The Book Corner: The Book Amnesty (that wasn’t)

At the start of the year I told myself that I was not allowed to buy any more books until we’ve moved house. For the simple reason that considering packing all of my current books gives me chills. To add any more books to the pile just seems absurd. I figured, how hard can it be? At the time I had no idea when the move would be happening (and still don’t) but I didn’t realise quite how hard I’d find this self-imposed book amnesty.

Not only had I spectacularly failed to notice the sheer number of amazing books that were coming out at the start of the year that I would need.{I say need because it really is one. There’s something about the way my brain is wired that means I have to get certain books as soon as they’re published}. I’d also not considered how long January is  and how much I love browsing a book shop. Do you know how hard it is to not buy books when in a bookshop? Almost impossible I tell you.

I did quite well for a while. In fact for the first three weeks I resisted all bookish temptation. And then I started noticing lovely books I needed. Like the new Jill Mansell book, Three Amazing things About You, and book two in the  Wells and Wong Mystery series by Robin Stephens, Arsenic for TeaThis series is amazing and is one that I would have loved as a nine-year old. You have to read it. It’s an Agatha Christie novel wrapped up in an Enid Blyton tale – pure bliss and the perfect Sunday read. And then there’s The Girl on a Train, Elizabeth is Missing and Deliciously Ella’s new cookbook.  Oh and Five Children on the Western Front. Seriously guys I need these books in my life. Amazingly I’ve been good and not bought any books, but as soon as the house move happens {touch wood} then all bets are most definitely off.

I have however bought some books – not physical books mind you – Kindle books are different right? I don’t have to move those so they definitely don’t need to be included in the book amnesty. Hooray for blurred lines! So what books have I bought on Kindle. Well my current read is one, Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm, which is brilliant. Then there’s two books from Harriet Evans, one of my favourite authors – A Place for Us and Not Without You. I love Harriet’s books and I can’t believe I’d forgotten to read her last book. What is wrong with me.

So whilst the book amnesty didn’t work as I still bought books, even if they’re not physical books. I did do better than I thought and definitely reduced my book consumption by a lot. Normally I’d say I buy around ten books a month, so definitely an improvement!

 

Oh and then February happened and I spied the new look Harry Potter gift edition of The Philosophers Stone and it was available for preorder… so that happened. {and I bought one for Lau too, because hello fellow Potterhead!}. So yes four books bought in one month and only one which needs to be packed? I’d call that a pretty good attempt.

Book Amnesty - Book Corner - This and That Blog

Tell me, what books have you bought so far this year. Anything I need to add to the post-amnesty book buying list?

– Fi x

Out and About: Ripley Common

A couple of weeks ago both Fi and I were at the parental abode for the weekend. As we were in the middle of half marathon training (eek!) we decided to head out on a run early Sunday morning with our Dad. The plan was to head out to Ripley and then run along the canal. Nothing like having a great running plan. Except come Sunday morning I awoke with a horrible horrible cold and sore throat thing, and the last thing I wanted to do was run for 90 minutes. Also I was pretty sure that if I tried to run for even five minutes then breathing was going to be a problem! Best laid plans of mice and men hey! Instead I opted to head with the running pair to Ripley and have a wander around Ripley common and through the woods. Thereby getting some fresh air and exercise without actually doing myself any damage.

During my little wander I took a few snaps to share with you all.
Ripley Common - Out and About - This and That Blog

 

the runners running

Ripley Common - Out and About - This and That Blog

this sign made me giggle!

Ripley Common - Out and About - This and That Blog

silver birches

Ripley Common - Out and About - This and That Blog

dream house

 

I’d forgotten just how lovely Ripley is. I remember playing here all the time when I was younger, but I just don’t get back that much anymore. They also have a fantastic bonfire and fireworks display in November – or at least they used to. I’m definitely going to try and catch that again this year.

I can highly recommend getting out and having a wander through undiscovered areas around where you live. Especially early on a Sunday. Yes, a lazy day is great, but there’s something special about being up early before other people and trampling around in the cold. Plus it makes the cooked breakfast afterwards even better!

Laura xx

Smiley Happy Things: My Top 10 of Now

My Top 10 of Now…

– Organising and clearing out my wardrobe. After a very productive Saturday morning I have a completely reorganised wardrobe. I’ve found clothing I forgot I owned and I’ve finally found my Coca Cola ‘Holidays are Coming’ t-shirt – it’s a month late, but at least I’ve rediscovered it before next Christmas! Also there are now two bin bags full or clothes and bags ready to go to the local charity shop. Next on my list of things to tackle is the shoes.

smiley happy things - top 10 of now - This and That Blog

– How cute is this little owl notecard? It’s the glasses that make it for me. I found it when I was back at my parent’s house over the weekend. I was half tempted to bring it back to London with me and frame it, but then I remembered that I shouldn’t be filling my house with extra things right now, what with the impending house move {fingers crossed}.

– Rachel’s Divine Rice Pudding. This stuff is delicious. Nothing like the lumpy rice pudding from my school days.

– I’ve been listening to the Original Soundtrack of Wicked almost continuously for the past few days. I absolutely love it. I went to see the musical in January with some friends and it’s reignited my obsession with it. The musical is definitely one of my favourites.

– Right now I can’t seem to be able to stop myself from looking at clothes online. There’s so many lovely spring colours out and about right now. It’s nice to dream about colours for even a little bit. So far I’ve restrained myself and not bought anything, but considering I’ve found so many lovely things – This flamingo jumper, this spot jumper, this skirt and this dress – I’m not sure how much longer I can keep myself under control!

– Finally deciding to give Amazon Prime a try. I’m still a huge Netflix fan, but the fact that I have been able to watch the third series of Ripper Street and also have the complete series of One Tree Hill at my fingertips is hugely exciting. The perfect escape on these dark and wintry nights.

smiley happy things - top 10 of now - This and That Blog

– I’ve discovered the Everyman Cinema in Walton on Thames and I am officially in love with it. Great decor, comfy chairs and delicious coffee. Next time I will be sampling their pizza. Some of the other cinema goers had then and they looked so good. Also they have a typewriter in their bar. Enough said.

– Whiplash. Has anyone else seen this film yet? I have and I was impressed. I didn’t really have any thoughts beforehand and I probably wouldn’t have watched it if other people didn’t suggest it. Maybe that’s one of the reason I liked it, because I didn’t have any preconceived ideas.

– I’ve finally started reading Wolf Hall. Yes, I’m completely behind the time here, I know. But better late than never! It’s quite a hefty book so I’m being quite slow with it. Plus with the historical content I’m finding that I have to be in the right frame of mind to read it.

– Finally I am completely in love with this t-shirt. It just warms my Potter obsessed bones. It was a Christmas present from Fi and wearing it makes me smile. It also makes me wonder what my patronus would be. Why isn’t there a buzzfeed quiz for that?

smiley happy things - top 10 of now - This and That Blog

Laura xxx

All Things Fitness: Thoughts on the Jawbone Up

Since mid-October  I’ve been a Jawbone Up 24 advocate. Before I get into the many reasons why I love this piece of equipment let me first rewind to why I made the move to the Jawbone Up 24…

For a large part of 2014 I was being super indecisive and deliberating about getting a fitness tracker like the Fitbit or Jawbone Up. I’ve been a huge fan of fitness apps since Jan 2012 when I went on my health kick and thanks largely to the My Fitness Pal app I managed to kick bad habits and shed almost three stone in two years. But after over two years of just using My Fitness Pal I was losing my motivation and wanted to track even more of my habits, hence the desire for a new fitness tracker. The thought of focusing on my sleep, my exercise and my food really hit home and I knew it would be the extra motivation that I needed to refocus and step back on the healthier habits band wagon.

 

And boy was I right. The Up 24 is amazing and it’s made me all super geeky and focused on odd things. Thinks like the number of steps I do each day, the number of calories I eat, when I go to sleep, how deep a sleep I get each night and how long I sit stationary for each day. I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s just so fascinating to have all this information at your finger tips and my sister, Dad and I spend a fair amount of time discussing our progress and trying to beat one another – yeah for the Evans family competitive streak!

I could spend hours going on and on about how awesome the Jawbone Up 24 is, but I don’t want you to be bored to death, so instead here are my favourite things about the app:

1) The app is super easy to use and the arm band sync directly with it, so whenever you check your progress on the app you know it’s as up to date as possible. As for seeing your progress it could not be easier. There are three bars, of different colours, each symbolising a different thing and they show how your day is going compared to your targets.

2) The arm band is not annoying to wear at all, in fact I’ve got to the point where I barely notice it on my wrist. Plus it can get wet so you don’t need to remove it for a shower, which is a bonus as who can remember much of anything early in the morning?

3) You can synchronise the app with other health related apps. So I can continue to log my food and drink consumption on My Fitness Pal and it’ll automatically appear on the Up24 app and on the green bar symobolising food.

The Jawbone Up - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

4) The step tracker is so fascinating! I love seeing how far I walk each day and if I’ve not hit my target my the early evening I’ll make myself pop out for a short walk or move around a lot in the flat. Just so I can hit that target, as not hitting those steps is so annoying!

5) You can set an alarm each day that works by causing the band to vibrate once, so no ridiculously lord blaring alarm early in the morning. There’s also an option that allows for the band to wake you up to 30 minutes before the alarm is due to go off as long as you’re only lightly sleeping. Which I know sounds odd, why would you want that? But when you’re woken from a lighter sleep you’re so much more awake for the rest of the day, so it’s something I’d definitely recommend!

6) You can set alerts that trigger the band to vibrate if you’ve been sat down for longer than an hour without moving – you know what it’s like when you get caught up in work. Sometimes you barely notice the time and need to move around more – that’s definitely me during the work week. So now I get an alert if I’m sat still for an hour between 8 and 4.

The Jawbone Up - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

 

The tracking screen – you can only imagine how great it feels to hit all the targets each day!

Do you have a fitness tracker, which one did you go for and why and has it met your expectations?

– Fi x

Life Rambles: Recently Pinned

I love putting together these posts as I find it interesting to see what I’ve been pinning lately.

I guess like most people I go through different pinterest phases, times when I seem to be pinning certain things more than others. Before Christmas it was all about Christmas with recipes, decorations and last minute festive DIYs (see previous posts here and here), but right now it’s all about home interiors, quotes and pretty things for me. There are pretty obvious reasons for this – or at least obvious reasons in my mind anyway. To start with I’m hoping to move house soon and therefore home interiors are bound to feature. Also it’s the beginning of the year, and the weather is miserable. Both of these things mean that I want to treat myself to new things. It’s that post Christmas slump, a time when shopping for both myself and others is always going to be a great way to perk myself up!

Recently Pinned - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

 

chalkboard globe / flipbelt / copper boxes

Harry Potter quote / sea green kitchen / square ring

DIY glasses / cushion cover / sitting room

wooden floors & white

What have you all been pinning lately? Send me your links to pinterest please, I need some new boards to follow.

Laura xxx

p.s. I’ve tried to link to the original location of the images, be it a blog or shop, rather than the versions on my Pinterest boards. Apologies if I’ve linked things incorrectly. Please contact me and I can rectify any errors. 

In the Kitchen: Must Make Recipes of 2015

I’m a hoarder, there I admit it. I hoard all sorts of things, including recipes. Despite the wonder that is Pinterest, where I have pinned a combined total of 1277 savoury and sweet recipes, I still email myself new recipes on a regular basis. At last count I had 120 emails in my ‘recipes’ folder, and I know that a lot of these emails actually have multiple links to delicious sounding recipes in them. So we’re talking at minimum 150 recipes that I want to try. Eek!

Obviously I’m never going to find the time to make all 150+ recipes, probably ever, let alone this year. And I certainly don’t want to make any unrealistic goals like ‘I will make at least two new recipes a month’, but I do want to start adding these to my repertoire so that I can start enjoying this hoard of recipes that exists in my inbox. As let’s be honest, they’re not much use filed away are they?

So with that in mind above and below are ten of the recipes that I really want to make as soon as possible. I think I’ll probably start with something simple, like the Nutella brownies, as they only contain four ingredients. So how long can they really take to cook?

Must Make Recipes - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Guilt Free Chicken Curry / Swedish Meatballs / Burrito Bowls

Baked Falafel / Spinach Artichoke and Brie Crepes

Twix Cheesecake Bars / Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups / Sticky Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Nutella Brownies / Orange Rice Cake

Do you do the same things with recipes, or is it just me? And any more that you think I need to add to the recipes inbox.

– Fi x

Life Rambles: An Instagram Calendar

One of my favourite Christmas presents in 2014 was a personalised desk calendar from Lau {via Printstagram} as it featured 365 of my very own Instagram posts. So it’s an Instagram calendar! I was so touched to receive the calendar as not only must it have taken forever to put together but also everyday I get reminded of a brilliant moment from the last few years. And better yet I have no idea what’s coming next, which would have been the case had I made it for myself.

An Instagram Calendar - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

 

Along with this Instagram calendar of joy I have my good old Disney Calendar to accompany it. (I say ‘good old’ as I’ve bought a Disney or Disney Pixar calendar for the last four years and it’s becoming a bit of a tradition). What’s not to love about a calendar that shares classic Disney moments every day? With these two calendars on my desk at work surely every work day has to be awesome?

Anyway, back to my Instagram calendar! It’s something I’m definitely going to enjoy every day until 2016. It’s really the gift that keeps on giving. Aren’t I the lucky one?! What’s your desk calendar looking like, is it a personal one or an ‘off the shelf one’?

– Fi x

Smiley Happy Things: The January Edition

So I’m going to buck a trend here and say I love January. Yes it’s dark and cold outside but at the same time there’s so much promise for what a new year might bring with it. There’s the planning, preparing and dreaming of what the next 12 months holds and that in itself is pretty awesome. Plus when it’s cold outside it’s perfectly acceptable to be sat on the sofa for five hours binge watching box sets. Right? So, as one of my favourite months draws to a close it only seems right to share the things keeping me happy for the last 30 days. So may I present the January edition of Smiley Happy Things.

First up is party planning. Lau touched on this a couple of weeks ago but we’re most definitely in the throes of planning an 81st birthday party, collectively (21 + 30 +30) obvs I’m not that old! , and I’m getting super excited. Fingers crossed everyone can make it or else they’ll be a lot of food consumed by me…

 

The January Edition - Smiley Happy Things - This and That Blog

John Donne’s house spotted on last weekend’s running route

Running. We’re deep into our half marathon training right now and I have to say I’m really enjoying the long weekend runs. This week’s run is two lots of 50 minute runs sandwiched with a total of 35 minutes walking and I can’t wait. Call me odd, and I totally understand if you do, but there’s something so rewarding about running for such a long time. Not to mention the beautiful places you can explore. Last week I explored near my parents’ and we ended up running through Wisley Gardens and along a canal which was beautiful. Despite the cold!

 

The January Edition - Smiley Happy Things - This and That Blog

A different angle to usual for Wisley’s famous greenhouse

Collecting ideas. This month I’ve found myself screenshot-ting a lot of images on my phone that I’m keen to try myself. Everything from chevron mug DIYs and new recipes to inspiring quotes and room ideas. There’s definitely something about the new year that breeds inspiration and a renewed need for creativity.

 

The January Edition - Smiley Happy Things - This and That Blog

The perfect view for Once

Theatre trips. I’ve been making the most of the www.getintolondontheatre.co.uk deals this month and so far have been to Wicked and Once for only £20 each. Not bad at all if you ask me. Yes I’ve seen both before but singing along to favourite songs is a sure-fire way to get me smiling (possibly not by neighbour on the bus though!).

 

The January Edition - Smiley Happy Things - This and That Blog

Possibly the best book ever for a one year old – learn to count with Jane Eyre

Trips to see friends. From 30th birthdays to 1st birthdays and goodbye parties to coffee dates, there’s been a lot of lovely friend activities this month, which is always awesome. I just wish some of my favourite people were closer so some could be more regular.

Mini Eggs. I know a lot of you will disagree with this statement as it’s only January but these are my favourite chocolates so to have them on shelf from the 1st Jan is amazing!

 

New Stationery. This month I’ve been making the most of two new desk calendars, a giant post it note style desk jotter and a new notebook. And I’m loving it. January is definitely the month for new stationery.

So tell me, what has made your January?

– Fi x

In the Kitchen: The Utlimate Comfort Food – Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese

Do you have an ultimate comfort food? I do. In fact I have two that vie for the title. The two contenders are macaroni cheese with lashings of cheese sauce and homemade chicken and ham pie. Either of these is my go to cheer-me-up-now food. Or at least they were until about two weeks ago. Now I have added a third favourite into the mix; cauliflower and broccoli cheese.

Side note: I’ve just realised that for me comfort food is all about the sauce! Yay for that!

I made and ate my first cauliflower and broccoli cheese two weeks ago and I was immediately in food heaven. Of course now I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to get in on this deliciousness. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this marvelous creation? And why has it taken me so long to actually make it? Okay so I know the answer to that. My childhood was full of a completely irrational fear of vegetables. I know that most kids have this issue but I swear I was worse than your average vegetable hating child. The only vegetable I would eat without complaint was leeks – which isn’t actually a standard vegetable to give children, is it!  People must have hated having to cook for me! Luckily for me I grew out of this and while I still have a pea phobia and I hate cooked carrots, I am now a vegetable eating machine.

Albeit one that  hadn’t eaten cauliflower cheese until this year!

 

Comfort Food - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Look at all that creamy goodness! So this is quite possibly the easiest thing to make. Once you’ve mastered a cheese sauce you are set to go. Simply cook the broccoli and cauliflower and layer in a dish. Then pour over your cheese sauce and bake in the over for about 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling deliciously.

Confession time, we added cheddar and blue cheese into our sauce to make it extra tasty, and then I devoured this in a matter of minutes. But it’s okay because the vegetables clearly cancel out the amount of cheese sauce. Right?

What’s your go-to comfort food. Do you have a recipe for it? Link me up people!

Laura xxx

The Book Corner: The Rosie Project vs The Rosie Effect

 

The Rosie Project was one of my favourite books of last year. It had me crying with laughter and thrusting it into the hands of everyone I know with the simple words ‘you’ll love it’. So it’s no surprise that I was absolutely gagging to get my hands on the sequel, The Rosie Effect. Thankfully my sis was listening to me and on Christmas Day I found it under the Christmas tree and got reading it post Christmas. And after finishing The Rosie Effect, what do I think?

Well I was disappointed, to put it mildly. It just wasn’t that funny. And considering that’s what made the first book so good it’s a right royal shame. Don’t get me wrong it has some funny moments, but it’s not hilarious and there were definitely no tears due to laughing as I read it. As for the story it was all quite forced, it just didn’t seem to flow and it felt like the author was trying to squeeze the story out, rather than letting it flow like it had in The Rosie Project.

One of my favourite things about The Rosie Project were the characters of Rosie and Don, you couldn’t help but fall in love with them and their relationship just worked perfectly. It felt so genuine and right. But the Rosie and Don in The Rosie Effect weren’t like that. It was forced and they weren’t really very nice. They seemed like an entirely different pair of characters, which is such a shame as that’s why the first book worked so well. I really wish book two would have lived up to the promise shown in The Rosie Project. Don’t you hate it when the sequel doesn’t match up? Has that ever happened to you?

– Fi x