Wednesday, 26 March 2014

five guys


Earlier this week Rich and I paid a visit to an exciting new addition in Guildford - Five Guys. Guildford is seriously underrated in terms of shopping and eating opportunities; think Space NK, Anthropologie, Jo Malone and Muji as well as Bills, Jamies Italian, CAU (amazing steaks!)... and now Five Guys. Weird, but true!

So in we went, full of fast food joy. The menu is pretty simple; burgers, sandwiches and dogs. I went for a 'little burger' (one patty rather than two) topped with grilled mushrooms, lettuce and mayo. The toppings are all free of charge and there are loads you can choose from including the usual condiments, mushrooms, salady bits, jalapenos and onions - or just go 'all the way' for them all! Rich went for a bacon cheese dawggg dog with grilled onions and mustard. We shared some Cajun fries, I had a coke and Rich had a beer - all for under £20.

Verdit: delish. The burger was super tasty and juicy, and the mushrooms were a great addition. Rich's bacon cheese dog was equally as good, with incredible bacon.. so I'm told! The Cajun fries were oh so good, although I'm not sure they can beat the cheesy fries at ShakeShack! Would we go again? Hellll yeah!

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Monday, 24 March 2014

word up




Topshop  Jeans     Carvela  Sandals     Topshop  Blouse

I have been on a shopping ban from the week before Christmas, until the beginning of March. In that time, I didn't buy one piece of clothing for myself! At the weekend, however, I made up for it by hitting the cobbled highstreet of Guildford with my credit card and a long list. I guess that sort of defeats the point of saving over the last few months, but with the weather getting a little warmer I've had to pack away my thick roll-neck jumpers and dig out some lighter garms.  

My two favourite buys of the weekend are some new Toppers jeans in a dark indigo hue, and this beauty of a top. The style isn't something I'd usually go for, but it actually looks lots more flattering than I'd expect on. I'm in love! The Carvela heels I didn't buy, but have firmly made their way to the top of my 'must buy' list. They're not cheap at just over the one-hundred mark, but are the perfect heel height for everyday and just the sort of style I love. Maybe a treat purchase in the coming weeks!

Edit: since drafting this post I've found a 25% off code for the KG website (KGMARCH25). Do I go for it?!

Have you started to think about your Spring wardrobe?
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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

exploring greatness


Another of my Mum's classic recpies - I thought it was about time I shared it! I stuff these peppers with a beef and rice mixture, but you could easily substitute the meat for quorn, or a vegetable mix. You could also change the rice for cous cous or quinoa which are equally as tasty!

You will need (serves 3 or 6 people)
3 red peppers
500g lean beef mince
1 onion
1 beef stock cube
1 handful brown rice
1 tin tomatoes
2 balls frozen spinach
1 handful grated cheese

Start off by chopping your peppers length ways, de-seeding, and popping in the microwave for a few minutes to soften. Keep an eye on them, but about 3-5 minutes is usually about right.

Put your rice on to cook following usual instructions. While the rice and peppers are cooking fry a diced onion in a pan, and when browned add the mince and combine. When cooked, drain off any excess fat (if necessary) and crumble over a stock cube. Cook for a further few minutes then put to one side. When the mince mixture and rice are both cooked, combine!

Place your peppers into an ovenproof dish and spoon in the beef and rice mixture - press down with a spoon to fill as much as possible. In a bowl defrost the spinach balls and add to a tin of tomatoes. Pour over the peppers and sprinkle with some grated cheese. Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes - 1 hour on about 180c. 

Give each person either one or two peppers depending on greed hunger, and serve with steamed green veg. I usually just serve with vegetables, but this usually leaves a not-quite-full boyfriend... hence the homemade wedges this time! You can adjust the amount of rice you use in the stuffing mixture according to taste.

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

hair plumpers



Introducing my new favourite haircare products! I was given the Volumising Mousse and Oil back in December for Christmas, and fell swiftly in love. Applying a golf-ball sized amount of mousse onto towel dried hair and distributing with my hands, ensures my hair is voluminous and bouncy once dried. It also helps my waved style to stay in place come the next morning, without looking limb or straggly. At £12 its not the cheapest, but would totally recommend it for big, bouncy styles. 

The No Oil Oil is also a firm favourite, although admittedly I don't use as frequently on my short hair as I did when I had longer locks. Nevertheless, it nourishes the ends and leaves it feeling silky soft, full of shine and manageable. For those who haven't been converted to hair oils - what are you waiting for? I promise they wont make your hair feel or look greasy, provided you apply it carefully to the mid-sections and ends and don't go overboard. I apply it when my hair is damp, but it can also be used on dry hair to tame particularly angry hair! This retails at £14 which again is more expensive than you may pay for some, but is again totally worth it and will last you bloody ages.

And finally - the Texturising Spray! This I picked up from TKMaxx for a mere £4.99, but like the Oil retails at £14. Spraying onto towel dried hair, this allows me to achieve a more textured, tousled look whilst also adding volume and 'grip'. This means I can style is more effectively and it doesn't look quite so polished. Just what I was after! I have to admit this isn't my favourite texturising spray - on most days I turn to Loreal's TXT Spray which gives amazing results when sprayed onto dried and styled hair. Definitely worth a look!

Have you tried Percy and Reed products?

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

yotopia


Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited along to something quite special - a hot Pilates class, courtesy of Simply Health. So on Sunday afternoon Hannah and I hopped along to Yotopia in Covent Garden and into our workout gear, ready to get our sweat on! For those who haven't heard of hot yoga/pilates before, it is the new gym crazy whereby you combine a traditional yoga/pilates class with 40 degree heat. Joy! There are several benefits of doing pilates in this way - to help sweat out harmful toxins, to increasing your core temperature to help fight viruses, to help your muscles stretch and move, and to help aid weightloss. The hot, humid temperature may sound torturous, but it honestly wasn't that bad. I think some suffer with the heat more than others though... just be prepared to sweat!


Simply Health were hosting this event to raise awareness of their new Back Care App which you can download for free from the App Store on your Smart Phone. The app is to help those suffering with aches and pains in their back, and yoga and pilates are an excellent way to do this. Following on from my earlier post on stress, back pain can be a physical consequence of the tension build up associated with stress. Pilates can help to strengthen your back muscles (and in turn relieve back pain) as well as the more immediate effect of burning the chemicals that cause stress - cortisol and norepinephrine. 


Now  - the good bit for you guys is that I have a voucher to give away! The lovely folk at Simply Health gifted me a £30 gift voucher, but as I don't live in London I thought I'd offer it up to one of you guys. All you have to do is complete the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

luxurious citrus


If you follow me on Pinterest, you may be aware of my grey/yellow colour combination obsession. If not, above as a little summary... think grey and cream walls, sofas and tiling, with pops of yellow in the furnishings. Swoon!

I love the rich, almost golden shade of the yellows above - can anyone tell me what this shade is called?! It must have a name! Combined with cool silver and muted grey tones, this is interior perfection in my eyes. I think the key is keeping the pops of colour small and/or simple. Be it a clean cut sofa, arm chair or stool, a luxurious velvet cushion or colour pop cupboards. There are so many ways to inject some of your taste into your home! Get some cool prints framed (PosterLounge do some great ones) to get up on the walls and help carry the theme through. Don't go overboard though; subtle bursts of colour are cute, a garish, clashing mess might give you a headache!

And most importantly, finding ways to achieve the look you want within your budget is crucial - you don't have to spend loads for your home to look classy! The items below are all available on the highstreet and are super affordable. The idea is to look around - on the highstreet, but also in charity shops, junk shops and carboot sales. I love that eclectic look. 

Vase Zara Velvet Cushions Zara Fur Blanket Zara Geometric Cushion H&M Grey Blanket H&M 
Grocery Storage H&M Candles H&M Stripe Cushion H&M

What do you think? Do you love this colour scheme or have I gone interior-cray?

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

spring has sprung


The sun is shining and the temperature has risen... is it too early to say Spring is here?! Well, yesterday definitely felt Spring-like, with my girls (and their fellas) coming to visit us in Farnham, starting with a walk in the sunshine through the park. Jackets and coats were quickly lost as we made the most of the warm rays. Spring, I tell you!

The majority of our afternoon was spent at mine and Rich's new favourite local pub - The Wheatsheaf in Farnham. Having recently been taken over and had a complete facelift, we were so impressed with the transformation! A rags to riches story - think open kitchen, rustic yet modern decor, excellent menu boasting local produce and a relaxing but buzzy environment. The food is reasonably priced (for a Surrey pub!) and great quality; although it isn't the most extensive of menus, I think that reflects their ethos - quality over quantity. Saying that, we definitely tried a range of meals from burgers to risotto and mussels to pork belly. All washed down with a few white wine spritzers... delicious!

Food aside, it was so lovely to get together with (most of) the girls and have a proper catch up, they can end up being few and far between these days! Thank you Mr Sunshine for gracing us with your presence!

Shoutout to Mel and Jase - you were greatly missed! And apologies for the image quality - all snaps taken on my iPhone!

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Friday, 7 March 2014

metallic ombre


I guess this post should be titled 'The Things You Think You Need But Definitely Don't'. Although, if we're going down that route, that would probably include almost everything from Anthropologie! The above are currently topping my list of dream home wares - in no way sensible or affordable, but gorgeous. 

Sugar Spots Apron Jardin Des Plantes Pedestal Bowl Gold Dipped Cutlery Set 
Gaggle Measuring Cups Elephant Bottle Stopper 

I'll be the first to say I am complete obsessed with Anthropologie home wares. No, they're not the cheapest on the market, but boy are they beautiful. I love the look of mismatched plates, bowls and mugs displayed on open shelves and cabinets... set against glossy white tiles with grey grouting if I'm being really specific. The ceramics here are just to die for.
So they're not the cheapest of items, but they're also not the most practical - I mean who needs gold-dipped cutlery? Beautiful metallic ombre cutlery... hell, I do! Well, thirty-two pounds for a five-piece set is most definitely not a sensible purchase. And yes, that is just for one person! If you wanted to buy enough for four people, that would set you back £128. I have to admit I completely love it though, ah if I were a rich man! (na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na.)

For those of you who are interested, below is my dream kitchen courtesy of Ikea. I'm a little obsessed with white tiling and grey units - this is just perfection. I'd love to incorporate grey paintwork or storage into our new home somewhere and think the kitchen is a great place for it. Check out my Pinterest board for more home inspo!


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Thursday, 6 March 2014

bookworm #24


Philomena by Martin Sixsmith

After hearing so much hype surrounding the film Philomena, I knew I had to get my hands on the book! I didn't want to see the film before reading the book, as it's never the same, so when I was given this at Christmas I dove straight in!

Philomena tells the story of Philomena Lee who, in Ireland in the 1950s, was forced to give up her 'illegitimate' baby for adoption. But that wasn't before spending three years bonding with her son Anthony in a Catholic convent, repenting for her sins and awaiting the day she knew the nuns would sell off her son to an American family. If that isn't harrowing enough (!) the story then continues to guide us through Anthony's (now named Michael Hess) troubled life adapting to a new family he feels don't love him, losing those around him who he loves and struggling coming to terms with his sexuality. All this time, Michael is trying to contact his mother, but with very little luck - in part, down to the nuns who know what they did was wrong and as a result are unwilling to cooperate. 

Philomena is incredibly sad in places, but tells a (true) story about life - all the twists, turns and everything in between. It might be particularly of interest to those who are interested in gay rights, as this focuses a lot on the struggle in America in the 1970s/80s/90s.

Now I've finished the book, I can't wait to watch the film! Its out in the UK on DVD at the end of March.
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Monday, 3 March 2014

coral dreams





Doesn't this image just fill you with excitement for the summer? For me, there's nothing better than lazy evenings in the sunshine; be it sipping a drink in a pub garden or sitting outside for dinner in the last of the evening sun. 

Topshop Playsuit Zara Sandals Topshop Lipstick Zara Handbag

To get me feeling miserable in this crappy weather ready for summer I've been pinning away over on my Pinterest account - gorgeous summer style, food and general lushness. Yes, it really is rubbing in how rubbish this current weather is, but I really live for the summer months and getting the teacher holidays over August is heaven-sent. We probably wont be able to afford a holiday this year so I'm keeping everything crossed for a hot one - after all the wet weather so far this year I think we all deserve it!


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Sunday, 2 March 2014

zen


Sunday seems a good time to talk about an issue I imagine many of us would be fairly familiar with - stress. Whether it be work-related, money-related, relationship-related, or personal stresses (to name just a few), stress seems to creep into so many areas of our lives. With today's fast paced performance-driven society, I know I for one struggle to balance different elements of life and find it hard to keep a healthy work/life balance and maintain a sense of wellbeing. 


Its only been in recent weeks I've realised quite how stressed I am, and also that I don't manage that stress particularly well. Some of the common effects of stress are irritability, anxiety, weight gain (or loss in some cases), lowering of the immune system, a negative out look and the inability to focus. When I had a health consultation at my gym last week, the nutritionist spoke to me about the physical effects of stress on the body - in particular the storing of fat around the waist. For me this is my biggest 'problem' area, and combined with a fairly high-sugar diet I found it really difficult to shift the extra pounds. I've started to radically cut down on the amount of sugar I eat (even looking at things such as what I thought was a fairly healthy breakfast of Bran Flakes - so high in sugar!) it an attempt to tackle this, as well as learning to deal with stress and manage it more effectively. 
So over the past few weeks I've been really thinking about some of the consequences of stress - sadly, many of which I suffer from - and now want to take the positive step of focusing more on what I can do about it. 

First, as I mentioned in my New Year Post I wanted to strike a better work/life balance and spend more time doing things for me. I went through a phase of feeling really dizzy and anxious at work and my Doctor decided it was most likely stress-related. His advice? More exercise - and just going for a 'brisk walk' sadly doesn't count when you're twenty-six and should be in the peak of health (pah!). So a couple of weeks ago I re-joined the gym and am getting right back into it! I love Body Combat classes, started Beginners Cycling (Spinning) last week and have had a training programme drafted for me by one of the fitness instructors. 

Exercise = done. Next up, diet. I don't know about you, but when I feel stressed I feel it completely acceptable to eat like a pig because "I deserve it"... when in reality drinking gallons of coke, huge portions of pasta and endless bars of chocolate ain't doing anyone any good! I usually end up feeling even more down that not only am I stressed out, but I've now also ruined any healthy eating/exercising I'd achieved that week. And I'm not alone; I read somewhere that 1 in 3 women put on weight when stressed. So - less refined sugar, more vegetables, more slow-burning carbs and most importantly more protein. Energy, coming right up! Hopefully more exercise alongside a more balanced diet will both me feel more healthy, but also help to shift a few of those pounds I've gained in the last year. Weight loss shouldn't equal happiness, but lets be honest folks... 

I suppose diet and exercise are my two big challenges, but there are a whole load of other positive steps you can take to help deal with stress. Here are just a few...
  • Try to have a positive attitude. I think you can train yourself to be an optimist - make a conscious decision to think positively, and when you notice yourself showing a negative attitude challenge it. Why do you think like that? Alter it.
  • Accept that you are not Wonder Woman and can't be perfect. I think society today has very much spawned an attitude of 'we must be able to do it all with ease and be perfect'. We're not. Accept it, and start to feel more content.
  • If your workload is stressing you out, then find real, manageable ways to reduce it. Yes, I have lots of marking to do but no, no-one will die if its done a few days later than I'd like. Again, accepting you can't always do things as quickly/efficiently/perfectly as you'd like. Life is too short.
  • Avoid people that get you down. I read a really great article in Psychologies magazine (Feb issue) about ways to increase happiness and healthiness - one of those was about subtly managing those you interact with. We all have that one colleague/friend/relative that just puts a downer on everything. Surround yourself with positive, optimistic people and that will rub off. Spread the joy!
  • Meditate. Get a massage. Do yoga. Listen to music. Find something that works for you and helps you to relax - try and do it once a day/week to really help you feel Zen (!!) and tackle those negative stressful vibes. You may feel silly meditating at first, but if it makes you feel better, isn't it worth a shot?
  • I talked last month about the importance of sleep so wont bore you with that again, but make sure you're sleeping enough... but not too much. Get out of bed at a decent time at the weekend, but be well rested. That way you can tackle the world and do all those fun things you don't get to do mid week, and really make the most of life. 'Cos lets not forgot - its short, make it count.
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