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Radio Silence.

Abu Dhabi Sunset

Hello from the other side…

So, I guess not that much has been going on since we last spoke but the main thing has been falling out of love with all of this blog stuff, and then reconsidering and missing it as a creative outlet – so I’m back, with a new fox-attitude , sort of.

 

It might not look so different really but I’ve made the leap to WordPress, after working on some things for work, I felt that Blogger had become a little limiting so I figured I give it a bash, it’s not been as straightforward as I’d hoped and I actually wanted to speak to you last week, but I wasn’t happy with what I’d put out yet, now I am, so that’s nice.

 

I’ve come up with a bit more of a plan for this new chapter, I’ve made a proper editorial calendar – with quite a bit of, very useful, help from Sophie at The Private Life of a Girl and have just generally managed to find some get-up-and-go when it comes to getting organised. I managed to import most of my old blog, so this does go back pretty far, just not as way, way back as it really does but I think I’m okay with that.

 

In terms of IRL, there’s really not a lot to say, I’ve just been plodding along. I did go to Abu Dhabi last month for work, that was pretty intense but good. I’m pretty sure that’s it really, I’ve still been taking photos, they’ve just been doing that classic digital age thing of sitting on my computer doing nothing. So, hopefully you’ll definitely be seeing a bit more of me – and I’m not just saying that.

 

Any advice you fancy giving I’d be happy to hear it or if there’s anything you think I could do with switching up – the criticism is welcome.

January Cat Lady

20160110-49

I’m sort of from a family of cat ladies, so for Christmas, my sister and I treated my Gran to a spot of afternoon tea at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. Since we lost Suzie at the grand old age of 20 a few months ago, I know my Gran has been a little sad – having come to the conclusion that she probably won’t get another cat of her own, we thought this might be the next best thing.

Quite a bit has changed about the cafรฉ since I visited it shortly after it opened back in 2014 but it’s still a nice experience. I’ve heard mixed reviews over the years, with a few complaining that the cats seem bored, that the food was average but I can’t say that either time I’ve visited that that has been the case.


I feel like I’ve been quite lucky to go when it’s not been busy and the cats have been pretty active. There’s something so relaxing about petting a cat. Even though most of the cats aren’t lap cats, it’s not like that’s something I’m not used to so it was just nice to be there. The staff were a little more strict about touching the cats while they’re sleeping and things like that but other than that it was a really lovely afternoon.





Wookie is still my favourite, with his human face and the fact he’s about 15 times the size of a regular cat ๐Ÿ™‚










How cute are these little sandwiches? ^_^










We spent a little over two hours there, unfortunately my sister had work in the evening so it meant we couldn’t keep on mooching once we’d finished. My hipster Gran was quite taken with the Sunday markets of Brick Lane.




It’s so lovely to sit inside and see how happy people walking by are when the see the cats in the window โ™ฅ
I can’t really recommend Lady Dinah’s enough, we actually weren’t the only people to take our Granny there that afternoon either. It’s such a cute way to spend a January Sunday โ™ฅ

Photo An Hour ยป January 2016 ยป 31/01


As I’m feeling a bit more like getting in on the blogging thing, I thought I’d kick it up a gear and do a Photo An Hour.

A few years ago, I did one a month for the whole year and I’ve been doing them on and off for the whole time I’ve had this blog, even taking part in the 1 Day 12 Pictures occasionally too.

I do enjoy how they’re a little bit of a snapshot into what I was up to at the time. So, without further rambling, here is a Photo An Hour for the last day in January 2016.


9am: // Moon and I are in a pretty solid routine of waking up only a little later than we normally would on a weekday at weekends. Our bed is ridiculously comfortable but it is pretty good, even on a Sunday to feel like you’ve got up and done some stuff that day. This Sunday was a little bit of a struggle, thanks to the grey weather though.


10am: // Catching Doll in the act โ€“ she’s actually settled in to the house really well and seems so much happier than she ever was at the flat. Over the winter she’s become a bit of an accidental house cat, just because of how the house is, we can’t let her come and go as she pleases as much but I think she’s cool with it, and actually, she doesn’t seem to fancy going out all that much either.


11am: // Taking in a new magazine โ€“ I have so much magazine reading to catch up on, Ernest Journal was a nice little find at the Old Fire Station in Oxford. I’ll have to head back there to see more of their arts mag collection soon.

Sometimes sitting and watching Sunday Brunch of a morning can do a world of good. And what kind of contemporary couple would we be if we weren’t doing that while on our phones? ♥


12pm: // On the road to hit up Banbury for a Sunday mooch.



1pm: // Discovering the lovely Little Amsterdam, Banbury Cafรฉ of the Year 2015. A lovely restaurant specialising in dutch pancakes, absolute dream for a real-life Sunday brunch.


2pm: // Moon modelling his sweet new cap.


3pm: // Spotting some filming on Banbury town centre, which fooled us into thinking there was a crime scene… I’ll tell you, post-Making a Murderer, that fact was a lot more disappointing than it should have been.


4pm // Home again with a few goodies from Tiger.


5pm: // Continuing the Dutch dining theme of the day with a tasty stroopwaffel ♥


6pm: // Playing a new video game, Moon downloaded The Long Dark, which might actually be one of my favourite games ever. I’m not a big gamer or anything but I do tend to dabble, and The Long Dark is not only quite pretty to look at but much more my pace in that I’m not having to shoot anyone and I can completely take my own time – except not actually because I’ll freeze to death.


7pm: // Whipping up dinner for the evening, a tasty red Thai curry soup.


8pm: // Sunday night shower with the best shower gel of all time.


9pm: // Sunday night movie, 99 Homes in case you were wondering – you can see my review here.
I’m hoping to stay just as chill this weekend, perfect for this time of year I think, have you got any nice plans?

Home ยป 1 Year On…


It’s a year this week since Moon and found, put and offer in and were accepted on a mortgage for our new home and I can’t quite believe how quickly that time has gone.

While working on a few things from Google Drive last week, I found the photos I took from when I was showing my Mum the house that I would then go on to show anyone who asked in the lead up to us actually living there and it’s crazy to think that we even went for it. It’s not that we’ve changed all that much about the house, I mean, structurally it’s exactly the same but we’ve had to do so much painting and we’re still not even finished!

I guess we just really loved the potential, but I’ll tell you what, decorating a house is so far removed from the cutesy painting montages from the movies, like, it’s the least fun thing I’ve ever done. I am really happy with the result so far though and even though we won’t have been here a full year until April rolls around, it’s still pretty fun to see the changes our house has gone through in the last 12 months.


[Hallway ยป January 2015]
NOW: The hallway, the kitchen and the bathrooms are up next on our hit list but the hallway hasn’t changed all that much since we moved in, apart from it now being where the cat eats with a nicer shoe cabinet. โ™ฅ



[Kitchen ยป January 2015]
NOW: The kitchen was actually just about the one room in the house that didn’t need any work. I’d like to paint it just to freshen it up and to make sure it’s on a similar time-frame to the other rooms in the house. There are so many bodge-jobs in this house and the only thing that bothers me about the kitchen is that there isn’t any sealant around the cabinets.

Even though it’s much smaller than I was used to and it can be a bit of an ordeal unpacking the shopping or cooking when we’re both in there, I still sort of love it. I’m hoping to eventually replace that blind as it doesn’t really match – the sellers wanted to charge us ยฃ110 for it but left it anyway..




[Living Room ยป January 2015]
NOW: The living room is where we spend most of our time and it’s probably my favourite room. We’ve bagged quite a few bargains in terms of furniture, including the larger sofa which matches our original sofa but was a steal at just ยฃ100 from eBay! I can’t even begin to tell you how pleased I am to finally have a proper dining table that seats a decent amount of people and that doesn’t wobble when you’re cutting your dinner.


We hosted Christmas in the end – our first one in our new home, it had to be done – and with a couple of spare chairs we all squeezed round the table and it made the house feel really cosy. Even though I miss the open-plan of the flat slightly, the living room is still a great room for hosting and we have so much more space than we did before!

That said, I feel like the before pictures trick you slightly into thinking it’s bigger than it is, I can’t believe we saw it with that little stuff in it – knowing it was a 5 family household – and didn’t think anything of it. Also, why have they got a chest of drawers in their lounge?



[Front Room ยป January 2015]
NOW: This is our most recent update – I have a little post coming up on how poorly we treated it over the last 9 months we’ve lived here. You can see it was pretty much a junk room in its past life and that’s how it was for us for ages too, we had so much stuff that we left there waiting to be unpacked.

Fingers crossed the drum kit goes soon as it takes up so much room and is hardly used but it makes Moon happy so it’s staying for now. I’m really pleased with how the orange has come out, it’s so difficult to photograph though as it’s so bright in that room all day, maybe I’ll try and snap it when I have some time on a dull day. We only went for that one wall in the end, but we’ve also done the inside of the door of the downstairs loo, which is a pretty neat effect.



Pro tip: These are ‘hobby boards’ from Homebase rather than standard shelves, goodness knows what the difference is but we really struggled to find shelves that weren’t just MDF. I like floating shelves but I felt they were a little clunky for what we were going for.





[Garden ยป January 2015]
NOW: The garden is one area that I feel is worse since we’ve moved in. We’ve managed to grow a few things and we’re getting ready to grow more of our own this year as it’s something we missed out on while moving last year, we even have a few daffodils poking up, but the bad weather has not been kind to our creaky old fence and most of it is falling down. It’s not something we can do much about until late spring but definitely something that will help me love our garden once it’s done.


[Our Bedroom ยป January 2015]
NOW: I know I said the living room is my favourite but our bedroom is probably the one I’m most proud of. Sometimes when I climb into bed, it still feels as luxurious as staying in a hotel. I know it’s not all that fancy but after three years of sleeping on a wonky mattress with see-through curtains, I’m still getting to grips with how much of a good night’s sleep I’m getting.

I love the blues we chose and I just feel instantly relaxed. I’m hoping to put a few more pictures up but I’m really happy with it for now.





[Front Bedroom ยป January 2015]
NOW: When I think of the purple, I wonder why we ever picked this house – for the record, purple is a horrible colour to paint over, even with a few coats of one-coat paint, but I just think this is coolest room now. It’s so bright and warm, and even though it’s a glorified laundry room most of the time, I sure hope that our guests enjoy staying in it when they come.







[Back Bedroom ยป January 2015]
NOW: This room doesn’t have all that much of a personality of its own yet. I really like how it still feels a lot brighter since we got rid of the dark burgundy though – the previous owners apparently had a thing with purple. It comes in useful for when we have a few more people over but unfortunately it’s mainly utilised as Moon’s ironing room most of the time.






[Bathroom ยป January 2015]
NOW: We really haven’t done all that much to the bathroom, other than getting rid of the sad old mirror and putting in a fancy cabinet. Eventually I’d like to put in a proper shower but I’m happy with it the way it is for the moment ๐Ÿ™‚




Maybe it’s just because it’s our stuff in it and it was a family of five with a dog that lived here before and we’re just two and a cat so we have a lot less clutter and more time to keep it tidy. Since Christmas, I finally feel like our home is exactly what it is, it’s somewhere family come to visit and where we host guests, and where we relax when we have a free weekend.



I loved that flat in Newbury, it was freezing year-round, had gross carpets and really expensive bills (our gas & electric bills have more than halved since we moved, thank goodness for double glazing) and it was a big adjustment period for me, but now it feels more like it fits and I’m feeling really positive and actually pretty proud of this place. Now I just need to get out and explore the area a little more so we have things to do when the house is taking up less of our time.

It would be easy to blame January entirely for my lack of posting but I think that’s a bit of a hard sell given that my last post was way back in November. I guess I’ve just been feeling a bit busy and a bit uninspired, which aren’t a great combination if you’re trying to keep something like this going. That said, the start of a new month has brought about the feeling wanting to start a fresh and I’m feeling a lot more creative than I was so.. here we go…

Christmas at Blenheim.

*First Christmas Market of the Year klaxon*


What a lovely little Saturday. It’s beginning to feel that with the year winding down – where has November gone? – Moon and I are finally getting our lives back on track post-house move. We’re settling in nicely after a quick 7 months and it feels pretty good.


This weekend was the first in a while where we’ve slept in but not overslept, started the day with a relaxed breakfast before heading out and doing something fun.

As Blenheim Palace is now just 20 minutes down the road from us and we love a good fair, the Living Craft fair seemed like the perfect opportunity to pick up an annual pass.



After that first visit, I can honestly say I’m in love and I’m so pleased we’ll be able to come and go as we please for the next year. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and we’re so lucky that the weather turned from wintery showers to bright sunshine, even if it did take 6 or so hours for the feeling to return to my legs once we got home – I can’t wait for more chilly walks and seeing in all the seasons, it’s looking like a summer picnic will be a must.

The fair itself was pretty good and actually full of quite a few retailers I hadn’t seen before. Going to a few of these things, particularly in the same area, you often see the same products over and over but Living Craft wasn’t like that. We managed to pick up a few Christmas bits but didn’t get nearly as much shopping done as we would have hoped – still, December is still a week away, there’s no need to worry.





The pictures don’t do them justice but these adorable houses hide incense pastilles that make them smoke when they’re lit. ADORABLE. ♥


Ditto these tiny AGAs.





Moon trying his hand at giant knitting. It didn’t go that well…


Unfortunately, and I’m not sure if it was because of the extra crowds drawn in by the fair, but we didn’t manage to take in much of the house, the queues were ridiculous! I’m hoping we might be able to pop back before the season is over and have a look because I think the house is fully decked out but I’m sure we’ll get around to it eventually even if it’s not this year. It’s the one thing I wish we’d done with the afternoon but the leisurely hour-long stroll along the lake (THERE’S A FRIGGING LAKE!) away from the crowds, more than made up for it.









I was so surprised by how low the sun was all day, even though all of these were taken pre-lunchtime! It did make for some beautiful lighting though.




Even though it’s well sign-posted and a really short walk from the main palace, it seems that so few people were willing to take advantage of the sunny afternoon by taking a walk down to the Cascades.



Lake Blenheim.




The arboretum was my favourite part of the lakeside walk, I can imagine it looked beautiful when the leaves were changing a few weeks ago.







I always find myself enjoying the changing of the seasons and while I must say that I’m pretty pleased to have not had to defrost my car yet, chilly walks and warming up afterwards are nothing but a good thing, and after such a wet and mild autumn, a cold and crisp weekend to blow the cobwebs out was just what I needed.

Living Room: Before + After


When the lovely people at Ocean Finance got in touch with the challenge of making over a room for ยฃ50 or less, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Working on making our house a home has very much been a marathon rather than a sprint and a few weeks ago we finally got around to painting our living room. Our friends Richard and Fran were on hand to help and it was pretty amazing how quickly we managed to get things done, they were even sneakily up early to finish up the trim, we definitely owe them more than one.

[Before]
So, obviously it didn’t look like this all the time but it should give you an idea of what a blank canvas this room was.



We are planning on putting a fireplace at some point but for now a makeshift radiator cover – what was left to us by the previous owners – will have to do.



Repainting things white never fails to make me feel a bit uneasy. Funny how your eyes can trick you.


So, the deal was that once we got this room painted we would be able to get curtains, put pictures up, finally pick up a dining table and basically just make the room feels like it was more ‘us’.

Ocean sent over a voucher for Dunhelm to see what I could find to makeover my chosen room. Dunhelm has been one of my savior shops since we moved, all our curtains have been from there and I just think it’s really good for everyday bits and pieces at a great price, it’s definitely up there with Wilko as somewhere I’d recommend for general house things.


Pro tip: radiator paint is awful.


In need of so many more house plants!


After we’d tried to put things back to normal post-putting the curtains up.
Now I’ve had practice with a lot of other rooms in the house, I feel making a room over can be as simple as a lick of paint and a few personal touches, so I wasn’t going to go too far out of my comfort range with my ยฃ50.




Every meal I’ve eaten has been here since we put this up on Saturday afternoon. ♥


This little ladder shelf was a TKMaxx find, just what I was looking for and much nicer than the MDF versions I’d been watching on eBay. Now we just need to work out what to put on it…




Most of the voucher went towards the map blind, I chose them because they’re a little different but neutral at the same time. I didn’t want another set of curtains as we got long curtains for the patio doors and because they’re pretty close together I figured it would look weird to have different lengths next to each other. The rest went on curtain rings and picture frames (which we’re yet to put up).





This 65daysofstatic poster has had a little re-frame and is looking much healthier now it’s out of a bendy clip frame.



We used to have this poster in our bedroom in our flat but it’s been promoted to living room since the space above our bed is a little too small for it. I’m pretty happy to have it more out on display now anyway though.


This mirror was one of our first Dunhelm finds, I love the wood.


My mum treated me to this Atlas Moth a few weeks ago when I was in Covent Garden with her. I’m actually a little obsessed with insect taxidermy recently.






I picked up this table on Saturday to match the other one we got when we first moved in. I’m so pleased that IKEA still had them as they’re one of my favourite IKEA purchases – they’re actually meant to be plant stands but they’re the perfect shape for what we need as they don’t take up much room.





I guess I’d have to admit that because of all the other things we picked up at IKEA at the weekend, as well as our new dining set (with IKEA bench), making over the room for ยฃ50 was a bit of a failure but I think you’ll agree that I’ve certainly managed to put our stamp on it, even if it’s from a few different places.

After 7 months of a combination of hard work – and being a bit lazy – we’re actually pretty much there with this whole ‘nestmaking’ (not in a baby way) things and I feel much better about the prospect of hosting our first Christmas, our next milestone.

Would you be able to makeover a room for ยฃ50? Which room would you choose?

Oh Hey, Stanley.

So, one of my biggest regrets from our holiday to Hong Kong was not being able to get out to the seaside. It wasn’t really our fault, it was mainly due to the last few days of the trip being awful.


Sadly, Hong Kong’s blue flag beaches remain elusive to me, that said, we did make it out to Stanley.




Never in my life have a seen a dog in shoes, other than in this great video, obviously, I thought they were a joke…


There are Goods of Desires all over Hong Kong but of course I had to stop in each one we encountered. They have so much nice stuff and do so many great collabs, it was hard not to come away with something every time.









I would argue that Stanley is one of the most westernised parts of Hong Kong, at least of everywhere I’ve ever visited. A lot of ex-pats live there and there are quite a few Brits-abroad-style pubs. We did get it on a cloudy day so I probably would have had more fun if the sun was shining but there are some great shops there and we had some amazing food at Xia Fei Shanghainese, even if it was served with a slight snarl, rather than a smile.

The market in Stanley is must-go but due to its windy, enclosed paths, it can all become a bit samey and it’s not too dissimilar to the kinds of things you can pick up in Mong Kok.

BIG BUDDHA.


So, the Big Buddha was one of the things that Moon wanted to do most during our trip to Hong Kong. As it was something I’d done done before but really enjoyed, I was happy to oblige him.

We physically couldn’t get up early enough to make it to the cable cars for opening – which is kind of a lie but we were actually, despite doing a lot of stuff, really lazy during this whole trip and that was fine. I was a little bit gutted that due to our laziness we weren’t able to go on a tour, as they’d all sold out by lunchtime but ultimately this worked out for the best as doing it ourselves was not only cheaper but meant we could take it at our own pace. Plus, I’d highly recommend anyone take a public lightbus while in Hong Kong, if only for the hair-raising experience.


Floating over all that water doesn’t get any easier…



I was ridiculously excited to see a few of the feral cattle that I’ve read about. I’d love to explore Lantau Island a bit more one day and hopefully see a few one.




We embraced the fact that selfie-sticks a little less ridiculous in that part of the world.









We had a much better view than when I went last time, and we could see for miles – which kind of makes up for what we couldn’t see when we visited The Peak a few days later.




These reminded me of something straight out of Spirited Away.


I was actually a little disappointed with the Big Buddha this time round. The cable cars didn’t exactly get us off to a good start as we had to share, not that I expected to get as lucky to get a private one like last time, but sharing with two people who refuse to stop talking even when their conversation is nothing but inanity is definitely not the one.

It seems to me that the whole attraction has become far more touristy than it was before. Maybe because I was seeing it through younger, fresh eyes before but it all just felt like it was designed to trap you a bit. I was particularly pleased with myself for getting a refund (asking in Chinese!) for our tickets up to the Buddha, which is actually free, though it’s easy to get tricked into thinking it’s not.











We took the bus to and from Tai O and I was a little sad to see that it seemed a bit more run-down than it was before. I think it’s a place that firmly relies on tourism anyway while also trying to remain as traditional as possible. It was still interesting to wander round but I don’t feel as though Tai O’s potential is being as tapped as it could be.



Look at this little chap, this turned out much better than expected.





Forever making friends with stray cats, and there are quite a lot in Tai O.














Tai O is still a place I would go back to again and again though, this was the one downside to getting there a bit later, many things seemed to be closing up – unusual for Hong Kong as it often feels like it’s on the go 24/7.

Huevos Rancheros.


This is a new one, and a simple one, but a good one.

Eggs are my favourite, but sometimes a regular fry-up just won’t do. This is a little something that myself, and a very sceptical Moon whipped up one Saturday a couple of weeks ago. I guess he was sceptical because he doesn’t necessarily agree with tinned tomatoes for breakfast, or chilli for breakfast but I think he was curious in equal measure because Mexican food is king in our little house (after Chinese food, naturally).



This is so incredibly simple that it almost feels ridiculous to be sharing it with you but I hope it will inspire you to try a different kind of cooked breakfast this weekend, though this would also make a great brinner, particularly if you included a few black or kidney beans, yum!

Ingredients: (feeds 2)

  • 1 x tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x tortillas
  • 2 x fresh tomatoes (cut into thin slices)
  • 2 x cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • ยฝ bell pepper
  • ยฝ red onion
  • 2 fresh chillies
  • 4 x large eggs
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Cooking oil of your choice, I use coconut
  • 1 x avocado (optional)



Method:

  1. Heat your pan and add your oil before adding the garlic, red onion, fresh chillies and bell pepper and cooking until softened
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes to your softened vegetables and bring to a simmer before reducing the heat
  3. Stir in the chilli powder and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Place the fresh tomatoes over the top and crack the eggs in, you’ll want them to have a bit of space so don’t do them too close together
  5. Put a lid over your simmering frying pan and allow your eggs to cook through (5 – 8 minutes)
  6. While your eggs are cooking, toast the tortillas – this can be done either by folding them in the toaster (like we did) or sprinkling them with a bit of water and popping them in the oven for 5 minutes
  7. Cut your avocado into cubes ready to go on top
  8. Once your eggs are ready spoon the mixture into a bowl containing your toasted tortilla, add fresh parsley and avocado and enjoy



Did you know?: Chillies are metabolism-boosting, so having them with breakfast is actually a pretty healthy way to start the day!

What are some of your favourite ‘cooked breakfasts’?

And breathe…

When your colleague suggests taking in some lunchtime culture it’s a difficult opportunity to pass up. When you find out that that culture involves an exhibition where ‘a lady breathes on some paper and shows the results’, it’s difficult to get excited about it. With that being said, you can sort of find yourself regretting that initial feeling.


‘And Breathe…’ at the Old Fire Station showcases part of Jayne Wilton’s ‘Drawing Breath’ body of work, in which she creates physical, ephemeral sculptures from human breath. It’s much less gross than it sounds and it was actually kind of beautiful.


[Sing 1 & 2]


[Expire]



[Breathe]


[Drawing Breath]
It’s been ages since I’ve visited an art exhibition much less found any new art that I actually enjoy. Sometimes finding things visually pleasing can boil down to something as simple as whether you would hang it on your own wall, and I definitely would. ‘Sing 1 & 2’ were my favourites in particularly though I really liked the simplicity of the whole exhibition.

‘And Breathe…’ is a small exhibition of just 7 pieces but I’d definitely recommend visiting if you’re around Oxford before 14th November.


[Crowd]


[Blow]


Arts at the Old Fire Station has a range of shows and exhibitions throughout the year, as well as featuring an adorable shop featuring work from independent UK artists and designers and hosting workshops and classes, it’s a really neat public space.

‘And Breathe…’ runs until 14th November 2015 at the Old Fire Station gallery, Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm, and it’s free!

Have you seen any inspiring art exhibitions lately?