Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Road Trip Down the Great Ocean Road

In April my dearest friend Ellie came to visit me all the way from the UK! Aren't I just the luckiest person!? It was so lovely to introduce a friend from home to my life down under. We had a relaxed long weekend in Sydney, went to an Aussie rules football game, went wedding dress shopping, and of course I had to introduce her to a few of my favourite breakfast places! But I think my favourite day of all was the day we decided to conquer the Great Ocean Road. We hired a car which was a feat in itself because, as it came about, neither of us are the most confident of drivers. Maybe this wasn't the safest idea of all but there was no one else to drive us, and as self-driving cars haven't yet been invented, we decided to give it a go and we're both alive today to tell the tale.

We set off the night before with Ellie managing to get us safely to Anglesea, a little coastal town a couple of hours away from Melbourne. We consumed a lot of pizza on the way, and then arrived at the house in the dark and tucked ourselves up in bed listening to possums (we think!?) banging on the windows. We were just a little bit scared. But the next morning we woke up to this view, which was not so bad... and a kangaroo just below the balcony!

Setting  off bright and early, we stopped in Lorne for breakfast at the cutest little cafe which we spotted on the beach. And then we set off on the Great Ocean Road (but first not without stopping to stock up on road trip snacks!). Although there were a fair amount of tourists on the road, the views were still breathtaking and the winding road with the sea dipping in and out of view was just beautiful. Scoffing Creme Eggs, blasting throwback 90's tunes with Ellie, and taking in turns nervously driving were probably my favourite parts of the trip! And the in-depth discussions about whether or not we had caused that dent in the front of the car (turns out we didn't, phew) were stressful at the time but pretty funny now. 

The beach by the Twelve Apostles was absolutely stunning, although we could only count a few 'apostles' left (the huge rock formations in the water). We of course had to stop at the Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge, which were equally beautiful, before heading back inland via the Gorge Chocolaterie, of course. I'd recommend a day trip if you're ever in Melbourne, just make sure you set off early! 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Training for a Half Marathon: Weeks 6 - 11

It's been over a month since my last half marathon training update and my half marathon is next weekend! Ahh! It was honestly going really well for the first 9 weeks of training, but 2 weeks ago I started to get twinges in one leg when I was walking and it's been getting worse and worse. I've been seeing a physio who thinks I have a trapped nerve in my lower back, eek! It's all after a week of rain stopped me from going out for runs so I did some HIIT training and Kayla Itsines work outs in the gym instead and I think I must have pulled something. I should have just stayed on the sofa that week! 

So I'm feeling a bit deflated at the moment... I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the half marathon on Sunday. I still really want to run it but my back and leg are still really sore and whilst I don't mind pushing through pain for a couple of hours, I don't want to permenantly cripple myself. Until then it was going so well, so I wanted to still write about how I got to that point. 
I continued running three times a week and this was perfect as I had two or three days to recover after each run, which was definitely needed. I made sure I stretched properly after every run. By the time I was 9 weeks into training I was running 12km twice during the week, and then 18km on Saturday. It sounds like a lot but once I could run 12km, it all seems to get so much easier from there.

I was continuing Pilates once a week which was working so well for me to stretch it out and also work on my core. Maybe I should have been doing more of this to protect my back. As for the sprinting and Kayla Itsines work outs I did before I hurt my back, let's not talk about that... If I trained for a half marathon again I definitely wouldn't mix up my work outs so far into the training.

I gave up drinking for the first half of July which gave me so much energy at the weekends! I was leaping out of bed at 7am on a Saturday and it made the weekend so much longer which was great. I didn't change my diet much but all the extra running made me feel a bit trimmer. Think it's all backtracked a bit since I've been resting for a few weeks though.

It suddenly got a lot colder here in June, and I didn't have many long length items for winter. So I bought some new leggings from Running Bare which are so comfortable. I still don't like wearing long sleeves when I run so I take it off a couple of km into my run and then hide it in a bush to collect on the way back! Sneaky. The strappy top is from Lululemon, the grey one is from Gap Body, and the sports bra is this one from Sweaty Betty.

Have you ever run a half marathon or marathon? I would love any tips you have! I am raising money for Children with Cancer UK. This amazing charity helps fund research, raise awareness, and provide better care for children with cancer. If you feel like sponsoring me, my fundraising page is here :)

Monday, 11 July 2016

5 of my Favourite Podcasts for Commuting

I only started listening to podcasts last year and now I'm obsessed. I'm someone who listens to the same music over and over again and a podcast just keeps me more interested on my commute, especially when I walk to work (about 45 minutes). I like listening to a mix of genres, sometimes more chatty and lighthearted, and also more informative ones. I am always on the hunt for new ones, so please tell me your faves in the comments!

I love love love this podcast, and is written by a UK blogger/creative mentor who I have followed online for years, Jen Carrington. She describes it as 'a podcast for curious, big-hearted, purpose-driven creatives' and it is totally inspiring for any bloggers, creatives, or entrepreneurs. It's full of interesting interviews with creative people, covering things from money to burn-out to the online world. It's such a good quality podcast - go and listen!

The description 'a podcast for long distance besties everywhere' really caught my attention last year when I had just left all my besties behind in England! It's basically like listening to two friends chat over the phone every episode, and they discuss everything from politics and the news, to Beyoncé and menstruation (always menstruation, haha!). Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman are two amazingly intelligent, honest, and funny women. I was listening to these episodes chronologically as I was hooked and I still haven't caught up to 2016 as there are so many episodes! They are hilarious and make me talk in an American accent for a while after listening to them. 'I mean...'

I'm pretty sure that anyone who has listened to a podcast has listened to this but if you haven't, where have you been?! If you liked Making a Murderer on Netflix, you will like this. In fact I think it is better as it is supposedly less biased and they go into a lot more detail. Adnan Syed was convicted of murder at the age of 17 and the podcast delves into the murder investigation to try and discover if he was wrongly convicted. I remember arriving at work a couple of times and having to stand outside for another 5 minutes because I just couldn't stop listening!

I'm a big fan of Lena Dunham and her work, and her podcast does not disappoint apart from the fact that it is a 'miniseries' and is way too short! The podcast covers female friendships, work, love, bodies, and Emma Stone makes a small feature in every episode which is the cherry on top of the cake because she is totally on my list of girl crushes.

Each episode is about an hour long and gathers a few Ted talks with similar themes. I have gone and downloaded a few which sound interesting to me rather than subscribing to them all. 'Simply Happy' was my favourite so far, exploring what makes humans happy.

A few others I have been giving a go... 

I only started listening to this a week ago but it's entertaining for someone planning a wedding. It's by comedian Aleisha McCormack who gives wedding planning tips and interviews bloggers, wedding planners, and brides. I find she takes a while to get to the point sometimes and I get a bit impatient, but it's given me some interesting ideas and has actually made me think I need a 'Pintervention' 

I follow Deliciously Stella on Instagram and she cracks me up. She pokes lighthearted fun at the whole healthy lifestyle trend that has emerged in the last few years and her humour is quite refreshing. I've only listened to a couple of episodes but she's pretty funny.

My friend recommended this to me and I remember I had some trouble with my old phone at the time so I only got through a couple of episodes before it malfunctioned, but I need to download it again because it's hilarious! It's basically a guy and a couple of his friends reading out a porn novel that his dad has written... yep.

What are your favourites?!

Monday, 13 June 2016

5 Happy Things

It's that time of year when it's pretty chilly/dark here in Melbourne (or as cold as Australian winter gets... which is not that cold) so I'm having a quieter few months. By the way, I think I may have discovered the trick to surviving winter - this whole running thing! I hate winter with a passion but training for a half marathon is getting me outside everyday, even when I don't feel like it. I always feel so good afterwards and less sluggish and trapped indoors. Do you have any tips for surviving winter?! 

1. Cosy evenings at home
I try and get my running done as soon as I get home from work, or even run straight from work. So after I arrive home and have a hot shower, I am fully appreciating a relaxed evening on the sofa! Pass me the homemade apple crumble, an episode of The Returned (is anyone else watching this at the moment?) and a blanket, and I'm a happy chick. 

2. Planning our engagement party 
I will show you the invitations at some point, but here was my inspiration - this big beautiful bunch of Australian native plants/flora! I love them so much. We have the venue booked and I traipsed around Melbourne today finding a dress for the evening. I'm so excited! :)

3. Surprises  
I usually only work Monday - Friday but I worked a random Saturday as well last week, and came home to this little pile of presents from my love on the bed. It made me so happy! I have the hand cream on my desk at work and it smells amazing. Lucky me! 

4. Pilates
They've cranked up the heating to the perfect temperature for winter - not so hot that I get too sweaty but a toasty temperature that greets you when you walk through the door. I'm loving my mid-week sessions on the mat with a few candles lit, and a great playlist.

5. A long weekend
Happy birthday Queenie! It's been mostly a relaxed weekend but we took the train to a hilly town called Belgrave on Sunday for a long forest walk and lunch. It was lovely and we even spotted a few kangaroos, which will never get old for me! Today was spent at the shops, with a couple of mulled wines to relax with afterwards. I picked up this bridal magazine called Hello May as well, which I'm getting lots of wedding inspiration from. 

What is making you happy at the moment?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Training for a Half Marathon: The First 6 Weeks

I mentioned back in February that I'd signed up for my first half marathon in July. Somehow this has come round very quickly, and suddenly it is only 7 weeks away! I know a half marathon is probably nothing for those marathon-runners out there, but it's a scary distance for me right now! I feel like I'm on track at the moment. I did a bit of research into the best way to prepare for the race. When I signed up I could run 10km and I would be tired and aching afterwards, so I knew I'd have to do some training to be able to run 21km without injuring myself. I found a few blog posts that were really helpful so I thought I'd log my experiences here in case anyone else is interested.

I gave myself 12 weeks to train for the marathon. Prior to this I was going on a run once or twice a week, but not very long ones. I knew that if I gave myself too long I would lose momentum, so 12 weeks seemed ideal.

I've been running three times a week, and I'm so proud of myself for keeping that up! I've been doing two runs between Monday - Thursday, and then one big one at the weekend. After the first week or two I've been running minimum 8km - 10km every run during the week, and then I'm slowly increasing the weekend run, from 10km, to 12km, and my longest one so far is 14km. I hoped to do 16km this past weekend but it was pouring with rain and I get so intensely bored on the treadmill that I only managed 10.

It's getting colder and darker here in Melbourne. It's dark by 5:30pm now as it's midwinter, so I've been doing a few runs straight from work and running more on the streets instead of unlit parks. It definitely makes it harder to drag myself up and out the door when it's cold, but I always feel so great as soon as I've got going. Running is so good for the mood.


I also read that it's good to strengthen other parts of your body as well as just running. So I've been doing a Pilates class every Wednesday and it feels sooo good to stretch it out and do core work. I've been meaning to do some HIIT or strength training too but I think at the moment, exercising 4 days a week is enough for me...

I haven't changed my diet much except for the odd protein shake after a long run. I eat a pretty balanced diet but I'm 95% vegetarian so feel like I lack protein sometimes. However a couple of weeks ago I ran 14km on Saturday, 11km on Monday, and 9km on Tuesday and I was ravenous on Wednesday. Not a normal kind of hunger where you haven't eaten for a few hours and your blood sugar is low, but my body needed fuel! The running hunger is real guys. So I had a few more snacks that day...

I bought a Shocksock armband for my iPhone and it's been so good, not annoying to wear at all. I use the Nike running app to track all my runs and I couldn't train without it. I can check my pace and clock all my km so easily.

In terms of what I wear, I find cropped leggings the most comfortable to run in, strap tops, and the tightest sports bra I can find! But I might do a more detailed post on gym gear soon, as it's turning into an obsession! Asics trainers work the best for me, but if you are thinking of running long distances, definitely go into an independent specialised running shop and get them to measure your gait and the shape of your foot etc.


Have you ever run a half marathon or marathon? I would love any tips you have! I am raising money for Children with Cancer UK. This amazing charity helps fund research, raise awareness, and provide better care for children with cancer. If you feel like sponsoring me, my fundraising page is here :)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Home Studio Space

I've been getting my paintbrushes out again recently. Alex's family are throwing us an engagement party to celebrate with the friends/family here in Australia who can't make it to the wedding in the UK. I'm so excited! So it was time to get started on designing some invitations sooner than expected! I'm pretty happy with how they're coming together so far. Once they're done and we've posted them out, I'm sure I'll share them on the blog.

Over the weekend I shuffled a few things around to create a little home studio so I could have some space to paint, listen to music, and work on the blog. Our spare room is also doubling up as a guest room still, so I kept it pretty minimal. I was approached by Harveys Furniture recently to share my ideas for spare room layouts, so I've given some tips over there.

This post is in collaboration with Harveys Furniture. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Current Interiors Obsession: TEAL

Happy Sunday! What are you up to today? I went to a beer festival last night so today I'm recovering on the sofa, doing a bit of watercolour painting, and looking forward to a Japanese style curry for supper, delicious. Alex cooked it up yesterday and I was over the moon when I tasted it and it unintentionally resembled Wagamama Katsu curry. Dream. 

The weather has taken a cool change here in Melbourne and we've been spending more time at home in the evenings. I'm feeling a need (well, want) for a couple of changes around our home and I'm totally obsessed with teal in interiors at the moment. It's such a gorgeous calming colour, whether it's a fresh minty tone or more of a deep moody ocean hue. My favourite way to use it in a room is paired with wood, copper, white, and warm blush tones. I'd love to add a couple of teal cushions to our sofa, and that Anthropologie serving ware below is so beautiful! What do you think?

Sources (clockwise from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Shop (clockwise from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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