The Leather Satchel Co – New Website & Discount

As you all know (from this post, this post, and possibly this one too!) I’m a huge fan of the Leather Satchel Co. I love my satchel (it’s a bespoke custom design), it gets lots of comments from people (including impressing on a recent interview), and it fits everything I need into it. It’s the perfect bag for me!

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The company my satchel came from are pretty much the original satchel makers (they’ve been about a LOT longer than the Cambridge Satchel Company), and they were absolutely delightful to deal with. They listened to everything I had to say, did virtually everything I wanted, and delivery was exceptionally quick (though they did email to warn me of what they felt was a delay). However, some things did go amiss. There was confusion about a small part of my order, and a mix-up of delivery addresses. I felt these problems stemmed from the fact that they didn’t really have a proper website, more an online display, and customers needed to email to order. It was a long-winded way of doing things, and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t the hugest fan of their system, nor their website design. But all that has changed!

They have this month launched a new website, and whilst it’s still the it’s tweaking stage I personally believe it’s a huge improvement! There’s a wider selection of photographs open, and you can buy a variety of standard satchels easily straight off the site – but you can still order your customised satchels too!

2013-06-17 15.17.58There’s also a much-improved care guide (though I’m curious as to the product photographed – I’m trying to find out more about that!), an excellent size guide, and the colour guide seems a lot more accurate now. I think my favourite part is the fact you can order standard satchels directly from the site now – I have my eye on these (a blue one, and a lovely brown one).

To top it all of for you, I have a unique discount code that is still valid, which entitles you to an amount off of your order. I don’t get paid any money for providing you with this discount, and all the opinions of the company are entirely my own but the code is unique to my blog/name so please don’t share it out anywhere else!

EDIT: due to my code being shared externally to this site it was removed by the company – understandably as it was being used excessively. I’m hoping to do more collaborations with The Leather Satchel Company in the future, so watch this space!

I genuinely do recommend this company – my bag is amazing and I’m sure others made by them will be too. For all of my readers wondering about longevity of the bag, a post will be up soon. But for now, go ahead, use my code and treat yourself!

What’s your favourite satchel? 

Also – Don’t forget to vote for me in the National UK Blog Awards 2014, in the following three categories; FoodLifestyle; and Young Persons (18-25) 

New Year’s Resolutions 2014

Happy New Year everyone, I hope your celebrations seeing in 2014 were lovely! Mine were spent doing some of the catering for a dinner party which has inspired a post or two, but for now I’m going to share with you all my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve split these into a few categories, and I hope to keep you updated throughout the year, in a bid to keep me on track!

Academic

Weirdly, I’ll only be studying for around 5 months of 2014 as I’ll be on a placement from July, so I’m kinda struggling to this of academic based resolutions. However I have a few broad things I want to work on:

  • Take better notes for all subjects. I’m not a bad notetaker, I’m just inconsistent. And guilty of spending boring lectures on Bloglovin’. My main aim is to work on my notetaking for my more written modules – numerically I’m fine, but I find keeping up with theoretical financial lectures more difficult.
  • Come up with a better revision plan. Basically, I want to make sure I’m not learning content when I should be revising! I guess my main aim is to do more past questions.
  • Make full use of my Filofax. It was a little neglected last term, and my organisation suffered, so I definitely want to improve this.
  • Self-teach Excel. A little add-on which I think best fits in this category. I use Excel for budgeting, but I’d really like to be able to do more of it before I’m required to use it in a professional setting. I just don’t want to look like an idiot for not understanding it!

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Blogging

The important one! 2013 was the year I really started to blog properly and this year I want to go on developing and improving this site.

  • Comment on a blog a day. I’m a massive blog reader, but I always seem to just read rather than participate. I definitely want to start showing other bloggers that I appreciate their work!
  • Keep to a blog schedule. I ideally want to post around three times a week, plus the regular weekly posts such as the What’s Cooking Wednesday series.
  • Improve my photography. I was debating whether to invest in a Nikon bridge camera over the past few weeks, but have ultimately decided against it, instead focussing on my own technique before upgrading my equipment.
  • Continue developing the blog. This is a broad one! I’m considering going self-hosted, I want to alter the design I currently have, and I also want to branch out into other areas – for instance I have a lot of beauty related reviews coming soon.

Cooking/Baking

My main aim is to really tighten up my budget (I’ll need to find the money for a deposit on a new rented property around May time, so money is going to be tight!) and expand my repertoire.

  • Save money. Ideally I want to spend around £10 a week over the next term, with a big shop at the start bringing it up to an average of £15 weekly. I’m also aiming to post a few money-saving tips in the future, including one that saved me a whopping £50 last term!
  • Continue experimenting with tomato-free recipes. I think I’ve cracked the Tomato Free Slow-Cooker Bolognese, but I want to work on a faster version, and also play about with curries.
  • Buy joints of meat. I received Save with Jamie for Christmas, and have been inspired by the leftover recipes. I’m definitely going to be trying a few! Linked with this, I also want to learn how to joint a chicken, as I think this will be a lot cheaper than buying the parts separately.
  • Expand my baking knowledge. Yes, I can cook muffins, but I want to expand into traybakes, and maybe even more impressive cakes. My main aim? To bake my own bread. Hopefully as good as this loaf my boyfriend made a few weeks back.

Bread

Beauty

My blog is going to become a littleee more beauty orientated as I’ve become a lot more interested in it. My aims are;

  • To find the perfect foundation for me. I thought I had found this recently, but its not quite blendable enough for me.
  • Clean and maintain my make-up brushes. I recently invested in a whole new set, and am determined to keep them in the best possible condition.
  • Try Pixi Glow Tonic. I just think that, from what I’ve read, this would be perfect for my skin.
  • Take my make-up off every night. Without fail. I’ve gotten my skin to what is pretty much the best it’s been since pre-teenage years, and now I want to maintain it. Unfortunately I’m kinda lazy, but I’m determined to combat that this year.

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Personal

And finally a mish-mash of things that don’t really come under any category;

  • Exercise more. The standard resolution. For many years my aim has been to begin running, but its slowly beginning to dawn that my ankles are too weak to run without proper supporting trainers, the cost of which I can’t justify right now. So I plan to walk more, be more active, and use online exercise classes to improve my fitness.
  • Learn to knit. Properly. I’ve been trying for over a year, and its probably one of the most difficult and frustrating things I’ve ever tried to do. But I’m determined that by next winter I’ll have knitted myself a scarf.

But really, all of my goals amount to one thing – be a better person in everything I do. A lot of self-improvement is on the cards for me this year!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? 

New Year’s Eve

Its the time of the year when glittery nails come out (see this post by my lovely friend), daring dresses don’t seem quite so daring (I’m in love with this one), and even the parents don’t frown on staying up/out til the early hours of the morning. This year my New Year’s is turning out very tame – I’m helping my boyfriend’s parents to host a dinner party. In that last few days we have baked bread, made pate, and we’re currently in the process of creating a Chocolate & Whisky Torte with the Venison Casserole in the oven. But that doesn’t mean I’m making an excuse not to get dressed-up and go a little OTT with the make-up routine! So, here’s what this evening will involve for me…

2013-12-31 10.29.52-1This is my New Year’s dress. Not expensive, just £13 from Primark a few weeks ago, but it fits me perfectly, is an on-trend colour (which just happens to be one of my favourites, as I’m sure regular readers will know!) and its a classy shape – so no embarrassing moments at dinner!

2013-12-31 10.37.02I’m really into wearing a bold lip this winter and one of my New Year’s Resolutions (check back tomorrow for a full post) is to make sure my nails are painted and in good condition most of the time, so I was delighted to receive this Ted Baker Duo for Christmas. I’ll be trialling it tonight, and I’m really looking forward to it!

2013-12-31 10.39.10-1As I’ll be painting my nails, I’ve decided to lay out my make-up all ready – there’ll be no chipping due to rummaging in a bag tonight!

I’m going with a tried and tested base look. Throughout the day I’ll be moisturising my lips with Burt’s Bee’s Pomegranate formula and my face with Garnier Moisture Match Illuminating Lotion. I introduced a weekly face mask to my routine last week, which I’ll be blogging about soon, so my skin is already rather soothed and exfoliated.

I’ll apply Maybelline’s Better Skin foundation (I’m currently trialling, it’s due on sale next month, and there’s a full review coming soon!) with Bodyshop’s foundation brush, then contour with my beloved MAC Love Joy blush. This is probably the most extravagant single product I have, but I don’t regret it one bit!

For my eyes, I’ll be relying on mainly these products, but with a new and very much loved addition.

2013-12-31 10.41.18Yes it might not be budget friendly, but this is my pride and joy at the moment. It came to me at Christmas from my lovely boyfriend, and despite me not getting a chance to use it much, I already love it. The colours are perfect for my skin tone and eyes, they blend beautifully, and I honestly think it’s the perfect palette for any occasion. The downside? I want to buy the others, and I’m not sure I could ever be fully happy with ‘drugstore’ eyeshadow again.

A final spritz of Oscar De La Renta ‘Live in Love’ and I’m ready to go!

How are you spending your New Year’s Eve?

 

Baking: Easy 17/170 Cupcake Recipe (with a Sprinkle of Glitter)

A little bit late perhaps, but I couldn’t resist sharing what is one of my favourite recipes with you! I think a good basic cake recipe is something everyone should know, and this is mine. I like it because it is easy to remember, always works, and tastes delicious no matter how it’s decorated – I’ve had it topped with nutella and covered in a simple runny icing. I have to admit though, that this is my favourite way! Topped with a simple vanilla buttercream, they taste delicious and (as long as your piping skills are okay) look impressive. And if your piping skills are similar to mine, just claim they are meant to look rustic…and sprinkle with some edible glitter.

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Ingredients

  • 170g butter
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 2 large eggs (should weigh around 150g)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Some milk, if needed, to loosen the mixture
  • For the buttercream – 125g unsalted butter, and 250g icing sugar (again, you may need a little milk to loosen)

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Method

Preheat the oven to around 170C.

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, light, and fluffy. It’s easier to use very soft butter and an electric mixture (though I did use the old-fashioned combination of wooden spoon and elbow grease!).

2013-12-23 15.08.01Add the vanilla extract in. I used about a tablespoon…but I like my vanilla flavour to be strong. Most recipes use about 2 teaspoons.

2013-12-23 15.08.42Beat in your eggs until smooth. I would suggest not doing what I did, and instead beat them in one at a time. My mix curdled and split everso slightly.

2013-12-23 15.10.47Then slowly mix in the flour until it is just combined. Don’t overmix or your cakes will end up dry and tough.2013-12-23 15.21.05As you can see, my mix was a little thick, so I added a little milk. Then spoon your mixture evenly into 12 cupcake cases (this amount should make the perfect amount for perfect sized cakes).

Now put in your preheated oven for 17 minutes (note: there is a lot of 17/170 in this recipe – hence why it is so easy to remember!). After 17 minutes they should be lightly golden, and still a little sticky looking on top, but should spring back when pressed lightly. Take out and leave to cool completely.

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Now time to make the buttercream! Beat the butter until soft, then beat in half the icing sugar. Add vanilla extract, followed by the rest of the icing sugar. Thin with milk if needed.

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Now time to decorate. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can just use a knife to smear the buttercream over. I got lucky and was given my boyfriend’s piping bag to play with – it was my first time, so please bear that in mind when dismissing these shoddy results!

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And there we have it – creamy, not-too-sweet, vanilla cupcakes that don’t look too bad! I then added a sprinkle of edible silver glitter (the cheapest I have found this is in Tesco). I had also used a Festive Cupcake set which included pretty cases, and stickers on cocktail sticks, which I used to adorn my cupcakes. Along with birthday candles, for a Christmas birthday.

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What’s your favourite simple bake?

My Christmas in Pictures

Little bit of a warning, this is rather a picture heavy post. A tad unusual for me, but I think that these pictures say it all. My Christmas was a lovely mixture of family, friends and food – probably one of the best yet.

2013-12-25 09.02.14Day starts with a lovely glass of cava…

2013-12-25 11.58.33…followed by a boiled egg.

2013-12-25 10.05.23Then it’s time to start prepping the gravy. Goose innards, a selection of veg, bay leaves and some water.

2013-12-25 10.12.35A story about our goose: we picked it up on Christmas Eve, then decided to keep it in the car overnight (it was definitely cold enough!). A good idea, until we couldn’t find the car keys on Christmas morning…

After locating the spare set (upon which point we remembered where the real keys were) we prepped it up by simply whacking the oven up to top temperature, scoring the skin, and placing in a tin. And finding out the goose definitely didn’t fit in the oven. All was well though – a bit of butchery and it did, albeit with the leg rubbing on the side of the oven and thus causing the oven to smoke continuously.

2013-12-25 10.01.41The best thing about having a goose – the fat for roasting potatoes! The farm shop we bought ours from provided two bags (one shown above) full, which we put straight in the freezer, and we also “harvested” plenty from the cooking of our bird!

2013-12-25 13.52.33Time to set the table (and start on the wine!)…

2013-12-25 10.02.04…and then it was present time!

2013-12-25 09.09.33Someone was rather protective about his presents…

2013-12-25 09.06.52…and very impatient to open them!

2013-12-25 09.34.20I was thoroughly spoilt, and received this new Radley watch, as well as a hairdryer and some lovely clothes from my parents. I was also treated rather well by my boyfriend, with a selection including the Naked 3 eye pallette which is definitely not leaving my side anytime soon.

2013-12-25 13.52.10By that time, the goose was brown and crisp, and it was time to get on with the vegetables, before sitting down to a very lovely, very yummy Christmas dinner!

2013-12-25 14.14.02If you haven’t tried goose before, I really do recommend it. It’s harder to dry out than turkey, is rich, the leftovers are FAR better (and you get lots – we’re still going!) and it just feels like so much more of a treat. Not to mention it provides enough fat for proper roast potatoes for the whole year!

Have you tried goose? How was your Christmas?

12 Days of Christmas (#12): Happy Holidays

Well, the countdown is over – Christmas is here! I’d like to say I’m organised and ready, but as I write this ready to schedule it’s 23.16 on Christmas Eve, and I have a pile of cards still to write. But I know that however unorganised I am, I will have a brilliant day.

I can’t wait to spend the day with my family, followed by an evening with my boyfriends family – the first time in our relationship we’ve seen each other on Christmas Day! I plan to wake up relatively early (though part of me is longing for the lie-in that has eluded me since the end of term), drink some fizz (not only is it Christmas, it is also my lovely Mummy’s birthday!), and open some presents. Then it’ll be time to help with the dinner, followed by devouring the goose in a fraction of the time it took to get to the table, before falling asleep to Christmassy films. Sounds perfect to me!

So, from me and Rudolph, Merry Christmas!

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12 Days of Christmas (#11): Christmas Wrapping & Festive Traditions

As I am notoriously always under-prepared for Christmas, I usually spend Christmas Eve wrapping presents. Whilst I doubtlessly complain, I tend to really enjoy it. I’ll tuck myself away with some chocolate, maybe a glass of wine, and plenty of Christmas songs, and I’ll wrap everything up.

I’ve been a littleeee more organised this year, and everything was wrapped up on/by the 23rd, in a red-and-gold theme (I try to stick to themes as much as possible when wrapping, as I think it looks so much better!). I went for cheap wrapping paper and accessories from The Card Factory, and I have to say I’m quite impressed with the quality of the paper – it’s thick and doesn’t tear easily. It doesn’t beat Paperchase, but its not a pain to use so I’d happily buy it again!

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I think my presents turned out quite well, especially as I’m not the best wrapper in the world (hence when I go for a colour scheme!). If you want to see amazing present wrapping skills, head over to my friend Libby’s blog!

My other festive traditions are undergoing a bit of a change at the moment, which is strange but also very exciting! My family have always tended to order a takeaway or head out to an Indian on Christmas Eve, but since meeting my boyfriend I’ve preferred to spend the time with him. For the last few years we’ve visited his family Church for the children’s evening service, but this year (due to having no nieces/nephews available to make this a valid option) we’re doing something different. What that something is, we haven’t yet decided! No doubt it will involve yummy food, Christmassy films, and snuggling by a fire.

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? 

 

12 Days of Christmas (#10): Last Minute Gifts

Here’s one for all the lazy boyfriends/husbands/significant others, or those who have just been unorganised in getting things done this year. Yes it is mainly based on gifts for the girls, but that’s only because that’s all I have inspiration for – trust me, it’s not just the boys who run late! I confess that  haven’t actually arranged my boyfriend’s Christmas present yet…

So, if you haven’t bought your girl something yet, or you have a birthday to buy for in the New Year, here’s some good ideas which will hopefully score you brownie points, and maybe save you a few pennies too!

Collage 1I treated myself to a bottle of Oscar de la Renta “Live in Love” perfume after getting some good news on Friday – it was 50% off in store, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s quite a subtle fragrance, fresh and classy, not too girly, and very wearable. I love the vintage style bottle too! House of Fraser have some great bargains at the minute, so it’s really worth having a browse in-store and online!

Naked 3 is one of the most talked about products in the blog world this Christmas – it is gorgeous! I’m very surprised it hasn’t sold out yet!

Finally, I really don’t think you can go wrong with a classic leather watch – I know I wouldn’t complain. I love the Radley watches, as they are affordable and elegant.

Collage 2I got ridiculously excited by this Calculator Cushion – must me the maths geek in me! This would make a fabulous present for a student or potential student if they are mathsy. I know I’d be treating myself if it were a little cheaper!

I’m a real fan of vintage pieces, and I also don’t know a girl who could live without a good make-up mirror. This would look great in any room!

If you aren’t totally sure on what to get, I find cushions and home things are a safe bet. This doorstop is sweet!

Finally, a nice pretty make-up bag. I like to update mine yearly, so this would be a perfect present for me!

 

Of course, if you are really struck for ideas you can go down the vouchers route, but try to think differently from the norm! Go for an expensive shop, so the recipient is forced to treat themselves (though make sure the value of the voucher actually covers something!), buy an experience package, or really think about what they’d appreciate – at this time of year an Amazon giftcard is something I would love, as it would let me fill my Kindle with new books, and then I can snuggle up by the fire to devour them. In fact, that’s what I’m off to do now! Happy shopping!

 

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?

 

 

National UK Blog Awards

Hello everyone, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Santa brought me an early Christmas present this year, one I am sneakily sharing with you now (I don’t want to overload you with posts during my “12 Days” series – so hope two posts a day isn’t too much!). It turns out that I’ve been nominated for the UK National Blog Awards 2014 – which I’m amazingly proud of. My blog is kind-of a sideline for me, I’m not a writing type of student (you’re more likely to find me clutching a calculator than a laptop these days) so I’m glad and very shocked that its being recognised in this way. And, even more amazingly, I’ve been nominated for THREE categories!

Thank you

Needless to say, I’m very happy to have received these nominations!

Whilst I’m not asking you to vote specifically for me, what I would love you to do is visit the site through the links above, have a look at all the other fabulous blogs, and vote for someone. If its me, even better! You do need to register with the site to vote, but other than receiving a free eBook you should receive very few, if any, emails so really all voting takes is a few minutes of your time.

Please Vote!

12 Days of Christmas (#9): Home for Christmas

This is my favourite part of the year – the build up to Christmas, cold wintery walks, warm fires, hot chocolates, and cosy catch-ups with everyone you’ve missed. I came home on Thursday (a little before the end of term, but it was the little sister’s birthday, and I had completed everything well before deadlines!) and have so far enjoyed doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. And maybe a little celebrating…the reason for which you’ll hear about soon!

I was planning a slightly more exciting post, but instead I’m just got to offer you pictures of my mum’s decorating skills – this year we have a mainly teal-and-gold theme in the living room, and due to a new table we’re lacking the usual dining room tree (generally we have a white tree in there, with pink and gold decorations). I’ve not managed to add a Christmassy touch to my room yet, but I’ll certainly share when I do!

2013-12-21 17.45.27I love Christmas decorations, leaving home one of the things that hit me hardest was I’d have to start at the beginning when decorating my tree! With that in mind, me and my boyfriend had a talk, and decided (i.e. I told him my decision) to get our future children a decoration each in their stocking every year, so when they leave home they’ll always have some. Kind of the opposite of my family tradition – I always went with my grandparents to buy my mum a decoration every December.

2013-12-21 17.45.43Afraid our tree is massive (we’ve had it forever, I think it was a January bargain back when I was a little girl) so I haven’t managed to photograph it all. The ones above will have to be enough!

2013-12-21 17.47.06Halloween isn’t the only time for cute tea-light holders! Here’s a cheeky glimpse of me and the sister too…

2013-12-21 17.46.37We’ve not had a ‘proper’ advent calendar for as long as I can remember, instead my parents fill a wooden one with chocolatey goodies and tiny treats. As both mine and my sister’s birthdays fall in December, that drawer always includes a cheeky £2 coin too!

2013-12-21 17.49.50But one of the best things about coming home? It’s coming home to this snuggly boy…he pretends not to like the camera, but he’s a limelight (and sofa)  hogger really!

 

What’s your family’s favourite Christmas tradition?