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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

December 30, 2016

Favourite Lifestyle Posts 2016

Hello you lovely lot! On Wednesday I posted a review of my favourite beauty posts here on NB from 2016 so I thought it only seemed right to include my favourite lifestyle ones from the year today, too! Surprise surprise, I realised I had far too many to include in just one post so I've split my faves into two posts - this one is covering just general lifestyle posts and the next one will be covering my favourite photography-based lifestyle posts (which include the odd travel post too). So let's see what I've enjoyed writing about, photographing, and what you guys have enjoyed too:

A-Z of Amyleigh
This was one of the most fun and lighthearted posts I put together this year and I really enjoyed writing it. I like to keep my blog quite informal and chatty 98% of the time anyway, but this post let me truly be myself in the best way as it gave me a chance to talk about some more of my interests and parts of my personality that might not always be visible on NB becuse quite frankly - I can't squeeze it all in! It was a tricky post to write because I was stumped trying to think of things for some letters and other letters I had too many things to choose from to include, but I really recommend writing a post like this for your blog because it just gives your blog an extra personal touch and chance to be yourself. I loved it.

Me and My Other Interests: Music
Another great one to write was this post all about some of my favourite music and how my music taste has developed since a young age. I was a massive scene kid/emo when I was younger with the coon-tail hair extensions and too much eyeliner but now, I still have the black hair but I tend to dress to whatever style I want rather than dress the way my music taste would dictate. Because of that, people are sometimes surprised that I like the music I do and those who know I like "heavier" stuff are then surprised to learn I really love the likes of Amy Winehouse and Busted. So this was a nice chance for me to really waffle on for hours about my favourite music and as I consider music a major importance and passion in my life, it as nice to include it in NB as I don't get the opportunity to talk about it that often.

Man Time: Beer Review
Something I would like to do in 2017 is have Matt write more posts on NB. Matthew is such a talented writer and after he did a review on some beers for this post, I think you guys really enjoyed his writing style and what he had to say. It would be fantastic to have more "manly" themed posts as he's a fashionable guy who knows his food, beer, skincare, and male grooming so watch this space!

My Favourite Books - Part 1
The first instalment of a run-down of my favourite books obviously needed to be included in this favourites post. I love reading and I'm making it a target to read a hell of a lot more in 2017 because it has unfortunately taken a back seat this year, big time. I try to do book review posts as often as I can on NB but I realised I really needed to give you guys a clear idea of what sort of books I like the most so you know why I might have the view of a book I do. Of course I will be writing more instalments of my favourite reads in 2017, but for now definitely check out this post to get an idea of what I like to get lost in.

25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years
For whatever reason, I saw turning 25 this year as a milestone and a chance to reflect on what I've learned in this time. Writing this post was another chance to be lighthearted and informal but it also gave me the opportunity to say some more serious things and I guess be really honest with myself and you guys - 25 isn't old and you won't have your life sorted out like you thought you would when you were 16. It was a nice personal post to include on NB and I will be making an effort to include more personal posts in the new year.

When in Rome: Where to Eat
Although I created a lot of posts covering my time in Rome this summer, one post I particularly liked writing and collating was this one about my favourite topic: food. A big focus of our holiday in Rome was to eat as much good food as we could and we think we pretty much nailed it. This post ended up being a pretty lengthy one but if you're a fan of pizza, you will be amongst friends reading it.

Taxidermy for Beginners
It's no secret that I love taxidermy. I even mention it in my short blog bio because it's something I actively love buying and looking at but I had never made my own until this year. Matt & I took a beginners class and made our own little mice and it was such an interesting experience. It made me truly appreciate the effort that goes into each piece of taxidermy that is created and how good you have to be with your hands and patience. Although Matt said he would never do it ever again, I think if the opportunity came up again to do another animal I would definitely go for it. It was a unique experience and made me really admire those who create things I just take for granted to decorate my home.

Me and My Other Interests: Video Games
I feel like I'm cheating putting in two of my "Me and My Other Interests" posts in this favourites run-down but I have enjoyed writing them and look forward to doing a few more in 2017. My other big love in life is video games and again, it's a love of mine I don't mention all that often on the blog because I don't want it to get crowded with too many different topics as it would be difficult to follow what I'm posting about when. However I love video games probably as much (if not even more!) than makeup so writing this post was an utter joy and a trip down nostalgic memory lane.

Pork Banh Mi Recipe
Lastly, I thought I better mention a recipe and which better one to mention than this super tasty sandwich that Matt & I have quite often as it's one of our most favourite meals to have. This is such an amazing sandwich to have that leaves you feeling utterly stuffed but it's nice and light and relatively healthy for you so it's ace. I'm hoping to have many more recipes on NB in 2017 as Matt & I are making a conscious effort to try and eat a little bit better and to also make an effort with making our food interesting most meal times so if you like to get creative in the kitchen, keep an eye out for that!

- A.
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December 23, 2016

Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out

Hello wonderful people! Earlier this week, I took myself out for a few hours on a solo date to go grab a hot beverage and to have a wander around Newcastle for something to do and a bit of self-care. I took myself along to the Life Science Centre because there was an exhibition on that I had been desperate to see since summer: Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out. For those who may not know, Gunther von Hagens' is a German anatomist who has become universally famous after doing various anatomy/biology-based tv shows in front of live audiences. His latest breakthrough in field is being able to preserve tissue samples and specimens in a process he calls 'plastination'. Plastination is a method used to basically cast models of muscles, capillaries, and just general internal tissue of the human and animal bodies and is honestly extremely fascinating and has no doubt had a huge effect on the scientific world.

Last year I went to Life Science Centre to see the hugely successful Gunther von Hagens' Bodyworlds exhibition. This exhibition showcased donated human specimens which had gone through the process of plastination and was very insightful and educational. So you can imagine my reaction when I heard his next instalment - involving animals this time - was coming to the centre. I was supposed to go in August but was ill at the time so I jumped at the chance to have a wander around the exhibition on a chilly December afternoon. The exhibition was exactly the same as Bodyworlds but with animal specimens instead of humans. At first, I thought it was just going to be a bit mediocre as there were a lot of small animals such as fish and baby chicks on display but boy oh boy, was it worth the £11 ticket. I tried to get pictures of absolutely everything but I'll be honest - the pictures don't do the exhibition justice, the lighting was too bright in some cases so pictures aren't that clear, and I was so intrigued to really check out the specimens that I didn't spend long fiddling around with my camera to get shots just right. However, I did get some photos to show you why this exhibition is truly worth your time and money so let's take a look: (if you are remotely squeamish and don't like anatomy, please don't continue reading. The specimens are plastic copies however I understand that the sight of internal organs and blood vessels/arteries etc. may not sit well with some people!)

Ostrich WingsAnimals Inside Out: A Bodyworlds ProductionAnimals Inside Out ExhibitionShark at Animals Inside OutGunther Von Hagens' Animals Inside OutOstrich at Animals Inside Out

For me, the exhibition was laid out fantastically well and was tantalising for the majority of the senses. Lots of the larger animals which were on display (such as the ostrich, shark, and bear for example) had Nat Geo documentaries playing on huge screens behind their cabinets so if you had children with you for example, they would find it easier to relate each skeleton/muscle specimen to which animal it belongs to. They had wonderful calming music playing as you walked around too which just created a lovely yet surreal atmosphere that almost got to me emotionally (could have been because it was almost that time of the month but I like to think it was the ambience of the place). Hearing all the animal noises really added to the vibe and finish of the exhibition and each cabinet and display had brilliant informative plaques detailing information not only about the animals' muscles and how they move etc. but even just information on their diets, what sort of personality they generally have, and more. As I said earlier, they had some of the smaller species towards the entrance and obviously had the "grand finale" at the end of the walk, but there was a great range of the types of animals and how they were displayed on show. Skeletons, taxidermy, even thin cross-section slices framed on the walls... There was so much to look at and take in.

Gunther von Hagen: Animals Inside OutRabbit SkeletonSlice of Lamb at Animals Inside OutPlastination BearGorilla at Animals Inside OutGorilla Portrait

Seeing some of the larger animals that I've only ever seen alive in a zoo if at all was so surreal. To see just how big they are in comparison to humans really puts into perspective how amazing our planet is and how we should all consciously make an effort to look after our planet for the sake of these other majestic species. There were some brilliant installations that made you truly understand the anatomy and science behind how certain animals work. For example, the horse head installation was great - you had a head that showed the horse's muscle structure in one cabinet, a one showing the capillaries and blood flow in the head, and then the skull. They also did this on an even larger scale with an ostrich so you could see just how intricate the biology behind species structure is. They also had random instalments of human models to show the difference and similarities between things such as brain and heart sizes and muscle mass.

Ostrich Capillaries - Animals Inside OutOstrich FeathersAnimals Inside Out: A Bodyworlds Production ExhibitionSlices of a Giraffe's AnatomyPlastination of ElephantSlice of Cow - Animals Inside OutGiraffe Head SliceGirraffe at Animals Inside OutHorse Skull

I can't explain the feeling of awe I had looking at that elephant and two giraffes. I've seen both animals in zoo environments before but obviously you can only get so close to them. Seeing just how big they are and seeing things like an elephant's leg was pretty much the same size as me at 5ft 2 on a good day was a feeling that I just can't describe. If you have the opportunity to check out this exhibition, I could not recommend it enough. I experienced it in such a great way because the exhibition was empty for 80% of the time I was in there so I was super lucky, but even if it was jam-packed, it would still be worth it. This particular showing of it at the Life Science Centre is still showing until the 8th January 2017 so definitely check it out if you're local or close to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. If not, keep an eye on Bodyworlds' Exhibition Calendar to see where it's showing next - they're currently dotted around Germany and in Florida too! If you can't unfortunately see it in the flesh (no pun intended) or you think seeing it up close would be a little too much, check out a lot more of my photos on my Flickr account.

- A.
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December 09, 2016

It's Okay to Be a Homebody & an Introvert

Now that it's December, the month for festivities and the aptly named "party season", I thought I'd share my 2 cents on why it is more than okay to not want to be part of that and spend time at home instead. Growing up I did my fair share of going out, getting blind drunk, and just generally being a "social butterfly" but the longer this act went on, the more I realised it was exactly that. An act. I didn't really enjoy it. I began to realise that I was actually at my happiest when I was home, reading a book, watching my favourite TV shows or a documentary, painting, drawing... Anything but going out. So now that I've come to terms with that and I'm confident and not embarrassed or ashamed to say I enjoy being in my PJs on a Saturday night playing PS4 drinking endless cups of tea instead of being out and about, I thought I'd talk about why it's more than okay, acceptable, and not "weird" if you're also a stay-at-home kind of person.

I should probably also mention that I'm an introvert. I will happily sit chatting to people, go out for dinner, go out for drinks etc etc. (which has certainly improved in recent years because my anxiety has always held me back), but I am an introvert through and through. I often come across as confident and chatty to others but realistically I'm incredibly self-conscious and critical and thus deal best in my own quiet company and I like it that way. Being an introvert doesn't always mean you're a homebody too, but the two can easily slip hand in hand because they suit and compliment each other so well. Introverted tendencies seems to be more common nowadays as we spend more time alone submerged in the online world, in media, in virtual realities... But it still seems to have a stigma surrounding it and people can often be afraid to say they have an introverted personality and it's a real shame.

You are not boring. If you do enjoy staying home instead of going out or you enjoy your own company, that absolutely does not mean you are boring. So many of my friends have called other friends/acquaintances "boring" for being homebodies and content with their own company yet if I was to highlight the fact that I would identify as a similar person, it's a different story because it's *me*. That's not okay. Just because you enjoy different activities in a more cosy and secluded environment does not mean you don't have a lot about you. If you enjoy spending time alone and at home you're being savvy with your money, you can spend your time wisely by doing something you find nurturing to either your interests or intellect, and see it as a positive that you don't need others to feel content in yourself.

Now you extroverts, please don't assume I'm having a go at you because I'm definitely not. It is simply a matter of how we all thrive individually. Extroverts thrive on the energy of others but us introverts function well with our own minds. Of course if you're someone like me who has bad anxiety, sometimes being alone with your own thoughts isn't the best, but I think that's normal for every person now and again. The trick is is that you accept that being alone is okay, it's normal, and it's actually a benefit to you. Don't feel obliged to make plans and push yourself out of your comfort zone all of the time. Of course pushing yourself can be a huge life-changer and can change people and their mindsets/personalities for the better but for the most part, I know where my boundaries lie and I'm happy that they don't stray too far from my doorstep. However I also love to travel. I love visiting somewhere new and different and recently I've started to do this more and more when I visit family during breaks from work and I'm hoping to keep pushing myself until I can visit a different country alone too. Just because I like being at home and not out in a bar or busy environment does not mean I am limited to home. I can enjoy my own company where ever it takes me.

I guess my main point here is that you shouldn't feel alone in this lifestyle. So many of us succeed and gain happiness in this homebody/introvert way and you should be proud of it - just like you extroverts or social butterflies should be comfortable with saying "hey I like being around other people because it makes me feel great". Blogging and online communities have a big part to play in this for us introverts because I feel that the blogging community has given us such a sense of security and normality. It's no longer "weird" or "boring" to like what we like and it's becoming a norm so thanks blogging community. You've paved the way for my lifestyle being acceptable and relevant. Maybe it's because I'm older now and therefore it strangely becomes more acceptable, but everyone should be happy in themselves and their interests because at the end of the day, we live subjective lives because it would be utterly boring if we were all the same.

- A.
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December 02, 2016

November in Review

Ahhh it's Chriiistmaaas! Well, almost but you know, it's December so that's kind of the same thing. November seems to have gone by quickly and my god has it been a cold one. I've had a very up and down month (which seems to be becoming a recurring theme at the moment) but I've got two more weeks at work before I have a faux Christmas with Matthew then jet off back to my beloved north east to see family and friends over the lovely festive season. So here's what I've been loving and doing over the month of November:

The Personal
November was another busy month at work for me and it's been full on, but one thing I have been trying to do is go out walking a lot more. A few weeks ago I shared some of my top tips for chilling out and letting your mind rest because if you're someone like me, you might find it hard to switch off and get rid of the anxiety sometimes, and one of the ways I do that is by going for walks. Matt & I have been making a conscious effort to go out at least once every weekend for a couple of miles walk around where we live and it's been lovely just to get out in the fresh air and to also just spend some time with each other without any other distractions. We also had Matt's parents surprise us with a visit one Sunday afternoon for some Sunday lunch as unfortunately this year I won't see them over Christmas like I usually do. I know it might seem obvious that I should get on with Matt's parents, but I'm honestly so pleased that I do get on with them so well because they're such lovely people.

I have literally watched one film worth a mention and that is Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas is a book by the author David Mitchell and I have never read it but Matt and so many other people have and absolutely love it. The story follows lots of different individuals who are kind of linked in some sort of timeline, hierarchy pyramid that could be so so confusing to try and explain so - I won't try to! But all you really need to know is that the film is very good, the individual character stories are very interesting, and visually I thought the film was very attractive. There was just something about how it was shot that was lovely to watch. Another highlight of the movie version of this fiction is the fact that so many fantastic popular actors and actresses star in it and play multiple characters. Watching it, Matt & I started to notice this but even at the end of the film when it was scrolling through all the actors' various roles, we were surprised at just how many times they had all popped up throughout the film. If you need a new film to watch this weekend for a chill date night, try this one.

This month seems to have been a TV month rather than a film month in this household. We've watched an awful lot of magician-themed shows in November including the American version of Penn & Teller's Fool Us and lots of David Blaine documentary-type shows on Netflix. I love street magic and I honestly think David Blaine is still one of the best illusionists there has ever been. We also watched quite a lot of stand up comedy this month because I think subconsciously I've known I've been in need of a good laugh. We rewatched our favourite, Tommy Tiernan's Crooked Man, and Jim Jeffries' Freedumb (in the light of Trump's win it seemed extremely fitting), the wonderful Kevin Hart, and we also watched some new ones too. My current favourite discovery is Tom Segura. Some of his stuff is on Netflix and I really recommend him as a stand-up act to watch - he's just quite a normal, average guy, but his humour is fantastic and his voice and mannerisms almost make the jokes funnier. Definitely worth checking him out!

November was a good month for my beloved 80s vibes. Bowie Legacy was released this month and it of course has a fantastic collection of Bowie's hits and my favourite thing about it is that they his earlier works have not been messed around with. Remastering old tracks is always a good thing if it makes the songs sound clearer and more appealing to the ol' ear holes, but sometimes remasters spoil the vibe of old recorded tracks but luckily that hasn't happened with this release. I feel like this album is a perfect one from the die-hard Bowie fans to those of you who just like some of his most popular songs and everyone in between. R.E.M. also re-released Out of Time as it was it's 25th anniversary in November and it is still an absolutely fantastic album. R.E.M. are without a doubt one of my favourite 80s bands and this is one of their best albums so if you have somehow missed out on this album, give it a listen. The Human League are also another 80s fave of mine and they've released a crazy 4-disc deluxe Anthology (aptly titled "A Very British Synthesizer Group") of their 40 years worth of work - including previously unheard tracks and DVD footage of the band - so naturally this has ticked so many boxes for me. These guys are like the original birth of electronica music in my eyes so they're the kings of the genre and it's nice to see them produce a collection of their work.

The unique, electronic god that is Gold Panda also release Your Good Times are Just Beginning despite releasing another album only a matter of a few months ago. This most recent offering is as good as ever and certainly a one for any electronic fans. And speaking of more electronic sounding gems, Busted released their new album Night Driver in November and I literally lost. my. shit. I absolutely love Busted; they're one of my favourite favourite bands and have been since I was a wee 12 year old, and I adore their new mature sound. Obviously I will still scream my little heart out listening to Who's David and air guitar and jump around to Crash the Wedding if I hear them, but Night Driver has a more mature and contemporary yet 80s sound to it which is right up my street. Busted have definitely taken some inspiration from The 1975 and artists such as Kavinsky so naturally, I'm as much as a fan as possible, but I do just think this album is super catchy even if you don't like Busted. I kept thinking I couldn't go and see them on their Night Driver tour next year because the tour is during time at work but I'm starting to think otherwise...

Video Games
I haven't played a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. this month and it is bugging me. However! I have now downloaed Life is Strange finally and so I plan to blast my way through it in December so fingers crossed I have more to offer on the game front in next month's monthly review post. If you've got any game recommendations though, send them my way because lord knows I could do with as many suggestions as possible to get out of this no gaming slump I've slipped into.

- A.
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