A Very Merry Sketchmas

Being part of a family full of different religions, I’ve come to view xmas as a time for hanging out with family and friends. Luckily I’m surrounded by those who think similarly. My friend Becky lives quite close to us and we usually spend our time in our flat, eating something yummy and watching whatever takes our fancy while wearing our comfiest clothes. Becky suggested a bit of fun and glam for the holidays so we booked xmas afternoon tea at Sketch. My other half was up for coming along too. We also invited our friend Steph as the four of us are heading to Vegas next year. Steph lives in Liverpool so we can’t meet up as much as we’d like. A lovely bunch of people to spend some time with!

Our dress code was festive fabulousness and we all stepped up to the mark. I felt like a particularly dressy elf.

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As you might already know, I have been to Sketch on more than one occasion as I flippin’ love it! However, during festivities, it’s on a whole other scale…

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Food, as always, did not disappoint. Sketch is already quite a ridiculous place but the addition on carol singers and a ballerina dialled that up to eleven. It was mad and wonderful at the same time.

The people with whom I do these frivolous things are the same people I’d happily chat to on my sofa in my PJs but once in a while it’s nice to get dressed up and do something OTT. These experiences are all the better with good company. I think we might have to make this an annual tradition.

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Thank you to Nick, Becky and Steph for a most glorious day together!

Alternative Xmas Gifts

As some of you might know, my better half and I have been having a massive declutter of our flat. We’d come to the realisation that we have accrued way too much stuff over the past five years. Both of us have the potential to attach sentimental value to any random object so we’ve spent the last week being ruthless. The end should be in sight in the next couple of days. As all of this was going on, I started to consider the upcoming Xmas break. One of my friends sat me down and asked me what gifts I wanted – all I honestly wanted was time and energy (neither of which you can buy). With this in mind, I started to think of alternative Xmas gifts – ones that won’t clutter homes:

Cook

I truly believe that everyone has something they can cook well, whether it’s toast or soufflés. Cooking for someone is an act of love. Before dementia impacted my grandma’s life, she cooked for anyone and everyone who stepped through her front door. My mum does the same and I too love the ability to make people happy with food. Last year, a colleague who is quite the talented baker made me a coffee cake for Christmas and it was such a lovely gift to receive. Remember – it doesn’t have to be big or fancy, it just has to come from you.

Eat

If you’re low on time, ingredients, etc., take someone out for food. One of my favourite things to do is share good food with someone I care for. Again, it doesn’t need to be swanky and expensive. A good coffee and cake or a three course dinner – whatever works. My other half and I always take each other out for something to eat on our birthdays and it’s never a  bad experience.

Visit

This can easily be done cheaply or for free. Going to a gallery, museum, concert, etc. is a good way to treat someone and have some time to hang out together. I’ve started doing this more and more – my friend’s hen do, mum’s birthday and so on. Visiting different places is good for the soul in general so why not take someone with you?

Learn

You could either do this with someone or give a class as a gift. Learning is a lifelong gift and I’m not just saying that because I’m a teacher! There are so many things you could learn: dancing, cookery, languages, pottery and so much more. Also rather than finding an official class, you can ask someone who is an expert in their craft to teach. That talented baker I mentioned from work has taught baking skills. My sister has (tried) to teach me how to crochet. There are lots of learning opportunities.

Pamper

If you have some cash to splash, you could book someone a spa day. However you can still pamper someone on a budget. Grab a couple of face masks, put on your favourite TV show and paint your nails – instant pampering session. You can use items you have at home like coconut oil and sea salt to make inexpensive treatments too. It still feels like a treat.

Walk

Pick a place and walk around it. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting of gifts but it’s actually quite lovely. It’s often the way I meet up with most of my friends: choose a place, walk and get something to eat. I love exploring by myself but it’s much nicer when someone’s with you. It gives you time to talk and catch up, as well as giving you the opportunity to find out about new places. You can adapt it so it works for you.

Watch

This is something my family did a lot when we were younger. We’d grab our favourite films, put on our cosiest PJs and make nibbles for a movie day at home. It’s cheap, relaxing and fun. If you’ve got a friend or family member who’s in need of a duvet day and some rest, this is a good idea. I often do this with my other half or my friend, Becky.

Now, I’m aware that many people might as the question, “How are these Xmas gifts?”.  Thing is, for some, they might not be. All of these things take effort and organisation though. For me, I want to move away from material gifts because they seem more and more unnecessary. I also love being around people and doing things that make them smile and feel special.  What do you think? How do you deal with gift-giving?

 

 

 

Technically Edible: Fuwa Fuwa, Video Games and Bodean’s

At the beginning of November, my better half and I headed into London for one of our favourite things to do – food and exhibitions. Even though both of us work in very different fields and have varied interests, we always seem to find things that keep both of us engaged.

Stop 1: Fuwa Fuwa

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I’d found out about Fuwa Fuwa through the wonder of Instagram. During our Easter visit to California, we’d tried a soufflé pancake at a diner and we’d been experimenting with making our own at home. We’d had varying degrees of success so on seeing Fuwa Fuwa, we knew we had to go. Located two minutes from Russell Square, it’s really easy to get to. The menu is pretty simple: a few pancake options (from original to matcha tea) and a small selection of drinks. Both of us opted for black coffee and original pancakes. I was so excited when I finally got my plate! The original pancakes are comprised of two pancakes, honeycomb butter, maple syrup and vanilla cream. Honestly, they were perfect. We were lost in warm, fluffy, gently sweet clouds. My only complaint was that I ate them too quickly but then that happens to everything I eat. Nick was a very happy bunny too. We’ll definitely be going back.

Stop 2: The V&A

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I’d heard good things about the video games exhibition at the V&A so I thought it’d be worth a visit. My gaming background involves Tekken, Soul Calibur, Left 4 Dead and a bit of Portal; my better half has a much wider repertoire. Although I’m a video game novice, I absolutely loved the entire exhibition. We mooched round for over two hours. Afterwards, we had some time to check out a photography exhibition too.

Stop 3: Bodean’s BBQ

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We finished our day at Bodeans’s BBQ. This place was recommended to me by my mate Steph, who has never steered me wrong on foodie spots. Every time, we get the same thing: a Bodean’s platter. It’s basically a selection of different meats with a couple of sides – we chat, get messy and leave full and happy.

All in all, it was a pretty perfect day that I’d only be too happy to repeat!

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Autumn Outfit Round-Up

Lately, I’ve been reclaiming my wardrobe. For a very long time, I’ve only worn a specific selection of clothing with the rest going into two categories: ‘save it for something special’ or ‘I’m too fat for this’. I’m quite clumsy and have the terrible tendency of dropping food, drink or make-up on anything. My weight also fluctuates slightly which can change how my clothes fit. Trying to spend less on clothes and live with less, I’ve been making an effort to do more with what I own. Instead of saving pieces of best or pre-judging what outfits will look like on me, I’m just getting on with wearing them.  I wish I’d done it sooner.

As I briefly run through these outfits, I thought I’d include how long I’ve owned some of these items.

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This dress is two years old. I’ve worn it multiple times and the buttons on the front have fallen off but I kind of prefer it that way. The style is one of my favourites from Collectif because it’s just really easy to chuck on.

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My jacket’s got to be nearly ten years old. My mum got it for me when we were mooching round vintage shops in Amsterdam. I bought the skirt over two years ago but it remained completely untouched in my wardrobe. It’s actually black with lots of little orange dots on it.

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My skirt is over three years old and was worn only once before this. I worried that it wouldn’t fit me round the waist and so I left it.

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These colours are just a riot of autumn. I picked up the skirt at Twinwood in the summer and I know I’ll wear it again and again. My jacket’s from House of Foxy and it’s one of my favourite pieces!

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This dress is second-hand from a Facebook group. It’s much cheaper than buying new and it came in perfect condition. I’ve bought several items this way.

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I remember when I saw this suit and fell in love with it. I bought it over seven years ago, wore it once and then shoved it in the back of my wardrobe. I thought I’d dig it out to see if it still fit: lo and behold, it did. I’m going to try wearing it more as separates too.

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I remember seeing the design on the  skirt and loving it but I didn’t wear it apart from World Book Day. More outings needed.

I think I need to come up with some kind of system to keep my clothes in rotation so I make the most of my wardrobe. I don’t want to buy more and more – I want to enjoy the clothes I have now. Any ideas?

A Wild Hen Do To Remember

On the Friday of half term, I was honoured to see my wonderful friend Kelly marry her soulmate Grant. Two days prior, Rhina and I organised a day of fabulousness to celebrate her forthcoming nuptials. I think it’s safe to say it was great!

Outfit:

The dress code was animal print so I went with this tiger print shift dress from Hobbs, adding a vintage coat for warmth.

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Stop 1: Victoria Miro

Kelly’s an art teacher so we definitely needed to include something arty on the itinerary. Both of us wanted to see the Kusama exhibition in London but tickets had been sold out for ages. Luckily, I saw a ticket release for half term and managed to snag three for us.

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Stop 2: Spitalfields

The three of us initially got to know each other through our love of vintage style so a bit of a mooch around seemed about right. We sorted a mother of the bride dress first and then strolled around the market. Feeling a bit parched, we stopped for a cuppa and tiny cakes thanks to Rhina!

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Stop 3: Sketch

Our heaven – no other words needed.

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Stop 4: Mr Fogg’s

After cake and tea overload, we ambled to Mr Fogg’s in hope of sampling something a little stronger. My drink certainly put hairs on my chest. It was an intriguing drinking spot and a great end to our spectacular day!

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Although I know we would have had a good time at home, a ridiculous day out was very much needed. I love these two more than they know!

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Time For A Change

At the end of September, I took the conscious decision to take a step back from blogging and give myself some time for reflection. I hadn’t been looking after myself as well as I could so I didn’t feel like I was in the best head space to write.

My attitude and approach to my blog have changed since I started blogging in 2015. Initially, my focus was vintage/pin-up fashion and styling. After a while, it became a way of recording positive life events as well as giving me a space to vent about issues which are important to me. Now I’ve had some time away, I’m going to keep some aspects of the blog the same and I’ll be making some changes.

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I will keep on recording positive life events. When I had my worst mental health struggles, I would keep a gratitude diary in which I would list three good things that happened each day. While I don’t go into such fine detail in my blog, keeping a log of happy times does me good.

The ‘Papow Ponders’ series will continue. I found it quite cathartic writing about everything from child-bearing to anxiety. More often than not, my opinions and thoughts are shared by others which helps me feel less isolated in my thinking.

From time to time, I’ll post about outfits and styling but this won’t be as frequent as other posts. I’ve had several conversations with friends about spending and consumerism and I feel it’s high time I made some changes. For the past few months, I’ve been making better use of what I already own and focusing more on experiences rather than objects – I’d like my blog to reflect this.

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I plan to focus more on activism, putting a spotlight on key accounts, writers, books, artists, etc. which celebrate and support marginalised people. I’m also going to share how I tackle certain issues as a teacher and in my day-to-day life. I’m hoping this will be helpful to others.

Food is one of my greatest passions but after some pretty harsh comments online a while back, I was put off from writing about food. Now I’m feeling more confident,  I’ll be working on a series of posts called ‘Technically Edible’. Basically, it’ll focus on my favourite places to eat (there’s quite a few).

Aims

I’m aiming to get back to posting regularly on a weekly basis. Last half term was quite heavy for me and I still feel like spending more time at work than ever. This half term, I’m determined to take better care of myself – that means giving myself more time to write, read, walk and relax. Giving myself proper schedule should force me to block out some time away from school.

Here’s to getting back into the swing of things!

24 Hours In Manchester

Last Friday, I headed up to Manchester for a brief visit to celebrate several birthdays. As I was teaching and doing some messy art, I dressed practically. After a long journey, I was met by Flick and Steph. We dropped off my overnight stuff and headed out to El Capo for dinner. Yummy food and excellent margaritas were just what the doctor ordered!

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After a very restful slumber, we got ourselves ready for a day out in the city. I forgot to take outfit photos so I took them when I got home. All spruced up, we headed into Manchester. Our first port of call was Primark as Flick was in desperate need of flat shoes. We then walked around and found Trof – a cute and cosy bar/brunch spot. It was a lucky find! We had great service and the food was top notch.

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With full tummies, we went mooching around some shops (looked at a lot of fabric). We met up with Karen and Jen in the process, finally heading off for afternoon tea at Richmond Tea Rooms. We all had a good natter and caught up. It was lovely!

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Travelling so far is tiring and a lot of effort but it’s so worth it for good friends.

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