Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hey Now

So titled because I am, once again, listening to the full London Grammar album as I write, and Hey Now is one of my favourites. Seriously, as Bee once told me- I think that album has medicinal properties. It's magical. My attempts to sing along, though? Not so magical. Sorry neighbours!

I think my favourite thing about blogging is being able to be nosy and really find out about what people have been up to though, so I suppose it's only fair that I do my own.It's been so long since I wrote a post like this- there's an awful lot to catch up on. I'll forgive you for skim reading though, I know we all have busy busy lives to lead (seriously- I can't remember the last time I even read a blog post that wasn't on my phone on my lunchbreak at work?!)

So! Here goes nothing.

One of my favourite things about living in London is the ability to visit all of the amazing markets. Since being here, I've popped to Borough Market (how I had never been before is beyond me- it's beyond incredible, and if you're a food lover, go, go now), Old Spitalfields (where I bought the cutest fox print scarf for three pounds), Greenwich Market (with Mama, where we bought beautiful snoods for five pounds), and Columbia Road Flower Market (where I managed to refrain from buying all the hydrangeas and Z bought the most beautiful lisianthus). I missed out on a trip to Broadway Market on Saturday, but I'm so keen to get up there soon, and despite how crazy busy it always is, I want to pop back to Portobello Market soon (and hopefully run into Lauren, because she's just the cutest).

I'm also seriously enjoying playing tourist in my own city (though it still feels weird to refer to London as my city- however at home I feel here). I've been to visit the poppies at the Tower of London again, this time with Mama, and was once again blown away by their beauty and humbled by the notion that every single ceramic flower represent a life lost. It's incredible, and if you haven't been and you live anywhere near London, you must go. They're wonderful. Mama and I also waved at the Queen as we strolled past Buckingham Palace, and I've spent a fair bit of time in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, saying hi to Peter Pan and strolling past the Italian Gardens

I've also had my fair share of bizarre London moments- including running into my old Cardiff housemate/ bestie M at the theatre (of all the theatres in London, we both ended up seeing Miss Saigon- which was wonderful, you should go- and she was sitting about ten rows behind me and Mama); then the following weekend running into M's sister L and her husband G outside the Southbank Centre. One sign that London is where I'm meant to be right now is the fact I run into more people I know here, in a city of eight million people, than I do in my home village of less than 4000. 

I also was truly shocked on the Tube the other day when a trio of hilarious Australians started talking to me. Strangers. Talking. On. The. Tube. It's the stuff of science fiction, seriously. We had an entertaining conversation about One Direction and Taylor Swift, and I was sad to see them hop off one stop before me. 

I've also been catching up with plenty of people I do know- including my brother E and our friend O on Saturday. Both were horrifically hungover and regaled me with stories of their previous night (where they had fallen asleep on a London street at 4am and more shockingly woke up with all of their belongings) over smoothies and milkshakes at Whole Foods. 

I'm also loving how easily I can catch up with my blogging favourites- Ellie and Emily live literally around the corner, Becca is just down the road, and Charlotte lives a hop, skip and a jump away. Bess has moved a little further away, and Meg has always been far away, but it's easy enough to meet them centrally. It's lovely.

On the subject of Becca, the two of us went for pizza at Franco Manca, and then for cocktails at Harrison's last week. We were so disappointed to find that their website was wrong and their cocktails were not £5 on a Wednesday, and I sent a little tweet to let them know that their website was incorrect. I got a tweet back quickly after with a sincere apology and the offer of asking for a specific member of staff who would look after us. The owner then phoned the manager to tell him to give us each a free cocktail of our choice by way of an apology. What sweethearts! Absolutely impeccable customer service, I'm sure you'll agree.

And on Saturday I also met two of my absolute best friends from uni, L and J, and we went for Pimms and beer at the Southbank Centre's roof garden, where we gossiped about J's new job, boys, and life in general. Those two make me so happy.

Work is also going well, for the most part. Of course, I have my ups and downs, but I genuinely feel as though I am seriously good at what I do. Of course, there are office politics, upsetting rumours, and days where I have absolutely no idea which way is up, but on the whole I love my colleagues, and I love the environment I'm in. I took in a whole load of brownies on Monday, just because. It's my favourite way of making my colleagues like me.

I've also started a new fitness pledge. I am desperate to feel body confident at my brother's wedding, and so I have a new policy- I have to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, be that a run, korfball training (I joined a new team! They're amazing, and it's slightly terrifying, but so so friendly and I love it just as much as before), a YouTube yoga workout, or something else. I'm also trying to walk home from work at least two or three times a week- though last week, I walked home every day. A) It's cheaper and B) it's good for me. I feel very brave posting a picture of myself in sports gear on the internet- it's my inspiration to DO SOMETHING about it. What's the point in moaning if I do nothing about it!?

And a few more bits- I'm on a spending ban. I've just finished re-reading Birdsong and Never Let Me Go. I'm finally reading Gone Girl. I'm still working my way through Gossip Girl on Netflix. How good is Educating the East End!? I'm so sad the Great British Bake Off is nearly over. I went a whole day without tea on Saturday. I then chain drank three cups on Sunday. There have been sightings of MICE in my kitchen. I cried about that. I went to Margate with Jenny and Charlotte, but I'll be posting about that separately. How good is Taylor Swift's new song!? Jenny gives the best life advice. I went for afternoon tea with Mama!

I think that's quite enough now. Tell me- what's new with you?

Monday, 29 September 2014

Happiness Is... (vol. 84)

As I write this, I am sitting cross legged on my living room floor, laptop on the coffee table with my back against the sofa, Classic FM playing Tango en Skai by Roland Dyens, with a cup of tea to my left, and the windows thrown wide open to let some fresh air into the flat. The room is filled with the scent of the lilies I bought my housemate for her birthday last Monday, and I feel quite peaceful.

It's the first time in weeks I've felt inspired to sit and write something. Anything. I moved to London nearly two months ago, and I completely lost any inclination to write- which is awful, but I was so busy throwing myself into my new life that I just didn't want to spend my free time sitting  behind a laptop. And even if I had wanted to, I didn't really feel like I had a whole lot of interest to say. The whole concept of blogging started to baffle me, and I didn't know why I was doing it.

But this morning, I woke up after sleeping for 10 hours feeling inspired. The sun was breaking through the morning mist, and I dragged myself out for a run. And when I got back, I wanted to write. So here I am!

There's a lot of catching up to do, and I'm hoping I'll be filling you all in on everything a lot more regularly than of late. Feel free to shout if I don't, okay?

But back to the task at hand! This week, happiness is...

... buying flowers from a florist. As I mentioned, it was my housemate's birthday last Monday, and as far as I'm concerned, a birthday isn't a birthday without flowers. There's a lovely florist just around the corner from my house, so I popped in there to pick something up for her. The quality of these flowers proves that it was such the right decision, and I got the warm and squishies for supporting a local business rather than buying flowers from a supermarket. Happy days!

... visits from Mama CupandSaucer. Mama came to see me last weekend and it made me so happy. I loved that she was able to see where I'm living now, and to see how settled I am here. The only thing I don't like about living in London is just how far away I am from my mama- we are exceptionally close, and I miss her terribly. Fortunately, we've already got dates in the diary and I'm now seeing her at least once a month until March. This makes me so happy!

Only slightly unrelated...!
... trying on fancy dresses in Selfridges. When Mama visited, we decided to go and get some ideas for outfits to wear to my brother's wedding. We tried on the most beautiful DVF dresses, and while we decided against them in the end, we both felt so fancy! We're now planning to visit a couple of boutiques to really sort Mama out- Mother of the Groom outfits are apparently quite stressful!

... the return of Downton Abbey! Oh my goodness, it's probably my favourite thing on TV, mostly because of Lady Mary and the Dowager Duchess. (I know loads of people hate Lady Mary but I love her. She's my absolute favourite) I've heard this series isn't meant to be as traumatic as the last couple, thank goodness- I don't think my nerves could take any more drama like the Matthew thing. 

... wearing shorts on 28th September. Yep, I;m wearing shorts today. According to the Met Office, it's officially autumn, but not in my book! I know I've said it before, but I'm loving this prolonged sunny spell. I'm prone to feeling blue when there's too much grey weather for too long, so the more sunshine I can get now, the better I'll feel for longer. 

What's making you happy this week?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Happiness Is... (vol. 83)

Happy Monday everyone! I'm oddly excited for a new week- though I think this is partly because I'm just so excited for the coming weekend as Mama CupandSaucer is coming to stay. I am so so close to my mama, and it feels like so long since I've seen her- so as much as I hate to wish my life away, I cannot wait for the weekend.

The week should be good too though- I have a busy week at work, and plans to catch up with Bess too- so I'm sure Friday will race towards us at warp speed.

For a Sunday afternoon, I'm in a wonderfully good mood. Here's hoping it lasts- but to help me on my way, this week, happiness is...

... Jenny and Charlotte. I spent my Saturday in the company of these two beauties. We laughed, we ate, they talked me through some boy drama, we pottered. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday, and every time I spend time with bloggers-turned-genuine-friends, I marvel at the power of the internet. I bloody love these girls!!

... my new hand mixer! Papa CupandSaucer bought me an amazing Kenwood KMix hand mixer as a (very) belated birthday present this week and I am DELIGHTED with it. And the first thing I made with it? A wedding cake. Nothing like starting small, eh...?!

... homemade smoothies. I recreated my favourite smoothie this week- blueberry, raspberry, banana, and ginger. So delicious, and hey, healthy!! (Turns out, you CAN be a blogger and not put something green in your smoothie, too- who knew?!)

... a tidy room. I've been meaning to tidy my room all week, and yesterday afternoon I finally got around to doing it. It really is true what they say- tidy room, tidy mind. I feel so much better for it!

... London parks. I am loving big-city life more than I thought I would- but every now and then, I feel the need for green space. Yesterday, I went for a lovely stroll through Kensington Gardens up to the Italian Gardens, before heading on to Selfridges- but it was so lovely to be around so much green space. I find it surprisingly easy to forget I'm in a city when I'm in some of the parks around here.

What's making you happy this week?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Healthy Veggie Curry

My dad makes some of the most delicious curries in the world.

He used to travel to India a lot with work, and I think he did a few cookery classes when he was out there. Since then, any occasion which involves a big group of people gathering at his house also involves a delicious batch of homemade curry. And by homemade, I mean 100% completely from scratch- no curry pastes in this house!

As such, before going to uni, he wrote me a whole host of curry recipes, which... I promptly lost. To be honest, I'm no Maddhur Jaffrey- I am not interested in recipes which involve ten thousand different spices, six of which you can only get in specialist food stores. I like store cupboard recipes. 

I also like healthy recipes. I've been trying to detox a bit this week- no alcohol, limited chocolate, no biscuits (sob), and seven portions of fruit and veg a day. It's making a difference actually- I feel brighter, I'm sleeping better, and my tummy is a lot less bloated. 

But when I cut out all the bad stuff, it can make me feel a bit sad- at which point, I want delicious comfort food. Kind of a catch-22, tu ne pense pas? 

Enter super healthy veggie curry. Comforting, warming, store cupboard friendly, delicious, and super healthy. What more could you want? It might look a bit faffy but I swear to god- it really ain't. If I can make it in my minuscule kitchen, so can you. And so you should.

Super Healthy Veggie Curry

3cm chunk of ginger, peeled (use a teaspoon)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1tsp garam masala
2tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
Crushed chilli, to taste
1 tin low-fat coconut milk
4 tbsp red lentils
1 tin chickpeas
Half a head of broccoli
Half a bag of spinach (about 100g or so)
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Begin by blitzing your ginger, garlic, onions and half the tin of tomatoes until a smooth paste forms.

In a large pan, heat a drizzle of oil and then gently fry your cumin, garam masala, cumin, and chilli. You should always do this with spices- it stops them from tasting powdery in your finished dish! Then add your tomatoey garlicky paste and bubble up.

Add the other half of your tomatoes, the lentils, and six tablespoons of coconut milk. Then simmer until the lentils are tender, adding more coconut milk as you go until you reach the consistency you like in a curry.

When the lentils are nearly done, add in your chickpeas and broccoli and simmer until the veg is done. Then stir through your spinach until it wilts, sprinkle with fresh coriander, and serve with brown rice and mango chutney.

Healthy comfort food at it's finest!!