The Book Corner: Only Ever Yours

Captivating. Horrifying. Intriguing. Uncomfortable. Addictive.

These are just some of the thoughts I have about Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. Before I get into all my feelings on this book, let me tell you a little bit about it.This novel tells the story of Frieda and Isabel who are bred (as all girls are) into a world where girls are created to be concubines, companions or teachers and nothing more. For the first 16 years of their lives they are taught how to be ‘perfect’ and are working towards the day they are ‘chosen’ for their new life as companions (if they’re ‘lucky’) to the powerful men until they are of no use (aka are old and can no longer breed).

Only Ever Yours - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

This book is really, really worth a read. Not only is it engrossing and well written it’s also looking at some very important things; how women are viewed in the world and how we are all indoctrinated to see women as perfect size 8 creatures and not people. Also our obsession with so-called celebrities. That’s what makes the book so horrifying, it’s only a few steps away from how we live now and you can imagine that this future could exist (obviously after a hideous traumatic events, not literally tomorrow).

It’s been a while since I finished a book and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Be it the themes, the characters or that ending. It’s definitely the ending that elevates the novel to ‘you have to read this book’ territory rather than just a really brilliant book. I implore you to read it, and not just so we can discuss it – honest!

– Fi x

Out and About: Dorset Days

I spent a lot of my childhood in Dorset. Dorset is where my Dad grew up and where my Grandparents lived for all of my childhood years. I have so many fond memories of days and weeks spent visiting my grandparents and exploring their county. The lazy walks around Wimborne Market, the kitkats at the WI with Grandma and Edie, peering into tiny windows. Racing along the beach and digging sandcastles before enjoying fish and chip suppers. Now I visit Dorset less and less, it’s a place with so many memories, yet it’s edge with sadness too. In actual fact I can’t remember when my last visit was, which means it was most definitely too long ago.

Dorset Days - Out and About - This and That Blog

Which is why my visit last month was so perfect. The parents, sisters and I were invited to a birthday party on the Saturday night down in Bournemouth. So we took the opportunity to spend the weekend reminiscing and visiting some of our favourite places. Hotels were booked and off we set for a weekend in one of my favourite places.

Dorset Days - Out and About - This and That Blog

– Reminiscing in Wimborne.

– A picnic lunch in Poole Park. We even managed to stumble across the start of a cricket game.

Dorset Days - Out and About - This and That Blog

– Drinks at the Haven Hotel, Sandbanks.

– A night of eating, drinking, dancing and merriment on the clifftops.

– Strolls along Bournemouth Beach…

– …and Sandbanks Beach.

Heading back down to this coastline has made me eager for more. I’m definitely going to book in another trip as soon as I possibly can.

Laura xx

Thought of the Day #23: Live in Such a Way

Live in such a Way - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

I adore this quote and think it’s the best way to live.

With a little bit of kindness, a touch of thought and with a desire to be seen in a good light. It’s not about pushing people out of the way, it’s about helping others and saying a kind word. It’s about focusing more on the good things and less on the bad. About seeing the light in the dark and being a glass half-full person at all times. It’s not easy, granted.

But if we strive to live in a way that ensures this quote ends up being true then we’ll be the winners in life. Truth.

Fi x

In the Kitchen: New Kitchen Plans

Guys, I need to move into our new house, like seriously need to move in there. Don’t get me wrong being at the parental units isn’t that bad, but it does mean I can’t try out a new recipe whenever I want, can’t fill the cupboards with all my random ingredients (or peanut m&m’s) and can’t eat the same food four days in a row. Oh and cake for dinner, apparently that’s not a thing for the parents. Never mind that they’re missing out big time. Odd people I tell you, odd people. Once I’m in my new kitchen (knock on wood, fingers crossed, please God let it happen and all that jazz) I am going to be doing all the things with food. I’m thinking spiralising (yes I will be that person), baking avocados with eggs, smoothie-ing to my heart’s content and *insert big drumroll here* picking up my Kitchen Aid of joy – oh hooray for this!

As part of the desire for my own kitchen I’ve been pinning recipes like a mad woman recently and here are my top picks right now. I can guarantee you that at least half of these will be made within the first week of us moving in, well at least once we’ve got everything unpacked and out of boxes. That won’t take right? There are magical little elves that do that for you, yes?

New Kitchen Plans - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Stuffed Mushrooms with Pesto and Balsamic / Thai Chicken Meatballs with Peanut Sauce / Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fondants / Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars / Flourless Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Has anyone ever had chicken meatballs? I haven’t but I’m really intrigued by them, especially with a peanut sauce and served with rice – delicious right? Talking of delicious things what about a peanut butter and chocolate fondant!? Who even knew that was a thing? I need to get on that asap. And also peanut and chocolate chip muffins need to happen asap too, again how have I never thought of these before? I’m still trying to convince Lau that she does love mushrooms and just as soon I’ve done that then I’m thinking these stuffed mushrooms will be a staple in our house. Has anyone ever had one of those Quaker Oats chewy oat bars, I’m guessing the recipe above is exactly these – and I need to relive my childhood.

New Kitchen Plans - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Pie / Loaded Black Bean Sweet Potatoes / Glazed Lemon CookiesGinger and Peach Crumble

A crumble is the queen of desserts and there’s nothing better than a bowl full of apple crumble with a dollop of cold custard, but I think this peach and ginger one could usurp the classic apple one. As it sounds (and looks) delicious and would be perfectly summery. Yum! Another classic is a pie and chicken, mushroom and kale is a new combo that needs experiencing soonish – just look at the flaky, buttery pastry. Wow. One surefire way to eat more fruit and veg is to cook with them and with the loaded sweet potatoes, I’m ticking all the boxes, without any of the excessive calories, so that means I can have the light and refreshing lemon cookies for pudding. Right?

Tell me, what’s top of your must-make list right now? And, nosey person alert, what was the first thing you cooked when you moved in? I know I don’t need anymore inspiration but be a doll and humour me!

-Fi x

Getting Crafty: Born Under a Star Blanket

I haven’t done much knitting for awhile. Mainly because all of my needles, wool and patterns are still in storage, but also because I haven’t had a reason to knit. And for me that’s what I need. A new baby is the perfect excuse to get out the knitting needles. That’s my opinion anyway! A new baby is the perfect opportunity to make my favourite knitted blanket – The Born Under a Star Blanket from the book Purls of Wisdom by Jenny Lord. As soon as I had a date in the diary to visit Little Miss Arizona it was all knit, knit, knit to get the blanket made in time. Without further ado here it is.

Blanket - Getting Crafty - This and That Blog

I love the pattern of this blanket, it has a really simple knit border around a spider web style pattern in the middle. Thinking about it is the hole-iness okay for babies? Have I made a total faux pas here? I hope not as this is definitely my go to knitted gift for a newborn. Unless they live in the Australian or American desert, because then there’s really no need for knitted blankets!

Laura x

Thought of the Day 22: Written into Story

Written into Story - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

‘To be written into story. That was how even the lost lived on.’

I’ve just finished Martha Brockenbrough’s book The Game of Love and Death and it had me completely hooked from the start. It’s a unique story about a game that Love and Death have been playing forever. There’s been Romeo & Juliet and Anthony & Cleopatra and in 1937 it is the time of Henry & Flora. We see Love and Death manipulating the pair, but we also realise that human beings are unpredictable people and that maybe there’s a chance that this game will end differently from all the others. Add to this the jazz scene, the great depression, parental expectations and flight and you’re in for quite a treat.

This book is filled with so many perfect quotes that it makes me sad that my quote book is still in storage. Instead I’ve photographed them or highlighted them ready to add to my book as soon as we are reunited again. I think the quote above is my favourite of them all, because it’s so true. Stories; written, discussed or relived in our minds are the way we remember those that have left.

Laura x

Out and About: London To Do

One of the things I’ve missed most about not living in London over the past almost three months (how is it that long already?!) is London itself. Yes I know that sounds insane, because obviously I would miss London, right? But I didn’t think I would. In my head I assumed I’d miss not having my own space, having so few clothes options and not being able to sit in my pj’s eating cereal all weekend without any snarky Parental comments.

Why would I miss London when I’d still be coming in every day for work? After all the majority of my awake time would still be spent in the city. But that’s not been the case, I’ve missed London so much. I’ve missed the buzz of Covent Garden of an evening, running along the Southbank and through the parks, popping out at lunchtime and ambling down to Tottenham Court Road. I’ve even missed the buses. I can’t remember when I last got the bus and, for a self-confessed hater of the tube and lover of the top deck of a bus, that’s been hard! I suppose you could say that’s one of the good things about this forced exile to the suburbs, I’ve learnt to really appreciate London and I know I don’t want to leave it for a while yet.

London To Dos - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

Source: Unsplash by Luis Llerena

When I eventually move back to London, please let it be soon(!), I need to make sure I don’t take this city for granted again. So here’s my London to do list, all the things I need to do again soon (and often!).

  • Drinks on the Southbank. You know that lovely moment when you’re basking in sunshine, with all the chatter around you and you know you can wander home when you’re ready and not when South West Trains dictate. I miss that so much.
  • Visit the Prince Charles Cinema – Frozen, Moulin Rouge or The Sound of Music sing-along anyone?
  • I need a local Starbucks. Simply put I can’t handle not having the mermaid coffee nearby. I need it at the start of my commute, and I need people who know my name!
  • Ambling around Westminster. I used to get to visit this area of town regularly as I would go through it on the way home or be meeting friends there of an evening. Recently that’s not been the case as I’ve either been rushing out-of-town or meeting friends elsewhere. This needs fixing asap.
  • Visit Borough Market really early on a Saturday. I’m talking 8am arrival. None of this 10am crap which I’m currently experiencing or else it means getting up at the crack of dawn to get in from the sticks
  • A picnic in my local park. With a proper rug of course. I’m not a heathen.
  • Catching the bus. Anywhere. Just sitting on the top deck of the bus watching the world go by as I head to somewhere I need to go. {No this statement does not make me weird.}

Thought of the Day 21: The Earth Has Music

The Earth Has Music - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

I have to say that this quote is perfectly timed to appear as the UK is having some stunning weather. And I didn’t even plan it this way! At the moment everywhere is looking lushfully green and so full of life. Last night after a horribly hot and sweaty train journey I sat in the garden for most of the evening enjoying everything that nature had to offer, birds singing in the trees, squirrels jumping across branches and the rustle of small creatures in the hedge. Blissful. Shakespeare definitely got it right. Now we just have to remember to listen more.

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Recently in verbs

Here’s a little recently in verbs, one of my favourite types of post!

recently in verbs - life rambles - this and that blog

Reading some really good manuscripts for work, which has got me very excited for next year! Also I’ve been devouring home magazines recently. Is there anything more inspiring than seeing what others have done on a super small budget? 
Celebrating birthdays with lovely friends and family. The last two Sunday’s have involved friends’ birthdays
Eating far too much of all sorts. There’s been a lot of fruit but also a lot of M&S mini bites happening. Plus Itsu has opened opposite work and since then I’ve had sushi rolls at least three times a week. Oops! Ooh and I discovered a really good frozen yogurt option right next to work. Uh oh.
Dreaming of a time when I’ll have my own space in my very own house. This seems like a world away right now. And I know I shouldn’t complain, I really do, but when you’re expecting something to go one way and it really doesn’t it’s hard to not complain.

recently in verbs - life rambles - this and that blog

Spending lots of time with my lovely family. A plus point to being at home still I suppose! Recently there have been nights spent in the garden barbecuing, lovely Sunday pub lunches, long leisurely walks, lots of cooking together and a whole weekend of Dorset shenanigans. I really am very lucky.
Drinking iced coffees, iced coffees, iced coffees. There’s really no other drink for this heat is there.
Running around Regents Park on a fairly regular basis and really enjoying it. Granted I’m often struggling the whole time but the guilt free evening that follows makes it worth it! 
Smiling at the absolutely wonderful news on Friday about the Supreme Court ruling in favour of marriage equality. About bloody time! I still find it astounding that such a superpower is so far behind in something as important as this. Three cheers for people finally seeing sense. 
Wishing for the heat to disappear during the week. I know that’ll make me unpopular but it’s just not helpful when you have to be at work. On the weekend though, that’s fine! 

recently in verbs - life rambles - this and that blog

Enjoying reminiscing about summers spent at Sandbanks beach
Listening to Taylor (obviously) as well as a lot of Aretha Franklin. I’ve recently rediscover her music and it’s just the perfect for getting stuff done.
Obsessing over my new sandals from Asos. Not only are the gorgeous, with their lovely pop of neon, but they are also super comfy with a padded sole and no annoying rubbing like lots of other sandals. You must all buy them now. 
Feeling sad about the absolutely awful events over the last few days in Tunisia. Watching all the news come through over the weekend was just horrific. I can’t even comprehend how someone can do that to others and also how you’d even begin to cope with something like this happening to you when you’re just having a normal lovely day at the beach. Just horrible. 
Thinking about how lucky I am to be surrounded by awesome friends and family. When events like those in Tunisia and the Belgain bus crash happen you really do have to stop and remember how lucky you are.
Planning holidays and weekends away for the rest of the year. There’s really something lovely about booking in time with friends and family and it makes me feel like the summer is going to be so long and wonderful. 

recently in verbs - life rambles - this and that blog

Watching a ton of West Wing and very little else. Oh apart from Celebrity Masterchef. Are you following the news series or is that just me?
Marvelling at what a brilliant film Selma is. I finally got round to watching it yesterday and it’s just phenomenal in so many ways. Not only are the performances insanely good – Tom Wilkinson and David Oyelowo are definitely stand out! – but the whole story is just absolutely terrifying and amazing in equal measures. It’s so awe-inspiring what the people of Selma (and America) as a whole did to ensure everyone had the right to vote. It makes me so angry to watch films like this and see what people had to go through. It’s truly not fair that such prejudice should ever exist. These people who got us to the point we’re at now are truly humbling. There’s still a way to go though. 
Appreciating the fact that I have zero plans this coming weekend. Hooray for 48 hours to do whatever the hell I want. I’m really hopeful that the weather will be glorious so that I can really enjoy being in a house that has a gorgeous garden. So I can laze in the sun and not have to go far for drinks and sustenance!

Fi x

In the Kitchen: Two Ingredient Pancakes

Two Ingredient Pancakes - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

I know exactly what you’re thinking and it’s bound to be a variation of the following:

  • Two ingredient banana pancakes, what is this witchcraft?
  • Is that a real, actual thing?
  • What, how have I not heard of this miracle recipe?
  • Are you kidding, this can’t be a serious recipe post?

How do I know this? Well it’s how everyone else has responded when I’ve mentioned this recipe to them. Clearly a recipe that sounds so delicious and also so easy, whilst at the same time being gluten, sugar and dairy free, sounds like it’s made up. But don’t panic it’s not. This is a 100% verified and delicious recipe that you will now be making every weekend without fail. I promise!

So on to the recipe of joy. Although to call it a recipe is a stretch if I’m honest. As it’s not like you need to focus or concentrate on these very simple steps. But you know I’m a fan of using many words when you really only need to use two. So back to my point! All you need are two unsuspecting ingredients. A banana and two medium eggs. That’s it.

Once you’ve rustled up these hard to find ingredients simply blitz them in the food processor, with a stick blender (my preferred method) or simply with a fork. {side not: a fork will give the pancakes a more lumpy  textured mixture, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you’re trying to hide the banana content from a fussy person! Yes Lau I do mean you.} Heat up your baking stone or frying pan and brush with some oil. Once it’s really hot simply pour circles of mixture on the heated surface. After a couple of minutes, once bubbles have started to form – and the mixture doesn’t run away when you try to lift it – simply flip over the pancakes with your palette knife and cook for another minute or so.

Once they look good enough to eat pile them on a plate with your topping of choice, always raspberries and nutella for me (duh), and eat. Don’t forget to marvel at the ease of the recipe as you’re eating!

So there we go, awesome right? And you’re so wanting to go and check your cupboard for the ingredients aren’t you! Well go, go, go! Get on with making these scrumptious things asap. Oh and make sure you tell me your chosen topping – I’m always open for more ideas. Although it’ll have to be something good to make me ignore the raspberry/chocolate concoction!

– Fi xxx