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Writing

How to make your own five minute gratitude journal

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately and how to be more thankful and appreciative of all of the wonderful things in my life at the moment.  Some big - our lovely home, our impending wedding and honeymoon, my relationship, my job, and so on.  And some small - a beautiful sunrise, a nourishing meal, a smile from a stranger.  All of the things that can so easily be taken for granted.

I listed to a podcast from The Lively Show where she interviewed UJ Ramdas about The Five Minute Journal.  The Five Minute Journal is a notebook that helps you 'cultivate positivity' by recording, each morning and night, things that you are grateful for, things that made the day great, and so on.  The idea is that you start, and end, the day on positive and thankful note (literally), helping you focus on the good and improve your wellbeing and happiness.

As soon as I got home I hopped straight onto their website and went to order a journal.  They actually have reduced the price of the notebook and shipping since I last looked, but a few weeks ago it was $28 for the notebook and $18 for shipping.  I was desperate to start the habit of using the journal, but I just didn't have £35.  I felt a little bummed but then I decided to see if I could get my own printed (I also wanted one sooner than the 10 business days postage as I am impatient!)

After a little scout around, I remembered that Blurb print notebooks and photo books (I get all my photo books printed there too).  For a softcover notebook they charge £11 - a little bit cheaper than the full price journal! I excitedly got making my journal.  I used pretty much the same prompts in the notebook, but interspersed it with my photography, and inspirational quotes and pictures I'd saved on Pinterest.

Gratitude Journal Gratitude Journal Gratitude Journal

Because I'm not selling them and I'm only using the journal for personal use, I figured it was okay to just add a few pretty pictures with quotes that move or motivate me.  It's funny how, even though I picked them at random, the right words always seem to come exactly when I need them.

Gratitude Journal Gratitude Journal Gratitude Journal

I've been filling in my journal every morning and night, and it's so nice having a daily practice of feeling thankful. The daily affirmation really helps me, and I try and come back to it throughout the day.  It's amazing what pops into your head first thing in the morning that you feel grateful for - sometimes it's the peace and quiet of the morning when I'm filling it in, sometimes it's something that happened the day before, and sometimes it's just something that pops into my head that I never would have taken the time to reflect on if I wasn't using my journal.

Of course I don't mean to criticise Five Minute Journal as a brand - I think it's an amazing idea and I've no doubt that if I didn't have to pay for international shipping (I checked with them and they unfortunately don't have any UK stockists) that I would order one in a heartbeat.  I had loads of fun making my own notebook however, and I'm definitely going to get another printed when I've finished this one - next time I'll probably use different prompts and maybe some different pages here and there for reflecting on the prior week, or month.  Now I now how easy and cheap it is to make my own notebooks, I'll definitely be making more, I think I'll make a fitness one next for recording runs and workouts (is that really sad?)

Do you have a journalling or gratitude practice?


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Spring and Honeymoon Wishlist

I really should be doing some wedding sorting now - it's now 22 days to go and there's lots of last minute things to tie up, like the order of the day, table plans, what time caterers and florists will be arriving, and so on.  I think it's going to be like this over the next three weeks; a flurry of phone calls, emails, appointments and ticking things off our humongous to-do list.

BUT of course my brain isn't filled with such pressing things - it's filled with far more important concerns, like, how many bikinis is it appropriate to take if you're going away for a month, and how many sit ups do I have to do between now and when we go on honeymoon to be able to wear crop tops? We go on honeymoon four days after the wedding for a month in Bali, and it's fair to say that I'm pretty excited about buying a holiday wardrobe!

On top of that - Spring is here (the audience emitted a roar of yays) and so I am obviously yearning to pack away the jumpers and embrace pastel shades and cute sandals.  Here's what I'm currently lusting after now the blue skies and lighter evenings have arrived (let's not talk about how cold it still is outside, k?)



Basically, lots of crochet, open backs, pastels and stripes will be mine.  Now we just need it to warm up a little, right? Never mind, at least I know it'll be hot in Bali - roll on beach time!

>> This post was prompted by Two Big Ladies, who asked me to compile my Spring wishlist.

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My favourite podcasts for inspiration (and improving your commute)

My favourite podcasts

I bang on about my commute on here and on Twitter so much that people have actually started joking about it at work - I'm sure at some point someone is going to stage an intervention and steal my car keys and force me to get a job a bit closer to home.  I really enjoy my job, but the hour in the car each way it takes me to get there is an obvious downside.  When I moved back to our headquarters in September it started to really get me down, and I was desperate to find a way to make sitting in my car for two hours a day a little more productive and fulfilling.  Podcasts were a natural choice - a way to unwind, give my brain a bit of stimulation and pick up a bit of knowledge and inspiration on the way.  Podcasts help me serve two purposes really - they make my journey more interesting, but they also help me find direction and guidance.  It's no understatement to say that some of them have changed the way I think, and improved my stress levels and helped me find real clarity and intention.

Finding great podcasts isn't always easy so I thought I'd share my favourites here for anyone else wanting to make their commute a little bit more engaging and inspirational!

001. The Lively Show { iTunes | website }

The Lively Show is the brainchild of Jess Lively, who helps people find 'an intention based approach to their lives'.  It's the perfect podcast for anyone feeling a little lost, as her podcasts focus on topics such as simplifying your life and reducing stress, values based living, gratitude, running small businesses, wellness - and much more.  Jess interviews inspirational people about their tips for living with intention, and how they find peace and fulfilment in their lives.  Jess's interview with Jay Papasan in particular totally changed my mindset and really helped me get out of the funk I was in at the beginning of the year.

002. Call Your Girlfriend { iTunes | website }

Call Your Girlfriend describes itself as a podcast 'for long distance besties everywhere' - and features the catchups and chats between two real life long-distance besties, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. They chat about a ton of different topics - feminism, body talk, menstruation, parenthood, politics, music, films - but all in a completely hilarious and honest way.  It's an awesome mix of topics that can make you cry with laughter but then also really think about things differently (it also has me starting every sentence with either 'ughhhh' or 'I mean....' - seriously, I've listened to this podcast so much I think I almost now speak with an American accent).

Best Podcasts

003. The One You Feed {iTunes | website }

I found out about The One You Feed when Jess Lively interviewed Eric on 'overcoming doubts and resistance' for her podcast.  Eric's podcast is called The One You Feed because of the parable of the two wolves.  His podcast is a way to 'feed the good wolf' by interviewing inspiring people and finding out how they keep themselves moving in the right direction.  His interviews are so thought-proviking - plus Eric has the perfect voice for podcasting, it's so relaxing!

004. The Good Life Project { iTunes | website }

The Good Life Project describes itself as 'your unlock key to a life well-lived'.  It's one of the first podcasts I came across that started leading me to the type of inspirational people that have now started filling my bookshelves and podcast lists, and motivating me to 'live better' - people like Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Simon Sinek, Kris Carr, and lots more.

005. Dear Sugar Radio { iTunes | website }

Dear Sugar started off as an advice column from The Rumpus and has now grown into a podcasts by the original columnists, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond.  It's totally different to anything I've listened to before - the advice they give is so raw, honest and insightful that it can be quite an emotional listen.  I also recommend Cheryl Strayed's advice book - Tiny Beautiful Things - she is just so wise and compassionate and it really is a very rewarding read.

Special mentions

Not necessarily inspiring and thought-provoking - but these are three more podcasts I recommend for a bit of commute based enjoyment...

001. Serial { iTunes | website }

Do I really need to explain Serial - if you haven't heard of it, where have you been? Serial debuted in October 2014 and is the serialised investigation into a murder that took place in 1999 - following the 'plot' and 'characters' as Sarah Koenig unfolds the story of what happened.

002. The No Sleep Podcast { iTunes | website }

I would never be able to listen to these in the middle of the night, but for a drive to work they are perfect.  Just a collection of horror stories read aloud - the podcast version of stories around the campfire.

003. Welcome to Night Vale { iTunes }

I have actually stopped listening to this podcast as it got a little too bonkers for me, but it is a good listen.  It's 'community updates' from the town of Night Vale - reporting the rather spooky and strange goings-on that happen there.  Hooded figures in the square, lights in the sky, and try not to look at the dog park...

What are your favourite podcasts? I'm always looking for new ones to listen to, so do share your favourites!

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Ten outfits I wore to the office

I've been a little busy at the weekends (when I normally take all of my outfit photos, due to rubbish dark evenings - though not for much longer!) - so outfit photos have been a bit on the backburner of late.  But what I have been doing over the last few weeks is taking a quick snap in the mornings of the outfit I wore to work that day, since it's probably the occasion I put the most effort into my outfit (weekends tend to be more t-shirt and jeans based!)  I can't say I spend a great amount of time getting ready, since I tend to be dashing around madly ready to hop in my car for 07.30, but my outfits are certainly a bit more exciting than the casual ones I favour 'off-duty'.

Even though the phone snaps are a bit rubbish quality, and my mirror could do with a clean, I thought I'd share some of them here.  My office staples tend to be skinny black trousers, shirts, pencil skirts, skater dresses and waist belts - you'll see the same things popping up in a lot of outfits as I tend to have quite a capsule workwear wardrobe that I mix and match.  Most bits I've had for a little while so I haven't been able to link to much, but I've done a little roundup of some workwear favourites of mine at the bottom if any of you are looking to invest in any new bits!

left
>> shirt: asos
>> trousers: asos

right
>> dress: river island
>> cardigan: matalan
>> shoes: asos

left
>> top: house of fraser
>> skirt: h&m
>> belt: h&m

right
>> top: zara
>> skirt: marks and spencer
>> heels: asos

left
>> blazer: primark
>> top: zara
>> necklace: anthropologie
>> heels: clarks
>> trousers: asos

right
>> jumper: marks and spencer
>> trousers: asos
>> heels: asos

left
>> necklace: primark
>> belt: h&m
>> top, skirt and heels as before

right
>> coat: asos
>> dress: jack wills
>> necklace: anthropologie
>> brogues: h&m


left
>> dress: sainsbury's
>> shoes: clarks

right
>> dress: primark
>> cardigan: zara
>> shoes: clarks

Which one is your favourite? I think the second one is mine - my brother bought me that dress, such a good pick! The latest one was this morning's, which is the fourth one.  I feel like my hair is growing so fast, which is nice as it means it'll hopefully be nice and long for the wedding!  Here are a few more of my workwear favourites....



If you want to see any more of my office outfits just follow me on Twitter - I usually post them in the morning and tag them #wiwt :) What are your workwear staples?

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Friday Finds 02


Hello beautiful people of the universe... happy Friday!  This week has gone by in a total blur of work, gym, wedding chatter, Pretty Little Liars marathons (I've only watched about six episodes so far, but I am enjoying it a lot) and generally flopping into bed pretty exhausted every night.  Busy, busy, busy! This morning I was up at 6am for Rise and Shine Yoga at my gym, which was the perfect way to start the day - and I also went to Boot Camp this evening, which was tough but good.  So much easier to stay in bed or not get my bum in gear, but I've been telling myself...


>>> The image above is from a set of desktop wallpapers that I'm pretty in love with - keep changing mine as I love them all! ('Let yourself rest' is also pretty apt right now)
>>> I must make this salted caramel microwave mug cake
>>> Taking note of all of the 10 life lessons on how to excel in your 30s
>>> This article on how to 'tame the mammoth' and stop caring what people think is pretty amazing (as are the illustrations!)
>>> I'm obsessed with planning microadventures (especially as we won't have much annual leave left after our honeymoon so weekends away will be happening instead!) and Alastair Humphreys' microadventures blog is a great place to start!
>>> I'm also really loving Cooler Magazine at the moment, and their how to guide to wild camping also got me even more excited for the great outdoors (and is how I found Alastair, whose blog I've linked above)
>>> I'm loving the Spruce Rd blog - loads of interesting posts and tips on branding, design, Photoshop and all sorts of other bits.


>>> Dear Foster Huntington, can I have your life thanks please?
>>> Another blog recommendation - the absolutely lovely and very wise Shannon from Awash With Wonder - her blog is just wonderful.
>>>  I treated myself to two tubs of peanut butter (white chocolate, and sea salt) from the Funky Nut Co today and I'm very excited for them to come! 
>>> I definitely, 100% need this Bon Voyage bag from Accessorize - it's like a little mini vintage suitcase! TOO cute.

What have you been finding on the interwebzz this week?

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Bodhi Cam


I think I speak for both myself and Tom (and dog owners everywhere) when I say that one of the saddest moments of our day is when we have to wave goodbye to the pup and know that we're not going to see him again until we get home.  When we got Bodhi, Tom was home six days out of eight because of his shifts, but now we both work full time, Bodhi is on his own during the day.  Tom takes him out for a long dog walk in the morning and then is usually home by half 4, but still it's very hard leaving him in the morning.

Apart from a pile of shredded post when we return home from work, it's difficult to know exactly what Bodhi has been up to during the day.  When we're home at weekends, or when one of us is working from home, Bodhi usually curls up in the hall and falls asleep, which makes me feel slightly more reassured that he's not bounding around the house desperate to go out, or crying at the door.

So when Argos Pet Insurance asked us if we'd like a Motorola Pet Camera to allow us to watch Bodhi whilst we were at work, we jumped at the chance! The camera is really easy to set up and install, and we put it on our TV unit, facing into the lounge.  You then download an app which allows you to live stream the feed of the camera, as well as record and play back footage, take photos, speak to your pet through a two-way audio function, and move the camera around.

I have had a lot of fun watching Bodhi whilst I'm at work!  We've discovered that he actually doesn't spend a great deal of time in the lounge - I think he probably sits on the stairs as he can look out into the street in front of the house that way (and bark at the Postman!)  He tends to go into the lounge about 3pm for a little snooze on the sofa.

I took a few snaps using the app on my phone to capture what he was up to.  My favourite is the second one down (his ears never fail to make me laugh!) and the second from the bottom where he was rolling around and generally being silly on the sofa!

Bodhi Cam

It's been lots of fun at work checking in on what he's been doing during the day - I'm sure my colleagues really appreciate me yelling at them to come and look at Bodhi doing something funny! We also obviously share lots of amusing pet stories at work - my friend has a cat who loves pushing glasses and vases off tables and shelves so she has to do an audit before she leaves the house every day.  At least if you saw them doing it on camera you could use the audio function to tell them to stop (and probably really confuse them!)

What does your pet get up to during the day? Would you be tempted to sneak a peek and get a pet camera? You can also check out Argos' Pets Caught On Camera campaign for the chance to win a Pet Camera of your own.

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Just Eat Pizza Party

Pizza party

I kind of feel a little sorry for pizza sometimes.  It's really the underdog of the food photography world.  How often do you see pizza on instagram or twitter? Or people hovering a digital SLR over a big slab of margherita in a restaurant? Frankly - and I say this with a whisper because I don't want to hurt its feelings - pizza is not really very photogenic.  

So, when offered the opportunity to review a local takeaway outlet via JUST EAT, I really should have steered away from the humble pizza and gone for something a little more blog-worthy.  Some Thai cuisine perhaps? There's a great Greek restaurant near me which offers much more camera friendly falafel, salads and stuffed vine leaves. But no.  Pizza will always have my heart, if not my Pinterest.

Lots of people had recommended Fanelli's Pizza to us, which seems to have a few places in Southampton and near us in Dorset.  I always think it's good to go on recommendations, as Just Eat has so many different options.  If you're looking to find out where your greatest takeaways are, JUST EAT annually run the Tried and Tasted Awards, which involves people from all around the UK voting for their favourite takeaways via JUST EAT website.  This year, JUST EAT has introduced the new Consistency Award which recognises the Nation’s Top 20 from those establishments that have achieved Tried & Tasted for four years in a row.  (For further details about the Tried and Tasted Awards, read what JUST EAT have to say here.)

Just Eat Review Just Eat Review Just Eat Review

Mozzarella sticks truly are the food of the Gods.  They'd definitely feature in my desert island foods (if there ever were a scenario where you'd be marooned on a desert island and could pick which foods to take.  And the desert island had an oven.  Or maybe a really good local pizza place)  We also went for spicy chicken wings and cheesy chips - which basically led me to find a food even less blog and photography-worthy than pizza.  I went for a meat feast pizza, Tom went for Hawaiian.  I felt angry because fruit does not belong on pizza.  I mean - if you're going to have a carb-fest, would you really let someone turn up with a pineapple? Not cool Tom, not cool.

What more can I say? Pizza is the best, and you should probably hit up JUST EAT and order one right now.  It will make you happy.  And you can't say that about salad, no matter how pretty you make it look.

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The Other Duckling

Other Duckling banner

The Other Duckling is one of those sites that you click on and immediately hear your wallet whimper from the other side of the room as soon as it loads.  A mix of vintage, shabby chic and vintage-inspired eclectic finds, it truly is a treasure trove of loveliness and uniqueness to pretty up your home.  Where else could you find a teapot table lamp, a fish cushion and retro picnic glasses, all in one place?

The Other Duckling kindly offered me a few pieces from their website to add to our home.  I immediately thought of how amazing their bottles, jars and crates would also look at our rustic, mish-mash wedding.  We'll certainly be taking along what we picked - items this pretty don't deserve to be hidden away! 

I love imagining the stories that may be behind vintage pieces.  This vintage green bottle (£4*) is from Marston's Brewery in Burton-on-Trent, which was founded in 1834.  Imagine someone drinking a beer from the bottle now sat on my mantelpiece, but 180 years ago! I bet this bottle has some stories to tell.

The Other Duckling

This Preserves Jar (£3.50*) below, makes the perfect storage solution for well... pretty much anything - and would be lovely in a bathroom, filled with cotton buds or pads on a dressing table, or in the kitchen, filled with flour, pasta, sugar - the possibilities are endless.  (I think it might have to be filled with stripey straws at our wedding!)

On the right is a vintage bottle oil drizzler (£12.50) which I haven't yet filled with oil but can't wait to have on our kitchen table.  This bottles comes from Hythe Bridge Street in Oxford but I'm not sure what it would have been? Either way it's going to look fab in its new home.

The Other Duckling

Finally - this beautiful bushel box/trade crate (£28*), which has been lovingly waxed and painted inside with duck egg green paint.  It's going to look perfect at our wedding and will probably house cards and gifts, or perhaps order of the day cards - who knows! In the meantime it's looking after some wedding bits, like our invitations, straws and paper lanterns.

The Other Duckling The Other Duckling The Other Duckling The Other Duckling The Other Duckling The Other Duckling

I'm absolutely in love with all of our new bits and bobs and I owe a huge thankyou to The Other Duckling for kindly letting me feature some of their products (though not so much for having curated such an amazing website of goodies that I'm now seriously worried for my bank balance!) Their products are all also incredibly reasonably priced and much more purse-friendly than other vintage websites I've seen.  Make sure you hop (waddle?) on over and check them out.

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Weekend in Cornwall in a treehouse


Weekend in Cornwall

A few weeks ago, on a rainy Friday afternoon, we packed our things and headed down to Cornwall for a weekend at the Forest Holidays site at Deerpark (near Liskeard).

The journey down was slightly stressful (as it pretty much always is when you travel down to Cornwall) - full of extensive traffic jams, torrential rain and tiny, windy roads seemingly leading to nowhere (thanks Mr Sat Nav).  So when we arrived and were given the keys to our 'treehouse' abode, we were very ready to settle in for a weekend of exploring and relaxing.

When we arrived at the site we were pretty excited to find that the little shop and reception also housed a pizza oven, takeaway, bar and farm shop - what more could you want from a weekend away?  The site is also set deep in the forest, surrounded on all sides by thick woodland.  Most of the cabins overlook the huge millpond on site, which is a pretty amazing view.  Our cabin was a 'Silver Birch cabin', but nestled up in the trees and surrounded from every angle by greenery, it did feel a little like staying in a treehouse.  We also paid an extra £30 to bring little Bodhi dog along, who thoroughly enjoyed his little forest retreat!

Forest Holidays treehouse Forest Holidays balcony
Forest Holidays, Deerpark
Forest Holidays BBQ

Of course one of the major attractions of this cabin was the outdoor hot tub - what could be more perfect than lying under the trees in the sunshine, glass of fizz in hand, enjoying the sound of the birds and the wind through the forest (answer: nothing, literally, nothing).  We hopped into the hot tub pretty much as soon as we got there, even though it was cold and dark outside, looking up at the stars and watching the steam rising up out of the tub was the best way to ease away the traffic woes! The cabin had a mezzanine, with a bedroom downstairs and a master bedroom with en-suite upstairs. I loved that the main bedroom was nestled under the rafters of the roof, it felt like a little den when you cosied down at night (and listening to the rain on the roof of the cabin as you fell asleep was also pretty idyllic).

Hot tub
Forest Holidays Bedroom

The next morning we headed off to explore Looe and Polperro, the two nearest coastal towns (as much as I love the forest, you can't visit Cornwall and not visit its pretty seaside towns).  We nosed around Looe first, watched the boats in the harbour, ate a pasty (of course), dodged the seagulls, let Bodhi have a good sniff around, and generally took in the sights.

Looe Looe
Looe Looe Looe Looe Looe Looe

We then went on to Polperro which is only a short drive away.  We've visited Polperro before (back in 2011!) and actually have a big framed perspex print up in our lounge from last time we visited.  It's a lovely little town with another pretty harbour and lots of craft and gift shops (Looe seemed to have more restaurants and cafés, though we did find a great little pub in Polperro for cider and crab sandwiches).

Polperro Polperro Polperro Polperro

We also went for a little walk up the coast patch and along the cliff top.  Such amazing views, and it would have been a perfect day to be out on a little fishing boat!

Polperro Polperro

After mooching around Polperro we headed back to the site for another dip in the hot tub and for a drink at the clubhouse (we also entered a pub quiz and came second... out of three teams).

Rosie and Tom hot tub Hot tub

On the Sunday we went for a really long bike ride in the forest (we took our bikes with us but you can also hire them there).  It was very muddy but lots of fun, and obviously Bodhi had a whale of a time running alongside us and frolicking in the streams.  I didn't take my SLR with me and I think there's probably enough photos in this post, so you'll just have to imagine two muddy bikes, two muddy people and a very muddy dog!

It's fair to say that we didn't want to leave our little treehouse on the Sunday afternoon - I was tempted to try and claim squatters' rights and make them forcibly eject us! Could you really blame us - this is the view from the lounge...

Forest Holidays

... and did I mention you can order pizzas from your TV? 

Instead we sulked off back to Dorset, with pasty-filled bellies and dreams of moving somewhere you can see the trees from every window.  One day....

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