No-Fuss Mediterranean Mezze Platter

Bursting with flavours from all over the world, mezze can just as easily be enjoyed as the main snack board supper itself, or an all-day grazing board, if you’re no longer subscribing to the idea of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Found throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Mezze, or meze, is a selection of small plates and savoury dishes, made to be shared alongside any main meal.

Bursting with flavours from all over the world, mezze can just as easily be enjoyed as the main snack board supper itself, or an all-day grazing board, if you’re no longer subscribing to the idea of breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s us! Mealtimes have blurred into one big all you can eat lockdown buffet anyway, right?

Whoever you’re sharing your house with right now, this smorgasbord of
delights is one way to enjoy a sociable and leisurely meal at home while lingering in the garden or playing games around the table. Grab a plate and get stuck in!

Assembling your Mezze

The mezze experience is as much about the visual feast as it is about the taste but that doesn’t mean you have to be pedantic about presentation. You are the architect of your own mezze masterpiece. As long as it’s colourful, plentiful and served on the biggest platter you can find, you’re doing it right.

All of these ingredients can be purchased in your weekly shop, so if pre-prepared and low maintenance is the way you want to go with mealtimes, mezze’s your main guy.

Dips & sauces

No mezze is complete without party dips and sauces. Load up your platter with houmous and tzatziki – decant them into bowls and nestle them in amongst the rest of your ingredients to make for easy dipping.

To spruce up your shop-bought houmous, make a swirl pattern using the back of a spoon and add a drizzle of olive oil and some pine nuts. Your household will never know it’s pre-made!


Like little mouthfuls of the Med, mixed olives, pickles and nuts are the best accompaniment for any mezze spread.

Cured meats

Meats like dry-cured prosciutto and salami are delicious with olives and bread. You can also try prosciutto-wrapped asparagus – finger food at its best!


Serve a variety of bread, Lavash or warm toasted pittas with a generous bowl of dipping oil and balsamic vinegar.


Add some crunchy crudités to your platter with raw carrots, roasted asparagus spears and sweet red & yellow peppers.


Once you’ve assembled your mezze, fill in any little gaps on your platter with clusters of fruit and veg. Grapes make for a great palette cleanser after you’ve been up for second helpings of salty cheese and salami.

Sun-dried tomatoes

Throw in in those Mediterranean flavours with marinated sun-dried tomatoes – perfect for complementing that tangy feta.


Feta and mozzarella balls are the best choices for a Mediterranean mezze but halloumi or whatever you’ve got in your fridge will work just as well.


Simply delicious served on flatbread with a generous dollop of fresh yogurt or tahini dip. So simple, so good.


To finish, decorate your spread with a few fresh sprigs of rosemary – not only does it smell great, but it also adds texture and visual interest against the backdrop of all the vibrant mezze colours.

And there you have it, a foodie’s masterpiece! Drizzle and dunk to your heart’s content.


All The Thoughts And Feelings We Had Watching Normal People

If you’ve seen it, then you’ll know what all the fuss is about, and why Connell’s silver chain is the only thing that matters anymore.

If you’ve made it this far into lockdown without watching Normal People, what could have been so urgent, please?

If you’ve seen it, then you’ll know what all the fuss is about, and why Connell’s silver chain is the only thing that matters anymore.

With sex scenes and full-frontal nudity, it’s… #NormalPeople and every single thought and emotion we had while watching it.

1. Huh, I never imagined Connell to be a silver chain wearer when I read the book

2. A moment of silence for everyone sitting down to watch this with their parents.

3. The playlist, I need the playlist. Give me those sad indie tunes immediately

4. Who knew Gaelic football could be this erotic

5. Not handling the cosmic sexual chemistry so well over here

6. She really wants to take her clothes off doesn’t she

7. Yep, that’s it then. I really fancy Connell

8. Even my armpits are aroused at this point

9. Is he… stopping to put a condom on

10. Yep, just casually rolling it on

11. Consent perfectly executed, followed by, “I think you’re really pretty by the way” – he is now officially my internet boyfriend

12. I know Marianne’s nipples better than I know my own

13. So pert, so poised

14. Why do I feel as though I could burst into tears at any moment

15. The acting, the cinematography, the music, the script. We are not worthy of such greatness

16. Imogen Heap and car sex. What a horny little recipe.

17. Why does Marianne’s mum remind me of Jenny Lind from The Greatest Showman?


19. Oh it hurts, it physically hurts

20. PULL IN HERE. Yes Lorraine, you legend

21. Never in this history of voicemails that don’t belong to me, have I been so personally traumatised

22. Yep, can confirm still fancy Connell in his BP garage uniform

23. I wonder if there will be a Normal People tour complete with GAA shorts signed by Connell available in the gift shop. If so, would visit, would buy

24. If 2020 were a person, it would look a lot like Jamie

25. I can’t wait for them to have glorious Trinity reunion sex

26. Marianne’s got a hip flask of gin on gin, she must mean business

27. She’s touching the chain, I repeat, she’s touching the chain

28. Googles various men in jewellery

29. But it’s not the same. Because they’re not Connell

30. I’m going to need to know where Marianne’s yellow bedding is from…

31. Oh, yep now she’s sucking his finger

32. Has he actually got his flaccid lad out on tv? High five BBC.

33. Look at it blissfully bobbing around the groin, living its best limp life and allowed to just catch its breath in a debrief for a second

34. I can’t decide if releasing this absolute filth in the middle of a pandemic where we’re largely forbidden from touching other people’s genitals was genius or savage

35. And I’ve landed on savage

36. Even the tea is sexy

37. Aw, look he kissed her on the shoulder in public. Progress!

38. Not again Connell ffs, my heart’s down to its last valve

39. No, what are you doing? Turn around. Ask her if you can stay with her for the Summer you eejit

40. Maybe I should cut myself a fringe

41. Ok, Marianne Italy suits you

42. Sweden… not so much

43. Episode 10 just chewed on my heart for fun and spat it back out again

44. When Connell cries, the nation cries with him

45. “We can keep Skype on. Carry me over to your bed” No YOU’RE crying again.


47. A Rocket ice cream? Controversial.

48. The car scene. Let that be it. Let them be happy and have loads of highly intelligent children for crying out loud.

49. I’m one more flashback from an emotional breakdown

50. That kiss was so wholesome

51. What a f*cking beautiful bit of tv

52. BEAUTIFUL I tell you

53. But also devastating

54. If there’s any justice in the world, there will be a season 2. You hear me? We’re owed a season 2 Hulu, and an explanation for THAT ending

55. It’s been 2 weeks and I’m still thinking about Connell Waldron’s chain

56. If I accomplish nothing else in these lockdown years, at least I can tell my grandchildren about the time I watched Normal People in one sitting and I was both horny and emotionally unstable throughout

57. “I’ll go”
“and I’ll stay…and we’ll be ok”

58. What a wild ride that was

59. I’m fully prepared to accept I’m never going to emotionally recover from this

60. Petition to get a Connell’s chain emoji


13 Questions With Aimee Morrison

Bobbi Brown Pro Makeup Artist Aimee Morrison shares some top tips and tricks, how she got into the makeup industry, and what she's up to during lockdown.

First of all, how are you and how are you coping in lockdown?

I’m really well and I would say I have adapted to life as a pro makeup artist working from home now, I’m so lucky that I get to work virtually with our clients online via Live Chats which is great fun. I also love being able to share more content for my followers on Instagram too, it’s a great tool to educate and connect with everyone.

Personally, I’ve been able to drink as many coffee’s as I want all thanks to my mum and dad’s lovely Nespresso machine (ha!) and I enjoy baking a weekly banana bread for the family too! I guess I’ve just been trying to stick to a daily routine which includes more time on skincare vs makeup these days.

How long have you been a Bobbi Brown Pro and how did you get into it?

I have been a Bobbi Brown Pro Artist for 3 years and I’ve worked for the brand for 8 years in total. I joined when I was 19 years old, it was my mum who got me the job! My mum has always inspired me to look after myself and started buying me Bobbi Brown products when I was still at High School. My first ever Bobbi Brown products were a Shimmer Brick and Lip Gloss – two of which I still love and use now. I studied makeup at college for 3 years and my first job in the industry was for YSL.

One day my mum took me to our local Bobbi Brown counter in Glasgow, where of course she was a VIP having been so loyal to the brand, to look into and buy some new makeup bits for my kit. During our consultations, she started talking about my passion for makeup and I left the counter feeling so inspired and with a job interview the following week, the rest is history!

Have you always been a makeup lover?

Yes, always! My dad tells me that he knew from a very young age that I would be involved in makeup. I had to have it all…and I still do. I used to borrow mums red lipstick and wear it all the time before I knew what to do with it, I’m pretty sure I coloured in my bedroom wall using it too! I used to love watching my mum do her makeup and make herself look beautiful, I guess it stemmed from there. She truly is my idol. Now I have a full and varied CV that I am super proud of, all thanks to loving makeup – ranging from travelling across the globe to Paris & New York for fashion weeks, assisting and leading shoots, working with press and influencers at various events to presenting Live on QVC.

I really do enjoy nothing more though than meeting real women/men and teaching them how to be and feel the best versions of themselves with great skincare and beautiful makeup products. I’m so grateful for all the amazing opportunities that Bobbi Brown Cosmetics has and continues to throw my way.

Do you have any favourite looks you’ve created on yourself or someone else?

I would say that my signature makeup look on myself would have to be a Soft Bronze Smokey Eye paired with a Nude Glossy Lip. But I’m also always a fan of anything 90’s inspired. For others, I love nothing more than to create glowing, seamless looking skin. When most want to cover up their complexions with lots of foundation, I find it so fun stripping it back and teaching clients how to make their skin look and feel amazing with small layers of skincare and makeup versus just focusing on how to make their foundation look good. Glowing skin is always in, right?

Who are some of your favourite MUAs to follow?

I follow so many amazing and inspiring makeup artists, who I look to for inspiration and guidance. Patrick Ta is a firm favourite on Instagram, I love his beautiful work on his celebrity clients. I also love Katie Jane Hughes, her editorial work is unreal, and I’m obsessed with her close-ups and eye shots on herself. I have been watching lots of Lisa Eldridge tutorials on YouTube too for inspiration.

How has your makeup changed since being in lockdown?

I wake up in the morning’s and I take more time layering on my skincare. Starting each day with glowing skin makes me feel good. I then reach for my at-home makeup bag which has concealer, mascara, a brow pencil and lip gloss in! I spend 5 minutes doing makeup now instead of half an hour, it’s great!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I am so grateful to have many highlights as a Pro Artist, but I would say my biggest achievement so far has got to be New York Fashion Week in February this year with the Bobbi Brown pro team! It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life with super early call times, nonstop makeup tests, organising makeup kits for each lead makeup artist to then getting the models in their makeup looks for the runway. It’s true what they say it’s a city that never sleeps! I loved every second. I still can’t believe my biggest dream since joining the brand in 2012 came true.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working a lot more virtually now, with online daily Live Chats engaging still with our lovely clients. It’s great because we are starting to do video calls now to better help us recommend skincare and makeup products. As a Pro Team, we are collaborating with a lot more influencers and brands via Instagram which is cool!

I’m also creating more content for my channels as working with journalists to provide an expert voice across their media channels. At a time when people aren’t able to access the 1 on 1 interaction they usually can, I’m so thrilled that we are able to get our voices out there thanks to social media and online beauty, lifestyle hubs.

What are some of your top makeup tips?

Top Tips:

For that perfect NO MAKEUP, MAKEUP look, it’s all about applying and blending out small layers of concealer onto a well-hydrated base versus applying thick foundation all over.

Don’t slack when it comes to mascara, I always curl my lashes before and sometimes after applying 2-3 layers of my favourite Smokey Eye Mascara to make the most of my lashes.

Multi-use products more to save time and money, for example, I often apply bronzer to eyelids for a subtle hint of colour and I love Pot Rouge for cheeks and lips.

What do you always carry with you?

Tissues and concealer! I have super watery eyes so always need to dab my under eye area and I need my concealer to top up any removed makeup.  

What does your perfect weekend look like?

It’s got to involve the beauty of nature, I love nothing more than to get my outdoors attire on, jump in the car and drive to Scotland’s beautiful highlands with my partner and cocker spaniel. Away from everyday life and not reaching for my mobile helps me to release any stress and improves my self-awareness.

If you could only eat one meal again what would it be?

Oh, wow this is hard but I would have to say pizza. Margheritas are my favourite with a side of fries and mayo. Simple but absolutely delicious. There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked pizza!

If you could give one positive message to our followers what would it be?

Keeping it short and sweet…

Slow down, appreciate and focus on what matters!


5 Happy News Stories To Get Us Through The Week

In last week’s posi news, Queenie got us all choked up with her moving VE Day speech, there were more life-affirming Covid-19 recovery stories and socially distanced gastro-greenhouses were piloted in Amsterdam. Here’s a little summary of the happy news stories getting us through life on lockdown.

‘Never give up, never despair’: The Queen’s VE Day speech

The Queen addressed the nation in her moving Victory in Europe Day speech, marking the 75th anniversary since the end of the Second World War.

The address took place at 9pm on 8th May, the same day and time her father, King George VI, delivered his speech back in 1945. She led tributes to the wartime generation and spoke of the sacrifices made for us to live in peace; they died so we could live as free people.

As we observed a two-minute silence from our homes and celebrated VE Day from our doorsteps this year, the Queen reflected on this unique day of remembrance taking place during lockdown and drew parallels between the wartime generation and those now facing the coronavirus pandemic.

She said, “Today it may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish.

“Instead we remember from our homes and our doorsteps.

“But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.

“And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.”

Once again, she reminded us all that we’re stronger than we know. “Never give up, never despair” – that was the message of this VE Day.

And the award for dad of the year goes to…

Due to the pandemic, travel plans are on hold and holidays have been cancelled but where there’s a DIY dad, there’s a way.

After this family’s ski trip was cut short due to coronavirus lockdown, Steve Cross, from Hertfordshire, built a DIY ski lift in their garden for his two kids to play on. And it’s genius.

Unable to take his two daughters on their annual ski trip, he decided to bring the slopes to them instead. The father of two managed to craft a dry ski slope and chair lift complete with a manual pulley system and it’s basically as good as the real thing.

All in a day’s work! Is it wrong that we want a go?

Socially distanced dining in Amsterdam

Are you missing eating out at your favourite restaurants during lockdown? You’re not alone. As lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted, restauranteurs are coming up with innovative ways to make socially distanced dining a way of life.

Mediamatic ETEN, a plant-based restaurant in Amsterdam, is trialling a new concept which will see customers from the same household dining in individual pods or Serres Séparées. Staff will be wearing protective shields to alleviate any risk of infection and meals will be served to diners on long wooden boards which can be slid through the greenhouse door and onto the table. The chambers are far apart from each other to ensure minimal contact between customers.

They are currently trialling the concept with friends and family only, as they await government permission to reopen. Fingers crossed gastro-greenhouses take off.

Fighting spirit!

A 113-year old woman, believed to be the oldest woman in Spain, has recovered from coronavirus.

Maria Branyas spent weeks in isolation after being diagnosed with Covid-19 but has now beaten the virus, having only suffered with minor symptoms.

This means she has now lived through the flu pandemic, two world wars, Spanish civil war and the coronavirus outbreak. When asked for her secret to a long life, Branyas told Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia, “I have done nothing but live.” No, you’re crying.

A forest for the future

Volunteers working for Trees for Life have been isolating at the charity’s Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston to save tens of thousands of native trees from being lost during the coronavirus lockdown.

The saplings were all grown from seed in a specialised nursery in Dundreggan and were due for planting this Spring as part of an initiative to restore Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest.

“We were all set for another busy season of preparing thousands of young native trees for planting on the hills by our volunteers, when the coronavirus crisis forced the postponement of this spring’s tree planting – meaning tens of thousands of young trees have not left our nursery as planned,” said Mr Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan manager.

“But nature isn’t in lockdown. All these precious trees have been coming into leaf, and we need to take care of them – especially in the dry weather we’ve been having. Without regular watering, they would all die. We also needed to start sowing new seed now, to ensure a supply of trees for future planting seasons.

“We’re here in isolation for the long-haul if needs be, together with a growing forest for the future.”

What was the last piece of happy news you saw?


Weekly Wants: Throw On Summer Dresses

Despite living out our summer dreams in our back gardens or flat balconies, you best believe we’re still loving all things warm weather dressing and the chance to whack our (rather hairy at this stage) legs out for some well needed Vitamin D. Whether it’s midi, maxi or mini, you can’t go far wrong with […]

Despite living out our summer dreams in our back gardens or flat balconies, you best believe we’re still loving all things warm weather dressing and the chance to whack our (rather hairy at this stage) legs out for some well needed Vitamin D.

Whether it’s midi, maxi or mini, you can’t go far wrong with a style you know and love. So whether it’s to pretend you have your life together pre Zoom call, or to dress up for your faux Saturday night out in the living room, these are the throw on dresses adding some well-needed oomph to our Summer wardrobes.

*This post contains ad-affiliate links


The Zoella Team’s TBR Piles

Reading provides the best form of escapism and procrastination, and who doesn’t need a bit of that in their lives right about now?

Let’s hear it for the TBR pile – the great to-be-read rock face that no man has ever actually managed to abseil down. Ever.

In bleak times, we reach for books so you could say our TBR piles are looking wildly overgrown at the moment thanks to a global pandemic that made us all want to stick our noses into a best-seller and consume someone else’s story for a while.

Reading provides the best form of escapism and procrastination, and who doesn’t need a bit of that in their lives right about now?

Reading provides the best form of escapism and procrastination, and who doesn’t need a bit of that in their lives right about now? So, if you’re a seasoned book lover tormented by the impossible dilemma of what to read next, or eager to get back into reading race but not sure where to start, you’re in good hands here.

From the classics the contemporary greats, here’s a nosey at the books we’re collecting on our bedside tables, windowsills and just about any other free surface we can find, until we’re ready to read ’em. Happy hoarding!

Lareese is reading…

Where The Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens

I narrowly missed out on reading this as part of the Zoella book club before I joined the team but I’ve heard it’s a solid 5/5, despite being a bit of a slow burner – a lot of the best books always are! I’m actively trying to avoid anything I see about the plot because I don’t want to read any spoilers but I cannot wait to get stuck in. I already don’t want it to end and I haven’t even started it yet.

Three Women
Lisa Taddeo

I don’t tend to read a great deal of non-fiction but after seeing the cover all over my Instagram feed, I was officially influenced. Journalist Lisa Taddeo spent the best part of a decade traveling across America interviewing her female subjects and chronicling their inner most desires. Maggie had a sexual relationship with her high school teacher, Lina’s stuck in a passionless marriage and looking elsewhere and Sloane’s husband loves to partake in threesomes. I’ve never read anything like it before, so I’m intrigued to see if it lives up to the unputdownable hype. Time will tell!

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi
Neel Patel

Sometimes you just need a fast and easy read to punctuate the stack of murder mysteries and thrillers on your TBR pile, and I think Patel’s debut will be just that. If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi is a collection of 11 beautifully written short stories, all set in the Indian-African community. I’m up for a refreshing palette cleanser after reading some pretty dark and gritty novels lately!

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

I can’t believe I’ve never read this before. I’m a terrible English Lit student! I think my uni reading list was largely taken up by Middlemarch. Say. No. More. If you know, you know. I think it’s great to change things up from time to time and squeeze a classic in amongst the best-sellers and new author debuts. They’re not always the easiest to get through but there’s nothing wrong with taking your sweet time over your reading sometimes.

Conversations With Friends
Sally Rooney

I devoured Rooney’s other best-selling novel, Normal People, in a day and recently binged all 12 episodes of the tv adaptation too and bloody loved it, so I don’t really want to get off the Rooney ride just yet. I picked up Conversations With Friends in a charity shop a while ago and since then forgot all about it. I love a coming-of-age novel and this sounds like it’ll be the perfect YA NA hybrid.

Darcey is reading…

I’m really excited about my TBR pile and am looking forward to getting stuck into them over the next month! At least all this extra free time we have means we can read a lot more, which is always great!

This Lovely City – Louise Hare
Of course, the Zoella book club read is on my list! He’s first up on my TBR pile, I’ll be starting this at the weekend! I’m really looking forward to reading this one and looking forward to seeing everyone else’s thoughts on this book. I thoroughly enjoy a crime drama, intertwined with a love story, so I’ve got high hopes for this book!

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
I have never read this book… a true classic and I really do feel like I am missing out big time! So he is definitely in my TBR pile, however I will have to find all my strength to not watch the new series on Amazon first… I’m a real sucker for a good series but I know I’ll never read the book if I watch the series first.

Notes On A Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
I started reading this book earlier this year and never got through to the end. This wasn’t a case of not enjoying it, more life got busy and I started picking up fiction books which were more of an escape when reading. But, in current times, I think reading this book will really help stay grounded in these strange times. Matt Haig is an amazing person, I find him massively inspiring and vow to take the time to read this book and use it to reflect on my own life.

Zoe is reading…

As well as ploughing through our monthly Zoella Book Club reads, I keep a pile of books that are next on my list if I was to finish one sooner. These are currently the ones i’m most excited to get stuck into.

Genuine Fraud – E Lockhart

I read Lockhart’s “We were liars” years ago, and although it took me a while to get used to her unique writing style, I absolutely ended up falling in love with it and it’s fast paced nature and suspense. I’ve had this book a while, and everytime I see it i’m reminded of how much I want to read it, but pop it back in my bookshelf and forget! I’m making a mental note (and now you can remind me), that I want to get stuck into this asap.

Blurb taken from Amazon –
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

The Keeper Of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

I ordered this book a year or so ago because I’d seen someone online recommend it and noticed it in my Amazon recommendations a few times!

Blurb taken from Amazon –
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

Milkman – Anna Burns

Again, another book I’ve seen a few people read and recommend that I thought looked quite interesting. I’ve not read anything by Anna Burns before but this sounded like something I’d also enjoy!

Blurb from amazon –
In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.
Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

I feel like most people have already read this and I am trailing pretty far behind. It has amazing reviews and friends have told me to get cracking on this as they loved it. It’s sold more than 4 million copies worldwide!

Blurb from amazon –
In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.
Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.
So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.

Conversations with friends – Sally Rooney

After reading Sally Rooneys “Normal People”, I ordered this immediately which is another novel from her. I’ve had it on my TBR pile for a while, but now I’ve just finished watching the adaptation of Normal People on tv, I am craving more of Sally’s real and raw storytelling. She has a way of making you feel fully submerged in the relationships she writes which I love.

Blurb from Amazon –
Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence, beginning a complex ménage-à-quatre. But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.

Charlotte is reading…

My TBR consists of three newbies and one oldie but goldie that I’ll be getting stuck into over the next few weeks, mainly as a distraction from the holidays and fun plans ol ‘rona has put on hold. Deffo not upset about it. Nope.

Reasons To Stay Alive
Matt Haig

One of my kindest pals got me this as part of my Secret Santa gift a few months back now (bloody hell how fast has this year gone?!) and I’ve somehow yet to make a dent in it. I love everything Matt Haig stands for since following him online a few years ago and feel like this read might be poignant now more than ever in what feels like a really wobbly time emotionally.

Ian McEwan

This has been on my shelf collecting dust for so long and I’m determined to read it during lockdown. I think my dad bought me this as a gift when I was in college as I was studying ‘Atonement’, one of McEwan’s most well-known novels, which I loved! This one is only a short one so hopefully, I can make my way through soon on a sunny day in the garden.

The Rosie Result
Graeme Simsion

This is the last book in The Rosie Project series and I’m sad to be reaching the end! The story follows genetics professor Don Tillman who devises a questionnaire to find the perfect wife after struggling to maintain successful relationships with women due to his somewhat unique but often endearing way of thinking. It’s very similar to the style of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, so if you loved that I’d highly recommend it!

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

This is perhaps one of my all-time favourite reads and one I’ve been inspired to pick back up after reading This Lovely City which also focuses on the Second World War. This book follows the tale of a young girl named Liesel as she comes of age in Nazi Germany and the complications and confusion that emerged following the demise of the Nazi party from a young girl’s perspective. The book is a tear-jerker, to say the least, but one I think is so important and impactful.

Danielle is reading…

Most of my reading time is taken up by our Zoella Book Clubs which is absolutely fine by me as we all help to pick them! I also usually listen to this using Audible as they’re great for tackling when I’m out with the dog or walking on the beach. However, since being in lockdown I’ve found myself reaching for actual books far more often in a bid to soak up the sun in my garden and come off my screens!

Shrill – Lindy West

Some of these books have been passed on to me and highly recommended like Shrill by Lindy West which has been turned in to a tv show which I always think is a good sign! Shrill is a witty and cathartic memoir with themes of misogyny, fat-shaming, and internet trolls.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

I’m so excited to tuck into this as it is so many people’s favourite read. The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.

The Skills – Mishal Husain

I don’t usually read to much self-help or work-driven books but in the interest of coming out of lockdown a new woman (ha) I’m going to give The Skills by Mishal Husain a read and see how I find it! It’s such a big-time for self-reflection at the moment and I think I’ll be far more likely to drink this in and remember the takeaways.

The Friend – Sigrid Nunez

I have had The Friend by Sigrid Nunez for a while and I’m finally ready to pick it up. I’m usually the type of person to put off consuming content that might make me cry which is a bit pathetic as some of the most beautiful stories will make you cry which I was reminded by when watching Normal People this week. The Friend follows the story of a woman who unexpectedly loses a friend to suicide and finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. It’s a story of grief and recovery that I can’t wait to read.

The New Yorker

If I’m honest I’ve fallen out of journalism throughout my twenties and started to find sloppy, biased articles a chore to read making me distance myself from the news and things going on in the world. Over the course of the last year, I’ve aimed to change that by subscribing to news sites like The Cramm, The Daily Brief and most recently I started paying for a subscription to The New Yorker. I really enjoy their long-form articles, short stories and cartoons. In fact, I just found out one of my favourite short stories called Sell Out that I read in The New Yorker years ago is being made into a Seth Rogan movie!

Maddie is reading…

My current TBR pile consists largely of a mix of autobiographies from people i’m interested in or self help business guides. More and more i feel like i want to use my time to learn things and where better to start but by taking in the successes and mistakes of others.

Why now is the time to crush it!
Gary Vaynerchuck

If you know anything about Gary Vaynerchuck you’ll know that he is constantly talking about getting out of your comfort zone, following your passions and is a big believer in stop dreaming and start doing. I feel like his book would be a big inspiration.

How to win friends and influence people
Dale Carnegie

This has been on my must read list for too long, it’s considered one of the best business guides and is quote “the only book you need to lead you to success”. It’s quite old so i’m conscious that some of its theories may not be as modern as other books but I’m sure it will still have some really valuable insights.

Million Dollar Women
Julie Pimsleur

It’s well documented that women are vastly under represented in the top positions and therefore earnings in businesses worldwide. A fact i find difficult to swallow. This book takes you through interviews from women entrepreneurs who share their experiences and tips for success.

Elon Musk: How the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our future
Ashlee Vance

Entrepreneurs don’t get much more fascinating than Elon Musk, he has started more successful businesses than i’ve had hot dinners and has a truly revolutionary forward thinking brain. He also recently named is son X Æ A-12 or “X” for short, so if that doesn’t add to the intrigue i’m not sure anything will.

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The One Where We Dressed Like Friends Characters

Could we be any more obsessed with Friends? It’s been 25 years since the sitcom first graced our screens, but the legacy of Central Perk’s most fashionable frequenters lives on in our wardrobes.

The gang are still very much influencing our outfit choices some quarter of a century later. Slip dresses continue to reign supreme, athleisure is ALL we’re wearing right now and 90s denim is never off the table.

Rachel mastered just about every trend in the book

Rachel mastered just about every trend in the book, Monica wasn’t as mad about her #ootd as she was about her marigolds but she still knew how to pull together an absolute lewwwk and Phoebe was one cool (not at all smelly) cat with her kooky boho garb that was just so undeniably, well, Phoebs.

And then there were the boys. Ross with his unbuttoned shirts and infamous leather pants, Chandler with his waistcoat combinations and heartbreak sweatpants and Joey with his many, many layers. They’re just too good not to recreate for ourselves!

Who knows, maybe we’ll source a wedding dress on eBay and join our pals on Zoom with a bottle of beer and a veil to boot. Nothing is too extra during lockdown.

Here’s how the team are styling the signature Friends outfits!

Zoe as Rachel Green

I’m not going to lie, I had FAR too much fun channelling my inner Rachel from Friends 90’s edition. I generally think I could replicate the majority of her outfits as I love an oversized retro jumper and own a good amount of denim (although realised I have a thin denim sh-acket missing from my wardrobe which I now feel is a staple).

Rachel’s style always inspired me as a teen, I loved almost everything she wore. There were certainly a couple of questionable outfit choices in the 00’s (anyone remember that off the shoulder shirt with the tie attached and tucked in? Haha), but as far as her 90’s outfits go, there was a real comfy/cosy vibe which I loved.

Her more formal outfits were all fabulous too and some of her dresses had me crushing on her style SO HARD. Honestly, if you ever find yourself lacking inspiration in your wardrobe, look to your friends fave and see what you come up with. I’d definitely wear these out and about!

Charlotte as Janice

I’m actually not really a Friends lover (I know, unpopular opinion alert) so some serious research went into nailing my Janice ‘look’. As a big fan of animal print myself, it wasn’t too hard to find items in my wardrobe that mimicked her love for all things leopard, which I have to say is probably my fave print of them all. I’m rarely seen in black, so adding in a bright top to match her signature colourful style was an easy choice too, and I love how both statement pieces look together. All I needed was some big, unruly curls and an oversized necklace and the look would be complete!

Lareese as Monica Gellar

True, Rachel was always considered the style icon of the group but Monica Geller’s outfits were all kinds of understated cool. With her signature denim, camis and baggy shirts, she was the poster girl for laid-back 90s cool. No pressure!

I think early to mid Friends Monica was peak Monica. She lived in sneakers, classic blue jeans, sweaters, clean white shirts tied at the front and boyish separates. It’s basically everything we would wear today, just with a vintage, girl-next-door edge.

She always kept things pretty easy going and I appreciate that, it makes the job of dressing like her slightly easier.

I didn’t know how much my boyfriend dressed like Monica Geller until I raided his wardrobe for shirts and basics. Who knew! Our little harmonica was the OG trailblazer for poking around in bae’s wardrobe.

I’ve gone for a classic denim on denim look similar to one that Monica wore in Season 3, The One At The Beach. Jeans – check. Baggy shirt tucked in – check. Sneakers and socks on show – check. Could I be any more Monica? Excuse my wild hair, it’s the humidity.

One of my favourite looks of hers was when she wore classic vintage jeans paired with a black buckled belt, a plain white shirt and boots. I had all these items in my wardrobe which is testament to how timeless Mon’s wardrobe really is. Twenty five years on, it’s still relevant.

Then there’s the red cami and light denim outfit which is so easy to throw on for Summer. Monica didn’t have the most colourful palette, preferring to opt for neutrals and minimal pieces that would go with anything, but she sure knew how to work a splash of red here and there by paring it back with denim basics and minimal hair and makeup.

They say fashion comes in 20 year cycles but I’m pretty sure Friends outfits are perennial.

Off to purchase some knee high boots and dungarees…

Darcey as Chandler Bing

As Chandler is one of my favourites from Friends, it was only right that I tried to recreate some of his looks and put a modern twist on them!

I am a big fan of Chandler’s more casual looks, especially in the earlier seasons, his style has always been iconic and he was a true trendsetter. Unfortunately I don’t own any big grandad style jumpers, which we all know are one of his biggest wardrobe staples! But, I have always appreciated his simple looks with white tee’s, jeans and a pair of trainers.

At first I struggled to find suitable clothing in my own wardrobe, but I think after some rummaging I ended up putting together some simple, but still Chandler Bing inspired looks!

One of my favourite Chandler looks is when he wore jeans, with a white tee tucked in with a black belt. I feel like this is a look that has never, and will never, go out of fashion! I paired the outfit with some black converse, but I think any trainers will do with this look.

Second outfit I trialed out was touching on the classic beige trousers Chandler wears a lot throughout the seasons. Closest I had was some beige jeans, but paired with a grey hoodie I feel like I got the casual, laid-back Chandler vibe! With some matching sports socks and trainers, I’m going for a ‘eating pizza and watching TV’ Chandler look!

Friends outfits are truly iconic, I want to try and style more of my outfits around Chandler and other characters, of course Rachel and Monica are first on my list!

Who was your Friends style icon?


Between You And Me: Answering Your Problems Part 4

In this month’s BYAM problem feature, we’re giving you fun pregnancy announcements ideas, tackling over-exercising in lockdown, wedding fiascos, career ruts and debating whether relationships need to have ‘the spark’ to last.

Life isn’t always cream-coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels. Sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down and sometimes it’s a whole sh*tshow of emotions we can’t even begin to try articulating, but we’re here to lend a virtual ear and hash it out together!

In this month’s BYAM problem feature, we’re giving you fun pregnancy announcements ideas, tackling over-exercising in lockdown, wedding fiascos, career ruts and debating whether relationships need to have ‘the spark’ to last.

Keep sending your problems to [email protected] as we’ll be answering more next month!


Step Up Your Lunch Game With These Summer Salads & Sarnies

We’ve dished up a few mouth-watering combinations to ensure your lunch breaks at home are all kinds of delicious.

Lunches from home quickly become repetitive (we’re one more bowl of cereal away from lockdown lunacy) but we’ve got a few ideas to shake up your salads and sarnies with minimal effort.

Think crusty deli-style ciabatta stuffed with hearty fillings

We’ve dished up a few mouth-watering combinations to ensure your lunch breaks at home are all kinds of delicious. Think crusty deli-style ciabatta stuffed with hearty fillings and salads oozing with personality. We aim to please!

Forget lacklustre fillings, roast chicken tossed in pesto and goat’s cheese all bound together with rustic brown parchment paper and string is where it’s at.

With a few extra ingredients, you can pimp your everyday salad with ease, too. Here, we’ve taken some classic leafy green dishes and added a little va-va-voom with herbs, nuts, grains and vegetables.

Whether you’re lunching at your desk or grabbing a quick screen break in your garden, these are the satisfying recipes you can eat all week.
Let’s get stuck in!

Ciabatta Sarnies


Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and cut the ciabatta into thin slices

Place the ciabatta on a baking tray and drizzle in a little olive oil. Pop them in the oven for a few minutes crust-side down until lightly toasted

Remove the ciabatta from the oven and arrange ingredients in each sandwich. Assemble with a slice on top and bottom.

Wrap each sandwich in baking paper and secure with string. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Greek Orzo Salad

If you like Greek salad, you’ll love this take on it. A colourful and refreshing salad, sweetened with juicy tomatoes, crumbly feta and orzo pasta makes for the perfect side dish.

Bursting with Mediterranean flavours, this is one salad that doesn’t suck. It’s also great for prepping and leaving to chill in the fridge ready for lunch the next day. Easy!


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a high heat. Cook the orzo (or other small pasta) for 8-10 minutes until al dente, or according to the packet instructions. Drain into a fine sieve and rinse under the cold tap for a minute to stop it from cooking. Set it to one side to drain fully.

Add the quartered tomatoes to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of salt and a crack of black pepper. Toss them in the salt – this will allow them to release their juice, which makes the dressing all the more delicious.

Add the cucumber, onion, peppers and olives to the bowl with the tomatoes. Crumble in the feta, sprinkle over the dried oregano and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, honey and oil together and season with a little salt and pepper.

Add your cooled, drained orzo to the vegetables, pour over the vinaigrette and toss the whole lot together. Serve in a large bowl or platter and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.

You can find more seasonal recipes just like this one in Cordially Invited.

Chicken Quinoa Salad With Fresh Herbs

A great fresh recipe bursting with fresh herbs, crunchy veggies and topped with toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds. You can also make it vegan by replacing the chicken with roasted sweet potato, or simply enjoy it on its own with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees fan

Squeeze the lemon juice over your whole chicken then put the squeezed halves and 2 of the thyme sprigs into the bird’s cavity. Brush the outside of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season it generously all over with salt and pepper. Strip the thyme leaves from the remaining sprigs and sprinkle them over the chicken, then place in a roasting tin and pop in the oven to roast for 30 minutes per 500g (a 1.5kg chicken will take 1 ½ hours, for example). To test the chicken is done, gently cut into the crease where the leg joins the breast – if the juices run clear, it’s ready.

Remove the tin from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before shredding it with two forks and piling the meat on a plate or platter. You need 500g.

Heat your remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion for about 8 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add the courgette, season generously with salt and pepper and fry for 20-30 minutes. Both the onion and the courgette should be very soft, any liquid should have evaporated and the onion should be nice and brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Tip your quinoa into a medium saucepan, cover with the water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow the quinoa to cool slightly.

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour this into a little serving jug.

Assemble the salad by gently tossing the onions and courgette in a large bowl with the quinoa, chopped herbs, pistachios and almonds. Add the chicken and toss through the pomegranate seeds, rocket and watercress just before serving. Dress the salad with a spoonful or two of the pomegranate dressing – add more if you like, but start with just a little and add more.

May your lunch game be strong – let us know what recipes you’ll be trying out!


13 Questions with Louise Hare

Author of this month's book club pick This Lovely City. Find out how Louise is spending her days in lockdown and how she started writing.

First of all, how are you and how are you coping in lockdown?

I wouldn’t say that I love being in lockdown but I definitely feel more adjusted now than I did in those first few weeks! I miss seeing family and friends most of all but Zoom has been a lifesaver for keeping in contact. I’ve started to appreciate small things, like when the coffee shop near me opened up for take-away. I don’t even mind queuing for 15 minutes to get my cappuccino these days!

We’re super excited to be reading your novel This Lovely City for our May Book Club! Can you tell us more about the process of writing it?

I wrote This Lovely City while studying for an MA in Creative Writing a few years ago. It actually began as a short story! My classmates read it and wanted to know what happened next. At the time I was a bit disappointed because I really wanted to write a good short story, but now I’m really pleased I managed to work out what did happen next! It was a long process and several drafts before it became the published book. I began writing it in December 2016, got my publishing deal in September 2018 and it was published this March.

How long have you been writing for, is it always something you wanted to do?

I only started writing seriously about five years ago. I loved writing stories as a kid but I fell out of the habit. In some ways I’m glad I came back to writing later on. I definitely think that having lived a little first has made me a better writer than if I’d tried to write a novel in my early twenties. Loads of great writers do start young – Zadie Smith and Sally Rooney for example – but I wasn’t writing anything worth reading at that age!

What did you study at school to become an author?

I don’t think it matters what you study at school when it comes to writing. I know a lot of authors and we all come from different backgrounds having studied lots of different subjects and had varying careers. One constant is that we all read a lot. I don’t think you can learn how to write unless you read. Read anything, and not just Booker prize winners or the classics.  Crime fiction is great for learning how to come up with a killer plot. Historical fiction is often full of interesting characters. If you want to become an author then treat reading as part of your apprenticeship.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I love historical fiction and Sarah Waters is probably my favourite author in this genre. If you’ve not read her before, Fingersmith is one of my absolute favourite books – page-turning with a shocking twist that still makes me gasp even now I know it’s coming! James Baldwin is perfect for lockdown reading. I always want to spend time with his books. Another Country is great if you’re in the mood for 1960s New York, jazz, love and friendship.

What was the last book you read and how did you find it?

It doesn’t come out until the beginning of June but if you loved Crazy Rich Asians then look out for Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho. This really got me out of a reading slump. It’s about family and dating in Singapore and I thought it was hilarious.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Probably it was when I held my book for the first time. It still hardly feels real! I had nothing to do with the cover design but I love it so much – the team really did a perfect job. I just can’t wait for lockdown to end so that people can see it in bookshops!

What are you currently working on?

My next book is a murder mystery set in 1936 on the Queen Mary ocean liner travelling from Southampton to New York. My main character is a jazz singer who has been offered the role of a lifetime on Broadway. She thinks she’s on her way to a new life but then there’s a murder and it turns out that she has a motive… I’m just editing it at the moment so it should come out next summer.

What is your best tip to keep busy in lockdown?

I’d never heard of Zoom before lockdown but now it seems like I spend at least an hour a day on it, catching up with friends and family! I’ve been baking a lot. I recommend Nigella’s chocolate olive oil cake if you’re like me and can’t find flour anywhere (it uses ground almonds instead). And I’ve also been having a go at knitting. Stitch and Story do great kits that you can order online – you get the pattern, needles and wool in one package – and they have easy to follow videos on the website when you get stuck (I use them all the time!).

What do you always carry with you?

I hate to say it but I’d be lost without my phone. Whenever I’m out and about I love to listen to music and I’m always making notes whenever I have a thought. Writing isn’t always about being sat at a desk. Usually when I get stuck or have a problem going for a walk to clear my head does me the world of good. I also tend to have ‘brilliant’ ideas just when I’m about to fall asleep. My phone is full of notes that make no sense!

What does your perfect weekend look like?

In the old days, I’d go to the gym – my go-to class is Body Combat. Recently I’ve been trying to do an online class instead. Now that I work from home I don’t treat weekends as ‘days off’ unless I have plans so I try and write for a couple of hours.  Instead of going out with friends for drinks or dinner on Saturday night I now have family quiz night. I meet up with my parents and my brother and his girlfriend on Zoom and we have a few drinks and battle it out for the title! Sunday evenings are always me-time. I usually watch a box set – I’m working my way through American Horror Story at the moment – and do a face mask, paint my nails, all those little beauty jobs that I forget to do during the week.

If you could only eat one meal again what would it be?

This is so hard! I think it would have to be something I could make myself so I’ll say lasagne. It was the first ‘proper’ meal I learned to make when I left home. I’ve perfected it over the years – more than one person has told me that my lasagne is better than their mum’s which I take as the highest compliment!

If you could give one positive message to our followers what would it be?

That age isn’t everything It’s never too late! I see a lot on social media about putting age limits on certain aspirations. If you haven’t done X by 30 or had X by 35. It’s really not the case. There is no barrier to creativity. To become an author you don’t need a particular qualification or be below a set age. You just need to write a good book.

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