Lifestyle: Happy Things #29

Another Monday, another “Happy Things” post – although those with a good memory will have noticed that I’ve missed one or two of these. Whoops!

I’ve had a busy few weeks at work, a lot of blog events to go to (and write about) and I’ve been trying to take it a little easier in the evenings I have been at home. Comfort food, catching up with Masterchef and reading a few good books. Oh, and attempting to fix insanely massive tech issues on this blog (it was to the point my hosting company suspended my account and everything disappeared) and trying to deal with Photobucket giving me 30 days to save thousands of photos… yep these happy things posts just slipped my mind! It’s a shame as there’s been many happy things lately…

    1. My birthday! Sure I’m another year old, another year closer to finding grey hairs (I’m convinced I’ve actually gone slightly grey so I’ve upped my dyeing game lately!). But it was a great weekend spent with some of my best friends and my lovely family.
    2. And of course, a lot of food was eaten on said birthday weekend! I managed to tick off two restaurants from my ‘to visit’ list, including a delicious brunch and an *amazing* double carb pizza. Full reviews coming in the new year!
    3. Amazing gifts. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging at all, but some of the gifts I received this year were truly magical. From a plant pot (can tell I’m getting old!) that fits in perfectly with the rest of my flat decor to a gorgeous Olivia Burton watch. I know I’m not the easiest person to buy for as well!
    4. A pretty good one-to-one with my manager. I don’t share a huge amount about my professional life here, but it’s been quite a tough few weeks at work so to find out I’m actually not screwing things up was a major thing for me recently! Now just to start thinking a bit more positively…
    5. Snow! Some of my colleagues were visiting from India at the time and had rarely, if ever, seen snow so it was super-exciting. Though I find snow at any time exciting!
    6. Opening my M&S Beauty Advent Calendar. I was worried it was’t going to be worth the money but I’ve been really impressed so far.
    7. A New Look Haul. I ordered myself a couple of jumpers and several skirts to update my winter wardrobe and now feel so much happier. I should probably through some older stuff away to make room though…
    8. Buying some really good quality meat. Now, I’m all for living ethically but equally I don’t particularly have any desire to be a vegetarian. Sure it works for some people, but I find I do feel an awful lot better when I eat meat. With that in mind we’re trying to eat slightly less of it, but make sure it’s coming from a better source. It’s costing is a bit more (and my birthday steaks made me pale as we went to pay) but it tastes SO much better. Pork in particular is a total game changer. Now to try and find a better source for fruit and veg – any recommendations?!
    9. Wine, wine, wine. This winter I’ve discovered I really like red wine. There’s a Romanian one I’ve been absolutely loving, but my go-to is a malbec. All the wine please!
    10. Ox Cheeks Braised in Red Wine. Combining two of my big loves – red meat and red wine. It was utter heaven served with celeriac mash and bacon-fried greens. Yum yum!
    11. A realllllyyyy yummy lunch at Bill’s. It’s not somewhere I visit often, but the cod and lentil dish I had was light and tasty and really hit the spot. The Molten Chocolate Bombe I had for dessert wasn’t quite so light, but was just as delicious.
    12. Watching Aladdin at the threatre. It was such a good performance, and the set and effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen on stage. Highly recommended!

What’s made you happy lately? What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #28

Another Monday, another “Happy Things” post – although those with a good memory will have noticed that I’ve missed one or two of these. Whoops!

I’ve had a busy few weeks at work, a lot of blog events to go to (and write about) and I’ve been trying to take it a little easier in the evenings I have been at home. Comfort food, catching up with Masterchef and reading a few good books. Oh, and attempting to fix insanely massive tech issues on this blog (it was to the point my hosting company suspended my account and everything disappeared) and trying to deal with Photobucket giving me 30 days to save thousands of photos… yep these happy things posts just slipped my mind! It’s a shame as there’s been many happy things lately…

  1. It’s my birthday week! I don’t think anything could be happier than that, HA! I have a day off to do absolutely whatever I please, a breakfast planned on the big day, an order in for a steak-night-in and a family lunch the next day. Looking forward to it!
  2. My first Christmas dinner of the season. And thanks to the fancy AEG ovens it was perfectly good and just so tasty. I am desperate for my own kitchen so I can have my own…
  3. My work Christmas party. We had our 2016 party in February, so there was 9 months between them – but it was a great night. We had a cocktail making workshop (excellent) and “Christmas dinner on stick” (not so excellent). And I felt surprisingly good the next morning too!
  4. Picking up the M&S Beauty Advent Calendar.
  5. W making the tastiest (and quickest) veggie curry we’ve had in a while. Yum yum!
  6. Doggy cuddles. I nipped to my parents for the night over the weekend – instead of getting the much anticipated bed to myself, I found myself clinging to the edge whilst a certain terrier snored in the middle…
  7. Making one of my favourite chicken dishes. We rarely buy chicken breasts, but splurged on some ‘premium’ ones (wincing at the price slightly!) and pan-fried with a leek and mustard sauce. So good.
  8. An evening at Taste of London. Read Saturday’s post to find out more!
  9. Wandering around a garden centre looking at (and buying!) Christmas decorations. Hello middle agedness!
  10. Homemade marshmallows in hot chocolate. It’s my new obsession.

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #27

I can’t quite believe how quickly this year has gone – how on earth is it the end of October tomorrow? The shops have Christmas decorations all set up, my gift-shopping list is written and my bank account is quietly sobbing in anticipation. As much as I’m a fan of Christmas, this time of year always fills me with a mild sense of panic as there’s just so much to do…

That said, a lot of this past fortnight has involved lazy and cozy evenings, snuggling with a blanket and a good book. Some comfort food, maybe a film. It’s been good, wonderfully restorative and exactly what I needed…

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  1. Spending a morning at the Ginger Whisk Cookery School. Not only was Lucy absolutely delightful and the perfect host, we made a whole host of sweet goodies. I learnt how to temper chocolate, make fudge and turn homemade gifts into Instagrammable parcels. Highly recommended!
  2. Absolutely perfecting my tomato-free bolognese. Adding a pinch of citric acid takes the recipe up to a whole new level.
  3. Yummy lunchboxes. I’ve been playing around with mix-and-match salads – a combo of grated carrot, couscous, tahini and lemon was my favourite last week!
  4. Finally having a dining table AND a set of chairs. I’ll have to do an updated flat tour asap!
  5. Picking up a few bottles of a very nice red wine. I felt so grown up!
  6. Fireworks. I just love watching them.
  7. Surviving being ‘attacked’ by a frog. I was walking through the grounds of our flat after a few drinks, down quite a dark and damp path. Suddenly something is jumping up at my leg. Safe to say I screamed more than a little…
  8. The Lemon Drizzle Nakd Bars have been in my work canteen lately. I find them pretty irresistible.
  9. Whipping up a Vietnamese-inspired Caramelised Pork Noodle Bowl. Authentic it was not, but it was certainly delicious!
  10. Making my own sweet chilli sauce to go with the above. Though it made my eyes run for days…

What’s made you happy lately?

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 #19

Another fortnight, and another one where I’ve found it really difficult to write this post. Last week we buried my Granddad and it was a very difficult day. I then came down with a virus-type illness (sore throat, cough, earache, bunged nose – the lot), and to top if off felt nauseous and anxious for a good week. All the more reason to concentrate on the little happy things I guess!

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  1. A 7 hour round-trip drive in a pretty car. I had to go on a site visit for work, and the brand new Jaguar F-type made the 6.30am start a bit more bearable!
  2. Costa’s Peach Iced Tea. One of my guilty pleasures.
  3. My dad’s Caramel Swirl Brownies. He’s a great baker (check out his Malteser Blondies here) and these were great.
  4. Pink Prosecco on a Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. Bliss.
  5. Dying my hair a new colour. At first I thought it was a tad dark but I’m loving it.
  6. May’s Cronut – Blush Peach and Elderflower. The best of 2017 so far, just a shame that the outside area of Dominique Ansel clearly had a drain issue when we visited. The smell that followed each toilet-flush was NOT good….
  7. Pulling out light and floaty summer dresses for work. Generally I wear shift dresses (see here for my normal work wardrobe, minus my new favourite bits) but it’s just been too damn hot!
  8. Picnic in the park. Instead of cooking dinner I made a quinoa salad (recipe up soon!), whipped up some hummus and threw everything in a coolbag. It was bliss to sit outside and not have to worry about overheating our flat by using the oven.
  9. Flicking through recipe books. I’m trying to mix up our weekly meal-plan – let me know your go-to quick dinners please?!
  10. Doggy snuggles AND puppy cuddles. I went to my parents for the Bank Holiday weekend and caught up with my pooch – and snuck round to the neighbours to meet their 3-month old Westie. Nothing like squeezing a dog to make your troubles go away!
  11. The Good Widow. One of the best books I’ve read in a while!
  12. A long walk about the Thames Path. On Saturday we wandered towards London, only planning just a short walk as I am (still!) feeling rubbish. Nearly 4 miles later we caught a bus home! It was such lovely weather, I watched helicopters taking off/landing (I’m a bit of an aircraft nerd!), we ate a picnic in Battersea Park and pointed out our dream apartments and houseboats.
  13. Baking Cinnamon Rolls. In need of some cheering up yesterday (who didn’t?!) we spent the day lazy about, tissues in hand (I’ve kindly shared said illness) and baking some yummy things. Cinnamon Rolls are my ultimate comfort bake and these didn’t disappoint. I’ll have the recipe up in a couple of weeks.
  14. Homemade Chicken Satay. We both fancied my Asian Radish Salad (see here) for a light dinner, but felt like something different too. I whipped up an amazing satay sauce which we used to marinade chicken turkey (actually, as that’s all we had) before grilling. Yum yum!

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #18

This post was difficult for me to write, very difficult. I’ve mentioned it briefly on social media, but 2017 is proving to be an extremely hard year for me. In the space of just over four months, I’ve lost both of my granddads. Both matriarchs of the family. Both loved, admired and respected both within our family and their community. The 9 days have been a struggle for me, and trying to see the good bits in my day-to-day life has proved a little difficult. But I wanted to try, to write this post to remind myself just how much I still have in my life to be grateful about.

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  1. Gardening. My company arranged a Global Day of Giving, with offices worldwide closed to allow us to go and volunteer in the community. I went to Alexandra Palace to do some gardening – an activity I love (oh, how I wish I had a garden!). Despite the rain it was a great day, and we were allowed on a tour of the old theatre whilst it’s being renovated.
  2. A good catch up with my parents. The night before I got The Phonecall I’d spent over an hour chatting with them. After a busy time at work with only a few short conversations it was what I needed.
  3. Visiting Columbia Road Flower Market for the first time. It was scarily busy but I bought some succulents and now feel like a proper blogger…
  4. Cheese Toasties at Maltby Street Food Market. The Cheese Truck is now a permanent fixture in my foodie highlights – my fav was the Goat’s Cheese, W loved the Queso & Chorizo. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve dreamed about them since!
  5. Picking up the perfect Gingham Dress from Marks & Spencer. It fits well, is really good quality and the perfect length for wearing with thick black tights and boots, or bare legs and sandals. And I had to get a Size 6. #winning
  6. Starting to firm up our wedding cake arrangements. Though given her *amazing* chocolate chip cookies I’m tempted to just have a cookie tower instead…
  7. An evening at the pub, even if I was mistaken for being in my thirties. Note to self: wear makeup after crying!
  8. Beginning to plan our trip to Switzerland. I spent a good few hours trying to work out the cheapest train tickets
  9. Enjoying National Vegetarian Week. Other than some meat stock used in one of my freezer meals, I didn’t eat meat for the entirety. We had some amazing meals – a chickpea curry with tandoori roasted cauliflower was a particular highlight. Whilst I love meat too much to be veggie full-time I’m definitely going to up from one meat-free dinner a week to at least two and cut it out at lunchtimes.
  10. Playing with my new Kenwood Stand-Mixer*. They make baking so much easier, and I’ve always been a little bit scared of breaking W’s Kitchen Aid! Is two stand-mixers in a tiny flat excessive…?
  11. The BBC drama Three Girls. Not exactly a happy thing as it was based on the child sex trafficking in Rochdale, but it was such a gripping three-part series. Raw, emotional and it really got me thinking. Definitely recommend having a watch on iPlayer.
  12. A raspberry and blueberry crumble with peanut butter topping. As good as it sounds.
  13. Will. He’s been my rock these past few weeks despite being insanely busy. I don’t know what I’d do without him!

What little things have made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #17

It feels like far longer than a fortnight since I last penned one of these posts – I’ve enjoyed plenty of time off studying, although my next ‘exam’ kicks in this evening. It’s an online fortnight course, with an element similar to coursework and a multiple-choice exam in a few months. One of the easiest ones I need to do, then I’ll crack on with studying for September’s exams. It’s never ending…though I’m enjoying it (despite the moaning!). Here’s what’s been making me smile…

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  1. Early Friday finishes. My office shuts mid-afternoon before a Bank Holiday so I was on my sofa with a cuppa before 4pm. Bliss.
  2. Impromptu meet-ups with my besties, meaning we saw each other two weekends in a row.
  3. Wandering around Canterbury and grabbing a Pork & Co roll – and a black pudding scotch egg for the next day. I don’t know why I didn’t try one of their scotch eggs before I moved away from the shop, it was delicious!
  4. My new mattress topped from Eve. It’s made my bed so much comfier, I’m having a hard time getting out of it in the mornings…I highly recommend it if you’re living with a less than perfect mattress in a rented place.
  5. Perfectly cooked brisket alongside W’s amazing cauliflower cheese. The perfect Sunday roast!
  6. Sticky salmon with vegetable noodles. Yummy, and low-carb thanks to Oomi.*
  7. My new Dyson. I didn’t realise quite how bad my old hoover was until we had to empty it twice. And our flat is tiny.
  8. Getting my blog mojo back. Lots planned for the next few months!

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #16

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…

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  1. A whole day of meetings on the top floor of our office. We had stunning views of London all day.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. Exams being over. Nuff said.
  7. 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!
  8. A day of spring cleaning. Little jobs that had been overlooked have now been done – and my shower is sparkling!
  9. 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…
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. The London Marathon – it’s one of my favourite sporting events. Congrats to all who took part!

What’s made your last fortnight happy?

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?