Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lunch in Paris.

I think this photo belongs to Olivia Rae - if not, I do apologise! The below photos do.

I am 'flu-riddled.

My dad had it all last week and kindly passed it onto me. I feel terrible; laden with a scratchy throat, drippy nose, high fever, achy limbs, a pounding head... I could go on. But then I be at risk of feeling sorry for myself and I totally never do that. Nope.


Our friend The Flu has, however, given me the opportunity to feel genuine boredom. Who knew I only enjoy doing nothing when I'm obliged to be doing something? Life's a bitch. Though it has also given me some extra reading time. And given I have a great book on the go, this could only be a blessing.

I'm reading Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (side note: all the best writers are named Elizabeth). It is self proclaimed as "part love story, part wine-splattered cookbook" - perfection? I hear you cry. Well just about.

Being part-cookbook means the author is entitled, nay obligated, to focus the story almost entirely upon food.  It being set in Paris obviously makes it all the more a treat for your over-active salivary glands. The book is autobiographical, and so the restaurants and places she mentions are all real, making it, I think, even more appealing. All in all, it is the body of my ideal book.

I've always dreamed of taking off to Paris for six months, to just write, drink coffee and eat pastries. It's every Romantic's dream. One day, when I have a bit of money and maybe a little freelance work, I might do just that. Until then though, I will live vicariously through Elizabeth Bard and her story.

Every one of the recipes looks delicious and I have plans to work my way through them, one dish at a time. Her story is beautiful too. It's not perfect, there are definite issues that come with moving to a foreign country and adapting to a new culture, and, technically speaking, it's not the most literary of publications, but who cares? Essentially, Lunch in Paris it is about love and food and Paris, and that's pretty great.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Late night blogging.


It's 22:53 on Saturday night and I am in bed, laptop out, after an evening of eating Marks and Spencer's pizza and watching films with my parents. I am living the dream. Here's a quick update...

I'm feeling super lonely and a wee bit isolated at the moment. All I seem to do is sleep, eat, work and watch television. All great and necessary, but certainly a little mundane. I miss my girl friends who are off living the high life (dirty student style) at university and various other endeavours. Luckily, I got to spend some time with Roz today, my nearest and dearest, who is back from uni for the weekend. We drank coffee and talked ourselves hoarse.

If you follow me on Twitter you may already know that I got offered a place at Brunel university to study Journalism. Given how badly I had done (or thought I had done) in their entrance exam, it was an unexpected but welcome surprise. Welcome because I've been running low on confidence recently, and needed a boost, rather than because I actually want to go there. I don't, I wasn't particularly impressed by the course and would like to be living in Brighton next year, but it's always nice to be wanted.

My Twitter account exploded yesterday due to a picture I posted - I'd found it on Pinterest and thought it was brilliant, do have a butchers. So far I've had 626 RTs and 148 favourites, which is insane, I've never had more than about eight RTs in all my days. As a result, I've ended up with a whole load of new followers off the back of something I had just found and decided to 'save as', presumably expecting similar comedy genius in the future. The pressure to be hilarious is tangible.

That's about it.

Oh, I also finished series one of Downton Abbey. Withdrawal symptoms are already very much upon me. And I downloaded a bunch of new awesome applications for my phone which I am going CRAZY for. And I'm reading the greatest book of all time at the moment (more on that next week).

Right now, I want to go to sleep. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pancakes.


I have never been so excited to get my face into sugary goodness before. And that's saying something. Pancakes were all I could think about. It was imperative that I go ALL OUT, and tread where no Maxwell has tread before. We steered away from our norm of golden syrup and lemon juice (GOD-LIKE, in case you were wondering), and, last night, tried some pancake variations.

I went to buy supplies during the day. I wanted strawberries, but there weren't any left, so I settled on blueberries (a pancake classic, I figured, nothing could go wrong) and devised a plan of the compote variety. I also bought golden syrup, maple syrup, extra thick double cream, and a big bar of Green and Blacks 70% chocolate.

After dinner had been cleared away we set about pancake making. A big batch of plain mix was split into two, the entire bar of chocolate was melted and added to one half of the mix, and blueberry compote was created. I begun with the compote [a punnet of blueberries, boiled down with a splash of water and a teaspoon of golden syrup], double cream and maple syrup on a plain pancake. It was amazing. The tang of the blueberries, the sweetness of the syrup and the chill of the cream was OUT OF THIS WORLD. In caps. Next up I went old school - golden syrup and lemon juice on a plain pancake. Dreamy. And lastly (lastly because it was necessary) a chocolate pancake. 'Accidentally' thicker than anticipated, and topped with cream and golden syrup. It tasted like a beautiful chocolate brownie pudding. Only better. It was super filling and so after that mountain-to-climb, I was out, and ready for a lie down.

It was an all round successful pancake day.

What do you have on yours?

(Not a euphemism).

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bits and pieces.


- Giving up sugar has been near impossible and it's making me very sad. I take great pleasure in eating, so depriving myself of my very favourite food substances feels a little like torture. I've been eating a lot more fruit, which is good, I suppose, but as tasty as an apple may be, it's definitely not a great big slice of chocolate cheesecake. This, I have learnt with great disappointment. Through it all, naturally, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I feel about food and what I put into my body - what my general eating ethos is. I plan to write about it later in the week, once I've got it straightened out in my noggin. Today is pancake day, and so I'm bidding farewell to the ban, happily and with a disparaging look in its direction.

- Another thing I've realised this week: Philosophy is really difficult and also something of a health risk. Having to read the same paragraph of a text book not one, but fifteen times over, can be a little soul destroying. It makes me want to kill. Unfortunately though, once I do get my head around the complex arguments, theories and terminology, I find it really interesting. It would be a whole lot simpler and kinder on my sensibilities, if I were to just despise it outright. But that's sod's law for you.

- Spring is coming! The sky is blue today, BLUE, and we have daffodils on the window sill. February is pissing off, and I couldn't be happier about it.

- Most importantly of all, I have recently purchased season one of Downton Abbey. I feel I should explain, slightly, why it is I haven't watched the show until now... I've grown up with a mother who watches almost nothing on television except for Neighbours, anything with Kirstie Allsop or Sarah Beeney in it, and every single period drama ITV or the BBC might create for Sunday evening viewing. She's always been very keen for me to watch the latter with her. Being a teenager, I have of course always refused, however much I may secretly believe the programme in question to 'actually look alright'. When Downton Abbey came out, there was no reason for me to behave any differently. Until, of course, Caitlin Moran (and the rest of Twitter) began raving about it, and then there was no question as to whether or not I should jump on the bandwagon. I'd wash my hair in marmite if Caitlin Moran told me it was a good idea. But this WAS a good idea, and I've since fallen for Downton, hopelessly and utterly. If, on the off chance you are one of the eleven people in the world who hasn't seen it yet, please do watch it.

- Oh and I got a snazzy new iPhone case.

Friday, 17 February 2012

How to look like Ryan Gosling.

Because, to be frank, we'd like all men to look like Ryan Gosling, wouldn't we...



I came across this little gem of a video via shutterbean.com - read her blog and listen to her podcast, they're glorious - and subsequently laughed my arse off. This guy looks exactly like Ryan Gosling and is hilarious. I've taken it upon myself to plaster it all over the internet and I think you should too.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The beginning of the end.

mmm, delicious

And by 'the end', I am referring to that of my inner happiness.

In reality, that is melodramatic and hopefully the opposite of the case. I'm giving up sugar for the sake of my mental health and I'm bloody terrified. As we all know I eat sugary snacks like they're going out of fashion - my personal favourites being chocolate Hobnobs, coffee cake, and warm and gooey Cinnamon Squares from my favourite local coffee shop - it's safe to say I have some kind of an addiction. For evidence, let us look back to the time when Gareth once hid my packet of Hobnobs and I came pretty close to ending the relationship.

The thing about sugar, however delicious it may be, is that it plays havoc with your mental state due to the extreme fluctuations it causes in your blood sugar levels. I'm a little and often girl, when it comes to food, and so I, more than anyone, am terribly affected by the peaks and troughs that eating a lot of sugar brings. I also have anxiety problems, panic attacks and OCD, which I can definitely see worsen right alongside my eating habits. Yesterday was such an example. I didn't eat breakfast (for laziness/anxiety reasons), went for a coffee at about 12pm (caffeine on an empty stomach = bad decision), and then met Gareth on his lunch break at 2pm. By the time I met up with him, I was a shaking, light headed, panicking mess. I knew I needed food but I felt faint and sick, was having panic attack after panic attack, and so didn't much feel like tucking into a sandwich. It was a bit of nightmare, involving a lot of deep breathing and cajoling, on Gareth's part, into eating something. Not a cool situation, and one that really could have been avoided.

It has gotten to the point now, where I am willing to try anything, including not filling my face with cake every day. I am going to cut out sugar (not including fruit) completely for a few weeks to see what kind of a difference it makes. I am also going to eat something every two hours, which bodes well with me - a girl's gotta eat. And then hopefully, once my sugar cravings have ceased, I'll be in a better state to make some kind of permanent change.

Breakfast will be okay, lunch and dinner will be fine, it's just snacks that are the tricky little buggers. Snacks for me, mean biscuits. Who wants a handful of seeds with their cup of tea? I do not. So I'd be really, really, super grateful for any tips or recipes you might have for me. I'm thinking about making some healthy muffins and using fructose instead of sugar. So, maybe something along those lines...

This new regime is starting tomorrow. I'll be grouchy. And then hopefully JUBILANT, and will stop bloody blogging about my issues.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Coffee break.

Hello there. I'm sorry, I haven't been blogging as regularly as I'd have liked, simply because I've had zero energy and nothing much to say. Life is a little difficult at the moment, what with me being mental, but I've decided that I'm going to throw caution to the wind and book a doctors appointment. Things have gotten to the point where I've even considered giving up sugar in a desperate attempt to reduce my anxiety (the operative word here is 'considered'). It's crazy times.
Within all the mayhem of life, I've found a few little treasured moments. Finding a nice coffee shop and sitting with a cappuccino for a while, reading a good book, with the backdrop and sounds of people going about their daily lives and something hot and delicious to put in your mouth (not a euphemism) - I'd say is a place and moment I find most peaceful. Somewhere I can break.
Other than that, the boyfriend is pretty ace. But as it's Valentines day, I'm not going to dwell too much on that. If he were to read this he may vomit and/or dump my arse.

Happy Valentines day. Loveyoubye.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Vickers no. 3/4


Gareth and I met at a Diana Vickers gig almost two years ago (hence that well celebrated holiday; Diana Vickers day) and we've attended each of her London shows ever since. We even attended her iTunes festival performance... only not until she'd finished her set (thanks to horrendous traffic). On Thursday we went to our forth.

It was at Cargo, near Brick Lane, and was the smallest venue I've seen her play. Perhaps due to her lack of record label (this remains unconfirmed). We arrived at about 7.30 and Vickers wasn't on until 9. In the mean time there was a DJ who was a big fan of Michael Jackson, Diana Vickers and not much else. And thanks to the smokers going in and out of the outside terrace area, it was bloody freezing. Not that I'm high maintenance or anything.

I didn't have particularly high expectations of the gig, over the last few years I've gone off Vickers somewhat, mainly due to my boyfriend desperately wanting to have sex with her but also because she's a huge irritation of a human being. Possibly thanks to these low expectations (but also because it was actually a really good gig) I fell back in love with her that night. She played songs from her new (unreleased) album and her first single Once - obviously - and performed them all with one finger permanently in the air. I loved the new songs, this second album is going to be a lot better than the first, and the first was top notch (debatable). I don't know anything about music terminology, but my stab-in-the-dark would be to call it synth/pop. Excellent tunes to wiggle to, basically.

She was also less annoying during her talking interludes which was only a plus.

I had a really good night. Well done Diana, you've redeemed yourself.

The sky was snowing when we left the venue and made our way to the train station. By the time we got back to Chorleywood the place was carpeted. It was cold, to say the least, but our hearts were warm with Diana love. I just threw up in my mouth a bit.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Marriage and Elizabeth Gilbert


I've mentioned the book I've been reading a few times already, Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a book I've been lightly dipping in and out of for the past few months, after reading her spectacular Eat, Pray, Love and a friend enthusiastically recommending me this sequel. Committed is a book all about marriage. Each chapter stands alone, pretty much, and so it's easy to read one, ponder on the thoughts and facts she raises and do some of your own thinking too. It's incredibly detailed and informative, but Gilbert has the kind of rare talent that makes facts based writing more than engrossing; life changing, I would say.

Marriage is important to me. I come from a Christian family where traditional values are highly looked upon, but not only that, I just love the idea of finding one person and giving myself to them fully and completely, forever. Call me an old romantic, but that is probably my most prominent and lasting dream, above and beyond writing (a sentiment that Gilbert does not share with me). While we're sharing, I may as well tell you that I've been planning (and, in the last year, pinning) my wedding since I was a wee one - from time of year to bridesmaid dresses to whether or not we'll serve mini burgers and hot dogs at the evening reception. I'm a wedding maniac and I will make someone a nightmare bride. (Don't let that put you off though, Gareth dear).

What I've gained from this wonderful book is knowledge. I'm all about the wedding and none about the marriage. The marriage will sort itself out, I don't need to think about that, THERE ARE FLOWERS AND DRESSES TO CHOOSE. Well, it was enlightening to realise that the marriage is actually the important bit that needs time, attention and thought, and that a successful wedding doesn't necessarily guarantee a successful marriage. You might be wondering why it took me so long, and the reading of an entire book, to come to this realisation. But I honestly don't think I'm a rare case. How many young girls do you know who regularly discuss the intricate details of their weddings amongst friends? Or girls who regularly announce how desperate they are to get married? There's nothing wrong with either of these things, of course, it's just important to acknowledge other factors as well.

Not only does Gilbert address marriage, across different cultures, ages and outcomes, but possibly more importantly, she discusses women, how they are affected by marriage, traditionally and more recently, and the development of values in marriage. As a lady, I feel enriched and empowered having read Elizabeth Gilbert's words and findings, I'd recommend it to all my fellow ladies. Whether you're looking forward to getting married, are married, are engaged or don't give a rats ass about the entire establishment, this book will interest you, change your perceptions, and make you think more about your values.

And just whilst we're on the subject of marriage... how is it that EVERY BLOGGER (almost) is getting married/has just got married or is having a baby at the moment? Let's chill for a second. Or wait till I join the club.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Currently...


 - coffee dates with Lil and Korrie
- nursing INSANE stomach cramps
- drinking tea by the bucket load
- getting acquainted with my new notebook
- sending mother off to Cornwall
- trying not to have another breakdown (kind of failing)
- watching the snow fall, all pretty, and then turning brown... (like poo)
- making the most of our fire place in this drafty house
- doing the knitwear thing
- reading more Committed.

What about you?

Monday, 6 February 2012

You know how I really want a cat?

Well I just saw this...


and found out that I want one more than I want the sun to rise tomorrow morning.

Of course if I had a cat and sun was not to rise, I wouldn't get to enjoy the cat. But the intensity of want was portrayed, I feel.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Becca came to town.


 Some of you may know that Becca Dean - my brother from another mother - left Chorleywood a little while ago, to do more studying, a little travelling and some writing.  I've been missing her like crazy, more than I expected if I'm completely honest (as a general rule, I don't tend to care about most things), and so I was ever so happy when she came back for a fleeting visit on Thursday. I gave her three hugs in as many minutes, and we all know I don't do physical contact.

It was a splendid two days. On Thursday, we played cards with friends at a coffee shop, picked up much chocolate supplies on the way back to my house, ate dinner and watched Crazy, Stupid, Love whilst consuming aforementioned chocolate. We also watched the first episode of Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy and I can safely say I've never watched something that made my head simultaneously quite so confused and happy.

Oh and Ryan Gosling. Hummana hummana.

I brought Becca's head (see above) a cup of tea on Friday morning, and she refused to get out of bed until our stomachs told us that we were too hungry not to. We had breakfast at Cinnamon Square and naturally ate Cinnamon Squares. Because they are DREAMY. After breakfast we went to see The Artist. I wasn't entirely convinced by it, but that wasn't much of a surprise coming from someone who needs constant NOISE and EXCITEMENT from my movies to keep me occupied. I found the characters a little annoying too. It was an experience, though, which I assume is the point of such a production.

Again I was hungry, and so we went to get pizza. Pizza is my friend.

Close to the restaurant was a little coffee shop that does excellent cakes. We were obliged to pick some up to take home with us.

Then Becca had to leave and that was sad - she makes life nicer. Thank you Rebecca darling, for a lovely time, how about you just come and live with us for a few years? K? Cool.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Night time.


It's a well known fact that I love my bed. I love sleeping in it, I love watching television in it, I love reading in it, I love aimlessly lying on it in the middle of the day, and so on and so forth. (Don't let your imagination go too far though please). But recently, when I get into bed at night, in the pitch black, tired after the day, it's more than that. I feel good. Not just because I'm aware of the imminent sleeping opportunities that are upon me, but because I feel good in myself, and content about life.

There's nothing that hinders sleep more than worry. And as we all know, I am a class A worrier. I'd taken to listening to podcasts or audio books, to help me fall asleep at night and to block out the anxieties wreaking havoc in my mind. But something has changed in the last couple of weeks. I suppose there's something truly euphoric about the contrast between experiencing intense fear and then one day not experiencing intense fear. I'm not saying I'm cured, it's not as simple as that, but I feel content, and as if my inner free spirit might be getting some long overdue attention one of these days. Which is kind of nice really.

So I get into bed at night, feeling good, and sleep. Easy as that.

Who'd have thunk it?