Sunday, 31 August 2014

bookworm #28


The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

I put this aside as one of my holiday reads after hearing good things on the interwebz, in particular from Kat. So once sitting comfortably on the plane I got started... and four hours later I had read the whole book! This never happens, for a couple reasons. First, I have a ridiculously short attention span and can't manage more than an hour reading before losing interest. Second, I usually read at night and as a result I think my brain associates reading with sleep... I usually nod off fairly promptly! The fact I read this so quickly is testament to the power of the story - it really sucked me in; empathising with the main character and his life. 

In terms of a quick synopsis (remember, no spoilers here!) The Shock of the Fall is a story about a boy called Matthew who starts the book by telling the reader of his brother's death. We then follow Matthew through his life and his struggles with his mental health, notably life with schizophrenia. That in itself may paint a rather bleak picture, but it is told with honesty and humour. Filer manages to make you feel for Matthew, feel his troubles and emotions, but in the same paragraph make you laugh out loud.  

I really enjoyed this read, and was impressed by Filer's ability to hook the reader in, create great characters you can entirely sympathise with, and do so with compassion and humour. A really interesting insight into mental illness.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

chic shadow


One of my projects this summer was to redecorate our sitting room. Living in rented accommodation we're not able to change things drastically, but painting the chimney breast is something we are able to do. After pinning a load of images for inspiration I settled on a grey theme, and hopped down to Homebase to buy some paint samples. After choosing what I thought was the ideal shade (Warm Pewter by Dulux) I set about painting, soon to realise it was a little too blue for my liking. You can see it in the collage below - the top right image. Back to Homebase I went, and settled on a lighter shade - Chic Shadow, again by Dulux. Luckily this time round it was perfect, and I am so happy with the result! 

You may notice our pretty hideous skirting boards. The job is not finished, but we are just waiting to get the OK from our landlord to re-paint them a nice glossy white. You may think we're mad for spending time decorating a home that isn't technically ours, but I'm of the view that we've gotta live here for at least another year (we've been in a year already) so we might as well make it pretty. Agreed?


I'll link some of the bits we've bought for our sitting room below - lots of new bits but also some things we've had for a while. We picked up the white armchair from a local charity shop for £60 which we're super pleased with - don't be afraid to buy second hand! Just give it a good look over before you buy... and the all important sniff test. I also found this side table at a reclaimed furniture store for twenty-something quid, in the perfect grey shade. It's as if they knew I was coming!

White lantern IKEA // Glass jar Home Sense (similar here) // Glass tealight holder IKEA // Hinoki wood candle Muji // Striped cushion H&M // Velvet cushion H&M // Faux fur throw Asda // Artificial flowers Wilko // 
Glass vase Vintage at The Ark (similar here) // White floor lamp Wilko // Silver wall mirror Argos

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

crushed velvet


I wanted to share this recipe with you for the perfect dessert - easy to make, minimal ingredients, tastes delicious, and pretty to look at. I serve these in little vintage tea cups and saucers for the cute factor, which I picked up from a local charity shop. I was made these by a friend earlier in the year who inspired me, although I think the recipe was originally from Jamie Oliver's Great Britain book. The brandy is completely optional, I've made it both with and without and it works both ways. You could also substitute the brandy for rum, or another alcohol. 

You will need (for 6-8 servings)
150g good quality milk chocolate
100g good quality dark chocolate
500ml double cream
50g caster sugar
25ml brandy (optional)

The method is really simple - start my breaking up the chocolate and melting it in a bain-marie. Once melted, leave it to one side to cool for 15 minutes. In another bowl whisk the double cream and sugar with an electric whisk until it starts to form very soft peaks. You don't want to over whisk it! Then, gradually pour the melted chocolate into the cream and fold together gently. Again, don't over stir! Pour the mixture into your cups/bowls/glasses and leave to set for a couple of hours in the fridge. 

I like to serve with chocolate dipped strawberries, or a sprinkling of raspberries. Don't be fooled by these little beauties, although they may seem like small portions a little really does go a long way. Perfect for this bank holiday weekend to have with friends... or alone. You know you want to!

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

thinking out loud


In an effort to try new things and move slowly out of my comfort zone, I've been attempting to buy items I wouldn't normally go for. I've already shown you my take on the midi skirt, which has prompted a new love for skirts. I'm not one to shy from getting my pins out, but for one reason or another have always shied away from wearing skirts. Weird, I know. Anyway, I totally have fallen for this asymmetric look and have bought another denim asymmetric skirt and a white asymmetric dress. Obsessed much?!

Skirt ASOS
Sandals Office

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Monday, 18 August 2014

yes please


In a matter of weeks I turn 27. Yeh, blimey. I always struggle putting together a list of ideas for birthday/Christmas gifts, but the boyfriend's family operate on a very strict list system and mine need a bit of a push in the right direction, so here goes. 


New books always top my birthday list, and these are just a couple I'm dying to read. I also love Jamie's cookery books and Comfort Food is right up my street. Mac and cheese, come to me. 

Clothes-wise, going back to work next week (lets not talk about it) calls for more tees to throw on with black skinnies and heels, these are perfect. A size 10 if you're wondering, Mum! 

And finally, my homeware obsession continues! I have completely fallen for this lamp, how gorgeous? And this little glass pineapple box would finish off my newly decorated sitting room with the grey theme perfectly. 

What do you think? Any of these items you have your eye on?
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Friday, 15 August 2014

prawn tagliatelle


I rustled this little dish up earlier in the week and completely fell in love. It takes about 15 minutes, uses just a few simple ingredients and tastes delicious. What more could you want?

You will need (to serve two people)
Cooked king prawns 
Cherry/baby plum tomatoes
Basil
Onion
Red chilli
Olive oil
White wine
Tagliatelle or linguine pasta

You may notice the lack of measurements here, I sort of guesstimated with quantities! I'll give you an idea of how much I used, but obviously feel free to adapt to your tastes and portion size. 

Start off by frying a handful of chopped onion in a pan, with a few crushed garlic cloves and a diced (deseeded) chilli and a glug of olive oil for a few minutes. Throw in a glass of white wine and allow to reduce slightly. Then slice your tomatoes in half - I used a pack like this - and add to the pan. Pop a lid on and leave to thicken for about 5/10 minutes. Stir in the prawns (again, as many as you want, I used a 175g pack) and a handful of chopped basil, they wont need long to just warm through - a few minutes tops. 

Serve with tagliatelle or linguine (we love this one!), a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of basil. Enjoy - I promise you will! The best thing? Only one pan to wash up!

NOTE: Lidl and Aldi are great places for picking up frozen king prawns at a great price. Stock up and you can throw this together after a busy day in record time. You can also freeze fresh pasta and I freeze chillis whole to use another time. 

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

using the right tools


Since having my hair cut at the end of last year - going from locks that fell to my waist to a shoulder length 'do - I've become much more conscious of how I treat my barnet. From more regular trims to better shampoos and styling products, my hair is starting to feel much more healthy. Part of that is down to this baby - since using the Vidal Sassoon Infra Radiance Hair Dryer* my hair has felt smoother and looked a lot more shiny and healthy. Part of that is down to me using a slightly cooler drying temperature - when my hair was long it took so long to dry I would just blast it with the hottest setting to save time. My hair was left in pretty bad condition, and now I ensure I use a cooler setting so as to prevent damage as much as I can. 

This dryer in particular however also uses infrared technology which distributes heat evenly, again ensuring my hair stays healthy and retains moisture. I love using the diffuser attachment to help create volume that lasts, and the cool shot helps to set volume at the roots. Finishing off by blasting the ends with the concentrated smoothing nozzle, I'm left with a volumised but sleek 'do. Perfect! In all honesty though, one of the best features is the super long cord - its the little things, right?!

You can find out more about Vidal Sassoon products here, or grab healthier hair for yourself here

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

checkmate


This post is slightly different for a couple of reasons - first, I usually post more casual looks. I am most definitely a creature of comfort and slouchy jeans, leather flats and loose-fitting tops call out to me more so than smarter, more dynamic styles. Saying that, I relish the opportunity to wear a pair of heels for an occasion that isn't work, and here is just that. The other thing that I guess is slightly different about this post though, is that I am firmly out of my comfort zone. 

Things that scare me about this outfit;
Crop top - midriff on show
Skirt / top - I have no waist
Mid length skirt - frumpy?

Of course, these are things I shouldn't be fussing about - I'm barely showing an inch of stomach, and mid length skirts are totally in now. I gave myself a personal challenge to wear something I wouldn't normally go for and this really combines a whole load of things I wouldn't normally choose! The good news is that I love it, and it has totally given me the kick I needed to get out of my comfort zone and stop being a snooze. I mean, how many times have I done the skinny jeans and heels combo?!

Skirt ASOS
Crop top ASOS
Sandals Zara 

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

the mill


Introducing you to one of our favourite (if not the favourite) local pubs. Yeh, a grand statement! 

Rich and I moved to Farnham, Surrey just over two years ago (wow, where did that time go) - for those who don't know, Farnham is about a 15 minute drive west of Guildford and about an hour from London. We are lucky to live in such a gorgeous town that has so many beautiful pubs and restaurants - we really are spoilt for choice! A few months back I shared with you another of our favourites, The Wheatsheaf pub in the centre of Farnham. I'm now taking you on a little journey (about 10 minutes in the car, to be precise) to The Mill, Elstead. A seventeenth-century ex-corn mill, located halfway between Farnham and Godalming, still has a working water mill and is set on the River Wey - you can buy bread to feed the ducks who might join you if you sit outside! 

If its sunny outside, our first choice are the picturesque waterside picnic benches of The Mill where on particularly hot days they run a BBQ outside alongside restaurant service. Inside is just as gorgeous with a rustic, eclectic feel - think welcoming and homely but classy and upmarket at the same time. They really have mastered the interiors! The menu is just as good, offering both pub-classics and more sophisticated restaurant dishes using well-sourced local ingredients. 

On this occasion we went for more standard pub-grub after a day of painting (me) and working (Rich). Ham, egg and chips is my ultimate pub classic, and they do it so well. Think buttery soft ham and the perfectly runny egg. Rich had fish and chips - the minted pea puree was beautiful! Before this we shared some salt and pepper squid - ohsotasty - and for pudding shared strawberry Eton mess - dreamy. We left two very happy and well fed folk!

These images were taken on my iPhone, apologies for the quality!

Top  Topshop  //  Jeans  Topshop  //  Sandals  Office  //  Necklace  H&M

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Friday, 8 August 2014

prancing around


So this week of my holidays has been spent mostly sorting out our house and re-decorating our sitting room - my arms aching now! Luckily it's not all been sorting and painting though, as Wednesday was spent with Kat scouring reclaimed furniture stores, eating cake and snapping some pretty gorgeous outfits. Win! With me behind the wheel and Kat showing off some her best Kylie singalong vocals, we scooted up to Stockbridge for some lunch. As a child I was utterly obsessed with Kylie - my brother still likes to remind me of the times I would prance around the house singing 'do the hocomotion with meeee' at top volume. And after a recent clear out I found my much coveted 'behind the scenes' VHS of Kylie's Japanese tour - yeh, I really was a big fan! She is definitely my guilty pleasure and would love to see her at the O2, maybe with me pronouncing the words properly now!

Oops, back to what I was saying - living in Hampshire (or Surrey in my case) we are so lucky to have some gorgeous towns on our door step, and we took full advantage of our time off to explore. Discovering pretty streams and bridges to prance around on, tea rooms to inhabit and shops to browse we had a jolly old time. 

For those interested, I'm wearing a dress I bought in the Urban Outfitters sale last year, and Kat is wearing a trusty ASOS tee. We both have the tee in multiple colours, it's such a good basic!

*this post includes a sponsored link
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