Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 review & 2017 goals

2016, 2017, Review, Goals, New Years Resolutions, Aims, Personal
My 26th birthday in London with Laura | My 26th birthday at home with family | Lunch at Ember Yard with Vicky | Birthday trip to Rome | Belated birthday celebrations with Gemma in London | York v Barnet | Mariah’s birthday in London | Bank Holiday with daddy: Barnet v Luton | Mansfield v Barnet | 09/07/60-24/05/16 RIP | Mallorca with Gemma | Work Awards Evening | Mum’s birthday in London | Holiday with mum to La Rioja and Madrid | Gemma’s birthday | Work overnight trip to Civitavecchia | Day in Birmingham with Gemma followed by Halloween with the Uni lot | Christmas Markets in Brussels | Pre-Christmas meal at Le Meridien, Piccadilly

2016 was a year of ups and downs, it was one of the longest and most difficult years of my life and it was a massive struggle. Bloggers are always keen to show the good in everything, but I know my life certainly isn’t rainbows and butterflies. In 2016: I lost friends, I made friends, I re-connected with old friends. I came out of a seven year relationship and found someone else that has made me smile again. I had my heart ripped apart when my daddy died, but I understood the importance of family. I reached my target weight. I fulfilled my quota of five holidays a year. And while I spent a lot of the year crying, I end it smiling and excited for what 2017 will bring.

I set myself four goals last year – so how did I get on?

(1) Take time to relax and unwind in the evenings
This one was semi-successful. I had hoped I’d be able to last one night a week technology-free, but I just couldn’t do it. My sleep pattern isn’t any better either. However, I made more time for myself after work and have tried to look after myself more.

(2) Spend more time with friends
I was lucky enough to see my best friend Gemma five times this year and we even went on holiday together. I also saw my friend Rob for the first (and second!) time in over six years. I caught up with the uni girls for brunch and then Janine’s leaving drinks. I enjoyed meals out with Vicky. And I even double dated with Mariah and Joey.

(3) Reach 200 followers
I won’t say too much about this one. I don’t even have 100 followers on Bloglovin. But I did set up a Facebook page this year. You can follow it, here.

(4) Go to more events/meet ups
I was fortunate enough to be invited to two foodie events this year: Barraka, near Liverpool Street and then Wagamama at Intu Lakeside. I’ve signed up to the #IntuVIB club so hopefully 2017 will hold more opportunities.

And so to next year – what would I like to achieve?

(1) Get fitter
I’d love to start swimming again, once a week. Or running, as I bought a pair of running shoes and have only worn them a handful of times. I would also love to run a 5K.

(2) Save as much as possible
I would love to be able to move out, but there’s no way I’d be able to go it alone. In September 2015, I used most of my savings to buy a brand new car and whilst I managed to save well last year, I’d love to continue or better that.

(3) Apply common sense
This one’s definitely easier said than done. I am nightmare with directions and unfamiliar routes; I panic a lot and get myself in a state; the majority of the time my mouth works faster than my brain. I’m not stupid, I just lack common sense. 

Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year – and thank you for all the love and support in 2016.

Love, Lucy xx

Friday, 23 December 2016

Blogmas #23 December Round-Up

On the twenty-third day of Blogmas... I’ve decided to round up December as I’ve not actually posted an Instagram/life update for a while. I’ll also be posting a yearly round-up along with my aims for 2017 in the next week or so. 
 All I want for Christmas... | Dinner at Le Meridien, Piccadilly
Being Festive AF: Christmas tag, Christmas Lush haul, Christmas Yankees... all the feels
Two days in Brussels: Christmas Markets, ice skating and lots of mulled wine
Remembering Christmas 2015 | Dinner at Tredwells, Covent Garden
 Sheerluxe jumper – my Christmas present to myself | Baking for the work Christmas buffet
Christmas jumper day at work | Loving the Bomb Cosmetics Advent Calendar | Work team meal at Banquet 1408
Mum made dad’s grave festive | Janine’s leaving drinks at Core Bar, Bank

I did so much this month that made me smile, but at the same time, I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. I’m already excited to see what 2017 brings!

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Blogmas #22 Christmas Memories

On the twenty-second day of Blogmas... I’m rolling back the years with a Christmas memories post. I must have gone through about seven Facebook albums, as well as 20-something photo albums to find photos. This brought back so many memories, some good and others bad – and I actually got quite emotional writing this post. Just a little warning: some of the outfits/haircuts may be rascal.
2015
Last Christmas was one of the best I can remember from recent years. I actually think this is the last ever photo of me with both my mum and dad, as well. We just had Christmas at home, the four of us, how it always was. Dad had been in hospital earlier in the month, so it was good to have him home and he was on good form too.
2009
This one is from Uni – and my second year. During my second and third years, I lived in the same house and both times, I lived with three other girls. This year, we bought and decorated a fake tree, cooked a Christmas dinner, drank lots of wine and played games! One of my favourite Christmas memories is from final year, when we bought a massive frozen turkey and ended up defrosting it in the bath and near the radiator. There was always the Christmas ball as well, at the Forum!
2006
This was the last time we spent Christmas in Madrid at my Auntie and Uncle’s. I can’t believe it was 10 years ago. We had a really lovely time and crammed so much in – we had a tour of the Bernabéu; one evening we went to see a street dance show; we spent a few hours in the mountains (where it was -7C!); and my Auntie even cooked a boneless turkey for Christmas Day dinner. I look severely ill in most of the photos from this year (not just Christmas!) but here’s my dad, my brother and I at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
1997
Boxing Day was often spent at my Nanny’s in Hullbridge. Before my cousins were born, there would be six/eight of us – and once my youngest cousin was born, she would host for 10. There would always be a buffet for lunch, plenty of presents and my Nan would wear the ‘scribble jumper’. She told me last week she no longer has it – and this actually made me SO sad. My Auntie would often make a Christmas cake as well, which always seemed a luxury to me, as we don’t have it at home.
1996
This Christmas we went to Colne Valley Railway to Steam with Santa. Growing up, we did this a few times. Basically the train would go down a mile-long stretch of the track and Santa would come to each carriage, delivering presents for the children on board. It looks like I got a puzzle this year – but I remember another time, I got one of those plaster of Paris kits, where you paint little ornaments. We have this on video somewhere and honestly, I want to watch it now!
1995
The sweet tree! At Christmas, my Nan would create a tree with some branches – and pin packets of sweets and chocolate to them. Robert and I would go absolutely nuts for it! Growing up, this was always one of my favourite Christmas memories, along with the ‘scribble jumper’. This always seemed like such a treat, as my dad used to tell my Nan not to give us sweets and give us fruit instead.
1990
Obviously I remember absolutely nothing from this year, but I had to include my first Christmas. I was clearly always a fan of presents and very spoilt!

What are your favourite Christmas memories?

Love, Lucy xx

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Blogmas #21 Celebrating Work Christmas at Banquet 1408

Banquet 1408, Colcheter, Essex, Chinese, Fdbloggers, Christmas Lunch
On the twenty-first day of Blogmas... I have another restaurant post tonight, as we went to Chinese restaurant, Banquet 1408 for our work team Christmas lunch yesterday. Banquet is quite easily the best Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been to – and it’s worth paying that little bit more for.

There’s six of us in my team, so we were given a large table in the middle of the restaurant, with plenty of room and a revolving table in the middle – perfect as we decided we were going to share dishes. I’ve only ever been to Banquet on a Friday evening after work, but I have to say it was busier this lunchtime, than it ever is from 6pm.

Poppy suggested we should go for the Shanghai set menu (priced at £23.90) – with mixed hors d'oeuvres, Peking duck and a selection of main dishes, including rice. As is usually the way with set menus, we did ask to swap a couple of dishes over, but this simply wasn’t a problem – the staff are always very accommodating.

As we were on our lunch break from work, we asked for the starter platter and aromatic crispy duck to arrive at the same time – this caused one problem: what to eat first?! The mixed hors d'oeuvres were plentiful and there was more than enough to go around the table. The spare ribs at Banquet are by far the best; the meat falls off the bone and the sauce is so sweet and sticky. I love them. I wasn’t a fan of the prawn toast, it was crispy but a little too greasy. The chicken satay proved a hit and there was enough sauce to dunk the vegetable spring rolls too.

We tucked in to the duck before I could even photograph it – but we had a whole duck, well shredded. There must have been around 20 pancakes to go around, but unfortunately a lot of them were stuck together and proved difficult to remove from the steamer. The bottom ones were particularly gelatinous and I ended up eating my final pancake like a wonton, as it was impossible to roll.
Banquet 1408, Colcheter, Essex, Chinese, Fdbloggers, Christmas Lunch
We then asked for the main courses to come straight away and our larger plates were replaced with little bowls – and those who couldn’t use chopsticks requested cutlery. We had six dishes between us: crispy shredded beef with chilli, sizzling chicken and beef with green pepper in black bean sauce, sweet & sour chicken Cantonese style and stir fried seasonal vegetables with oyster sauce. We asked for the sautéed pork chop with lemon grass & chilli to be swapped for Kung Po chicken and the special fried rice to be exchanged for an egg fried rice. The rice came in a rather large barrel and while it was lovely, there was far too much of it. In fact, I piled my first bowl so high, there was no room for any rice. Crispy shredded beef is one of my favourite dishes and this was a lot milder than what I’d usually order, but it was good! The chicken and beef in black bean sauce was poured on to the hot plate at the table and was left sizzling before the lid was removed. It smelt incredible – and tasted it, too! The Kung Po chicken was spicy, but luckily the stir-fried greens took the heat away. Those vegetables were divine and everyone remarked on how delicious they were. We struggled to eat everything but we certainly gave it a go – plus, we had to go back to the office!

Considering how busy it was, the service was good – it may have been better had we informed the staff we were on a lunch break and only planned on taking an hour and a half away from work. We managed to pay straight after the table was cleared – and then it was back to the office for the final couple of hours.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Blogmas #20 Five Festive Nail Polishes

2016, BarryM, Blogmas, Christmas, Ciaté, Nails, Nails Inc, Shu Uemura,
2016, BarryM, Blogmas, Christmas, Ciaté, Nails, Nails Inc, Shu Uemura,
On the twentieth day of Blogmas... I thought I’d share some of my favourite festive nail polishes. I’m neither patient enough, nor creative enough to try nail art; it’s always one colour – or two if I’m rocking an accent nail. I do love the innovative kits by Ciaté, as they are really easy to use and are something different. Here are my five favourite shades for this time of year.

Ciaté’s Jewellery Box is one of my favourite ever shades, even if it is difficult to remove. I wear a lot of black over the festive season (anything to hide those food and alcohol babies!) – and this polish jazzes up any outfit. The glitter is quite coarse. Ciaté are definitely my favourite ever nail polish brand. I think I’ll be wearing this shade over New Year’s – depending on my outfit.

Sloane Mews by Nails Inc is a gorgeous deep, vibrant purple – as opulent as its name suggests. It’s the perfect shade for a/w. In December, I find myself wearing more purples and reds. The Nails Inc brushes are unreal, they’re such a good size – large enough to apply one coat in a single sweep. This particular polish is quite thick and ends up drying like a gel, nice and glossy. To make it Christmassy, I love to add an accent nail with gold caviar.

Next up we have a festive red: Yaz Red by Shu Uemura. Red is one of those colours that can easily be worn all year round, but this is darker... I call it holly berry red. It’s also an opaque polish, so only one coat is needed.

And finally, we have my current favourites – two of the shades from the new Barry M collection: Molten Metals. Bronze Bae is more of a gold, than bronze; while Copper Mine is absolutely lush, verging on rose gold – what’s not to love? Before applying these, a couple of basecoats are needed as they are a nightmare to remove (glitter, obvs). These polishes are long-lasting and don’t chip easily. I recently sported the Copper Mine on my finger nails, while Bronze Bae is currently on my toes. I’m definitely going to buy the other shades in the collection.

What are your favourite Christmassy shades?

Love, Lucy xx

Monday, 19 December 2016

Blogmas #19 A Pre-Christmas meal at Tredwells

Dining, Review, London, Tredwells, Covent Garden, FdBloggers, Fine Dining
On the nineteenth day of Blogmas... At the weekend, I went out with my friend Vicky for our annual pre-Christmas meal and catch-up. We had the evening booked well in advance and Vicky had recommended Marcus Wareing’s trendy restaurant, Tredwells, as she had been a number of times before. We only ever go to decent restaurants, so I was looking forward to it – it’s somewhere I’ve been meaning to go to for a while.

The reservation was made for 7:30pm, but I arrived super early (as I was coming straight from Canons Park), so upon arrival, I headed to the bar – where I enjoyed a couple of mulled wine Bellinis. Even at this time, the restaurant was reasonably full and the bar scene, lively. I had some savoury popcorn whilst I waited for Vicky and when she arrived, she joined me on the Bellinis. We didn’t have too long to wait for our table – and we were seated downstairs on the lower ground floor.
Dining, Review, London, Tredwells, Covent Garden, FdBloggers, Fine Dining
Dining, Review, London, Tredwells, Covent Garden, FdBloggers, Fine Dining
I could have spent ages studying the menu, everything sounded amazing – and there’s a clear focus on quality, over quantity. After much deliberation, we both decided to skip the starters and have a dessert instead. None of the starters really jumped out at me anyway, but I’ll always opt for a sweet. I chose the iberico secreto pork, with radicchio, piquillo crème fraîche and bergamot. It was a beautifully presented dish and all the flavours complemented each other. The pork was so well cooked, the radicchio was slightly charred and the piquillo crème fraîche was sweet. I was going to have steak originally, but I definitely made the correct decision. Vicky had the field mushroom filled ravioli, with wild mushrooms and spring onions. It was also well presented – and you can read more about her dish, here. We both also ordered a side of triple-cooked chips, which came with a jar of hollandaise mousse. Wow – who knew chips could be so good? And the mousse was unlike anything I’ve ever had before – it was incredible!
Dining, Review, London, Tredwells, Covent Garden, FdBloggers, Fine Dining
We both chose the same dessert: the white chocolate mousse with espresso granite and tonka. The mousse was creamy, but super light. The chocolate was so subtle, but not in any way overpowered by the coffee. We also ordered espresso martinis – and they were probably one of the best I’ve ever had. The coffee element was quite strong. We both struggled to sleep that night, clearly on a coffee high!
Dining, Review, London, Tredwells, Covent Garden, FdBloggers, Fine Dining
The evening was just spot-on, from the excellent service and the quality food, to the ambience, both at the bar and down in the restaurant. Even though it was a busy Saturday evening in the lead-up to Christmas, like Vicky said, the service never faltered – we were well looked after.

We go to Bob Bob Ricard in a few weeks – and I cannot wait for that. But Tredwells is definitely up there as one of my new favourite restaurants.

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Blogmas #18 Bomb Cosmetics Advent Calendar

Bomb Cosmetics, Bath, Blogmas, Christmas, 2016, Advent Calendar
On the eighteenth day of Blogmas... I treated myself this year to an ‘alternative’ Advent Calendar and I chose the Bomb Cosmetics one because I love their products and compared to others, it was reasonably priced.

With 24 doors, the products obviously aren’t full-sized, but when I first looked at the size of the doors, I assumed they wouldn’t be of a decent size... how wrong I was! The calendar contained soaps, mallows and blasters – and while all the bath products could only be used once, the soaps could be used multiple times. The one problem I had with using this as an Advent Calendar was opening the doors and then getting the products out. The blasters were small heart shapes and easy to remove, but the mallows were larger rectangles, a similar size to the holes – it was pretty much impossible to get them out in one piece, so you’d end up with crumbs. I’m pretty impatient anyway, but I can imagine even the patience would lose it.
Bomb Cosmetics, Bath, Blogmas, Christmas, 2016, Advent Calendar
I’m yet to use any of the soaps, but they certainly look cute stacked up on my window sill. I’ve got them next to my Lush basket – so my room permanently smells lovely. I’ve used most of the other items and I finally went and opened all the doors today, as I wanted to see the final contents... I just couldn’t wait anymore. I can’t seem to find a product list anywhere and the calendar isn’t available direct (but you may be able to find it on Amazon or eBay).

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite products from this year’s calendar – and believe me, it was difficult narrowing it down. Strangely, most of them were the mallows, but this was because they lasted much better in the bath. They melted slowly and the scents were a lot stronger. I’ll link the full-size products below.
Bomb Cosmetics, Bath, Blogmas, Christmas, 2016, Advent Calendar
First up we have the Rhubarb & Custard mallow, which was pink and yellow – packed full of shea and cocoa butters. This left my skin super soft. There was a subtle fruity smell, but to me, it was more sweet, with vanilla and caramel the overpowering scent. The Ginger Love mallow symbolised Christmas well – with hints of ginger and orange, as well the use of bergamot oil. This contained quite a lot of glitter, which luckily didn’t stick to the skin – but was a nightmare to remove from the edge of the bath. The full-size of this product is cute, with a little gingerbread man on the top! I also loved the ShootingStars and Lemon Express mallows, both of which contained sequin stars. I much preferred the scent of the latter; it was just so rejuvenating, with a strong zesty fragrance.
Bomb Cosmetics, Bath, Blogmas, Christmas, 2016, Advent Calendar
The blasters reminded me of those Swizzels sweets as most of them smelt sweet and sherbet-y. The pastel colours were so cute too – and look how beaut they look on my bedding when I photographed them! The Sugar Kiss blaster wasn’t as sweet as it initially smelt and contained marjoram and rosemary essential oils. I’ll definitely be inclined to buy the full-size product though. And finally, the Hollybobs blaster made me feel Festive AF. A pastel green heart with hints of apple and cinnamon, I absolutely loved it – and may have to purchase this, too!

The Advent Calendar was great value for money – I think it worked out to be 82p per product, which is more than reasonable. There were two versions of the calendar this year and I almost wish I had bought both. I can’t wait to find out what Bomb Cosmetics release next year.

Did you have an Advent Calendar this year?

Love, Lucy xx 

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Blogmas #17 Festive Biscuits Recipe

On the seventeenth day of Blogmas... I am going to be sharing a lovely Christmassy recipe tonight. These spiced biscuits are perfect for a social occasion, to give away as presents or simply to be enjoyed over the Christmas festivities. I made these for my work Christmas buffet and I had high expectations of creating something like this. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan, but this recipe did make roughly 40 biscuits.

Ingredients
  • 175g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 275g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
Method
·         Preheat the oven to 180˚C/Gas Mark 4
·         Beat the butter and sugar until creamy
·         Stir in the egg a little at a time until it’s fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth
·         Sift in the flour, spices and baking powder, then stir to form a soft dough
·         Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
·         On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 5mm thick
·         Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place them on a lightly greased baking tray, leaving a little space between each
·         Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden
·         Cool on a wire rack then decorate as desired
·         Store in an airtight container
These biscuits are truly delicious; they’re light and crunchy. The spices are subtle. If I were to have stacked them, I’d have glued them together with white chocolate and then dusted the tower with icing sugar and cinnamon.
Let me know below if you’ll be trying this recipe.
Love, Lucy xx