25 before 25 update #2

Welcome to the second ever 25 before 25 update! So, let's get cracking...

8) Go to New York

Done! I have a client for work that is based in New Jersey, and since I spent a fortnight there, I hopped up to New York for the weekend. See my post on it here! In short, it was terrifying and amazing, and my credit card is still wincing. (Not really, because you should always pay off the balance each month, but you get what I mean.)

14) Go paintballing

Done! I haven't done a blog post on this as it was for a friends birthday, but it was super good fun, but so painful when I got hit. I got incredibly muddy, so I'm going to invest in some wellies for next time (are Hunters too nice?). I also realised I would be no good on a actual battle field - it took me about twenty shots to hit a guy who was sitting a few metres away, completely exposed and staying still. Black Widow, I am not.

22) Read 50 new books - 22/50 (Feb 16)

In progress! I'm doing well I think - I'm almost half way! Catch up on my reading exploits here.

23) Restart my jewellery hobby/Etsy shop

Done! See my post on it here. I'm super proud of the stuff in my Etsy, and I've re-done all the photography. I've even had a few sales, so I'm counting this one as completed now :)

Are you currently working on any goals? I'd love to hear about them! Tweet me!

10 things no-one tells you about...driving

Welcome to a new series of posts!

If you know me at all you will know how absolutely terrified I was when I first got my car. It's been over a year now and driving is like second nature, however it's not been without its blips...

1) The new car smell isn’t actually that great, and most strong car air fresheners will make you nauseous. That being said, I’m eyeing up a Yankee Candle one since I left a Starbucks in the car and went to the US for two weeks – I learnt that Starbucks cups dissolve eventually the hard way. Mmm, gone off milk and mould smell…

    2) Some cars have this weird locking thing where your steering wheel doesn’t move unless you wiggle it and the key simultaneously, a lot. I don’t actually know what it is and I’m sure it’s some sort of security feature, but it happened to me the first week of getting my car when I was parked in a petrol station and I had to ring my old driving instructor in a panic for help as I thought I’d broken my brand new car. He wasn’t impressed.

    3) You will scratch your car, and you may want to cry. Car repairs are super expensive. I have a very tight alley with a brick wall getting down to the parking at the back of my flat, which within about a month of me getting my car gained an awful coating of black paint. I was a cheap skate and got a scratch repair kit from Halfords in the right colour and it saved me a lot of wincing (though I don’t think taking off the side of your car counts as a scratch…) – it’s not perfect, but it is future me’s problem now.

    4) On the above, a Ford Fiesta in Panther Black is a lovely blank twinkly shade, however you will never find a nail polish in the right colour for touch ups. (I thought enamel paint would basically be the same thing…it is not.)

    5) You will master reverse parking after being worried about it forever, get cocky, and reverse into a pole. A very large, obvious pole.

    6) Cars get messy. Very very messy. Oh my gosh, so messy. Driving on the motorway will make you realise just how dirty the planet is. Get your car washed occasionally (I go to Clean Getaway in Southampton). Then don’t drive on the motorway for a bit, so you actually have a clean car for a day or so.

    7) Always check your screen wash before long journeys and carry de-icer. You will burn through screen wash like it is gold dust. Also invest in a funnel to pour it in, or things will get very wet and chemical smelling very quickly. On the de-icer point – nothing is worse than trying to de-ice your car in a hurry with a scraper. Your fingers will freeze.

    8) Always check your tyres. I had a pretty scary situation when I had to drive to Nottingham (4 hours away) and my tyre light came on half way through. I’d got my dad to check them before I left as I am neurotic so I knew it couldn’t be too bad, but when the light came on I almost had a panic attack. I was sure I was going to be stranded on the road with a flat tyre, or worse – my tyre would burst when I was going 70 on the motorway and I’d go down in a fireball. (You can get your tyres checked most places – if you’re in Southampton you could try Point-S.)

    9) On the above – turns out, air is not always free and the one time you do need it will be the one time the garage is charging £2 and you have no change. Carry a tyre pump in the boot.

    10) Finally, sand is a nightmare. Beach trips and new cars do not go well together. Touchy subject.

    What else can you think of? I'd love to hear if you've experience the same as me! Tweet me!

New York, New York

One of the perks of my job is that I get to travel a lot. Granted, this usually means I end up in Littlehampton or the Cotswolds, but this time round I got to spend two weeks in New Jersey, so OBVIOUSLY for the weekend I hopped up to New York.

I stayed just off Times Square, and didn't really leave mid town - if I ever go back I will definitely utilise the sub a bit more - I actually did get it to go and meed my friend uptown, and ended up in Brooklyn because of loads of diversions. Cue being 30 mins late to see a friend I haven't seen in 6 years. not ideal.

Anyway. In short, mid town is HUGE and busy and slightly terrifying to start with and if I do get to go to NYC again, I'll explore the boroughs more - everyone raves about Brooklyn, so I might actually leave the subway station next time.

I digress. Friday night was spent on Broadway, obvs. We caught The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (one of my favourite books) and I have to say, it threw me a bit. It entirely wasn't what I expected, and I was shattered, so I spent the first half in a total grump. By the second half, I had warmed up slightly to the set (which in all honesty is visually stunning, just not what I expected) and the lead who plays Christopher. In hindsight, ti was a very good play, and I'd definitely recommend catching something whilst you're there.

Saturday morning (and Sunday actually), I hopped out of bed super early before the city woke up and hunted down a Le Pain Quotidien where I hugged a coffee and some of their bread (it's to die for!). I then unsuccessfully hopped on the subway and met my friend Rebecca (who lives in NYC). We went for a typical American brunch in a art deco style diner - pancakes a plenty! We then got a yellow cab (yay!) up to the Natural History museum. It's good, but it's not got anything on ours ;)

The rest of the day, and Sunday was spent exploring 5th Avenue and the shops. I even got caught up in a snow storm!

Shops wise, I went to Muji, Anthropolgie, Levis, Sephora and every drug store I could find. I'd recommend Herald Square for shops, and the bit of 5th Avenue just below central park. Oh, also, Columbus circle - that's good too!

We went to 'the top of the rock' Saturday night - it was freezing but the views were breath taking!

On a side note, I love the grid system of streets! So easy to navigate. Oh, and I made some cute fat bird friends!

Have you ever been to New York? What would you recommend? Tweet me!

Easter baking ideas

easter baking

Easter is always one of those things that creeps up on you before you know it, and this year it's super early so I thought I'd prepare early by sharing my easy and cheap baking ideas - perfect for keeping yourself or little ones busy over the Easter break!

This is an expansion on the classic Easter nests, but supersized and slightly more decorative.

You will need an assortment of icing, chocolate, shredded wheat and a biscuit base of your choice (I always use the BBC Good Food iced biscuit one if you're interested!).

I got my Easter Egg cookie cutter in a big bag of cutters from Asda - I think it was something ridiculously cheap for 20 or so cutters, so I'll never be stuck for shapes!

I find with baking that you really don't need to use expensive ingredients, and this recipe goes really far and works out really cheap if you buy own brand!

Mix your dough and roll out to about 5mm thick.

Cut out your eggs! The recipe I used ALWAYS gets about two trays worth of cookies!

Bake for 15 mins in the oven until golden and leave to cool.

In a separate bowl, smush up your shredded wheat! I used 8 biscuits.

Melt the chocolate and stir into the bowl with the shredded wheat. I used a bowl covered in clingfilm to shape the nest - remember to put this in the fridge or it won't set!

Whilst the nest is setting in the fridge, decorate your egg cookies! I used fondant icing to form the base, and icing tubes to decorate. I find fondant icing sticks to the cookies better if you create a paste from water and icing sugar.

Tada! This creates a perfect table piece for Easter dinner or for kids to enjoy!

I'd love to know if you give this a go, and what you usually bake for Easter - tweet me!

This post was written in collaboration with Provident’s Budget Trips and Easter Tips calendar - check out all the other ideas from other bloggers there too :)

After the Crash - Michel Bussi

After the crash Michel Bussi

Yet another book bits the dust from my book pile - I'm down to 7 left, but luckily Amazon seem to have carried on their 3 for £10 paperback deal into 2016, so when I have some down time, I will be on it. So, with this, After the Crash by Michel Bussi, I'm edging nearer to my 50 goal book as part of my 25 in 25, and this is the latest chapter in that journey (Get it? Chapter...Book...oh never mind.)

. This is actually a first for me, as it is the only book I have ever read that has been written in another language and then translated (as far as I am aware). I didn't realise that when I bought it, and only clocked it when I read the blurb just before I started reading. I was a bit worried that this would lead to broken English, but I needed have - the book reads really well and you can't tell it had been directly translated from another language - everything flows as it should, and it is probably one of the better written books that I have actually read!

The premise is: Big horrifying plane crash in the 1980's, one survivor - a 3 month old baby girl. Two families come forward to claim her - but which one is right? (Obviously you're screaming 'get a DNA test', but this is the 80's, and apparently it wasn't that simple, so shush, we need to get a whole story out of this)

In short, no-one is as they appear in the book, and all of the characters tales take unexpected turns. I sort of predicted the ending, but there are many facets to it that I didn't, that I definitely didn't see coming.

I really enjoyed this book - it is a proper nitty gritty crime/thriller, unlike the girly ones I've been reading of late!

I'd definitely say it was worth a read, and my copy is currently being leafed through by my fiance.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Tweet me!