Monday, 8 February 2016

A Weekend in Manly, Sydney

Happy Monday! This past weekend was a really good one. Alex was in Sydney for work for most of the week, so we decided I would fly up and join him for the weekend. Having explored the city and Bondi briefly a few years before, we chose to stay in Manly, a really chilled out suburb in the north of Sydney just a half hour ferry ride from the harbour. I wasn't planning on writing a blog post about the weekend, so excuse the iPhone snaps. Manly was just too photogenic to resist documenting every scene! It was the ideal place to wander, eat delicious food, and chill out on the beach. It's exactly how all English people picture Australia I think - SO many people were up and surfing early on Sunday morning, going on jogs along the coast, and grabbing coffee and brunch. The best kind of lifestyle! 

The Boathouse was a great place to have breakfast on Saturday - delicious food, light, airy, and right on the beach, but the portions were enormous! Luckily we ended up walking it off with a leisurely hike along the beautiful coast and then through a reserve, spotting some freaky spiders, blue tongue lizards, and water dragons along the way. In the arvo we met Alex's cousin for a juice and then later had dinner at Chica Bonita (super yummy!) followed by drinks with the lovely Niall and Harriet who stayed in our Airbnb room a few weeks ago... such a fun day. 

On Sunday Alex surfed for a couple of hours while I lazed on the beach with my book. It was a great place for people watching. I had the best açai bowl for lunch, as you know I'm a bit obsessed! Sophie from The Littlest Things kindly sent me a massive list of amazing places to eat/drink at and sadly I couldn't possibly try them all out in 2 days, as hard as I tried! It's my birthday tomorrow and it was an amazing way to start this week. Yes, I am determined to drag my birthday celebrations out to a full week this year :) 

Monday, 1 February 2016

How to Use Blush in Interiors

Not only is blush (or 'Rose Quartz) the colour of the year, but I am totally obsessed with this colour in interiors right now. It brings such warmth and softness to a room. However, it's a colour that needs to be done right, to avoid creating a baby girl's bedroom look. 

'Less is more' is definitely the way to go with using blush within interiors, so I've put together a few ways to add some peachy goodness to your space without over-doing it, and which can be easily changed up down the track. Plus there are a few subtle ways you can sneak this beautiful colour into your home without your other half noticing that suddenly there are accents of pink wherever he looks...

I adore the look of crushed, stonewashed nude linen. However a whole pink duvet cover or sheets is quite full-on (and feminine), so I am lusting over some pink pillowcases to mix and match with our current grey and white linen sheets. I am loving these. Also this gorgeous blush throw draped over the end of the bed or sofa adds the perfect touch of pink.

Sources: 1/2/3/4

Rather than covering an entire room in blush paint, I looove the idea of a pastel pink door! Wishing I had a beautiful front door to paint right now. Other ideas are painting just one wall, a couple of shelves, or a wooden chair/table.

Sources: 1/2/3/4

This is one of the easiest ways to bring blush into your kitchen by just buying a couple of gorgeous blush mugs to drink your coffee from, or a beaut Le Creuset dish - pink rhubarb & apple crumble anyone? I am utterly in love with Suite One Studio at the moment, just take a look at their website for yourself and you'll know what I'm on about. 


This might be a more permanent way of using blush within your home, but this tone goes with so many other colours that it looks so beautiful within paintings/prints/patterns. Ashley Goldberg is one of my favourite artists/designers who often uses pastel pinks in her work and it is so fun and contemporary. I adore this woven wall hanging by Maryanne Moodie. I think the way it is styled  in the photo keeps it modern. 

Sources: 1/2/3/4

What do you think of blush within interiors? Yay or nay? x

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Breakfast Week | Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Breakfast is the best meal of the day, hands down. So when I found out it was breakfast week this week, I knew I had to get involved! When you're eating gluten free, you have to put a little more thought into breaking the fast. Good quality, healthy GF cereals and bread are seriously pricey, and pure oats are hard to find in Australia. So I have to get a bit creative! 

I keep a tupperware of frozen banana pieces in my freezer at all times, and whip up a smoothie bowl a couple of times a week. They are perfect for when you feel like something quick and a bit lighter than carbs. For me, just drinking a smoothie doesn't cut it, but it seems to fill me up more when poured into a bowl and topped with a few different textures! Here are my two favourite basic recipes, but I usually just make whatever I have in the cupboard/fridge. 

Berry Smoothie Bowl
1x frozen banana (chopped into pieces) 
1x handful of frozen raspberries and blueberries
Water or unsweetened almond milk

Chocolate Smoothie Bowl
1x frozen banana (chopped into pieces) 
1/2 avocado
1x tablespoon raw cacao powder
1x tablespoon chia seeds
(optional handful spinach)
Coconut Water

I didn't add the quantities of the liquids as you want to be adding just enough for the fruit to blend and it can vary depending on what ingredients you're using. Just chuck it all in the blender and blend until smooth! Pour straight into a bowl and add your toppings such as: 

- Almond butter (or any other nut butter)
- Chia seeds
- Nuts and seeds
- Chopped dates 
- Cacao nibs
- Coconut flakes
- Berries 
- Buckwheat groats
- Sugar and gluten free granolas

Smoothie bowls are fun to put together and I sometimes can't resist snapping a pic so here is some more inspiration! Let me know if you make one :) 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What it is Like to Host an Airbnb

I've been using Airbnb for a few years now in various places - Toulouse, Copenhagen, Adelaide, Byron Bay... and it almost always wins over staying in hotels. They're generally cheaper, often more spacious than a squishy hotel room, and you can prepare your own meals if you feel like it. I can't remember how Alex and I decided to put our spare room up on Airbnb in August, but it's been such an interesting experience. Many people have asked me what it's like to share my home with strangers constantly coming in and out, so I thought I'd do a post about it! Plus a few tips for hosting an Airbnb.

I'll talk about the pros first. Obviously aside from the extra income, there are so many good things about having people stay that I didn't expect at all. Living in Melbourne I don't have the same network of people around as back in London, so it's so great to have people to chat to in the evenings, especially as they tend to be from overseas and it's nice to have a good ol' chat about Melbourne life with another outsider! 

The great thing is, we've had a few people who have come to stay with us at the beginning of their move to Melbourne while they're looking for permanent accommodation/jobs. A French couple who stayed with us in August now live in the same apartment block as us and we see them regularly for wine & cheese nights, and BBQs! It's like a little community. We also socialise quite a bit with guests when they stay with us - we ended up dancing until 3am last night with our current guests! It's nice to go out for dinner with them in the area, or have a game of Cards of Humanity and drinks at the weekend. It's made me realise how many lovely people there are in the world! I feel like we will definitely stay in touch with a few guests, and now we have friends all around the world, with great travelling tips for us too :)

From a practical point of view, hosting an Airbnb forces us to always keep the flat as spit-spot as we can, especially when guests first move in. It means we can't be lazy with cleaning! We also tend to get out the flat a bit more if we need space, so we don't end up lying on the sofa every evening if our guests want to cook or spend time in the living area. 

There are less cons than I expected there to be. There is the fact that of course sometimes you just want your own space. There's been a couple of times when Alex is out in the evening and all I want to do is watch a chick flick, paint ma nails, eat all the pizza, and not talk to anybody. I'm not the best at small talk but there's always our bedroom to chill in if I really don't feel like being sociable after a long day at work. 

It is quite a bit of work changing the room around, especially if we have a quick changeover. It means lots of washing if we only have someone for a night or two. Thankfully most people we have tend to stay longer. There's definitely more cleaning involved as well, which takes a bit of extra effort at weekends. We like to add nice touches like a welcoming card, and chocolates on their pillows. 

And then there's the trust issue. For me, I've lived with lodgers in my house since I was 13 so it's not too weird having strangers in my home. We've been really lucky so far with people being respectful of us and our home, and there isn't much for them to steal anyway.

Let me know if you have any questions about hosting an Airbnb! If you can't tell from this post, the pros certainly outweigh the cons for me. I would definitely recommend opening up your home with Airbnb if you are able to. And let me know if you ever need a place to stay in Melbourne, we were just awarded a Superhost badge on Airbnb for good ratings ;) 


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A Photo An Hour II

Recently I haven't been picking up my camera much, so on Sunday I decided to document my day and the little things that usually pass me by. And so, the second A Photo An Hour post was born... over 3 years (!) later after I did the first one here. How things have changed...

This was a pretty good and very chilled Sunday, and as you will be able to tell, my weekends tend to revolve around food. But who wants to photograph 8 hours in a row of sitting at a desk in an office... take me back to Sunday! Days like this make me absolutely fall in love with this country.

10am Chilling in bed and catching up on Making A Murderer on Netflix. Who else is addicted?! I have one more episode to go ahhh!

11am Coffee in my favourite Anthro mug and berries, yogurt, and GF granola.
12pm The weather forecast was 34*C so Alex and I decided a beach day was in order. Packing all the essentials.
1pm Waiting for the train to take us to Chelsea beach. It's worth travelling a little out of the city for more beautiful, cleaner beaches.
2pm I've got the easiest gluten free lunch on-the-go down. Rice cakes, avocado, tomato. Sooo good.
3pm Dips in the sea in between sunbathing (with lots of 50 factor suncream!)
3:30pm I'm reading Shantaram still. It's a really amazing book but very long.

4pm More dips in the sea to cool off
5:30pm Heading home and I picked up this dairy free ice cream which was AMAZING. I've been eyeing up the pints of this in health food shops and now finally tried it. It lived up to expectations.

6:30pm Back to reality and grocery shopping
7:30pm Watering our trio of plants on the balcony. Lemon, chilli, and a succulent.

8pm Cooking up a big veggie and tofu stirfry for dinner and packed lunches for the week ahead.
8:30pm Dinner on the balcony
Obvs the day didn't end here but I literally didn't move from the sofa watching more Making A Murderer... Off to watch the last episode now. What did you get up to at the weekend? Have a great Tuesday! x

Monday, 11 January 2016

A Summer Christmas

A first Aussie Christmas! Since the family were all here from London, I knew we'd all be eager for the cliché Aussie Christmas BBQ on the beach so we drove a couple of hours out of Melbourne for a few days to stay on the peaceful and relaxed Phillip Island. We stayed in the airy, white, and bright Captain Lock's Cottage which was beautiful. Serious beach house goals right there. The perfect haven to come back to and relax with a game of cards and a glass of wine after a long day on the beach. And we did spend most of the time on the beaches, which reminded us of Cornwall but about 15 degrees hotter!

On Christmas eve we sat on the beach as the sun went down, waiting for hundreds of tiny penguins to come running out of the waves and make their daily trip into the bush to sleep. The most magical moment was when a wallaby (like a small kangaroo) surprised everyone by suddenly jumping across the beach through the water right in front of us, amongst the little penguins. It was so surreal. The penguin parade is a must-do if you're on Phillip Island, though it's pretty touristy and the swarms of people are the downside.

Onto the big day... Christmas Day was so much fun. Although it felt strange drinking mojitos in 35 degree weather in a summer dress on Christmas, it made for such a relaxed day. We decorated paper bags for stockings, and adorned the table with lavender and seashells. I made these pancakes for breakfast and then it was straight onto cocktail making as Alex's family joined us for the day... and BBQing! I forgot to photograph our lunch of BBQ'd meat, prawns, salads, and ham but it was delicious. All followed up with a dip in the sea to cool off before tucking into fresh berries, Christmas cake, and a raw chocolate cheesecake that I rustled up  earlier (and I highly recommend the recipe - so easy, tasted divine, and not too bad for you!). The evening was the usual scene - lots of chocolate, curling up on the sofas,  skyping missing loved ones back home, watching movies, and dropping off to sleep one by one. 

Aussie Christmas was so fun but for me, there's still nothing that beats a good ol' cold Christmas with a roast, a real Christmas tree, twinkly lights, and a roaring fire :) I hope you all had wonderful Christmases! x

Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Year and Thoughts on 2016

Happy New Year! 
I hope you had a fun-filled Christmas and New Year's Eve. I had my parents, sister, brother, and my sister's boyfriend here for 2 weeks (as you probably already know if you follow me on social media with my 11 month countdown) and it was the most action-packed and lovely time ever. I can't wait to share our first Summer Christmas on the blog! They left yesterday and that was a very hard goodbye, so I thought I'd sit down and write a blog post looking forward to the next year. 

2015 was probably the biggest adventure of my life. From starting it in London, travelling through Cambodia and Thailand, and then living in Australia, it was certainly exciting. It wasn't all straightforward or easy, there were hard decisions to make, and I didn't see a single friend from home or family member for a year. Looking back I'm pretty proud of how I've adjusted to life in Melbourne and settled down in a job that I enjoy. I haven't thought about new year resolutions much but I have a few goals for myself this year... apologies for being a cliché blogger with this post, but I'm also documenting these aims so that I can look back over the next year :) 

1. Save some money. 
2015 was never going to be the year to save money! However we've already booked flights back to Europe for a visit in August this year and so we shouldn't have anymore massive expenses, so now's the time to be frugal. I'd like to stick to my rule of only buying my work-lunch out once a week, cycling to work as much as possible, and maybe cut back on the espresso martinis when out drinking! 

2. Make time to Facetime friends and family. 
I was pretty good with this last year but it got harder during the second half of the year when my life started to fill up a bit more here in Australia. The 11 hour time difference makes it difficult but it's important to me to do whatever it takes to stay in touch with my loved ones, even if it means getting up an hour earlier before work to catch up. 

3. Continue yoga. 
I've been trialling a new yoga studio for the last 6 weeks and absolutely love it. I've practised yoga in many forms over the years and this is my favourite studio by far. However, after my trial session ends in a couple of weeks the price goes up quite a bit and I find it hard to justify the extra expense. After chatting to a couple of people, I've come to the conclusion that it's worth spending the money on something that makes me feel more relaxed, calm, and is good for my health. So onwards I will go, and I'm really happy about it!

4. Live in the moment. 
This is a phrase that's getting thrown around a lot at the moment but it's definitely something I need to focus on. I get into a bad habit when I'm feeling down/homesick of counting down the days until I will next see my family. As soon as they left yesterday I felt overwhelmed by the 8 months that stretched in front of me until I fly home. So I'm trying to live in the moment, appreciate the really good things in my life here, and look forward to the smaller things that are not so far away instead. 

5. Put less pressure on myself. 
I have a habit of trying to squeeze too much into my day and also striving to make everything perfect, which makes me feel pretty stressed. I'm going to try and simplify my life a little, say no more often, and be kinder to myself. This doesn't mean I'm going to be lazier or achieve less necessarily, but I'd like to do things with more intent and creativity. I think a lot of us have the problem of being too harsh on ourselves, and need to appreciate our achievements more. 

6. Make time for the blog. 
I hope this doesn't contradict the last aim too much, but I need to get my blogging mojo back. At the start of last year I was really in the swing of things but I lost my way a bit. I would like to spend a few hours each weekend on this little space. It makes me happy. 

7. Continue to explore. 
I made the hard decision not to go home for almost two years so that I can use my annual leave to explore this side of the world, so in March I am going to New Zealand for a week! I am so excited to see this beautiful country! On a smaller scale I would like to continue jumping on a train/in the car at weekends and finding new hikes, beaches, and country towns to explore. It's become my favourite thing to do. 

What are your aims for the next year? x

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