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Notes from July 2020

Some bits and bobs I have enjoyed this month. I feel like July has been a bit up and down - I love love love summer usually but obviously this month has been unlike any other summer. I started the month feeling really fed up with working from home and felt a bit like I was just existing and not enjoying life. That sounds quite dramatic, but I think THESE TIMES make any emotions feel a bit times ten.

Regardless, I tried my best to think of one of my favourite quotes, which is 'Never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun', and I reminded myself that a lot of people are much worse off than me, so I still did fun things, and felt a lot better towards the end of the month.

This jammy pepper pasta salad

Essay about this dinner incoming.

I saw this on Michelle's blog and it spoke to me. I had most of the ingredients in the fridge (I love it when that happens) and so I made it and it was so delicious, especially for a summer's evening. The descriptions on Bon Appetit really get me; describing peppers as jammy *drooling emoji* . I made a few substitutions - I didn't have quite the required number of peppers so I kind of 'thirded' (unsure if that's a word) the whole recipe, and I didn't include the nuts or the onions because Rich isn't a fan of onions and I just didn't fancy the nuts. So after all, it was kind of only partly the recipe! It had the main essence though - the jammy peppers. They were the main event and they were glorious. Oh I also swapped parmesan for feta as we had some leftover that needed using. Subs and using your cooking initiative for the win!

This adorable Instagram account

I can't remember how I found this account but it is just adorbs. It's run by a girl called Kyla and the aesthetic is 'a brown girl in 1950s utopia' (her words, obviously) - she remakes 1950s magazine covers and creates dreamy vintage looks. It's just so cute!

The library is BACK BABY

I missed the library so much! Whilst one still can't go and browse (sob), Bristol Central Library have created a system where you email them with the type of books that you enjoy and they will make a curated selection for you, which you go and collect in person. How lovely is that? A free selection of curated books. I will never stop appreciating that the library is 100% free. The books that were selected for me were Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid and And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. All books that I have never read before but look right up my street. I am very impressed.

My cat has started going outside

My fluff is all grown up! We bought her a collar and a tag with our details on and let her roam free in the garden (and beyond). She has already lost the collar (thanks then) and had an altercation with a neighbourhood cat, but apart from that she has loved her little outside life. 

Adam Buxton with Joe Cornish

I love Adam Buxton's podcast at the best of times, but this one was a particular highlight, firstly because any time Adam and Joe are together it is comedy gold/ pure entertainment. Secondly because Adam was talking very candidly and emotionally about his mum who recently died and it was very, very sweet.

Cute picnic

One of my July goals, which I post on my monthly bullet journal Instagrams, was to have a cute picnic in the wild. We went to The Bath Soft Cheese Shop, which is a dairy farm, shop and cafe not too far from us. I purchased some cheese (extra mature of course) and then we took our other food and many items (Rich was so pleased that I packed glassware to achieve my aesthetic goals) and went in search of a cute field to sit in. The first spot we found was shortly disrupted by a farmer letting in a huge herd of cows, which seemed fine to begin with but shortly became very unnerving so we trondled on further and found an even better spot with BUNNIES hopping about. It was the best.

Sex Education

I am aware I am very late to the bandwagon but I love this programme! I'm only on episode 6 of season 1 and it makes me cry and I don't even know why half the time, it's funny but it also gets you right in the feels. I STAN ERIC. The aesthetic is also super pleasing on the eyes and I want to live in Otis's house a lot.

Links I liked reading

Midsummer celebrations sound lovely
The Babysitter's Club movie discussed by the people who were in it
This article about Normal People is an interesting take on the TV show
Man Repeller did a deep dive into feelings about libraries and it made me feel warm inside
Cats are the best. Even Vogue knows.
The hygiene theatre of deep cleaning everything is arguably pointless


Money Diary during coronavirus

I very much enjoyed doing a money diary back in February (yep, seems like 10 years ago now!) so I thought I'd do another, in this brave NeW n0rmAl we find ourselves in. 

Monday 6th July

  • I went to the post office as I sold something on Depop £3.10
  • As we've recently moved house we've been gradually getting bits and bobs to make it look pretty. Wanted a rug for the front room - went for this one in the end, after A LOT of research. Finding a rug that's not a) one colour b) a million pounds and c) not a triangle based print is surprisingly tricky. £79.20
  • The direct debit for my veg box came out. We get an organic fruit and veg box from Abel & Cole delivered every week. I love opening it when it arrives, it's a bit like Christmas. Unless they send Pak Choi, which I hate. £15.75
  • Since moving, I have become obsessed with Facebook Marketplace. The previous tenants left a plethora of items in this house, including baby gates and lots of random items in the shed. Today I sold a tile cutter for £7. 

Tuesday 7th July

  • My vitamins had almost run out, so I purchased a top up. It was free delivery when you spent £30 so I thought I might as well buy two bottles at once. I buy all my vitamins from Cytoplan - the website was recommended to me by a nutritionist and their delivery is so quick! £30
  • I was doing my daily DuoLingo and an advert came up about the unthinkable situation in Yemen so I donated to Care International £20 

Wednesday 8th July

  • My friend has recently had a little girl and I went to see her for a socially distanced peek at the baby. I bought her other daughter a gingerbread man as I thought she might be feeling left out! £1.35

Thursday 9th July

  • It was definitely a McDonalds breakfast kind of day today. I've never actually had an egg McMuffin, for my shame, so that was a revelation. I had it without the cheese though, because plastic cheese is an abomination. I reckon I could live on McDonalds hash browns though £7.98 on two Mcdonald's breakfasts (not both for me)
  • My lovely auntie gave me a £50 cheque in a moving in card, so I paid that into my account. 

Friday 10th July

  • Went to my friend's house for a curry in her garden with another pal. Quorn bhuna, pilau rice, garlic naan, poppadoms, onion bhajis and chutneys. So good. £18.06 for my share
  • The direct debit for Hello Fresh came out. This is only the second week of starting this up again, simply because after so many days of cooking my dinner day in, day out, I cannot be bothered to decide what to eat every night! I won't carry this on for ages but wanted a bit of a break £27.99 for four meals.
  • Went to Tesco for the weekly shop. We have been spending a lot more on the weekly shop at the moment. At the start of lockdown it was at least £100 a week, it slowly going down but I'm very snacky at the moment and in a treat yourself mindset. Baking most weeks has also increased the bill somewhat. £67.49 

Sunday 12th July

  • Our cat Bluebell, was a house cat when we lived in a first floor flat, but now that we are in a house we are going to start letting her out. Advice says she needs a collar, so I ordered her a bougie one, because I love her and she deserves it. Rich wanted to get her a black one from Pets At Home, because for some reason he thinks she's a basic bitch £29.99 inc. postage.
  • We went to Somerset Lavender Farm, a place I have wanted to go for a long old time. It was very peaceful and lovely, would recommend highly. Rich paid the donation to go in and I paid for the snacks - we had a still lavender lemonade, a cheese scone (it was probably the best cheese scone I've ever had) with cheese and chutney, and some cheese crisps. Cheesy. I also bought a lavender plant to take home, along with some local honey £20.70

Total: £321.61

This was an above average spend, because of the rug purchase and the new Hello Fresh habit. Everything else is fairly standard - I mostly spend my money on food and excursions, and whilst I can't do as many excursions, then I will spend more money on food I suppose! Food's nice though innit. 


The best things I've baked during lockdown (and some things I've learned)

My hobby of choice during the lockdown as undoubtedly been baking stuff. With little else to occupy my busy hands, I have turned to Pinterest, my small collection of cookbooks and my trusty saved recipe folder (a physical folder!) and kneaded, proved, mixed to my heart's content.

Favourite things I have made

The Anna Edit's cookies

The hype is real for these cookies which are based on the recipe from the Levain bakery, with a few tried and tested hacks. They are the thicccccc, gooey cookies you've seen all over Instagram, winking at you with their height and oozing chocolate chips - in short an absolute absolute dream. They are sweet, a tiny bit salty, stuffed to the brim with chocolate and a delicious bite from roasted hazelnuts. I want some now! I have to try the white chocolate and miso ones too.

Cheesy welsh cakes

I made these initially to use up a glut of leeks from my veg box - they love sending a leek and Rich HATES eating a leek so alternative leek routes must be explored in our mission to not be a wasteful household. These savoury nuggets are a delightful discovery - I often use them as a bread substitute for my morning boiled eggs, or just as a umami mid-morning snack.

Decorated Foccacia 

This fun baking project lets your creative juices run wild, is easy and tastes great. You feel clever because you have made bread but you don't need specialist equipment so it's a win win. The only downside is you have to eat it quite quickly because without the tons of preservatives they put in supermarket bread, turns out it goes mouldy more quickly - who'd have thought?

Tea, Lemon and Blueberry Cake 

I made this for my mum's birthday. It is from Tesco magazine and it's the first time I've made a cake larger than two tiers so I was a bit intimidated by it! It turned out great though, and tasted lush. You couldn't really taste the tea in it however, so I would probably leave that out next time as it wasn't
missed. My mum appreciated it greatly and even brought out her best cake knife to cut it. High praise indeed.

Some things I have learned...

Measurements need to be precise...but sometimes it just ain't working

I made a pizza base recently and I swear I followed the instructions to the letter but I just could not get it to stop being so damn sticky. Sometimes, no matter how precise you are, the temperature of the room, how warm your hands are, even your mood definitely makes a difference to how things turn out.

You can substitute stuff

That said, whilst they do say baking is a science, most of the time you can sub in like for like and it's largely the same. Oil instead of butter, lemon zest instead of orange, granulated sugar instead of caster. Trial and error is part of the fun - just need to use your imagination and logic.

Sharing is caring

The only downside about making so many baked goods, is having so many baked goods. I'm lucky that both mine and Rich's parents live nearby so every Sunday we would do a little walk or bike ride round to both households and drop off some excess treats, stopping for a little doorstep chat along the way.

It's not worth making the pastry!

I made shortcrust pastry for a pie and it's just long and an effort and I cannot make it stretch properly to save my life. Shop bought pastry is my friend.


Notes from June 2020

I've decided to change the format of these posts, as they were getting a bit brain dump-y.

Instead of just listing everything I've done, I'm going to write about 7 things I loved across all the categories I used to cover - reading, listening, watching, buying, eating, enjoying on Instagram and so on and so forth, and then some links. Might include something I didn't enjoy as well just for balance.

Last month we moved house! We've managed to get quite a bit done in a short amount of time - painting the hallway and the upstairs, getting the carpets and oven cleaned, ordering furniture, but I'm still getting used to it all. Exciting though! 

Anyway, here are some things I have enjoyed of late.

1. Alexa Chung's YouTube series about Met Gala. 

I look forward to the parade of looks that is the Met Gala so I let out a sad sigh when it was cancelled this year. Luckily, good old Alexa Chung interviewed some designers about the fun Met Gala times they have had in the past and it almost made up for the usual spectacle. 

2. Normal People

I'm only human okay? But srsly, this was a whole emotional punch in the face wasn't it. It's weird, I loved it but at the same time it pained me to watch it. Still wonderful though. And please can there NOT be a second series. Some things just need to exist as they are. 

3. Girlguiding Book

I am the biggest GirlGuiding nerd going and I recently read a book called 'How the Girl Guides won the war', which put the whole lockdown thing in perspective for sure. The bravery, capability and willingness to help from these girls (some as young as 10) is admirable. Brought a tear to my eye. 

4. Finding out about Babysitter's Club on Netflix

I found out there is going to be a Babysitter's Club series on Netflix and my tiny heart sung with joy. Watch the teaser trailer here if you know what's good for you. 

5. "Finishing a book is proof that we aren’t stuck in time – we still have the capacity to begin things, to finish things, to make use of this time in small but comforting ways" 

This is a quote from one of Alice Catherine's recent blog posts. It resonated with me a lot.

6. Pic & Mix

Online pic and mix is a wonderful invention at all times, but particularly when they have stopped selling it in shops because of old auntie 'Rona.  When it's 100% vegan it is even better. This is the one I ordered and I can particularly recommend the foamy ovals. Also the fudge - my gosh. 

7. Anti-Racism Daily

This is a newsletter that sends out daily information about the Black Lives Matter movement, and how we can continue the anti-racism work. So far I have learned what defunding the police actually means, why Black people are more affected by Coronavirus and why facial recognition technology is used to match Black people to crimes but is a highly flawed system. I am so grateful for the amount of research and work that goes into this newsletter FOR FREE (although you can donate or subscribe on Patreon). I would highly recommend subscribing. 

Links of note