Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Flex by Filofax

So, a bit late in posting this but my geeky new toy arrived! Little explanation is needed here so I'll mostly just upload the pictures. It is important to mention however, that I have now had this for exactly a week and have no idea how I'd manage without it! For a first time filofax user it is absolutely fab, although I can see how if you were used to working with a ringbinder version that this would be a bit different. 

How it arrived (with two diaries!)
Sorry about the angle, I forgot to rotate...

The front

Open as it arrived, notebook on the left, jotter on the right
Open with an open notebook

Open with the diaries inserted into the outer edges
Unfortunately blurry but open with open diaries
(notebook and jotter still present underneath)

Open with all my rubbish in it!
(Timesheets, oystercard, railcard, pencil, out of hours numbers!)

As above but with diaries both closed
Closed with all my gumpf...

Top edge

Side edge

A few things to note;

1. Now that I've carried it around for a while it has softened and closes smaller
2. It arrived super-quick (always good) AND fit through the letter box
3. I love it (really)
4. Michael likes it so much he has now ordered one in black (although he is very rarely known to EVER write anything down on anything other than a white board...I haven't the heart to tell him that this isn't compatible with his iPad.....)!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

New purchases!

As a pick-me-up for my lonely valentines' day, I popped into Boots on the way home and bought a couple of beauty items that I have wanted for a while. 

I've been on the look-out for a new pink nail varnish - not a baby/pastel pink (too spring) and not anything glittery (too barbie) and not jewel-toned (too winter). I've also been lusting after a bright pink lipstick - I never used to be a lipstick fan but I'm getting much more into it these days. Again, reds are too much for this time of year, and baby pinks are too pale on my winter skin. I love corals but again these are difficult to wear without a tan. So I picked up both these lovelies from L'Oreal on their 'buy one get one half price'. 

The lipstick is L'Oreal Caresse #202 - 'impulsive fuchsia'. 

I absolutely love it - it is somewhere between a gloss, a balm, a lipstick and a stain! It is really easy to wear, even for somebody who is new to (and a bit phobic of) lipsticks. It doesn't bleed so I haven't needed a liner (I don't currently own one), and it wears off evenly to a well-pigmented stain. 

Right, I'm new to taking beauty pictures so these are a bit ropey, but here goes;

This is the swatch without flash

With the flash
An indication of the texture - it's quite sheer.
It doesn't dry completely but doesn't transfer easily.
I found it incredibly difficult to take a picture on my lips!
I was in my onesie without any other make up on so
a full-face shot wasn't an option! I will take a better
one when I next wear it out.
So next, the nail varnish. This is a pretty similar colour to the lipstick, this one is called #504 'insolent magenta'. I've got photos with and without the flash - I must say I hadn't realised before how difficult it is for all the lovely bloggers I read to get nice photos! It is a pain in the arse to be totally honest! These are my attempts....

I really love this polish too - the brush is a great size and shape. I love the mini bottle - I never use a whole bottle of nail varnish before they dry up and always have to throw them away.

The other items I bought were the 'Save the nail' base coat - my nails always suffer in the winter without sunlight and I'm struggling to grow them evenly. As such I've cut them all off as you can see! The manufacturers recommend using this every day for seven days; as I've painted them I won't be doing it as often but hopefully it will still impart some benefit! 

There's really no beating Vaseline for a lip balm (particularly in winter!) and this cocoa butter version smells divine :)

After inspiration from Duckling to Swan and her lovely blog, particularly this post the final item I purchased was the Max Factor mini polish in 'Diva Violet'. I have put it on but forgot to take photos - it is lovely and I will post next time I wear it!

I love new beauty purchases, they do cheer up a dreary February week :)

Monday, 13 February 2012


Just one more quick post - I have bitten the bullet and ordered myself a new 'flex by filofax'. I am very excited because a) I'm a stationery geek and b) I'm sick of carrying around 2 diaries and my online/iPhone calendars, and STILL managing to double book myself.

It turns out that I am not the only stationery geek out there, as part of my research I discovered some fab filofax/organiser related blogs e.g. Philofaxy

I will post some pictures when it arrives :o)

My weekend continued....fudge, truffles and Istanbul!

Michael is at a conference this week in Istanbul (not Constantinople) and had to leave on Saturday to stay with his Dad, and flew out Sunday morning from Heathrow. He's gone until Thursday, maybe it's a little test for the 3 month secondment! I must say that one of the (many) bonuses of iPhones is that whenever we both have WiFi we can use Facetime! It's lovely because it means we can see each other and chat before bed like we normally would if we were together :)

A sneaky screen-capture unaware shot!
Michael seems to be in the *teeniest* hotel room I have ever seen - the bed is against the wall, and the only floor space is the width of the door on the other side of the bed! I am now quite glad that I decided not to go with him - the expensive flights and time off from the new job were enough not to go but now the room is barely big enough for Michael maybe it's a blessing! 

This is my Michael replacement
for the next few nights!
My beautiful friend Camilla and her boyfriend Adam popped by from Oxford yesterday afternoon for tea, which was lovely! I haven't seen her for a while and they have put down a deposit on a little cottage to rent together, which I am so excited to see! 

In age-old Brighton tradition, I whipped up some fudge while they were here, from this recipe for white chocolate and cranberry fudge from mumsnet. It worked great, I just think it needs some vanilla extract to be perfect. I only did 1/4 of the recipe and it made plenty!
FUDGE! (Yummy)
My lovely friend Ellie came over later and we attempted an adaptation of the recipe to make dark chocolate and ginger fudge. Unfortunately I think the chocolate got too hot so it didn't go smooth like it should have. So we added some more icing sugar, some butter and made truffles!

It was messy and they were a nightmare to roll
but we got there in the end!

The finished beauties!
We watched One Day with our naughty treats. It's very sweet and sad, and I did enjoy it (and cry!) but I think maybe it doesn't live up to the book - I didn't fall in love with the characters as much as I wanted to. Ellie has read the book and I think she agrees, but because she a) knew the story and b) has developed a relationship with the characters I don't think she noticed it as much.

All in all, a lovely week!

My week continued....Donating, snow and bedside tables!

So, on Thursday I did my good deed for the week, I gave my seventh blood donation! (For more info visit - It is quick, virtually painless and really does make a difference.) 

When I pulled up into the car park at Southmead hospital there was this squirrel waiting for me! Absolutely not bothered by my presence in the slightest.

This week we also had our most recent furniture purchase delivered! Bedside tables from Marks and Spencer, and they are beeeaauuuutiful! Our bedroom looks almost complete now :)

So pretty!
You can't see the enormous pile of laundry...
Coincidence? I think not.

Just because it's valentine's day this week :)
On Thursday evening we had quite a lot of snow forecast, but didn't get any. However in Worcester (where I worked on Friday) they did get snow, which led to this;

I.e. inappropriate footwear and me feeling
like something of a tit!
It was pretty though, especially as there was no knock-on effect on travel or!

On Friday evening I worked at the pub and watched the amazing 'Soul Ingredients' perform. They were so much fun!

Soul Ingredients
They are a 7-piece soul band; as yet they don't have a website but I managed to find the drummer on myspace - Greg White.

This week in pictures.... Cowshed, ice cream sandwiches and celebrations!

This week has been quite eventful! Both of us have been busy, and had hardly any free time (also hence the lack of posts). However I have managed to take some photos to document this rather nice week! I'll split them up over a few posts as there are plenty!

1. I managed to lose just under two pounds at my weigh-in on Tuesday morning. This is just as well, as there do seem to be an enormous number of food photos this week! To celebrate (sort of!) Michael and I decided to try the 'earlybird special' at the Cowshed on Whiteladies road. This is a steak restaurant that describes itself as follows;
 'At The Cowshed we bring the taste of the countryside to the city. For us the most important thing is knowing where and how food is produced. We focus on the quality of the farming or production methods and the ethics and integrity of the grocer, breeder or supplier.' 
Their earlybird special is a steak or burger, plus drink, for £10. 

We both opted for the steak - mine medium-rare and Michael's rare. It was lovely. They serve it on a plastic board (which I thought was a bit odd, either a wooden board or a plate, no?) with a bowl of chips each. The meat was really delicious, tender and flavoursome, cooked to perfection. However I was a little disappointed with the chips - they were a good size (I love a large chip, fries do not compare!), and they were hot, but aside from that they failed to impress - I found them to be quite dry and chewy. Something else too - while I understand that by serving steak and chips, you get just that; we do like our veg so if the waitress had asked us if we wanted a side salad we probably would have ordered one! We also seemed to cause some consternation by asking for an additional drink - we wanted to start with a drink and then have our glasses of wine with our steak. Firstly, nobody offered us a drink until they'd brought us a menu (10 minutes in) and then came back later to take our order. We were quite parched! The waitress was quite concerned that we thought we could have a gin and tonic as part of the deal - no, we would just like one now, and we'll have wine afterwards! I suspect this is a problem that they have with their earlybird - people come in specifically for it and don't know how not to order a drink until they've specified that's what they want.  I do understand that, but 15-20 minutes without a drink does not make great service, and making customers feel awkward for wanting a preprandial beverage is an unusual business tactic! I am quite willing to believe that we may have gone on a bad day though, as I have heard many wonderful things about this restaurant. 

2. We decided that we would head home without dessert but via Sainsbury's to pick up ingredients for ice cream sandwiches! A very decadent treat, I'm not sure why we decided that we deserved it but we did! Michael has been working really hard on a project - on Skype at all hours of the day and night - so he got on with some of that while I got busy in the kitchen! I've been bitten by this baking bug, which I love but it is not good for my waistline. I may have to impose a baking ban until more of the diet is complete. I also started to put together my kitchen journal - a beautiful tie-front recipe binder that I was given, that I'm yet to use! On Monday night I added the first recipe (Welshcakes, of course!) and I'm determined to keep building it up - I'm always looking a recipe up online, using it and then losing it, never to find it again! No more for I will record all in my trusty journal! 

So here is my attempt - the cookie recipe I used wasn't great, I was really careful about the timing but they came out a little dry. If anyone has any tried and trusted cookie recipes please send them my way! The dough did taste amazing though....

Ice cream sandwich
We did buy Carte Dor Light vanilla ice cream as a nod to the diet - which I must say is extremely good for less than 5% fat!

3. CELEBRATIONS! Michael has very excitingly gained a three-month internship/secondment in London. He was really nervous about his interview last week and I'm so proud of him! He did so well :) We found out on Wednesday so accidentally (bought and) popped a bottle of fizzy to toast his success. This does mean though that he's off to live in London for three months :( I will miss him! 

Not champagne, but yummy!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Is it St David's day?!

Today my mood has been completely restored! Woohoo!

I have had an uber productive Sunday - Michael had lots of work to do but I managed to clean the bathroom, tidy the kitchen and most importantly, finally finish and submit my PhD proposal!! Hurrah! I don't know when I'll hear anything, the closing date is tomorrow and I know (if I get that far!) that there'll be at least a presentation and an interview before any decision is made. So keep all your fingers and toes crossed for me!

To celebrate, the lovely Laura - fellow barmaid - gave me a recipe for welshcakes! I'm not sure if it's a secret recipe as it did come from her grandmother, but I'll keep it to myself just in case... This one from BBC Food is quite similar, although if it makes 4-6 I'm a monkey's uncle! Laura's made 16! They are delicious and so easy to make, I would completely recommend them even for total baking beginners. They're not so diet friendly but a little of what you fancy is good for the soul :)

And all my daffodils have come out too so it looks like St David's day in our living room! All in all I've have a lovely day :) It does help that I have tomorrow morning off now in my new routine - no work 'til I have to get the train at about 1.30!

Here's to a blissful Monday for everyone :) Keep safe anybody who's got lots of snow.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chilly and tired

I'm in a mood. I'm not sure why. Michael is at a very exciting (I'm not sure he would agree!) MSc dinner, and so I'm home alone, trying not to demolish the entire bottle of wine I rather misguidedly opened! I'm supposed to be cleaning the house and then getting an early night, as I have a 10 hour day in Cardiff tomorrow, followed by a 4-5 hour pub shift... 3 jobs = tiring.

However, motivation for cleaning is not forthcoming, I've eaten a bag of prawn crackers and I'm in a sulk. This cold weather makes the diet hard to stick to, although I'm not sure if that's just an excuse! Having 3 jobs also makes it more tricky to get to the gym, I'm going to have to sort that out ASAP. I did write my personal statement yesterday so at least that is crossed off my list!

Right, buck up your ideas missus, time to get on with SOMETHING! I did purchase these earlier to bring a bit of spring to the house in these -5 degree temperatures;

A bit early I know but I can't resist them :)