Grow Little Seedlings, Grow!

14 Aug

Green isn’t typically a colour you would associate with my fingers, and more often than not plants come to my house to enter Heaven’s waiting room; a quiet place of solace before they shuffle off their mortal coil. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I love them too much, but more I’m slightly forgetful in their care and they end up dying of thirst or being left directly in the sunlight to wither.

It’s not my fault, I swear.

But recently, I have developed a passion for helping things to live. Maybe I’ve become the antithesis of an Angel of Mercy; choosing to nurture and let them live. Or something.

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The boy bought me a herb set for Christmas this year, and it is now August and only the coriander (my least favourite from the trio) has perished, and honestly, it’s not a great loss to the Tinker household. Billy the Basil (yep, named my plant babies) has thrived, and I now have a selection of chillies and some tomato plants that even I was surprised to see poke through the soil like chicks hatching.

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Rejoice!

It helps that I now have a little balcony so don’t have to turn my house into something synonymous of the Eden Project, and that I am actually in a lot more to ensure they are fed and watered, but all I can say is God help me for when I have kids.

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Aren’t my plant pots cute? They are Joules (obviously, hence the little rabbits).

Are you any good at gardening?

 

2014 Travel, The Paris Edit

13 Aug

I’ve made it to 28 years of life living in England, and I have never experienced Paris. Despite this, it has always been a thing of dreams to me; a city entwined with romance and cloaked in illusion. I can’t help but think of the Chanel advert with Nicole Kidman, where she disappears off into the Parisian night, or alternatively (another Nicole Kidman related daydream) Moulin Rouge, and for this and many other reasons, the city has always been on my list of places I needed to see.

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So last weekend, the boy and I packed a bag and headed off for a birthday weekend (his) in Paris. In all honesty I can think of a whole host of other cities he would have rather spent his birthday weekend, but seeing as we couldn’t go for mine he graciously gave his. Because he’s good like that.

Window display in Laduree, home of the French macaron

Window display in Laduree, home of the French macaron

My experience of Paris was slightly different to where it had been positioned in my dreams. It involved food poisoning, closed establishments, delayed flights (both ways) and end of the world style rain. But hey ho, these things happen, and mainly to me. Despite all these things that I feel like were designed to make me giggle rather than cause problems, we had a fantastic weekend. We ate cheese (he) drank wine and coffee, and we moseyed along beautiful streets with stunning architecture, wondering what it would be like if we were Parisian and lived in such a wonderous city.

L'Arc de Triomphe on a grey Saturday

L’Arc de Triomphe on a grey Saturday

Has my opinion changed? No. the boy made a comment when we were walking around that the internet has ruined travel. He thinks that you have seen all these places before, so when you arrive its underwhelming and gone is the sense of surprise you experience when you see something for the first time. I see it from the flip side; I think that the internet has given you the option to choose, allowing you to whittle down the list of places you want to visit until you have an ultimate power bucket list, ready to hit hard and explore.

L'Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

L’Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

We were in the city in time to see the parade through the Arc de Triomphe to celebrate 100 years since the start of the war, so were privy to the pomp and circumstance of the army march. They lit the flames and laid the poppies, and then we watched as the canons were fired. It was a real privilege to be there for this occasion, and purely accidently too.

The Eiffel Tower itself

The Eiffel Tower itself

As well as the beautiful postcard ready sights Paris has to offer, the hotel was pretty special. We booked a night in the Hotel Splendor, which was magic themed. The highlight was the staircase, with magician’s hats adorning the banisters. Very unusual!

Notre Dame, sans Hunchback

Notre Dame, sans Hunchback

We also had time to visit Laduree, the winner in French macarons and my inspiration to take a macaron making class. A friend of mine bought me a box of the delightfully coloured marvels when we moved into our old house, and I savoured them like I had never eaten before. Thus began my affair with the macaron, so I was pleased to get in line to view the rows of brilliantly covered sweet treats.

Saint Chappelle, before the end of the world rain began

Saint Chappelle, before the end of the world rain began

Paris, even in the rain and grey still had mystery for me. We visited the Arc de Triomph, The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle and the Champs Elysees, but didn’t get time to see Montmartre, the Sacre Couer or any of the Bastille.

The Money Shot

The Money Shot

Eiffel Tower | Paris | France

Eiffel Tower | Paris | France

But next time, as in the words of Howard Koch, “We’ll always have Paris”.

Crazy stairwell in our hotel

Crazy stairwell in our hotel

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

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.

Afternoon Tea and Fun for Me Part 1: Bake-A-Boo, West Hampstead

8 Aug

If you think about all the things that are quintessentially British, what comes to mind? The Queen and her corgis, rain, queuing, and afternoon tea. There is something so English about a selection of teas, different pits and china cups, and milk and two sugars. And I love it.

With an American friend on an extended visit and a love of afternoon tea and scones, I decided her visit wouldn’t be complete without a perusal of at least one tea room, so I began some research.

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Photo via Elle, who is much better at taking a photo than me!

I found Bake-A-Boo. Being diabetic, its rare that I find a tea room that offers a diabetic option, so my interest was piqued. They also had the bonus of offering a gluten-free option that still included the finger sandwiches and scones, so this was destined to be the first on the list.

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Dont get me wrong; West Hampstead is a bit of a pain to get to, and to visit the cafe you have to book in advance and pay half the balance by bank transfer as way of deposit, which doesn’t make the experience overly easy, although that didn’t stop us at all!

We arrived, and browsed the list of at least fifteen teas! Elle was in her element, but I stuck for the old faithful, Earl Grey. Never far from a cup of my slightly perfumed favourite. The spreads then arrived; finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of cupcakes and brownies.

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We weren’t disappointed. The scones were light and the cupcakes delicious, and we had to box up a lot of the food and take it home. The fun was added to by the fact that there was a very civilised hen party going on and they seemed to be having such a lot of fun that it gave me the warm and fuzzies.

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My thoughts? It’s not easy that you have to pay half in advance, and in comparison to other afternoon teas I have had its on the higher price end for what you get, but it was such a lovely experience that I would definitely revisit. Well played, Bake-A-Boo!

Bake-A-Boo | 86 Mill Lane | West Hampstead | London | NW6 1NL

Do you love high tea like me?

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!

Sightseeing My City – Cocktail Making at Battersea Power Station

28 Jul

What do you do in London when it’s the weekend and the sun is shining? Get down to Battersea Power Station and take part in an outdoor cocktail making master class, that’s what!

Well, that’s what we did anyway.

Because everyone loves food.

Because everyone loves food.

Battersea Power station is a monolith on the skyline of London; a testament to a different time, and now a protected building, well-known to Londoners. Having been derelict for years, it is now in the process of being turned into a new development of housing, and is set to regenerate the area.

.... has a silver lining

…. has a silver lining

So this summer is the last summer it will be free for Londoners, before the works are finished. Enter the Power of Summer.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

The Power of Summer exists to toast a new chapter in the stations history, with a 100 people capacity street market going on all week and at the weekends, boasting stalls like Bob’s Lobster and Randy’s Wing Bar. They offer open air cinema to the masses, with Premier Pods if you fancy a little more luxury, and hug beanbags for those who just want to snuggle down and watch a film in the sun.

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

“London finally has a chance to get up close and personal with this iconic building for what will be a truly unique series of events. We’re very excited about bringing the whole Street Feast experience to Battersea Power Station, along with Everyman’s inspired selection of films.” Dom Cools-Lartigue

Bob's Lobster - London renowned

Bob’s Lobster – London renowned

We were invited down to the Indytute Cocktail Making Class which was run by Ping Pong (one of our favourite places for Dim Sum) so we were pleasantly surprised. The sunny day (not as advertised, weatherman!) only made the day better, and soon we were head to head in a mojito making cocktail off.

cocktail champs!

cocktail champs!

let the battle commence!

let the battle commence!

Through the two hour session we learned to make original mojitos, blackberry and Chambord lovelies and hibiscus coolers, all with the original mojito as a base. We giggled along with the other guests and got very competitive, stopping only to sample the wares of (first) Dogtown’s amazing hotdogs, and then later on, after a good few cocktails, a pulled pork bun at Miss P’s BBQ. We spent a lot of time talking to the guy working the stall who told us all about how they smoke the meat for 14 hours and the history behind smoking. It made us starving, and also looking to go try out the smoked turkey they offer in Brixton around Christmas!

Have you ever tried a cocktail making class?

Sightseeing My City: Musical Bingo, The Best Kind of Bingo!

26 Jul

In the spirit of doing something a bit different this summer and broadening my horizons, I signed me and two friends up for Musical Bingo. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect so I forgive you for thinking I’ve cracked.

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We turned up at Drink, Shop, Do, a gorgeous café come shop in the middle of Kings Cross and perused the selection of cards and knitting yarns before heading down to the underground bar for our Musical Bingo extravaganza to begin.

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We ordered delicious rhubarb cocktails, and took our (reserved, ahhh yeeeaaahh) seats, ready for the Musical Extravaganza to begin.

The first round was 50’s. Not my forte, but there were some classics in there from the likes of Buddy Holly and Little Richard, and a birthday group of fifty something ladies on the table next to us who were quite drunk and really getting into the spirit of it, including inciting Mexican waves and jitterbug style dancing. Lady luck wasn’t on my side, but I had a good giggle as the compere paraded winners up and down the aisle with their loot, including a blow up guitar and a round of shots for their table.

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The next round was musicals, boasting classics like The Phantom of the Opera and Memory from Cats, and then we moved onto the last round, which was The Name Game.

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image courtesy of Indeedy Inc – HOW COOL IS THIS?

We had a great night singing along to classics and laughing along with the people on the table next to us, and I would strongly recommend a visit. I think it would be better in a larger group of people, but it’s also worth checking out the other activities they do at Drink, Shop, Do, such as Lionel Ritch-tea Biscuit Decorating and The Papier Mache Monster Mash.

Sadly I didn’t get many pictures (they all came out like a ghost standing against a white wall) so apologies!

Drink Shop Do | 9 Caledonian Road | Kings Cross | London | N1 9DX

Have you tried musical bingo?

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?

Summer Skin

23 Jul

I love the summer.

When I wake up in the morning and the sun is shining through the blinds and I feel the heat on my face, I’m happy. I forget the rainy days and the cold winters, and there is a spring in my step. I live for the warmth.

My skin however, hates it. It melts as soon as there is a little humidity and shines and flakes in equal measure. It’s a hot mess.

There is however, something I have done to go from looking like a spotty teenager to oozing a bit more poise, and my secret weapon is… cue drum roll… Clarins.

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When I left school, I worked for the brand in department stores up and down the land, and although their skincare was really good and gave me the expensive taste I now display while purchasing lotions and potions, the makeup wasn’t up to scratch. But recently the PR girls at Clarins got in touch with me, so I thought I would try it all again.

The products are amazing, and here are my top 3 (and I have EXTENSIVE knowledge of the range!) summer products:

1) Clarins Multi Active Day Lotion SPF15

I have skin that burns within minutes of sum exposure, so I have to have an SPF in my moisturiser. I have had fears since training in skincare that my face will show my age (although currently still getting carded for alcohol bolsters confidence on this one!) and the aim of the game is to protect my porcelain palette.

2) Clarins Hydra Quench Tinted Moisturiser20140723_181610

Goes on a bit like war paint, but bear with it. Once it’s all rubbed in it gives your skin a gorgeous glow, and doesn’t feel dry at all. Added points for the SPF, and if your skin is normal you don’t even need to worry with a day cream. I do, but my skin is like sand paper.

3) Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara.

Having forever been a fan of expensive mascaras, and a marketers dream when falling for ad campaigns, I bought this mascara in the airport, and loved it. Then I went to New York and couldn’t find it to replace, so opted for the one I had heard good things about with beauty bloggers – Bobbi Brown. Nothing in comparison. I’m now ploughing through it so I can buy another Wonder Perfect!

Bonus points for the Tonic range, which Father Christmas knows will keep me happy if he throws in my stocking.

What’s your favourite or most indulgent beauty product? *

*Sorry guys, this one isn’t for you. Normal service will be reinstated tomorrow!

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