Thursday, 31 December 2015

LIFE: A Look At 2015


January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

If anybody had said to me at the start of 2015 I would be sat here now having travelled on 30 flights, seen 10 new places, I would never have believed it. When I returned from Australia after nearly 12 months of travelling back in June 2014, I really didn't think travel would be something that would realistically happen to me for another couple of years. The fact I've seen so many new places in the world during 2015 has made me realise just how important it is to see what else is out there. Travel, new places and new cultures really do teach you a lot and I couldn't urge people more to get out there and experience somewhere other than the place they live.

It's been a good year, a really good year. So here's a little month by month run down featuring the highlights (and sometimes the lows) of what I got up to...



January
I started the year ill, like really ill. I got knocked out by some sickness bug on Boxing Day and it took  me out for pretty much 3 weeks of the beginning of the year. My days were spent in bed, with films, lots of snoozing and basic food. Not the best start of the year but a prime example of your body telling you when you need to slow down! Towards the end of the month I headed down to London with my BFF Emily to the very first Fare Healthy event. It was loads of fun and a day filled with tasty healthy foods, inspirational health/foodie talks and the best thing - the Dance Like Beyonce workshop we took part in. And how can I forget going to see Wicked. I'd wanted to see that musical for so long and it was wonderful.



February
After a shaky start to the year, February saw the first trip away with work. I knew that Milan would be the place I take trips twice a year for our biggest tradeshow so I was very happy to be given the opportunity to travel with work. At the end of the month I had some amazing news, I was being given the opportunity of a promotion. I also went to my very first London Fashion Week and, if I'm honest, didn't really understand what all the hype is about. People don't actually seem to enjoy themselves, it's more about being seen and having their photograph taken. 



March
Obviously I accepted the promotion - meaning this year took off in a big way with every trip being to a place I'd never visited before. My first solo work trip was to China for a big show in Shanghai. China was never really somewhere I'd contemplated travelling too and I really had no idea what to expect. I have to admit, being a foodie, my hunger wasn't satisfied for the majority of the trip other than two amazing meals, one at the PuLi Hotel and another on a rooftop overlooking The Bund. Of all the places I could have travelled solo 'for business' China was the most intimdating, but I can't even express how lucky I felt to be experiencing something like this. I had a day to myself to go on a walking tour and actually see some of Shanghai, which was a fantastic day.



April
In April I turned 24. Where those years between 21 and 24 went I have no idea but I had a brilliant birthday. I visited Sheffield for a day of pottering about and also went to York for afternoon tea at Betty's. Caitlin had also arranged a weekend in the countryside at a log cabin as a joint birthday weekend for myself and one of her best friends from uni. The weekend was a lot of fun and the weather was better than we could have ever imagined.



May
We thought the good weather would continue throughout May, think again...we had a weekend in the Lakes. Well, actually the Yorkshire Dales, we didn't realise until we arrived that our cottage wasn't actually classed as the Lake District. We definitely didn't let the weather drag us down. We went out on walks, happily drank and made food at our beautiful cottage and pottered about Lake Windermere. It was SUCH a lovely long weekend away.



June
I spent quite a bit of time away from home in June, travelling around for work mostly. I had work trips to Riva Del Garda (AMAZING!) and also to the incredible Florence. Both places I'd never visited and I instantly fell in the love with the beautiful views, the delicious food and just the perks of being able to travel as part of my job. Big moment - I also dyed my hair ginger. Anybody that knows me will know the most adventurous I've ever got hair-wise is dip dye. I LOVED my ginger hair, this lasted until November but will be back in the Spring.



July
More work travel, this time to Dusseldorf. I unfortunately didn't see as much of the city as I'd have liked but enjoyed the trip all the same. July always means on things - Tramlines Festival in Sheffield. I had the best weekend in my friends and am so happy I can regularly go back to the place that feels like home.



August
August was a crazy, crazy month with LOTS of flights. At the start of the month I jetted off to Copenhagen for three days to scope out a new show and take in some of the Copenhagen lifestyle. We ate at Host, one of the most amazing restaurants I've ever been to. The food was out of this world. From Copenhagen, we flew to Budapest for a little holiday and a wedding. The heat was unreal so it meant our days were spent at the Baths, laying outside in the sun and plunging into the outdoor pools to stay cool. By even, we drank at several of the Ruin Bars which was always lots of fun. On our last night we went on a beautiful boat trip along the river to see some of the sights it was way too hot to see in the day. I was back home for a few days before heading to VIIIIVA LAS VEGAS. Possibly the best five days of my life. Yes, it was for work. Yes, I actually did work while I was there. But the place is like no other and, with it being my first visit, I was on a total high that work had actually taken me to Vegas. I stayed in the beautiful Vdara, ate at some fantastic restaurants and managed to get a couple of hours of sunshine in by the pool each morning. Pretty much straight from Vegas it was time for another visit to Milan. The weather was much better this time and we were lucky enough to visit Expo and the British Pavilion - something I'm so pleased I got to see. 



September
September began in Milan and ended with a week in New York. Yes, the Big Apple. I was there for a few days of work but had an extra four days there. I have to say, this was possibly one of the best weeks of my life. I'd ALWAYS wanted to visit New York. And no, not just because I was hoping I'd bump into Chuck Bass or be a secret extra in Gossip Girl (well, there's talk of a film so it wasn't completely unrealistic...). I originally stayed in Chelsea in the lovely Flower District, which was a perfect spot to see some of the sights. I was 5 minutes from Madison Square Garden, a 15/20 minute walk from the Empire State Building and so many other typically touristy spots. The rest of the week I stayed in Tribeca - which was quirky and cool, just as I'd expected. From here I saw Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and ate at some beautiful restaurants. I pretty much walked about 15 miles every day and it was so worth it. I absolutely loved every minute of it and already can't wait to get there again in 2016.


October
The travel didn't stop in October. A week after I had got back from NYC, I flew up to Glasgow for a stunning wedding in Lochgilphead. I mean, people often exaggerate about perfection. But this weekend and this wedding were absolute perfection. I cannot wait to get to Scotland again in the new year, so so beautiful. The rest of the month was filled with Sheffield trips, time at home, lots of time in London and an awards evening that ended in a very tipsy fashion! Halloween was also unexpectedly great, even though it was spent in Northampton.



November
I had a couple of real 'pinch myself' moments in November. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Houses of Parliament for a Graduate Fashion show where I met Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey and a number of other 'WOW' people in the fashion industry. It was an amazing evening and a totally unexpected way to spend Bonfire Night. I also attended a lovely dinner on the HQS Wellington for the Pattenmakers, a really inspiring evening that's spurred me on to try and get more involved. I pretty much lived in London during November and it was so much fun.



December
The final month of 2015 was a lot of fun - I had a lovely trip to London with my Mum for a day of eating and Christmas shopping. I also headed to the Southbank Christmas Market which was LOVELY. Mulled wine, mulled cider, delicious pizza and so romantic with the big tree and the London Eye in the background. I had a lovely couple of weekends with Emily and co.
Unfortunately, the year ended on a horrible note, I guess. My oldest friend was involved in a terrible accident and has spent the month fighting for her life. It's been and continues to be incredibly hard but she is the strongest person I know and each day she makes a little bit more progress. I can't wait to welcome her into 2016. It really does make you realise just how precious life is - one of the main things I've learned this year.

I'm spending tonight in Sheffield with Emily and the guys to see in the New Year. I'm actually more excited for this than I was for Christmas as it seems fitting to greet 2016 in my favourite place. 



I've probably missed all sorts out but you get the gist, it's been a ridiculously busy but fulfilled year!

I wish you all a very happy New Year and I hope 2016 is filled with happiness, good health, lots of fun and friendship.

Thank you for continuing to read Unorganised Chaos, it means a lot after all of these years that people still continue to read my ramblings!

xo

Thursday, 24 December 2015

LIFE: 21 Things I've Learned In 2015


2015 has been a really crazy year. Like, the things that have actually happened, I never would have expected. I started off the year with a horrible sickness bug that knocked me out for about a month, which was pretty grim but, honestly, this year has probably been the best of my life so far. I've learnt a lot about myself, what I want and I feel like I've just got a little bit wiser (definitely not just because I've had a wisdom tooth come through!)

I think you get to a certain age and you feel like you've learned more about yourself. Things make sense a bit more and BAM you're in your mid twenties, kicking ass at life every now and then!

So here's what I've learned in 2015...

1. I must give myself a break. We ALL must. After spending a long time running your life at 100mph you will crash and burn into illness/tears/confusion/crisis. Our bodies can only take so much.

2. People will surprise you. Not always in a good way. 

3. Kinda going with number 2, we're all human. We do good things, bad things, silly things. There's no book of rules for being a human or being an adult. I even questioned this year what being an adult even was.

4. DO NOT take people for granted. Don't do it, at all. Life is unexpected, you never know what could happen and you do not want to be left thinking 'what if'

5. Life is short. Life is precious. Life is unexpected. Embrace the experiences you're given, don't always live cautiously. Some of the best things that happen can be through spontaneity.

6. Avocado on rye bread with a bit of sea salt, black pepper and chilli flakes will NEVER get old. Ultimate breakfast (...brunch, lunch, can't-be-arsed-dinner)

7. As you get older, you have less friends. You filter out the shitty friends, the ones that aren't really true friends, those that you were friends with years ago but your lives are just totally different now. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with it - it's growing up.

8. Those few friends you do have are AMAZING. They're practically your soulmates. The funny one that is the only person that makes you belly laugh, the one that's been there since you were tiny that always plays the Mum of all her friends, the one that is so similar to you in so many ways...all of them, they're the best thing in your life and having fewer friends is actually the best thing.

9. Just because you're family by blood, it doesn't mean you'll have the family bond you're 'meant' to have. Friends become more like family. 

10. Wearing mostly black clothes/shoes/accessories is fine. Black is chic. Black is slimming. Black is best.

11. Travelling the world, seeing new places, meeting new people - it's the most satisfying thing. The world is SUCH a big place and there are so many things and people that can open your eyes to new ways of thinking. Travel is so fulfilling. 

12. If you love your job, cherish that. SO many people can't stand their job or just do it to pay the bills. If you're lucky enough to find a job that kinda becomes your life but you enjoy living that way, enjoy it while you have it.

13. Planning isn't always best. Leaving yourself a free weekend here and there can lead to fun, unexpected plans.

14. Just because something looks right on paper, it doesn't mean it feels right. Somebody might have every quality you want for your future husband, they might have everything you think you'd want to be happy but if they're not right for you, you have to be honest with yourself and say it's over. Nobody wants to realise 5, 10, 20 years later that you've been kidding yourselves for all that time. You both deserve to be happy.

15. You'll get to a point where it feels like the whole world is getting engaged, getting married and/or having babies...don't panic if you're not there yet. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, everybody's just at different points in their lives. 

16. There's no point in dieting, calorie counting, trying to be healthy all the time. Food is DELICIOUS. Why deprive yourself of that?!?! It's all about balance. Treat yo'self but maybe leave out eating 20 pork pieces a day.

17. Stop worrying about money! Yeah we need it but seriously, time and experiences are way more important. You saved a couple of grand towards something and got it in the end? That's great but think of ALL of those things you missed out on. Be realistic but seriously, make the most of the time you have. You'll never be able to get more time.

18. I'm never going to get over my hatred for coleslaw, like ever. It's the devil. As is the All American Meat Spicy Satan pizza they sell in kebab shops/takeaways. I DO NOT want a mouth full of chillies and jalapeños at 2am thank you very much!

19. Sausage Dogs are the cutest things in the world. I've not just realised this in 2015, I've just realised that I can't cope with the cutest anymore and if I don't have one by the end of 2016 I'm not sure how I'll go on. 

20. It's okay to not want to go out on boozy nights out every weekend. It's okay to want to stay in with your significant other, watch films, drink peppermint tea, have a cuddle and feel fresh in the mornings. THAT IS FINE. Feeling pressured to go out is so 2014 *sassy face*.

21. You never know what's around the corner. Tell your friends, family, WHOEVER that you love them. Do the things you want to do. Don't do the things that you instantly feel are a chore. Live the happy moments. Pull yourself through the sad. Don't take one minute for granted!

MERRY CHRISTMAS GUYS AND I HOPE YOUR 2016 IS FILLED WITH FUN!

xo


Friday, 11 December 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #45



I'll throw my hands up and say I've been a bit useless with Five For Friday's recently. In all honesty, the last two weekends have been completely shitty. I've had a lot of personal things going on and trying to pull the positives out has been really difficult. That said, two weekends ago I had an amazing time at my friend Charlie's family home in Ashorne. It was such a festive weekend filled with mulled wine, autumnal walks and a lot of hugging.

This week has mostly been okay, apart from the obvious stresses that began a couple of weeks ago. I've had a bit of a lazy week really. I did nothing at the weekend apart from a spin class and catch up with old school friends but it was completely necessary as the recent stresses have taken their toll on my body - coldsores, aching bones, headaches, no appetite. Monday through to Wednesday I've stayed in every night with Cherilyn, put Christmas decorations up, drank mulled wine and watched films. And I've loved it. It's been just what I needed. I also managed to catch up with my friend Matt, who we roped into climbing into our loft to take the decorations down...then he put the tree up. What a babe!

I had my work's Christmas lunch yesterday which was lovely. We went to the Courtyard in Stanwick and had a three course feast! I much prefer doing a lunch than a boozy night out, we can relax and have some time out of the office together. Last night was also a cozy one - more films, more mulled wine.

Today I'm off. And this makes me incredibly happy. I've had a lie in, a nice breakfast and I'm off down to London with my friend to visit the Southbank Christmas Market, do my last bit of Christmas shopping, nip to Christy's to collect my fancy new hat and generally just mooch around feeling festive. I've got a boozy night tonight and a trip to Birmingham tomorrow for the Christmas market there. If that doesn't make me feel more festive, I don't know what will?

Next week is busy. Sunday I'm heading to Manchester to see my bestest bud for dinner and a sleepover as I have a course in Manchester on Monday. Tuesday I'm working from home, Wednesday I have a conference in London. Thursday and Friday I plan to actually exercise but let's face it, I'll probably end up at home, watching films, drinking mulled wine and gorging on mini chocolates. Why do mini chocolates taste so much better than normal ones?

THIS WEEK'S FIVE FOR FRIDAY:

DECORATING THE HOUSE - After not feeling massively festive, decorating the house was much needed. I love twinkly fairy lights, a tree in the corner and the cute little pompoms and bunting we have up. We've kept it simple but have already found the cat climbing the three and batting the baubles around.

A WEEK OF FILMS - Since living with Cherilyn, I've really upped my game with films. I can't say they're good films as we've now got into the habit of watching cheesy chick flicks at least twice a week. This week I've been watching a lot of Wes Anderson. He's fabulous. His films are fantastic. I still love The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou the best but I rewatched Darjeeling Limited and completely fell in love with the soundtrack.

MORRISON'S MULLED WINE - Normally I'll buy a bottle of red and  get all the little added extras to whip up mulled wine but I grabbed a few bottles from Morrison's and it's beautiful. Also had Waitrose's own and that's great too. Full of flavour and tastes like traditional mulled wine!

MY FESTIVE DRESS - Last week my Mum and I had a day shopping in London. We walked 10 miles, looked at thousands of items of clothing and I could barely keep my eyes open on the train home! But at the last minute we found this beautiful dress. It's way more sparkly in person and a really pretty but subtle festive dress. The back comes down in a V and it's a great fit. I already have multiple events to wear it for!

CHANEL BLUSH - It's no secret that I'm an avid Chanel fan. I'm VERY loyal and rarely stray from their makeup range. Even their skincare products are scattered around my bedroom. Yes, they might be a little more pricey but their products last for ages, smell great and are really, really kind to your skin. I picked up this blush recently and cannot stop wearing it. It's the perfect colour for this season, giving you a slightly pink cheek with a bronze tone, great during the festive period. I promise you, it looks ridiculously bright but it is amazing on the skin and doesn't look too OTT.

Have a great weekend guys!

xo

Thursday, 10 December 2015

MADE: Slow Roasted Pomegranate Molasses Lamb with Mint Yoghurt Sauce

 
 

I used to hate lamb. Like really, really hate it. I hated the smell, the texture. I'm talking roast lamb for Sunday lunch or a lamb chop. When I was younger the idea of slow roasted lamb, 'pulled lamb', never really entered my head. I was anti-lamb for years and years until I went to Bar Esteban and had their lamb special, slow roasted with garlic and oil. It was a real eye opener to how nice lamb could actually be. I can't say that encouraged me to have it more often, infact I've probably only had a it a few of times this year - once in Scotland (freshly 'prepared' that morning), once in Ashorne (again, freshly 'prepared' the day before) and at Kopapa last week (which I'll blog about soon).

At Kopapa, a great little place in Seven Dials, my Mum and I had slowroasted lamb spring rolls with a pomegranate dip - the inspiration for this recipe.

I scoured in the internet for inspiration, looked in the pantry (finding a bottle of pomegranate molasses!) and the rest was history.

This dish is, quite simply, delicious. It's a great meal as an alternative Sunday Roast, a meal you could prep in the afternoon to be ready for dinner in the evening or a easy but fancy dish to serve at a dinner party (probably with much better presentation than mine though!!) My favourite way to serve this is in a 'help yourself' style at the table, there's just something more homely about serving that way.

Have a crack at it. Who knows, maybe it'll change your opinion on lamb too!

To serve 4-6 people
 
For the lamb:
2kg lamb shoulder
4 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
8 garlic cloves, chop roughly
4 tsp agave nectar (or runny honey)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 lemons, juice only
Small handful of mint, torn
 
For the 'gravy':
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1/2 tsp olive oil
500ml stock, lamb, chicken or vegetable
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
 
For the mint yoghurt sauce:
400g natural yoghurt
1/2 tsp mint sauce
Small handful of fresh mint, chopped
1 pomegranate, seeds only
 
Equipment:
Ovenproof casserole dish or roasting tin big enough for the lamb shoulder, one small saucepan

NOTE: The lamb is better left for 12 hours to marinate BUT it can be prepared and cooked straight away, it still tastes good but would be better for the 12 hours. 


1. Take the lamb shoulder and make deep slits in it with a sharp knife to allow the flavours to absorb. Place the roughly chopped garlic cloves in the slits then pour all ingredients over the lamb. Once all of the ingredients are with the lamb, turn the lamb over a few times to coat.

2. Leave the lamb to settle while your oven preheats at 200 degrees. Once the oven has preheated, turn the lamb over a few more times to coat it in the liquid before putting the lid on the casserole dish/roasting tin and placing in the over. Once in the oven, reduce the heat to 160 degrees. Cook for three to for hours. I would recommend turning the lamb over every hour, if possible, to coat in the liquid.

3. When the lamb is almost done, make the gravy. Grav a small saucepan, heat the olive oil, reduce the temperature to low and add the chopped onion. Allow to soften, not to brown. Add the lamb stock and cider vinegar once the onion has softened. Add the liquid to the lamb - you can strain so the onions are not added but I find they add texture.

4. Now make the yoghurt - add the yoghurt, mint sauce and chopped fresh mint to a bowl and mix. De-seed the pomegranate and add 3/4 of the seeds to the yoghurt and mix. With the remaining seeds, add those to the top of the yoghurt for colour. If you're serving this meal with salad, whip that up now.

5. After your 3-4 hours, the lamb should practically fall off the bone. The easiest way to remove from the bone is to grab two forks and pull the meat apart. Transfer the pulled meat to another bowl. I'd recommend adding 4-5 tablespoons of the liquid from the lamb for flavour.
 


Great with salad, flatbread or couscous. I'm also keen to try the leftovers in some filo pastry, like the spring roll with the pomegranate yoghurt dip we had at Kopapa!

xo

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

LOVING: REASONS WHY I LOVE CHRISTMAS

 
I LOVE Christmas. I love the cheesey songs, the decorations, making rustic mincepies every single week from mid-November, the guys on Oxford Street that play Christmas songs on kettledrums, the beautiful scented candles, snuggling up by the fire, I LOVE IT ALLLLL.
 
There's just something super special about this time of year and I'm a firm believer that it shouldn't just be children that are allowed to be excited about Christmas. It's SUCH a fun time. Some of my favourite memories are during Christmas Time at Uni when we'd go to the Christmas markets then to the Lescar for a glass (or seven) of Mulled Wine. Or the time Sheffield got really bad snow and we had two weeks off uni before Christmas.
 
Christmas Day and Boxing Day are always quiet for me. I have a tiny family and I really don't mind it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've grown up wanting big family Christmases but now I'm always working, it's nice to have a fortnight off to do next to nothing for a few days.
 
'tis the season to be jolly!
 
Here's what I loveeeeeee about Christmas:
 
THE BUILD UP - The festive build up is my favourite thing about Christmas. There's that sense of excitement in the air. Everybody seems that little bit happy and jollier. There are Christmas songs playing, friends and family spending time together, all of the pretty lights everywhere.

MULLED WINE - Or any kind of wine. Or Mulled Cider. I'm not too fussy! I love Mulled Wine. If it was acceptable to drink Mulled Wine all year round I probably would. The smell, the taste...phwoar! And who knew warm red wine would taste so good?!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS TIME - I laughed as I typed this. Family time is sometimes nice in small doses. I don't get to go home much throughout December apart from Christmas week and a couple of days before New Year. I LOVE having time with my friends. Fortunately some still live in the town we grew up, my uni friends are scattered all over the place. It's hard to catch up with everybody over Christmas but thankfully feeling festive encourages me (and Mulled Wine, obviously)

FILMS YOU'VE SEEN A MILLION TIMES - I'm going to say something controversial...I don't mean Elf. I don't really like Elf that much. I'm talking Home Alone, A Wonderful Life...Shrek, Harry Potter, The Princess Diaries. Seriously, not necessarily Christmassy but ALWAYS on during Christmas. Watching a film you've seen a million times is like a comfort blanket - you laugh, cry, smile, gasp at the same bits but you leave with a warm fuzzy feeling once the film ends. And let's face it, I could watch Harry Potter films every. damn. week.

CHRISTMAS EVE - Being an only child, I still feel a bit childish on Christmas Eve. I feel like I need to point out that I don't believe in Santa, I know he doesn't come down the Chinmeny and I know that person that eats the mincepie, drinks the whiskey and eats the carrot left out for Rudolph is actually my Dad. But I love Christmas Eve. I love the last minute panic to wrap presents, prepping dinner for the next day, lighting the fire and watching a Christmas film. I still go to bed excited to open presents in the morning. If this means I'm not grown up, so be it, I don't want to grow up and lose the excitement of Christmas!

AN EXCUSE TO NAP DUE TO OVERINDULGENCE - I love a nap. Napping is my favourite pastime and some may argue it should be deemed a sport. Nothing beats a good nap, especially a nap after you've gorged on turkey, mince pies, one extra pig in blanket, oh...just one more shovel full of mashed potato...it's okay, it's Christmas. We don't do it all the time. Have a nap, forget about it.

THE GENERAL EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR EVERYWHERE YOU GO - I guess this is part of the build up or maybe I've seen the Coca Cola Advert too many times already but there really is a magical feeling in the air during December. Maybe everybody's had a bit too much mulled goodness, maybe they've got caught up in the favourite Christmas film, maybe all of the food has made them a bit delirious. But I love it. I love that Christmassy feeling you get walking through London with hundreds of people stopping to take pictures of the lights.

Now pass me some mistletoe and a large glass of my fave mulled stuff, it's Christmas after all!

xo

Monday, 7 December 2015

LIFE: When Times Get Rough But We Must Stay Positive

 
This is me and one of my oldest and best friends, Caitlin.

Caitlin and I have been friends since we were 4 - meaning it's almost over 20 years since we met.

She's always been a constant in my life, even during our separate times at University when we didn't see a great deal of one another but she's one of those friends. One of those friends you know that no matter how long it is since you last spoke or saw each other, you pick up where you left off like no time has gone by or nothing has been missed.

A week ago Caitlin was hit by a car. And it nearly killed her. I can't sugar coat it and I wanted to write this to make it feel more real because this last week hasn't felt real. It's felt like a nightmare.

A horrible, horrible nightmare where none of us have known whether or not the person we all deem 'the best human we know' would make it.

Caitlin is the most amazing person you'll ever meet. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her biased best friend.

EVERYBODY loves her. She has hundreds of friends, all of them thinking the world of her. She has numerous godchildren, an army of best friends, a loving family and she's everything you would want to aspire to be. She looks after poorly babies as a nurse - she is THAT lovely. She's a superhuman.

Which has led me to question all week, if there is somebody out there watching over us, how could something like this happen to her? For what reason? For what good?

It's been a week of questions. Some answered, some not. A week of tears, of no sleep, of fear, of fighting to stay positive.

Thankfully her condition is now stabilising and it is only a matter of time before she is likely to be brought out of her induced coma and for the real recovery to begin. She's made such progress over the last week but the road to recovery, I anticipate, is going to be an incredibly long one.

My point of this post - never, ever, EVER take your loved ones for granted. This week has been the hardest week of my life and despite trying to stay positive there's been times when I've sobbed down the phone to my Mum ''but what if I lose her?''

Being a person that suffers the occasional attack of anxiety, it's been tricky but you know what, I've know she needs me to stay strong. And I've done that for her. I might have become a chain smoker, struggled to go to the gym until yesterday, developed the mother of all coldsores and basically, just become a bit of a mess (I opted for two glasses of Red for dinner last night rather than actual food) I've just about managed to hold it together.

What can you do in this situation? Wait. That's all that can be done. Waiting for good news, praying for no bad news, waiting to be told something positive.

The support her friends, family, colleagues and school friends have shown is absolutely overwhelming. To the point that every time I go on Facebook it makes me so overwhelmed with emotion that I've ended up in tears a few times.

She is SO loved. So, so ridiculously loved.

And I cannot wait for her to wake up so we can all tell her that.

We're rooting for you Greggors. Now hurry up and come back to us. I'm missing you.

 
xo

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

VISITED: My Favourite London Breakfast Spot and The Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Exhibition


I'm probably a little delayed in writing this as it definitely happened last month but alas, things get in the way...
 My favourite spots in London are always the quieter ones, a little off the beaten track. Ones that every blogger out there hasn't written about or instagrammed. The simple places that aren't particularly fancy in menu, they don't have eggs and avocado (SHOCKER, I know!?) and where you just feel like a local.

That's why I love Owen's in Muswell Hill. I've told you about it before and I try and go whenever I'm in the area. Creature of habit, I still had the grated apple, natural yoghurt, almonds and honey with a peppermint tea. The whole menu sounds and looks delicious but there's something about the hydrating and comforting yoghurt bowl that leaves me feeling content and ready to face the day. Two of the main things I like about Owen's are the staff and the atmosphere of the place. The staff don't fuss around you, they aren't overfamiliar - they meet your foodie needs and allow you to get on with it. The place itself is just so relaxed. The decor is simple, lots of wood, plain walls, a few decorations here and there but it works. And a combination of all of these things is what always takes me back.


From there, I hopped on the tube to South Kensington to the one thing I'd been dying to see since I'd heard it was happening - the Chanel Mademoiselle Privé exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Unfortunately it's now over as it ended on the 1st November, so I hate to rub it in. It was fantastic and I'm so pleased I persevered with that hour and a half queue to get in (cons of a free exhibition!)

Spread out over three floors of the Saatchi Gallery, the exhibition itself pays homage to the life and creativity of the icon Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and current creative icon, Karl Lagerfeld.

The mirrored staircase is where the exhibition begins, a reconstruction of Coco's salon. The room is full of sketches and tells of career beginnings as a milliner and her first hat store. One thing that was a great addition to the exhibition - the specially designed app for the event - which gave you a little more information about the contents of each room.

What I really liked about the exhibition were the really light, bright walkways with black trim around the edges, floor and ceiling, representing the Chanel No 5 perfume bottle. The decoration and little details were clearly well thought out and resulted in a positive portrayal of Chanel. With so many clever features, it's hard to get it all written down. But I feel so fortunate to have witnessed it all.

My favourite part of the whole exhibition was the beautiful portrait gallery, with famous faces adorning the signature Chanel jewellery. All sparkles and beautiful faces.

Off another corridor was the garden, showing the manicured criss-cross hedges - a sight you don't really expect from the first floor of a gallery. If you have the app, you also find out here that this reconstructed garden and the hedging is how Chanel came up with her world-famous Chanel logo.

Moving around the gallery, the Couture displays leave you speechless. Seeing those designs up close makes you appreciate the passion and skill going into those designs and finished products. Displayed using a florescent pole, which light the room, you are able to also appreciate the craftsmanship that has, not only gone into the outside of the piece, but also the detailing on the inside.

Contrasting to the dark, fluroscents-lit room is the futuristic Chanel No 5  room - full of gold-lidded 'wells', showing the ingredients of the perfume. The room itself smelt fantastic, as you would expect from the Chanel perfume range, but what I really liked about this part of the exhibition was how it differed from the other spaces - the quiet dimly lit couture and portrait room, the light and airy garden area...then this, the quirky and futuristic perfume room.

After missing both the Little Black Jacket exhibition and the recent Alexander McQueen exhibition, I am THRILLED I got the chance to visit Mademoiselle Privé - it's made me fall in love with Coco Chanel and her amazing label all over again.
Find out what else is on at the Saatchi Gallery.
xo

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

MONTHLY GOALS: December

 
IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMAS. Can you believe how quickly this year has gone?! Scary, right?

November has whizzed by in a flash, as have all of the months this year.

I'm starting a new 'feature' from January called My Month. And, well, it does what it says on the tin...tells you about my month - what I've been eating, where I've been, what I've been reading, listening to etc. I'm still toying with a little monthly goals section within My Month but I don't want to make the posts go on for pages and pages.

Anyway, this month has, yet again been busy.

As you may have seen, I went to the Houses of Parliament. Yes it was as mindblowing as it sounds. I went to a Graduate Fashion Show as part of Graduate Fashion Week. It was in the River Terrace, overlooking the Thames and the Eye. SUCH a cool experience! I also went over to Sheffield to help my best friend Emily move and we actually had a lovely weekend filled with food and relaxation, despite the moving!

Last week I popped off to Cambridge see the Maccabees *ALL THE HEART EMOJIS*. God, I love them. Their voices, their faces...

I've spent LOADS of time in London for meetings, dinners, events etc. I've felt like I've practically lived there this month.


I also had the most lovely, Christmassy weekend at my friends Charlie's with a bunch of our friends. It was so lovely to sit around drinking wine (mulled or not!), going out for a winter walk and just spending some relaxing time together. I absolutely loved it.

I've become of a mostly meat-free eater now. I've just lost my appetite for the taste of meat but this doesn't mean I'm a full-time veggie. This month I've made some delicious Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Seasonal Squash Courgetti, Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Carrot Soup, my favourite hummus, Super Healthy Fishcakes (no dairy, flour, butter or oil!!), Courgetti Quorn Bolognese, Mushroom, Chickpea and Carrot Stew, a chickpea and lentil coconut curry and a drunken dinner (breakfast for dinner, standard drunken behaviour).
 
I've not really eaten out a lot this month, surprisingly. I've been really busy, as always, so haven't really felt like doing much in the evenings. And I don't know about you, but this weather certainly doesn't help! I just want to get in and curl up in bed with a big mug of tea. That said, I have had some DELICIOUS meals. I went over to D's for the weekend and we all went to Freemason. It blew my mind. I've not had a meal that good for a long while. I opted to the Lobster - butter poached tail, crispy claw wontons, potato cooked in seaweed, fresh blueberries and black pepper sauce. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I can't even put into words how tasty it was. We also had delicious wine, coffee and 'homemade treats' at the end, equally as delicious.

As well as Freemason, I was invited to a Pattenmakers dinner aboard the HQS Wellington on the Thames. The meal was delicious - Smoked Haddock Cake for starter, slow cooked lamb with buttered vegetables for main and a trio of mango desserts to finish.

I HAD MY FIRST CHRISTMAS SANDWICH OF THE SEASON. Joyous day. I love Christmas sandwiches and Pret's are always the best *all of the Santa emojis*.

I also was lucky enough to be taken to Rushton Hall for afternoon tea. It wasn't as grand as I had anticipated (the food, not the hall!) but still tasty all the same. I think they could have improved on the sandwiches a tad.

Finally getting to explore Cambridge meant exploring the eateries. We had a delicious breakfast at The Black Cat Café on Mill Road and I had delicious homemade scotch eggs at The Grain & Hop.

OH and I also had a really nice meal at Northbank. I had a Ox Cheek Croquettes to start and the Cornish Cod for main. Really, really good. Here I had my first mulled wine of the season (with many to follow during my Cambridge trip!)

Okay, so I went out for food more than I realised...

Next month, ITTTTT'SSSSSS CHRIIIIISTTTTMAASSSSS!! WOO.

I love Christmas, well, the build up. I normally just eat a lot and snooze a lot on the actual day. I LOVE feeling festive. SO. MUCH. December is already fully booked - dinners, work commitments, trips home to Nottingham, lots of London visits, Manchester to see my favourite Ginge.

Busy bee!

Let's recap November's Monthly Goals:

PLAN CHRISTMAS PRESENTS - I don't know whether I should be embarrassed or smug but I've pretty much finished my Christmas shopping. I've only got to collect a few things I've ordered online and pick a few bits up but everything's about 80% sorted.

START SPINNING AGAIN - Done. I've been going every week and I'm so into it.

UPDATE MY BLOG - I thought this would be a bit of a long shot. I know it's time consuming so I think I was kidding myself that I'd actually sit down and do it. Maybe one for the 2016 goals, hey?

SPEND ONE NIGHT A WEEK PAMPERING - I guess I've kind of done this. There's been the odd face mask here and there and I was lucky enough to try out my lovely new Mio Skincare products.

SEE WHAT FESTIVE MARKETS/EVENTS ARE HAPPENING SOON - I've got a few in mind for December. I'll be heading down to London for a few of the Christmassy goings-on and up to Manchester to the Christmas market too.


DECEMBER GOALS:

This month, I'm only having one goal...

STAY POSITIVE: I found out on Sunday that my best and oldest friend had been involved in a very serious accident. She's been hit by a car and now remains in a critical condition in intensive care. My heart is breaking, truly breaking. So this is my goal - be positive, for her. She's strong, she's a fighter and she will make it through this.

xo