Friday, 29 August 2014
A single photo and a story from my week:

In lieu of a story, as I'm afraid nothing particularly noteworthy happened this week (actually, I lie, I had a great week! But this recovery breakfast on Bank Holiday Monday was the only photo I took), I thought I would share a breakfast links digest. Enjoy!

A (penny-pinching) breakfast burrito brunch for friends
Deliciously Ella’s ten minute mango pancakes
Making your own baked beans = mind blowing (and easy!)
Make sure you check out Michelle’s Sunday morning Read ‘em and Eat

READING LIST: my amazon wish list

Wednesday, 27 August 2014
My Amazon wish list is always brimming with books and dvds. I was looking at it the other day and realised there are things I added in there over a year ago, that I still have every intention of buying, so it's probably about time I put some money aside and made a mass order. Cleverly, you can see my complete wish list here, and purchase straight from Amazon if you would like.

1. As Always, Julia - my favourite movie is Julie & Julia, a true story based on both the life of Julia Childs, the famous cook, and Julie Powell, the blogger who attempted to cook her way through Childs' considerably large cookbook. I've already read Childs' own memoirs, My Life in France, and I think this collection of letters would lend another layer to her remarkable story.

2. The French Dog - essentially a street style book of dogs in France. C'est bon, non?

3. An Extraordinary Theory of Objects - I'm fascinated by fashion journalist Stephanie LaCava and this book is her memoirs of living in Paris as a young girl, told through objects.

4. The Art of Eating Well - I'm sure you've already heard a lot about the Hemsley sisters. If I hear one more person call grated courgette 'courgetti', I might scream, but I do rather want this book!

5. Letters of Notes - I believe this book began as a blog, chronicling fascinating letters throughout history. I already adore this book, so I can see this one being a firm favourite too.

6. Shark's Fin & Sichuan Pepper - you might notice that I already blogged about this book in my round-up of food memoirs. It's probably my favourite book, so much so that I keep giving my copies away to friends and having to replace them!

7. A Kitchen in France - Manger is my absolute favourite blog for its romantic (and legit) imagery of life in the Thorisson household, featuring recipes that are cleverly interspersed with beautiful writing. I've cooked a few recipes from the blog, so I'm very much looking forward to buying this, though I really should be paying more attention to my cookbook challenge first.

8. #GIRLBOSS - there has been so much hype surround Sophia Amoruso's business handbook, but I still can't decide if I actually want to read it. Any thoughts?

I'd love to hear what's on your wish list too. If you have one going on Amazon, please feel free to post a link to it in the comments!


Monday, 25 August 2014
I’m visiting family in Kuala Lumpur this October before heading to the Gili Islands in Indonesia for 8 days of much-needed R+R. I can’t wait to snorkel, eat amazing local food, lie on the beach and stay in a traditional sasak bungalow! My boyfriend and I made a similar trip back in March of 2013, visiting Singapore, KL and Thailand, and it’s on my summer checklist to finally put the photos I printed over a year ago into an album. Looking through all my favourite snapshots got me thinking about making and saving memories, and I thought I'd share some of the ways I keep my special memories close.

PHOTOS I’m not one to take my big DSLR on holiday with me, especially on an island holiday, where you have to jump in and out of a boat and wade up to the shore with your bags above your head. Plus, with the sand and the heat, it's just not practical. That being said, I still want lots of pictures of my travels and even though my boyfriend hates (hates) having his picture taken or waiting around while I get my instagram fix, I always remind him that I’m not just saving memories for us, but for our future kids (who are definitely going to lol when they see what their dad looked like in sunglasses, age 22). 

I always take a few (non-precious) camera options with me. An instax/polaroid is always fun for some instant prints and perfect for making friends with fellow travellers and local kids. I also love disposable cameras - I'll definitely be stocking up on a couple underwater ones for snorkelling. And last of all, my trusty iPhone - the photo quality is pretty good and, most importantly, I always have it with me.

PRINTING The worst thing you can do is take a bunch of pictures and then forget about them! There are some great options for getting instagrams printed straight from your account - I've used both Photobox and Printstagram. Companies like Shutterfly in the US and even Tesco offer cool photo books, as well as photo printing - they'd be perfect to flick through on a cold, rainy day back at home! Instagram users also have to try Projecteo - it's so much fun.

SOUVENIRS Like I wrote about here, I’m not a huge fan of collecting useless trinkets, but I do love to pick up a couple bits here and there - usually ticket stubs, matchboxes and the like that don’t take up too much space and can easily be slipped into an album to be pored over at a later date. It’s amazing how objects, just as much as photos, can instantly transport you back to your holidays.

SCENTS Smells trigger memories in such a powerful way, don’t you think? I always like to pick up a candle or essential oil - you can close your eyes and pretend you never left. I even collect hotel soaps, which I pop into my wardrobe at home for a nice reminder when I get dressed every morning. Dried flowers make a nice memento too - though make sure you check your country's customs regulations first!

DO you have any holidays planned soon? I'd love to hear your memory-making tips!


Friday, 22 August 2014
A single photo and a story from my week:

I started the week in a wonderful way, still soaking up the sun in the South of France. This sunset, on our last night, yielded a beautifully cloudless sky which was perfect for a little stargazing – I saw my friend shooting star…and another two after that!

It’s been hard to get back in the swing of things after such a relaxing holiday. I can’t concentrate at all! There were a few difficult months last year where nausea, panic attacks and pins and needles would come in waves. Thankfully those worries are long gone, but in their place is a type of positive anxiety which, while brought on by exciting plans, unfortunately offers the same side effects – as well as headaches and painful stomach cramps. Looking forward to dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in ages leaves my stomach in knots, while planning a dreamy holiday in October is overshadowed by a tightness in my chest and a tingling in my fingers. If you have any tips for dealing with it, I’d love to hear!

This weekend (yoohoo Bank Holiday Monday!), I plan to get to the bottom of it all with some good meals and exercise, and get some holiday plans locked down so I can just look forward it. See you on the other side!


Wednesday, 20 August 2014
I don't think I ever got around to posting these pictures of our little kitchen nook after I shared our kitchen makeover story, but this is arguably my favourite part. I'm sure you can imagine, it's a lot messier now, especially with a couple of extra flatmates thrown into the mix!

This was the before, so you know what we were dealing with! This nook, for better want of a word, used to be an odd cupboard behind the kitchen door. It was really really deep, but one side had shelving built in so that you couldn't reach the back, and the other side became a slag heap for all sorts of odds and ends. The top part also housed the world's biggest water tank that we didn't actually need at all. Ripping out the cupboard means the kitchen feels so much more open, and made space for our washing machine, which used to take up so much cabinet space in the main part of the kitchen. Isn't the IKEA storage cart so cute?

I made sure we added a shelf for odds and ends, and I even replaced our manky old microwave with a shiny new one - it matches the cart, but it has the working capacity of a tamagochi. And, finally, I found the perfect spot for my emergency tea print by What Katie Does.


Monday, 18 August 2014
I had the flat to myself for a bit a couple of weekends ago and it was bliss. What did I do? Stayed in my jammies, caught up on The Honourable Woman and ate all of the mini magnums.


Friday, 15 August 2014
A single photo and a story from my week:
Bonjour! I'm spending a long weekend in the south of France, at the charming country home of one of my best friend's parents. We arrived yesterday and so far there has already been plenty of cheese and baguette, steak frites and a completely delicious duck confit that actually came out of a tin - a truly French convenience food! 

We really are in the middle of nowhere and last night I had THE BEST night's sleep. Tonight we are going to see some fireworks and, if the weather clears up, a Saturday hike in the Pyrenees is on the cards. Bon weekend! 

FRUGAL RECIPES: epic pulled pork + leftovers

Wednesday, 13 August 2014
While this recipe is not cheap to make from start to finish, it yields so many portions and heaps of leftovers, so per head it is really very reasonable (veggies may want to look away for this one). Pork shoulder is an amazing, inexpensive cut of meat which needs a long cooking time - this dinner is my boyfriend's speciality and he insists on at least 6 hours - definitely one for the weekend!

For the pork: choose a nice big joint as the leftovers are even tastier. Tesco recommends about 120g per person, and you can usually get a 1.2kg joint that will feed 10 for around £6. I'm slightly embarrassed to say we got 3.5kg as it was on a special offer.

Marinade for a 2kg joint:
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp smoked paprika
140g tomato ketchup
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients together, then score the skin of the pork and smother with the marinade. For extra flavour, stick a few garlic cloves in amongst the scores, if you have some. Dice two onions and scatter across the bottom of a roasting tray, then place the joint skin side up on top. Pour 200ml into the bottom of the tray, cover with tin foil and  bake at 160C in a fan oven for at least 4 hours. An hour before you're ready to eat, remove the foil and drain away all of the liquid. At this point, the meat should already be falling apart - if it's not, you might need to leave it in the oven under the foil for a bit longer. Pop back in the oven: everything will caramelise and you should get a nice crackling. When you're ready to eat, remove from the oven and shred the meat with a fork. Then mix in your preferred barbecue sauce (or homemade!) and you're good to go.

To serve: we always always make our own slaw as it's so easy and cheap and tastes so much better than the mayonnaise-y stuff you get from the supermarket. Even without a food processor, you can easily shred cabbage by finely slicing with a knife and grate carrots to get the same effect. Plus pickles - the sweet and sour sharpness perfectly cuts through the stodgy-ness of the meat, and crispy potato wedges are always a winner.

Leftovers: the best bit! We always make sure to make extra which we eat the second night running smooshed into a big white bap with melted cheese and leftover slaw. You can also serve it with lots of salad or with french fries if you're feeling extra naughty. Since our joint was made to feed more than 20 (!!), we froze individual-sized portions wrapped in tin foil in the freezer - pop one in the fridge in the morning and by the evening it will be ready to reheat in the oven with another slather of barbecue sauce for slow-cooked pulled pork any night of the week!


Sunday, 10 August 2014
...as you mean to go on.

{made with Phoster


Friday, 8 August 2014

Have you ever seen a rabbit spooning a broccoli? Well, it’s a regular occurrence around these parts. Mornings are my favourite times with Scampi, our housebunny; we are lucky to have a little spare room where he can roam free – everyone always says, ‘oh my gosh your rabbit has its own bedroom’, which is a little embarrassing, I have to say! – but the room also contains my wardrobe, so it’s where I get ready in the morning.

He is always so sweet and happy to see me and we have a little pow wow, whereby I scratch his velvety nose and he runs circles around my makeup bag before zealously spending a little one-on-one time with his broccoli buddy (he’s reached that age). In this heat, he usually finds he’s overexerted himself within a few minutes and he comes over to my spot on the floor and slumps over, offering up his ridiculously fluffy belly – is there anything cuter?

His favourite time, though, is the weekends, when he has free run of the house and he can stretch out on the cool wood flooring in the hallway. Hope you all enjoy your weekends as much as this guy does!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

I made a slightly healthier burger and chips on a Friday night and it was delicious! My boyfriend is highly suspicious of 'healthy meals' - he will happily scarf down a big plate of vegetables for dinner, but if I tell him beforehand that we are having a veggie meal, he does his best to act like I've personally offended him. Mostly, it's best not to mention it until we sit down to eat*. Anyway, turkey is one of those things that he complains about, but when it turned out that not only was I making the turkey into big juicy burgers, but that he could drown it in sriracha sauce (his new obsession), he was a little less apprehensive.

I used this Gwyneth Paltrow recipe from It's All Good, substituting chicken mince for turkey, and doubling all of the ingredients for extra flavour. The burgers were packed with flavours and nicely charred on the outside (they'd be great on a barbecue!) and we ate them smooshed in classic American burger buns with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and, of course, sriracha, swapping out chips for some tasty sweet potato fries (finely slice, gently toss with oil, salt, pepper, paprika and chilli flakes and bake at around 220C for 20 minutes).

*except for the time I told him I was making cauliflower fried rice and after he'd polished off the last mouthful, turned to me with a confused expression and said 'I thought there was going to be cauliflower in it?' Doh!

SUNDAY SWITCH-OFF: calligraphy practice

Monday, 4 August 2014
In July I attended a calligraphy workshop organised by Quill London. Imogen's work is so beautiful and she made it look so effortless, I half thought that calligraphy would come really easily to me. How wrong was I! This is definitely a skill that comes with practice, so on Sunday I sat down and put pen to paper.

I think I only wrote the word lovely for a good half an hour - it's quite easy to become obsessive about it (and a little bit cross-eyed) and then put down the pen and decide that actually you think the first time you wrote it looked the best. My issue is pressing down too hard - and the subsequent calligraphy claw hand that ensues - so I think I have a way to go before I can do elegantly whimsical swirls like Imogen.

If you're interested in taking a class - which I recommend you do, as there is actually so much technique involved - Quill London's next calligraphy class is on August 17th.


Saturday, 2 August 2014
I spent all day at my computer today and I wouldn't be surprised if I dream in HTML tonight! I sat down at 11am with the intention of making an online portfolio for my work and then I blinked and it was 3pm! It's not perfect, but I'm really pleased to finally have everything I work on day-to-day in one place.

I wanted to change my blog layout quite drastically as well, but I decided to just add a simple nav bar at the top and then Michelle's post reminded me that I should add an About Me page too. I spent the rest of the evening fussing about with page widths and even had to get the ruler out at one point. I think it's time to call it a day, but I thought I'd spend an extra 5 minutes sharing what I did today, seeing as I already have squares for eyes anyway.

Take a look and tell me what you think!


Friday, 1 August 2014
A single photo and a story from my week.

This week has been a quiet one, but I’m still looking forward to doing pretty much nothing this weekend. I took this picture last Sunday, after the big Thai fake-away I made – it’s such a cliché but I’m really appreciating the weather lately. Sunday wasn’t that warm, but I still sat out on the balcony after dinner to read my book and it was really nice not to just slump in front of the TV and let the Monday blues take hold.

This weekend I think I’m going to switch some things around on the blog. I really like posting recipes and interiors posts, and creating original content and I feel like sometimes a blog feels more like something you have to update constantly, even if you don’t have anything great to post, which can lead to lacklustre filler (like these Friday posts can be). I also need to make a portfolio for my work, but it’s actually really hard to showcase writing! Any tips?

Have a great weekend!