topbar

                       

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Where are you?!

winter misery

This is a fair question, to be honest. I've gone from being extremely active in the blogging community to being practically inactive, in the space of a couple of months. It started out because we had to leave our flat to stay with my parents in law for a bit, and they had the slowest internet connection I've experienced since 2002. But somewhere along the way, I lost my blogging mojo. It's not that I don't love blogging, it's just that I've lost my confidence a bit.

Not being able to participate as actively as I'd like meant that my views started to decline, and coupled with the fact that a blog post that would ordinarily take a few hours to write was taking a whole evening, I started to feel as though blogging was more stressful than enjoyable. We've moved into our beautiful flat now, but instead of it being the magical haven of internet connectivity that I was dreaming about, we've been plagued with problem after problem, and are currently having to use a wireless 3G dongle thing, that cuts out every few minutes until mid February (we're told). It makes responding to comments very difficult, and makes long and creative posts nearly impossible right now.

Having access to social media is both a blessing and a curse really, because on the one hand, I can stay connected with all of my beautiful, funny and intelligent blogger friends, but on the other hand, I can see that you're all posting excellent content that I can't really look at properly, and I can't contribute to discussions and chats either! Moan whinge whine etc etc.

So this is just a really quick post (hoping it actually posts this time!) to let you know that I appreciate you guys all sticking around over the last few months while my posting has been unbelievably sporadic. To reward you, here are some lovely lists that make very quick and easy reading:

Things I've purchased recently
- Picture frames for our staircase picture wall.
- A neon-pink slanket from Amazon (this was Dan, not me... just for the record)
- A new mini set of watercolours as I lost my old set in the move (something always goes missing)
- Furniture wax (is this what adulthood feels like??!)

Things I've eaten recently
- An amazing malaysian curry from a little place near my work
- Supermarket sushi
- Lots of popchips (I swear they sprinkle them with crack or something, they are so addictive!)

Things on my mind
- My job interview on Friday (for another job at my current workplace).
- The mushroom growing out of our stairs. Grim. Also getting fixed on Friday thank GOODNESS.
- Creating something that 'matters'/Trying to be 'relevant'/Wanting to be 'influential'...

That will be all for now, as it's time for bed and the internet keeps cutting out. I really do enjoy reading your comments and your tweets and I appreciate your presence in my life, however peripheral it may be! I'll get my mojo back soon. I bet it'll coincide with getting my internet connection back, eh?

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

Monday, 12 January 2015

A creative year

winter brittany shutters

My time without the internet has been less traumatic than anticipated, if I'm honest. I had a chance to see my family, to recharge my batteries, and to think a lot about what I wanted from the next year of my life. I tend to get very existential towards the end of the year, what with my birthday and new year falling so close together. Plus, surrounded by the intense, frosty beauty of midwinter Brittany, I can't help but contemplate the world and my place in it.

I've got a lot planned for this year, and I'm going to share just a few of my ideas here, so you guys can hold me accountable, and then you get to look at some of the photos I took while I was visiting my Dad:

Food:

1. Make a new recipe we’ve never tried before, every single week.
2. Eat cheaply and healthily for the rest of the week.
3. Make lunch and take it to work.

Exercise:

1. Start Pilates – all of my doctors tell me I have to, so I should probably at least give it a go.
2. Go swimming with Dan every single week. Decide which day is best.
3. Attend these ‘back strengthening classes’ the hospital has decided to make me do. Eek!

Creativity:

1. Finish all of my currently unfinished poems (as of the beginning of the year).
2. Collect poems together into small book. Perhaps make it into a poetry zine of sorts and sell it? If not, think of something else to do with them.
3. Write at least three complete songs, and record demos of them.
4. Take a self portrait of me and Dan every single month. Be creative.
5. Buy a proper black fineliner, dig out my watercolours and watercolour paper to do some illustrations.
6. Make the picture-wall for our flat.

Blog-related stuff:

1. Work ahead with blog posts so I am not writing and publishing and photo editing all on one day.
2. Post at least twice a week.
4. Participate in all the networking bits and bobs! Make friends!

Being a functional human being:

1. Remember people’s birthdays and send them cards.
2. Actually collect all of my friends’ postal addresses into one single place. I think they call this an ‘address book’ but it’s been such a long time since I’ve had one that I can’t be sure.

Being magnificent:

1. Wear more glitter.
2. Bother to do my eyeliner more often.
3. Go on adventures, at home and on holiday.
4. Be kind to everyone (including myself).
5. Wear the best clothes.
6. Make time for self-care.
7. Work towards having a job I really love.

So, those are my main goals. I'm hoping that this year is a really meaningful one, with plenty of magic and lots of memories. Winter is always really tough for me, but I'm going to work hard to make it to spring and get a lot of important shizzle done. I feel like I've been out of the blogging loop for so long now - am I doing alright? How are you getting along with your new year goals so far?

frosty morning france
sea glass collection
nutella breakfast tea
winter boat party time
delicate silhouette sunset
moonbeams in winter

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

Monday, 22 December 2014

Internet troubles (I feel bad for you, son)

Cup of tea

This is just a very very quick post to say that I've been having some awful internet trouble recently. We moved into our flat, and for the first day we had INCREDIBLE internet. The stuff of dreams, it was. Then, the cable outside our house broke and the engineers told us that they couldn't fix it until the first week of next year. We've been chronically under-internetted ever since, and I've had to neglect my poor blog, and all of you guys. To be honest, we've been really busy moving in, and having birthdays and stuff, so it's given us a chance to get some of that stuff done.
If we'd had internet all of this time, I doubt we'd have got our sofa built.

Anyway, my birthday was lovely, and I got some beautiful gifts. We're going up to Dan's parents' place (which, as you know, has very little internet) to celebrate Christmas, and then straight to my Dad's house in France for New Year. In January, normal posting will resume and I've got some excellent plans for this here bloggeroo! My dear friend Angelica from One Little Vice has given me a little beauty box full of wonderful things to review, so you can expect my first beauty-related post! I'm also going to be doing lots of posts about our interior design choices for this flat, and you can expect a lot more cooking posts now that we've got a lovely spacious kitchen!

Until then, please bear with me - I think you're all fantastic and I am beyond grateful that you read my blog. Happy holidays, and see you in 2015!

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

Sunday, 7 December 2014

November's Greatest Hits!

perfect banana bread every time

I've been a very naughty blogger recently, posting less than usual, and not taking part in the blogging community nearly as much as I'd like. We're coming up for the last week of living with my in-laws now though, and whilst it has been really nice to have the company for the last few months, I'm not going to miss the double-commute we've been doing for the last month - driving down to our flat in London to see how the building work is getting on, and then taking the train into work each day, before doing the same again in reverse on the way home! We've not been getting home until 9 each night! But enough of my whining, because despite the exhaustion and lack of internet presence, November was very exciting!

November's memorable moment

Renovation in progress

In addition to watching our new little home take shape thanks to the most dedicated builders, electricians, plumbers and carpenters I've ever met, I've really enjoyed some surreal and spectacular blogging events in November. Along with Angelica from One Little Vice, I attended the official store opening of Trésor Rare, a cosmetics company which impregnates all its face cream with gold and diamonds. While I couldn't be further from the target market for that kind of shizzle, it was definitely an interesting window into another world.

I also got the chance to attend the last Bloggers Love Hub of the month, where I met up with Angelica again, as well as Charlotte from Captain Ch-ARGH-ley and Ruby from The Fashion Antlers. I got chatting with the lovely folks from Umberto Gianinni, who gave me a bunch of their products to try out. If that wasn't enough swag from an evening out, I also got the most amazing present from Angelica - my very own hand-picked beauty box, curated especially for me by the woman herself. I'm going to dedicate a whole blog post to this very soon, so expect a bit more on all of this later!

November's Instagram moments

wallpaper turner painting sunny winter london
clock eater english rain

Winter is truly upon us now, and I love photographing the weather on Instagram! Those crisp, sunny winter days have been fighting against the perpetual drizzle and thick fog all month, and it doesn't seem like it's going to stop any time soon. I've seen some beautiful rolling fog and even an epic double rainbow from the car window in November! Oh and maybe the reason I've not had enough time to blog properly this month is because I ate all the time...

Songs on repeat in November

As the winter comes, I always turn back to my tried and trusted 'Colder Months' playlist on Spotify. One of my favourite tracks from that playlist will always be Anyone's Ghost by The National (who I saw live this month!!!!!). All of my playlists are constantly growing and evolving, and the newest addition to the playlist is the irresistibly dark Take Me To Church by Hozier. There's nothing overtly 'wintery' about any of the songs on my 'Colder Months' playlist, it's more about how the song feels, if that makes any sense at all!

Blogs I've loved this month

In the midst of this hectic spell in my life, I've been all about imagining a completely different life for myself, so when the internet has permitted me to load any blog posts, I've been reading blogs by expats in other countries. One favourite is Crumbs in the bed by a seriously funky young woman doing her postgrad in Belgium. I'll also always have a soft spot for Eat Your Kimchi and My Korean Husband to name just a few. If I'm not already reading your ex-pat blog, or if you know of any other awesome ones, do let me know! I hope you all had a lovely November, and that your December is shaping up well too!

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Music in my blood

Vintage cool Dad

I spent a lot of my childhood sitting around in recording studios, peering at my Dad through the glass separating the sound engineers and producers from the musicians. As my Dad and his band hefted amps and instruments out of vans and into venues, I’d carry big round coils of leads and cables, one over each arm. I had my own pair of earplugs that I’d wear as I sat in the wings at my Dad’s concerts, and a pair of earmuffs to wear over the top because it was still too loud.

vintage rock band photo

My toybox was full of maracas, castanets, tambourines and penny whistles – I had my own tiny tape recorder, and I’d make up songs and pretend radio shows which I’d then record onto cassettes. (which weren’t old-skool at the time, if that gives my age away at all…)

So even though I was never pushed, I think my parents were delighted when it transpired that I could hold a tune, and they were happy to scrape money together to pay for me to learn the violin when I asked for lessons at about seven years of age.

While it turned out that the violin was not for me, my background in music meant that I picked up the piano really quickly, and managed to achieve grade 8 in both classical singing and oboe by the time I left secondary school. I took part in youth orchestras, wind ensembles and choirs as well as writing and performing lots of music with my friends for fun during my teenage years.

Despite not being a Christian, I had a choral scholarship at university and sang with my college chapel choir several times a week. I was so immersed in the world of classical and contemporary music in my formative years that once I reached adulthood and was released into the world like a bewildered baby bird, thrust from the nest of rigorous education, I felt a huge sense of loss.

It was around this time that after a long break from the ‘music scene’, my Dad found his way back into music and started to approach people with whom he’d made music before, as well as new friends he’d met since he moved to France. Inspired by him, I sought out some new musical friends too, and found my incredibly talented friend Robin, with whom I’ve been singing ever since. My Dad and his friends have managed to create an album which I can only really describe as a shape-shifter. To those who haven’t heard his music since the early days of The Perfect Disaster (the band for which he is most known), this new album will seem delicate and understated, in contrast with the gritty rock riffs from ‘back in the day’. For people who are coming to his music for the first time, I imagine the album sounds brooding and eclectic, new and nostalgic all at once. When I listen to the album, I hear the culmination of a thousand melodies, plucked and perfected throughout my childhood; I hear the zip closing on the front of a tent and the soft sound of my Dad singing by the fire outside; I hear the rain beating down on the roof of the deserted and dilapidated mill where my Dad lives now… I can also hear my own voice, since I was lucky enough to sing backing vocals on a lot of the tracks. I am very proud of my Dad for coming back to music and for being brave enough to release another album after so long, and he constantly inspires me to be more creative and make more music myself.

dad and daughter musical duo
Let's just ignore how short my dress is in this photo... I know it probably wasn't completely appropriate for a father-daughter outing, but meh...

So I know it’s probably too early to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions, but next year, I’m going to be making a lot more music. It’s been decided. This year has been The Year of the Flat. Next year is a brand new chance to be more me. Which means more music! Saying it here means that you guys all have to hold me accountable!

If you want to listen to the music I make with my friend Robin, click here, and if you want to listen to my Dad’s new album, a beautiful, moody-folky album (including lots of wailing from me), then click here. It would make my Dad very, very happy indeed.

P.S. Here's a video of my Dad and his old band, in the olden days (the 80s) being very rock'n'roll...



Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

Monday, 17 November 2014

Owl Guy: Buying a flat!

Renovation ideas London

As Candy has previously mentioned we are currently at one of those big life landmarks, becoming homeowners. But before we get into all the fun posts about interior decorating I am going to talk about the joy of actually trying to buy a house, or at least our experience. Now a quick disclaimer, this is by no means a generalisation, merely how it went down for us.

We started looking for places about a year ago, it was pretty disheartening initially since we had wanted to try and find something near our flat in South London. However, we quickly realised that London house prices being what they are we had no hope of finding something nice. We started looking at other areas and while much of London is painfully expensive there are lots of nice areas that are much more reasonable. After putting in a few offers on various places and getting outbid we put in an offer on a little place by London City Airport, we really liked it, super cute and a really interesting location (great for Candy’s love of aeroplanes). After quite a nailbiting wait the bank approved our mortgage application and we thought everything was going to work out. Alas upon the bank valuing the property they decided it wasn’t worth as much as we had offered and so they wouldn’t give us as much money as we needed which meant that we couldn’t go ahead with the purchase. We were pretty devastated at the time and did a lot of “grieving”, but in hindsight it seems to have worked out for the best.

After that, getting back into the house hunting game was pretty hard. It is hard to psych yourself up about something after a disappointment like that, but we did and after a few weeks break we started looking again. Around the end of March I went to a viewing in a Victorian terrace conversion flat, it was in pretty bad condition, woodchip wallpaper and artex everywhere and the kitchen ceiling was falling down, but it felt like with a bit (or it turns out, A LOT) of work it could be really nice. I got Candy to come and take a look and she totally agreed (yay!). Anyway, then began negotiations… Now I won’t get into too much detail here but the lease on the flat was short (which in the business means less than 80 years apparently…) and so we agreed that we would buy the flat only if they extended the lease first (because otherwise the bank wouldn’t give us a mortgage… notice a recurring theme). The seller agreed and so we were all set, we got the mortgage approved and were expecting to complete by the end of June, but wait! The lease! It turns out extending a lease is a painfully frustrating legal process... Coupled with all the lawyers going on summer holidays, we didn’t actually get the lease sorted until the end of October! So finally, about 5 months of constant emails and phonecalls we had bought a house!

So now we are in the process of renovating it so we can move in, I won’t give away any of the interior decor, since that will be in other posts, but I will say that watching the transformation is incredible. So watch this space, we are hoping to move in by Christmas and it will be the best present after what has been a completely exhausting year!

"Owl Guy" is a (nearly) monthly series written by my husband Dan, in which he chats about what we've been up to recently!

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Perfect Banana Bread - a text message recipe

Easiest banana loaf recipe

Sometimes I have a craving for some really specific foodstuff from my childhood. Now that my mum and dad both live abroad, I've had to make do with asking them for recipes rather than popping home for a dose of home cooking. It's at times like this that I will send one of them a frantic text saying something like this, "Dad, I need to know how you make that leek and ginger soup you used to force me to eat all winter when I was a child! It's urgent!" or "Mum can you tell me your recipe for banana loaf again - I've lost it..."

Thankfully, both of my parents are fairly tech savvy and understand the importance of urgent food cravings, so I usually get a response fairly quickly. They are both excellent cooks too - the kind of cooks who can just open up the fridge and make something fantastic, no matter what they find inside. I hope that one day I will acquire this skill - Dan is a bit better than me at this right now. I'm too scared of failure. Anyway, before this turns into a self-flagellation-fest, here's the response that I got when I sent my mum a text asking for her banana loaf recipe a few months ago:

easy banana bread recipe


So, you've got Owl Mother to thank for this one - although she probably prefers to go by 'Karen' since that is her name! This recipe is not very consistent with its measurements but there are plenty of nifty conversion tools online if you want to make it into cups or ounces or something like that. And yes, I did text my mum "<3 Ur a goody". It was (semi) ironic, I swear!

- 2/3 mashed bananas (we always mash ours with a fork)
- 2 tablespoons of margarine (you can use butter, but this recipe works really well with marg)
- 125 grams of caster sugar (I use golden, but white works too).
- 200 grams of self raising flour! (this is important!)
- 3 eggs (medium)
- Chocolate chips (as many as you want! I used a whole packet!)
- A pinch of nutmeg (you can replace with cinnamon or leave out altogether if you like).
- A pinch of salt.

Make sure you preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 4/350 degrees Fahrenheit! The basic method that my mum and I always follow is to start by creaming the butter and sugar together, before adding all of the other wet ingredients and mixing it up into a big gloopy yellow mess. Then we add the flour bit by bit until it's all incorporated. My mum says you can add a bit more flour if you think it's too wet, but like she said in her text, this is a pretty wet mixture, so don't stress out about it too much! Pour the mixture into a greased non-stick loaf tin, and pop it in the oven for about an hour. I always check mine with a skewer or knife after about 45 minutes to make sure it's cooking nicely, and then keep checking it every ten(ish) minutes until the skewer comes out clean (except for melted chocolate!) and it is ready! Pop it out of the loaf tin and onto a cooling rack before gobbling it all up with a pot of Earl Grey.

fresh banana bread

chocolate banana loaf recipe

This recipe is so easy, that you can pretty much whip it up WHILE dinner is cooking! A favourite Friday night tradition with my mum is to make tuna pasta bake and banana loaf all at once, and then devour them both whilst watching sitcoms on the television. I've tried so many banana bread recipes and none of them work quite as consistently as my mum's classic! So my question for you is this - do you have any 'family recipes' in your household? Are your dad's roast potatoes the best in the land? Does your grandpa make the most intense margaritas you've ever tasted? (Probably not - that's Dan's Nonno's territory!) I'd love to know if you've got any culinary secrets in your family!

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...