Thursday, 31 January 2013

#52Lists: Favourite Smells

Continuing with Meet Me At Mike's #52Lists - this week some of my favourite smells..

Monday, 28 January 2013

Weekend adventures

At the weekend we took a trip up north to Manchester to visit Tom's sister. She'd bought us tickets to see Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam 6 - a crazy rock-jazz-folk band who were playing a birthday gig there. The next day we went on a mission to find an old photo booth. I have a bit of an addiction to hunting down old black and white booths, they're so rare to find these days and really are a lot of fun! The photobooth is located in a gorgeous stationery store called Fred Aldous which is pretty much a graphic designer's dream. I'd recommend a trip there if you're ever in Manchester, its a perfect place to buy gifts, fancy stationery and arty materials.

After taking several sets of photos we headed for Sunday lunch before hitting the road back to Nottingham. I am really enjoying having weekend trips to look forward to at the moment, it seems a long way to go til my next holiday so it's fun to plan a few weekends away until then. Next weekend: Brighton!


Friday, 25 January 2013

Film Friday: Django Unchained

This week I went to see the new Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained. Although I normally try and avoid any film that strays past the two hour mark, this film kept me entertained throughout.

A German bounty hunter helps free Django from slavery, and the two pair up on a mission to find Django's wife who has been taken to work on a Mississippi plantation.

Although some scenes were brutal (I had to close my eyes during several) it's what you expect from a Tarantino film, and as well as upsetting scenes there were a surprising number of funny moments as well. Leonardo DiCaprio played Calvin Candie, the owner of the slave plantation and he did a brilliant job of capturing the greed and cruelty of his character. I'd really recommend this film.. although there was a certain scene which I felt weakened it, which I don't want to give away - Australian accents were involved, but I'll say no more..

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

#52 Lists: Jobs I have had

Pip of Meet Me at Mike's is running a project sharing 52 Lists this year. I thought I'd join in as I've sadly not been keeping up with my photo a day project for January. (Lists are quicker and easier to complete!) Pictured above: my first place of work, aged 16.. Only Joking.

1. Babysitter
2. Joke shop assistant
3. Checkout girl
4. Cinema usher
5. Avon lady (I spectacularly failed at this job!)
6. Bar person
7. Waitress
8. Desktop Publishing Operator
9. Graphic Designer
10. Freelance Illustrator/Photographer
11. Marketing Assistant

Have you had any weird & wonderful jobs over the years?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Adventures in the snow

This weekend was the first chance I had to go out and enjoy the snow. It snowed here quite heavily on Friday night but I decided to brave the trains on Saturday to visit my friend Jen in her new home in Market Harborough, a little town in Leicestershire. It was the first time I'd been but we discovered some lovely little shops and the cosiest cafe where I had some amazing butternut squash soup. There was also a vintage shop next door which we were excited to discover. We went a very chilly walk through the park and I was glad to get inside again for a lovely hot chocolate (and huge slice of cake - kind of spoilt myself after that walk!) Later on back at Jen's we had a warming curry by her roaring open fire. Did you enjoy the snow?


Pretty Nostalgic article

For anyone who was interested in reading the 'Secret Streets' article I contributed to this month's issue of Pretty Nostalgic, here it is, below. I enjoyed taking some photos in West End Arcade with my Instax mini camera. And of course, sampling a delicious crepe was all part of the research..


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

23 Questions

Mizhenka and Nekomentsu both posted up a little Q&A on their blogs recently so I thought I'd join in too as it's always nice to find out more about the person behind the blog. (Although I have taken a few questions out of the original list due to laziness!)

1. Do you have a middle name?
May, the month I was born.

2. What is your favourite drink?

3. Who is your all time favourite musician/band?
Probably Blur. They were the band I loved growing up and through a mutual love of Blur I also met some great friends I still know today.

4. What is your job?
I work in marketing at a theatre. I started there a few months ago and it's been brilliant so far, especially being able to see what goes on behind the scenes!

5. What is your dream job?
Travelling around the world in a camper van taking photos and discovering new places, sketching as I go.

6. What is your favourite song at the moment?
Cab Calloway - 'Is you is or is you aint my baby'

7. What would you name your kids or next pets?
I like the idea of using grandparent's names for kids. My granddad was called Eric but I'm not quite sure how that would go down with a child of today?

8. Do you participate in any sports, if so which?
Not if I can help it, I'm not competitive and hate team sports! Badminton is fun.

9. Favourite book?
As I was growing up I loved the Catcher in the Rye but Blankets is one of my all time favourites as it's just so beautifully written and illustrated. I love autobiographical stories.

10. Favourite colour?

11. Favourite animal?
Dogs. And tortoises.

12. Favourite holiday?
There's been a few... Iceland, the Peak District, various trips to Wales have all been great.

13. Where would you like to go on holiday?
Japan, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Finland, Scotland

14. What countries have you visited?
France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, USA and last but not least, Wales.

15. Do you speak any other languages?
I speak quite bad German..

16. Do you have siblings?
A brother.

17. What is your favourite shop?
I do like Urban Outfitters when there's a sale on. Also Paperchase.

18. Favourite restaurant – what do you order?
Desi Downtown. Almost always the saag aloo paneer.. yum.

19. Did you like school, what was your favourite subject?
Art and German.. and Media Studies as it gave me chance to play with plasticine figures in an attempt to do stop-motion. Fun!

20. Favourite blogger?
Hula Seventy always writes beautiful things and posts lovely photos. And everyone in my sidebar links is bloody brilliant.

21. Favourite movie?
Stand by Me / It's a Wonderful Life

22. Favourite TV show?
My So-called Life, Spaced, Mad Men, Simpsons and Pugwall.

23. What is most valuable piece of advice you have ever been given?
My dad always tells me to 'just take no notice' if anything's getting me down...

Monday, 14 January 2013

Top 5 - Vegetarian recipes


I've been a semi-vegetarian now for 17 years and have rarely missed eating meat since I gave it up as an animal-loving 13 year old. A few years ago I added fish back into my diet for various reasons, but I'd quite happily live without it as well as there are just so many tasty veggie recipes out there.

I thought I'd share 5 of my favourites that I always come back to. Note: they always get bonus points with me if they are quick to make!

1. Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni - a firm favourite in our home!

2. Pesto, mozzarella & olive tart - pictured above - you can make endless variations of this puff pastry tart and it always tastes lovely. It's super quick to make - also good with goats cheese & caramelised onion.

3. Roasted butternut squash with goat's cheese - I've not made this for a while but it's a brilliant winter meal and great to cook when guests are coming over.

4. One-pot mushroom & potato curry - This is very simple to make and very tasty to boot. I also made this paneer tikka masala curry recently and it was yummy.

5. Mexican Enchiladas with cheese - I love Mexican food and I love cheese so this recipe ticks all the boxes for me.

And three I'd love to try..

1. Butternut squash, spinach & goat's cheese pie - looks amazing.
2. Tomato, basil and cheddar soup
3. Black pepper tofu

Please share any of your favourite recipes with me too, I'd love some new ones to try this year.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Telescopes, frisbees and bobble hats

This weekend we headed off to Darley Park with some friends, armed with flasks of warm coffee, some freshly made lemon cake and a frisbee for a lovely walk over the fields. We stopped off at one of my favourite pubs, The Abbey - a cosy real ale pub in an old Abbey in Darley Dale. I'd recommend a trip if you're in Derby, its great for real ale fans and full of sweet dogs sleeping after long walks.

After that I'd heard about a Star Party that was also happening in Derby, at Alvaston Park. Did any of you watch Stargazing Live last week? The night in Derby was part of the BBC stargazing events held at many venues across the country, where people had chance to gaze through a telescope at the night sky. At first we thought the sky was going to be too cloudy to see anything but in the end part of the sky cleared and we spotted Jupiter and four of its many moons, pretty amazing. We began to get a bit chilly after a while so we bundled back in the car and headed back to play Scattergories and eat some yummy Thai food. How was your weekend? I am still waiting for proper snow here but we did get a scatter of light snow last night!

 The Abbey

Stargazing live at Alvaston Park (Jupiter can be seen top left. Photo by Tom)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Film Friday: Jeff Who Lives at Home

Another week, another Jason Segel movie! This one stars Segel as a 30 year old slacker, still living at home with his mum who works in a boring office, dreaming of a better life. One day she gets an instant message from an anonymous admirer at her workplace which makes her rethink her office routine. I initially thought this film would be a straight up comedy but though it does have funny scenes, it's more reflective and a bit more serious than I first imagined it would be. I enjoyed the film, though I did guess who his mother's admirer was pretty much straight away!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Guess the object

My friend Gerdien is running a competition in her vintage web-shop, Lab Coco at the moment, in which you guess what close-up object is in the picture and if you get it right, you win it!

I went to stay at Gerdien's home above her vintage shop in Deventer in Holland last summer and had a wonderful time looking through all the interesting items in the shop. Here's the first object in the contest.... what could it be? You can enter by leaving a comment on the shop's Facebook page here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Secret Streets

Pretty Nostalgic is an independent magazine focusing on all things vintage. In the latest issue there is an article called Secret Streets, which I contributed to recently, all about some lovely hidden spots in readers' home towns. I focused on an old shopping arcade here in Nottingham which many people seem to overlook, West End Arcade and visited the shops inside to take some instant photos and sample some delicious crepes from Aubrey's Creperie. The other streets chosen look amazing as well, including one in Bakewell written by Jem of Beautiful Clutter. It's the first copy of the magazine I've had chance to read and it really is beautifully put together. You can have a sneak peak of issue 5 here - they are always on the lookout for reader's contributions as well.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Top 5: Music videos that put a smile on my face

YouTube is a wonderful place - amongst the million Gangnam Style parodies and videos of cats doing stupid things lie some brilliant music videos that never fail to cheer me up when I need a happy boost. Here's 5 of my favourites.

5. Coffee & TV by Blur
This video of a dancing milk carton who falls in love still warms my heart.

4. Paul McCartney - Coming Up
In the 80s Paul McCartney went a little erm.. off kilter with his solo albums. This strange video for Coming Up in which he dresses as various musical stars (including himself from the 60s) proves he had a sense of humour at the very least..

3. La Bionda - I Wanna be Your Lover
Tom and his friends introduced me to this video by Italian electro-disco maestros La Bionda - perhaps the catchiest song I've ever heard. You can't help joining in after hearing it just once, "Wanna be your lover, wanna be your lover, wanna be your lover not just be your friend.."

2. Phil Collins & Philip Bailey - Easy Lover
You can't get more of an awkward duo than this pair. Phil Collins' bad dancing and tank top make this video pretty special.

1. Adam & Joe with Louis Theroux dancing to Groove is in the Heart
They're so young and smiley, and this song is just so very danceable! There are heaps of great videos on YouTube by Adam Buxton but this old vid of him and Joe dancing with Louis Theroux in their younger years is a personal fave.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Film Friday: The Muppets Movie

Well, I finally got round to watching the latest Muppets film, and I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint. It stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams and the plot is loosely based around getting the whole Muppets gang back together for a final show to raise funds to keep the Muppets Museum open. If you're a fan of Flight of the Conchords, you'll enjoy the songs as they are penned by Bret Mackenzie (and the influence is quite obvious!) There were lots of funny moments and some good cameos to boot which made the film a whole lot of fun to watch. Happy Friday people!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Top 5: Favourite Cities

I love a good top 5 list (blame multiple viewings of Hi Fidelity) - so I thought it'd be fun to publish a new list each week on a different topic. To start off I thought I'd round up some of my favourite holiday destinations I've ever visited. January always gets me in the mood to travel to far off climates. I'm hoping that this year I can go to some places I've never been before like Scotland, Italy or Greece. Feel free to share your holiday favourites with me in the comments too, I'd love tips on where else is great to visit.

5. Paris, France

I've got some happy memories of Paris. From cocktails on a trip with the French A-level group at college, to sharing wine with my friend Sarah on the Pont Des Arts (only to be interrupted by a very drunk Frenchman who wanted us to talk to his wife on the phone - pretty strange!). Not all my memories revolve around alcohol, but a glass of wine at twilight by the river Seine can't be beaten. However, Paris can be very expensive and tourists are always out in abundance so try to avoid the summer months if you go!

4. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona pretty much has it all - sun, sea, the city and glorious mountains. Not to mention the architecture - Gaudi really did help to make the city unique, it's the perfect place to explore if you love art and design.

3. Stockholm, Sweden

I visited Stockholm a few years ago with some friends and I remember going out at night and the sky turning this amazing shade of orange, as seen in the picture above where the skyline looks almost unreal. We hired bicycles to explore this beautiful city, and despite everything being quite expensive I'd love to go back and explore further.

2. Amsterdam, Holland

I've been to Holland quite a few times now and there's always new places to discover. The Jordaan district and de Pijp are full of great vintage shops and well worth exploring. I always find Holland such a friendly country when I visit, the people are so down to earth and Amsterdam is a really pretty city to get lost in (just avoid the touristy parts where Stag Do's prevail..)

1. Reykjavik (and beyond), Iceland

Reykjavik lies in the number one spot because it's simply so unique. I visited one February to celebrate a friend's birthday and I have really happy memories of our short trip there. The landscape is just breathtaking and Reykjavik itself has some really cool bars and a great vintage shop I stumbled upon when I was there. If you go, make sure to also visit the amazing waterfall, Gullfloss, swim in the Blue Lagoon and of course see the Geysirs erupting on the Golden Circle tour. I'd love to go back and go on a whale watching trip, or perhaps even see the Northern Lights.

Photo a Day - January

Recently I've slipped out of the loop of taking photos like I used to. Last January I enjoyed doing the January Photo a Day challenge via FatMumSlim so I thought I'd give it a go this year too. Here are the topics for each day if you'd like to join in too.

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