Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wishes for 2015

I have never stuck to a New Years Resolution in my life so I'm hoping that if I throw enough wishes down onto a page then hopefully some of them will maybe stick. So in 2015 I want to...

  • Travel - in the UK/ abroad - I just want to see more of the world
  • Spend more time blogging ... and less time worrying about the stats and page view
  • Spend less time worrying in general
  • Complete my first module of my degree
  • Spend more time cooking ... and share some of the recipes on here
  • Try something new - yes very vague but something new
  • Spend more time with friends
  • Manage the chimp (I will explain all very soon)
  • Put myself out there
  • Have more fun
  • Be more organised - with blogging/ with work/ with my degree/ at home/ with money
  • Speaking of money - save some money - I'd like to save a minimum of £1000
  • Go on a date
  • Take more pictures ... and share them
I'm excited to get started... bring on 2015!!

What are your wishes for 2015?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 - A Recap

While this year has been a little quiet on the blog front due to my lack of commitment, however this year has been pretty busy.

I moved out!! Me any my friend decided that it was time to move out and within three weeks of viewing this house we had the keys. It was the only house we viewed and it just felt right (you can view all my posts about moving out here)

My role at work completely changed. I got offered the position to take over a department at work from a woman who was leaving on maternity leave. It's now been nearly 6 months since I made the decision to go with it and 99% of the time I am pretty glad I made it. Here's hoping that 2015 holds lots of new opportunities too.

I wish I had taken more pictures of the places I have been this year so I could share them with you but I'm pretty rubbish at remembering to take my camera and my phone generally stays in my handbag! However this year I have been to...

- Paris. I took my sister to Paris for her 21st birthday. We went via the Eurostar and we were there for 3 days. We didn't go up the Eiffel tower (even though I purchased the tickets, I had a panic about going up so wasted the money like an idiot) but we did go to a Moulin Rouge performance which was honestly one of the best things I have ever seen.

- Center Parcs, Elveden. As this is relatively close to home we often go here as a family. It's great for the kids and adults a like and we had a lovely family holiday including lots of swimming, eating, drinking and playing. 

- Colchester Zoo. I love a zoo so I am amazed that I haven't been here sooner but in June me and my sister went. She packed the most amazing picnic and I drove which I think is a very fair trade. I saw my new favourite animal ever since I watched a documentary regarding them, the pygmy hippo and we fed a giraffe. It was crazily hot & sunny and we were really lucky.

- Sheffield & Leeds. I went to watch cricket with my best friend in Leeds. I actually really enjoyed it and even started to understand what was going on. Maybe cricket will be my sport of choice as my attempt to get into football this year failed before it even started as I didn't want to pick a team. I also drove all the way there and back, the longest I have ever driven, it was fine but my best friend din't warn me that I would have to drive straight on one road for 90 miles... in hindsight I'm glad he didn't!

- London. I wish I went to London more often as every time I go I absolutely adore it but this year I only went twice and we went for my sister's 21st both times. Once was the day before we went to Paris and I booked for us to go to the Duck & Waffle. The cocktails were amazing and amazingly strong and the views were astonishing. The other time we went to the Tate Modern and had afternoon tea at the Ritz. Finger sandwiches and art, I am so refined!

I also finished my Open University intro course and applied to start my full degree in January 2015. You can read my post about it here

I also started writing a book this year which I hope to develop more in 2015

So all in all a relatively busy 2014 and hopefully an even better 2015 (with more blog posts!)

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Moving In - The Not So Practicalities

This time two weeks ago I moved in to my new place and my last post was about the practical side of moving in but moving out of your family home for the first time is not really about being practical. It's more about the crazy raft of emotions and thoughts that follow. It all still feels very surreal, the fact that it's been two weeks since I have even stepped foot in my old room just doesn't seem to compute. 

I have only ever lived in two other places my whole life, both of them on the same site, one of them the caravan when I was born and then when the bungalow was built that was it. It's getting used to the stairs as I've always lived on a single level, getting used to the cabinet in the kitchen that you have to open & close the doors in a certain order, having carpet in my bedroom rather than laminate, showering in a cubicle rather than a bath. And they are all so little that you wouldn't even think you would notice them. I still have all the same bedroom furniture, the same ornaments and trinkets and yet they look so different. And those little things do matter

When people ask how it is I don't know what to say. I say amazing, great, fun, strange, quiet... and it's all those things and more. There are so many things about living with someone who aren't your family that I hadn't even considered before. My room mate is one of my best friends so to be honest in some ways it is probably easier than a stranger because we know each other. She knows that I am fussy about food and get moody after a long day at work. But then we also have more to lose, you can't fall out over things like who last washed up or stupid inconsequential things like that because what is that in comparison to a friendship. 

Also to note that on the practical side of things I kind of didn't follow my own advice. I took no pictures - just bundled everything in - still haven't taken a picture in this place! And I just crawled into an unmade bed that has some clothes I need to put away on the end of it! Do as I say people not as I do.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Moving In - The Practicalities

When you move in make sure you have a detailed inventory that you agree with. If one isn't supplied do one and give it to your landlord/rental provider and make sure they agree. This way you won't be paying for any damage that was there when you arrived.

Take pictures throughout the property - this proves how you received the property and that you left it the way you got it. Pictures don't lie (OK I know that they can lie but in this case pictures don't lie!!)

Make sure you have contents insurance - if anything goes wrong then this will be your life line.

Make sure your furniture fits - so far I have held off ordering a new sofa as I'm not sure what will fit up the stairs. At the moment I'm still not sure if some of my furniture will fit into my bedroom but as I already had it and I'm moving out of my parents house, literally 10 minutes down the road, I don't need to panic about this too much. If it really doesn't fit then it will just have to come back.

Take meter readings - work out how to take meter readings

Pack essentials like toilet roll, tea, coffee etc. separately. Also pack some clothes & pyjamas away from your main clothes as honestly the last thing you want to do when you move is unpack all of your clothes and put them in your wardrobe.

Check that the sink is properly connected and when you empty the water from the sink at 10pm that water doesn't pour all into the cupboard under the sink, the floor and pretty much everywhere because yeah that's pretty annoying and you will swear.

Start as you mean to go on - make your bed, wash up, put things away. Be a grown up

Any tips you have for moving in?

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Festive Snacks - Cheese & Chutney Toasted Sandwich

One of my local pubs do a fantastic carvery and the lady that does all the cooking is a sides wizard - yeah the meat and the potatoes are good but the pastry plaits, cauliflower cheese and cheesy bread & butter puddings are honestly divine. 
One of the amazing plaits she does is a cheese & chutney plait which is delicious but I suck at pastry and I need instant gratification on a cold afternoon filled with packing so the cheese & chutney toasted sandwich was born!

Super simple... 4 ingredients 

Mature Cheddar Cheese
Chutney (I used a caramelized onion chutney from the jar but feel free to experiment)

I used a sandwich toaster as we have one at home but if you don't then this would work just as well in a frying or griddle pan, it just takes a little longer and requires a little more skill. Butter the bread, grate the cheese, put the bread butter side down, sprinkle the cheese, spoon in the chutney (don't be greedy!) and toast. Then ram it in your face while trying to not burn your face with hot melted cheese!!

Moving Out - The Prep

A few weeks ago me and my best friend made the decision that we were moving in together(and you can read the post out about that decision here) and now the week has finally come where we actually make the big move. She has moved away from home before as she went to uni but this will be the first time I have lived anywhere else other than home so yeah you could say I have no idea what I am doing! So if this is your first time moving out then read on and hopefully I can help (and if this isn't then please continue to read on for my naivety)


It's amazing how much stuff I have! I only have one smallish room at home but seem to have enough clothes to start my own clothes store and enough books to start a library (although these would tend towards the chunkier lady and crime books and I am not willing to part with any of them so a pretty awful shop if I am honest) I am pretty lucky that I am moving from my parents so don't have to be out by a set date but I do have to empty all my furniture so that it can be moved as moving a solid wood wardrobe full of clothes & books would require the services of the Hulk. 
I decided to get all my packing requirements from Big Yellow Self Storage. They had packs of boxes put together with bubble wrap and tape which gave you a discount if you were going to buy them separately and I thought was reasonable value (although this is the first time I have ever brought a box so I'm probably not the best judge!) I have wrapped everything in bubble wrap that I even think might break and I'm pretty convinced I will break something because I'm a klutz!
I think the main idea behind good packing is to pack your rooms in separate boxes but as my friend won't let me help her pack her shopping because I just throw everything in, I have followed this idea loosely. As the house I am moving into is quite little I don't think it is going to matter that much but will let you know when I try to unpack

Grown Up Stuff

This includes to me stuff that I don't normally think about - bills, budgeting, insurance, tv licenses and probably a million other things I haven't even thought of yet. Council tax, water meters and stairs are all a foreign feature to me. The only thing I have managed to sort so far is the contents insurance which is all set up relatively pain free so fingers crossed for everything else being as simple.

The Essentials

I've been slowly building up my bottom drawer for a year or so now and I thought I had accumulated a reasonable amount of items but until you actually write down what you need you don't realise how much stuff you actually need in a house ... and how much it costs!! However there are essentials and then there are ESSENTIALS!! Potentially the Laura Ashley cushion I brought yesterday on my essentials shopping trip may not be considered an essential by some but it was blue and pretty and 30% off so pretty essential to me! Buying of toilet cleaner, dish cloths and peelers wasn't as fun as cushion shopping but still essential. As my dad is helping me move the main essential is tea making facilities as I will be left by myself if I don't provide this. It's a good idea to make sure stuff you will need access to is actually accessible to you and not packed at the bottom of a box that you really cannot be bothered to unpack. Also REMEMBER TOILET ROLL!

Panic Stations

Yes I am panicking a little bit but that's ok. Panic means you care but if you are panicking too much then just step back. My panic happened about twenty minutes ago when I had filled two suitcases with clothes and still have a nearly full wardrobe to pack away. Instead of having a meltdown I stopped took a breath logged onto my blog and put it all into some perspective. To start with I think I majorly underestimated the amount of time it would take mainly due to the fact I have majorly underestimated the amount of stuff I own so it's a good idea to give yourself more time than you thought you would need.

In 24 hours time I will have started the big time so wish me luck and any last minute tips are gratefully received!! 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Read This

If you read anything today let it be this. I struggle sometimes and feel like my world is falling in around me and then you read purely tragic stories like this and you realise that yeah it's actually all ok for me, there are people out there who have it much worse than me. And I know that just because people have it worse than you that doesn't mean that you can't struggle, it just puts it into perspective a little.

And yeah it will probably make you cry as it did me but sometimes tears are good.

So all my thoughts with Nora and her family

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Reasons I Love Winter

Yesterday's post was all about my negativity towards winter but hopefully you will find some more positivity in today's post!!

- Sitting in bed in my duvet wearing my Christmas jumper and watching family movies like Harry Potter and eating chocolate just make the trauma of Christmas shopping this morning all seem so far away. Things like this are only acceptable (or even comfortable in Winter)

- The weathermen seem adamant that we will get snow this year and I hope they are right (as long as I don't have to drive anywhere). Snowmen and snow angels all sound like a fantastic idea and the warming hot chocolate that follows is always appreciated. 

- CHRISTMAS!!! I love Christmas. Secret Santa, Christmas trees, presents, fairy lights and Christmas dinner just all sound positively perfect.

- Winter fashion is honestly the best. As what I would call a woman on the chunkier side of slim summer can literally be torture. I have enough insulating fat to keep me warm and it's apparently socially unacceptable for a fat woman to wear a skirt or dress without tights! In the winter I can wear leggings and jumpers to my hearts content and boots ... I love boots!! Christmas jumpers and sequins also become acceptable and what could be better about that??

- Stews, mash, apple crumble are all only acceptable to eat in the winter, summer food is all about the salad and yeah who wants a salad?!? 

- Going to bed at 9pm is acceptable as it's dark outside and sometimes I just need to hibernate. I wish I was a bear (and if I was a bear I wouldn't have to shave my legs - which is also possible when tights, leggings & trousers are the order of the day)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Reasons I Hate Winter

- Go to work - it's dark, get home from work - it's dark. Where the hell has all my daylight gone? I live in Suffolk not the Arctic Circle but yesterday it didn't even get light, just the day got slowly more grey. It's depressing.

- I hate being cold and I hate being warm due to artificial heat from radiators and heaters. It makes me feel sick and sleepy.

- I wish I had a wardrobe full of sophisticated winter clothes but all I really have are comfy leggings and jumpers that are even close to being suitable to wear when it's nearly freezing outside. However I'm not sure this is particularly suitable for everyday office attire (not that this stops me!). Also jumpers do nothing to make me look slim, jumpers are all about bulk which is not really my friend

- Winter makes me need carbs, like an actual addiction, which does not help with the aforementioned bulk. Also Costa has the Black Forest hot chocolate which is actually amazing and has about a million calories per sip.

- As soon as the ice warning comes up in my car, I panic. I have crashed two cars in the same spot when it's been icy and it's not something I wish to repeat. Luckily the "crashes" have been pretty minor but finding yourself on the opposite side of the road facing the wrong way in a hedge will never be my idea of fun. (Although my car no longer says "warning ice" it says it in Portuguese next to the time that is 3 hours and 3 years in the future!)

- Time seems to literally speed up in December. It seems like minutes ago that November started and now we are twenty days away from Christmas and I don't even remember it happening. Also December is a super expensive month (especially this year with the deposits and everything!)

- I hate crowds, they make me tense and shopping in December is just torture for me. So I am not entirely looking forward to shopping tomorrow, but I need boxes to pack my stuff so I must face the city!

There are many reasons to love Winter too. One of them is blogging in bed with a bar of Galaxy Caramel and the cat curled up next to me.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Homemade Advent Calander

I know I'm too late this year for you to make your own Advent calender but I couldn't write about it until I had unveiled it to my sister and I obviously still can't go too much into what is inside it as I don't want to spoil the surprise but this year me and my sister decided to make each other Advent calenders.

There are lots of different ways that you can display the gifts you get but this is the way I decided to display mine.

To make you will need:
24 small gifts - we agreed to try & keep relatively cheap so it's a mixture of childish cheap fun stuff and slightly more expensive little gifts
Coloured string
Brown Paper
Luggage Tags - got mine from W H Smith 
Gold push pins (found in the random stuff drawer in our kitchen)
Black Biro (I attempted different more expensive pens but these didn't work with the coating on the tags or dried out extremely quickly - biro is your cheapest most reliable friend)
Large corkboard (I recently got mine from Amazon for under £10 and will put it back to it's original use once we have finished)

I decided to wrap some presents and keep some presents visible. This was mainly due to the fact that some of the presents would be insanely difficult to wrap and also I like the look of some of the presents being on show especially the pretty bird. I decided to keep a common theme of the snowflakes on all the presents and the tags and a mixture of using the written number and the numerical form to look a bit more interesting too.

I honestly had no idea how difficult buying 24 little gifts would be. When we first decided on the idea it seemed like the simplest thing ever but things are so expensive that it was hard to get decent gifts that didn't cost the earth. Also as a relatively uncrafty person the writing of the tags literally took me a millennium but I am happy with them (these are attempt number two though!!)

What do you think about my advent calender idea? Have you ever made one?

What I'm Going to Miss About Home

I move out in less than two weeks and I'm excited and nervous and this all still seems rather surreal. Since the decision was made moving out date has come round incredibly fast and I still don't feel even close to being prepared or having the stuff sorted that I need! So instead of packing or sorting contents insurance I have decided to write a post about what I'm going to miss about home.

- That clean washing sometimes just wonderfully turns up in my room all folded & neat (unfortunately it never puts itself away in my wardrobe so there it stays for quite a while!!)

- Being woken up with meows & a cold nose in the morning (the new house doesn't have a garden & Felix will never be an inside cat). Also not being able to move my legs during the night so not to disturb him and not being able to walk anywhere without getting tripped up.

- Seeing my siblings nearly every day, hearing about their day, being there on the morning of their birthdays, the little things. 

- Eating said siblings left over pizza because you know that food that is leftover has no calories and obviously that is how I keep my svelte figure

- Having my Dad here to fix things, know how to sort things & just watching him sleeping on the sofa with his favourite dog. Also I would miss things like this artistic piece. It's a contender for next year's Turner Prize.

- Mumma Hen cooking dinner - it's pretty good when you can't be arsed to even think of what to eat let along cook it after working for 11 hours. Also when the food tastes crap the only person I will have to blame is myself

- That when my siblings get brought chocolate then so do I. I have a perfectly good Twirl in my bag, my Mum brought me a Flake and my sister got me some bloody fantastic cocoa fudge from Hotel Chocolat

I wish this was all I am going to miss but you have to grow up sometime and now is my time. What did you miss most when you moved out from home?