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Sunday Catch-up #43

Hello and Happy Sunday! I went back to work this week and the dark nights are closing in. I don’t mind too much though as I had a great time at a fireworks display, started Pilates again after a month off and later today Ian and I are off to watch Josh Widdicombe and grab a spot of dinner.

This week I have been…

Making: better use of my time

Going: to watch Josh Widdicombe live (tonight!)

Wearing: black tights…my winter essential

Eating: a delicious steak dinner (with a side order of mac ‘n’ cheese!)

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Drinking: dessert wine with my salted caramel pudding

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Reading: the final draft of my essay…it’s done!

Watching: American Horror Story – we finished Narcos (amazing series!!!) and so far we’re not that convinced by AHS

Buying: some treats from Birchbox

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Planning: some healthy meals for the week ahead

Cooking: a delicious chorizo, cherry tomato and spinach omelette for my breakfast yesterday

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Baking: nothing so far but I plan on trying out a toffee apple crumble recipe later this week

Writing: blog posts

Favouriting: this amazing video from Lisa Eldridge about make-up through the ages

Working on: clearing out our spare bedroom

Trying to decide: what colour to paint my nails today

Wishing: the rain would stop

Enjoying: firework displays

Needing: more candles!

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Feeling: well rested after two lazy lie-ins this weekend

Giggling at: how much this guy needs his coffee in the morning!

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Sunday Catch-up #42

It has been a really good week. Despite not going away this half term, I have managed to make the most of it and actually feel quite ready to go back to work and face the manic Christmas term!

This week I have been…

Making: the most of my last day off with a huge lie-in

Going: for facials and afternoon tea with my friend Cat

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Wearing: pyjamas all day today

Eating: a 7-course taster menu at our local pub

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Drinking: rum cocktails

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Reading: over my essay several times (and finding more and more mistakes!)

Watching: Suffragette at the cinema (excellent in my opinion)

Buying: make-up after discovering Bath’s new Kiko store

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Planning: my next week of lessons

Cooking: a lovely prawn pasta dish

Baking: nothing this week

Writing: my essay

Favouriting: all the tweets about Jose Mourinho

Working on: getting through all the podcasts on my phone

Trying to decide: which peanut butter doughnut to eat first!

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Wishing: I could keep my house tidier

Enjoying: eating at Wahaca twice this week…I cannot get enough of their sweet potato and feta taquitos!

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Needing: to make my overnight oats for breakfast tomorrow

Feeling: happy with my new hair cut

Giggling at: seeing James Acaster live

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Restaurant Review – The Milk Churn

A couple of weekends ago, we fancied trying a new place for lunch so I booked us a table at this Hall and Woodhouse pub. Part of the Badger Brewery chain, Ian loves their ales and, although their menu isn’t exactly fine dining, it offers really good pub grub.

I can’t say the pub itself is in the nicest setting but The Milk Churn is housed in a gorgeous building which has a converted barn feel to it.

We started off with a couple of their ales – I love ‘Golden Glory’ which is a light ale with a peach flavour and reminds me of summer holidays camping in Dorset!

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For my lunch, I ordered a Buffalo Chicken Burger which was coated in Frank’s hot wing sauce and served with a blue cheese mayo. This reminded me so much of the chicken wings we enjoyed in America and although the bun fell apart a bit, the chips were really good!

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Ian opted for a Fish Dog which is basically a hot dog with beer-battered cod goujons in place of a sausage, with mushy peas and tartare sauce. It may sound a bit strange but it really worked and reminded me of a slightly fancier fish-finger sandwich (one of my favourite comfort-food lunches!)

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We also shared some hot wings which were a little on the small and dry side for me.

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I always save some room for a pudding and The Milk Churn offer ‘mini puds’ which I think is a great idea if you are torn between two desserts! I ordered a mini toffee cheesecake and a mini chocolate pot.

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The cheesecake was OK but the ratio between the toffee sauce, biscuit and cream were a little off. My favourite by far was the chocolate pot which had a rich dark chocolate mousse topped with vanilla panna cotta. This was a perfect combination and I could have eaten two or three of them!

We had a lovely lunch here at The Milk Churn. I probably wouldn’t come back here for an evening meal as it has a bit of a ‘chain’ feel to it and I much prefer a local, country pub but it was a great lunch venue and we are big fans of the ales served here.

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Sunday Catch-up #41

A real week of two halves as half-term started mid-week for me. So far, I have enjoyed a couple of lie-ins, lots of life admin and a fair few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. My parents are staying for a few days, I have a few essay days scheduled then my friend Cat arriving and a comedy gig, tasting menu and a facial to enjoy before work takes over again.

This week I have been…

Making: appointments for a Neals Yard Facial

Going: to a pub in Bath during a student pub crawl (note-to-self: avoid in the future)

Wearing: hats

Eating: smoked salmon and eggs for a late breakfast

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Drinking: red wine

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Reading: In The Kitchen

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Watching: The Apprentice

Buying: memory-foam slippers…so cosy

Planning: essays (groan)

Cooking: my ‘Carluccio Pasta’

Baking: Pumpkin Pies!

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Writing: on my blog again

Favouriting: Fleur de Force’s America vlogs which are making me want to plan another trip there!

Working on: my ironing pile!

Trying to decide: what colour to paint our spare room

Wishing: for an extra hour in bed every weekend

Enjoying: pomegranates

Needing: to pick up the leaves currently carpeting my lawn

Feeling: relaxed

Giggling at: Gogglebox

Mani Monday – Nude and Rose Gold Glitter

We did it – we finally caved and put the heating on meaning the cosiness factor has doubled in our house! I admit I had a hot flush about an hour after we turned it on but I always think it signifies a turning point in the seasons.

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This week’s manicure is an old favourite teamed with a newbie (which may be my new favourite glitter polish.)

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I began with a couple of layers of Innocent by ELF. This is one of my favourite nudes and I think it really suits my skin tone.

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To add a bit of sparkle, I applied a couple of layers of a new Essie glitter polish. A Cut Above is from Essie’s ‘Luxeffects’ range and has a good mix of larger, hexagonal pieces mixed with smaller glitter pieces suspended in a clear polish. Described as a ‘pink diamond’ colour, this is a beautiful rose gold when applied and I think it looks great with a nude base.

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Mani Monday – Geometric Nail Wraps

I have been looking forward to using these Sally Hansen nail wraps since I bought them in America this summer. I have heard that the staying power of these is great and I love the cool geometric black and white print.

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The design is actually called Pitter Pattern and the box comes with 16 strips, a cuticle stick and mini nail file. My nails are short enough that I can make one strip cover two nails so I get double my money’s worth with most sets of nail wraps!

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These were really simple to apply and tidy up using the nail file. I like the fact these little extras were included in the box.

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I decided to do a bit of a test and see if a layer of clear nail varnish would make these nail wraps last any longer. I applied a topcoat to my left hand and although it didn’t make a huge amount of difference, it was right hand that experienced a chip and a bit of peeling first but not until 6 days after application.

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The staying power of these Sally Hansen wraps are amazing and I am already eyeing up my next design to try out!

Latest Purchases #90 – Dotcomgiftshop

Happy Saturday! Ian is working today so I snuck back to bed this morning with brioche and tea to read a few chapters of my new book and plan to spend the day baking, blogging, pottering and doing a little bit of marking.

A little while ago, I made another order at Dotcomgiftshop (which does the most amazing sales!) Here are a few things I picked up…

First up a fun new print for the kitchen. I like the retro style of this picture and of course the celebration of all things pudding! I was going to ask Ian to hang it this weekend but after almost falling out hanging some other prints midweek I think I may need to butter him up first!

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I have phases where I find cross stitching really relaxing to do as I watch TV (it stops me constantly checking my phone too!) and this ‘Home Sweet Home’ print is a very sweet project to have lined up.

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This metal sign made me giggle. I plan on hanging this in our utility room by the washing machine when we finally decorate it.

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I really like this next item – a pastel green herb house. I saw a similar style in IKEA recently and almost bought it but thought this was a little more unique. It comes with six plant pots with blackboard-painted signs for you to add the name of your herbs on. We always have fresh herbs on the go so this will be a lovely way to grow and display them.

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I can never have too many notebooks and this pretty pink and gold design is a happy addition to the collection.

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I also picked up this pencil box to try and keep my desk tidier at work.

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I love making my baking efforts look a little bit better by using pretty cupcake cases.

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I had to bin my old flask recently as it was leaking so this is a good replacement…perfect for filling with hot chocolate when we go on an autumnal country walk!

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We always need tea towels and I thought these apples and pears designs looked very Orla Kiely-esque.

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Clearly influenced by the same designer, I bought a new jar for storing our teabags.

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Napkins.

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Despite Ian telling me we don’t need any more tins, I couldn’t resist these pretty ones and they all fit inside the big one so they aren’t taking up too much room!

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Some washi tape in pretty gingham designs.

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Some metal candle holders that I plan on hanging in the garden next summer.

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Finally, my most middle-aged purchase (which I am secretly really excited about) is this little gardening set as my knees really hurt when I have to kneel down to dig and plant stuff!

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Book Corner – My Latest Reads

I’m really trying to read more of a variety of books now and recently I’ve got through a horror, a classic and a reflective, more emotional life story.

First up is one that I am so ashamed to admit that I had not read by the age of 30 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I didn’t study it at school but I’m still not too sure how this one managed to pass me by. I bought this on my Kindle and sat and read over half of it one afternoon while lying on the grass in Central Park before finishing it on the plane home. It’s always tricky reading a critically acclaimed book as you have a feeling that you are meant to love it which can jade your view.

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I understand the history behind the book and although it wasn’t gripping, I did find it intriguing. I loved the characters although I remember saying to Ian at one point that I was about two-thirds through the book and nothing had really happened. The plot isn’t its strong point but the court case and event at the end of the book really brought the whole thing together and made me glad I finally ticked this one off my to-read list.

Next, a really trashy read that I managed to finish within two days – I just couldn’t put it down! The sequel to Eeny Meeny, Pop Goes the Weasel is the second instalment in the Helen Grace series and I think I am hooked. Gripping and gruesome, this book follows a fascinating lead character on the hunt for a serial killer in the unprincipled world of prostitution. I don’t think I could read this type of book all the time but every now and then, I do enjoy a good page-turner.

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Finally, I picked up This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M Homes at a summer fete this year when I was on a sugar-free diet. The story revolves around a man who lives a completely controlled, extremely healthy lifestyle until a series of strange events sees his life begin to unravel but almost for the better. This was a strange book which moved from the deadpan and mundane to the unrealistic and extreme very quickly. There is not a strong plot; the chapters seem to move from event to event and the protagonist is someone you pity rather than like. One thing I found really odd was that this book is written entirely in the present tense. I couldnt work out why it felt strange to read until I was about halfway through but when I realised this, I found it very hard to really get into. I have to say I wouldn’t recommend this one although I’m glad it was something different to what I would usually pick.

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I’ve got so many books lined up for the next few months that I can see myself posting more book reviews soon! x

Restaurant Review – Wahaca, Bristol

It is tricky to write a review about a chain restaurant as quality control means a certain dish in one location is pretty much identical to that in another. However, Ian and I had such a good meal at this new branch of my favourite Mexican restaurant recently, I thought it merited a blog post!

We went to Wahaca, at the top of Park Street, a couple of weeks ago, getting a table with no problem at about 7 on Saturday night. We started with a couple of margaritas; Ian went for a classic and I tried a passion fruit one which I think added a lovely tropical twist.

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We are both big fans of the ‘Street Food‘ part of the menu and, so that we could try as much as possible, ordered a sharing menu, plus some of my favourite taquitos.

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The stand-out favourites for me included a broccoli and avocado side dish, the smoked salmon tostadas and the chipotle chicken quesadilla.

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We even had a little portion of churros y chocolate to finish the meal.

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Usually reserved for visits to London, I am so happy there is a Wahaca close by so I can now satisfy my Mexican cravings in under an hour! x

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Beauty Review – August Birchbox

I have to admit that I only really opened this month’s Birchbox and had a play this week – I think I have just been having too much fun testing out all the goodies I bought in America recently!

After last month’s contents arriving in a make-up bag, we are back to a box this month and what a pretty one it is…

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Covered in little beauty emojis, there was also a pack of stickers of the same design inside.

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Here was my first look at the beauty items:

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First up a Rice Scrub from Rituals. I have been wanting to try something from this brand and love a good scrub. This one has organic rice milk and cherry blossom from it so sounds less harsh than a lot of exfoliators on the market.

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Next, a clarifying shampoo from Kebelo. Although I don’t use a huge amount of products on my hair, my Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo has found its way into my weekly ritual and I love the squeaky clean feeling it gives my hair. I’m keen to try out another brand’s version.

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I also received a pale grey Grab & Go Ponytail Holder from L. Erickson. Now, I would never pay almost £12 for a hair tie but this feels very soft and is meant to avoid snagging. I have to say it looks a little chunky for someone with quite short hair but always handy to have in my handbag.

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A Cleansing Water next from BioNike. I hadn’t heard of this brand before but like that this looks very delicate and soothing on the face. I always use these type of products to remove my make up so a welcome addition for me.

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Finally, two make-up items. I love The Balm Cosmetics, especially their retro packaging. I use their blushers so was pleased to see a bronzer. I know it’s only a sample but it isn’t the best size for a bronzer given that I like to apply mine with a very large, fluffy brush – I would have preferred another one of their lovely blushers but I found this also looks lovely as a golden-brown matte eyeshadow.

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I had another multi-use product from Lord and Berry in their blusher in the shade Lotus. When I opened the box, I was really disappointed in the cheap packaging. The colour looks nice and although isn’t the most pigmented, it is very silky to apply. I like that this can be used as a blusher or eyeshadow…I just need to find a better way to store it as I really dislike the plastic case!

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I’m not blown away by this month’s Birchbox and am probably the most excited about trying out the shampoo which isn’t exactly riveting. However, I have noticed there is a great sale on their website at the moment and I happen to have racked up a lot of points to spend so that’s practically free make-up! x