Life Lately: Recently I’ve been…

What have you been up to lately guys? I’ve been a busy little bee with sister time, crazy work stuff and prepping for a house move. So busy busy, but super fun too. Here’s a little recently I’ve been list. I’d love to see yours, so why not link up below?

Eating lots of chicken sandwiches, wraps and paninis thanks to having no energy left to be organised about cooking or making lunches. So M&S and the George Foreman grill have been coming in very handy…!

Watching lots of The Great Interior Design Challenge, I think we’ve got through 10 episodes in about a week. It’s oddly addictive isn’t it? Also loving that Arrow is back. Swoon.

Reading lots of brilliant manuscripts for work and Harriet Evans’ Not Without You. I love Harriet’s books and realised I hadn’t read one of her novels for ages so that needed rectifying and of course she didn’t disappoint.

Buying not very much (apart from the aforementioned M&S sandwiches) apart from packing materials. £160 on boxes and bubble wrap, surely that’s not right? If you’re London-based and ever need to move I have all the items you’ll need. So do grab a box or 40 some time.

Wanting a holiday. I feel like my body and brain is just fried right now and it’s screaming for a week away somewhere to do nothing but fun things – long walks, paddles in the sea, lazy mornings, comfort food and fresh air. But alas there’s still a month before my birthday trip to Deal.

Dreaming about moving house. It feels like we’ve been talking about moving for ages and ages and it still feels like it’s never going to happen. Fingers crossed we’ll be in the new house soon.

Drinking iced coffees and caramel macchiatos. The perfect pick me ups on the way into work or post thirst inducing run.

Listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 on constant repeat. I just can’t get enough of it. And it’s still not getting repetitive or boring at all. Amazing!

Wishing lovely friends weren’t leaving for sunnier climes. Not only am I jealous, but I’m going to miss their smiley faces. Let’s just hope Sydney and California treat them well. Oh and that I can get out there to see them both soon. A lottery win would help!

Stressing over the house move. There’s so much to organise and it just takes so darn long.

Recently I've Been - Life Lately - This and That Blog

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Singing all things Wicked.

Considering treating myself to a new dress for my impending birthday party. Anyone spotted anything pretty and patterned that’ll work with black tights or bare legs? (After all who knows what the weather will be like at the end of this month?

Laughing at the things you find when you pack a flat after five years: a lone sock under the sofa cushions, enough dust to make anyone allergic to it, that forgotten sunset picture and a special contraption that means you can get to the things under the sofa without breaking your back by lifting the sofa. Oh.

Packing all of the things I own. We’re talking 11 boxes of books, five boxes and two suitcases of clothes, a small(ish) suitcase of jewelry and accessories and a whole holdall of coat hangers. YIKES!

Wearing a thinner scarf and my leather jacket. Guys, I think Spring is starting to make its presence felt.

Running a half marathon. It feels like I was training forever for this race, but it’s finally been completed and I loved it! It was such fun running with the sisterlings and we even managed a sisters sprint race right at the end!

Waiting forever for house things to get sorted.

Cooking nothing at all, which really needs to change sometime soon. I am dying to make a curry, stew or enchiladas sometime soon.  

Planning a trip to France in the summer for a beautiful wedding. Hooray for lovely friends getting married in a stunning location.

Needing to start thinking about decor, food, drink, etc will be needed for my birthday party at the end of the month. I know it’ll be the 28th sooner than I think and yet I’ve not even thought about the practicalities of what the day will be like. I’m envisaging the above, I’m just not sure how I’ll get to that… Any ideas?

Fi xxx

In the Kitchen: Cinnamon Buns

Before we get into the cinnamon buns recipe, let’s have a quick life update. Right now I’m officially homeless. Fi and I completed the sale of our flat on Friday (the 13th, unlucky for some), but we’ve not yet finalised things for a new place. So we’ve migrated home to the parental units for a couple of weeks. It’s been great so far, we’re in the countryside, there’s a coffee machine in the kitchen and we’re both having a well deserved rest.

Although ask me my thoughts after a week of commuting to London and I might be feeling differently! I’ve also finally gotten a decent nights sleep. Nine long hours on Friday night, which definitely beats the 6.5 hour average I’ve been getting over the past 2 weeks.

One other plus side to being at home is the kitchen – there’s so much space and the cupboards are full. Bliss! Yesterday whilst having a lazy Saturday I decided to do a spot of baking.

Cinnamon Buns - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

The chosen recipe in Step-by-Step Baking from DK

So after a quick flick through the numerous cookbook I settled on cinnamon buns. The perfect thing for the weekend. Plus I was able to make them on Saturday, prove them over night and bake them on Sunday. Which meant it was warm cinnamon buns for breakfast on Mothering Sunday. I definitely won favourite daughter points with this one!

Ingredients –
125ml of milk
100g unsalted butter
2tsp dried yeast
50g caster sugar
550g plain flour
1tsp salt
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks

Cinnamon Buns - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

 

Pastry ingredients

For the filling, and glaze –
2tbsp cinnamon & 100g soft brown sugar
25g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten lightly
2tbsp caster sugar

Cinnamon Buns - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

 

Ingredients for the filling and glaze

1. Heat the milk and butter with 125ml of water. Let it cool.
2. When it’s just warm whisk in the dried yeast and a tablespoon of the sugar. Cover for 10 minutes.
3. Add the flour, salt and remaining sugar into a bowl, make a well and pour in the warm milk mixture.
4. Whisk the egg and egg yolks together and add to the pastry mixture.
5. Bring together to form a dough. Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
6. Place in an oiled bowl and cover, leave in a warm place for two hours.
7. After 2 hours, gently knock back the dough.
8. Roll out into a rectangle. The book states 40 x 30 cm, but I used a rectangular brownie pan.
9. Brush with the melted butter, scatter with two thirds of the filling leaving a 1 cm border on one side. Brush this border with the beaten egg.
10. Press the filling into the dough to make sure it sticks.
11. Roll the dough up.
12. Cut into 10-12 cm equal pieces.
13. Grease and line your 30 cm round cake tin.
14. Pack in the rolls. Cover and prove in the fridge overnight (or you can prove for 1-2 hours until well risen).
15. Brush with egg and bake in a preheated oven at 180C. Bake for 25 minutes.
16. Heat 3tbsp water with 2 of sugar until dissolved. Brush the glaze over the rolls.
17. Sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and sugar filling before cooling on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Buns - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

 

And here they are, the finished cinnamon buns. These were so tasty. Mum was very pleased to have something warm and sweet for breakfast and the whole family polished off a couple of rolls each. What a perfect way to start the day. Plus there’s still some for a mid afternoon snack!

Laura xxx

My Top 10 of Now: March

These last few weeks have been pretty busy. I feel like I’ve had so much going on, all these things just running around and keeping my mind constantly awake. Honestly it’s been slightly draining. On the plus side there’s been lots of nice little things to keep me smiling, so here is my March top ten list.

March Top Ten - My Top Ten of Now - This and That Blog

 

– Fresh flowers. The perfect way to brighten up any space. I’m especially loving the tulips and daffodils. These yellow tulips just make me want to smile every time I look at them.

– The ‘don’t let anyone dull your sparkle’ desktop wallpaper above from Little Big Bell and Pinch Me Moments. It’s literally perfect for me right now.

– Binge watching Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons. So good! Definitely a guilty pleasure and the perfect way to waste a Saturday afternoon.

– Realising that the decision to set up a brunch club with some of my favourite ladies was definitely a genius idea. I love knowing however busy we all are we will always get together once a month. Also it’s a great way to check out new eateries in London.

– Isn’t Hampton Court Palace perfect? I love the fact that I live near places like this. Also imagine living here? Clearly I need to find myself a prince.

– Wahaca frijoles and tortilla chips. Heaven on a plate.

– Sisters. I spent the whole of the weekend with my two marvellous sisters and we had so much fun; baking, brunch, buying all the things in Sainsbury’s, Law & Order marathons and also a bit of running thrown in too.

– This post Women Are Not The Enemy from Michelle over at Life Outside of London. Just perfect.

– Passion-fruit martinis. Divine.

– The spring like weather that we are currently seeing. Yes, it’s still quite chilly, but there’s blue skies, fluffy clouds and longer days.

What are your happy things? Laura xxx

Thought of The Day: Look Around

 

Look Around - Thought of The Day - This and That Blog

I was sat on the tube the other day looking at my fellow passengers and all 11 of those in my section were head down and eyes focused on a book, a newspaper, a phone or an iPad. There was not one single person  in that carriage (apart from me) who looked up or moved until they reached their stop.

Now I know it’s the tube and there’s not much to look at, apart from your fellow passengers, but come on people, why are we so focused on everything else? How often to we actually stop focusing on our small screens and just look at what’s around us? I know I’m guilty of this too, probably eight times out of ten I’m that person too. But I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to stop doing that and to look around at what is going on in the world

After all I must be missing loads. Whether it’s the cloudless blue sky or little crocuses peeking through the soil, amazing London landmarks that others would kill to drive past on a daily basis – Westminster Abbey and Big Ben I’m looking at you – or perhaps it’s just a funny advert on the tube. It’s high time I stopped, looked around and appreciated the smaller things in life.

Wishlists: The Perfect Bag

For the last year or so I’ve been switching between two bags that are actually perfect. They are exactly the same in style and shape, but in two different colours, one lilac and one bright green – so perfect for using in winter and spring. However, in the last month the green one’s handle has broken and I’ve changed the shape of the lilac one thanks to stuffing it too full. So the time has come for me to go bag hunting for the perfect bag. I’ve been perusing the internet for a while but can’t seem to make up my mind about which to get, as let’s be honest there are some stunning bags out there.

Below are just a few of my current favourites. Hopefully I’ll make a decision soon…

The Perfect Bag - Wishlists - This and That Blog

 black shoppergrey & turquoise bag / coral and grey shopper

Part of me thinks a simple black shopper would be sensible as it’ll go with everything and I love this one with two types of strap. But would I find it too boring to use on an every day basis?

These two reversible ones are lovely aren’t they? Not only are the colours stunning but the idea of two different bags in one is quite appealing. So grey for when I should be being a bit responsible and work focused and then the bright pop or coral or turquoise when out and about at the weekend. Hhm it’s appealing. At the moment I think the shape of the grey and coral one is my favourite.

The Perfect Bag - Wishlists - This and That Blog

 turquoise bag / red shopper

Clearly I’m in love with bright coloured bags if these two are anything to go by. Both these bags are a gorgeous colour, but would the smaller size fit all my crap in, I’m not so sure. But then look at the colours – amazing!

The Perfect Bag - Wishlists - This and That Blog

grey and pale pink bag / green shopper / pink bag

So I’ve thrown these three bags in at the end, even though I’d never spend this much on a bag, as I love everything about them – the colours, the details, the straps. They are just perfect and I want all three in my life. Anyone fancy buying them for me?

All Things Fitness: Top 10 Running Songs

So today is the day, it’s finally here, the day that the Evans sisters run the Surrey Half Marathon – eek! I’m strangely excited about the race. After all we just want to complete it, so that we can say we’ve done it, it’s not about a certain time or speed. It’s about achieving something. So bring it on!

 

Top 10 Running Songs - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

last year’s medal added to the collection

Even though I imagine today will involve a lot of nattering to get us through the race, at least if our training and past races are anything to go by, there’s one other thing that is a huge help when I’m running. The music. It’s obvious I know but good music really does make a big difference. Not only is it distracting but it’s hugely uplifting and inspiring. There’s nothing quite like it for spurring you on. So as I’m gearing up for the big race right about now I thought I’d share some of the best songs for race day, those songs that just keep pushing you on. Some will be on everyone’s list I’m sure, but hopefully some of them will be new and perfect for anyone else compiling that perfect running playlist!

  1. The Climb – Miley Cyrus: Fact: it’s impossible to stop running when this song is on, you have no choice but to carry on when singing along to a song with the lyrics ‘I gotta keep trying, gotta keep my head held high. There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna wanna make it move, always gonna be an uphill battle…Ain’t about how fast I get there, it’s about what’s waiting on the other side.’  I promise you it’s impossible to stop and then once you’ve pushed for three more minutes you’re often back in the groove and another mile or five isn’t so hard…
  2. Roar – Katy Perry: A classic pop song that has a brilliant chorus. I defy you not to speed up when this song appears on the playlist!
  3. Just Stand Up – various: This song is super catchy and a good old belter, so perfect to run along to as a result. Also the lyrics are about fighting cancer, so to listen to those inspiring lyrics and remember that you aren’t fighting cancer and the pain/hard work of a run will end soon, unlike what many cancer patients are going through is unsurprisingly helpful on a run. So you just keep going.
  4. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor: An obvious choice I know. But there’s no denying it’s not great for spurring you on mid-run!
  5. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift: This song is the perfect Taylor pop track – there’s a great beat, catchy lyrics and it’s easy to sing-along with. Everything you need for a perfect running track. t’s just a shame I can’t listen to Taylor on my running playlist on Spotify anymore!
  6. Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard: ‘Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.’ Great advice mid run and set to a powerful tune that is perfect to spur you on when the running is getting particularly hard.

So tell me, what are your key running songs, which ones keep you going mid run or workout?

Wishlist: Rooms I Want to Own

One of my favourite Pinterest boards is my Rooms I want to own board. I never tire of adding bits and pieces to this board, even though in reality I’ll never own any of those rooms. But I figure a girl can dream can’t she! Sometimes I’ll pin a picture because I love the whole room or it might just be for one element within in and I thought it was about time I shared some of my current favourite pins with you all, who knows it might spark something with you and you might be inspired, just like I am, by these beautiful rooms.

Rooms I Want to Own - Wishlists - This and That Blog1 / 2 / 3

I love the idea of a white canvas, particularly in the kitchen, which is already for splashes of colour in the form of important sayings, colourful bunting, pretty pictures and colourful accessories. I also adore the idea of mismatched chairs (both in terms of colour and style) with a white and wooden table. There’s something just so right about the scene created in this picture.

I’m a book person so you might be surprised to hear that this image was pinned not because of the glorious bookshelves, but instead for the combination of stripped floor boards, old trunk and beautiful cast iron fireplace. Just perfect. Especially with the addition of a beautiful wooden chair with plush cushions.

The third image is a living room that I can really imagine owning, alcoves filled with books (but not completely shelved), a snuggly wing-back chair and a gorgeous fireplace all finished with a gorgeous deep grey. I’ve also got an ornate mirror like this one, only on a smaller scale, which is just begging to be the focus of a room like this. One day maybe it’ll get it’s chance!

Rooms I Want to Own - Wishlists - This and That Blog

4 / 5 / 6

I love the simplicity of this pale grey and white room, even though I know in reality I’d never achieve it as I am the queen of stuff and colours. But it’s still beautiful. As is that trunk at the end of the bed. Just glorious.

How wonderful would it be to sit in this snug and admire the sunset, take your time reading the paper or simply devour a plate of breakfast pancakes. Glorious right. What a dream to aim for.

Another ornate mirror, wing-back chair, fireplace and bookcase combination which I adore. Especially with the addition of the bright colours and painted grey floorboards. I can definitely imagine myself curled up on that chair reading a favourite novel, can’t you?

Isn’t Pinterest the best place to head to for beautiful and dream-worthy house inspiration?

{If you’re on Pinterest and fancy being inspired by pins such as these, then do follow along, it’d be lovely to see you!}

– Fi x

Thought of the Day: The Unknown

The Unknown - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

I’ve just been reading Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming and these words jumped out at me from the page. I think it’s great advice for all walks of live and I’m definitely going to try to do each of these things more.

If you haven’t read the book I would highly recommend it. It’s a completely gripping read about the actor’s own childhood and relationship with his father, coupled with the investigation into his grandfather’s life and death years earlier. I raced through this in 24 hours and I think it’s my favourite book of the year so far.

Laura xxx

The Unknown - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

 

In The Kitchen: Banana, Chocolate and Apple Muffins

 

At the moment I’m meal planning based on what random ingredients are in the back of the fridge or hiding in the depths of the tin cupboard. Seems like a logical idea right, surely nothing can go wrong with an idea like this…hmmm, only time will tell!

The logic behind this is that I keep buying new ingredients instead of using those that I already have – so it makes financial sense and it’s also certainly made meals more interesting recently. So far we’ve ended up with a chicken and leek lasagna, (which was insanely good) and next up we’re having a go at bean burgers. Both of which I’ve been meaning to make for ages but for some reason I’ve found myself ignoring the new recipes in favour of well-known recipes like tuna pasta, salads or chicken and ham pie.

Another recipe that I’ve been reminded of, thanks to this new cupboard clearing mentality, is Betsy’s delicious Banana, Chocolate and Apple Muffins. I first made these near the end of last year and instantly adored them. They’re soft and buttery and chocolatey and fruity too. Just perfect! As soon as I found a half full jar of apple sauce at the back of the fridge I was dead set on making these muffins again. After all they are most definitely a legitimate breakfast food on the weekends – there’s TWO types of fruit in them don’t you know!

 

8 tbs (1 stick) butter
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chunks

  1. Throw the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in to your biggest mixing bowl
  2. In a separate bowl,whisk the softened butter, eggs, bananas and apple sauce together
  3. Add the wet mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine
  4. Add the vanilla extract and chocolate chunks and stir
  5. Fill your cupcake/muffin cases 3/4 full. I made 15 muffins
  6. Bake on 180 oC for 35 minutes until a skewer or knife comes out clean.

So tell me, have you ever made fruity muffins, what’s your favourite flavour combo?

In the Kitchen: The Egg-Free Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mug Cake

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mug Cake - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

As per my promise a few weeks back, today I’m sharing one of my favourite pudding recipes – the chocolate and peanut butter mug cake. It’s everything you need in a cake and bonus it’s ready in mere minutes, so a perfect treat after a particularly rubbish day. Plus, because I barely ever have eggs in the cupboard, unless I plan on baking, it doesn’t include eggs. So it’s just perfect when you haven’t been shopping for ages or can’t bear popping to the corner shop. Genius alert!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mug Cake - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

This is an amalgamation of a couple of recipes from this book and it really is one of the best and quickiest quick cakey snack around – simply follow these six books and enjoy!

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a mug in the microwave
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa and beat with a fork
  3. Add 2 tablespoons milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons light soft brown sugar and beat until smooth
  4. Add 4 tablespoons self-raising flour, 1 tbsp chopped chocolate and stir
  5. Add another tbsp chopped chocolate and 1 tbsp of peanut butter  to the top – don’t mix
  6. Pop in the microwave for 90 seconds and eat when slightly cooled

And one final bit of advice, just for you, serve this with cold custard. It’s sublime, you won’t regret it. Yummy!

– Fi xx