NEWTS #12: Vegetarian Week

As you can see from the title, this week I went veggie. Or more accurately, pescatarian. I normally eat meat fairly often, so this was a little bit of a change.

My week’s meals went as follows:


I started off fairly simply. I made some tagliatelle and added some roasted tomato pesto sauce. This is one of my absolute favourite meals! I would have used lemon pesto but my housemate has a severe nut allergy so I don’t use nuts in the shared kitchen. I also sizzled some spinach and roasted some tomatoes to add to the pasta. It was delicious !



I was feeling lazy, so I made the same meal without the roasted tomatoes, but kept the spinach. This time, I also added a couple of Quorn sausages. Just to keep up my protein intake (God forbid I miss out on a day’s protein!).


Tuna pasta bake with spinach. I swear I’m not obsessed with spinach (but I do adore it), I just bought a big pack so I had to get through it before it went off! This was fairly easy to make, you just mix it all up and leave in the oven for 40 minutes. Easy stuff. And super yummy.

I forgot to take a picture of my tuna pasta bake so I’m going to pretend it looked as good as this image I found on the internet…. Only differences: I used penne instead, and my oven dish is blue !


Leftover tuna pasta bake… I tend to make bulk meals (not so much because I’m trying to be efficient but..) because my eyes are too big for my tummy !

Friday (CHEAT DAY)

So I started the day with a a delicious spinach omelette for brunch. I kinda pride myself on my omelette-making skills (I should add it to my CV). I had it with some yummy pitta bread.

Then, I cheated. I had a slow-cooked pulled beef burrito. I’m sorry but I don’t even regret it because it was amaaaazzzinnggg. I’d had a long week and I wanted to reward myself at Changos Burritos. It was so worth it. I wanted some churros too but the queue was too long 😦 (maybe that was the universe teaching me a lesson for cheating on my NEWTS challenge week..)

Had my burrito with a delish guava fizzy drink. I love guava drinks so much.


I had nothing planned for today, so decided to take time to make some stuffed peppers with mince Quorn, rice, vegetables and feta cheese. I got the idea of adding feta from this recipe. I followed this recipe very loosely – as a guideline kinda. The main difference is I used Quorn instead of beef.


I had leftovers …. again … because I made waaayy too much rice/mince stuffing. This was my dinner (and lunch) for the following couple of days too. Yay.

All in all, it was great being veggie ! I will try to cut down on meat from now on for the sake of the animals, the Earth, and my health in general. I actually felt a lot healthier this week but various other factors had changed so it wouldn’t be right to conclude that it was due to cutting out meat. It also made me put in a bit more effort into my meals, which paid off !

One day I hope to try being vegan for a week, but I’m not quite ready for that yet. I don’t trust myself to do it properly… and I love cheese (and milk and eggs!) way too much.



NEWTS #11: Inner Child

This week’s challenge is a bit of an odd one, but it’s really important to me right now. I wasn’t sure whether to actually make it a TSN or not, because it might be a bit personal, but I went for it.

So this week, I am going to begin to get to know my inner child. I’ve been told that getting to know her might help me identify some insecurities and hopefully eventually resolve them. I’ve managed to identify some things already, but I still think I need to do some more connecting with mini-Olive.

Some of you might not be convinced by this method, you might not believe it works. I get that it can make you feel kinda silly. That’s cool. I have my doubts every now and then too. But at this point, I am willing to give anything a go if it can help me feel better about myself in the long-run.

So, the first thing you can do to help ‘rekindle your relationship with your inner child’ is to make a list of all the things you loved as a kid ! Sounds easy enough.. if my memory doesn’t fail me. So this is mine:

  1. Rollerblading. I remember skating outside the apartment building I lived in, going down these 2 ramps that were outside. I used to go skating on my own or with my sister. I loved the feeling of going fast and managing not to fall.
  2. Cartoon Network. Lazy days were the best; watching my favourite cartoons in my PowerPuff Girls PJs (I always identified with Buttercup), munching away on a snack. I loved getting carried away with the stories.. which brings me onto…
  3. Reading. I absolutely loved reading when I was a bit older (around 10 years old). I wouldn’t go anywhere without a book in my hand. I used to even read on car journeys until I started to feel sick (I get motion sickness). I remember always wanting to discuss the stories and characters I was reading about, but my siblings and parents didn’t read as much as me, so weren’t really interested.
  4. My walk-man CD. I adored my gadgets, like the gameboy, and then MP3 player and then eventually iPod. I remember when I was really young, I was a massive Britney Spears fan. My favourite cassette (haha) was Britney’s self-titled album. I used to listen to it on repeat, especially once I was in bed with the lights off, everyone thinking I was asleep. I turned to it when I was ever sad or angry too.
  5. My diary. I loved keeping secret diaries. I loved writing about my day, and my feelings. I liked to let things out that way. I’m really glad I’ve started blogging now – it reminds me of that. I also loved making scrapbooks with my favourite things !
  6. Learning. I really enjoyed learning as a kid. I loved doing my homework. I loved doing well in school. I was 3rd top in my class, and I was proud of that, because I loved it. I still love learning, that’s why maybe I see myself working in academia when I’m older.
  7. Tennis. It was (and still is) my favourite sport. I was a bit of an aggressive kid when I was younger, so I think I liked taking out my aggression on the ball. Again, I liked being good at things, and because I started tennis young, I was alright. It was nice to be part of a tennis club too. Although I never really felt I fit in at any of the tennis clubs I joined over the years.
  8. Toys. I loved dressing up my Barbies and making up stories for them (mostly love stories between them and the Kens). I also had a Baby Born that I loved taking care of. I then went through a phase of dragging around this turtle thing, pretending it was my pet. I always wished I had a pet dog when I was a kid – I asked my parents countless times but they never gave in ! My favourite toys were probably my Bratz dolls though. This is because I had saved my pocket money for weeks to get them. Once I had enough, I remember going to the toy shop with my mum and handing my money to the cashier, and him turning to me, saying I was a few pounds short. I was so devastated because it turned out I’d misheard him before when he told me the price a few weeks before. Fortunately, my mum made up the difference and I got my Bratz. I still have them now (they creep me out).
  9. Games. I loved playing games with my sisters and cousins. We would build forts out of cushions and sheets. We would make up games where we pretended the floor was lava, so everyone could only step on pillows we’d scattered all over the place. We used to get in teams and create silly competitions. We played loads of board games too !
  10. Birthday Parties. I had a birthday party every year. I would always invite everyone in my class to my parties and it would be so fun ! I loved planning things, making the invitations and giving them out, celebrating, dressing nice, party games, cake, and of course presents.
  11. Dressing up in mum’s clothes. My sisters and I used to love rummaging through my mum’s wardrobe and put stuff on. We’d make cool outfits, wear her heels, use her make-up, and wear her jewelry. We loved doing fashion shows.

I was going to further identify with mini-me by making a list of things that may have triggered negative emotions in me as a kid, but I don’t think I’m ready to share that yet. I kinda want to leave this post on a positive note. I think that was a good start though !

Olive (+ mini-Olive)

(And yes, that would be mini-me in that picture dressed up in a fabulous creation by moi !)


Blogger Recognition Award


The Rules:

  1. Write a post to show your award.
  2. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  3. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  4. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  5. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to them.

I can’t believe I am nominated for another award 🙂 I really love blogging because I get to just write what I feel, but I didn’t realise how many people I would get to know through it ! The likes, comments and appreciation just make this experience that much sweeter. Thank you so much, everyone who takes the time to read anything I post.

I was nominated for this Blogger Recognition Award by meetmeinnevada and PoeticW@arrioR. Both their blogs are truly inspiring, and I find myself hooked onto their countless posts. Check ’em out !

How NEWTS started

My first post actually covers this, but I will write a quick explanation for the sake of this award ! I’d just graduated from university, I didn’t have many plans that summer apart from driving lessons and finding a job (*yawn*), so I decided to start a project. I felt stuck in a rut, so I started these NEWTS Challenges in order to make myself try something new every week. And I decided to blog about them, as well as anything at all that pops into my head 🙂

2 Pieces of Advice

It feels weird to be advising new bloggers because I still consider myself new. I have been blogging for about 2 months now … am I still considered a newbie ? I’m going to go with yes, but I’ll tell you what I’ve learned so far.

  1. Do you. You want to write a poem today? Do it. Feel like ranting? Go ahead. Want to add a photo collage to one of your posts? Why not. I think the most important thing about blogging is that you do what you want to do with it. It’s meant to be fun, and it’s meant to reflect you. So if you like to keep it to one topic, that’s fine, but if you want to make it the most random blog on the internet, that’s okay too. You’ll inevitably find others who will appreciate your blog for its character, and you might have a lot in common with them !
  2. Explore. Go forth and read others’ doings. You’re bound to find some stuff you like out there, and I can tell you that you will definitely learn something ! You will be let in on a part someone’s life if you follow, you will start conversations with strangers if you comment, and you will broaden your horizon if you explore. Go ahead, don’t be shy.

15 Nominees

This is always the toughest bit..


I think it’s great that we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate other people’s work !



NEWTS #10: WWWP5k in Manchester, UK

I came across this post last week, and was instantly inspired. I was going to run a 5k as my TSN of the week. Not just any 5k though – the Worldwide WordPress 5k ! I encourage all of you to take part too in any way you’d like – check out the post to find out more.

Once a week, a park nearby holds a 5K Park Run. There was no excuse now. So here I was, at midnight, registering myself for this park run the next day and feeling excited. Skip forward to 8am the next morning, to my alarm blaring out. It took me a full 34 minutes of laying awake in bed to convince myself to get up. I went through all the pros and cons of getting out of my cozy, warm cocoon. Luckily, the ‘long-term happiness’ arguments beat the ‘short-term satisfaction’ ones. Well done, me.

25 minutes later: I was gathered around the start line in the park with about 200 other keen beans. It was a great atmosphere. It was a beautiful morning. Everyone was upbeat. I went alone (didn’t manage to convince my housemates to join me at such an early hour..), but it didn’t matter. I just stood there, overhearing groups of friends fretting over not wanting to come last, old pals catching up on their summers, and sensible runners sharing stretching tips. I felt like I was already part of the community. It felt good.

They blew the whistle, and off we went. 5K is long. Bearing in mind that I hadn’t done much (if any !) exercise in a year or so, this proved to be quite the challenge. I was doing well, keeping a steady pace, until about 10 minutes in. Then I had to walk on and off. The toughest part was when a volunteer went ‘nearly halfway there!’ when I thought I was much further. It was truly dispiriting.

37 minutes a.w. (‘after whistle’), I was crossing the finishing line ! I was one of the last few, but it still felt good to finish. I had completed a 5k ! Those who bothered to stay behind cheered for everyone as they crossed the finish line. I found it a bit embarrassing, because my face was SO RED, but it still felt awesome.

That feeling of accomplishment got me through the next couple of days of aching muscles. The idea of climbing stairs would reduce me to internal tears – it was that bad. I should have listened more closely to the stretching tips. Next time !



NEWTS The Q Series

NEWTS #9: The Q Series

Starting this blog has really sparked my love of writing. I used to write a bit in middle school, then completely abandoned it for years and now I am so happy that I’m back at it ! So this week’s TSN will be starting up a little section in this blog, where I will be writing short stories. They will be quite mini, but who knows how into them I will get !

I can’t really go into a lot of detail about the idea behind ‘The Q Series’. It’s based on a bigger project I am working on. I have created this character – Q – and I will be putting her in different situations. This is a way for me (and my project partner) to get to know her a bit better, you know, character development and all that. Q is close to my heart and I really feel quite excited to get to know her better. She already feels real to me !

I will try and do a few posts in this series this week, then every now and then from now on. I hope you like them ! I really am not a strong writer, but I really love it, so any advice/criticism would be appreciated ! And any thoughts on Q (and other characters that may pop up), as you get to know her, I would love to hear !

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Ignore the fact that there is a Mac in the picture.. I’m a PC girl all the way.


NEWTS #8: The Great Gatsby

So this week I decided to do something a bit more chilled because last week was so busy ! I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I loved it ! Like, a lot. I was randomly rummaging through a friend’s book collection last week and decided to borrow it and give it a go. Next thing I know, I’m hooked. I’m sure a lot of you know the gist of the story, but I really had no idea. The first time I heard the words ‘Great Gatsby’ was in reference to a party theme a couple of years ago. I blame this on the fact that I didn’t grow up in the UK. Probably.


I didn’t study this book, so I almost definitely missed some deeper meanings, but it also made it more enjoyable ! The writing was beautiful. I am planning on re-reading it soon because I feel like I didn’t take it all in the first time round. These are a few sentences that really stood out for me:

  • “The late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean.”
  • “Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”
  • “At 158th Street the cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment-houses.” – This really stuck with me because I have always said that some buildings remind me of cake !!
  • “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
  • “I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity.”
  • “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
  • “It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.”
  • “Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away.”
  • “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
  • “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
  • “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
  • “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – How fitting for this time of year.

There are a couple more, but that’s already a pretty long list !

I then decided to take it one step further (hence the slightly delayed post – sorry), and watched the 2013 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. As is usually the case, the book surpasses the film. It’s not a bad film – I would have probably liked it more if I had watched it before reading the book, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s worth a watch, just to compare the two !

One more thing – I was watching a Gilmore Girls episode a couple of days ago, when Lorelai mentioned ‘Zelda and F. Scott’. I was like ‘no way – what a weird coincidence !’ and went on to read more about them on wikipedia. It was so interesting to find out that his stories and characters were severely influenced by his personal life. He even took straight quotes from people in his life and put them in his books ! I love that. It makes you feel like you know him, like he puts a lot of himself into his writing. No doubt I will be reading more of his books ! My mum recommended ‘Tender Is the Night’.

If you haven’t read ‘The Great Gatsby’, or even if you were forced to read it in school and analyse it, I recommend reading it (again) ! It’s not that long and it gets you thinking.



Versatile Blogger Award

So I’ve been lucky enough to be nominated for another award ! This post is long overdue, but I am super grateful !! I was nominated by The Nexus, which is a really cool science blog that covers a random range of interesting topics. Go check it out ! Thank you so much !!


The Rules:

  • Show the award on your blog
  • Thank the person that has nominated you
  • Share 7 different facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
  • Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

7 Olive Facts

  1. The olive, the fruit, actually shares its name with its tree – the olive.

…….. Just kidding.. wrong olive. (Woah that joke was bad..). Let’s start again.

  1. I am neither a dog person nor a cat person. They’re both cute.
  2. I’ve previously owned a rabbit (that my mum swears was in fact a guinea pig), some birds, a chick and some snails (that I found on my way home from school one day and hid them in a drawer in my room, with some water. It didn’t end well.).
  3. I love the beach…
  4. .. but not so much deep water.
  5. I’ve lived in 13 different houses. My family moves a lot.
  6. I didn’t like my nose so much that I decided to get it pierced in order to bring attention to it, and get over the fact that I didn’t like it. Now I like it much better.
  7. I always have a stash of crisps/sweets in my room. Just don’t expect me to share.

15 Blogs I Nominate

Front Page

I always find it hard picking nominations because I end up getting distracted, reading all of their posts !! I got there in the end though.. a couple of weeks too late but better late than never !

Thanks again,



NEWTS #7: A Girls’ Holiday to Portugal

This week is a double whammy because 1. I went on an all-girls holiday, and 2. I went to Portugal. These are two things I’ve never experienced before. 7 of us, who were good friends in sixth form, stayed in a villa a car’s journey away from Lisbon. It was all booked months ago while I was in my final year of uni, desperate for some fun and relaxation. To be honest, I was dreading this holiday a bit before going. This is because I have had a couple of bad experiences with groups of girls, having attended an all-girls high school for 3 years (my least favourite three years). So because of that, I was expecting some drama and tense moments. I’m glad to say that it was the complete opposite ! It ended up being a wonderful week with a great bunch of girls. We chatted, giggled and had some ‘deep talks’ – a classic girls’ holiday combo. That’s not to say it wasn’t without its low moments (some of us were going through some personal stuff and needed some alone time), but we all worked through it and everyone was supportive. We all enjoyed it so much that we actually decided to make it a yearly thing !

So here is a small list I’ve compiled, highlighting exactly why girls’ holidays are the best:

1. You realise you all think the same. I lost count of how many times someone mentioned something which made go ‘oh my gosh, same!’ (in a high-pitched annoying voice, may I add). Most thoughts I had, someone would voice them. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who are on the same level as you. This meant we had so much to talk about that I didn’t get to finish the book I brought on holiday with me ! (It was Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie, I finished it yesterday and it was brilliant. Deeply recommended.)

2. No one cares how you look. The best part about having a private pool with our villa (at a really affordable price because there were so many of us!), was that it didn’t matter how you looked in your swimming costume/bikini. No one cared – we were all just friends having fun by a pool. I stopped worrying about tummy rolls, jiggly thighs or stray hairs. It really made me embrace my curves, and I think my confidence led to them nicknaming me ‘Marilyn Patra’ (A Marilyn Monroe/Cleopatra combo because I’m curvy and half Egyptian … I didn’t get it at first either).

3. So organised. Everything was beautifully planned, from boarding the plane to yummy cooked dinners every night. We decided on our activities for the next day every evening, which I loved because I am a ‘plan gal’. And the best part was that I didn’t have to take charge, as I usually do, because a couple of the girls were way more on it than I was, which meant I got to relax while fun plans were being made. I realise this makes it sound like a very ‘controlled fun’ sort of holiday, but it was actually pretty chilled… I swear.

4. You realise they’re there for you. Because these were school friends, I hadn’t seen much of them over the past few years at university. This holiday was the perfect reminder that they are actually still there, even if we only talk as little as once a year ! I feel like I got 6 friends back in my life. And the best part about old friends is looking back on memories from years ago.

5. You realise that you are all going through the same thing. Leaving university and entering the real world is a massive step. Talking to friends who are going through the same terrifying things is strangely comforting – because it doesn’t get any less terrifying, it’s just nice knowing that life screws everyone, not just you. I was also really surprised to hear that their university experiences weren’t as amazing as they looked on social media. Some of them had been through some of their hardest years, and it just shows that no one’s life is without its struggles.

6. Herd mentality. This one is great if you love getting close to people… which I don’t, but it is kinda sweet anyway. I noticed that when one person did something, everyone tended to get the same idea and eventually do the same. For example, one person wanted an anklet… 5 minutes later, we had all just purchased the exact same anklet. This also happened with feelings. One person gets sad… In the next couple of days, someone else will have caught the blues. It’s just how it is, you can’t let it annoy you, because most likely you did it too.

Overall, I am very proud of myself for surviving a girls’ week ! I never thought of myself as a girls’ girl – I thought I got along better with guys – but I think it’s really nice to have some great girl friends in my life. Especially now, when I need some emotional support. Girls just get it sometimes – it’s some sort of sister code.

P.S. Portugal is a beautiful country with some really friendly people. I will definitely go back as soon as I can to see more of it ! Here are some pics I took:



Liebster Award

So I was nominated by meetmeinnevada for a Liebster Award ! Thank you. I really appreciate it ! The feeling is completely mutual. As soon as I saw this, I took a minute to appreciate the acceptance and involvement I’ve experienced in this new community I decided to join 6 weeks ago.

I then googled ‘Liebster Award’ and found out that it means ‘dearest’ in German. This award is a great idea to let bloggers know that their words are inspiring someone out there, and discover other writers you wouldn’t have otherwise come across.


The Rules:

♦ Thank the blogger that nominated you 
♦ Write 11 random facts about yourself
♦ Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger that nominated you
♦ Nominate 5 to 11 other bloggers and let them know they’ve been nominated
♦ Come up with 11 questions for the bloggers you’re nominating

11 Random Olive Facts

  1. I am mixed race.
  2. I met the main Harry Potter cast about 10 years ago.
  3. I am a mahuuusive Harry Potter (books) fan.
  4. I am a middle child. That might explain a lot.
  5. I prefer cold drinks to hot.
  6. I prefer hot meals to cold.
  7. I have seen J. Cole in concert 5 times (every time he comes to the UK). Big fan.
  8. I can’t watch a film/tv show/anything if I’ve missed the beginning.
  9. I’m a fairly slow reader. I like to take in every word.
  10. I play tennis and have been to Wimbledon countless times.
  11. I love olives.. you probably got that though.

11 Olive Answers

  1. How did you come up with your blog name? Funny story. One lunchtime in high school, my friends asked me if I would rather be able to eat olives for the rest of my life or have friends.. I chose olives. Hence, the nickname. The ‘Megamean’ part is part of an anagram of my real name. The rest of the letters form a first name. Mysterious huh.
  2. Why did you want to start a blog? Having just graduated from uni, I felt a bit stuck in a rut and wanted to start a new project. I’ve always loved writing but because I’ve been concentrating on science for the last few years now, I haven’t had a chance to do something a bit more creative. So here I am, and I’m loving it.
  3. What is your catchphrase? I’ve had quite a range but the two that spring to mind are ‘Allow that’ and ‘I’m Egyptian – I radiate heat’.
  4. If you could change your name what would it be? I’ve always loved names that could be both male and female, like Max and Alex.
  5. What is a song that means a lot to you? Loads of songs mean a lot to me, it just depends on my mood. Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin is one I share with a special someone.
  6. What is a TV show that you are afraid to admit you watch? Haha, a couple. My main guilty pleasures are probably ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ or ‘Teen Mom’. There’s probably more.
  7. What was your favorite subject in school? I loved Religious Studies, just because of the way it was taught and the debates we got to have. I love a good debate.
  8. If you could go back in time, what point in time would you go to? Either my childhood (things just seem a lot simpler then), or I’d stay in the present. As much as I love reminiscing about the past, I’m just too curious to see what happens in the future.
  9. What is something that you can do that is quite bizarre? Ahh, my party trick. I can shake my abdomen so you can hear the liquids inside swish. Charming, I know.
  10. What is something that you never leave the house without? My phone, I’m ashamed to say. I like to think of it as all my loved ones in my pocket – in seconds I can be chatting to any of them.
  11. If you could anywhere in the world (real or imaginary), where would you go? The wizarding world in Harry Potter. Much better than this world.

Bloggers I’d Like to Nominate


11 Random Olive Questions

  1. Summer or winter holiday, and why?
  2. Who was the last person you confided in?
  3. If you win the lottery, what would be the first thing you buy?
  4. Sweet or salted popcorn?
  5. What song do you love but would be embarrassed if someone found it on your iPod?
  6. What’s one of your proudest moments?
  7. How did you come up with your blog name?
  8. Do you prefer giving presents or receiving them?
  9. Favourite dessert?
  10. What book are you currently reading/have you recently finished?
  11. Who is the best artist you have seen live in concert?

Thanks again !



NEWTS #6: Pulling Off A Successful Surprise Party

So the title is pretty self-explanatory. However, I think I should share the fact that I have attempted a surprise birthday party before. Those of you who are paying close attention to detail though have probably deduced that this first attempt was not successful. I mean, the party happened and all but it was a bit of a disaster. Half of the birthday boy’s friends couldn’t make it and those who could, arrived late. Surprise parties and students just do not mix. This time the surprise party is for my sister though, and she is turning 24 so I assume all of her friends have ‘adulted’ enough by now to be able to arrive on time. I hope.

Some of you may have also noticed that this party hasn’t been yet. It happens on Friday but as I am quite busy this week I thought I’d do my post now and then update it this weekend to let you know how it went. I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats: ‘Will Olive manage to pull this off? Or will she be shamed into never planning another party ever again?!’ It could go either way at this point, to be honest.

I was really hesitant about taking this on because I’m still a bit scarred by my first attempt. I can be a bit of a perfectionist and when things didn’t go to plan, it kinda stressed me out. This time I don’t feel as stressed because 1. I’ve graduated (so no more indirect uni stress) and 2. The venue is not my house – it’s at a bar, which really decreases my duty-related-stress as hostess. So here are the steps to pulling this off:

1. Market research. I started by asking friends’ and family’s opinions to see if they thought it was a good idea. Surprise parties aren’t for everyone and it’s easy to fall into the trap of organising something you would love, without realising that it’s not necessarily how they would want to be spending their special day ! Everyone loved the idea.

2. Guest list. This was a bit tricky but I managed to get in touch with a close friend of hers who helped me complete the list. This was good because she invited some people that I’ve never met !

3. Pick a venue. Having picked a date and time, and informing the guests to save the date, it was time to do some venue research. This was a bit daunting because my only criteria was: bar + London. Imagine how many results come up when you google that ! (It’s 308,000,000 – no need to imagine.) This took a few days to sift through reviews and summaries etc. Then came the inquiries regarding availability and cost etc. She better appreciate this. After much debating and conversing with friends, I decided on a fun bar that plays live music. I updated the guests on the location, and just awaited their RSVPs.

4. Concoct plan to get her there. This is the most tricky part to any surprise party. At my failed attempt last year, the birthday boy walked into the kitchen where a handful of us were just standing there panicking about how everyone was late. This was after stalling him at Sainsbury’s for at least 20 minutes – it makes me cringe to even think about it. This time, the plan is for her friend to drag her out to see people she doesn’t know very well and when she gets inside the bar, everyone she loves will be in one room (minus family – they live abroad).

Ta-dah. That should be it. Pray it works.

To be continued….

Update —————————————————

The party was a hit ! Everything happened exactly according to plan (bar me arriving a bit late) ! The birthday girl was so surprised and was so happy ! The venue was perfect – great staff, great music and fun atmosphere. I really recommend checking out The Piano Works in Farringdon if you ever get a chance. They have a band that plays any song you request. Literally, any song. The whole night. It’s so impressive. The whole bar is filled with merry people singing along and dancing their nights away.

I can now check ‘throwing a successful surprise party off my list’ 🙂



NEWTS #5: Canoeing

Yes, canoeing. I told you my challenges would get more interesting. I went all out this week and decided to make the most of my time in Norwich by going canoeing.

The swans who now hate me.

I went with my cousins, sisters and friends. The six of us got into pairs, hiring out three canoes overall. I was a little nervous getting into the boat because it was wobblier than I would have liked. The guy helping us in was friendly though, and reassured me.

The scenery from the river we were canoeing along was beautiful. It was so serene and the colours were so natural. Canoeing is fun but also very tiring on the arms. I had to take a break every few strokes with the ore.

So peaceful. I creeped myself out when I tried to look deeply into the water though. Water plants are disturbing.

We nearly crashed into boats, we went through an insect-infested bush and we nearly toppled over in our canoe. We also canoed right into a massive flock of swans as we raced back (not sure if flock is the right word here, but google failed me. So blame google, not me). That wasn’t terrifying at all for me, sitting in the front…

I don’t have much else to say about this experience, apart from the fact that I would do it again. I would maybe however pick a different partner to pair up with as most of the above was due to him.



NEWTS #4: Oil Painting

For my grandma’s 80th birthday, we rented a place in Norfolk for a mini family reunion (that’s why I haven’t blogged in a while). Norfolk is not the most interesting place (apologies to any offended), but it is quite scenic. So on my way to a shopping trip, out of nowhere, I decided my challenge of the week was to have a go at painting a beautiful landscape ! I’ve always been a fan of sketching and I’ve done a few pieces on the side but I haven’t done much with paints at all.

The first thing to do was to decide what kind of paints I wanted to use. I went to an art shop and was immediately drawn to oil paints. However, being the thorough person I am, I messaged my super artistic friend asking for advice. I asked her to help me choose between acrylics, watercolour and oil paints and she was great (thanks Lucy) ! Skip forward to that evening and I’d ordered my oil painting starter kit and some turp off amazon !

Once we got to Norfolk, I decided to start with a mini practice piece of Teriyaki (my hamster). I know painting animals is nothing like painting landscapes but I love him too much not to paint him ! I also love drawing/painting eyes. Here’s how it turned out:


I was quite happy with that, so the next day I went ahead and started the landscape. I chose a beautiful view of the broad (not a lake, as my grandparents constantly reminded me) from a jetty in the back garden. I started while it was cloudy but I painted using the colours that showed when the sun came out. It was really tricky to get all the colours right. I found painting this landscape hard. The trees and sky were okay then it all went downhill after that. Apart from Seb the swan – I’m quite proud of him ! The lily pads were really tough, the reeds were difficult and the current on the water (due to wind) was hard to grasp. I also didn’t have time to finish it because family time had to happen and I couldn’t just stay on the jetty without socialising. I’m really not pleased with this second painting and I kinda hate posting it on here but I know I shouldn’t care so much – that’s why I am posting it.

The lake (I don’t care if it’s technically a broad – looks like a lake to me !).
My version of the lake.

All in all I loved oil painting because it ignited my creative side a bit, which I’ve been unconsciously suppressing for a while. I still have some paint leftover so I may experiment with it a bit more. However, oil painting is a lot of effort and takes forever to dry, so I might go back to sketching for a bit and go from there !


Here are some extra photos of me in action:

Me, painting on the jetty.
My little sister’s hilarious snapchat of me.