Sunday, 26 January 2014

Weekending in Kent (and some gratuitious TKMAXXtion)

I've spent the weekend at home in Kent as it was my mum's birthday today. The weekend started with a quix night at my old school, with my parents and their friends. Rock'n'roll me, huh? My parents were going anyway so I just took the train straight from London and met them at the school. The quiz was run by my old deputy head, and I did a double take when I saw him and exclaimed, "bloody hell", to which he replied, "yeah alright, you look old too". Thanks a lot Mr Smith! It was a fun night, though we didn't win, boo hoo!

On Saturday, ma and I hauled out all of the blue glassware she's collected from charity shops for our impending wedding and arranged them in lots per table, and boxed them up - super organised given it's five months away! This meant we could see whether we needed any more and act accordingly.

'Nuff glass?
 We called in at Majestic Wine Warehouse to enquire about booze for the wedding, and a local florist to enquire about flowers for the same, and then went off to Hythe to scour the charity shops for the last 4 or 5 bits of blue glass we need. We didn't have much success, but I managed to pick up an old Lonely Planet guide to California for the honeymoon that dreams were made of.

I treated mum to lunch and a coffee at the Nutmeg Cafe, where we dined on a lovely Mediterranean platter for two. This was a gorgeous little cafe, very cosy, with good coffee and lovely decor, including the tag-adorned map above, I assume the tags relate to visitors to the cafe from around the world. We didn't add a tag as being from the down the road wasn't nearly as interesting as some of other tags!

We called in at the Malthouse Arcade indoor vintage market, but at this point we only had a few minutes parking left so we had to make it a quick one, but I'll definitely go back for a good poke around, it was a treasure trove. We also stopped at Station Antiques at Appledore on the way home for a ganders, where I fell in love with several gorgeous pieces of lovingly reupholstered furniture.
A quick snap of the seafront, St Mary's Bay
On Saturday evening, I came across all of the family photo albums in my old room, and went through every last one of them
Me at 14 weeks, little chubber
My parents at a dinner dance, pre-me, a handsome pair
This morning I woke up with a sore neck. I ignored it and proceeded to raid my younger, cooler sister's wardrobe for all the clothes she left behind - if she's at uni in Newcastle, then she definitely ain't wearing the clothes she left behind in Kent, it's not geographically possible. I pinched thisemboridered jacket and a gorgeous dress from Warehouse, which of course she can have back if she wants them. But I won't be reminding her of them.

After this, I had high hopes for a trip up to the loft to find some of my old junk, but my neck pain was bothering me. I hoped a quick rest in downward dog was set me right, but this was a big mistake. Huge. I ended up pulling something really badly, and was unable to move my head without intense pain for a good hour. 

I eventually got a little range of motion back and we trundled onto Boots to pick up some pain relief, where I also picked up some of my old trusty No7 wipes with the £5 off voucher, some nail varnishes for mum, and some Soap and Glory The Fab Pore, which was reduced to clear at just £1.99. No idea why as it's still sold for £8 on the their website, but I am looking forward to this transforming my skin. We headed onto TK Maxx, where I devoured the homeware range.

Love these cushions 
Amazing jewellery box, £24.99. Major birthday hints dropped to mum
Gorgeous storage box, £14.99
Phwoar at this Designers Guild chair, £399.99
We finished up at the McArthur Glen outlet where I hobbled around trying not to move my head too much, and saw many treasures I am too poor for, before I took the train back to London, armed with my goodies in a wheelie suitcase that my parents lent me so I wouldn't have to carry a heavy bag. Waiter, more Voltarol!!!
Stormy skies over the outlet
Happy Sunday night everyone, I hope I sleep this neck pain off!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Weekending in Sheffield

I've just returned from a weekend seeing my beau in Sheffield, and what a wonderful weekend it was! We kicked off Friday evening with a homemade chilli and Casino, a film we've owned for about 5 years and always been put off watching on the basis that it's 3 hours long, but this time we were ready for it.

A few nights before I went to visit, my mister uttered over Skype these words, " know my suit we bought for the wedding? I think I want something different now...." before showing me this board he'd made on Pinterest. Up for a challenge we spent all of Saturday trawling Sheffield city centre charity, vintage and high street shops for a good alternative. We didn't find one this time but he did pick up a spectacularly bargain jacket at just £28.99 in M&S (one shade darker than this one, I can't find his on the website). Unfortunately there are no matching trousers, but the mister has a real thing for jackets so he'll be wearing it all the time in a non wedding capacity, in rotation with the fantastical tweed one I got him for Christmas (another charity shop find).

During my trawling of Sheffield charity shops, I came across this beautiful book for just £1, a stellar additional to my addiction to food books. It's a fantastic book highlighting the very best places for the very best foods in the UK.

I also picked up some Lanocreme Manuka Honey eye cream in TK Maxx for £5.99. I've just idly started looking for an eye cream to reduce the dark circles under my eyes, so thought I'd give this one a whirl, it's worth a punt at that price - let's banish those circles for good!

We took a drink in the Great Gatsby on Division Street after exploring all of the lovely shops - so many have popped up since I've moved away, and I always love a good poke around Within Reason especially.
Winter Gardens
Oozing Peanut Butter
We wandered through the Winter Gardens before heading on to Mudcrab. We'd been talking about going to Mudcrab for at least a week before my visit so this was hotly anticipated, I love it there. We shared cheesy garlic bread and fried chicken (amazing) then went on to our burger mains. I had the Geek USA burger which is a THREE patty burger with peanut butter and a fried egg. Astonishing. We couldn't even finish our chips, and I never leave food on my plate! The staff were all really friendly and attentive, and the bill came to only about £51 for two starters, two burgers and two cocktails each (it was happy hour til 7).

After a full day of fun, we walked back to the Boy's house, where I changed into his pyjamas, drank wine from a mug and we watched Inglourious Basterds again, because it's amazing.

This morning, we overdosed on coffee whilst booking our honeymoon flights - We are off to San Francisco 3 days after our wedding! We're planning to do a bit of a road trip, based on this little itinerary we pilfered from STA Travel. We booked our flights through Opodo, flying from Belfast as its £300 cheaper each than flying from London (even though we have to pass back through London!?). We'll marry on the Saturday, tidy up our venue and make our way home to London on the Sunday, make our way to Belfast on Monday and fly to California on Tuesday for 3 whole weeks. I'm collecting tips and tricks so if anyone has been on a similar adventure please feel free to share, we'd be very grateful.

Making my way home to London was boring, saying goodbye is always hard but after such a lovely weekend, I left with a smile on my face and the reminder that being apart isn't forever. Thank you Sheffield, and thank you Dave for another incredible weekend, I can't wait for more.
Bye bye Sheffield

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

2014, Year On a (Running) Shoestring

It's been a whole month since I've blogged anything at all, which is very naughty indeed. December was busy as ever with Christmas parties, meals and get-togethers.  And cake. Lots of cake.
My Beloved came back from Sheffield to join me for the Christmas break, and it was so amazing to be with him for a prolonged period. Since he's been studying back in the North, we've only had 3 nights together at a time for the whole semester, which puts a lot of pressure on you to have fun all the time, and makes those deep and meaningful conversations all the more urgent, but having him here with me in London for 2 1/2 weeks meant we could relax a bit and enjoy each other's company without always having one eye on the clock. I know lots of people are in long-distance relationships and I am not the only one going through this, but after 6 years of living together it can be incredibly difficult to adjust to a different life.
Me and Him.
Anyway, happy new year! This year, big things are happening.In June, he graduates, we get married, we go on honeymoon (to the US we hope), he starts his dream job and we set up home together once more! All this means that money needs to be saved, and after Christmas I am finding myself hyperventilating over the paltry sums in my current and savings accounts. Things are supertight in Funfashionable Towers, which means achieving my resolution to make the most of every day is going to be trickier, without masses of cash to throw at the situation.

Whilst everyone is frantically joining gyms and detoxing away, I made the decision today to cancel my gym membership. Like everyone else, I've gained a couple too many pounds after a month of over-indulgence, but if I want to get myself back on track financially, I need to cut back wherever I can and as my membership is £47.50 a month I'm finding it very hard to justify.

I visited earlier with every intention of cancelling but was told about the additional option to freeze my membership, for £10 a month for up to 3 months. This will save me £112.50 over 3 months, and means that if I manage to get myself into a good routine of exercising outside, I can go ahead and cancel anyway, but if I decide I miss my yoga and pilates classes too much and am in a better financial position, I can resume my membership without having to pay a joining fee again.

So here's the plan, fitness wise:

  • I freeze my membership for the three months - I probably get to keep using it until a certain point in the month
  • I start walking from Waterloo rather than Charing Cross to get to work, and Forest Hill rather than Sydenham to get home. That's an extra 1.1 mile a day.
  • I pick up Run, Fat Bitch Run again, and actually read it (I received it last Christmas but never finished it, probably in fear that if I carried on reading, I'd have to actually start running). 
  • I actually run.
  • I find some decent yoga videos online and crack out the 30 Day Shred DVD once more.
  • I drink far more water than I do now.
If you know of any great online workouts I'd love to hear about them, I'm looking to keep things interesting!

I mentioned making the most of every day. What I mean it, I don't want to feel like I spent this whole academic year away from the Boy yearning for him and sitting around waiting to see him, these are my last few months as an unmarried woman! I want to enjoy myself, I want to get out there, see my friends, meet new people, enjoy all London has to offer, and generally feel like I'm getting the most out of every opportunity that comes my way. This can be tricky on a shoe string, but there are plenty of free events and interesting things to do that don't cost the earth, so I am on the look out for every chance to spend a little, but live a lot!

My resolutions:
1. Have fun. All the time.
2. Stay off the cigs (I've had a very on off, on off year in my ongoing battle against nicotine, but I'm 2 1/2 weeks into my latest, and what I hope will be my final quit attempt)
3. Get fit. Get to the goal weight I just touched on before Christmas festivities took over, and stay there.
4. Make the most of my new camera. Get better at using it, be creative and confident with it, this is something we are hoping to do together once he's finished uni and is back for good, but it can't hurt to get a good start.
5. Be better at staying in touch with friends.
6. Be creative, sew more, procrastinate less. 
7. Read a book a week, and try and get some classics in there too.

Happy 2014!