Friday, 27 February 2015

Crantock Beach, where my parents have a flat, sits right on the Atlantic Ocean, nearly at the very end of the country. It's a breathtaking spot to take in the open ocean, and it's so windy that the weather can change in an instant. I took these photos with my DSLR when we went down the other weekend

The amazing thing about this beach is that the tides differ over an hour every day! I took these photos at roughly the same time on both days, around 6pm, and while on the first day we could make it down onto the sand, the sky was grey and there wasn't anything spectacular to see, though the glassy rock pools are captivating whatever the weather. On the second night, there was the most gorgeous peachy sunset, but the tide was in so high we would have had to walk round the long way to get down to the beach. Annoyingly, the first day had both soft pink skies and low tide at 6pm, but I forgot to take my camera!

FRUGAL RECIPES: pea and courgette frittata

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Have you made a frittata before? Anything with eggs in it already has me on board, but frittatas are SO quick and easy and tasty hot or cold, so they're a staple in my weekly rotation.

Ingredients for 4
6 large eggs
Half a courgette
Handful of peas
A few sprigs of mint
Salt and pepper to taste

First, turn on the grill.

Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl and whisk with a fork until the whites and yolks have combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat up a non-stick saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil (or other cooking fat) and pour in the eggs. Gently sprinkle the vegetables over the top and cook for a few minutes.

Pop under the grill for a further five minutes, or until the top starts to puff up, and then you're ready to serve. If you don't have a grill, you can continue to cook it on the hob with a cover on the pan, or alternatively put it in the oven.

I really like the combination of spring greens and the mint makes it really fresh. Other combinations I love are:
Asparagus, pea and mint
Tomato and basil
Ham and cheese (classic!)

I actually prefer the frittata cool - it's a really good make-ahead recipe for brunch, picnics or packed lunch, and it always looks pretty. Once cooled, you can store in a tupperware for a few days in the fridge.

Cost per portion: about 40p


Monday, 23 February 2015
Since my post about alternatives to the contraceptive pill was so popular, I thought I would write a quick follow-up to tell you about my experience since that post. If you don't want to read about lady problems, I'll be back with a new foodie post in a few days.

Lowdown - there was no reason for me to stop taking the pill (I'm not trying for a baby and my doctor said it was fine to continue for another few years), but I wanted to see how my body felt hormone-free and I thought it might help with stress and anxiety.

How - I stopped taking my pill when I got to the end of the pack in November. The instructions said that you can stop taking it whenever you want - which would be useful if you suddenly realised you had a health risk and you needed to stop straight away - but it seems logical for your mind and your body to stop at the end of the pack so that your body has its withdrawal bleed (fake period) and then you start the next month afresh.

Pros - I thought I would feel different not taking it, and that I would miss the routine of that early morning pill, but it was surprising to me that I didn't even notice not taking it. When I was 16 and first went on the pill, it was because I had a short cycle of 21 days and unbearably painful, heavy periods that went on for 10 days, meaning I'd often only just have two weeks before my period would start again! I started using the Clue period tracker (in the photo above) to see how my periods have changed and I'm really pleased that although my cycle is still short at around 24 days, my periods are virtually painless, light and only run for about four days, as they did while I was on the pill.

Cons - there haven't been any major cons, but I did have a few side effects the first week after I stopped. I was so tired and had terrible, all-day headaches, which I attributed to my body expecting to get a rush of hormones. After a week, though, I felt like my normal self. It does turn out, however, that my anxiety was nothing to do with the pill and I am, in fact, just stressed and anxious, so I can stop blaming the pill for that one! I have noticed that I'm also more prone to a few spots before my period, which I've never had a problem with. Lastly, I hate not knowing when my period is coming. When I was on the pill, it came like clockwork on Tuesday morning of my pill-free week, but I'm hoping that as I continue to use the period tracker, I'll be able to work out when it's due. Along with that, it's a pain that I can't choose to skip a period if I happen to be on holiday. There were a few summers and Christmases that were definitely spoiled by insane cramps and heavy bleeding before, but since my periods are much lighter and pain-free now, I don't think it will be such a big deal.

I hope you don't mind my sharing all this information, but I thought it might be useful for anyone thinking about stopping the pill. I'm happy now in the knowledge that all the hormones in my body are mine, and that, for now, everything seems to be working just fine.

INSTAGRAMS | a valentine-iversary in cornwall

Friday, 20 February 2015
My parents told us they were spending Valentine's weekend at our place in Cornwall and we tagged along (romantic, eh?) for a long weekend. Darren and I drove down at the crack of dawn on Friday, arriving in time for a pasty and a cup of tea before a long walk on the beach.

On Valentine's night, my parents went to the local restaurant while we stayed in and cooked the biggest steaks I've ever seen! We don't make a big song and dance about Valentine's Day - actually...I was furious that Darren forgot to get me a card, but he weaseled his way out of that one reminding me of the really sweet things he's done for me over the past few months while I've been a bit out of sorts (read: moany).

My parents left on Sunday afternoon and we had the place to ourselves for our anniversary on Monday - nine years together! I was shocked to google a few other things that are nine years old this year. We spent the morning at our favourite brunch spot, The Beach Hut on Watergate Bay, indulging in a massive fry up and pancakes and getting serious dog envy. We are seriously thinking about getting a puppy at the end of this year now! We drove along the coast a little, stopping at a couple of beaches, before heading home for a swim, Dominos and Broadchurch (talk about a cliffhanger!).

We drove back on Tuesday morning and a text from my colleague softened the blow - I won employee of the month this month and I have some other exciting works things in the pipeline too, so I'm feeling really proud of all the hard work I've put in this year.

I took some beautiful photos on the beach with my DSLR. I'm really not a natural shutterbug and I rarely take my big camera out, but I'm looking forward to sharing some pretty photos soon!


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

This Thursday is Chinese New Year and the start of the year of the Goat/Sheep (if you were born in 1979, 1991 or 2003, you're a Goat!) My mum is Chinese Malaysian so we always mark the occasion at home in London. I thought it might be fun to share a couple of the traditions we follow.

Reunion Dinner – this special dinner takes place on the eve of Chinese New Year (tonight!), with traditional dishes including dumplings for prosperity, whole fish to symbolise abundance and long noodles for a long life. We usually go out for lobster noodles at the New Mayflower in Chinatown, but this year we're celebrating at home.
Red Packets – you might have seen little rectangular red envelopes decorated with gold if you've ever been around Chinatown at this time of year. It's traditional to gift money to younger relatives in these envelopes. I did a little research and found out that it's lucky to give even amounts of money, but interestingly if you are giving money to a couple on their wedding day, it's favourable to give an odd number as it can't be easily divided, symbolising a strong union! To 'earn' our red packets, we brew and present tea to my mum and dad. You have to take the envelope with both hands and it's very rude to open it in front of the giver!
Spring Cleaning - my mum cleans the house from top to bottom, making sure to do all those annoying jobs that sometimes get overlooked. Apart from the fact it's common sense to start the new year with a fresh, clean house (something I never think to do on December 31st!), it also symbolises getting rid of any lingering bad luck from the previous year.


Monday, 16 February 2015

February is the month of love, after all, so I thought I'd join in with Apartment Apothecary's #stylingtheseasons challenge with a little post about girlfriends.

Are you a girls' girl? I kind of feel like if you're reading this blog (and most female lifestyle blogs) then you are probably the definition of a girls' girl. I try to keep the girly stuff to a minimum in our house - I do share it with a boy after all! - but it does still creep in via
my bookshelf...and our spare room is painted pink, so I suppose there's that.

I went to an all girls' boarding school (just one big sleepover, if you're wondering), so having lots of girlfriends has always been a big part of my life.

Here are a couple ways you can celebrate girl power this week:

Make a care package - snail mail is the best and I love sending little notes and trinkets just because. Scramble together a few bits and pieces - it shouldn't have to be expensive - and send them off in the post. Who knows, you might get one back! Here are some things I would include

Throw a brunch party - set up a breakfast burrito station or ask everyone to make/bring something to keep costs down.

Call someone and tell them you love them - sometimes something small reminds me that I have to call my mum and tell her I think she's the best, or send a whatsapp to my friend to say the daffodils they gave me are opening up. It's the little things that count and sharing special details of your life must be proven to strengthen friendships, even if you don't see each other that often.

Get strong together - I'm always motivated to workout with a friend so I meet my colleague every Sunday to get our butts kicked at Nike Training Club. It's something free to do together and definitely a bonding experience to be complaining about the fact we can't walk up the stairs at work the next day.

Take a class - learning something new together is a perfect way to spend time with friends new and old. You can establish common interests and get together to practice and give feedback.


Friday, 13 February 2015


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Have you heard of one-ingredient banana ice cream? It's basically just frozen bananas blended into the creamy consistency of ice cream. I wasn't really interested in making it until I watched this video and it really does look like ice cream!

To make it, finely slice a few ripe bananas and freeze them on a plate covered with cling film. When they are frozen, just blend them in a food processor until they are completely smooth and then add any other ingredients you would like.

I found the consistency to be too soft, but if you pop it back in the freezer for a few hours, stirring every so often, you get a little bit of crystallisation which makes it more like real ice cream.

To me, it just tasted like frozen bananas. I guess I was expecting it to taste like ice cream! But adding a handful of raspberries gives it a really nice sharpness and a prettier look too.

To make these little bon bons, I actually used an egg cup to get the shape, but a melon baller would be the obvious choice. Then I popped them back in the freezer to really harden.

To finish them off, melt a bar of dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once you drizzle the chocolate over the balls, it will quickly harden for a nice thin and crispy coating.

Perfect timing for a healthy Valentine's Day dessert!


Monday, 9 February 2015

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? A romantic dinner? Date night on the sofa with Ben and Jerry? My boyfriend and I tend to just exchange cards and a kiss as our anniversary is a few days later, but I know some people go all out!

When I lived in America as a child, Valentine's Day was huuuge! Some say it's just a hugely commercialised holiday, but it was really fun to celebrate. Everyone makes/sends Valentine's not just for their partners, but for friends, children and so on. It's a really big deal at school, and we used to spend a few hours making our own shoebox letterboxes and on the day itself everyone would bring in cards to pop into each others' boxes. It wasn't just for the boy you had a crush on, it was an inclusive day where everyone got to feel a little bit special!

With that in mind, this year I put together 'Galentines' Day packages for a couple of my friends who I never got around to sending Christmas cards to (whoops). Nothing fancy, just a sweet card, a packet of Love Hearts and one of the little clay ornaments I made at Christmas inside a little matchbox gift box.

Will you be doing anything special? I think we're just going to get a takeaway and stay in our pjs all day. 
Who said romance is dead!

WORDS TO LIVE BY: create calm

Friday, 6 February 2015
January has been filled with a lot lf uncertainties. It certainly wasn't the quiet start to the year I was hoping for! In the second half of the month we had a nasty surprise with a bill from the council for a huge amount of money we didn't owe. To cut a long story short, there were days of waiting to find out if we had to call a solicitor or even be faced with having to pay, but in the end it turned out to be a system error (wtf!?). Thankfully the situation resolved itself, and despite a few other things hanging in the air, I'm surprised how calm I've been able to maintain!

After a thought provoking brunch with some of my favourite blog girls (Lulu, Ché, Siobhan and Jo), I was reminded how the energy you put out has so much to do with the way life treats you so, with that in mind, here are a few ways to create calm to help you make rational, levelheaded decisions when life throws a curveball at you.

1.  Lose the tension - take a few slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax your jaw, drop your shoulders and repeat.

2.  Set the scene - dim the lights and light a scented candle. Masculine scents like Amber, sandalwood or Diptyque's mysterious Baies really help to clear the atmosphere.

3. Think before you act - this might sound obvious, but sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the moment. I could have easily kicked up a fuss on the phone to the council, but instead I took a calm, but firm approach to the situation to work out the facts before I jumped to conclusions. I really think this helped me get a clear and concise response from them (and an apology). Effing and blinding doesn't endear you to anyone and might get you pushed to the bottom of the list.

4. Prepare - if you have to make a difficult phone call, jot down some notes beforehand so you don't lose your point in the heat of the moment. And while you're own the phone, don't forget to write down what the other person says. It's easy to feel like you've resolved something by the time you put down the phone, but when you think back on the conversation it's hard to pinpoint exactly what.

5. Create distraction - easier said than done, but it really helps to get out and do something to set your mind at ease, if only for an hour. Take a gym class, visit a museum you haven't been to before or grab coffee with someone you don't know very well - you'll be busy trying to find out more about them to think about the problem and you're less likely to unload on them than a friend or partner.

6. Schedule time to do nothing - this might seem like a contradiction to the point above, but it's also important to take a moment to yourself. After scheduling dinners and drinks to try and forget the situation, there was nothing I needed more than a night to myself to have a bath, read a magazine and get an early night.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015
Let's go back to bed. Who's with me?



Monday, 2 February 2015

It's been six months since we put these shelves up in our bedroom and I didn't realise until this week how full they've gotten compared to when I first got them! I'm such a hoarder by nature, but I did a big tidy up at the weekend so I thought I'd take a few photos. I think I'm going to have top put another shelf in the to part soon.

The sweet print is from Stephanie Cole and the bunny trinket bowl is by Clay Opera. If you like teddy bears, I think you'll enjoy Much Loved as much as I did.

I'm a big fan of baskets for organisation - this one (either from H&M or Zara, I can't remember) holds my collection of cards, envelopes and whatnot. I know Christmas has passed...but I loved the card too much to throw it away! I've since used the back of it for a craft project.

And finally, this wreath light. It was taking up too much space on my desk, but I think I prefer it here now!