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…
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?!
A wander around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Definitely a place I want to revisit.
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.
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!
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?
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.
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
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.
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.
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!
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!
W’s parents visiting. So nice to catch up properly!
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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…
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?
Wow, it’s the end of October already! This month has definitely gone from being summery (I was wandering around in t-shirts only a few weeks ago!) to being properly cold and Autumnal – I need scarves and gloves on pretty much a daily basis now. And, dare I say it, it’s not long until Christmas. I’m starting to feel a bit excited…
Here’s what’s been making me smile lately…
Meal-prepping. Things have definitely gotten hectic but I’ve loved getting organised and prepping things at the weekend. Plus my fridge looks super neat and tidy.
M&S released my favourite work style dress in burgundy. I saw it and bought it within around 3 minutes one lunch-break!
On a related note, I found my Christmas day dress!
And on a Christmas theme, I’ve managed to convince W to let me buy a new Christmas tree for the pair of us. No more £10 trees from Tesco, I’ve got my eye on a ‘pencil’ one from John Lewis.
Starting to study again. I was torn between dreading it and looking forward to it, but it turns out I’m hugely enjoying getting my teeth stuck into new material.
Heading home to be spoilt for a couple of nights. My mummy cooked all my favourite treats!
Having a good haircut and managing to get it dyed at the same time. It’s been a while since my haircare was so in sync!
Mushroom risotto. W was working late on a project, I couldn’t resist…
Narrowing down our wedding photographer search. Quite possibly the most important element for me and despite the time we’ve got I found it stressful. Some were booked on 2019 dates!?!
Wandering around London. I can’t quite explain how much I love living here!
Hope your fortnight has been as lovely as mine! What’s been making you smile lately?
Happy Monday everyone! These last two weeks have been pretty hectic. Will’s now started his Master’s course so we’ve been having to get into an actual proper routine. It’s been pretty tiring – I announced I was going to bed last week before realising it was only 9.30pm, whoops! I’m also properly working now, rather than just being on the graduate training programme, so I’m getting used to new processes, seeing everything in Excel spreadsheets and trying to remember allllll the things. Super interesting, but my brain feels a little like mush once it gets past 5pm everyday!
Here’s the best bits from my fortnight…
A welcome lunch with my team. Not only did I have some delicious food (bread and balsamic, squid salad, stone bass with cannellini ragu), it was great to get to know them a bit more. Not feeling so intimidated now!
Cooking a delicious butternut squash risotto, with goat’s cheese. I’ve avoided this veg as last time I tried it I hated it, but I could definitely eat this again!
Doing a bit more wedding planning. We’re looking into photographers now and I’ve got a short-list, hoping to get that booked in the next few weeks.
On that note, the wedding is less than two years away! Safe to say I’m excited…
Celebrating our anniversary. It’s been six years since we got together – whilst I didn’t plan to meet my future husband at 16, it’s meant we’ve been able to grow up together. I can’t wait for all of our future adventures!
“London’s Best Burger” at Mac & Wild. I feel I need to do more research to verify the ‘best’ claim, but it was damn yummy!
The nice man in Waitrose fetching me a trolley and helping me transfer my shopping after the wheel feel off mid-shop. The fact that he didn’t laugh was greatly appreciated!
Receiving a pretty good Bake Box in the post. I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed with the last few, but I’m looking forward to getting into the kitchen with my new bits and bobs…
New bed clothes. Enough said.
Finding the perfect copper fairy lights to hang by my bed. My cosy corner is nearly complete!
Only three more months of 2016, how weird is that?! It doesn’t feel that long ago that I was seeing in the New Year, just recently engaged and having picked up my re-size ring that day. Now I’m having to think about Christmas, plan presents, work out when I’m heading home and genuinely kick my butt in gear already!
September was exhausting for me, pretty predictable really. I remember when I first start placement in 2014 how tired I was, how difficult it was to adjust to working rather than studying. This wasn’t any different, and coupled with moving, sorting bills, fixing the mess the council made of our council tax application, it was all a bit stressful! That said I have an okay-ish commute and I’m now managing to stay awake past 10pm again, so I guess things are good! Favourites have been…
The Lake District
Work arranged for the whole 18-strong graduate cohort to head up to the Lake District for team-building in our first week; I had a blast. I was initially worried about whether it would be too ‘outdoorsy’ for me, whether I’d have to sleep in a dorm (I hate sleeping in front of people!). It worked out fine, the place we stayed in was right on the edge of Lake Windemere and absolutely gorgeous, and I even managed to kaykak in a reasonable fashion. It definitely helped that the Lake District is a beautiful part of the UK too…
I’ve mentioned my love for white pizzas a few times, and thanks to a new favourite restaurant it’s definitely growing. The Dynamo is dangerously close at only 3-minutes away from our flat and serves gorgeous sourdough pizzas. The base isn’t quite as good as Franco Manca but the toppings are excellent. Three (3!) tomato-free pizzas are on the menu, but on our visit it was a special that caught my eye. Smoked chicken, pancetta, mushrooms, mascapone, smoked mozzarella, garlic, herb oil and Parmesan. Sounds like an overload but everything worked so, so well together. One of the best pizzas I’ve had for sure!
Dynamo also do an amazing sounding brunch menu (Eggs Benedict, with black pudding instead of ham?!) so I’m sure at some point you’ll see more of the place on here…
Great British Bake Off
The best thing about this time of year, right?! I’ve been loving this series, I think they’ve gone back to basics a bit which is SO much better. It annoyed me last year how contestents would be baking macarons for ‘decoration’ – this year it’s very much about good baking, good flavours and the recipes seem so much yummier!
Me and W are also trying to ‘bake along’ as best we can. We missed the first week, but so far have pretty much kept up. I’ll be blogging about what we’ve made from next week – but the spiced chocolate hazelnut tea bread was a huge hit! Even if my kitchen did look a bit sticky and doughy…
That ‘New Year’ Feeling
September is definitely the month for new starts, and that definitely was the case for me this year – new home, new job, new study plans. I celebrated with ensuring I had a fresh clear diary in my Filofax, organising my time and setting myself some goals. It scares me to think that starting in a few short weeks I’ll be back to studying again, but I’ve set myself a challenge to try and complete all my exams in 2.5 years (including skipping a sitting for the wedding!). Nothing like a bit of pressure!
A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on
I might be a bit of an odd one, but I love formal clothes. I think that they can look so lovely and feminine, and I’d like to think I’ve managed to hit the right balance of formal and personality in my work outfits. Typically I’ve not get photography my favourite outfit – a lovely lace skirt, duck-egg blue, midi-length, pleated. I love it!
Now I’ve got to work on the shoe front. I bought so many lovely pairs of shoes and all of them need a ridiculous amount of breaking in so I’ve shied away from wearing them. Whoops!
What have your September highlights been? Anyone else looking forward to Autumn?! Oh, and congrats to all grads who started their new jobs this month, hope it’s going well!
It’s really hard to believe that 10 weeks have passed since I started doing these posts. I’ve loved doing a more regular update into my life, and I’ve found these quick-fire posts great for making me think about the really positive things that have happened recently.
Here’s what’s been making me smile lately…
The Lake District. I mentioned it in my previous post that I was heading up for some team building – it was a great few days!
“Rock” climbing up a (bloody tall) tree. I hate rock climbing having pretty much zero strength, I also hate heights. This was a massive achievement for me!
Managing to do 50 sit-ups in a row. Just call me superwoman…
Watching W’s mum getting licensed at Peterborough Cathedral. I know she’s worked really hard to get there, so it was a proud moment. Also very lovely to see his parents and rest of his family for the day!
We also got treated to lunch at Prezzo. Whilst I was never a fan when I could eat tomatoes (never had a good tomato-based meal there!) there is one dish I can’t get enough of. It had been around a year since I’d enjoyed a Pollo Carbonara but it was just as good as remembered. Rich, creamy, insanely cheesy…
Forgetting to shave my legs, then realising it’s cold enough for thicker tights. I love Autumn!
Watching W settle into his Masters course. I’m unbelievably proud of how far he’s come.
Catching up with my girls. We’re trying to make a date to see each other every month, and this month involved a bit of a shopping spree.
Finally kicking my cold out of my system. I picked it up just before heading to the Lakes and it lingered a bit. I’d sure W is glad not to have a constantly coughing person all night!
My family visiting. Including the dog. It’d been SO long since I had doggy cuddles.
Happy Monday everyone! Well, I’m all settled into my job. We’re being broken in quite gently, including a global programme set-up over the first month. It’s been great meeting colleagues from our offices in America, Asia and even Australia. Tomorrow we’re all off to the Lake District for a team-building trip – I’m definitely nervous as I’m not the typical outdoors-y type. Give me a dog and some walking boots and I’ll be happy, anything involving too much water/mud/speed/height isn’t really within my comfort zone. That said, I’m really looking forward to it! Other than working I guess it’s been a quiet fortnight whilst I get into a routine…
Here’s the best bits from my fortnight…
Not crashing any work computers within the first two weeks of my employment. I’ll call that a success!
Coming home to W. The most difficult part of being in an LDR was not being able to have a proper daily catch-up, so I’m loving being able to do this. The fact that his Masters course hasn’t started, leaving him free to bake and cook, it’s too bad either!
Catching up with old housemates. It’s been ages since I saw them, so it was nice to travel out to Brighton for a BBQ. I’m definitely missing my girls!
Baking! We’re attempting a bit of a bake-along with GBBO and have spent most Sunday’s in the kitchen. Biscuits, a spiced chocolate bread…safe to say I’m glad there was a bit of room in all my work clothes!
Getting back into exercise. I had a few days off during my first week of work, but now I’m back at my Results with Lucy programme. It’s hard work, but I’m really enjoying it and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my fitness levels. I hate, hate, HATE leg day though…
Stews and casseroles. Despite still hitting the high-twenties in London last week, I’m craving comforting food. Luckily Debenhams sent me over one of their pressure cookers for me to try, now I can whip up a beef stew in just half an hour after work!
My commute. Possibly the best thing about our flat is that my walk to the tube is 10 minutes, through a leafy street and over one of the Thames footbridges. Not looking forward to it in the rain, but it’s gorgeous on sunny mornings. I’ve seen some spectacular sunsets too.
White wine spritzers. Plenty of ice, made with lemonade. My favourite lunchtime/after-work drink…
Finally getting a decent phone case. I have a rather unusual phone (Huawei P8 – I highly recommend the brand!) and really struggle finding cases for it. Luckily GoCustomized offers personalised phone cases that fit, so I now have a rather bloggeresque marble back*. Just need to stop having a mini heart-attack when I catch sight of it as it does look like I’ve cracked my phone!
Playing tourist in London. We spent this Saturday wandering around, I even saw Big Ben properly for the first time!
What’s been making you smile recently? Any team-building experiences to share?
Now we’ve hit September it feels like summer has officially ended. I guess it has for many of us; new grads are starting their jobs, schools are heading back for a new year.
August for me was a strange month. I had some real highlights, which I’ve got in this post, but equally it was a difficult month. I didn’t expect to feel quite as sad as I did leaving my parents home at the end of the month. I was thinking “oh, I’ve been at uni for four years, it’s not like I’ve lived here” but in actual fact I did tear up considerably. I know I’ll be back to visit lots, but it definitely felt a lot more final. Added to this the stress of poorly family members (horse included) and my sister’s impending GCSE results (the girl did good – congrats little sis!) it wasn’t quite the relaxing ‘last month before work’ I was hoping for.
Doom and gloom over with, there were some definite highs in August. Some girly time with my mummy, a few nights away with W, plenty of yummy food and more than my fair share of shopping. Plus I finally, after six years, moved in with W – gotta be a life highlight right?! So, what were my favourite bits of August…?
A Chocolate Afternoon Tea
There will be a full review to come of this one, but I couldn’t leave this out of my monthly highlights. I finally (I say very ashamed!) treated my mum to a belated Mother’s Day present of an afternoon tea. Set in Whittlebury Hall, we chose the chocolate version and despite a bit of a mix-up we had such a fabulous time. Both of us needed a lie-down after the sugar-induced high, but everything we ate was delicious. Coupled with some champagne it was the perfect girly afternoon. The icing on the cake was watching her try on some Mother of the Bride outfits. She looked stunning!
Okay, so it’s only been a day, and technically it was September, but so far so good! I do think you can tell a lot about your team from first impressions, and I have to say I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in with the work. I loved the company ethos right from the start of their recruitment process, and I’m happy to say I’m still getting really good vibes.
Improving My Instagram Game
I mentioned in a ‘Happy’ post a few weeks ago that I’d hit 500 Instagram followers. It’s still hovering around that mark (occasionally, and rather annoyingly, dipping back below!) but I’m super happy with how my grid is looking. I’m hoping to keep this one up over the next few weeks; it’s by far my favourite social page so even if I neglect everything else I’d be happy posting a couple of times a day! Check out my profile here.
Definitely the big one of the month! After a little lot of stress with our lettings agent, which ended up in our flat only being finally confirmed a few days before we were meant to be moving in (despite signing contracts four weeks before), we picked up the keys as planned. There’s a few teething problems still to be ironed out, namely the lack of usable storage space and the fact that I can’t seem to open the flat door reliably, but we’re so glad to be in. We love the location – a few minutes walk from Putney High Street, a view of the Thames (and flight path – I’m a plane geek) from our bathroom and a lovely stroll across a footbridge to the nearest tube. The flat itself is also so, so lovely. Ultra modern, sleek, nice quality furniture. Better than anything we hoped for when starting to look for our first home together.
A Trip Up North
Before selling the car, we took one last road trip and ended up staying with family friends in Bolton. We explored the Peak District (one of my favourite parts of the UK) and visited Manchester. Having never been, I surprised myself by falling a little bit in love with the city. I know at some point in my life I’d love to live up North – it seems it’s not acceptable to order a chip butty anywhere else, but a cafe we stopped in for lunch had a chip-and-gravy butty on the menu. Heaven!
Finalising My Work Wardrobe
I’m a dodgy height (not quite petite, but regular clothes are always a little long), and I have a tiny waist. It can make clothes shopping difficult, but workwear really is a nightmare as I’m a fan of the fitted style. Call me a Granny if you want, but I’ve found the M&S range to be great this summer. I’ve picked up some really well-fitting pieces, with the shorter-length versions being just right on me. I’m now eyeing up this skirt desperately. Someone give me an excuse to treat myself?!
Our Engagement Party
It seems so long ago now (especially as when I’ve started drafting this post, I’m cosied under a blanket listening to the thunder outside), but at the beginning of August we celebrated our engagement with a garden party. I talked about it on Saturday so I won’t repeat the details, but it was a gorgeous day with most of our closest friends. I’m gutted not all of my bridesmaids could come, but I can’t wait to catch up with them soon.
So that was my last month of summer but, quite depressingly, probably my last full month off for a long, long time. However I am so excited for this next chapter in my life, I can see September being such a good month (if super busy, I’m totally relying on my diary to not forget anything!). And I can’t wait to start busting out the wintery wardrobe, I have missed thick wooly tights!
How was your August? What was your favourite part of Summer 2016?
Happy Monday guys! So, today is the day I start to adult; my graduate job begins! I torn between feeling super excited and scared stiff – I know deep down I can do the job, but I also know a lot of my knowledge (particularly anything involving programming) needs refreshing. I’ve spent far too long working out outfits for the week ahead, I’ve practised my route into work (including in morning rush hour), I’ve packed my bag with snacks, plasters and some Rescue Remedy. Eeek!
Here’s what’s made me super happy over the last fortnight! The weeks seem to go by so quickly doing a fortnightly round-up…
Moving! We’re all into our shiny new place, everything is unpacked and it’s virtually looking the way we want it. It’s so nice to finally be living together after nearly six years!
Seeing my sister get her GCSE results. I know only too well the stress of exams and waiting for results, so it’s hard for me to see her starting it all up just as I’m coming to the end of that era.
All the copper things! I picked up a gorgeous desk lamp from IKEA. We’re planning on having little copper touches throughout the flat, I’m hoping for some bathroom bits and bobs next.
Pizza! I’ve been loving all the white pizzas lately, keep tuned for my new favourite recipe on Thursday…
Thunderstorms. After some horrendously humid days in Northamptonshire it was good to have some spectacular thunderstorms last weekend.
The Doc Martens factory shop. How did I not know this existed only a short drive away from home until the week before I moved out?! Definitely going back for a pair of chelsea boots at some point.
Having internet back after a few days without whilst the connection was set up. As awful as it sounds, I really struggled to function without it.
Borrowing W’s Macbook for flatlaying. It’s so much pretty than my laptop!
Takeaway night with my family. I loved sharing their poppadoms, rice and naan and whipping up my own tomato-free curry. If anyone knows of an Indian in Putney with tomato-free options please, please, please let me know!
#FirstWorldProblems. So many of these when we moved. First we discovered the hob was induction, so none of our pans worked. Then after ten minutes attempting to make the bed we realised it was a king-size, so need to invest in new bedding. Now it transpires I’m about 50cm too short to reach the rail in the second wardrobe. Annoying little things, but they’ve made us laugh!
What’s been your highlight of the past fortnight? Good luck to anyone else starting their graduate job today!