The Apartment Diaries: Cooking In A Tiny Apartment Kitchen Made Easy

In a time of lockdown everyone seems to be taking to cooking with gusto; among them us apartment dwellers. But with tiny kitchens (or worse communal kitchens), we often lack storage for essential cooking tools, cooking is a logistics nightmare and the clean up is daunting. That’s why many of us rely on things like takeout, delivered meals and ready made options. But in the last few weeks they haven’t been as available, so in today’s diary I’m going to share some of the meals I’ve been cooking that involve little prep, little clean up and are tiny kitchen friendly. For those beginning to return to work as lockdown restriction ease, these meals are also a quick way to manage cooking while working.

Pita Bread Pizzas

As much as I love real pizza dough, the small kitchen bench I’ve got is not prep work friendly, so I tend towards these pita bread pizzas instead. The reason I choose pita breads is because they’re already cut to size, so there’s no portion distortion and you don’t even need to cut them into slices. Pita breads can also be had fresh with salad, baked into pita crisps and freeze well.

Ingredients
Pita breads
Your favourite toppings (I used cranberry sauce with baby spinach, grated cheese, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)

Instructions
Take fresh pita breads out and place on a tray with a small amount of space between. Cover all pita breads with sauce then follow with your choice of toppings. Cook at 180 C for approximately 10 minutes (until cheese is bubbling and pita bread is toasted). Remaining pita breads and pita bread pizzas can then be frozen.

Lazy Linguine

I am a big fan of the one pot dinner and this is quick to throw on after a long day at work.

Ingredients
1 cup of linguine (or other pasta you already have)
1/2 cup of frozen vegetables (I used peas and beans))
2 tablespoons of Butter
Chopped Parsley
Grated Parmesan

Instructions
Boil water in a saucepan then put in pasta (for about 10 minutes), when pasta is halfway done add frozen vegetables into the water. Once pasta is al dente and vegetables cooked, drain then place the saucepan back on the element and melt butter. Stir butter in the saucepan until it begins to brown (also known as burnt butter or brown butter), then toss pasta and vegetable back into the saucepan and mix together. Serve and garnish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

Quick Tortillas

Using all ready made ingredients, these tortillas are quick to throw together and healthy.

Ingredients
Tortillas
Preprepared salad or coleslaw
Grated cheese (can also be brought preprepared)
Any other ready made toppings (ie cured meats)
Dressing

Instructions
Toss the salad and any other filling into the tortilla, mix together then roll or wrap it, depending on your preference.

Easy Mac’n’Cheesy

Macaroni cheese is my go to simple comfort food, but making it in a non stick frying pan (way easier to clean than a saucepan) and not bothering with prep work like grating cheese makes it even easier.

Ingredients
Macaroni elbows
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk (can also use half and half or evaporated milk)
1 cup of cheese (I like to use a mixture of edam, cheddar and parmesan)

Instructions
Boil water in a non-stick frying pan then cook pasta till al dente. Drain pasta then put the frypan back on the heat and melt butter. Stir in flour, making a roux then slowly stir in milk allowing sauce the thicken. When all the milk has been added add either grated cheese if you have it on hand otherwise just cube your cheese off the block to save time grating it. Stir until all the cheese has dissolved and sauce is thick then pour cooked pasta back into the frypan and mix together. This makes 4 servings, so have some freezable and microwaveable containers on hand for the extra servings.

I am not a chef by any means, but this was some easy food for thought. If you make one of these things or have an easy dish you think I should try, be sure to tag me.

Krystal xx

The Apartment Diaries: An Insomniac’s Tips On How To Sleep During A Pandemic

It’s pretty much a scientific fact that everyone’s sleep is messed up right now, with explanations including circadian rhythms and heightened anxiety. But despite science validating our lack of sleep, it’s probably not helping us actually go to sleep.

Then there’s the dreams, whether they be more about potential catastrophe or green monkeys dancing on a plaid ceiling and your high school English teacher singing opera, chances are all this REM isn’t helping you want to sleep or stay asleep either.

Being in my apartment I have the added stimulus of street noise. You would think that when the roads have been apocalyptically empty that wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m hearing as many sirens as ever.

So as your resident insomniac, I’ve put together a list of things I’ve tried and tested, when it comes to catching some zzz’s.

Meditation

Clear your mind and breathe slowly and deeply (insert long uncomfortable silence here). There is a lot of evidence that suggests meditation is very good for us; or mind numbingly boring enough to make you snooze, depending which camp of thought you’re in. As someone with a whirring mind and a healthy dose of cynicism. I’ve never been particularly successful at mediation. But I have found that if I’m likely to actually get to the end of a meditation recording, a beginner’s guided meditation works best and on a couple of occasions it has sent me off to sleep. So if you can get on this bandwagon, it definitely has potential for finding peace, calm and SLEEP!

Soothing Music

Soothing music is supposed to gently lull you to sleep, but personally I find it just makes me wide awake and feeling like I’m stuck in a horror movie where SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN…
But hey there’s music out there for everyone, so you might be able to find your sleep jam. For me, the closest I’ve found is lightly classical music sung in foreign languages. I become too engaged in the music if I understand the lyrics. But if you’re hoping it will speak to your subconscious and teach it the language, I can promise you it doesn’t.

If You’re Not Tired – Get Up

This is actually the one I’ve found most effective. If I’m still lying awake at 1am and not really tired, I get up and start the morning’s work, then if I can, sleep in slightly in the morning to make up for it. I’ve found if I put myself to work, when I get back to bed I often fall straight asleep. If you can’t sleep in the next day however, that can also be to your advantage for restoring your circadian rhythm. Expert advice suggests getting up and doing something relaxing under low light, but personally I find productive activity works better for me.

Counting Sheep

100…500…5000!
Seriously, does this work for anybody?
But hey give it a go, you could be the first.

Read A Book

Most people swear by this one, but I get too wrapped up in the book. I have on one occasion, finished a book at about 3am, but the cliffhanger was so intense I started the next one and couldn’t make myself put in down till about 4.30am. (I never said I was the queen of good decisions.)

If In Doubt Self Medicate

Preferably with a glass of vino and accompanying cheese board…but a sleeping tablet works too. I do of course have to disclaimer that this one isn’t actually a good idea on a regular basis. But you do you.

If you’re still struggling to sleep and would like some expert advice check out this link. And stay tuned for my next apartment diary, coming soon.

Krystal xx

The Apartment Diaries: What Can Happen In 24 Hours

The world has locked down and the love of my life (travel) has disappeared, while the second love of my life (beauty) seems to only appear when video chatting. So what is a blogger to do, when her loves are somewhat less present that usual?

The answer came to me as I walked through the door of my inner city apartment after returning to it for level 3. Bring the world into my little bubble. It was instantly obvious to me that living in a tiny city apartment during a period of lockdown was going to have its challenges and why not share these experiences either to amuse or commiserate with others.

In the apartment I’m in, I’ve kept it pretty small and contained because I travel a lot and basically just need a hotel room I keep permanently. The place is also fully furnished and minutes walk from everything. So usually it’s ideal. But like with any place, things can go wrong and it all seemed to after I arrived back.

After traveling I had to sanitize everything as a precaution against some pesky little virus that’s going around. In a larger home with outdoor living this wouldn’t be a problem, but it hadn’t occurred to me until I got back to my apartment that I had about a square foot of carpet to clean my suitcase on and hang a clothes rack. There was no outdoor space to put these things and it was literally an obstacle course to get to my draws, my desk or anywhere else I needed to get to within my bedroom and living space.

Then I was foolish enough to look in my well stocked freezer for some lunch. I’d purposely stocked it well before we locked down so I didn’t have to immediately navigate the supermarkets upon my return. But mysteriously, some of the food had defrosted, while everything remained frozen. And of course it was the more perishable items that had defrosted. With no idea how long they had been like that, I was suddenly confronted with deciding if they were safe to eat and when I decided they were now needing to come up with some things to cook them in. And all I wanted was some lunch.

After a day of traveling, cooking and climbing over the obstacle course of all the things I was cleaning. I jumped into bed, soooo ready for sleep. But my apartment is not quite done messing with me and one of the mattress boards collapsed, leaving the bed sagging in the middle. Fortunately being someone with a little ingenuity, I manage to fix it. But you can bet I’m cursing up a storm in my head the entire time.

So for a place that was supposed to be all set for me coming home, it wasn’t quite the first day back I planned. Keep an eye out for my next apartment diary as I continue to journal what it’s like being in an apartment in a time where we’re all staying inside.

Krystal xx

Why Now Might Be The Perfect Time To Travel

Coronavirus. Covid-19. The words that are on everybody’s tongues. It’s everywhere, it’s now a global pandemic. So what’s the advice? Wash your hands and don’t travel.

Yes maybe globalization is why the virus spread in the first place. But only now that it’s spread are we questioning if travel is a good idea. But consider this: cities and tourist centers ghost towns, tourist operators are struggling and airfares are at an all time low. So perhaps it’s time to turn the conversation and consider that now might be the perfect time to travel*.

Person Holding World Globe Facing Mountain

Advantages include little to no wait time to visit attractions because queues are a thing of the past, when coronavirus is in town. Your photos will be epic, because all those other pesky tourists won’t be accidentally photobombing them. Plus, flights and accommodation are cheap because they desperately need your patronage.

Coronavirus has now infected every continent except Antarctica, so you’re probably as likely to catch it in pretty much any country now. But if you need to self isolate after your holiday, consider it an extra two weeks vacation. Think about how much progress you’ll make on that novel or bod with two weeks of nothing you have to do.

Woman Walking on Pathway While Strolling Luggage

The disadvantages of travelling during the coronavirus outbreak are simple, if the borders are closed in a country where you’re travelling, getting home may become a bit more difficult and accommodation may suddenly become a much bigger expense. Travelling can put you at more risk to catching the virus, and while you might survive fine, it can put other people around you at risk.

So is it worth it? I’ll let you weigh up the odds**.

Man Wearing White Shirt, Brown Shorts, and Green Backpack Standing on Hill

*Only travel if you are in the low risk category and are willing to self isolate for 2 weeks after your return so you don’t pass any potential virus on.

**This article is not intended to replace official advice, merely offer some lighthearted relief.

What happened to Kat Von D’s Glimmer Veil?

I have long touted my love of Kat Von D’s Glimmer Veil, but when I went to pick up a replacement of my favourite shade… it had disappeared… so had my second favourite and those left behind were on sale!!! But why would they discontinue such an amazing product?

Then I saw a name change on Sephora’s website, no longer was it Kat Von D, but KVD Vegan Beauty. Was the Glimmer Veil vegan? I asked myself. I was pretty sure it was, so surely that wasn’t why is was disappearing. Then of course I consulted the illustrious Google with phrases like “has Kat Von D’s Glimmer Veil been discontinued”, but alas there were no answers.

So fast forward to today, after extensive online and instore searches for glittery lipsticks and I have found a couple. But they seem far more prone to smudging and don’t last nearly as long. And I am left wondering, where did my precious Glimmer Veil go?

Krystal xx

The Secret To Successful New Years’ Resolutions

people jumping on shore front of golden hour
Photo from Unsplash

We’re now a week into the new year (yes congratulations you survived), but how are those new year resolutions looking? January is the month of people signing up for expensive memberships and other schemes in hopes it will create a better happier them. But I’ve found the secret to happiness isn’t in spending lots of money and having challenging goals, but in smaller more achievable steps.

Instead of saying “I want to lose 10 pounds this year” which is a long term goal that will have you watching the scales and likely experiencing some self-loathing, anxiety and feelings of failure if the weight doesn’t melt away. Honestly examine the place you are in right now and identify a couple of changes you could make such as “this year I am going to reduce my carb intake and be more active.” This is easier to achieve as it isn’t such an absolute and your success in achieving it will likely spur you to keep going. This more successful mindset will also keep you in a more positive mental state which has additional benefits on health and wellbeing as well as things like motivation.

When making a goal, also be honest with yourself, about whether this is something you’re wanting to do for you or because you think you have to for some other reason. If you’re doing it for the right reasons, you’re also more likely to be motivated to put the work in and thus succeed.

So may 2020 be a year of success for you,
Krystal xx

Black Friday Tips And Tricks

It’s Black Friday this week and advertising is saturated with stores advertising their sales. But consumer group Which? has found that not all the Black Friday sales are much of a sale at all. So here’s some tips to a successful Black Friday.

1.Have A Budget

If you know how much you’re willing to spend before you spend it, it can prevent a later case of buyer’s remorse or a maxed out credit card.

2.Do Your Research

Know what you want to buy, where to buy it from and how much it usually costs before Black Friday. This means you’ll be able to tell if the item you want is really a good price and save you hunting around at the same time as everyone else. Having made your shopping list in advance will also reduce impulse buying.

3.Have Fun

It’s not all doom and gloom. Enjoy shopping and the excitement of your shiny new purchases.

Krystal xx

Does ChillSculpt (Fat Freezing/Cryolipolysis) Really Work? – Part 2

Lumps, bumps and bulges are all just a part of life, but sometimes we want to get rid of that muffin top or see if we can shake stubborn pockets of fat that no amount of exercise seems to budge. That’s where fat freezing or cryolipolysis seems like the idea solution. Described as non-invasive liposuction, it targets pockets of fat and freezes away the fat cells.

Professionals do caution that this is not a weight loss treatment, but for people like me who had gained just a little weight that didn’t seem to want to shift it seemed like an ideal solution. To read the start of my journey, check out part 1, and find out about the results of my journey below.

Image result for chillsculpt

4-6 50 minute sessions is recommended to treat an area with results showing up from the third session onwards. I had 5 sessions and saw very little result (so little the pictures didn’t show it). I treated my thighs and stomach and the biggest thing I noticed was that after the 5 sessions, the area of my thighs I had treated, I could sort of feel that there were less fat cells there. The measurements done by the clinic I visited also showed me losing 8cm off the waist, but I couldn’t visually see the difference.

So for me, maintaining healthy eating and exercising is still the way to go. I know I struggle to find enough time in the day to exercise, so if you’ve found the solution to that particular problem, please do comment below.

But if you have the time, money and tolerance for the uncomfortableness of ChillSculpting, it could be worth a go to target a specific area.

Krystal xx

Work Friendly Halloween Outfit

Want to celebrate Halloween, but being Thursday, are spending all day at work? Check out how to bring a touch of Halloween into your workday outfit. Please note, some items linked are similar as oppose to the exact same item.

Make Up

My go to is always Kat Von D’s Everlasting Glimmer Veil Lipstick, it can be dark and sparkle.

Image result for kat von d glimmer veil

Clothing

Ideally pick a character you are channeling first. I chose a witch and wore a cobweb inspired top and black skirt to channel a little inner witch.

Jewelry

It’s Halloween, so naturally I pulled out the gothic choker. There are also plenty of novelty Halloween earrings, bracelets and rings that can instantly change the mood of an outfit.

Shoes

With a witch inspired outfit, pointy shoes were essential.

Hope you feel inspired and Happy Halloween

Krystal xx

Finding Accommodation When Moving Cities – And My Experience With Airbnb.

If you’ve ever read an article on this blog before, you’ll probably already have noticed that I enjoy travelling and have traveled to many places, so I am no stranger to finding accommodation in a new place. But when moving permanently to a new city to live, that’s when things got a little trickier.

My first thought was to start in hotels and hostels like I would normally do when travelling and book a few weeks. This is a viable option, but the expense really starts to stack up after a few weeks.

I next looked into renting out an apartment. I have done this in other places before and found it quite affordable. But at the time I was looking all the apartments were extremely expensive or a more permanent tenancy. However, something to also know, is that those looking for tenants that were going through a property management company, wouldn’t rent a property without you or a representative viewing the property first.

My last place I looked was Airbnb, where I did find a really affordable place, staying with the host, so being new to the city I chose this option.

I rented out the place for a month, because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to find somewhere to rent more permanently (now that I was in the city and could view the listings in person). However, I’d found somewhere by the end of the first week, which I have moved into.

Now of course the dilemma with booking these places, is that they aren’t too keen to refund if you want to cancel early. With Airbnb it depends on the hosts policy how much you get refunded and for stays over 28 nights, then you need to have more than 30 days remaining on your reservation in order to get any money after that period refunded. However, I will give credit to Airbnb, when I rang them to discuss this policy, they were happy to contact the host to try and negotiate a refund, because obviously there are reasons for someone cancelling early.

On hindsight, I probably didn’t need to book an Airbnb for a month, but you don’t know how long it will take you to find permanent accommodation or what the place will be like in advance.

Since booking an Airbnb, a lot of people have shared their Airbnb stories with me and common themes that have come out of it are that places aren’t cleaned well despite cleaning fees or that hosts have already filled wardrobes/cupboard etc with their belongings in the rooms people have booked. Most have opted for an Airbnb because it was cheaper than other accommodation options – but not always.

Comment below if you have any accommodation tips and tricks when moving cities.

Krystal xx