The Home Front: August House Update

So it has been five months since our last house update, whoops! I was going so well with posting three in a row and then it all went to pot! In my defense I think April was quite a quiet month in regards to house stuff. So maybe that’s why these posts disappeared from my brain. Although lord knows how I can try and excuse missing four posts! Anyway, things have been fairly busy over the last few months and we have a fair bit to catch you up on, so let’s dive straight into out August house update.

August House Update - The Home Front - This and That Blog

August House Update: What’s been ticked off the list?

First off the garden is flourishing! Granted there were a few missteps thanks to a frosty spell in June followed swiftly by a scorcher of a few days. But thankfully most of the plants are still doing well in our flowerbeds. So far it’s a mix of mint, lavender, sage, daisies, hydrangeas and pansies. Plus a couple of tall bush/tree things that I have no idea the names of. Oh and the latest news is that we’re now growing strawberries, courgettes and tomatoes too. Go us. Frankly I’m just amazed things haven’t completely died over the last few months.
We’ve also finally sorted out the fireplace. Hooray! Anyone that’s read the other few house update posts will know that we were really not keen on that fibreglass fireplace. It was such an important thing for us to fix. Now that it’s gone and the wall has been replastered and repainted we’re just so happy. It really has made such a difference.

August House Update - The Home Front - This and That Blog

August House Update: What jobs have we progressed with?

Top of this list is the living room as while the bulk of the fireplace is done and dusted we’re left with a few finishing touches. Firstly we need to choose tiles for the hearth. So far we’ve narrowed it down to the options here and here. What do you think, which one do you prefer? We want something simple and maybe with a touch of red to tie in with the sofa. Stickers seem sensible for a number of reasons. Firstly they’re cheaper than proper tiles and they’re a lot simpler to fit than ones with grout. The final reason is it means we can change our minds if we want too. As you may have spotted we’re seriously indecisive! As well as tiles we also need to fit a mantelpiece of some description but we’re struggling to choose one – we just can’t decide what will work. For now we’re going to hand a picture frame there in the hopes that a mantlepiece won’t be needed!

August House Update: What’s next?

The what’s next question is simple to answer – it’s the kitchen. We’ve finally decided not to redo the whole thing, which you may remember was our original plan. Instead we’re going to give the cabinets a facelift, get a new oven and new work surfaces. Once we’ve saved a bit of money anyway. So for now it’s all about the investigating, getting quotes and pinning bits onto our kitchen ideas Pinterest board. Basically we’re saving ourselves £4k as a result. Go us and our adulting decisions!
So there we go, not a huge amount to show you, but we’re definitely getting there. The kitchen and garden shed are the only major projects left on our house list now. Yippee!
-Fi x

The Book Corner: August Reading Update

Hi team! I hope you’re all well on this fine Monday! Today’s edition of the book corner is my August reading update. Also known as the update where I hit my Goodreads 2017 challenge of reading 52 books. Hooray for that. I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to read so many books already but I’m pretty pleased with that. So onwards to see what delights I’ve read this month.

August Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

August Reading Update #1: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor isn’t out for another couple of months, but I was lucky enough to get a proof ahead of time. It’s being billed as the big kids book of this Christmas and the next big magical series for kids. And it’s all of that and more. It’s the most brilliant book – full of fascinating characters, intriguing secrets and a magical story. Townsend has created the most phenomenal world for us all to explore and enjoy.

The story follows a young girl, Morrigan, who is seemingly unloved by her family and who is destined to die on her 11th birthday. Until that is she’s claimed by a crazy magician to become his hope at winning a place in the Wondrous Society – the city’s most prestigious (and secretive) organisation. Morrigan must compete in a series of Hunger Games-esque tasks with 500 other kids for the chance to enter the society. This is a page-turning adventure that had me hooked from start to finish. Most definitely a good book and most definitely not just for kids.

August Reading Update #2: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve always been a huge Sophie Kinsella fan, ever since I read the Shopaholic series. I was pretty obsessed with those books as a teenage if I’m honest! but it’s been a while since I read anything by Sophie, but thankfully My Not So Perfect Life is as brilliant as all her other books are. It looks at the reality behind the Instagram world and how selective we are on what we post and how bad that can be for us all in the long run. This was a classic tale of a girl our of her depth being pushed to the brink and losing everything before realising what’s important and following her dreams, oh and falling in love – of course! It was just the perfect summer read.

August Reading Update #3: Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages, ever since it started getting hype last year, but alas time just disappeared. Until now that is. And I’m glad I finally read Orangeboy as it’s a brilliant book and I’d say essential reading for all. In the sense that you can see how people, particularly teens, can end up in situations that spiral out of control too fast for them to handle. And how doing the right thing isn’t always as clear-cut or as simple as you might thing. Patrice’s story is beautifully written and the teenage voices felt so real and correct. I can’t wait to read her most recent book, Indigo Donut, if it’s anything like Orangeboy it’ll be astonishingly good.

August Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

August Reading Update #4: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

This book is marketed as a gripping, twisty read and it’s most certainly that. It’s the tale of a young couple who are witnesses to a rape and the fall out of this one horrific act for all involved. About 50 pages in it becomes clear that it’s not just he said/she said in terms of the rape case. There’s definitely more going on in this story, as things aren’t quite what they seem and you quickly start to question the four main characters. In that sense it’s in the same vein as Gone Girl, with constant changes over who can be trusted. Sadly I felt this book went too far with that premise. I didn’t think it was necessarily plausible that certain characters acted how they did. Particularly in the reveals at the end. The last 60 or so pages were definitely a let down for me.

August Reading Update #5: S. T. A. G. S by M. A. Bennett

S.T.A.G.S is such a fun read, it’s packed with filmic references and set in a wondrously unattainable world. A world of shooting parties and country estates, servants and ballgowns at dinner. But underneath all of that S.T.A.G.S is about what we’ll do, or more correctly, put up with in order to make friends and be accepted.

If you’re a fan of Gosford Park and Cruel Intentions then you’ll love this YA read. It’s a page-turner of a book about a young girl, Greer who doesn’t quite fit in at S.T.A.G.S, the upper class boarding school she’s just started at. As a scholarship student she couldn’t be more different from the rest of S.T.A.G.S’ students who are all glossy and rich. With no friends at the school she jumps at the chance to attend an exclusive weekend of hunting, fishing and shooting at the country estate of Henry, the leader of the cool pack. But as the weekend arrives and her fellow oddball guests, also social misfits, start to get injured Greer begins to wonder if things are really as they seem… Who can she trust and will she make it back from the weekend in one piece?

So there we go, my five reads from August. Have you read any of these books yet, and if so, what did you think of them. Let me know!

Wishlists: Back to School Stationery Wishlist

As a child one of my favourite days in the school holidays was when we got to go stationery shopping. Yes I was one of the cool kids. We’d head to WH Smith in Guildford on the Sunday before school started and for two blissful hours I’d have free rein. I’d be there for ages looking at, testing out and deliberating over everything, trying to decide how to send my precious £20. I’d spend ages considering the merits of each stationery item. From pens and pencil cases to highlighters and notebooks. Plus school folders and the all important desk tidy for the desk in my bedroom. I loved every second of contemplation as I whittled down my mental stationery wishlist.

Inevitably I’d finally make decisions then check in with Lau only to discover she’d made better choices and I’d have to start all over again. It was definitely not a shopping decision I took lightly.

As the school holidays draw to a close I’m quite sad that I don’t get to make a stationery wishlist this year. I’d love to have the opportunity to choose a whole host of new pens and notebooks, but alas I don’t really have a need for them. This is for two reasons. Firstly I own far too many stationery items already, including a whole stack of notebooks I’ve never even used – please don’t judge. I. just. can’t. Say. No. And secondly there’s only so many notebooks a girl needs at any one time. For me it’s two. One for all the work related things – namely meeting notes and a to do list. And a second to keep my personal life organised, which is the job of my bullet journal. It’s essential for me to keep track of everything. From blog posts ideas and keeping track of my finances, to where I’m meant to be when, and all the things I mustn’t forget. But seeing as those books are only half used at the moment I’m not really needing anything new…

But I’m not going to let that stop me, I love new stationery and putting together a stationery wishlist is quite fun!

For someone who has just professed to only needing two notebooks in their life, I seem to have added quite a few here. Oops! But honestly, who could say no to so many pretty notebooks. Quite simply a Hufflepuff notebook is an essential item, and bright coloured notebooks just looks so pretty – no matter how messy your desk! And that avocado notebook is super cute. When it comes to stationery you can never go wrong with an inspiring quote emblazoned across the front. And chuck in a bit of marble or a sassy quote, like on the colourful one above, and it’s your notebook dreams come true! Do you think if I get all these lovely notebooks I can justify the rose gold bookends to hold them all in place. I mean, it’s only sensible, right…?
Now on to the other lovely things on my stationery wishlist, just look at these gorgeous quote cards. Beautiful and inspiring in equal measures. I NEED them! I’m always on the look out for ways to keep my bullet journal organised so I think these number and days of the week stickers are essential. And so pretty too! Talking of being organised I do love a good desk planner – and with check boxes too. Hooray! And finally no stationery wishlist would be complete without some awesome pens and a pencil case to keep them in. Clearly I had a monochrome and gold moment during the choosing of those bits for the list!
So there we go, a lovely list of stationery bits I wish I owned. Oh to be 16 again and to have an excuse to buy a few items! Now tell me, what would you buy off this list?
-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #86

Happy Friday y’all! I hope you’re all well and ready to get Friday done with and run full force into the weekend? I’m headed up to Leeds tomorrow for the weekend to help celebrate the tenth (TENTH!) wedding anniversary of one of my closest friends. I’m super excited for celebrations and catch ups and seeing a little of Leeds. Less keen on the train journey though. Anything over two hours on a train is not a joy if you ask me! But anyway, that’s item one on my Friday favourites list: celebrating with lovely friends!

Number two on the Friday favourites list would have to be the long weekend we’ve just had. Having that extra day off just makes all the difference! I spent my three day weekend in the best way. At the Oval watching the cricket. With a long run through gorgeous sunny London before watching Crystal Palace lose to Swansea (boo)! Then it was all about a day exploring in London, including an exhibition, yummy brunch and seeing the sites. Finally on Monday I made an epic brunch of Shakshuka with homemade bread. Then I proceeded to spend the day blogging, reading, organising and nesting. There’s nothing like a good old clothes clear out, changing sheets and reorganising the furniture to make you feel refreshed after a lovely weekend.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Talking of the weekend, I’ve watched some epic TV over the last week. So that’s Friday favourites item number three for you! First off that Game of Thrones finale episode – Don’t worry they’ll be no spoilers here – wasn’t it epic? It had everything in it and so many moments I’ve been waiting for all season. Those scriptwriters know what they’re doing. Also, how great was the new look Bake Off? I’ll admit I was sceptical but actually it just proves that my favourite part of the show is the baking and not the presenters. Although admittedly I did miss Mary and Mel and Sue, but Sandi was definitely a good replacement. Jury’s still out on Noel I have to say. My final suggestion if you’re looking for good TV? The J. K. Rowling (as Robert Galbraith) adapted Strike of course. There’s been two episodes so far and it’s so good. It’s a really true adaptation and the casting is excellent. Well done to the team behind that.

I feel it’s my duty to share with you how delicious the new tiffin is from Coffee Nero. They’ve created a special tiffin, which is amaretto and pistachio. And it’s divine. You really need to treat yourself to that ASAP. It’s given me life this week. Yes, really! In other happy news this week has been a week of all the lovely catch ups with both friends and family, which is always a good thing. Sometimes a good ol’ natter over pizza or crisps, gin or chocolate is essential to your happiness. And that’s certainly been the case this week!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

In other news, this week I watched two brilliant films – both of which have made my Friday favourites list. Firstly I finally watched Dunkirk. What a film. It was beautifully shot and full of so many emotions. I loved how it focused on a number of different characters and how there stories interlinked. Just brilliant. As for film two, last night I headed to St Mary’s church in Marlybone to watch the Baz Luhrman version of  Romeo and Juliet, basically the film of my teens. The film was accompanied by a live choir singing all the brilliant songs from the film and it was such an incredible experience. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves that film. You won’t regret it!

So there we go, just a few things on my Friday favourites list today. What’s made your happy list this week? Do share. I love hearing all the happy things.

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Recent Reads 2017, Part 4

I can’t quite believe that we’re almost into September and I’m here sharing my fourth reading update of 2017. I know I say this every year, but still, how does this happen? Where does the time go? So let’s talk reading and books. There’s something so wonderful about escaping away to world of mystery, intrigue and adventure. I feel like it’s been a great couple of months for me on the reading front. Today’s reading update contains some cracking stories. There’s real-life and history, YA and children’s stories, and mystery and crime thrillers to tell you about.

 

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Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

This book is a must read. Yes I know that I say this about at least one book each month, but that doesn’t stop it from being true! Mad Girl is an incredibly funny and honest read about Gordon’s mental health and how she lives with OCD and depression. So many people waxed lyrical about this book, so I took it with me on a day trip to the beach and devoured it in two sittings. It’s laugh out loud funny, and it really made me, as a reader, think properly about mental health. I’ve realised how lucky I am and also how I used words like ‘crazy’, ‘OCD’ and ‘depressing’ in totally the wrong way. So it’s an informative and educational book too. Reading this book also made me checkout the Mad World podcast, which is where Gordon chats about mental health with a new guest every week. Week one saw Prince Harry take the guest spot, and although I haven’t listened to that one, I do highly recommend listening to the series. Highlights for me were Will Young, Jeff Brazier, Sean and Reuben Fletcher and Dame Stephanie Shirley.

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay

This one has been on my TBR pile for years so when I planned my trip to Bletchley Park in June I knew that the time was right to start this book. I only read two chapters before my trip so I didn’t really spoil anything for myself. And actually reading the book after my visit was probably the best idea as I was then able to picture how everything fitted together. Obviously this is a non-fiction book, but it doesn’t feel like an overly complicated educational read. The book is divided into chapters about specific things. So you read all about the social side of Bletchley in one chapter, but then the next one might be about the Bombe machines or a particular hut at the park. Each chapter is about 10-15 pages, so I was able to read a chapter or two during my commute, dipping in and out as and when I could. 

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

Number three on today’s reading update is The Nowhere Man, this is the follow on from Orphan X, which is a firm favourite of mine. After the cliffhanger of the last book we’re back with Evan Smoak as he struggles to help those in need. Once again there are no shortage of twists and turns in this book. The Nowhere Man is just as gripping as Orphan X and, if anything, it left me with even more questions unanswered.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these books were made into a film or TV series soon. There’s no shortage of fight scenes, gun battles and explosions which would work incredibly well on screen. For now I’ll just have to make do with book three – when it arrives.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

This story follows Francesca as she returns to her hometown after 20 years when the remains of her missing best friend are discovered. What follows is Francesca’s hunt to discover what happened to Sophie all of those years ago. I liked this book, I was intrigued by the story and was somewhat invested in the character. However, the ending seemed rushed. I swear the reveal was all over in five pages, which was a little disappointing. I think when you’ve waited for something for nearly 300 pages you hope it is explained fully and dissected further. But that’s one small issue. 

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

This is another classic Harlan Coben thriller with twists and surprises at every turn. The main character Nap, has dedicated his life to solving the mystery surrounding the death of his twin brother and his brother’s girlfriend fifteen years ago. He’s also searching for his missing girlfriend, who disappeared the same night.

What follows is a search for the truth, which uncovers conspiracies and secrets that have been hidden for years. I was immediately hooked into this one, the mystery pulled me straight in and I felt myself drawn to Nap and keen to see him uncover the truth. The final reveal at the end was a good one, I’d put pieces together, but I needed to have certain points filled in for me. Which is the way I like it as I like to figure things out, but I don’t want it to be too obvious that I miss the surprise at the end! I always find Coben’s books really quick to read, I tend to race through them because I’m totally gripped and just can’t put the book down. So it’s no surprise to me that I finished this one in a day.

 

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Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Next up on the reading update is a YA tale from Jennifer Niven. I picked this book up on a whim and totally fell in love with both main characters. Jack is the popular guy at school who is hiding a secret from everyone. And Libby who was once known as “America’s Fattest Teen” is heading back to high school after home-schooling. After a school prank the pair end up doing community service together, and what follows is a lovely story. One that I could not put down. I completely and utterly fell in love with the character of Libby. She’s brave and courageous and everything you want your main character to be. Seriously, can we all channel Libby and her outlook on live? The world would be a marvellous place.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

With the new film out soon I wanted to make sure I read this book before it was Disney-fied. Considering this is a classic, I’ve actually not heard of it before. I guess I was too busy reading The Babysitter’s Club as a child to try something new? Which is a shame as it sound like the sort of book that I would have loved as a child. Unfortunately I didn’t love it as much as a thirty-something year old. It’s an intriguing story of space travel and family and friendship, but it all seemed too easy to me. I guess I was judging it as an adult, but I can’t really help that. I think this book will make a lovely film though.

Freshers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

The fact that it’s been fourteen years since my own Freshers week is unbelievably scary. But let’s not think on that!

Anyway Freshers follows Luke and Phoebe through their first year at university. We follow them through the crazy time of Fresher’s week and into their first term. Where they navigate lectures, living in halls, making friends and finding their place in York, and the world. The moments of snapchat and whatsapp made me realise just how different uni would have been if I had been a little bit younger or technology progressed a little faster. It’s crazy how quickly things change. There were moments in this book that had me laughing out loud on the tube. But there were also those that had my eyes tearing up. There are some heavier topics in this book, it’s not all about the fun and games. Also that ending!

So there we have it, what I’ve been reading over the last eight weeks. To get a more up to date idea about what I’m reading head to GoodReads. And check out previous reading update posts for 2017 (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

Laura xx

In the Kitchen: Homemade Baked Beans Recipe

Today I’m sharing one of my favourite recipes of the moment; my homemade baked beans recipe. Baked beans are delicious year round, but particularly as we wave goodbye to summer and enter the darker months of autumn, when comfort food is essential. What else screams ‘comfort food’ more than baked beans? They’re ideal with sausage and mash, on cheesy toast or just on a sweet potato – my current meal of choice! Although, let’s be honest, baked beans aren’t only for autumn and winter. After all I’ve been making this homemade baked beans recipe all summer to have cold with salads and barbecues. Yummy!

Now Heinz are pretty good at making beans and sell them pretty cheaply in the supermarket, so why bother making your own I hear you cry? Well, many reasons: they taste better, they’re pretty easy to make and you can make loads more for the cost of one Heinz tin. But the biggest reason is that you know exactly what’s going into them. Your average can of shop bought baked beans has around 20g of sugar in it. That’s over a teaspoon of pure sugar. For something that we consider to be healthy and one of our five a day that seems like an excessive amount of sugar, don’t you think? But if you make your own that drops considerably. I mean, yes of course there will be sugar in these beans – it’s naturally in so many ingredients anyway, but do we really need to have 20g worth per tin? I think not.

So on to my homemade baked beans recipe. Firstly to caveat, it sounds like it takes a long time and is a faff. And yes it does take a while, but it’s not a faff as most of the time is just the ingredients in a pot doing their own thing. No real need for obsessive stirring, etc. The second thing to say is that this recipe makes approximately six portions, so you’ll make enough for 3-4 weeks in one fell swoop. Just freeze the portions you don’t need straightaway and you’re all good! I’ve adapted this Delicious Magazine baked beans recipe. The changes were for ease or because taste wise I couldn’t see the need for the extra ingredients – sugar (again) and bacon.

Baked Beans - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

My Homemade Baked Beans Recipe

You will need:

*400g dried cannellini beans (or haricot beans) soaked overnight
*3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
*2 red onions, finely chopped
*2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
*400g can chopped tomatoes
*3 tbsp cider vinegar

And all you do is…

*Drain the beans and place them in a pan, covering them with fresh water
*Bring the beans to the bring to the boil over a medium heat before cooking for about 45 minutes – 1 hour until tender
*Remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes, draining well
*While the beans are resting heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat before adding the onions
*Cook for 6-8 minutes
*Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, vinegar and 400ml water and then add the beans
*Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and the beans soft

See, I told you it was super easy! And I guarantee this baked beans recipe will convert you to homemade beans for good – it’s just that good! Happy cooking.

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #85

It’s a bank holiday weekend! Hooray! Anyone else totally over excited for a three day weekend? Nope, just me then! It’s the last one before Christmas so I’m planning to make the most out of it. I’ve got tickets to the Twenty20 match at The Oval tonight, then tomorrow I’m planning a long run along the River Thames before heading to the Crystal Palace match in the afternoon. But once Saturday’s over I have zero plans. I mean I’d quite like to spend a day mooching around a museum or gallery in London. There’s some house stuff i’d like to tick off the list, and of course I can always make room for brunch. But none of that has to happen, which means I can take Sunday and Monday as they come. Lucky me, hey! So that’s number one on the weekly favourites list – my bank holiday plans.

Number two on my favourites list this week is Freshers, which is the book I’ve just finished reading. There were so many laugh out loud moments in this one and I just couldn’t put it down. I even spent two lunchtimes in a row reading it, which is unheard of. I hardly ever take my full lunch break, so this is high praise indeed.

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On Tuesday I decided to shake up my half marathon training and run home from work. There’s something quite soul-destroying about getting home from work at 6:30pm and then having to go for a run. It’s really really hard. Especially when the train is delayed on top of that. So to get around this, and to make sure I keep up with the training plan, I decided to run from work. So I packed up all my running gear and come 5pm I was all lycra-ed up and ready to run. Because the Tuesday runs are only 45 minutes I jumped on the tube to Balham, and then ran from there. Which worked quite well as I arrived home just after 6:30pm. And okay, I need to plan my route better as I didn’t hit the 45 minute running time but it’s a start.

Next up is Wednesday’s morning Dishoom breakfast. I mean Dishoom breakfast is always, always going to make the friday favourites list. This one was particularly special as it was the first proper catch up with this group of friends in what feels like forever. I mean I can’t remember the last time we got together, so it was so nice to have an early morning get together. It also allowed me to wander through London before 8am on a weekday, which is always good. Oxford Street and the surrounding areas are always so quiet at this time.

The final item on today’s Friday favourites list is my new water bottle. At work I’ve been reusing the same plastic water bottle for months, and I needed to replace it. I decided to go for a more sustainable option this time, so I treated myself to a Klean Kanteen and I’m so happy with it. It’s small enough to fit in my backpack with all my other things, but it fits enough water for an hour at my desk (I drink a lot of water). I can’t believe it took me so long to splurge on a proper bottle, instead of reusing plastic ones. Also it makes me feel like a good human even if I’m cutting my plastic consumption just a little bit. After all every little helps.

What would make it onto your favourites list for this week? And what are your bank holiday plans?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Currently Watching

*photo credit: Tracy Thomas/Unsplash*

It feels like the weather is starting to shift to Autumn already and I’m totally happy about that. I love that we live in a country that has seasons and I’m all for one season changing to the next. Plus there’s something wonderful about autumn. The leaves change colour, there’s a chill in the air and we’re one step closer to Christmas time! With the change in weather it’s the perfect opportunity to stay inside, light some candles and binge watch some TV. So that’s what I’m sharing today – my current TV obsessions.

1/ The Night Shift

This was a suggestion from Netflix and it’s pretty spot on considering my TV tastes. The drama follows the night shift staff at a San Antonio hospital, a lot of the staff are army veterans, so there are some flashbacks to tours in Afghanistan and other current conflicts. The show is part way through series four right now. It’s the sort of easy watching programme that you sometimes need. It’s stuffed full of complex characters, comedy moments and a lot more action than you would expect from a hospital drama. If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or Chicago Med then I would definitely suggest you add it to your watchlist.

2/ Pretty Little Liars

After a brief hiatus I’m back to watching PLL, this show is so full of twists and turns it’s ridiculous. But I still kind of love it, I think because it’s so unapologetic about it’s unrealistic storylines, characters, and the life of a high school student.  We follow four friends as they search for the truth surrounding the disappearance of the leader of their group. It’s full of twists and turns and so many cliffhangers and reveals it’s laughable. Also each series there’s a super spooky Halloween episode that always involves a dark, dark wood… Anyway it’s the perfect show for a Sunday afternoon binge watch.

3/ Who Do You Think You Are?

I love this programme, probably because I’m so nosy about people and places. I find it so fascinating to learn about random celebrities’ ancestors. With this show you also learn so much history, I swear the UK school system doesn’t teach us enough about either UK or world history. I’m currently making my way through the most recent series. The stories of Adil Ray and Claire Balding have been particular highlights this year. Whenever I watch this show I get a burning need to investigate my own family history further. I must actually commit to doing this one day.

4/ Game of Thrones

I could talk about my current binge watching obsessions without mentioning GoT. Okay I don’t binge watch it as I pounce on each new episode as soon as I can on a Monday evening. But it’s definitely a favourite guilty pleasure this year. Each episode is so packed with the goings on of Westeros, I seriously don’t know when to blink most episodes. The current season is almost over and then there’s only one series left after that. I don’t know how I’m going to handle that, perhaps the next book will be out by that point? Any news George R. R. Martin??

So there we have it, what I’ve been binge watching lately. What have you all been watching and do you have any favourite shows to share? After all once these are all finished I’ll need some new shows to get started on…

Oh and one final thing, I’m super excited for Strike to start on Sunday night. I absolutely devoured these novels so I can’t wait to see the characters on the TV screen. I’m also intrigued by the new version of Bake Off, will it still be good? Watch this space.

Laura xx

All Things Fitness: Fitness Update Week Five

 Fitness Update Week Five - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

How are we on to week five of these posts already? That seems crazy! I’m definitely finding these posts useful each week – as it makes me stop and evaluate what has or hasn’t been good or worked each week. Hopefully they’re not too boring for you all!

Fitness Update Week Five: Exercise

  • *Guys, it’s a mini miracle as I made it through all my half marathon training sessions this week, yes even the early, early ones. Hooray for that. I think week four of half marathon training is really where things start to kick in and become a little easier. So thank goodness for that.
  • *Talking of things becoming a bit easier, I certainly found that on Sunday’s long run. It was two lots of 40 minutes running with a five minute break in between. Now just four weeks ago running for half an hour without stopping was a no no. But on Sunday’s run I managed to run without stopping for the whole of the first 40 minutes and I also managed to do the second section with minimal stops – basically just to snap cute pictures of London. Meaning that I ran 8 miles in about 90 minutes. And genuinely if I hadn’t been at a logical place to stop on the run I probably could have gone for longer. I think I’m finally turning a corner in the running stakes
  • *As well as doing all the half marathon training I’ve also made it to the pool an extra time this week too. So yeah for that. And with that extra swim in mind my week of exercise has looked a bit like this
    • *Monday: 32 min swim (40 lengths)
    • *Tuesday: 40 minute/3.4 mile run
    • *Thursday: 38 minute / 3.3 mile run
    • *Friday: 23 minute swim (30 lengths)
    • *Sunday: 94 minute/8 mile run
  • *Total steps – 76,000

Fitness Update Week Five - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Fitness Update Week Five: Food

  • *This week I’ve rediscovered mug cakes which is a brilliant thing as we haven’t bought any cake and I’ve kept to one portion of cake at a time. Yeah for cake.
  • *Breakfast and lunches have once again mainly been made at home this week so have mostly been packed with fruit or veggies
  • *Also this week we’ve made some yummy home cooked meals. From homemade chicken burgers with sweet potato fries to yummy stir fries and fajitas again.
  • *I have been out quite a bit this week so scampi and chips have happened as well as a three course meal. And despite having a lot of meals out this week I have gone for healthy choices quite often. Like switching my usual burger at Nando’s for a quarter chicken or choosing the salmon from Skylon and not a huge bowl of pasta. That coupled with all the exercise going on it’s still been a fairly balanced week.

Fitness Update Week Five - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Fitness Update Week Five: Results

  • *After last week’s two pound lose I wasn’t expecting a change this week, which turned out to be the case. But that’s fine as I’m feeling a bigger, and probably more important change, in how I’m feeling this week.And it’s good to focus on that change rather than the scales anyway!
  • *As mentioned already I feel like I’ve properly hit my running stride this week and I’m feeling much stronger. This is brilliant. As it means the training and sensible eating is all paying off.
  • *So let’s look at last week’s goals – how did I do? Firstly the food one was all about upping my veggie consumption. This is something I’ve definitely done. Only one day this week saw me having less than four portions of fruit and veg and on those days veggies definitely outweighed the fruit. I’ve been adding extra veggies all over the place. Like guac, lettuce, roasted peppers and sweet potato to Saturday’s burger night.
  • *My second goal was to hit 70,000 steps this week, so that I’m averaging 10,000 steps a day and yes I’ve hit this one too. Hooray for that! And it’s not like I just crawled over the line – I surpassed the goal by 6,000 steps. Whoop!

Fitness Update Week Five: Goals

  • *So on to next week’s goals. The first one is easy. To reduce the sugar intake a bit more. I’m still falling into the trap of a 3pm chocolate pick me up and I don’t want to be reliant on that this week. I’ve stocked up on peanut butter and crackers, plus more sultanas to help with that. So fingers crossed!
  • *Exercise wise I just want to complete the week’s training plan. I know what I’m like I have a tendency to have a good week followed by a bad one, so I think completing the full training this week is key. I’ll be happy with that!

So there we go, the last week’s update is done! I’m so glad that running wise things are looking up, I was starting to feel like I’d never be able to do the half marathon in October.So phew that things have clicked into place. I think lovely London running views, like the one above, have certainly helped on the longest run. Distractions are definitely a good thing when it comes to running! What’s your top running tip?

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #84

Welcome to another edition of friday favourites. Although, let’s be honest, this week has been a weird one. While it’s been full of lovely, amazing, brilliant things it has also been tinged with utter horror as I’ve watched how things have been unfolding in Charlottesville and Barcelona. Sometimes I really worry about this world and what we, as humans, are capable of. It’s really been quite horrific. Although reassuringly no one in my circle has anything other than condemnation about the idiots spouting such hateful, racist things across the world. If anything my feed has been one of support and asking how can we do more to help. Which has certainly been good to see.

But anyway, on to my friday favourites, the list of things that have made me cheerful this week. The little things that have brightened my day or had me smiling in the otherwise painful moments. One smallish thing that has made a big difference in my life is simply cooking more from scratch. It’s been part of my strive to be healthier and I’ve found I really enjoy cooking more if it’s not just bunging pre made things together. The ritual of chopping and mixing, stirring and seasoning is really quite nice and I’ve found it very therapeutic over the last few weeks. The meal I’m most proud of in the last week is the homemade baked beans and the simpleness of homemade enchiladas. Is there anything more necessary and warming on a rainy weeknight? I don’t think there is.

 Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

In other good news this week I had the best summer barbecue with family at the weekend. It was exactly what you want in a summer barbecue. Copious amounts of food, good people, Pimms, a beautiful garden, lots of chatter and the puppy playing around you. Sunday afternoon’s spent like that are the absolute best.

One thing that has made me really happy this week is that I seem to be getting stronger from all the half marathon training. My legs no longer ache so much post run and it’s easier to get up and going each run. There’s no longer pain for the first mile either. So yeah for that. Every time I restart running I’m surprised about this, hopefully this time around I’ll remember it’s easier if I keep on top of it all.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Last night I ticked another brilliantly British summer activity of this year’s to do list – watching cricket as the sun went down. We headed on over to the Oval to watch a Twenty20 match between Surrey and Gloucester. It was a really close game, with Surrey triumphing in the last over and we had such fun eating our fish and chips and nattering away as we watched them play. I highly recommend a trip to a Twenty20 match if you can get tickets. Even if you’re not the biggest cricket fan it’s such fun!

The final thing making today’s friday favourites is the fact that I’ve surpassed my sponsorship target for October’s half marathon. So that’s over £350 going to Great Ormond Street Hospital (if I complete the run). How awesome is that? It is definitely good motivation to get me out of bed and training each morning!

So there we go, my friday favourites list for this week. How was your week and what made your list?

-Fi x