Monday, 28 July 2014

time out


Some of you may know that I'm a teacher (sociology A Level if you're interested) and that means I am currently on my summer holidays. Don't hate me! Having already been abroad on holiday, the rest of my time off will be spent at home in Surrey catching up with friends and family, gardening, doing some home DIY and other bits and pieces that build up throughout the academic year. 

My home projects this summer: redecorating the sitting room (see my plans here) and sorting the back garden to look vaguely presentable. The latter was also my project last summer... says a lot!

One of my concerns in the summer holidays is that I will lose contact with the outside world - yes school holidays are great, but everyone else is working! During term time I keep up to date with friends and family via email, pinging everyday chatter back and forth when I have a spare 5 minutes between lessons. Thankfully I am not tied to my computer over the summer holidays, but this does mean I slip a little with contacting people. Up til now I've put off the lure of the tablet, but I finally think it might be time to succumb to their oh-so-convenient qualities. Despite being an iPhone girl through and through, I just cannot bring myself to fork out £300 minimum for an iPad - I just don't have that kind of money (I'm a teacher, remember?!). There is so much choice today, thankfully most being entirely more affordable, one of which being the Acer Iconia A1. I love the classic white design and silver back, the fact it fits perfectly in one hand, the 7.5 hour battery life and dual speakers. That, to me, ticks all the boxes. Fear not friends, I will be back in contact in record time!


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Sunday, 27 July 2014

winding lanes


Ah, post-holiday blues. Drafting this post is making me long for the heat, quaintness and flavours of this gorgeous little place. A week or so back Rich and I headed to the island of Rhodes and to beautiful Lindos - a fairly traditional small town on the east of the island. We stayed in an apartment in Lindos Gardens, up the hill meaning we got great views of the town, acropolis and sea from our balcony. Bea-utiful! We spent most of our days soaking up the rays round the infinity pool, and the evenings took us to the winding lanes and rooftop restaurants of the town. Lindos really is Greece in a nutshell! I wont go on, but I would recommend it to anyone - we'd love to go back and visit again in the future. 

I wanted to share some of our pictures with you, and have split the posts into the three things I think are the most important - scenes, food and clothes. Simples. First up, scenes. The thing I loved most about Lindos was the maze of lanes in the town - these were filled with gorgeous restaurants, little shops, creperies, and beautiful buildings. A dream. 

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

shades of grey


Ah, rented accommodation. Its so hard to make it your own, hey? Last summer we were given permission to paint the chimney breast in our sitting room, transforming it from a questionable deep sparkly purple (yeh, vom) to a shade of olive green. Now a year ago I loved it. I mean, anything was better than that purple mess! More recently however I'm starting to crave change, and have been looking to Pinterest for inspiration.

Now my sights are firmly set on change, I'm lusting over a muted grey look. As I said, it would only be our chimney breast we'd be painting to inject just a flash of colour, so wouldn't be too dominating and more importantly would be ok with our landlord. On that theme, I'll be looking to things such as cushions, throws, picture frames and the like to accessorise and bring it all together. 

White Sofa Ikea Woven Throw H&M Home Velvet Cushion H&M Home Picture Frame Ikea 
Striped Cushion H&M Home Plaited Baskets Zara Home Candle H&M Home Glass Jars Zara Home


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Thursday, 17 July 2014

kimo-yes


Geddit? Har har har.

This comes while I am in Lindos, Greece! I'm now on my summer holidays and boy does it feel good. 
I'll keep this short and sweet - introducing a couple of my current favourites. First up, this gorgeous Kimono - perfect for holiday as well as throwing over something like this in the UK. And secondly, my Urban Outfitters heels - I've worn these almost every working day for two weeks and they are just so comfy. Worth every penny. 

Kimono New Look
Cami Asos
Jeans Topshop (old, ripped myself)

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

bookworm #27


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

After being recommended this read by a couple of friends, and seeing the hype surrounding the recently released film I thought it was about time I got stuck in! The Book Thief is a novel about a girl called Liesel who, after seeing her brother die and taking a book left by the men digging his grave, becomes fascinated with books and learning to read. She is put into foster care with Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who help her in her literary quest. The novel tells the story of Liesel, her foster parents Rosa and Hans, their Jewish acquaintance (and soon friend) Max, and Liesel's friend Rudy - among many others, and how they cope with living in Nazi Germany. 

The thing that makes this book different from others of its type, is that it is narrated by Death. It took me a few chapters to get my head around the perspective, and I don't think these initial chapters do a great job at enticing you into the story! But, do persevere. 

I enjoyed The Book Thief, but felt like I never really got fully submerged in the story. I know others who completely loved it and really got into the plot and characters, and although to an extent I did, there was something just slightly missing for me. Maybe if I had read it on holiday or in a shorter time-frame (rather than every other night when I was able to keep my eyes open past 930pm!) I might have enjoyed it more. Nonetheless, it is definitely worth a read - I liked the characters, different perspective and reading about WW2 from an alternative angle. 
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Sunday, 13 July 2014

full-bodied flavour


I want to like coffee. I'm one of those losers who orders a skinny hot chocolate or peppermint tea at Costa and instantly feels less mature than my twenty-six years! Sigh. Saying that, I do like coffee cake. Naturally. In my quest to make fewer chocolate cakes (so far I've managed carrot, lemon and blueberry and lemon and poppy seed among other less blog-worthy bakes) I plumped for a coffee and walnut cake when asked to make something for father's day. You can find the recipe I used here

The great thing about using liquid coffee in the mixture is that it makes the cake super moist. I used regular instant coffee and although the cake definitely had a coffee flavour, it wasn't as full-bodied as it would have been using espresso coffee as the recipe suggested. As usual, the recipe quantities of icing made way more than I needed, but I popped the excess in a tupperware and froze it - I often do the same with cream cheese frosting which once thawed, works just as well second time round. 

I told my nephew the walnuts on top were teeny tiny brains. Fortunately he's too young to understand!

You can find the recipe I used here.

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

hat trick


Now that the teaching year is finally winding down (we've had the Year 11 kids come up for a taster day, now just Open Evenings to tackle this coming week) I've been able to spend some time relaxing and taking stock. That has meant time spent reading in the garden, a spot of retail therapy, cooking something more than spag bol and catching up with friends on fun day trips. Bliss!

I'm still reading The Book Thief (it's been too long - I've sort of fallen in and out of interest with it) and have amassed a rather hefty pile of charity shop books to read over the summer. I don't know which to start first! And despite my current elderflower cordial obsession, I've found myself turning to these rather gorgeous Jing Teas* for something comforting to curl up with. How beautiful is that glass mug?! I've tried the Jing Chai and Vanilla Black teas so far, and really love the flavour. So much more interesting than my normal peppermint, green or English breakfast choices!

So my question for you is - what books should I be taking on holiday with me next week? 

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

kitchen shortcuts #2


Introducing part two of my kitchen shortcut mini series! Last time I shared with you the joys of freezing herbs - I've used all the coriander I froze last month, it's such a lifesaver! Did any of you have a go at freezing herbs?

This time I thought I'd share another time and money saving tip - sourcing good quality jarred foods. Yeh, pop to Sainsburys and you can buy most things in jarred form, but these are my recipe shortcuts that taste great, and save you the hassle of having to make a special trip to the shops. 

First up - preserved sliced lemons. These are great for laying on a roast chicken, cooking with fish or even popping in your drinks. I often have a slice in a glass of warm water in the morning to kick start my stomach, or in a drink in the evening. You can even add the lemon juice in the jar to cooking or drinks for an extra burst of flavour! My favourite quick meal at the moment is pan frying trout fillets with spring onions, chorizo and lemon. Much easier than keeping fresh lemons in your fruit bowl at all times!

Secondly, I find myself reaching for a jar of roasted peppers pretty frequently - add to a beef chilli, goulash (recipe here!) or spag bol for a sweet peppery lift. They also taste great in salads, in an omelette or frittata, or on pizzas. Basically, anything you fancy! They feel almost octopus like in texture, but simply chop up and use as much or as little as you like of each pepper. Fresh peppers are so expensive, these make a great, longer-lasting and arguably tastier alternative.

Both of these I will always have in my fridge, but I've also bought chillis, artichokes (great in salads!), olive tapanade and roasted aubergines. Some of these are great to use in salads, as nibbles, and in a whole load of recipes. Although many say 'eat within a week of opening' I rarely stick to this and they keep just fine. Just keep an eye on them!

Do you have any similar kitchen shortcuts?

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