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Coveting Candles

12 Aug

It’s that time of year again, when everyone I have ever met has a birthday. It’s a time where I bake a lot of cakes (I feel sad for anyone who didn’t have a Mum like mine, who crafted beautiful cakes for us and our friends on our birthdays, and try to pay it forward) and have to think of creative present ideas for my loved ones. I’ve never been the sort to give money or buy vouchers – I love getting it right with thoughtful gifts. Although there have been a few wild misses over the years, I’m pretty accurate when it comes to the art of thoughtful gift giving.

That being said, I do find gifts for boys much easier than girls. Bath bubbles and beauty products to me fall into the realms of slightly disingenuous present giving; readily available and lacking thought unless you know someone loves the brand.

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But candles are always the one. People love the pleasure of scented candles; the luxury of the fact that they aren’t items you would necessarily treat yourself to, and the beautiful fragrances that make a house feel like a home. I am a huge fan of the ones sold in Hampton Court gardens – really expensive smelling candles with gorgeous floral scents that transport you to old memories and bring on a sense of nostalgia. These are the types of gifts I want to give; the gifts that people really understand were picked for them.

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Although sometimes, a gift for you is just right. When Culture Vulture Direct got in touch with me to see if I wanted to try out some of their products, I was really taken by the selection that they had on offer. I love products that are designed from travel inspiration (my passport cover is a vintage style one with border control stamps) and immediately fell for this mirrored tray and beautiful Jasmine candle.

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The only thing is, I’m too scared to use it as I don’t want to ruin it!

Have you ever owned anything you were too scared to use, wear or enjoy? And what do you think of the products?

Products were provided by Culture Vulture, but all views (and words) are my own.

Dear Life, Please Slow Down

31 Jul

It’s been one of those weeks scratch that, fortnights. You know the ones, where despite your hardest tries, nothing seems to go right and there aren’t enough hours in the day. The ones where your to do list grows exponentially as you cross items off, where you spill tea down your front the moment you walk into the office and where you accidentally leave a cupboard door open when cooking and thwack your head on it next time you walk past. This actually happened.

Friday night saw me have a minor meltdown, cry, eat lemon curd directly from the jar with a spoon and generally feel sorry for myself, while working most of the weekend and dreading the rise of the sun on Monday morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but you have to hate stuff to enjoy it sometimes, right? RIGHT?

So let’s hope this week is better, rather than an additional week of dashing round like a blue arsed fly, accidentally triple booking plans in the evening leading to pissed off friends, and wondering what the hell happened to July, or more’s the point, 2014.

Here’s to a better week, y’all. Oh Christ, its Thursday already!

How has your week been so far?

Aspirationally Green Fingered

29 Jul

I have never been very interested in plants and gardening, preferring to be cooking when im at a loss for something to do and in the house. I went through a phase where I had a little garden a while back and wholeheartedly threw myself into it, but I can’t say I miss it at all.

That was, until recently. I’m not sure whether it has come with age or whether its living in a flat with just the boy for company, so although rented it still feels more like home, but all of a sudden it’s really nice to add a bit of life to the place and personalise it.

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I started with the purchase of 3 little pets; a trio of succulents. I love that they are each different, easy to keep alive and really cute.

Then I branched out to some herbs. My basil plant seems to be coming on leaps and bounds, but the same cannot be said for the chives (or chive, singular, as we were a little over zealous with the watering when we first started and I think drowned the rest) and the parsley that met its sorry demise this morning, after displaying signs of plant rigour mortis.

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But now my interest is piqued. I have fallen in love with this little beauty, a bird house and bird co-habitat, and plenty of other gorgeous little finds. I’m thinking about getting it as a birthday gift for my Mother who is an August baby, as I know it would be right up her street too (I found it here).

Now all I need is a garden to house my burgeoning plant collection and my dreams will have come true; a little cottage somewhere where I can grow (with the help of someone who isn’t a plant murderer) the veg and herbs needed to cook. Perfecto.

Are you able to keep plants alive, or are you a bit “kill them with love” like me?

* This post was brought to you in collaboration with Uncommon Goods, but all opinions, as you have come to expect, are my own!

Don’t Look Back, The Past Has Nothing To Say

24 Jul

Life is a funny thing. When we are living in the moment we feel our emotions with full force; when we are unhappy we can never see that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, when we are in love we can’t picture life without that euphoria, and when we are happy we can’t imagine any other way. We believe wholeheartedly in our youth, and the spot in which we stand right then and there.

But isn’t it amazing that when we have the power of time on our hands that we look at things in a different light? I spent some time reading some very old posts if mine this week, with the view to work out how my writing has improved and how I can strive for more, and I felt myself wanting to turn back to hold my younger self’s hand and tell her everything would feel better soon.

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Maybe it’s the invincibility of youth. Maybe it’s the nativity of younger years. But maybe we can learn from how we felt and how we reacted, and pull it forward to make ourselves better people.

I have had so many emotions running through my veins; the fear and adrenalin of striking out – ending a relationship, moving to a new city, leaving a job. Vie felt devastating sadness of ending relationships that I thought would last forever, both romantically and platonically (and more recently felt a shadow of that sadness when I read through posts from during those times) and I’ve seen extreme joy – the birth of my god-daughters and the pleasure of watching them grown into tiny people and experiencing their unwavering love. I’ve felt the winds of change and the waves of destiny; stepping off a plane in a country I’ve never been in and being aware of the opportunity in front of me and the chances I might have, and all of these things have shaped the person I’ve become.

Now I’m a bit more serene, yet a heap more confident in myself. I don’t care so much about what the world thinks about me, but am more confident in my belief in myself and being comfortable in my own skin. And I’ve learnt that however forceful the feeling s, however intensely you feel it, it will dissipate. It won’t vanish, but you will come to get used to it, and it will feel like an old friend. Comfortable and consistent. I miss my Granddad each day and although it creeps up on me sometimes and I feel it as keenly as the day he died, mostly it hugs me and holds my hand and I smile wistfully.

How has your life and experiences changed you as a person?

2014 Travel: The Vancouver Edit

14 Jul

It’s been a while since I went to Vancouver, but I didn’t want it to go unmentioned seeing as I talked about it for so long before I left!

Lionsgate Bridge from the Seawall | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Lionsgate Bridge from the Seawall | Vancouver, BC | Canada

It’s firmly cemented a place as one of my favourite cities, and I loved the whole experience. We visited the North Shore and Capilano Suspension Bridge, we cycled the Sea Wall, we dined in fantastic restaurants such as Wildebeest and Fable Kitchen (see my review here) and we watched everyone else do the Grouse Grind from the comfort of the cable car.

Vancouver, BC | Canada | All images copyright of Laura Tinker | www.laughteriscatching.com

Vancouver, BC | Canada | All images copyright of Laura Tinker | http://www.laughteriscatching.com

I love that in such a built up city there is such an outdoorsy aspect, and you can see the edge of it at all times, with ocean on one side and mountain on the other. The city is well designed for activity and most roads have cycle paths and walking parts to make being outdoorsy the norm (and you know me, I get puffed out watching sport in the TV!)

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Japanese Blossom | Nitobe Memorial Gardens | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Vancouver is a city for foodies. We worked out way through a combination of the guide book and of a friend’s recommendations, and we were never disappointed, Brunch is a firm favourite of mine, and some of the new spots and up and coming places gave us the most delightful assortment of fresh and farm to kitchen produce – the fresher the better.

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Delicious brunch @ The Farmers Apprentice | Vancouver, BC | Canada

The highlight of my visit was the Nitobe Memorial Gardens, located down in the University of British Colombia. It’s a trek out of the city through Kitsilano on the bus, but its worth every minute of the journey. The website says:

Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House.

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Tranquil gardens | Nitobe Memorial Gardens | Vancouver, BC | Canada

and its pretty true to its word. You step into a little walled garden and suddenly you aren’t on a University campus, but in the most tranquil of settings. The cherry blossom was in full bloom, and it was the happiest part of my trip. I absolutely adored it.

Totem poles on the seawall cycle | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Totem poles on the seawall cycle | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Have you been to Vancouver? What was your favourite part?

Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe#sthash.DutYwu0y.dpuf
Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe#sthash.DutYwu0y.dpuf
Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe#sthash.DutYwu0y.dpuf

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

14 Jul

I’m not very good at being a girl, in the sense that I feel weird wearing lipstick and I can’t manage to walk more than a few steps in heels. I’m rubbish at braiding my hair or styling an outfit, and although I own jewellery, I very rarely remember to put it on in the mornings.

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Product and image via

But I love it. I guess I have a magpie complex; I like things that sparkle, and, as the old adage goes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I tend to go for costume jewellery though, on the basis that if I lose it I don’t have to worry, as I can nip to my nearest accessorize and accessorize (see what I did there) with sparkly, inexpensive trinkets. At the moment I am drawn towards turquoise and silver, but I love the glamour of diamonds, twinkling like they have secret.

 

I see a lot of diamonds recently. As I am often informed, I am getting to “that age”, the age currently that means a lot of my friends are getting engaged and married. One friend is scheduled to be in 8 weddings this year, so these sparkly rings are making their mark. It feels like every day on Facebook there is a new picture of a girl with her hand over her mouth sporting a diamond, or a picture of her hand (always with perfectly manicured nails, so never an impromptu shot!!)

But they are pretty, aren’t they? One close friend sent me a picture of hers, after her then boyfriend had set her out an outfit, organised a taxi to take her to a fancy hotel and been in one of the suites when she arrived, ready to propose. I love the romance and the story behind the engagement ring, and the fact that the diamonds shine beautifully, advertising a promise.

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She has a real passion for products that have a story, with her wedding cake being made from hens from her garden, and therefore chose her engagement ring from Vashi, loving the way that all diamonds are handpicked and the rings can be engraved.

What kind of jewellery do you like? Are you more a costume type or an investment piece?

* This post was brought to you in collaboration with Vashi, but all opinions, as you have come to expect, are my own!

Gatsby Glamour at the Prohibition Party, London

11 Jul

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When I was younger I went to see Romeo and Juliet in the cinema. I watched the whirling and twirling of dancers and theatrics, and then promptly threw up outside the cinema and had to go straight to bed. A decade later, I went to see The Great Gatsby, and promptly did the same. It seems I have an allergy to Baz Luhrmann.

However, I haven’t let this put me off the whole Gatsby thang. I loved the book, and the whole mystique of the era draws me in like a moth to a flame. I covet the feathers and jewels and downright drama of the age, and have always dreamt of being a part of it.

I’m currently doing the London thing while a friend is here and so booked us both tickets to the Prohibition Party; a night held at a secret location in London once a month.

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Elle working her magic at the roulette table

The concept is fantastic. You dress up in your best pre-war party gear, and head off to live it up in the 30s. They email you 48 hours before to tell you the location, and off you go.

Our evening was at the Bloomsbury Ballrooms, and it was like stepping back in time. We descended the stairs to be offered a 1930’s inspired cocktail before the doors swept open and we were in a room with roulette tables, a bar and a quartet band.

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We had sorted fancy dress, but to be honest, we were the most underdressed people there. There were feathers and sparkles, feather boas and flapper dresses, and braces aplenty.

When the main room opened we were treated to a cabaret act, a fantastic band and people really got into the spirit of dancing, flapper style.

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Our attempt at Gatsby glamour

The atmosphere was electric, and it was one of the best nights out I have ever had in my city. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been and wants a night out to remember.

“That is the beauty of literature.You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you are not lonely or isolated from anyone. You belong” F Scott Fitzgerald.

Have you been? Or to anything similar?

* Images via

On Saying Yes and Opening Doors

2 Jun

A few years ago I watched the film “Yes Man” with Jim Carey, and a succession of bad things happened. When my friends asked me why on earth I had done things, all I could justify them with was “well, I was being more of a yes person. Rather than hiring a movie and watching it in my joggers, while eating ice-cream at speed” I thought this was fair enough. They thought me insane (April, this finger is pointing directly at you) and I soon learnt from my behaviour like a cow running at an electric fence, and resolved to go back to my comfy old NO (or as my super confident god-daughter might say, N – O spells NO!!)

But then I moved to New York for a month (“New Yoiik!” As the locals call it) alone, and decided that to enjoy my time here, I must say yes to all the things.

This weekend was a fine example of when saying yes turns out totally awesomely.

On Friday night, I said yes to drinks with my new work team. I don’t normally go out for Friday night drinks anymore, and the reasons are threefold. 1) Had got to the point where every night was drinking after work night, and I was fat and flumpy. 2) I saw no point in going for a few after work and then going home, and also saw no point in going to the pub for a tap water. 3) I liked my pjs more than I like my workmates (and I really like my workmates).

But I was being polite, and so I went out for drinks. And had a lovely time. And then, a fantastic guy who hails from San Francisco and whom I had known the grand sum of 10 minutes, invited me to a charity fundraiser.

Sounded fun. I took a cab across town with a stranger whose surname I didn’t even know, and mixed with all his friends. I bought tickets to a raffle for a Nicks game. I drank beer and danced. I had fun. I then shared a cab home with one of the friends, and split the bill with her. Perfect.

The next morning I woke up slightly worse for wear, and congratulated myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something. So I did it again.

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Well, not really. If you read this blog often you will know of my great bloggy friendship with Jules (her amazing blog is here). You may not know that Jules lives in New Jersey (fuggedaboutit!) which isn’t far from Manhattan. At all. But people think me strange when I say “I’m meeting my friend. Well I’ve never met her, but she’s nice!”

So she came to town and we went for wine and champagne, followed by seafood, plus cocktails. We sat in the sun, we laughed and we talked, and although we had never met before it felt like old friends were catching up.

It was awesome.

So in summary, my sermon today ends with step out of your comfort zone, do things people think you are crazy for and enjoy yourself!

Have you ever met another blogger? I was really sad to miss Sam in London, was on my way to New York!

The Monster Cake and a Birthday

31 May

My little sister is one of my favourite people of all time. She has this unfounded ability to cheer me up, make me laugh and put me in my place at all times, and I love her for it.

Last weekend she turned 26, and to celebrate, I planned a weekend of fun. We had afternoon tea at the Hilton on Saturday, dined at Duck and Waffle on Sunday and I made her a ‘monster’ birthday cake.

What do you think?

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Monster cake, pre-eyes. At this point I was stressing because the icing was melting and sticking to the kitchen counter. Not my finest hour!!

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The finished article! Didn’t manage the eyelashes, this was hard enough! #personaleverest

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Big Tinker and Little Tinker enjoying Dishoom in Shoreditch for dinner

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Duck and Waffle fun, 40th Floor, Heron Tower, London (right by Liverpool street station). NOTE: you HAVE to book!!!

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Danielle chowing down on the plate, which was made of white chocolate. Petit fours, cupcakes, cream teas and sandwiches. You had to roll us out of there!

2014 Travel – The New York Edit: Empire State Building

30 May

Last night I finally manned up and went out doing tourist stuff by myself. I took the Empire State Building tour with nothing but my trusty Nikon, and I’m so pleased with the results. The weather at the top of the tower was pretty blustery so I didn’t stay out there for too long, but once I worked out that turning the flash off was my best bet, it was nothing but plain sailing.

So come be a tourist too, and check out my photos! I’m also keeping the world up to date on my travels on Instagram, so go take a look! (link in sidebar).

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On the left you can see the Chrysler Building

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