Peace, culture and good reads

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Hello my little blog readers, how are you this Monday afternoon? I hope your week has started how you would like and long may it continue. Over the last week I had the below things in my world and they really made my week! Somehow they were the beacons of joy interspersed with the bad stuff. What about you, what are the things that really made your last week?

  1. New books – no matter what’s going on in my life new books cheer me up. So having a bit of a spree in Waterstones on Saturday was wonderful, these four books all sounds wonderful so I can’t wait to get stuck in to them all. Hooray.
  2. Half an hour to just do nothing – I was at a conference on Thursday which was fascinating (and apologies if you saw all my tweets about there’s the possibility I got a smidge carried away!). It was also good because it meant I could have a calmer start to my day than usual. Before the conference I managed to slot in forty minutes prior to the conference for a quiet breakfast, pick me up coffee and a read of the latest Simple Things magazine. It really was wonderful.
  3. Shakespeare how it ought to be viewed – I was lucky enough to watch Macbeth being performed at The Globe on Tuesday last week and it was phenomenally good. I really cannot explain how brilliantly good it was. The actors were all amazing and the director and staging team had done a phenomenally good job at making it even more brilliant – I highly recommend it.
  4. Baking – I’ve baked quite a lot of stuff this week (pinwheels, oat and banana bites and triple chocolate cookies) and it’s often the best medicine for a bad day or a moment of crazy. Plus all the things I made were scrumptious, which always helps!
  5. Supportive people – Last on the list but most definitely not last in my eyes as they have been so wonderfully great this week. Everyone in my life has been amazing this week, both friends and family. Many of them have gone above and beyond on the support and kind words and really have made me so much more confident, happy and able to make a big decision which now it’s made I fell 100% better than I did before. I promise that as soon as I can explain more I will, but its super top-secret at the moment – annoying blogger moment I know.

Recent loves in the blogging world

I’ve had a fairly chilled out Sunday which has been lovely as it’s meant I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of lovely blog posts that I’ve seen during the week but not had the brain power to focus on. As I’ve spent a lot of this weekend reading some of these posts I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you so that you could enjoy them too. I don’t know about you but I love discovering new blogs so hopefully you’ll enjoy some of the below posts. Also if you have any suggestions for brilliant must-read posts please do let me know as I’m always on the lookout for awesome blogs to read.

First up there’s been a whole host of scrumptious sounding and delicious looking foodie posts this week which I can hardly wait to get making over on Cook, Bake and Eat. How Sweet It Is always has yummy looking stuff, and this Honey Roasted Vegetable and Smoked Gouda Penne Bake is not exception, talk about the foodification of heaven. Yes I may have just made up a word – deal with it. Another thing from her blog, this Thai Curry Butternut Squash Soup, it’s definitely turned to soup weather this is a must make for me. I’m a big fan of Averie Cooks and I always want to eat everything she blogs about, but this weeks Soft and Chewy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies sound unreal and I NEED to make them asap. I think it’s almost a matter of life and death. Back on a savoury note, I keep meaning to make my own beans and when I do finally get round to it I think I’ll go for these ones from Domestic Sluttery. Delicious you say!

On a more serious blogging note, and something that doesn’t involve melted cheese or sugar, I was really impressed that Kate over at Diaries of an Essex Girl shared her story about the downside of losing weight, aka what happens when you go to far. That’s a very brave thing to do, so good on her for putting her experience out there. I also enjoyed reading Belinda’s post about being a blogging black sheep and then The Musing Blonde’s take on it here and I 100% agree with the sentiment of both. Also as The Musing Blonde says in her post being the black sheep is what makes us, us and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I also like the idea of making resolutions, so I might have to follow in Lau’s footsteps and make some of my own resolutions and be positive about them.

In terms of crafty stuff, I’m basically begging for the opportunity to make these chalkboard tile place names from In My Own Style, but I just can’t justify it at the moment as I can’t think when I’d use them. Suggestions on a postcard please! I also want to have a white chalk wall somewhere in my flat (just like the team at A Beautiful Mess). Don’t you think it looks so much more interesting than a traditional black one – so cool! One final thing to leave you with I’ve decided I now want to own a bright pink sofa thanks to this post from  Bright Bazaar, I honestly think it will make my life and outlook immeasurably better.

Wow I’m actually quite surprised! aka September’s budget

Happy September budget day everyone – how are you all? Welcome to the latest addition of budget blogging where somehow I managed to have a good month! Once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor in shock, we can continue! I honestly felt like I had a dreadful clothes month so I’m frankly quite shocked by this amazing piece of news! I don’t know how this happened to be honest, I think it helped that I got given a lot of clothes as gifts this month and that I was on holiday for a week, but even so I feel like I’ve spent loads, perhaps I’ve miscalculated and actually missed off a few things – it is possible I suppose…
Anyway the verdict is that I’ve spent £92.75 in total and I actually earned £30 (selling shoes and other items on eBay), so in the end I only spent £62.75. Which is like 50% less than I said I would – wowzers. Big pat on the back to me then. So enough about the money, let’s get to the good stuff, what I actually bought!
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1. Always Skinny Jeans, Gap, £30 (price with 25% off code) – I can’t seem to say no to Gap at the moment so when there was a 25% off code AND free delivery on the site I was all over it! I love my current skinnies so I thought some new ones were in order. These aren’t quite as comfy as the ones I already worn (maybe because I need to wear them in…) but they look great on and will be perfect with boots this winter.

 

2. Shorts, Fat Face, £29 (price with £6 off) – These shorts were an impulse buy at the airport before my flight to Portugal as I frankly just needed some shorts for the trip. I didn’t have any shorts that fitted so these were a lifesaver – they’re super comfy, finish below my fat thighs and were worn pretty much the entire trip. so essentially I’ve already worn them enough to justify it!

 

3. Ugg Boots, Free! – My lovely Mum and sis came back from Australia earlier this month so I was gifted lots of lovely things – the first ones were these gorgeous boots. I did specify that these were the ones I wanted, but I didn’t expect them to get me the ‘proper’ ones, they are just to kind. These boots fit perfectly and are so comfy. I’m definitely going to be wearing these a lot over the next few months!

 

4. Slobbing Trousers, Cotton On, Free! – These trousers are amazing, so comfy and perfect for slobbing round the house or popping out to the shop in. Yet another item from the Australia trip peeps, aren’t they kind.


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5. Heather grey v-neck Tshirt, Gap, £7.50 (price with 25% off code) – I’ve been living in my bright pink version of this so I jumped at the chance to get more when the latest Gap sale occurred. Since it arrived I’ve worn it constantly with a succession of bright necklaces and my skinnies. Definitely a top that is super simple and easy to pull off but that looks more exciting for the effort you’ve put in!

6. Dotty Dress, Cotton On, Free! – This dress was picked up by the relatives on their Aussie trip and I absolutely love it. It’s just so me and again easy to wear and it looks more special than the effort I put into it. I think this dress proves my family know me so well as I would totally buy this had I been out in Oz and people at work assumed I’d had it for ages as it was just so me. That makes me smile!

7. White v-neck Tshirt, Gap, £7.50 (price with 25% off code) – A white version of the heather grey t and another wardrobe essential – you’ve gotta love a Gap basic.

8. Pointelle Sweater, Gap, £18.75 (price with 25% off code) – This was a total impulse buy in the Gap sale. I couldn’t say no when I saw it as I liked the pattern and I adored the cobalt blue colour and I’m just so glad it fitted perfectly when it arrived. A perfect jumper for this Autumn, I can’t wait to get wearing in on a weekly basis!

So there we have it my monthly budget, not something that will set the world on fire I know but definitely a set of essentials that I’ll wear constantly for the next few months and I saved myself a bundle too – woop woop! What about you, how did your budget fare this month? Was it a good or bad budget month?

Oh and of course as per usual I’m linking up with Franish and the rest of the lovely budgeting bloggers.

Wise Words #1 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Greetings chumlets, how are you all today? I wanted to share this lovely image (humble aren’t I!) that I created using the wondrous site that is PicMonkey. Can I just say this site is totally revolutionising my life right now. I’m having such fun using it! Check out my first image over on the latest ‘Smiley Happy Things’ post, as you can tell I was inspired by a school chalkboard! Anyway whilst playing around I created the above image using one of my photos from a recent Portugal trip. I’m quite proud of it to be honest!

Anyway back to the actual sentiment behind the above image. I stumbled across this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote last weekend and it really made sense to me and captured exactly what I’ve been trying to channel recently. I like the idea of putting the past behind you at the end of the day and just focusing on the positives before starting the new day with optimism and enthusiasm. After all optimism and a positive outlook never killed anyone and looking on the bright side of things can’t hurt anyone. This quote also reminds me a little of the sentiments in The Silver Linings Playbook, which is about there always being a positive side to things, no matter how small. So really I just wanted to share this image with you as a reminder that we should take each day as it comes, face it with enthusiasm, give our all and then at the end of the day put the bad bits behind us and learn not to dwell on things.

Phew, that’s a lot of waffle for one day, especially for a Friday! Go forth and enjoy your last day of this work week and have an epic two-day weekend, huzzah!

Coogee to Bondi Coastwalk, Australia – Travel Tuesday

Afternoon lovely blog readers, I hope you’re having a fruitful day full of lots of lovely things and if it’s been a bit rubbish so far, it’ll get better soon I’m sure. If it doesn’t improve by tonight then I would prescribe hot chocolate and digestive biscuits – always a winner in my book!
Anyway back to today’s Travel Tuesday link up with A Compass Rose and Found Love, Now What? Today’s travel post takes me to one of my favourite countries: Australia. I’m lucky to have been to Aus a few times, one of the perks of having family dotted all over the east coast I guess, but today we’re jumping into the TARDIS and revisiting my last trip there, back in April 2012.
I spent the majority of last year’s trip visiting family, but we also managed to visit one new place – the beaches of Sydney (yeah I can’t believe I’ve not been before either – ridiculous!). Rather than lazing on the beach all day we decided to walk the coastal path between Coogee Beach and Bondi Beach, which is absolutely stunningly beautiful. The walk in its entirety takes about two hours of ambling to complete via the boardwalks that take you via Bronte and Tamarama beaches as well as some lovely green parks and even a cemetery. It really was a lovely way to spend a morning and I highly recommend it for anyone that has a spare day to get out of the city.
Coogee beach
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Coogee Beach from above
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The view from Sesquicentenary Boardwalk
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IMG_1993  IMG_1994The sprawling Waverley Cemetery
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Bronte Beach
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Bondi Beach
A Compass Rose

Brilliant supporters, neon and giggles

Happy Monday you lovely beans, how is the world treating you this fine and furry morning? I don’t know about you but my past week hasn’t been the easiest. I suppose any week post holiday will be tricky but this week has been made infinitely worse thanks to an epic amount of work stress, big life decisions, food that disagreed with me and the stinker of a cold that I’ve STILL not shifted! So yes a bit of a rubbish seven days in all honesty. But let’s not dwell on the bad, this post is meant to be about the good stuff. And thankfully there were some lovely things that made this week so much better. I’m not sure how I’d have handled this week without some beacons of joy mixed in. So this week I’ve been cheered up no end by this week’s…

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  • Lovely lunches with brilliant friends – twice last week I was joined by good friends for lunch and it was lovely. Sometimes you just can’t beat a good old gossip.
  • Coffee and catch ups – More lovely friends this time teamed with good coffee. Ideal during a hectic day to just take ten minutes for a good dose of what’s actually important.
  • Someone going above and beyond – Sometimes people do far more than they need to and this week one such lovely person did that for me and whilst we didn’t resolve the problem I am really and truly grateful for that extra bit of love
  • Hysterical laughter  – What can I say that’s one of the best things that can happen. Laughter that turns into hysterics with a good dose of tears!
  • Making a breakthrough on one element of a campaign – That feeling you get when you hit on the idea that solves that one problem you’ve been stuck on for weeks, what joy!
  • Celebrating with family – It was my Dad’s birthday last week and it was a joy to catch up with my family and natter away, giggle a lot and eat scrumptious food. Baked avocado is my new favourite thing.
  • Surprise American sweets – My lovely friend surprised me with dark chocolate peanut m&m’s from a recent trip to NYC. What a star she is, so kind!
  • Appreciation at work – Most work places are a bit rubbish at showing appreciation so it was lovely to get some brilliant feedback this week on one project that appears to be taking over my life – very rewarding and almost worth all the pain
  • Comedy trailer footage – My Thursday was made infinitely better when I watched footage for an upcoming work trailer – the footage just cracked me up.  Sometimes my job is aces.
  • Two more new neon necklaces – no more explanation needed!

Oh why doesn’t money grow on trees?

The above is something that I’m always wondering about as if it did my life would involve far fewer wishlists and have far more cupboards crammed full of stuff. I appreciate it might not make life 100 times better but it would be nice to be able to splurge on some of the lovely things that I see all over the place. Anyway until scientists work out how to make money grow on trees or I win the lottery I’m going to have to settle on multiple wishlists, so I give you my current wishlist of house loveliness.
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1 – ‘Today is the Day’ Mug, £8.50 This mug would make me smile as I sipped my morning coffee from it as I love the positive message. It’s likely to be the complete opposite from what I’m thinking that early in the morning!
2 – Fox Cushion, £9 A fox cushion is surely a must for everyone in the world, right?! And this is one of the cutest and best value ones I’ve seen. This would look so lovely on the new look sofa I’m planning on getting sooner.
3 – ‘Bring me coffee at once’ print, £25 My love for coffee is a recent occurrence, but it’s definitely a full on obsession – so this bright blue print definitely calls to me. One day this will live on my kitchen wall.
4 – Ceramic Owl, £3 Now this doesn’t appear to have any purpose, but its super cute so I need it in my life.
5 – Mini Milk Bottle Vases, £3.50 Something else that’s super cute! I can think of lots of things I’d do with these, from using them as miniature vases and storing bits and bobs to sipping fancy juices out of them on a summer’s day. Cuteness in glass form if you ask me.
6 – Hurricane Lamp, £16 – This lamp is such a lovely shape and would go perfectly in my seaside themed bedroom. I love the colour too.
7- Dotty Crockery, from £1.50 – I don’t need new plates or mugs, my bulging kitchen cupboards are testament to that, but this pastel dotty stuff is cute that I can’t help but want them. Maybe I can justify one or two items though?
8 – Reindeer Throw, £42 – Oh my wow this is amazing! I could definitely enjoy using this in the upcoming winter months. And when I wasn’t using it, it would look rather lovely on my sofa. Reindeers on house stuff is always a win if you ask me.
9 – Cotton Ball String Lights, £36 These lights are lovely and would brighten up any room in my flat, sadly I don’t think I can stretch to over £30 for a type of fairy light.
10 – Alphabet Illuminated Canvas, £14.95 Now this I’m impressed by, only £14.99 and so pretty at the same time. I think my only problem would be choosing a colour!
11- Turquoise Saucepan Set, £8 for a pair Turquoise saucepans would make a nice change from the bog standard silver ones, and I think they’d contrast perfectly with the bright pink walls of my kitchen.
12 – Owl Candle Holder, £21 Expensive for what it is yes, but it’s a cast iron owl candleholder, so what’s not to love?!
13 – Blackboard Charms, £0.95 These are meant to be used as wine glass charms, but I’ve never understood the point of those. Instead I think these would be lovely to label jars of pasta, rice, etc in the kitchen.

Comfort to me is…

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I love that today’s Blogtember prompt is to react to the term comfort as it seems quite apt to where my head is currently at right now.

Ever since I returned from Portugal last week I’ve been feeling the autumn love due to the summer having seemingly disappeared for another year and the appearance of autumn essentials in the shops – I’m talking about you Mr. Unicorn jumper. Autumn is possibly one of my favourite seasons and it definitely beats the sunshine in the summer. My love affair for autumn is most definitely due to the obscene amount of comfort I find during that stage of the year. I’m talking snuggly knits, patchwork quilts on the sofa, mittens, hot chocolate with marshmallows, 100 denier black tights, meaty casseroles, walks in the country in many many layers, crispy autumnal leaves of glorious oranges, reds and browns, warming soups, film nights, darker evenings, woolly scarves, lit fires, Starbucks red cups, bonfires and fireworks and so, so much more. Ah Autumn how I’ve missed you, I’m glad you’ve finally made an appearance.

Pinterest Corner #31 – Wool Letters

Hi lovely blog readers, how are you this fine Wednesday? I hope you’re as excited as me that it’s that time again; it’s Pinterest Corner day, hooray!  This month’s Pinterest Corner is one that I’m so super excited to share with you. I’m just so pleased with how it’s turned out and it makes me smile to look at the finished items. Also it’s a project that I’ve been meaning to get around to for almost a year, which makes it even more brilliant that I’ve now done it! [Yes I am a bit of  a star when it comes to procrastination].

Anyway back to what I’ve actually crafted! Ages ago I saw this image on Pinterest and I absolutely fell in love with the idea of wool wrapped letters. Not only do the woolly letters look really beautiful – see the original pinners version below – I thought they also looked really easy to do. I also loved that you could choose any words or wool colour you wanted and it would still look really cool.

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Once I’d pinned the image, I promptly forgot about this crafty project until I just happened to be in the world’s most amazing shop AKA Hobbycraft last September. As I was ambling around with nothing specific to buy I happened upon a number of cardboard letters and I knew they’d be perfect for this project – so much better than making the letters from scratch, especially for a lazy bones like me. Can you imagine when I’d be writing this post if I hadn’t found these letters? Probably sometime in 2015! I also found the lilac and purple wool in the sale on the same day for just 99p a ball, which is my sort of craft item: colourful and cheap! Here are the six items before I got started on the project:

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So now we need to fast forward about eight or nine months to May time when I started the wrapping of the wool. I decided to start with the ‘H’ as I thought that would be the easiest letter, and I think it was. I think if I’d started with the ‘M’ I’d have never finished this project – it was that bad! It was a very simple technique, after using masking tape to secure the end of the wool I got wrapping and wrapping and wrapping. I was really surprised about how long it took to finish just one letter. It felt like I was wool wrapping for about a year on just the ‘H’, talk about repetitive! To be fair I don’t think I had the best technique at the start and I probably should have checked out the tutorial on the original pin as I only noticed that they’d put smaller bits of wool on each end after the ‘H’ – that would most certainly have helped! Anyway I like how the ‘H’ turned out even if it does have about three different layers of wool going on!

Last month I finally picked up the rest of the wool and the other letters and made a start on them. This time I focused on the ends of the ‘M’ and ‘E’ first, before going up and along both letters. I feel like I finally reached a rhythm after the second letter and started to find it all rather therapeutic. It is also a great craft project for sitting in front of the TV as you don’t have to look at the wool or letters all the time. The’O’ was actually the easiest letter of all as there are no ends, all you had to deal with was the small hole in the middle. But that was fixed by working with smaller balls of wool, simple. So after about five hours of wrapping I’m now left with these four lovely letters – what do you think? Do you like them?

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Yes they might not be absolutely perfect, but I quite like that as it shows that they are handmade and lovingly so.  I’m still toying with where they should now live, but I quite like the idea of propping them on my headboard – I think they look rather nice. What do you think?

20130826-155115.jpgSo what do you think about wool letters? Are you inclined to give them a try yourself and if so, what word would you go for?

Let’s fly, let’s fly away.

Now that I’m back from Portugal I don’t have any trips abroad planned (thanks to a depleted bank balance), so I thought I’d take the chance in today’s link up to Travel Tuesday to share the five places I most want to visit. This list is forever changing as let’s be honest there are loads of fabulous places out there. So I don’t expect this will stay the same for long, but for now I’m dreaming of packing a suitcase and visiting these lovely looking places.

The Great Ocean Road – I’m lucky enough to have been to Australia a number of times and I’ve had a ball each and every time. But I’ve never made it to The Great Ocean Road. I long to just hire a car with no thought as to where we’ll stop and just get going on this 151 mile stretch of Australia. I want to see the charming seaside villages along the coast, explore the small towns and cities like Geelong, admire the stunning vistas and see the famed apostles and everything else that this amazing area has to offer. One day.

The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia -- Find great travel deals & discounts on http://www.studentrate.com/studentrate/School/Deals/Travel.aspx #travel #world #trips #vacation

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Canada – I know this is quite a sweeping place to mention, I mean it’s a massive country, but I can’t choose just one area I’m afraid! I want to visit the amazing capilano suspension bridge to view the rainforest from up high, I want to kayak around the untouched wilderness on Vancouver Island, ski in Whistler, spot polar bears and whales in Hudson Bay, visit the beautiful and exciting city of Vancouver, view the staggeringly impressive Niagara Falls in Ontario, see stunning vistas in the Rockies, visit Montreal the world’s second largest french speaking city and so so much more. It sounds like a stunningly beautiful and interesting country.

We would love this view out of our windows! Sunset over the winter scenery along the coast of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada.

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Seattle – Ever since I first watched Grey’s Anatomy I’ve been determined to get to Seattle. Not because I assume I’ll get to meet Jackson and the rest of the Grey’s Anatomy cast but because it looks like such an awesome city!  It’s got the ferry boats, impressive buildings and is close to amazing forests, what’s not to love?

Seattle skyline from a different perspective.

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Zanzibar – I don’t know what there is to see in Zanzibar apart from lounge on the beaches and take in the history of the island, but for me that’s plenty. It sounds like such an exotic place so I really do want to see it for myself.

Zanzibar, Tanzania:

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New York – I’ve been to New York a few times but what I really would love is to visit it at Christmas. I can’t even imagine how wonderfully magical the city would be with all the decorations and fairy lights, I think I would be in heaven. I would love to see the shops all filled with Christmas stuff, to ice skate in central park with Christmas songs playing and to sip hot chocolates underneath the shadow of the beautiful Rockefeller tree. Blissful.

Christmas in New York City (Rockefeller center), I really hope we can make it to New York city this Christmas!

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A Compass Rose
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