Life Rambles: Simple Things

It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary. 

Paulo Coelho

Simple Things - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

It’s the beginning of a new week, it’s a new year and I’m back at work today. So with all that in mind this is a gentle reminder to myself to focus on the simple things in life. That first cup of coffee, a good book, that moment of hysterical laughter or a gorgeous sunset.

Laura xx

Wishlists: Running Gear

Here’s the thing, I’m in desperate need of new trainers ready for my half marathon in March and with that in mind I was given a voucher for Sweatshop for Christmas. So it’s now post Christmas and with my brand new voucher to hand I hopped on over to the Sweatshop website in order to peruse their trainers… and then I got sidetracked. By all the clothes in the sale. I’m now trying to justify the need for new running clothes as well as trainers. I mean I need to train for the half marathon right, so surely I need new training gear? Okay so I really don’t. but I could, maybe….? So here’s a running wishlist. Oops!

Running Wishlist - Wishlists - This and That Blog

 

Red long sleeve top / Nike grey shorts / Black running tights / Winter beanie hat

Watch this space. Someone find me some will power please.

Any other sales bargains that I need to know about?

Laura

Getting Crafty: Making a Bobble Hat

This Christmas my sisters and I decided we would make one another presents to try to spend a little less money, and to also challenge our crafting skills. In all honesty I was a little concerned about how everything would turn out, but the presents were all so lovely – nice and surprising! It’s definitely made me think about making more presents in the future, after all it’s good fun and is really appreciated. So here’s the first of a few ‘getting crafty’ posts so you can see what we made for one another… First up: making a bobble hat.

Becca wanted a bobble hat for Christmas, so I thought I’d make her one just with knitting needles and wool. And then I realised time was not on my side, so how would I do that? Thankfully, after scouring the internet for a while, I saw that the geniuses at A Beautiful Mess had shared a post about a bobble hat for lazy people (totally me) and I was sorted – phew! Below is my method in picture form, but of course head to A Beautiful Mess for the original version.

Making a Bobble Hat - Getting Crafty - This and That Blog

All my crafty ingredients including a hat you love the fit of and a grey wool skirt (this one’s from Primark)

Use the original hat as a stencil and pin the skirt. Then sew it up and turn it the right way round.

Everything you’ll need for making pom poms. Making a pom pom takes FOREVER! {why did no one tell me!}

Cutting the pom pom was super-duper stressful

Making a Bobble Hat - Getting Crafty - This and That Blog

So there we go, so easy yes? I think Becca loved the finished product. Well at the very least she wore it all day without removing it, so I think that’s a good sign yes! Have you ever made someone a present in the past? Any ideas on what I could make next time round?

– Fi x

Life Rambles: Feeling Grateful

Today we’re going to start the new year in a different way to most, not with resolutions galore (although losing weight, getting fit and throwing myself into new experiences are all on that list), but with a moment to reflect on feeling grateful. I don’t know about you but I feel like the last week, no month, has been all about the excesses and I’m not sure I’ve taken enough time to appreciate the good things and the good people in my life.

Feeling Grateful - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

So here we go, I’m super grateful for…

  • * people who know me so well and seem to get Christmas presents just right. I was super lucky to receive lovely things this year, that were exactly what I would have chosen given the chance. Clearly people know me so well and know what’ll make me happy. Yeah for having awesome people in my life.
  • * the crazy competitive nature of my immediate family. I appreciate you’re all their to play umpteen board games with me and encourage me to be as mean as possible when a dice, six plastic counters and a board is in front of me. Thank you for the competition and the hysterical laughter that occurs.
  • * the beautiful country I live in. Being back at home and going on numerous walks allowed me to remember how stunning the Surrey countryside is. It really is beautiful on a crisp and cold sunny day and I really am lucky to get to visit it regularly.
  • * a log burning fire. Since returning to London I’ve had cold fingers permanently thanks to being horribly spoilt at home with a log fire. I basically sat in front of it every day for a week and it was wondrous.
  • * family time. I have the best family in the world. So being allowed to spend a full week with them was just the best. My crazy family are the ones who have me laughing hysterically all the time, eating all the food and showing the brightest smiles. They’re just awesome.
  • * so much time off of work. My work shuts down over Christmas, meaning I get a proper break and can fully rest and recharge. So far I’ve had a full on week of celebrations and catch ups, followed by a few days of organising and planning. As for the rest of my time off, it’ll involve more of the same. Just perfect.
  • * friends allowing me to spend their special day with them leave me feeling grateful. One of my oldest friends got married just before Christmas and I was lucky enough to be invited. The whole day was just wonderful, packed full of festive touches, lots of laughs and so many wonderful memories. I’m so glad I get to share their wedding day with them.

So tell me, what in your life has you feeling grateful?

– Fi x

Life Rambles: Top 10 of 2014

A couple of weeks ago I saw this Thank you 2014 post over on Lemon Freckles. After devouring the post I marveled at what a great idea it was. I loved how Toni had found a way to mention a few highlights from the year without going overboard. To be honest with you I find that the long rambling posts about the year are just too much for me. The thing is I’ve been following most of these blogs I read for a full year, so I already know the full ins and outs of that trip to America or the wedding highlights. A few select subjects with some pictures and a couple of sentences is much better (in my opinion anyway). So obviously after reading Toni’s chatter I quickly realised that I would have to commemorate 2014 in the same way. Luckily Fi was totally on board and so here we are, to deliver our Top 10 of 2014.

We decided to combine our 14 things into one post. Hopefully you can keep up with who did what and when!

Family Celebrations – there have been so many family celebrations this year. With Mum and Dad both turning 60 and Becca turning 21 we were able to fit in a lot of quality family time. There was also two visits from Australian relatives this year, which gave us even more chances to catch up. We welcomed new family members and re-engaged with older ones too.

Half Marathon Running – While I’ve had a bit of a moan about my running skills recently (see here) I really need to give myself a break – In 2014 both Fi and I completely the Surrey Half Marathon in under 2 hours 30 minutes. I am so so proud of this achievement. I still can’t actually believe that I was able to do this. But I did and I loved every minute of it. Fi must have agreed as we have both signed up for it again in 2015. Bring it on!

Being Healthy – I’m so thankful that all my loved ones were healthy in 2014. Yes there were aches and pains, but nothing too serious touched our lives in those 365 days.

Becoming a Godmother – In January one of my best friends gave birth to one gorgeous little munchkin. If that wasn’t a treat in itself, she then asked me to be godmother to beautiful Bella. I was completely over the moon and honoured to accept (check out Bella’s cute face here).

Travels abroad – This year the pair of us headed to Portugal twice, for family time over our birthday and then relaxation time in September. Both were excellent, but I have to admit that the 10 days in September were so perfectly timed and the most blissful holiday around. We also managed to fit in a weekend away with friends to Amsterdam. What a fabulous city, and it certainly reminds me that I should spend more time discovering other European cities.

 

Sunny times in Portugal

Fi taking a chance, taking a new job – Okay so this was technically last year, but starting in November 2013 meant I wasn’t really in the groove of things until 2014 and now that I’ve been their a full year I can honestly say it’s the best decision I could have made. I’ve got more respect and been given more opportunities and I’m having so much fun showing what I can do. I recommend a switch to all of you if you’re stuck in a bit of a job rut.

Making house decisions – Always good at procrastination the pair of us finally made decisions about our flat and it looks like new things are coming in 2015.

Exploring the UK -This year has also been about exploring England. There has been trips to The Peak District, Chester, Saffron Walden and plenty of London explorations.

 

 Family walks in the Peaks

This blog – 2014 brought us this blogging space. After a few years of sharing a food blog and running our own individual blogs we took the step to blog on all the things together, in one place. I don’t regret one minute of this decision, I love this collaborative experience, we share content, have someone to bounce ideas off and there’s always a back up if you need a blogging break!

Simple pleasures – If feel like 2014 is the year when I recognised the simple things in life. With so much going on it’s easy to forget the little things that provide pleasure, so here’s to you, the walks on the Common, coffee breaks and lazy days. Sometimes you are just what the doctor ordered.

 

Coffee and a good book

 What about you lovely people? What are your 2014 highlights?

The Book Corner: Books of 2014

As you know both Fi and I are mahoosive bookworms. Give us a spare hour and a good book and we’ll both be happy bunnies. On that note we have decided to create a 2014 bookish update as a way to look back and reflect on particular highlights (and low lights) on our 2014 reading life.

Note: you can read my answers in purple and Fi’s in yellow.

The number of books read in 2014…

In 2014 I planned to read 50 books in my Good Reads challenge. I hit that target back in October (read the post here) and since then I’ve been reading less. Not for any particular reason, but because I’ve been knitting and listening to podcasts instead. Plus with the run up to Christmas life has been a tad hectic. Anyway my total number of books read in 2014 is 64. You can read the full list over on my Good Reads page. 

I set myself the challenge of reading 52 books in 2014 and I succeeded – whoopee! I’ve actually smashed my target as I’m currently on book number 60 (Mary Poppins is my current read). If we’re being 100% accurate you’d have to add another 10-15 on to this number as I have to read a lot for work. These are often books that can’t go on here as they’re super top secret and not yet out. So I don’t think 60 is a bad number. If you fancy a gander you can read my full list of books read in 2014. Have you read any of the same ones?

A book or books that you couldn’t put down…

Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty, Ghostman by Roger Hobbs and Rubbernecker, Belinda Bauer.

Ooh there’s too many to chose from, but if I have to chose just a few I suppose it’ll have to be: Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss series (all so good and all read in one week), Rooftoppers by Katharine Rundell (an absolute classic), Daughter by Jane Shemilt (talk about a page-turner and what a surprise ending) and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (so so funny). Ooh and We Were Liars by E. L. Lockhart.

One that you gave up on…

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – I was expecting a lot from this book and it just didn’t live up to it. Completely my own fault for expecting too much. I am hoping to try this book again and finishing it!

I gave up on just two books this year, which is less than I anticipated. The two books were The Night Circus and The Light Years and the reason? I just couldn’t get into them. I’m not sure I was in the right mind frame when I started both of these books and I know I need to be as I’m sure I’ll love both books finally. 

Would recommend to everyone…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon

Favourite Series…

The Chaos Calling series by Patrick Ness. 

Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss series as I could not put them down. They were all like a big warm hug, just wonderful.  

Want to read again soon…

I’m looking forward to reading The three books from The Lunar Chronicles series again, in anticipation for book number 4 – Winter – in 2015.

Running Like a Girl. such an inspiring and motivating read (something I need right about now).

A book jacket that caught your eye…

I really like the look of Jane Shemilt’s Daughter along with the Kindle edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

The new look Mary Poppins is beautiful. 

A book that took you by surprise…

The House at Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff – I had no idea that I had this book, I don’t remember buying it at all! I decide to read it on a whim and I was completely hooked on the character and story. It’s a time in history that I know nothing about and I was fascinated to learn more.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler really surprised me as I just didn’t get it. I was expecting to love it as it received such universal high praise, but I really didn’t get sucked into it at all as expected. I didn’t really like, and couldn’t get on with, any of the characters. All in all it was quite disappointing.

Plans for the 2015 Good Reads Challenge…

For 2015 I’m sticking to reading 50 books. I’m hoping to read more like I did this year, but I don’t want to aim too high.

I’m going to stick to 52 books in 2015 as I think that’s achievable and on top of that number I want to read more variety. So fit in more classics and non-fiction and alternate more between different genres. There were times in 2014 where I read about five YA books in a row and it would be good to curb that in 2015.

Do you have any 2014 favourite reads?

Laura and Fi xxx

Life Rambles: Christmas in pictures

Christmas is really the most magical time of the year isn’t it? As I’ve said before I love everything about this season – all the treats, family time, food and general merriment – hence why we’ve been missing from this little corner of the internet for almost a week! So to let you in on what we’ve been up to here’s our Christmas in pictures.

The beautiful tree at King’s Cross Station

A boxing day walk in the Chantries

Santa came!

Car selfie time (spot the weirdo and the new necklace)!

Christmas at the Evans house in a nutshell

The perfect sofa view

Icy outdoor decorations

Terry’s Chocolate Orange time!

Our beautiful Christmas tree

Pretty wrapping

Turkey time!

A Christmas table setting

Ice Skating under the eye

As you can see it’s been a good few days of Christmas fun, how’s your Christmas been? What was your favourite part of the holiday season, do share. We’d love to hear it! I think my favourite part was Christmas Day itself, as it was so lovely to be with my four favourite people playing games, traipsing round the Chantries and eating yummy food. Blissful.

– Fi xx

Smiley Happy Things: Let’s Talk Christmas (Again)

A while back Becky (at Milk Bubble Tea) created a Christmas Tag post and since then I’ve been meaning to blog my own answers. And then time disappeared. So it’s now only a matter of hours until Christmas Day and I’m finally posting my own Christmas tag. Where has the time gone?!

1.What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?
Ooh talk about Sophie’s Choice! That’s such a hard one as I love most Christmas movies. But I suppose the ones I love the most are the ones that have to be viewed at Christmas so Love Actually, The Snowman, Arthur Christmas and Santa Claus (the original Dudley Moore one for the 80’s).

2.Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
It’s tradition in the Evans house to do the stockings first thing and then the tree and other presents after lunch and a walk. Really that’s the best way to do it as it makes things last as long as possible!

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
There’s no specific Christmas memory that stands out but I do have lots of very fond memories of Christmas with my grandparents. Everything from getting hysterics whilst playing board games to decorating the Christmas cake together and all being together on Christmas morning opening our stockings. Such bliss.

4. Favourite festive food?
It has to be roast turkey with all the trimmings – gravy, bread sauce, sausages, bacon, home-grown parsnips, cranberry, sprouts, stuffing balls and the most amazing roast potatoes you can imagine. It wouldn’t be Christmas without that meal. You can keep everything else.

5. Favourite Christmas gift?
I’ve been given some amazing gifts over the years so it’s hard to choose one thing. A couple of things that really stand out though: The blue Fisher Price tricycle I got aged four and the CD Walkman I got aged 10. Talk about amazing presents – I loved them so much and used them until they no longer worked!

6. Favourite Christmas scent?
A log fire and the smell of freshly baked sausage rolls.

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Most definitely, here’s what I’m up to today! I usually head back home to the parentals’ on Christmas Eve morning (if I’m not having to work the morning) and then the fun stuff begins. The afternoon sees us hitting Guildford High Street for the last few stocking presents and helping Dad with Mum’s present. Then it’s down to the last bits of wrapping before we get the fish and chips in and settle down with the board games, tin of Celebrations and a Christmas film. The perfect way to start the holidays if you ask me.

8. What tops your tree?
We’ve had the same angel decoration for as long as I can remember and my sisters and I take it in turns to add it to the top of the tree each year. It’s the best job of the day!

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
Like all kids I always wanted a puppy. But it was never to be!

10. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?
Spending lots of time with my family without distractions. You can keep all the presents, food and fuss. Just being at home with my crazy family is the best bit of all.

– Fi x

All Things Fitness: Remember How

{image from Pinterest}

I’ve been struggling for the last year or so with being healthy and seeing the above on Pinterest this week has really reminded me why I bothered to get healthier in the first place. I need to remember what the point is and that a chocolate coma every night on the sofa is not the way forward. I want to get back to that point were I feel better about myself and where my clothes fit properly, I feel happier and maybe I can even shed a few of these excess pounds.

I want to feel healthier in myself and I want more energy. I know I need to get past the times where one chocolate covered pretzel leads to twelve and a run isn’t a pathetic fifteen minute jog round the corner but a 6 miler that leaves me feeling energised and not dead on the floor. So from today (not January 1st, today) I’m going to bring back the healthy habits and the regular exercise, yes even over Christmas, and this is a way of reminding myself why this is important to me. So please do help me. If you have tips, hints or motivational images send them my way. I’m determined to change my ways and I’ll need all the help I can get!

Fi xxx

Out and About: Southbank Christmas Market, London

One of my favourite things to do in December is visit the Christmas market on the Southbank. You can guarantee you’ll find mulled wine, christmas gifts, festive songs and good food and for me this just signals the start of the festive season. I’m lucky enough to work on the Strand so I’m just a hop, skip and a river crossing away from the Southbank. This means that December is normally filled with numerous visits to these wooden huts, from lunchtime market visits to evening meet ups with friends, I certainly make sure I make the most of the festive space across the river. This year was no exception, at last count I had managed to fit in five visits to the Southbank plus there’s still one more visit in the pipeline. I am definitely doing Christmas properly this year.
 
I just love how pretty the lights look in the dark.
The Rekorderlig winter cider is delicious, it’s definitely worth stopping off at the Cider Lodge if you’re in the area.
Laura xxx