Sunday, 24 April 2016

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. This totally made me ear up a little bit 2. The urge to make green things grow is strong after reading this post 3. I have become a bit of a board game fiend and am always looking for new ones 4. This is a simple but awesome looking DIY 5. Great pegboard inspiration 6. Adding this hummus to my to-make list

 Last weekend we went to my dear friends' Emma and Russ' wedding near Bristol which was so lovely but did not leave much time for blogging. I'm hoping to catch up a bit this week! We met at Uni where we were all members of the same martial arts club, where James and I also met, and it was so good to see so many old friends again.

We used to go to training and then to the pub at least twice a week every week without fail, and it made me super nostalgic for how easy it was to spend time with friends at back then compared to now. I lived with four of my best friends, saw a whole bunch more friends at training every week, and then in the holidays all my school friends would be back home at the same time and I'd see them loads too.

Now everyone lives all over the country instead of down the hall, and have partners and children and jobs, and getting multiple people in the same city at the same weekend takes months of planning. I've still got three more weddings and several hen parties this year so lots of opportunities to see people which I am looking forward too, but still so many more I keep thinking 'we must plan a weekend with them...'

Best of the week:  Got my hair cut for the first time since before Christmas! It's needed doing for ages and my head feels so light now! It's quite short, but given how bad I am at going to the hairdresser that is probably a good thing - it'll take longer to grow out!

Worst of the week: my shopping got delivered today and the milk had leaked and there was milk on everything! First world problems I know...

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The London Coffee Festival and Pizza East

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I saw an ad for The London Coffee Festival on the tube last a couple of weeks ago and remembered Lily Pebbles mentioning it in a vlog last year, and so I picked up two tickets for me and James and we went on Sunday. It is, as the name suggests, a festival devoted to all things coffee, although there were plenty of tea, milk and soft drink brands there as well in case coffee wasn't your thing.  On the coffee front there was a mixture of coffee brewers and retailers, as well as more trade-y stands showing off the latest in coffee making gadgetry. They were all offering a lot of free tasters - we were completely wired when we left, and James and I drink a lot of coffee normally!

We are by no means coffee experts, we tend to drink instant most of the time, and maybe get the cafetiere out at the weekend, but our coffee mostly comes from Sainsburys. It was a pretty fun and interesting way to spend a morning though, we sat in on a talk about Turkish Coffee which has made me really want to seek out a Turkish coffee house now - they grind the beans really finely and don't use a filter. I was really glad we picked the morning slot to go to because by the time we left it was sooo busy.

The only thing I was a bit dissapointed with was the food selection wasn't amazing. We hopped over to Shoreditch instead and went to Pizza East for the first time. Every time we've tried to go before the queue has been insane but it was pretty empty at 12.30 on a Sunday so we were able to get a seat straight away. I had a pizza with truffles and a lot of different types of cheese which was pretty good. Nothing for me beats Franco Manca though - my ultimate pizza choice in London.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Woman in Blue

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dress dorothy perkins courtesy house of fraser, scarf - orla kiely for uniqlo, shoes - topshop

I've been looking for a couple of easy dresses for spring/summer which I can wear to work without having to think about it too much when I get up in the morning, and equally at the weekend with sandals. Most of my work dresses are either super old and looking very worn, or dry clean only which is such a pain. 

House of Fraser kindly let me pick something from their range of dresses and I went for this blue dress from Dorothy Perkins which ticked all my boxes. It's flattering, easy to wear and (just as important) easy to throw in the wash and wear again with no ironing or other hassles!

Urgh, these photos are mainly making me realise I desperately need a haircut though! When I had longer hair I could go a really long time without needing one, but now it is short it just looks a mess I leave it too long. This post from last year was me at peak short hair, is it weird to take a photo of myself to the hairdresser and say 'get me back to that please?!'

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A picture of the week

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This week has felt looooong so some much needed sofa time with coffee and magazines was had on Saturday afternoon. With the timing of the bank holidays and our trip to New York back in March it's been the first week in about a month which I've had to work a full five days - so it's been tough! Add to that some seriously blah weather and after all my good words on Monday about eating better I've fallen a bit short of my goals this week and so I've been feeling a bit meh. 

I'd really like a proper spring day, some warmth and something good and wholesome to eat.

Today James and I are going to the London Coffee Festival though, so that should perk me back up! I'm looking forward to some good food and a lot of caffeine.

Best of the Week: It's kind of embarassing but I have become pretty obsessed with Farmville 2 this week. It's exactly the sort of brainless timewaster I've needed when I've been feeling a little blue.

Worst of the week: The first couple of days of the week were super hectic at work, and so I missed seeing Reda and Kat who was in town on Monday night. We always have a big deadline around the 4th of the month so it is predictable which I like, it just sucked that happened to coincide with Kat's visit.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Ikea Haul

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James was working in Croydon on Saturday and finished at 3pm, so I headed down to meet him and ten we went to Ikea. All my work colleagues thought I was nuts for going on a Saturday afternoon, but dare I say it - I really like going to Ikea! The key is to always stop at the cafe first, and don't buy more than you can carry/fit in your car. We were mainly after a recycling bin, but I picked up a few other bits as well. First off was some fake flowers for my vase - although I think I need a few more stems!

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I also got the Ikornnes mirror after seeing it on Door Sixteen, and I love it. I've been looking or a mirror for my dressing table for a while, as I was making do with James' shaving mirror, which he finally gets back! It's slightly bigger than I was expecting, which is great for doing makeup, but I need to rearrange all my other dresser top items which are currently just shoved out the way to fit the mirror.

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Next up two cushion covers (plus one cushion pad as I already had a spare about the right size). These are the Gullklocka cushions and they feel really nice! Plus the perfect fit with my grey and yellow colour scheme in the living room.

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I did not need this weird creepy cat print bowl at all, but come on! Who can say no to a weird creepy cat print bowl?! It's from their new Giltig range, which also features creepy fish, in case you are interested.
 
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Finally a new bathmat! We only have one - a yellow one from John Lewis seen here which I still love, but takes a while to dry when you wash it, so it is good to have a spare.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Cutting Down on Processed Food

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I mentioned in my 30 before 30 post that one of the things I wanted to do was cut down the amount of processed food I eat. While I don't think I eat too badly, I'd gotten into a bit of a food rut, and pretty much every dinner involved heating something up from the freezer. Snacks were generally crisps or biscuits and we seemed to be eating the same thing every week, which was just boring.

I have read various articles and such about the impact of processed food on your health, and I am not super against pre-prepared food, I just want to eat less of it. Particularly to cut down the amount of non-food food I eat. Things that include mainly ingredients you can't pronounce. Anything where I could make it myself, and if I did it would contain a lot less sugar, salt and other nasties. I also think that if I start making more of my food from scratch, I will naturally end up eating more variety, and eating more fruit and veg, which is something I struggle with, despite actually really liking vegetables.

I knew if I tried to go hardcore and quit processed food altogether I'd fail after a week, so I set myself a goal. The aim is

- four from-scratch dinners a week
- four from-scratch lunches a week
- six from-scratch breakfasts a week (one day off for the free pastries in the office!)
- swap all biscuit type snacks for home made snacks or raw snacks like dates, unsalted cashews and carrot sticks. You can prise my crisps from my cold dead hands however!

As per my 'rules' from-scratch is allowed to include anything pre-made from the shops as long as I know/can name and visualise what all the ingredients are.  I definitely cheat with 'good' pre-made stuff where I can!

I'm about three weeks in to my challenge now and so far it is going ok! I think not pushing myself to make something from-scratch every day has definitely helped, I genuinely wouldn't have lasted a week otherwise! The main thing I have learnt is preparation is key. I've had mostly quiet weekends the past few weeks, so I've been able to set aside a good hour or so to do the food shop, and a few hours each Sunday to meal prep for the week. I don't know how I will fare when we have a weekend away. James is on board with the experiment, as long as it doesn't mean too much more effort for him, as he usually does the cooking in the week, which I feel is fair enough.

The most difficult things for me have definitely been swapping out the biscuits for more natural snacks, and giving up pre-made sauces and condiments. I ended up going to Whole Foods last weekend and came back with fancy hummus and chipotle ketchup (with no weird ingredients) which filled the mayo and ketchup place hole in my life temporarily. I also made a loaf of banana bread which really helped when I had a biscuit craving last week! Necessity may make me a baker yet!

The biggest benefit I have seen is that I am definitely eating more fruit and vegetables, probably much closer to 5-a-day than the 2-3 a day I was having before, and I have had a much greater variety of meals too (although thinking of them takes a lot of brain power!) Health wise I haven't seen a huge change yet, but it hasn't been very long, and I did eat and drink quite a lot over Easter, so I am not sure it is quite the right time to judge just yet!

I might do a separate post about meal planning/preparation and what I've been eating, as this is already getting pretty long, but so far I am enjoying the change in eating habits!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. a trip to petersham nurseries 2. advice on choosing and framing prints 3. ten cool chicks 4. lovethis update of a childhood bedroom. it is styled but at the same time looks very livable-in. 5. crew necks at paris fashion week. I am in to this! 6. I can never not post a beautiful black and white home

Happy Easter folksies! Is there anything better than waking up on a Sunday and knowing you still have another two days of glorious weekend? I can't think of anything, unless perhaps the weather was a bit nicer! Typical British bank holiday *grumble grumble*. On Friday we had some friends to stay with their little one and playd a lot of board games and ate a lot of food, then on Saturday I went for lunch with my parents and grandparents. It felt like a pretty full couple of days, particularly with cooking and cleaning to get the house guest-ready, and then doing all the washing up after as our dishwasher broke again so it is quite nice now to basically have another whole weekend where we have next to nothing planned now to recover!

I am considering braving Ikea tomorrow, which on a bank holiday Monday may be a terrible mistake, but meatballs and reasonably priced homewares are calling to me, so we will see. 

Best of the week: Getting an early finish on Thursday so I had a four-and-a-half day weekend. I went to Borough market with Reda and had raclette, coffee and cake.

Worst of the week: Knowing that next week is a busy one at work, and because of the bank holiday we have one less day to get everything done. Right now I am just trying to enjoy the weekend and block out what comes after!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

30 Before 30

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While I was in New York I turned 29, and I feel pretty good about it. I'm in a pretty excellent place in my life - I own a house, live with a man I love, have a job I like and which gives me sufficient time and money to do the things I enjoy, and pretty much every weekend from now until the end of June is filled with seeing friends and family - not bad for the final year of my 20s!

Obviously nothing is perfect, and there have been plenty of rough days along the way, and I am sure plenty more ahead, but I really want to capitalise on being in such a good place, and make the most of this year, and so I started compiling my 30 before 30 list - a list of 30 things I want to achieve before I hit the big three-oh. Some of them are big, most of them are small, and hopefully having a bit of focus will help me stay accountable to myself and make the most out of the coming year.
  1. Get a manicure - I have never had a manicure and I feel like I should have by now!
  2. Learn a craft - Reda and I tried to sign up to a pottery class but we failed. I need to get back on that.
  3. visit New York - a slight cheat because i've done this one but since it was over my 29th Birthday and somewhere I have wanted to go for at least the last 10 years I am counting this!
  4. Take a makeup lesson - while I've taught myself a lot via terrible teenage experimentation and more laterly youtube, I'd like to take a proper lesson and learn some more makeup skills.
  5. Stop chewing my pens - it's a disgusting habit and not one I want to continue in my 30s.
  6. Cook a showstopper dessert - In my head 30-year-old-me has dinner parties and makes desserts which make her guests go wow. 30-year-old-me is counting on 29-year-old-m to make this a reality.
  7. Take a daytrip - I loved our day trip to Cambridge a few weeks ago and I'd like to do more day trips like this.
  8. Finish a DIY job I've been putting off - I have a whole list of projects that need finishing to choose from...
  9. Grow something - my garden is looking a bit barren and my vision is of a green haven. Now the weather is finally getting a bit warmer I need to get this plan into action.
  10. Get a grown up colouring book - it looks fun and relaxing. That's pretty much it.
  11. Read 30 books - this seems like an achievable goal. I read quite a few books at the start of the year but I fell off the wagon recently, so I want to get back to reading a bit more.
  12. Buy one ridiculously expensive/frivolous designer item - just because.
  13. Staycation in a boutique hotel - I'd like to wake up in a different part of London in a really fancy hotel and explore a new-to-me area.
  14. Take a ballet class - I haven't taken a ballet class since i was about six, and I'd like to give it a go again.
  15. Read a prize winning book - I realised the other day I have only read three Booker Prize Winners, and the prize has been going since 1969! Not to mention the many other literary prizes there are out there.
  16. Buy myself flowers - again, jsut because.
  17. Significantly reduce the amount of processed food I eat - this has been something on my mind recently, and something I want to work on. It's probably worth a whole blog post in itself, but needless to say I eat a lot of processed food, and I want to cut down.
  18. Commission a new blog header - I made mine and it's ok, but it is time for something new.
  19. Have a car boot sale - I have a loft full of stuff and I want to lighten the load on both my cealing and my soul.
  20. Get over my fear of driving - I haven't driven a car in maybe six years and I've developed a bit of a phobia. I want to get back behind the driving wheel and get my confidence back.
  21. Crochet a blanket - I admit I haven't picked up a crochet hook since last year and I want to!
  22. Marathon a new tv show - I don't watch much tv at the moment, and I think I need a new show to obsess over.
  23. Eat a new cuisine - I want to broaden my food horizons and try something I have never eaten before.
  24. See something at the Royal Opera House - either an Opera or a Ballet ideally. Again something I haven't done in years (and never at the Royal Opera House) and I'd like to.
  25. Make frozen margaritas - because we drank too many in New York and they are brilliant.
  26. Go to a theme park - again I haven't been to one in years and I'd like to go to one over the summer.
  27. Go mac - My trusty Sony Viao is slowly dying and Windows 10 has not saved it. I've been thinknig about it for a while and I have made the decision to say goodbye to the PC and go Apple.
  28. Eat local for two weeks - similar to my foodie goal of cutting down on processed food, I'd also like to have a go at eating locally and thinknig a bit more about where my food has come from.
  29. Make a roast dinner - I haven't made one in years and I'd like to because they are awesome!
  30. Fake tan - another thing I have never done and I feel I should have by th time I'm 30!

Monday, 21 March 2016

New York Purchases

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My final New York post is on the bits and bobs I brought home. We didn't do loads of shopping as sightseeing was our main aim on this holiday, but I wanted to visit a few stores we don't have in the UK, or which have different ranges/much lower prices compared to home. First stop was obviously a supermarket for crazy flavours of Poptarts and Reeces miniture cups.

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I went to about five Sephoras, although I never found a really big one, which disappointed me a bit, but I picked up a Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in the shade Berlin, and a Sephora formula X nail varnish in the shade Impeccable. I also picked up a Maybelline Babylips from a drugstore, which we do have in the UK but my lip salve had run out so I needed a new one.

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This New York Health Department tray was from West Elm, and probably my only properly 'New York-y' purchase. They had the A grade tray and the B grade tray and the woman at the till told me they always sell out of the A grade but never the B grade for some reason!

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Finally I popped into Madewell and picked up this striped t-shirt. I definitely had my heart set on coming back with something from Madewell - their style is just up my alley. This is probably the last of the US shops I really would like to open up over here - Anthropologie and J Crew have been on Regent Street for a while now - it is definitely time for Madewell to join them I think!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

New York Part 2

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Welcome to part 2 of my New York Photos. check out New York Part One for more info on what we did, where we stayed and what we ate.New York is a pretty expensive city (although probably not much different from London) but today I thought I'd share a few of my money saving tips/observances. We went when the pound was at its worst rate in seven years against the dollar (great planning!) so although we'd saved hard for this trip and I wanted to enjoy it properly without worrying about money, I still didn't want to spend over the odds.

Our hotel had free muffins in the morning and free coffee all day so we generally stocked up there in the morning and jetlag helpfully meant we weren't really hungry until early afternoon so quite often we had a big meal then and didn't eat again. As the inventors of fastfood you'd expect it to be good in America, and you'd be correct! We ate a lot of pizza, burritos etc from fast food places which was very filling and reasonably priced. I could have quite happily gone to the $1 pizza place round the corner from our hotel every day, and Gotham West Market also near our hotel had some brilliant options, I wish I had been able to try more of.

Activity wise we went to Grand Central station and the New York Public Library, both of which were free and brilliant to look at, and there are a number of museums such as the American Museum of Natural History which are pay what you can. We also spent a lot of time just walking around. We went to Central park about three times and barely made it round half of it, and most of the Highline which was also gorgeous. If I went again I'd like to visit more neighbourhoods like the West Village and Brooklyn and just generally explore a bit more. I mentioned in my last post we did a lot of sight-seeing, so getting the City Pass made sense for us and saved us money on entry fees.