27 February 2014

Thankful Thursday

I have enjoyed every day of this week, which might explain why it has zoomed by. I'm thankful for that in itself – that I am fortunate enough to have a job that I don't hate, to have a comfortable life that I enjoy, to laugh every day, and feel warmth and love and friendship. There are so many things to look forward to, to be happy about and be thankful for, that there's no time for thinking about the bad things, there's only time for the positive, and the thankfulness...

The sun is coming out and it is making me thankful to be alive.

Extra special breakfasts that kick start each day in the best way.

Lunch and live music with friends make me feel a part of something


25 February 2014

Ben's Cookies – Bath

Last Friday I was asking my friends at work where they recommended in Bath, and the number one place everyone told me I had to visit was Ben's Cookies.

I have a friend called Ben. We only met once but he's someone I'll stay in touch with (I hope). He's one of those people who makes me laugh out loud with his snap chats and the things he says are spot on. I like knowing people like that. Anyway, I thought of him when I found Ben's Cookies. Imagine a cookie shop named after you. 'Naomi's Cookies' doesn't have the same ring to it though.

Apparently they sell the best cookies ever. I wasn't skeptical, but I know a recipe for really good chocolate chip cookies, so I had a little bit of doubt in my mind about whether or not these would meet my expectations. But they were really good!

I walked straight from Colonna & Small's to Ben's Cookies (it was coffee time again) and got there ten minutes before happy hour ended, wahoo!

A coffee and a free cookie came to £1.80 which is pretty good considering a cookie on its own weighs between £1.30 and £1.50. That being said, having just tasted the most delicious coffee at Colonna & Small's, Ben's Cookies coffee, by contrast, wasn't great. It may well have been the plastic cup it was served in, but after a few sips I had to throw it away. I don't like to be wasteful, but, meh, I couldn't drink it. The cookie was great though! More about the cookie...

I was so totally overwhelmed by the sheer choice, I went with my gut and got what I'd make at home – dark chocolate chunk. What makes these cookies stand out is how fat they are. They are so thick! I love a flat and chewy cookie, but I have always wanted to try a cookie that's chunky and filled with chocolate. I'm guessing the added ingredient is some kind of raising agent like bicarbonate of soda, but who knows? I wasn't thinking much about that when I ate my cookie. I saved it for the train journey home and it was sooo worth it. Next time I think I will have to buy a box.

What's your favourite cookie recipe? Have you visited Ben's Cookies? I don't know why I hadn't been here before, considering how much I love cookies, but I have been and it was a lovely little treat after brunch and before lunch... There must be a name for that.

24 February 2014

Colonna & Small's Specialty Coffee – Bath

I had the BEST weekend. It was so good, I drove to work this morning smiling. Smiling, on a Monday. Yep. That didn't last long. 

I went to Bath, visited my best friend, met her boyfriend, hung out with old friends and new friends and my sisters and my niece. It was a lovely weekend, but I paid for it today. I was literally falling asleep at my desk I had to take regular breaks to walk it off. It's definitely an early night for me tonight.

When I arrived in Bath on Saturday morning, I found this treasure – Colonna & Small's Specialty Coffee. A shop that knows their coffee. I was so happy when I stepped off the train into the beautiful city, and the sun was shining, so everything was good.

The atmosphere inside was relaxed, friendly and light  – exactly how Saturday mornings should feel. I made my way to the bar and told the barista that I didn't really know what to order but I liked black coffee, and he talked me through his recommendations.

Apparently the three filter coffees are best served black, so I was after one of them – but which one, I had no clue. The poor guy tried his best to explain what each one was like, but when it comes to describing tastes in drinks like tea, coffee and wine, I'm lost. I just don't understand how a coffee can taste floral, or herbal, or nutty! HOWEVER, this all changed on Saturday.

I went for the Debello coffee as it was the strongest one there, and because each coffee is freshly brewed I was told to find a seat and it would be brought to me in a few minutes. I took this time to absorb my surroundings and just be. I love Saturdays. I love Bath. I love going out for coffee on my own.

I never thought I would say this, but I have missed the sun. I want to feel warm again, and not from a winter jumper or the heat from a radiator. When my coffee and croissant arrived and lay in the sun it was a beautiful moment. Then I ate and drank and it was all gone within five minutes and it was, quite possibly, the happiest moment of my week.

I did take those few minutes to taste my coffee and I could in fact taste those 'fruity' flavours I had been promised. I was surprised at the colour of the coffee, it was like a burnt caramel colour, with an amber tinge. It was unlike any coffee I had ever tried before, and it was stunning.

I usually like my coffee super hot, but the barista told me to leave it a minute as it sweetens slightly as it cools, so I did as I was told, and I drank every last drop – there were no nasty dregs at the bottom of this coffee cup.

On my way out I saw this. Cold coffee! So strange.

I must go back to Colonna & Small's and take my mum, who loves coffee even more than I do. It's the perfect place for friends, family, or you by yourself. So, if you're in Bath, treat yourself to a flat white or two. It's on Chapel Row, a stone's throw from the main high street. Find out more here.

23 February 2014

Gifts for Girls – February Glossybox

For Christmas I got a six month Glossybox subscription, a surprise in itself as I had no idea what I was getting, but each month I am surprised again with a box full of beauty treats and I love it.

My third box arrived last week and I was so impressed with this month's contents I thought I'd share them with you in a blog post. I think a Glossybox would make a great gift for anyone who likes make up. Getting one in the post every month is a lovely little pick-me-up and it's something to look forward to, which is much needed when the weather is STILL so miserable.

The packaging has changed every month since I got my first – that one was Christmas themed, so it was red and green and super festive. January's box was a classic pale pink box with black tissue paper and ribbon, and this month – February – is based on Valentine's day so the box was black with hot pink and red lipstick kiss marks all over it. I don't like this month's packaging as much as the last two, but really, I don't care too much for what it arrives in, just as long as what's inside is good.

Each box comes with a card with information on each product, as well as a Glossybox magazine which I am never too fussed on – I'm not big on magazines of any kind though.

The first thing I laid eyes on were these black, feathery false eyelashes. I think the last time I wore a pair was in my first year of uni when my flatmates and I dressed up as Barbie and Ken for Carnage. These, however, actually look lovely, and the fact that they are handmade makes them a bit more special than your cheap falsies from Primark. I will save them for a special occasion like a wedding or a party because on a day-to-day basis, my eyelashes can do just fine with a coat or two of mascara.

I think Ciate nail polishes are quite expensive when bought individually, so getting a full sized bottle was impressive. What a stunning colour I got, as well. Apparently, there were a range of shades sent out in the boxes but I am happy with my rich dark pink shade.

A full size Maybelline lipstick in the shade honey beige was another winner. It's a gorgeous nude colour that I think would look stunning with a smokey eye. I have been wearing this to work quite a bit as it doesn't require much accuracy or effort in application.

When I first saw this bottle of purpley-pink shimmery liquid I thought it was shower gel but it appears to be a kind of body lotion. It looks luxuriously pearlescent, anyhow, and I will probably save this for when the sun decides to come out (if it ever does) to give my skin a pearly glow. Yum.

I am just about to run out of shampoo and conditioner so this was well timed. I have never heard of H2K before so I'm looking forward to trying it and seeing if I like it (along with the silver shampoo treatment I bought yesterday – trying to knock out the yellow tones in my hair).

And, quite possibly, my favourite chocolate, ever. Best monthly treat. Seriously. A gift that goes on for six months is a gift worth giving, (and receiving, obviously). You can choose from a one, three, six or twelve month subscription and I think it will be hard not to subscribe again when this gift comes to an end... It's only £10 a month, and even less when you order a six or twelve month plan, at £8.33 per month. If you're buying it as a gift you can pay for all the months upfront and then you don't have to worry about any money coming out of your account every month (probably a method I would prefer).

Are you subscribed to any beauty boxes? I'd love to know which ones you recommend. I have heard Birchbox is fantastic, Flavrbox too, and I know I would love a box of food and drink treats too... Should I go for another one or stick with my Glossybox gift for now? 

21 February 2014

Word of the Week

This week, I have been thinking about the word 'hopefully'. The other day I was writing it down on a post it note to remind myself that it should only be used as an adjective, because about 9 out of 10 times I see it, it is used as a verb. This bugs me!

I am always being lazy and saying 'hopefully' when I know I mean to say 'I hope' or 'It is hoped'. But this week it kept popping up. First at work, then when I read Jessica's post Words on Grammar. It was then that I decided now was the time to kick bad habits and find a way to start using the word properly. So, I'm writing this post to ingrain it a little more.

Which one is wrong?

1. Hopefully, this weekend will be good.
2. I hope this weekend will be good.

The first one, because, although it appears to make sense, it actually suggests that the weekend can feel hope, when it can't. The second one is correct because the sentence focuses on how it is you, the speaker who hopes that the weekend will be good.

I'm not perfect at grammar, but it is something I enjoy learning about. No doubt I'll have structured half of the sentences in this post in the wrong way, but it's an ongoing process. I don't think you ever stop learning about language, and that's one of the most fascinating things about it.

20 February 2014

Thankful Thursday

I had a particularly good day yesterday, and at the end of it, when I got into bed to go to sleep, I thought about how thankful I was – how thankful I am – for friends. 

Lisette from Lisette Loves writes a Thankful Thursday series and it was only last night that I felt inspired to do the same. It's good to share this sort of stuff. The only reason I picked Thursday was because it's the day after life group, a meeting I go to every Wednesday with friends from church who are around my age. I always leave there feeling uplifted and positive.

Mac at life group. He's a softie.
It's good to remind whoever may stumble across this little blog of mine that we always have something to be thankful for, no matter what is going on in our lives.

For the first time last night, and, ever – or since I last saw a counsellor – I talked to friends – some I would barely class as acquaintances – about what's been going on in my life in the past year. It was terrifying. I hate talking to more than two or three people at the same time. I don't like people looking at me all at once.

I thought I would cry, but I didn't, I was just happy when I went home, to have understanding, caring friends who listened. They really listened. Is there anything better than a friend like that? Who doesn't interrupt, and sit texting someone else, or nod vacantly, waiting for their turn to speak?

I am thankful for these people. I am thankful that God has touched their lives in one way or another. Friendships are fantastic. They are like family.

18 February 2014

The Food Hospital

I never watched the TV programme of The Food Hospital on Channel 4, but I love to flick through the book every now and again. There's something therapeutic about that – food and reading combined. It's evokes a wonderful 'can-do' feeling inside.

I bought The Food Hospital two years ago after a particularly insufferable Christmas period. My body decided to behave in the most irrational way. I felt sick, had headaches and stomach cramps. I just felt awful. It upset me because I knew it was down to my diet, but I didn't have a clue where to start with specific go-to foods for my condition (which is Crohn's disease, in case you were wondering). 

My sister recommended this book because she had seen the TV show, and I found it in my local Waterstone's for just under £10. It's a fantastic book filled with information and recipe ideas catered to particular conditions you might not even think diet is related to.

The contents page clearly lays out what's in the book in appropriate categories. Gut Feeling covers topics such as IBS, Crohn's disease and constipation. On The Outside looks at issues like cellulite, acne and nail problems, Mind Matters covers all things brain, from stress and insomnia to anxiety and depression. Just For The Girls offers tips on how to deal with horribly heavy periods, the hellish sting of cystitis and the dreaded thrush. The Food Hospital goes right into the nitty-gritty stuff that everyone needs to know about but is too scared to ask, and was never taught about in school.

After a short but sweet introduction, there is a well being quiz which gives you a rough idea of where you are health-wise and what you should be aiming for with your diet and lifestyle. I find things like this motivating. I have always loved quizzes and surveys. When I was little they were my favourite part of a magazine. I loved answering questions to find out which celebrity I was like the most. There's something about being likened to something, and slotted into a category which is comforting and makes you feel OK. I don't know why people oppose it so much in other contexts.

Each condition has a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, as well as a case study and a recipe of a dish or snack designed to help ease symptoms of the illness. The recipe linked with Crohn's disease is one of my all time favourite dishes – Pad Thai!

When I was suffering with depression I learnt a lot about how oily fish, dark chocolate and certain types of nuts helped – and they really do help. Having a recipe like the one pictured above is a lifeline if I am ever having a particularly bad day and need a boost. It may sound silly but if you have ever experienced it you will know just how much diet can affect the way you feel. Medication and talking have their parts to play, but diet is another important factor.

Flush out that pesky UTI with a glass of homemade cranberry juice. Tart, but effective, and it's much better for you than the stuff you get from the supermarket.

Kedgeree! Another dish I love, and one that's good for asthma – who knew?
There is such a vast range of recipes listed in the book, and they all look fantastic. There's something about the layout of everything as well – the font, the colours and the columns – it all looks so neat and nice and trustworthy.

Fortunately, if you're like me and don't know what a lot of words mean (and my job is all to do with words... yeah), there is a handy glossary of terms at the back of the book so you can refer to it whenever you come across something foreign looking, like, phytonutrient (which is, apparently, a nutrient found in a plant, like beta-carotene).

You can buy The Food Hospital here for £10 (and free P&P). I would highly recommend the book if you are looking for something specific or if you just want to improve your diet. It's not a heavy read, and you can easily leave it and come back to it just like any other recipe book. Also, it's a nice book just to have. Like I said, reading and food are two of my favourite things and the two combined make for a perfect half hour snuggled up on the sofa.
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