Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Instagram: September 2014


homemade blackberry meringues • wise words • bar cart dreaming • steve madden leopard flats • feelin' foxy • space nk repurchases • marshmallow bed • soothing sickness with kinfolk and nutella • browsing the new ikea catalogue with a huge croissant • the comforter after a long day at work • living room pinspiration • pie season is approaching • more white interiors (can't resist!) • my favourite instagrams • an abundance of blackberries • the best bacon and brie sandwich ever made in the history of the world

I've had a bit of an up-and-down week - well, an up-and-down month to be honest. No luck on the old job front, September has kind of passed by as a non-event - and not a selfie in sight! As you know, I've been questioning blogging recently, and I'm still finding it difficult to conjure up the words to explain it all. Nothing much has changed since I wrote a whole post about it earlier in the month and to top it all off I've been dealing with a mother-effer of a cold for what feels like ages. You name a symptom, I've had it. So I've been struggling to sleep with a horrid cough, and having zero energy or appetite has meant that I had to take a week off work to sort myself out. I've been living off Lucozade and cough syrup basically! I managed to get through work yesterday (because I don't get sick pay so I'm poor and had to go back), even though it was super knackering and I'm finally getting my appetite back so that can only be a good thing! 

Anyway, let's get away from the negative... You know as well as I do that I can't not talk about the approaching season. October is Autumn. I've started seeing conkers and pumpkins all around, and leaves are starting to shed from trees and crisp underfoot - that feeling is the best! I've decided that October is going to be my month. There are so many great things to look forward to, I'm just really excited to share it all with you guys! Hopefully it will inspire me to blog more often because I do miss it. 

How was your September?
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Monday, 22 September 2014

Instagram Accounts You Should be Following

Instagram is my latest obsession, that's no secret. I find it almost therapeutic scrolling through my feed, enthusiastically liking and commenting on some really beautiful accounts. Naturally, I found it really hard to narrow my choices down to just 10 - a nice round number - so I have 13 of my absolute favourite Instagram accounts to link you. It just so has it that 13 happens to be my lucky number! Most of these lovely ladies already have tons of followers and it's easy to see why, drawing people in with their gorgeous photography, fabulous style, and delicious food pics!

So, without further delay and in no particular order...

@styleslicker - Kit Lee is a lifestyle blogger and photographer based in London. Her account is beautiful, with photoshoot previews, still life, restaurant tables packed with delicious food, beauty launches, buildings, and everything else you can think of. She photographs all the lovely things that come with living in a big city - something I can't imagine doing, being such a country girl. She seems pretty awesome, you should give her a follow!

@sincerelyjules - Jules is living a life many of us dream about but only few are actually living. A real jet setter and fashion lover, her Instagram provides us with a snippet of her daily life and, my gosh, it looks ideal. She was one of the first accounts I ever followed and I still find myself gawking at her photographs and hitting that "like" button almost immediately.

@parisinfourmonths - I feel like if you live in Paris, you cannot possibly take a horrible photography. This is definitely the case with Carin Olsson. Her Instagram is simply gorgeous. If you like girly photographs, Parisian architecture, cute macarons and other sweet treats then Paris in Four Months is one to keep on the Insta-radar. Carin, please swap lives with me!

@amberfillerup - I seriously think this lady is superwoman. She gave birth to the cutest little boy I've ever seen (Atticus John - even his name is adorable) and managed to shift the baby weight so quickly I was actually in serious awe. Add to this the fact that she takes pretty photographs and is a hair braid connoisseur, and you've got a recipe for a gorgeous Instagram!

@frassyaudrey - Audrey is one of my most recent follows. She describes herself as a "fashion hustler and all round loon living between Paris and Barcelona" - swoon. Pretty photographs galore, Frassy Audrey is a varied mixture of fashion, food, beauty, architecture, and unintentional fitspo. 

@deercircus - Bridget takes photographs of vintage delights, still life and simplicity at its finest. She loves her books and breton stripes - a combination which we have in common. I usually hate Instagram accounts with white borders around the photographs, but somehow I find myself making a welcome exception with hers. Every picture is just perfect.

@truelane - Chelsea's account is packed full of her life living in Minneapolis. Every photograph is a real treat for the eyes, and did I mention this lady has some fabulous style? I love her outfit posts and passion for pretty buildings.

@helen_hird - Such a talented artist, I follow Helen for her amazing fashion drawings. Everything about them is perfect: the shading of the drawing, the uniqueness of the model and, of course, the fashion itself.

@lapetitenoob - Joëlle is one of my favourites to turn to in terms of fashion blogging. She seems like such a lovely down-to-earth lady with a serious passion for style, and I really love that! I stumbled across her blog first, via The Wonder Forest, and now seeing her snaps on the app gives me such style inspiration.

@londonbakes - Where I get most of my baking inspiration from, Kathryn combines food with photography. Now I know most of us do this - as we all know Instagram is an infamous platform for such activities - but her food looks simply divine. Everything just seems to jump off the screen and into my brain as a reminder to create something delicious later (I wish they would jump into my mouth instead, but hey-ho!) Give her a follow if you want to feel insanely jealous of her baking talent!

@urbanxkoi - I love an Instagram with a colour scheme, as daft as that sounds. Anything monochrome or stark white has my vote entirely. Nana is a monochrome queen, combining still life and food with beautiful marble worktops, emulsion wood and clean white walls. My kind of photography, such talent!

@parkncube - Another woman who is living the dream, Shini shares daily happenings while splitting her time between London and various other places. Her account is a real mixture of goodies and really shows off her talent as a photographer. Love, love, love!

@bystephanie_ - Stephanie takes some stunning photographs of her surroundings, as well as fashion, food and little discoveries. I love her country lifestyle - it makes me so happy, being a country girl myself! I also have major respect for her monochrome wardrobe!

And if you're feeling kind, you can add mine to that list too (@thelastsouvenir)

Who are your favourite Instagram accounts?
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Friday, 19 September 2014

Space NK Purchases

It's the age old excuse us bloggers make all the time: "I slipped and fell into [insert beauty or fashion outlet here]" The other day I was wandering through town and came across my local Space NK, and I hadn't been in for a while so I decided I deserved a little treat. I absolutely love that place. It always looks so crisp and clean, and all the products are set out in pretty sections - ugh, it's my favourite place to browse. If you ever wonder where I am around Christmas time, I'll be in there noting down a huge wish list in the hope that some poor soul will spend some money on me in there! Anyway, on my latest visit I decided that it was time to stop browsing and start buying. Life is too short, right? I swear my debit card managed to just jump out of my purse and present itself to the sales advisor all on its own, whoops!

Ahh, my favourite foundation ever. They don't seem to sell many paler shades on the NARS website now which really sucks and confuses me a bit, but luckily Mont Blanc is available at Space NK. It's still the same price (£31) and I feel it's worth splashing out on for its fantastic quality and the coverage/finish it gives my skin.

This is another repurchase that I couldn't do without. Paired with Sheer Glow, these two are my dynamic duo in the face base stakes. I used to get by with the cheap Collection concealer which, don't get me wrong, did its job well but now I've tried this concealer from NARS I can never go back. The consistency is so creamy and luxurious, the shades match really well, and the coverage is fantastic. I use the shade Vanilla, but have also used Chantilly (the lightest shade) to highlight in the past. 

My venture into Shu Uemura is brand new. After hearing so many great things about these eyelash curlers I couldn't resist finally popping them in my basket. I've used them a few times and I am impressed - for £20 I expect to be. The curlers comes with an extra silicone pad to replace the one already in place, and claims to increase both safety of use and maximum curl. So far it's worth it!

So a small post for you today. If you read my previous post about figuring things out, I'm trying to ease my way back into blogging - how did I do? Haha! Anyway, I'm seriously hoping Space NK bring back the Diptyque Holiday candles this Christmas because I was in love with the Indian Incense jar last year. I love to splash out on a gorgeous scent over the holidays so I'll have to keep my eyes open for in the coming months!

Have you been to Space NK recently? What have you got your eye on?
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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Figuring Things Out

Hello everyone, hope you're well! 

First things first, I just wanted to apologise for not blogging much at all this month. I'm not really sure what's the matter with me at the moment, but I've not been feeling the whole blogging scene as of late. I haven't even been getting involved in the Twitter chats as much, if at all, either - who am I? Anyway, I wanted to let you guys know that I'm really frustrated that I've not been blogging recently. It sucks when you feel as if you've run out of ideas, and I'm not one of those who will do a job half-arsed and be happy with it. So the same goes with producing a blog post. I promise I'll get out of this funk soon. Sometimes it's just nice to take some time away from everything tech-related and just be.

A few other things have happened this month too which have kept blogging on the back burner. I've been job hunting properly for a little bit over a month now and I'm already driving myself crazy. I applied for my dream job which didn't (for once) require any experience. I thought I was well in, that I came across as enthusiastic and qualified, and it's basically been a huge crash down to earth once I realised I wasn't even going to get an interview, let alone the possibility of the job. It's such a disappointment when you think you'll be really great at a job and you don't even get a call back. Still, I guess I'll keep trying, even if it means applying for jobs which are only vaguely related to what I want to do! This of course means that I'm still at my current part-time job. I finished nights last week and had my first day shift on Monday. It felt so weird to be going into work at a time when I would've just been leaving it during the summer. Needless to say I was knackered come 5pm!

I was actually desperate to have that Monday off, not because I knew I would be so tired, but because my brother and his girlfriend were moving into their new house that day and I really wanted to help out. I sent them a batch of hazelnut chocolate brownies in my place, not that they would be much help lifting furniture around the house! I heard they were very well received though so that always makes me happy. I'm excited to visit them soon and crash there after their housewarming party!

I've also been doing other adult things (mostly car-related, hello tax and MOT) and I literally have no money to my name. It's so hard to not have much money, isn't it? I'm just glad my parents aren't expecting me to move out any time soon. I've put myself on a spending ban so wish me luck with that one! Oh, and I finally went to the Doctor's yesterday after putting it off for ages. I hate going, even if it's just for a repeat prescription. God, that place just makes me so anxious. I got the shock of my life when I realised that I've put on nearly two stone since I last got weighed there a year ago. So mortifying. I blame all that baking! I'll be making a conscious effort to shift the pounds by eating smaller meals, not snacking in the evenings, and doing the 30 Day Shred again. Hopefully, I can lose it within the next six months if I get into a routine!

I know that next month promises to be much better, what with the grad ball and my graduation finally rearing its head - I'm seriously so excited for that entire weekend! Again, I'm sorry that I've not been blogging much. I do miss it - a lot in fact - and I hope you'll stick around and bear with me in the meantime!
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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Blackberry Meringues


Hello everyone! So here we are, the Autumn fast approaching and I can't express how excited I am for the coming months. Early September means one thing to me: blackberries. I'm not talking about the overpriced genetically modified monsters you get packed into plastic punnets - oh, no - I mean the sweet real deal. Foraging for your own produce is not only so much fun, it's totally free! And the frugal old lady in me loves something for nothing, especially if it's food.

Blackberry-picking is a country activity I have done every year since I was a young child. We used to trek into the nearby fields with our next door neighbour, empty margarine tubs in hand, and fill them to the brim with fruit fresh from the prickly bramble bushes. I seem to remember them being huge plump treats at the time but in reality they were probably just the right size for little mouths! Who could resist sneaking one or two? I can't tell you the amount of times I "accidentally" dropped one in my mouth, and that's still true today.

Blackberries provoke such happy memories for me, and they are just one of many aspects of Autumn that make it my favourite season. We always make bramble jelly in our household, but I also wanted to try something a bit different. Off I went browsing beautiful food blogs - of which I aspire to be as lovely as - and discovered London Bakes. Oh god, I think I'm in love. If you haven't checked out her Instagram yet then I suggest you do so, such mouthwatering photography! Anyway she had a gorgeous recipe for swirly meringues so I thought I would give it a go. Here's how I got on...

PART ONE: EASY-PEASY BLACKBERRY SAUCE

Ingredients

1 cup fresh blackberries, washed
1 tsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Three ingredients, three steps. Place your blackberries in an oven-proof dish and coat with the honey and balsamic vinegar. Roast in a preheated oven (about gas mark 3) for around 30 minutes until softened. Do resist the urge to taste as it will smell divine. Allow it to cool before introducing the stewed fruit to your little friend: the food processor. Create a blood bath by whizzing them to a pulp. I'm not sure if the original recipe was pips and all, but I decided to strain mine for a smoother finish.

Set aside while you tackle the meringue mixture.

PART TWO: THE PERFECT MERINGUE

I decided to use a foolproof Mary Berry recipe for the meringues. Ideally, a meringue should be crispy on the outside with a soft marshmallow centre - or at least that's what I've always been taught. It takes patience and a very low oven to achieve this. However if I can do it, anybody can!

Ingredients

3 egg whites
175g caster sugar

Whisk up the three eggs whites in a clean bowl using an electric mixer on high speed. It's imperative that the bowl is not greasy, nor that it has any egg yolk in with it - even a smidgen will ruin the meringue. Once at stiff peaks, spoon in your sugar a teaspoon at a time. You need to make sure that you can't feel any grains of sugar and that the mixture turns glossy and stiff.

PART THREE: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Now's the time to turn down your oven to gas mark 2 and prepare your baking sheets. Line two trays with baking paper and use a tiny amount of the meringue mixture to stick the baking paper down in the corners. Spoon six meringues onto each baking tray and try not to smooth them down in any way - you want crispy bits as well as soft chewy goodness! Next, grab your blackberry sauce and drop a teaspoon into the centre of each meringue. Swirl with a cocktail stick or a spoon (my preferred method) until you get a pretty pattern. Bake them for an hour or until slightly golden on the peaks. When the hour is up, turn the oven off to get cold but do not remove your meringues. Leave them for an hour and a half-two hours to ensure that your treats have a hard shell but a chewy centre.

Serve with whipped cream (I cheated and used shop-bought squirty cream) and fresh blackberries. They also go fantastically well with lemon curd. You could use any berries with this, or even ready-made jam. I'm tempted to try a strawberry one next as I have a surplus of homemade strawberry jam left over from the summer!

Love blackberries? What do you think?
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