Things to do and see in 2016

Selfishly this is really a list for me. But really this whole blog is for me – no offence meant, but if I were writing it for reader numbers I wouldn’t still be going : )

  • Bodiam Castle (ideally in the sunshine please Jack)
  • Wakehurst
  • Walberswick and Southwold – My grandparents lived in Walberswick when I was little, and I would love to go back for a long weekend.
  • 65 Degrees in Brighton is on our “to eat at” list. It has some brilliant reviews but is tiny and we never remember to book.
  • Majorca – cheating here – this is my summer holiday.Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.31.05 am
  • Edinburgh
  • Venice – I am determined to visit with my sister this year, even if it will be a little delayed for her March birthday…

    Venice
    Venice: It was pretty amazing on our honeymoon, and I’d love to go again!
  • Sh*t-faced Shakespeare – looks hilarious

What’s on your to-do list this year? And do you have any recommendations for me?

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Lent as an Atheist

So it’s Mid Feb, and lent began last week. As an Atheist taking part in Lent I take it very seriously and like to challenge myself. I also find it a usual way to re-commit to the good choices I tried to make with my new years resolutions.

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None of this deliciousness for 40 days.

This year I have given up for 40 days:

  • Chocolate in all forms.
  • Spending Money on myself, be it for a t-shirt from H&M or a expense bought lunch on a work day.

And am taking up:

  • Working out at least 5 days a week.

I hope to save the money I would have spent on myself frivolously for the 40 days and donate it to the charity Shelter. I don’t know how much this will equate to, I think around the £100 mark.

I’ll let you know how I get on. Are you giving anything up for Lent? How’s it going?

Valentine’s Day – When you are married

So this year is a little different for Jack and I. It’s our first Valentine’s day as a married couple. And Jack surprised me back in January by booking a night for us in Rye. I counter surprised by booking a table at a steakhouse for dinner out in Rye. (Yes, maybe this does make a me a bad vegetarian, but I think it makes me a thoughtful wife.)

Not the card I have chosen, but a super appropriate one nonetheless - from Paperchase.
Not the card I have chosen, but a super appropriate one nonetheless – from Paperchase.

Back in the day, we’ve muddled through with valentine’s gifts, and flowers and “romantic” dinners out. What I’ve learnt over the past 7 valentine’s days together is that those bits aren’t the important part. Yes – I do bloody love roses, and I will always dream of being surprised with a beautiful hand-tied bouquet of pinks and reds. But does it mean quite so much when there is already the expectation of those type of gifts… maybe not.

Valentine’s Day aims these days:

  1. Spend time together, doing or visiting something new.
  2. Express my unending affection for the awesome man I married.

Keeping it simple really.

What are your plans and/or thoughts about the day?

Tidy Home: Tidy Mind

We’ll see how true that is hopefully.

It is safe to say that Jack and I are not great at getting rid of things. Since moving in together we solidly have managed to expand to fill our space, and when we moved into our own flat last year it happened again.

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The mess lurks carefully concealed and out of shot at the moment.

Now one year later I am making it my mission to slim down our collection of stuff. This includes books, clothes, trinkets, boxes full of “Memories” and even furniture.

First mission is the immediately obvious:

  • Sell furniture not needed or wanted
  • Root out clothes not worn in the past year and sell or donate

I’ll let you know how I get on in (not so) exciting monthly updates. Do you have any tips on streamlining your home life?

New Year and a new resolve

Firstly: Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings you happiness.

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I never used to attempt to set myself resolutions for new years. I assumed I would fail, so why bother starting. But really I’d been doing myself a deservice – surely it’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

With that in mind my 2016 resolutions are:

No Added Sugar

This one is definitely going to be a challenge for me. I am a chocolate addict and at the end of last year all my pre wedding good behaviour and weight loss had been undone by this.  Sugar is addictive folks – you don’t need me to tell you that! I’ve been reading a bit of Jack’s copy of I Quit Sugar for Life by Sarah Wilson, and she talks a bit about the science behind why we can’t / don’t feel the need to stop eating it. Our brain’s have “that’s enough” switches for carbs, protein and fats, but not sugar.

Start Each Day with a Glass of Water

Simple – but writing this post this morning has served as a reminder that I nearly missed this today, and it’s only day two!

Visit the Gym Three Times a Week

Again nothing groundbreaking here. I’ve been a gym member since joining with my encouraging old housemates back in 2012, and although I have continued to attend it has been with varying enthusiasm. I wouldn’t say there has been more than a 3 week period were I haven’t been but there definitely have been ups and downs and I hope to make 2016 more consistently up.

Not planning to be strict – 20 mins, or an hour sessions – they will all count.

Mind My Money

Being more conscious of how I am spending my money is the aim of this one. I have a bad habit of just popping in to H&M or grabbing a new piece of make-up from Boots rather than paying too much attention to a budget. No more – treating myself this year, will hopefully be about seeing my savings grow, rather than dipping into them.

What resolutions, if any, are you making this year? And do you have any advice on how I can stick with mine?

Crumbly, delicious mince pies

So a little later than I intended but here is a recipe for pastry for making your Mince pies. It won’t produce the neatest, tidiest pies but it’s really tasty.

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Ingredients

350g Flour

100g Sugar

225g Butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Method

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.

Mix all of the ingredients together either by rubbing, or if you need to make them quickly using an electric mixer or kitchen aid.

Once all the butter has been rubbed or mixed in, knead it into a loose dough, but don’t overwork it, it should crumble apart.

Gather together a walnut sized ball of dough and press into your pie tray.

Fill with your preferred mincemeat.

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Gather half a walnut sized amount of dough and press between your palms to make a rough top, do this for each of your pies and make sure to meet the edges of your pie with your lids.

Brush with milk, or whisk egg.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins until golden brown.

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Allow to cool before tucking in. You don’t want to burn your mouth on molten mincemeat. Trust me.

Furry friends and festive fun with family and friends!

I love a spot of alliteration. Did you enjoy my title too? Probably not as much as me!

The last two weekends have been a lovely collection of activities. They were both wintery weekends packed with things to do but they were all very chilled.

The first Friday evening was spent keeping Fran’s lovely little kitties company whilst she was up in London town at a party. They have grown so so so much and have made quite firm friends with Fran’s christmas tree.

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Saturday afternoon was spent with my mother-in-law making Christmas wreaths. Melanie found some bargain kits from Laura Ashley in the sales after last Christmas and picked up a few.

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Not bad for £4, eh?
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We used leftover wreath pieces and hanging decorations to make tealight holders

Sunday afternoon I went for lunch with some of my favourite ladies at the Earth and Stars in the centre of Brighton. They do such delicious vegetarian roasts. No I did not take a photo of it. I ate it too quickly.

Afterwards we took a trip down to the Etsy Christmas Market that was going on, so many lovely stalls!

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It was so so busy!

I bought such a cute decoration from Brighton Jewel‘s stall. It was like the inverse of the one I’ve linked and I love it.

Then back to work for the week, which included our team christmas party. My secret santa (Aisybee) got me the cutest palace pet, and some chocolate – which is long since eaten.

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On this most recent Saturday morning I got up far too early and headed up to mid sussex to help my mum buy and decorate their tree and I think we picked a goodun’. It smells amazing, I know you can’t tell from the photo, but it does.

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FYI new set of light this year from argos at a steal

On Saturday night we went to Duke’s at Komedia to watch Bridge of Spies, which is Tom Hanks’ new film, about a prisoner exchange during the cold war. I have to say I thought it was brilliant. It wasn’t a short film but I was captivated.

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And then on Sunday Jack and I split up our tasks: he and his dad went over to my sisters to pick up the beautiful dresser about that she had kindly (and patiently) been storing for nearly a year, and I went into town to help his mum with her Christmas shopping. After our jobs were done we went for a gut busting all-you-can-eat at Bombay Aloo.

This week is my last week at work before a two week Christmas break and my plans include, posting the last of my Christmas cards, making mince pies and wrapping the last of my gifts, so keep an eye out for a fairly festive post coming later this week. Woo! Christmas!(What kind of Atheist am I, seriously!)

November In Pictures

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Jack and I went to London for a little day trip at the beginning of November – we walked like twenty miles that day!

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We went to the quietest Bonfire Night at Lindfield I think I have ever known. The weather earlier on it in evening was revolting, soak-you-to-the-skin type rain.

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I visited my lovely friend Joey in London, and he took me for my first ever trip to a Westfield shopping centre. Those designer brand shops are intense. I think I’ll stick with H&M.

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Speaking H&M – do you like my new dress. I love love love it. Love me some stripes.

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I have been lovely my colouring book, The Secret Garden. Just need to find my pencil sharpener…

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Yes, I did make a batch of mince pies in mid November. They weren’t bad, homemade filling and all, but I need to hunt down the recipe for my favourite pastry. The Mincemeat recipe I use is Delia Smith’s, but I use vegetable suet.

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Have been living in my slippers. Love them – bought for myself from Accessorize about two years ago and have been well worn ever since.

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Fran, Aisling (of Aisybee) and I went along to see the Brighton Christmas lights being switched on. I’ll be honest: I think I am too old to have enjoyed the musical entertainment, but I did enjoy going for a wander about after they had been switched on.

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My family cam over for a sunday roast, as I hadn’t actually seen my brother and his girlfriend since the summer. One of my all time favourite veggies to have with a roast is slow cooked red cabbage. I go a little off recipe in terms of the measurements, but again I try to follow Delia’s recipe.

Did you have a good November?

 

Giving a great gift

Blood donation. Not the obvious gift to give at this time of year but one I hope you will all think about giving. Tomorrow I’ll be going along to my local session for my 16th donation.

I first starting giving blood at uni, spurred on after a friend of mine sadly passed away just before I started at Falmouth back in 2007. She had cancer and the last time I had visited her in hospital she was being given blood. Before then it hadn’t even occurred to me how many donations the NHS might need to help all the people in need.

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Some things about giving blood:

  • The nursing staff are super lovely.
  • There are snacks and stickers after.
  • You’ll feel super proud of yourself after, if it’s your 1st or 15th donation.
  • You can donate if you are between 17 and 66 years old, and fit and healthy.
  • Men can donate every 3 months, women every 4 months – those chaps regenerate their blood cells quicker! Lucky them!

There is loads more information about donating, what’s involved and how you go about registering on blood.co.uk or if you have any questions for me let me know.


 

A brief visit to Bath

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 12.19.13 pmBath holds a special place in my heart. Jack studied at Bath University and when we were “courting” back in the early days we would take it in turns to visit one another during term time. I think I was pretty lucky – it’s a lovely city – I’m not sure Jack was quite as thrilled to visit me in sleepy, little Falmouth…

Back in August when making plans finally became a thing we could do, with the wedding being over (freeing up our weekends – yay!) I was keen to find a weekend to visit J’s awesome friends Malcolm and Kate and my uni buddies Charlotte and Andy. We saw them all at our wedding but didn’t get to catch up as much as we would’ve liked so we (I) got planning and found a date at the start of J’s half term when we could “pop” to Bath for a visit and a dinner out with them all.

One of my favourite meals out there in the past had been a Tapas place, and I found some great reviews for Olé Tapas which none of us had visited before, so we gave it a go.

It was delicious, I highly, highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. It is tiny, so you will need to book. But their veggie options were good, and the sangria went down a treat.

What would you get up to over a long weekend or if you’re a teacher, half term?