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Welcome to Hafsah's Journal. This has been my little online space since 2011 where I share my musings on books, tea, self-care and lots more.
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A cup of positivi-tea

11 October 2020

yellow yorkshire tea biscuit brew box

6 loose tea samples on table

very craftea loose tea gift set with blue strainer and lotus biscuit

I love making lists and what's better than a list of tea favourites. These have been my go-to teas since September so these are all very autumnal and warming. During the summer/lockdown it was all about coffee for me and a lot of time was spent making and drinking dalgonas but now that I'm back at work and it's gotten colder I've gone back to my first love...tea!

Yorkshire Tea Biscuit Brew

This is the ultimate autumn tea and the best creation ever - tea that tastes like biscuits! It has a delicious malty digestive biscuit taste and if you are a sugar in tea person this tea might surprise you as it's quite already quite sweet. I'm not really a biscuit person, mostly because I can never stop at just a few biscuits so this is the perfect tea for me. Yorkshire Tea have just come out with a new Toast and Jam tea which I need to get my hands on asap!

Desi Masala Chai by Very Craftea 

Very Craftea is a loose tea and craft kits business, and I first tried teas from here around this time last year, which was actually my first venture into loose teas. If you've not tried loose teas before this is a great place to try them from as they do taster size bags which is so helpful. Desi Masala Chai hits the spot every time. Like any loose tea you can make it the regular way, but I recently tried this tea the traditional Pakistani way in a pot on the hob with lots of milk and sugar and it really is equally delicious both ways. This tea without milk and sugar is my go-to drink if I feel under the weather, as the spices are super warming and comforting. 

Blood Orange by Very Craftea

Another loose tea by Very Craftea which again is incredible and is the best fruit tea I have tried to date.  The scent and the rich colour when brewed are so autumnal and festive and the best thing is that it tastes as good as it smells which is so important as I've been catfished by many great smelling fruit teas in the past. 

Cardamom chai by Tea India 

 As a cardamom enthusiast I had to put this in my basket when doing the shop from Morrisons. As the name states it's a strong black tea with lots of cardamom. It's easy enough to add cardamom to any tea, sometimes I'll mix some ground cardamom into a cup of yorkshire tea or put a few pods into my cup. But with it all being in a teabag it makes it so much easier and if I fancy a cardamom tea at work it's so easy. 

Turmeric Gold by Pukka

Pukka do lovely flavour combinations and this one is so unique. Turmeric has so many health benefits, and it's surprisingly refreshing due to the lemon, it's a delicious tea. 

Aromatherapy | Self-Care

17 April 2020

two blue glass essential oil roll ons

blue neals yard remedies oil roll on with lid off

I hope you are all doing well in this lockdown period, and I hope you are coping with all the changes, whether you've had a complete upheaval of your day to day routine, and are now working from home or have been furloughed, or if you are still going into work and are having to deal with increased demand.

As I spend more all of my time at home I am trying my best to incorporate some self-care into the day, such as reading, sitting in the sun, wearing eye-cream, or taking some time out alone away from family members and my phone. I've also been reaching out for my Neal's Yard Remedies, which are mini roll-able blends of gorgeous smelling essential oils that you roll on pulse points and breathe in. I have two; Relaxation and Energy.

The Relaxation oil is made up from essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, bergamot and geranium. It's great to roll on pulse points before bed, if you're feeling stressed or just want to breathe in the scent for that zen feeling. I usually don't like the scent of lavender on it's own but because of the blend of different oils it really smells unique, and like most lavender products it's really effective if you're struggling to sleep.

The Energy oil has a zingier scent and I enjoy using it when that afternoon slump feeling hits at work, and at times when I'm struggling to concentrate on a task. Due to the compact size they're easy to carry around and the little blue glass bottles look lovely on your bedside table or desk.

I bought them back in 2016 and they are still going strong - I've used the relaxation one a lot more and I will most likely repurchase it sometime later this year but with almost 4 years of use I'd say it's money well spent. 

Good vibes, Good life

10 April 2020

White cover of self help book with text good vibes good life

If you love self-help books that enable you to reflect and empower yourself then this is the book for you. I have bought similar books over the last few years and borrowed from the library but I prefer to own self-help guides as I can dip in and out depending on my mood - it’s not really a book that you could read from start to finish in one or two sittings. (I mean you can if you wish to do so, and maybe this is just a reflection of my laziness when it comes to reading).

I really agree with Vex’s quote ‘Sometimes you have to unplug yourself from the world for a moment, so you can reset yourself’. I shared a picture of the quote on my Insta stories, and it made me laugh at myself because clearly I was not ‘unplugging’ whilst reading that particular page, but sharing is caring, right? But I do like to stay away from social media or if I don’t totally avoid it I won’t read comments on pictures and videos because it’s important to give yourself time to develop your own opinions and understanding of something, whether it’s a news story, a social cause, or an outfit - and not base your views on someone else's opinions, either consciously or subconsciously.

I follow Venetia Falconer on Instagram, who takes part in a 48 hour digital detox every week. I really want to try this, I haven’t mustered up the courage yet. The thought of not going on social media for 2 days is scary (I know, so dramatic), and even more so during this period of isolation and physical distancing, and I have definitely been living through my phone the past weeks just to feel slightly normal and connected. However, as Ramadan is coming up, I believe this will be a great challenge to take part in leading up to it, and during, as it will be a great time to connect with myself and to not be dependant on social media to feel like I'm keeping in touch with people. But instead try to have more meaningful interactions such as a good old phone call.

page from book with self care quote

Best reads of 2018 so far...

4 August 2018

At the beginning of the year I set myself the challenge of reading 25 books this year. Now a few years ago this was doable in a few months for me but as I have found out that it's difficult to take out time to read when working and basically being an adult.
Last year I started lots of books but only finished a few as I kept getting distracted/bored/found a new book, so this challenge is keeping me on track to finish books! I've been using Goodreads to keep a record of my reads as I can update my progress page by page, as well selecting books I want to read next. 
So far this year I have read 9 books and I'm currently reading 7 books. It's already August so I had hoped I would be closer to the target by now, but I definitely read a lot more during the winter - when I have spare time in the summer months I'd rather go out and do something active  with friends/family instead of hiding away in a book. 

The city of brass book cover brown and blue with plant

Book cover of the golden legend with mosque

Here's a roundup of my favourites so far:

The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam
This novel has made it's way into my top 5 books of all time; it's the first time I've read anything by Nadeem Aslam and he just writes in such a beautiful way, as soon as I finished the book I wanted to pick it up and start it from the beginning.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (Still reading)
This book is so different to anything I've ever read before, it's a fantasy novel set in the enticing Daevabad, where there are all sorts of wonderful creatures, half-human half djinn's, evil spirits and much more.

the city of brass blurb brown and blue cover with plant

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla (Still reading)
This collection of short essays/stories by lots of well known writers was recommended to me by my best friend. If you've ever felt like an 'outsider' there's a chapter in here that you will be able to relate to. 

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
This YA novel was a quick read, with 3 main characters facing very different issues such as the fear of failure, identity crisis and grief, who come together under strange circumstances.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
This was a super interesting read, quite relevant to what's going on in the world right now. Whilst reading it I wasn't sure if I liked it, but once the story came to an end I realised I felt like that because it was shocking and tragic.  

light blue book cover with text i have lost my way

Tea | Favourites

4 April 2017

Today I bring you a post about a passion of mine: tea. As we all know it fixes about almost everything, and I love buying, drinking and discussing the stuff! Here are my top three hot drinks at the moment (apart from a cup of good old Yorkshire tea) :

pink box of chai teabags with cup of tea and brown glasses on grey background
1. Chai teabags by M&S - I've tried many 'chai' teabags and most taste strange - the spices are almost fake tasting and are simply too strong for a cup of tea, whereas this particular tea has a kick whilst tasting blended.

green floral box of tea with mug of green tea on brown table
2. Green tea with Manuka by Heath & Heather - it's taken me a while to enjoy green tea - I never drink green tea on it's own - it has to have some component for me to even consider it! I love manuka honey so I gave this a try and it's great - it makes a good breakfast drink.

pink floral box of tea with cup of herbal tea
3. Echinacea by Heath & Heather - I've left the best to last - I discovered Echinacea about a year ago, and it's been a cupboard staple in my house since. Having individually wrapped teabags makes it easier to take the tea to work - and it's the first thing I reach to if I'm feeling run-down because Echinacea is great for boosting the immune system and fighting off colds!

What are your all-time favourite teas?

Current Beauty Favourites | October 2016

19 October 2016

I've rounded up a few of my favourite and most used beauty products at the moment.

Midnight Muse Body Mist from H&M
This Vanilla and Patchouli Amber fragrance is amazing! It's a unique fragrance, with warm tones and is quite strong for a body mist. It's a lovely fragrance for autumn and it has great staying power. It's super affordable, at £2.99, compared to the pricey Victoria Secret's body sprays. The only other patchouli scented item I have are incense sticks so I was happy to see it in a perfume.

Brow Drama by Maybelline
This sculpting brown mascara is a holy grail product, and is the only product I use for my brows at the moment. I used to fill them in with a Rimmel brow pencil but I find it takes time and patience to get the right amount of product. Now I'm ready to go with a couple of strokes of this product through my brows, as it gives colour & sets them in place for the day.

Superstay 14 Hour Lipstick in Lasting Chestnut by Maybelline
This has been my go-to colour since April I think! Despite being quite a dark autumnal colour, it is the perfect brown for me to wear everyday. I've read mixed reviews on this before, with many people finding the texture too drying, but I haven't had any problems. It stays on all day too, maybe not 14 hours but I don't need to reapply after having my lunch!

Stay matte but not flat powder foundation from NYX
 I picked this up in the spur of the moment, when a new NYX counter opened up in the Boots where I live. My intention was to use this instead of foundation, on days where I want to wear less makeup, but now I use it as a face powder. Particularly on busy days where I don't have time to re-powder. It gives a flawless finish and makes my foundation and concealer stay put all day.

University tips | Lectures and getting support

20 September 2016


I really enjoyed writing about my study tips in my last university advice post, so I've decided to write another one because I have a lot to say! As I said in my last post, my advice might not suit people doing creative/science courses because my course was very academic, so bear that in mind when reading.

Towards my final year I used my laptop a lot more when making notes for my dissertation and assignments. This sounds super obvious, but if you are someone who prefers writing notes from lectures, seminars, books, all by hand, then you will know that transferring these notes to a word document can be very time consuming.

Therefore, I started to make notes from my reading straight onto a word document, and referenced as I went along. It made organising my notes and writing out my essays so much easier because all the information was in one place, and all I had to do was move my notes around the page and put them into my essay plan.

I still continued to write my lecture notes by hand, but I would print the lecture slides so I could make notes around the bullet points. My lecturers were really helpful as they uploaded their lecture slides on the on-line portal beforehand, and this helped me as I was able to listen and understand the topic instead of trying to scribble down all the information from the slides.

Google is your friend - Google books was a saviour at times, it's always the worst when your university doesn't have a subscription to that journal you need or that e book so it's good to have a little search on-line.

Also, just because you're doing a degree doesn't mean all the on-line resources you use have to be degree level, if you need a quick refresh on something for example the causes of the First World War have a little look on BBC bite size. It's easy to understand because it's at GCSE level & there's no harm in using resources like that if you are struggling to get your head around something. Just don't put it in your bibliography!

Communication is key - if you're struggling to find a source or just need some help then send your lecturer a polite email and they will help you out! Also don't forget that you have your peers! My course had a Facebook group where people would ask questions and keep everyone updated if a seminar was cancelled (the best notification you can get if you've forgotten to do the reading and prep but not the best news if you're organised, for once).

Make use of available support - most universities have skills tutors, who are staff dedicated to help you with the skills part of your course. As I did History, our skills tutorials were based on topics such as writing introductions/conclusions, planning, how to make notes, referencing, presentation tips, time management etc. We were also able to make appointments with the skills tutors, who can give you 1 to 1 support with assignments or organising yourself when it comes to deadlines!

I hope this post can give you some ideas, and if there is anything you would like me to talk about in regards to my university experience, then leave a comment below.


Pinspiration | Pink Interiors

21 April 2016



Recently I have been loving pops of pink in interior design. I've found my favourite pictures from Pinterest that use pink in the most fun ways. Pinks complement white and fresh greens well and I love the funky and vibrant feel that's brought on by hints of the colour. The mix of pale pink-washed walls and big leafed plants bring an exotic feel, whereas pink accessories and furnishings show off your personality and can bring a plain room to life. I can envisage my future home looking very similar to these images, but I don't know if I would be brave enough to splurge on a bright pink sofa!
What do you think of pink in the home, is it your cup of tea?
If you'd like to see what I get upto on Pinterest then follow me on uk.pinterest.com/hafsahsjournal

Beauty | Long-Lasting Makeup

6 April 2016

It has been a very long time since I last wrote a make-up review but I've put my beauty brains back on to share a few tips that have really been working for me in terms of making my face stay on all day. 
I have medium to oily skin type, which I don't really mind because it gives me a natural radiant look but when I have a full face of make-up on it can be a battle to keep the shine at bay at times. I've had too many moments in the past where I've caught my reflection in a mirror in the middle of the day and I've cringed at the state of my face, which can only be described as an oily mess. 
So to reduce those moments of questioning why I paid £14.50 for a foundation that won't last past midday on my face, I have been following four steps religiously. (And there wasn't anything wrong with the foundation, it was just my face, as expected.)

  1. My first step is to always moisturise at least ten minutes before you start applying your make-up. It's really important to use a good moisturiser even if you have oily skin, skipping out on a day cream will only make your skin oilier. I like to pat my moisturiser in and leave it for ten/fifteen minutes to sink in fully, so it doesn't interfere with my face make-up. My daily moisturiser is the All Bright Hydrating Day Cream from Botanics, which has SPF 15. I try to use something with SPF on my face everyday, because my skin is very sensitive in the sun, and despite having an Asian skin tone I get burnt easily if I'm not careful. Also, I am so impressed by the Botanics range from Boots in general, I have been trying so many of their skincare products, and there are always great offers on the range too!
  2. Next I like to prime my face. This is a recent addition to my make-up routine but it makes all the difference. I currently use the No7 Beautifully Matte Make Up Base from Boots. I bought this because I had a No7 voucher but I also use a No7 foundation so I thought they might work good together, and they do! I use a pea sized amount and rub into my t-zone. It's great at hiding pores, fine lines and most importantly keeping the excess shine away. I like to apply my foundation right away as I want it to stick to the primer as much as possible. Primers are also very good as they act like a barrier between your skin and foundation, so less make-up sinks into your pores which is always great. Even better, this particular base has Salicylic acid 'to help fight against spot causing bacteria'. 
  3. The next product is a holy-grail and is definitely the first product most people would think about when wanting to set your make-up. I love Max Factor's Professional Loose Powder, in Translucent, for setting my concealer and mattifying. I usually dust some all over my face using my real techniques powder brush, and I concentrate more product on my t-zone, which I brush off after a few minutes. Turns out I've been 'baking', but it works so I'm not complaining! This step makes a huge difference in the lasting power of my base and reduces the need to re-powder during the day, which was really good when I was working in retail because I did not have the time to be retouching my makeup during the day!
  4. This last step is not something I do everyday, but when I need extra staying power I go for a few generous sprays of the Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. This setting spray also works to make your makeup look flawless; the moisture causes the different layers of products to combine and makes any lines less harsh. Sometimes makeup doesn't look great as soon as you've finished applying it because it can take around twenty minutes for it so set properly onto your face, instead of looking like an unnatural layer. And this spray really helps speed this process up. 

I'd love to know if there any steps you take to keep your face matte and flawless all day :)