Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #50

Welcome to the first ‘happy Monday’ of 2019. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about the future of this little online space and I want to *try* to make it a little less rigid and reduce the self-piled-on pressure it can give me. I used to post recipes on a Thursday, Cooking From on a Saturday, other posts on a Tuesday. It was pretty useful for planning, but it also meant I stressed about getting a post live.

Well, no more. I’m hoping to just post about the food I love as and when, no real posting pattern. We’ll see how that goes anyway! The one thing I do want to keep regular is this little series, as it puts me in such a good mood to type away on a Sunday evening remembering all the good bits about the previous weeks. And so with no further ado, what’s made me smile lately…

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    1. New Year’s Eve. We had a fairly relaxed night at ours, with my sister and some close friends. We cooked a rather tasty meal (Pan Fried Pork Fillet, Slow-Cooked Pork Cheek, Boulangerie Potatoes and Greens, followed by a White Russian Roulade and then plenty of cheese and biscuits) and played board games. I couldn’t think of anything worse than a night out on NYE so this was perfect for me!
    2. Vegan lunchboxes. You’ll see from Thursday’s post that I’ve set myself the challenge of vegan lunchboxes for the year. My first was a thick Mushroom and Lentil Soup, but I also made a rather tasty Daal from The Green Roasting Tin last week.
    3. On a related note, realising my beloved falafel are vegan.
    4. ASDA’s Rhubarb & Custard Tea. It’s my new go-to tea (that’s not Yorkshire Breakfast!). Sweet and fruity without being overly sickly or artificial.
    5. The never ending tin of chocolates from Christmas. We bought a tin of Quality Street (actually we got a personalised tin because hey married life, and chose the contents to be green triangles, orange creams and strawberry creams) – but we keep adding other Christmas chocolate to it, so it doesn’t seem to be going down despite my best efforts!
    6. A Hazelnut Bundt Cake with Nutella glaze. This was W’s birthday cake of 2019 and it was so bloody good!
    7. Garlic Bread. I’m actually ill with yet another flu virus but one of the few things I’ve wanted to eat has been garlic bread. I regretted it as it was not good for my sore throat but it did taste damn good!
    8. Realising one of my fav ‘fancier’ dresses I bought for the honeymoon can be dressed down a little with a jumper underneath. Whoop!
    9. Cauliflower Cheese Croquettes from Home SW15. Worth the trip to Putney just for a plate for five…
    10. How sweet my husband is looking after me when I’m ill. He picked me up from the tube station (as I was 100% not steady on my feet having pushed through a day at work), got me comfortable, went on several trips to the shop to find food I fancied and meds I needed and was generally a star.

How has 2019 been treating you so far?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #49

It’s the last day of the year, but it’s also time for my Happy Monday post. I did debate doing a special “year in review” type post but unfortunately ran out of time to put it together – and so it’s the bog-standard usual format, albeit with some added Christmas sparkle! I will however be putting together a Year in Review thingy on my Instagram stories, so keep an eye on that if you’re interested!

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First up though, what’s made me happy lately…

  1. Making it through Christmas (and also 6 whole months!) without either me or W ending up on A&E. Given last Christmas Day I took him in, then both of us were in within 10 days of each other in the summer it’s a bit of a relief!
  2. Pecan & Maple Snowball Cookies. I made them as gifts for my team at work and they are 100% my favourite bake of the year. Recipe will be up as soon as the photos are edited…
  3. Picking up two jumpers I’d lusted after in the Fat Face sale for less than half price.
  4. Making White Russian’s at home. It’s one of my favourite drinks and it’s dangerously easy…
  5. New fluffy socks. So warm, so cosy!
  6. Making prints of our wedding photos as Christmas gifts for our parents. It gave me all the feels, and I can’t wait to choose some to display in our own home.
  7. Lighting my Cocoa & Cashmere scented candle from Yorkshire Soap Company. It’s the most glorious fragrance!
  8. Big blanket scarves. I unwrapped one on Christmas night from my parents, and treated myself to another in the sales.
  9. My beautiful new chowder mugs, all the way from a tiny potter in New England – because my husband is all kinds of awesome. I’m planning to do a whole post about them soon but short story is I saw them, didn’t get them, moaned about it for weeks then unwrapped them on Christmas day.
  10. Cuddles with my pups. Our old terrier behaves like a puppy again when there’s presents to unwrap which is so lovely to watch!

I could go on and on about how lovely Christmas was, it might sound boring but a quiet few days with my nearest and dearest was exactly what the doctor ordered! I’m now prepping for a NYE celebration of good food and board games, so the good times are only going to continue!

How was your Christmas break?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #48

Happy December! How it’s the last month of the year I honestly do not know – I thought time flew by before the wedding, but here we are having been married for over two months! Our tree is up, the Buble CD is out and my festive PJs are firmly in rotation. I’ve not quite broken out the Christmas jumper just yet, but it’s coming…

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  1. Celebrating my birthday exactly how I wanted it. I saw family a few days before (and got a much needed haircut), then headed off to Tortworth Court for a relaxing weekend. I’d actually won a minimoon in a Love My Dress competition a while back, and so we cashed it in for my birthday treat. Divine.
  2. I also got to explore the Cotswolds, which has been on my list for ages. So beautiful.
  3. To top it all off, our mini-moon package included a spa day. We floundered about the pool, had a lovely massage and cosied in our room for most of Saturday.
  4. A new phone! After 3 years a rapidly deteriorating battery and a Black Friday deal coincided, so I treated myself to a Huawei P20. I’ve been so impressed with the brand previously I never considered looking elsewhere, and I have to say I’m impressed. Completely not sponsored by the way!
  5. Feeling like I have a whole new wardrobe. I bought *loads* of bits ahead of our honeymoon and kept it all new and fresh until then, so now I’m able to wear it all. I’ve loved combining more summery dresses with jumpers – this dress in particular goes so well with a black polo neck!
  6. Finally trying out the Brunch menu at Home SW15. It’s our fav spot in Putney (I’ve reviewed them for dinner a while back – have a read here) but we’ve never made it to breakfast. We finally did last weekend and oh my! So gutted it took us this long. I had the BEST brunch dish (crab cakes, poached eggs and hollandaise) that’ I’ve ever had in London.
  7. Whisky Smoked Brie. I don’t need to say anything else!
  8. Our Christmas tree makes me so happy – it’s coppery and rose gold and just so pretty. I’d love to decorate more of our flat with garlands and wreaths but we just don’t have the pennies this year, so I’ve gone all out with the tree instead.
  9. Making Gingerbread houses with Neff. I went to an event last Tuesday where we did a bit of a Bake Off between groups of bloggers. Whilst my team didn’t quite win, we did have an absolutely amazing time and our house didn’t collapse. A fab event, and I got to try the Bake Off ovens which are so fun (and would be insanely practical in a tiny kitchen).
  10. A surprisingly good pub meal in Northamptonshire for my birthday. I do find since loving in London I’ve become a little bit of a food snob, but this was genuinely lovely. I had some perfectly cooked sea bass, followed by a wonderful chocolate bomb dessert. Yum!

How is your December going? Have you cracked out the festive jumper yet?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #47

I’m back! Despite very good intentions to have all October’s posts scheduled in advance, sadly it didn’t happen. Happily, though, I’m back as a married women. Still thoroughly wrapped up in newly-wedding bliss, suffering deeply with the honeymoon blues (and extra honeymoon lbs!) but excited to be back writing in my little online space. I have an awful lot of *whispers* Christmas content to plan, write and photograph soon but I have a little goal to keep posting regularly until my regular Christmas-New Year break so here goes…

Let me know in the comments what you have been up to!

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    1. We all know what’s coming up first – getting married! I finally, FINALLY married my best friend at the beginning of October. The day, whilst it didn’t go without hitches, was everything we’d dreamt of and even more. Nothing prepares you for the feeling of walking into a full room knowing everyone is there for you, because of you. Getting ready with my closest girls was wonderful, dancing with my new husband a really surreal moment, and I just can’t quite believe we finally did it. We’ve started to get photos through and oh my, has our photographer done an amazing job
    2. Being surprised with the most perfect honeymoon. Many of you will know that I handed over every single jot of honeymoon planning over to W, with strict instructions that I wanted to be surprised on our wedding day. Somehow we made it over a year between booking and me finding out, with only one small slip up by a friend. Even then the details were a total surprise, it wasn’t what I’d have guessed but it was wonderful. Boston, a Fall road trip around New England, New York and then Hawaii. Bliss.
    3. Ticking off a restaurant from my bucket list. Our NYC stretch of the trip managed to include dinner at Eleven Madison Park. Three Michelin stars, listed as Number One restaurant in the world in 2017. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, with some of the most exquisite food I have ever tasted. I won’t be reviewing it in full, but I will probably do some kind of post on it in the future.
    4. It goes without saying that most of the food in NYC was a highlight – I don’t think we ate a bad meal. In fact we only had one bad meal in our trip of nearly three weeks, so I don’t think that’s too bad!
    5. A helicopter tour over Maui, Hawaii. Another bucket list item ticked off in the space of a few weeks, though I was pretty terrified! We spent most of our time on the island flopped on a beach, but managed to squeeze in this sight-seeing flight and I’m so glad we did – it was stunning!
    6. Coming home to fresh bed sheets. I was so glad past Chloe made that decision during the madness of packing.
    7. Heading back into the office to be given more responsibility which, touch wood, seems to be going well.
    8. Being more inventive with lunchboxes. Whilst my usual lunches are by no-means bad, now W is no longer part of a ‘lunch club’ at university I’m now prepping for two and he gets bored having the same thing every single day. So far highlights have been a thick and funky Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup, and a Caesar Salad made with lentils.
    9. Baking sourdough – mainly my husbands (!) project but one I’m wholeheartedly supporting.
    10. The smell of a Pumpkin Spice candle. Utter bliss.

And that’s my quick catch-up. Please do tell me what you’ve been up to recently, I’d love to hear your news!

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #46

Happy Monday! It’s October – which means it’s Wedding Month! I can’t quite believe that after he got down on one knee nearly three years ago, we finally get married in just a few days. Both terrifying and exciting in equal measure, I’ve got a to-do list literally longer than my arm and a million and one things buzzing around my brain. But all I can really think about is that I’m marrying my best friend, eek!

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  1. Getting my sister settled into her university halls and hearing about how she’s getting on. I’m so pleased it seems to be going well – and that she’s following a maths-y path like me!
  2. Seeing my wedding dress taking shape. Having it designed from scratch has been such an amazing experience, and I’m so excited to see the final finished product. Although nervous – I won’t actually manage to squeeze in a final fitting before the big day so everything is in the seamstresses hands…
  3. Candles! It’s the time of the year for cosy evenings of candles, blankets and fluffy socks and I’m loving it!
  4. Making homemade pasta. There’s something so therapeutic about it, and it tastes so much better than anything you can buy.
  5. Evenings spent typing up blog posts and editing photos whilst watching Harry Potter. Can’t get better than that!
  6. Having a *really* good work day. I was actually ill so working from home, and managed to get my head down and do a load of super-interesting analysis. It’s the kind of work I may not always have time for and it’s my favourite part of the job – geeky as that sounds!
  7. Filling up my Kindle with new books ready for the honeymoon. Any recommendations then please let me know!
  8. Autumnal food. Think casseroles with dumplings, warming curries and comforting pasta dishes. Much as I’ve loved lighter salads I’m ready for some stodge!
  9. Finding savoury muffins buried in my freezer. I made some really cheesy courgette muffins a few weeks ago, froze them and then forgot about them – but I’ve rediscovered them. Turns out they freeze super well – and the recipe will be going live later this week.
  10. My latest Degustabox (gifted). It was full of some exciting sweet treats including some *amazing* raspberry and dark chocolate marshmallows from Mallow & Marsh. They were the highlight of the box this month, but I’m also really excited to try the A2 Milk (as I have some issues with dairy)…

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #45

Happy Monday!

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    1. A lovely second Hen Do with my family (and family to be!). I arranged an afternoon tea for something more sedate that my grandma’s would enjoy, and it was lovely to have everyone together.
    2. Getting my exams out of the way (again). I’ve spoken less about studying these past few months as I was only doing a ‘little’ exam this sitting given the wedding is in less than three weeks, but I’m now free from it all again! Fingers crossed it went well as then I’ll only have one left to go…
    3. Making the *best* curry I’ve ever made. The photos turned out terribly, but I will be posting a recipe as soon as I can.
    4. Emptying out our freezer. We’re aiming to completely clear it and start again, which has meant discovering some new things (hello random pork chops!) and also some cheap food shopping weeks!
    5. Experimenting with photography again. I actually love it when we have darker evenings as I find it quite difficult to shoot when light is so unpredictable – dark evenings suit my style more I find. I’m especially proud of some upcoming coffee cupcakes which were shot during a particularly gloomy thunderstorm…
    6. The smell of paint. We’ve (or rather W) has made some giant light-up letters for the wedding. We’ve painted them copper but I loved having the smell of fresh paint in the flat. Is that weird?!
    7. Managing to grab the last of this dress in my size in a gorgeous bottle-green colour. It fits so well and looks/feels a lot more expensive than £20…
    8. Watching Mulan. It’s one of my three favourite Disney films (1st = Jungle Book, 2nd = Beauty & The Beast) and I love it. The songs are *amazing* and I can’t wait for the live action one to be produced.
    9. Bake Off! It’s back and I am loving it. I did think the last series on the BBC (how was it two years ago?!) was a little flat, but I’m loving the new one. I’ve also been baking along, stay tuned on my Instagram!
    10. Cosy evenings. Now it’s cooler in the evenings I can bear to wear PJs and fluffy socks – and it’s made me evenings 10x more enjoyable!

Are you enjoying the start of Autumn? What’s making you smile at the moment?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #44

Another Sunday evening when I’m going to moan about being too hot – it’s the start of September, I should be getting ready for Autumn but even the thought of wearing a jumper is making me sweat. Though I have at least managed to wear a cardigan outside recently which is an improvement… A lot has happened since my last Happy post (especially as I missed one, whoops!) so this is a bumper one. It’s certainly been a good few weeks.

    1. Being able to say “we get married NEXT MONTH” – after being engaged since the end of 2015 this feels crazy! So excited to be a wife…
    2. On more wedding-related news, we’ve had our respective stag and hen dos. He came back with all hair/beard/eyebrows still in-tact which was my biggest worry, so that was good. And my hen (or at least part I, with part II to come!) was amazing. My girls did a wonderful job at planning at day that was perfect for me, though unfortunately my night out was cut short when my mum took ill – but hey, what’s another Happy Things post without praising our ambulance service?!
    3. The meal on my hen deserves a special mention – I wouldn’t be a food blogger if meals weren’t a highlight. However my Confit Duck Leg with a Plum and Ginger Glaze was extraordinary. One of the best things I’ve eaten all year.
    4. All the foodie magazines. Recently I’ve been able to get a copy of the Sainsbury’s magazine through work, which takes our regular foodie magazines up to 3 per month, plus anything else I can get my hands on. So much inspiration. And it’s meant we’ve definitely kept up our goal of cooking at least one new dish a week…
    5. Speaking of new food, August’s Degustabox arrived and was just as good as July’s. I’m a big fan of the Crooked alcoholic soda!
    6. Making a batch of Noodle Salad for lunchboxes. It was loosely based on this recipe, but I’ll be posting my own version soon!
    7. Hosting a dinner party for friends. I made a selection of tips (Tumeric Hummus, Courgette & Tahini and a Whipped Feta) and served with breads – I could have just eaten that. So fun to catch up over some delicious food.
    8. Picking up a new favourite dress from Warehouse. My previous favourite shrunk but they’ve been great about refunding it, fingers crossed this one doesn’t suffer the same problem!
    9. This Trout Pizza from Waitrose is still a favourite, I’ll be gutted when it’s no longer available…
    10. A few days of cooler weather. We enjoyed some comfort food (this Cauliflower Cheese Risotto is a great option!), and I even pulled out the fluffy socks. Sadly it hasn’t lasted!

What have you been up to lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #43

It’s Sunday evening, I’m sat sprawled out in an attempt to cool down and am utterly, utterly ready for Autumn. Sure, this hot weather is an excuse to eat plenty of ice-cream and I’m spoilt with an air-conditioned office AND a commute which involves the air-conditioned District Line. But it’s still a tad warm for my liking! Despite the moan about the heat, there’s been plenty making me happy lately…

  1. Cooking some more authentic Thai food. I posted about our Moo Pad Prik on Saturday, but it was absolutely delicious and deserves another mention!
  2. Finding a fragrance brand I really, really love. Noble Isle makes the most stunning fragrances, I already know I need ‘Fireside’ as a winter candle or diffuser this year!
  3. Flicking through my favourite new cookbook. Not only does Gatherings look beautiful on my shelf, it’s also one of the nicest books I’ve got. There’s barely any recipes which don’t scream ‘make me!’
  4. My cousins lovely wedding. It was the most relaxed day, she looked beautiful and it was lovely to catch up with my Grandma too.
  5. The above also made me super-excited for my own big day. It’s just under 9 weeks to go, I had my first dress fitting last week (which went far better than I had feared!) and eeek! So excited!
  6. Making one of the best cakes I’ve eaten yet. It was super-tasty, super-quick and went down really well at work (almost disappearing before lunch time). If you’ve got a courgette-glut it’s the perfect cake for you and I’ll be posting the recipe very soon…
  7. Finding all sorts of tomato-free pizzas in supermarkets. Waitrose are currently doing one with Trout, New Potatoes and Samphire which I’m excited to try!
  8. Having a freezer full of Bolognese (tomato-free of course) courtesy of yellow-sticker beef mince.
  9. Getting *the* most excellent customer service from the beauty salon where I’ve booked to have my nails done before my wedding. They’ve booked out the last two hours for me, my mum and sister, encourage us to bring some bubbles and were genuinely just lovely.
  10. An excellent issue of Delicious magazine. My future in-laws got me a subscription for my last birthday and it’s the best foodie mag I’ve read. Full of excellent articles and the recipes are super-seasonal and super-yum. To top it off the postal packaging is now biodegradable!

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #41

Another Monday, another Happy Things diary! This last fornight has been a mix of being super-busy at work, some relaxing weekends and a lot of evenings spent resting a pulled neck (so painful!). Having said that, there’s still a lot to be happy about…

    1. White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies. The perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. Recipe coming soon!
    2. BBQs and gatherings with friends. I’m not a football fan at all, but the World Cup at least gives people the excuse to get together a bit more and I’m totally okay with that.
    3. Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Quiche. It’s currently baking as I type, it smells *amazing* and I’m looking forward to it making up my lunchboxes this week.
    4. Having a bit of an Instagram clear-out. So many accounts I don’t remember following, or just don’t have any major interest any more. It’s meant my feed is full of content I actually want to see, so I’m engaging more. Win win.
    5. Fresh mackerel. It’s one of my favourite fishes and it’s *so* cheap to get hold of. This weekend we pan-fried some in a harissa glaze which was delish!
    6. Gaining a tortilla press. I’ve made homemade tortilla wraps previously but struggle to get an even thickness so I’m looking forward to giving this a go.
    7. Homemade burritos. We piled green rice, refried beans, pork pibil and cheese into wraps and heated in the oven. They were huge, naughty and absolutely delicious.
    8. Enjoying the above whilst watching the Lego Movie. Everything is awesome!
    9. My fiance passing his Masters degree – we celebrated with pizza and wine, then he caught up on some much needed sleep. I’ll hopefully be sharing some of his final project on my Instagram page soon so stay tuned…
    10. Managing to nail a copy-cat recipe of Bella Italia’s Pollo Siciliana. I skipped the chicken, but it was virtually spot-on and absolutely delicious. One I’ll be making again and again…

What’s made you happy this week?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #40

Ok, so I know I’m always saying how quickly time is going, but how the actual F is it June already?! It’s now just over four months until our wedding, it’s basically only six months until Christmas, and I’m closer to 25 than 24 (doesn’t that sound SO much older!). 2018 has quite literally sped by, and in part I’m thankful. I don’t want to wish away the summer, but I’m so excited for October to roll around so I can get on with marrying my best friend, I’ve waited long enough already! Of course, it helps when each fortnight is full of delicious food and happy memories…

    1. Mexican Food. I’m really loving Mexican at the moment – chillis, tacos, spicy salads. We’ve made our Pork Pibil recently (and I’ve eaten more than my fair share of Pink Pickled Onions), and I also whipped up some spicy grilled chicken with insanely tasty potatoes and slaw inspired by our Wahaca book. Another one for my Cooking From series I think…
    2. Getting our wedding invites out. It took a lot of hours, nearly 50m of ribbon and 6 papercuts, but I was really pleased with them, and seeing/hearing our friends and families reactions has been lovely. Roll on October!
    3. A trip to Honest Burger. Still my fav burger in London – what’s yours?
    4. Suddenly liking Avocado. I think I mentioned this last fortnight, but up until a month or so ago I didn’t touch avo. Hated it. Now I can’t get enough! Whether it’s in a salsa (piled into a taco of course!), or on toast with feta and chilli flakes, it’s my current go-to food. So yum.
    5. Honeymoon shopping! After a disastrous trip to Westfield I’ve made a couple of successful online orders. What’s with the size discrepancy in Zara though?! Ended up with one dress in an XS, and one in a L…
    6. A really good frittata. We followed a recipe in this month’s Delicious magazine and it was insanely good. Full of potatoes, shallots, a lightly set egg and topped with gooey mozzarella. We served with a radicchio and salami salad, then I enjoyed it in my lunchbox for a few days. Will be making again for sure!
    7. Receiving all the dog photos from my parents. They picked up a rescue dog to add to the family last weekend, and so far (touch wood!) he’s settling in really well. We’d actually been looking, on and off, for ten years to add to our family so it’s about time!
    8. Chocolate Brioche Twists for Sunday brunch. Check out my Instagram page for how they looked.
    9. The Netflix series Safe. Anyone else watching? I’m hooked!
    10. Planning my not-hen do. My friends and mum have planned my main one, but I’m also having a mini one with my grandmas and future in-laws (girls only!) closer to the wedding. Obviously it will involve bubbles and cake!

What’s made you smile recently?