For the past few weeks I have been unexpectedly commuting from the Surrey countryside into Central London. It’s something I did for over two years when I was first out of university, so to be back doing this journey again has me reminiscing. It’s funny how much I had forgotten about commuting.
Charles Forerunner, Unsplash
Me Time. I get 50 minutes twice a day for uninterrupted me time. Yes I have to first zone out the crowded carriage around me, but once that’s done it’s all about me. I can read. I can sleep. Or catch up on tv that I’ve missed – seriously one episode of Scandal or Blue Bloods fits perfectly into my daily commute.
People Watching. My total guilty pleasure. Remarkably the time goes by very quickly on the train. I’m pretty sure the main reason for this is because I’m so busy watching all the other passengers.
The Scenery. Along with watching people on the train there’s also the opportunity to look out the window. Until you’re on a train you don’t realise what a great view of other people’s gardens you have. And being naturally nosy I am all over that!
Routines. Isn’t it funny how people stand at the same place on the platform, sit on the same seat and get grumpy if anyone gets in their way? Never mind how they react if the train stops for slightly too long at a station!
The Rudeness of Strangers. Purposely ignoring a pregnant lady and making her stand up. Not cool people. This is exactly why we have ‘baby of board’ badges, yet my fellow commuters seem to be happy to keep their eyes lowered and hide away, letting someone else be the considerate stranger.
I think that’s it. Have I missed anything do you think?
Whether it’s aiming for something big or small, let’s aim to make something magical happen everyday. Maybe it won’t always end up working, but going into the day aiming to create magical things has to be a step in the right direction, yes? Positivity breeds positivity so believing awesome things will happen has to work. Magic can appear in the form of a task completed, plans started, a belly laugh or a simple smile, so let’s remember that magical things can be anything and everything and aim to make magic everyday.
Last week Fi shared her birthday wishlist and it’s made me slightly anxious. Not only do I need to decide on something to give her for this upcoming event, which is stressful in itself, but I also have to write my own birthday list. Honestly having a twin sister makes things doubly stressful sometimes.
Yes I still write a birthday list, even though I’m approaching thirty. My Mum asks me for one every year, although normally I’ve got one written before that even happens. Not this year though. I just can’t think of anything I want or even need. Now I realise that this is a good thing, it means I’m lucky and settled and I’m not stuck on materialistic things. All of which are good things, however it’s just not like me! Usually before we even reach April there’s a list of books a mile long. But not this year and I’m not sure what’s going on.
Have I finally become a grown up? One of those people who is less excited by birthdays? Surely I won’t wake up on Sunday feeling sad and depressed that it’s my birthday? I hope not.
Maybe this lack of birthday wants is proof that I’m a grown up now? Now the birthday excitement is all about the birthday plans; it’s a chance to catch up with people, to drink some prosecco and to take some time off work. After all if you really think about it what more could one want in life?
Saying that I did put a list of things together just in case. You can tell I’m on the house train right now!
coffee machine / necklace / radio / purse / sofa
Every year I have these grand crafty plans for Easter. I have visions of homemade Easter cards for the little people in my life, hand blown and decorated eggs, gorgeous Easter paper chains and loads of Easter cakes. Alas every year the reality is more like a batch of Mini Egg Blondies and a mad dash to Paperchase for Easter goodies in time to catch the last post. But hey a girl can dream!
If I ever get my act together it’ll be to make some of these lovely things… so fingers crossed 2016 is my year!
Happy Easter sign / Photo Booth Props / Easter Gift Tags / Easter Egg Banner
This Happy Easter sign could be used in a plethora of ways, big or small, I just need to get using it! I love photo booth props, so these are definitely needed in my life, plus it’s the perfect excuse for an Easter party. Easter tags are never a bad thing, especially not these super cute ones. I love the use of fonts, colours and ‘Hippity Hoppity’ text! When I was younger we’d always do an egg hunt with different paper eggs, which we’d decorate and then chop in half, one set of the halves would be hidden and the other set would be the ones you had to hide. This banner template would be perfect for such a game. Am I too old, at almost 30, to play that this weekend…
Bunny Tail Treat Tags / Easter Cake Toppers / Easter Gift Tags / Bunny Banner
If I’d found these cute bunny tail treats sooner I would definitely have been more organised with my baked good gifts as they’re too cure not to use! As for this cake topper it’s got me tempted to make a big showstopper Easter cake for Sunday just so I have an excuse to use it. But what type of cake should I make? These spring inspired Easter tags are gorgeous and need to happen in my life. I wonder if I could use them for Lau’s birthday present instead, surely she wouldn’t mind? And finally a bunny banner = LOVE!
So tell me, what Easter crafts are you making this weekend, or are you like me and wishing you’d thought about it sooner?
– Fi x
I wholeheartedly agree with this quote. Not only is it true for me, but I’ve seen it applied to others. It’s definitely worth remembering as it’s an easy way to get the best out of someone whether in a work or personal environment.
Now that we are nearing the end of the third month of 2015 I though it would be a good moment to talk books. I’ve read a good handful of these lovelies so far this year, so it’s definitely about time I shared my thoughts on one or two of them. So read on for my 2015 books so far…
First up is my favourite read of the year so far. Alan Cumming’s Not My Father’s Son. As mentioned previously here I was completely gripped by this book from the first page. It’s part autobiography and part mystery. Looking at the actor’s own childhood and relationship with his father, along with the investigation into his grandfather’s mysterious life and death years earlier. While I was reading this it was easy to forget that it was about someone’s life. Parts were so cruel that I wished it was a made up story, it’s remarkable what people are able to survive. Also without giving too much away the discussions about Alan’s grandfather are truly heartbreaking. The affect that war has is truly devastating. This has become a favourite of mine and I’m constantly telling people that they should read it.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey has been everywhere, or at least it seems that way to me. So when I saw it on offer on the kindle store I couldn’t resist downloading it. My thoughts? It was so sad! The affects of dementia and Alzheimer’s is just horrible for anyone involved and I think that Emma Healey writes this story so well. The way we follow the main character through her memory loss is perfectly done. It was so perfect in fact that it actually left me aching at some points. The mystery around Elizabeth’s disappearance is hard to work out. But it’s actually the mystery of Maud’s sister’s disappearance year’s earlier which intrigued me the most – I assume that was the point Healey was after – and the ending to this story was surprising and perfect all in one.
Last but not least let’s discuss Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells and Wong Mystery by Robin Stevens. Fi has been on at me to read this book since forever! Well I finally took her much forced upon advice and started to read it. Only to fall in love with it straight away. It’s a brilliant novel set in a boarding school and it completely reminds me of my childhood and reading similar books that made me want to go to a boarding school. Side note: I’d have hated going to a boarding school, I know this categorically 100%, but it was still always a dream of mine – I was an odd child! There’s apparently two more books in this series and my fingers are itching to read them now. So far I’ve resisted buying them but how long that will last I do not know. Watch this space!
Has anyone else read any of these titles? What did you think? What have been your favourite reads so far this year? Don’t forget to nip on over to GoodReads if you want to see what else I’ve been reading.
Does anyone have one of those recipes that’s their fail-safe, fall back recipe for any and all occasions? You know that one that you know like the back of your hand and make for birthdays, garden parties, work celebrations or just on fridays? Well, that’s the recipe that I’m going to share with you today, my lifesaver of a recipe: Mini Egg Blondies.
This recipe is best made with Mini Eggs but alas they aren’t available year round – one of the worst ideas ever Cadbury’s – so you can substitute the mini eggs with pretty much any other chocolate treat. I’ve tried giant chocolate buttons and peanut m&m’s before and they’re definitely work and they come a close second and third to the wonder of mini eggs.
First up, we have all the ingredients: 2 cups plain flour / 0.5tsp baking powder / 0.5 tsp salt / 0.75 cup unsalted butter / 1 cup brown sugar / 0.5 cup caster sugar / 1 tbsp vanilla extract / 1 egg / 1 egg yolk / 2 cups mini eggs
And to make these delicious bites you’ll need to follow these eight simple steps:
* Mix the flour (2 cups), baking powder (1/2 tsp) and salt together
* Melt the butter and then cream with the sugars in a separate bowl (we used an electric mixer)
* Add the vanilla extract and eggs and mix until creamy and fully combined
* Slowly add in the flour mixture until fully mixed
* Fold in the Mini Eggs
* Spread batter into a greased cake tin, roughly 8 x 8 x 2 inches
* Bake for 25 minutes at 175 degrees until a skewer is inserted in the center and comes out clean
* Leave to cool before slicing and eating…
See easy peasy and surely a must-make for Easter weekend, don’t you think? What will you be baking over Easter, are you planning to try something new or something you know works well?
– Fi x
So in just over two weeks I will turn 30, which to be honest with you all, sounds a bit surreal. I don’t know about you but I always assumed that I’d feel all grown up and adult like at 30 years old and I most certainly don’t feel like that right now – especially having moved back in to my family home thanks to house buying complications. Thankfully turning 30 doesn’t have me running for the hills in terror or put me into a fit of depression unlike others I know – possibly because I never had a tick list of things (house, wedding, kids, top of my career, etc) that I wanted to achieve by that age.
One of the brilliant things about turning 30 however, is the party side of things. We’re having, what I hope will be, an awesome garden party this weekend with 70 odd of our closest friends, family and family friends and I can hardly wait. The invite says BBQ, Bubbles and Cakes, which are essentially three of my favourite things, so what can be bad about it. We might have also thrown in a few extra bits and pieces to make it extra special and if they all work (!) I promise to share them all with you in due course. Warning: If you follow Lau or I on Instagram then be warned that Saturday will see your feed full of party things. Or if you want to see the current plans click on #Hortuspartyprep on Instagram for a sneak peek at what we’ve got planned…
Another good thing about birthdays? The presents! There are always things I’d like to have as I’m a bit of a hoarder and collector of things, so as you can imagine compiling a list takes a bit of time! I’ve tried to keep my list short and sweet this year and mainly I’m hoping for vouchers so I can buy the expensive things on the list. After all no one should like me enough to spend £400+ on one gift!
A Kitchen Aid is always top of my list, but I know that in reality it’s a lot to ask so I’m instead hoping for vouchers to go towards it. Then when we’re finally in a new house I can add to the vouchers and treat myself to the pistachio green version. The hardest decision of the birthday list was which colour to choose as there are just too many lovely shades to choose from!
Monica Vinader rings are one of my favourite items of jewelry and I was lucky enough to get one from ex colleagues when I moved jobs. Ever since I’ve been wanting to complete my ‘stack’ of rings with another couple. So I think this turquoise one would be a great addition, as would this grey stormy one. Don’t you think?
No birthday list is complete without a book and The Girl on the Train is a book I’ve heard so much about. It simply must be added to my bookshelves.
I’m a true Potterhead so it’s about time I got hold of the Harry Potter ebooks for when I next go away. It will definitely be a nice change not to have to hold a hardback copy of the 700+ pages of Order of the Phoenix.
So there we go, my thirtieth birthday list. What do you think? To be honest I’m hoping Laura gets writing her own birthday list sometime soon. I need all the help I can get to decide what to get her!
This is one of those phrases I need to remember all the time, whether it’s in relation to work or my personal life. As at the moment I seem to be saying yes or maybe when I should be (and want to be) saying no. I suppose I just feel like I’m letting people down if I say no, when in reality I’m doing them and myself a disservice if I take on too much and can’t handle it all. I always watch amazed at people who can stop and say, ‘actually no that won’t work for me, but I could do this instead, or have you thought of this?’
Are you the same, or do you, like me, keep saying yes to all the things?
– Fi x
I love brunch. In fact I wish I could have it every day and not just every now and again on a weekend. In case you’re not so enamored with this wondrous meal, let me share some of the reasons why brunch is a dream.
- You’re allowed to eat all the calories in one sitting as it’s two meals in one
- You’re allowed three drinks – orange juice, coffee and water – or four if you’re celebrating an occasion and fancy bubbles
- You can eat all of the sugar. And what’s better? No one looks at you oddly for eating American pancakes with maple syrup before midday
- You can take your time and natter over a leisurely meal without anyone rushing you out the restaurant. As that’s the point of the meal!
Thankfully some of my lovely friends agree on the awesomeness that is brunch and we’ve made it our mission to try some of the best brunch places in London over the coming months. We’re hoping to pay a visit to Duck and Waffle, The Ivy Grill and Balthazar, among others. But first up, way back in February, we ventured to The Delaunay in Aldwych for take one of the newly formed Brunch Club.
The verdict? Everything was delicious and it was the perfect spot to launch Brunch Club. We were in a booth on one side of the dining room so not surrounded by people, the atmosphere was buzzing but not overwhelming and the service was exceptional. I would definitely recommend a visit to one and all.
So what did we have I hear you cry? Well there were americanos, orange juice, a shared mixed pastry basket, which featured a praline and hazelnut praline, a pain au chocolate, an almond croissant and more, omelettes and a plate of pancakes with blueberries and creme fraiche. Just pure bliss. I swear my meal (the pancakes) were the best choice out of all of the things on offer. I initially thought the pancake toppings would be too much as it was swimming over the pancakes but in fact once you got into the dish the ratios were perfect. Even if I did have a sugar high for most of the rest of the day!
It looks like the next stop will be Balthazar’s in April and frankly I can’t wait! So, any brunch places I must try out with the fellow Brunch Clubbers? Details needed please! x