Life Rambles: The Last Seven Days in Numbers

The last week in the land of Fi was pretty special. The days have been non-stop and crazy and generally full-on and wonderful. They’ve also been exhausting, probably the reason I’ve  been in bed all day unable to do anything but sleep. Thankfully the rest and recuperation has worked its magic and I’m now feeling a little more human – hooray! So let’s take a look back at my week of awesome…

  • 7 days of fun
  • 1 film premiere where I ‘shared’ the red carpet with 14 film stars, as you do. I may have squealed on the inside when Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore were just a metre away from me…
  • 3 Peppermint Mochas drunk (with the Christmas blend)
  • 2 new items from Joules – both stripy (of course)
  • 1 amazingly epic catch up over coffee and cake
  • 2 home-cooked meals in seven days
  • 3.5 hours in the car to and from Brighton for 1 meal
  • 1 family night in Carluccio’s eating all the pasta available
  • 1 night of catch ups with ex-colleagues
  • 32 floors above London enjoying the view at Centrepoint
  • 2 Christmas sandwiches eaten and enjoyed
  • 1 afternoon tea featuring: 4 different types of sandwiches, 1 granita, 2 scones and 4 mini cakes
  • 5 wonderful new authors that I got to meet and natter with during 1 evening of delicious canapes
  • 1 amazing meal of Dim Sum. The sweet pork dumplings were to die for. I may have eaten three…
  • 7 miles of walking around London exploring everything
  • 1 delicious birthday celebration meal in a gastro pub
  • 2 new electrical products – the Jawbone Up 24 (more on that soon) and a new phone – the iPhone 6 in case you’re wondering

So tell me, what have you been up to?

Fi xx

Life Rambles: Recently Pinned

Gosh, I love Pinterest. Isn’t it just a never-ending source of wonderfulness? I could (and do) waste hour upon hour browsing all its loveliness. Above are a few of my favourite pins from the last few weeks. As you can see it’s all about Christmas, food, quotations and house loveliness. With a cute puppy thrown in too.

Bookshelf & Fireplace / Copper LightsQuizzical Puppy

Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies / What’s For You Quote / Patchwork Quilt

Christmas Jumper / Merry & Bright DIY / Workout T-Shirt

Fireplace & Trunk / If Not Now Quote / Crock Pot Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Are you on Pinterest? Drop me your links in the comments below, I’m always on the lookout for new people to follow.

Laura xxx

Smiley Happy Things: My Top 10 of Now

photo via Death to the Stock Photo

Good morning friends. Today I wanted to share a little list of the things that are making me smile at the moment. I guess you could, and we will, call it My Top 10 of NowCider with Rosie, Bright Bazaar and Daydreams of Summertime all do their own versions of this and I thought that I might jump on the bandwagon every now and then too. Fi already has her monthly Smiley Happy Things updates, and while I don’t want to join in on these, I do want to write this post. I don’t know if it will become a (semi) regular occurrence, or not. For now it’s just good to look at the little things that brighten up the days.

I’ve started using my cafetiere a lot more on the weekends (I don’t have enough time on a weekday morning to properly utilise it) and the smell is just heavenly. Post run relaxing with coffee while flicking through the latest copy of Delicious magazine? It’s my new favourite thing.

The youngest sibling is home from uni for the week which means that the three Evans sisters have been catching up properly. It’s 100 times better than weekly Skype dates.

Making Christmas Plans. The gift list is ever changing with new things being added and other being ticked off all the time. I’ve started the gift making and pre-Christmas catch ups and ice skating trips are making the way into the diary.

Staying on the Christmas theme, I think this year’s John Lewis Christmas Advert with Monty the penguin might be my favourite yet. Also the Coca Cola advert is back on our screens – hooray to that!

Over the weekend I headed up to Notting Hill and had a mooch around. It’s just so pretty – those pastel hue houses made me smile. I can’t believe this is my first ever visit to the area. I mean I’ve lived either in or within 30 miles of London for my whole life. It really is poor on my part!

London at Night. The best things about these darker nights means that I commute home in the dark. Yes it’s a bit miserable and I do miss the daylight, but seeing the sights of London lit up from my bus window is truly magical.

This week has been tough, but the light at the end of the tunnel has been catching up with lovely people. Coffee and cake with friends, birthday celebrations and lunches where you set the world to rights. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Starbucks peppermint mochas are amazing. No more words needed!

Also this week I had my first Pret Christmas sandwich of the year. They are so good. The crispy onions are my favourite part. These will definitely be a weekly occurrence over the next few weeks.

And finally I’m excited to be spending today in London with my fabulous Mum and equally amazing sisters. The Mumbles has just turned 60 so we’re treating her to a day in London town.

 

photo – Riley Briggs via Unsplash

Laura xxx

Wishlist: The Autumn Edit

Morning you lovely lot and happy Monday. I hope you’re all having a good start to the week?

Seeing as how we are now 14 days into November (what what?!) Fi and I decided that it was time for another wishlist post, the last one was way back in August! This one is all about the warm stuff, those fluffy, cuddly things that will get us through the cold snaps that are starting to occur – the fact that the cold is only just occurring when we are in November is amazing.

So here it is, my current wishlist…

 

Wishlist: The Autumn Edit

 

This ASOS dress has been in my saved items for so long, but I think now might be the time to bite the bullet and buy it. The colour reminds me of autumn leaves, so it should really be worn in Autumn. Right? I’m a huge fan of the ASOS skater dresses, and I love the textured detail on this one and that it’s a longer length than my normal dresses.

We all know I’m jumper obsessive, so of course at least one must appear on this wishlist. I tried this jumper from H&M on the other day, in the cognac brown colour (which is basically my favourite mustard) and it was so snuggly. I simply love everything about it, the colour, shape and texture. Also wouldn’t it look amazing paired with the autumnal dress and brown boots? I’m in outfit heaven right now! The only slight issue with the jumper is that I saw someone wearing it in the office the other day, which means I’d have to be careful when wearing it to work – I really don’t fancy taking part in an unexpected ‘who wore it better’ contest!

I’ve never owned a pair of knee-high boots, but this year I’m thinking I should take the plunge and go for it. I’m in love with these Lindley charm tan leather boots. Yes, they are pricey, but are definitely worth it.

Staying on the brown leather train I should mention the beautiful leather shopper bag. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been borrowing Fi’s bag which is very similar to this and actually from Zara too. You see it turns out that I don’t have any winter appropriate bags. I’m talking big enough to throw all my winter woolies (scarf, hat & gloves) and with a zip to protect from the rain. This would be perfect. But at almost £90 it’s a bit pricey, so there’s no way I can be buying the boots and the bag this month. Maybe one, or both, need to move to my Christmas list instead? Watch this space…

 

Wishlist: Autumn Warmers

 

Now onto the warm stuff! Let’s face it the temperature has plummeted recently, which means all I want to do is curl up warm and hibernate somewhere. So that’s what the second selection above is all about! The fact that I have an obsession with owls and pyjamas means that I had to include these Owl Print Pyjamas from M&S. They are just the perfect combination, plus in the red and white colour they even have a Christmas feel to them – or is that just me?!

Snuggly socks = heaven. Snuggly socks + reindeers? I’m in Christmas heaven. Nothing else needs to be said! Along with these socks I also need this wheat pug. I have a small collection of wheat animals to warm me up in the winter weather, so I don’t need another one. But this pug is too cute to ignore!

Finally, it turns out there’s such a thing as Alphabet scarves. I need this L one in my life. If only it wasn’t such a dreary blue…

 

And Fi’s…

 

Untitled #27

 

Now that I’ve found the perfect winter coat and boots – and in the sale no less, hooray! – I can turn my attention to the important things – like winter woolies! So top of my autumn wishlist is a pair of mittens, these mittens, that mean you can use your fingers and still keep the rest of your hand warm, are a must as the colour combo is lovely. And of course I need a snuggly scarf to go with new gloves, that’s where this sparkly grey scarf comes in. It looks mahoosive and just perfect for early chilly wanders to the tube!

In my humble opinion it’s impossible to have too many Christmas jumpers and one that’s not all up in your face with its Christmas design is often a sensible idea. That way you can get away with wearing it in Autumn – I’m definitely about the Christmas love all year-long! So what’s needed is this subtle Christmas jumper that people won’t have a go at me for wearing! ps. In LOVE the holly theme!

Finally these heeled brogues, a variation on the ones on the last wishlist, need to be purchased as I know I’ll get so much wear from them during the colder weather. They’re just that perfect combination of practicality (no wet feet, smart but not too smart) and gorgeousness. Must buy this soon instead of just talking about it!

Untitled #26

Looking at the above it appears I’ve had a little moment in the Oasis site and couldn’t leave without wanting all of the things. But in my defence this lip skirt and this winter rose skirt will be just perfect with my new boots and coat and black tights this autumn. They’ll be super easy to look awesome, which is totally my goal  in life! As for the baroque floral dress, yes another Oasis item(!), just look at it! It’s so pretty and the material looks perfect for autumn. I need it.

A snuggly grey cardigan is also needed for those days when it’s chilly in the office and you need another layer, but you don’t want to bung on that old gap jumper (like I’d ever do that…!). This chunky knit from Fat Face would fit the bill perfectly don’t you think? And if I was to pair it with this padded gilet and some skinny jeans I’d be set for an autumnal walk, so let’s add that one to the list too!

So, tell us, what’s on your Autumn wishlist and what treats have you already purchased!

– Fi xx

Life Rambles: The Mothership

The past two months have seen us celebrating two special birthdays; our Dad turning 60 and the youngest sibling turning 21. Yippee for them! But before we can focus solely on Christmas there’s still one more birthday that needs celebrating in the Evans household.

Today is the 60th birthday of our lovely Mum (The Mothership/Mumbles/Mumbelita/Mums) and as is tradition (can it be a tradition if you’ve only been doing it for three months…?) we get to spend today’s blog post nattering about her awesomeness – hooray!
Mum we think you’re simply the best. You…
  • Are an amazing role model. You managed to look after us, get us to numerous after school clubs and teach hundreds of kids without dropping any of the balls or leaving us somewhere!  If in 30 odd years time I am even half like my Mum then I’ll be happy.
  • Have the patience of a saint. When we were younger you would sit through hours of our Lion King re-enactments, piano recitals and you’d even let us play hairdresser with you for hours on end. Even when this meant we spent hours brushing, pinning and plaiting your hair, which would then take you hours to remove the tangles and the knots and look half human again! (Best not to mention your lack of patience when it comes to being a passenger in a car though…)!
  • Are endlessly kind. You will help anyone, anytime & anywhere. Nothing is too much bother or hassle.
  • Are tremendously good at baking and makes the best sweet stuff ever; Shortbread, Victoria Sandwich, Cake Pops, Chocolate Cake, Baked Alaska, Profiteroles. The list could go on and on, my tummy is rumbling just thinking about it!
  • Are hilarious (even if you don’t always mean to be…)
  • Are one of a kind.
  • Put us first. All the time.

So thank you for being amazing. We love you. Enjoy your day. xxx

Life Rambles: I Do Not Know Your Name

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died

Your uniform, branch of service, it matters not to me
Whether Volunteer or Conscript, or how it came to be
That politicians’ failures, or some power-mad ambition
Brought you too soon to your death, in the name of any nation

You saw, you felt, you knew full well, as friend and foe were taken
By bloody death, that your life too, was forfeit and forsaken
Yet on you went and fought and died, in your close and private hell
For Mate or Pal or Regiment and memories never to tell

It was for each other, through shot and shell, the madness you endured
Side by side, through wound and pain, and comradeship assured
No family ties, or bloodline link, could match that bond of friend
Who shared the horror and kept on going, at last until the end

We cannot know, we were not there, it’s beyond our comprehension
To know the toll that battle brings, of resolute intention
To carry on, day by day, for all you loved and hoped for
To live in peace a happy life, away from bloody war

For far too many, no long life ahead, free of struggle and pain and the gun
And we must remember the price that was paid, by each and every one
Regardless of views, opinions aside, no matter how each of us sees it
They were there and I cannot forget, even though I did not live it

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died.

I do not know your name by Kenny Martin © 2003 

I first heard this poem a few years ago and I think it’s worth remembering today of all days as what else can you say? On a day where we remember our fallen there’s nothing you can write or read that makes this day any easier and we’ll never be able to repay every single person who died in the defense of our nation, our rights, our lives. So let us remember and in that remembering thank all those that gave their lives so we could live in peace.

Related posts: Lest we forget and Out and About: Poppies at the Tower

Out and About: NFL London

On Sunday I’ll be heading to Wembley for my second NFL London match of the year and I can’t flipping wait! It’s such a brilliant sporting event and having watched the Superbowl and other American Football matches on TV for so long it’s great to finally go to an actual proper bona fide American Football game. So three cheers for NFL London being a thing – long may it continue!

I first went to an NFL match back in the autumn of 2012, when Wembley hosted just one match. Since then NFL London has got bigger and better and this year there will be three matches hosted in the UK, one in September, one in October and the last one this Sunday. I know a lot of people who just don’t ‘get’ American Football, particularly in the UK. I’m often asked a variation on the following when I mention I’m off to a match:

What, how is that even fun?
Why would you even bother to go along and watch that?
Isn’t it super slow?

So I thought I’d dispel some myths and share my favourite things about the NFL, so here goes…

The atmosphere: The crowd play a huge part in the game. They are there to spur the players on, by waving the complimentary flags, cheering on the cheerleaders and getting over the top, loud and crazy when needed.

It’s at Wembley Stadium: Wembley was built for a game like this. For a sport where the players feed off the crowd. The voices, shouts and songs crowd the players and echo around the stadium.

The pre-game entertainment: Anything that has an hour-long build up including fireworks, Def Leppard or Little Mix (the last two matches), cheerleaders, multiple national anthems and giant flags is going to be awesome.

The Cheerleaders themselves: they do not stop. There’s a dance for half time, the change of ends, points scored, touchdown, it’s got a bit quiet, ooh free t-shirts are coming your way. The list goes on and on. Their stamina and energy is immense. Not to mention their ability to keep warm – I don’t even understand how they aren’t ice blocks from the start!

The food: as you’d expect from an US sporting event the food is super important and there’s a lot of it! We’re talking super sized drinks, eight chicken pieces rather than the usual four and something called a mac ‘n cheese donut, which I don’t even want to know about. What even is that, deep-fried pasta, WTF?!

The game: I know I’ve put this at the end but I really can’t stress enough how much more is going on that’s not the game itself. Don’t get me wrong I love the sport itself and seeing how the team operates in an actual game playing environment – as you miss so much just watching it on the TV. I love American Football as it’s hard to know who’s going to win and what the result will be. Take the last game at Wembley a few weeks ago. One team was leading all the way through and their opponent didn’t score once until the second half. Then on the last kick the losing team won the whole match. Amazing.

In short the NFL is all about the spectacle. It’s not just about the odd-shaped ball and scoring points. There’s a whole lot more to it and I defy you not to LOVE it!

Have you ever watched the NFL? What’s your favourite part about it?

– Fi xx

In the Kitchen: One Giant Cookie

Did anyone else do that classic Halloween thing of stocking up on loads of snack size treats this weekend and then get left with it all as they had zero trick or treaters? That can’t just have been what happened to me, can it? On Sunday I made it my task to use up all the mini Twix bars and Malteaser packs we were left with and decided to make a ‘throw-it-all-in’ kind of recipe, AKA my favourite kind of recipe! And I ended up with these gorgeous looking morsel of cakey biscuity goodness, jam-packed with all sorts of yummy things. They look delicious right?

Read on for details on how to make this giant cookie thing – I promise you it’s easy and delicious! I used Baker by Nature’s recipe for a Halloween Candy Cookie and omitted the icing.

  1. 1) Grease your brownie dish and line with greaseproof paper
  2. 2) Use an electric whisk to cream 200g of unsalted butter
  3. 3) Add in 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar (I mixed dark soft and light brown soft as that was all we had in the cupboard) and whisk together until fully combined.
  4. 4) Throw in two eggs and whisk together
  5. 5) Gradually add in the dry mix of 2 cups and 2 tbsp of plain flour, a pinch of salt and tsp of baking powder and whisk until just combined
  6. 6) Stir in a cup of excess Halloween chocolate. I added a mix of cut-up Twix, Maltesers, m &m’ (chocolate and crunchy ones) and mini marshmallows
  7. 7) Spread into your brownie tin and smoosh another cup of excess Halloween chocolate on top
  8. 8) Pop in the oven on 180 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden on top and baked through
  9. 9) Leave to cool and eat with a cup of coffee

To be honest I probably should have done this for a tad longer as they weren’t very chewy, but they were still super delicious – who knew that Maltesers gave such a good texture in such things!

Happy baking – Fi x

Out and About: Poppies at the Tower

For a while now Fi and I have both been harking on about doing more of the tourist things in and around London. We’ve both become guilty of ignoring the places closes to us. Silly I know, as we are both incredibly lucky to live where we do, so we really should make the most of it.

So when my Mum and Aunt (who has been visiting from Australia) mentioned that they’d like to see the Poppies at the Tower of London, the pair of us jumped at the chance to join them.

For anyone who hasn’t heard about the poppies at the Tower,there has been an ongoing installation; Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London since August 5th to mark the one hundred years that have passed since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in World War 1. Since August ceramic poppies have been added daily to the moat. By the time Remembrance Day arrives, on 11th November, all 888,246 ceramic poppies will be in place. That’s one poppy for every British military fatality during the First World War. Yes that’s 888,246 deaths.

Standing at the Tower and looking down into the moat is utterly mesmerising. There is just a sea of red, which looks beautiful. But at the same time there’s such a sense of loss, the fact that each flower represents a life lost is certainly a powerful reminder of the tragedy of the situation. Sometimes number are too intangible, so to have a visual reminder of the numbers of people who sacrificed their lives for our future is a good thing. As we can truly see the sacrifice and fully appreciate what was done for us. Even if it is also upsetting and sobering site and realisation.

These pictures are from October, so I can only imagine what the installation will look like on the 11th November.

Laura xx

The Book Corner: An A to Z of books

Happy Monday you lovely people, how did the weekend treat you? Well, I hope! I for one made the most of the rubbish weather yesterday and planted myself on the sofa with a good book and my laptop. I was totally winning at life!

Today I thought I’d hang out in the book corner for a while and share a bookish tag with you! It’s been a while since I nattered about all things books, hooray! I know Lau waffled on about her Good Reads challenge recently but the following book tag over on The Book Journal was too good an opportunity to pass up as it allowed me to think about all my favourite books and my bookish life in general! Enjoy the below and let me know if you have a go at your own bookish survey. I’d love to read them.

Author you’ve read the most books from: There are a few options… First up is Lucy Daniels and Ann M. Martin with the Animal Ark series and Babysitters Club series as I was obsessed with both of these as a child. Then there’s James Patterson, as he’s such a prolific author and I’ve read most of his books. Finally Jodi Picoult as I’ve read all but her most recent book. (Yes I have eclectic tastes in books!)

Best sequel ever: ooh tough one, I think it’ll have to be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as that’s the point in the series when things started to get serious and secrets began to be revealed…

Currently reading: I’ve just started Crazy as Chocolate by Elisabeth Hyde. I loved The Abortionist’s Daughter, so I’m really hopeful that this book is just as good. (I’ll keep you posted!)

Drink of choice whilst reading: Anything really, it really depends where I am… On a beach it’s all about ice-cold water, snuggled up on the sofa in winter it’s a hot chocolate with marshmallows or if I’m chilling out in Starbucks it’s a latte or a Starbucks festive drink.

E-reader or physical books: Either. Nothing beats a proper physical version of a book but for ease on my commute or when I’m on holiday, and want to read loads without breaking my back, a kindle is a must. There are of course certain books that I need in book form even if I have them on kindle too – Jane Austen, Harry Potter, etc

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school: I’d like to think Ron Weasley!

Glad you gave this book a chance: Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I wasn’t going to bother reading this series as I’ve watched the TV show but I was convinced by Lau that the books were better than the TV show and she was right –  I can’t wait to get reading  book #4 in the series.

Hidden gem of a bookThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book is such a glorious and charming book, which delves into the lives of the people of Guernsey during the war. Definitely a must read.

Important moment in your reading life: Discovering Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a teenager and realising that ‘kid’s’ books don’t have to be just for kids. In fact they shouldn’t be just for kids. Why should adults miss out on epic stories, loyal friends and amazing worlds?

Just finished: If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This book didn’t grab me straightaway but I’m very glad I persevered as it was a great read and I can’t stop thinking about what I would do in the situation.

Kinds of books you won’t read: Horror books. Sorry, I just don’t get them and I don’t feel the need to be scared. Also misery memoirs. Not enjoyable at all.

Longest book you’ve ever read: One of the Game of Thrones books I’d assume.

Major book hangover because of: Wonder as I can’t stop thinking about just how perfect it is and what wonderful sentiments it expresses without being too annoying about it.

Number of bookcases you own: Two and their both packed with multiple layers of books

One book you’ve read multiple times: Just one! But how to choose between all the Harry Potter series, Charlotte’s Web, Persuasion, The Hunger Games, Matilda...? Fine I’ll go for Anne Frank’s Diary if I must. Such a wonderful book and one that every child should read.

Preferred place to read: Lazing on the sofa under a patchwork quilt.

Quote that you like from a book you’ve read: there are so many quotes I could use, but I’ll stick with this one as it’s just perfect.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

– Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Reading regret: waiting so long to read any of Jane Austen’s work. For some reason I had it in my head that I would hate these ‘school texts’. I could not have been more wrong as I discovered when I read all six books about 10 years ago. It turns out I LOVE Persuasion and it’s now one of my favourite books.

Series you’ve started and need to finish: Vampire Academy, Game of Thrones and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Three of your all-time favourite books: Charlotte’s Webb, Persuasion and Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

Unapologetic fangirl over: The Harry Potter series. I’ll always be proud to be a Potterhead. Always.

Very excited for this release more than others: The upcoming Leaving Time from  Jodi Picoult which is out this week – eek!

Worst bookish habits: Buying too many books. I have about 100 books on my to be read pile…eek!

X marks the spot – start at the top of your shelf and pick the 27th book: The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Your latest book purchase: For me: Mhairi McFarlane’s It’s Not Me It’s You. For others: That would be ruining seven people’s Christmas presents as I started my Christmas shopping in Waterstones yesterday…

Zzzz-snatcher book – last book that kept you up WAY too lateDaughter by Jane Shemilt. I had to finish the last 200 pages one Sunday evening. I think I finally finished it around 1am. It was totally worth it though!

So what do you think, any cross overs with your book tag list? If you’re a bookish person do check out my Good Reads profile and my 2014 challenge and do friend me. I love seeing what others are reading, after all I really need to add to my TBR pile!

– Fi x