Friday, 30 November 2012

5 good things

Gee, that time of the week already?! This week has absolutely flown by... Here are my 5 good things this week.


1. New laptop. My poor old laptop was nearly 5 years old (or was it 6? I've lost track) and the battery had become so dodgy after replacing it numerous time and it was so slow. I'd been toying with getting a new laptop for a while but other things always came up. When I saw a bargainous deal on eBay though, I couldn't resist and got myself a little early Christmas present. Windows 8 is weeeeird. I'm not sure whether I will actually use a lot of the features of the new 'metro' UI, but it looks quite pretty. Plus it's a hell of a lot faster than my old one. 


2. Christmas candle. Yankee candles are a new obsession of mine. There was a good offer on gifts in Clinton Cards last weekend so I used it to buy some presents and treat myself to a Christmas candle. This one smells of apple, cinnamon and a slight smell of pine. I love it! I just need to be careful not to burn it all down before Christmas.

3. Spending time with family. Last weekend it was Scott's Dad's birthday and this weekend it is my Dad's birthday so we spent a lot of last weekend with Scott's family and will be spending this weekend with mine. It's so weird that in a year I will have to get used to saying 'our family' for both but we both have such great families, I feel very lucky!


4. Santa dash! This Sunday I'll be running 5k through the city centre of Liverpool in a santa outfit. I am really excited. It's just a fun run so no official times, so I'm just going to take it easy and enjoy the atmosphere. Every year the Liverpool Santa dash tries to break the world record for the largest one and it'd be pretty amazing to be part of a world record breaking run. 

5. Having a job that I love. Yes, there are bad days and yes, I moan sometimes but ultimately I have one of the best jobs ever I think. I love working with people and helping them find the information that they want. My colleagues are fabulous. Working with the public is so unpredictable but that's what I like about it. 


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Manchester Christmas markets

Manchester  Manchester

Hmm overpriced mulled wine! It must be Christmas. It isn't really the festive season until you've battled your way through the ridiculous crowds, seen the giant Father Christmas in front of the town hall and had some mulled wine. I admit, I felt a bit fatigued with the Christmas markets this year. You can hardly move and it's the same stalls every year. Anyone else feel like this? I still came away feeling pretty festive after some mini pancakes and mulled wine.

Manchester

Manchester

Manchester

Isn't a little bit too soon to be buying Christmas trees too?! People in work have been debating when to get their tree down. We are having a real tree again and will be going to get it on the 9th December, that feels just right to me. I may have listened to about 4 Christmas songs so far but I am trying not to peak too early! When do you put your Christmas decs up? 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bridal wear on the high street

I still haven't been wedding dress shopping, much to the dismay of many around me. I was always 'Oh when it's less than a year away' and now it is, Christmas has been my excuse! I am definitely, definitely planning on going in the New Year though. In the meantime, I spend an inordinate amount of time online looking at wedding dresses, scouting out my favourite designers and where their nearest stockists are. I'm also looking for a simple blue bridesmaid dress for my sister. When you think bridal the first thing you think are post bridal boutiques where you need an appointment just to LOOK at the dresses, but more and more high street shops are now doing bridal ranges and it's quite refreshing really. I remember seeing Franky from Love Audrey wearing an absolutely gorgeous Phase Eight dress on her wedding day and she looked absolutely stunning, like a 40s film star. After having a browse myself, I've picked a few dresses from Phase Eight in two different bridal styles. 



phaseeight2

First up are these beautiful grecian style dresses. The bridesmaid dresses would love amazing with statement necklaces and the wedding dress in the middle is just calling out for a floral crown. 

phaseeightwedding

And next are these 50s vintage style prom dresses. These are much more my style (in case you couldn't tell!). I think prom style dresses are so flattering and easy to wear. No tripping up over your long dress and they look fabulous on the dancefloor. And of course one of the benefits of tea style dresses is that the shoes become more of a star of the show that they deserve to me. I am still on the hunt for my perfect wedding shoes but I *may* have found them...I just need to save up enough money for them! 

Would you ever consider heading to the high street for bridal wear? Both of these wedding dresses are less than £400 so think of the extra money you could save to spend on bridal shoes! 

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Miracle on High Street, Manchester

We had our christmassy trip to Manchester planned for a while so we were really excited to hear about Almost Famous's new christmassy offering, Miracle on High street (or @Almost_Xmas on twitter). I still haven't tried Almost Famous, but they are supposedly the best burger place in Manchester (maybe the north-west) and also the most secretive. There are no signs and it's just up some stairs behind an office door in between two bars in the northern quarter. Miracle on High Street is just as hard to find, just at the back of Socio Rehab on the High Street. Miracle is only open for the run up to Christmas and the whole menu is full of Christmas winter warmers. We went for the Miracle sandwich, which is essentially a Christmas dinner crammed into an amazing sandwich, topped with a pig in blanket. 

Manchester

The amazing Miracle sandwich. My Dad always makes 'bubble & squeak' after Christmas, which is just a big fry up of all the leftovers and gravy and this is what it reminded me of. I think I may be inspired to serve the bubble and squeak as a giant sandwich this year. Just to the right you can see the gobble gobble fries, which were sweet potato fries sprinkled with a festive mix of spices (I have no idea what this spice mix was but it was amazing), topped off with shredded turkey in gravy and cranberry sauce. They also do some amazing sounding stews served in bread bowls. You can see the rest of the Miracle on High Street Menu here. 

Manchester

The whole place was like a winter wonderland, full of fairy lights and Christmas trees. When you walk in, the first thing that hits you is the smell of pine. It made me want to go out and buy a million fairy lights to decorate the house with. 

Manchester

Manchester

Ahhh, the cocktails. There are festive themed cocktails available and I went for a Candy Cane Collins, which was a strawberry, vodka, white chocolate and cream coda concoction, topped off with a candy cane. They also do traditional warm Christmassy drinks, like baileys hot chocolate, mulled cider and mulled wine. They were actually the most expensive things on the whole menu, with mine being £7! But hey, it's Christmas, it's worth it. 

Manchester

I really recommend catching Miracle on High Street while you can, it's the perfect antidote to the overcrowded Christmas markets. (Which are fun and Christmassy but not good if you hate crowds as much as Scott does). I'm still an Almost Famous virgin but I really need to rectify it soon. Word on the grapevine is that they will be opening an Almost Famous in Liverpool come the spring, and I cannot wait. I'm now craving a miracle sandwich for brunch. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

5 good things

Sunday

1. Festive outfits. Yes, I look like an elf in restrospect. Ah well. This is what I wore for our walk around the park on Sunday. The t-shirt is uniqlo heat-tech with a cute polka dot pattern on. They have SO many different patterns on their thermals! There will also be some Orla Kiely ones being released soon - pretty and practical. I discovered the joy of thermals about 2 years ago when our winters starting getting really cold (or I started getting really nesh, not sure). Thermal socks are the cosiest. 


2. We booked our wedding DJ! We discovered Wedding Jam at a vintage wedding fair we went to in the summer. We were in a bit of a dilemma over our wedding music and entertainment. We didn't want a cheesy wedding DJ who constantly talked over the songs and never played anyones requests. We wanted someone who would mix classics with newer stuff that we like and actually mix records properly. We thought this didn't really exist but it does! If you are in the north-west, Liverpool or Manchester and are looking for a cool wedding DJ, I really recommend Wedding Jam. I can't wait now.


3. Weekend plans. Did I mention we're going to the Manchester Christmas markets?! Tomorrow marks 4 weeks until my last day in work for 2012, I can't believe it. I'm starting to feel quite festive now, I think that the Christmas markets will kick off the festive season for me. 


4. New favourite soft drink! I am quite a fan of posh soft drinks. As Scott doesn't drink alcohol, it feels like less of an indulgence as we don't really buy alcohol to have in the house. We are more cups of tea type people. However, ginger beer is a favourite and this raspberry pop with ginger in it is awesome. (Nice packaging too, that's what sucked me in really)

5. Getting organised again...ish. I've made tea twice this week before work and have managed to get up earlier than usual. For the first few weeks of November, I was finding it so hard to get up in the morning and was even late a few times when the traffic was bad. I felt so disorganised and like I was always forgetting something (probably to go the gym and eat fruit.). I've managed to get my arse into gear though and even managed to go the gym last night. In my absence, they've started opening an hour earlier so I might actually have time to go before work! Does anyone else go the gym before work? Any tips?

Happy Friday! What are your plans for this weekend? Anyone making a Christmas cake on stir up Sunday?



Thursday, 22 November 2012

House Christmas wishlist

Less than 5 weeks to go until Christmas! I am getting so excited actually. This weekend myself and Scott are going to Manchester to visit the Christmas markets and also Miracle on High Street, a Christmas pop up from the burger masters at Almost Famous (which I still haven't visited yet but I hear they are opening an Almost Famous in Liverpool April 2013, cannot wait.) 

This is our second Christmas in the house, although last Christmas we had only been in about 2 months and the smell of fresh paint hadn't quite disappeared yet! My Mum & Dad never like buying me anything for the house for some reason and feel I should treat myself to things I don't to much over the year, like clothes and perfume, but I love buying house things! Here are a few things wriggling their way on to my Christmas list this year from Old Rids

oldrids

I have become obsessed with candles lately and really want some Christmas ones. These Lily Flame (1.) ones always smell so amazing. Crockery is also a big love of mine, I just wish I had more room! The Maxwell & Williams aviary design (2) is so pretty, but I don't really need a whole new bird print dinner set. I discovered Sophie Allport (6) ceramics via the Old Rids website and I just adore all of her designs. There are some really cute dog ones and the little robin ceramics are perfect for winter. There are also some Emma Bridgewater items on the websites and this British Birds teapot  (4.) reminded me of Claire at French for Cupcake! It's a bit pricey at £65 but it would be a nice gift for a special occasion. 

Following on from the bird theme (I see a pattern occurring! I do like a good bird print...) I also really like this rooster print tray (5), which would be perfect for when Scott makes me breakfasts to cure my hangover. To accompany my hungover breakfast, coffee from a proper coffee machine (7.) would be amazing. I got a moka pot last year for Christmas which makes pretty awesome coffee, but I would still love an all singing-all dancing coffee machine like that. One day, one day. 

Old rids also has some really cute cushions with lots of dogs on which I know fellow dog lovers will like. Yorkies are my favourite dogs (of course) so I love this one (8.).  Finally, the Joseph Joseph baking set  (3.) would make the perfect gift for a baker. I could really do with a new timer other than using my iPhone (can you believe my oven doesn't come with a buzzing timer? Still not quite got used to it...).

What housey items do you have on your Christmas list this year? 

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Monday, 19 November 2012

Sunday stroll

Sefton Park

Sefton Park

Sefton Park

Sefton Park

Sefton Park

Yesterday was SUCH a lovely day! I had been out the night before and had a lovely lie in and woke up with no hungover thanks to being sensible and learning my lesson from the previous weekend. After having some breakfast and laze around, myself & Scott went for a stroll around the park and into the palm house. It was really busy for a wintery afternoon, but I suppose people like taking advantage of any dry and bright days we have. I love Sefton Park and seeing the landscape change as the seasons too. I'm almost praying for some snow soon just so we can frolic in the snow in the park, but only when we are off over Christmas and don't have to go about everyday business. 

Have you all had a nice weekend? 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Dining in the dark challenge


A few weeks ago I was invited to a 'blindfold bloggers dining in the dark' challenge at The Living Room in Liverpool. The event was the chance for us to try The Living Room's new winter menus but blindfolded and having to guess what we were eating, guessing what spices were used, what liqueurs were used in the cocktails and naming cheeses. It was harder than expected! I got a dismal 18/40 on the quiz. 

The Living Room  The Living Room

Myself and Alex blindfolded! 

The Living Room

The Living Room 

The Living Room

As we were eating things blindfolded and without seeing them at all, it was pretty hard to get photos of the food! I did manage to snap these though sneakily. The first photo is of the butters they use as accompaniments to the steaks, then a cocktail and the Morocco lamb stew, which was lovely. It was a bit too lightly spiced for me and was lacking in cumin so I didn't guess correctly what the spices were used in it. Highlights for me were the venison shepherds pie and the pork & chorizo burger, I would happily eat them again! (And I guessed correctly what meats were used in them *victory dance*.) More disappointing things included the creme brulee which apparently had coconut in it, but as a passionate hater of coconut, I couldn't taste a single bit of coconut. The texture also wasn't quite right. Overall, we had a great experience at The Living Room and the hosts couldn't have been nicer. Full marks to The Living Room and their PRs for coming up with such an inventive evening for bloggers. It was definitely more interesting than if we had just been given a 3 course meal and it brought out the competitive side in us. The Living Room have a few branches across the country and I would really recommend their burgers, the pork & chorizo one was so delicious and I also spied a few other big burgers being served up to diners and they looked immense! 








Friday, 16 November 2012

5 good things




1. Hungover Sundays. Well, they are not so good but what is good about them is lovely Scott looking after me. He went to the shops and bought hungover fighting ingredients ready for when I finally woke up at about 3pm. Isn't he a star? I just can't hack these late nights anymore but it was so much fun!

New desk set up 

2. I have a desk again! Scott has moved his PC into the bedroom as it fits better on that desk so that he can do some work on his thesis in the evening, so I've moved into the bureau. The guest bedroom is now completely mine, I quite like it. 


3. Christmas shopping! I had a day off on Tuesday so I met with Scott when he finished work and we went Christmas shopping. Actually, all we bought was lego for ourselves and nothing for anyone else. Ha! I love the lego shop in L1, it's best to go in the evening though when it isn't over-ran with kids. We also went into the Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar which I found pretty intimidating to be honest, I must be the least scouse woman ever. I did do some online Christmas shopping the day after though so I have made a start. 

4. Visiting Manchester. I had a fly in visit to Manchester for a library event for new professionals and then we went for beers afterwards at Port Street Beer House. It really made me want to visit Manchester again and do some shopping there, so next Saturday we are planning a little Christmas shop there with the Christmas market. I will always love Liverpool more, but Manchester's Christmas market is really the best in the north-west - Liverpool's effort doesn't compare! I love the northern quarter too. I want to pay a visit to Purl City Yarns to see if they have the right shade of green wool in as everywhere I go seems to be sold out of it! 

5. Another social weekend. I've felt like a right social butterfly lately which makes a change from the usual Saturday nights spent in moaning that there's nothing good on the telly. Tomorrow some girls from work are coming round for tea and then we're going around Lark Lane. Going to take it a bit easier than last weekend though! 

What are you 5 good things for this week? 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Apps for disorganised people

I have a secret. *whispers*. I'm not really a very organised person. I always resolve to keep a diary and once I did manage for a whole year but most of the time I stop by February or end up losing it or forgetting to take it to important places. I make lists in notepads but then lose them when I swap around bags. Post it notes go missing. I'm just not a very organised person. I know this probably comes as a shock to most because I am a librarian, and whilst I enjoy having things in alphabetical order and creating a spreadsheet to keep track of the works Christmas party, I'm really not that organised.

I would say that having my iPhone has dramatically changed how organised I am. It's lucky really, because since I've had my iPhone, my life has also become dramatically busier. Working full time, blogging, doing the housework, doing CILIP north-west things...I don't think I could juggle it all without my iPhone. Here are my top 4 apps for staying organised.

Untitled

1. Clear. £1.49 (it was on special offer for 69p when I bought it).
Clear is a very aesthetically pleasing app that is very simple. You just drag and type things in. When you've done something on your list, you swipe across it and it vibrates and goes to the bottom of the list crossed off. This is very satisfying for someone like me who likes crossing things off lists. (Does anyone else add things to a to do list that they've already done just so they can cross it off? Just me?...oh) You can also have different lists, so the list in the screenshot above is my 'wedding' to do list. I also have a blogging to do list, housework to do list and general errands to do list.


Untitled
2. Calendar.
Ohhh the calendar on the iPhone. I couldn't be without it. I sync my iPhone calendar with my google calendar, so that I can also check it from any computer. I have a few different calendars on the go; a work one, a blog calendar and a personal calendar. I can look at them all together or just select which one I need to focus on at that time. Above is a preview of my blog calendar for last week. As I've been posting more frequently over the past few months, I've found it really handy and I can just jot down ideas and schedule it for a few weeks time before I forget about it and then I always have something to blog about. Anyone else have a blog planner?

Untitled
3. Feedlr.
Feedlr is a really good app for accessing your rss-feeds. I have my google reader synced with it and I read blogs on the go throughout the day, then star the ones that I want to go back to and read or comment on. I find this a really efficient use of time. There are quite a few different apps you can use for this, but I have used this for 2 years and have never had a problem. It does have adverts which don't bother me, but if they bother you you can upgrade to the paid version.


Untitled
4. Notes.
I use the notes to make a note of things that we've ran out of in the house to create an ongoing shopping list. If I did this on paper, the paper would no doubt go missing or I'd forget to take the list to the shops with me but I know that I will ALWAYS have my phone with me! Some might say that we've all become too reliant on our phones, but it has simplified so many things for me.

I honestly don't know how I coped without my iPhone. Although it distracts me in many ways, it has also helped me be more efficient and organised. I've had my phone for just over 2 years now though so it may be time to pay a visit to the Carphone Warehouse and upgrade. Do I stick with Apple or go to Android? I don't know! I am so attached to my iPhone and the apps that I've listed above. Does anyone have any other top apps for organisation to share with me?

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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Christmas crochet

Crochet star garland   

Crochet star garland

I've finished my first garland already! Turns out I was a bit speedier than I remembered. Once I get going on these stars, I can whip up a fair few in an hour. I made it using this tutorial from the Royal Sisters, but I only did 2 rounds instead of 3. They are super simple and effective! Now to get going on a few more. I also want to have a go at the Christmas trees next. I don't think I can quite bring myself to take the garland down now, it cheers up the living room (and horrible brown fire blergh, I hate it) no end. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Parkin

Parkin

When I mentioned in my post about bonfire night that I'd made some parkin, a lot of people asked what it is. Well, this is what it is! Parkin is a traditional gingerbread cake from northern England that is usually made around bonfire night. It has treacle, golden syrup, ginger and oats in it. It has quite a strong flavour with the treacle and the ginger together. People say that parkin gets better and stickier the longer you leave it. I made mine on Sunday evening and I found that it had a mellower flavour and slightly stickier texture on the Monday evening but then by Wednesday it had gone slightly dry (may just be because our tupperware was a bit crap and not completely sealed though.). I imagine that it will be lovely warmed up with custard too!

Ingredients

200g butter
1 egg
4 tbsp milk
200g golden syrup
85g treacle
85g light soft brown sugar
100g medium oatmeal (I just used tesco value porridge oats to be honest...)
250g self raising flour
1 tbsp ground ginger

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160/gas mark 3 and grease&line with parchment a deep baking tray.
2. Melt the syrup, butter, treacle and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. 
3. Then remove from the heat and stir in the flour, oatmeal and ginger. 
4. Finally, mix the egg and milk together in a small bowl, then add to the cake mixture until it is all combined. 
5. Pour into the baking tray and bake for approx. 40-50 minutes or until the top of the cake is just brown and almost crusty on top. 
6. Leave to cool in the cake tin, then remove from the tin. Slice into squares and store in an air tight container for up to a week. See if it will last that long to see if it gets stickier and tastier! 


Friday, 9 November 2012

5 good things

I really hate winter and the dark evenings make me feel completely rubbish, so I am trying to focus on all the good things going on at the moment which can be easy to forget about when I'm feeling grumpy because of the cold and can't wake up in the dark in the morning. Here are 5 good things from the last week:



1. Booking our honeymoon. We're off to New York for 4 nights and then St. Lucia for a week! I can't wait. I have wanted to go to New York with Scott for ages but we've never been able to afford it. I've been to New York twice with my parents, when I was 13 and 16, and have been itching to go back ever since. We also wanted a relaxing honeymoon though as we haven't had a beach holiday in 4 years and think we will need to relax and chill out after the madness of the wedding. We're staying in Anse Chastenet, in the south of the island near the Pitons. Ahhh I am so excited. I'm now frantically trying to save money for spends in New York (haven't been shopping in America for so long - I love it and can't wait) so I'm flogging some stuff on eBay if anyone wants to be so kind as to help me make room in my wardrobe and also give me spends for the honeymoon!

2. Dining in the dark. On Tuesday I attended an event at the Living Rooms in Liverpool for bloggers with Alex to try their new menu - blindfolded! We then had to guess what the flavours of things were. I'll be doing a full blog post about it soon, but it was really good to be invited to an event in Liverpool that I could actually attend! Hopefully it is the start of many to come.

3. Parkin. And cake in general. I have ate so much Parkin and other cake this week but I've just been craving so much sweet stuff and stodge! My colleague brought in some guinness chocolate cake to work yesterday that was delicious and hit the spot.


4. Christmas crafts. Only just over 6 weeks to go until Christmas so my crochet hook is out again, whipping up some christmas crafts to give as gifts! I made a star garland for my friends last year and I was really pleased with them and now my sister has requested one too. I'm also going to make lots of hair clips for my niece to last her throughout the year and to co-ordinate with all the cardigans that my Nana knits her. I'll be doing a full post on my Christmas garland soon.

5. Busy weekends. This weekend I'll be spending the day in Manchester for a new library professionals event and then celebrating my friend's birthday on Saturday evening in Liverpool. Then Sunday will probably be spent hungover/catching up on housework! I do like having a busy weekend.

What are your 5 good things this week?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Bonfire night

Ahh Bonfire Night, the poor British holiday that is now overshadowed by Halloween less than a week before it. I do feel a bit sorry for Bonfire Night. I remember growing up and my childhood best friend would always have a bonfire night party as her house backed onto a field and her father was a carpenter. He would make the MOST amazing guys to burn on the bonfires! Most memorably was the dragon that he made and used ping pong balls for eyes. Well...let's just say that ping pong balls aren't such a good idea on a bonfire. It was pretty amazing though. We would all sit around the bonfire on benches, toasting marshmallows (although I don't even like marshmallows, but I will make an exception for bonfire melted ones) and singing songs. I really miss them! I also remember our local pub would have a bonfire every year and throughout October, people would dump their burnable rubbish in the field, all to go up in flames on the 5th November. I miss bonfires now, as no-one dares have them. Instead, people buy sparklers and mediocre fireworks from the supermarket and have their own little parties or they go to organised displays. We chose the latter, as the local council display is in Sefton Park and it would be rude not to. We wrapped up and walked down to the park in our wellies.

Bonfire night

It is bloody hard to get a good photo of fireworks. Look! Look at our pitiful efforts! 


Bonfire nightBonfire nightBonfire night


Bonfire night

How pretty does the Palm House look in the evening light though? We came home and then I gobbled down some homemade parkin. (Scott didn't as he doesn't like it - he doesn't know what he's missing!) How did you all celebrate bonfire night? 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Grown-up bags

When Jen posted about her new Mulberry bag, I felt pangs of jealousy. As I commented on her post, me and my friend would always say when we were about 15, we'd know we'd 'made it' when we owned a Mulberry bag! Sadly, neither of us do yet but I think we've 'made it' in other ways. Owning a designer handbag is still something that I long for, but obviously with a mortgage to pay, wedding to save for and honeymoon pay for, I'm not in a situation where I can at the moment. It still doesn't stop me day dreaming though! I think of designer bags as 'grown-up bags'; when I can own one I'll officially be a 'grown-up'. I think this is why I tend to go for classic styles that will last forever, over the more trendier ones. After a little browse at some bags at Avenue 32, I've chosen these as my top 5 dream grown up bags:

avenue32bags
1. 3.1 Philip Lim, 2. Lizzy Disney, 3. Pauric Sweeney, 4. 3.1 Philip Lim, 5. Calvin Klein.

I think that with a designer handbag, you want to go for something that is classic and wearable. Being a thrifty chick, I always try to work out the cost per wear of large investments, so a £800 bag will have a high cost per wear if you only use it once! I always try to aim for a £1 per wear, so if you use a handbag every week day for 2 years, you'll be getting a decent cost per wear out of it. I also like big bags that I can use for work. 

What is your dream grown up bag?

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