Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #11 (The Bumper One With Christmas!)

I’m well aware it’s been wayyyyy more than a fortnight since my last happy post, since Christmas for that matter – but I didn’t want to change the format of these posts too much. Rest assured they will be back each fortnight now! It just so happens that this one is a longer one…

A lot has happened in my life since the last Happy Post, and in all honesty the majority of it wasn’t that happy – so I’ve been focussing on the little things. Since writing these posts my positivity has improved no end!

 photo Happy Things 2_zpstx894dal.png

Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…

  1. Christmas. Surviving travelling up from London carrying a very heavy Christmas cake. Getting our parents together for a festive celebration on Christmas Eve. Catching up with all of our families. Receiving some lovely presents.
  2. Expanding my Charlotte Tilbury collection. Admittedly only by a lip liner, but I will also be booking a bridal session courtesy of my parents very soon. #excited
  3. Making an amazingggg dessert with W for our NYE party. We made Chocolate & Cherry Brownies, with a Hazelnut Mousse, Cherry Gel and Chocolate Soil. And caramel-dipped hazelnuts. It was SO good.
  4. Talking about all the funny memories. Hard and teary, but it made the sadness better.
  5. Will’s birthday meal at Mac & Wild. We ate an extreme amount of venison. Plus there was toasted bee pollen on my dessert. And I had an amazing whisky cocktail. Goooood night!
  6. Passing my first professional exam. Granted it’s one that doesn’t reallllyyyy count, but still!
  7. New PJs. They are the softest, cosiest things EVER.
  8. Hitting over 100 likes on an Instagram shot. It’s the little things that make me happy! (plus it’s kept happening!)
  9. Visiting the Design Museum. Definitely worth a trip, though I’d advise staying away at weekends.
  10. Getting a seat on the Tube all the way. I usually get one for most of it, but to board the Tube and sit down straight away meant it was a good day. Like I said, it’s the little things…
  11. Wandering around Parson’s Green. Quite possibly my new favourite pastime – the charity shops are full of insane bargains!
  12. Talking of bargains, I picked up a lovely coat at Spitalfields for £15. It’s just what I’ve been looking for – and seeing as I found a fiver in my bag I’m even more chuffed!
  13. Spending time with one of my best friends. It was just what I needed to cheer me up!
  14. Cooking up the best tomato sauce substitute I’ve tried. Even worked well on pizza…
  15. Spending time with another of my best friends – my mummy. She came down for a sleepover, we ate too much chocolate, then too much cake and cried at Phantom of the Opera.
  16. Picking W up at Heathrow. I missed him more than I want to admit – it felt like I was missing my left (I’m a leftie!) arm.
  17. Silent Witness. Though NOT a good thing to watch when you are living completely on your own…
  18. A new washing machine. It now actually washes and dries things, rather than making them hot and creased.
  19. Catching up with my cousins. Might not have been for a happy occasion, but it was good to see them!
  20. Pretty new shoes from Kurt Geiger. The perfect ‘power heels’ – high, pointy, patent black.
  21. Taking time to paint my nails and put on a facemask on Sunday nights. The advantage of not having W around was plenty of time to be a ‘girly girl’!
  22. Eating a Wispa. It’s not a bar I’d usually choose, but it really hit the spot…
  23. My new slippers. No longer is going into the bathroom a form of torture.
  24. Stand Up Philosophy. We’ve been meaning to go for ages, and we did it. Topic of the night was ‘taste’ and my highlight was definitely Sophie Duker (even if she did knock over my wine – luckily I’d almost finished it!). Not one to listen to with a full bladder.
  25. The third shoe mention – I bought my wedding shoes!! Yes, 20 months in advance, but when you have Size 3 feet and you spot the perfect pair a gal’s gotta move fast.
  26. Baking a Toffee, Banana & Pecan Loaf Cake. It was so, soooo good! Recipe to follow…

What’s been making you smile lately?

Personal: 2017 Goals, Month by Month

A bit belated perhaps, but after my month off I need a good ole kick up the ass and motivation boost. You see, I didn’t just give myself a month off from blogging. I had two weeks off work, a good chunk of time away from studying, and even took a fitness break. In fact, pretty much the only thing I didn’t take a break from was eating excessive amounts of chocolate.

 photo 2017 Goals_zps78affijh.jpgNormally my New Year’s Day looks like this – I’ll take the dog out for a good walk to clear my head, and I’ll sit with a bucket full of tea and think about my resolutions. This year had other plans for me, and the day wasn’t spent thinking about myself, but spending time with my family, being there for each other and reminiscing. And I kinda carried on in that vein for a few weeks. Nothing wrong with it, but when I started to get behind on study, when I returned to work and struggled to get anything in the evenings, I knew I had to set some goals. And fast.

This year I’ve done it a little differently. I’ve not set resolutions for the whole year. I’ve set a few fun year-long goals, but mostly I’ve worked month-by-month. Concentrating on some more specific goals for just 30 days seems a whole lot more achievable, and who knows – the habit might stick by the end of month!

 photo 2017-01-22 22.00.57_zpsrwokriis.jpgJanuary – Plan all my meals in advance at the weekend. Drink at least 5 glasses of water throughout the work day. Only eat canteen lunches once a week. And get my shit together and get organised!

Update (5 Feb) – I can kill two birds with one stone in this post, and review how I got on over January. As Will was away I had to be doubly organised with meals and so I did plan every meal – and only ate in the canteen twice overall. I think most days I drank 5 glass of water, never less than 4 plus fruit tea anyway. And I feel a little more organised, so I’ll count last month as a success!

February – Post on Instagram at least twice a day. Learn to make marshmallows. Only eat pasta once a fortnight.

March – Do at least two hours of study every day (you can tell my exams are in April!). Eat two vegetarian dinners a week.

 photo 2017-01-22 11.08.24_zps7oebi6tc.jpgApril – Do all possible prep for dinner the night before. Go out for fresh air every lunchtime. “No spend” month, with no purchases of makeup, skincare, clothes or shoes.

May – Do a workout everyday (maybe start the C25K again…). Visit somewhere new every weekend. Leave my phone in my bag whilst at work.

June – Wash my makeup brushes every week. Push myself at work (June is a big month for presentations, which is my worst fear, so this is a big one!).

 photo Beetroot Black Pudding Salad 2_zps8s9qgfnh.jpgJuly – Eat something ‘raw’ at least once a day (July will be the month of the salad!). Bulk take blog photos at the weekends. Look into learning how to row.

August – Get off the tube early at least 3 days a week and walk. Don’t buy in ice-cream, only eat it at home if I’ve made it. Don’t touch my phone after 9pm.

September – Do at least two hours of study every day (more exams at the end of September). Leave my Kindle untouched until my exam is over.

October – Cook a new recipe at least twice a week. Do some serious wedding planning (I’ll be hitting the 1 year countdown, how scary is that?!). Only drink one cup of tea a day.

 photo Report Done_zpsevlcr5tk.jpgNovember – Up my social media game. Prep at least one blog post an evening (3 nights a week). Learn something new (maybe knitting – because I’ve not been saying that for years!). Cut down from having sugar in my tea.

December – Volunteer my time over Christmas. Take some time away from social media to concentrate on my family. Keep up a fitness regime over the festive period.

 photo 2016-12-02 11.49.23_zpsnvrnvhvu.jpg

And my year-long goals? I want to try each month’s flavours of Cronut at Dominique Ansel (though November’s is still my favourite so far!). I want to get more organised, both in and out of work. I want to meet up with more blog friends, see my uni friends more, socialise a little more with people from work. Here’s to 2017 being better than it started!

What goals are you working on this year?

Lifestyle: Different Things to do in London

It’s official, I have fallen completely and utterly in love with London. I was enjoying living down in the Big Smoke, but it took my trip up to the Midlands at Christmas to make me realise just how much I love our capital. And other than waxing lyrical about my love for the city, I’ve decided it’s the perfect timing to pen up some of the underrated areas I’ve found over the last few months.

 photo Things to do in London_zpsmqpr1knd.jpg

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Wander Around Victoria

During my placement year I spent hours in Victoria Station (as I’m sure many of those who rely on Southern rail have!). I only wish I’d ventured outside and down the road before now, I didn’t realise quite how Instagrammable the streets of Victoria and Pimlico are! Plus it doesn’t hurt that both Peggy Porschen and Dominique Ansel are so close!

 photo Olympic Slide 29_zpsiyunb1it.jpg photo Olympic Slide 26_zpsj4avz8ao.jpg photo Olympic Slide 24_zpssju86ad0.jpg photo Olympic Slide 17_zpswqlydjmk.jpg photo Olympic Slide 18_zpsdelfmybv.jpg photo Olympic Slide 16_zps18yf69zy.jpg photo Olympic Slide 13_zpsuq3d21g5.jpg photo Olympic Slide 12_zps3eodgulb.jpg photo Olympic Slide 10_zpsvvjwjfki.jpg photo Olympic Slide 8_zpsodgwfwot.jpg photo Olympic Slide 5_zpstnoqgqn0.jpg photo Olympic Slide 3_zpsrghvekk7.jpg photo Olympic Slide 31_zps8gyxvpau.jpg photo Olympic Slide 30_zps8addigce.jpg

Ride the “Olympic Slide*”

Way back in December I was invited to Stratford to ride the Arcelor Mittal Orbit. At nearly 180m it’s the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide – and when they say it’s tall, it’s bloody tall! It takes around 40 seconds to descend the slide, circling around the ArcelorMittal Orbit 12 times through loops and curves, including a tight corkscrew section that definitely got a few screams out of me!

It’s pretty pricey (full disclosure here – I was invited to slide free of charge, but we picked up a ticket for W using his student discount) at £15 per adult, but the views are pretty good, and the slide both exciting and scary in pretty equal measure. Plus it was an excuse to have a quick wander around the Olympic Park, having only visited way back in 2011 on a Geography field trip when it was still a muddy building site! I only wish it hadn’t been quite so foggy on the day we went up, though I quite like the atmospheric pictures I managed to take.

Oh, and there’s now also the change to abseiling down the structure. I’m hugely tempted!

Indulge in Creme Egg Delights on the Southbank

I got super-excited when I first ventured out of the house on the 27th December – because sat by the tills in Waitrose were the Creme Eggs! I haven’t succumbed to the temptation quite yet, but I guarantee I’ll be getting my fix soon. There’s nothing like feeling sick on the sugar overload that is a Creme Egg!

And even more excitingly – the Cadbury Creme Egg Café is back (with a twist!) and this time it’s touring the UK. The Cadbury Creme Egg Hunting Lodge will include a takeaway with an offering of gooey Creme Egg S’mores to-go, with some extra treats if you’ve got enough time to stop awhile. The Lodge will be visiting London, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh – unfortunately tickets have sold out but there’s limited space for walk-ins. I know I’ll be queuing!

 photo South Kensington 15_zpsxmy4jdvm.jpg photo South Kensington 16_zpspzfa5vmh.jpg photo South Kensington 8_zps16wbwjck.jpg

Walk Between Kensington & Knightsbridge

One of my favourite walks goes from Imperial College, through cobbled streets (lined with the prettiest multi-coloured cottages), coming out just down the road from Harrods. I can indulge several passions in one short trip. Taking Instagram shots of houses, window shopping (shoes are my latest obsession – I’m desperately hunting down the perfect wedding shoes) and browsing some of my favourite homeware boutiques.

I’d also highly recommend a trip to the (free!) Design Museum if you’re in the area. Be warned though, it’s quite tight for space around the exhibits and I’ve heard it’s packed at weekends!

Planning on visiting one of my favourite London places of 2016 today – Spitalfields Market. Perfect for a rainy Sunday!

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Get Spendy in Spitalfields

Another one of my favourite places to spend a Sunday afternoon – particularly if it’s raining as other than the short walk from Liverpool Street you’re pretty much undercover the entire time. It’s full of quirky buys (I’m class it as the ‘grown-up’ Camden – though I love Camden just as much), vintage stalls, leather wares, upcoming fashion designers, beauty boutiques, more homeware stores and glorious smelling food popups.

I took a trip with one of my best friends during January and we had the best time browsing, lusting over bits and bobs for our future houses and hunting down a new coat for me. It does’t help that Kontidor and Cook have their store nearby, they make the best brownies…

These are just a handful of some of my favourite bits and bobs to do in London – there’s so much more I have to see (Portobello Market and Kew Gardens are high on my list!).

What are your favourite things to do in London?

Personal: A Hello From Me

Long time, no blog!

It’s been far too long since I since down at my laptop and tapped out a blog post. I’ve hardly picked up my camera in weeks. I’ve even been logged out of Twitter on my phone due to ‘inactivity.’ All in all, not quite the productive start to the year I was hoping for.

 photo 2016-12-02 12.08.03_zps2chmqmpb.jpg photo 2016-12-02 11.50.30_zpsqtlnvbip.jpgI probably made it clear in my last post just how tired i was, how run down I felt. At the time I was balancing work, study, blogging, a rammed social calendar and wedding planning, on top of personal circumstances that were far from pleasant. I had an email inbox that was rapidly expanding, a to-do list that was getting to be taller than I was (no mean feat, even with me being vertically challenged!). My skin was betraying just how exhausted I was, and my immune system gave way to a nasty virus in the week before Christmas.

I spent Christmas trying to solider on through, alcohol making me want to throw up, falling asleep at every opportunity and not even feeling like enjoying my food. Typically the 27th dawned and I felt an awful lot better – and luckily made a good dent in the leftovers. Using pigs in blankets as dipping implements for a boiled egg was the best idea I’d had throughout all of 2016…

 photo 2016-12-27 11.59.52_zpsyinsztih.jpg photo 2016-11-12 13.59.15_zpsqwcb2t3i.jpgA few cold countryside walks, a couple of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges (because vitamins…?!) and things were looking up. I managed to get a decent chunk of studying done. Planned out the first few months of blog posts for 2017. And then the aforementioned personal circumstances came back and hit hard. Just a few short minutes into the year, my beloved Granddad peacefully passed away. It’s not something I’ve really mentioned on here, but he’d been suffering from severe Alzheimer’s for many, many years and whilst his passing is sad, I’m relieved he’s finally free – I’m sure he’s having a pint and chuckle at us all right now!

Feeling under the weather and dealing with grief – not to mention the fact that W then went to South America for the month – meant I just needed to continue to take a break. Despite myself promising I’d never put pressure on myself to blog, that’s exactly what I was doing for much of 2016. I hate not fulfilling my posting schedule, I hate being chased to reply to an email.

 photo 2016-12-27 17.01.57_zpsbhea1wxt.jpg photo 2016-12-27 16.59.28_zpsquqpo0fy.jpg photo 2016-12-27 16.21.14_zpsldgejd2c.jpg photo 2016-12-27 16.19.27_zpsyoegimcb.jpgThis year I’m going to try and take some of the pressure off. I’ve shifted around my posting schedule to reduce the number of posts each month. I’ve set an auto-reply to give PRs a warning that I may not reply immediately. I’m going to try and meet new bloggers, make coffee dates with those I’ve been meaning to catch up with for months. I’m going to head out for meals and not photograph them (well, maybe). I’ll bake for the enjoyment and not for the Instagram likes. I’ll make time for me, make plans for me and not ‘for the blog.’ I love blogging, I’m sticking around for a while. But I also like living, and my blog doesn’t entirely define my life. Here’s to 2017 being the year I live for me.

How has the start of the year been for you?

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas

Just a quick note from me to say I’m now signing off until the New Year.

 photo Christmas 2016 18_zpsn3lze10m.jpgIf I’m honest, the last month or so has exhausted me. I’ve been emotional and teary, and quite frankly a joy to live with. I’ve tried to do far too much, overworked myself in my career, my study, my blog. I’ve set the bar for myself too high and the beaten myself up when I ‘failed.’

I desperately need to recharge my batteries.

I have a whole fortnight off work. I’ve cut down the studying I planned to do (see, too much of a control freak to let myself have proper time off!). I’ve swiped my blog schedule clean. As of 1pm on Friday I’m officially out of the office, and will at least reserve a few days for total rest and relaxation.

 photo Christmas 2016 19_zps9sx1dqvj.jpgThe plan is to catch up on some zzz’s. Eat far too much food. Drink lots of wine. Catch up with friends and family. I might be feeling more unfestive than I ever have before, but I’m also looking forward to this Christmas period more than I can remember.

So to all my lovely readers, have an absolutely lovely Christmas, a very merry New Year, and I will see you (hopefully refreshed and replenished!) in 2017! x

Blogging: Best Posts of 2016

One of the things I really love about blogging is the online community. I love being a part of it, and I’m hoping to see more of some of my favourite London bloggers over the next few months. Over 2016 there’s been a lot of ups and downs – there’s been drama, there’s been accusations. There’s been bitches about PRs, PRs bitching back. There’s been a huge move towards only “full-time” bloggers being seen as dedicated (something I’ve personally been a part of). But there’s also been some amazing positive moments. There’s been my favourite bloggers going viral, winning competitions, being invited to work with their all-time top brands, achieving personal goals.

favourite-blogsAnd I for one think the quality of the blogging world has gone up drastically. Not too long ago I would scroll through my BL feed a bit absent-mindedly. Now there’s SO many posts which grab me that I need to read. So much inspiration out there. Here’s just a few of my favourite blog posts of 2016…

Little Miss Katy

I’ve loved Katy’s blog since she started it. Her writing style is like one big, happy chat and her images are stunning. She’s had a bit of a re-brand this year and now her Instagram makes me despise mine. For longer than I remember she’s been writing a Happy Monday post and it’s something I always look forward to (I’m not a Monday person) – and in November she asked for people to contribute via social media. She got a massive response and the resulting post was ridiculously uplifting.

I also am forever grateful to her Instagram Editing Guide – I can finally get away with taking photos of buildings and fixing the dodgy angles!

Miss Pond

One of my favourite foodie bloggers, Miss Pond does easily achievable recipes you can actually see yourself making. One of my favourites of this year has been her Squash & Sausage Pasta – made with chorizo sausages it’s slightly spicy, super warming, quick and just yum. We usually skip the cheese (bar the compulsory grating or parmesan) but even then it’s becoming a regular. So many more recipes to try too…her Game Ragu looks delicious, and Fish Curry so comforting and fragrant.

I’m hoping to post my version of her pasta recipe linked above so keep an eye out!

Bumpkin Betty

I can’t remember when I first starting reading Bumpkin Betty, but I know I loved reading about her November wedding – her posts weren’t long after I got engaged and her style was just so unique. More recently she’s posted about re-wearing her wedding dress, something I am totally aiming at in some way or another. She’s also a pretty fab food blogger, running a monthly baking club (which I try to take part in as often as I can) and writing about cheese.

Oh, and she’s got a bun in the oven, quite literally! I’m SO excited to see her journey into motherhood.

Becky Bedbug

I have to say, I love Becky. Both her blog and style are completely unique, not to mention she has an interest in burial grounds/graveyards which I do admit I am quite fascinated by. She’s currently studying for a Masters in Death, Religion and Culture – and it sounds SO interesting. I love reading about other people’s university experiences as mine was so maths-stats-finance focussed.

Oh, and her nails are to die-for.

Hi! So I realise I’ve not updated on here for a while but I was very, very lucky to receive my shiny new lungs not too long after arriving at Harefield! Since then I’ve been recovering as being so unwell beforehand and afterwards left me feeling very weak. Recovery has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, physically and mentally, but after over a month in intensive care I’m now on the transplant ward. This was Thursday eating my dinner in the sunshine! I’ve a while to go yet as I’ve still got a trachy in and need to learn to walk properly again but I’ll get there eventually with the help of the incredible staff here at Harefield Hospital. There are not enough words to thank my beautiful donor and their amazing family for giving me this second chance at life, it’s not just me but the effect organ donation has had on my family and loved ones too is clear to see. Thank you so much for all the messages, I’ve been too tired to reply but I’ve read them all and they’ve been a real boost 💕 #organdonation #lungtransplant #doublelungtransplant #harefieldhospital #harefield #cf #cysticfibrosis #livelifegivelife

A photo posted by Josie (@sickchickchic) on

Sick Chick Chic

Now, this Instagram post made me cry. I’d been reading Josie’s blog for a while, loving her style and sense of humour. And it was clear she was suffering badly with her cystic fibrosis at the start of this year. She’s talked about it on her blog, but it was incredible that she was so, so poorly and managed to get her transplant. She looks amazing now, you’d never think she had as-major-as-it-gets surgery over the summer.

EmTalks

“Friends come and go, some stay forever, some friendships happen and they’re completely unexpected.” This quote from Em’s post on friendship has really stuck in my mind since I read it. This year, having graduated and moved to another new city, friendship was a major worry. I was terrified I’d make a mess of moving in with W (we’re both still alive, so it’s clearly going well!), I was scared I’d lose the close friends I’d made at university. Her post is so honest and quite uplifting. And as for me? I’ve not only kept hold of my closest relationships, I’ve also made a whole new friendship group.

 photo stethoscope_zpsjewdznix.jpgGinevrella

I’ve loved reading about Jen’s journey through her medical degree, and finding out she got an actual, proper job as a real doctor was such a proud moment. I’ve never met her, but I get the feeling from reading her blog that she is amazing at it. Also, didn’t she look gorgeous at her graduation ball?! I’m so jealous of her dress…

 photo Workwear Outfits 5_zpsldfjftmh.jpgThere’s been so many other blog posts I’ve loved this year. I follow a huge amount of blogs on Bloglovin and spend a good chunk of my week flicking through my feed and seeing what my favourites have been up to. It’s simply impossible for me to even list my favourite bloggers, yet alone all of the posts I’ve loved in the last year – these are just some of them!

Who are your favourite bloggers? What kind of blog posts would you like to see more of from me?

Fashion: The 2016 Favourites (+Best Beauty Bits)

Throughout December, in an attempt to stop Christmas taking over entirely, I’m putting together a few posts to review my 2016. The best one (favourite eats – obviously!) will be going live on Thursday but today it’s time to talk all about my fashion and beauty favourites from the year.

This was kind of a difficult post to write, really, as I can’t actually remember much about the first few months at all. Then we hit exam season and I was lucky if I found time to moisturise my face, let alone put on makeup. My final-year of university saw me wear jeans more times than I think I had done in my entire life. Then I started work. My makeup is in a bit of a rut and I alternate between suits and pyjamas. All that said, this has been the year I’ve really experimented with foundation. I’ve found two of my all-time favourite lipsticks. I bought a graduation dress I love. My workwear wardrobe is perfect for both my corporate profession and my style. And I’m slowly, slowly updating my hairstyle.
 photo Autumn Walks 13_zps9xr4lpur.jpg

New Hair

Trying to grow out shorter, choppier layers is a slow process. So is going from a side parting to a centre one. It’s leaving me with some horrific hair days, but slowly they are becoming less frequent. When I have a REALLY good hair day it’s obvious. Take last Friday for instance. Randomly my third day hair looked pretty much perfect. Curls, volume, falling just right. I had so many compliments and it made my day. Saturday evening, on the other hand, it was horrific. Though to be fair I had walked in the wind and rain around the park (twice) waiting for the dog to do his business…

Next step is to figure out what I’m doing with the colour. I love coppery tones, but trying to keep it that colour is so difficult. Especially as L’Oreal seems intent on discontinuing any shades I grow to love.

Best Beauty Bits

I’ve picked up quite a few favourite bits and pieces this year. I’ve found a range of haircare that my hair seems to love and which doesn’t upset my bank balance (Dove, FYI, full review to come at some point). I picked up my go-to foundation, though I’m still on the hunt for one which may make the cut for my wedding day makeup. I’ve found my perfect bold lip in the form of MAC Diva. I’ve finally found a concealer that will hide my under-eye circles.
 photo Christmas Dresses 6_zpstx14v8j6.jpg photo Christmas Dresses 4_zpsvai4bvyp.jpg photo Christmas Dresses 1_zpsxgiqufnv.jpg

The Christmas Dresses

For the past five years (and I say that a little red-faced) I’ve worn the exact same dress at Christmas; a plum jumper dress. Warm and cosy and forgiving on the tummy department, it was my safe option. And I’d never found the perfect Christmas dress. Something festive yet comfortable, smart enough to feel special but casual enough to roll about on the floor with the dog.

This year, I’ve found two.

The first I came across back in October, spying it on the rack in Next. In all sizes but the one I needed. I stalked their website for weeks, made trips on a twice-weekly basis to the five stores within walking distance from work. And it finally appeared one day. It fits perfectly, is SO comfy and makes me feel super slim (even after Bill’s Mac’n’Cheese on Sunday!). It’s the perfect length, feeling sassy yet demure enough for Christmas morning church.

The second is my work-party dress* – and I’m not sneak peak on here as I’d sooner keep the whole outfit under wraps until then! For the price I think it’s excellent quality, and it looks smart enough for the office under a black jacket. It’s quite different to what I would usually go for (bodycon is not my thing!) but the lace means it doesn’t look too clingy. I’m looking forward to pairing it with my new KoKo Couture Clutch* (another bargain, though deceptively small), a red lip and heels. Quiz have some lovely things in right now – and so much is in the sale too!
 photo IMG_2070_zpspkjc9e6n.jpg photo IMG_2072_zpsjzatm5z8.jpg photo IMG_20160711_210217_zpscuhrj94s.jpg

Graduation

I actually felt really stressed about finding a dress to wear for my graduation ceremony. I wanted it to fit (seeing as most of my clothes at the time were pre-weight loss). I wanted it to reflect my personality (i.e. it needed to be floral). I wanted something classic, something I’d be happy to wear again, but equally something special and not “every-day.” I was lucky; I decided on the first dress I tried. And I loved it.

Love my new cord pinafore! #weekendfashion #cord #pinafore #cordpinafore #ootd #fotd #redlip #macdiva #whatastudentwears

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Cord Pinafores

One thing I’ve discovered and LOVED this year is cord pinafores. Practical (because who doesn’t love pockets?!), warm and cosy and so easy to wear, my favourite are the Topshop ones. Pricey but I’ve found they wash extremely well, and the halter-neck style of straps is more flattery than some of the other styles. I’ve got one in burgundy and one in black – worn with either a jumper or a stripy t-shirt I could probably live in them!

They also hide food babies extremely well. Win win!
 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 9_zpsrscrvwm5.png

Wedding Dress

Oh, yep, just a little one here! Way back in May, before we’d set a date and a massive 2.5 years before our wedding, I put down a deposit on my dress. I’m lucky enough to be getting a bespoke design from a British designer and I’m SO excited to be part of the process. Eeek!

So yep, it’s been a pretty good (and hugely expensive!) year shopping-wise. Next on my list is to find a pair of work trousers I feel comfortable in, and the perfect pair of pointed ankle boots. Wish me luck!

What has been your favourite outfit of 2016?

 

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #10

It’s Christtttmasssss!

Hands up who else can’t believe how quickly December crept up on us?! These past two weeks have been pretty full-on again. Lots of celebrating, an awful lot of food, more than a little cheeky shopping and cramming in study whenever I could too. I’m SO looking forward to a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year now, I seriously need to recharge my batteries!

 photo Happy Things 2_zpstx894dal.png

Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…

  1. Birthdayyyyy! I turned 23 at the beginning of the month and had a lovely, lovely chilled few days celebrating.
  2. Mulled cider. My favourite winter-y tipple, there’s a pub in Leadenhall Market that does this perfectly.
  3. A new Kindle. My parents treated me for my birthday. I’m so, so grateful and it was sorely needed after mine decided to die a slow and painful death over November.
  4. Getting positive feedback on my first assignment. Yes, I failed it, but it was clear I’d mis-read a question and I know exactly where I need to work on. Feeling motivated now!
  5. Honest burgers. Again. I met one of my besties after work and it was DELISH!
  6. The best eggs I’ve eaten. Ever. The yolk porn was insane.
  7. Seeing The Lion King. It was just amazing. I cried.
  8. Spending a fortune (worth of gift cards!) on New Look. I’m just hoping it all fits…
  9. Making new blog friends. I headed over to a Co-Op and Sorted Food event last week and met Tanya for the first time. We drank too much prosecco and had a ball.
  10. Ginger, Orange & Chocolate Cookies. My new favourite treat.

What’s been the highlight of your last week?

Lifestyle: November Favourites

November is normally one of my favourite months. It’s normally cold and crisp. I love Bonfire night; wrapping up warm to watch fireworks and scorch my face by getting too close to the flames. I love wandering around London and sniffing the first whiffs of Mulled Wine. I love buying presents, choosing wrapping paper, getting ready for Christmas. I love cosying up with a good bowl of comforting food.

This November has been different.

I’ve kept up a smile, a happy appearance (W would say differently, it’s his shoulder I cry on!). But I’ve really struggled with November this year.

I found it grey, the weather pretty miserable. Even on dry days, the biting wind of Fenchurch Street all but killed off my lunchtime strolls. I resented it being dark in the mornings and dark in the evenings, even dark during the days on one horrific Monday. I felt overwelmed with all I had to learn for my job, the amount of studying I need to do before my exam in April. I missed my university housemates, felt lonely and isolated. I felt pressured and fed up of wedding planning. I began to hate my appearance; frizzy hair, spotty and flaky skin, growing wobbly bits. All in all, it hasn’t been my best month.

It’s made me all the more grateful for the little things, the tiny bits that make me smile, make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Whether it’s ready a good blog post, understand a section in my course notes or making the perfect cup of tea (rarer that you’d think!), focusing on these has kept me from throwing the towel in and hibernating until Spring…

Bloggers do brunch! Happy belated birthday @jasxcharlotte 😘

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Brunch & Babes

One grey and drizzly Sunday morning was certainly cheered up with brunch and catch-ups with some of my favourite blogging girls – and some new favourites too. We headed over to Cambridge St Kitchen for instagrammable dishes and plenty of chatting, all in celebration of Jasmin’s birthday. And it really cheered me up. I’d been feeling a little lonely over the past few weeks so it couldn’t have come at a better time!

The brunch was, we all agreed, “fine.” Nothing special, not really worth the 60+ minutes wait, bitter coffee and my toast was burnt. The cafe itself was lovely, the staff friendly if slow, and my poached eggs were yolk-porn perfection. Not bad, not great.

We followed with a ‘cake quest’ – picking up the much-hyped Cronut and then a good wander around Victoria and across the park to work at least some of it off. Verdict on the Cronut? Insanely indulgent, deceptively filling, wonderfully sweet yet balanced. November’s flavour (yep, wish I hadn’t known about the monthly flavours!) was Cherry & White Almond, and the frangipane notes work well against the sharp jam and sweet dough. I’m not convinced it’s worth the hype, but it was good. Though it hasn’t replaced my love for Co-Op doughnuts…
 photo Date Night 2_zpsovmlsllu.jpg photo Date Night 4_zpskwswhwam.jpg photo Date Night 12_zpskqwu2qhr.jpg photo Date Night 14_zpsti1h4hwd.jpg photo 2016-11-12 14.00.47_zpsd8kliuqy.jpg

Date Night

Moving in together means there’s little room for romance in our day-to-day lives. However right at the start of the month W surprised me with date night. He cooked a super-fancy meal, we turned off all distractions and really enjoyed each other’s company. And with him in the kitchen, I’m a lucky girl. Pan-roasted venision with celeriac puree and blackberry pan jus, followed by his S’mores concept dessert. Homemade chocolate and whisky ice-cream, buttery biscuit base, mashmallow-y meringue blow-torched to give that toasted flavour. Yum.

He also surprised me with flowers. And remembered to buy us a vase to put them in. I found a good’un!
 photo Autumn Walks 16 v1_zpshfcf97tf.jpg photo Autumn Walks 13_zpsfsr2dy6q.jpg photo Autumn Walks 14_zpsujmsckzf.jpg photo Autumn Walks 2_zpsuduvgiuy.jpg

Autumnal Sunshine

I know I said that the month was pretty grey and miserable (and it was!), but there were some gorgeously sunny days. Every time the sun made an appearance I insisted on wrapping up warm and heading out to make the most of it – which is pretty easy when we live right next to a gorgeous little park.
 photo The Perfect Weekend 11_zpsqed48ygm.jpg photo The Perfect Weekend 10_zps4hlvhkqw.jpg

Cosying Up

I’m on the go a lot. I rarely sit down and truly relax. I work full-time. I study on the tube. I get home and exercise. I either cook or wash-up (because adulting). I either blog or study. I sleep. I get up early. Repeat.

One Saturday we made the effort to really take some time to chill out, relax and start the weekend properly. We planned to shop on Friday evening (we usually go pre-9am on Saturdays, because me and busy shops is not a good combo). We didn’t set an alarm, we had giant mugs of tea in bed, we made scrambled eggs. Separately, because he likes a firmer-set scramble, I like part-cooked softly set eggs. Bliss.
 photo Crisp Sandwiches 7_zpsd0ydj77m.jpg

Crisp Sandwich

Right when Instagram is full of salads, of healthy dishes, of vegan “free-from everything” meals – I post a picture of a crisp sandwich that I had for lunch. With S’mores brownie on the side. I have no shame! In all honesty I’d been craving a crisp sandwich for months, it was the first lunchtime in a long time I was on my own, and so I indulged. White ‘plastic’ sandwich bread, proper salted butter (no of that spread nonsense), salt’n’vinegar crisps. So bad, so good. Messy, crunchy, slightly greasy and a full-on carb overload. I only regret that it’s not socially acceptable to do in the office…

And speaking of S’mores Brownie, that was a definitely highlight of November for sure… I took some wrapped up to our local Firework celebration. The perfect snack!
 photo Veggie Squash Stew 6_zpse4mbmzyu.jpg photo Veggie Squash Stew 7_zpslmptnnoi.jpg

Stocking Up My Freezer

A few weeks back Abel & Cole offered to send me one of their new student recipe boxes*. A veggie recipe making six portions, along with potatoes and some seasonal fruit – all for £14.50. I normally think recipe boxes are a bit overpriced, but actually I’m really impressed with this one.

I originally got sent their Mushroom & Leek Risotto Box – which sounded super-yum. Unfortunately Royal Mail, ahem, royally mucked up and I only got my hands on the box a week after it was sent. I rescued what I could and made a yum potato and leek soup (plus stock up my cupboard with arborio rice) and had apples for snacks for a few days.

They then sent over their Squash Scouse (hand-delivered). And I now have it stashed away in my freezer for evenings where I just want to leave something to heat up and cosy up with a warm bowl. It made eight massive portions (and I didn’t even use all the ingredients), the veggie flavours were simple yet stunning and it is super-filling. We’ve had it on it’s own, with chicken and with spicy sausages. Yum!

London Wanderings

Despite the greyness, the dampness, the shorter days – it’s been so lovely to get out and about and really explore some more of London. I loved wandering around Victoria with the blogging girls, I loved have a browse around Spitalfields with W – it took alllllll my willpower to ignore Bleecker Street burgers! Though my Christmas dinner toastie (cheers Costa) was pretty yum…

Have you tried any of the coffeeshops Christmas specials? What was your highlight of November?

Lifestyle: Feeling 23 (+25 before 25)

Cliched I know, but I genuinely feel like my life is flashing by before my eyes!

This time last year I was battling my way through the final year of my degree, sobbing my heart out with each final-stage job rejection and confused as to why W was acting secretly and my mum was hardly talking to me. Fast forward to now. I graduated with a First (and by a good margin too!), got offered two graduate jobs, am working in a job I love, and I’m living in London with my fiancé. Because a secretive long-term boyfriend and a shift mum meant a proposal was in motion, of course! I look back to last November/December and I just can’t believe how much my life has changed. I’m pretty much a full blown adult!

 photo 2016-11-12 14.00.47_zpsr1nyghen.jpg(I say that wearing my PJs, whilst drinking a hot chocolate that’s more marshmallows than drink…)

I turned 23 yesterday and it got me thinking – I have so much I want to do, several different bucket lists, and I really should start getting them ticked off. It also made me realise that life is passing me by quickly. In under two years I’ll be married and, whilst that in itself is the start of something very exciting, I equally want to make the most of these next two years, of being engaged and of having slightly less of those big scary responsibilities!

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 6_zpsaf1qfmzd.jpg photo Flat Tour 16_zpshlzuq2ih.jpg

  1. Get married. At least I know I’ll tick something off!
  2. Get a dog. Or at least set up a doggy share…
  3. Be at least a little bit closer to buying a house.
  4. Visit America.
  5. Paint a painting.
  6. Make good progress with my professional exams – finishing them is looking very unlikely unfortunately!
  7. Go on a tour of the Scottish Highlands.
  8. Visit Bruges.
  9. Host a proper, grown-up dinner party.
  10. Learn to row.
  11. Learn to knit.
  12. Cook an Eggs Benedict for myself.
  13. Make my own sausages.
  14. Grow (and maintain) some plants. With no accidental murders…
  15. Start running. And get past a few miles without injuring myself.
  16. Cook Pork Pilbil – my favourite Wahaca dish.
  17. Create a tomato-free BBQ sauce.
  18. Make all my bread from scratch.
  19. Revisit Switzerland.
  20. Go to Disneyland.
  21. Find my ‘ultimate’ burger.
  22. See a Highland Cow in the flesh (fur?).
  23. Host Christmas dinner.
  24. Volunteer. I’m planning on helping out at a ‘Supper Circle’ in the new year, cooking meals for families in need.
  25. Go glamping. I’m not into tents, but something a bit more glamorous might be more my cup of tea…

A bit of a varied list! Who knows if I’ll be able to afford some of the bigger items, and right now I cannot imagine hosting Christmas dinner in our little flat (where would everyone go?!). But I’m going to try my damn hardest to tick as many of these off as I can before I turn 25. Note that finding a grey hair is not on the list!
 photo 2016-11-12 14.00.25_zpsle0osvku.jpg

Being 22 turned out to be the best year of my life, and I’m hoping the rest of my twenties continue along in the same vein! What do you want to tick off in the next few years?