Archive of ‘Projects’ category

Playing catch up

Before I start feeling inexplicably guilty for not writing anything non-work related forever, let me start by saying hi. How’ve you been? I hope that those of you who do ocassionally find themselves on my blog haven’t missed me too much – in fact I’m pretty sure that the majority of you follow me on Twitter and are subjected to my word vomit on a daily basis. If you fall into either (or both) of those categories, then THANK YOU.

As I’ve been gone for a while, I figured I’d launch my new look blog with a little catch up.

February 2014

Back in February I spammed everyone who follows me on Instagram with photos from Hakkasan, where Charlie and I had our first ‘Dim Sum Sunday’ experience. We opted for the Signature menu (hello additional champagne and cocktails) and sat back as 6 equally beautiful and delicious courses were delivered to us. But February wasn’t all elegance – I also reverted back to my teenage years and went to see Taking Back Sunday at KOKO with some great friends and ended up in Burger King. So swings and roundabouts.

March 2014

March was particularly busy as Mum and I went to see Yoncé and Charlie and I celebrated our anniversary early. We like to go out and do something together rather than buying gifts we don’t really need, so I took him to see Book of Mormon and he treated me to dinner at Soho’s NOPI afterwards, which we both enjoyed, but felt lacked something in comparison to Ottolenghi in Islington. I also got to spend time with one of my dearest friends Elizabeth at the Martin Creed exhibition, where we giggled at fart boxes and danced around in a room filled with balloons.

April 2014

In April I went to Chatsworth House for the first time in years with my family. As beautiful as the house is, I could just as easily spend all day exploring the gardens. Back in London, I went to see one of my favourite bands Brand New at Troxy for the first time EVER. Don’t ask me why or how, but I’d never gotten around to seeing them before and I wasn’t about to miss them again. The gig was everything I had hoped for, although if you ever find yourself at Troxy you might want to drink a lot of water: it’s a stunning venue but the air con was non existent and I saw at least 5 girls hit the deck before Brand New even hit the stage.

I also took a trip to Leeds for the weekend to visit the girls I lived with at University and had THE BEST time. I’ve only been to Leeds on a handful of occasions but each time I’ve fallen more in love – does anyone else feel the same way? Like all great weekends away, my mini break revolved experiencing some of the best food and drink Leeds had to offer, including…

Leeds 2014

Red’s True Barbecue

As tempted as I was to try their infamous donut burger (yes, you read that correctly) I opted for a giant helping of the best pulled meat nachos I’ve ever had. If you like your meat with extra meat, GO. IMMEDIATELY.

The Alchemist

After stuffing my face at Red’s, I was in the mood for a strong beverage. My resident Leeds girl Zoe took me to The Alchemist, where you’ll find smoking cocktails, colour changing cocktails, glittering cocktails…my cocktail ‘A Night at the Movies’ even included popcorn!

The Botanist

Before I left Leeds, I got the chance to sample The Botanist’s deli style menu, which is perfectly suited to an afternoon of nibbles and drinks. The hanging kebabs looked delicious, the cocktails were great (despite slightly slow service) and the staff were extremely friendly.

May 2014

May was a blur of adventure, fun and excitement. Charlie and I went to Lisbon to stay with one of my oldest friends and had an amazing time. I wish we could have stayed for the whole month, but we had to get back to London for Charlie’s birthday surprise: Les Mis. I managed to hold it together until the interval but after One Day More, I basically cried throughout the entire second act. Towards the end of May, the nerves set in as I got ready to be photographed by Rankin! I joined 10 others who had also entered Hunger Magazine’s Selfie competition at the studio for a surreal afternoon of posing – Rankin even jumped in for a couple of fun photos. You can see the full winners shoot here and if you visit Hunger’s Tumblr, you’ll even see me in GIF form…

Rankin shoot

In June I discovered a handful of new pubs in the area thanks to Streatham Food Festival, which I only regretted slightly as I joined the inspirational Curvy Kate ladies for a photo shoot to promote their awesome new strapless bra – keep your eyes pealed for more news soon and look out for the Ultimate Uplift campaign…

June 2014

June was also the time for new tattoos. I’d wanted to get a tattooed by the immensely talented Rebecca Vincent at The Circle for a while, so when she announced a charity day for Sensory Leeds, I emailed her immediately. Now I have a beautiful tattoo AND I can feel good about the money going to such an important non-profit organisation. You might have seen my pinecone on Instagram recently as I’ve been documenting my #100happydays – I’m almost at the half way point and haven’t given up yet!

Homemade Halloween

Originally this was going to be a straight forward “How To…Make A Poison Ivy Costume” post, but I had an absolute nightmare creating it and so, I’ve decided against that title – it’s entirely my own fault for being so stubborn and envisaging such a high calibre costume!

This Halloween my fellow hosts and I decided to run with a Batman villain theme; we had Bane, Scarecrow, Cat Woman, Two Face, the Joker, the Penguin, Harley Quinn and Black Mask. After some deliberating, I opted to dress more along the lines of comic book Poison Ivy than Uma Thurman’s portrayal in Batman & Robin, which meant I either had to go naked or find a green strapless bodysuit/leotard. Let me tell you now – unless you want to spend a fortune, it’s basically an impossible task! I preferably wanted a corseted bodysuit that would hold everything in, but it proved difficult enough to find anything that was long enough in the body AND kept my boobs under control.

Poison Ivy costume, Bane costume
Poison Ivy and Scarecrow

After checking eBay and Amazon everyday for almost a month, I cast the net wider and hit up every possible shop Westfield had to offer on the hunt for anything that looked remotely flattering and cost less than £30; I even resorted to riffling through the Ann Summers sale. Five hours later, I admitted defeat and it was only by chance that I found a black lycra bodysuit for £12.99 in TKMAXX the next day. My long red wig came from eBay for £10.99 (and was worth every penny) as did my Emerald Stargazer lipstick (£3.35) and I found some reasonably priced artificial ivy on Amazon for £4.90. My green tights came in at £1.50 from trusty old Primark and I used superglue (£4) to attach the leaves. Be warned – I spent hours sewing on an under layer of green fabric (I used my apron from last years costume) and I had to kindly ask my boyfriend to glue the ivy on to the bodysuit whilst I was a. wearing it and b. lying down to stop gravity taking its toll on the glue! I finished off the costume with black ankle boots and a green cardigan from my wardrobe. The cardigan was a stroke of luck as not only hid the back of the bodysuit – which I neglected after realising the leaves were going to fall off every 5 minutes – but it kept me warm on a cold evening.

PURSE FRIENDLY TOTAL = £37.73

I also made a few more tasty themed treats this year. The ginger dead men made a welcome return, whilst the pumpkin shaped rice krispie marshmellow bites and graveyard chocolate cake proved popular with our ghoulish guests. Charlie and I wanted to display our guacamole and crisps in an inventive way, so we carved a lovely vomiting pumpkin and spread the dip over a chopping board!

gingerdead man
pumpkin rice krispie treats
graveyard cake
vomit pumpkin

Frugal February: How To… Entertain on a budget

If you’re taking part in Frugal February, I think it’s important not to spend all of your evenings and weekends wishing you hadn’t. Just because you can’t go to some ‘fabulous’ party that your friend is throwing – “the drinks are only £6 each darling and the music is so on trend and that cute boy you like will be there and everyone else you’ve ever met will be there and it’ll be the best night you’ve had in aaaaaaaaages” – does NOT mean you can’t have a good night. What ever happened to making your own fun? Invite your friends over and get creative! After all, it’s far too cold to go outside…

Gilmore Girls

Bring and Bake
Rather than going out and spending your money on over priced coffee and cupcakes, ask all of your friends to bake something, raid the tea cupboard, and have a good old fashioned catch up over a variety of yummy treats! Chances are there will be a few left overs to pop in your lunch box too…

You can find my cheap and cheerful recipe for fairy cakes here!

Dinner and a movie aka date night
No, I’m not talking about splurging on take out and sticking a movie on whilst you’re in bed, falling asleep half way through and waking up at 3am with your glasses sticking into your face. Put him to work in the kitchen whilst you freshen up. Sit down to dinner, light a few candles, have a conversation – make a little effort! Afterwards, get some popcorn in the microwave and watch a movie neither of you has seen before (or pick one each if you fancy staying up late). My point is, even if you can’t afford a fancy restaurant, you can still make time for each other.

The girls
Grab your closest girls and have a night in. Who wants to be out in this weather, shivering to death in painful heels, spending money on cocktails that will only leave you with a headache in the morning? All you need for a great night is a couple of films, one large bar of chocolate, a range of nail varnishes and a cheap bottle of wine.

The boys
Now, boys night for me isn’t that dis-similar to my girls night. Swap the nail varnish for video games and the wine for cider and black – the banter and jokes won’t be far behind!

Jumble sale
Sort out your wardrobe and have a night of listing on ebay – you might make more than you’d think. Bag up anything you can’t sell for the charity shops, or go one step further and invite your frugal friends over for a swap shop (you could even combine this with your bake off and make a real night of it).

Not taking part in Frugal Feb? Head over to ebay and buy my stuff!

Make & do
Do something different and start a craft project. You could make a card for someone special, teach yourself origami, or just write a letter to a friend. If you’re already a crafty person and fancy throwing yourself into a bigger venture, then take a look at A Beautiful Mess for some beautiful and unique ideas.

I love Sundays
Get everyone involved and host your own roast! Divide the responsibilities between the group (one person brings the potatoes, another the vegetables/dessert/wine etc) and enjoy the end of your week in style.

Frugal February: How To… be frugal

We all feel the guilt set in after the hurricane that is Christmas shopping. For some it isn’t instantly identifiable (that knot in your stomach can easily be mistaken for an over indulgence of food, not money) but it IS there. With most of us having to wait 5 weeks for the next pay check alongside every store tempting us with sales that are impossible to avoid, it’s a dangerous time for even the thriftiest of shoppers. Unfortunately for me, it’s also my birthday in January, so by the time February rolls around I usually want to curl up under the duvet and sob over my diminishing funds and nonexistent savings.

There are a few events in particular that I could use some extra cash for this year – and it would be nice to kick start the saving now rather than doing it all last minute. Frugal February began last year as a way of saving money and stopping unnecessary expenses – you can read about it in more detail over at the lovely Big Girls Browse (there’s also a list of other bloggers taking part so you can see how everyone else copes!) So here goes…

I vow, for one month from 1st Feb, to avoid shopping for anything other than essentials. No clothes, no accessories, no shoes, no magazines, no makeup or beauty products, no DVDs, books or music, no bottles of wine at the weekend, and absolutely no expensive cupcakes…I’ll be documenting my month here, keeping you up to date with any tips and ideas to keep you all smiling through the challenge. Good luck!

“When there’s no more room in hell…”

My house at University was like a sweat shop in the weeks leading up to Halloween. My friends and I would spend hours sewing, sticking, cutting, practising make up techniques, carving pumpkins, making themed cocktails and covering the house in cobwebs.

For a lot of girls, “Halloween is the one night of the year when you can dress up like a total slut and no one can say anything about it.” (Thanks Mean Girls) but I prefer the blood, the guts and the gore. It’s much more satisfying to make an original outfit than buy some sexy costume that you’re guaranteed to see other people wearing; keep the money you’d spend on some generically hideous costume from Ann Summers and get creative! Over the last few years, I’ve been a Battle Royale victim, a porcelain doll, a beaten to death 1950s housewife and a zombie nurse (complete with zombie patient) to name but a few.

This year we’re having a haunted house party with parlour games, scary music, and of course, some serious fancy dress. I’m already looking at all that the 99p store has to offer! I still have to decide on this years costume…do you have any ideas?

Battle Royale cosplayPorcelaine doll costumeDead housewife outfit
Zombie nurse and patient costume

Halfway

At the start of the year, I blogged about resolutions and what they mean to me. I came across the lovely Kathryn Sharman who stated that “they [resolutions] always seem to involve unrealistic dreams and/or punitive measures of denial or restraint, which is never a good way to start a year and is invariably doomed to failure.”

Instead, she advocated making a ‘Life List’ for the year ahead. Below is the mid year update of my aforementioned list, and I have to say that I’m rather pleased with what I’ve achieved!

Every day, I would like to…
Make someone smile and improve my eating habits. Both of these declarations can be attributed to moving in with the boy. He is a wonderful cook (I’m not ashamed to tell you that he is far better in the kitchen than I am) and perhaps this is a tad too cringe worthy, we make each other smile every day.

Every week, I would like to…
Do something creative – aka keeping up with the blog. Although my posts have been a little scattered this year, I think I’ve succeeded in posting more frequently. As well as staying creative, I aspired to continue seeing my closest friends (which has been successful despite the extra mileage between us) and discover something new about myself. Well guess what? I actually LIKE going to the gym! I joined as a precursor to my summer adventures where I want to wear shorts without tights and not feel like that girl who should not be wearing shorts without tights.

In 6 months time I would like to….
Be living in South London (tick) and make the best cupcakes. I have been told that my red velvet cakes are yummy by numerous friends and family – and I’ve been bribed into making them for more than one birthday party! I also have a more extensive book shelf now thanks to combining my collection with Charlie’s.

Before next year, I would like to have…
Paid off my overdraft – an unavoidable assertion but one thing I loved being in the position to do. I also passed my driving test a few weeks ago!

Overall, the list is pretty fulfilled, which comes as a lovely surprise at the half way mark. With my road trip across America in 5 weeks time I’ll have crossed another ambition off the list, and I’d like to think that the rest will follow suit. You never know, perhaps the boy will treat me to the *ballet before the year is out (*hint hint).

Mr Postman #3

My boy knows a thing or two about the art of making a great mix tape. He also writes a mean letter, and always includes illustrations to make me smile. If you’re lucky enough to live around the corner from your girlfriend or boyfriend, why not surprise them with something in the post this week? Everyone loves getting mail, whether you live 200 miles or 20 minutes away.

Mix tape
Mix tape playlist

Get A Life: “With her nose stuck in a book”

This week marks a truly amazing celebration in my opinion – National Reading Is Fun Week!

I have been a little slack in all things recently due to working, traveling and being ill. Whilst drawing and writing blocks happen maybe once or twice a week depending on my mood, reading block happens once or twice a year and it baffles me as I love nothing more than curling up with a book and becoming someone else for a while. Nothing beats escapism, and I find it hard to relate to anyone who doesn’t enjoy reading something. Anything.

In a bid to shake off my reading block, I have reverted to reading a couple of things this week, each as different as the next. I began the weekend with a little mystery in the shape of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as the stories are beautiful as well as being easy to pick up and read within 10 minutes. Today as I’m off work sick I wanted something dog eared, basic and fun so I pulled out some Young Adult books. Continuing with the profoundly passionate, I have a thick collection of Bronte novels to drown in over the weekend (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey) which I’ve been looking forward to, especially as I picked it up for £1.50 in second hand store. What are you reading a the moment?

P.S I was most upset to find that today is Eat What You Want Day. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to participate in this to my full ability as I’m currently fasting for a blood test! Somebody eat a cookie for me.

Get A Life: Pro Life vs Pro Abortion

Next week is National Pro Life T-shirt Week and as you may have gathered at a quick glance, I have an opinion. For those of you who don’t know, the pro-life movement is a political and social movement focused chiefly around opposition to abortion, and support for the legal banning of elective abortion. Abortion is a subject which divides the majority of women regardless of upbringing and experience. Most women in there 20’s know somebody who has had to make a hard decision, and I whole heartedly believe it should be supported not discouraged.

I’m proud to be pro abortion, and in being so, I’ve decided to put a spin on this week by offering a different perspective on the ‘pro life’ terminology; in fact, I’m reclaiming it bitches.

“Pro life” can be used in a variety of contexts, and I’d rather support a movement which encourages positive change, like To Write Love On Her Arms. TWLOHA is a non-profitable movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. It exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

In 2006 I had little knowledge of the UK’s mental health care system. Fast forward a couple of years and I’d witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly. How therapy can work, how anti depressants cannot. How a phone call can provide a life line, or sever all ties with hope. I’ve sat in the inner circle of a mental health ward and discovered how different treatment is for young people. Abbreviations such as 5150, MDD and SNRI were introduced into my vocabulary as I witnessed struggles with anxiety, eating disorders, self harm and attempted suicide. I’ve seen how hard living with manic depressive disorders such as bipolar disease can be, for both the sufferer, the family and the friends.

It took a long time to let go of a friend who needed more help than I could physically and emotionally give. Thankfully, she eventually got the real support she needed, and I was lucky enough to have my own safety net in the shape of the people I worked with and lived with. They saved me in a way that I couldn’t save her. This week I’ll be wearing my TWLOHA t-shirt with pride and with respect for those brave enough to support their family and friends.

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