Thursday, 18 September 2014

Things I Love Thursday (18.09.2014)

Today's Things I Love Thursday is brought to you by a very relaxed Cat, enjoying a blissful week off work. I've decided to share a few of the things I've enjoyed so far this week...


from my Instagram feed - here
Wandering around the gardens of Ham House. Monday was a beautifully sunny day and after a fun few hours trying on wedding dresses, my Mum and I decided to visit the nearby Ham House for a spot of lunch. If you don't have a National Trust membership, it costs £4.50 to visit the gardens and under house. 

We were quite hungry when we arrived (it's surprisingly tiring trying on lots of dresses!) so we headed directly to the Orangery for lunch. I had a baked potato with tuna and cheese, which was served with a delicious salad grown on-site in the 17th century-inspired walled garden.

We then walked around the kitchen vegetable garden, marvelling at the huge marrows and pumpkins, along the South Terrace border and in and around the beautifully laid out Cherry Garden (pictured above). We also visited the rooms below stairs, where we exclaimed at the recipes on display in the kitchen (udder pudding anyone?), Mum tasted some ale (alas not gluten free) and we explored the gorgeous bathroom. There are also a number of outbuilding to visit dotted around the gardens and my particular favourite was the dairy, with its cattle-themed furniture:

from my Instagram feed - here
We then decided to head back to the Orangery for tea and shared a gluten-free brownie, enjoying the last of the late afternoon sunshine. Why can't all Mondays be spent like that?


Portrait in Blue and Gold by Clara Drummond
BP Portrait Award 2014
Visit the National Portrait Gallery. If you hurry, you can catch the BP Portrait Award 2014, which closes on 21 September 2014. I spent a lovely hour or so wandering around this exhibition enjoying the magnificent portraits on display, as well as the replicas being created by the schoolchildren and amateur artists dotted around the room. My favourite portrait was Portrait in Blue and Gold by Clara Drummond, which you can see above. Quite a small piece, it could easily be overlooked as your eye is drawn to the larger works around the gallery, but I loved the colours and simplicity of this portrait and the fact that it was inspired by the Tudor portraits in the National Portrait Gallery. If you've visited this exhibition, what was your favourite?

I also popped up to see the Tudor Collection. I've always been interested in Tudor history but I'm reading Wolf Hall at the moment and was even keener to re-visit the portraits of Henry VII and Anne that I know so well. The Gallery has a special Tudors display at the moment, with works from its collection displayed alongside some impressive loans from other galleries. There were also some interesting facts about the restoration involved to bring these works back to their former glory as well as the secrets discovered by x-raying the paintings.

After wandering around the gallery for a few hours, I popped up to the top floor café for a spot of tea and cake (a gluten free cherry and almond cake - yum!). Definitely worth doing if you have time because the view out over the London skyline is simply wonderful. I snapped a photo, which you can find here. You can have lunch, dinner or afternoon tea...or just celebrate how fantastic it is to be in London with a glass of something sparkly.


Image found here.
Lots of lovely lie-ins! Do I need to elaborate further on that one?!

I'm heading to Cambridge over the weekend for catch-ups and fun times with two of my best friends - there'll be wedding plans and baby talk as one of them is expecting a little parcel. When did I become a grown up?!


Here are a few items I've bookmarked over the last week too...

♥ Career-themed posts are featuring on A Cup of Jo this week and I particularly enjoyed these 15 career tips from smart women. Letting go of the quest for perfection is something I really need to work on. It's just not healthy!


♥ A delicious recipe for raspberry almond cake. I think this would translate very well to a gluten free version...

♥ Wishlist: this skirt (and the jumper they've paired with it too!), this top, and this necklace.

Hope you're all having a lovely week too!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ipad Mini-me!

This year's birthday was a particularly exciting one as I unwrapped a beautiful Ipad Mini from my wonderful mister. I'd been wanting an Ipad ever since my friend Mel visited last summer with hers, and I saw all the possibilities it could bring to an organisey, planner-y, blog-reader-y soul like me. I put it out of my head though (too expensive!) but my mum getting one for Christmas only made things worse - would it be too much to say my family had to check my bag after every visit? Well, I did manage to resist but it was difficult.

So, after unwrapping a very familiar box on the morning of my birthday, I was more of an ecstatic go lucky Cat, than a mere happy one. It was a very early start to a birthday this year as well as I had an early morning appointment booked (10am! On a Saturday!) with my Mum to try on some wedding dresses. But I hardly noticed the time...until the mister actually had to take the Ipad out of my hands so I'd be able to leave the house on time. 

A few weeks have passed now but the thrill really hasn't worn off. Whereas in the past I'd crank up my clunky old laptop (she's quite a few years old now, bless her) to browse Instagram, Pinterest or my favourite blogs in the evening, or use my phone, it's a real pleasure to view them on the Ipad. I don't have the newest version but the images are still beautifully crisp, and it's just so much more convenient to use, usually either curled up on the sofa with a mug of tea or last thing at night tucked up in bed, when I really should be sleeping. *ahem*

I think I need to do a little more research to ensure that I'm getting the most out of my little Ipad though. As well as the usual-suspects (Pinterest, Bloglovin, Twitter and Facebook), I have Flow, which is an Ipad-friendly Instagram app. It has a larger display than Instagram and is a lovely method of browsing the site. I use Evernote to create notes, lists and checklists - I have a particularly detailed wedding checklist on the go, which is particularly exciting now that the year to go countdown has begun! I've also recently discovered the Pocket app. This enables you to save web pages into one place so that you can read them later, offline. It's especially useful for those of us with wifi-only devices, so I can catch up on interesting articles or posts when out and about. 

I would love to know if there are other apps I should download though...please let me know your favourites! If only to get me away from the Hay Day app, which I should never have been introduced to...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Things I Love Thursday (11.09.2014)

It's been a wee while since the last one of these and it would be a shame to let some of the links I've been bookmarking over the last few months go unread. This week's (and slightly further back's) highlights are...

Image found here

I'm always excited when the Great British Bake Off returns to our screens and this series is no exception. I curl up with a pot off tea and something sweet to nibble, and enjoy all the mouthwatering treats on display over the course of the hour. I'm still keen to have some pie after last week's episode and this week's European cakes were incredible. (Also, how can I get involved in a Danish cake table party?!)  This series has even had its share of drama and scandal, but if there's one thing I took home after that episode, it was never to try to make a Baked Alaska...far too complicated.


Image found here
Crisper mornings... I've been noticing some frost on the fields in the morning this week as my train speeds through them on the way to work. I'm very excited at the thought of autumn...and the scarves, hats and hot drinks it brings! I may need reminding of this when I'm shivering on a train platform in the dark waiting for my train in the morning though, come November.




Link to my Instagram here
Oh stationery. Look at the treats that my friend M sent me this week! Time to start sourcing a special planner for the new year to put some of the items to good use...




Here are some links that I've enjoyed and bookmarked over the last few weeks (months?!) that are well worth a read. Grab a cup of tea and take your pick:

♥ Have you visited the new Foyles yet?

♥ Granted, I bookmarked this post at the beginning of summer but books aren't just for the beach, you know. I've read The Secret Keeper but I'm planning to tick off some of the others in this post at some point - Ten Historical Fiction Beach Reads.

♥ As I begin to think about my own hen party next year, I bookmarked this post on Hen Party Goodie Bags and thought it was a really lovely idea.

♥ Secrets to Staying Organised.

♥ I've always been intrigued by the various uses for different oils and this handy guide to essential oils provides a great overview. 

♥ I adored this post on Sunny Sweet Pea about rediscovering places that have almost been lost to the wilds of nature. It made me want to grab my wellies and go for a long walk somewhere well off the beaten track, and Winterton on Sea is now firmly on my must-visit list.

♥ Finally, how amazingly shamelessly good do these peanut butter and jam sandwich cookies look?! Definitely something to see you throughThursday and all the way into the weekend in the best of spirits.

What's been keeping you cheerful on this fine Thursday?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

100 days later...

I live my life by the words of Liz Lemon... Image found here.

Well, I certainly wasn't intending to take such a long break from these pages...100 days to be precise! When I last posted, summer was just beginning and I was feeling very anxious at the prospect of not finding a job before coming to the end of my training contract. 

Day 12
The weather is now distinctly chillier (hooray, bring on the scarves, woolly hats and cosy times with hot drinks!), I have a job (phew!) and, although being London-based throughout the majority of the last few months, I have fitted in a few trips to Lyme Regis and Ireland, and (looking back over my photos of the last 100 days) ate a lot of delicious food! 

Day 57
So yes, you may recall from my last post, that I had just signed up for the 100 Happy Days project, to try to find a happy moment each day and share it on Instagram with the #100happydays hashtag, and I did it! Today marked day 100 and I am hilariously proud of myself! Most of the time, I was able to find something that genuinely brightened my day but there were other days when I felt very blue and really struggled to think of something to photograph. On days like that, getting into the bath or coming home and putting my PJs on and having a cup of tea were highlights. But I think that it was a genuinely useful exercise, to look for something to make me smile when on any other day, I would give it up as a lost cause and go to bed feeling miserable. 

Day 99
So although my happy photo of the day felt slightly tenuous on certain days, I did manage to post a happy moment for 100 days in a row!

And now I'm looking forward to writing here again, recording autumn adventures and wedding plans...I may also include a few catch-up summer posts because I have a lot of good memories, thankfully recorded over on Instagram, amongst the job-searching woe. It's good to be back!