Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #13

Dear 2017; please slow down. Before I know it, April will be here and my exams will be on top of me. It’s such a scary thought to know they are next month. For some reason (and I don’t really know why!) I’m finding my professional exams a whole lot more daunting that anything I’ve ever done before.

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  1. Not being diagnosed with anything nasty. I’ve had a bit of a health scare recently and after an obscene amount of blood tests (and a very long wait for a couple of very quick chest x-rays) the really scary things have been crossed off the list. Not exactly a resolution, but a huge relief! Note to self: don’t ignore symptoms for so long again!
  2. Pancake Day! We had two pancakes courses; rolled crepes stuffed with chicken, bacon, mushrooms and spinach in a creamy sauce (then topped with cheese and grilled until crispy), and fluffy American pancakes with maple syrup. I may or may not have have some for lunch too. Possibly with lemon and sugar…
  3. Also, I got W to eat mushrooms in the above pancakes – for the first time ever!
  4. Dog-sitting. I looked after the family dog at the beginning of the month. I got to raid my parents’ food cupboards, enjoy their bath and have puppy cuddles. My idea of a pur-fect Friday night.
  5. Working in Lloyd’s of London. I rotate into different teams as part of my graduate scheme, and I managed to be in the position to work in Lloyd’s for a week. It was such a different environment!
  6. Cooking a delicious Lamb Tagine. I pretty much made the recipe up, but it was SO. GOOD.
  7. My new backpack. I need to pick one up for our main holiday in the summer and whilst it’s probably not the most practical, I do love it!
  8. Franco Manca is coming to Putney. It is on schedule to open next month and I’m so looking forward to it. It’s also on my walk home from the station which is dangerous…
  9. Lighter nights. If I wasn’t staying late to study, I wouldn’t be getting home in the dark!
  10. Heading to a wedding fair. I find these things so strange, but it was fun to have a mooch around.
  11. Tesco now do a tomato-free pizza. Admittedly it’s £5.35 and I’d sooner go to Franco Manca (see no.8) for an extra couple of ££, but it’s nice to have in the freezer.
  12. Eating alllll the chocolate and having a good gossip with my girlies. The best way to spend a Sunday!

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #12

Woo, back to the fortnightly posts! This year is flashing by so quickly it’s rather scary…though I’d so glad January went quickly (I did NOT enjoy living on my own!).

These last two weeks have been strange. Busy, exhausting, but really rather satisfying too. Let’s chat about the little happy things!

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

  1. “Breaking in” my wedding shoes. A.K.A wearing them with every opportunity. I did the hoovering in them last week, though trying to hide them from W is torture.
  2. Valentine’s! We’re not huge fans of it, but we set aside the evening for a good meal (duck breast followed by souffles – he’s amazeballs!). I was also ‘surprised’ with the Jo Malone perfume I’d been subtly talking about for a while…
  3. Booking the music for our wedding. One of the best Saturday evenings in February involved a bottle of wine and several hours listening to demos. Let’s just say there’s some interesting ones out there, but I’m SO happy with who we’ve managed to get!
  4. My work’s Christmas dinner.Seriously. We had it in a hotel near Liverpool in the middle of February. I ate scallops, beef cheeks and a (disappointing) chocolate dessert and drank lots of (very good) wine.
  5. Starting my graduate rotations at work. It’s been great to learn about other functions and network.
  6. Perfecting my tomato-free Bolognese. Recipe coming soon!
  7. Finishing up my tutorials and a celebratory lunch (Chinese) with my coursemates. Though considering the exam is in April, I’m not sure what we were celebrating…
  8. Spending a Saturday in Canterbury with my best friends. It felt like ages since we had a good catch up. We ate cakes and gossiped for hours!
  9. Eggs Chauncer at Tiny Tim’s, a Canterbury institution. It was English muffins, ham, mushrooms, poached eggs and rarebit sauce. I think eggs should be served with a cheesy sauce more often…
  10. February’s Dominique Ansel Cronut. It was Raspberry & Orange blossom FYI. Best New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made!

What are the little things that make you happy?

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!

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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?

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.

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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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!

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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…
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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: Happy Fortnightly Things #9

Woo, less than a month til Christmas! And even more importantly, my birthday is this week. I am the kind of person who inwardly gets so excited about their birthday, and this year is no exception. I have the day off work (and the day before off for study – yay for double lie-ins!). I plan to spend the weekend seeing some of my favourite people and eating more food than appropriate. Oh, and brunch which I’m hoping will involve a reinvented Eggs Benedict which incorporates black pudding. Yum!

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

  1. Brunch with some blogging gals to celebrate Jasmin’s birthday. It was so nice to see some new faces, and catch up with everyone else. It had been far too long!
  2. Pretty flowers. I came home one Friday to a bunch of flowers on the table. I’d had a grumpy week so this really made me smile.
  3. Making a potato-dauphinoise-cross-cauliflower-cheese-bake-thing to go alongside roast pork. It was super yum and I now have a mandolin to damage myself with!
  4. Booking our wedding photographer. It’s one of the most important parts to me and it’s resulted in a LOT of Instagram stalking over the last few months.
  5. Scallops. I love them, but rarely get to eat them as I’m never hugely tempted by the sound of the entire dish on the menu. These, however, were served with black pudding and a smoked aubergine puree. Cooked perfectly, they were delicious.
  6. Stir-up “Sunday”. Despite seeing Christmas Cake and Pudding as Devil’s Food (dried fruit = ick!), it was great to spend a Saturday evening baking, making a mess of the kitchen and breathing in festive smells.
  7. Sticking to the Christmas theme, we headed out for lunch at Costa to try out their festive specials. I love the Christmas Dinner Toastie I chose, though we were both a little disappointed at the Pigs in Blankets pannini – bacon and sausage together doesn’t equal PIBs, right?!
  8. A wander around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Definitely a place I want to revisit.
  9. Watching The Missing. The series has been so, so tense. If you haven’t seen it, get in iPlayer now! The ending of last week’s episode was so frustrating I screamed.
  10. Meeting old friends and *finally* visiting Honest Burgers. Was so nice not to have to remove relish (#allergyissues), the burgers were yum, chips amazing, and the company awesome. A good night!
  11. An extra little one this fortnight. Katy put out a shout for Happy Things a while back and her post was so, so uplifting. She got over 150 replies and reading through it put a massive smile on my face.

What has been the highlight of the last few weeks for you?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #8

These last few weeks have been super busy – during the first week of November I had one evening where I wasn’t socialising after work. Coupled with the fact I ended up having to book onto tutorials for my professional exams TWO MONTHS earlier than anticipated, craming reading in alongside everything else has left me shattered. That said it has been super fun – I just know I need to tone it down a little.

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

  1. Tacos and tequila. Me and W headed down to Wahaca to celebrate Day of the Dead. We stuffed ourselves with Pork Pilbil, Chicken Tacquitos and, of course, Churros. The perfect mid-week treat.
  2. Talking of mid-week treats, meeting up with some of my closest friends for burgers and catch-ups after work features rather highly. However thought of putting Camembert AND truffle mayo into a burger deserves a medal.
  3. Studying again. Sure, I moan about it, but at the same time I’m loving having something to work towards. The small amount of time pressure is actually making me get on with it, there’s been no procrastination here. Yet!
  4. S’mores brownies. Buttery biscuit base, gooey rich brownie, melted and slightly charred marshmallows. N’uff said.
  5. Autumn clothes. I’ve been loving mixing up skirts with jumpers and ankle boots. So comfy, so cosy.
  6. Writing my birthday/Christmas wishlist.
  7. Enjoying an Indian for the first time since leaving Redhill and my placement. Still not quite as good as Bombay Mela, but I’ve discovered Spiced Fried Okra is yum!
  8. W’s parents visiting. So nice to catch up properly!
  9. Our new little nephew being born. This actually happened in the previous fortnight but clearly I had Aunty-baby-brain. Looking forward to having cuddles in hopefully not too long.
  10. Getting a seat from the start of my morning commute two days in a row. I hate the tube in the morning, it makes me feel so sick, so this made my day! It also means I got 30 minutes of course-note reading done, which means more time in the day for fun things…

What little things have you been loving recently?

Lifestyle: October Favourites

Woah, this month has been weird. In the blink of an eye we’ve gone from a glorious Indian summer to grey skies, short days and cosy evenings. I’m getting home in the dark (which I find deeply depressing) although the upside is the stunning sunrises I see most mornings.
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Celebrating 6 Years Gone & 2 To Go

I still can’t believe myself and W have been together for six years – it’s gone so quickly, but equally it feels like a lifetime. I definitely can’t imagine a time without him now! We celebrated on our anniversary with a gorgeous meal at Mac & Wild (review to come, it was insanely, struggled-to-walk-cos-so-full delicious). We also toasted that it’s now officially less than two years to go until the wedding. It almost feels as though we can begin to plan a bit more now, though I do wish it would hurry up!

A Good Haircut

I got pretty disillusioned with my hair over the summer. I’d grown it quite long during my final year of university (vainly wanting it to sit well under my graduation hat!) and once I’d had it chopped back into shape I decided I was bored. Typical, right?! Well I’ve gone for an itsy-bit of a change now, ditching the choppy-ness and going for longer layers. It’s a work in progress but I’m reassured that it will only get better. And at least longer layers means more choice for bridal styles…
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New Shelves

Since moving in I’ve been a little bit frustrated with our bedroom. It’s not small, but with a king-size bed there’s not a huge amount of spare space. And with only 25cm between the bed and the wall on ‘my’ side I was unable to have a bedside table. Which during spider season was not ideal. Fortunately, W came to the rescue and BUILT these gorgeous ladder-shelves. Sure, he made a bit of mess in the process and I’m not convinced the neighbours would have appreciated the noise, but I love them. I’ve added Primark fairy lights, pretty books and candles and now the whole room feels a lot cosier.

Escape Rooms

For my teams away day right at the end of the month we spent the afternoon in an Escape Room right in the heart of the city – next door to our office in fact! I’d never done one before, now I’m trying to round up a gang to do another. Logic puzzles, physical challenges and a whole load of laughs, it was such a good way to spend the afternoon. It was great to meet more of my wider department in a social setting too – I’d been pretty much thrown into work and some of them, I’m ashamed to say, I hadn’t spoken to before.
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All The Burgers

You know me, I love a burger! Over the past few weeks I tried London’s Best Burger of 2015 (post coming soon, I promise) and sampled some of GBK’s newest additions to their menu. Next on my list is Honest – they are right next to my office!

Baking with Co-Op

The Co-Operative Food sent me a hamper filled with all kinds of exciting goodies last week, designed to get me in the spirit of Halloween, to get me into the kitchen. I have to admit I haven’t quite followed the spooky theme, but W did make some amazing S’mores Brownies with the ingredients. They also have some super-yummy recipes on their site, which I’d never actually visited before. These Chorizo Bean Burgers are going on our menu plan very soon!
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New ‘Pets’!

So, we live right next to a park, taking the entire top floor of our (admittedly small) block. We’re pretty much right in the trees, and our super-wide window ledges have turned into a bit of a squirrel run. We’ve had Stuart (as we’ve christened him) nibble on his breakfast, have a scratch and even a nap right outside our window, just next to our sofa. And then there was the Sunday he, erm, brought a friend to visit. Which was interesting. And slightly embarrassing as they were ‘getting to know each other’ as two AO delivery men dropped my freezer off. Ahem…

Dark mornings mean pretty sunrises.

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

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Oh you Mother Clucker 😍

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

And then there’s all the little things that I’ve loved this month. Finding a new favourite fruit tea (Blackcurrant & Blueberry, SO good). Sunday morning snuggles with Saturday’s papers. Yummy dinners. Discovering a new favourite cocktail, with a name so filthy I can’t bear to repeat it here (mine and W’s parents probably will read it!). Kicking through Autumn leaves. Kerb at Camden (though not the upset stomach that followed for us both!). Playing tourist and going on a riverboat – and learning an embarrassing amount of fact about London. I have to say I’m loving living in the capital, and I’m so excited to spend my first winter here.

What was your favourite thing about October? Are you loving the Autumnal weather or hating the colder days?