31 Aug 2015

August was... supercharged

A LOT has happened this month and supercharged seems like the best way to describe it. Charged with emotion, charged with excitement, charged with the good kind of pressure and the bad kind of stress.

The loss of Moriarty overshadowed much of the month, I still miss that little guy an awful lot but I'm getting better (I don't want to cry every time I look at a picture of him - progress!). August brought our 1st wedding anniversary, and with it a weekend break to Brighton which was much needed. Getting away, and in particular being by the sea, tends to encourage me to reflect and it gave me time to put things into perspective. Work-wise, it's been a good month, the project I'm working on is really taking shape. I've been feeling the pressure but, so far, it's manageable and quite exciting what with a bit a travel up and down the country on the cards for next month! August was also the month we upped our flat hunting game - going to viewings, getting credit checks, figuring out potential budgets, looking at solicitor quotes and (gulp) getting to grips with mortgages. It's been stressful, and will, I imagine, continue to be so, but fingers crossed we'll get a flat at the end of it all!

We've not been the most social of creatures this month and September will have to be a quiet one too - we need to save like crazy! Saying that though, the new month brings a short trip to Slovakia and a weekend in the Yorkshire dales which'll be fun. I'm hoping to get back into my knitting too - I've missed it and the arrival of this early autumnal weather might be the push I need to get started again. Compared to last summer, 2015 has been decidedly un-crafty, probably because of the garden. Yeah, I'll just blame it on the vegetables :)

Hope you're all having excellent long weekends!

29 Aug 2015

brighton for a weekend

To celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary Mitch and I wanted to get away for the weekend and, what with close proximity to the sea being a high priority and Cornwall being a little too far for just a couple of nights, we settled on Brighton.

I'd not been for about 8 years and had completely forgotten how quick it is to get to (just an hour from clapham junction!). We Airbnb'd it (god, I love Airbnb), as weekend hotel prices were insane, and stayed in a perfect 1 bed flat right round the corner from the north laines.

The weekend consisted of eating lots (pizza, burger, brunch, obligatory seaside fish'n'chips and much icecream), mooching about the town, the pier, the pavilion gardens and the beach (Mitch even went for a swim in the sea) and generally just having a v.chilled out couple of days. Highlights for me included: having a look around Brighton & Hove museum and more specifically the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (pretty incredible and well worth a viewing); walking around the stalls at the open market (and using the photobooth :) naturally); and my favourite part? Wandering through the north laines full of second hand clothes shops, curiosity shops, an excellent comic book shop and, of course, Snooper's Paradise - a must-see for those who like to rummage ;) we spent over an hour in there!

It being summer and the school holidays, Brighton was hella busy, in some places uncomfortably so (*ahem* the famous lanes and main highstreet) which is why we spent more time around the little roads off Trafalgar Street. The weather on Saturday was glorious and Sunday wasn't bad until a huge downpour at lunchtime, but it brightened up again and who cares anyway, it's not a crime to eat icecream in the rain ;) A perfect little weekend getaway - thanks Brighton.

27 Aug 2015

p a p e r (our 1st anniversary)

Paper is the traditional gift for a 1st wedding anniversary so Mitch and I got each other books (Mitch's gets added kudos because the book he got me was Lists of Note and lists are traditionally written on paper too). I also made the little paper cut above because narwhals are a thing for us (and also they are the best).

It's funny, for the first few months after we got married, friends asked me "how does it feel to be married? Any different?" and I casually shrugged my shoulders and said "nah, not really, nothing's changed at all. We're exactly the same." Ask me now and my answer would be different. Things have changed, small things like the fact that I get to say 'husband' a lot for a start (which I'm loving). Originally I wasn't so keen on the word 'wife' but it's great! I love being Mitch's wife, and when he introduces me as his wife to someone new, it's bloody ace (I know I sound weird, I can't really explain it). In terms of feeling differently, I feel like we're, if it's even possible, more of a team. We said some heartfelt (if perhaps a little cheesy) vows to each other  at the wedding and they honestly feel more and more relevant as time goes on. It is all about being there to support each other in whatever way we can and in whatever we do. I also feel super comfortable talking about the future, what we might do and where we might go. Obviously nothing is set in stone but certain aspects are becoming more focused, plus it's fun to talk about the possibilities that lie in store for us. Not that we didn't talk about stuff or that I didn't feel comfortable before we got married, everything now just feels that bit brighter, that bit...sparklier!

As first years of marriages go, it's not been the easiest - still living in my parents' attic, my redundancy and subsequent miserable-ness throughout my unemployment. But through it all, Mitch has been my absolute rock - cheering me up, offering advice, doing interview practice with me, not to mention bankrolling me when I had literally nothing. I don't like to get super mushy on here but if I can't do it on our wedding anniversary when can I? He is generous and thoughtful and the most positive person I've ever met. I cannot tell you how awesome Mitch has been this year. Here's to many more adventures, laughs and cuddles - I am one lucky lady, that man is the bees knees :) 

22 Aug 2015

Reading & Seeing 25

*Firstly, thank you for your kind words on my last post, they are much appreciated :)*

Ready Player One
Having seen Janet's review of this, I knew I needed to read it too. Set in the near future where the internet has essentially taken over real life in the form of the OASIS - a vast completely immersive simulation where people, through their avatars, work, go to school, form friendships, relationships and fight. With no one to inherit his fortune in the event of his death, creator of the OASIS, James Halliday (genius programmer and ultimate 80s pop culture enthusiast), sets the OASIS population the ultimate quest, to find the Easter Egg to end all hunts and not only claim Halliday's fortune but take control of the OASIS itself. It's littered with immensely pleasing references to video games, 80s films, tv shows and music. Ready Player One ticked a lot of boxes for me (science fiction, strong female characters, pop culture references, excellent ending) and is probably one of my favourite books of the year so far. It's a pretty geeky read but in a v.good way.

Yes Please
My sister had warned me that Amy Poehler's autobiography wasn't up to the standard of Tina Fey's, "she talks waaaaay too much about her children!" But I disagree, it's a good balance between work and home life and, more importantly, Poehler has some excellent stories to tell. I particularly liked some of the flash backs to her childhood and hearing about all the things she got up to in the early days of improvising. It's v.amusing in places and you most definitely get a sense of her as a person - her voice comes through so clearly, and to be honest, she sounds like the type of lady I'd want as a friend.

The Astronaut Wives Club
Way back in Oct 2011 Mitch watched a series called From the Earth to the Moon. A 10 or 12 episode drama about Nasa's early space programs. What was particularly great about it was each episode focused on one aspect of the operation - the engineers, those in the control room, the astronauts themselves - and one was about the astronaut's wives. It really stuck with me so, as you can probably guess, I really liked this book. It's a real account of what it was like to be an astronaut's wife told by the wives themselves. Unsurprisingly, the perfect American family which Nasa encouraged them to project was far from the truth in a lot of cases. A lot of fuss is made of the first American astronauts, and rightly so, they had to work hard, train and risk their lives going into space, but so did their wives just in a very different way. Incidentally, a tv series has just been made off the back of this book. The trailer looked pretty horrendous but I might give it a try.

The First Bad Man
Although I've heard of Miranda July this was actually my first experience of her work (film or writing) and cor, this, or at least the first half of it, was one of the most uncomfortable things I've read, to the point where I almost gave up on it. Almost. A teeny tiny part of me wanted to make sure that the central character made it out alright. I shan't say much more than that for two reasons: 1. you may want to read it and 2. I'm not sure how I'd begin to describe this book. It's a weird one. I can't say I liked it but it certainly got a reaction out of me which I guess is a sign of a good writer. However, I won't be reading this ever again. Hasn't put me off July though, might try her short stories...

A two person play about a couple's relationship but rather than experiencing it in a linear timeline, you watch it unfold through different outcomes of the same scenarios across a number of parallel universes. For example, in one universe, their first date doesn't go so well so they don't get together, yet in another universe they have the same conversation but the tone is different and they hit it off. I'm probably making this sound way more complicated than it is. It's so cleverly written and the two leads were incredible! I think it's finished for now but if it comes round again, as it very well might because we saw it on its second or possibly third run, I'd definitely recommend it.

Les Miserables
The musical that everyone kinda losses their shit over, and now I know why. I liked the film but seeing this on stage was a-mazing! So much more epic and emotional, and the actors voices were stunning! I guess you can't really beat a live performance.

18 Aug 2015

good night little pea

So I have some shit news, last Thursday morning our Moriarty passed away. He was fairly old for a syrian hamster, a few days short of 2 years and 8 months in fact. His health and agility had been in rapid decline over the last couple of months, he stopped using his wheel and struggled to climb the ramp to the first level in his cage. We took him to the vet the Friday before to see about getting some medicine for his ear infection (v.common I'm told in old hamsters) and it was then that the vet found a large tumour in his belly (again, apparrently very common in hamsters). He assured us that Moriarty wasn't in pain or experiencing any discomfort, there wasn't anything he could do for him so we just took him home and carried on as we'd done before. Despite knowing he wasn't 100% and that hamsters had short lifespans I wasn't prepared for the shock and gut-aching sadness I felt on Thursday. I'm not ashamed to say it: I cried a lot for Moriarty, even though I know we gave him the best possible life and all the cuddles and strawberries he could want. I put my v.emotional response down to the fact that I'd never had a pet before and was feeling childish feelings because most people experience this first loss of a pet at a young age. But actually, you know what? Loss doesn't get easier as you get older. We had Moriarty for two and a half years, he was part of the furniture and I loved that little guy. I'm so so glad I took tonnes of pictures and videos of him, he was such a cutie and I have so many great memories of him.

I miss him, particularly in the morning - checking in on him before going to work - and the evenings around 9pm when he'd normally be emerging from his nest or waiting by the door for food or someone to play with - preferably both :)

Good night little pea. No one has ever, or will ever, look cuter eating broccoli.

R.I.P Moriarty x
A video posted by _annie_h (@_annie_h) on

12 Aug 2015

Wedding DIYs #3 Entertainment

The last instalment of my wedding DIYs (here's parts one and two).

Movie Bingo
Mitch put together a playlist of film music and movie quotes and together we made v.simple little bingo cards (with film names rather than numbers) and, after the food, we asked our guests to play a game of musical bingo. Mitch and I played hosts - which was lots of fun - and we had three prizes to give away (for one line, two lines and full house). A pretty cheap means of entertainment but it went down v.well with everyone and got people talking on their tables.

From fairly early on Mitch announced that he wanted to handle the photobooth. We'd looked at a few that you could hire and they, like everything wedding related, were super expensive. I can't give you too may details about how Mitch went about creating the photobooth as a lot of IT stuff is very much lost on me. I know he downloaded a programme and synched it to a web cam and printer, arranged it so that the pictures saved to the computer and printed out, he got some props together and his best man (ultimate IT genius) got it all set up and working late on the Friday night before the wedding. (I am so grateful for this as literally everybody at the wedding commented on how much they loved the photobooth). So, yes, you can fork out a fortune for a photobooth but if you've got the skillz (or know someone with the skillz) there's nothing stopping you from making your own, we did and probably saved us about 500 quid.

Guest book
In the lead up to our wedding I'd read a number of blogs saying that guest books were kinda pointless and a hassle to get people to sign but, having done one, I'd have to disagree. Yes, lots of the pages are filled with drunken messages but they're great messages, very much in the moment, and, along with all the pictures from the photobooth, we've got them to look back on. Although you can buy specific "wedding guest books" they can be pricey. We ended up getting a plain page book from Paperchase - they're a pretty good bet in case you're looking for a book option.

 And thus concludes this mini series, just in time before mine and Mitch's first wedding anniversary on Sunday ;)

7 Aug 2015

Adventures in vegetable growing!

As mentioned in my previous post, attending to our vegetable patch has become a fairly big part of my free time. If you follow me on instagram you'll have been inundated with pictures of our veg growing progress. The tiny seeds we planted have come a long way over the last four months and, although the herbs were ready earlier, veg has started to appear!

This is going to be seriously old news for anyone who grows their own food but, the satisfaction of digging up your own potatoes or cutting off your own courgettes or plucking your own tomatoes, you just can't beat it, it's bloody brilliant! Our tomatoes have been the biggest revelation. Sure they don't look as uniform as the ones in the supermarket but by god are they flavoursome!

Our first couregtte // herb haul (basil, corriander, fennell, cammomile and chives) // beetroot! // first load of potatoes

Now, growing veg isn't hard, you plant the seeds, water them regularly and make sure they get lots of sunlight. But we've learned a few things along the way, including: get your carrots in the ground quick or they'll end up tiny; protect your cabbages - ours got completely munched within a week of planting them; potato plants are supposed to die, that's when you know they're ready to dig up; don't plant runner beans near a hedge - they won't get enough sunlight (silly us); the best way to take a cutting from a tomato plant is to put the cutting in a jar of water and wait for the roots to grow, then you can plant it in soil; your battle with weeds is never over; and lastly, take lots of pictures, it's cool to be able to look back on how everything changes.

our beast of a courgette plant

Mitch moved one of the tomato plants outside and it's doing better than the ones inside my nan's conservatory (it's actually got six toms growing on it now), so we've moved a couple more outside.

one of two tomato cuttings showing some roots :)

  Last weekend's fruits (or should I say veg). Still gutted about the carrots.

I'm very aware that it's massively unlikely that Mitch and I will buy a property with a garden (to buy a property in London at all is proving to be a mean feat), which is why we're so enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow stuff at my nan's. In terms of our future London abode, I've got my fingers crossed for a balcony (somewhere for the tomatoes, herbs and chilli plant to hang out). Ultimately though, my end game is a house (preferably near-ish the sea) with a decent sized garden with a bit of lawn for lounging, wild flowers for the bees, a fruit tree of some sorts and lots of room for veg growing. Ah garden lusting - something I never thought I'd do, this late 20s thing is ace!

Have you been growing food this summer? I'm nosy to know what other people grow :)

1 Aug 2015

July was...green

Firstly, hello, it's been a while! Apparently I took some unplanned blogging leave in July. I wish it was because I've been off galavanting in foreign lands for a month but nay. The lack of posting is just pretty much because 1. I've been busy and 2. busy doing things that don't really warrant stand alone blog posts (apart from going to Ireland which was AMAZING, I hope to share those pictures soon).

So July was green, super green actually (for anyone who gets the Fifth Element reference). That colour sums up the month for two main reasons: because Ireland really is the emerald isle, mostly because it rains A LOT (certainly on the west coast anyway) which makes the place look v.lush indeed. July was green also because our veg garden has been producing stuff! We've been spending a lot of time down in my nan's garden attending to our plants, which although it takes a good few hours out of our precious weekday evenings, it's so so worth it. Gardening - specifically veg and herb plants, I've not really got into flowers yet save for a couple of sunflowers I'm growing - has sort of become my hobby, I love it! The only downside is that my oher hobbies - knitting, crochet, sewing, making stuff in general - have all taken a back seat. The last thing I made was way back in May (and it was a dress which I haven't actually finished so it doesn't really count). I miss making and I've actually found myself getting grumpy because I haven't got the time to do it! That saying about not enough hours in the day springs to mind. Of course, the thing is, I have all the time in the world, I just need to manage it better. Turn down a few after work drinks to go home and slow down, appreciate my evenings a bit more. August is going to be all about balance for me.

Other notable happenings in July: Mitch and I have properly started flat-hunting which left me feeling green with inexperience. But seriously though, why must property buying be so hard???!!!!! I'll save my rant on the absurdly expensive London flat/house prices for another day. In other news, Moriarty is still alive and kicking, but over the last six weeks or so he seems to have aged dramatically. We've taken the wheel out of his cage as he can no longer run on it and we've removed the extra level and ramp as he was seriously struggling to climb it. He's still as curious (and hungry) as ever but he's slowed right down and sleeps about 80% of the time. At two years and seven months he's definitely an old man in hamster years but when he's awake he's still up for playtime :)

I think that sums up my July quite nicely and I'm feeling positive about August, not least because it contains 5 weekends!!! Let's keep our fingers crossed for some warm and sunny weather ☀☀☀

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