Lifestyle: Happy Things #39

Happy Monday! As I type it’s Sunday evening I’m currently sweltering in my flat, wondering whether it’s acceptable to eat ice-cream whilst my dinner is cooking… (read: trying to justify it to myself!). I’ve had the most wonderful couple of weeks, I’m really making the most of this not-studying malarkey with plenty of plans. I have to say, though, I’m hoping for a slightly more relaxed three-day weekend next week, I’m in need of a rest!

  1. Nice Cream. I love making soft-serve style ‘ice-cream’ out of frozen bananas and a splash of milk. A weekend treat is a big bowl made with peanut butter, and topped with peanut butter cups. So, so good and just that bit kinder to my bank balance and waist-line than Ben & Jerrys!
  2. A trip to Wakehurst Place. I met my girls, we had a delicious picnic (I made a Quiche Lorraine which is one of my favourite treats), drank Shloer out of plastic champagne flutes and wandered around the gorgeous gardens. It was such a lovely day, and now I’m sorely tempted to get a National Trust membership…
  3. Steak Salad. I’ve felt a bit anemic lately, so decided a steak dinner was in order! We usually serve it with homemade chips and a whisky sauce, but lightened it up – puy lentils, roasted broccoli, asparagus, mixed salad leaves and Parmesan with a dash of balsamic vinegar. It certainty hit the spot!
  4. Re-vamping our interiors slightly. After a good spring clean I’ve switched a few things round in our flat, picked up some new bedding and generally just gave it a good old refresh. You can read some bedroom decor tips from both me and some other lovely bloggers over on this Laura Ashley post*
  5. Afternoon Tea at Dandelyan. This was my first foray into luxury afternoon teas and it was wonderful – four cocktails, the most gorgeous food and a stylish setting. A full review will be live in the next week or so but I highly recommend a trip!
  6. Shopping for honeymoon clothes – because my wedding is now less than 20 weeks away! I’ve picked up a few bits in H&M but still want some more summery dresses and skirts. Any places to look?
  7. Sorting out wedding ceremony details with our vicar. We’ve confirmed a basic running order, our hymms are virtually chosen and it’s all feeling a lot more real now. Invites are slowly going out as and when I manage to finish them off, they should all be sent by next weekend. Eeek!
  8. And speaking of weddings, how gorgeous was the Royal Wedding this weekend?! I loved the dress, the veil was insane, but what made me super-emotional was how Harry looked at his bride. Utterly fairy-tale.
  9. Gin. I’m not a fan of tonic so haven’t really drank much gin in the past, but recently I’ve been enjoying it with various other mixers. Elderflower is a good combo!
  10. I’ve managed to keep my house plants alive for a year now. I think I’m more than ready now to be responsible for my own puppy… 😉

*in collaboration with Laura Ashley, all thoughts and opinions are my own as always!

And that’s it! I’m planning quite a quiet Bank Holiday weekend next week – I’m hoping to go to Immy’s yoga class, then I’d like to take a trip to Kew Gardens for a bit of a photo sessions, then possibly a walk around Richmond too. Other than that it’s a big weekend of blogmin and wedmin!

What’s made you happy lately? What are your plans for the upcoming Bank Holiday Weekend?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #38

Happy Bank Holiday Monday! It’s a bit of a miracle here in the UK that a Bank Holiday weekend has been combined with hot and sunny weather, but I for one am not complaining (other than the bright sunshine makes it far more difficult to take photos!). We’ve spent the weekend exploring new (to us) areas of London, lying in the sun, eating tacos and generally just relaxing. I’d like to do something a bit more exciting next Bank Holiday though, so let me know what you got up to!

  1. Tacos for dinner. We love eating Mexican food, and with a tub of leftover roast chicken needing using up we took inspiration from Chelsea’s recipe. The avo-corn salsa combo was DELICIOUS (I used frozen sweetcorn, and fried it in the pan we’d used that morning for bacon, before cooling and adding to the avo), and perfect with the roast chicken (tossed in a chipotle dressing with some onions). We topped with feta, a squeeze of lime and lots of coriander and *really* enjoyed it. Plus it was ready in 10 minutes, so I can see it becoming a regular fixture in our meal plans.
  2. Olive Oil and Lemon Cake. It was light, zest and delicious – have a look on the ‘gram for more!
  3. Exams are done! I finished my latest exam sitting a fortnight ago and, whilst hugely relieved, I’m not feeling overly confident with how they went. Either way I’m not retaking in the next sitting (as it’s right before the wedding) so I’ve got a nice break from heavy studying for now. I’ll still be sitting a smaller exam in September, but no written paper this time – vain as it may be, I get awful finger blisters when revising and being left-handed means I *really* want to avoid them just before the wedding!
  4. Launching a new blog series. I’m going to be reviewing cookbooks with a recipe from each – you can read the first Cooking From posts here and here.
  5. A wander around Hampstead Heath. It’s an area of London I’ve not explored at all, but I’m desperate to go back and see more of it. We just won’t mention the fact I stupidly wore sandals and now have insanely painful and swollen ankles…
  6. Wedding prep! I bought the final bits I need for my ‘look’ on the day (highly recommend Dress Me Pretty if you’re in the Midlands), we’ve finalised our invitations, bought a couple of things for decorating the reception. It’s now five months to go – eek!
  7. An impromtu date night at Home SW15. It’s quite honestly our favourite place at the moment, and we wish we had the pennies to visit more often. We enjoyed a Lemon Sole (me, it was perfectly cooked), a Bavette Steak with Red Wine Butter (him, I stole a piece and it was the best tasting steak I can remember eating) and shared a portion of fries with aoili. If you’re ever in the Putney area I highly recommend a visit!
  8. Saying hi to puppies. There’s a gorgeous Border Terrier pup who lives near me and I’m worried the owner will think I’m stalking him as I bump into him far too often…
  9. Ice-cream! Sun and heat = ice-cream craving. Chalet Chiro in Putney does the best ice-cream I’ve tasted in London, and one of the best outside of Italy (there’s a small hidden place in Brighton that *just* pips them to the post).
  10. Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. We had this for dinner last night and it was perfectly – just the right amount of soft, sweet garlic, with tender chicken. Keep an eye out for the recipe!

What’s made you happy lately? How have you spent the Bank Holiday weekend?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #37

Happy Monday! It’s probably not surprising to you that I’ve had yet *another* quiet fortnight. Exams are just about to get into full swing – I have a computer based on over two days this week, then a big written paper in another two weeks. I’m not feeling overly confident with these as getting the flu really knocked the stuffing out of me – I forgot a lot of what I’d covered, lost a lot of time, and it took me ages to be able to study at my full pace again. Fingers crossed it will be alright!

The past two weeks have involved a lot of time at my desk, but some fun also. And of course, it was Easter which meant chocolate, hot cross buns and a long weekend…

  1. More Bourek and Hummus from Balkan Bites at Borough Market. I first tried this when we did our doughnut workshop, then went back the following weekend for me. It’s definitely my favourite street-food lunch at Borough Market. It’s relatively light, steaming hot (but I bet lovely if left to cool too), the hummus is *amazing* and the green chilli packs a punch. Get the spinach and feta bourek and you won’t be disappointed!
  2. Finally getting round to watching the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. Have you seen it yet? What did you think?
  3. Doing a spot of baking. I made a (perhaps excessive) Easter Cake for the office and it went down well. Sponge filled and covered in buttercream (courtesy of Green’s Cake Mixes*), the topped with a giant chocolate-cornflake nest and filled with mini-eggs. Yum!
  4. Winning a couple of blog competitions. I’ve recently managed to win a Bill’s voucher and also a mini-moon getaway in the Cotswolds for a couple of nights.
  5. A sunrise church service on Easter Sunday. Our church does it with a Bonfire next to the Thames and despite the early start it is a lovely occasion. Helped by the pastries and Buck’s Fizz afterwards I guess!
  6. Dinner Party planning and eating – without the stress of cooking! We planned a bit of a get-together for a few friends last week, I help W plan the menu (always fun) and then left him to do the cooking. He did a wonderful job and make egg yolk ravioli, a chicken dish with pan-roasted thighs, mashed potato, malt crumble, crispy skin skin and a chicken jus. Then dessert was a chocolate-cherry concoction that was simply heavenly…

What’s been making you smile lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #35

This fortnight has been a pretty weird one, as most of it I’ve spent being rather ill with a severe cold/flu illness. In fact this was the same illness than led to my previous happy things post being cut short halfway through – apologies about that. It’s been kinda difficult to see the good things when you’ve spent so long in bed, especially when you’re too ill to walk the length of your flat or even read a book, but I’m hoping writing this post will cheer me up.

  1. Chicken soup. The best medicine you can buy!
  2. Starting with (another) new team at work for the next few weeks. I may have only managed half a day before I headed home ill, but I’m excited to start a new project and see where things go.
  3. Sausages in Cider. I had very little taste for over a week with this illness, and this was the first dinner where I actually managed to appreciate it.
  4. Chicken & Ham Pie topped with Cheesy Mash. I needed comfort food, and this worked.
  5. Finding a 20% off code to coincide with when I needed to reorder Pixi Glow Tonic. Every little helps!
  6. Lemon Meringue Pie. Coupled with a lack of taste I had very little appetite, but I was craving this – so my wonderful fiance made me one fro scratch.
  7. Ordering some pretty pyjamas for the morning of the wedding. At least I’ll look decent in the bridal preparation photos!
  8. A pamper evening. If you’re feeling ill then an evening with candles, a warm bath and facemasks might not make you feel better, but it does help a little.
  9. Receiving our pre-wedding shoot photos back. Our photographer has done an absolutely amazing job, I’m planning on sharing a few over on Instagram during the week!
  10. Blood Orange Curd Tart with Dark Chocolate Pastry. This was our Sunday night dessert yesterday and it was goooood!

Sorry for the slightly depressing Happy Things post! Hope you’ve had a better fortnight than me!

Lifestyle: Happy Things #34

Sunday night, it’s cold outside, I’m cosy-ed up on my sofa with a hot chocolate and looking back over all the good things in the last fortnight. Not a bad end to the weekend!

      1. Doing a menu tasting for our wedding. All of the food was wonderful, especially our chocolatey dessert. I can’t wait!
      2. A Valentine’s night in with a current favourite casserole (pork, lemon, mustard and dill with parmesan dumplings – it’s delicious) and cheat’s chocolate mousse.
      3. Bright skies and sunshine. It feels like Spring is just round the corner!
      4. Having a clear blog inbox for the first time in months…
      5. Having a first measurements session for my wedding dress – eek. I am so looking forward to seeing it all come together.
      6. It’s been all go with the wedding stuff recently – we also had our pre-wedding photoshoot with our wonderful photographer. The sneak peek was wonderful, so I imagine there will be lots of happy tears when we get the rest of the snaps!

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #33

I’ve gotten into such a lovely, lovely habit of writing these cosied up on a Sunday night. I find it really starts my working week off well the next day, as I’m in such a good mood having remembered all the lovely things that have happened recently. And it just so happens this last fortnight has been absolutely amazing!

    1. My Hen Do being planned. It’s a total surprise right now but I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen, and just to spend time with my best girls.
    2. Bridesmaid shopping. I actually found the idea of this really quite stressful (no idea why – my girls are lovely, but I just don’t enjoy shopping when I have to buy something in particular), but it was a really lovely day. I just know the three of them will all look completely and utterly gorgeous on the day!
    3. More wedding things – but my hair and makeup trial. Again something I was nervous about as I’m not really one to have a nice hair-do and lots of makeup on, but I think I found a gem in the lady I’ve booked.
    4. Taking part in The Little Plantation Winter Instagram Challenge. I haven’t participated in every single challenge, but I’ve been enjoying being inspired to think of different foodie things to post.
    5. A few weeks of awesome lunches. There was a Cauliflower Salad inspired by a recipe in Fress, then I made up a glorious taco-inspired quinoa salad for a few days. Yum!
    6. Going to Flip Out in Wandsworth. It was an awesome Sunday night workout session!
    7. A Cheese & Onion Chutney Grilled Cheese. So, so good.
    8. A Tasting Menu lunch at Roganic. It was my Christmas Present from W and the boy did goooood! I’m not going to be blogging about it as it was such a treat meal, but I can highly recommend it if good, tasty and slightly fancy British food is your thing.
    9. Snuggles with my pup. At 12 he’s starting to get a bit older now, but that means he’s more up for cuddles!
    10. Trying Aligot for the first time. It’s basically an insanely cheesy mashed potato, made with Alpine Cheese. It’s super-rich and filling, and quite possibly one of the most delicious things to have some out of my kitchen

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #32

I’m sat here writing this on a Sunday evening. I’m in my cosiest PJs (they’re from Next and they are the softest things I’ve ever worn), I’ve got a wee dram of whisky and I’m feeling delightfully sleepy and cosy. That pretty much sums up my January to be honest – cosy. Lots of evenings in, snuggled with a good book or Silent Witness. Lots of comforting, seasonal food. It’s been wonderful!

    1. Afternoon Tea with my besties. We visited Alice & The Hatter Tearooms in Herne Bay and whilst it wasn’t exactly a refined afternoon tea it was yummy enough. A bit of a sugar overload, but we very much enjoyed it!
    2. Trying to squeeze in some daily exercise. I’m struggling a bit with the daily, but I’m doing something more often than not. I’m alternating between Yoga and more HIIT style work-outs which feels more sustainable to me.
    3. An exercise mat. My dad picked one up for me from Aldi and it’s made the aforementioned yoga workouts so much more enjoyable – no more bruised back from our wooden floors!
    4. A payday treat at Honest Burger (previous review here). I remembered exactly why I consider The Honest to be my favourite burger so far, and how addictive their rosemary chips are. Any other burger places you can recommend?!
    5. Silent Witness. It’s my guilty pleasure – I usually wait until later in the week then watch the two episodes back to back…
    6. A Cauliflower Cheese Risotto. Quite possibly my favourite thing I’ve cooked so far this year.
    7. A belated Burn’s Night celebration. We cooked up Haggis, Neeps & Tatties and a Whisky Peppercorn Sauce, then finished with Cranachan. Delicious – and all the more so with bagpipes playing in the background!
    8. Finishing off a really difficult but enjoyable project at work. I had to learn a new software and start a fairly complex project all within four weeks, and I’m proud to say I achieved this. Coupled with an unexpectedly good annual performance review I’m feeling fairly #girlboss right now.
    9. Getting loads of wedding-related things pencilled into our diary. I’m having a hair/makeup trial later this week, a dress-fitting is booked for February, we have menu-tasting in a few weeks and there’s a date for my hen weekend.
    10. Homemade Pitta breads. I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat bought ones again!
    11. Tacos. We made Duck & Pineapple Tacos a few weeks ago, and last week we used leftover marinade to make Pork Pibil ones (recipe here). I do love a good taco!

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #31

Wow, hasn’t the past fortnight gone quickly! Maybe it’s because my Christmas ended up being not-so-festive, but I’ve found easing myself back into work, a routine etc a lot easier than previous years. I mean, if you ignore the horrendous 2.5+ hour journey to work last Monday morning, it’s been pretty much a breeze! Though if you could send me an excuse to eat vast amounts of cheese again, that would be wonderful…

  1. Long walks. Both on New Year’s Day, then again last weekend, me and W wrapped up warm and went for a long walk. Our go-to route is along the river (heading West out of London), but we also spent a lovely 4 hours zigzagging across Richmond Park, before walking to Ham and then onto Petersham Nurseries. Gorgeous, though trying to make our own sandwiches on a picnic bench in sub 5C was perhaps a mistake.
  2. Buying pretty plates at Petersham Nurseries. Anything for the Instagram!
  3. Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been loving curating my feed lately. If only I could reach the small but elusive 1k though!
  4. Joining a new join at work (albeit temporarily) – it involves a lot of techy and code-y work so it’s been a challenge, but I’ve really appreciated it.
  5. Booking onto a Doughnut Making Workshop as part of W’s birthday present. It’s not until the end of March but I’m already excited for it!
  6. Being challenged to cook a ‘local meal’ – more on this soon…
  7. A birthday night out at Home SW15. The food was lovely, the seasonal cocktails (mine involved parsnip and white chocolate) were yummy and I definitely want to visit for brunch now!
  8. Oh brunch. We also managed a birthday brunch at our favourite, The Dynamo (read my previous review). I tried their Turkish Eggs which were AMAZING, just lacking a big enough toast portion…
  9. Cosying up with a homemade lasagne made with my tomato-free bolognese. Cheesy, creamy, and full of all the carbs!
  10. Burning my favourite candle. It’s Rose & Oud scented and I’m so gutted it’s now ran out.
  11. Enjoying my new armchair. I now finally have a mustard-y yellow armchair. It’s just the right size to curl up on with a book, it’s super comfy and makes my flat feel 10x more cosy. I love it!
  12. Making progress with wedding bits and bobs. With less than 9 months to go we actually need to plan stuff rather than just book vendors. I have my hair/makeup trial, first dress fitting and our ‘engagemnt’ shoot with our photographer all in the next few weeks, plus a shop to try and find dresses for my ‘maids. So exciting!

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #26

I realised a little late last week (Wednesday, shamefully) that I’d missed this post. I don’t think it was a coincidence, either, that my mood was particularly low last week. Sure, I’d finished my exam (I can’t say it was the best exam ever, but it didn’t make me cry so it can’t be the worst!). We’d hit one-year-to-go in our wedding day countdown. All good things, so it’s safe to say that penning this post definitely improves my outlook. Here goes…

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  1. A lovely weekend away. Seaside, lots of amazingly good food and plenty of quality time with W. It was perfect!
  2. The best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. Thank you Pump Street Bakery!
  3. Also thanks to Pump Street, the most amazing sandwich combo. Salami, roasted fennel and garlic mayo on sourdough. Worth the damage I did to my tooth eating it!
  4. Reading an actual book. I love my Kindle, but there’s something about a paperback that I love. Maybe it’s the fact I can take it for a soak in the bath without being terrified of dropping it…
  5. Finally recovering from a nasty insect bite. Swelling has now gone down though I’m convinced my leg is still a funny colour…
  6. Celebrating 7 years together. We had a day date and went to the Postal Museum. Definitely worth a visit!
  7. Catching up with friends. I hate the fact I miss out on so much during exam season. I’ve been making the most of it with lots of lunch dates over the last week or so!
  8. An amazing meeting with our wedding florist. I’m so excited to see what she comes up with!
  9. Sending out our Save the Dates. They are absolutely stunning and I’ve loved people’s reactions.
  10. And another wedding one – my mum got her hat. She’s been talking about her hat for far longer than we’ve been engaged, and a chance pop into Olney village resulted in a panic trying to fit a giant hatbox in the car…

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #25

Unfortunately just a really quickly penned post from me today – exam day is Wednesday and I really shouldn’t be blogging right now. But so many LOVELY things have happened over the past few weeks that I can’t help but share…

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  1. Watching one of my lovely friends marry her soulmate. It was such a lovely day and so perfect for them.
  2. Realising it’s only just over a year until I get married myself! Eeekkkkk!
  3. Getting my groove on with blogging again. After a break from it all, and months feeling a bit disconnected I’ve pretty much finalised where I’m taking this space in the long-term. Stay tuned…
  4. Finding a decent deep conditioner. This one has been great for my locks, just a shame L’Oreal aren’t a company I’m desperate to support!
  5. Discovering my local Sainsbury’s sell products from The Polish Bakery. The bakery gifted me some goodies a while back and their bread is all kinds of awesome. Just gutted I’ve not found the Rye bread yet…
  6. Eating chocolate.* Cadbury sent me over some goodies to celebrate the launch of their partnership with the Premier League. I have to say that chocolate plus potential prizes is a winner in my book – simply enter the code from a promotional bar and you can win one of hundreds of football themed prizes.
  7. Gorgeous sunsets from the top floor of my office. Admittedly I’ve spent lots of late evenings (and even weekends!) there but it’s such a lovely view I can almost forgive exams for robbing me of a work-life balance!
  8. Fruit crumble and fresh cream. Perfect Sunday night treat!
  9. Almossstttttt having a dining table. The legs are here, the top was delivered on Saturday. Just a shame the top arrived completely snapped in half…
  10. Receiving a yogurt pot with my name on. It’s the little things that put a smile on this face!

What’s been putting a smile on your face?