Sunday, 29 June 2014

59. My Hair Care Routine

Hello everyone, this week has been quite similar to the last so not much to update you all on this week. First and most importantly, I'd like to wish you all Ramadhan Mubarak and hope all your prayers are accepted in this blessed month. Those of you who are fasting, I hope your first fast went well. My Mum's still in hospital so I've just been visiting her and watching Wimbledon. Oh and I finished reading The Shock of the Fall but was rather disappointed and now I'm reading The Rosie Project so I will review those two books in separate posts to make things less confusing. There are no matches at Wimbledon on the first Sunday so I've been very bored today! Yesterday, I finished watching all 8 series of Peep Show made so far and now I can't wait for series 9. There are countless amazing quotes from that show, here are some of my favourites: 

Now for the main topic of this post, my hair care routine. This past year, I've really neglected my hair (don't worry, I've still been washing and combing it) because I've been so busy at university and as I wear a headscarf out and about, I didn't really see much point. When I came home and saw Hagrid (minus the beard) staring at me from the reflection in the mirror, I knew something had to be done.
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had my haircut and the stylist offered me some really great advice on how to tame my frizzy mane into the thick shiny locks they once were. I had been using T-Gel for some time now because I have a sensitive scalp but decided to change to VO5 Smoothly Does It Shampoo and Conditioner. Usually I just buy any conditioner as Neutrogena don't have one to go with T-Gel Shampoo as far as I'm aware. I've been using the VO5 shampoo and conditioner for almost 3 weeks and honestly, my hair has never felt better! As you can see the bottles are pretty big and even after one shampoo, it thoroughly cleaned my hair. I leave the conditioner on for about 5 minutes and rinse it out at the end of my shower and it does exactly what it says on the bottle: "tames and adds shine to dry, frizzy hair". My hair is much easier to comb after a shower and it is the most effective conditioner I've ever used. Both products smell like the shampoo they use in salons and the smell actually lasts, they are both a white creamy formula. An added bonus is the price, the shampoo and conditioner were both £3.99 when I bought them but Boots have now reduced them to £2.66 and you can snap them up here. They will last you ages; three weeks in and I'm about a third of the way through each bottle and I wash my hair 3-4 times a week.

I blow-dried my hair a lot during sixth form because I used to have a shower in the morning and because I walked to college, I couldn't leave the house with it wet so I think a lot of heat damage has accumulated over the past few years. For the past year, I've only been blow drying my hair when I absolutely have to because I usually have a shower in the evening and then towel dry my hair while doing my university work. I have used the Umberto Giannini Frizzi Miracle Worker with Argan Oil for the past year which felt nice and added some shine but didn't really reduce the damage to my hair. When I went to the salon, the stylist recommended Moroccan Oil and I decided to take the plunge and let me tell you now, it is worth every single penny. It smells lovely, makes my hair even shinier after using the conditioner and makes your hair dry quicker. Again, you only need a tiny amount. It just stops those flyaway hairs taking over your head. You can even put it on dry hair if you feel it needs that extra nourishment.

Once a week I use the VO5 Give Me Moisture deep conditioning treatment too and I am quite generous with how much I put on so get ~4 treatments out of a tub because I put it all over my hair and leave it for 30 mins despite the packaging saying leaving it on for 5 mins. I honestly think the longer you leave it, the better and it's nowhere near as messy as the Lush henna treatment mask I used a few months ago and smells much more pleasant so you're free to do other things like cleaning while it works miracles on your hair. You rinse out the treatment and then use the shampoo, conditioner and Moroccan Oil as usual. This conditioning mask is a mixture of 5 oils (avocado, argan, apricot, jojoba and grape seed) and I just think it's such an invaluable product for hydrating your hair particularly in summer when the humidity can make your hair even more frizzy and dry. You can purchase some here.

Et voila!

Until next time, take care.

Mancunian Sheep x

Sunday, 22 June 2014

58. A Mad Mix

Hello everyone, as I am one to stick to my promises I am posting this week's update on a Sunday evening. The first half of this week was as fun and exciting as the previous fortnight of my summer holiday so far but life's a roller coaster as Ronan Keating once said (I've just realised there may be some of you who are so young reading this that won't know who he is, I now feel very old). For those of you who'd like to know, Ronan Keating used to be in an Irish boyband called Boyzone.
He doesn't look 37 at all!
Talking of Ronan Keating, I went to watch The Postman Pat Movie with my friend Sammia on Thursday and he was in it! I've been waiting for that film since 2012 which is when I initially heard about it but for some reason or another it was delayed. In all honesty, it didn't feel like a film because it was under 90 minutes long and felt more like a special edition of the show for Christmas or something. David Tennant, Jim Broadbent and Rupert Grint star in the film with Stephen Managan taking on the role of Pat. The movie did make us laugh which means it's doing something right if it's aimed at young children. Pat basically goes on a talent show a bit like Britain's Got Talent and the prize is a record contract, trip to Italy and a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles. He wants the trip to Italy to treat his wife, Sarah, to a proper honeymoon. Postman Pat (feels odd calling him just Pat) auditions with a rendition of his wedding song and wins over the very aptly named harsh judge, Simon Cowbell. Unfortunately, all is not well as a new boss at the Special Delivery Service wants to replace Pat and Jess with evil robots to increase efficiency. David Tennant who plays Wilf is out to get Pat too because he is an agent for Josh (Rupert Grint) who is Pat's main rival in the talent show but Josh isn't evil like Wilf (I mean can you ever imagine Ron Weasley playing an evil character?). Personally, I'd give the film 3/5 stars because although it was quite funny, I don't think younger children would have understood some of the jokes and it would have been nicer to see some of the regular characters like Mrs Goggins more. Also, there were some discrepancies like Julian's Irish accent and how none of the characters distinguished Pat from the robots for ages. I must say I appreciated the sheep, especially the one that kept climbing the tree.

I'll do the not so good part of this week now so we can finish the post on a high. Mum's been taken to hospital but hopefully she'll be home soon. She was very dehydrated and has an infection. Infections are very common in Parkinson's patients particularly in hot weather like we're currently experiencing. Some of the symptoms to look out for are high temperature and/or excessive sweating, falls, incontinence, loss of appetite, lack of sleep and pain.

Aside from visiting Mum, watching a film which I am at least 15 years too old for and eating lots of Fab ice lollies, I have been watching Peep Show this week. I'm currently on series 3 and already the similarities between myself and Mark's thought processes worry me. I've also been reading The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer who is a registered mental health nurse and this is his first book. The Shock of the Fall follows the story of Matt who had a brother called Simon who suffered from Down's Syndrome and died young when Matt was a child. I am currently two thirds of the way through the book and will review it properly in my next post. Sorry this post wasn't very exciting or long but hey ho, Wimbledon starts tomorrow, woo! 

Until next time, take care.

Mancunian Sheep x

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

57. Experimenting in the Kitchen

Hello everyone. Sorry my weekly update post is slightly late this week, I was so tired on Sunday as I didn't sleep much on Saturday night as it was so stuffy. Hopefully they'll be on Sunday evenings from now on. The past 2 weeks have flown by, I've just about recovered from university. So much to do, so little time.

The bulk of last week was taken up by PASS training at university. PASS is basically a mentoring scheme where students in higher years help first years in weekly one hour sessions with academic and non-academic issues. I was a mentor for a local charity in first year anyway so thought I might as well be a PASS leader. We learnt about the different learning styles people use such as visual, intuitive and active. We planned a session, what we would say at the start of our first session and how to use open and closed questions to facilitate discussion. I had PASS training on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

On Tuesday, I finally had my haircut after almost a year! My hair was clearly on the bottom of my priorities during second year. I went in asking for a full fringe and a couple of inches off the length but my hair stylist said my hair was quite thin at the front (despite my resemblance to Hagrid at the back) so she suggested I got a sweeping fringe with a middle parting and a few layers to give it some volume and make it more manageable. If any of you are in Manchester and are looking for a fantastic salon then I recommend where I went, Razor's Edge. There are two salons: one on Oxford Road and the other in the Royal Exchange (where I go). The salons are unisex and offer a student discount too. My stylist, Sannah, also offered some really helpful tips on how to look after my hair better as it has been very dry and frizzy lately. She told me to use a deep hair conditioning treatment once a week so I've purchased the VO5 Give Me Moisture treatment mask which I am yet to try but will let you know how I get on. I've also bought some Moroccan Oil which is worth the hefty price tag and leaves the length of my hair (Sannah said never use it on the roots) so soft and shiny. It reduces frizz to some extent too.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was reading Harlan Coben's Six Years. I finished it yesterday and honestly, it is the best book I've read in years. It's the first proper grown up mystery novel I've read and it definitely won't be the last. It has a complex unraveling of lots of characters all of whom play a part in the disappearance of Natalie who Jake loves very much. Jake Fisher is a Politics professor at an American university who met artist, Natalie at a creative retreat six years ago when he was having trouble writing his dissertation after the recent death of his father. Suddenly, Natalie dumped him for Todd who was apparently a former boyfriend and her one true love and she was mean enough to invite Jake to her wedding to Todd. At the wedding, she made Jake promise her to never contact them again. Jake kept his promise until six years later (hence the title) when Todd's obituary popped up on his computer because Todd graduated from the university Jake also went to and now taught at (Lanford College). Jake turns up at Todd's funeral expecting to see Natalie but she isn't there. Jake spends a whirlwind week or so searching far and wide for clues on Natalie's disappearance and Todd's death. I'm pretty sure Jake's a cat because he certainly needs 9 lives with all his near death encounters during his quest to find Natalie. What I will say is that Jake is not schizophrenic and he hasn't murdered Natalie or Todd so just stick with it. The suspense was torture for about the first 200 pages (it's 358 pages long) but then the pieces began to fit together and I literally could not put the book down even whilst I was munching on my Flake 99. I've also just found out that it's being made into a film and Hugh Jackman is going to star as Jake so you really have no excuse to not read it!

As many of you will already know, I have just completed my second year of a Biology degree. Last summer, I got science withdrawal symptoms and ended up buying lots of books to read like Bad Pharma and What a Plant Knows, watching lots of Sir David Attenborough and watching YouTube clips like Jim Al-Khalili's talk on how physics can revolutionise biology. I'm already craving science and once I've finished reading The Shock of the Fall, I'm going to read The Selfish Gene. On Saturday morning I woke up pondering one of life's great mysteries: is fear genetic? To answer that question to some extent, I thought I'd ask my good friend Google Scholar who has helped me out during countless university assignments. I am absolutely terrified of mice so ironically, I found an article in Nature on fear in mice which you can read here.

I love cooking and I love science so my science and food cravings in this stuffy weather led me to experiment in the kitchen this week. On Wednesday, I Googled what to do with spare ripe bananas and this came up. Yes, my thriftiness amazes me too. I've also been craving this chilled Starbucks caramel macchiato but it costs £1+ in most supermarkets and it's not the largest portion. I used to get one of these most days when I went to the library to revise last month and they are so delicious. I decided to attempt to make iced coffee at home so I filled a tall glass with ice, made instant black coffee and added the sugar and left it to cool. You then add the coffee to the ice and pour in some cold milk. I might purchase some caramel syrup to make it extra yummy and make the black coffee double strength as the ice does water it down rather quickly. Some people online even suggest making coffee ice cubes but I don't want to be up all night either. 

On Sunday, my friend Misbah came over for a baking day! The kitchen experiments continued as we baked a blackberry buttermilk cake. Neither of us have used buttermilk before in our baking and I always thought it was quite difficult to purchase in Britain as it is used in American baking a lot more. Disaster almost struck in true Great British Bake Off style (the recipe was taken from here) as there was a small patch in the centre of the cake that would not cook. We kept checking every 5 minutes as we were scared that the edges might get burnt. Misbah Googled what to do and we found that it was a bad idea to keep opening the oven and checking as that lowered the oven temperature so we lowered the temperature from 180°C to 150°C and didn't open the door until we could see that the cake was done.
Misbah and I also baked some strawberry macarons! It took about 2 hours included cooking time so I can now appreciate why those tiny treats can be so expensive. It's the second time I've used my Lekue macaron kit and the mould honestly makes life so much easier instead of drawing out circles all over baking paper. If you want to bake macarons at home regularly then you should really invest in one. My Mum loved them and had 8 but they were quite small. I'm really happy the red food colour paste I bought from The Cake and Bake Show works! The first time I made macarons, I used the yellow one and I had to use over half the tube just to achieve a pastel yellow -_-

Have a great week and see you on Sunday! Until next time, take care.

Mancunian Sheep x

Sunday, 8 June 2014

56. Is It Summer Yet? Yes It Is!

Hello everyone! I hope you're all enjoying this long overdue sunshine. I finally finished my second year at university this week, it really does not feel like I've completed two thirds of my degree. For anyone reading that still has GCSE or A-level exams then I'm sorry to rub it in and hope they go really well! 

The first week of my summer holidays has been very busy and that's exactly how I want this summer to be. I want the next three months to be productive, fun and I want to make the most of them rain or shine as I am constantly being reminded that final year will be tough but we shall cross that bridge once we come to it so for now, roll on summer 2014!

Once my final exam had finished on Monday morning, I went out to celebrate with my lovely coursemates. We ended up celebrating from midday to 8.30pm because we had to see out second year properly! We went to Taco Bell for lunch, we were all Taco Bell virgins but loved it, I highly recommend it if you love Mexican food :D I had the 7 layer Bean Burrito and my friends both had a chicken burrito methinks. We then sat in Costa Coffee to keep out of the wonderful Manchester rain and belly laughed all afternoon. One of my course mates is going on a placement year in Spain in September and he will be working at an aquarium (well jel) so we won't be together in final year :( When the three of us had to say goodbye on Monday evening, it was very difficult to hold back the tears and it was a bit like a movie scene! 

On Tuesday morning, I had a summer internship interview at the university and an hour or so after the interview, I received an email to say I'd got the internship! It is an 8 week position and I'll be helping my faculty organise Welcome Week. I'm really excited and can't wait to start!

I did say at the start of this post that this has been an exceptionally busy week for the Mancunian Sheep and on Wednesday, whilst battling the last of my cold I filmed two DVDs for Parkinson's UK. It was great to meet some of the lovely people who work at such a fantastic charity and if you would like to find out more about Parkinson's UK then check out my Carers in Control post and

Also on Wednesday, I decided to bake some Slu**y Brownies. I saw the recipe on my favourite blog, The Londoner a few months ago and thought they were the ideal treat to have after a productive week whilst watching Andy's quarter final match against Monfils. Congratulations to Nadal for a fifth consecutive title at Ronald Garros however, I must admit I was rooting for Djokovic as he had been playing exceptionally well throughout the tournament and as it's the only Grand Slam he is yet to win you could tell how much he wanted it. Talking of treats, I am going to see Clean Bandit in October in Manchester!

Thursday and Friday weren't as exciting as the rest of my week unfortunately as I spent Thursday sorting out my passport renewal by filling out the form, having my mugshots taken and sending it all off. On Thursday evening I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and completely forgot Dobby dies and was then left comfort eating my brownies. I hate Bellatrix but love Helena Bonham Carter. I just couldn't help myself and ended up watching Part 2 on Friday night. What's your favourite Harry Potter book and film? I'd say my favourite book is the Prisoner of Azkaban because I don't know what it is about him but I just love Sirius and he really changes the dynamic of the whole story.My favourite film is The Half Blood Prince because despite Dumbledore's death making me cry like a baby, I love Ron's facial expressions when he has the love potion chocolates. I was going to do a Harry Potter movie marathon and watch all 8 films over the weekend but I was too tired and have started in a weird order now.

On Saturday I was at work during the day working on an event which was a bit like a mini Open Day for parents of students who have worked on several different programmes at the university. I came home to an Amazon package containing the Frozen DVD (yes I know I must be the last person on the planet to watch it) so HAD to watch it immediately. I love it! I want to download the soundtrack to sing along to but quite like living in a house with windows. I want Olaf to be my friend and I want to give him warm hugs! Sven is brilliant too for bringing Kristoff and Anna together. Also can we all just take a moment to appreciate Elsa's outstanding performance of Let it Go, she is so sassy!

Today, I've just had a quiet Sunday and spent the morning watching the Hollyoaks omnibus and then the French Open final. I am so excited for Queens and Wimbledon now, grass court season is definitely my favourite. I'm also currently reading Six Years by Harlan Coben. I have a couple of book gift cards to spend so if you have any book recommendations then please let me know, they would be much appreciated! 

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x