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.
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!
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…
Also, I got W to eat mushrooms in the above pancakes – for the first time ever!
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.
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!
Cooking a delicious Lamb Tagine. I pretty much made the recipe up, but it was SO. GOOD.
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!
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…
Lighter nights. If I wasn’t staying late to study, I wouldn’t be getting home in the dark!
Heading to a wedding fair. I find these things so strange, but it was fun to have a mooch around.
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.
Eating alllll the chocolate and having a good gossip with my girlies. The best way to spend a Sunday!
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!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
“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.
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…
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!
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.
Starting my graduate rotations at work. It’s been great to learn about other functions and network.
Perfecting my tomato-free Bolognese. Recipe coming soon!
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…
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!
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…
February’s Dominique Ansel Cronut. It was Raspberry & Orange blossom FYI. Best New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made!
I’m well aware it’s been wayyyyy more than a fortnight since my last happy post, since Christmas for that matter – but I didn’t want to change the format of these posts too much. Rest assured they will be back each fortnight now! It just so happens that this one is a longer one…
A lot has happened in my life since the last Happy Post, and in all honesty the majority of it wasn’t that happy – so I’ve been focussing on the little things. Since writing these posts my positivity has improved no end!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
Christmas. Surviving travelling up from London carrying a very heavy Christmas cake. Getting our parents together for a festive celebration on Christmas Eve. Catching up with all of our families. Receiving some lovely presents.
Expanding my Charlotte Tilbury collection. Admittedly only by a lip liner, but I will also be booking a bridal session courtesy of my parents very soon. #excited
Making an amazingggg dessert with W for our NYE party. We made Chocolate & Cherry Brownies, with a Hazelnut Mousse, Cherry Gel and Chocolate Soil. And caramel-dipped hazelnuts. It was SO good.
Talking about all the funny memories. Hard and teary, but it made the sadness better.
Will’s birthday meal at Mac & Wild. We ate an extreme amount of venison. Plus there was toasted bee pollen on my dessert. And I had an amazing whisky cocktail. Goooood night!
Passing my first professional exam. Granted it’s one that doesn’t reallllyyyy count, but still!
New PJs. They are the softest, cosiest things EVER.
Hitting over 100 likes on an Instagram shot. It’s the little things that make me happy! (plus it’s kept happening!)
Visiting the Design Museum. Definitely worth a trip, though I’d advise staying away at weekends.
Getting a seat on the Tube all the way. I usually get one for most of it, but to board the Tube and sit down straight away meant it was a good day. Like I said, it’s the little things…
Wandering around Parson’s Green. Quite possibly my new favourite pastime – the charity shops are full of insane bargains!
Talking of bargains, I picked up a lovely coat at Spitalfields for £15. It’s just what I’ve been looking for – and seeing as I found a fiver in my bag I’m even more chuffed!
Spending time with one of my best friends. It was just what I needed to cheer me up!
Cooking up the best tomato sauce substitute I’ve tried. Even worked well on pizza…
Spending time with another of my best friends – my mummy. She came down for a sleepover, we ate too much chocolate, then too much cake and cried at Phantom of the Opera.
Picking W up at Heathrow. I missed him more than I want to admit – it felt like I was missing my left (I’m a leftie!) arm.
Silent Witness. Though NOT a good thing to watch when you are living completely on your own…
A new washing machine. It now actually washes and dries things, rather than making them hot and creased.
Catching up with my cousins. Might not have been for a happy occasion, but it was good to see them!
Pretty new shoes from Kurt Geiger. The perfect ‘power heels’ – high, pointy, patent black.
Taking time to paint my nails and put on a facemask on Sunday nights. The advantage of not having W around was plenty of time to be a ‘girly girl’!
Eating a Wispa. It’s not a bar I’d usually choose, but it really hit the spot…
My new slippers. No longer is going into the bathroom a form of torture.
Stand Up Philosophy. We’ve been meaning to go for ages, and we did it. Topic of the night was ‘taste’ and my highlight was definitely Sophie Duker (even if she did knock over my wine – luckily I’d almost finished it!). Not one to listen to with a full bladder.
The third shoe mention – I bought my wedding shoes!! Yes, 20 months in advance, but when you have Size 3 feet and you spot the perfect pair a gal’s gotta move fast.
Baking a Toffee, Banana & Pecan Loaf Cake. It was so, soooo good! Recipe to follow…
Hands up who else can’t believe how quickly December crept up on us?! These past two weeks have been pretty full-on again. Lots of celebrating, an awful lot of food, more than a little cheeky shopping and cramming in study whenever I could too. I’m SO looking forward to a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year now, I seriously need to recharge my batteries!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
Birthdayyyyy! I turned 23 at the beginning of the month and had a lovely, lovely chilled few days celebrating.
Mulled cider. My favourite winter-y tipple, there’s a pub in Leadenhall Market that does this perfectly.
A new Kindle. My parents treated me for my birthday. I’m so, so grateful and it was sorely needed after mine decided to die a slow and painful death over November.
Getting positive feedback on my first assignment. Yes, I failed it, but it was clear I’d mis-read a question and I know exactly where I need to work on. Feeling motivated now!
Honest burgers. Again. I met one of my besties after work and it was DELISH!
The best eggs I’ve eaten. Ever. The yolk porn was insane.
Seeing The Lion King. It was just amazing. I cried.
Spending a fortune (worth of gift cards!) on New Look. I’m just hoping it all fits…
Making new blog friends. I headed over to a Co-Op and Sorted Food event last week and met Tanya for the first time. We drank too much prosecco and had a ball.
Ginger, Orange & Chocolate Cookies. My new favourite treat.
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…
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…
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
Woo, less than a month til Christmas! And even more importantly, my birthday is this week. I am the kind of person who inwardly gets so excited about their birthday, and this year is no exception. I have the day off work (and the day before off for study – yay for double lie-ins!). I plan to spend the weekend seeing some of my favourite people and eating more food than appropriate. Oh, and brunch which I’m hoping will involve a reinvented Eggs Benedict which incorporates black pudding. Yum!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
Brunch with some blogging gals to celebrate Jasmin’s birthday. It was so nice to see some new faces, and catch up with everyone else. It had been far too long!
Pretty flowers. I came home one Friday to a bunch of flowers on the table. I’d had a grumpy week so this really made me smile.
Making a potato-dauphinoise-cross-cauliflower-cheese-bake-thing to go alongside roast pork. It was super yum and I now have a mandolin to damage myself with!
Booking our wedding photographer. It’s one of the most important parts to me and it’s resulted in a LOT of Instagram stalking over the last few months.
Scallops. I love them, but rarely get to eat them as I’m never hugely tempted by the sound of the entire dish on the menu. These, however, were served with black pudding and a smoked aubergine puree. Cooked perfectly, they were delicious.
Stir-up “Sunday”. Despite seeing Christmas Cake and Pudding as Devil’s Food (dried fruit = ick!), it was great to spend a Saturday evening baking, making a mess of the kitchen and breathing in festive smells.
Sticking to the Christmas theme, we headed out for lunch at Costa to try out their festive specials. I love the Christmas Dinner Toastie I chose, though we were both a little disappointed at the Pigs in Blankets pannini – bacon and sausage together doesn’t equal PIBs, right?!
A wander around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Definitely a place I want to revisit.
Watching The Missing. The series has been so, so tense. If you haven’t seen it, get in iPlayer now! The ending of last week’s episode was so frustrating I screamed.
Meeting old friends and *finally* visiting Honest Burgers. Was so nice not to have to remove relish (#allergyissues), the burgers were yum, chips amazing, and the company awesome. A good night!
An extra little one this fortnight. Katy put out a shout for Happy Things a while back and her post was so, so uplifting. She got over 150 replies and reading through it put a massive smile on my face.
What has been the highlight of the last few weeks for you?
These last few weeks have been super busy – during the first week of November I had one evening where I wasn’t socialising after work. Coupled with the fact I ended up having to book onto tutorials for my professional exams TWO MONTHS earlier than anticipated, craming reading in alongside everything else has left me shattered. That said it has been super fun – I just know I need to tone it down a little.
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
Tacos and tequila. Me and W headed down to Wahaca to celebrate Day of the Dead. We stuffed ourselves with Pork Pilbil, Chicken Tacquitos and, of course, Churros. The perfect mid-week treat.
Talking of mid-week treats, meeting up with some of my closest friends for burgers and catch-ups after work features rather highly. However thought of putting Camembert AND truffle mayo into a burger deserves a medal.
Studying again. Sure, I moan about it, but at the same time I’m loving having something to work towards. The small amount of time pressure is actually making me get on with it, there’s been no procrastination here. Yet!
Enjoying an Indian for the first time since leaving Redhill and my placement. Still not quite as good as Bombay Mela, but I’ve discovered Spiced Fried Okra is yum!
W’s parents visiting. So nice to catch up properly!
Our new little nephew being born. This actually happened in the previous fortnight but clearly I had Aunty-baby-brain. Looking forward to having cuddles in hopefully not too long.
Getting a seat from the start of my morning commute two days in a row. I hate the tube in the morning, it makes me feel so sick, so this made my day! It also means I got 30 minutes of course-note reading done, which means more time in the day for fun things…
Wow, it’s the end of October already! This month has definitely gone from being summery (I was wandering around in t-shirts only a few weeks ago!) to being properly cold and Autumnal – I need scarves and gloves on pretty much a daily basis now. And, dare I say it, it’s not long until Christmas. I’m starting to feel a bit excited…
Here’s what’s been making me smile lately…
Meal-prepping. Things have definitely gotten hectic but I’ve loved getting organised and prepping things at the weekend. Plus my fridge looks super neat and tidy.
M&S released my favourite work style dress in burgundy. I saw it and bought it within around 3 minutes one lunch-break!
On a related note, I found my Christmas day dress!
And on a Christmas theme, I’ve managed to convince W to let me buy a new Christmas tree for the pair of us. No more £10 trees from Tesco, I’ve got my eye on a ‘pencil’ one from John Lewis.
Starting to study again. I was torn between dreading it and looking forward to it, but it turns out I’m hugely enjoying getting my teeth stuck into new material.
Heading home to be spoilt for a couple of nights. My mummy cooked all my favourite treats!
Having a good haircut and managing to get it dyed at the same time. It’s been a while since my haircare was so in sync!
Mushroom risotto. W was working late on a project, I couldn’t resist…
Narrowing down our wedding photographer search. Quite possibly the most important element for me and despite the time we’ve got I found it stressful. Some were booked on 2019 dates!?!
Wandering around London. I can’t quite explain how much I love living here!
Hope your fortnight has been as lovely as mine! What’s been making you smile lately?
It’s really hard to believe that 10 weeks have passed since I started doing these posts. I’ve loved doing a more regular update into my life, and I’ve found these quick-fire posts great for making me think about the really positive things that have happened recently.
Here’s what’s been making me smile lately…
The Lake District. I mentioned it in my previous post that I was heading up for some team building – it was a great few days!
“Rock” climbing up a (bloody tall) tree. I hate rock climbing having pretty much zero strength, I also hate heights. This was a massive achievement for me!
Managing to do 50 sit-ups in a row. Just call me superwoman…
Watching W’s mum getting licensed at Peterborough Cathedral. I know she’s worked really hard to get there, so it was a proud moment. Also very lovely to see his parents and rest of his family for the day!
We also got treated to lunch at Prezzo. Whilst I was never a fan when I could eat tomatoes (never had a good tomato-based meal there!) there is one dish I can’t get enough of. It had been around a year since I’d enjoyed a Pollo Carbonara but it was just as good as remembered. Rich, creamy, insanely cheesy…
Forgetting to shave my legs, then realising it’s cold enough for thicker tights. I love Autumn!
Watching W settle into his Masters course. I’m unbelievably proud of how far he’s come.
Catching up with my girls. We’re trying to make a date to see each other every month, and this month involved a bit of a shopping spree.
Finally kicking my cold out of my system. I picked it up just before heading to the Lakes and it lingered a bit. I’d sure W is glad not to have a constantly coughing person all night!
My family visiting. Including the dog. It’d been SO long since I had doggy cuddles.
As I said a while ago, I wanted to do a few quick, less-rambly, more personal posts. Something I’ve always loved reading are ‘Happy Mondays’ – from Katy, Jasmin and Jennifer. It’s something I’ve wanted to take part in for what feels like a very, very long time and now I’m finally penning my first ‘Happy Monday.’ I’ll be writing them up fortnightly, just to make it less likely that I’ll forget, but here goes!
This past fortnight has been a bit of a blur of flat-sorting, shopping, baking and hosting our engagement garden party. I’ve finally recovered from my cold/sinus infection that plagued most of July, though the very useless advice I received from 111 did make me giggle, and other than eating far too many sweet things yesterday I’m feeling a lot better. So, the highlights of the last fortnight…
Finding and securing our flat. From the end of the month we will be living in Putney, and even have a view of the Thames (from the bathroom window, if you crane your neck around, but still!).
My very first trip to IKEA. How I existed this long without going beats me. I’m already planning our next trip…
Having my debit card handed in after I left it in the machine in Topshop. Rather relieved, as I forgot it as I was distracted by handing in a smartphone I’d found in-store. Good karma for me!
Reading Dorothy Koomson’s “latest” novel – That Girl From Nowhere. I’ve been waiting to read this for a while, and it hasn’t disappointed.
Baking the perfect quiche. My recipe will be coming soon, but it’s based on this one. Such a gorgeous texture, perfectly savoury, and just yum.
Receiving a cushion I’d been lusting over as a gift. Whilst all our engagement party gifts were so, so special and deserve a place on this post, this cushion really was perfect. So perfect I’d spent a good 10 minutes hunting it down in Wilkinson’s and being unable to find it the day before!
Catching up with friends. Over Pimms. Enough said!
Watching the Olympics. Definitely the best sporting event, with my favourite being the cross-country – despite me watching the worst fences with closed eyes!
Sunflowers. I’m not sure there’s a flower that brightens up a room more.
Our engagement party. We hosted a belated get-together in W’s parents’ garden yesterday. We were treated to glorious sunshine, Waitrose delivered yummy sandwiches, my parents’ spent most of the preceding days baking. And I even had two gorgeous sets of bunting. A perfect day to end the fortnight!
What’s made you happy recently?