Smiley Happy Things #2

So another month is almost over, which is insane and crazy all at once. But September was a month of brilliantness so I’m not complaining that it sped by, if it had been slower it probably would have been less fun and exciting! So what have I been up to I hear you cry and what things have made me happy? Well the first two weeks of this month were ridiculous busy work wise, which I relished as well as not enjoying! I loved being busy and prepping stuff, getting organised and hatching plans for the coming months, but I could have done without the late nights and panics! However it showed me just how awesome my work colleagues are with lots of offers of help, coffee breaks and breakfast treats when it all got to much. How awesome is that?!

As well as being grateful for awesome work colleagues this month I’m very pleased to have brilliant friends who enjoy food, long walks and theatre trips. This month I caught up with lovely friends for a delicious Sunday lunch of Beef Bourginon as a reward for a mammoth walk in Richmond Park (my new favourite park fyi) as well as enjoying a brilliant piece of theatre with them too. Shakespeare in Love is astonishingly good and laugh-out-loud funny on numerous occasions. You really really must see it!

We’ve been stretching ourselves in the kitchen recently too, which I’ve really enjoyed! We’ve made homemade chocolate nak’d bars and risottos galore, not to mention I’ve been trying out my new cookbook. I was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous new Mary Berry cookbook, that’s been SIGNED! Talk about a prized possession! Thanks Lau. (and don’t worry there’s a new recipe coming from that VERY soon!).

Another happy thing in September involved hatching plans for upcoming birthday celebrations (sadly not mine!). With my little sis and both my parents’ birthday’s coming up it’s been a busy month of present buying and plans. I can’t wait to see there faces when plans are revealed and to spend lots of lovely family time with them over the coming weeks to celebrate with them. Talking of family time, Bex stayed with us for the first week of September, which was such fun! It was the perfect excuse for dinner out, baking and bananagram marathons. I love spending time with my amazing sisters, and I’m super lucky to have them nearby so often.

Buying myself little treats never fails to make me smile – shallow I know – and this month I’ve spoiled myself a little bit. There have been purchases of stripey tops (yes plural – more to come on that soon!) and lovely statement necklaces plus some holiday reading and magazines for a Sunday morning coffee shop trip. Bliss.

Last week I was super happy as I was on holiday and away from work for nine whole days. The weather in Portugal was sublime and there were barely any clouds in the sky. I made the most of having nothing to do other than relaxing. There were an awful lot of long walks, long lunches and lazy days on the terrace and in the hot tub. Just what I needed ahead of what looks set to be a busy few weeks!

What about you, what has made you happy this month, please do share! And don’t forget to link up with Belinda and the other Life is Good bloggers too.

– Fi x

Found Love. Now What?

Celebrating Love

For someone who has only been to a handful of weddings I seem to have been buying an awful lot of wedding and anniversary presents recently. I guess that when you’ve been going to one or two weddings a year for the past 8 years they soon add up. So actually maybe it’s not that ridiculous. For me July, August and September are full of either weddings or anniversaries and I love nothing more than shopping for the perfect gift for each pair. Now obviously when buying presents it’s about buying something that you know that person will love. But I also like to get a gift that I like too – I’m like that with all presents. Call me selfish, but I refuse to buy something that I don’t like – that’s why Becca never got the playsuit she wanted for her 19th birthday and why I refused to buy Fi that hideous bag she wanted. Side note: sometimes I wonder how I can be related to those two and their questionable tastes.

Let me also say that I don’t like wedding lists – I refuse to buy newlyweds a toaster or a cutlery set – boring, boring, boring. Plus most people I know have been living together for years and therefore don’t actually need these things as wedding gifts. Also if you invite me to your wedding please be warned that I am not going to give you money. I want to bring with me a physical present that I can place on the wedding gifts table. So yes, there’s my rant, basically if it’s a wedding or anniversary then I want to find the perfect gift for the couple, and it has to be something that I like too.

Anyway, with all the present buying over the last few months I had a sudden desire to write a blog post all about it. Because, well that’s the whole point of having a blog – to be able to write whatever kind of posts I want, when I want and how I want. And anyway I’m sure other people have been, and will be hunting around for wedding and anniversary presents too, so this post can only be useful.

 

Wedding/Anniversary Gifts

champagne glasses / Lumineers print / striped paper straws / pillowcases / Le Creuset mugs / bottle stopper / picnic hamper

Above are a few bits and bobs that I’ve had my eye on for various people over the last few months.

So far I have bought these glasses for two sets of people as they’re a favourite of mine and I really really want the tumbler versions for myself. They also do a wine glass in the same copper finish.

How cute is the picnic hamper? I think it’s the perfect wedding gift as it’s not too pricey, especially if you club together with others, it’s something that the newlyweds won’t buy themselves, but it can be easily enjoyed throughout the summer months.

The mug set are from the cotton espresso range, so it’s a cute play on words for the traditional second anniversary gift.

What gifts do you give and/or receive for weddings and anniversaries?

Laura xxx

Who lives in a house like this?

I have no idea who lives here, but I know I wish it was me! Every time I go for a wander or run around the streets near where I live I get serious house envy if I pause too long to take in the properties I’m passing. They all seem to be absolutely stunning, lovely big house, with big windows, columns and coloured doors. Alas I don’t live in a house like this, far from it. My flat in no way resembles this place, not even if I squint and look at it with my head at 90 degrees. The only thing they both have in common is windows and a door. So a house like this is a way of unless it’s my turn on the lottery this week – hey a girl can dream about lottery wins and buying gorgeous houses…and I do!

house 1

 source 

house 2

source

house 3source

house 4

source 

Right, back I go to dreaming of stunning houses to own, sometimes those daydreams are the best, well apart from the ones where Richard Armitage sweeps me off my feet!

– Fi xx

Portugal by Numbers

 

 

We’re now five days into our nine day trip and so far our holiday in the Algarve looks a little bit like this…

1 pancake brunch

3 long walks along the beach

1 lazy lunch at our favourite haunt

1 impressive shopping trip; 4 statement necklaces, 3 striped tops and 1 blanket/scarf

1 candlelit hot tub experience

too many to count day time hot tub soaks

4 mosquito bites (on one knee)

1 pudding platter, shared

9 mini magnums consumed

4 sunsets enjoyed

2 unexpected wave soakings whilst enjoying a pleasant paddle

1 head cold to contend with

3 books read

0 runs started or completed

Here’s hoping the rest of the trip continues in the same way.

Laura & Fi xx

Travel Tuesday

Race Bucket List – Runners Tell All

It’s the 21st September today which means it’s time for the monthly Runners Tell All link up. This is perfectly timed as we are currently in Portugal and hopefully totally chilled out and relaxed in the sunshine. Who knows we might even be running as you read this! The fact that we can schedule this post in ahead of times means that you get to still here from us. Yay for that!

Today’s topic is Running Bucket List. What a great topic. I love it. I have so many races that I want to run one day so to be able to create a list and to one day be able to tick them off? Awesome!

Laura’s Running Bucket List:

Royal Parks Half – this is a half marathon through the Royal Parks of London. London is my city, so of course I want to do a half marathon here. Plus there are so many parks in London that I still haven’t run in. Whilst training for my first half last year I ran through Battersea Park, Hyde Park and of course Clapham Common, but there’s so many more. The Royal Parks Half happens in October and takes runners through Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and St James’s Park. Along with all the London sites too.
Run Disney – I love Disney and I love running so to run in the Disney Parks would be amazing. Unfortunately this isn’t available at Disneyland Paris, so I’d have to head to America for this one, but one day I will get there. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon is calling to me!
Full Marathon – I’d love to do a full marathon, one day. In the far off future. I really don’t know which Marathon I’d like to do, maybe London or New York, maybe Boston or Amsterdam, I don’t know. But it will happen. One day.

Fi’s Running Bucket List

I differ from Laura in that I’m not so sure I’d want to run a marathon, I don’t think I could handle it. So for now I’m going to stick to the half marathon distance. So on my bucket list for a half marathon I’ve got the following:

The Amsterdam Half Marathon – I fell in love with this city back in May so I think to experience it as a runner would be brilliant. Just imagine how fast the race would go if you were cooing over the beauty of the city.
The Royal Parks Half – Just like Lau I’d be up for this race too, to run through the park in the lovely autumn weather would be great. There’d be that brilliant sound of the leaves crunching under your feet as you explored another fabulous city, which would be a great experience!

So what’s on your running bucket list?

Making my own nak’d bites

Greetings blog friends, how are you this wondrous day? I’m (hopefully) currently sunning myself in Portugal so I thought I’d leave you with a brilliant recipe. After all who doesn’t love chocolate gooey morsels of joy? No one worth knowing, that’s who.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to leave bad habits behind and be healthier. You know, eat less crap and exercise more, all the obvious things – oh how I wish it was as easy as it sounds! My main problem, apart from laziness and lack of willpower, is that I have the sweetest of sweet tooths around. I usually start the day with a syrup-filled coffee and overnight oats and by 11 I’m craving the sweet stuff again. Plus after every meal I feel the need for something sweet, chocolate namely, as otherwise it doesn’t feel like I’ve eaten enough. Ridiculous I know.

During my most recent attempts to be healthy I’ve been a bit addicted to nak’d bars. These bars of gooey goodness are made with all natural ingredients with nothing bad in them. And they perfectly satisfy my sweet tooth. The only problem is they range from 85p – £1.40 for one small bar depending on where you grab them. I’m not made of money so I can’t be buying them all the time can I?!

I figured I could make my own but I thought it wold be quite tricky. After all how do you make them all smooshy and perfect and don’t they require odd and obscure ingredients? Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs I discovered a recipe which proved that these bars are seriously easy to make – thanks Hungry Healthy Happy. Hooray for that!

The recipe could not be simpler. Just bung 100g ground almonds, 20 chopped dates and 50g each of cacoa powder and cocoa powder into a bowl and blend them with a food processor. Then add 1 tbsp honey and 6 tbsp water and mix together to form a big ball of chocolatey stuff. I pressed the mixture into a lined brownie tin and popped them in the fridge. After 3 hours in the fridge I cut them into small bars and then returned them to the fridge overnight. In the morning they were fully set and ready to be enjoyed. I made about 30 small bars, each worth about 40 calories each. I’d say two of those is the perfect snack size – having done a lot of research over the last couple of weeks (this first batch went in three days…oops!

As the mint chocolate nak’d bars are my favourites I think I’ll add a bit of peppermint flavouring the next time I make them. Hopefully that will be enough to satisfy my mint chocolate craving!

Have you ever attempted to make a healthy snack to satisfy those sugar cravings? Any suggestions for the next recipe I should make?

– Fi xxx

Happy Birthday Old Man!

James Marsden, Greta Garbo, Sol Campbell and Ronaldo were all born on this day, September 18th. They are lucky to be in such esteemed company as someone else who celebrates his birthday today: our Dad. Today is his 60th Birthday. How amazing is that? We are in total agreement when it comes to this man. He is the best Dad, in fact the best man, that we know.

He’s generous.

And kind.

One of the biggest supporters in everything we do.

A brilliant chef.

Totally and completely competitive – we’ve all got that in spades too.

He’s Stubborn.

And he passed his sarcasm on to all of us. What more could you want?

So today is for him, Happy Birthday Old Man. Here’s to so many more years, to London runs, games nights, football matches, long country walks, Mario Kart competitions, Dad’s and Daughters dinners, theatre trips and roast dinners.

Lau & Fi xx

Dreaming of Days in Portugal

Later this week I will be in Portugal and I just can’t wait. I need a holiday. Right. Now. Obviously at the moment this is all I can think about so I thought I’d channel some of that excitement and shape it into a Travel Tuesday post for you lovely people to read. Portugal really is one of my favourite places to be. I think it’s because I know it so well so it’s become a second home and I can instantly relax.

The Algarve is just stunning, long sandy beaches, orange cliffs, nature reserves and bright white buildings. But aside from that I’m looking forward to…

…Sunshine

…Patio Time

…Holiday Reading

…Beach Walks

…Sandbanks Salads

…Salty Sea Swims

…Bananagram Championships

…Barbecues

…Mammoth Games Nights

…Hot Tub Time

 

 

It really seems like this holiday has been a long time coming, and I guess it has. I had a week off work in April but other than that it’s just been the odd day here and there and suddenly we’re halfway through September! And I’m just really feeling it right now. You know that exhausted feeling that just goes right to your bones? That is it. That’s where I am right now and that is why this break is so so welcome. It’s only 9 days but these are 9 enormously needed days of relaxation. It’s also a slight calm before the storm moment too as once I get back my life will be picking up full steam ahead. Not that this is a problem and not that I’m complaining, I love my life and I’ve got some exciting things coming up, which should mean exciting blog posts too (obvs). But right now I need a break and thank god I have Portugal for that.

Right, so I’ve got that off my chest! What holiday plans does everyone else have for the rest of the year? Or are you planning next year’s trips already?

As always don’t forget to check out all the other posts in this Travel Tuesday link up.

Travel Tuesday

Non Boring Pork Chops

Yes possibly one of the most uninspiring blog post titles ever, but it made sense to me!

So confession time, I’ve never really been a fan of pork chops. I don’t know why but whenever someone suggests chops I’m a bit non-committal and uninterested and yet when they’re on my plate I devour them with lashings of apple sauce and accompanied by veg and potatoes. There’s just something about the initial discussions about eating pork chops that makes me think they’re bland and boring. So recently when we gained a couple of fat pork chops from the parental units I started with my moaning about pork chops being boring and how we had to make sure we went for something unusual and nice this time. {God I must be a joy to live with!}

Thankfully Lau is nice and humours me, so a Google search or two later she had found the most amazing sounding (and super easy) recipe for us to try. The original recipe was a one pot roast pork chops with fennel and potatoes one from Good Food and we made a few amends to make it into the below dish – yummy!

So here’s what we did to make a non boring, bland or dull dinner a couple of weeks ago. There’s a possibility that I may have eaten enough for four human beings…

To make scrumptious dinner for two you will need:

  • Two Pork Chops
  • Eight Slices of Pepperoni
  • Two Baking Potatoes
  • One Sweet Potato
  • Handful of Spinach
  • Handful of Tomatoes
  • One Pepper (any colour)
  • A Leek
  • Mushrooms
  • Two Garlic Cloves
  • Two tsps of Thyme
  • One tbsp of Tomato Puree
  • 300ml of Chicken Stock

Start by cutting each potato or sweet potato into eight wedges. Cut the mushrooms and leeks into slices and the peppers into wedges too. Bung them all into a deep roasting dish with the thyme and garlic.

Make up the stock and mix the tomato puree into it. Add the liquid to the roasting dish full of veg and mix it all together.

Cover with foil and cook on 200 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature by 20 degrees.

Remove the foil and add the pork chops (nestle them in between the veggies), pepperoni and spinach and pop back in the oven 20 minutes until the pork is fully cooked.

Serve and enjoy!

So tell me, what are your non-boring pork chop recipes? I need a few more so that I don’e eat this recipe ALL THE TIME!

 

Getting Crafty: Embroidery

I like to think I’m quite a crafty, hands on person. I mean I can knit more than a scarf, I can sew on a button, thread and use a sewing machine (the threading part is immensely tricky FYI) and I’m quite a good baker. But there’s one craft that I’d like to get better at and embrace more, and that’s embroidery, cross-stitch to be specific.

For as long as I can remember my Mum has embroidered. From family trees to Christmas decorations, quotations and wedding samplers, you name it my Mum can create it. She even creates her own patterns for the pictures that she wants to create with her needle. No pattern for a palaeontology kit? No worries, she can draw it and then recreate on the canvas – yes seriously! It’s an amazing skill and one that really fascinates me.

I asked my Mum to create something for my new Goddaughter’s Christening the other month and after seeing the gorgeous finished product (above) I had an urge to get creating myself. I remember doing the odd bit of cross stitch when I was younger and I actually still have a sewing box that my Nanna gave me when I was about 8. But I actually haven’t picked up a needle and thread for ages. I think this is something that I want to change and writing this post is the first step in that – hopefully when I stumble across this post in a year or two’s time I will have just finished a cross-stitch creation!

Laura xxx