- Trying out new restaurants in Bromley: The food and drink scene in Bromley has changed significantly over the last couple of years – well, the fact that there’s actually a ‘scene’ kind of tells you! There’s been some new openings recently that I went to visit, and I’ll blog about them soon.
- Getting back into blogging: I feel like my blogging spark has come back. It waxes and wanes, so when it does come back, I make the most of it.
- Seeing two friends who now live down under: A work friend and a uni friend both moved to Sydney last year; this month I got to catch up with one and next month I get to see the other! Amazing! Also, my work friend is well connected and got us a table at Duck & Waffle. I’ve wanted to go for ages, and while it was only breakfast, it didn’t disappoint!
- My new watch: Another from The Fifth Watches, this time from their new New York Classic Collection. Post coming soon…
- Reconnecting with an old friend: Putting aside old (teenage!) quarrels and reconnecting with someone you were close to is the best feeling. It’s only been a few meet ups so far, but I’m enjoying the time I’m spending with her. I hope it continues and I’m looking forward to seeing where our friendship goes as adults.
- Finding out that I’ve nearly repaid my student loan: Yes, that’s right – by summer next year I should have repaid my student loan in full, in what will have been 8 years since I left uni. This was no mean feat – I had the full loan available at the time. It was a bit of an accident that I’ve been able to pay it off so quickly – that’s just what working in sales for 4 years and earning commission will do, as the repayment is percentage based. Trust me, if I could have dragged it out longer I would have (at current interest rates it’s the cheapest loan I’ll ever have!) – however, the good news is that money can now go into my savings every month instead, or maybe into my pension: it’s mine to do with whatever I choose!
- Clearing out my wardrobe: I already did this once a couple of months back and promptly decided it wasn’t enough, so this weekend, I tackled it again. I was ruthless. I’m not quite finished – but 2 full bin bags for a boot fair and an extra one for ebay-ing later, it feels fantastic. Now just can’t wait to get rid of it all!
- Finally selling some big things from our wedding, over two years later: SO MUCH SPACE!! SO MUCH SPACE!! That is all.
- Realising it had been 4 years since we bought our flat: How time flies. I’m so lucky that we were able to do this when we did – we have such a beautiful home.
- Spending quality time with my husband: While this applies more to August than September, it still counts! I feel like we’ve really spent quality time together recently. In August we had our Crete holiday and our mini-breaks to Cardiff and Hastings, whereas this month has mostly been spent at home. Either way, it’s nice to be able to spend quality time together.
- A friend & her fiancé coming to stay next weekend: My uni friends are scattered all over, so time with them is precious! This lovely lady got engaged a couple of months back and I STILL haven’t seen her ring in real life! Can’t wait to talk all things wedding… those poor boys. Thank God the rugby’s on.
- Seeing Oresteia on the stage: I am a big Classics geek but I’ve never seen the Oresteia on stage. When I heard about the production at the Trafalgar Studios I was all in. I’m also doing something I’ve never done before, and going alone. There’s just no point in dragging Martin along if he’s got no interest in it, what a waste of money! Plus, I feel like SUCH a grown up so there’s another bonus.
- My friend from work’s wedding: A friend at work is getting married at the start of October. It should be a blast – lots of people from work are going and I’m looking forward to celebrating with her.
- Lifehouse are touring the UK again: If you know me in real life you will probably know that Lifehouse are my favourite band and have been since I was about 13. What can I say, I’m loyal. They’re touring the UK again for their recent (7th!) album, Out Of The Wasteland, and I can’t wait to see them on Oct 3rd!!
- Going to Liverpool in late October: I’m going up with one of my school friends to Liverpool to see another who lives there. It’s been ages since I’ve been up and the first time we’ve all been there at the same time… cocktail time!
Last month we celebrated our two year wedding anniversary. TWO YEARS! Can you believe it. I look at pictures of that perfect day and I’m just filled with so much joy. There’s no other word for it.
I decided that I’d like to stick to traditional wedding presents, so this year it was time for Cotton. If you don’t know what this is all about, here are the traditional UK wedding presents for the first 10 years of marriage:
- Fruit, Flowers
- Wool, Copper
- Salt / Bronze, Pottery (depending where you read!)
- Copper / Willow, Pottery (depending where you read!)
Gift giving on anniversaries dates back to around the Middle Ages, and supposedly in some forms back to the Roman Empire; however, the above is all a twentieth century concoction – for commercial reasons, no doubt. Even so, it’s nice to have a guide, though the Sugar and Salt ones won’t be easy…!
Last year for Paper I bought Martin a (paper) ticket to a football match with his friends – this year I wanted to do something slightly more romantic, so I headed over to Etsy. Etsy is a treasure trove for unusual presents, and I eventually stumbled onto FinchandCotter, a store based in Michigan, USA.
I liked the idea of our first dance song lyrics printed on something, and FinchandCotter do both wall hangings and cushions. I loved both, but we happened to be looking for a new cushion and I figured we’d see that much more than if it were a hanging in our bedroom, so the cushion it was! Our first dance was to Stay With You, by John Legend. The song was released not long after we got together and it was the soundtrack to the early part of our relationship, so a natural choice for our first dance together as husband and wife.
Here’s the final product, hand designed, printed and sewn all the way from Chicago. Definitely more romantic than a football ticket (though knowing my football loving husband, he’d probably disagree…!) It’s made of a seriously sturdy cotton, and has an envelope opening at the back. I got ours in the 16″x20″ size and it is pretty big, but I quite like that – though it does come in 12″x18″ if that’s more your thing. You can choose from two different colours of cotton and loads of colours of text, and the order process was really smooth. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for an unusual anniversary gift!
New Year, new start. That’s what everyone always says, right? There are lots of areas of my life where I’m truly happy. Others where I’m happy enough – for now – and don’t need so much of a new start, just a bit of a change. And others …. well let’s just say a new start sounds great.
I basically never make New Year’s resolutions because I’m rubbish at sticking to them, so I figure, if I don’t make them, then I’m not letting myself down.. but as I’ve taken on more responsibility at work over the last few years, and in my personal life (buying a flat, getting married), I’ve realised it’s officially time to start being accountable for my life and Get. Shit. Done.
So, here are my promises to myself for 2015. I’m promising myself this year. Not just resolving to do them – for some reason, the idea of breaking a promise to myself seems so much worse. I’ve not put them in any particular order.
- Create a routine for exercising 3 times a week – and stick to it. It’s the most popular resolution apparently, so let’s just get it out of the way first. Last year I just about managed to go twice a week for quite a while. My problem though lies in when I need to break that routine, I find it virtually impossible to complete the rest of the week. Or fortnight. Or month. So this year, I’m just going to do better. I’ve been getting sick quite a lot lately, which is really unlike me – and I think being fitter in general can only help.
- Be the best wife I can be. That sounds a little sad – but bear with me, as it’s the most important to me. I think sometimes I take my husband for granted, because – well – he’s just naturally awesome (awwww). He cooks, he cleans – he just takes care of me. It’s time I started doing more than just the finances and admin around here. He’ll need to be more open to letting me do it of course – not doing everything before I get home would help! – but at least to begin with, I’m going to schedule certain tasks on certain days, which will get us both off to a good start until it becomes more natural.
- De-clutter our life. I love our flat – it’s fairly large for a one bedroom flat, but it’s got next to no storage… and I have a LOT of stuff. I tried – and failed – to get rid of some of it last year, but it’s really starting to get me down. It needs to go. I want to finish this year without the mountain of boxes in the corner of our bedroom; with a fairly empty wardrobe; bookshelves that I can actually fit new books on; cupboards in the kitchen that we can actually use… the list goes on.
- Finish some outstanding flat upgrades. I want to get done some of the flat ‘upgrades’ that we’ve been putting off since we moved in – our new cooker is already ordered (woohoo!) so what remains includes.. double-glazed windows; a fan for the bathroom; new flooring in our bedroom; maybe even the granny tiles in the kitchen (*gasp*); maybe repaint the bedroom after the de-clutter too.
- Do things that I love more. That includes this blog – though I admittedly have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. When I first started it’s just because I was bored one weekend while my husband was watching football.. but I quickly realised how much work is involved, particularly when you’re comparing your blog to those who have been doing it for years. That’s just stupid, and unfair on myself.. so this blog will just be a reflection of me. Laidback (I’m not promising regular posts!) with occasional bursts of energy, maybe even the occasional flash of brilliance, but mostly just – me.
So there you go. I’m going to try to check in every few months to see how I’m getting on.
What are you promising to do this year?
Happy New Year everybody!
Lots of people ask me, “How is married life?”, or, “How have you found being married?” and I actually find it a really difficult question to answer. After being together for 8 years already when we got married, life post-wedding / honeymoon settled into our normal routine. It isn’t *technically* any different on the surface, but it’s just always difficult to know what people expect me to say. How deep do they want me to go? I generally reply with something along the lines of “Nothing’s changed, really… Everything’s great” and leave it at that. It’s true, but not the whole story – but like I said, how deep should you really go? I could tell them that while not a lot has changed on the surface I feel as though our relationship is stronger for it. There’s an underlying sense of This Is For Life. We’ve not quarrelled all that much since the wedding, and the arguments we do have are shortlived – petty arguments just don’t really seem worth the time when This Is For Life. Don’t get me wrong, of course there’s day-to-day gripes – usually because I haven’t tidied up or he hasn’t put the clothes on the line in the right way (YES, there is a ‘right’ way to hang clothes on an airer!!) – but it’s just not worth it.
Maybe they want to hear about how happy it makes me to be around him? How I love nothing more on a Saturday night than cuddling on the sofa together watching trashy TV? (quickly losing my street cred..) or maybe how I still get a little thrill saying, “my HUSBAND”? I don’t know. I guess I could say that – for now, for me – being married is being happy and content in each other’s company, knowing that we are building the rest of our lives together.
You may or may not know that hubby & I bought a flat in 2011. It’s a lovely little place – one bedroom, right by our local high street, a miniscule amount of outside space. We decorated when we moved in, and over time have slowly been upgrading our furniture and fittings as we’ve gone along. One area we’ve not shown a massive amount of love until fairly recently was our kitchen – relatively ironic, considering my husband is a chef! For some reason it always ended up further down the list, until we decided last year to try to get our act together.
We started by deciding to paint our severely 80’s “pine” laminate cabinets to bring them a bit more up to date, and got a new light fixture for the seating area to match the new door handles. I’ll do another post in more detail on these updates soon once we’ve finished Phase 2 in a few months – also known as “getting rid of that awful plastic sink”!
Here’s the list of things still left to do:
Paint the cabinets Replace the cabinet handles Update lampshade
- Replace the sink & taps
- Either replace or trim the worktop to enable us to…
- …Replace the cooker (which was left by the previous owners and is an awful, old, slimline cooker)
- New tiles? (still deciding on this one)
- Replace the blind
- Replace the net curtains
- Upgrade all of our cooking equipment
On the last point, we’ve picked up bits and bobs over the years but are still using the stainless steel pan set we bought when we first moved in to a rented flat in 2010. Don’t get me wrong; they’ve lasted well and no doubt would for years to come, but we dream of good quality pans! Non-stick coatings! Ah, how life changes as you get old, eh?
This pan is FAB. It’s that simple! The pan we have is 26cm (10in) which is a more than adequate size for our 2 person household, though considering the depth of the pan (about 5 cm!) it can accommodate a lot more besides – making it great for big curries, bolognese and so on as it can hold a great amount of food and sauce! It’s made using Stonehenge®, an “ultra-safe, 100% PFOA-free non-stick stone coating from Germany”. You may not realise but most household cooking equipment with non-stick coatings contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid); while the effects of low doses on humans is still disputed, studies have shown links to high cholesterol, and high doses have lead to cancer among other things in animal testing. I never had a clue this was the case, so I’m glad this trial opened my eyes and definitely something I will think about going forward.
The non-stick coating really is impressive. Compared to our stainless steel pans, where it is a constant battle, this is like a dream. The inner is made from heavy-gauge die-cast aluminium and the base is magnetised (so those who use induction hobs are safe), allowing the heat to be distributed evenly and quickly. As promised in the description, I’ve not noticed any “hot spots” which is often the case with our stainless steel pans on our electric hob. We’ve definitely noticed that food cooks more quickly and as it’s so balanced across the pan it’s much less stressful to use (particularly for a novice cook like me!)
The heat-resistant silicon handle is an added bonus, as my husband often moves food straight from the hob into the oven. Maybe the only downside to the pan is that it can’t go in the dishwasher. First world problems or what?! As it happens, cleaning it by hand is really easy – I guess another nod to the non-stick coating.
There was an extra in the box that I wasn’t expecting and haven’t seen before – a thick felt pan protector. Even though the durable coating means it is less likely to scratch than other pans anyway, this is still a genius addition and another hint at the quality of the pan that the manufacturers have thought about this sort of thing!