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Sunday Catch-up #12

It has been a quiet week but a super busy weekend for me with a comedy gig on Friday night, an old friend’s wedding on Saturday and my brother and his girlfriend over to ours for lunch today. I’ve got one more week left until the Easter holidays so I am hoping this coming week flies by!

This week I have been…

Making: half-term plans

Going: to see Suzi Ruffell and Romesh Ranganathan live…both were excellent

Wearing: heels all day on Saturday (ouch)

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Eating: this gorgeous rose chocolate

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Drinking: champers darling

Reading: I’m now on book four of this series

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Watching: the new series of Masterchef (and thinking I could at least get through round 1!)

Buying: more pairs of tights as I go through them way too quickly

Planning: some recipes involving quinoa

Cooking: veggie burgers with ALL the extras!

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Baking: cherry, blueberry and almond crumble

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Writing: more blog posts

Favouriting: Pixiwoo make-up tutorials – perfect to watch as I’m getting ready each morning

Working on: my fitness again – hoping to squeeze in a few more weekly runs now it’s getting lighter

Trying to decide: which red to go for on my nails (Nails Inc won!)

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Wishing: daffodils were here all year round – so bright and cheery

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Enjoying: time spent around friends this weekend

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Needing: to start saving for our summer trip

Feeling: like I want short hair again, after almost a year of growing it!

Giggling at: post-tequila-shot faces

Sunday Catch-up #10

If I’m being honest, it hasn’t really been the best week. I’ve been stressed and busy and to top it all off I’m feeling really run down and knackered. However, these weekly posts encourage me to look for the positives in weeks like this (we all have them!) and it has had its highlights, namely some beautiful sunny days and a great weekend in London with my nearest and dearest. Every cloud and all that!

This week I have been…

Making: Ian come to Pilates with me for a good old post-marathon stretch

Going: for afternoon tea in posh London hotels

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Wearing: stripes…in fact, we all did!

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Eating: ribs (I needed my fix!)

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Drinking: root beer

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Reading: this amazing series of books (for the second time)

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Watching: Fortitude – I love my bleak, Scandi dramas!

Buying: more Breton tops

Planning: which TV drama to start on next – House of Cards please!

Cooking: ham and cheese toasties (my comfort food when I’m not feeling 100%)

Baking: nothing this week although lots of staff room cakes have been consumed!

Writing: birthday cards

Favouriting: more home décor websites as I’m now after a new rug for our living room

Working on: feeling better – lots of OJ, early nights and zinc tablets

Trying to decide: whether I need a duvet day or not tomorrow!

Wishing: this beautiful weather lasts so we can spend more time outside without layers upon layers on

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Enjoying: ALL THE CAKES

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Needing: to go back to making to-do lists as it’s the only way I can function properly

Feeling: so happy when I have all my family sat around the table enjoying a meal together

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Giggling at: this tube stop (Londoners will roll their eyes I’m sure!)

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This Week’s Nails – Sephora Mani and Pedi

I have set myself the challenge of trying to go for a run or do a Pilates session everyday over these holidays. I find that exercise is the thing that gets pushed to one side when I am busy with work stuff so having some time off is the perfect time to get active again. It was a gorgeous sunny morning today although I am aching somewhat now after my fourth run in as many days!

I am painting and cooking today. I sanded down the walls I am working on yesterday and got dust EVERYWHERE…even in my ears (TMI maybe…?!) I hate all the prep work decorating involves but I love getting the colour on the walls as it means you are almost there and it really transforms the space you are working on.

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I found some king prawns in the freezer so am defrosting them and currently deciding on how to cook them tonight – I should try stay healthy but I have a creamy saffron sauce in mind that I also want to try…watch this space!

Today’s post is a double whammy of nail varnishes, both from Sephora – brought back from my Mum’s recent trip to Copenhagen as a present (thanks Mum!)

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I like Sephora polishes and noticed they have had a bit of a makeover, both in the bottle and brush. The bottle is small (5ml) but perfectly formed and they come with a lovely chunky brush that ensures you get a lot of product on your nails with minimal strokes.

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I opted for the pastel blue, Jacuzzi, on my fingernails and the metallic turqiouse, Walk on the Wild Side, on my toes.

The pale blue took three coats to become opaque but is a lovely, fresh blue which is perfect for springtime. As I mentioned previously, I did spend a good few hours yesterday sanding and unfortunately this manicure didn’t make it through in one piece but I don’t really think that was a fair test!

I also had a little visitor when I was taking some photos…

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On my toes, I used two coats of this metallic shade which is actually a beautiful green-gold colour when applied. This formula was the better of the two and is quite unusual…can’t quite believe I’m in flip-flops either!

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I know Sephora has started shipping to the UK, but I still see it as a treat when in Europe or the States and next time I’m there, I will definitely pick up a few more of these shades to add to my collection.

(yeah, too soon for flip-flops – am just nipping upstairs for a pair of socks!)

Beauty Review – Boots No.7 Ultimate Collection

Another glorious day here today with the daffodils starting to bloom in our garden – I couldn’t resist picking some for the kitchen table.

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Today I wanted to share something that I actually bought around Christmas but have only just got around to opening and using recently. I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping in Bath and popped into Boots to get some photos printed and couldn’t resist the offer they had on.

With contents worth over £120, this amazing No.7 box was down from £65 to just £32! I grabbed one for myself and one for my Mum (good daughter points!)

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I always used to associate No.7 with older women but in recent years their skincare has won rave reviews and I have a few pieces of make-up from the range too which have made me think again.

Packaged in a beautiful gift box and wrapped up with a bow, this collection contained:

  • Completely Quenched Moisturising Body Lotion (200ml)boots5
  • Blissful Body Wash (200ml)boots6
  • Sumptuous Bath Soak (200ml)boots7
  • Beautiful Skin Cleansing Lotion (200ml)boots8
  • Protect & Perfect Hand Cream (75ml)boots9
  • Beautiful Skin Dry Skin Rescue (50ml)boots10
  • No. 7 Lash Adapt Mascaraboots11
  • No. 7 Lip Glossboots13
  • Protect and Perfect Day Cream (50ml)boots16
  • Protect and Perfect Night Cream (50ml)boots15

As you can see, these are not mini versions of the products and the box contained lots of best sellers – the day and night creams alone are worth £22 and £24 each!

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I also liked the range of things included – something for the bath, body, face and some make-up.

I have been using the day and night cream recently and I have to say I am a fan of both. Boots often do 3 for 2 offers and I would definitely repurchase the day cream as it soaks into the skin quickly and leaves it feeling so soft.

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The bath stuff is lovely too and smells delicious – very luxurious and it feels like a treat to use them!

Apart from the face creams, and possibly the Dry Skin Rescue and mascara, I’m not sure I would buy the other items full price but that’s not to say I don’t rate them. They are all pretty wonderful but there are just other brands I would opt for. Saying that, if I ever saw these items in a similar kit at this price I would snap them up in an instant!

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Recipe – Chorizo, Sweet Potato and Goats Cheese Frittata

Despite having a long to-do list, we had the laziest morning, just hanging out, drinking tea (me) and coffee (Ian) and eating brunch with the sun streaming in through the windows. Talking of windows, we had new ones fitted this week, including a new front and back door. It has made such a difference to both the interior and exterior of the house and I will share some before and after pics as soon as the last few sills have been fitted next week!

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Today’s recipe is one of my favourites to make as it is lovely when warm for lunch or dinner, but equally as tasty the next day for work. I used ingredients I already had at home but you can easily substitute the main ingredients for your favourite vegetable or cheese.

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Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

A glug of good quality olive oil

1 onion, chopped

About 100g of chorizo, cubed

6 eggs

A dash of milk

Salt and pepper

A pinch of dried thyme

About 100g of goats cheese

How to make it

  • Begin by putting your sweet potatoes in a pan of hot water and simmering for 5-10 minutes until the cubes have just started to soften (don’t let them go too soft of they won’t keep their shape when fried!)
  • Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, add the oil and fry the onions on a medium heat until they have started to soften
  • Add the chorizo and cook for a few more minutes until the lovely smoky paprika oils have started to come out of the meatfrit1
  • Add the cooked sweet potatoesfrit2
  • In a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, seasoning and thyme
  • Pour this mixture into the frying pan and give it a good shakefrit3
  • Continue cooking on a low heat until the frittata has almost set
  • Finish by crumbling over the goats cheese and grilling to melt itfrit4
  • Serve warm with saladfrit8
  • …and don’t forget to keep a slice for lunch the next day!frit10

Restaurant Review – The Dandy Lion, Bradford-on-Avon

Well, March seemed to fool us all into thinking it was going to herald the start of spring but the rain has returned today!

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We decided to make the most of the burst of sunshine we had yesterday by pulling on our wellies and going for a walk. It was still incredibly wet and muddy but we had fun splashing in puddles and the views over Bath were definitely worth it.

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The eagle-eyed readers will notice this is my second review for this local pub but it’s somewhere Ian and I find ourselves going back to, both for food and just for drinks, so I thought it deserved a second mention.

A few weeks ago, we were heading out for dinner and seeing as it was pouring with rain, we wanted to eat somewhere with its own car park so we didn’t have far to walk. However, when we drove through Bradford-on-Avon, we spotted a space right outside the pub so felt it was meant to be!

As always, I was going back and forth over what to order as it all sounded so good. I finally decided on a main course and sent Ian up to the bar to order with instructions to ‘surprise me’ with a starter!

He did well and we shared two starters of deep fried Thai crab balls which had a lovely crunch to them before you bit into the meaty, spicy centre.

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We also got some breaded chicken goujons to share which were nicely seasoned and came with an aioli and a BBQ dip and salad.

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For our mains, we both went for something hearty. I had the most wonderful fruity Moroccan lamb tagine served with warm, homemade flatbread and topped with a dollop of yogurt. This was warming and had a generous amount of lamb in it – I think I’ll have a go at recreating this at home.

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Ian had one of the specials – beef brisket served with a ‘Bloody Mary’ sauce in a sourdough roll and triple cooked chips. This was a lovely twist on a steak sandwich and their chips are unbelievable too!

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Unfortunately I was too stuffed for pudding (so not like me) but I actually came home to a lovely little package from a friend which contained some of my favourite salted caramels from Hotel Chocolat so I had these with a cuppa instead – thanks Luce! x

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This Week’s Nails – Valentine Hearts

This season’s nail trend is all about the pale, milky, off-white nudes. It can be quite a hard colour to wear so I wanted to experiment a bit by combining this look with something a little more seasonal. Seeing as Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I thought some heart detailing and a red shade would go down a treat!

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For this look, I used a thin nail brush, my nail tip stickers and two shades of nail varnish; Barry M’s Gelly Hi-Shine Paint in Blood Orange (I wore this colour on my wedding day too!) and Color Club’s Mod in Manhatten.

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I began with two coats of the creamy white shade which I really liked. I began by thinking this look wasn’t that wearable but it looks so clean and fresh it is in fact perfect for spring!

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I painted my ring fingers red then used my nail top stickers to add a thin red tip to the white nails.

I used my nail brush to freehand two little white hearts on one of my fingers. There are various heart-painting tutorials online but I went for the method of drawing two circles then pulling down with the nail brush to create the point of the heart. I didn’t even attempt this on my right hand though as it took a very steady hand!

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This is a very wearable, romantic manicure and an easy way to have a go at this season’s ‘pale nail’ trend…one I will definitely be trying out again.

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A Day in the Life #1

Today I thought I would try out something I have seen several other bloggers do which is to share their day using photographs taken on the hour, for every hour they are awake. I quite like gaining a little insight into other people’s lives in this way so yesterday I snapped away on my iphone throughout the day. I tried to be very honest with my pictures, rather than picking styled scenes or doing something unnatural when my hourly alarm beeped!

I picked a fairly typical Saturday which included a lie-in, some pottering, some shopping and a meal with friends which descended into tequila-fuelled fun! Unfortunately my phone ran out of battery half-way through the evening so several red faces have been saved…

10am: I woke up a little before 10 and read a couple of chapters of Atonement in bed with a cup of tea brought to me by Ian!

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11am: Time to get up and get clean! These are my current favourite bathroom products. The TIGI range is brilliant for anyone with curly hair and I love almost anything in the Soap and Glory Range. I am also loving Superdrug’s Pink Grapefruit and Tea Tree Facial Wash. It isn’t a high-end brand but the smell is amazing and its fabulous first thing in the morning to wake you up.

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Midday: The excitement of opening and testing out my monthly Birchbox delivery and a bit of blogging.

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1pm: Lunch followed by the difficult decision of tea or coffee whilst I measured up our kitchen walls ready for new tiles. Cue balancing dangerously on kitchen surfaces and praying the measurements are correct!

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2pm: Popping out in sandals with the sun on our faces.

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3pm: New tiles and grout…watch this space for our Kitchen Makeover!

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4pm: Soundtrack to our drive and one of my favourite bands

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5pm: A spot of baking – Blueberry and Coconut Muffins to take over to my friend’s house later.

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6pm: The field at the end of our road – I love where we live! We headed over to Bristol for a curry with friends.

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7pm: Poppadum Mountain

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8pm: I love BYOB restaurants!

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9pm: Feeling immensely stuffed, we wandered to the pub for a few drinks

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10pm: The beginning of the end…Tequila shots!

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Luckily for some, that is where my photo diary ends until we got home at 2am!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I thought it would be interesting to document my day in this way and I liked the way it forced me to be creative on the spot and find a shot to sum up what I was doing at the time.

I have a couple of baking posts coming up this week where I am testing out some different ready-made cake mixes. Not great for the diet but I enjoyed tasting the results and trying to put my twist on the recipes!

Right, its Sunday which means our Sunday Roast is in the oven (a joint of gammon this week) so I am off to help Ian in the kitchen! x

Latest Purchases #27 – Forever 21 Haul

Well, we are starting this weekend with a very grey, cloudy sky which makes it hard to believe that we were outside in the garden in t-shirts this time last week! It is funny how much the weather affects your moods. Last week, I felt I could do anything and wanted to start new projects, cook new recipes and visit new places whereas today I feel much less energetic and am craving comfort food and a good box set with my boy tonight!

Today’s post is sharing some summery pieces I bought online from Forever 21 earlier this week.

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I have only ever bought sandals and jewellery at the Forever 21 store in Birmingham, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the clothes. I bought a mixture of sale and new season items and I have to admit that I had my summer holiday to the States in mind!

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First up, my favourite piece of clothing, from the new season collection, is this pair of black and taupe polka-dot trousers. I wrote last summer about my love for printed trousers and they seem to be everywhere this season! There is a fine line between on-trend prints and looking like you have stepped out in your pyjamas so you have to think carefully about what you pair with these trousers! I absolutely love the silky-soft material and they have a slightly elasticated waist meaning they will be accommodating at those Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffets! Hehe

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Next up, bought to wear with the spotty trousers, is this beautiful, sheer blouse. I love the folds, the buttons down the back and the bow detail this has and although it is very sheer, it is chic and will keep you cool in the sun. This was a real bargain at just £7.99 too!

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I recently had a good clear-out of my sandals and threw away a gold pair of gladiators that I loved but which quite frankly had seen better days. Therefore I was on the hunt for some new gold footwear because the colour goes with everything, especially a tan in warmer months! I love the cut-out design of this pair and I know Forever 21 footwear is comfortable too so I can see myself wearing these daily on holiday.

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Some slightly more boring things now…cropped leggings for Pilates and a few basic vest tops which I popped into my basket.

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I love Forever 21’s jewellery collection. In their store at the Bullring, it takes up over half a floor and I have often found myself popping in there to have a mooch and coming out with handfuls of necklaces and earrings! I saw this cool gold lightning bolt necklace and at just £1.65 couldn’t resist it.

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Next, some dangly earrings, both at less than £2 a pair. I love the Great Gatsy/ art-deco look of these teardrop earrings and they are just big enough to make a statement without being too heavy to wear all day.

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I also got these pretty beaded earrings which are quite big but delicate too. I can see myself wearing these a lot over the summer.

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Finally, I decided to have a little look at the Men’s sections on the website to see if there was anything I could treat Ian to. It definitely wasn’t his style but they had some cool printed t-shirts so I picked up this blue one covered in little diamonds.

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And that’s your lot – a nice little payday treat for this month! All of these items are available on Forever 21’s website but their sale items are changing daily. There is free shipping on any order over £50 and I have to admit that I hunted through for some additional items to take me up to the £50 mark so my purchases were more ‘worth it’!!! Does anyone else use this warped logic when shopping online?! Oh well, I ended up with a few extra pieces so I’m happy!

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Long Weekends

Just a quick one today as, like most of you, I am busy enjoying the sunshine over this 3-day weekend…hasn’t it been gorgeous so far?!

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We started yesterday with eggs for brunch and I managed to unwittingly match my t-shirt to the beautiful fresh eggs my parents brought up for us – aren’t they lovely?

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We then donned sunglasses (and a hat in my case…it was still a bit windy!) and set off across the fields. I seem to have inadvertently become an avid walker and now do a 3 mile route most evenings after work with my pace becoming faster and faster. I love putting on my trainers, switching on a podcast and just wandering through the country lanes. It really clears my head after a long day at work and it is really helping with my wedding weight loss too!

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We walked over to a nearby village and enjoyed a quick pint (Ian) and lime and soda (me) in the beer garden, soaking up the sunshine.

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In the evening, I headed out for a friend’s surprise birthday party and happily spent all evening outside in the garden in front of a chiminea, although Ian was less than impressed when I got home just after midnight smelling like a bonfire!

I hope you are making the most of our extra lie-in and day off work. Instead of my usual Sunday night planning and book-marking, Ian and I are off out for dinner in a bit then as much time as possible outside tomorrow!