Ahhh, the sweet, sweet taste of freedom. Somehow the end of exams isn’t so great when the next run are only 5 months away (and you’ve got an online one in 4 weeks) but it was SUCH a relief to get these ones out of the way. Not least because my arm felt horrendous after 6.5 hours of constant writing. Now just the long wait until July to find out if I’m one of the 40ish% who pass! Here’s what else I’ve been loving recently…
A whole day of meetings on the top floor of our office. We had stunning views of London all day.
Vegan Mushroom & Lentil Bolognese – based on my best-ever tomato-free bolognese recipe, this was a delicious meat-free version. So good…though even better when I made it non-vegan and covered it in parmesan.
Early morning study sessions. I might be weird for this, but I love getting up ridiculously early to revise. I’m so much more productive in the mornings!
Buck’s Fizz & Pain au Chocolat. We went to the sunrise service at our local church on Easter Sunday, followed by bubbles and pastries. It was such a lovely way to start out a day of revision and chocolate!
Lamb. I practically fought with another woman over the last half-leg in Putney, then roasted it with plenty of garlic in a bed of hay. It was perfect – especially with a rich potato boulangerie and green veg.
Exams being over. Nuff said.
Pizza & Cocktail date. We saw my exams off with an evening at The Dynamo. As usual the pizza was great despite the special being unavailable (my fav is there prosciutto, fennel and pomegranate white pizza) and our drinks were strong and delicious. Shame about the dreadful service that evening though!
A day of spring cleaning. Little jobs that had been overlooked have now been done – and my shower is sparkling!
Lunch at Pollen Street Social. Delicious, and nice to add another Michelin Star to my list! We had to scrap our afternoon plans and nap instead, as 3 courses turned into 7…
A date with my besties! We wandered around Putney, enjoyed pizza, cinnamon buns and hot chocolate and planned next month’s trip to Go Ape.
Homemade ice-cream. We’ve been using the ice-cream maker attachment on the Kitchen Aid to make an ice-cream each month. This weekend we may Hay & Strawberry inspired by Chin Chin Labs. Sooooo yum!
The London Marathon – it’s one of my favourite sporting events. Congrats to all who took part!
I remember when I did the first of this ‘series’ I said it would be regular – and that was 8 months ago now. Whoops!
I genuinely can’t believe how quickly time is going; I’ve been working at my graduate job for over seven months now, which is just insane. Some days it feels as though I’ve only been there a week! I’ve found it quite tough going if I’m honest; I love my job and my team, but I do think I’m learning a bit too slowly. During my placement year I picked things up really quickly, likewise with studying, so I’m a bit frustrated with my progress. Everyone has told me not to be so hard on myself, but it’s difficult to break the habit!
The last few weeks have been virtually all taken up with studying for my first professional exam – it’s probably the chunkiest one I will do (and with 400 hours minimum recommended study time, I’m glad!) and quite frankly I’m reallyy nervous about the exam. Strange really, as this is the first exam where I can just retake without any serious problems, yet I’m more nervous than I’ve been before! Other that studying, I’ve concentrated on cooking (SO many new recipes to share). My exploring of London has slowed right down over the revision period, though we did visit York for a few days which was wonderful. So, pretty quiet, pretty uneventful here!
Doing – studying. Revising. Studying.
Visiting – York.
Watching – Broadchurch, Bond films.
Reading – Dorothy Koomson’s “My Best Friend’s Girl” (a.k.a. my all time favourite book). Old issues of Perfect Wedding. Revision notes.
Eating – a homemade Mexican feast (Pork Pilbil, refried beans, pickled onions and green rice). Lot’s of Heck products. Their vegetarian Thai Bites* are delish!
Lusting – Tarte In The Bloom palette. Midi skirts.
Craving – Brunch (I’m planning a treat visit to Duck & Waffle after my exams!). Sunshine. A nice long lie in.
As predicted, these past few weeks have been crammed with studying, revising, panicking and more studying. I am beginning to feel SO grateful for only having summer exams at university, the thought of doing this all again in September is pretty depressing! That said, it’s actually be a lovely couple of weeks. I’ve managed to catch up with some friends and take a mini-break away. After all, can’t be all work and no play…
York! We went away for a few days and it was LOVELY. Lots of pretty buildings, quaint streets and far too much cake.
Skosh. AKA one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I managed to get a last minute table, we ordered about two-thirds of the menu and it was great. And a bargain. If you’re ever in York, I highly, highly recommend a visit!
Wine & Cheese Bars. In York we visited Pairings on the Sunday night. I had a red wine flight, he had 4 (!) glasses of port and we built our own cheese and meat platter. If only they had (affordable) places like this in London…
Pancakes at Brew & Brownie. Probably the best ones I’ve ever eaten! They also did Terry’s Chocolate Orange brownies…
Catch up with friends. We had an evening out in Covent Garden. I ate a gorgeous fried chicken burger, then had a hot coffee cocktail before a wander along the South Bank.
Sunshine. Over the weekend I’ve worn short-shorts, gone sans tights and had picnic lunches in the park. I only wish I couldn’t see the sunbathers from my revision spot in the flat!
Living by the river. Admittedly now the trees have leaves I can no longer see the river, but sunny wanders along the banks of the Thames make any day better!
Rhubarb. It reminds me of my childhood and I do like it (when its grown and cooked properly). W made a fancy dessert which was well worth the ridiculous amount of washing up it caused!
Finally using my Stila Perfect Me palette that I got at Christmas. It’s ideal for travelling with!
My fiance getting the highest mark in his year for a project – I posted a pic of his chair on Instagram and although I am biased he definitely deserved it!
I bet you can guess that the next entry of my Happy Post will feature end of exams?! Hope you all have a fabulous few weeks!
Eek, it’s so nearly exam time now. With three weeks to go I’m pretty much studying none-stop. I’m finding it weird to be only studying for one exam (I almost miss having seven to study for – at least there was variety!) but I am looking forward to it all being over and getting a bit more of a social life back!
A burger and bride-to-be date. Lots of wedding planning chat with my friend who gets married in September got both of us over-excited!
Spending the whole day in bed. Admittedly I had THE most horrendous migraine I’ve ever had (seriously, I couldn’t ever walk/talk/eat) but I felt so relaxed the next day.
Chicken soup. W ran out the morning I was ill to stock me up on painkillers and soup for my lunch – by the time I could stomach food it was just what I needed!
Drinks with school friends. It had been far too long since we had caught up!
Finding the perfect white shirt. On weekends I like them pillow-y soft and the right balance between fitted and baggy. I’ve been looking for a replacement one for two years and H&M finally came good.
Booking our wedding transport – so excited to be driven to church in a cream VW Campervan!
Homemade pizza. I spread the base (recipe here) with soft goat’s cheese, topped with prosciutto, courgette, a teeny bit of mozzarella and some fresh basil. So fresh, so yum.
A massive Oasis spending spree. I love their work clothes, but they are a little on the pricey side. My bonus came in last week so I went hauling and now I feel so much happier with my work wardrobe!
I’m imagining that the next fortnight will be taken up entirely by revision (though having said that, I do have a cheeky trip to York booked!) – I hope yours will be more exciting! What’s made you happy recently?
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.
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!
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…
Also, I got W to eat mushrooms in the above pancakes – for the first time ever!
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.
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!
Cooking a delicious Lamb Tagine. I pretty much made the recipe up, but it was SO. GOOD.
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!
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…
Lighter nights. If I wasn’t staying late to study, I wouldn’t be getting home in the dark!
Heading to a wedding fair. I find these things so strange, but it was fun to have a mooch around.
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.
Eating alllll the chocolate and having a good gossip with my girlies. The best way to spend a Sunday!
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!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
“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.
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…
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!
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.
Starting my graduate rotations at work. It’s been great to learn about other functions and network.
Perfecting my tomato-free Bolognese. Recipe coming soon!
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…
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!
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…
February’s Dominique Ansel Cronut. It was Raspberry & Orange blossom FYI. Best New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made!
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!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
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.
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
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.
Talking about all the funny memories. Hard and teary, but it made the sadness better.
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!
Passing my first professional exam. Granted it’s one that doesn’t reallllyyyy count, but still!
New PJs. They are the softest, cosiest things EVER.
Hitting over 100 likes on an Instagram shot. It’s the little things that make me happy! (plus it’s kept happening!)
Visiting the Design Museum. Definitely worth a trip, though I’d advise staying away at weekends.
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…
Wandering around Parson’s Green. Quite possibly my new favourite pastime – the charity shops are full of insane bargains!
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!
Spending time with one of my best friends. It was just what I needed to cheer me up!
Cooking up the best tomato sauce substitute I’ve tried. Even worked well on pizza…
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.
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.
Silent Witness. Though NOT a good thing to watch when you are living completely on your own…
A new washing machine. It now actually washes and dries things, rather than making them hot and creased.
Catching up with my cousins. Might not have been for a happy occasion, but it was good to see them!
Pretty new shoes from Kurt Geiger. The perfect ‘power heels’ – high, pointy, patent black.
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’!
Eating a Wispa. It’s not a bar I’d usually choose, but it really hit the spot…
My new slippers. No longer is going into the bathroom a form of torture.
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.
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.
Baking a Toffee, Banana & Pecan Loaf Cake. It was so, soooo good! Recipe to follow…
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.
And 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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…
There’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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on
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!
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!
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!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
Birthdayyyyy! I turned 23 at the beginning of the month and had a lovely, lovely chilled few days celebrating.
Mulled cider. My favourite winter-y tipple, there’s a pub in Leadenhall Market that does this perfectly.
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.
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!
Honest burgers. Again. I met one of my besties after work and it was DELISH!
The best eggs I’ve eaten. Ever. The yolk porn was insane.
Seeing The Lion King. It was just amazing. I cried.
Spending a fortune (worth of gift cards!) on New Look. I’m just hoping it all fits…
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.
Ginger, Orange & Chocolate Cookies. My new favourite treat.
What’s been the highlight of your last week?