Happily Ever Afters, Red Opera Gowns & Soundtracks

Lifestyle

I currently have a ‘must watch’ list of around five or six romantic films on my Netflix account. It doesn’t really matter what they are all about, boy meets girl, boy does something to hurt girl, boy makes a grand romantic gesture and gets the girl in the end. There are good, bad and ugly renditions of this age-old genre but I’ve seen them all. Mainly the ugly.

There is nothing that makes my little heart soar more than seeing Edward Lewis, at the end of Pretty Woman pulling up to Vivian’s home in his Lincoln Stretch Limousine, conquering his fear of heights to climb up the fire escape, all with a bunch of roses in hand, to kiss her and utter the immortal line:

Edward: So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?
Vivian:
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Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman plays out. The tears run down my face. I spend the next thirty minutes yearning for a real life romantic moment with diamond necklaces and red opera gowns.

What happens after the credits roll though? What happens after those immortal words? What happens after they go back down that fire escape?

Everyone knows by now that Disney and rom-coms are behind our misguided expectations of romance and flowers in our relationships but what if actually we’ve been reading it wrong all along. What if we start understanding that after those credits roll the romance still continues but its more pyjamas and takeaway than operas and polo?

We constantly associate the word romance to images of grandeur, extravagance and overt displays of affection. Whether we like it or not these moments just don’t have longevity kids. Unless of course you are married to Kanye West for whom filling a mansion full of roses is just another day. We are creatures of habit, after all, we get comfortable with our loved ones, we slip into that beautiful haze of monogamy. We forget about wearing matching lingerie every day or greeting them at the door wearing nothing but a tie (Sorry I’m back to Pretty Woman again). Everything has a life span, nothing is forever and so why do we treat stages of relationships like they are?

Last month I was stricken with the worst kind of period pain. The kind that makes you want to curl up and cry watching The Notebook. In a hormonal struggle, I ended up highly upset that I couldn’t find my hot water bottle, as we all know, our uteruses best friend in moments like this. Joe disappeared to our corner shop and a few moments later returned with some rubber gloves and a pillowcase which he proceeded to shape into a makeshift hot water bottle for me. Tell me that is not romance. Admittedly my yellow marigolds probably don’t scream Richard Curtis movie but at that moment I truly thought this was one of the most romantic things anyone had ever done for me.

 

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We have been together for five years now and yes, I cannot lie, some days I  watch one of my beloved romantic films and yearn for those moments of romantic bliss and there is nothing wrong with that. In those moments though, I’m missing the real romance. I’m missing him ordering us pizza even though he keeps telling me “pizza is just a snack” because he knows I love it. I’m missing him leaving me a cup of tea on my bedside table in the morning even though I’ve grumpily kicked him out of bed in my post wake rage.

We are all missing what’s going on after the credits. It isn’t all opera, red gowns, and soundtracks but it is romance, and in possibly it’s sweetest, most wonderful form. We hear so many cases today of relationships breaking down because the spark has gone, and perhaps it is, or perhaps we are so accustomed to thinking that the absolute fireworks, passion, and romance of a new relationship should be forever that we tell ourselves it isn’t working. Yes, a spark and chemistry are important but let’s not forget that sparks do not live forever. They are not limitless beings. They need to be tended constantly and ultimately they do die out. Edward Lewis doesn’t climb up the fire escape each week with red roses and a swoon-worthy line. I certainly am not casting one of the greatest Hollywood movie romances to the ashes though. I am convinced that the credits roll and many years later Vivian is sat on her custom chaise lounge in her old Rolling Stones tee eating cold noodles vying for those days of diamonds and raunchy evenings on a grand piano but also counting down the seconds until Edward gets home from his latest billion dollar business trip.

If only the movie industry were only permitted to release Richard Curtis romantic comedies. The ones that make us ugly cry because the moments are true and painfully relatable. Bridget Jones with her dodgy makeup because she didn’t apply it in the right lighting, Emma Thompson heartbroken when she finds THAT necklace, Rachel McAdams trying on dress after dress in About Time in an emotional flurry. Now that isn’t to say these movies are realistic, they are movies after all and there is a reason we all flood to watch them in our gaggles of friends. They are truer though, they show the tough side of love, the side that comes after the whirlwind, the side that reminds us that there is more to relationships than opera gowns and soundtracks. There are marigold hot water balloons, pizza takeaways and surprise cups of tea. What more could you want?

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Recipe – The Ultimate Hangover Cure Sandwich

Recipes

Picture the scene. Hair matted, the ends sticky and tangled with some sort of sugary cocktail, I’m wearing last nights skirt around my waist and a manky old Rolling stones top, there is an untouched glass of water on my bedside table and a crumpled pile of receipts. It’s the hangover from hell. It’s the type of hangover that only a grease fuelled takeaway will solve. Well, that, or my breakfast sandwich. I use the word ‘my’ loosely because I have definitely kind of stole the basis of this idea from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings recipe book. We are essentially the same person though so it’s fine.

This is the kind of breakfast sandwich that when you bite into it you end up with egg yolk and sriracha sauce all down your My Little Pony pajamas but just don’t give a damn. I guarantee you it will 100% sort your hangover though and you’ll be back to your fine self before you know it.

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Ingredients

For the patties:

  • 500g Pork mince
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 2 grated garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp of sea salt
  • 1½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ grated white onion

For the hashbrowns:

  • 1 large white potato (Think big jacket potato size)
  • Small knob of melted butter (About 50g)
  • ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil for cooking

To finish off the sandwiches:

  • English Muffins x 4
  • American cheese slices
  • A generous squirt of Sriracha (optional)
  • Eggs

Method:

  1. Grab a bowl large enough to make your pork patties in. Add all of the ingredients for your patties and mix until incorporated. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to help this process along. Once you are happy the ingredients are incorporated form the mix into approx 6-8 patties (depending on how big you want them)
  2. Put your patties to one side and begin grating your potato into a separate bowl. Don’t bother peeling. This is a no-nonsense recipe. Add the melted butter and seasoning to your grated potato and mix.
  3. Heat two frying pans to medium-high and add a touch of oil to each. Once the oil is sizzling, add your patties to one pan and press down slightly. These will take approx 4 minutes on each side to cook. Flip them so that you get that nice golden brown finish. Add your grated potato to the other pan and spread it out slightly so that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly. This is going to take about the same time as the patties, 4 minutes each side.
  4. Whilst everything is cooking, lightly toast your muffins and yes, we want our muffins buttered. Drizzle a bit of sriracha over the bottom of the muffins and add a slice of the American cheese to each.
  5. Remove your patties from the heat and start stacking them on your muffins. Use that same pan to fry up a few eggs, 1 for each sandwich. Whilst your eggs are sizzling away cut a few pieces of your giant hashbrown and layer it on top of your pork patties. Finally, top off with the fried egg and another squirt of sriracha.

Best served with: A large glass of cold water and Sex and the City re-runs. Enjoy hot and swiftly followed by a power nap.

The ‘Just because…’ Gift Guide

Lifestyle

Is there any better feeling in the world than when you buy someone a gift that they absolutely adore? A gorgeous little trinket or something really personal. A little gift that you saw and thought of that person the second you saw it. The feeling is even better when it’s a ‘just because’ gift, not because we’ve been swept up in the mayhem of a commercial holiday but just because we wanted to.

Here are some of my favourite ‘Just because’ gifts, all from lovely independent/responsible sellers.

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Instagram: The Little Market

The Little Market is a fair trade shop set up by friends Lauren Conrad, of The Hills fame, and Hannah Skvarla who through a shared love of design, travel and empowering women set up this nonprofit organisation as a way of alleviating poverty and bringing a brighter future to those in need. The Little Market works with artisans from all over the world offering them design and business advice and bringing their beautiful, lovingly made products to the world. You may not be living on the beautiful Californian coastline within walking distance of Conrad and Skvarla’s picture perfect store but you can still get your hands on their unique, one of a kind pieces. If you are on a slightly bigger budget then please go and take a look at their wonderful gift sets. You can choose from either preselected sets, there really is one for every occasion, or create your own by handpicking the items you like. My personal favourite is the Celebrating Women gift box inspired by Women’s equality day. For those of you who don’t want to spend a (very) pretty penny, check out the ceramic trinket trays and tableware. My absolute favourite, pictured above, is made by Chabi Chic in Morrocco and are hand sculpted. That blush and gold pattern is the absolute tableware of dreams.

Purchase here.

Don’t forget this is a US based store so take extra shipping and tax into consideration.

 

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Not on the High Street: Wue (Bees Knees silver earrings)

Now, these are the bee’s knees! Gorgeous sterling silver studs from the husband and wife team at WUE. All of their jewellery is made in the UK and each comes beautifully presented with small personal sayings and mottos. Perfect for a little pick me up or motivation for anyone that needs it. I picked the bumblebees above because they are just super sweet and always seem to remind me of the UK in springtime. My favourite season. I also have my eyes on these because the lightning bolt design is adorbs and I am obsessed with the message on them. What a lush present for a friend or loved one!

 

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Website: Crown and Glory (Aurora and Luna Moon and Star barrette set)

Crown and Glory are without a doubt one of my favourite British brands. Founder Sophie King created the brand after an unsuccessfull hunt for the perfect, pretty hair accessories. Today, the Cornwall based brand boasts a star-studded following and their products have been seen on the pages of Vogue, Grazia and Rock n Roll Bride. If you are getting married, or are maybe just super extra, then you must check out their Bridal accessories. Their Nebula star veil is the thing of dreams, I have genuinely sat and contemplated if I can wear a veil anywhere other than my own wedding because it is just that gorgeous. For something a tad more low key then what better than the Aurora & Luna Moon hair set. This celestial bobby pin set is a must buy for the star in your life.

P.s. Please send tips on how I can wear this to every possible social occasion.

 

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Etsy: Minetta Jewellery (Personalised hammered disc necklace in gold)

Ok so my gift ideas are basically all jewellery or accessories but I just can’t help it when there are necklaces as pretty as these around!!! My best friend bought me a necklace very similar to this as a bridesmaid gift and it is honestly my most treasured piece of jewellery. I wear it almost every day and I swear I am just waiting for it to erode away on my neck into dust because I wear it so often. These necklaces are 14k gold fill and what I love the most is that you can pick the chain length depending on your preference. This necklace is by Minetta Jewellery, you can find them on Etsy, and they specialise in simplistic, minimal jewellery that you can wear every day. Their personalised gold bar necklace is going on my hit list sharpish.

 

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Instagram: Papergang

Last but not least, the perfect treat for any stationery lovers in your life (Hooray, It’s not jewellery again I hear you cry!). Papergang is a Monthly subscription service, BUT, you can buy a fixed period subscription or even a gift card, so no scary moment when you forget to cancel that direct debit and your mate is left swimming in free stationery at your expense. Papergang is another wonderfully responsible brand. For every four Papergang boxes that are sold, one tree is planted in association with Tree Aid. The trees benefit the environment and also provide food for villagers that they can grow, eat or even sell. So your lovely friend gets a beautifully designed box of stationery AND you get a healthy touch of the feels for doing your part for charity. You kind so and so.

So that’s my list, Happy spending, spoiling and just being the kindest little gem you can be ♥

Why ”Friends Are Your Most Important Romance”

Lifestyle

Norman teaI played with the idea of picking up Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton’s book, Everything I know about love, for months. I don’t typically enjoy reading a run of the mill, soppy, romance novel. They are almost always set in New York. The heroine always has the perfect apartment and wardrobe to boot and falls head over heels for the sexy, always a stockbroker, man of her dreams. This book may have love in the title but it is certainly not that.

I eventually picked up this book in a red wine-fuelled haze on Amazon. It sat on my living room shelf for a few weeks after. Then last month I had a work trip to Barcelona and grabbed it in a rush so that I wasn’t bored to tears whilst shoved into my tiny dayglow orange Easyjet seat with my tiny g&t. I read the entire book back to front in 4 hours. The second I landed in the UK and arrived back to my office I pressed it into the hands of my colleague and best friend. Why? Because I read this book and I instantly wanted to tell her all about it, I wanted to buy copies for all of my female friends. I wanted to tell them all that they were the great loves of my lifetime.

Through each chapter, Alderton takes you through her teens, twenties, and thirties retold with anecdotes, letters, and recipes (The Got kicked out of a Club Sandwich is an end of night saver). Each chapter dotted with hilarious and often ugly but beautifully honest recounts of her drug-fuelled, drunken, boy crazy years. There is one consistent theme though, her friends. Boyfriends, good and bad (mostly bad), come and go and occasionally so do her friends but the message through it all is that we need to put “more friendship in our romances and more romance in our friendships”. We ask ourselves over and over again if we only get one soulmate or one great love, well to that I say absolutely fucking not. Look at your friendship circle and tell me that some of you weren’t absolutely made for each other…

I thought not.

 

My 4 reasons why we should all start appreciating our ‘Great Loves’ a little more:

1. Do you know what I have spoken to my female friends about in the last month? Water retention, Mood swings, Shaving your thighs (or not), Hairy bums, That time I got sick in my hair and ‘Unfortunate Sam’ (It’s a story for another time). How many of those things would you speak to your partner about? In the same totally shameless manner that you would with your friends? My boyfriend is arguably the best person on this planet but he has no need or intention to start discussing the ins and outs of a water infection with me.

2. In the wise, wise words of Carrie Bradshaw – “And why is it that we can see our friends perfectly but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?”. How many times have you told one of your friends that she looks absolute fire in that new midi dress? Or that she is wayyy too good for that guy that hasn’t text back? Your friends are your cheerleaders, They know your insecurities inside and out and they know when you need a pick me up. We may look at our friends and wish we had their tiny waist or their sense of style, but I can assure you, they are doing that right back.

3. Your friends may know the best of you but they also know the worst of you and they aren’t afraid to tell you straight. Partners have that whole ‘She’s hormonal and may actually fatally injure me if I say that” thing to deal with but friends know that we could never stab them! After all, we’ve already made murder pacts of ex-boyfriends/office bitches/rude uber drivers together and sworn each other to secrecy. They can tell you when you are being an over-controlling freak or when you really shouldn’t order that chicken burger because it will 100% set your gluten allergy off. I can’t say I always listen to them but hey, they try…

4. Girl time is sacred. Now by that I mean friend time is sacred. My perfect Sunday involves brunch, gossip, a few glasses of prosecco and an animated discussion about some kind of Man-splaining incident one of us has had to suffer at work. Joe’s perfect Sunday most likely involves a gym session, some form of meat-heavy lunch followed by a beer-fuelled afternoon ridiculing his friends back and forth in the harshest way possible. It’s our ‘secret friendship behaviour’ and we all need it! It’s not a competition of whether you enjoy the time more with your partner or your friends. They should each be as enjoyable because they are each totally different!!!

You can buy a copy of Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love here.

Dedicated to my great loves.