Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #26

I realised a little late last week (Wednesday, shamefully) that I’d missed this post. I don’t think it was a coincidence, either, that my mood was particularly low last week. Sure, I’d finished my exam (I can’t say it was the best exam ever, but it didn’t make me cry so it can’t be the worst!). We’d hit one-year-to-go in our wedding day countdown. All good things, so it’s safe to say that penning this post definitely improves my outlook. Here goes…

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  1. A lovely weekend away. Seaside, lots of amazingly good food and plenty of quality time with W. It was perfect!
  2. The best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. Thank you Pump Street Bakery!
  3. Also thanks to Pump Street, the most amazing sandwich combo. Salami, roasted fennel and garlic mayo on sourdough. Worth the damage I did to my tooth eating it!
  4. Reading an actual book. I love my Kindle, but there’s something about a paperback that I love. Maybe it’s the fact I can take it for a soak in the bath without being terrified of dropping it…
  5. Finally recovering from a nasty insect bite. Swelling has now gone down though I’m convinced my leg is still a funny colour…
  6. Celebrating 7 years together. We had a day date and went to the Postal Museum. Definitely worth a visit!
  7. Catching up with friends. I hate the fact I miss out on so much during exam season. I’ve been making the most of it with lots of lunch dates over the last week or so!
  8. An amazing meeting with our wedding florist. I’m so excited to see what she comes up with!
  9. Sending out our Save the Dates. They are absolutely stunning and I’ve loved people’s reactions.
  10. And another wedding one – my mum got her hat. She’s been talking about her hat for far longer than we’ve been engaged, and a chance pop into Olney village resulted in a panic trying to fit a giant hatbox in the car…

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #25

Unfortunately just a really quickly penned post from me today – exam day is Wednesday and I really shouldn’t be blogging right now. But so many LOVELY things have happened over the past few weeks that I can’t help but share…

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  1. Watching one of my lovely friends marry her soulmate. It was such a lovely day and so perfect for them.
  2. Realising it’s only just over a year until I get married myself! Eeekkkkk!
  3. Getting my groove on with blogging again. After a break from it all, and months feeling a bit disconnected I’ve pretty much finalised where I’m taking this space in the long-term. Stay tuned…
  4. Finding a decent deep conditioner. This one has been great for my locks, just a shame L’Oreal aren’t a company I’m desperate to support!
  5. Discovering my local Sainsbury’s sell products from The Polish Bakery. The bakery gifted me some goodies a while back and their bread is all kinds of awesome. Just gutted I’ve not found the Rye bread yet…
  6. Eating chocolate.* Cadbury sent me over some goodies to celebrate the launch of their partnership with the Premier League. I have to say that chocolate plus potential prizes is a winner in my book – simply enter the code from a promotional bar and you can win one of hundreds of football themed prizes.
  7. Gorgeous sunsets from the top floor of my office. Admittedly I’ve spent lots of late evenings (and even weekends!) there but it’s such a lovely view I can almost forgive exams for robbing me of a work-life balance!
  8. Fruit crumble and fresh cream. Perfect Sunday night treat!
  9. Almossstttttt having a dining table. The legs are here, the top was delivered on Saturday. Just a shame the top arrived completely snapped in half…
  10. Receiving a yogurt pot with my name on. It’s the little things that put a smile on this face!

What’s been putting a smile on your face?

Travel: Six-Day Itinerary in Berner-Oberland, Switzerland

Now we’ve got the important things out of the way (the Best Things to Eat in Switzerland) it’s time to discuss our trip in a little more detail. Here I’m giving a run down of our rough itinerary, the things we did and the things we wish we could have done. I’m not going into too much detail about each of the days, but if anyone has any questions on specific walks/excursions in this area of Switzerland then feel free to get in touch!

 photo Swiss Itinerary_zpszry3eal0.jpg photo IMG_20170709_085728_zpsof4mmc7k.pngApologies if the quality of some of these photos is a little off – I managed to fail to take a sensible lens for my camera, so relied on my phone when we were out and about. Whoops!

Basic Itinerary

Flights: LGW-Basel (and vice-versa on the return leg)

Train Passes: Berner Oberland Regional Pass, and Transfer Tickets (from Bern to Basel)

Accommodation: Air B’n’B (this one, highly recommend and not nearly as noisy as the host warned us) in Interlaken

Days: Split between walking, city and sight-seeing

Flights

Basically, we booked the cheapest flights we could find, that left us with the travelling days to play with in Switzerland. We got the early flight out of Gatwick (though splurged on a taxi to get there which was SO easy, would hands-down never get the train again!) and headed to Basel – on the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland. The airport is teeny-tiny really, to the point you choose your destination country by which doors you exit. I also wouldn’t bank on using any leftover Francs at duty-free when you leave, I’ve never seen such a small offering.

Train Tickets

This is where Switzerland can get confusing. Train travel is essential, the roads are windy (certainly not something I’d like to drive nor be driven along!) and quite often trains will cut through a mountain. Trust me, trains are the way forward and they are so much better ran than in the UK. In Switzerland, 30 seconds is a delay and anything over a couple of minutes rarely happens.

This trip we got a Berner Oberland Pass for 6 days, and Transfer Tickets to get us to/from the airport. We booked the Transfer Tickets in advance to secure a lower price, then the Pass gave us unlimited journeys in the region. Some trips are extra (e.g. the Jungfrau, Schilthorn and some boat/cable cars) but generally this pass will give you a good discount on their standard prices.

Top tip: when booking flights, factor in a estimate of train tickets the other end. Flights to Zurich were marginally cheaper, but train tickets to Interlaken veryyyy pricey for our dates.
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City Days

We spent half a day in Bern, being guided round by a local (it pays to have Swiss friends – both in terms of tours and supplies of cheese!). I’d definitely recommend the city, though we spent a good few hours just floating on the river which was divine on a hot (35C) day.

We also spent our last day wandering a tad aimlessly around Basel. This is somewhere I’d love to go back and properly explore – it was a gorgeous city with strong German/French influences but we definitely felt some kind of tour would have been useless. By this point we were both pretty tired and I’d managed to blister the base of my foot so we stuck to no real plan. A reason to go back I guess!
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Walking Days

Walks in Switzerland tend to be colour coded – yellow for ‘easy’ and red for ‘mountain.’ I’d definitely advise sticking to yellow, even then some of the hikes are pretty strenuous in terms on incline. That said, it’s our goal to one day made a red walk…

My favourite walk is along a riverbank. It involves getting a train to Grindelwald (a town I’d definitely consider staying in next trip), then a bus to Schwarzwaldalp. This bus wasn’t included in our regional pass, and even with a discount the price made me wince! After some pretty hairy bends, you can reward yourself with a scenic walk through cow fields, woodlands and meadows. We originally planned to only go as far as Rosenlaui (45 minutes) – before a wander around the gorge and continuing with the bus to Meiringen – however we missed the bus and faced a 2 hours wait. What do you do in that situation? Carry on the walk. We eventually stopped at Kaltenbrunnen before catching the bus to Meiringen for a meringue overload.

 photo IMG_7203_zpsyb6i9fze.jpg photo IMG_7198_zpsvr6teipt.jpgThis walk is a favourite for many reasons. It was much loved by W’s late grandmother, who used to watch her rings (engagement, wedding, etenity) in the river. His mother later did so for her and now, with my engagement ring made from her eternity ring, I continued the tradition.

Another walk, perhaps our most difficult, was from First to Lake Bachalpsee. There’s some pretty steep inclines here, though it wasn’t helped by being a very hot day. The views at the Lake are well worth it though – plus there’s all kinds of fun things to do on your way down from First to Grindelwald. We hired ‘mountain karts’ – go-karts with no pedals and let gravity take us down. With no barriers to stop you driving over the sheer mountain edge it took me a while to get the better of my nerves but I would 100% do again. There’s also zip lines which I’m desperate to try, though they were closed due to high-winds on our trip.

Our final walk was in the shadows of the Schilthorn. We took the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grüschalp, before walking to Mürren. This has some stunning views and waterfalls, and is blessedly shady for most of the route. It also passes through a small farm where they hand-make cheese and fudge pretty much fresh from the cow. Alpine Fudge is something everyone needs to try! From Mürren we took the cable car down to Stechelberg (rather than up towards the Schilthorn) and then got a bus, stopping off at Trümmelbach Falls to enjoy the coolness of the gorge and glacial falls (water passes through at 20,000 litres per second, it’s a stunning place to visit).

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Other Sight-Seeing

The main ‘touristy’ thing we did was head up the Jungfrau on our first day. Now, this wasn’t included in our pass and it’s usually very pricey. Having done it in 2012 (and W many other times) we weren’t fussed about it but his parents offered us some free tickets they had. We ended up really enjoying it, the visibility was *amazing* and there had been fresh snowfall the night before. It’s definitely something I’d advise doing at least once, and with the winter spots, snowy walks and ice-palace to explore as well as the many viewing platforms you’ll be there for a good few hours!

Our other half-days were spent mainly around Interlaken. On our first evening we ventured up the Harder Kulm, though took the funicular  rather than take on the 2+ hours upward hike. We spent the evening watching the sun start to set, eating cheesy rösti and enjoying the spectacular views.

We also took in a boat trip from Interlaken to Spiez, a town I desperately want to return to as it was just so pretty. And being whisky fanatics we took a trip to the brewery/distillery in Interlaken – whilst unfortunately there were’t enough numbers for an English tour we did come away with a bottle to enjoy!
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For Another Time

Realistically, we both agreed we could have spent 3 weeks there and not fitted in everything we wanted to do. There’s countless walks to do, a trip up to the Schilthorn (where James Bond’s XYZ was filmed) and the stops along the way (now featuring thrill walks). There’s white water rafting and canyoning, both of which are firmly on my bucket list. There’s more ‘city trips’ to Zermatt (home of the Toberlone mountain) and Lucerne. I’d also love to visit Geneva and properly explore Zurich at some point too!

My main aim is to one day do a glacier trek – though I certainly need to work on my fitness levels before that!

Have you ever been to Switzerland? Would you like to see more travel posts here?

Food: 10 Things to Eat in Switzerland

Typically this is going live before any of my other Switzerland posts, which clearly shows how important food is to me. Weirdly, I didn’t do a huge amount of research before heading out to Switzerland – other than “all the cheese” there wasn’t anything on my must-eat list. In the end, I didn’t really eat a bad meal.

 photo Swiss Food_zpsan9qrron.jpgSticking to traditional foods, we definitely ticked off the “all the cheese” aim, though by the end of the week we were craving vegetables (seriously, we tried and couldn’t even order them as a side!) and the local Indian takeaways smelt more and more appealing. The first meal we ate when we arrived home (well, after Five Guys to sustain us during move-day!) was my Satay Veggie Slaw which says a lot about how rich and heavy the food was!

Sidenote: we were walking in excess of 20,000 steps most days so we definitely earned it!

So, what’s the 10 dishes you really need to try when you’re in Switzerland…?

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 3_zps3qej7dn0.jpgZüri-Gschätzlets (Veal in Mushroom Sauce) served with Rösti

This meal was perhaps our most expensive when we were away, at 35CHF each (although admittedly in quite a flashy hotel – where we witnessed a proposal). Very tender sliced veal in a rich mushroom sauce, served on top of a crisp but tender rösti, it was also one of the only meals I ate that didn’t contain cheese. You can find my recipe here.

Hot Chocolate

The mountain-cafe staple! Swiss Hot Chocolate is usually more milky than it’s Italian or French versions, good for me as I’m not a fan of the thick rich stuff. The best powdered brand is Caotina (we instruct a Swiss friend to bring us some every now and then) and comes served separate to a mug of frothed warm milk for you to stir yourself.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 7_zpsheez6s9b.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 8_zpswp0jeuee.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 10_zpsa4b0gfau.jpgCordon Bleu

I’d go as far as saying this meal was my absolute favourite of all our meals in Switzerland, it’s certainly the dish I’m still thinking about! The more traditional Cordon-bleu is made with veal, cheese and ham, before being breadcrumbed and fried. My version (at Barry’s in Grindelwald, full review coming soon) was a pork escalope filled with bacon, garlic, leek and Raclette cheese. I ordered the ‘mini’ (25CHF) which I bitterly regret. Sure, I had room for dessert, but it wasn’t as good as this…

Oh, and if you visit Barry’s their Whisky list is crazy. We tried a couple of the Swiss distilled tipples, including a verrryyyy pricey (and strong!) one which is aged in the Jungfrau.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 11_zpscrjjp8t5.jpgCheese Fondue

Now, we didn’t actually eat this in Switzerland – it’s actually more of a tourist thing than anything. That said, if it hadn’t been over 30 degrees every single day I’d have been right in there. If you can, I’d recommend getting one that served the molten cheese with both bread and potatoes (just bread is too heavy) and drink a warm drink alongside it and continue sipping for a while after your meal. Trust me, you don’t want all that cheese to set in your tummy. In London, pop to St Moritz in Soho for your cheese fix!

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 6_zpst3x55ghs.jpgVeal Sausage

A good veal sausage, served with more of that delicious rösti and plenty of onion sauce is comfort food at it’s best. I avoided this due to the disturbing redness of some sauces and the difficultly in getting my allergy understood (surprisingly I only had to send one meal back, though a couple of others came close!).

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Rösti

Now, rösti can come one of two ways. It is often a side, rather like our ‘mash’ or ‘roasts’, or it can be served in it’s own right. The later is usually covered in cheese, then with a choice of additions. This was our first Swiss meal, sat with the gorgeous view above, and it was glorious. I went for the version with ham and a fried egg, W went for the bacon offering. Both came with obscene amounts of cheese. I had two thick slices of ham, more cheese and a perfectly gooey fried egg (melty cheese plus yolk is perfection). W’s came with 10 rashers of bacon. Yep, TEN. We counted. Not surprsingly we slept well that night!

Älplermagrone

Just like our well-loved Mac’n’Cheese, but with added carbs. Pasta AND potatoes are boiled in milk (a little like my one-pan-mac), mixed with a LOT of cheese, topped with fried onions, bacon, more cheese. Yep, it’s good. Yes, it’s ridiculously bad for you.

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Elsässer Flammkuchen

Dough is rolled out very thinly and covered with crème fraîche. Traditionally it’s topped with thinly sliced onions and lardons, which was my favourite. Though I did try a summery version of parma ham and rocket which was nearly as delicious.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 20_zpscizw0zwz.jpgCoupe Denmark

Ah, this dessert is the thing of dreams. Plain milk ice-cream, topped with cream and a wafer. Served with a jug of rich chocolate sauce (made with very dark chocolate and plenty of milk, so it doesn’t set on contact with the ice-cream). It’s delicious. Oh so simple. Oh so good.

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Meringue

Meiringen is the birthplace of the meringue, so when we made an unscheduled hangry stop there (we missed a bus that only ran every 2 hours, so ended up doubling our walk) we quickly googled the best stop. Frutal Versandbäckerei (Tearoom Frutal) came out top so we sat in their delightful courtyard (dodging the rather agressive wasps) sipping some of the most delicious homemade iced-tea I’ve eaten drank.

“Oh look” said W. “There’s one for two, shall we share?”

I was only too willing to get along. He nipped out to get cash, I ordered and relaxed. Then saw a standard portion come out (the single portions come in a choice of mini or standard). I began to regret our choice. And then it came out.

It was the size of one of our heads. Two massive meringues, sandwiched with SIX scoops of ice-cream, a lot of whipped cream and fresh fruit. The meringue was amazing. Slightly chewy but not at all sticky, and surprisingly not over-sweet. We admitted defeat about 3/4 of the way in…

Have you been to Switzerland? Is food the best bit about travel for you?

Food: Design Your Own “YouGurt” with Onken (AD)

Yogurt is a pretty staple breakfast in our house – W likes it with fresh fruit, and if I’ve not made overnight oats (recipe here) then I’ll take a jar of yogurt and granola to eat at my desk. I tend to favour a plainer variety sweetened with a spot of honey, W is a bit more adventurous and will pick up all sort of fruity concoctions. But recently I’ve tried something very adventurous, and here’s why…

 photo Onken Yougurt16_zpshcn1crwq.jpg photo Onken Yougurt8_zpsl5dlfvol.jpgThis month Onken is inviting the public to customise their very own flavour of yogurt – or YouGurt if you like a good pun! By combining three flavours, ranging from the downright delicious to the downright bizarre. You could go tropical with a combo of coconut, mango and pineapple, add in some veggies with carrot (told you some of them were bizarre!), or even do something with one of my favourite English fruits, rhubarb. Altogether there are 220 flavour combinations – and yes, the maths geek in me did check that on a calculator.

 photo Onken Yougurt12_zps4vftbney.jpgI went for two slightly safer flavours, adding in a twist with my third. Mango, Coconut and Chilli YouGurt was certainly different! The sweetness of the mango and subtle creamy coconut-tiness paired really well, with the sweet heat of chilli peppers coming through the end. Admittedly not quite the breakfast yogurt I was hoping for, but we’re churning it in our ice-cream maker tonight for a bit of fro-yo.

Now, here’s the exciting bit…

 photo Onken Yougurt10_zpsrrgckmux.jpg photo Onken Yougurt18_zpsacuqvq1b.jpgYou can get involved too! Every day this September the Onken YouGurt Factory will be open for business and accessible via their Facebook page, where 50 pots can be won each and every day. All you do is pick your three flavours and watch the unique pot be created via a personalised video, complete with your name and illustration of your flavour combo. And you might just get to taste it too. At the end of the video you’ll see whether you’re a winner. And if so, your YouGurt will turn up on your doorstep the very next day. And if not, the videos are pretty cool anyway…

You’ve got these flavours to choose from: rhubarb, pumpkin, mint, chilli, cherry, strawberry, agave, pineapple, coconut, mango, peach and carrot. I was seriously tempted by a combo of rhubarb, cherry and mint – doesn’t that sound dreamy…?!

 photo Onken Yougurt17_zpskc3it9zv.jpg*This post has been sponsored by Onken, all opinions are (as always) my own!

Are you a yogurt fan? What flavour combination would you choose?

 

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #24

I’m now entering what is perhaps one of my busiest times of the year. September is pretty manic at work (not that I’ve experienced it yet, as my graduate programme scheduled a 3-week training conference last year), plus it’s also exam season. It’s meant working late, either on my job or at my notes, revising on weekends and generally just keeping myself busy.

Weirdly, I’m FAR less stressed about this exam than I was in April; possibly because the content is actually enjoyable so it wouldn’t be a total hardship to have to resit. Plus, yano, it’s not two exam papers over two days, it involves maths and all of the notes fit into one lever arch file (plus another two for questions and exam papers). Far nicer! Enough of exams, here’s what’s made me smile recently…

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  1. Coming home to fresh flowers. W bought me a treat after I was *really* grumpy one morning, and he even arranged them nicely in a vase. I know, I don’t deserve him!
  2. Using our dishwasher. I’ve always been against them, but our new flat has one so we’re using it as a treat on weekends. It makes a roast dinner on a Sunday evening so much better.
  3. Date night at Mother London. The pizza was fab, weirdly different to anything I’ve eaten before. Review to follow…
  4. Bedside tables. W followed a couple of online tutorials and produced some pretty cool looking furniture. I’m a lucky girl!
  5. Finally buying a step-ladder. Because I can’t reach the windows in this flat without one…
  6. A weekend to myself. I spent all of it revising and watching back-to-back Harry Potter and it was GOOD.
  7. Winning Emma’s giveaway. So exciting!
  8. Sunday night pampers. The novelty of having a bath is yet to wear off. Please send suggestions for bath products, I try to avoid Lush (my skin isn’t a fan!) but am stuck for what new to try.
  9. Quite possibly the best Cauliflower Cheese I’ve ever eaten. And it was a ‘healthier’ version too. So, so, sooooo tasty…
  10. Finding the dress I’d been lusting after on Oliver Bonas at around 70% off. I’m hoping it fits!

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: A Sneak Peak of Our New Flat

You’d think since we moved in a month ago (time flies!) that I’d be ready to do a full-on flat tour, but apparently not!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 53_zpsfvj2zisx.jpgWhilst we got super lucky with the delivery of our sofa, with it turning up about 1 hour after we got access to the flat, we’ve been less than organised when it comes to sorting out a dining table, chairs and other bits and pieces. In fairness, we’re actually designing a dining table pretty much from scratch so it’s taking a while, but eating off a teeny tiny desk is taking it’s toll!

Our new flat is in a converted school – and the building is full of original features. The corridors are glazed brick, and from the top floor stairwell there’s a stunning view across London, taking in the Eye, Westminster and all of the iconic buildings over in the City (yep, I can see my office, and yes – it’s a little depressing to do so from your home!). Unfortunately our flat doesn’t have quite so nice views, looking over the new modern school next-door, but hey it’s better than bins or a carpark! The best thing though? Wooden floorboards (a flat-lay dream!) and double-heighted ceilings. It makes the space look and feel so much bigger…but onto the tour!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 46_zpssuz6giju.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 54_zpstqojqcjf.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 57_zpsyyftob7p.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 51_zpspkxtdngq.jpgStarting with the main living area (ignoring the big space for the dining area!). Now, aforementioned sofa was a bit of a nightmare to find. We knew what we wanted. We just couldn’t find exactly it. We veryyyyyy nearly ordered the Dylan from Made, but in the end a 15% offer from Swoon and slightly better despatch time had us order one from Swoon Editions (now sold out). In retrospect it was a great decision. The ‘cushions’ are attached so there’s no sliding around, and the colour is lighter and just slightly nicer – though I’ve had to ban chocolate binges on the sofa for now!

Of course, a new sofa means new cushions (and blankets!) and these ones from Rooi are SUCH good quality. Thick, non-scratchy material and a plump insert, they’ve made my slightly unforgiving sofa a lot more comfy. We went for the Goose & Dandelion*, and the Bee Cushion in Grey*. A bit of a backstory here – I’m terrified of geese, W really isn’t a fan of bees. So yep, I got cushions to represent the things we are scared of!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 41_zps53qufuak.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 24_zpsbw6hoevs.jpgThis bit of the flat isn’t quite yet finished though. We’d like to pick up a side-table (I’ve already kicked one cup of tea flying…) and I’m desperate for a mustard-yellow armchair too. If anyone has seen one that’s not over £250 let me know!

Oh, and apparently we need a large TV too…

 photo Flat Tour 2017 35_zpso7jol0xm.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 38_zpsucyuvtew.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 36_zpsbqu9sgba.jpgWe’ve kept pretty much the same desk set-up as in our previous flat. I’m working on getting some slightly nicer pen pots, and we desperately need a desk lamp but it’s quite a nice place to work – being right by the big windows means plenty of natural light on study days which was a big problem last year.

 photo Flat Tour 2017 44_zpshcq7nnlx.jpgThe kitchen is quite possibly my favourite part of our new flat. It’s not huge, but it’s layout means it feels SO much bigger than our previous one. Sure, I miss the clean whiteness (and ease of taking photos) in the old one, but I’m loving being able to dance around the kitchen, not have to plan ahead about when/where I can plug things in and having a decent size fridge! No more playing tetris with the food shop…

There’s a lack of kitchen photos in this post purely because I had no motivation to clean it. So just trust me when I say it’s a lot bigger than it looks!

The kitchen layout also means we have a moveable ‘island’ where we’ve installed our stand mixer. The baskets underneath are perfect for storing baking bits, so we’re managing to do just that little bit more now. Just in time to for the Bake Off Bake Along!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 3_zpsiuttbwqm.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 7_zpsej9mmust.jpgThe bedroom is both our most and least finished room in the house. We don’t *need* anything else in there, but we feel it’s a little bare.Though it’s far better now W has built these lovely bedside tables! It’s home to what is the biggest wardrobe I’ve ever had, so everything is neatly stored away. I’d really love a double bed in here, but that’s the problem with renting – it’s difficult to make big changes. I reckon more cushions will make this room look a bit more cosy and inviting…

Oh, and we have a bath. I may or may not have indulged in one most nights since we moved in…

How do you make a rented flat your own?

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #23

So, obviously I’ve been a bit absent lately – and if I’m honest the break has done me the world of good. Weirdly it was only when I stopped to take a breather that I noticed how exhausted I was making myself. Oops! I have to say it’s been a blessing to have this long weekend. Just what I needed!

This last few weeks has been a whirlwind, that’s for sure! I’ve rushed study (due to a slightly mis-timing of tutorial bookings), been on holiday, moved flats and spent an obscene amount on new furniture. I have to say I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend, although it looks like my next one will be in October… So, highlights recently!

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  1. Switzerland. We spent a lovely six days in Switzerland – lots of hiking and fresh air, a bit of swimming, lots of wine and just generally relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It’s the first time in two years we’ve been abroad (minus my hop to Zurich for a job interview) and it was SO nice to get away.
  2. Cheese. Well, we did go to Switzerland…
  3. Chocolate. Ditto!
  4. Fireworks. Whilst we were in Switzerland we celebrated Swiss National Day – we went for a celebratory banquet dinner at the hotel W’s family have stayed in for generations (unfortunately out of our budget for the actual holiday!), ate lots, drank lots and had a blast.
  5. Washing my engagement ring in a Swiss river. W’s grandmother (and later his mum) always used to wash her rings whilst hiking her favourite route – and it’s a walk I love too. Her eternity ring provided the three larger diamonds in my engagement ring, so I honored the memory and gave mine a clean.
  6. New flat! We started packing about a month ahead (seeing as we moved around 9 hours after landing back from the holiday!) and managed to unpack in double quick time. It feels so much more spacious than the old place!
  7. Gorgeous new cushions*. I’m very honoured to be part of the bloggers programme from Rooi, which just happens to be one of my favourite online shopping sites. I picked out two lovely cushions (one with geese on, one with bees – things both me and W are individually terrified of!), now I just need the rest of my new furniture to arrive so I can take half-decent photos!
  8. Meat from the butchers. With the nice not-so-little payrise that passing my exam gave me, we’ve decided to splurge a little each month on some decent meat. Our joint of pork from the local butchers was THE nicest I’ve ever eaten, and it made wonderful sandwiches, stir-fry and nachos too. Well worth it.
  9. Catch up with friends. We had a very sociable week, with meals out most days and the weekend packed full too. It was so nice to catch up with so many people!
  10. Playing tourist. When my besties came to visit I snapped up some free Tower of London tickets (a corporate deal through my company). Whilst I think £28 for an adult ticket is slightly (ahem!) overpriced we definitely enjoyed it, the Crown Jewels were stunning and I’d love to visit again when the Torture Tower is open.
  11. Wedding Cake tasting. Definitely a highlight of the planning process, and I’m already dreaming about one of the flavours we picked…
  12. The bedside tables W’s designed, and is currently in the process of building. They are going to look AMAZING!
  13. Picking up a dress I’d been lusting after in H&M. For £7 in the sale. #winning
  14. The BEST gelato I’ve eaten outside of Italy (and only because I went to a local’s ‘best in Rome’ recommendation). A new place has opened up in Putney and words can’t explain how good it is. I genuinely have a list of flavours and combos I’m wanting to try…

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Blåbär Nordic Living, Putney

Blåbär is one of my favourite little spots I’ve found in Putney. Hidden away down a pretty unassuming (read: quite grimy) road off the High Street, it’s somewhere that I could spend a good couple of hours in despite it’s teeny-tiny size.

 photo Blabar Nordic Living5_zps0icicxyj.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living3_zpsoychi2ms.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living4_zps8zwspflu.jpgIt’s both a small cafe and a boutique, and I’m not lying when I say I could buy literally everything they stock. From gorgeous candles to the softest blankets, stylish light fittings to cushions that are just so me, there’s always something new to add to my wishlist.

And of course, it helps that their menu is on point too. So far I’ve only popped in (possibly far too often) for a drink and a sweet treat, but it’s still made it’s way up to the top of my list in Putney. Their hot chocolate is quite simply one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not thick and super-chocolatey (because this gal isn’t a huge fan of hot chocolate like that!), it’s light, frothy, milky and rich without being overwelming. But it’s the cinnamon buns that *really* bring me to this place. Termed “possibly the best in Putney,” they’re certainly the best I’ve tried – and that includes my homemade ones! Soft without being doughy, sticky but not sickly, and intensely spiced. The only other thing I can say is that you should really get yourselves to Putney and try one!

 photo Blabar Nordic Living2_zpshc3zybfj.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living6_zpsjblgnicd.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living1_zpssnee9do2.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living7_zpsssksy2io.jpgNow I’ve just got to head back and try their brunch menu. The vegan pancake stack sounds all kinds of delicious…

Have you got a favourite local spot?

Personal: Radio Silence

So, I’ve been a little absent lately. It’s the first unplanned blog break I’ve had in a while and if I’m honest I’ve not been remotely happy about it. I feel gutted that I just wasn’t able to balance everything last month and blogging was the thing that got the cut.

And that’s the reality of blogging, particularly with a demanding full-time career as well.

 photo 2016-12-27 16.21.14_zpslp8ekdep.jpgIt’s not all free “blogger mail” and cocktail-making press trips. It’s not receiving meal vouchers and theatre tickets. Of course, those things do happen (though not as often as soon might think!) but the vast majority of blogging is just bloody hard work.

Right now I have 34 emails in my inbox I have to reply to, after deleting another 27 that are spammy, generic or just don’t warrant a response. I have a list of 89 posts I want to pen up at some point. I have 10 posts I want to go live this month, all of which have photographs that need editing (because I luckily have a backlog of photos taken, otherwise I’d have to do that too). I have God knows how many old posts I need to go back and edit. And that’s before I even think about social media.

But this post isn’t meant to be a ‘woe is me’ pity grabber. My point is that blogging isn’t a walk in the park. And realistically, my career (my day job and the study that comes with it) have to come first. When I found out I passed the exam I took in April, despite that fact I was overjoyed, it also meant I wouldn’t be resitting in September. So I’ve had to pick up another exam instead – and with tutorials timed virtually straight away I had to throw myself into the deep end. Oh, and we moved flats too. And went on holiday (we picked up the keys to the new place about 10 hours after landing back at Gatwick!).

 photo 2016-12-27 17.01.57_zpssee0leme.jpgBasically it’s been busy. I stopped blogging. And I’m sorry. Fingers crossed I’ll carve out a bit of time over the next few weeks to get back into it.

There’s also some changes I want to make to this space. A bit of a rebrand, a bit of a redesign. I had planned to get that all done and THEN come back and start blogging. But I missed typing away and my to-do list just wasn’t getting any smaller. So keep an eye out for these changes, all will be revealed soon…

How have you been the past few weeks?