TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 31, 2021

All The Christmas Bedding You Need To Feel Cosy AF This Festive Season

Whether you're renting, living in student accommodation or simply want an easy and fuss-free way to get into the Christmas spirit with minimal effort, festive bedding is one of the easiest ways to add some magical, Christmassy fun to your home, all without breaking the bank. 

Whilst it might technically still be October for another few hours, once the clock strikes midnight and November 1st is upon us, Mariah Carey will begin to slowly defrost, fairy lights across the globe will be turning on and staying on, and the countdown to the 25th December officially begins! AHHH. Whether you’re renting, living in student accommodation or simply want an easy and fuss-free way to get into the Christmas spirit with minimal effort, festive bedding is one of the easiest ways to add some magical, Christmassy fun to your home, all without breaking the bank. 

From Dunelm to Very, John Lewis to Made, there are endless online and IRL stores stocking the creme de la creme of Christmas decor for the bedroom, making the most challenging part of the festive months deciding which set to put on first …

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 30, 2021

Breast Cancer Awareness: Why Checking Your Breasts, Pecs & Chest Should 100% Be Part of Your Self-Care Routine

Consider this your friendly reminder to get familiar with your boobs, chest (or however else you refer to this part of your body) on the regs and make checking in with your bod a monthly habit. 

NB: where we mention breasts throughout this article we are referring to the clinical terminology ‘breast tissue’. We endeavour to make everyone feel represented, seen and included in our content buf if we can do better, please let us know. 

With 6 million people in the UK unaware of how to check their breasts (Bupa) / chest and one in seven affected by the disease in their lifetime, breast cancer awareness needs our full attention year-round. 

Checking your chest regularly and getting clued up on all the symptoms (fyi it’s not just limited to lumps) whatever your gender can help you detect anything out of the ordinary for you and could save your life, which makes getting familiar with your armpits, collarbone (yep, we really do need to feel that far up) and your chest, breasts, pecs ‘n’ boobs oh so worth it. 

Consider this your friendly reminder to get familiar with your boobs, chest (or however else you refer to this part of your body) on the regs and make checking in with your bod a monthly habit. 

From recognising the symptoms to how to check yourself for breast cancer, here’s the low down on checking your chest. 

Noticing unusual changes 

All bodies are different which means breasts and chests are unique too. By checking yourself regularly, you’ll be able to build an understanding of what’s normal for you and notice anything irregular. If in doubt, always get checked out! 

Understanding your body’s unique rhythm 

For women and people assigned female at birth, your breasts / chest can change throughout your life and sometimes on a monthly basis. From taking the contraceptive pill or hormone-based medication to breastfeeding and periods if you have them, varying levels of hormones can cause monthly changes to your breast tissue so these fluctuations are often nothing to worry about however, they could be a symptom worth mentioning to your doctor if they’re unusual for you, persistent or painful. All bodies are different so getting to know the rhythm of yours will help you to detect anything out of the ordinary and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. 

What changes are you looking / feeling for when you’re checking yourself? 

In terms of visible changes, you’re looking for any variations in size, outline or shape and changes in skin texture such as lumps, a rash, inversion (nipples pulling inwards), puckering or dimpling around the nipple. Something else to be aware of is nipple discharge or any bleeding or crusting. If you feel pain, swelling in the armpit, a lump or thickening, this can also be a symptom of breast cancer. 

How do you check your boobs / chest? 

Establish where and when you will do it – you might be most comfortable in the shower, when standing in front of the mirror, or lying down. Figure out what works for you and your lifestyle and build a routine that makes remembering to check yourself second nature. 

If standing, it’s best to observe yourself in front of the mirror when you’re getting dressed so you can get a good look at the shape and size of your breasts, pecs or chest. Remember you’re looking for changes in the texture, size and appearance of your breast/chest as well as any watery, milky or yellow discharge or blood around the nipple. 

Raise your arms above your head and repeat the above step. 

Next, feel your breasts/chest whilst lying down, using your right hand to feel under your left breast and vice versa. Use a firm but smooth circular motion using the first few fingers of your hand, working your way around the entire breast/chest top to bottom and side to side across your collarbone and into your armpit to check for swelling. 

Finally, feel your breasts/chest whilst standing or sitting (it’s usually easiest when you’re still wet and slippery after a shower). 

I’ve noticed something unusual, what do I do now? 

We spoke to CoppaFeel! the breast cancer charity on a mission to ensure all breast cancers are diagnosed early and correctly by educating young people on the signs and symptoms and encouraging them to check themselves often. 

If you do discover something unusual for you, it can be worrying but it’s reassuring to know most breast changes are benign. Checking yourself regularly and seeking help when you notice anything out of the ordinary is always the right thing to do! 

CoppaFeel! says, “There’s no need to panic. Our bodies change, and if you’ve noticed a change, it’s a good sign that you know your body. There are lots of reasons why you might have changes to your breasts. Most changes are natural and harmless and 9 out of 10 people who are referred to the breast clinic are not given a cancer diagnosis. However, if you are concerned about a change to your breasts, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.”

What to expect from a GP appointment 

If you’ve noticed any changes in your breast tissue, monitor the changes for a week and book an appointment with your GP. Your doctor will assess you, discuss risk factors both genetic and lifestyle-related, and if they think you need further assessment, they might refer you to a specialist breast clinic for an ultrasound or mammogram (an X-ray of the breasts). 

Breast cancer awareness for cis men, trans and non-binary people

Everyone has breast tissue and people of all genders can get breast cancer so however you identify, it’s important you get to know your body. Around 400 men a year get breast cancer in the UK and the symptoms are similar to breast cancer in women including a usually painless lump in the chest area, swelling under the arm, changes in the appearance of the nipples, discharge and ulcers on the chest. 

Men can also get a non-cancerous (benign) swelling in their chest known as gynecomastia and it’s particularly prevalent in teenage boys. For trans and non-binary folk, check out Live Through This for chest-checking guidance to ensure you’re empowered with the information you need to know and understand your body.  

If you have developed breasts as part of your transition or are planning on getting implants, this will affect how you check yourself. Likewise, if you’ve had top surgery to remove breast tissue, some tissue usually remains around the nipple, under the collarbone and in the armpit so still needs to be checked. Get to know your new normal and contact your doctor if you have unexplained pain. 

One thing to take away from breast cancer awareness month

There’s plenty of fake news and myths when it comes to breast cancer but the biggest misconception is that it only affects older cis women. The one thing CoppaFeel! want everyone to get out of breast cancer awareness month, is that it can affect anyone, regardless of their age, sex, gender, ethnicity or ability, which is why it’s of the utmost importance to get familiar with your body’s normal. 

Still unsure about where to start? For a 101 in checking your breasts, chest and pecs, bookmark the handy CoppaFeel! Self-Checkout page. 

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 30, 2021

Real-Life Ghost Stories: We Spoke To People Who Have Lived In A Haunted House

Items mysteriously disappearing, drops in temperature, TVs turning on and off randomly, footsteps in the hallway - the thought of staying in a haunted house would have most of us running for the hills but is all that just a load of Hocus Pocus brought to us by the ultimate myth-maker aka, Hollywood?

Trigger Warning: This article contains violence, depression and suicide.

Items mysteriously disappearing, drops in temperature, TVs turning on and off randomly, footsteps in the hallway – the thought of staying in a haunted house would have most of us running for the hills but is all that just a load of Hocus Pocus brought to us by the ultimate myth-maker aka, Hollywood?

Astronomical rent and eye-watering gas and electric bills are scary enough to deal with, throw in a Victorian ghost with a spooky vaporous tail and it’s a hard pass from us. Unexpected roommates and pets behaving strangely does not real estate heaven make. No thank you.

That said, we are a nation truly gripped by ghostly goings-on – just not when it’s happening in our home, amiright? – and with haunted house reports on the rise since the pandemic, we thought what better way to investigate than by talking to the people who have lived in a haunted house and survived to tell the tale.

Anyone else lighting their sage sticks rn? Scroll on down if you’re feeling brave enough…

Katy

First up, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do!

My name is Katy, I’m 21 and from Devon and a Digital Marketing Executive.

Where do you stand on the supernatural, is it something you’ve always believed in or is it something that you became engaged with or interested in once you’d experienced it first-hand?

I’ve always been very open with the supernatural. I’ve always believed that there had to be some sort of life after death.

What property were you living in at the time and were you aware of its interesting history?

The house I was living in was called The Old Mill. My parents and I moved there when I was 14. It was a converted mill that still had a water wheel on the side (it didn’t move, it had been inactive for some time), along with all the cogs and workings of the wheel inside. It’s been various different mills in its time, a sawmill, a paper mill, a flour mill. It was converted into a house in the 1950s, but the oldest parts of the house date back to the 12th century.

Did you ever experience a ‘feeling’ when you were viewing the property, prior to moving in?

I never really sensed anything when we viewed the house. I just found the history of the building fascinating, and it was a beautiful house so I was excited to move there.

When did you first suspect the property you lived in was haunted and that it wasn’t just a one-off incident?

It was about 6 months after we moved that this man first appeared to me in my bedroom. I remember the first time I saw him, I thought someone had broken in! I remember screaming and yelling to my parents ‘There’s someone in the house!’. But by the time they got there, he had vanished. We searched the house, nothing. No signs of him. I was a bit freaked for a while, and I thought maybe my mind was just playing tricks with me. But then I saw him again, about a week later, in the exact same spot in the corner of my bedroom. I remember I was home alone, and screaming ‘What do you want!’, still at this point thinking it was someone breaking in.

I always found it strange that he appeared in the exact same spot in the corner of my room. I also noticed he had a lot of bruising around his neck.Katy

I remember scrambling for my phone, ready to dial 999. But then he spoke to me and said ‘I just want to be friends. I used to live here, I just want to visit and see what you’ve done with the place’. So I asked him when did he live here, and that’s when he said ‘1874’. I thought he was kidding but then I noticed his clothing and it was very old fashioned, very Victorian era. In a brown suit, holding a top hat. I screamed again and ran out into the garden. Then when I went back in, he was gone. I was so freaked. I didn’t tell my parents because they would think I was out of my mind and seeing things. The next time he reappeared he told me his name was Arthur. I always found it strange that he appeared in the exact same spot in the corner of my room. I also noticed he had a lot of bruising around his neck. I asked him about it once, but he looked very sheepish and then disappeared. He didn’t look that old, maybe in his mid 40s?

At the time I was going through a rough spell with depression. He started appearing every time my head was in a dark place, and he started encouraging these negative thoughts and feelings. This is when I realised he wasn’t just a spirit visiting somewhere he used to live. I felt he had caught on to the negative energy around me and encouraged it to make him stronger. This is when I told my parents. I think that they thought it was just voices in my head to do with my mental health. We sought medical help but I just felt that nobody took it seriously. That’s when we decided we needed to move out of the house. The thing was, as soon as I left the house, it all stopped. He left me alone, the voices stopped. That’s how I knew I wasn’t simply going mad or having some sort of episode.

When I told him we were moving, he was very angry, and told me “You’re mine”. That’s when the figure of two girls appeared. Every time they appeared, he would disappear. They were about the same age I was at the time, 15/16? One of them spoke to me, her name was Mary, and she just said that I needed to leave, to get out, and to save myself from ‘him’. I believed her. There was even one time where Mary possessed me. I have no recollection of any of it. So I’ll just tell you what my parents told me about it as they witnessed it. I was lying in my bed crying, and they were there comforting me. Apparently, my body went stiff for around 5-10 seconds. And then I started talking, but it wasn’t my voice at all. I was saying “get out, get out! You need to protect yourselves from him, save yourselves”. And then I had a coughing fit and came to.

How did you feel when leaving the property, were you concerned that the energy would move on with you?

When my parents and I eventually moved out of the house, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. Luckily the sale of my parents business meant we could buy and move into a new house before selling The Old Mill. I’m very appreciative that we managed to do that because I was just at the point where I needed to be out of that house.

Did you end up enlisting any help from a medium to clear your house or perform blessings to rid the house of any negative energy?

It turned out he had held two girls captive there, Mary and Elizabeth, and he accidentally killed them. He felt so guilty and ashamed of what he did, that ended up hanging himself, you guessed it, in the corner of what would become my bedroom.Katy

When we moved into our new home, we got chatting to one of our neighbours and it turned out that he was a medium. We told him about all of our experience with the old house, and he offered to go down there with one of his medium friends to see if they picked up on anything. Now we didn’t tell him all the details, but what he and his medium friend found out was amazing. Turns out Arthur was a priest who lived there in the 1870s. It turned out he had held two girls captive there, Mary and Elizabeth, and he accidentally killed them. He felt so guilty and ashamed of what he did, that ended up hanging himself, you guessed it, in the corner of what would become my bedroom.

Were the new occupants made aware of the supernatural history of the house once it was on the market?

We managed to sell the house a year ago, we did tell the new owners that we had some spiritual activity but we didn’t tell them the full extent of it all. We didn’t want to sell the house to a family who had any young girls as we didn’t want them experiencing anything similar to what I did. Luckily it was a lovely elderly couple who bought it, and when we told them about it being slightly haunted, they thought it was ‘rather splendid’.

We’ve got to ask, would you ever live in a haunted house again or have you been there, done that and got the goosebumps?!

I’ve now become very aware of the fact that I can sense spirits. Even in the home we live in, I sense my grandparents who passed away a few years ago. I wouldn’t say I would never again live in a haunted house because I feel all houses have history to them, even new builds, as there will be history to the land they’re built on. Just as long as the spirits are friendly and wish me no harm!

Hannah

First up, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do!

I’m Hannah, I’m 24 and I’m an HR admin at a mental health and physical health Hospital in East Sussex.

Where do you stand on the supernatural, is it something you’ve always believed in or is it something that you became engaged with or interested in once you’d experienced it first-hand?

The supernatural has always interested me, I grew up watching most haunted and ghost hunters, and now I love Buzzfeed’s supernatural series! I don’t think ghosts are real in the sense that you can see an apparition of someone who died, but I do believe you can communicate with other spirits who would go through a journey to be able to communicate. I also believe In being possessed, and objects having spirits attached to them.

What property were you living in at the time and were you aware of its interesting history?

When we experienced the odd ‘imaginary friend’ situation and heard footsteps in the house etc, we didn’t jump to ghost until quite late on. Was one of those things where if you’d watch it on a film you’d say ‘why wouldn’t you move out when you can hear things in the attic or running around upstairs’ but we really didn’t think much of it straight away!

Did you ever experience a ‘feeling’ when you were viewing the property, prior to moving in?

One of my cousins who I lived with was only a tiny human when it began, and he was somewhat mischievous but when he began to say “Bella Lucia made me do it” we were like ummmm who??

When did you first suspect the property you lived in was haunted and that it wasn’t just a one-off incident?

Bella Lucia was someone only my cousin Tom could see and talk to, apparently, a girl who I think was about 5 years old.

How long did the paranormal activity go on for and what went down?

So here’s the story :

For context, when I was about 13 myself, my sister, and my dad moved into a bigger house with my auntie, uncle, and my two cousins who were 3 and 5 at the time. It was a house that was relatively old but nothing ancient. My sister and I shared a room on the bottom floor and my dad was also in the room next to us and we had our own bathroom. Upstairs the kids had their own rooms and my auntie and uncle had a room upstairs.

My youngest cousin Tom was a mischievous kid and there were stories where he saw people and once said to his mum ‘who’s that man in the kitchen’ and on investigating there was no one there. When he moved into this house with us he would start to misbehave and would say “Bella Lucia told me to do it”. It was such a specifically odd name that thought, what 3 year old would come up with that name? Then my sister and I started getting bruises and hearing noises that spooked us but we hadn’t put two and two together.

One night I heard running upstairs and I said to my auntie the next morning that I heard Tom run around and asked if he’d had a rough night and she said no he slept all night in his bed, and I was like no I 100000% heard a little kid run about last night and they said he didn’t wake them up at all which he typically would.

We started to ask Tom who Bella Lucia was and he was saying she’s a little girl who likes to play but we can’t see her.Hannah

Bella Lucia would then start talking to Tom more and more and he would say “Bella Lucia said it’s time to go play upstairs now”. We started to ask Tom who Bella Lucia was and he was saying she’s a little girl who likes to play but we can’t see her, we kind of thought he had an imaginary friend, that’s cute! But he would do really obscure and dangerous things that weren’t like him, like trying to throw himself down the stairs, chewing through electrical cords, hitting himself etc.

I kept thinking I could hear people in the kitchen and when I’d go to look no one was there. There’s been a few people who experienced the kitchen and thought someone was with them in there when there wasn’t, and Tom told my sister there’s someone in the kitchen and there wasn’t. I’d think I could hear stuff from the attic when I was upstairs and we even got someone to inspect the loft thinking there were animals because it was so noisy but there was nothing.

I asked my sister what she remembers and she said she remembers a balloon that wasn’t helium floating upwards and staying in the air and then being pulled about a bit and Tom said Bella Lucia was holding it.

We became terrified of Bella Lucia and who she’d ask my cousin to hurt nextHannah

When we started to feel more creeped out in the house we googled Bella Lucia. The name translates to beautiful light, which is often to do with angels / angelical meanings. We couldn’t find anything too other than a book called the haunting of Bella Lucia, but after we had that thought we became terrified of Bella Lucia and who she’d ask my cousin to hurt next (it was minimal violence, not much a 3-year-old can do). We moved out a year or so after and my cousin hasn’t had any weird contact with Bella Lucia since and doesn’t remember a thing, which is normally weird because kids tend to not forget imaginary friends!

Were the new occupants made aware of the supernatural history of the house once it was on the market?

It never got to the point where we were too scared to stay there, we kind of laughed about it, but when Tom turned creepy we all would start to freak out a bit! We were more worried about him being hurt honestly, but he seemed to have a good pact with Bella Lucia that would mean they’d play together and sometimes be naughty. I never thought about the fact that the next tenants might experience it because I assumed that whatever it was, it was attached to my cousin.

We’ve got to ask, would you ever live in a haunted house again or have you been there, done that and got the goosebumps?!

I don’t think I could live in a haunted house but I’d love to experience it for a night in a properly haunted place! I always think though, when you know what kind of ghost/experience to expect you create the fear yourself and every noise you hear you assume is a ghost haha. I think if I lived somewhere and it had a friendly spirit in there I wouldn’t mind, but the first sign of a paranormal activity moment and I think id be out, although that’s easier said than done and would make a great viral video 😂

Aimee

First up, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do!

My name is Aimee and I am currently in school studying biology, chemistry, psychology and English lit

Where do you stand on the supernatural, is it something you’ve always believed in or is it something that you became engaged with or interested in once you’d experienced it first-hand?

I have always been interested in the paranormal from a young age. I was always the weird kid who instead of loving unicorns would be interested in a tragic accident involving the dead and the hauntings that followed. I was particularly interested in the sinking of the titanic in 1912

What property were you living in at the time and were you aware of its interesting history?

I was living in a 3 bedroom house with my parents and I had heard rumours from the neighbour’s kids.

Did you ever experience a ‘feeling’ when you were viewing the property, prior to moving in?

I remember as soon as I walked in I was on edge the whole time and was particularly drawn to the garden

When did you first suspect the property you lived in was haunted and that it wasn’t just a one-off incident?

It was when my brother had told me he felt breathing on him in his sleep and later that day when I was home alone I heard a man’s deep voice coming from his room

How long did the paranormal activity go on for and what went down?

It has happened in every house I have ever lived in.Aimee

For as long as I can remember. It has happened in every house I have ever lived in. We would smell cigarettes ( we have a non-smoker household) technology would mess up, our Alexa would play really old music while we were out and we would come back and it would be playing. Things moved by themselves. Running noises in the middle of the night. Laughing, shadowy figures and so much more.

Did you ever find out why they were there or who they were?

No, although I have wanted to, my nan had a bad experience with communicating with the dead and has warned everyone in my family to never do it.

Did you end up enlisting any help from a medium to clear your house or perform blessings to rid the house of any negative energy?

Mo we haven’t. I don’t believe this energy is negative and I like having them around. I reckon they are just playful.

Were your friends and family ever reluctant to visit/stay at your place?

My brother would not sleep in his own room for a very long time. my parents are not very bothered by it

How different was the experience to how horror movies portray haunted houses?

They depict it to be a terrifying experience, I disagree. I believe spirits are harmless and just want to have a bit of fun

Was any part of your personal experience comforting rather than creepy?

Yes honestly, this spirit would do things like turn off plugs I had left on and it made me feel it was looking out for my safety!

How did you feel when leaving the property, were you concerned that the energy would move on with you?

I was hoping it would ( which it did!) I was honestly sad to leave that house.

What was the scariest thing that ever happened in your home?

It would have to be hearing the giggling at night that freaked me out the most.

Were the new occupants made aware of the supernatural history of the house once it was on the market?

No, I don’t believe so.

We’ve got to ask, would you ever live in a haunted house again or have you been there, done that and got the goosebumps?!

I would! I believe I still do and I love every second of it.

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 29, 2021

The Instagram-Famous Roast Potato Recipe You Need On Your Radar This Season

No Christmas dinner or Sunday roast is complete without these sublime golden lumps of joy. An autumn staple, a Christmas wish come true, an elite winter side...

Some people hate sprouts, stuffing is an acquired taste, cranberry sauce divides families but roast potatoes? Everyone likes roast potatoes. 

No Christmas dinner or Sunday roast is complete without these sublime golden lumps of joy.

No Christmas dinner or Sunday roast is complete without these sublime golden lumps of joy. An autumn staple, a Christmas wish come true, an elite winter side made to be snaffled with tidings of comfort and gluttony (and a fleet of gravy boats). 

After 2020’s shoddy ol’ December, there’s no way we’re tolerating below average roasties this year. All we want for Christmas is a spud with fluffy innards and a crispy coat that renders us speechless. But what is the secret to the perfect roastie?

Picture Paul Hollywood looking down the lens right here – the perfect tat must be crunchy and golden on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Bakers Chefs must take their time with the prep, fluffing up once boiled and going ham with the olive oil. We’re talking the entire contents of a 500ml bottle of the good stuff. No holding back. It’s Christmas for crying out loud. 

For those of you with zero culinary tekkers, we’ve got you. You won’t need to baste your spuddy boys in bougie goose fat or sprinkle ‘em in cornflour because who’s got the patience for all that faffing? The secret to this humble recipe is all in the roasting and the fluffing itself. 

You’ll have to put up with hosting your family forever but at least that means you can leave the washing up to someone else whilst you’re hunched over the leftovers making all sorts of noises. 

To level up your holiday spread this year, look no further than this iconic roast potato recipe from the equally legendary Lisa Potter-Dixon. That’s right, not only is she a makeup extraordinaire, but she can give a King Edward a glow-up like no one else. Pour yourself a glass of something lively and get practising for your Christmas run through. You’ll have to put up with hosting your family forever but at least that means you can leave the washing up to someone else whilst you’re hunched over the leftovers making all sorts of noises. 

Join us as we limber up for the holiday season… and ask the all-important question: if you were a potato masher, where would you be? 

SERVES 4
PREP: 30 MINS COOK: 80 MINS
MEDIUM
  1. Pre-heat your oven for 20 mins on 220 fan / gas mark 8.
  2. Boil your pan of water for the spuds for 20 mins (or pans if you’re making a feast). Time it right and you can pre-heat your oven and boil your water at the same time. One of life’s nameless and satisfying small wins.
  3. Peel your spuds ready for boiling. We won’t sugar-coat it, this bit is repetitive as hell and the potato peeler will probably have your fresh mani for breakfast.
  4. Cut the potatoes into a mixture of sizes, making sure you get plenty of big hunks and smaller pieces that’ll crisp up a treat!
  5. Add the chopped potato pieces to the boiling water for 12-15 mins. Keep an eye on them to ensure you don’t over-boil. Too soft and they’ll do a 2020 and fall apart.
  6. Fill your deep roasting tray with a very liberal glug of olive oil. Go big or go home (hungry). This is the secret to the crunch factor! Put the tray on the top shelf for the oil to heat for 15 mins.
  7. Once the potatoes are boiled to Goldilocks style perfection, drain them in a colander and put them back in your pot. Shake them to the tune of Tay Tay to fluff them up – this is what helps make them nice and crispy.
  8. Take your tray of boiling oil out of the oven. Rest on top of the oven whilst you *carefully* pour your fluffed up potatoes into the roasting tray with a gentle hand. That thing will spit like an alpaca on high alert and hot oil on the decolletage is not the one. Sprinkle over your salt flakes – again, a pinch won’t cut it. Make it three. Shake the alpaca tray gently ensuring you’ve wet each of the potato heads with oil.
  9. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees and chuck them in for 30 mins. Stick to approx. 12 whole potatoes per baking tray (so 24 halves as they’re cut up at this point). You don’t want your baking tray to be operating at full capacity.
  10. Take a hot minute to pour yourself a large one here. A Baileys break, if you will. Perks of being the potato whisperer and all that!
  11. Cut your two onions into chunks and squash your garlic gloves with a knife leaving the skin on. You can now put your feet up for 25 mins or prep any other sides you need.
  12. When your potatoes have had their 30 mins and your phone alarm has sounded, give your potatoes a shake in-tray. Use your potato masher / large flat spoon / bottom of a jar to gently squash your tats to open them up slightly. Gently is the key word here, you don’t want your spuds to meet the same grim fate as the Sex Education cat. RIP Jonathan.
  13. Next, chuck in your garlic, onions and rosemary stems. Top tip: give your rosemary sprigs a little twist and a tug before they go in to release the full flavour. Shake the tray again (all eyes on the angry alpaca guys) and get them back in the oven. Keep an eye on them, turning them over to make sure they’re crispy and golden from all angles. Once they’re looking the part (usually after 1 hour), blast the oven back up to 220 degrees for the last 5 minutes.
  14. Line a baking tray with kitchen roll.
  15. Take your spuds out of the oven, onions, garlic rosemary ‘n’ all. Spoon them onto the baking tray lined with kitchen roll to soak up the excess oil. Give them a little dab if they’re looking a bit oily. Put them in a serving bowl and serve piping hot. Dig in lads!

To download a handy PDF version of Lisa’s recipe and keep your eyes peeled for future trending snacks and sides, check out her website!

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 28, 2021

Autumnal Evening Drinks Outfits Perfect for a Candlelit Tipple

If the draw of a cosy, intimate evening with your nearest and dearest at the coolest spot in town isn't enough, the magic of your sophisticated autumn outfit will be.

Chin chin b*tches, pints of Pimm’s and endless Aperol Spritz might be behind us this season, but there’s something about autumnal evenings in a candlelit bar or fireside in your local pub that oozes sophisticated, romantic vibes. As the evenings draw darker and the clocks fall back, the time for red lips, 30 denier tights, bundled up scarfs and flirty ankle boots is here, and is anyone else completely overjoyed about it?!

Whether you plan to sip a glass of red with the girls or a warming mocktail with a date (or two), nailing a seasonally appropriate look that is both weather appropriate and dressy enough to show 2020’s lockdown who’s boss is a simple pleasure of the cooler months that needs shouting about. If the draw of a cosy, intimate evening with your nearest and dearest at the coolest spot in town isn’t enough, the magic of your sophisticated autumn outfit will be.

Lareese

Probs a bit OTT for evening drinks but we move! I’m doubling up on the croc with boots and an oversized blazer over this puff sleeve floral dress. Whack on a red lip and I’ll be ready to sip a few sparkling wines (read: slam a few tequilas).

Zara, FLORAL PRINT DRESS, £29.99 | *Boohoo, Block Heel Croc Knee High Boot, £45 | *Weekday, Rumi Croco Blazer, £70 | Zara, SHINY SHOULDER BAG, £49.99

Danielle

Loving a bit of khaki and black for this upcoming season, and even though I’m yet to purchase a pair of knee-high heeled boots, I keep dreaming up outfits featuring this Dune pair. The silky satin midi skirt trend is yet to go anywhere so people probably have one of these in their wardrobe from last season, thrown on with some simple knitwear, chic black handbag and THE boots. Topped off with chunky gold jewellery, Zara has some really different bits in at the moment I’m loving!

*Mango, Midi satin skirt, £49.99 | *H&M, Knitted jumper, £17.99 | *H&M, Gathered shoulder bag, £24.99 | *Dune, SPICE – Black Pointed Knee High Boots, £195 | Zara, PACK OF LINK BRACELETS, £14.99 | Zara, SQUARE DANGLE EARRINGS, £14.99

Holly

Does anyone else struggle with dressing nice but warm in winter? Because I HATE being cold but I also hate tights so we’re in a bit of a predicament. I have a black jumpsuit similar to this one which I think will make a few appearances these crisp nights and can wear different accessories every time to switch it up but honestly I’m lost. I’ve wanted this Kurt Geiger bag for years so maybe this is the year I treat myself.

*Silk Fred, Kimono Knot Top Culotte Jumpsuit, £45 | PrettyLittleThing, BLACK STRAPPY GLADIATOR POINT TOE HEEL, £30 | *Anthropologie, Set of 3 Aimee Claw Hair Clips, £22

Darcey

I love an evening drinks look, getting dressed up just always makes me feel good and it’s fun to let your hair down! I’ve gone for a leather blazer look, with some black straight jeans and an off the shoulder top. Paired with some green accessories to give it a little edge (anyone else obsessed with green at the moment?) and some gold hoop earrings!

*Marks and Spencer, Roma Straight Leg Jeans, £35 | *Marks and Spencer, Faux Leather Blazer, £59 | *ASOS, NA-KD cut out detail one shoulder top in black, £16 | *ASOS, Healing mid heeled mules in green, £55 | Azurina, ‘Amalfi’ Green Chain Strap Cross Body Bag, £120 | *Missoma, Medium Braid Hoop Earrings, £110

Charlotte

I. Love. Evening. Drinks! Any excuse to get dressed up is 100% something I’m down for (the novelty still hasn’t worn off after lockdown) and a sexy red lip and glass of wine is my idea of heaven. I’ve gone for a chic, black number from Warehouse which gives me mega Alexa Chung vibes so of course I love it. I recently got a pair of second hand knee high boots and now want to replace my entire shoe collection with other variations of them and this pair from Nasty Gal are AMAZING. Will be buying ASAP.

*Warehouse, Flute Sleeve Diamond Trim Shirt Dress, £69 | *Nasty Gal, Faux Leather Contrast Knee High Heeled Boots, £59 | *Glossier, Generation G sheer matte lipstick, £14*Selfridges, ROOP Upcycled Furoshiki satin bag, £75

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TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 27, 2021

Ouija Board 101: Everything You Need To Know Before Contacting Spirits This Halloween

With unsettling and often unexplained ways of connecting with spirits, Ouija, or more widely categorised as talking boards, are branded by the media as not for the faint of heart, but are they really as terrifying as they seem?

As a popular culture phenomenon and a signature component of the horror film starter pack, the infamous Ouija board has a reputation bolder than Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album itself. With unsettling and often unexplained ways of connecting with spirits, Ouija, or more widely categorised as talking boards, are branded by the media as not for the faint of heart, but are they really as terrifying as they seem? We spoke to embalmer by day and ghost hunter and spooky TikTok sensation by night, Beckie-Ann Galentine, who has been using Ouija boards for over a decade to uncover everything you should know before delving into the world of Ouija…

“I think I was in college when I first used a Ouija Board. I was gifted the 1990s Ouija with the hands-on the cover and we tried it because we never had before. It didn’t work, but I was also trying to use it with my college friends in a very modern apartment complex. I had carried around the board for shock value at that time because I thought they were “edgy” and finally attempted to use it. We turned the lights out, lit some candles and expected some big production but gave up when nothing happened.

Beckie-Ann Galentine

A History Lesson

“Technically speaking, ‘Ouija’ is the trademark name of a spirit communication device, known as a talking board, that is marketed as a board game and directed at individuals eight years and up. It consists of two parts – a planchette that is almost heart-shaped with an eye and a flat, rectangular board with the alphabet on it. In advertising, they promote asking questions and receiving intelligent responses from the “other side” with Ouija. It is not the only existing talking board, but the mysterious name garners the most attention. 

Ouija takes its roots in Baltimore, Maryland – discussion of talking boards in spiritualist communities is sprinkled in prior- but the patent is credited to the city in the early 1890s. At this time, it was not marketed as it is today, with campy graphics and battery-operated planchettes. The first boards were constructed of attractive stained wood, with stencilled letters and wooden planchettes. Following the introduction, there was an explosion of talking boards – you could collect for a lifetime and not acquire every single piece in its entirety. Take the 1940s alone – tons of novelty companies stuck their neck in the game with spin-off names like ‘We-Ja Girl’ and ‘Sphinx Oracle Board’ – all the names under the sun with brilliant and unique artwork – centred around a similar design: letters arranged in some fashion on a board with a sliding planchette that you and friends call on spirits to move and spell messages with.  Elijah Bond is pointed to for the patent and invention and William Fuld is typically credited with pioneering Ouija in the early years; he then sold the trademark to Parker Brothers which became Hasbro and still holds the trademark today.”

Deciding to use a Ouija Board for the first time is one thing, but for newbies with no experience in paranormal communication, it can be overwhelming to understand the dos, don’ts and phrases essential for a smooth and safe experience. Add these to your talking board terminology sheet and prepare to delve one step further into the paranormal world:

Planchette – the heart-shaped piece that accompanies Ouija, with an eye or viewing glass where the message will be spelt

Seance – A meeting, typically with a medium or other spiritualists, in which people intend to communicate with the dead 

Necromancy – Magic or practice with the intent to communicate with the dead

Eye – The clear plastic or glass part of the planchette that shows the message

Conjure – To “call upon a spirit” by means of magic 

Divination – The practice of seeking knowledge (oftentimes in search of answers about the future) by supernatural means

Soothsayer – A person who predicts the future

For someone just learning – the best tool is in your pocket – your phone. A lot of people are apprehensive about starting to “ghost hunt” because of the cost barrier and shows depicting thousands of dollars in fancy equipment. With your phone, the monetary commitment isn’t there, so people can try a paranormal investigation and if it’s not for them, there’s no loss. A mobile phone is equipped with an audio recorder, a camera and flashlight – all  the bare bones for a beginner’s paranormal investigation. Most things that are must-haves on investigations are lying right around your home!

Beckie-Ann Galentine

Beckie-Ann also recommends the Talking Board Historical Society, “who focus on the facts – not just rumors stemming from Hollywood”, and if you’re feeling particularly boujie, “book yourself a flight to Salem, MA to visit the Salem Witchboard Museum, a historical approach to all things Ouija – it’s thorough and fascinating!”. 

So, down to the nitty-gritty. How does a planchette move across the board and is it as terrifying as it seems?

“The planchette is a somewhat heart-shaped piece with an “eye” that moves around the board when your hands are in place, stopping on certain letters for you to record, ultimately ending with a message. Depending on who you ask – the board works in different fashions – some believe it is an “ideomotor effect,” where the users are moving the planchette subconsciously. Being unaware that you’re causing something to physically move is certainly more frightening than spirits. Others, like myself, believe the latter. Spirits can manipulate their environment – be it through radio noise, recording static, light, or hands-on a planchette – to communicate and it is the spirit guiding the users to relay their messages.” 

I’d say there’s more misinformation than helpful stuff out there! A lot of it arises because of the mesh of different spiritual beliefs and faiths

And as far as the misinformation goes, there’s more out there than jump scares in the Paranormal Activity movies combined. “I’d say there’s more misinformation than helpful stuff out there! A lot of it arises because of the mesh of different spiritual beliefs and faiths – Catholics have starkly different beliefs on what Ouija is versus witches and atheists and that doesn’t mean anyone is necessarily wrong. I’ll never blame someone for their belief. Social media seems to perpetuate the myths; I see value in it because it sparks initial interest and allows an audience who might not be looking for spiritualism to stumble upon it while scrolling. In the long run, stick to books and mentors. With spiritual subjects, I recommend reading a LOT, pulling from many ideas and sources and making your own journey (as long as you’re not being appropriative of other cultures).  

If you’re looking to explore more in-field paranormal findings; investigators local to you may be willing to let you sit-in on a few investigations. Local ghost tours are a good place to start, as well. Build a foundation on factual history, first – that’s the backbone! I also wouldn’t recommend some of the television ghost hunters, many things are embellished or unethical (not done with the intent to help people).”

From The Exorcist (1973) to White Noise (2005), Witchboard (1986) to The Conjuring (2016), there’s been no shortage of Hollywood films born from the ‘never f*ck with a Ouija Board’ sentiment, but according to Beckie-Ann, the movie depictions of talking boards are vastly exaggerated compared to the IRL experiences most people have:

“Let’s start here – have you ever heard of someone getting possessed or dying from using a Ouija board? Outside of Hollywood, there are a handful of real-life cases where people have either killed or had serious consequences following the use of a Ouija board and in many of those, the conditions were already present; the person was already feeling some type of way or the entity was already present, Ouija just happened to be a catalyst.Think about it, most people look to Ouija because they already felt unsettled; correlation is not always causation. 

I’d also like to add that Hollywood doesn’t seem to have a vendetta on talking boards in general – Ouija is the specific one that takes the beating. Individuals consume content that was meant to be for entertainment only and accept it as fact. A meme from a decade ago about how you should never play with one is not a reliable source!”

And whilst they might not be as scary as the world of cinema makes out, there are still some simple dos and don’ts to respect if you decide to delve into the world of spirit communication for the first time. 

“I always attempt to use them with respect. Now, each to their own, but I wouldn’t call someone if I were laughing at them or intoxicated, and I view spirit communication very similarly. If you mock something from the beginning; your energy is going to be matched.

Do not poke or prod at the spirits, make fun of them, or expect them to prove something to you. Don’t use them in graveyards that are active – not because you’re disrupting spirits, but because it’s unsettling for mourners. I also never recommend any type of spirit contact if you’re feeling anxious or depressed; a particularly active location can leave you feeling overstimulated and exhausted. I never store the planchette on the board because it could potentially leave the ability for spirit contact open; most boxes have a placeholder for it under the board.

For me, I like to light white candles, but this is more so based on tradition; some say that lighting a white candle will protect you. Others use crystals and prayers for protection; it all depends on that person’s spiritual practice. As far as mood goes, it’s best to use the Ouija in a quiet area or one with ambient music; such is common with paranormal investigations of any kind. I know there’s an old rule about never playing alone, with the rationale being that it will make you more susceptible to demonic possessions, but I wouldn’t recommend investigating alone for safety issues (a lot of haunted places are less than structurally sound or abandoned and you may encounter other humans).”

“Getting the facts are good icebreaker questions when you’re first delving into a haunt – ask ages, names, what phase in life they’re at, descriptors of what they’re experiencing or if they mind the company. Oh – and mind your Ps and Qs – try to say thank you if you’re getting great responses. As far as what you shouldn’t ask – sometimes, people think it’s in poor taste to ask the spirits how they died or how you’re going to die. Within the community, respected investigators are not keen on provoking spirits and asking them to “prove something.” Keep in mind that you are owed nothing by the spiritual realm and if you’re receiving any communication you should be grateful!

You’re not going to accidentally summon Zozo or get possessed or get tricked into selling your soul to the devil. If you treat it as a board game, that’s what you’ll get out of it and if you treat it as a tool for spirit contact, likewise.

Don’t worry, if you “forget to say goodbye” you’re not leaving the spirit realm wide open, it’s just simply impolite; I try to close by saying that conversation is closed and the invitation is no longer open, but mistakes happen easily, especially during fast-paced investigations.  I know I’ll get criticized for this statement, but it’s based on years of research and knowledge, not because I’m naive.”

Still doubtful about delving into the world of Ouija? You’re not alone in that one. We posed some sceptic FAQs to offer a deciding vote on the matter

Q: Can you become possessed whilst using a ouija board?

A: In my experience, possessions attributed to Ouija use are either stemming from something that was already present, such as a mental health struggle or a misinterpretation of a situation with an already present spirit.

Q: Can Ouija boards open portals?

A: Ouija boards segue a line of communication with supernatural entities and while I believe in the existence of portals, it’s really doubtful that a man-made device could open a pervasive doorway for spirits to come and go as they please. It’s more like a telephone line, not a subway station for spirits.

Q: Do you typically plan out what you would like to ask spirits in advance or simply see what you’re drawn to at the time?

A:  I try to have questions in mind so other investigators can sort of “popcorn” back and forth with me until we pinpoint more specific information at a haunted location. Occasionally, someone thinks of a brilliant question and everyone will compliment them for it – those organically appear on a whim in open dialogue with spirits.

Q: How do you handle disapproving peers? 

A:  I would never want to push someone towards something so controversial. Of course, I will always encourage delving into the history, because it is absolutely fascinating and the art is beautiful, but I’d never try to influence someone’s feelings towards using one. I often just say, if they’re so dangerous, how could they be made by the same company that makes “My Little Pony?”

Q: Have you ever had any negative experiences that made you feel unsafe whilst using a ouija board that made you reconsider using them? 

A: In the past decade, no! I have one board from 1911,  that if you touch it where the handprint is stained, the lights sometimes go out, but that’s probably a coincidence. I even used one in the Conjuring house – only intelligent responses were found. It’s honestly going to be okay. 

You can find Beckie-Ann on Instagram and TikTok at @mybloodygalentine and join her world of witchy, paranormal content made manageably spooky, even for the biggest of scaredy cats. 

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 26, 2021

13 Questions With Simone Stevens

We caught up with Tarot card reader Sim to understand what it takes to be able to read cards, different decks and how it feels after helping a client.

First off, how has your 2021 been so far?

It’s been an interesting year, but all good so far. I have been working on so many small magic projects this year, all of which will be leading to some much bigger things in 2022. Some really exciting things to come!

Can you tell us about your interest in Tarot Card reading and how you decided to get into the practice?

I loved the idea that all the cards have meanings, symbols and can be interrupted in many ways, and when placed together can help tell a story. Simone Stevens

My connection with Tarot cards started when I was about 10 years old, and I received my first deck as a Christmas present. I was fascinated with magic and the idea of witches from a young age, so it seemed to be a natural step to pick up the tarot and start to play with the craft, right through my teens. I loved the idea that all the cards have meanings, symbols and can be interrupted in many ways, and when placed together can help tell a story. I then decided back at the beginning of lockdown 2020 to pick the tarot back up. It almost was a calling to get back into it, have fun with it, and offer something to people to really take their minds off what was happening in the world. It can be a real escapism, and the fact I could connect over Zoom brought a whole new dynamic to readings.

What is the process like for reading someone’s cards?

It is magic! There is an energy exchange, you, as the reader, are acting as the channel for the messages. You can tune into their energy by asking the cards to read for them. Or some tarot readers allow people to touch the cards themselves. You will agree on what type of reading you will be performing, so what questions or areas you will cover and how many cards will be pulled etc. Once the cards are pulled and laid out, you go through each card explaining the meaning and intuitively what messages there may be coming through for them. It is such an honour to be able to have this gift and do readings for people. I get such a buzz from it.

Do you share both positive and negative information regarding someone’s cards?

For me, the idea of working with the cards is not about seeing negative, or strictly only positive meaning, but it’s about tapping into your intuition, it’s often bringing to the surface what you already might ‘have a feeling’ about, that gut feeling, so it’s more about clarity. Or just that little needed nudge in the right direction, and how you might navigate things. 

How often do you read your own cards?

I try to pull at least one card for myself each day, a quick insight, nudge or reminder. Simone Stevens

I try to pull at least one card for myself each day. This is a focus card of the day, a quick insight, nudge or reminder, or in some cases maybe a reminder of something I should watch out for. I like to work with the moon phases and the Wheel of the Year to create more detailed and in-depth readings for myself.

What do you hope are the main takeaways for someone after having their cards read?

To come to a reading open-minded and leave with clarity, direction, and some positive actions to take forward. I always go back over the reading and summarise what’s come up, how the cards are connected and what might be the key standout takeaway or message. I follow up my readings with a written explanation and image of the cards. Some clients find that readings make more sense a few hours, days or even weeks later.  So, they have this to refer to whenever they would like.

What are some common misconceptions people have around Tarot Card reading?

There are actually quite a few myths around the practice of tarot. Firstly, that tarot is about predicting the future. This is not how I practice, I believe we do not have a set future, decisions we make each day will alter and shape the path we’re on, so the cards cannot then tell us what will happen to us.  Other myths include you’re not meant to buy your own tarot decks. I mean this is a very ancient tradition, and you CAN absolutely buy your own cards, and there are so many beautiful decks out there! Also, that you need to be a witch or psychic to read cards. This is also not true; anyone can read cards. It is learning about intuition, opening your mind, and having fun with it.

What’s next for you in terms of tarot, are there other levels to get to or other decks to explore?

For me it’s always about going deeper into intuition, working, and connecting with my gifts. I do this through tarot and my other witch practices. I also love to work with a couple of decks at a time. I find they have their own personalities and then have their own way of presenting readings. I love to experiment with the decks and their ‘attitudes’.

What’s the best experience you remember giving someone after reading their cards?

Some of my favourite readings are people’s first ones. People can be nervous about their first reading but when they feel into it and see how positive and illuminating it can be, it’s so wonderful to see how they open up over the reading.  I have had some people have quite strong realisations in readings, and to be part of that process is amazing.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

My perfect weekend would include a long walk in nature or along the coast, blasting away the cobwebs. I love this time of year for that. Having time to make up some products with essential oils and herbs, I can get totally lost in making products. Also, spell work, this is a real passion for me. Meditation, reading, popping out for coffee, and seeing friends and family is all the lovely things I like to enjoy at the weekend. This all keeps me grounded, and when you’re working with intuition this is really important.

What do you always carry with you?

I always have a crystal with me. It might be in my bag, in my pocket or my purse. I work with crystals in many ways and when I am working with one in particular than I like to have it close for its energy.

What would your last ever meal be?

Oh wow, that’s hard. But if it had to be one meal, I think it would be a roast dinner, followed by apple crumble and ice cream. Has to be ice cream, not custard.

What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?

Trust your gut feelings. Your instinct, your intuition, will not lie.

Follow Sim on Instagram here and check out our We Tried: Tarot Card Reading article with Sim here!

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 25, 2021

We Spoke To Two People Who Identify As Clairvoyant

Whether you’re a straight-up believer or you err on the side of pessimism, there’s no denying that being able to communicate with spirits is a top tier conversation starter and a topic people have been both fascinated with and bewildered by for years.

With the pandemic, the climate crisis, Brexit and the general sense of unease gripping the nation, perhaps it’s no surprise we’re searching for certainty and looking to clairvoyants to demystify this crazy little thing called life.

At this point, we’ll take all the guidance we can get to remedy the last 18 months of existential dread and lockdown limbo – tarot readings, Co-Star, yoni mapping, crystal healing. Sign us up for the lot.

Whether you’re a straight-up believer or you err on the side of pessimism, there’s no denying that being able to communicate with spirits is a top tier conversation starter and a topic people have been both fascinated with and bewildered by for years.

Regardless of what camp you fall into, there’s something comforting about believing the idea that life is so much more than what we can see in front of us and there are greater spiritual powers at play in each of our fates and fortunes.

From how they realised they had psychic ability to casually chatting with ghosts and the most common question they get asked during readings, here’s what happened when we spoke to people who identify as clairvoyant!

Eira

When and how did you first discover you had a psychic ability? 

My parents discovered it first. When I was around 2 years old I told my mum I was to have a little sister or brother. Startled, she asked me who’d told me that? “God told me” I answered cheerfully. She’d just discovered she was pregnant and had told nobody. She, sadly, wasn’t able to keep it due to health issues. 

Can you learn to be psychic or do you think it’s a gift you either have or you don’t? 

I think it’s something everyone possesses and are able to train and open up to. Some are just born more open to it than others. 

What does being clairvoyant mean to you personally and how has it guided your own path in life? 

It’s given me a different outlook on life. It’s made it impossible for me to doubt the spiritual and a higher meaning which gives me a lot of hope. I listen to my intuition to see if I’m on the right path in life with my decisions. An example of this was when I suddenly could see in my mind’s eye that I was going to get a boyfriend “next march”. 7 months later, March was approaching, and I still had no prospects. I didn’t understand that feeling, yet I couldn’t shake it. Turns out the mysterious boyfriend was someone I’d known the whole time but never met in person. On the 15th of March, he asked me to be his girlfriend, it’s 3 1/2 years later and we now live together. 

What’s the biggest misconception about clairvoyance? 

I think it’s that you know everything about everybody and see everything that’s going to happen. It’s very different from person to person what you can and cannot see, and what you open up to seeing. Some clairvoyants use it as a profession to read and help people, some use it to see things on a bigger scale – such as natural disasters, etc. 

Another misconception is thinking that someone’s a fraud if their predictions don’t come true. Everyone has parallel future paths, so when a psychic predicts something in your future, they are looking at the strongest path that you’re currently manifesting. This is why some predictions don’t come true, as you can always change the course of your future if you decide to do something unexpected. 

What’s the most interesting message you’ve had come through / Is there a particular reading that stands out for you? 

A few times I’ve been alerted of death before it’s arrived. The first time this happened – I was around 5-6 years old. I was brushing my teeth at night when it suddenly fell into my head that somebody my family knew was going to die this week. I was very confused and didn’t tell anyone. A few days later I heard my mum talk with my sister in the kitchen. The son of my mother’s friend had unexpectedly died after a routine operation on his wrist. He passed in the night from the anaesthetics. 

How do you respond to sceptics who may question your authenticity, especially if it’s friends and family? 

I don’t need to prove myself and I don’t need anyone to believe me if they don’t want to. I’m not out to shock people or get a reaction. This is my reality and that is good enough for me. 

Often when you get a reading, you’re told you won’t find out anything negative or scary does that mean you don’t receive those messages or you simply don’t choose to share them? 

I think it’s different for all clairvoyants, but generally, you set an intention before reading someone and you go from there. Sometimes the clairvoyant is shielded from those things as well, other times it’s just not something that would be beneficial for the recipient to know. 

How has your gift changed your outlook on life and death? Has it helped you process hard experiences in your personal life? 

It definitely helps give me hope and makes me feel less alone. I know I am surrounded by guardian angels that will help me if I let them. Everyone can ask their guardian angels for help, simply say “I give my worries and problems to you, please help me with this situation”. Sometimes we hold our difficulties too tight, feeling we have to fix them ourselves, and we don’t allow our helpers to assist us. 

Has someone you know ever tried to communicate with you? 

My grandmother passed when I was 3 years old. Growing up I had dreams of her visiting, talking with me, and I really think she was visiting then. Later I did a reading of her to my mum, so they could communicate with each other. 

Can you see the people you’re communicating with or is it just a voice you can hear? 

This is different for everyone and some can choose if they want to see and how much they want to see. Personally, I am able to see them, but since I don’t like seeing faces – I focus more on their shape. It’s a different kind of “seeing” and it’s different from imagining something in your mind. It’s a feeling and it’s something I can sort of just tell. 

What does it feel like to sense/communicate with a spirit? 

When I was little, it scared me a bit, but now I set the intention that I don’t want to communicate with or be around any negative spirits. The actual communication part feels like “turning up” my awareness. I relax, clear my mind and listen to what falls into my head. It is just like asking a question and waiting for someone to answer. If something comes to mind before you had the chance to think, that’s a tell that it was communicated to you from above. 

Can you control when to receive messages and shut off from them? It must be pretty exhausting trying to live a normal life otherwise, right? 

This is also different from person to person. I am able to turn it off and when I turn it on it feels like I’m being more aware of my surroundings. Like I’m paying attention now and listening. When I was younger, messages tended to fall into my head, now it’s more a feeling like there’s a message pending that I then choose to open up to. 

What’s the most common question you get asked during a reading? 

I don’t do readings for people very often. 

What’s the best bit about having psychic ability? 

For me it’s feeling like I’m not alone and that I can reach out when I need comfort or answers. It’s reassuring me that there’s more than just this 3-dimensional life since I’ve always had a sensation of missing a “home I can’t remember”. It’s really exciting to explore the spiritual and there are so many areas and directions that you can do that in. 

And the worst… 

Sometimes it’s hard to keep grounded and live life in the moment. It can also be annoying when I predicted something but didn’t write it down so I have no actual proof that I knew beforehand. 

Amir

When and how did you first discover you had psychic ability?

When I was 11 or 12, so I guess that would be around puberty.

Can you learn to be a psychic or do you think it’s a gift you either have or you don’t?I’m sure most people have some measure of psychic ability, but (as with most early talents) it gets buried beneath ‘normal life’. Society and religion impose expectations that most people conform to.

What does being clairvoyant mean to you personally and how has it guided your own path in life?

I’ve learned to trust my gut feelings. Our subconscious has a fantastic ability to collate information, even subtle clues that we’re not immediately aware of. We rationalise that as ‘intuition’. But – and this is the huge ‘But!’ – there are times when that intuition comes from a place outside of these mechanisms, and that’s the really interesting thing. It led me to study the subject as rationally as possible, and also try to objectively pay attention to my ‘gut feelings’.

What’s the biggest misconception about clairvoyance?

That there is even such a thing as ‘clairvoyance’! For me, it’s all part of a bigger subject called ‘psi’, and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with dead people.

How do you respond to sceptics who may question your authenticity, especially if it’s friends and family?

I learned early on that it’s better to volunteer nothing, and if the subject is broached, to be very cautious about how one talks about it. There is a lot of resistance to the idea – I’ve encountered quite irrational reactions! It’s worth remembering that just a few centuries ago, witch-hunting destroyed countless lives in the most horrific ways…

Is there anything to look for when you’re thinking of consulting a medium? Any red flags to watch out for if someone feels particularly vulnerable and doesn’t know where to start with finding a genuine clairvoyant?

I don’t trust anyone who claims to be a ‘medium’ (or any of the associated terms). You have your own psychic ability: nurture it, and trust your own feelings. I strongly believe that psi abilities manifest themselves when powerful, personal emotions are involved – good luck trying to find that in someone who expects money in exchange for their services.

What’s the best bit about having psychic ability?

For me, it’s just a layer on top of everything else that I sense and do. Following my feelings is intrinsic to my life.

And the worst…

Knowing when to trust it, and trying to tease out other impressions that might arise from other sources.

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 24, 2021

Beauty Advent Calendars Guaranteed To Sell Out Fast

From Liberty to Jo Malone, Charlotte Tilbury to Birchbox, beauty brands far and wide have jumped on the advent calendar hype and granted every make-up and skincare lovers wish for a delightful treat during the most glitzy month of the year.

Whilst the ye olde classic chocolate advent calendar certainly has its benefits (a sweet treat before 8am? Don’t mind if we do), there’s nothing quite like the thrill of a more substantial, shall we say, advent calendar to make every morning in December feel like Christmas Day itself. And we know what you’re thinking, Halloween has yet to come and go, but if you wish to be on the ‘it’ list of exclusive beauty advent calendar owners in 2021, it’s time to get with the programme because these bad boys sell out FAST.

From Liberty to Jo Malone, Charlotte Tilbury to Birchbox, beauty brands far and wide have jumped on the advent calendar hype and granted every make-up and skincare lovers wish for a delightful treat during the most glitzy month of the year. Whether your S/O or bestie has earned some serious brownie points, or instead it’s more of a ‘to me, from me’ situation, securing the goods early to avoid disappointment is essential in this magnificent realm of minis and magic. Keep scrolling to decide on your fave, and get adding to basket, stat!

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA OCTOBER 23, 2021

Between You & Me: Answering Your Problems Part 21

Between You and Me Part 21 coming in hot!

Between You and Me Part 21 coming in hot! This month sees us chatting commitment issues and the seven-year itch (read: 3-4 years in this case), dream jobs that just so happen to feel a lot like hell, dipping your toes back into dating post-pandemic, boyfriend separation anxiety and keeping sex exciting whilst dealing with sexual trauma and vaginismus.

If you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment and need to get it off your chest, drop us an email at [email protected] – because sometimes it’s just easier to share it with strangers on the internet than with those closest to you.

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