Bank Holiday Weekend - Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my fantastic Bank Holiday Weekend.

Oops, I bought another bento box - at what point do you have to say you have an addiction? But who could say no to a cute pink panda bento on sale?

I picked up some beads for an upcoming craft project and while I was in the bead shop I laid eyes on these cuties. I don't have anything planned for these little ones but I'm sure I can find a use for these at some point.

I stopped in my tracks when I saw Laduree in Covent Garden, the shop is so beautiful and perfect. Sadly I couldn't really justify the expense of the macarons so I had to satisfy myself with pictures and a longing glance!

I still don't know what bubble tea is, even after peering in the window of bubbleology for ages until the Boy pulled me away. Can anyone explain to me, what is bubble tea?!

We stopped off at CyberCandy for some Wham bars and got a bit carried away. Did you know that these are 20p up t'north and 25p in London? I'll make a note to stock up next time I visit, although we both got a bit grumpy over Sunday, which we worry is down the copious amounts of sugar consumed via these bars.

We picked up some make up from Screen Face to practice our Lady Gaga Born This Way outfits for the Saddleworth Beer Walk next month and I practiced applying the look. I was really pleased with my first attempt, and my second attempt, on myself, was even better. I hope on the day I can do the shading even better. I won't be practicing again as my face is now a spot farm after just a few hours in the make up.

On Sunday I started a project that I hope will be worthy of Project:Restyle when it is finished. It required a trip to a hardware store to get some wood cut which was very exciting. When it's finished I'll do a before and after reveal as I am very excited about it!

On Monday, I had a well deserved lie in followed by a long hard climb at Arch Climbing Wall with Team Merlin. Don't forget to sponsor us in our outrageous attempt to climb the equivalent height of Everest in just on day.

To top off an amazing weekend, we recorded another episode of Sweet Disposition. This week we discussed Cadbury's Shortcake Snack Shots. Give it a listen:


I hope you had an amazing bank holiday weekend too.

Bank Holiday Weekend- Part 1

Bank holidays just don't seem long enough after we had the double double bank holiday weekend extravaganza around the Royal Wedding / Easter.

We had hoped to go to Alton Towers on Saturday, but it looked like it might be wet and there's nothing worse than riding roller coasters in the rain. Instead, the boy and I headed off to Covent Garden for a spot of shopping.

The boy took me to Artbox which is actually amazing:

The welcome panda was too cute:

I wanted to live in Artbox and own everything in it, but the Boy promised me we'd see loads more that I would want to buy and so I should show restraint. As a result I came away with just one item, a mini diary:

Its roughly the same size as my purse and iPhone so easily fits in my handbag for mega portable organization.

We wanted to lunch at Belgo but the Covent Garden branch was closed for refurbishment. This is the third thwarted attempt to eat here and I'm starting to feel that the fates don't want me to try the famous mussels. Instead, we headed to Ed's Easy Diner for a burger in a 1950s setting.

I had an oreo cookie milkshake which came in that metal jug, I swear there was 3 glasses worth of shake in there. And it was ah-may-zing!

The diner is really cozy and we got talking to the people sat next to us who got pretty tasty looking iced coffees. They were kind enough to let me photograph them and they also picked some pretty good tunes on the dukeboxes.

We got a plate of atomic fries to share and the dips were incredible, particularly the jalapeno jelly and the cheese sauce. I believe that I said I wanted to live in the cheese sauce. The boy told me that it was just melted cheese squares so on Sunday I put this to the test and I can categorically say that this sauce is NOT made from melting cheese squares in the microwave. If you have any idea how to make this incredible cheese dipping sauce, do please let me know. It was amaze-balls!

Phew, who knew I took so many pictures! Continued in part 2...

Sweet Disposition: Bitesize edition

Spotted some new confectionery on the newsagents stands and not sure if it is worth your hard earned cash?

Me, the boy and the housemate taste test any new chocolate we come across in our podcast Sweet Disposition.

In this edition we review the new offering from Galaxy: Bites.

Give it a listen:


Listen to all our sweet disposition podcasts here.

Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of CholeraLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Why I read this book:

I was talking to a colleague who mentioned this book and later than day I saw it on sale in the window of a local book shop. To me that was enough to convince me to read the bump this to the top of my reading list.

What I thought when reading this book:

Like Fermina Daza, I cannot really tell if I liked the book or if it was an illusion of enjoyment by virtue of sticking at it for so long. I do know that I did not like either Florentino or Dr Urbino and I failed to see the major attraction of Fermina. Florentino was pretty unlikeable and the bit where he was a paedophile? Not my cup of tea. There were also a number of internal inconsistencies in the plot that had me a little unhappy too. This was the first book I read that was in set in a foreign location that did not have me dreaming of visiting the place.

And yet despite not liking the plot or the characters, and struggling to get into the book in the first place, I initially ranked this book as 4 stars.

During the reading of this book I had some pretty interesting thoughts about the nature of relationships, what it is to love, the fickleness of human emotions and old age. I guess what this book throws up about these themes is enough to redeem it in my opinion.

View all my reviews

Tattoo Love: Finger tat

Love this finger tat spotted at Cherri Pop Fiction.

What lyrics would you have tattooed onto you?

Review: Girl With a Pearl Earring

Girl With a Pearl EarringGirl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Why I read this book:

I got round to watching the film and really enjoyed it so the boy's mum suggested I might like the book. It's been sat on my shelf for a while and it seemed like a nice, easy, quick read.

What I felt reading it:

This book was an enjoyable read: not too taxing but lovely and lush.
I actually felt sad about how powerless people are and the power some people can wield over others. The language was simple yet effective and the atmosphere of the book was fantastic.

It was simply an interesting story. Which is great but I have been loving the books with a message or something bigger to say and this had neither.

View all my reviews

On being "well-read"

I always feel pitifully under read. I have not read the classics. I have not found a genre that I am passionate about enough to focus my energies on to become "well-read" in at least a specific area. I don't know where to start on picking out a fiction book from a book shop (although I find it easy enough to pick non-fiction - why is that?).

My relocation to London means I have a commute that is perfect for reading as my recent "book reviews" show and I felt great about that until I saw some of the crazy reading challenges on goodreads. Last year I read 22 books. The average goal for all participants in the goodreads 2011 reading challenge is 70 books but some people are challenging themselves to 200 or more which seems phenomenal to me.

Linda Holmes' excellent article, the sad, beautiful fact that we're all going to miss almost everything brought the issue into clear perspective for me.

I need to surrender to the fact that I am not going to be an uber-reader. 200 books a year is not going to fit in with my lifestyle and who I am right now. It's entirely possible that I might get up to that level at some point but any time soon. However, if I continue with my current reading pattern, i.e. totally random, I am unlikely to progress to a point where I feel any more "well-read".

Instead, I need a plan of attack, a reading list, a bibliography, a kindle. Okay, I don't actually need a kindle, that's just something I want!

If anyone has any good book recommendations I would love to hear them so they can be incorporated into my reading plan. I love that I sound like I am going to actually write a reading plan - that is not going to happen I'm sure.

And in the course of writing this post about how I'm going to get all "quality over quantity" on the book reading front, I signed up for the aforementioned goodreads challenge and set myself the rather ridiculous challenge of 45 books. Way to go practicing what you preach!

Easy and Cheap Shelf Risers

This Easter Bank Holiday Mega-Thon as it shall be henceforth known gave the boy and I time to procure an Expedit bookshelf from the Scandinavian furniture giant that is IKEA. The shelves will easily accommodate 2 rows of books with a shelf riser for the back row:

Instead of spending heaps o' money on some kind of specially made item, I found a cheaper alternative:

Functional and it will serve as a very handy ararat should the zombie invasion strike and we make it long enough to hole ourselves up in the flat!

Crochet Nightmare

Okay, so this isn't that much of a nightmare because I think that I enjoy the process of crocheting a whole heap more than I enjoy the finished product, but I've had to redo the same scarf so many times now its getting a bit demoralising.

I bought three balls of a really lovely ribbon-like bamboo yarn on sale several months ago and have been looking for the right pattern to make it up into a lovely lightweight springtime scarf. Pattern found, I started to crochet. Three rows into it, it became apparent that the pattern was loads wider than I wanted. A couple of hours work was thus unpicked.

Then I remade it half the width and loved it. Only one ball into it and it was not one third of the length that I needed for the scarf. It was clear that with the amount of yarn I had, this scarf wouldn't even go around my neck.  Another few hours gone. At least at this point I got a picture!

Third attempt and this was perfect. I like the new pattern even more than the first one and it takes up heaps less yarn. As I started the third ball of yarn I can see the end in sight. And then disaster: I spot not one, not two, but three mistakes within the first 10 rows of the piece. Arrrggghhhh. I'm at the point where I cannot be bothered to unpick the whole thing again so I'm thinking of just replicating the mistakes at the other end for symmetry and just living with the imperfection. I don't think it's too obvious:

What would you do? Unravel to start again or embrace the individuality of the piece?

Book Review: Shantaram

ShantaramShantaram by Gregory David Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were times I felt like this was one of the best books I ever read, most of the time I didn't think that at all, and occasionally I thought it was one of the worst.

I read this mainly on the tube and during part one I was instantly transported to India as soon as I opened up the book. I could hear, taste and smell Mumbai and loved every second of reading the book. I found most of my favourite one liners and profound observations on human nature came from the first half of the book and for a while, this was my favourite book.

And then, what made me like this crazy book turned me off. There was too much detail. Too many wise lines and some of those metaphors were so obscure, I didn't even get what he was trying to describe. I stopped liking the book when the action moved to Afghanistan and it didn't quite win back my affection after that. I lost track of the thousands of characters and my mind started to wander.

I did shed tears over this book but that may say more about my state of mind than of the writing skill of Roberts. A number of people I work with have met the author and apparently he's a bit of a jerk. That much is obvious from this book.

On the whole, I enjoyed reading Shantaram and it was, as many others have described it, highly entertaining.

View all my reviews

My favourite outfit of the week

Dress: Therapy @ House of Fraser
Everything else: Primark

Felt like sharing because the dress was a steal in a sale a year or two ago and its great when sale stuff is still wearable over time.

Tattoo Love: below the elbow

This arm tattoo is lovely, particularly the positioning of it. This has definitely got me craving some ink.

Check out more pics and the meaning behind this tattoo at Get Ready Set Go.