5 observations...

28 February 2013

I realised Tuesday night that cooking dinner (home made wedges, sausages and beans) can be quite difficult and rather stressful sometimes. It takes a lot of effort and even though it was delicious, I really would not attempt anything more complicated to make on a week day. We had to pause Graham Norton about 16 times to check on how it was all going. Unacceptable.
Goblin managed to wrap himself in my freshly washed t-shirt and sleep like this for a good couple of hours. It has made me consider making him a little kitty duvet for him to snuggle in whenever it takes his fancy!
I have a feeling this idea will be shot down immediately by anyone who is not Ben though. Thoughts?
The sun has well and truly disappeared. If asked to point at the sun in the sky this week I would fail completely. It couldn't be more grey and miserable if it tried. If you have the sun, please give it back.
I have decided to take some life-coaching sessions next month with Sas.
I want to continue to take care of myself, to invest in myself and explore what I want and how I can get myself there.
I have all these thoughts brewing in my head and I feel like I just need a little push..a little mentoring...a little support.
This weekend we are off to Kent to spend some time with Ben's family.
Fresh air, space, the quiet.
All this week I have felt over-sensitive. Over sensitive to the "Londoness" of everything; the noise, the crowds, the endless rat-race, the routine, the people.  
I love this city, but sometimes a little time away from it is just what a girl needs to fall back in love.
Bring on the laughter, the food, the nice wine, the cups of tea and biscuits.
Is it Friday yet????

Il tempo. The Italian wine bar of my dreams..

26 February 2013

I have always managed to bag working with some awesome people. The entire team I worked with at Clarins for all those years were amazing and the girl I work with now, Sylwia, is pretty darn amazing too.
Not only do we make one shit hot team together (we really do, it's like we read each others mind!) she also makes me laugh more than most people. Maybe it is because I am easily amused, but probably because she is just that funny.
Despite working together on reception for a YEAR now (geesh, time does fly) we never have managed to go out for a drink just the two of us. Life just got in the way. A few Friday's ago we rectified this and went out on a wild night of naughtiness, mayhem and nonsense that lasted a till Sunday evening.
I joke, I joke!!!
What we actually did was enjoy a few bottles of wine and some aperitivo at my newest favourite spot nestled just behind the Strand, spotted by the hawk-eyed sylwia!
Il tempo.
This gorgeous wine bar really does bring Italy to the centre of London.
The emphasis is on good Italian wine and fresh, honest Italian food. What more could anyone want??
Sylwia and I settled on a bottle (or two) of Cirò Bianco, which was utterly delicious and just perfect for that Friday after-work feeling. you all know the one!
We took to being a little silly after the first bottle because why the hell not???

Il Tempo is the sort of local café/bar that you can find in every Italian city and I could not be happier that they have come to set up shop in London. I cannot speak highly enough of this place, so I suppose you just have to make a trip there to see the magic for yourself!!

Website here.
Twitter here.

Daddy-Daughter Day in Greenwich.

25 February 2013

Every year I get to spend a full day with my Dad doing whatever takes my fancy. 
We call this our "Daddy-Daughter Day". 
Quality time. 
Last year, DDD was spent at the Titanic Exhibition at the o2 but it wasn't a brilliant day as my Dad is a complete stickler for me being punctual and well TFL had other plans for me that day. 
Oh well, you win some, you lose some. 

This years DDD however was absolutely awesome
Deciding what to do on my DDD took a lot of time and after a few weeks pondering I finally settled on going for breakfast in Balham then spending the day in Greenwich, having a wonder around the museums and exploring the area as I had never (shock horror) been down that way before.
Dad arrived nice and early at our flat (I can't be late if he is coming to me, sneaky!!) and we headed out for breakfast at my favourite; Lavish Habit.
Arriving as the shop opened, we bagged my favourite table right next to the window with the best view of all the shop's little treats! 
Lavish Habit, Balham
Lavish Habit, Balham
Lavish Habit, Balham

First stop was the Cutty Sark. 
Next stop was being silly. Also known as "Dad's tourist pose".
The picture of my Dad makes me laugh every time. 
Next stop was the Ansel Adams exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. As there was no photography allowed you will all have to have a look at some of his incredibly work via the wonderful internets to get a sense of how talented this guy is. It really is worth it. 
Next on the agenda was a trip to the Royal Observatory. Did you know that the Royal Observatory is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the WORLD??? I didn't. 
I literally had a "face palm" moment when that realisation hit me. And there I was thinking I was an intelligent woman. Not so much. 
After having one too many "oh my goodness this space stuff is mental" and "I feel far too small in this universe right now" moments we decided that we were due some fresh air and a walk. 
Stumbling across these guys put a huge smile on our faces.
After a long walk around the stunning Queen's House Grounds we slunk off for a cheeky Nando's on the river and a mooch around the Stratford Westfield. 
For all you Londoners, you really must go explore Greenwich if you haven't already. It is so worth it for the views, the history, the museums, the DLR ride, the fresh air, the open space... oh my, it really has become one of my favourite spots...promise me you will go explore??
I have tried to find the words to express how special this day was to me but they don't seem to be coming so easily so all I will say is this...
It reaffirmed to me just how important family is. How much I love them all and how spending quality time with them all is the most precious thing in the world.
There is a very special place in my heart for Daddy-Daughter Day. I'm already looking forward to next years...unless Dad you want another one in the summer?? Wishful thinking??

Slutty Brownies. My new favourite thing!!

22 February 2013

I am not going to lie but these brownies are pretty much the best thing that I have ever eaten. And as a woman who ranks chocolate, cookies and biscuits as three of her best friends I feel qualified to make this statement.
I found the recipe over here on The Londoner's blog and they spoke to my soul in a way that only food can.
I'm not sure if it was the involvement of pre-made mixes (easy-peasy) or the fact that they can be whipped up start to finish (finish = stuffing your face) in 45 minutes but I was sold. Sold good and proper.
As I know some of you don't read Rosie's blog I thought I would share the recipe with you guys and spread the gooey goodness that is slutty brownies.
p.s apparently they are called slutty brownies because "they're oh so easy, and more than a little bit filthy". Brilliant.
All you need is;
2 Pouches of cookie mix,
1 Box of brownie mix,
1 Egg,
2 Packs of Oreos (double stuffed - oh yes),
Some oil,
Greaseproof baking paper,
The desire to stuff your face and to be happy.
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and line your baking tray/dish with your greaseproof paper.
Make up the cookie mix. Follow the instructions on the pouches and adding an extra tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of oil to the mix to keep the cookie nice and moist. Then plonk the cookie mix onto the bottom of your lined dish and squidge down until the whole bottom is covered.
At this point it is recommended to take a 5 minute break and eat 4 Oreos. A girl that bakes this hard needs a break don't you think?
Then you need to take what is left of the Oreo's and lay them on top of the cookie mix. For me this was definitely the most fun part.
Next, mix up your brownie batter just like the instructions tell you to. Try not to eat too much of the batter at this stage as this may lead to feeling a little sick. Take it from my experience.
Pour the batter evenly over the Oreo layer and pop in the oven for 30 minutes.
Lick the spoon.
Take obligatory "I am a blogger so I am allowed to do this" photo & clean up.
Admire your handy work.
When your slutty brownies have cooled a little, use the edges of the paper to lift the "slut" out of the tray and use a knife to cut into generous portions.
Stand back and take a second to think about your fantastic baking skills.
Pour a cup of tea (or glass of wine), curl up on the sofa, put a chick flick on and tuck in.

Side note: Our oven can be "over enthusiastic" sometimes and so when I make these on Sunday I will only bake them for 25 minutes. I want to experience them a little gooey-er, so if your oven is like ours maybe try a shorter cooking time!!


18 February 2013

Back in December I received a pair of glasses from the amazing guys over at Firmoo and I have pretty much worn them every day since. (Review here) Since then I have become a little obsessed with them and as expanding my glasses collection has become a very real 'thing' for me I am really excited to be partnering with Firmoo to host my very first giveaway on this little old blog!
Drum roll please...

They're kindly giving away one pair of fashionable eyeglasses for one lucky Our Little Balham Life reader and (or) five individual $30 vouchers for their gorgeous Designer frames!

Firmoo designer glasses are devoted to high-end eye-wear research in fashion industry. All the frames of Firmoo designer glasses come in the most popular and fashionable styles, with or without your specific prescription so they will be perfectly tailored for you. The prize vouchers can be used on the designer glasses found here. My current favourites are these and these. Too cute!
Enter via the simple Rafflecopter below and good luck!!!
//The Fine Print// Prizes are: a pair of eyeglasses and (or) 5 designer glasses vouchers.
If this giveaway receives 30 or more entries Firmoo will award:
1 Grand Prize Winner: A pair of prescription or non-prescription fashionable frames! *Shipping not included and Designer frames and sunglasses not available.
5 Second Prize Winners: A $30 voucher to spend on their gorgeous designer frames! *Shipping not included.

If this giveaway receives 30 or less entries Firmoo will award:
5 Prize Winners: A $30 voucher to spend on their gorgeous designer frames only! *Shipping not included.

Valentine's eve and the "real" Valentines...

15 February 2013

That little man up there?? The one sitting on our lovely new desk? Yup...well that little man is in some BIG trouble.
Wednesday night we had some big plans for our Valentines. As Ben would be away for the "real Valentines" skiing with the boys (super understanding girlfriend? tick.) we were bringing everything a day forward.
We planned to go for a yummy romantic meal, share a bottle of red wine, exchange cards and be all googly eyed for the evening.
I was looking forward to it SO MUCH, especially after the crabby day I had.
I had literally got to the doors of the restaurant when I got a call from Ben.
He sounded a little strange.
Turned out that he had accidentally just stood on Goblin's paw (what does Goblin expect when he spends most of his time trying to trip us up?) and as he turned to make sure he was okay, he rolled over on his foot and sprained his ankle.
The night before he was off skiing. And the night of our romantic evening.
Good one Goblin.
I came straight home and went about looking after Ben. He couldn't stand let alone walk or ski on his foot. I went into Nurse Nicola mode;
The foot was elevated and iced, copious amounts of painkillers were taken, Domino's was ordered and the wine was opened.
Wife points were being racked up left, right and centre and I quickly overtook Goblin as Ben's favourite
But I was gutted for Ben. He had been looking forward to going away so much and Goblin was to blame. Bless him, he didn't mean to do anything (obviously. he is a cat) but he had kinda screwed things up.
After settling down and relaxing into our evening we realised that the way our evening turned out was completely perfect for us. And the next morning Ben's foot was better enough (just) to get on that plane.
Goblin is still in trouble though. Cheeky man. No dreamies for him!
I wasn't the only girl ABANDONED by her boyfriend on the "real" Valentines day. (I can be as dramatic as I like in this space). Holly had been abandoned too so we decided that we would go and enjoy some cocktails together at The Exhibit Bar. After all, cocktails are what we do best. That and talking.
The cocktails we happily enjoyed may or may not have been purchased via our respective Joint Accounts. PAH! That'll teach you boys.
After our first round I was made the happiest girl ALIVE when Holly totted over with two Porn Star cocktails.

House Infused Vanilla Eristoff Vodka put together with passionfruit & served with a shot of Prosecco on the side

Is that not the best sentence you have ever read??? Shots of prosecco on the side??? Passionfruit??
I just died and went to heaven.
Last night was exactly what we both needed. Some good old girly time; self-care with a best friend in tow. Holly went home to a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Rick (well done Rick) and I went home to some cuddles with Goblin (who is basically forgiven now, don't you worry).
Now let's all just take a second to look at those cocktails again. Happy Friday!!


13 February 2013

The last few days have been a struggle. They have challenged me, changed me and made me feel rather miserable. But yesterday it hit me. I need to look after myself better. I want to be the best version of myself so that I can better help the people I love with their challenges and their struggles.
About a week ago I stumbled across series of posts about self-care that was schemed up by Mara Glatzel and Tamarisk Saunders-Davies called "The Perfectly Imperfect Project: Real Self-Care". Immediately bookmarked I read the new posts every day but what I was reading never sunk in. It was like I was seeing the words, but not reading and absorbing them. That was until yesterday when I could see myself falling towards a place that I am not comfortable being in (again) and I realised that I need to catch myself before I get there.
I re-read those articles like you wouldn't believe and last night I acted. I took a little time for me. To give me what I needed. I had a shower to rid myself of the day and used all of my "fancy occasion" products. I put on my favourite perfume, my cutest pyjamas and sat down with a glass of red and an amazing book (this one). I listened to this play list and I let myself relax. No netflix, no texting, no instagram, no twitter and certainly no ironing (yuck). Nothing.
And you know I feel all the better for it.
But last night was only a small part of the bigger picture. My self care runs much deeper than a bit of pampering, a glass of wine and a good book. I have spent too much time over the last few years being shockingly unkind to myself and this has got to stop. It was like I suddenly realised that this self care shindig is a life long process. It's something that needs to be tended to and maintained all the time. The older I get, the easier it seems for me to simply forget that I need to look after myself in order to help others.
I am going to start eating better. I am going to listen to my body. I have decided to not keep my "fancy" products/clothes/shoes/bags/perfume/jewellery as just "fancy occasion" things; I am going to incorporate the special into my every day life. I am going to invest in some therapy.  I am going to do more yoga. I am going to be more selfish about how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I am going to surround myself and invest myself only in people who are important to me. I am going to believe Ben when he tells me I am beautiful. I am going to check in more with how I am feeling. I am going to learn from people who inspire me.
I am going to be more present in my own life.
"In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralised and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective."
~ Dalai Lama
What does your self-care look like?

I will never be one of those girls...

8 February 2013

that hates Fridays.
that was popular in school.
that wakes up and looks even remotely good.
that believes wearing heels every day is good for you.
that hates wine.
that looks cute when they sleep.
that takes more than two minutes to decide on their outfit on a week day morning.
that is in perfect shape all the time.
that has time to put on liquid eyeliner in the morning, yuck.
that thinks she will get anywhere in just life coasting along.
that has perfectly manicured nails all the time.
that eats salad on date night.
that will give up chocolate. ever.
that will be able to cook up a storm effortlessly.
that hates cheese.
that thinks therapy is for weak people.
that looks good wearing no make-up at all.
that gives up on the people she loves the most in the world.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, what are your plans??
For me this weekend will be spent exploring Greenwich tomorrow with my Dad for our first (of many) "Daddy-Daughter Days" this year and then heading home to enjoy a meal (and wine!) with Dad, Wendy and Ben. Sunday will be spent with my Mum, Sister and her lovely boyfriend at the pub, before coming home to cuddle Goblin Sunday night. Time with my family is what my heart needs at the moment. Bring on the weekend.

p.s thank you so much Sylwia for being the absolute best. And for the Krispy Kreme treats!!

the bathroom cabinet.

6 February 2013

Ben and I moved in with each other after only six months of being together. Some people said we might be rushing, others said we would know what was right for us... and considering we are as strong as ever and I have loved every minute of living with him, I think I will start trusting my instincts more.
It is the every day stuff that goes on when you live together that I love the most. One of my fondest  giggling moments recently was what I like to call "bathroom cabinet gate".
When we moved in I unpacked all 6 boxes of my cosmetics and plonked them wherever I could fit them. In wicker drawers, in the cabinet under the sink, in boxes in the wardrobe, in boxes in the living room....some even lived just strewn about on the floor for a while! This didn't bother Ben too much (as he can be super messy) until my products started to encroach onto "his side" of the bathroom cabinet.
Ben: I have the left side. You have the right side. Move your crap.
Me: *scowls* But my deodorant doesn't fit on my side. Nor does my body cream. Just leave them there.
Ben: Find somewhere else for it then.
Me: Can't it just stay on the left side?? Pretty please?? *bats eyelids*
Ben: I have the left side. You have the right side. End of story joebeff.
Me: Fine. Fine. Be a mean poo head then.
Ben thinks he has won. I move my things to the cabinet under the sink.
About an hour later I swan into the living room looking a little too smug for Ben's liking.
He glances at me and just knows.
He walks right back into the bathroom and opens the cabinet doors.
My products are moved out of that cabinet so fast I can barely see where he puts them.
Ben: You have things all over the house. In fact most of the stuff in the flat is yours. I would like this one little teeny weeny space to just be for me. I have the left side. You have the right side.
Me: Yes, but..
Ben: No but's joebeff....left = me. right = you.
I sneak in a kiss and say okay.
For the next few days this happens over and over again. I sneak them back, Ben moves them out.
Lessons learnt?
Boys can get pretty territorial.
Ben can be just as sneaky as me.
If I buy Right Guard Deodorant it will fit on my side.
Have you ever had silly moments like this? What are your favourite parts about living with boys?

From the weekend.

5 February 2013

Goblin was in snuggle heaven with Ben.  
I got some new boots and a casual black dress.
To wear for Champagne in teacups for Claire's first night in her NEW FIRST HOME!! Such an exciting time for her and it was so nice to spend some time with the girls again.
Alan the budgie was a constant source of entertainment.
He particularly enjoyed giving me some kisses. I wasn't entirely sure what to do when this first happened to me. Hence the reason I look so incredibly uncomfortable...
Claire practised her levitation skills. I admired how gorgeous her flat is.
And we spent a good few hours having a good old chatter, a good old laugh and our fair amount of champagne.
Saturday was spent at IKEA. With these two hungover chumps;
Ben was a little hungover too and feeling rather sorry for himself.
We managed to get ALL the bits we wanted; desk, chair (the one I wanted in white! yay!), book cabinet, plants, bed linen, lamps, make-up storage and curtains. Our flat is looking rather damn gorgeous if you ask me. Would you like to see some 'proper pictures' of the flat??
Saturday night was spent with the DREAM TEAM. Eating pizza, drinking wine and watching Godzilla The Hunger Games.
Sunday was spent putting together all the ikea furniture we bought. Stress. Only one argument occurred and I blame my hormones for that. Sometimes a girl just can't help but be a stroppy bitch.
(I know you will all agree with me.)
Sunday was the day that I made our dinner FROM SCRATCH.
A macaroni and cauliflower cheese bake. (recipe here)
I was so incredibly proud of all the multi-tasking I had to do whilst cooking; melting cheese, cooking the macaroni, stirring everything, chopping parsley... that I announced on more than one occasion that I would make a perfect housewife. Multi-tasking = housewife. Yes???
I could sure eat this cheese bake every day.