Thursday, 28 February 2013

February: short but oh so sweet

It's been a bloody good month, jam-packed full of fun things. Some of the highlights:
My birthday (the actual day and the weekend house party obvs!)
Meeting my cousin's baby for the first time (he's only a month old - so cute)
Catching up with a friend who I hadn't seen for the longest time
Valentine's Jerk Chicken
Going to the theatre with my sister
Going swing dancing with Mitch
Getting to know our flat's newest resident (more on that soon)

Also, I started up my 4 things challenge. It's only been going for a couple of weeks but I'm already making a conscious effort to change my ways:
De-clutter - I sold some old clothes on eBay (and made a tidy profit to boot).
Health - water consumption is up and I've been walking lots too!
Money - I've just payed off my silly mistake from a couple of years ago so the slate has been wiped clean. Saving can really start in March.
Do More New - as mentioned above, Mitch and I went to a Swing Dancing lesson at Drink Shop & Do on Monday night. It was but super hard. Everyone (teachers and participants) were so friendly and eager to help. They're having another lesson next month and I highly recommend it - the dance party was cool too and worth staying for after the lesson. February saw my first yarn bombing experience and I also made my first ever pie! It wasn't v.photogenic (hence lack of pics) but my god it tasted good. More pies I think...probably involving some sort of strong cheese and vegetables...

All in all Feb has been the fresh new start I needed for 2013 and it just keeps on giving, it's end is kinda like the gateway to spring!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tuesday's Tees - it's been a while...

a random assortment

geometric from Rumplo
summery crop from Supayana
pretty florals from Annie Greenabelle
galleon print from Orla Kiely
v.cute stripes and neck tie from Dear Creatures
cool flecked tee from Topshop
ok, it's not a tee but it's fabulous - both front and back - from Annie Greenabelle
cosmic bleached tee from Urbanoutfitters
super casual from ASOS 

Friday, 22 February 2013

diet pills and the UK wedding show

I'm going to keep wedding talk to a bare minimum on here, that said, this post is sort of about weddings but it's mostly just me having a rant.
Last Sunday Mitch and I went to the UK Wedding Show held at London's Excel centre. Overall it was pretty much what I expected, lots of stalls trying to get you sign-up to/buy stuff, people in the wedding biz talking at you, collecting email addresses and giving out countless brochures and leaflets. We'd only gone to the show because A) I was curious and B) we thought it might give us some ideas for our day. Suffice to say, I found the experience rather terrifying. As we entered the show a big lovely 'Bride' sticker was slapped on me, which served as a beacon for wedding biz people to pummel me with a barrage of questions about 'the big day' - photographer, venue, catering, make-up, dress, hair, entertainment for the guests, chair covers (I do not understand this one in the slightest). I realise they were just doing their job, and a couple of them seemed genuinely nice, but as we haven't really started planning anything yet the constant questions just served as an overwhelming reminder that there's tons of stuff to organise. Needless to say I was super happy to take a seat away from the stalls to watch the fashion show, which was by far the best part of the day. It was great to see a variety of dresses (even if they were all waaaay out of my price range) on models of different sizes. It's definitely given me some food for thought...

If the fashion show was the highlight, the event's low point revealed itself in the free 'goody bag'. Amongst lip balms, perfume sachets, more leaflets (so many leaflets!!!) and gems for your nails, there was a box of diet pills. Yes, diet pills. What The Actual F**k.

A 37 day 'treatment' of diet pills recommended, no less, by 'french doctors' (so many things wrong with that sentence alone). For a minute I thought: 'maybe I'm overreacting, they're just another thing to ignore like the nail art set'. But no it's not ok to give out diet pills like sweets. It sends a terrible message to brides-to-be, that message being "you need to loose weight for your wedding and here's a quick fix to do it". What if someone wasn't even thinking about slimming down for the big day, those little pills, filled with what looks like sawdust, may make them think that they should loose weight, the UK Wedding Show clearly thinks we all should. And surely, if you're interested in looking and feeling better about your body for the wedding, you'd do some some exercise and eat more vegetables not take diet pills! I was and still am horrified, much like everyone I've told. I don't think I'll be doing another wedding show again, Mitch and I (along with support from our friends and family) will be just fine figuring it out on our own.

A couple of non-offensive things we also saw that day...
One of the wedding dress stalls sold only vintage pieces. There were some beautiful lace ones but alas I'm not quite the right shape for a vintage number. It didn't stop me admiring the jewellery though - how about those pearl earrings in the clam shaped box! Fabulous, no?

Please excuse  my crappy phone photography. Upon leaving the excel centre we got  a spectacular view of the Air Line with the setting sun glinting off the suspended carriages. This picture really doesn't do it justice. It looked like something from those future concept sketches from the 50s and 60s. I'm yet to go on it but one day I will, I'm guessing the views are pretty good.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

4 things

This January I didn't make my usual 'goal list' for the year for several reasons:
1. I was in New York and therefore had much better things to do.
2. Some of the things that might've gone on the list would've been impossible to start whilst in New York (cutting down on sugary stuff? Not when I can have pancakes for breakfast EVERYDAY!)
3. Many of the resolutions I was thinking about making for 2013 no longer feel relevant. Events transpired in New York which have made me think very differently about the next couple of years or so.

Now, I'm a girl who likes a list so I'm not doing away with a plan entirely. Ultimately I just think too much pressure is placed on 'new year's resolutions', January is an awful month as it is, it doesn't need the added gloom of resolutions being broken. Instead, the plan I have is two fold and starts now:

1. Note down the things I need to change about my life in general. Not resolutions as such because these aren't just for the year, the aim is to make them second nature.
2. Each month make a mini list of things I want to accomplish, some or all of which relate to the main offenders in step one.

And those 4 things I aim to change...

De-clutter - I have SO much stuff. Unnecessary stuff. Stuff that's just gotta go. I've always been a hoarder but recently (and only recently, worryingly) it's really started to bother me. It's time to make my belongings a little more streamlined. For starters I'm instigating a one in one out policy on my wardrobe (and shoe rack).

Health - Spraining my knee in New York was not only bloody painful but huuuugely inconvenient. The fact that it's only now, 8 weeks later, feeling almost back to normal again really made me think: our bodies do a hell of a lot for us, the least I can do for mine is look after it properly. To lay the groundwork on this change I'm going to drink more water, 8 glasses a day to be precise, and walk for at least 20 mins everyday.

Money - I did something pretty stupid a while ago and now I'm paying for it, literally. So now, at 26 (better late than never), I'm going to wise-up when it comes to my finances. And saving has never been so important what with a wedding to plan...

Do More New - It's true, I totally stole Honda's tag-line but it is completely relevant. Every now and again everybody feels like their stuck in the revolving doors of life, going round and round in the same old routine. So this change is intended to jazz things up a bit!

I'm feeling super positive so let's see how I get on...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

hearts and stuff

It's no secret - I'm not a big 'valentine's day' fan. I normally spend this day how I spend any other week day (go to work, come home cook and eat dinner, watch tv, maybe do some sewing and then go to bed). In the past I made a couple of joke-y valentine cards for Mitch (mostly featuring Rob Lowe - he likes Rob Lowe) but that's the full extent of my celebrating it. BUT, this year not only did we go out for dinner (hello jerk chicken!), this happened: 
That's right, I attempted to crochet a heart (or three). But this wasn't just me getting all gushy, it was all in aid of my first ever yarn bombing experience! Meredith over at One Sheepish Girl staged a valentine inspired yarn bombing this weekend and shared the pattern for these cute little things. They're not perfect but it was fun to have a go and try something new (I've just been making loadsa granny squares since I learned how to last month). Here are my crochet creations in situ.
Turns out yarn bombing is pretty fun and requires patience and stealth. Brockwell park was v.busy and I had to wait quite some time before there was a quiet moment  to hang them up - I probably looked a bit odd but who cares! I'm hoping someone will see them and perhaps wonder how they got there... Fingers crossed they'll still be up the next time I walk past!

Friday, 15 February 2013

boursin muffins

Savoury muffins were a new challenge for me and as this attempt wasn't a complete disaster I thought I'd share them with you.

I love boursin (more than is probably socially acceptable) so it seemed like the logical choice for the main ingredient.

I used this recipe but added a bit more milk than it states. Once I'd combined everything the mixture looked really dry so in went more milk...Also, I couldn't find oat bran in either of my local supermarkets so I used porridge oats, not entirely sure if it matters... Next time I make them I think I might add more boursin (can't hurt) and, rather importantly, remember to take them out of the oven before they start to burn, oops!
They taste at their best slightly warm with a little bit of butter. And FYI they make a great bready accompaniment to soup (if you don't have any actual bread to hand)! I'm going to try some other boursin based recipes...scones seem like a good bet...

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

alex's american pancakes

I've had these beauties two weekends in a row because 1. they are delish and 2. they require v.little skill and few ingredients! Perhaps this could even be an alternative to your traditional pancake tuesday treat... So here they are: the tastiest and simplest pancakes you've ever made! 

makes 6 pancakes
1 1/4 cups of plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil (I used vegetable but I don't think it matters greatly)
1 1/2 cups of milk (or water to make this vegan friendly)

Combine all the ingredients together, a few little lumps are fine. It should be a good deal thicker than your traditional pancake mixture. In a frying pan cook a ladel sized portion in a little oil, wait until the underside it cooked before flipping it over (duh).

I went with Alex's original recipe and included chocolate chips but you can have whatever you want with them - bananas, berries, bacon, icecream, yoghurt, maple syrup - SO many possibilities :) 
happy pancake day!

the wrong side of 25

Last week I turned 26 (say whaaa?! Honestly don't know how that happened) and celebrated the milestone in two awesome instalments. First off, the actual day. After a morning at work I was then free to do as I pleased. The weather was pretty foul so Mitch and I descended upon the good old Natural History Museum. We headed for the blue whale but then wandered into the Darwin Centre. I must confess that I've never been in there before (v.shameful as I think it's been open for around 10 years - I'm so easily distracted by dinosaur bones), but I have now and it's pretty cool, particularly the Spirit Building. It's basically home to around 22 million specimens pickled in industrial alcohol. They have a few on display but most of them aren't for public viewing or so we thought... 

Mitch was taking a picture of a half digested squid head (taken from the stomach of a sperm whale in the 1960s) when a member of the NHM staff came up to us and asked if we wanted to see a giant squid. The only answer to such a question is, of course, yes. So we, and four other people, were taken on a tour around the museum's spirit collection. It was a little gross at times (and the dissection room smelt kinda funny) but ultimately it was hugely cool and v.interesting. The lady who took us around was super knowledgable and ended up talking to us for about an hour. We were shown the main storage room full of jars and tanks housing, amongst other creatures, a chimp, platypus, fox, penguin, shark heads, a swordfish and the giant squid - which was massive, both in length and, surprisingly, girth. In another room, for smaller specimens, we saw the eye balls of the thames whale (the one that got a bit lost in 2004) and a bat preserved in a 100 year old jar which used to contain pickled onions (the label was still on)! One of the highlights, aside from seeing how they use flesh eating beetles to  obtain animal skeletons (the security is pretty high so worry not), was that the museum stores (and examines) many of Charles Darwin's original specimens brought back from the HMS Beagle voyage! I highly recommend this tour (unless you're squeamish) - it's free and you get a really good look at what goes on behind the scenes. I think at weekends it'd be best to book a ticket online but if you go during the week at around 3pm you probably won't have to queue at all!
tab at pitt cue

Post looking at dead things in jars I took a v.restrained look around the big topshop before heading to Pitt Cue for some seriously lush dinner - pulled pork bun with bone marrow mash, pickles and sticky BBQ chicken wings *drooling as I write* washed down with a v.strong bourbon cocktail and a pint of Whatever. Perfect. 

old glass jars used as booze receptacles at the party. Each one had a different label. My favourite was the one with the gorilla in 3D glasses.

And, as if I hadn't been spoilt enough, this weekend I had a big old party at the flat where Mitch made what's become his signature punch and my friend Alex made v.tasty vegan cupcakes! Unfortunately I was enjoying myself so much that I didn't take any pictures BUT I have realised this to be true: if this is what the wrong side of 25 is like then I'm v.happy to be here :)
just a couple of this year's spoils - the cutest sugar bowl in the world and marc jacobs' Daisy (prettiest perfume bottle ever, no?).  I also got a blender - it's fabulous, how did I ever live without it!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

american pancakes and hidden treasures

Last Saturday I had both the most gluttonous breakfast and the largest amount of exercise, since returning from New York. The reason why? My lovely friend Alex and I spent the day together. First off, he offered to come round in the morning to make me American pancakes - wasn't exactly going to say no to that! He's originally from Michigan and an a-mazing baker/pudding maker. He's promised to send me the american pancake recipe, which I will deffo be bugging him for - they were sooo tasty, especially with chocolate chips, sliced banana and a generous drizzle of maple syrup (yeah, I told you they were gluttonous). Perhaps when it arrives I could post it on do you all feel about monstrous pancakes?
We had quite a bit of mixture left over so Alex made a mickey mouse shaped beast of a pancake. It was massive but we couldn't let it go to waste.

After our brunch Alex introduced me to Geocaching. I'd never heard of it before so he, v.patiently, explained it to me. All over the world people hide caches which are basically boxes (varying in size) containing trinkets for swapping, travelling objects and an all important log book to note down that you've found it. The caches are registered online along with their location (using latitude and longitude) and a clue to help you find them.
log book

We spent a good few hours searching for geocaches around Brixton and Clapham Common. It's kind of like a big game, only not everyone is playing. At first I did feel a bit silly looking on the floor and clambering through the bushes, especially in the more busy public areas. But eventually the want to find the cache takes over, although stealth and subtilty are key. We went on six searches and found only two caches. It was a little disheartening when we couldn't find the first two caches we attempted - but since then I feel better because one, we discovered, was only about 2cm long! And I think that's what makes it hard, you really don't know what you're looking for. On a positive note, it was pretty fun finding our first box in windmill gardens. And here it is!
Inside, amongst other bits and pieces, we found a tagged golf ball which had originally come from Germany, and, as good people, we moved it onto another location on Clapham Common. It was an exhausting but fun day and I can see how people can get addicted to it. Two things are for sure: 1. we definitely walked off the pancakes and 2. I will not be able to look at certain areas of Brixton and Clapham in the same way again, particularly because of the four caches we couldn't find...they're out there still, waiting to be discovered.

Monday, 4 February 2013

he asked me on the brooklyn bridge

The most exciting thing that happened in January took place in the very first 10 minutes of it - basically the rest of the month hadn't a hope in hell of living up to it :)
post pizza doodling in hoboken

We were standing on Brooklyn Bridge on new years eve, the small crowd had just counted down to midnight and we were watching the fireworks, Mitch said he needed to tell me something and pulled me over to a less busy bit. Then he got down on one knee, held up a ring and asked me to marry him. I said yes (obvs) :D 

We've been together for around 4 years (the dates are a little hazy, we never really had a moment of 'now we are boyfriend and girlfriend') and living together for nearly 3. The proposal was a complete surprise, although a number of my friends had already called it. We rang our respective parents to tell them the news but that was it, no one else knew and for the first three days it was our secret. It took a while for everything to sink in and to be honest I still can't believe it's actually happening. Talking to Mitch about wedding ideas/stuff is pretty surreal but fun. There's seems to be a lot to think about and plan but I'm not worrying yet it's just super exciting, the wedding day of course, but also all the stuff that happens after that - the rest of our lives really :) 

I'm not a gushy person BUT these things must be said: the proposal was v.romantic, I'm unbelievably happy and I love this man more than anything 

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