip was accompanied with “mmmn”, so I had no regrets. Well… except the morning after when I wasn’t feeling too funky fresh.

 

After writing this blog, I slightly feel as though I am becoming a café connoisseur… I just love cafés, I promise.

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Image Credits: Rachel Jefferies, Seb Bailey, Lin Jefferies

3 Quick & Simple Veggie Recipes

Hello all! I haven’t blogged about food for a long time, so I thought that I’d change things up this week and give you a few of my favourite meals to cook at uni, (especially since going veggie). If I received a pound for every person that said to me “you’ll be living off 19p noodles” before I started uni, let’s just say I wouldn’t be a millionaire or anything… but I’d probably be pocketing a fair few notes. Someone even used that statement as a reasoning of why I shouldn’t pick a uni that required me to move away from home. Clearly their argument wasn’t persuading enough. I’d just like to point out that the “19p noodle” statement is on every level of wrong. Firstly, noodles are not 19p. They’re about 25p for the cheapest ones, thanks inflation. But if you do know where these mysterious 19p noodles come from, I’d be interested to know. Secondly, I think the whole ‘cheap’ uni experience has been a bit overplayed now. I mean, yes we are students who have to be very careful with what we spend our debt (that we pretend that isn’t debt for the peace of mind) on. But I think – or I’d like to think – that we are smart enough to know that noodles or toast for tea every night isn’t realistic, or healthy. So a little bit more appreciation on behalf of uni students, please.

I will happily put my hands up and say that I’m no Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, or Gordon Ramsey. Well, maybe the latter, when I burn myself on the oven. But I thought I’d share some of the meals I have been cooking recently. Sending pictures of a  dinner you’ve managed to whip up to your parents is a very classic student thing to do, and I am a number one culprit of doing so. But for some reason, receiving the reply “that looks better than our tea” makes my dinner taste even better. The taste of achievement maybe.

And for anyone who’s interested or cares about how my pescetarian diet is going, it is going surprisingly well. I haven’t eaten meat for the entire five months since being ‘veggie’, and I don’t even get cravings anymore. Not even bacon. I haven’t noticed any huge changes since not eating meat, just perhaps my immune system has been kind to me due to the amount of vegetables I eat, even though I still ate a great deal of veg prior to cutting out meat.

Anyway, that’s enough with my rambling, time to show (or tell, rather) you how it’s done, Rachel Jefferies style.

Hummus, Falafel and Avocado Wraps

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☕︎ Serves: 2 (2 wraps each) ☕︎ Prep time: 10 mins ☕︎ Cook time: 15 mins ☕︎ Overall time: 25 mins ☕︎

Ingredients:

☑︎ 4 tortilla wraps (I used herb tortilla wraps)

☑︎ 12 falafels

☑︎ Hummus (I used lemon and coriander hummus)

☑︎ 1 avocado

☑︎ 1 red, yellow or green pepper (whichever preferred, I used yellow)

☑︎ Fresh salad leaves (or fresh spinach if preferred)

☑︎ 1 handful of seed mix

☑︎ Salad dressing

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180/200℃ (Check packaging of falafels in case it suggests differently). Place falafels on a baking tray. Once oven has reached the right temperature, pop baking tray (with falafels on) into the oven for 15 minutes.
  2. Whilst waiting for the falafels to cook, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Wash and chop off a section of your pepper – you won’t need the entire pepper. Chop the pepper into thin slices.
  3. Next, slice the avocado in half, being aware that there is a stone in the middle. Once the avocado is cut into two, separate the avocado from its skin with a spoon. (If you’re unsure what this entails, I’m sure there is a YouTube video guiding how to!) Chop your avocado into slices the thickness of 2cm.
  4. After 10 minutes, check on the falafels, turning them over to their opposite side before placing them back into the oven for the last 5 minutes.
  5. Prepare your tortilla wraps by scooping one table spoon of hummus onto your wrap, spreading it evenly as a wide rectangle to the middle of your wrap, where the rest of your filling will be. Place salad leaves as a diameter line – remember this will be rolled up so don’t put too much in. Add a couple of slices of your pepper and avocado onto your salad, and sprinkle some mixed seeds. Drizzle some salad dressing if desired (I used honey and mustard dressing).
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6. Once your falafels are cooked, place three in each wrap and wrap up your tortillas.

Wrapping your tortilla:

Step 1. Fold one half over the filling                Step 2. Fold up both ‘ends’ of the wrap, like so

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Step 3. Fold the remaining side over last

Step 4. Flip over the wrap and cut diagonally in the centre

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Caramelised Onion, Feta and Tomato Pastry Slices

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☕︎ Serves: 6 ☕︎ Prep time: 20-25ish mins ☕︎ Cook time: 15 mins ☕︎ Overall time: 35-40ish mins ☕︎

Ingredients:

☑︎ Pre-rolled puff pastry (or you can make your own if you’re feeling adventurous)

☑︎ 1 large onion

☑︎ 1 block of feta cheese

☑︎ 1 handful of cherry/baby tomatoes

☑︎ 1/2 a bag of fresh spinach

☑︎ 1/2 tablespoon of sugar (brown or white, whichever preferred)

☑︎ 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

☑︎ 1 handful of mixed seeds

☑︎ 1 teaspoon of herbs de provence

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180/200℃. Cut greaseproof paper to the same size as your oven tray, and place your rolled out puff pastry on the sheet of greaseproof paper, placing both on your tray.
  2. Next, heat oil in a large frying pan, whilst chopping onions. You can either cut them into slices and use the rings, or chop them more finely into squares, like I did. Once the pan is hot, add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar and the splash of balsamic vinegar. Add the spinach, which will wilt and cook on a low heat for another 5-7 minutes.
  3. Whilst waiting, wash and chop tomatoes into halves and place to one side.
  4. (Before I added any toppings to the pastry, I whisked 1 egg and brushed it over the pastry to give a golden, crisp finish, however this step is not crucial).
  5. Once the caramelised onions and spinach have cooked, spread evenly over the pastry, leaving an inch frame from the outside to allow for a crust.
  6. Next, crumble feta cheese over the caramelised onion and spinach layer. Then place the halved tomatoes evenly, and sprinkle seeds over the top. Season with herbs de provence to add flavour.
  7. Place the pastry slice into the oven and cook for 15 minutes (or until the pastry crusts looks golden and the middle is cooked too).
  8. Once cooked, slice the pastry into smaller slices, and serve hot, or can be eaten cold for lunch the next day. I served mine with buttered kale, but you could alternatively serve it with salad.
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Caramelised Onion, Feta and Tomato Pastry Slices

Veggie Chilli 

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Veggie Chilli

☕︎ Serves: 3-4 (depending on portion size) ☕︎ Prep time: 10 mins ☕︎ Cook time: 30 mins ☕︎ Overall time: 40 mins ☕︎

Ingredients:

☑︎ Peppers (can be red, yellow, green or even a mixture)

☑︎ 1 large onion

☑︎ 4 spring onions

☑︎ 1 handful of fresh tomatoes

☑︎  3/4 punnet of mushrooms

☑︎ 1 tin of kidney beans

☑︎ 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

☑︎ Chilli powder

☑︎ Garlic

☑︎ Salt & seasoning

Method:

  1. Start by washing and chopping vegetable items; mushrooms, spring onions, onion and tomatoes (cut in half and then half again).
  2. Heat a saucepan of water and add rice. Judging rice can be hard, but if you’re unsure, then to give you an idea, I find that 1 filled mug of dry rice is enough for 4 servings. Once boiled, allow to simmer, stirring occasionally throughout the process of making the veggie chilli.
  3. Heat a saucepan on a high heat with a drizzle of oil, and once hot add chopped onion, spring onions, mushrooms, a pinch of salt, seasoning herbs and crushed garlic. Just before the onions soften add the fresh tomatoes just chopped and turn the heat to a low-medium heat and cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Then add 1 whole tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan, stirring into the onions and mushrooms.
  5. Swill and drain the tin of kidney beans in a colander/sieve and add to the pan.
  6. Add chilli powder – whatever amount you desire. I added 1 teaspoon’s worth, which gave my chilli a kick of spice, but not too much. Note: Different chilli powders can hold different spice strength so be careful. Best thing to do is add bit by bit and stirring in-between addition of chilli powder, tasting each time until satisfied chilli strength.
  7. Allow the veggie chilli to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the chilli is too watery, just simmer for a bit longer.
  8. Once the rice is soft/cooked, drain and swill with cold water briefly – not too much to make the rice cold. (I’m not sure why, but I have been told to do this when cooking rice!)
  9. Serve the rice onto a plate or bowl, spooning the veggie chilli on top, and enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoyed a taste of my uni cookery, no 19p noodles here. If you do try out any of my recipes, I’d love to hear about it!

Images: All images taken by Rachel Jefferies

 

 

 

How to be Organised

 

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Ever feel like you’re swimming (or drowning, rather) in a list of things to do? Go to a meeting, make your lunch before work, to go to work, laundry, cook, clean, shop – the list goes on. And on. And on. Even relaxing is on the list of things to do. Living the busy life can be stressful and hard to manage at times,  and even though we all like to think we can juggle items better than a professional can at a circus, behind that calm and collected smile, you can’t deny that  you want to lie down and sleep off all of the undone jobs that are still calling your name. However, I have learnt that being organised from a few simple tips I have picked up really does make a difference to the productiveness of your day. Erm… perhaps you should add reading these to your list of things to do.

Time Management

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Have a lot to get done? Well here’s a slap in the face; getting up at mid-afternoon won’t do you any favours. I tend to find that the earlier I wake up, the more motivated I feel to get on with my day, fulfilling the productivity I have set myself up for. Since starting university, I have definitely learnt that starting your day on a productive note (can be the hardest to get into the routine of), but once you are in the routine of doing so, your life becomes 10x easier. I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to discipline yourself to go to bed at a reasonable time, and going to bed at 3am and waking up at 8:30am probably isn’t the best of ideas. Internally screaming that at myself mid-doze every morning is not how I want to wake up. Living off the late nighter, early riser theory was never a successful one, and I’m pretty sure even my snooze button even thought I was taking the biscuit.

Even though my earliest lectures during weekdays are at 11am (lucky, I know), I still aim to get up between 8-8:30am, sometimes even earlier, just to give myself time to complete any jobs that need to be done (e.g. food shopping, cleaning etc.), to peacefully eat my breakfast whilst reading the world news online, possibly do some reading, and to get ready for the day ahead. Getting into the routine of waking up early and spreading out the number of jobs to do means that I can relax on an evening, making the early(ish) start worth it.

Diary Organise – Plan Your Days

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I know it seems like a no-brainer… but it also seems like something very old fashioned. Writing down your plans and workload not only keeps yourself in check, but it stops you from double-booking yourself. And I’ll tell you now, I could not live without my diary/ organiser. Writing everything in the Book Of Rachel from deadlines, appointments and meetings, to social events with friends and upcoming birthdays. I even write the Word of the Day in my daily diary. Sad, I know. But would you expect anything else from an English Language student? Many of you may prefer to write plans in your digital diary – your phone. However, I carry my diary around with me every single day, and seeing as my phone seems to die at 21% battery (and Apple refuse to accept it’s a fault in their product, pfft), a literal diary seems to be unthinkably more reliable.

‘To Do’ Lists

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Holy grail of organisation, ‘To Do’ lists are one of my favourite strategies to stay on top of your productivity, lessening the chance of laying in bed at night, tensing every muscle in your body when you realise you haven’t completed that one crucial  task you were meant to that day. Besides, there is no better pleasure than ticking off items on your ‘To Do’ list once you have To-Do’d them. Even if it is ticking off items such as “write a To Do list”. It’s one less job done though, right? Seems logical to me.

Stationary is Your Life Saver

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You’ll be surprised how helpful stationary helps you organise your notes and lists. That’s of course if you don’t already take a great pleasure in buying novelty stationary like myself. Being a student, hoarding an abundance of notes, paper and handouts, so there is nothing better than organising your notes and sheets of paper with paperclips, clips and pins. And remember, when it comes to being productive: stationary is your best friend. Netflix is not. (I’m sorry Netflix, I love you really).

Online Organisation

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I can try to deny it as much as I like, but growing up in the generation of technological advancements, I feel as though we have been blessed with EVEN MORE organisation tools to keep us in check with work. And I’m not lying when I say that cleaning your mailbox of spam and unwanted e-mails makes you feel like you have cleansed your soul at the same time. Try it out, you’ll see what I mean. Keeping your documents filed in virtual folders in your laptop/computer/iPad/iPhone/any other technology you rely on for work purposes will de-clutter your life – we’ve all experienced that anxious hectic search for a piece of work you thought you had saved somewhere when you realise it’s not there. Don’t do it to yourself. Folders are friends.

Always Have a Back Up Plan

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Having a full schedule can mean that some days you can’t fit your whole life into one day. However, if you find yourself having to postpone a job, it going wrong or not getting as much work done as you had liked to have, have a back up plan. Know that you will have spare time to fit it else where before it’s too late, which perfectly relates back to time management. Which then relates back to keeping a diary. Which then relates to writing in your diary with nice, new stationary. Do you see where I’m going with this?

File Away

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Although even the thought of it is a chore in itself, filing really does help you organise and manage your work. Section splitters, plastic wallets and stickers to write the title of your folder on, folders are the mother of organisation. Doesn’t it all sound so fun? Okay, granted, it might not. But invest in a good, decent folder, and it will hold your papers together better than you can hold yourself together. Or is that just me? But really, neatly stacked sheets of A4, clamped in funky folders on your shelves are the way forward.

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After reading the my tips to the key of organisation, I hope you have opened the door to a world of organisation and stress-free days. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely. But maybe you feel inspired, at least, to try out some of these things to structure your schedule. And you’ve had a great start so far, because you have just strategically procrastinated part of your day anyway, reading this. This was on my list of things To-Do and in my diary (as you saw earlier), so the joke’s on you. *Writes “say ‘sorry’ to reader” on To-Do list*.

Sorry.

Images: All images taken by Rachel Jefferies