Tuesday, 31 March 2015

INSTAGRAM: MARCH 2015


Relaxation • White Converse • Marshmallow Bed • Vanilla Pastry and Pretty Mugs • Mum's Birthday Lunch • Wise Words • Working Breakfast • MAC Nudes • Slow Living Magazines • Pretty Tulips • Dinosaur Cookie Cutters • Apple Pie Crepes • New York Apartment Dreaming • Continental • Latte Art • All the Tulips

March was clearly the month of flowers and food... Then again, when doesn't my Instagram involve flowers and food? I can't help it. I've become one of those people who just has to take a photograph (or five) of my meal before I eat it, especially breakfast. Oh my god, breakfast. It has turned out to be my favourite time of the day - and if I'm not at work and feeling particularly lazy I class it as brunch and munch on whatever takes my fancy. Aside from my usual croissant and coffee, I've been loving sesame seed bagels filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon too. The smokier, the better in my opinion. 

And of course, I treated my Mum to lunch on her birthday. Granted, it was only tea and sandwiches but they are the best damn sandwiches out there, believe me! We went to our favourite little surf hangout in our village - The Drift-In. I absolutely love it there. Everything is so relaxed and laid back, and the food is really tasty for such a reasonable price. They started off just being a tiny hideaway that made delicious crepes and pancakes (another favourite of mine, as you know) but have since expanded and now do all sorts from soup of the day, wraps and sandwiches, to warm salads and nachos. My go-to choice is the bacon, brie and cranberry granary sandwich, served with a small salad and crisps - the best! Seriously, if you're ever down on the south coast in the Wittering area - drop in and see for yourself.

You can check out their menu here.

Why all the flowers? Birthdays, Mother's Day and general Springtime - how can I truly resist all the beautiful blooms around? We even picked a few wild primroses on our usual dog walks and they are still going strong in a lovely little vase on the coffee table. There is nothing like the smell of wild flowers. I've never smelt anything like a primrose. They are so sweet! I know we lost an hour's sleep this weekend, but I am so much more cheerful knowing that the days are finally getting longer! Spring forward and all that. Here's to long sunny days, light evenings and plenty more photo opportunities, eh? I think every season has its pros and cons. I like Spring for the nature most of all. The trees finally gaining back their green leaves, wild flowers, blossoms - all that colour! It makes the world a better place, for sure. 

So are we all excited for Easter? I managed to bag me a load of Easter eggs on my 20% discount at work so I'm all set. Plus, I'm paying a visit to Hotel Chocolat tomorrow to see what wonders they behold for the Spring. I would be more hyped, but I'm working the long weekend - oh the joys of retail. I have to work normal hours, so my Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday are going to be stressful and busy... I don't even get paid extra like I thought so I'm fuming and dreading it now. Safe to say I've tried to book off the rest of the bank holidays this year - no wonder my colleagues were so keen to nab their holidays! Anyway, I hope you all have a peaceful Easter whatever you're doing. I'm sure most of you will be face-down in a chocolate coma before I finish my shifts!

How has your March been?
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Friday, 27 March 2015

APPLE PIE CREPES


Looking for a different weekend brunch to your usual bacon sarnie and coffee? Well look no further, my friends! 

I love crepes. I mean REALLY love them. I desperately seek those fabulous food trucks that make them on a hot plate before your very eyes - nutella, melted marshmallows and fresh strawberries make the best crepes on a cold day but that's another story altogether... Equally, one of my favourite desserts is apple pie with lashings of custard. So I thought, why not combine the two and enjoy both at the same time?

This little treat can be eaten any time of day (and believe me, I have) - breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert... I give you the permission to devour until your heart's content. They're sweet, filling and provide the right amount of bite thanks to dessert apples. Stewing apples just won't cut it. They'll be way too tart and definitely won't hold their shape when faced with warming through. I prefer to use Pink Lady or Braeburn apples. The former is my go-to apple of the moment - crisp, juicy and oh-so-sweet.

Apple pie crepes are super easy to make. Just a small amount of prep time and you're on your way to breakfast heaven. I even prepare my batter mixture the night before, refrigerating overnight so that the baking powder works its magic, and that also cuts down on time in the morning.

APPLE PIE FILLING
(makes 6)
4 large dessert apples, peeled and chopped into chunks
3 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Simply toss the apples in the rest of the ingredients and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Allow the juices to do their thing while you cook your crepes. You also get this delicious syrup in the bottom of the bowl which you really do not want to waste. Right before serving, transfer into a small saucepan and heat through. Dessert apples will not break down like stewing apples so you still get a lovely bite to the fruit.


HOMEMADE CREPES
(makes 6)
2 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cup plain flour
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg

Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk until all the lumps disappear. Your batter should be of a dropping consistency. Like I mentioned earlier, you can absolutely prepare this the night before and refrigerate until you're ready to use - I tend to do this quite a lot as it saves on time, especially if you have a busy weekend ahead. 

To cook, heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. I use 2 scoops of a soup ladle to get the right amount of batter to cover the pan, but it will depend on the size of your frying pan. Let the thin layer of batter cook for 2-3 minutes or until tiny air bubbles appear on the surface. When the edges come away from the pan you know it's time to flip. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, transfer to a plate and keep warm in the oven. Repeat until you've run out of batter.

To assemble, place a heaped dessert spoonful of the apple mixture into the centre of the crepe and fold into a pocket shape. Or, if you're messy like me, just roll that baby up and cut it in half. 

Sprinkle with icing sugar and/or serve with vanilla ice-cream.
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Thursday, 12 March 2015

FIVE FOR SPRING

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS
I love having a fresh bouquet of flowers in the house, especially on my dressing table. You can get some really affordable arrangements from the supermarket, as no one can be bothered to go to the overpriced local florists every week. I bought these pretty rainbow pastel tulips from Sainsbury's for a fiver - not too shabby at all - and they lasted really well too! There's just something great about bringing the outside in.

FRESH PRODUCE
I don't know about you, but when it's horrible and cold I don't exactly fancy making a salad. I always want something hot and stodgy, like a slow-cooked beef casserole with fluffy dumplings - yum! But now that the weather is turning warmer and the sun is making a more frequent appearance I'm more than willing to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon. That means no more sweets and pastries, and loads more fruit and vegetables. And with that, comes another cycle of the 30 day shred... God help me!

LONGER DAYS
Bloggers rejoice! Longer days means more daylight, which means more time to take blog photographs in natural light. It'll soon be British Summer Time (29th March - it's getting closer, ooh) and while I'm always sad to miss an hour's sleep, I'm always grateful for an extra hour in the day. Plus, it's so encouraging to see the sun's rays shining through your window. I'm hoping that with the longer days I can hone my photography skills. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new.

GETTING OUTSIDE
If you're a dog owner then you soon realise that even if it's pouring with torrential rain your dog still wants to get outside. However, this task is made significantly easier when the weather is lovely. I'm talking about there still being a slight chill in the air, but you can get away with not wearing a coat because the sun is shining. That is perfect weather to get out and about. We're planning on walking a lot further this spring, as we tend to get lazier in the winter months, and we want to explore new places. I also really want to spend a long weekend in Bath at some point.

SPRING CLEANING
Ahh yes, it's that time of year again. Spring cleaning seems to come around so quickly. I like to set aside a day where I properly deep clean my bedroom. Having white furniture means that dust collects so easily, not to mention the dodgy makeup stains dotted about (I honestly don't know how they get there). I love the feeling of opening all the windows in the house and letting fresh air in. I also need to take on the mammoth task of organising my wardrobe. It needs doing desperately this year, and I know I have so many clothes that are too big, too small, things with holes in, things I will never wear again... I even have some clothes that still have the tags on! I'm hoping that I can do some good and send quite a few bags to various charity shops over the next few months.

What do you like about springtime?
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Thursday, 5 March 2015

PRINT ISN'T DEAD - MY FAVOURITE "SLOW LIVING" MAGAZINES

"Its no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone elses life through abstract eyes, they have learned what its like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference [...] If youre still looking for someone to complete you, to fill the void of your singly-healed heart, look for the breed thats dying out. Youll find them in coffee shops, parks and subways. You will see them with backpacks, shoulder bags and suitcases. They will be inquisitive and soulful, and you will know by the first few minutes of talking to them. They will write you letters and texts in verse. They are verbose but not in an obnoxious way. They do not merely answer questions and give statements, but counter with deep thoughts and profound theories. They will enrapture you with their knowledge of words and ideas." - Lauren Martin for Elite Daily

The other day I was reading an article on why readers are scientifically the best people to fall in love with. How is that possible, you might be asking? Well, studies have shown that those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and "theory of mind", which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own. Now I'm a big lover of reading - and books in general - but there has been a recent resurgence in the art of the magazine that I'm actually pretty happy about. I'm not talking about celebrity gossip (even if they can be a guilty pleasure of mine) or a monthly Vogue that "just happens" to find its way into my basket; oh no, these magazines are new discoveries with fresh ideas and stunning articles. They're not even classed as light reading for me. In fact, I see them as more grown-up picture books with gorgeous natural colour palettes and breathtaking scenic photography. They make me want to travel, to cook, to discover. I yearn for this sense of wellbeing that no other medium provides me with.
Don't get me wrong, I love social media as much as the next person. I just think sometimes it's right to switch off and get lost in print. The written word can be a powerful thing to comprehend. At times I find myself taken aback by people who don't enjoy reading. When I read my stress levels dissipate, I get lost in the tale, lost in my own thoughts. I silently question, I ponder... It is for these reasons (and many others) that it truly scares me to think that reading is going out of fashion, especially those who read in print.

2014 marked the personal era of lifestyle magazines. I don't even know if I like calling them magazines, perhaps publications is a better turn of phrase. Kinfolk, Cereal and, most recently, In Clover have all provided me with hours of solitude that I have gladly taken the time out to enjoy. Life can be so hectic and complicated, but sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book - or publication as I'm now known to coin - well, there's nothing like it. It's difficult in this day and age to forget about smart phones and other technological gizmos, I know that more than anyone, but the simple art of reading - and really seeing - is an experience like no other.
KINFOLK
Kinfolk magazine is the one that started it all for me. I purchased Issue 7 on a whim - I think I saw the cover on one of my favourite Instagram accounts and it really piqued my interest. I mean, it was an ice-cream cone filled with flowers, you've got to admit that's pretty zany! Kinfolk magazine is described as a "slow lifestyle" publication, packed full of beautiful photo essays, unique recipes, and lifestyle ideas. It explores ways for readers to simplify their lives, cultivate community and spend more time with friends and family. I've always admired this simpler way of living - the photography suggests a positively bohemian vibe, stressing the need to rekindle our love for both nature and each other. I just love it! Contributors for the volumes vary from Copenhagen to Cape Town, so there is plenty of variety, culture and exploration. It truly awakens my desire to travel the world and visit all these visually stunning places. 

Kinfolk is published quarterly and their creative hub is situated in Portland, Oregon. Each issue carries a different theme e.g. springtime, defining your weekend, celebrating the home, nature and the ocean, endearing imperfections, entrepreneurial aspirations etc. As you can probably tell, it's a real variety and keeps you guessing as to what the next issue will offer.

You can subscribe to the magazine here.
You can purchase previous issues here.
You can purchase The Kinfolk Table here.
CEREAL
One of the most beautifully photographed publications that I have ever seen, Cereal is primarily a travel lifestyle magazine. It is published quarterly and the team, based in Bristol, are small but full of ambition. Critics have suggested that Cereal is a British version of Kinfolk, and while I do see similarities between them, I have to disagree. Why compare the two when you can read and enjoy both? What strikes me most about Cereal is the writing and photography itself. You can practically see the passion jump off the page. Each issue contains detailed expositions of edible topics, travel destinations, as well as profiles of products, people and places - all chosen because they're relevant, interesting or have simply caught the team's attention. If you're looking for a wonderfully written publication with beautiful quality photography, definitely give Cereal a look.

They have also recently produced a London travel guide, which is packed full of photo essays, neighbourhood maps, and recommendations of places to visit. At £8 it sounds like an incredibly handy read, and I'm sure its success will - quite literally - open doors for budding travellers and pave the way for more travel guides of other cities in the future (I'm hoping for Paris or Milan, personally!) 

I know I said it's good to switch off the technology, but you should also check out their official website and Pinterest account - the photography is absolutely stunning and everything I aspire to. I can't believe some of the shots don't make it into the actual magazine!

You can subscribe to the magazine here.
You can purchase previous issues here.
IN CLOVER
My most recent discovery, and a little bit closer to home. In Clover was the brain child of journalism student Bryony and her two friends Olivia and Alice, who were adamant (like me) that magazines still had a place in the world. Her love of writing and her mother's contentment inspired her to create her own slow living publication, packed with offline pursuits in the form of art, food, culture and sustainable fashion. Based in picturesque Cornwall, how could you not be inspired by your surroundings and live a life most enviable? 

So far, there is only one issue of this magazine but its market will surely be craving more after being lured in by its charming writing, interviews, and artistic photography. There are plans for the magazine to be published quarterly and, I for one, will be purchasing more volumes as they become available.

You can subscribe to the magazine here.
You can purchase Volume One here.

You can also purchase all of these lifestyle magazines (and previous issues) on Amazon UK
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Monday, 2 March 2015

LITTLE VICTORIES

Sometimes you just need to sit back and appreciate all the good things in life, no matter how small the feat. I've learned that quite recently.

Here are a couple of things that I would class under the cheerful umbrella that are little victories:

- Using up a well-loved product
- Waking up and realising you still have time to sleep
- Putting freshly cleaned bedding back on the bed
- Understanding a complicated subject
- Having a really good day at work
- Feeling confident in your own skin
- Working out
- Turning on the TV just as your favourite show is starting
- Switching to an even number on the volume dial
- Getting a difficult question correct on a quiz show
- Making an amazing cup of tea
- Filling up the petrol in your car exactly to the pound
- Finding money in your coat pocket
- Enjoying a lazy day
- Wearing an item of clothing you forgot about
- Painting your nails without making a mess
- Taking a really pretty photograph that you're proud of
- Memorising the lyrics of an entire song and singing it word-for-word
- Writing something down in perfect handwriting
- Filling in your eyebrows in a lovely shape
- Drawing (almost) identical cat eye flicks
- Nabbing the last product in stock
- Having a great hair day
- Finishing a good book
- Finding a bargain
- Learning something new
- Savouring every last bite of a delicious meal

Do you have any little victories to add to the list?
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