Wednesday, 31 December 2014
The past few mornings have been really special on Clapham Common, making it a little bit easier to get back in the swing of work again. I think frost may be more beautiful than snow, especially the grey sludge we usually get here in London, and this morning was the best of the week with a thick layer of mist and a blazing orange sun. I'm so lucky to call this my commute! Happy new year, pals!


Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Since it's Christmas Eve, I thought I would sign off for the year with my favourite blog posts of 2014. I've really tried hard to create interesting, original content that people want to read and (in the case of recipes and DIYs) do at home, so I'm feeling quite proud looking back through all of these posts.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And if you're still not sick of it...CHRISTMAS

I'm so grateful for the gorgeous, creative, supportive friends I've made through blogging and the sweet readers whose comments I love receiving. See you in 2015!


Monday, 22 December 2014

I think I've found the most Christmassy place in London! If you find yourself doing last-minute Christmas shopping on Oxford Street (good luck!), then I highly suggest you pop into Kingly Court on Carnaby Street to get away from the hustle and bustle.

As far as I can remember, this little complex has always hosted an array of little indie shops, but now it seems to have been mostly cleared out and turned into a foodie paradise. From the ones I've tried - Cha Cha Moon, Pizza Pilgrims and Shoryu - to the ones I haven't - Señor Ceviche, The Rum Kitchen and Whyte & Browne - I think it's safe to say there's something for everyone. And the Christmas lights are pretty darn good, too!


Friday, 19 December 2014
Phew! It's the weekend and the last weekend before Christmas to boot! We were in Cornwall last weekend (sorry for the instagram repeat). Everytime we go down there, I fall for it even more!

This week was a bit of a whirlwind of dinners, drinking and general festivity. It's my mum's birthday tomorrow so I'm looking forward to having a nice meal and putting up our family Christmas tree. Then it's on to my friend's house on Sunday for a big blowout with my old school pals. I'm seriously looking forward to that 5 day break right around now - all I want for Christmas is a lie-in!

How are you spending your last weekend before Christmas? Last minute shopping? Present wrapping? See you next week!


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The best part about moving into my own place (apart from the obvious things!) is that now I get to decorate two Christmas trees every year! There are pros and cons to both trees - my parents get a fake one, but we decorate it with a sentimental array of ornaments we've been collecting since before I was born, and at my place we always get a big, bushy real tree which smells amazing, but still a bit sparse on the decoration front.

I love having mismatched ornaments, and I'm happy to have a slightly bare tree (especially as this year's is about 7 foot!) over decorations that are picked just to add bulk. There are vintage glass mushrooms, cheeky gnomes and feathered birds alongside sparkly pinecones and a handmade golden glitter star. Some have been gifts from others, others gifts to myself - new additions this year include the little white deer from Paperchase and some handmade clay ornaments. Decorations don't stop at the tree either...

Did you blog about your Christmas decorations? Link up below and we can all get in the festive spirit. 8 SLEEPS, PEOPLE!

CHRISTMAS DIY: gift wrap + bags

Monday, 15 December 2014

Last week I posted about the Christmas shoot I styled for 91 Magazine and this week I wanted to share some extra little crafty details that will perk up your gift wrapping.

I'm a big fan of simple brown paper and ribbon (this polka dot update is from Paperchase) and so it's usually the little details that make it extra special - one year I illustrated ribbons and gift tags straight onto the paper and last year I tied them up with jute string and a sprig of rosemary.

With the leftovers I had of the Imogen Owen x Quill London printable for 91 Magazine, I decided to make some little ribbon badges to adorn this year's presents. I simply cut-out discs, glued them to another layer of paper for a contrasting trim, and then used double-sided tape to attach different ribbons to the back. I love the way they look so much, I ended up making a whole bunch more which I will probably never give away!

I also found a way to re-use gift bags, covering any logos or brand names with a strip of satin ribbon and a little disc. I think it looks really sweet and it's a good way to use the bags I always keep for just such occasions, but never use because they usually have writing on them.


Friday, 12 December 2014

It may not be a snow day today, but it’s the day after the office Christmas party so I definitely wish it was. Let’s cancel Friday and go back to bed!

Have a good weekend!

CHRISTMAS DIY: clay ornaments

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Last week I got my Christmas craft on and made these little hanging ornaments to give out instead of Christmas cards this year. I got the idea from the DIY mecca that is A Beautiful Mess and used a couple of their designs, along with my own.

91 MAGAZINE: issue 11

Monday, 8 December 2014

I've been waiting for WEEKS to share this gorgeous shoot I styled for the December issue of 91 Magazine. After attending Quill London's amazing Modern Calligraphy Workshop back in July, I thought it would be fun to incorporate calligraphy into a Christmassy-diy. My calligraphy skills are still somewhat lacking, so I enlisted the lovely Imogen Owen to create a free printable exclusively for the magazine.

Imogen created a loosely seasonal design so that readers can keep crafting with it beyond Christmas, and the simple detailing translated perfectly onto lightweight card with a regular desktop printer. I played around with the motif to create some cards alongside Imogen's gift tag template - the best part is, using word, you can easily make your own stationery. Simply buy the new issue of 91 Magazine and download the template linked to in the article (page 84-87) - there are gift tags and cards, but you can also manipulate the motif yourself to print onto any size paper you like. If you do this, please always credit back to Imogen, Quill London and 91 Magazine as this printable is creative property and Imogen has kindly produced it for free.

I loved loved loved doing this little Christmassy shoot and I was so happy to have my friend Siobhan shooting the pictures for me. She captured everything so beautifully, don't you think? Check out her post for more images and a peek at the finished article. Next week, I'm going to be sharing an extra little project using the printable to create cute wrapping details and gift bags.

All images by Siobhan Watts for 91 Magazine.


Friday, 5 December 2014

I know everyone is probably sick of everyone else banging on about how 'Christmas is coming up so quickly this year, isn't it?'...but isn't it?? There's something funny in the air this year for sure!

Anyway, this week felt super Christmassy - I finished most of my gift buying, we bought our Christmas tree (!), I had my first mulled wine of the year and I spent a lovely evening of crafting and listening to Michael Buble. This weekend, I'm going to be running around like a crazy person catching up with friends, babysitting, volunteering and meeting some dogs (more on both of those things another time!) and trying to squeeze as much Christmas cheer into the mix as possible (tree decorating + more mulled wine, most likely).

Next week I can't wait to post some festive things I've been saving up, including some more shots of Siobhan's gorgeous photos of my latest piece for 91 Magazine. Make sure you buy the new December issue - there's lots of gorgeous crafting and non-seasonal Christmassy things that will make it worth reading well into the new year too.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A couple of weeks ago now, Jo and I went to a little Christmas shopping evening to celebrate the opening of Anthropologie’s new Richmond-Upon-Thames store. Anthropologie is hands-down my favourite shop – from the inspiring shop displays and beautiful products to the lovely staff, it’s just one of those places that makes you feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside.

There were glasses of fizz on hand, a Christmas cracker-making demonstration and a lovely goodie bag complete with Christmassy cactus. Plus, the evening was hosted by Red Magazine – one of my favourite magazines, so it was great to meet some of the team. If you’re stuck for Christmas gift ideas, I’ve rounded up a few of my Anthropologie picks in the Sprunting! Christmas Wish List (boyfriend, take note). Happy shopping!


Longchamp's Le Pliage bag is an icon with timeless appeal. I see them everywhere and I always think they look perfectly polished. So much so, in fact, that I never really considered buying one for myself - they just looked too grown up. But it turns out the travel-sized version is the best purchase I've made in a long time - and I'm definitely picking up a few more as Christmas presents this year. I bought the second to largest size, which is just right for a weekend away, but the magic thing about it is that it folds to the dimensions of a large wallet, so it's perfect for tucking in your suitcase for any unexpected purchases when you go on holiday.

This is where things are going to get a little embarrassing when I show you what we used mine for! While we were in Malaysia, we took a quick one night trip to Singapore to see my cousins and meet my new baby niece. But the thing my boyfriend was most excited about? The Japanese mall that our hotel was attached to. We came back with a whole carryall of Japanese snacks, which was a little awkward going through customs, but totally worth it! I have a feeling me and this little bag are going to get along juuust fine.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TIP: the best gift wrapping service

Monday, 1 December 2014

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Is it disturbing you that I’m asking you about it? Well, it being the first of December and all, I feel it would be rude not to bring it up, and seeing as I’ve been in the festive spirit since the beginning of November, I’ve just been itching to post something, anything, Christmassy on here. 

Last week I did a whip round London and I’m feeling rather smug about it because I’m kind of almost finished buying my presents (those Christmas cards I meant to send? Well, we can not mention those for the time being…). Anyway, I just wanted to share a quick Christmas shopping tip that is too good not to shout about. 

Have you ever bought a gift from Kiehl’s? Well, aside from the fact that their products are awesome and would make a lovely gift in their own right, they do the best gift wrapping ever. Whether you buy one product or three, they will pop your items in a lovely ribbon-tied gift box (usually kraft paper brown, but at Christmas a lovely festive red) and fill the extra space with samples and tissue paper or pretty potpourri. They put so many samples in, and the samples are usually of a pretty generous size, that the first time I got something gift wrapped and they asked if I was happy with the way it looked, I shyly pointed out that I hadn’t chosen all those extra products, to which the guy said, ‘uhh, they’re free’ …#awkward. SO, to cut a long story (that didn’t need to be so long) short, go to Kiehl’s, buy some stuff and they will make it look like the most beautiful, thoughtful gift you ever gave.

Note: I've only ever bought products from the Kiehl's concession in Harrods, though I imagine the wrapping service is standard throughout. In the picture above (which I took at night because I was TOO excited about it, so sorry about the photo quality), I only bought the two bottles of body wash - the rest of the box is samples!


Friday, 28 November 2014

Something exciting happened this week. I bought my first Christmas present! Well, technically I've already bought a couple online that haven't arrived yet, but this was the first purchase I made on a whim, and sometimes those turn out to be the best.

I was in a bad mood because Oxford Circus was extra busy and I was in desperate need of a parka coat because the weather in London is a bit miserable at the moment, to put it politely. Fed up, I wandered into the florist at the front of Liberty, which you will know if you have been there before, is exceptionally expensive. And then I saw this crown pot and just thought 'that is perfect for my mum' and the relatively inexpensive price tag was such a nice surprise. And then as I was queuing at the till I spotted this jug and I thought 'that is perfect for me', because sometimes you need a little midweek pick-me-up in the form of the flower vase/jug you have always been searching for. Such a serendipitous moment that made my week! Wishing you a wonderful weekend x

Also, thank you so much for all your comments on this post. It's given me lots to think about for the new year and I'm really grateful to everyone for sharing.

READING LIST: a christmas book club (2014 favourites)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Have you started Christmas shopping yet? Are you mad at me for even mentioning it? I'm trying to get everything done early this year so I can just enjoy the few weeks before Christmas, so I thought I'd post this earlier rather than later.

I love giving books because they make such thoughtful presents - they could be your favourites, ones you know they'll love, bestsellers, classics - and it's easy to keep a stash of your favourite tomes for those gifting moments when you're caught unexpectedly unprepared. For my brother's birthday last year, I gave him a 'book subscription' and chose a book that I would post to him at the beginning of each month for the next six months. I liked doing it so much, I thought I would share the 12 books I read this year that I think would make perfect gifts this Christmas.

1. Sharks Fin & Sichua Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop - this still remains one of my very favourite, and most read books of all time. Dunlop has such a knack for describing (sometimes exceedingly odd) Chinese delicacies in a way that is utterly mouth-watering; a wonderful gift for enthusiastic foodies and travellers alike.

2. The Dinner by Herman Koch - I'm a total sucker for novels with a twist, especially when there is a big build up. In the case of this book, the suspense captivates you nearly until the end of the book, hinting at the climax. The whole story unwinds over a single evening meal, which makes for some seriously impressive writing!

3. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert - this book is a really interesting study into marriage and commitment across the world by the writer of Eat, Pray, Love. I love reading non-fiction, but this still manages to feel like a story and, despite the empirical subject matter, it's far from dry.

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - I have to admit, I bought this for my work book club and I still haven't read it! But I included it in this list because it's a huge bestseller and I'm planning to read it over the Christmas break - who wants to discuss?

5. The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley + Hemsley - despite setting myself a cookbook challenge and promising not to buy anymore cookbooks until I'd cooked at least a recipe from each of the ones I already had, there was so much publicity around these sisters, and I've loved their recipes online, that I just had to get this. I love their principal of a healthy diet that doesn't restrict animal proteins and is pretty liberal with the fats (hooray for butter!)

6. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - this is probably one of the biggest books of the year. I've seen it read everywhere from train platforms to Indonesian beaches and I loved it. It's an easy read with a somewhat predictable storyline, but sometimes that's just what you need!

7. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman - after devouring both seasons back-to-back on Netflix I had to read Piper's real-life memoir. They've changed so much for the tv show so it was interesting to see how the two compared.

8. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - oh this book! It has completely divided opinion but I LOVED it. The author cleverly weaves together both present and past in a captivating story that encompasses the past 100 years of modern history. It had me constantly googling to see if the main character was actually real!

9. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes - I only took thrillers on holiday with me this year. I started this before we went away but it was so slow to start with I gave up on it until we were 5000 miles away and I didn't have a choice. I hope they make this into a movie - it's insane! There's espionage, terrorist plots and chemical warfare all bound up into one very complex plot.

10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - have you read Gone Girl? Of course you have! Well this doesn't quite compare - what can!? - but Flynn just comes up with amazing story lines and after I devoured this in a day, I picked up her other book, Sharp Objects, too.

11. Green Kitchen Travels by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl - I love the blog Green Kitchen Stories so it was only natural that this cookbook would also flout the conditions of my cookbook challenge! I love everything about this book, and I really recommend it for veggies and non-veggies alike.

12. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler - for the past few years I've stopped reading during my commute, just picking up the free paper in the morning instead, but this book has reignited my love of reading on-the-go. I don't want to give too much away, but a big twist comes right at the beginning and the rest of the book tries to explain the story behind it, mixing historical fact with pure, raw emotion. Please go buy this!

What were your favourite books you read this year? Please let me know in the comments so I can start my 2015 Amazon wish list!

LET'S TALK ABOUT: alternatives to the pill

Monday, 24 November 2014

Can we get a little personal over here today? I think it's important to talk about issues that affect women with your girlfriends, so why not here? I've been on the contraceptive pill for a long time now and I think it's time to start thinking about some alternatives. Doctors have told me lots of different things about how long you should be on what we call the combined oral contraceptive pill in the UK before you should take a break - some have advised no more than 6 years, others have told me 10 is fine, and I'm sitting somewhere in the middle.


Friday, 21 November 2014
Clearly this photo is not mine, unless you could believe I've been in the middle of the desert and not, as luck would have it, at my desk in dreary London. A work colleague of mine quit his job to travel the world before moving back to Canada and his instagram feed is the stuff of travel dreams. Who would have thought you could find a desert palace in China or a towering pagoda in the middle of Taipei?

A word of warning: his instagram will induce wanderlust and I won't be responsible for any rash decisions you might make relating to work or money. Mmm'kay?


Wednesday, 19 November 2014
I had an amazing brunch at Dishoom, a "Bombay cafe" in London the other weekend (get the masala chai!) and I ordered their Bombay Omelette, which inspired me to add a bit of spice to my usual breakfast.

Seriously, I think I could eat this every morning. People are often surprised to hear I'll happily scarf down leftover noodles or curry first thing in the morning, yet find eating sausages and bacon perfectly normal (and delicious, obvi). Well, if you prefer your breakfast on the sweet side, don't let me stop you - this recipe makes a lovely (frugal) lunch or dinner too. 

To make one omelette:
2 fresh, free-range eggs
Red onion
Green pepper
Curry powder

To serve:
Cherry tomatoes
Apple cider vinegar
Crusty bread

This recipe comes together really quickly, so you want to make sure you have everything on-hand so you can serve it all at once. I like my omelette with a little salsa - finely slice some of the red onion and marinate for a couple of minutes in a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt to soften, halve the tomatoes and add to the onion with a few coriander leaves.

Dice as much of the red onion and green pepper as you like, as finely as you like, and set aside. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of curry powder - I think Dishoom's version didn't actually have any Indian spices in it, but I prefer mine this way.

Slice your bread into a big thick slab. You can toast it, but for special occasions (i.e. weekends), I like to rub it with a little olive oil and salt and pop it on a hot, dry griddle pan while my eggs cook.

I like my eggs cooked with butter, but it's up to you if you use olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, etc. Heat a non-stick pan on a high heat with your chosen fat and add the diced peppers and onion. I like to sauté them for less than ten seconds so that they retain their fresh flavour and crunch, but you can cook them longer too. Then pour the eggs into the pan. A proper omelette really shouldn't take long at all (Julia Child says 20 seconds!!). When the bottom starts to brown and it comes away easily from the pan, fold the sides in to create a roll shape and slide it onto a plate. Finish with a generous sprinkling of coriander - after I took these photos, I literally covered mine with the stuff!

p.s. restaurant-style scrambled eggs for the traditionalists.


Monday, 17 November 2014
I'm a big fan of buying souvenirs, but I'm always careful to choose things that 1) go with the look of our apartment and 2) will be used or appreciated almost every day. When I came back from Cambodia, I talked about buying memorable souvenirs, but this time in KL I just wanted to hit up all the shops in Chinatown for cheap and cheerful homewares.

I constantly go between wanting a minimalist home straight off the pages of Kinfolk magazine or having a vibrant haven of textiles and bold pops of colour. Bordering on kitsch, there's something about the traditional crockery and utensils that I love - I find them nostalgic and when I'm eating a big bowl of noodles then I definitely want a pair of authentic chopsticks to slurp them up with!

I picked up more pairs of chopsticks than we could ever need at a restaurant wholesale supplier, as well as a couple of tres useful dishcloths, a sweet tray* and some tea, which was actually from Singapore, but comes in the best packaging.

*in the interest of being practical, this was not a savvy choice. The tray is slightly domed at the centre, making for some hairy tea-carrying moments!

p.s. 5 tips for the reluctant haggler.