Lifestyle: March Favourites

It’s finally starting to feel a little bit like Spring! There’s warmth in the air which means I can just about get away with a mac rather than full coat for my walking commute. It’s light for a good while after I get home, which does wonders for both my mood and productivity each evening. And warmth means I’m more inclined to eat lighter foods, which has started to fuel the last little bit of weight-loss I want. I’m at the stage where there’s only a little bit left to lose, and naturally it’s sticking to me for as long as possible.

 photo 2015-03-07 14.43.48_zpsotja8obk.jpg photo 2015-03-17 20.45.54_zpsnykmcwu1.jpgI’ve loved being a little more experimental with food over the last few weeks. I’ve moved towards salads and lighter foods, and with some yummy additions they aren’t nearly as boring as I was expecting. Courgette with pasta actually works; my no carb-onara went down really well! A carrot and baby-leaf salad is livened up with a lemon dressing, crunch added by some baked pitta, flavoured introduced in the form of falafel. Yummy, quick, and fills me up so I don’t need that crème egg.

This brings me to another favourite. CRÈME EGGS. Because yummy. I seriously love them, but this year I’m not quite so enamoured. Could be one of two reasons – my new healthier diet has made me less  fond of sweet things – or (more likely) the fact they’ve stopped making them with Dairy Milk. Sob.

I may have even done some sneaky baking with crème eggs…check back tomorrow and all will be revealed.

 photo 2015-02-08 16.01.57_zps7y4ylsav.jpgI’ve also gotten much more into fashion over recent weeks. Possibly because of my weight-issue, but I’ve not been hugely fussed before. I’ve stuck to the same style of things, and though I have a LOT of clothes it was beginning to look uninspiring. I’ve purchased a few new bits (including a playsuit and what makes my second whole pair of jeans), and I’d like to slowly work towards a slightly more capsule wardrobe. I’ll never be able to hit the 37-pieces or whatever the optimum is, purely because my go-to is patterned dresses and cardigans. I’d end up with around 7 outfits if I did that, which just isn’t happening. But I’m starting to think more about the whole outfit rather than just one item when shopping. I’ve also got some exciting collabs up my sleeve…

 photo 2015-03-13 17.45.16_zpsthto9dyh.jpg photo b66458f9-d74a-4ce0-b8b9-9bbac06532da_zps3lioogaj.jpgA few days in London have brought yummy food. Tacos featured highly, but I also have other delights to show you!

 photo f6685f27-37b0-41eb-93fa-129b45bc4683_zps1uqd2iva.jpgBeauty wise, and nothing much has excited me in the past month. I wanted to pick up a new MAC offering, but after an elbow (twice) in the ribs by the ASSISTANT I gave up trying to get a glimpse. I’m really liking my Bold Metals Tapered Blush Brush, the price might have made me wince but I’ve reached for it daily and it’s really impressed me. I’m not tempted by the eye brushes in the range, but I’ll probably have a look at the other face brushes. When Boots run their next promotion!

 photo 2015-03-07 14.43.08_zpsirkkpfgs.jpgBut other than that, it’s been a quiet month. Work has been extra-busy, and I’m looking forward to several long weekends in April. I’m also starting to plan my summer holiday – I have flights booked out to Rome and back from Venice, so any suggestions of what to do in between would be great!

How’s your month been? Enjoying the lighter evenings?

Lifestyle: February Favourites

I can’t believe how quickly this year is going, two months down already! It’s been a scary three whole months since I was surprised with a curling trip for my 21st birthday, and I’ve been on my ‘get healthy’ routine for just over a month now. After a rather disappointing 2014, I’m determined 2015 will be my year. And what better way to stay positive than to remind myself of things I’ve loved recently…?

Vegan Blueberry Cake photo 2015-02-07 18.20.46_zpsiynvvb5x.jpgThis cake in Brighton. Myself and Libby went for a girly day of catching-up, shopping and eating. I spent far too much in Boots, failed at resisting to splurge of house items for next year, and destroyed my diet in GBK (which to be honest, kinda disappointed me after Byron). This Vegan Blueberry Cake from Catwalk Cakes was utterly delicious. Tart and tangy from the fruit, moist sponge and a ridiculously cream icing. Hard to believe it was vegan! More snaps from the day will be coming soon!

Traidcraft Cookies photo 84fdbb2c-68a8-41bb-906d-23612d36c22b_zpslsw5pne0.jpgKeeping on with the unhealthy theme, I was sent some TraidCraft cookies* a few weeks back, and really enjoyed them. More biscuity than cookie, with a very crumbly texture, they were perfect as a pre-bed snack. The ingredients made me feel slightly better about indulging, as they use fair-trade palm oil – apparently regular palm oil is one of the biggest contributors to rainforest destroying.

Steam Engine - Severn Valley photo f7b37a94-e47e-422b-a2ab-4a518934ed96_zpsdc5f2rjx.jpgI never expected myself to include a train-trip in my favourites, but I spent Saturday afternoon on the Severn Valley Steam Railway and had a blast. One of my loveliest friends hired out a carriage for his 21st, filled a table with sandwiches and cake, and off we went. An excellent Indian for dinner followed by more than a few hours in the pub, we kipped at a Travelodge and ate huge fry-ups the next day. Damn good weekend! A highlight was seeing the baby elephant from the train – so sweet, which wish I’d got a photo!

The Breakfast Scrub photo 2e9208c1-ff10-4895-bc21-66825087a2c1_zpsznsiqd1a.jpgOnto beauty and I’ve been trying to take a bit more care of myself. My moisturising regime fell apart over Christmas and I never got into it again. Result = mild eczema has returned, and my arms feel awful. I’ve loved returning to my old favourite The Breakfast Scrub for it’s delicious smell and actual scrubbiness. Staying on the theme of amazing smelling products, and I can’t not mention the Bodyshop’s Wild Argan moisturiser. It smells amazing, stinks in quickly, and is hydrating enough for the day (I prefer something richer at night). Just wish these scaly patches would up and disappear!

LVLoveLife Cookery Event Prawn Salad photo eebae8ef-3e9a-4161-873f-c57878e9884c_zpsg39nxnkm.jpgBack onto food, but something slightly more healthier! On Monday night I attended my first blogger event (!) at the Smart School of Cookery with LV. I’ll tell you more on Saturday, but I can honestly say I had the best evening; tasty food (which I will be recreating at home) and fabulous company. A particular mention to Immy May who made me feel super-welcome!

What have you been up to this month – anything exciting?

Lifestyle: January Favourites

The first month of 2015 is over, and I can’t quite believe it. Everything is just going so quickly at the moment, and I’d quite like to just jump on a table and politely ask life to pause for a moment.

 photo eb40b8e5-a2d6-42b0-8267-db2acd21c6a8_zpswybbw2id.jpgThis month hasn’t exactly been the greatest. I’ve struggled with sleep (to the point of lying awake until the early hours, knowing getting up for work at 7am would be horrendous), been busy at the office, and had longer gaps between seeing my boyfriend. Coupled with desperately trying to gain some sort of summer internship, I’m stressed. But I’ve also picked up a few new favourites along the way…

 photo 2015-01-10 20.10.13_zpsn6lc6hz5.jpgCheaper frying steaks. Not quite as meltingly tender or naughty-feeling, but a third of the price and still gives you the meaty hit. And they taste wonderful made healthy too! Just yum! You can have a read of my Asian Steak Salad recipe here.

 photo b716743c-cad5-4cba-a1b6-bf6e6fbdfa5b_zpsly37bekn.jpgTaking time out from a computer screen is something I’ve been meaning to do, but it never quite works out. So much to do, so little time and all that! This Line A Day diary is the perfect balance, and I’ve really enjoyed making a few moments to reflect on my day.

 photo 2015-01-03 18.15.52_zpsuvxpdbwi.jpg photo 0e8030b5-8a53-48a2-ab83-6d01cff116e3_zpsraivyjla.jpgBaking! I posted about some Hot Toddy Cupcakes I made recently, and by the response you all liked the sound of them. I’m now developing a banana, coconut and rum variant for summer months!

In other baking news, Ruby (2013’s GBBO finalist) has written a book, and I received it for Christmas. I’m not sure why it hasn’t been raved about, as it is stunning. Admittedly I haven’t actually baked anything from it yet, but its the perfect balance of simple recipes, beautiful photographs and the science behind baking. I’ve read it cover to cover. Twice.

 photo 7fb48ce4-fa55-44df-a78a-a5dbd35c6cd7_zpsca9unzrz.jpgAnd whilst reading and reflecting, what better accompaniment that a good cuppa?! My parents bought me a Brown Betty teapot for my 21st, and it’s just the right size to get out two perfect cups. Not great when I’m trying to cut down on tea, but I’m limiting myself to one pot in the morning, and one in the evening.

 photo 2015-01-24 13.32.46_zpstxdndjnd.jpgWhilst I’ve been missing W like crazy, it’s been nice to have a weekend or two to myself. I’ve treated myself to yummy breakfasts played with a sous-vide attachment to my slow cooker, and generally chilled out. Blueberry pancakes made an appearance, and they were delicious!

 photo 6cce6b8c-21c4-4194-a96b-4a22023d9a22_zpsl8dt2cvw.jpgI’ve also been intent on improving my health and fitness this month. Green tea has been making an appearance, though I am infusing it with extra lemon and a little honey to make it palatable! I’ve also been doing and enjoying some of the 30-Day challenges. The squat one is my ‘favourite’ although I seem to be struggling with the jump from 80 to 100 – my legs keep giving up in the nineties. The lunge and tricep dips are also being done, and once I get a mat I’ll be throwing myself into some of the ab ones too! Just need to find some enjoyable cardio (without aggravating the foot injury) now and I’m there…any idea?!

How has your January been? Any new favourites been discovered?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: November Favourites

Can someone please explain to me how another month has gone by? The next time I write about my favourite it will be 2015. Which is scary. My life feels like it’s flashing by me at the moment. It seems only yesterday I was sixteen and shyly getting to know the geek in my maths/chemistry class. Suddenly I was crying on my doorstep when the same (slightly-less geeky) geek said “see you soon” as we headed off to universities in the opposite direction. And now I’m 21 (as of yesterday!), he’s approaching the same milestone birthday, and we’ve got our lives well planned out. I’m working full time as an actuary, with only one year of university left to go. I graduate in 2016. That’s 18 months away. Where’s the pause button?!

The main thing I’ve loved about November has been some much needed rest and relaxation. Since starting work in July I’ve had no days off. Today marks my third day off in a row (yes, there are technically in December, by my holiday started for me at 5pm on Friday!) and I’ve loved not having to dive out of bed with an alarm. I’ve loved having a decent breakfast – Sunday saw my boyfriend (aforementioned geek!) create me a stack of giant American pancakes, which I covered in honey, cinnamon and banana. I’ve loved not having to wear tights and a suit for most of the day. I’ve enjoyed not having to head outside if it’s raining. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my family, cuddling my dog, and seeing my boyfriend mid-week. Having the time to read my favourite blogs. Wearing PJs until lunch. Things that can often be taken for granted, but it’s been truly lovely. I’m looking forward to Christmas even more – yay for a whole week off!

Thanksgiving. Photo source here (love this site by the way!). I’m not American, I don’t celebrate this holiday, and the sudden influx of Black Friday on Britain annoyed the hell out of me. But I loved Thanksgiving this year. And hated it at the same time. Working for an American company, our stateside offices were closed for the latter part of last week, meaning more relaxed offices this side of the Atlantic. On the other hand, there was no one to help when I couldn’t access a vitally important piece of software.

 photo IMG_0628_zpsaece4675.jpg photo IMG_0645_zps987747b7.jpgAs I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I’ve been trying to make the most of my weekends. One slightly wet November Saturday saw us head to The Art of The Brick exhibition. I’m not a hugely arty person. I love the Summer Exhibition at the RA, but that’s about it. I find looking at stuff quite boring, but this totally got my inner child excited. One thing is for sure, this definitely isn’t a children’s exhibition, and I saw quite a few disappointed families. What it is, however, is brilliant. Highly recommended.

I was lucky enough to grab a few hurried days in my favourite city last month too. Being invited to a (two day) assessment centre sounds stressful, but involved a couple of hours free to wander the streets of Edinburgh, and indulging in a Nutty Professor. I am now desperate to head up there again over a Christmas period, the market was just being set up, the lights weren’t switched on, but even so I could tell it was going to be magical. Needing to go is not exaggerating here! I’m still constantly checking my emails regarding the job (who wouldn’t want to work in Edinburgh during the summer?!), but I should hear within the next week…

So, a good month. November can quite often be dull and dreary, but this year we’ve had more nicer days than not. I’m still not regularly wearing a thick coat, and I’ve only had one day where I’ve sat in wet shoes all day… How was your November?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: Blogs I’m Loving

I tend to go through stages over which blogs I love. I actually follow over 1200 blogs on Bloglovin’ – enough to have been accused of following just to get followers. I will freely admit I don’t read every single post in my feed. At around 200+ a day I’d spend all my time reading if I did! However I do read every post that appeals to me (title and first image is a biggy!), regardless of blogger.

 photo Blogs_zps968f0717.jpgAnd I go through stages where I will pretty much stalk certain bloggers, obsessively reading every single post. Generally because they are bloggers I aspire to be, maybe they are doing a series that I find really interesting, or because I just love their writing style. Today I’ll share with you my current favourites…

 photo LittleMissKaty_zps9aedce38.pngLittle Miss Katy is a relatively new blogger, and I’m fairly sure I was amongst her earliest followers. I came across her on a Twitter chat, found her blog, and loved it immediately. Her humour is great, it feels like chatting to a friend, and I know that after a bad day, curling up with a cuppa and catching up with her blog is going to make me feel better. She’s done amazingly well for someone who’s only been blogging for a matter of months, and I imagine her blog being hugely, hugely successful. I know who has my vote in the 2015 Blog Awards Lifestyle Category!

 photo CiderwithRosie_zps922a07bf.pngCider with Rosie is another blog that I know will instantly improve my day. I’m utterly jealous of this girls seemingly perfect life. A stunning place to live, countryside, an absolutely lovely proposal (I can’t begin to imagine how wonderful her wedding will be), and a cute spaniel that almost rivals my dog’s cuteness. This blog has the best mix of lifestyle and recipes. Her photography is gorgeous too.

 photo EmTalks_zps90c8f3d3.pngEm Talks is yet another blogger I’m jealous of. All of a sudden she’s jetted off to Canada, and is also spending lots of time across America. I was green-eyed reading her New York posts, and now she’s had a trip to Cuba?! I’m sure there’s room in her suitcase for little ol’me! I’ve not been one to get into travel blogs, but this one has just enough balance between beauty, reviews and travel to mean I’m not too jealous to unfollow.

 photo Gh0stparties_zps57161011.pngOnto a more beauty based blog now; this was really hard for me. I follow a lot of beauty bloggers, but typically only read posts about products that appeal to me. Gh0stparties is a blogger who doesn’t just stick to beauty, there’s a lot of interior and lifestyle posts. But when she does do beauty, she does it well. And again, stunning photography which is always a winner in my Bloglovin’ feed. I only wish my own photos matched up to my expectations!

 photo Ginevrella_zpsf8690b4a.pngGinevrella is a blog I came across when Jennifer entered and won my giveaway. I couldn’t have wished for a more lovely blogger to win, especially after the comp was annoying posted across a certain forum and so resulted in lots of non-reader entries. Grrr. Ranting over, I’m so glad to have come across this blog. Chatty, friendly style, simple design (mine really needs an update!) and yet another cute dog. I may have only been a follower for a few days, but I’ve read all her old posts. That’s the sign of a great blog!

 photo LittlePaperSwans_zpsde277542.pngAnd finally we have Little Paper Swans. I love this for the sheer variety of posts, and again the photographs. The recipes are pretty lovely sounding, and I have bookmarked many of them to make. Not a blog I’ve known for long, but again I’ve read through all posts.

It was so difficult to write this post. I love so many different blogs, so many different bloggers. Writing a definitive list was impossible, and I know I’ve missed so many off! Who are your favourite bloggers? Any recommendations for me?

What’s Occuring Wednesday: October Favourites

How is it November already?! I can’t believe it’s less than a month til my 21st, then it will soon be Christmas. Especially with the recent weather! Yes, when it’s bad it’s pretty horrendous, but I went out in a thin cardigan on Saturday. I haven’t worn anything thicker than a trench coat yet…

Having said that, I have been making the post of the darker nights. I spoke a few weeks ago about how they can make me miserable, so I’ve been making sure I have some good old me-time. A candle-lit soak in the bath, candles burning, fresh flowers, some good hot chocolate. I’ve been working my way through a variety of Options sachets, so far I’ve not been impressed with the white chocolate, but loved the orange version. The ginger one comes a close second.

1441238_10152069947758516_1130915187_nI’ve been getting to work on my New Year’s Resolutions too! It may be 10 months late, but I’ve finally made my own bread! I followed James Morton’s recipe (doesn’t he look identical to my boyfriend?!), and it turned out pretty damn good. Served with homemade soup (I’ve made three different soups in 10 days, with another on the menu tomorrow…) it’s so much better than bought bread. I’m less bloated, and it just tastes far nicer. Mine was a little burnt, hence I’ve sneaked a photo of the bread my boyfriend baked a few months ago!

 photo 3e96256d-3aec-4f6a-adc7-f473e558001c_zpsd031a75b.jpgAlso in the kitchen – popcorn. Need I say more?! I had a craving for it a few days ago, but decided to make my own. Best. Decision. Ever. It’s ridiculously easy, so delicious, and can be made quicker than I can walk to the corner shop. My first batch was a mix of salty and sweet, my second included cinnamon. Look forward to plenty of recipes in the coming months! I’ve been loving curling up with a good book. I’ve really enjoyed “Where I Found You” recently, but was distinctly unimpressed by “One Day” – I was expecting so much better, but I actually found it quite badly written. Popcorn and reading – there isn’t a better combination!

 photo c1f3f2b9-db92-4479-b6e8-9a5a2bc6d213_zps094cf7f3.jpgIt’s been a quiet October really. We celebrated our fourth anniversary of being together (over Skype), paid to cook our own steak, I’ve found my favourite budget beauty buy of the year, and I’ve started applying for summer internships. To finish off the month, I found out I’d won the #CurrysStudentHacks with this post, and now have a shiny Chromebook on its way to me – no more lugging my laptop up and down the country every few weeks! And tonight I’m off out dressed up to an awards evening with my boyfriend – expect a post about my lovely dress very shortly!

How was your October?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: September Favourites

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone! The 12 months since last September has been pretty tough for me, but I’m pleased to say things are looking a lot brighter now. I’m pretty useless at regular series of posts so I thought I’d hide behind my WOW posts and occasionally post monthly favourites. Something I swore I’d never do as they actually drive me crazy. My favourites are going to be pretty lifestyle-y though, and hopefully not too many ‘posed’ photographs, with most being taken throughout the month. *justifying myself*

This month I’ve virtually lived in pyjamas. Being ill, tired and my living situation (living with three lab mixes = a lot of hair) means wearing proper clothes after work felt like a bit of a waste, so I’ve been climbing into PJs virtually straight away. I did invest in some slightly less ‘sleepy’ looking ones though – I’ve fallen in love with ones fitted at the ankle, and I could just about get away with popping to the corner shops in them if I really had to. I’ve actually stolen this image from Pinterest though (cheeky!)…I couldn’t find the one I took!

 photo 2014-09-27203207_zpsce380b12.jpgI’ve developed a bit of a peanut butter addiction. Not only have I taken to scooping it out of the jar with dark chocolate (shush!) and baking yummy treats with it, but I’ve been eating ice cream and hot drinks laced with the stuff. I loved the Peanut Butter hottie, although it was a little sweet. Perfect for before bed as it made me feel really sleepy. Shame about the price…

Our Zoo. I wasn’t expecting much from this program, but I was hooked from the first episode when I accidentally left my TV on after Bake Off. Such a good period drama – decent story line, believeable characters, some excellent acting (particularly from the vicar), and it’s nice to see something without any kind of sexual scenes. I’m no prude, but sometimes I just want something easy to watch on the train without funny looks from the person next to me…

Other than being ill, lazy and working, much of the past month has been spent starting to look for a dress for my 21st (less than 9 weeks to go!). Not sure whether I’m more excited about my birthday, or the fact that it will be the first bit of time I have off work since I started in July. I’m looking for something lacy but different, either in black, plum or a nice green/navy. Not too long, but I don’t mind a bit of cleavage. I’ve fallen in love with this dress (and this one) from Anthropologie, my new favourite shop. How gorgeous is the first one?! Way out of my budget though…