Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas for the anxious or the introverted

So I'm quite an introvert, well to be precise an extroverted introvert.  When required I can do a presentation in front of 500 students, I can network at conferences, I can banter and socialise with the best of them but I'm happiest at home or on the allotment either on my own or with Sam.  

It's not that I don't like socialising, I do but I also find it really exhausting.  Why am I posting this?  Because Christmas is hard work for a lot of introverted people or people with anxiety; Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, travelling far and wide to make sure you see everyone you need to can be really overwhelming.

Things I do at Christmas that non-anxious people might find weird:
  • I'll always choose to text or IM you rather than talk on the phone
  • 9 times out of 10 I'm totally fine about you cancelling our plans
  • I will NEVER get super dressed up, being uncomfortable even during the office Christmas party is not an option
  • I know Amazon are evil tax dodging scum but doing my Christmas shopping with them means I don't have to deal with the busy Christmas high street and I'm prepared to sell a piece of my soul every time I click the 'submit order' button to avoid that
  • I'll do 'the big Christmas shop' at 1am at the 24 hour Tesco just to avoid the horror of dead-eyed weekend food shoppers *shudder*
  • I will sneak out of a party without saying goodbye to avoid the 'big goodbye' involved, I won't feel bad about it either
  • Socialising with friends who are fine with me bringing my slippers to their house will always be my favourite
I would love to hear from fellow introverts, I can't be the only person who does this stuff at Christmas can I??

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: Awkward People

Of course by awkward people I actually mean me.  Sam thinks I'm really difficult to buy for but I think I like so much!  To be fair I'm pretty fickle and if you have a fickle person in your life hopefully something from this gift guide will suit!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: Cat Theme

Every cat person needs as much cat themed stuff in their life especially at Christmas amirite?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: Stationary

Um... so yeah stationary is the best!  I have so many notebooks, pencils and pens that I technically don't need to buy any stationary for the next five years or so.  That won't stop me of course and I just had to put together a stationary gift guide, it gave me an excuse to lust after all the amazing stuff out there!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: Secret Santa

I work in an office where Secret Santa is taken pretty seriously we have a £5 budget and we're sworn to strict secrecy (which is ignored completely and utterly).  We have our Christmas party tomorrow and will be giving out our Secret Santa presents.  Most years I've done pretty well, there have been a couple of occasions where it's clear that my Secret Santa has no idea what I like.  With this in mind I've compiled a gift guide where the gifts are generic enough not to cause offence and are in the region of £5 which seems a fairly typical budget amount.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: Tweens

I have two amazing nieces to buy for, one is a tween, one is soon to be a tween.  Missy Big is on the cusp of all things teenage but isn't quite there yet, Missy Little looks up to her sister and is therefore really interested in what she gets for Christmas so the stakes this year are pretty high.  

When compiling this gift guide I had my nieces in mind but have tried to keep it as un-gendered as possible (I really don't like gift guides for 'her' or 'him' they're so predictable).

Ok let me talk you through the reasoning behind these choices:
  • Monopoly Deal: this card game is great and a lot quicker than the board game version, the whole family can play and involves pretty grown up strategy to win.
  • Penny skateboard: it seems that tweens really start to take more and more of an interest in technology, and (sweeping generalisation here...) less of an interest in outdoor physical activity so something like the awesome Penny Skateboard might just take interest away from phones and iPads.
  • Slingshot: I had mixed feelings about adding this one, I really like it as an object and think it could be really fun but I know many of my friends who are parents have problems with any toys that resemble weapons - happy to hear your thoughts on this one, as someone who isn't a parent I would give this as a gift is that appropriate?
  • Doodle duvet: what's not to love about customising your own duvet cover?
  • Wooden microphone ruler: erm... I just think it would be great to have this in my pencil case, I was a big fan of stationary when I was at school spending most of my pocket money buying new stuff each term.
  • Multi coloured battery operated candle: when I was a tween my friends and I would always be giving one another candles as gifts I think it gave my parents regular mini heart attacks.  If these had been around when I was a tween I think both me and my parents would have loved this option, plus.. multi coloured!
  • Wireless charger: it's compulsory to have at least one practical gift at Christmas right?  This seems like a pretty sleek option, much better than socks.
  • Temporary tattoos: this ETSY seller has loads of great options, I liked this watch as well as some really great lolly options which entertain for a hour or so on Christmas day?
  • Hair chalk: all the hair colours under the sun without ruining the best bathroom towels.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas Pinterest

Around about September I start getting the urge to pin Christmas images to my numerous Christmas Pinterest boards but even I recognise that this is socially unacceptable and shouldn't be encouraged.  But as we're so close to December I thought I would be allowed to share some of these, my favourite pins with you?

I have the following Christmas themed boards you can take a look at: Advent, DIY. Food, Garlands, Gift Wrap, Illustration, Room Decoration, Table Decoration, and finally Tree (you may not have guessed but I really like Christmas).

Monday, 16 November 2015

The view from plot 39a

Found photos

I was taking some photos to put stuff on eBay (ugh so skint!) and found these on the memory card.  They were taken in late August/early September before other Sam joined us on the plot and before we had constructed serenity shed to shelter in when in rains (rather than hiding under a sheet of plastic!).

The spiral tendrils are from the butternut squash plant, once you give it a little support it climbs and climbs sending out these amazing spiral arms to grip onto whatever comes within it's grasp.  The apple trees behind the polytunnel where ridiculously abundant this year so many of the apples were just rotting on the ground next year we might try and make some cider with them.  Hopefully we won't go blind...

I'll do a proper update from the plot soon, it has been so rainy recently and the plot turns to sticky, heavy mud making it almost impossible to work on and no fun to photograph.  

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Everyday adventuring


This last fortnight in particular has been crazy busy, with all the staff cuts at work there is no quiet time any more where we can catch our breath and do all of those jobs that aren't urgent.  My colleagues and I eat/sleep/work/repeat but hey we do it with colourful bunting and a smile on our faces so that's ok then...

Sarah and I did squeeze in a trip to the Bike Shed Theatre where we saw We This Way, the audience hold up different coloured glow sticks to dictate the direction of the story it was really interesting I would recommend it.

Christmas disappointments

I'm going back to a real Christmas tree, I tried a fake one last year and it just wasn't the same not nearly as Chritmassy and exciting as a real tree.  To celebrate this decision Sarah and I ordered a bunch of novelty decorations from ASDA sadly the order arrived incomplete and many of the decorations were broken.  Not entirely surprising really as many of them weren't even wrapped up and were knocking around in a box far too big for the contents *grumble*.

Allotment successes

We've not had too bad a year on the plot all in all, you'll see Sam holding up some peppers that we FINALLY managed to grow, we think we know what we've been doing wrong all of these years so with any luck next year we won't be able to move for peppers we've grown.  

Exciting news from the plot as well.... we have a new plot share, the lovely Sam (different Sam it's confusing for all when I ask Sam/Sam to pass me something) and guess what, she turns up to the plot and works on it!  What a miracle!!  I will do a separate post  to show you the amazing progress she's made already :)

Friday, 6 November 2015

The view from this mat

Oh yeah I have a blog

Life huh?  Busy isn't it?  Work has been hectic and my gym classes have suffered because of it, I've kept attendance up as best I can but it's fair to say my routine has been sketchy at best for the last month or so.

One of the classes I attended last week was yoga, always one of my favourites especially on a  Friday evening as it sets you up perfectly for the weekend.  Well it used to until more and more people were packed into the class and there was no room to swing a cat.  Cue skank footed man.

The first time he set-up in front of me there really was no room so we were all a bit close for comfort, during cobra pose my face was alarmingly close to his rough AF peeling skinned feet.  It was horrible and ruined the class but it's one of those things so *shrug* I tried to put it behind me until last Friday when he set-up in front of me again.  Gah!  The trouble was there was plenty of room for him to move somewhere else and give us both the room we needed but he didn't. then class began and he put he skank feet on my mat.  NOPE.  I had to leave the class for a moment if I didn't I probably would have punched him in the face, which of course is not very yoga.

Time for a change

I've been doing my current gym routine now for about a year so really it's time for a change and this was the prompt I needed to do that so next week Sarah and I are going to give spinning a try.  I've heard it's pretty brutal but I'm really excited to give it a try, the bonus is it's at the gym just around the corner from me rather than all the way across town so that's a win.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Birthday Funday!

Getting old kinda sucks

Every year about two weeks before my birthday I get the gloom.  Another year older... I know it's just a number but sometimes it just doesn't feel like that, especially when on your actual birthday you'll be in London at a conference talking EU and Higher Education policy.  Uggghhhhh.  I made a flying visit to the capital racing up after work on Wednesday, I saw my friends for the briefest of brief catch-ups then headed to my brothers new place on the Northern Line.

The next day (my actual birthday) I sat in a conference centre for five hours to discuss paperwork, EU policy, and listened to the world's most boring speaker from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills it was as exciting as it sounds.  Plus point?  A decent lunch, silver lining and all that.

Birthday Fun Day - rescheduled.

So for weeks Sarah has been listening to me whine on about my birthday and how it is almost always a complete wash out and she insisted we had a Birthday Fun Day on the Friday.  Now anyone who lives in Devon may not agree with what I have classified here as a 'fun day' as 'fun' but here we go...

Trago Mills was our first stop, a friend on Facebook posted a status describing Trago Mills as the Dismaland of Devon - true and false in equal measure.  It's is the shittest place, it's falling apart at the seams but OMG you can get the BEST tat there without having to rummage too hard either.  We stocked up on tacky as all hell Christmas decorations, baskets to take to the woods when we go foraging, craft supplies, kitchen supplies and cacti... so many cacti.  We also stroked (slightly harassed) the animals in Pets Corner naming one of the goats Babs, she (probably he actually) was adorable and now I want a pet goat.

Next stop?  Asda.  Yeah you heard me, we don't have an Asda where I live and Sarah wanted to pick up a copper french press (they were out of stock) and a cream vintage style kettle (they were out of stock) and if she could find some Marmite flavoured nuts all the better (they were out of stock).  It wasn't the best stop on our day of fun, but we did class things up by eating Ginsters sat in the car, in the car park whilst passing comment on those around us.

Then it was Hobbycraft to stock up on wool (I'm making a blanket at the moment), try on freaky animal masks, and pick up cross stitch supplies for Sarah's current craft project.  Basically our Birthday Fun Day involved a lot of shopping and it was awesome, there were other stops on our day of fun but I've been prattling on for some time now.

Upon reflection

So there we go, another year older, another year wiser.  It's been a tough year and I've learnt a lot of life lessons I'm hoping the next 12 months will be slightly kinder for me, my friends and my family.  Things I have gained are some awesome friendships that I completely and utterly treasure, some new hobbies that I'm good at, an 'above and beyond' award at work in recognition for the work I've been doing, and an appreciation for how normal, everyday life is a great thing especially when that has been disrupted for a time.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Day trippin'

The problem with being impatient

You've probably all heard about and seen a load of photos on social media about Banksy's Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare?  Yeah me too, so Sam, my friend Mel and I decided to take a road trip to Weston to take a look.  Both Mel and I had tried to get tickets online but they sell out super quick, one time I was entering my payment details and they sold out whilst I was doing that, I was pretty pissed.

You can get tickets on the door so we thought we'd give it a go, we rock up and there is a pretty substantial queue... it'll move quickly we thought, it will be fine.... Sam went off to explore and came back with the exciting news that we could expect to queue for at least three hours.  Yeah, yeah Mel and I thought, as if!  So we carried on whilst Sam went into town to get crisps and snacks, after an hour we'd moved less than 100 metres, well fook this, ain't nobody got time for that no matter how good it's supposed to be.

Kitsch wonderland

Giving up on the queue was actually a big relief, we skipped off into town ready to buy pasties, ice cream and fish and chips!  Sam had found a shop called 'proper job', best cheap shop ever!  I purchased neon orange washing up brushes, yes that's right you heard me, so much joy whilst washing up now.  Happy days.

But we all know that it's the Grand Pier arcade that's the real winner.  My favourite moment of the day?  Watching Mel shouting "fuck off, fuck off" to a bunch of Care Bears in a claw game cabinet, sadly none of us came away with a prize but perhaps an increased risk of diabetes from all the bad bad food.

This girl was pretty happy with the Big Ben penny pusher, I lost 50 pence worth of 2ps, not happy about that.

Chips by the seaside could we be any more British?  Sam was getting tired and tetchy by this point so we headed back to the car via a weird pick 'n' mix shop with skull lollies, liked the look of them but DID NOT want to eat them, bleurgh.

I'll be making an appointment with the dentist now thanks

Just being near all those sticks of rock made my teeth ache but there is no denying Weston-Super-Mare is a riot of colours, sounds and salty sea air.  I tried again on Saturday to get tickets to Dismaland but failed, ah well nevermind.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Wardrobe wishlist

Heading up North

It's conference time again!  In a couple of weeks I will be heading up to Glasgow to attend a European Educators conference, I'm really looking forward to it as I haven't been to Glasgow before.  I'm still paying off my credit cards from the time I spent in the States after the last conference I attended so this Wardrobe Wishlist really is a wishlist.  I can feel my bank balance whimpering at the thought of me buying any of this *sigh*.

Conference essentials
  • My conference essentials would include a water bottle - with all the talking and presentations you do you'll need to hydrate, I'm a big fan of glass water bottles as I hate the taste of re-usable plastic water bottles. 
  • Comfortable shoes are a must, stomping up and down a conference hall you quickly rack up several miles walking a day and it is agony if you have bad footwear because you just have to keep going blisters or not.  Take blister plasters just in case!
  • I use an iPad to take my notes and find that Evernote is the best software for it, I have it synced to my phone, iPad, work computer and home computer so it doesn't matter which device I use to take my notes they'll automatically appear on which ever device I'm using.
  • Always take more business cards than you think you will possibly need!!  Not having a card to give at each and every meeting is really embarrassing and potentially a missed opportunity.
  • Mints, so many mints... you'll drink so much coffee to get you through the long days (breakfast meetings, back-to-back itineraries followed up with evening receptions mean you need a ton of coffee) no one likes to meet someone with coffee breath and it's certainly not something you want to be remembered for!

Well that's about it, if there are any more essentials I discover after the conference I'll let you know!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

This is my town

I live in a town where you stumble across 'wee' and 'poo' graffiti, a town in the South West of England in the county of Devon.  

In my town salami can be found stuck to drainpipes...

My town is near the seaside which means you get AWESOME shop signs? Sculptures? Models? like this one...

My town has talented artists whose work isn't white washed over but encouraged...

My town has the right mix of nature and urban (the right mix for me at least!).  A short drive to the nearest beach, a short walk to the nearest blackberry treasure trove, a stone's throw from stunning Dartmoor...

My town can always improve of course, but to me it's pretty awesome as it is.

Monday, 24 August 2015


Better than Before

I've been reading 'Better than Before - Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives' by Gretchen Rubin recently, I'm about halfway through but I'm finding so much of it is resonating with me and my #fudgeitfatclub goals that I thought I would share one of the strategies that I think will work really well for me.

Firstly I've read all of Rubin's books and find them really easy to read, really insightful and I have applied many of the things Rubin suggests to my everyday life and seen real benefits.


As it turns out I'm an impulsive person, I'm all about the short term gratification and lose sight of the long term benefits, apparently.  I have to say I rarely regret my impulsive decisions, for example when I got engaged I ordered a ring from an ETSY seller based in the US, they provided a printable ring sizer, I printed it, sized up and placed my order not giving it any thought whatsoever.  When I told my sister-in-law and Sam the looks of horror on their faces really confused me, what's the problem??  As it turns out I hadn't scaled the print off properly and got sent a ring that was waaaay too small, but it just didn't bother me I sent it back and ordered the correct size it just didn't seem like a problem.  Which is kinda my problem when it comes to food.  Had a bad day; have a bottle of wine, colleague pissed you off; eat a chocolate bar, did back-to-back Body Combat and Body Pump classes?  Free reign to eat what I want of course!  I need a plan....

An If-Then Plan

So what is an if-then plan?  It's putting into place a strategy of action to tackle those troublesome occurrences that push you towards bad habits.  So to repeat the example above, if I've had a bad day I tend to have a glass or two of wine to soothe and calm me despite knowing it goes against my longer term weight loss goals.  So if I have a bad day at work, then how about making time out to spend twenty minutes reading my book instead of having that glass or two of wine?  As Rubin points out the key to successful If-Then planning is identifying those trigger instances and formulating  planned behaviours that break the cycle of bad habit forming.  Here are a few I've come up with so far:

  • If at work I find I want to snack on chocolate or the never ending supply of cake then grab a glass of water from the cooler out of the office - this defuses the moment and creates a little distance between the moment of wanted to snack on the bad stuff and remembering my longer term goals
  • If I get home and I'm tired and can't be bothered to cook then make healthier options more convenient - at the weekend cook up batches of healthy food that can be heated up rather than opting for a pizza
  • If I want to cycle to work in the morning then remove the barriers that make me late and therefore result in my driving to work. So for example, pack my bag the night before, put my alarm on the other side of the room so I have to get up and out rather than hitting snooze!
I'm sure I will come up with more over time as there are many different behaviours I am looking to transform into good habits rather than bad.  What would your If-Then plan be, any suggestions?

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The view from 39a

Lazy, hazy summer on the allotment

I had an unexpected long weekend at home this weekend (long story), Friday was a washout as it rained most of the day but for me that's perfect as I pottered about the house getting all of those jobs I've been meaning to do for ages sorted.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday however were beautiful and sunny so we spent some serious time on the plot.

I haven't grown sunflowers for a couple of years which is such a mistake as I love them!  The first year we had our plot we planted loads for our wedding and they looked amazing I really enjoyed growing them but they seemed like a luxury plant in comparison to all the fruit and veg we wanted to cram onto the plot.  Mistake!  They do a great job of attracting pollinating insects and I love looking at them so how is that just luxury?

The ongoing saga of the woman who took over the other half of our plot but has done nothing with it is almost at an end, she has had her letter of warning and we've had confirmation that if she doesn't pull her finger out we can have the other half back.  If/when we get it I'm going to grow so many flowers to attract the bees and add some colour to our plot!

Speaking of colour...

Look at these tomatoes!  I love that on one vine you have a fruit at every stage of ripening, the smell of tomato plants isn't rivalled on the plot and to me it just equals the smell of summer.  I am delighted to confirm that the variety of tomato Sam has decided to specialise in (we lost the label so don't actually know what it is so have to save seeds at the end of each season for next year) is really tasty and plentiful.  I ran out of boxes to hold the harvest and had to carry this bunch home in my t-shirt, nice.


Over the years we've had rubbish luck with growing peppers, whilst other occupants of the polytunnel have boasted massive fruits and plenty of them we've always struggled to get our plants past flowering into fruiting stage.  This year however we seem to have done well, we kept our plants on the inside of the raised bed nearest the 'wall' of the polytunnel away from the walkway and draft of the doors, they seem to like it and have started to produce these:

Butternut squashes are loving it in the tunnel as well this year with this beast making an appearance (even though it doesn't look that big in this photo, it's epic I can't wait for it to ripen up and get it in the oven). 

Cooking up a storm?

With all the veg finally ready to pick it means our kitchen is constantly fired up, this week I made spicy passata and runner bean chutney, the chutney needs some tweaking as it's a bit vinegary at the moment but I might add some cauliflower or courgette to tone it down a bit.  

If the weather holds out we'll try for another weekend on the plot this coming weekend I'd like to make a start on a path going down what is currently the border of our plot and our neighbours but if she gives it up it'll be down the centre which will be great as it will avoid us compacting soil we want to grow stuff in.

Anyone got any suggestions for stuff to make?  In particular how to preserve courgettes, any suggestions welcome!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The view from this mat


Pat the Twat is back!  He has been M.I.A. for about two months, I can't say I've been very upset about that and then at yoga the other night he rocked up with that sneer on his face.  Damn.  Not only was Pat there but it was a total testosterone fest as well, usually we have one or two men but we got up to about 12, something I hasten to add I don't have a problem with but my goodness the competitive breathing, grunting and farting was a bit much!  Calm yourselves gentleman yoga is supposed to be chill!

Like water rushing in

I missed Combat a couple of times last month and when I returned my sacred spot at the front near the fire doors was taken!  Erm... what?  A bunch of tweens had muscled in while I was away, damn it!  It just goes to show you shouldn't skip class, don't worry though Sarah and I are working on reclaiming our rightful place permanently, a couple of weeks with us flailing about in front of them will be enough to put anyone off and we will once again have all the kicking room we need.  

Wish me luck

So I've not been cycling to work recently, it has been a horrible, busy and stressful time recently and to be frank I have been putting off going in until the last minute which means driving not cycling.  But that must change!  I love cycling in and the exercise high you get to start your day, plus my work is at the top of a hill, so by knocking off time I can whizz down the hill to home in no time at all.  Fingers crossed it doesn't rain tomorrow...

Edit: I didn't cycle it is absolutely tipping it down!  Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, 3 August 2015

Spotlight on Pinterest: Double take

This is one of my all time favourite Pinterest boards, and possibly the first one I created.  It houses the weird and wonder, and mostly things I have no idea how to categorise other than wtf was that??

The Double take board strikes me as a good Monday board, or for that matter a good Friday afternoon 'why is there still an hour to go?' board.

Follow Anna's board Double take on Pinterest.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

How we...

Four year anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary, four years ago we became Team Mozzy!  I thought on our anniversary I would write a post about how we navigated the financial minefield that is hosting a wedding.

Sam and I aren't very showy with cash, we thrift and save where we can and don't have a particularly spendy mindset.  The idea of spending thousands of pounds on a wedding, just one day in our lives after all, was out of the question and as anyone who has organised a wedding will tell you the second you use the word 'wedding' £100+ gets automatically added to your bill.

I should add that we had amazing support from family and friends throughout the lead up to our wedding, financial, creative, emotional the whole nine yards we couldn't have done it without them.  I would also add that a thrifty wedding is NOT an easy option and there were a few times we wished we'd just eloped but in the end it was totally worth it.

What we did...

  • We sent out sunflower and cornflower seeds with our invitations and asked people to grow flowers to contribute to the decorations, we also grew sunflowers on the allotment and had them all over the venue they looked great!
  • My mum was amazing, the night before the wedding she went to a whole load of supermarkets and bought up bunches and bunches of reduced cut flowers and created beautiful displays with them for each of the tables.  My aunt foraged in the hedgerows for brambles and other flowers to be included in the top table floral decoration all of it looked great.
  • Now I appreciate that I'm lucky to have a sister-in-law who can rustle up amazing dresses and not everyone does but she made my dress and the two bridesmaids dressed for under £100 (basically just the cost of the fabric).  When I see that you can spend thousands on a dress alone, that blows my mind!
  • We found a venue that was new to hosting weddings so managed to get the cost of hire for much less than the more established destinations.  It did mean we were guinea pigs for their processes and organisation but for the price of the venue hire that was definitely a sacrifice we were happy to make.
  • We took a taxi to the registry office and to the venue.  Ok, ok that's not glamorous at all but we weren't prepared to pay upwards of £500 for a sleek car for what would have been a maximum of 20 minutes in transit.  Plus we didn't care that we rocked up in a taxi, and because we didn't care no one else did either.
  • My mum and aunt were once again amazing, over several months they bought up white china from charity shops and car boot sales, it didn't matter that the styles were all different because each plate was plain white it matched enough and went with the relaxed feel of the do.  At the end of the wedding we sold most of the crockery back to the venue, (after our friends and relatives had taken what they wanted!)
  • Months in advance of the wedding we made the most of supermarket offers on booze, after Christmas and New Year we were buying up Cava and Babycham like it was going out of fashion, on one visit to the supermarket we came out with two trolleys piled high which raised a few eyebrows in the car park!
  • Our venue didn't allow foil confetti so I dried petals over the radiator for weeks and weeks!  I then went to Makro and bulk bought small white paper bags (like sweetie bags) and rubber stamped on each one 'I love you more than...' (mario kart or ginger chicken udon noodles for example)  and added them to each of the bags so each guest got a unique bag of confetti.
  • Sam brewed his own alcohol, that stuff was rocket fuel but people seemed to enjoy drinking it, my favourite was the blackberry vodka, it tasted like liquid jam!
  • My mother-in-law crafted knitted flowers that we used as napkin rings, people loved them and I saw lots of guests wearing them during the reception which was lovely.
  • We bought up vases, water jugs, cutlery and cake stands at car boots the water jugs were plain glasses the vases were coloured glass.

What we would recommend...

  • If you're looking to take a similar thrifty approach it is best to go into it without thinking everything will be matchy/matchy.  We knew we would be picking stuff up from car boots and charity shops so knew there would always be an element of unpredictability to it but that just didn't matter to us and added to the ramshackle nature of our do!
  • Gauge early on if family and friends do actually want to help out and make a list of what you want them to do, don't be vague.  I probably was vague at times which may have made things frustrating for family helping us out so if I could do things again I would have a more structured plan.
  • We asked guests to bring a bottle rather than a gift, others contributed by baking cakes to be included on our desert buffet (that went down a storm!).  Guests are super generous so try not to over buy your booze if you go down this route.  Sam and I were drinking Babycham for months after the event and took boxes and boxes of wine back to the wholesaler because our guests were so incredibly generous with the alcohol they brought with them.
  • Our families had also been bringing wine back from their trips to France, this definitely helped reduce costs!
  • If you are thinking of buying up plates and things for your do rather than hiring them make sure you know what you're going to do with them afterwards.  Whether that's selling them on, donating them to charity or giving them away to friends it is super stressful if you're left with loads of stuff after the event that you don't know what to do with.
  • It helps if you go with the flow, things won't be perfect but that's totally ok, whilst there are many ways you can save money on your wedding there are many things that you really have to just shell out for and that can be stressful as well.  Have good friends around you for support and try not to take it all too seriously!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Spotlight on Pinterest: Style // hair

If my job allowed I would dye my hair every colour of the rainbow and have some severe undercuts but alas I have to remain fairly mainstream and dream of better hairstyles via Pinterest.

I have curly hair which can be tricky to style, when I have it long it loses it's curl but when I have it short or bob length the styles I can work are very limited.  I've recently had an undercut which has lightened my hair and meant I've had a much better curl which I'm loving.  I'm thinking of growing out the top portion of my hair so I can wear it down at work but then tie it up to reveal sleek super short hair... Not sure how well my current style will grow out and how I can manage that, I'll let you know how it goes.  In the meantime here is my Style // hair board:

Follow Anna's board Style // hair on Pinterest.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The view from this mat

Wardrobe malfunctions

Quite often at the gym you see way more of other people than you bargained for, leggings are more see through than one would imagine, shorts don't cover all that nature gave you, and VPL is prominent wherever you turn.  I'm not super keen on everyone being able to see the outline of my pants through my leggings so when I found some seam free pants I thought I would give them a go...

First off, they were mahoooosive, way bigger than they looked on the packet, but fine, I can cope with that no one is going to see them, no one need know how granny-ish they look... Secondly, comfortable fabric but no natural fibres, a cotton plant has been no where near these bad boys, but that shouldn't be a problem, should it?  Cue one of the hottest days of the year, Sarah and I are in the front row of Body Combat giving it our all, but its all good, no one can see my VPL hahahahaha I'm such a winner at this gym thing!  We come down to the floor to start doing our abs track when, what the fuck is this?  Synthetic material = no breathable qualities, I've sweated, of course I have it's hot and I've been kicking and punching for an hour... but it looks like I've wet myself!  This is a disaster!!!  

The situation is made worse by the fact that I have to get through the abs track and cool down without anyone noticing... but the teacher insists we all face the same way for abs, basically our bums face a massive window where the next class wait to come into the sports hall, they spend that time watching... ohhhhhh shit.  But what can I do?  I struggle through and make a hasty exit via the side door straight out into the car park, I catch up with Sarah and basically flash her my sweaty crotch.  She pointed and laughed, I would have too if the roles had been reversed.  

The hell pants were unceremoniously binned.

Have you got any wardrobe malfunctions that you can share with me to make me feel better???

Monday, 20 July 2015

Spotlight on Pinterest: Seasons // summer

As it is the middle of summer I thought today's spotlight on Pinterest had to be my Seasons // summer board.  I've tried to fill it with quirky and colourful summer pictures but would love to fill it up with even more so do send me your suggestions!

Almost every picture on this board reminds me of the holiday Sam and I spent in San Diego, it was perfect we're both so desperate to get back to California to see those beaches and palm trees!

Follow Anna's board Seasons // summer on Pinterest.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Spotlight on Pinterest: Nature // mushrooms

Blogville has had a long love affair with mushrooms and toadstools, almost every interiors post you read will have a toadstool nightlight or stool tucked in the corner somewhere (I'm no exception btw my Christmas tree is usually covered from top to bottom in toadstool decorations).

Mushrooms in real life are so weird, and fascinating.  In autumn Sam and I try to get outdoors and visit a forest or two to photograph mushrooms and moss so it was a natural progression that I started a Nature // mushroom board on Pinterest, happily thousands (millions) of other pinners have as well so there is plenty of source material out there!

Follow Anna's board Nature // mushrooms on Pinterest.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The view from 39a

The best time of year

Oh my days the allotment is in full swing now and I'm loving it!  This little pink and white beauty is a new variety of beetroot we grew this year and it is delicious, I cut this one up and put it on a pizza (dough made from scratch, passatta made from home grown tomatoes, home grown herbs, spring onions adorning the topping, smug much?).  The beetroot was so sweet it was delicious eaten raw, with some of the others we've grown I'm going to grate it, mix with carrot and have with falafel in a pitta much nom!

Our little cherry tree is fruiting this year, if we want any fruit we have to get in there quick before the birds get them.  This little fella looked good but was a bit tart, I think I'm going to have to cook our crop up into jam but that is no hardship.

Don't judge me

So my most favourite vegetable ever is baby corn, I love it on pizza, steamed or just raw it's so tasty.  I've tried growing sweetcorn before but outside and it didn't fared that well (but that may have been down to my inconsistent watering) this year we've grown some in the poly tunnel and as you can see its doing well as it towers over me!  

I can't lie I'm a little bit obsessed with the corn, it's so alien looking but beautiful as well, the photos don't do the plant justice as these fronds are so pink and red and amazing!  I picked my first corn yesterday, it seems a shame to pick them so young but if you want baby corn you gotta do it and frankly I got over it pretty quickly.

Look at that!  I mean what the hell!? I never knew that each little kernel on the cob gets it's own strand.  You peel off the outer leaves and then gently pull the corn out from it's leafy casing and this is what comes out, amazing isn't it?  (I told you I am obsessed with the baby corn.) I'm delighted to report that it was delicious as well, next year I might just shoulder out some of the tomatoes and grow a full bed of corn!

What we've been doing on the plot

  • Battling with bind weed, I doubt we'll ever get rid of it entirely but it's a lot less invasive than it was before
  • Battling black fly, we've got a full infestation on the runner beans which is an arse but I'm trying garlic infused water and just scraping the feckers of the plant, guess which method is working best?
  • Harvesting the last of the broad beans and turning it into pesto to stock up our freezer.  Also when your broad beans have finished fruiting cut it off at the base but leave the roots in the soil to rot, they have a lot of nutrients in them and will do your soil the world of good
  • Thinning out the apple tree, remove the weedy looking fruits so you only have a couple per bunch it will make the apples you do harvest a lot sweeter

I'm on holiday this week so will hopefully be spending a lot of time on the plot tidying up and planting more seeds!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Spotlight on Pinterest: Colour // neon

Argh I love all things neon!  You can spot me a mile off when I'm in my gym clobber because I simply cannot stop myself from buying neon hoodies and vest tops :)

For my second spotlight on Pinterest I am sharing my Colour // neon board, I have a collection of Colour boards which over the coming weeks I will share with you but I had to start with the neon board because it is my favourite.

Follow Anna's board Colour // neon on Pinterest.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Spotlight on Pinterest: Style // glasses

I am a very big fan of Pinterest, I had to uninstall it from my phone recently because I would spend hours every evening pinning and pinning bits and bobs from the internet that I love.  I'm actually pretty proud of my Pinterest boards so I thought I would start a weekly Monday feature sharing my favourite ones with you starting with: Style // glasses.

I have four eyes

You may have noticed I'm a wearer of glasses.  They first entered by life aged 14 and I wasn't too chuffed about it, like most teenagers I hated anything that would draw attention to me.  It's fair to say I have a different opinion about statement glasses now and try to get ones that stand out.  I hate glasses with big logos on the arms but seem to favour large Coronation Street style frames at the moment.  Take a look at some of the glasses I've pinned to my Style // glasses board and send me any pins you think I might like I love receiving pins from Pinterest folks!

Follow Anna's board Style // glasses on Pinterest.

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Taking an holistic approach

I've been pondering this health and fitness thing recently, specifically my reluctance to diet.  My first thoughts were that I had to take a mind over matter approach to my own laziness and that my reluctance to diet was weak willed.  Upon reflection I think my reluctance stems from the knowledge that diets are short term, you shed the weight, you feel amazing, you tell yourself you will never go back to how you were before and yet... Diets are often event orientated (slimming for a wedding or holiday) but once those events pass it is easy to slip back into old habits.

This is why step five is going to be so key, mindfulness.  Being mindful of the long term goal of a healthy and fit lifestyle, knowing that you're not aiming for a short term fix but a lifelong change in habits.  

Lightbulb moment

At work a couple of weeks ago as part of a staff festival event Sally Gunnell came to give a presentation about healthy eating and I had a real light bulb moment.  For years I would reach for the weight watchers cereal bars or bottled smoothies thinking I was making healthy choices, and don't get me wrong in comparison to eating a Mars bar usually you are making a healthier choice but the simple answer is to try and eat food that has not been processed at all.  PING!  Oh yeah, I can't believe that hadn't sunk in until now.  So instead of pasta or gnocchi have rice or sweet potatoes (not all carbs are the devil), instead of fruit leather just eat the fresh fruit!  Duh.

Calorie crew?  Fitness friends?  

Whatever term best suits, but basically surrounding yourself with people who will challenge your choices and keep you on track.  I have a friend at work who when she sees me reach for a snack or contemplate a biscuit she will challenge me on it. Because of her actions (and my own willpower of course) I am building a habit around questioning each food choice rather than mindlessly grabbing the free pastry or biscuit just because it's there.  My friend Sarah and I keep one another on track at the gym pushing one another to attend when we might be wavering, it helps that on a Friday before yoga we get there early and take stupid photos and selfies to track progress!

What habits or tips work well for you I would love to know? 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Mewster: Master of Humans

I realised the other day that I 'introduced' Mewster back in March but hadn't actually written any further posts about the furry little loon cat, so lets remedy that here.

Who owns who?

It is safe to say that Mewster owns us and not the other way round.  When we first got her she was a quiet little rescue cat, we could barely get a peep out of her but over the years she has found her voice and uses it to manipulate us daily.

She has comic timing and knows when she is being spoken about, she will meep or meow at just the right time in a conversation and has a range of cat sounds to indicate what she wishes us to provide for her (usually food).

Cuteness is a tool of manipulation

Her thing at the moment it to dig around in the ashes of our neighbours BBQs for meaty scraps, she then comes home and walks over the sofa or any light coloured surface.  You can see that she has white paws so struggles to hide the evidence of her misdemeanour's but will then give you a little kiss on the arm or nuzzle up against you and of course all is forgiven.

She has learnt simple tricks like giving high fives, and on command jumping on your shoulder to become parrot cat.  She patrols the garden and house, strutting back in proudly when she has chased a neighbour cat off our patch and has protected her humans from this terrible invasion.

Master of derp

She isn't all sleek cat though, she is a clumsy little thing, when you're sat in the living room and she is running about upstairs it sounds like you have a rouge pony jumping around up there.  She can be super creepy as well, you'll get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, switch the light on and she'll be sat in the sink watching you.  She stares at Sam for ten minutes or so at a time never pulling her gaze away, thank goodness she doesn't do it to me because it looks like she is reading his thoughts which are most likely 'why is that damn cat staring at me?'.

So that's Mewster, we wouldn't be without her.  When I was on holiday I missed her little face a lot, when she became super clingy on my return I was not so secretly pleased that she had missed me as much as I had missed her.

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