Monday, 30 September 2013

Something old

For today's final Blogtember post there was really only one thing, or "person" I could write about.

We were tasked with sharing a photo of something old. Maybe something that has personal history for you, that was passed down to you, and that has special meaning to you. Tell us about it and why it's special.

Let me introduce you to Teddy. 
Teddy was given to me when I was born and has been with me ever since.

He's a bit tatty round the edges, has a patch on his stomach where Mum did some running repairs and his trousers have plenty of holes but I love him to bits. He's quite a character and I wouldn't be without him, no matter what.

He even has a suitcase which Mum made for him when he moved to London, complete with luggage tag.

This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Facebook frenemies

Today's topic is a bit controversial, Write an anonymous letter to your Facebook friends. Be as snarky as you'd like. (but don't include people's real names.) 

Dear Facebook friends,

I love Facebook just as much as the next person.

But sometimes I don't need to see everything.

Particularly not fifty-million photos of the same thing.

That's all.

 This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Planning ahead

Today's Blogtember topic was more of a task, Go to a coffee shop. Order a favorite drink. Write about what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Or write about anything you'd like! If you can't make it to a coffee shop, at least leave your usual space and write someplace new.

I had big plans for this Blogtember post.

I was envisaging packing up my bag and heading to my favourite local coffee shop for a spot of blogging, people watching and general relaxation but alas, that was not to be. 
Birthday shenanigans and half marathon training has left little time for much else and all I want to do of an evening is have a bath, put my pjammas on and watch trashy TV. Alongside some blogging, natch.

I usually blog at my desk in the bedroom (a rickety chest of drawers that came with the flat, that I've done my best to turn into a conducive place for creativity) but for the sake of this post I upped sticks and decamped to the kitchen with the iPad, a pen and paper, and a pile of magazines.
There's something about being in the kitchen, at a proper table that seems to really get my creative juices going. Whether it's being away from the temptation of the internet, or simply the fact that the chairs are more comfortable, I always tend to get a lot more done.
Today's task: coming up with some blog posts that will help me continue the momentum of the Blogtember challenge.
I've really enjoyed Blogtember. Having the weekends off has given me a break and having a list of prepared topics has really helped me write my blogs quickly and plan ahead so it's definitely the kind of thing I'd like to continue. In most areas of my life, organisation is key and this past month has proved that I do have time for blogging, I just need to think ahead.
 This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Make misteaks

Today's Blogtember topic, Write about a time you screwed up - a mistake you made, has had me pondering for days. Now, I'm not saying I've never made a mistake (who can really say that?) but as I try to live my life without regrets I guess I've pretty much forgotten about the times things might have gone wrong.

It's easy to wonder what if. 

What if I hadn't done a degree?
What if I'd stuck with Visual Merchandising?
What if I'd continued to draw every morning before breakfast?
What if I hadn't met The Boy?
What if I hadn't moved to London?
What if I hadn't lost the weight?
And the list goes on...

It's easy to think about what might have been but I think that every choice we make in life is the one that we were supposed to make. I know that each and every day I'm becoming a better person, whether physically, mentally or emotionally, and that can only be a good thing. 

Often we can make mistakes that impact our lives but once the storm has passed you can sometimes see things more clearly. I know I can.

Our mistakes don't define us and I for one always find something to learn from mine.
This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

My week in photos 23

Today's Blogtember topic,  A "life lately" post, what you're up to, how you're feeling, how you're doing on your goals, etc, could not have come at a better time as I have lots to tell/show you all! 

If you read this blog regularly you'll know that this past Friday was my thirtieth birthday, and I've been celebrating for what feels like the past two weeks solid....and there's more celebrations to come! 

I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend some time with my nearest and dearest, had some days off work and basically been treated like a princess. It's all been pretty overwhelming but has made me feel so blessed at the same time, and has made me see even more that I have so many amazing people in my life. 

I have a few blogs lined up giving you more of an insight into where I've been this past weekend but firstly, here's some pictures of what I've been getting up to lately.
 Clockwise from top left: Amazing pasta dinner date with The Boy - Sightseeing on my pre-birthday drinks run - Watching the women's triathlon - Laughs with my gang - The Boy and Danny Boy - My girls - Cocktails with Kimmy - Geese in Hyde Park
 Clockwise from top left: Birthday cocktails - My gorgeous earrings from my family - Birthday breakfast - The sun setting on my twenties
 Clockwise from top left: My New York quilt, handmade by my amazing mother - Retro card from my gorgeous Boy - Personalised gift from my girls - Love - The one picture that sums up in a nutshell my birthday night out, dancing with my besties - Two of my faves - Hobettes - My dream coat, finally tracked down in Nottingham
Clockwise from top left: Champers on my birthday eve with Mum, Dad and The Boy - Feeling overwhelmed by all my cards and gifts - I know what I'm doing this Winter! Thanks Aunty Mary (I wish I had your skills!) - Card from my gal Jadey
My thirtieth birthday has made me realise how far I've come, particularly over the past five years. 

I've achieved so much and done so many things that I never dreamed I would. Sure, its not all been good times but the bad times have only made me stronger and more prepared for whatever the future may hold.

Over the coming years I'd love to marry my Boy, have babies and buy a house but there's also so many other non-traditional goals I have. I'd love to start my own business, go back to Japan, continue to learn French, keep running, lose another stone, get more qualifications (more studying, am I mental?!) and volunteer for a charity. 

So watch this space, who knows what the future holds.

This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Saving not spending

Todays Blogtember topic, Review a book, place, or product, seems like the perfect opportunity for me to tell you all about a recent read of mine that not only resonated with my life on so many levels, but has driven me to take to take a serious look at my spending habits.

Sadly over the past year or so I've had little time for reading. I devour blogs, magazines and newspapers but, traditional books? I simply haven't had the time. That being said, when I do find time I tend to not be able to put books down, easily getting lost in a world of the authors creating.

The last book that did this to me was In The Red by Alexis Hall.
The diary of a recovering shopaholic, In The Red was recommended to me by Zsa Zsa, who spent the best part of a week cramming in the reading of chapters at every available opportunity.

On almost every page there seemed to be an anecdote about Alexis' life that rang true to things that I've done in the past, or am still doing now. Such as buying an oversized fascinator in the M&S sale for when I go to the races.

I have never been to the races, nor am I likely to.

Although I don't have any debt (aside from my student loan, but who really counts that?!), reading this book has really got me focused on saving not spending and I have a number of posts lined up detailing my latest efforts to avoid frittering my cash. 

Namely, making muffins for breakfast rather than buying one from Pret. Every day.

Basically, if you like to shop, read this book. It's an eyeopener. 

This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A surprise trip to Derbyshire

I spent the days leading up to my birthday with absolutely no idea what I would actually be doing, aside from that I would be seeing my parents at some point, so packing was pretty tricky! Dad had been winding me up saying I might need wet weather gear, whilst The Boy was telling me I'd need some more dressy bits, so I had spent most evenings packing my case for every eventuality.

My parents arrived on Thursday evening and we settled in with a takeaway and some champagne to kick start the celebrations. With me still having no clue where we would be headed come morning.
My birthday began with a pre-breakfast run, followed by scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and a spot of present opening - which took quite some time! My friends and family were so generous that I really didn't know where to begin.

We then jumped in the car and headed North.
We started our weekend in Derby, visiting a pub we'd been to as a family many years before, followed by a trip into town for a spot of shopping (Derby has a Westfield, who knew?!). I adored the gorgeous red brick cottages near the station and couldn't resist stopping to take a picture.
Mum and I stopped at this great little place in Derby call the Book Cafe and treated ourselves to herbal teas and sandwiches - if you can't treat yourself on your birthday, when can you?

Following an afternoon of sightseeing and shopping we hopped back in the car and headed to the Hardinge Arms in King's Newton, which was to be our base for the weekend. This gorgeous little country pub was my idea of heaven; a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere, delicious food and a good selection of beers (to keep Dad and The Boy happy).

Following a quick change we headed to the bar for some birthday drinks with the locals before dinner, only to be surprised whilst on the phone to Grandad by the arrival of my brother and his friend Matt who had come to join us for dinner. It was the perfect end to an already wonderful day, made even better by scrummy garlic mushrooms, followed by steak with stilton sauce, and a chocolate brownie.
Dinner was simply delicious and the company was great. We laughed into the night in the restaurant before heading into the bar for a nightcap. A journey home of ten paces to our very own stable cottage was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

My birthday was everything I could have wanted and more, and there was still another day to go.
On Saturday morning we ate breakfast at the pub before taking a trip to the nearby village of Melbourne for a wander around.

The houses in this village were gorgeous and I stopped at almost every estate agents window to try and persuade Dad to buy me a cottage for my birthday (alas, no luck).

We strolled down to the lake and made friends with the local wildlife before heading off for my next birthday treat.
For this we headed to Calke Abbey which, hands down, is my favourite National Trust property.

I have been going on and on about visiting Calke for the past few years. It's a place I visited as a child but was probably too young to really appreciate this amazing location, and I knew it was somewhere that The Boy would be equally fascinated by.

The rooms at Calke have been allowed to remain almost exactly as they were discovered, rather than be restored, which gives the whole building an eerie abandoned feel. The peeling paintwork, crumbling cornices, dust and cobwebs portray a period in time where numerous country houses and estates did not survive to tell their story, and it's a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.
We spent a few hours at Calke, exploring the house and stables, getting close to the deer and stopping for tea and cake before driving on to Nottingham.

Mum and I explored the old town, stopping in various shops to pick up some souvenirs whilst The Boy and Dad visited some pubs. It was another lovely day, finished off watching the sun set on our journey back to the pub, where we enjoyed another delicious meal (this time, risotto).
I had such a lovely weekend that I didn't want it to end and as we drove home on Sunday I couldn't help but feel saddened that I had to go back to reality, even if it is only for a few days.

Apologies, picture heavy post!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Out of my comfort zone

Today marks a pivotal day in my life (which will be explained in a later post) but first, today's Blogtember topic, React to this term: comfort. 

I've decided to put myself way outside of my comfort zone today and admit something to my parents (and a few of you) that I've kept hidden for thirteen years: I have a tattoo.

Now, by the time you read this I will have admitted this to my Mum and Dad, as I've decided that the time has come to grow up and I'd rather actually come clean in person than do it in a blog post.

My Mum and Dad have always made it clear that they aren't that fond of tattoos so the time has never really felt right to own up to mine. I'm not too fussed either way but I do want to get mine redesigned at some point this year, so it's time to own up.

Sorry Mum and Dad!

This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Friday, 20 September 2013


So, today marks my thirtieth birthday. Wow, the big one.

Thanks to all of you for making the last thirty years (and particularly the last ten) pretty dam special.

I love you all.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The dinner party

Today's Blogtember topic: Creative writing day: write a (very short) fictional story that starts with this sentence: "To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century."
To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century.

The months of preparation and planning, the endless trips to Whole Foods in search of the perfect tomatoes, all with the potential to be ruined in a heartbeat by one person.

Miss Fussy, the wife of one of the partners at Jason's firm, was the kind of woman for whom nothing was good enough and who had the ability to crush dreams with one off the cuff quip.

Having Jill round for dinner was enough to strike fear into the hearts of men and women alike. So, it was with much trepidation that I put the wine to chill, lay the table and plumped up the last of the lounge cushions, all the while wondering if the pasta sauce would taste too strongly of garlic. 

It was then that I spotted it, curled up by the log basket. 

I took a deep breath and crept closer, only to hear the tell tale sound of a patent stiletto sashaying up the front drive.

This post is part of Blogtember, the brainchild of Jenni over at Story of My Life.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words

I'm not a huge fan of blog posts which contain only pictures, I find them to be a little half-hearted and somewhat lazy. So today's Blogtember topic, Only photos, is a bit of a challenge for me.

I am however a huge fan of Pinterest, so here's a selection of images that I've found lately and how they're inspiring me*.
 Interiors inspiration - by A Forest Bird Never Wants a Cage
 Fueling my dreams of a picture postcard home - tumblr
I'm loving this crochet collar necklace by Alienina
 Love these dolls - by De Tacones y Bolsos
Pinterest quotes make my world - this one is by Stylish Lady
Inspiration for Paris packing - tumblr

 Inspiration for next years holiday souvenir - by Crafting Life
Can't wait to make this one-pot-wonder - by Apron Strings
 A constant source of style inspiration - by Vogue

*It's as close to no text as I'm comfortable with.
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