Biscuits in space : a life update

30 September 2013

Ben asked me to name this post "biscuits in space". So that's precisely what I've done. I couldn't resist. 
Moving on. 
I'm sitting here snuggled up on the couch enjoying my sixth hot toddy of the last two days and although it is doing nothing for my head cold or extremely stuffy nose, it's going a long way to help me emotionally. Much like eating the last of the chocolate we had in the house earlier.
Anyway, back to the point...these last few weeks I've been thinking about my edges. Where I end and where others begin. What's my business and what's their business. Where I create my boundaries, how I enforce them and how I protect myself. Earlier this year I had no idea these types of edges even existed. Sas and I talked about them in most of our sessions and seems I am still trying to get a hold of them. It's exhausting and I realised today over emails with close friends that I am exhausted. I'm tired of it all and when I feel like this I withdraw. I crave peace, isolation, quietness and time at home. It's like a hibernation that I go through...a subtle withdrawal to give myself time to figure out what I am actually feeling about all of these messy and complicated happenings. 

And all that is totally okay and I'm going slowly and gently with myself (I promise) but I seem to back away from this space first and that upsets me. I've put things off (hello holiday posts), my commenting has been sparse at very best and I've been keeping lots (and lots) of posts in drafts. But I'm working on it. I love this blog of mine and over the next few weeks I'm going to try slowly and gently get back into it all. 

Navigating all of this 'stuff' is tricky and prickly but like I said... slowly and gently does it and I am in no rush.

I think it's about time for my seventh hot toddy, what do ya think? 

Letting my thoughs just dribble out...

20 September 2013

Today I am just going to throw my thoughts at the page and hope that they stick. It's a risky strategy because I'm pretty much all out of interesting ideas and the few ideas I that I do have are about what I need to do before we go on holiday tomorrow.

To say I am unprepared is the understatement of the century.

Our taxi is picking us up at 4am tomorrow morning. Which means I need to be up and prancing around etc at about 3am.
3 bloody am.
That technically makes it tonight that we are travelling. TONIGHT people. Which creates a whole lot of "oh my gawwwwwd panic" in me as like I said, I am completely unprepared for it. 
And I hate, really really hate, to be this unprepared.
I'm not even sure that I'm going to even go to bed tonight because by the time I have decided what to take, actually packed all that crap, cleaned the whole flat, showered, done my hair, had some food and practised some yoga and meditation it will be time to get up again. That is unless I discover some super powers or a boyfriend that volunteers to clean the flat while I sort things out (hint hint Ben).

Yeah, probably best to settle with having no sleep.

As you can probably tell I am not doing so well with making this interesting so I will share a few links of awesome-sauce things I have discovered lately:
+ This delicious and super healthy dessert that me and Claire made last night. It was touch and go at one point to see if Claire would ever emerge from rummaging in her kitchen cupboards...
...but alas she did and we could get on with inventing the desert. (I use the word inventing because we definitely didn't stick to the recipe and parts of it were made up..which is totally okay as it is a raw dessert and there is always leeway with raw desserts!)
+ This blog sucked me in for a few hours the other morning, definitely worth a read.
+ I sometimes feel this way about Whole Foods too.
+ Finding a style of yoga that fits is pretty darn hard work, but the guys over at Strala Yoga have it down to a tee and I am hooked. I'm gutted that they are based in New York but their RELAX class that you can buy online and then download to your computer is my new favourite and well worth the $15 it cost.
+ This has been making me laugh all morning:
Okay, back to talking about my holiday now, fun time break time is over.
Have you been to Marrakech? Any travel tips? Places to go see? Things to do? Hammams that you can recommend?
See you soon everyone :)

Littlewoods Lingerie AW13 Collection

19 September 2013

A few weeks ago (my blogging schedule is really out of whack) I headed over to Shop Direct’s London HQ for a lingerie bloggers event organised by Littlewoods.
We all know that fashion events are not my thing. But underwear?? Totally on board. And if I am being honest I was in DESPERATE need of some inspiration and a kick up the ass. A few months ago I went out to buy myself some nice new underwear and came home with 15 pairs of plain black knickers, one nude bra and one black bra. Case and point.

Walking into the showroom was like walking into one of those dreams where everything you could ever want is laid out all nice and neatly for you to go browse round and nosey at. You don't have those dreams? Well, I certainly do, let's call it my OCD brain coming out to play at dream time. Awkward.
Once everyone had arrived and I had eaten no less than three miniature red velvet cupcakes (don't judge, they were delicious) and sunk two glasses of prosecco, Jo Holmes (the head lingerie buyer at Littlewoods) gave us a big welcome and talked to us a little about the Littlewoods own Intimate Essentials range and the super glamorous Myleene Klass range. Rather embarrassingly I didn't even realise that Littlewoods held their own range of  lingerie so at this point I was VERY impressed!! Jo then introduced us to the ladies from Curvy Kate, Wonderbra and Maidenform who were there to tell us about their brands too.

After hearing from all of the different brands about their brand histories, their newest products and their best sellers we had a chance to mingle with all of the other gorgeous bloggers, get fitted PROPERLY and enjoy a few more cupcakes!
First and biggest surprise of the night?? I have been wearing the wrong bra size for all of about 10 fecking years.
I thought I was like a 34B...I am actually a 30DD. So I went straight up and ordered this gorgeous Wonderbra set in the right size to get things moving. Wonderbra also do a fantastic Ultimate strapless bra which is unlike anything I have seen before. If you are one for wearing strapless outfits (I am definitely not) then you should take a look into it!
Second surprise? Shapewear can actually be rather good looking. I took away some of these Sleek Stripes Hi Waist Briefs from Maidenform in black of course (nude is not a good colour for big panties in my opinion) and even though I was rather sceptical before trying them on I was very pleasantly surprised. They have that whole 50's vibe going on and did a wondrous job of keeping everything feeling like it was in place. Definitely for wearing under nice tight "show off" outfits!!
Third surprise? Learning that Curvy Kate do bras in smaller sizes too! Although as a brand they are geared towards curvier, bigger chested women (Tash, I'm looking at you here) they cater for all sizes.
Also I was SO impressed to also learn that they never use professional models in their campaigns, only ever using real women with real bodies. We definitely need more of that in this world. I mean just look at these gorgeous women...
I had such a wonderful time and learnt a shit tonne more about lingerie and boobs than I knew before so would like to say a massive thank you to Littlewoods for hosting such a fun event!

Now please excuse me while I whizz off and grab me some of these SUPER comfy (and rather sexy) pants to brighten up my boring black collection.

Ignoring the "shoulds"

17 September 2013

There are a number of things I should be doing right now. I should be hanging out the washing, I should have made a start on the mountain of ironing, I should have figured out what I am taking to Morocco already, I should have spent the last hour or two finally writing my Amsterdam post (I promise it's coming). I should have done all of these things and much more if i'm being honest but instead i've had a bubble bath, started making some more delicious banana bread and am now snuggled up on the couch sipping fresh mint tea, watching random Netflix programs and waiting for Ben to bring me home a tin for the banana bread!! 
Letting go of the to-do list hasn't been too bad after all...

These four things happened this weekend...

16 September 2013

Tasha got SUPER excited about Christmas. In September. Which I didn't care for AT ALL.
Mum  on the other hand thought her outfit that she's "totally going to wear Christmas eve, Christmas day AND Boxing day" was the funniest thing she had ever seen.
I bought myself some shoes that are like nothing else I own. Ben called them "totally gangster" and my mum said they were "very different" but I totally LOVE them. That's all that matters right??
This little munchkin turned one and we got to celebrate with him at his birthday party back in Essex.
We had so much fun! There were babies EVERYWHERE. Ben, Simon and I were so worried about stepping on one of them as those little toddlers can move!! I also got to catch up with some gorgeous ladies that I haven't seen in years which was so lovely!
And lastly, I got to watch this gorgeous man with Hugo. So SO handsome.
As we were leaving Ben may have said to me "now Nicola, do we need to have a chat reminding you why we have decided not to have babies yet?". I may have said yes as I may have needed reminding.

Brown Butter Banana Bread recipe

12 September 2013

The other day I had a craving for banana bread that would just NOT leave me alone. I dreamt about it, I saw bananas everywhere, I saw bread everywhere, I saw recipes popping up on the internet for it, I overheard people talking about it (well maybe not that one but you get the idea). It was all a bit much and so I made a rather late night trip to grab some supplies and set about actually making it.
This recipe was taken directly from Joy The Baker (I take zero percent of the credit here... this baby is all Joy's creation!!) and you can find it here. If you haven't been over to her gorgeous website then you realllllyyyy should - her recipes send me straight off to food heaven and they never disappoint.
The best things about this banana bread?
Browned butter. Rum. Coconut flakes. It's gooeyness.

Anything with Rum in is pretty much a winner in my book.
You will need:
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rum, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut, plus 1/4 cup untoasted coconut for topping

The big "How To":
Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 180°. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, rum, and yogurt or buttermilk. Whisk in the mashed bananas. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.
Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold in the toasted coconut. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with untoasted coconut. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Enjoy a slice with a nice cup of tea. Or in bed as we did. We don't judge around these parts! Then go grab another slice.
Side note: I was planning to subsitute the flour for a gluten free alternative however as it was quite a late night run to the shops there weren't many options so I settled with plain flour and on Friday night when I bake some more I can try gluten free flour then! I will let you know how it goes :)

Looking forward..

10 September 2013

To Centre Parcs in December!!!
Here are some of the pictures that I took last year when we were there and I never got round to putting them up here (silly me!) Discovering them today is making me so excited already!!
This year though we will have Alex with us (yay for booking in advance!!), there will be no puzzles taken, we will be recreating the awesomeness of the squash tournament again, we will play more alcohol infused games of spoons and will definetely be taking lots more pictures of fat squirrels.
Bring it on!

Those two days of rest..

9 September 2013

My weekend was lovely. Very relaxing.
It consisted of pilates and some yoga, seeing the girls for tea and cake, taking lots of bubble baths, feeling dizzy (thank you low blood pressure), eating lots of chocolate and salted popcorn (to help with the low blood pressure of course!) and tonnes of cuddles with Goblin and Ben.  
Sunday we had actually planned to spend the whole day in bed however those nasty hormones kicked in big time and I was inconsolable Nicola for a good while. I missed my family and Ben's family like mad so we decided it was best that we got out the flat for a while. We went and sat ourselves on the comfiest sofa's we could find (thanks Hagen & Hyde) and Ben ordered me a rather large glass of wine. It certainly did the trick.
When we got back home we set ourselves up for the rest of the afternoon & evening.
Doesn't that look like the comfiest place in the world?
The films that we watched were certainly geared towards a certain boy's taste, but he had a really hard week at work so I let it Saturday though will be a different story!! Nicola chooses day!! Yay!!

Hagen & Hyde - Balham

7 September 2013

Last weekend my Dad and Wendy came up to London to see us after being away for six weeks on holiday! It felt like they had been gone forever so we were long due a catch up and decided to pick somewhere lovely for dinner and drinks in Balham. But where.......?

Hagen & Hyde of course :)
Me and Ben have been there quite a lot for date nights and drinks with friends since it was opened. So we knew that it was perfect for drinks, but it wasn't until the last time we were there that we noticed how amazing the food looked as it was taken out from the kitchen (is it wrong that we ninja snooped on peoples food?). I didn't take that much convincing! After a day of pampering (for me and Wendy) and chilling out on Wandsworth Common, we had worked up quite an appetite. So when we got there at about 8pm we were starving!
First things first... wine! I decided to plump for some fresh and crisp tasting Pinot Grigio Blush (remember now, last weekend was lovely and warm!) whilst everyone else decided on an Italian Red for old times sake. 

The starters were delicious! Both Dad, Ben and I all picked the Manx Kippers on Sourdough toast upon our lovely waiter's recommendation. 
As you can see, it looked incredible and let me tell you now that it tasted as amazing as it looked! Hagen & Hyde specialise in fresh fish, seasonal game and colonial British fare which meant that their menu read like something out of my food dreams. (You all totally have food dreams too...right???) If I could have, I would have ordered all of the starters, but alas I am only one little woman :(!! Anyway, back to the point...the kippers looked and tasted incredible. I had never actually eaten kippers before but after having had them here, I might even try to convince Ben to let us buy and cook some! :S (I will let you know how that goes!)
Wendy chose the English beets, deep fried poached egg and broad bean dressing to start. In her words "oh my gawwwwwwwwd this is good" you can take her word for that!
For mains Wendy, Ben and I chose their Welsh Black Hanger Steak with skin on fries (oh my) and Bearnaise sauce. Steak is one of my favourites when we go out for dinner as we rarely eat it at home (I can just never get it 'right' at home) and this one definitely didn't disappoint, yummy yummy yummy. And those chips - seriously though, they should be made illegal!
Dad chose the Hagen and Hyde Fish pie which looked and smelt amazing. Unfortunately I can't tell you how good it was because I was tucking into my steak with lightening speed, but Dad finished it all and had a crazy grin on his face so I can assure you it was good :)
The best part of any meal? Dessert. Every time. Chocolate and salted peanut brownie, with popcorn ice cream and bits of popcorn strewn about the plate. It was indescribably excellent. Gooey, moreish and oh so chocolatey.

After dinner we treated ourselves to a few mojitos, Wendy nattered to the chef for a while (liverpudlians eh!?), we did some more catching up and then some picture taking. 
Sums us right up doesn't it?
Me and Dad looking incredibly ghostly.

Hagen & Hyde it's perfect for a family nights out, first dates, catching up with friends, date nights...actually it's perfect for anything really. 
Even today me and the girls went to enjoy a cheeky cocktail in their lovely beer garden! I took a few snaps as I was walking through for you're welcome.
So if you are around this weekend go check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed!! 

p.s their mojitos are only £5 each. What a steal!! 

Website here
Twitter here

Oh hello Friday, Autumn and wet t-shirts.

6 September 2013

So everyone, how do you all feel about this weird rainy weather today?? Soaked is how I feel about it. But more on that later...
Last night I met up with one of my oldest friends from school Nicola (name twins) for a catch up and to enjoy a nice picnic in the park on the promised 'very last day of summer'.
I've heard it all bloody week....'enjoy it while it lasts, it will be the last hot day of the year you know', 'TWENTY EIGHT DEGREES ON THURSDAY YOU KNOW', 'crazy business this hot weather in September, you should go outside and enjoy it'. Yes thank you all, it was indeed nice and sunny this week, London had indeed held up for once, horrah indeed!!!
That was until last wasn't even that sunny. Like at all. It wasn't even that hot (certainly not TWENTY EIGHT DEGREES HOT) and there were tonnes of clouds in the sky. It felt like Autumn. But with dry grass to sit on. All those people? Wrong. HA.
But I was dead happy about it all. The sky looked gorgeous, I got to catch up with Nicola and discuss terribly grown up things, we got to eat tonnes of sushi... it was a perfect evening.
When I got home the evening just got better and better. I had a really long bath, practised yoga (side note: had a super fun session exploring and experimenting - let go of all the 'shoulds' and it was so liberating. I surprised myself!), I read some of the awesome books that I have bought recently (all 6 of them) and then when Ben got home we both fell straight asleep. Zonked.
This morning wasn't so smooth though.
I decided to wear a white t-shirt. Why not right?? 
As Friday mornings are most definitely not there for ironing t-shirts I went to work like this:
Couldn't have cared less if I'm being honest.
But then this happened:
When I got to work I not only had an incredibly creased t-shirt on but it was mostly see-through too. You could see my black lace bra rather clearly.
Classy start to the day huh?? Let's hope tonight goes a bit better..

Showing them you care..

4 September 2013

I've always been a massive fan of parcels and letters. Sending or receiving them it doesn't matter because there is something infinitely magical in knowing there is a letter on it's way with your name on it or a package zooming half way around the world to someone you love just because you want them to know you care.
What we need is more snail mail in this world, more ways to be personal and thoughtful in this very online and impersonal world at times.
Parcels, letters, thank you notes, flowers, a piece of art, a teddy bear, a box of delicious chocolates...anything really. Just something that takes a little more effort than an email or a text.
When my sister was living in America she would send me the most wonderful and rather hilarious parcels for my birthday every year as a way to let me know that she cares and she was missing me.
I missed her like absolute mad.
So when she would make a ridiculous card, write a long letter and send me picture collages of the two of us getting up to no good as kids and little American sweets and goodies it made me love her even more. I've kept every single thing that she sent me. Except the candy of course. That was just too delicious to keep.
So I've made a decision. I'm going to start sending 'I love you, I think about you' packages to the people that I love. Family, best friends, Goblin, know...the people who have and will always be there for me! Actually, Lolly not so much, she's just a total rascal, but this might be a good gift for my sister to convey her cheeky ways!
Anyway, back to my point...I'm not 100% sure why I have decided this now but it just feels right after the incredible support that I have experienced these past 9 months. Some thank yous are in order.
So, to get things started I've begun writing the letters to go in my packages and collecting little trinkets that remind me of that person. Then I will start scouring charity bookstores for books I know they will like and searching through Facebook for pictures of our adventures together. Next up will be getting the pictures printed off so I can write about our adventures on the back and deciding which style of wrapping paper and ribbon or string to use to make them look all beautiful. This bit is my total favourite!! 
The last step? Shipping them off around the country and the world using trusty Parcelforce to make sure they arrive safely.
It's all making me very excited!! Do you send a lot of packages to the people you love??
image one here
image two here

A few of my favourite calming apps..

3 September 2013

I discovered this app last night and was blown away by it instantly...I really wish I had known about it sooner!
I've been meditating a few times a week for the last few months and I can't explain enough how it has become such an essential tool for me to have at my disposal in every day life to help with stress, anxiety, illness and overwhelm. This app is the perfect introduction to meditation if you have never tried it before or you have tried it and not been very successful at it!!
It's as easy as downloading the app, signing up, sitting down, and pressing play. Then just sit back and relax as Andy Puddicombe guides you through a simple process making it easy to learn how to meditate.
I started the free Take10 Programme (ten minutes for ten days) last night and found it really informative, demystifying and easy to follow. Go see for yourself!!
Relaxing music and beautiful art all rolled into one for a relaxing night time experience. The music is uber relaxing and soothing, the colours and interactive art screen are beautiful and mesmerising and it turned itself off last night (either that or Ben turned it off!!) and I was sound asleep in no time. Blissful.
This app is my other go to for great guided meditations and simple relaxation breaks (and I have known about this one for much longer!). What's great about Calm is they also have a brilliant website too which is particularly fab if you are experiencing a little brain freeze writing blog posts! With this app you get really lovely background music and beautiful nature scenes to accompany your time outs, which is always a bonus. 
Oh and on a little side note but still talking about fantastic things...I got one of these SITFIT Plus by SISSEL cushions for my work chair yesterday and it sure does what it claims! My posture is about a gazillion times better when I am using it (go core muscles!) so if you have a job where you find yourself sitting at a desk for most of the day then I definitely recommend getting one to help re-strengthen your back! With all this active sitting, yoga, backpack wearing and pilates I hope to be better in no time at all!

Sunday catch ups.

1 September 2013

Photo editing. 
Blog post prep.
Consumption of tea and cake. 
These two books: one and two

Weekend success I say.