Since I only had a few days with J, the second day we decided to walk around his Uni campus rather than travel out further. Brackenhurst is an estate that is part of Nottingham Trent Uni and is mostly based around animal-type studies which means it's actually really interesting to explore, and there are lots of places to look around. By the end of the afternoon our feet were hurting but I got to see a lot and managed to get some good photos too, I forget how enjoyable shooting outside can be, and it was interesting seeing what J's Uni life is like compared to how mine was since I went to an arts-based campus in Newport.

Dressing For Warmth

It's been a minute since my last outfit post, hasn't it? Between the miserable winter light and working full time I have so much less time for outfits, so I figured whilst I was up visiting J I would borrow his (still a bit shaky) camera skills. These were taken whilst we were out at Rufford Abbey so I was very much dressed for warmth rather than cuteness; I had leggings on under those jeans and two tops under my jumper! This parka is my go-to winter warmth coat as it's now about 2/3 sizes too big meaning you can really layer up under it. I wasn't liking these photos but J insists I don't look as awful as I think I do, so there you go.

coat: c/o F&F at tesco a couple years back / jumper: h&m / jeans: george at asda / boots: palladium c/o spartoo / socks: next

Rufford Abbey

When I went up to visit J last weekend we decided to make the most of having the car and explore Nottinghamshire a bit, especially since he's due to finish Uni in only a few short months. I had to take the opportunity to take my camera out as well and take some photos of the places we visited. Rufford Abbey is the first place we visited, and it was really pretty and a decent walk; not to mention a shop that sells awesome tiffin (something I really need to try making now as even J ate it, and he doesn't have much of a sweet tooth!) and for the time of year we went it was quiet and the parking free. I enjoyed seeing all the wildlife about too; lots of ducks, geese and squirrels.

These Boots

I'm a bit of a serial shopper. I have a tendency to buy things (in particular shoes type things) that look super cute but might be very uncomfortable or impractical. I own somewhere between 5-10 pairs of beautiful heels, including irregular choices that are a size too small, that I won't/can't wear as well as boots that are too tight, pumps that are too big or sandals that are just plain unwearable. Since I'm making more of an effort this year to get out and about (since buying my fitbit flex, which you can read about here) I needed some practical and comfortable shoes that weren't hideous. Enter my not-so-sparkly clean but still pretty cute palladiums! These are my go-to walking shoes, they are so light, entirely waterproof and can just be stuck in the washing machine if they get too disgusting. I kind of want a pair in every colour. This particular style can also be worn folded down and have a sweet striped pattern that you can just about make out below, making them extra wearable and I'm more than a little bit in love. What shoes do you wear for walking?

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

I decided to go for something a little more simple this time around; giant cookies! I'm a big fan of 'freezer baking'; something you can wrap up in a bit of cling film, pop in a freezer bag and leave until you fancy doing some easy no-fuss baking. These cookies are definitely one of those things! They're more bready than chewy so if a flat cookie is more of your thing you'll want to use much less self raising flour.

You will need;
70g brown sugar
30g caster sugar
110g baking butter melted (cooled)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
180g self raising flour
40g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
chocolate chips

one. preheat oven to 200C and prepare a baking sheet
two. sift and mix together all dry ingredients, including chocolate chips
three. whisk the egg in the butter and fold into the dry mix a bit at a time until a dough is formed
four. if baking immediately, break off golf ball sized balls of dough and flatted out to roughly palm sized on baking sheet - please note that these cookies expand and will need a bit of space between them!
five. bake for ten minutes, remove from oven and move to cooling rack to cool.

Surviving Studio Living

This is a post I've been thinking about writing for a while, and never quite got around to. I moved out of home back in 2013 (hard to believe it's been that long really!) after getting my first job after Uni and into the flat I currently live in which, to put it mildly, is a little bit on the small side. By 'the small side' I mean it's a small studio flat with the kitchen, living room and bedroom all trying to occupy the same fairly poky space. Don't get me wrong - I love being independent and coming home to my own home every evening but it was a little bit of struggle to get used to small space living! So here are my tips and tricks for surviving living studio style;

one. putting your stamp on it
one of the biggest issues I encountered when moving into somewhere so small was putting my stamp on things was a lot more difficult; there isn't the room for statement stuff and a lot of furniture had to be chosen by what was cheap and would fit into small spaces; for example I had some really cheap storage crates by my bed for an age because the space wasn't large enough for a bedside table! Over time and with a little bit of an investigation you can find things that fit the space and yourself, it just might take a little time, patience and saving up.

two. compromising with colour
In my living room, I have enough space for one sofa, a TV unit and a couple IKEA square shelves and not much else, so colour really helps mark out the space and help it be less drab. My sofa is a vibrant orange (often with colourful throws added), my little coffee table a bright teal and I make use of the various colours you can get for the fabric boxes that fit my units. I find that a combination of brights and whites really opens up the space whereas darker shades would make it a little dingy.

three. storage, storage, storage
A word my family and boyfriend are very bored of hearing about, as I'm more than a little bit obsessed! I have storage just about everywhere in my flat, from tins and tupperware in the kitchen to boxes and units in the front room and underbed storage to boot. Between my books, bakery collection and vast amounts of shoes and clothes it's necessary - and having everything out of sight gives you a lot more room to manouvre, not to mention your flat a nicer place to be in.

four. break it up
I consider it important that even though most of my at-home life is in one room it feels like things that take place in each room are at least a little bit separate. Therefore all kitchen stuff stays in the kitchen and the same with all living room bits and pieces; everything has a home and stays in it as much as possible. A rug cuts off the point from my living to my sleeping area to differentiate them a bit better, though the lines are a bit more blurred especially on a saturday night when my duvet tends to end up on the sofa with me!

five. positives
I occasionally get a bit down about the fact I'm 25 and living somewhere so small and... studenty, but I remember that whilst I have friends with lovely bit flats and houses (with separate rooms and everything) I am in fact making it on my own, at least until the boyfriend finishes Uni. Other pluses are that studios are a lot cheaper in terms of rent, easier to maintain and clean and in winter heat up a great deal faster which is a real advantage and saves even more cash.

100 Day Challenge TT / Update #1

Wow, the last few weeks have gone by quickly and it's already time for my bi-monthly update. I took the plunge for a second hopefully more successful time on January 27th with the goal to spend as little of my pennies as possible and be able to pay off all my rubbish, boring debts and everything off a little faster (not quite as fun as buying dresses but kind of more essential!). Here's how I did the last fortnight;

£3.00 on a new fitbit strap, so it isn't gross and grungy to wear for work
£2.25 on Batgirl #38; this is an every-month purchase and pretty much the only one I won't be giving up as getting back issues of comics can be a real pain!

So in total over two weeks I spent £5.25 on unnecessary purchases - as always, £0 would be better but I'm pretty proud of myself for this so I'm not going to beat myself up! that's a total of 37p per day so not bad at all. Hopefully I can keep this up in the next fortnight or maybe do even better.

Ginger Loaf Cake

Last week I featured a light, fluffy lemon cake and this time around I fancied something a little more heavy and wintery! Ginger cake is one of my favourites and has been for years. My version is a little less sticky than the traditional one which makes it easier to store and to eat without getting messy in my opinion. Though I opted for a loaf tin you can always adjust measurements for any shape and size.

You will need;
250g self raising flour
65g light soft brown sugar
3.5 teaspoons of powdered/ground ginger
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
75g butter
20g caster sugar
100g golden syrup
2 eggs
150ml milk

one. preheat oven to 180C - whilst waiting to preheat sift and mix all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
two. melt butter in the microwave, whisk in eggs until frothy and whisk in golden syrup to make a thick, sticky liquid; do not let the syrup settle to the bottom
three. fold all wet ingredients in with the dry ones and mix until fully combined
four. add milk 20-30ml at a time until batter is easy to pour but not quite runny (still holds its shape for a few seconds if you run a spoon or similar through it)
five. pour mixture into tins and place in the oven for 25 minutes, checking every five minutes after for consistency; a cake tester/toothpick should come out clean and the top should be springy to the touch
six. remove tins from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen with round ended knife and tip out onto drying rack to cool properly
seven. once entirely cool, cut into slices and store