The Home Front: The 2017 House Plan

It’s been months and months since we had a little house update for you, I think the last one was a little update on my bedroom’s accessory storage system, way back in May. Eek. With that in mind, and what with it being a new year and all, I thought a little check on where we are with the house and what we’re planning for it in 2017 was in order.

This and That Blog: The Home Front: The 2017 House Plan

To say we’ve got grand plans for the house in 2017 would be an understatement! There’s still loads we want to do and ideally we’ll have most of it done for August in time for our two-year house-iversary. {Side note: how did that happen?!}

So first up, what we’ve done.
Completed the downstairs toilet
The Spare Room
Made plans for Fi’s Room
Finished the bathroom – there will be a post on that one soon, I promise!
Fitted the loft hatch and ladder
Bought furniture for the back reception room and dining area

And now, onto what we want to do this year, gulp!
Put up pictures in Fi’s room – and then they’ll be a blog update on her room
Put up pictures in the bathroom
Sort shelves for Lau’s room and hang some pictures
Board the loft floor so we can have all the storage in there
Living Room:
– Sort out the fireplace of doom
– Hang up pictures
– Finish painting the living room
Get a new kitchen
New floor for the back reception room
Paint the kitchen, dining area and back reception room
Get built in shelves for the back reception room
Sort out the garden – clear the mess and plant some evergreen bushes
Clear out the garage, paint the floor and walls, sort some shelving and create a games room

So yes, that list is a little overwhelming…

But we’ve broken it down into smaller jobs and have started to earmark certain weekends for some of the bigger projects. So I think we’ll definitely get there over the coming months. As a way to force us into action (and more importantly stop dithering when making decisions) I’m thinking of starting a little monthly update on the blog for you all. Just so we can be held slightly accountable and so we can share where we are with the bigger projects and what we’ve completed of the smaller ones. What do you think, would that be interesting to anyone but me? I have to admit I’m the most nosey person ever so this type of post is like catnip for me!

Anyway, check back at the end of the month to read the first update, eek that only gives me 14 days to actually do some of those projects…

-Fi x

Wishlists: Shopping the January Sales

Good morning and welcome to a quick wishlist based on the January sales. I’ve been having a look around over the last couple of weeks and these are the things that have been catching my eye. I’ve actually already bought the skirt and mug from Cath Kidston because who doesn’t need a cowboy mug or a skirt covered in pencils? No one, that’s who. Other than that I’ve picked up a few grown up things that I needed, so a suitcase and a lamp for my house. But this list if full of things that I want rather than what I need.

 

 

What has everyone else been buying in the sales? Or do you have a New Year’s Resolution to spend less and ignore the shops?

*update* I actually have ordered two dresses (this one and this one) and the coat since I first started compiling this list. But I may not keep them. And it’s still not that bad. Is it??!

Laura xx

 

Out and About: Travel Plans 2017

This and That Blog: Out and About: 2017 Travel Plans

It definitely isn’t an exaggeration to say that 2016 was a pretty epic year for holidays. I experienced the joy of New York at Christmas, the magic of Disneyland Paris and the complete utter relaxation of Portugal, plus there were a few birthday days in Bruges, Brussels and Ghent. And then there were the long weekends; in the Kent countryside, Leicester, Leeds, Whitstable and beautiful Chichester. Not to mention an unbelievably picturesque trip to Scotland – possibly my favourite destination of the last year. So yes, I was thoroughly spoilt in 2016, which is why I want to make sure that 2017 holds just as many wonderful weekends and exciting adventures to a whole host of varied spots.

First up let’s chat about the trips that are in the pipeline already. Well I’ve just got back from Manchester, trip one of the year. Then in a couple of weeks I’m off to Leeds again – so that’s two long weekends in the UK already in the offing. As for other UK holidays, I’m planning another Kentish weekend for later in the year, although where is still TBC. Do you have any top tips for where to go in Kent? I’ve visited Deal and Whitstable, oh and Canterbury, but I think that’s it so send me your thoughts.

I’ve also decided that another UK holiday I’m taking this year is to Cornwall, it has to happen. I went when I was about twelve but haven’t been back since and it’s calling my name. Those beautiful rolling hills, the stunning beaches, the delicious food – all of this needs to happen this year. I just don’t know when…

One holiday that is definitely happening is Salzburg, we booked our flights this week and I’m so excited!  We’re headed there in May for four days, after talking about adventuring there for about five years. There’s nothing like planning for a hell of a long time, is there! Has anyone been there? What do I need to visit? Hit me up with all the ideas! As for other European destinations, I’m planning on a Portugal trip (or maybe two) this year, but I also want to go somewhere entirely new. Maybe Madrid or Budapest or Prague, or Greece for some sunshine. Basically I can’t decide – help me!

So there we have it, just a few of the trips I’m planning over the next twelve months. So far that’s only six definite places and another maybe place, I definitely need to up my decision-making and planning game – that’s rubbish! Where are you headed this year, please send me suggestions of where I absolutely must visit. I need ideas!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #55

Happy Friday everyone. I hope we are all having a fabulous day?

Does anyone in the UK still have snow on the ground? I’m pretty sure that no one is surprised about the fact that the snow lasted all of 5 minutes last night (in London anyway) and of course it came during my commute home, so I practically ice skated my way along the pavements from Streatham Common station – what a joy! Alongside the threat of snow it has also been my first full week back at work which I always find weird, it’s part hectic, part slow and also just really really hard to get back into the swing of things, but as always there have been a few things that have helped me through.

On Saturday night I made a last minute trip down to Esher to eat pizza and then watch Rogue One at the Everyman cinema. I went for a run first thing on Saturday so I felt that I was perfectly entitled to stuff my face with a calzone from Zizzi’s. I’ve never actually had one from there before and oh my god it was so good and I am already trying to figure out when I can eat it again! Also I have now seen Rogue One twice and I think I liked it even more the second time. It’s quite possible going to become my favourite Star Wars film. Have you seen it? What do you think? 

On Wednesday night I headed for drinks and dinner at Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Garden. We were (belatedly) celebrating my Dad’s birthday and what a celebration it was. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with my immediate family and Wednesday night was no exception. Plus the location was astounding. The food at Darwin Brasserie was delicious, with each course being even better than the one before and the views of London at night were stunning. I definitely recommend that you visit both if you can. The Sky Garden is actually free to visit, you just need to book your time slot and then enjoy stunning panoramic views of London from the 35th floor. I’m hoping to get myself organised soon and book in for a daytime session to enjoy the views. 

 

 

When I’ve not been gallivanting around London and Surrey I have been making the most of being at home. I think one of the great things about winter is that you don’t need to feel guilty when you have a lazy day in front of the TV, because when the weather is horrible why would you bother to go outside if you don’t have to? Anyway, I’ve used this time to watch some good TV. Aside from the latest Sherlock episode (OMG!) I’ve also been enjoying The Halcyon (on ITV) and Shooter (on Netflix). My younger sister suggested Shooter to me and I was hooked from the first episode. I think Fi and I watched 5 episodes on Sunday. Also Halcyon may just be my Downton Abbey replacement; the historic time period, interesting characters and opulent setting are all I need.  

On Tuesday I worked from home which allowed me to prep a slow cooker recipe – FYI I’m not someone who can do this first thing in the morning and leave it cooking while I’m at work. I worry too much for that. But a day WFH meant that I could set my butter chicken curry going in the slow cooker and sit back and work while it cooked. Not only did it make my house smell delicious but it tasted so good.

 

 

And finally this morning I started a new book, The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson which is book number 3 on the 2017 reading list. Thanks to Southern Rail and their need to strike I was able to read a good number of pages on my bus this morning and I’m already hooked before the actual main event has happened.

Yesterday I started to get ill, so my current weekend plans are to recover from this sore throat and cold monstrosity by hibernating for the whole weekend. I’ve got a fridge full of food, mountains of coffee, a good book (as mentioned above) and a list of TV programmes to binge watch my way through. Now all I need to do is get through a day’s work and then I’m all set. I hope you all have some equally exciting weekend plans, without the illness part of course.

Enjoy! Laura xx.

Life Rambles: Hopes for 2017

 

I don’t make New Year resolutions, I never really have and don’t ever plan to. It seems to me that you are setting yourself up to fail. However instead of resolutions I like to come up with a list of things that I’d like to achieve during the year. So today I’m sharing these things here, not for accountability or anything like that, but because I wanted to write these things down, and after all isn’t that why I started blogging in the first place? So that I could write about my life and important (to me) things. So here are my 2017 plans.

Attend a Park Run. I’ve been talking about joining Park Run for way too long and yet I still haven’t made my way to one, so this year I will do that. 5k is my normal running distance, so all I need to do it actually get to the park for the 9am start.

Allow myself time to do nothing. Part way through 2016 I started to make sure I had at least one weekend each month where I had no plans. This meant a time to recuperate, to have a lie in or go for a run, do some baking or just catch up on a particular TV series. Knowing that I had a completely blank day or weekend ahead of me was so refreshing, and it meant that I could give my all for all other instances, knowing that I had a break insight. While initially it was hard to say no to people, I got better at it in the end and it was for a worthwhile reason – looking after myself. Which should always be a priority. So in 2017 I want to ensure that I leave myself spare a free weekend each month, for all twelve months.

Explore my city. Both Central London and more locally. I want to try more of my local restaurants, starting with the new pizza place on Streatham Vale road, and then heading up towards Streatham Hill where there’s a deli that’s caught my eye. Also there’s a new book shop that’s just opened near me and I’m pretty sure that I could get lost in the rows of books and spend hours there.

Read 50 books. So another year, another GoodReads reading challenge. Like last year I’d be happy if I could read 50 books in 2017. And while the quality of what I’m reading should be the priority rather than quantity I do think that I should be able to manage to read one book a week. After all I have two 20 minute train rides (or two 90 minute journeys on the tube & bus if the train strikes continue) in which to enjoy uninterrupted reading time.

Move along with the house. We’ve still got a lot of work to do on our house. Ideally I’d like to finish painting the living room, figure out the kitchen and back room space, organise the garage area and make the loft habitable for all of my boxes of winter clothes and suitcases. But honestly I am the Queen of Procrastination and also Fi and I are particularly useless at making a decision together, especially a house related one. So we’ll see what happens here. Plus, you know life is for living, so I’m not going to beat myself up if we don’t do any of these things this year {and if I write this here, then I might believe it later on}!

Wake up earlier. This year I’m keen to wake up earlier more often.On a weekday I like the idea of waking up at 6am and either going for a run or just being productive. This is an extra 45 minutes or one hour earlier than my usual wake up time which will give me time to do more. I’ve realised that the morning is my best time of day, so why am I not making the most of it? I did this a few times in December as I was so busy and I wasn’t sleeping well and I actually found that an early start made for a productive Laura throughout the day.

Plan more time with my favourite people. I do this a lot already, but I don’t think there’s any harm in reminding myself that I want this to continue in 2017.

What are you hoping to achieve in the year ahead? Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #54

Greetings friends, and how are you this chilly Friday? I’m full of cold and have the world’s worst sore throat, so yeah for 2017. But on the plus side it’s almost the weekend and they’re have been some delightful things happening during the first few days of 2017. Now I’m not a big one for resolutions in a new year, as I fear I’m setting myself up for failure, but I do think that’s nothing wrong with rethinking habits. So this year I’m focusing more on balance – in work, food, exercise, family and friend time. I want to ensure I do more of the things I love, spend more time with those I love and treat myself while also fitting in all the things I have to do and need to do to ensure I’m happy and healthy. So fingers crossed that works this year.

This and That Blog: Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #54

The pupster, just chilling, on New Years Eve

This week we’ve cooked delicious food all but one evening and it’s been wonderful. We’ve had yummy food (from our current fave of chicken pilaf , to baked potatoes pilled high with baked beans and cheese to turkey meatballs with courghetti) and we’ve set the world to rights while chopping and stirring and boiling. It’s been perfect. Next up is a Butter Chicken Curry this weekend and sweet potato fries – not together obvs!

Another thing making me super happy today is my new Bullet Journal System. Granted it’s only been in use for six days but it’s definitely keeping more organised so far and I take a ridiculous amount of pleasure in updating it each day. There’s definitely something rewarding and relaxing about colouring in those little habit tracker boxes and filling the pages each day. It’s the small things! I know I talked a lot about what I was planning to do with my 2017 bullet journal at the end of last year and I promise to update you on my new planner, maybe a month in so I know which of the pages are really working.

This and That Blog: Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #54

Did anyone else find going back to work on Tuesday super hard? I most definitely did and I think it’s because I genuinely had a very relaxed and wonderful weekend, I think once you’re super relaxed it makes going back to reality even harder. So that’s what’s third on my favourites list; a relaxing and lovely weekend. We cooked, as previously mentioned, baked, organised, shopped, read, watched good TV, went for unnecessary coffees, made plans for the year and just generally did what we fancied. Oh what a joy that is. Oh and I watched lots of new Netflix stuff – Gilmore Girls, Shooter and Designated Survivor – all of which are bloody brilliant. You must watch them all!

Another relaxing part of the weekend: New Year’s Eve. Yes that’s right my new year was really calm – it was perfect, perhaps my ideal evening. We got Chinese, watched Harry Potter, had puppy cuddles and sat in our pjs. Yes, that’s right I’m 31 going on 85 and I could not be happier.

But before we settled down to an evening of pjs and Chinese we headed to Wisley RHS Gardens to go to Christmas Glow, a temporary light show that winds its way through the gardens. The lights are all flower shaped and were beautiful and it was the perfect way to explore the gardens, no matter how many times you’ve been before. If it’s back next year you most definitely need to visit.

This and That Blog: Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #54

One final awesome thing to note is the glorious film that is A Monster Calls, I watched it last night and it’s wonderful. It’s a brilliant adaptation of an excellent book and you can’t watch it without having your emotions wreaked by the beautiful acting, lovely story and stunning animations. You must watch it.

So that’s it, the first of our favourites post for the year, go me. I’ve achieved something else this week! What made your first week of 2017 glorious?

-Fi x

The Book Corner: 2016 Recent Reads, Part 5

 

Now that we’ve reached the end of 2016 it’s time for me to do my last Recent Reads post of the year. This post marks number 5 in this series. You can check out my previous reading updates here, herehere and here. Or hop on over to GoodReads and follow along over there. So without further ado here’s what books I’ve read in the last three months.

41. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

42. Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice by Natasha Farrant

43. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

44. Six of Crows by Leigh Burdago

45. Mystery & Mayhem

46. The Case of the Deepdene Vampire by Robin Stevens

47. Night Wanderers by C. J. Flood

48. Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens

49. Ink by Alice Broadway

50. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

51. The Guilty by David Baldacci

52. The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

53. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling – full confession, I can’t remember when I read this one. It wasn’t recently but I know that I read it this year, but somehow GoodReads hasn’t kept it in order. Damn it!

So that’s 53 books read in 2016. Hooray for that!

I’m hoping to read the same number of books next year too. I think it’s definitely feasible, especially if the train strikes continue and I have all the time on buses to kill, every cloud hey! I already have my first 3 books of the year lined up, they were Christmas gifts so it only seems right to read them sooner rather than later, especially as there are two Christmas themed ones in the pile. First up I’m planning to read The Girl Who Saved Christmas, then it’s time for Another Little Christmas Murder before either Crooked Kingdom or The Goldfish Boy. What are your reading plans for 2017?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: 2016 Recap

Today’s post is going to follow Lau’s 2016 favourites post as I’m doing my own mini-recap of the last twelve months, inspired by my Instagram top nine – don’t you just love that Instagram feature? My very colourful #2016bestnine is below and shows some of my favourite parts of the last twelve months: Sketch, London’s Christmas lights, brunch at Dishoom, lots of New York moments, glorious Autumn and Disneyland Paris.

This and That Blog - Life Rambles: 2016 Recap

Whilst the above photo collection is awesome, it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of my favourites for the year. So below I’ve added a larger recap, containing all sorts of the best things from 2016 – from life stuff to music, to films to house stuff.

Music

The Hamilton Soundtrack – I’m obsessed | Lady Gaga’s Million Reasons | Aretha Franklin

Films

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them | Moana | Room | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2

Books

I’ve discussed this a lot over here already in my 2016 Favourites and Challenges post but I definitely need to give another mention to Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series. It’s amazing

Life

The wonder of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage | My new job | Amazing weekends with the besties | Disneyland Paris | Getting to know the Luna Bean – the best pup ever | Afternoon tea with the sisterlings | New York at Christmas | Painting at the Ceramics Cafe | Exploring the V&A | My Bullet Journal | A Family holiday in Scotland | Discovering Dishoom

House

My Oliver Bonas wire mesh bedside table and storage unit| Our coral and navy bathroom | My new M&S Bowls | Constanly having fresh flowers in the house | Our new dining table | Making the decision to get a new kitchen *hooray*

Clothes

Saltwater Sandals | M&S Jeans | Essie Gel Couture Nails | Old Navy dresses | Stripey Jumpers | Red Nails

 So there we go, my top things from 2016. See, it really wasn’t that bad a year after all, was it! So tell me, what’s been one of your favourite things from the last twelve months, big or small?

-Fi x

The Book Corner: 2016 Favourites and Challenges

My 2016 reading has been exceptional, so good in fact that I raced through my Goodreads challenge a few months early (October) and ended up reading 68 books in total. Yeah for me! Rather than recapping on all the books I read this year I thought I’d share my favourite books of the year, before checking in on how my other 2016 reading challenge went. So first up, my favourite books of 2016!

This and That Blog: The Book Corner - 2016 Favourites and Challenge

Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series – This series is phenomenal, it’s got the most brilliant heroine that is complicated, flawed, strong and full of heart and it races along at a mile a minute. I thought the first two books were good and then books three and four went off on a completely different tangent and it’s incredible. definitely a must read series for all.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kalling – I’m not a big non-fiction reader but this book has converted me. It’s so good! I found myself snort-laughing throughout it and falling a little bit in love with Mindy Kalling. It’s great!

One by Sarah Crossan – This book is heartbreaking and wonderful all at once and it’s possibly my favourite book of the year. It’s written in verse and I raced through it in less than a day.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – I’ve been told to read Patrick Ness’s books for years and never got round to it, but this year I finally read this so that I could read it before watching the upcoming film. Spoiler: it’s so good. It’s uplifting and sad and beautifully written and wonderful. Read. It.

Vendetta, Inferno and Mafiosa by Cat Doyle – This series is amazing – it sucks you in and spits you out so you feel like you’ve gone through the ringer. It’s a total guilty pelasure with characters you can’t help but root for.

Room by Emma Donoghue – I’m late to the party on this one I know and again I finally got round to reading it because the film was imminent. Having assumed it would be depressing I was surprised by how uplifting and life-affirming this book was and I’m in love with Jack.

The Muse by Jessie Burton – I raced through this book on holiday and adored everything about it. The characters, the historical aspects, how literary it was but how easy it was to read and the way the two stories wove together into one coherent story.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This book is amazing and I’m clamouring for the second book in the duology – Lau have you read it yet? It’s got an amazing cast of characters who have lots of hidden agendas and secrets that you begin to uncover as they take part in a heist. Despite it’s epic length I raced through it in no time at all – a sure sign of an amazing book if you ask me!

This and That Blog: The Book Corner - 2016 Favourites and Challenges

And now it’s time to look at how my 2016 book challenge went. Well um, not great. In fact I’ve not managed to complete it. Of the 12 types of books that I wanted to read this year I’ve managed to complete just eight of them. So only two types of book has been ticked off since I discussed the challenge originally. The two that I’ve managed to tick off are the ‘book chosen for your sibling’, which Lau helpfully recommended anything by Patrick Ness and so had me reading both A Monster Calls and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Spoiler both books were brilliant and I now need to read everything he’s ever written. And the ‘book you’ve already read at least once’, yeah for the Harry Potter reread. But still to be read are the following types of books – oopsy. I think I’ll carry those over to 2017 and try and read different types of books in 2017 and not just my usual YA or crime novels!

a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller

a book you should have read in school

a book that was banned at some point

a book that intimidates you

So there we go, my final bookish post of 2016, if you’re interested in perusing my 2016 book shelf then head to my Goodreads Challenge page. Have you read any of the same books or do you have any I should read in 2017?

-Fi x