Lifestyle: November Favourites

November is normally one of my favourite months. It’s normally cold and crisp. I love Bonfire night; wrapping up warm to watch fireworks and scorch my face by getting too close to the flames. I love wandering around London and sniffing the first whiffs of Mulled Wine. I love buying presents, choosing wrapping paper, getting ready for Christmas. I love cosying up with a good bowl of comforting food.

This November has been different.

I’ve kept up a smile, a happy appearance (W would say differently, it’s his shoulder I cry on!). But I’ve really struggled with November this year.

I found it grey, the weather pretty miserable. Even on dry days, the biting wind of Fenchurch Street all but killed off my lunchtime strolls. I resented it being dark in the mornings and dark in the evenings, even dark during the days on one horrific Monday. I felt overwelmed with all I had to learn for my job, the amount of studying I need to do before my exam in April. I missed my university housemates, felt lonely and isolated. I felt pressured and fed up of wedding planning. I began to hate my appearance; frizzy hair, spotty and flaky skin, growing wobbly bits. All in all, it hasn’t been my best month.

It’s made me all the more grateful for the little things, the tiny bits that make me smile, make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Whether it’s ready a good blog post, understand a section in my course notes or making the perfect cup of tea (rarer that you’d think!), focusing on these has kept me from throwing the towel in and hibernating until Spring…

Bloggers do brunch! Happy belated birthday @jasxcharlotte 😘

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Brunch & Babes

One grey and drizzly Sunday morning was certainly cheered up with brunch and catch-ups with some of my favourite blogging girls – and some new favourites too. We headed over to Cambridge St Kitchen for instagrammable dishes and plenty of chatting, all in celebration of Jasmin’s birthday. And it really cheered me up. I’d been feeling a little lonely over the past few weeks so it couldn’t have come at a better time!

The brunch was, we all agreed, “fine.” Nothing special, not really worth the 60+ minutes wait, bitter coffee and my toast was burnt. The cafe itself was lovely, the staff friendly if slow, and my poached eggs were yolk-porn perfection. Not bad, not great.

We followed with a ‘cake quest’ – picking up the much-hyped Cronut and then a good wander around Victoria and across the park to work at least some of it off. Verdict on the Cronut? Insanely indulgent, deceptively filling, wonderfully sweet yet balanced. November’s flavour (yep, wish I hadn’t known about the monthly flavours!) was Cherry & White Almond, and the frangipane notes work well against the sharp jam and sweet dough. I’m not convinced it’s worth the hype, but it was good. Though it hasn’t replaced my love for Co-Op doughnuts…
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Date Night

Moving in together means there’s little room for romance in our day-to-day lives. However right at the start of the month W surprised me with date night. He cooked a super-fancy meal, we turned off all distractions and really enjoyed each other’s company. And with him in the kitchen, I’m a lucky girl. Pan-roasted venision with celeriac puree and blackberry pan jus, followed by his S’mores concept dessert. Homemade chocolate and whisky ice-cream, buttery biscuit base, mashmallow-y meringue blow-torched to give that toasted flavour. Yum.

He also surprised me with flowers. And remembered to buy us a vase to put them in. I found a good’un!
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Autumnal Sunshine

I know I said that the month was pretty grey and miserable (and it was!), but there were some gorgeously sunny days. Every time the sun made an appearance I insisted on wrapping up warm and heading out to make the most of it – which is pretty easy when we live right next to a gorgeous little park.
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Cosying Up

I’m on the go a lot. I rarely sit down and truly relax. I work full-time. I study on the tube. I get home and exercise. I either cook or wash-up (because adulting). I either blog or study. I sleep. I get up early. Repeat.

One Saturday we made the effort to really take some time to chill out, relax and start the weekend properly. We planned to shop on Friday evening (we usually go pre-9am on Saturdays, because me and busy shops is not a good combo). We didn’t set an alarm, we had giant mugs of tea in bed, we made scrambled eggs. Separately, because he likes a firmer-set scramble, I like part-cooked softly set eggs. Bliss.
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Crisp Sandwich

Right when Instagram is full of salads, of healthy dishes, of vegan “free-from everything” meals – I post a picture of a crisp sandwich that I had for lunch. With S’mores brownie on the side. I have no shame! In all honesty I’d been craving a crisp sandwich for months, it was the first lunchtime in a long time I was on my own, and so I indulged. White ‘plastic’ sandwich bread, proper salted butter (no of that spread nonsense), salt’n’vinegar crisps. So bad, so good. Messy, crunchy, slightly greasy and a full-on carb overload. I only regret that it’s not socially acceptable to do in the office…

And speaking of S’mores Brownie, that was a definitely highlight of November for sure… I took some wrapped up to our local Firework celebration. The perfect snack!
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Stocking Up My Freezer

A few weeks back Abel & Cole offered to send me one of their new student recipe boxes*. A veggie recipe making six portions, along with potatoes and some seasonal fruit – all for £14.50. I normally think recipe boxes are a bit overpriced, but actually I’m really impressed with this one.

I originally got sent their Mushroom & Leek Risotto Box – which sounded super-yum. Unfortunately Royal Mail, ahem, royally mucked up and I only got my hands on the box a week after it was sent. I rescued what I could and made a yum potato and leek soup (plus stock up my cupboard with arborio rice) and had apples for snacks for a few days.

They then sent over their Squash Scouse (hand-delivered). And I now have it stashed away in my freezer for evenings where I just want to leave something to heat up and cosy up with a warm bowl. It made eight massive portions (and I didn’t even use all the ingredients), the veggie flavours were simple yet stunning and it is super-filling. We’ve had it on it’s own, with chicken and with spicy sausages. Yum!

London Wanderings

Despite the greyness, the dampness, the shorter days – it’s been so lovely to get out and about and really explore some more of London. I loved wandering around Victoria with the blogging girls, I loved have a browse around Spitalfields with W – it took alllllll my willpower to ignore Bleecker Street burgers! Though my Christmas dinner toastie (cheers Costa) was pretty yum…

Have you tried any of the coffeeshops Christmas specials? What was your highlight of November?

Lifestyle: August Favourites

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.

 photo August Favourites_zpsrjn7zmea.pngAugust 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…?
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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!

My Job

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.
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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.

Moving!

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.
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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?!
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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?