Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Happy 21st, Little Sister.

Today my sister turns 21. Currently she's half way round the world, and over half way through her birthday, in Hong Kong. She's actually had the flu for the last few days so she's in her sick-bed but I think she's having a really great HK adventure and I'm proud of her for making it over there and having the confidence to do so many neat things on her own.

Happy Birthday, Lucy J!

Here's to yet another medium I can communicate to you through (we're on Facetime, Facebook, Skype, Instagram, WhatApp - it's ridiculous how many ways you can stay in touch with people nowadays)!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Smiling on Sunday :: Six


It's been a little while since I've done one of these posts but I've just been so short of time recently. Now things are looking a little more settled in my new job and we've found a better way to walk and drive in in the mornings, it feels like everything is slotting a little more neatly in to place - even if only temporarily.

I must admit, a half-hour drive followed by a mile-and-a-half walk isn't my dream commute but it does the job at freshening me up in the mornings and it's a pretty easy thing to add to my 'fitness regime' (lol).

So, after the mega-high brought by last weekend and aside from a bit of secondhand family-related stress, everything is alright.


  • Celebrating our friend's engagement - It was so sneaky for Stacy and Pip to keep something like that a secret from us but I guess, knowing that we were going to see them and being able to tell us in person made it all the more special. I know... I'll stop blabbering on about it now but being the first of anything is quite a big deal, especially in such a close group of friends and I'm just so excited about it!
  • Finding a new, shorter, less boring walk to work - Sometimes it's the little things but the new walk I've been taking to and from the car this week has been so much better. The old route was one road through a council estate, this one, yeah, it's not amazing but there's a cute woodland surrounded by fields filled with horses and cows. Not a bad way to start the day at all
  • Trying to be a better friend - While everything in my life right now isn't completely perfect, catching up with a couple of my oldest girlfriends and hearing that they haven't been having the best time made me feel like it was time to just be a bit more available than I have been. It's lame to say but it's hard to keep track of so many people when they're all over the place doing different things with different time tables. It's easy to get caught up in something else or just your 'own stuff' and even if just occasionally, it's pretty good to be there for someone

Must-Try Recipes:

  • Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies - After discovering the delights of Ben's Cookies and finding out that actually, with the right recipe, I can make some pretty killer cookies myself, I'm into trying out a few more recipes, especially ones with contrasting flavours. Also, I recently discovered that toasted almonds might be one of the best things ever, put them in a chicken salad a few weeks ago. Try it, it will change your life
  • Bacon & Egg Shengjian Bao Pan-Fried Steamed Buns - There's a stall at the Giant Market in Oxford on Wednesdays and Thursdays that does baos for £1.80. Baos are one of my favourites at dim sum but even my mum buys them frozen rather than making them. Still, it would be neat to give them a go and they don't seem too difficult
  • Peach Dumplings - 2 out of 3 sweet recipes? I swear I'm not a sweet tooth, but these peach dumplings just sound like something really special. They get bonus points for being pretty quick and simple too, this will be high up on my list of things to try out in the next few weeks

Lovely Links:

  • John Malkovich Recreating Iconic Photographs - I was a little annoyed when I saw this reported in the Metro that they only focused on his celebrity portrait recreations. As a Photography graduate it was much more fun to see his portraits of 'classic art school photos', the Diane Arbus one really tickled my funny bone
  • Messy 3D Typography by Allison Supron - Letters made out of cheese, you say? There's something I can devote some attention to
  • Lauren's Thoughts on Packing in the 9-5 - Still feeling like I'm in a bit of a transitional period myself, Lauren's post about what it's like to run away to The Dolomites and leave a 'stable career' was pretty poignant. If it's one thing I wish it's that I could be little braver. It's the danger of comparison that can be so detrimental to so many aspects of your life too so I find her sense of adventure incredibly admirable

Hope you have a fantastic Sunday, I'll be heading back to Surrey to spend the afternoon with my mum, lunch is involved

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Dolly @ 3.

If my calculations are correct, Dolly turns 3 this month. It's a bit lame that I can only guess her birthday rather than know it but I figured she deserved another update all the same.

At 3, Dolly now enjoys making herself less white and sleeping on the sofa. She still loves playing with paper bags and string, trying to steal donuts and following me into the bathroom every morning.

She's now really affectionate and as needy as she can be for her, especially if you're first home from work - not something that's going to happen for a little while. Our biggest milestone in our relationship is that she now purrs and comes when she's called (sometimes). She's still breaking Moon's heart by ignoring him when I'm around but I'm now so much more tuned in to her selective hearing.

I wouldn't be without her and it's great to see that she's still maturing and what she's like as a grown up.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Island Retreat.

Last weekend's adventure location was the Isle of Wight and we had the best time!

I guess I will end up having to eat a few of my words about my views on engagement and marriage, where I stand in my relationship is still the same but the first of our friends announced their engagement this weekend and I'm so excited! Please excuse the following friend-bumming below.

You'll be hard pressed to find a better place to propose than in the middle of a National Park in Canada, and that's how our friends, Stacy and Pip, did it, so lovely! They'd kept it a bit of a secret since they'd returned but I had my suspicions that a trip-up on Pinterest only confirmed - what can I say? I'm an excellent sleuther. :)

Not only did our little weekend trip to the Isle of Wight bring fantastic news, Stacy and Pip were also excellent tour guides and we had such a great time being shown around places that we hadn't really been able to go before since we usually visit them around Christmas time instead.

It made all the difference arriving on Friday night, even if we did stay up super-late once we got there anyway - there was a lot of catching up to do.

Saturday morning was spent eating a tasty, mapley pancake breakfast before heading to Seaview Wildlife Encounter - which for just £7 was really worth it, for the ducks alone I'd say.
My favourite were the wallabies because it's hard not to choose them. I've been in enclosures at zoos where you walk through where they are but these guys willing come up to be petted and one even licked me!

I've never seen such a swarm of ducks!

Pretty good idea, especially for those zoo-goers who are a bit more snap-happy.

See? So tame.

Teddy-faced Sheep :)

My new favourite kind of duck, adorable short beak and the best quack!

I've never seen a pelican do this... so gross and creepy.

After petting all the animals (a good weekend would be complete without them), we convoyed to the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm. We stopped there for a delicious lunch after sampling so many garlicky products.


We finished up our afternoon with a stop off at a vineyard to sample some fruity wine before swinging by the donkey sanctuary, a slightly more legitimate affair than the offerings we have up this way. 'Affair' might be the wrong choice of word given that we saw some quite intense 'almost-action' while we were there, that was something else but this is a family-friendly place.

The evening was spent playing fun and fancy quiz games, celebrating and laughing a lot. Needless to say, our heads needed a bit of clearing on Sunday morning - which involved eating sausages, a walk along the beach and a KFC lunch before waving goodbye.

Stacy and Pip have resident foxes at the bottom of their garden, so cute!

Fancy Canadian dessert wine and champagne to kick off the celebrations.

Posey Puss – she definitely tried to make out with me the following morning, one of the neediest cats.

It's kind of hard to accept that it might be a while before I get to paddle in the sea again. I've been the luckiest with it this month and in September no less!

I feel like last weekend really made a few great memories and I went into the rest of this week just feeling happy and that's just fine with me!

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