Perfectionism is slowing me down!

I am a perfectionist.

I’m not sure when it started and it doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon so I am just going to talk about it for a bit.

Let me throw a quote at you that I think is somewhat relevant to this topic:

“Art is never finished, only abandoned” –Leonardo Da Vinci

Whenever I set out to do anything (art, music, videos, this blog), I struggle with what I think is a desperate fear of failure. When I work up enough courage to actually start doing something, it feels great…for about 10 minutes. Then the perfectionist inside starts to criticise every single detail until the work before me becomes awful and I feel ashamed of how I can produce something so awful. Any attempts to fix the problems that I made up are useless because it only makes it worse. So I give up and throw it all away.

I started at least 3 blogs before I made this one, all deleted. I have tried about the same amount of YouTube channels, all deleted. None of the content I ever produced was ever good enough. I was boring, I looked silly, my username was never good enough. My attempts would last a couple of months before I scrapped it all. This need to be perfect has only stopped me from improving which is so frustrating. Not just that, but my fear of failing again is so strong that I don’t even try anymore. And that is just plain stupid.

When I made this blog, something changed. I still struggle every single day, and I really hate my blog, but I didn’t delete it. I want my content to be bad, I want to go off on tangents, and forget my point because that is me, because then I can learn and improve. I can’t express how anxious it makes me to have all these posts that I am not happy with, but if I don’t stick with it, then I really never will be good enough.

I’m not entirely sure what my point was or even if there was a point but I guess like with everything I post on this blog, I want to talk about my struggles. I think it helps to know someone else out there might know what you are going through.

If I have any advice for someone who is going through this, it would have to be stop fearing failure. Produce bad content! The only way to improve is to try, fail, and try again. Don’t do things to be good, do it because you love it. Something I’ve noticed – people like passion more than they like perfection.

I don’t want to be a prisoner to perfectionism anymore so, hopefully, we’ll be seeing a lot more bad content from me. Feel free to tell me how to improve.

Farewell, until we meet again.

Personality Traits I Am Proud Of (and you should be too)

Honesty

I am an open book. I don’t lie, I don’t have secrets. If you ask me for my honest opinion, you can trust that I will give you a brutal truth before I’d give you a kind lie. That doesn’t mean that I just go around insulting everyone, I’ll always do my best to be as kind as possible. I just believe that, yes, the truth hurts but lies are worse (how can I live anymore?).

That also doesn’t mean that people are entitled to my entire life story just because I’m honest. I will only tell you if I choose to. I don’t have secrets, but I do have privacy.

Loyalty

Like a puppy. I love people very easily and very unconditionally. I defend them and try my hardest to protect them. Especially those closest to me. I also know, however, when somebody is toxic and will remove those people from my life if they are bringing me down. It isn’t easy to let people go and it brings me great pain to do that but sometimes there is no other way.

Passion

If something is important or interesting enough to me, I go all in and become enthralled with it – almost to the point of obsession. That can be good and bad. Good because it is a lot easier to focus and learn something interesting if you are extremely passionate about it. Bad because sometimes I can become too interested in a person- the way they act, their personality, and so on. I end up coming off very strong and some people really don’t like that, so I’ve been told.

I always have the kindest of intentions though. It is just a fascination that will pass in time.

Determination

The thing about failure is, you only fail when you decide to stop trying. I suck at so many things (including this blog) but I will keep fighting to improve until I achieve the greatness that I know I’m capable of.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again”

Hope

In my darkest moments, I have really wanted my life to end. A feeling that is with me on a daily basis, despite my severe death anxiety. I struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I have to keep going. I can’t let my enemies win. I can’t let my goals and hard work go to waste.

Hope is what gets me out of bed. Hope is what makes me see the good in the worst of people. Hope is the reason I am still alive.

Be your biggest cheerleader and never stop being proud of your good qualities.

Love yourself.

Farewell, until we meet again.

Animal Ingredients and E-numbers

A lot of animal additives that are used in foods and cosmetics go by a different name so you may not know they are not vegan. Look out for these ingredients:

  • Beeswax/E-901: A wax made by bees. Some vegans don’t see beeswax as not-vegan because it didn’t come from the bee itself, while others avoid it because it exploits bees. Can be found in some foods as a glazing agent (jelly beans, candy coated sweets, etc.); found in other products such as candles, lip balm, and lotion.
  • Carmine/cochineal/E-120/Natural Red 4: Made from crushed cochineal beetles. Used in red food colouring. Often found in food and sweets that are red and pink.
  • Casein: A milk protein that is mostly found in dairy products. It was once widely used in many soy cheese alternatives. That is rare now but always check the label as it has been in the ingredients of some foods labelled “dairy-free” before.
  • Collagen: Made from skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. Often used as lip fillers, as you may already know.
  • Gelatin/E-441: Made by boiling the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. Found in a lot of gummy sweets, including Haribo and marshmallows. I have found Beef Gelatine in strong mints, and Fish Gelatine in those silver ball cake decorations.
  • Honey: Similar to beeswax, it doesn’t exactly come from bees but is made by bees so can be seen as exploitation. It is found in some cereals, granola bars, and various other sticky/sweet foods.
  • Keratin: The protein that is the main constituent of hair, feathers, wool, horns, claws, hoofs, etc. Found in a lot of hair products.
  • L-cysteine/E-910/E-920/E-921: An amino acid synthesised from hair, feathers, horns, etc. Used as a proving agent and preservative in some factory made breads.
  • Lactose: A sugar found in milk. Not to be confused with Lactic acid, which is vegan friendly.
  • Lanolin/E-913: A waxy, greasy substance found on sheep’s wool. Can be found in moisturisers and cosmetics, and some multivitamins and fortified food.
  • Lard: Animal fat. Can be found in baked goods.
  • Shellac/E-904: A resin secreted by the lac beetle. Found on the coating of sweets (Jelly beans and tic tacs come to mind).
  • Tallow: Animal fat. Can be found in soap, crayons, candles, and a small amount is present in the new UK bank notes.
  • Whey: A milk by-product. Found in some cereals, protein bars and powders, and crackers.
  • Vitamin D3: can be made with Lanolin. If the product doesn’t specify that it is vegan, it probably isn’t.

If I have missed any out, please let me know in the comment section.

I will soon be doing a series of lists of vegan alternatives to certain foods like different types of meat and cheese. Let me know what you would like to see on those lists.

Farewell, until we meet again.


Sources and further reading

Good things about this year.

I always see the negative in life. It is just the louder part. If 99 people hug you and one person punches you, you don’t remember the 99 positives, you always remember the 1 negative. So I wanted to make a list of things that happened this year that are positive. That way, I always have this post to look back on.

  • The Unicorn cake. It was one of the biggest, most exhausting projects I’ve ever done (especially at a time where my energy levels are crazy low) and it really paid off. Experiences like that is what makes everything worth it. It may not seem like a lot to some people but it was a lot for me. It was my passion for baking, art, and hard work all being used. Hopefully, I can do stuff like this again next year. Big projects with planning and work that pays off into this masterpiece (which I don’t think is too grandiose a term).
  • Lip piercing. Much like the tattoo I got last year, this piercing is something I have wanted for many years. Actually 7 years. Ever since I started watching WWE again after a 2 year break back in 2011. I turned on the screen and, immediately, CM Punk became my favourite ever. I agreed with everything he stood for in and out the ring and absolutely idolised him (a childish trait I later grew out of). Ever since then, I wanted a piercing in the same place as he has his. And even though I haven’t thought much about him in the last few years since I stopped watching WWE so much and he left, I still really wanted the piercing for more than just CM Punk. It just became part of who I want to be, it means a lot to me, and it looks really cool.
  • I kept this blog going. In regular me fashion, I would have already given up hope on this blog, tried out a new name for me to go by, gotten bored of my usernames, and deleted most of my social media. For some reason, I didn’t this year. Maybe because I feel settled and comfortable with Raven so everything with that name feels right and falls into place, maybe because this time this blog is actually talking about things that are really important to me, maybe because I am so fed up with not doing anything with my life that I am now determined to complete my goals. I’m not sure but what I can say is:
  • Who I am feels right. I have been confused and I have hated myself for most of my life but as I have been reading into things and learning, I have learned so much about myself and who I am. I finally understand what I am in terms of gender (or lack thereof) and I am okay with that. I understand my mental state and why I feel the way I feel, for the most part. It’s all okay. I am okay with who I am.
  • Languages! I resumed my learning of French and German, and decided to learn some other languages. Not necessarily to become fluent in but just to learn some conversational language. My list right now, in order of priority to me, goes: Japanese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Icelandic, Samoan. All very beautiful languages that are very fun to learn, but also very tricky.
  • I have learned so much. Sure there has been a lot of pain this year, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t learnt something every time. People come and go but I will always have myself. I can’t force myself to get better (be that physically, emotionally, or with the skills I’m learning). It takes time, patience, determination hard work, perseverance, and a lot of hope and optimism.

I hope that next year will bring much joy and lessons learned.

Farewell, until we meet again.

Unicorn cake

A more extensive look at the steps I took to make this cake. I completely made it up as I went along.

Check out the video I made of the process here!

To start, I drew out a quick sketch and added colour and annotations to say how I wanted it to look.

DSC00478

I wanted a rainbow for the layers and silver icing in the middle to be like unicorn blood from Harry Potter. It was a good in theory but did not turn out so well in practice. The icing just turned a pale grey.

After I figured out all the details, I had to find a good vanilla cake recipe because all the cake recipes I have used in the past have ended up being crumbly and dry. I needed one that would hold up 7 layers. I found one from Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery. This recipe is the best cake I have ever had! Highly recommended!

So I had the plan and the cake, all I needed was the right sized cake tins, colour for the layers and icing, and fondant icing for the ears. I used regular fondant icing from Tesco. I knew that the colour would have to be strong and not too thin a liquid otherwise it would mess up the mixture (been there before with a red velvet cake). I opted for some gel food colouring from amazon which judging by the pictures, was decent quality. I also ordered 8-inch sandwich tin, silver gel colouring, and gold powder colouring. By this point, I decided to do a chocolate-filled ice cream cone for the horn, instead of icing, as it was easier and had a really cool pattern on it.

I had everything prepared so I waited for my birthday to come.

dsc00479.jpg

I made the cake layers one mixture at a time so I wouldn’t have cake mixture sitting around with nowhere to put it. It worked out better that way because I had time to prepare the next thing and do some cleaning up.

As the cake layers were cooling, I made the “silver” icing (100g butter, 200g icing sugar, too much silver colouring which didn’t really make a difference) and melted a bit of jam. I put jam and icing on each layer, just enough to make it stick together, any more then the cake would have been unnecessarily sweet. I assembled the cake on a cake board on a Lazy Susan so it could spin while I was decorating it. Whatever icing didn’t go in the middle, I used to kind of cement any holes or breakage and left it overnight to set because decorating was another day of work.

To decorate, I started with a layer of white buttercream icing all around. To do that, I used about 100g TREX and 100g stork with 400g icing sugar (I may have put more, I didn’t really measure it), and a tiny bit of soya milk (possibly about a teaspoon). I used a palette knife to smooth it out, something I hadn’t done prior to this cake and it didn’t go spectacularly well.

Next, I melted some chocolate to fill up an ice cream cone, that I would use as the horn. I put a bamboo skewer through it and put it in the fridge. Once it was set, I covered the cone in some gold powder (which didn’t really come out very gold, unfortunately) and placed it in the middle of the top of the cake.

I then used royal icing to mould the ears and eyes. This was actually pretty fun because I like to sculpt. I broke off two bits of icing about the right size and cut off bits to make it into the right shape. Then, I smoothed out the surface and coloured the front bit with gold powder. I put a cocktail stick through them both and placed them next to the horn.

Finally, the hair. It was so hard and it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, to be completely honest. But it still looked good so whatever. I made some buttercream icing (1 part margarine, 2 parts icing sugar) and mixed some colours in with it. I think I did 50g margarine to 100g icing sugar per colour. I put them into a piping syringe, like this one, and just piped some spirals all over the place. My hands were very tired by the end of it.

The final result:       20181030_214544.jpg20181030_214616.jpg20181030_214915

If you want me to keep making fun cake projects, be sure to like this post. If you have any ideas of what cake I could make next, or any other recipes you want me to try out, leave a comment below.

Farewell, until we meet again 😄

 

One year on this blog!

It’s been a long year but somehow, someway, I’m still here today.

I wish I could make the same tired promise that I’m going to be posting more regularly and it will get more interesting and that there will be a structure but its just simply not true. I can’t make that promise.

What I can promise is no matter how unproductive, unmotivated, and exhausted I feel, I will not give up on this blog. It is something I have been fighting for for my whole life and nobody can take it from me. I know I have so much to give, there are countless ideas and stories in my brain and I am eager to get them out of my head and into the rest of the world’s heads. The tricky part is finding the words to do that.

What’s to come for the next year? I will try to do more projects like tricky cakes, crafts, and whatever other artsy challenges I want to give the old college try. Even if they are once-in-a-while things, I feel like quality is better than quantity? I also want to do more reviews and opinion-based posts for things like food (meals and treats), games, and other things that people suggest. Feel free to leave a comment about anything else you would like to see on this blog.

Overall, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved this year. I have 23 more posts than I did a year ago, 28 more followers. I now have a year of blog writing experience, something that can only help with my future work. I’ve learned an awful lot about blogs and just how hard they are to keep up. Seriously. I don’t know how people manage to keep successful blogs up for years without running out of ideas or motivation. It’s crazy. But most of all, I am proud of my perseverance. I didn’t give up, a fact that will always shock me. This blog has lasted for a whole year and I can’t wait to see it go on for many more.

Thank you for reading, thank you for sticking around.

Farewell, until we meet again.

20…The big 2-0 and why it’s already bad.

On Tuesday, I turned 20. How unprepared I was.

I wish I’d had some event planned, a party, a get together, an idea for a video or a blog? Nope. Let it fly by like everything else.

The things I hoped I would have achieved by now, I have barely started. Life really is what happens when you plan.

It’s weird. When I was younger, like 10 or something, I thought of all the things I would finally be able to do when I was a grown up but then I grew up and and somehow I can do less. Too depressed and anxious to work, too tired to take care of myself, and desperately clinging onto the hope of future success.

On a lighter note, what have I achieved?

I have a tattoo and colourful hair (something I’ve wanted since I was 6), I finally have a lip piercing (11 year old me would be proud), I’ve had a blog for almost a year now, I took a giant leap of faith and left school when I was 15, I call myself an artist and a creator even though I have yet to make any earning from either of those titles. It’s what I am and I will stand up, own it, and work hard until it gets me where I need to go.

What’s my next step? What do I want to have achieved and what should I do about it?

I wish I’d kept doing acting and singing when I was little. Perhaps that is something I could incorporate into my YouTube videos, of course I would have to get better at it first. It used to give me confidence and it is always fun to play the role of someone that isn’t me. I was actually a pretty good actor, even if I was 7. Be confident.

I wish I’d been more social and less terrified of people. Granted, there isn’t much I can do about my crippling social anxiety but regularly talking to (and not avoiding) the one friend I do have would be one hell of a start. Also, to stop being so scared of rejection that I won’t text first or make any plans. How will someone know I want to talk to them if I don’t tell them. Be courageous.

I wish I hadn’t given up on art after my art teacher basically told me I was crap. I loved what I was doing up to that point, art has always been my life. I need to stay true to myself and keep producing the art that I love and share it with the world. Be dedicated.

Those are the main ones. If I think of more things, I will add it to my goals for next year and keep my progress on the blog. The things I just mentioned will definitely be going on next years goal list. I no longer want to let fear hold me back from achieving my dreams. And stop letting self-loathing spoil my confidence.