Progress With Purpose – Living Life Intentionally

15 Jul

A year or so ago I wrote a post about “Living Life Intentionally”, which you can read here. It was inspired by other people’s passion and need to live their lives with purpose, and something that I wholeheartedly embraced.

Then, in November last year, I lost my Granddad. A beloved man, he had an opinion on everything and was the encyclopaedia of life that I consulted daily. I miss him horribly, but it was only then that I felt I had to commit to the life of living my life with purpose, and not letting one day fade gracelessly into the next.

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And 2014 has delivered on my living of life. I have travelled, visiting San Diego, California in February and Bergen and the UNESCO protected Bryggen Harbour, Norway, in March. May saw me in Vancouver, Canada, and during the month of June I lived in the West Village of Manhattan, New York and spent a month working in my company’s office there.

But it’s not just limited to travelling. I have embraced new classes at the gym, visited new restaurants and sampled things from the menu that I have never tasted before, said “yes” to strangers reaching out the hand of friendship and moving me out of my comfort zone and gone on new experiences such as walking tours of the city and macaroon making classes. And I’ve loved every second.

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Still to come, I have booked a trip to Paris, a city I have always wanted to but never visited, booked a pork pie making class, planned a tour of London’s tea rooms, and am currently planning a trip to Iceland for the northern lights in November and a Christmas in (possibly) Bali. Last weekend I dined in a restaurant called Archipelago (review to follow) which is said to be the most unusual restaurant in London, boasting python carpaccio, zebra jerky and crocodile, and I’m constantly working new experiences into the mix.

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Do one thing every day that scares you, and live life with purpose. Its fleeting and you might just find it has slipped from your fingertips.

What’s your favourite example of living life intentionally?

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?

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

One’s Destination Is Never A Place…

9 Jul

…. but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller.

It’s getting that way again, where my feet become restless and my heart hears the calling of the world around me, and yearns to get out there and do. Traveling is what soothes my soul and makes my heart happy, and I know there I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to explore, and the things I need to experience.

Last Christmas was rough on all of us, with having lost Granddad being so fresh in our minds, and I’ve been dreading the impending winter months, not wanting to feel the hollowness of our loss so strongly again.

So the boy and I are contemplating jetting off to see somewhere new and missing Christmas and New Year in the UK altogether. At first it was just a pipe dream (Imagine if we ditched it? Imagine if we ran away?) But the seed has been planted and I feel the roots taking hold and hopes growing from them.

So I’ve made a list (I’ve checked it twice) and I want your input.

Thailand

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Thailand has always been a place I need to see in my life, and the spark has been recently reignited by a number of friends having visited. Cheap accommodation, crystal clear seas and warm climes are some of the reasons it features so highly.

Costa Rica

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Another one that features highly on my list is Costa Rica. It’s a great place to trip to from the USA so a lot of my friends and family have been, but to me it just looks like paradise.

And also, sloths.

Venezuela

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Random choice for Christmas sun, but Venezuela comes up fairly cheap for flights in December, and sitting just south of the Caribbean, it obviously has its appeal. The angel falls sit inland, but they are a must see for the life bucket list. I must admit to not knowing too much about the area, but would love to explore.

Japan

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There is something mysterious about Japan, and it’s a place I would love to explore. Cherry blossom, snow-capped mountains and a culture like nothing I have ever experienced before.

Where is your favourite place in the world and where would you recommend to a traveller? I want all your tips!

Happy Tummy: Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

7 Jul

I’m a firm believer in you get out what you put in (although I don’t always practice what I preach!) but in the summer its so much easier to eat well, and you always feel better. I absolutely adore quinoa, but am never sure how to cook it other than sticking it in a salad. I first came across this recipe on Pinterest, and have adapted it as I’ve cooked it. Its quick, easy and delicious. Try it out!

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Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

  • 2 1/2 cups/12 oz/340 g cooked quinoa
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz /15 g finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz/15g goats cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup/3.5 oz /100 g bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Throw the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a bowl and add both onions, the goats cheese and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into 1-inch/2.5cm thick burgers.

Heat the oil and fry the patties till they are brown on both sides. Takes about 6 mins on high for both sides.

I served mine with a spoonful of crème fraiche and half an avocado, although I think if you wanted to opt for a meat version a slice of chorizo or parma ham would add a little extra flavour.

Whats your favourite summer recipe?

2014 Travel – London: Staring at the City

6 Jul

Now I’m back in London, I have a friend over from the States for 2 months, and its making me do things differently. I’m experiencing the city through the eyes of a tourist and honestly, you should do it. Even in your own city. There is so much to see and do in a city so rich with culture, and getting the chance to be part of it is amazing.mklm

Yesterday we signed up for the “Alternative London Tour” which casts a path through the rich tapestry that is East London. Starting and finishing in Old Spitalfields Market (one of my favourite places to spend a sleepy Sunday) the tour weaves through Banglatown, Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets to bring you back to the start.

The art we saw was amazing. I don’t really get the view that graffiti is abhorrent – I understand that some kid writing his name in spray paint isn’t ideal for a community, but when you turn a corner and see portraiture by the medium of aerosol paint, you can’t argue that it doesn’t have its place in art history in the same was as Van Gogh or (Londoner) Tracy Emin.

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Each tiny alley or side street taught us something; the ability to look and actually see. Signposts with angel toppers cast from pigeon wings, white walls stenciled with the words “99% of people will not see this” and mosaic tags of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; all sights we see each day but never really take the time to look at.

We wove through time, from the airy spaced, open windows of the Huguenot workspaces, to the Jewish community site that was wiped out in the Blitz, all presided over by a place of worship that had passed from Catholicism to Judaism and now stands as a Mosque. We stepped through local communities – I love that this area is rich with family run businesses and one off stores, and listened as the passion flowed from our tour guide.  The East of London is a rich dichotemy of culture, and a bustling place to check out in London. Sixty years ago it wouldn’t have been a great place to visit as a tourist, but without taking a trip to Shoreditch you miss a whole, beautiful section of London. The typical London summer weather didn’t even stop us.

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The magic of this tour is born from the experience and passion of the tour guides. The tour is also a “pay what you think its worth” basis, making normally high priced tours accessible to everyone.

If you have 48 hours in London this summer, you need to check this out.

 How do you feel about graffiti as an expression of creativity?

Getting a Handle on Adulthood

1 Jul

A few weeks ago I came across a new blog to love, Aussa Lorens. I giggled and pulled shocked faces while reading her posts, and then laughed out loud when I came across a post titled I Just Can’t, which inspired this post. Take the time to check it out, it will brighten your day.

Sometimes when driving I get an attack of  “What the hell am I doing!?” thoughts, and suddenly realise that age is advancing like wild horses, and there really isn’t anything I can do about it. But there are quite a lot of things that I do that make me realise that however many sprouting grey hairs that offend me while peering in the mirror, I really haven’t got my shit together.

I just can’t…

1# Relax during a massage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a massage, unlike my sister who (direct quote) “doesn’t like people touching” her. I love the whole build-up of going along and thinking how amazingly relaxing its going to be, and how my stresses will be wiped away with the simple touch of a trained set of hands and a splash of funky smelling essential oil, but does it ever happen like that? Nope.

I cannot chill out. when the masseuse says “just breathe deeply and relax” I tense up. I find the repeat in the panpipes music and start humming along, or I worry I might fall asleep and dribble, or I worry I might fart. All in all, not a relaxing experience. Which leads seamlessly into..

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#2 Yoga

If you thought the massage was bad, yoga is a massage on crack. You’re surrounded by a whole host of yoga type women who really get it, can strike a tree pose without getting the giggles, wobbling and falling over, and when it comes to clearing their mind and relaxing at the end, you know they are meditating for sure, and not worrying about the sell by dates of items in the fridge and where they put that Tupperware from lunch last week.

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#3 Go through security or get ID’d without feeling nervous.

I must have a really deep seated problem or been part of Al Quada in a former life, but whenever I go through the customs part of airport security at the exit end, or get ID’d in a bar, I feel nervous. I get sweaty and I feel panicked, for absolutely no reason at all. I am so far past the legal age for drinking that I can’t even remember it, and I have a valid passport and no activity to feel at all guilty for. However this still happens. I’m kind of twitchy, and weird.

4# Wear lip makeup without pulling a funny face

The stickier it is, the worse my face is. Lipstick makes my lips feel dry, and anything glossy and sticky makes me inadvertently smack my lips together, like a fish out of water. It’s not a good look, or very classy.

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5# Go to sleep without checking under the bed

This is a new one, but a year (yes, a year) ago, the boy and I watched the whole of Luther from start to finish (it’s a really good detective series in the UK, with Idris Elba). Anyway, horror or suspense things don’t really bother me, however there was this one episode where a killer snuck into these girls house and hid under the bed for hours before killing them all in their sleep. So now I check under the bed, unless its in my flat where I know that its stuffed so full of winter clothes and duvets that no one is getting in there. You know, JUST IN CASE.

What can’t you get to grips with?

Let Us Read, Let Us Dance – Voltaire

18 Jun

I used to be that kid in school who always had her nose in a book. I didn’t mind what it was; I was a reader, from cereal boxes to classics and everything in between. As I have gotten older my need to read hasn’t diminished, but the time I allocate to it has. I hate to say I’m too busy as I honestly feel that you provide time for the things you value, but after a day in the office I come home to the boy, make dinner, and we chill out together, or I see friends. Reading is a pretty solitary activity (unless you are in a reading club) and it’s hard to share it with other people, so it tends to take a back seat to spending time with people.

But since I have been in New York and found myself with a lot more solitary time, my age-old best friend is back. Evenings are spent curled up on the sofa exploring different people’s lives and taking adventures with new friends, and weekends with no plans become long days laying in a sunny park, visiting lands afar and dreaming big dreams.

So I wanted to talk about a few I have read recently:

Work In Progress:

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This book was a recommendation from my friends Anne and Elle, and is the memoirs of a New York Times food critic. I’m super in love with it as it plays up to my other passion, cooking, and is detailing places in NYC that I have visited in the last few weeks; mentioning streets I have walked down and areas I’ve seen. Its one of those ones you will read really quickly, immersing yourself in until its done and you feel like you might want to start again.

Returned to the Library:

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Was slightly confused by this one. I typically don’t enjoy books that claim to be ‘bestsellers’ I think it gives you a higher expectation in the start, which means you can never fully appreciate it for what it is. I had the same experience with ‘Gone Girl’ (which is still a few chapters read and discarded, waiting for a plane journey or another opportunity to really give it a good go) and I’ve found it hard. The story is pretty anecdotal and quite easy to read – the main character has a colourful history of meetings with Chairman Mao, Reagan and Stalin, but it’s definitely one to decide for yourself.

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Last time I was in California my aunt was reading this and said it was beautiful. I avoided it till now on the basis that it was probably a chick lit style book which I tend to shy away from, but it’s beautiful. So beautiful that I cried on the subway and became one of those people you tend to avoid. The crazies.

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This wasn’t a book I would normally choose, but im glad I did. A son is accused of shooting a senator, and the story shapes around the father and his quest to find out the truth. It’s quite hard to get into but I stayed with it, and felt rewarded that I did.

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I love Bridget. I read her growing up, and then I watched her transform into film, and all the while I understood her and totally got it. I was worried that a book where Mark Darcy is missing wasn’t a book I wanted to read, but it took me less than 48 hours to get through, and the boy presumed me dead for the entire time, so still was I reading it in our room. I love the fact that Fielding has dragged Bridget into the modern age, and loved her tweets.

What are you currently reading? A great place for recommendations is Victoria Writes. And she has a cute kitten too….

Things I’ve Learnt In New York

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For a city that speaks the same language, London and New York have a lot more differences than I had intially thought.

  • A biscuit isn’t a biscuit. A cookie is a biscuit. A biscuit is actually a bread roll. The mind boggles.
  • Anything with cheese flavouring tastes really fake and is bright orange.
  • They don’t spell flavouring right.
  • Despite speaking the same language, I am very difficult to understand.
  • A hamper here is a dirty laundry basket. I learnt that one that hard way, presenting a case study on gift hamper success to a large group of people.

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  • It’s not customary to let people off the subway before you get on. It makes me feel very British, and highly irritated.
  • The subway is a whole new beast. It’s not like the tube. It goes all sorts of ways on different days, it stops in funny places, sometimes it doesn’t stop and the announcer man talks so quietly that one can only guess what he said.
  • A pizza pie is a whole pizza, rather than a slice. I thought it was a calzone (it seemed sensible to me)
  • Cockroaches are much bigger than I thought. MUCH BIGGER.

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  • The pound sign isn’t a pound sign. It means the hash sign. Imagine my confusion when on the phone being prompted to press the pound sign. In my head I’m picturing the (£). The American voice on the phone is meaning the (#). Luckily I could call a fuzzy memory from my American colleague and pressed in the nick of time, but I had total phone pressure.
  • The chocolate tastes funny.

Have you been to New York? What did you find different to your city?

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