Monday, 30 September 2013

Happiness Is... (vol. 35)

Well that was a little unexpected break, wasn't it?  I'm sure you didn't notice, but for me it felt very weird not to post all weekend. But hey, the little break was nice, and it gave me a chance to catch up on some other blogs, which I haven't done for a while. Is it just me who find it quite difficult to get the balance between blog writing and blog reading right?

But anyway- I'm here, it's all good, and this week, happiness is...



... amazing posts from other bloggers. Yesterday afternoon I caught up on my blog reading, and found some really inspiring posts out there. I've loved this post and this post from Dancing Branflakes (little comment from me on the latter), and particularly this post full of great advice on Little Things And Curiosities. That post inspired the picture above (well, the text- it was taken like three years ago)- which makes me so happy, and is now my lock screen on my phone. I'm the second from the right, if you're wondering.

... my dad's roast beef. I know everyone's all about their mum's roasts- and my mum does make a cracking roast- but my dad always does rib of beef, and it's always when he has my Grampy, my aunt and her partner visiting, so it feels like an occasion. It's amazing, and I always love the fact that I'm the only person dad will allow to help him in the kitchen. Makes me feel rather special.

From here
... playing the piano. I don't play often these days, but on Friday evening I just sat down and played. It was so relaxing, even though I spent a lot of time just practicing my scales. I'm really keen to start having lessons again, actually- I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it!

... meeting other bloggers! On Saturday night, I went to a blogger meet up in Exeter organised by Jess from Mismatched Knitwear and it was so much fun!! I'll be posting on it properly at some point this week, but it certainly made me happy, so I had to include it.


... the cat snoring. Oh my god, it's just the most hilariously cute sound EVER. I wish I could record it, but sadly have never managed to capture the sound. You'll just have to trust me when I say it's adorable.

What's making you happy this week?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Choice, Change, Cause and Effect

When I went to see Rush on Monday night, we were of course subjected to the usual onslaught of adverts- mostly about cars, aftershave, and car insurance, given the nature of the film we were going to see. 

But in the midst of the naked ladies and revving engines (which appear to be the way advertisers try to sell things to men, no?!), the advert below came on. It's honestly the first advert I've ever looked up after I've seen it, and certainly the only advert I've ever wanted to share. It's from the University of South Wales- and seriously, if you do one thing today, watch this.


I think a lot about cause and effect, and how the decisions we make affect our lives. I find it interesting to think about what would have happened had I not done something.

For example- what if I hadn't gone to my friend J's 21st birthday? I wouldn't have met D, I wouldn't have spent my entire final year of university in a long distance relationship, I wouldn't have gone to Bordeaux, or spent so much time (and money) on planes. 
Or take it a step further back- what if I had got the A-Level results I wanted? I'd have gone to my first choice university, and wouldn't have had the "bad" experiences in Oxford that have made me who I am today. And I wouldn't have gone to Cardiff, which means that I wouldn't have met M, which means that I wouldn't have gone to Thailand earlier in the year. And I wouldn't have met the aforemention J, and meeting D wouldn't have happened in that situation either.

From here
And as Ioan Gruffudd says "Nothing stays the same, change is happening. Nothing stands still". It is so true. Life is happening whether we like it or not- yesterday, I asked a colleague what day it was and he said "Thursday, 26th September 2013. A day which has never happened before and will never happen again. And we're sitting here". And it's true- life passes us by without us even thinking about it. I waste time every day playing on Facebook and Twitter, reading the news, watching re-runs of Friends- and why? Why am I not out there enjoying life to the full, drinking on school nights and reading in the Bodleian, and striking up conversations with strangers? Why am I not booking flights to Paris, or New York, or Toronto? 

Change is happening whether we like it or not- and we may not think it, but we do have a say. We choose whether to walk to work or get the bus. Or to cut our hair, or dye it, or let it grow long. And they might not seem like big things, but the love of your life could have been walking the day you got the bus, or your new hair cut could inspire seven girls you see in Waitrose to have theirs cut short too. You might think that bad things happen to you all the time, but you can not let them. You can smile and put a positive spin on a bad situation. We're getting older every second, and if we don't make change happen, in five years we'll be sitting here thinking "But wait... how am I nearly thirty and still doing this?"

Of the whole thing, the line that sticks with me the most was this:
"Or not. Sit back, let life play out, be a spectator. Or choose to be the leading actor in your life story."

I don't want to be a spectator. I think I just need to man up and be a little bit less scared of life, and what could go wrong, and just start thinking about what could go right. Change happens whether I want it to or not. So I should probably try to get it to change in a way that I am happy with, rather than sitting back and complaining about the things I don't like.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Blackberries


I think blackberry picking is my absolute favourite thing about this time of year. Sunday felt so autumnal, with the grey skies, fallen leaves, and an excuse to put on my favourite ankle boots to hunt down one of my absolute favourite fruits.


Every year Mama CupAndSaucer go blackberry picking. We used to go the weekend before I'd head back to uni, but clearly this year (and last, for that matter), we just picked a random September weekend. We weren't actually expecting to find a great deal- people have been talking about blackberry picking for weeks, it seems- but we came home with nearly three kilos of the bad boys.


Sorry for the strange face here... Also, I'd recommend that if you're going blackberry picking, a white dress and tights are not sensible clothing options.


We decided to freeze the majority of the berries, as blackberries go off seriously quickly. We've found the best way to do this is to lay the blackberries on trays and freeze like this, before putting them into tubs once frozen. I'm planning on using the frozen berries in some sort of baking- I'm sure I'll let you know what when I've done it- and possibly using some to make blackberry gin. For the record, this is what 2.5kg of blackberries on trays looks like...!


I did save a few from the freezer though- blackberries are perfect in porridge, particularly when it's spiked with cinnamon and vanilla, with chunks of apple stirred through too.


If you haven't been blackberry picking yet, you might still be in luck- when we were out, we found an awful lot of berries which were still waiting to ripen. And if you have- what did you do with yours? (Other than just eating them, obviously)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Review: Rush



I went to the cinema on Monday nigh for the first time in an AGE. Seriously- I think the last time I went to the cinema was to see Les Mis. But on Monday morning I'd got to work, and was told by my boss that he'd been to see Rush at the weekend, and that it was great. When he added "and as a straight man, I have to say- Chris Hemsworth is FIT!!", I was sold, despite the fact that I'm not a very big Formula 1 fan. So I text my friend A, who IS a big F1 fan, to see if he was keen and found out he was planning on going that night. Talk about timing!!

Remembering that I'm not a Formula 1 fanatic, I can honestly say that Rush was BRILLIANT. I used to wind my ex up by saying that it was just driving around in circles, and he used to try to explain that it wasn't- and FINALLY, I get what he was talking about. The relationships, the cars, the crashes, the history- it all comes together in Rush to make a film that even an F1 novice will seriously enjoy.




Normally, I have a bad habit of looking up a synopsis before I watch a film, thus ruining the ending for myself. But for some reason (namely the fact that I ran out of time) I didn't, even though it's based on the true story of James Hunt and Niko Lauda's rivalry in the 1976 World Championship. As a result, I was completely sucked in and absolutely glued to te screen, with absolutely NO idea how the film would end.




And if nothing else- you could go to see this based purely on how for Chris Hemsworth looks in it- and I'm not the sort of person who usually gets worked up about guys in films. With regard to the characters, I never warmed to Niki Lauda- but then I don't know that you're supposed to. And regardless, he was incredibly well played. But  James Hunt had me hook line and sinker from word go- I totally rooting for him the whole way through.

Despite being a "boy" film, Rush is SO much more than a film about cars. As always with the films and books I like- this about the PEOPLE,  and in this case their rivalry, not the setting. Yes, it added some serious drama to the story, but I think I'd have enjoyed it regardless.

I'd seriously recommend this film- seriously, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a film as much as this one.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Great British Bake Off: English Muffins

I have got so behind with this little challenge of mine, haven't I?! Seriously, I'm not exactly sure what happened, but somehow it's nearly a month since I wrote about the angel food cake. I mean, what?!



Clearly, I'm really behind on these technical bakes I've promised to make, and really I haven't got a very good excuse for that. I'd actually intended to make the egg custard tarts last week- my older brother was home, and they're something he absolutely loves- but just completely ran out of time. But at the weekend, I decided that enough was enough, and I'd get back on it, and when I saw on Twitter that my lovely Bess was making this cinnamon pull apart bread, I was inspired to make something yeast-based a go. Enter, English muffins.

Now despite the massive clue in the name, I'd actually always thought that English muffins were an American invention. Apparently not- they're an old English thing. This is pretty obvious when you think about the nursery rhyme "The Muffin Man" as a child, and who noticed the mention of a muffin man in Jane Austen's Persuasion?! Certainly not me, but hey ho.

If somehow you aren't aware, muffins are a sort of yeast-leavened roll, which I first tried toasted on an Aga and topped with butter and honey- and this is still my favourite way to eat them. I'd never ever thought of making them though, and was keen to have a go.

Yeast, flour, and salt- good starting points for any bread recipe!
I found Paul Hollywood's recipe fairly straightforward and easy to follow, and even without instructions would have been able to make the dough pretty well, I think, even though I'm by no means a bread maker. Under normal circumstances, I just don't have the patience for bread, and it's true, in this situation the waiting around was the thing I found the most frustrating (though this was alleviated by LR popping in for a cup of tea while I was waiting for the dough to prove).



This was pre-second prove, I think....

Despite the recipe being easy to follow and giving me pretty decent results, I definitely found these much more difficult than the angel food cake I made a few weeks ago, and I'd put that down to a lack of experience. In particular, I found griddling the muffins fairly tricky, and as you can see slightly scorched the outside of them (but this actually couldn't be tasted, so probably isn't that bad). I didn't find it that difficult to judge when they were done though- I found that if you poked at the side of the muffin, you could definitely tell if they were done as the muffins bounced back slightly more- I just struggled to get the heat of the pan right.






However, I was not very successful at getting eight even muffins from my dough- I got ten uneven ones, and Paul Hollywood would have had my guts for garters as a result. Must improve on my consistency, as who wants to be the baker lambasted for having two monster muffins and eight average-but-uneven ones?! If you're going to make these, I'd make sure you remember that the dough will rise a lot more when you're griddling them- I was so worried about mine being a bit thin, hence how I ended up with the two monsters.


Overall, I definitely enjoyed making these, and they did taste pretty good. I'm not convinced I'd make them again- I'm not a huge fan of white bread products- but it was fun making something completely different!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Happiness Is... (vol. 34)

 The weeks are flying by at the moment, and the weekend are going even more quickly- I had a text last night from my friend M saying how she had that Sunday night feeling, and oh boy I knew what she was talking about. But it's not too bad- I'm in the process of making some lovely plans, including meeting some of my blogger favourites, theatre trips, and catching up with friends, and it's exciting having things to look forward to. Before we know it the big C will be here, and I'll be left feeling even more baffled at the fact that it isn't actually May, as I still seem to think it is.

I also realised the date this weekend, and in doing so realised that this is the exact time that some serious rubbishness went down last year. It's actually made me recognise that while things really aren't perfect at the moment, I'm in a much better place than I was this time last year- I'm so much happier and more confident in myself, and while I still may not know exactly where I'm going, I'm starting to have faith in the idea that, regardless, I may end up where I need to be.

But I'm rambling, and not about the things I'm supposed to be rambling about. This week, happiness is...



... sociable lunches. For me, lunch (and breakfast, for that matter) is generally speaking a fairly solitary affair. I'm fine with that- I like my own company, and when I'm at work I particularly enjoy having some time out from everyone and everything- but on Saturday, my brother and his girlfriend were over at lunchtime, and they, Mum, and I all sat down together to have lunch, and it was so lovely. We normally all just catch up in the evenings, or over coffee, but sitting down all together was just a really nice thing to do. Even if we were only eating scrambled eggs.

A badly constructed Toffee Nut Caffe Caramella. Still tasty though.
... quiet time. This weekend has been wonderfully quiet, and exactly what I needed. I went for a lovely coffee with Mama CupAndSaucer, ran as far as I could with my currently-dodgy ankle, had tea with a friend, baked, and just generally relaxed. It was bliss, and has left me feeling very calm and prepared for the week ahead.

... the return of Downton Abbey. OK, I get that not everyone loves it, but I DO, and I'm so happy it's back. Even if I'm still angry at Julian Fellowes for last year's Christmas episode. (I don't think I'll ever get over it).

From here
... being complimented at work. I received a few really lovely comments at work last week about the level of my work, and the t hings I'm doing. It just felt so nice to know that my work really is recognised. Even if the compliments aren't quite as cool as the one above (though in reality, that would be a bit weird).

... finding a good garage. Oh god, that's boring and grown-up isn't it?! But because I have such a long commute, I need my car to be in tip-top condition at all times, and since buying Henri, I've been trying to find a garage that I really like and trust. Fortunately, I found one last week when (unfortunately) my brake discs and brake pads needed to be replaced, and I'm so happy about it. Less happy about the enormous bills, but hey ho, that's life, isn't it!?

What's making you happy this week? 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

R├ęcemment

Trying to live by this; queuing at the Severn Bridge; celebratory prosecco; croissants for breakfast; dying for an excuse to buy this dress; Saturday afternoon naps; You've Got Mail; quilt making; Plymouth Hoe for E's graduation; more of Plymouth; lunch in the Gin Distillery; I was a classy girl; balanced lunch at work; pea and bacon soup; Saturdays are for teapots; my Emma Bridgewater mug arrived
Life has been pretty busy recently. Filled with visits to friends, my brother's graduation, korfball sessions, my other brother's birthday, and crazy busy days at work. Time feels like it's whizzing by, and so I feel like this weekend is for recuperating, gathering my thoughts, and planning adventures. In the shower this morning I was strongly considering the wisdom of booking flights to Paris just because. And then I remembered that by the end of next week I'll have forked out over £500 for various car-related things (it needed new brake disks, brake pads, two new tyres, and of course diesel), so maybe it isn't the brightest idea right now. After payday, however, it could be a different story.

I have absolutely no plans for this weekend, other than finishing my current book (Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan) so I can get started on The President's Hat for the Blogger Book Club. Maybe baking some more technical challenges. But I'm quite pleased with the prospect of a quiet weekend.

I'll mostly be listening to Lorde- RoyalsBastille- Oblivion, and The Lumineers- Stubborn Love, and luxuriating in the drizzle. I pretend to hate it, but secretly, I actually quite like the low cloud that hangs above Dartmoor at this time of year.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Friday, 20 September 2013

Super Speedy Pea And Bacon Soup

I am hugely excited about the fact that we have a microwave at work now. We moved into a new office nearly a fortnight ago, and we now have a proper little kitchen, which makes me inordinately happy. It's the simple things, isn't it!?


Because of this, I'm suddenly finding lunch an awful lot less stressful. I hate lunch normally- I don't like eating sandwiches every day, and- let's be honest- salad really is a bit boring, isn't it!? But when I can have soup, I'm the happiest of happy bunnies around.

Homemade soup is so good for you- you can control exactly what goes into it, and it's a damn easy way of getting one of your five-a-day (I have an obsession with getting my five-a-day. Don't judge me). And they're pretty cheap and easy to make, too.

This is my favourite store cupboard super speedy soup. Seriously- it takes probably less than half an hour to make this from scratch, which is less time than it would take to pop to the shops to grab bread and then make a sandwich with it. It also freezes brilliantly, which means you can freeze the extra and just pull it out when you haven't planned anything for lunch the next day. 

Super Speedy Pea And Bacon Soup
Serves 3-4

3 rashers smoked bacon
One small onion, diced
500g frozen peas (I think. I didn't really weigh them...)
One chicken stock cube
Boiling water
Fresh or dried parsley
Fresh mint leaves
Salt and pepper

Chop your bacon into small-ish peices, then fry it gently for a few minutes. Add your onion, a good grind of black pepper, and a little oil if necessary, and continue to fry until your onion is cooked. If you're using dried parsley, add it at this point. 

Then pour all of your peas into your pan, and give everything a good stir until it's all combined. Crumble in your stock cube, then add boiling water to the level of your peas. Bring to the boil, and when it's simmering, add a few chopped mint leaves. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes, or until your peas are cooked.

Before...
When you're happy that the peas are cooked, take your soup of the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth (or pop it into an actual blender). Sometimes I like to take a ladle-ful of the peas out before blending to make sure there's still a bit of texture there.
... and after!
 Once blended, taste and add more seasoning if needed, and tear up a few more mint leaves to pop on top before serving. 

And there you have it! If you'd like to make it a bit naughtier, feel free to add a swirl of cream or a dollop of creme fraiche when serving. But really, this is super straightforward and really not that bad for you. Happy days!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

On Having Divorced Parents As An Adult

My parents divorced when I was eleven. I actually can't really remember having two parents in the same house- or rather, the memories I do have are of less-than-positive things, even though I had a pretty happy childhood. It's weird isn't it, how the negatives tend to stay with us more than the positives?


Having divorced parents didn't really seem like a huge deal when I was little. I had a couple of friends whose parents had split when they were much younger than I was, and it was just what it was. We always lived with Mum, and saw Papatron once or twice a week (as far as his work allowed, he travelled a lot when we were small), and whenever anyone asked what it was like, I tended to reply with some flippant comment about two Christmases and two birthday cakes.



Now I'm older, I'm much more independent as far as seeing Dad is concerned- of course, when we were little, Mum helped us arrange seeing him, but once we left school it was kind of just down to us. So now while I see him far less than I probably did when I was in school, I kind of feel like I get more quality time with him now? Whether it's hanging out in the kitchen while he makes a roast lunch, or driving up to Wales to see my Grampy, it seems like we can talk about more grown up things now, and I certainly feel closer to him than I did when I was small.

As we're getting older though, there are situations where my parents, who have now been divorced for twelve years, have to be in the same place at the same time. Fortunately, they're able to deal with this pretty easily- yesterday was my little brother's university graduation, and there was never any question of them both being there, which is so great. I spent two hours yesterday squished between my mum and dad, proudly watching E collect his certificate, and feeling five years old  in the best possible way. And it was the same with my graduation, and my older brother's, and my Nanna's funeral, and I'm sure in the future it'll happen with weddings and christenings und so weiter- they'll man up and go and support us.



However, they aren't that great it, and this has led to some ridiculous situations- like yesterday, my brothers and I ended up going out for both lunch and supper because Dad thought going out for lunch all together might be awkward. I mean, what!? And I'm terrified about one of them ending up alone, more so now than ever before, as we grow up and move onwards and upwards. Every Christmas I think of the year that will surely come when my brothers and I all have partners, and what will happen to Mum- the thought of her (or anyone, for that matter) spending Christmas alone breaks my heart every time I think about it, and I've promised myself that it will never ever happen.

And it's stressful in other ways. Any big news or event or just thing-that-happened-to-me-at work-today has to be told over and over- which I'm sure happens to people with married parents, but surely then they tell each other? Sometimes I wish mine would. This way, I end up forgetting to tell one/ the other about important things on a fairly regularly basis.



I don't really know how I feel about having divorced parents as an adult, to be honest. I think it's way more complicated than as a child, when there's always someone else who can kind of deal with all of the complicated stuff. Now, I have to be that adult. I have to man up and make things work for everyone. I mean- it isn't all bad. I got my brilliant sister Little L out of this whole situation. But I'm no longer convinced that the whole two Christmases/ birthday cakes thing is enough to make it easy any more.

I have no idea how it's going to progress from here. Hopefully, it'll be smooth sailing and things will carry on much as they are now. But I think being an adult with divorced parents is in a lot of ways far more difficult than I ever expected it to be.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Winter Workwear

OK, OK, I know it actually isn't winter yet. Definitely still autumn. But let's face it- winter is coming (heh), and those of us in The Real World still have to go to work when it's cold and raining. Boo.

When I first started work, I really struggled with knowing what to wear- this whole "business casual" thing is pretty stressful, and makes getting dressed in the morning more difficult than it needs to be. I mean, in my office, people wear everything from black trousers and a t-shirt, to pencil skirts and blouses, to leggings and long tops, and 50s style dresses and high heels. We can pretty much get away with whatever we want- which sounds great but is actually really annoying. 

I'm planning on doing a whole "my week in workwear" post in a little while (when I get more organised), but until then I thought I'd share the sort of outfit I'm planning on wearing this autumn/ winter. Not because it's "fashion", but because I like knowing what other people wear to work- I actually find it inspires me more than any other sort of outfit post. 

SO. Without further ado (there was definitely "ado" there that time), this winter you'll find me wearing the following....



I am having a massive love affair with blazers at the moment- and while I haven't managed to get around to buying a black one just yet (they will forever remind me of my school uniform!), I could be convinced by something like the one above. For work, I love wearing slightly floaty dresses with blazers as for me, it's a bit girly without being over-the-top, and stays just the right side of professional. I actually own this dress, and it is the perfect length for workwear (for me, anyway- and I'm 5ft 3.5), as it falls just about the knee- which is pretty much always appropriate. And because it's got a slightly higher neck, I like wearing it with a longer necklace- currently, I'm coveting this Zara Taylor beauty. Isn't it gorgeous?!

We're also properly in to boot weather now, and I love these black boots- again, I have something a bit similar and they're great for work as they're a) pretty comfy, b) black, and c) actually still quite smart. They go well with just about everything and keep my feet dry. Wins all around!! 

Finally- this year is the year I buy a bobble hat. And when I do, it will be firmly on my head whenever appropriate, and probably for a little bit after. Because let's be honest, who doesn't love a good bobble hat!? I'm particularly keen on this one from Zara, but I'm thinking I'll go for a cream one, rather than black.

Do you struggle with workwear in the winter? Would you actually be interested in seeing a "what I wear to work" sort of post? I promise I'll try to make my face less awkward than my last attempt at an outfit post?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Creativity

I'm not sure what it is, but every autumn I get a little burst of creativity. 
It's weird, because I'm not really that creative- I was dreadful at art in school. Yes, I can bake, but I don't tend to make up strange new combinations, and I'm certainly not one of those people who can make incredible fondant decorations- I mean, look at what an ex-colleague made - aren't they exceptional?! I couldn't dream of doing something like that. These cups were the most creative thing I'd done in a long time. 

For the past couple of winters, I've been hand sewing a quilt- which makes me sound like an eighty-year-old, yes- and I'm starting to get to the end of it. Last night, I finally finished all of the patchwork panels, and I'm so pleased about it. Now I just need to work out how to order them, sew them together, and then work out the whole padding and backing thing. (Fortunately my brother's girlfriend is seriously good at this whole sewing malarky, and has promised to help me with this next bit).

Working out which order to put them in is rather stressful...
But now that I'm nearly finished with this, I'm looking for a new project. I've given my mum one- she's an amazing knitter, and is currently making me a Christmas jumper- but I'm not a particularly good knitter. And when I was in Cardiff at the weekend, my friend M showed us the beautiful job she'd done of painting some furniture- so I'm definitely thinking about giving something like that a go.

From here

I think even I  could manage something like this. From here 
I'm getting so many ideas of things to do from Pinterest though. Given that the C word is coming up, I'm thinking of making something kind of festive... possibly some sort of wreath, or decorations? I'm not sure...

Isn't this amazing? From here
Dying to make these... From here
From here
On a related-but-not-really note, I also love cool wrapping ideas. Aren't these gorgeous?

From here
From here
Are you creative? If so, send some of your creativity in my direction. I promise I'll put it to good use!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Happiness Is... (vol. 33)

I am so happy at the moment. It's taken me a little while to get here, but right now, I feel just generally really content with myself. I mean- there are aspects of my life that aren't perfect, but I can't remember the last time I felt this happy within myself. It's amazing.

Last night's #lbloggers chat was a really interesting one- if you weren't involved (and if not, why on earth not!? 7pm GMT, Sundays), we were discussing positivity and negativity in blogging. For me, this tweet summed up my feelings on the matter and I personally am making a real effort to try to emphasise the good things and not moan as much. And these posts are brilliant for making me focus on the little happy things, particularly when I'm feeling a bit blah about things. Sometimes I find it easy to think of things, sometimes I don't- but whatever happens, it's nice to think of a few things which are positive- because even when things do seem a bit rubbish, there's always something to be happy about.

So this week, happiness is...

From here
... wearing bright colours. Generally speaking, I like stripes, and black, and wear a lot of both. But as I'm in bed writing this, I have three possible outfits hung up on my wardrobe for work tomorrow, and they're all colourful. Wearing colour just makes me feel so chirpy, I'm trying to make more of an effort to do it.

We drank a lot of this at the weekend...
... being anywhere, doing anything, with the people I spent the last weekend with. I spent the weekend in Cardiff with my uni friends, who are my absolute favourites, and who make me so unbelievably happy. I spent most of the weekend giving the girls big squeezes and squeaking "I JUST FEEL SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!". They bring out my favourite version of myself.



... going out for fancy grown up meals- because it's just fun sometimes, isn't it?! We went to Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay on Saturday night, and had a lovely evening, even if some of our conversations may have lowered the tone for other diners. Oh well, we had fun!




...tea in good mugs. I'm a massive mug snob, so nothing makes me happier than good tea in a good mug.


"What do you mean it's not my graduation?!"

... being a proud big sister. My not so little brother graduates this week, and I am SO proud of him. Even if the fact that it's been over a year since my own graduation is a little terrifying.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Caitlin Moran's Letter To Her Daughter

I stumbled across this letter from Caitlin Moran to her daughter, Lizzie, from this link on A Cup of Jo the other week. It's just so brilliant and amazing that I just had to share it. It was originally posted on The Times. Have a read- it's longish, but so worth it. I think it's just generally good advice for young women- which we pretty much all are, right?

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

From here

“Dear Lizzie. Hello, it’s Mummy. I’m dead. Sorry about that. I hope the funeral was good – did Daddy play Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen when my coffin went into the cremator? I hope everyone sang along and did air guitar, as I stipulated. And wore the stick-on Freddie Mercury moustaches, as I ordered in the ‘My Funeral Plan’ document that’s been pinned on the fridge since 2008, when I had that extremely self-pitying cold.
“Look – here are a couple of things I’ve learnt on the way that you might find useful in the coming years. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. Also, I’ve left you loads of life-insurance money – so go hog wild on eBay on those second-hand vintage dresses you like. You have always looked beautiful in them. You have always looked beautiful.
“The main thing is just to try to be nice. You already are – so lovely I burst, darling – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go. Keep slowly turning it up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’.
“Second, always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin.
“Three – always pick up worms off the pavement and put them on the grass. They’re having a bad day, and they’re good for… the earth or something (ask Daddy more about this; am a bit sketchy).
“Four: choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. Never love someone whom you think you need to mend – or who makes you feel like you should be mended. There are boys out there who look for shining girls; they will stand next to you and say quiet things in your ear that only you can hear and that will slowly drain the joy out of your heart. The books about vampires are true, baby. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away.
“Stay at peace with your body. While it’s healthy, never think of it as a problem or a failure. Pat your legs occasionally and thank them for being able to run. Put your hands on your belly and enjoy how soft and warm you are – marvel over the world turning over within, the brilliant meat clockwork, as I did when you were inside me and I dreamt of you every night.
“Whenever you can’t think of something to say in a conversation, ask people questions instead. Even if you’re next to a man who collects pre-Seventies screws and bolts, you will probably never have another opportunity to find out so much about pre-Seventies screws and bolts, and you never know when it will be useful.
“This segues into the next tip: life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLING EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES. However awful, you can get through any experience if you imagine yourself, in the future, telling your friends about it as they scream, with increasing disbelief, ‘NO! NO!’ Even when Jesus was on the cross, I bet He was thinking, ‘When I rise in three days, the disciples aren’t going to believe this when I tell them about it.’
“Babyiest, see as many sunrises and sunsets as you can. Run across roads to smell fat roses. Always believe you can change the world – even if it’s only a tiny bit, because every tiny bit needed someone who changed it. Think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there. Host extravagantly, love constantly, dance in comfortable shoes, talk to Daddy and Nancy about me every day and never, ever start smoking. It’s like buying a fun baby dragon that will grow and eventually burn down your f***ing house.
“Love, Mummy.”