Thursday, 28 March 2013

My Best Friend's Wedding

My lovely friend has just celebrated one month as a Mrs. She gave herself less than three months to plan her wedding day but she's always super organised so, if anyone could pull it off, it was going to be her! She had asked me to take photographs of her and her bridesmaids getting ready on her wedding morning. I was so nervous on the drive over to her mum and dad's, and totally knackered after an early get up to put myself together, but the morning was so much fun and I was so glad I got to be there as one of my best friends got ready for her wedding! Her lovely sister and her baby bump, another of my best school friends, and her three beautiful new step daughters were her bridesmaids, and two other close friends were with us to do some of the hair and makeup. Together, we ate chip butties, sipped some fizz and got VERY excitable. It was such a lovely atmosphere and I wanted to share some of the photographs I snapped over on her perfect day.

From the morning of fun to getting lost on country roads on the way to the church, then a gorgeous service led by the lovely father of the bride, a cake and pink lemonade reception, a delicious carvery wedding breakfast shared with friends, and some stupid dance moves to the Proclaimers; the day was perfect. Who needs months and months of planning? Congratulations on one month of marital bliss and all that jazz, Mr and Mrs. S!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Birthday Fun: Bringing In My 28th Year

March 18th was by 28th birthday. Birthdays can be lots of fun, but I'm perhaps an unusual case and don't typically get very excited in the run up to my birthdays. I think this is something that changed when my dad died before my 17th birthday. It's a little bit the same with Christmas and other celebrations, too. That being said, I had organised a few things to bring in my 28th year. Here's how I celebrated.

Saturday I had a spa day at a Bannatyne Spa in Manchester with my girls. We started the morning with a relaxing back neck and shoulder massage followed by a scalp massage. Afterwards, we moved around between the pool, sauna and spa pool catching up on each other's news. The spa experience was nice, although there was no steam room or poolside loungers and the wet area was small and became crowded very quickly. We followed up our spa with a Nandos and vino. Two mains were around 10 minutes later than the rest arriving to us and we received a complimentary chocolate cheesecake each, served with it's own little jug of cream, as an apology. You're forgiven, Nando's!
On Sunday, my wonderful husband took me to a local Thai restaurant, Chaba Chaba. This wasn't the original plan. Before our rascal cat broke his tail, we were due to go to a spa hotel in Wales. Plans had to be reviewed now that we're manually emptying his bladder several times a day while we give him time to see if he can recover it for himself. Anyway, we live ten minutes away, at most, from a road full of restaurants from Greek and Chinese, to Mexican. We've not really made good use of any of these restaurants and so it was good to use my birthday as an excuse to try and find a new favourite. The menu was great and food was fresh and flavoursome. After a starter, main and dessert, I was very satisfied! I was spoilt for choice so I'm sure we'll go back and work our way through their menu.
After waking up on my birthday morning at 7.45am to express Jacques' bladder (!), I opened cards and gifts from my husband, family and friends. My friend had made me some beautiful cushions, too; the crafty lady. A good haul for 9am in the morning. I felt pretty darn spoilt.
Armed with a birthday pecan plait and massive mug of hot chocolate, we snuggled on the sofa watching The Graduate. We drove over to the Wirral and had a cold and wet walk along the Wirral Coastal Path and tried to take phone pictures of a beautiful rainbow. We had plans with my mum and brother later that night but fancied a light lunch so we stopped off at Hickory's Smokehouse in Caldy. Boy oh boy! This place is AMAZING. The restaurant had a fun, Americana feel, staff were super friendly, and we were served with water and complimentary popcorn on arrival. It was already looking good, and then I ordered a 'Big Pig Sandwich' (smoked pulled pork) and a 'Texas Cream Soda' cocktail: maraschino cherries, orange, and lemon, shaken with vanilla vodka and sweet cherry liqueur, finished with Goose Island Orange Cream Soda. It was gorgeous! Top marks for Hickory's. We've already planned a return visit with friends who live over 'that side of the water', as we say in Liverpool.
We raced home and had to find our appetites to make and eat a paella meal with my mum and brother and his girlfriend. More gifts, including a birthday balloon, a shopping day with my mum, Bumble and Bumble hair mask, Lily Flame 'Fairy Dust' candle, Mac goodies, musical earmuffs and lots of other girly treats. My mum's an awesome gift buyer! Just when I thought I couldn't eat any more, we polished off my homemade crème brûlée and I was presented with a One Direction birthday cake. Oh yes! M had taken care to place the candles directly into One D's members' lovely little eyes, making them look a tad demonic once the candles were out!

A wonderful birthday: quality time with favourite people, tasty food and lovely gifts. So, here we go; lets see what this, my 28th year, might bring! Make a wish...

Monday, 25 March 2013

Once Upon a Snowy March Weekend

What's going on with the weather? It's nearly April for goodness sake! I had a great weekend away visiting friends planned, including a trip to Bath Thermea Spa, but the drive to Reading in snow and ice scared me. So, instead, I (more or less) hibernated at home this weekend.

On Friday afternoon I missed a girly Twilight movie afternoon with friends to delivered a lecture to only around half of the first year cohort. It was an afternoon lecture on the last teaching day before Easter so chances of full attendance were already pretty slim, but Mr. Snow didn't help the situation! I stopped by my friends after work for a catch up cuppa and hear about their afternoon. Friday night was a salt and pepper fish and chips night, snuggling up under the blanket, cat on lap, and watching The Constant Gardener.

Saturday morning, up and to the gym for an hour or so. Hot shower followed by a scummy plate of huevos rancheros and catching up with MasterChef UK. Travel update: We also booked a hotel for our stay in Bangkok. It is FIT. I'm so excited to stay there in August!  

Infinity pool overlooking Bangkok
Later on, we met up with friends for drinks on Lark Lane before heading back to theirs for a competitive games night, including Categorically Speaking (a 'fake' Scategories), Pass the Pigs and John Lewis' Gender Wars. Conclusions: Girls rule!

Sunday was a shlomp day. I spent most of it in my pjs marking essays, drinking hot chocolates, catching up with online pretty and watching Legally Blonde on TV. "Bend and SNAP". Veggie burger tea and yummy homemade fruit crumble pots, followed by a lovely bubble bath to round off this low key weekend.

Today was the first day of the student holiday and work was very quiet indeed. It was a nice change from the busy last few weeks, but isolating. I took Jacques to his third veterinary acupuncture session this afternoon and tonight, we're going for a Nando's and cinema date night to see either Side Effects or Identity Theft.

Hope you had a fun weekend and the snow didn't ruin any plans!

Friday, 22 March 2013

A Baking To Do List

1. Banana bread bites from Kitchen News. Good way to use up older bananas.
2. Banana and nutella loaf from Pomegranate Days

3. Raspberry and chocolate clafouti from Baking Obsession
4. Pear almond tart with amaretto cream from Baked Bree. Could anything sound more delicious?
5. Lemon torte bars from Treats
6. A low pastry apple pie on Frugal Freebies
7. Nutella espresso mug cake with fresh raspberries, made in mere minutes, from A Taste of the Vegetarian Lifestyle
8. Pecan pie bars from Just A Taste This reminds me of the pralines I ate by the bucketload in New Orleans.
9. Lemon blueberry cheesecake bars from Epicurean Mom

My kitchen better watch out. I'm going to check them off once I've made them, and will try to post the results up on the blog. #domesticgoddess!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

'Make Me Pretty': A Desk's Story

We're in the process of updating our second bedroom, which we use mainly as study (and more recently, as Jacques' rest and recuperation/ please-pee-soon room). I say 'in the process', this process has been ongoing for the last two years with little to no progression. 

The desk we currently use in the study is a sturdy Ikea beech effect desk which we bought when we first moved in together in 2006, picked up cheap in their 'Bargain Corner' because it had a dint in the side. This desk has been well used and had shining moments as a makeshift dining table when we were too penniless/tight to buy a proper one, as a place to rest my tired head while typing up my PhD thesis, and as a pasting table! It is well worn and I've wanted to get something new and a little smaller for ages. Thanks to the powerhouse that is ebay, we've managed to bag a second hand John Lewis solid beech desk in pretty great condition, for under £50. It will fit nicely into our chimney breast alcove. I want to spend some time updating the desk and have been using my Young House Love book, and Pinterest for inspiration. 

Here's a snapshot of what I've been looking at on Pinterest:

Images: Coins; Sheet music; Penguin postcards; Literature; MapsAnthropologie drawer knobsCork boards; Chalk cabinets
For now, the desk is in pieces. Hopefully by the time we assemble it we'll have decided what to do! Any desk related inspiration you have stumbled upon that I'm missing out on? This will be fun. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Mr Cooks... Thai Mussel Soup

This past week has been pretty emotional. I've not had enough time to do my work, let alone write posts. My lovely husband decided that 2013 is the year to make use of our many recipe books. He(reckons he)'s the better cook and will be posting his food delights here every now and again. Lets call it his online recipe file. Over to him!

In preperation for our Summer holiday to Southeast Asia, I tried my hand at a Thai mussel noodle soup.

A handful of rice noodles (approx 50g per person)
350g de-shelled mussels (not muscles)
2 pieces of lemongrass (bashed)
3tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp fish Sauce
1cm cube of grated ginger

2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 red or green chilli, chopped (deseeded for less heat)
4 spring onions, chopped length ways
2 litres of cold water

What to do with the ingredients: 
- Place the water into a pan and start to boil. Whilst boiling prepare all the ingredients and add to the water. Slowly bring to the boil. 
- Once boiled, simmer for 10 minutes, or longer for a more intense flavour.
- After ten minutes, add the mussels and noodles and cover, simmer on a low heat for 7 minutes and then serve*.
- If you prefer, adding a tbsp of fromage frais/greek yoghurt provides nice balance.

*I took out the lemongrass before serving. 

A midweek Thai Mussel Soup
Voila!  ขอให้มีความสุขกับการรับประทานนะ 

He's a talented one. I'm pretty sure he'll have more to share soon!

Now, back to expressing a cat's bladder...

Monday, 4 March 2013


Jacques when we first rescued him.
Our little mister, Jacques, was involved in an accident on Saturday and he's been with the local vet for the last few days. He has broken his tail near the spine, his nerves have suffered damage and they cannot be more definite about his prognosis at the moment. I am heartbroken. The house feels empty and all the little patterns that we fall into around him have had to be paused. This weekend has not been a happy one but I hope that better news is on its way and that we can bring our little rascal home, healthy.

Please keep your fingers crossed for his recovery.

Friday, 1 March 2013

It's Friday. I'm in Love.

It's Friday browsing time and I'm a little in love with this Ted Baker coat. It looks so elegant, snug and has such pretty lining.  
Buy Ted Baker Vasilis Long Wrap Coat Online at
I love this Crown Devon lamp base. It's currently listed on ebay but I don't have a place to treasure it and too few plug sockets to use it so can't justify a bid, sadly.  

I saw this on A Beautiful Mess and now I want to make it and display all sorts of pretty (like a lamp base?). 
How to add shelves to a ladder

How often do we miss what's on our doorstep? Most of my family holiday's were spent in sunnier destinations and I've not spent much time exploring the UK. I loved this post on Flashpacker Family, a blog I've been reading regularly to build up my excitement for Southeast Asia this Summer. In the post, five UK roads are featured. It makes me want to get in the car and start driving to see these lovely places. 
Best Driving Roads

What have you been lusting after this week?
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