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Christmas morning waffles

(or Boxing Day morning, or New Year's day morning, or one of those weird mornings between Christmas and New Year, as it is sort of ok to be late for work because you were having waffles for breakfast when it is the twenty something-th of December)

These waffles are a twist on one of my go to waffle recipes - A Beautiful Mess' Sour cream and caramelized banana waffles.

But I've added a teeny bit of booze to the sour cream, the left over cranberries you didn't need for your sauces and some Christmassy spices and huzzah. Christmas Waffles, perfect with a glass of bucks fizz to start off your big day.

9 nice things | November and December

Like a fair proportion of the world, I don't think I will remember November 2016 as the best ever month. Whether you were pro Trump or anti Trump, living in the US or watching the election with baited breath from the outside, a divided country (perhaps world) where neither side can fathom and sympathise with the side of the other doesn't feel like a good thing. And, without sharing something which isn't mine, against the backdrop of this world tragedy, someone I love more than anything also experienced their own personal tragedy. Another thorn in the side of November. But without the dark, you can't see the stars and all that, and however bad a day is, or a month there are always things to be grateful for, though I acknowledge that is easier to say when I am not a US citizen, and the personal tragedy is not mine.  I am going to start with the money can't buy bit of 9 nice things this month, because it seems odd to follow that intro with a list of clothes I purchased (though don't worry you can scroll further down for that)

5 ways to pimp your rice pudding in less than 5 minutes

Clockwise from top right: pumpkin spice rice pudding, chilli chocolate rice pudding, peanut caramel rice pudding, rocky road rice pudding.

Happy Sunday y'all! This week I started following Reese Witherspoon on instagram, and I think I am just gonna start addressing people as y'all now too. I find it very becoming with my Buckinghamshire accent. This week it was also World Kick Butt Day (on Thursday  according to my ban-do planner who is the authority on these sorts of things...you'll be glad to know the 29th is National Cat Day). In an attempt to kick my own butt, since Thursday I've been doing all sorts of fabulous things like meditating, exercising, dusting and experimenting with different additions to shop bought tinned rice pudding.

A wholesome trip to Amsterdam

In early July, my pal Lynsey and I went to Amsterdam to celebrate our 20th friendiversary, that's a thing right? We've been friends ever since she waltzed into my year 3 class, the new girl, and we bonded over the love of our hamsters and Sweet Valley Twins.

This is a bit of a weird one as far as travel posts go, as we went to Amsterdam, and we didn't go to the Van Gogh museum, we didn't go to Anne Frank's house, and we didn't even try the umm... local delicacy. And I am not just saying that because my Mum and Dad are my keenest subscribers. Honestly, we didn't smoke anything, we didn't go out out in the red light district, and we didn't go to any sex museums or shows. Although I did see two prostitutes in the window, but that is beside the point and immature to mention, sorry. It was really, truly, a genuinely wholesome time. We were in bed with the Gilmore Girls on our ipads by half 11 each day, and it was exactly what I needed. Amsterdam is exactly the type of city to just wander, and snack and do not that much in. (Though I am not suggesting you go there and sit in bed watching the Gilmore Girls, one episode per day to fall asleep to, max. would be my advice)

9 nice things | September and October

9 nice things September

Vassos Alexander, of the Chris Evans BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show which attempts to ease me out of bed each morning, says that September is by far his favourite month. (Yeah, lets just gloss over that I am the only twenty something in England to listen to radio 2. Apart from Will, who is forced to listen to it too*.) For a long time I have not been a fan of September, because it means my birthday is over, as are my summer holidays. But now I don't get a cushty 6 week plus summer holiday anymore (waaaa) I sort of see what he means. September is a pretty good month, it is sort of the best of Summer and Autumn - you can still wear sandals, and can maybe host the odd barbecue, but you don't feel sweaty 40% of the time, and in the evenings the dark outside makes you feel all cosy, and that you can sit inside watching TV and drinking a hot chocolate with marshmallows while getting excited for Christmas, if you wanted.

So without further adieu, here are the 9 things that put the cherry on top of my September:

When I grow up I would like to live in Whitstable (you should go there)

I first visited Whitstable 2 years ago. I went for my pal Gita's hen do, and even through the blur of apple sours and prosecco drunk in pyjamas (not together, I don't think) I knew I wanted to live in that little Kentish coastal town when I became a fully fledged grown up. Ok, perhaps that feeling was in part because of the aforementioned apple sours and prosecco, but even the next morning as I got on a train to travel the 1 hour and 23 minutes back to London Victoria in a slightly delicate state, the feelings, unlike my hungover-and-about-to-get-on-public-transport face, had not paled.

Quick! 2 barbecues to squeeze in before summer ends (and a recipe for a chilli tequila cocktail)

Those bacon skewer things have scallops in the middle of them.

So a large part of the reason I have fallen off the blogging band wagon again is because this summer with the help, blood and sweat of my generous and long suffering parents my boyfriend and I have replaced the deck in our garden. We had one before, but it was rotten with nails sticking out of it and bits you couldn't stand on for fear of falling through and the NHS advised you have an extra tetanus shot before walking on it, so it was not the place to host barbecues and citronella candle lit al fresco soires. But now, 45,640 metres (not the real figure) of decking and 1000 screws (genuinely the real figure) later, boom chacka lacka lacka boom, I have a new deck. And I am the first person to write boom chacka lacka lacka boom in text, probably.

Peach melba salted caramel ice cream sliders

Catchy name ey?

Hope you are all having lovely weekends (and this is posted on the weekend as I don't know how much I trust my old computer's ability to schedule posts). I am off at Glastonbury festival daaaaarling, so I hope for all our sakes it is ice cream sandwich weather in the UK.

Cos yes, despite the lengthy title and pretentious use of the word "slider" this is less of a recipe and more of instructions about how to assemble a good ice cream sandwich. A really good one.

What to pack for a festival when you are OLD

I call the look on the right, "sexy farmers wife"

After my brief foray in to beauty blogging (here) I am now making a strange sashay into fashion blogging, and it has been weeks since I talked about anything nice to do with a friend, or your boy, or even by yourself, the official subject of this blog. Sorry about that. And to make things worse I can't even promise next week I will be back and the straight and narrow, as I'll be at Glastonbury so I've lined up a recipe, though that is sort of something to make by yourself or enjoy with lovers and friends?!

Rhubarb and strawberry granita

British summertime is up to its usual tricks and toying with us at the moment - sweaty sunshine days on a Monday, and then slightly nippy rain all weekend. Thanks a bunch June, I am hoping you pull your act together pre- Glastonbury.

Anyway, on those days when the sun does finally show its face, I have been munching on this. And to be honest even on the days it doesn't, under a blanket whilst watching Once upon a Time on Netflix (my most recent Netflix addiction, don't judge me).

How do you rejuvenate?

Recently a lot of my posts have revolved around other people’s posts I’ve read and liked. Now this “post within a post” you could see as very postmodern and cool of me, or alternatively, you may see it as unimaginative plagiarism. Hopefully the former? Or just neither?

Either way this post will be no different, because it is one thousand percent inspired by Anna from In Honor of Design’s post “how do you rejuvenate?”. Because you can't have too many posts which revolve around lighting expensive candles and cracking open a beer, and other rejuvenation techniques.

4 great birthday cake recipes, to make for people who don't like birthday cakes

The Easiest Ever Ice Cream cake by A Beautiful Mess

Happy Sunday-but-really-like-a-Saturday-morning! I hope you are enjoying the long weekend. Mine is being a little laborious at present, as we are attempting to paint our white lounge white, but we're making it up to ourselves with plenty of homemade aperol spritzes in the sun, and takeaways in front of the telly once we've finished for the day.

So anyway, birthday cakes. Most of my friends birthdays seem to congregate around summer, don't ask me, must have been something in the water in the winter months of the late 1980s. Despite my humungous addiction to sugar, I am not the biggest fan of birthday cake. All the butter cream icing and the dense rich cake, it is just too much.

On red lipstick, and finally buying brown mascara

Good morning.

This is a short and sweet post today, as I need to leave bright and early to cheer on my uncle and cousins as they arrive for my uncle's 60th birthday at the pub on a bike. Well bikes. As you do.

Anyhoo, I've decided to make a weird foray into beauty blogging despite the fact that I only ever do my make up on public transport with my phone as a "mirror" (/mediocre reflective surface).

Be a calorie counter. Be a gym bunny.

The sort-of-but-not-really-a-diet diet diary, entry 1:

I have pondered a while over whether I should write a post like this. One about bodies and dress sizes and diets, as a) I don’t think I am really qualified to talk about any of that stuff (having no professional qualifications or experience, or indeed having never even dieted successfully), and also b) cos I don’t know if I want to write a blog about diets. This was meant to be a fun place for pictures of expensive candles, reviews of cool restaurants who specialised in mac and cheese, my life milestones reimagined in Beyonce GIFs. Nonetheless here I am and I have decided to write this post, and commit to a couple more in this series, for three reasons:

4 different and surprising nights out in London which aren't all about prosecco

Last week I went to 3 of my friends birthday parties. (I know! What happened 9 months before the beginning of May in the late 80s ey?) A bottomless prosecco brunch (of course), a night out drinking aperol spritzes and dancing in a bar before throwing up into my jacket as my boyfriend snoozed beside me in an uber (of course), and finally a Time Run (what's that you say, I'll get to it).

Now for an honest confession more shocking than me writing on the internet how I was sick in the back of a taxi: Out of all of them, for some reason I was possibly least excited about the Time Run. The tickets were £30, and that didn't include bottomless prosecco, it was on a Thursday night (though you can go any time) and basically it just wasn't what I was used to. It was out of my comfort zone.

I live in one of the most exciting and enthralling cities in the world (lucky so and so), a city whose name is printed on t-shirts alongside Tokyo, Paris, New York, a city I pay an arm and a leg to live in (less lucky) and yet so often I end up letting my hair down in the way everyone across the UK lets their hair down - going to a pub and drinking prosecco. Now going to a pub and drinking prosecco with friends is always going to be my staple, but I want to be better at branching out once in a while, and getting out of my London rut.

When I started Loner. Lover. Friend, I wrote a post where I compared London life to having a really expensive gym membership - one with all the add ons - free towels, a steam room, someone who irons your shirts (yes there are some city gyms that do that!) And like having one of those expensive gym memberships, there is no point having it if a) you don't use it at all or b) you do use it but you just go on the treadmill, you bring your own towel, you never get anyone to iron your shirts. My point is, why the flip do I pay so much to live in a city if all I am doing is going to the pub on a Friday night? (Which also is probably more crowded and less pretty than a lot of pubs all over the country. And it routinely costs £5-£6 for a pint.) I need to take my own medicine and start using London's steam rooms and getting it to iron my shirt.

Now that might be going to an amazing restaurant, trotting down to a cat village or going to the theatre. Or it could be a weird combination of all 3 of those things, like in my little list below. (Without the cats actually, sorry for getting yours hopes up there). A lot of these nights out are pretty top secret, and don't let you take pictures, so I am afraid we'll just have to stick with Cate Blanchett's face summing up all my emotions about my time there:

1. Time run 

So worth every penny in that £30, even though they didn't include even a single glass of prosecco with the ticket price. Say whaaat. Without giving too much away, Time Run was this amazing experience where in our little group of 6 (it is for groups of 3-6) we went through different time portals, finding ourselves in rooms full of clues and things to do. Basically like Crystal Maze but maybe better, and less pressured without all the mula to win. I am now looking for my next Time Run-esq thing to do, and am tempted by this one - Clue Quest, which looks pretty similar. Maybe I will just become a clue fanatic and travel the world doing all the different quests, and be in the guinness book of records for my quick clue solving times. Maybe not, but definitely am planning on taking Will and my family to one soon.

2. The Gingerline

Gingerline is sort of the original "pop up restaurant in a secret location" which is now what approx. 47% of London restaurants now are. When I headed down there for their Chamber of Flavours, it was weird and wonderful on a whole new level. It is the sort of night that is so bizarre it is tricky to talk about without sounding like you are making it up. At work the next day, colleague: how are you today Vicky, did you get up to anything last night? me: I went to this place nearby with a couple of my friends, where after getting in a coffin and being pushed through a flap, we ate our starter in a treehouse and picked it from the trees, drank cocktails in an adult sized ball pit, had dessert on a flight simulator with a drag queen air hostess, before taking a huge slide back into the bar area for some drinks. What did you do?

3. The Lost Lectures

Enchanting talks in enchanting places. I've been to a couple of Lost Lecture talks now, which are all about taking learning out of musty old lecture theatres, putting them somewhere fun, and getting a few interesting people who are experts in everything from jelly to global inequality to take it in turn to talk for 20 mins. A ticket to them makes a great present for people who like to learn (like Dads) and you come away having laughed, got all emotional and having learnt some really cool stuff. One thing that really sticks with me is learning about a parasite which may affect what the infected are afraid of. For example when mice have it, it makes them weirdly attracted to cat urine, rather than afraid of it (cos cat pee = cat nearby, not so good for mice) and they end up getting eaten, and then passing that parasite on to the cat. Weirder still, 40-50% of humans in the world are infected.

4. Immersive theatre

The first time I went to an immersive theatre experience, it was at Battersea Arts Centre, and my friend Lucy and I went to support our friend Liz, who was volunteering for the event. I got in a wardrobe, knocked on the back as I had been instructed, and then crawled through an opening into a tunnel lined with clothes before coming out the other end where there was a woman in her underwear who insisted that I dress her, and then she accessorised me. Later I got kidnapped in the back of a van, and some youths rapped at me. It was nice. And again, great water cooler conversation. That was a few years ago, and ever since Liz, Lucy and I find ourselves keeping an eye out for theatre we get to play a part in, as it is just so weird and funny. We've been to a great one by the National Theatre, and I am keen to go Punch Drunk which I've heard really good things about, and are meant to be the bees knees of immersive theatre.

PS. A crazy cool thing to do in London that is partly about all the booze. 

Copyrights: Cate Blanchett via pinterest

9 nice things: April and May

So I've tweaked the format of 9 nice things slightly, as

a) doing it once a month when I am only publishing weekly meant this blog was sort of just becoming a list of nick nacks under £20 I bought at anthropologie and

b) I thought as the whole point of 9 nice things was to take a moment and appreciate the little things in life, it would be perhaps even more mentally healthy if I was get all excited about the lovely month to come, as well as reminiscing about the lovely month I just had. Feel like this will be especially important and necessary in say January. But May, May, beautiful May probably doesn't need me to sit down and put something on the internet for me to get all riled up about its arrival. It is the beginning of summer, and after such a not only rainy but hail-y April I am super ready to greet its lovely sunshine face. Please do have a sunshine face, yes May.

So basically, from now on 9 nice things will be happening every other month, and cover nice things coming up, as well as nice things that have happened.

9 nice things in April

3 materialistic but lovely things:

The red off the shoulder tassle dress pictured above (£14.99 H&M, only available in store now) which I cannot wait for it to be warm enough to wear, so I can float around South London carrying as many food babies as I like, still looking cute and classy thanks to its volumous floaty fabric.

You may have noticed me waffleing on about waffles multiple times in the last few posts, that is thanks to this waffle maker (£27.95 amazon) which means Sunday mornings no longer mean filling the house with smoke as I attempt to cook a pancake, but standing back and drinking jasmine tea, as the waffle maker does its work. Plus, you can make waffles relatively healthy - swap wholemeal flour, add seeds, add fruit, I am practically Deliciously Ella right?

Despite the fact that I spend approx. 25 minutes standing on the tube commuting, I am still feeling calm and getting through loads of big books thanks to a subscription to audible (£7.99 per month, audible). Has revolutionised my rush hour!

3 wonderful blog posts

I've recently discovered Hello I'm Flawed a hilarious anti yet pro blog, blog. Yep, I don't know what that sentence means either. Just read it, ok? Caroline hasn't been active on it since March 2015 but I am hoping now she's moved on from editor for Cup of Jo, she'll be back, as I am running out of reading all her old stuff.

Lemon curd and chia seed pudding. *insert drooling, whilst still feeling dignified and healthy emoticon here*

This DIY chevron bench looks impossibly professional and I am desperate to give it a go. One step up from my Beautiful Mess adapted copper pipe console table though no?

3 things money can't buy

Ok, so actually it takes quite a lot of money to buy an expensive gym membership but the point is exercise can be free, so I am not too much of a fraud harking on about gym memberships under the "money can't buy section". This month every working day bar 2, I've hit the new gym I joined, and I feel so good for it. I've done a couple of more challenging workouts, but really it has just been so nice to start my weeks with a Monday morning yoga class, and use my lunch hour going for a swim (and a 3 minute steam)! Has got me totally addicted to exercise again - I think you always think exercise will be horrible (and tbh I don't find it super easy at the time, my yoga teacher had to ask me to try to look serene last week) but you get such a good feeling afterwards. I reckon as long as I ride that good feeling all the way to my next workout, I'll never stop!

Getting up early - I am fully on a 6:15am - 10:15pm day in the week now, and even though I feel like a grandma when I slip out of drinks at 9:30, or make a bed time tea at 8 some days, it is making me feel like I have so much more time in the day!

So I looked all over the internet to try and find that bird, sounds almost like an owl but also like a pigeon who makes that sound on summer evenings? I have no idea who they are, but oh my they are out and about and chirping away and it is just making me so excited for long summer evenings lounging about in the garden. (Plus another excellent thing is in my search attempts I found this website. What a relaxing playlist for a party and/or doing some yoga no? Right now, I am typing this to the harmonious chirp of a "Rustic Bunting" )

And 9 great things to look forward to in May:

Bare legs - hello that entire section of my wardrobe

Not one but two long bank holiday weekends

Longer evenings, maybe even going to bed when it is still light!! (I know, I am so cool).

Al fresco eating and drinking - bbqs! Also, does anyone know where I can get a copy of Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal's bbq recipe book, Grillenhaal? Sure I didn't dream it, I am not that witty asleep or awake

The smell of cut grass (cutting the grass, less fun)

International museum day - museums across the UK are open late with lots of special events on to celebrate International Museum Day on 18th May. Last year, Will and I went to an excellent and creepy free talk at the Old Operating Theatre. Check out Culture24 for what is going on where.

I am saving up to buy this dream dress from & other stories as my May present to me

I'm also looking forward to a day trip to Manchester to visit my pal Sally, I plan to hit those Northern Quarter vintage shops hard.

It is my one of my uncle's 60th birthdays the end of May, and I am so looking forward to a massive family get together, and party-ing with some peeps who observe my 10pm bedtime...

I don't think you're ready for this waffle.

PS. Why 9?

Bottom left photo of Chia seed and lemon curd, from Port and Fin. Bottom right of chevron bench from the Jungalow.

3 ways to brunch with baked ricotta

Raspberry meringue baked ricotta (recipe 3 below) with wholemeal seeded waffles and maple syrup

Happy Sunday!

I hope you've had a lovely weekend so far, and are in for a lovely lazy day today. I am gearing up for a day of pottering, after having spent some of yesterday at Quaglino's near Green Park enjoying a bottomless prosecco brunch with some of my old school friends. I am really into the bottomless prosecco brunch thing (I have one next weekend too!) and am sort of tempted to put together a post on my favourites, but it would just be all the ones I've ever been to, as I don't think anywhere has given me limitless prosecco and I've decided I don't like it!

A perfect tourist day in New York City

Last month, I surprised my boyfriend - or should I say my bae? (I am almost 28, so probably not) - with 4 nights away in the big apple to celebrate his 30th. I know, I'm a keeper. (At least some of the time, when I am planning birthday trips. Less so when I am smashing phones, spilling pancake batter all over the kitchen table and blaming everyone else like I was this morning; but, as Dolly Parton said if you can't accept me at my phone smashing finger pointing worst then you don't deserve me at my NYC birthday trip planning best. Off topic. Moving on, sorry.)

Planning and keeping the surprise was the most fun. I had asked his family whether they minded me nicking him for his birthday weekend in October, booked the hotel in November, and our flights in December, so keeping the whole thing a secret and acting cool all the way til mid March was tricky for a natural sharer who likes to publicise most thoughts she has on the internet. Case and point.

I'd tricked him into thinking we were going to a spa or somewhere in the UK for one night (mainly to ensure he packed essentials, rather than begin our holiday with a stressful foray around Boots in Gatwick airport, looking for the right moisturiser, he really cares about moisturisers). He feigned moderate excitement about the spa, but I knew it wasn't exactly what he would have requested to celebrate turning the big three oh.

What a turn of events then, to be ringing in a new decade with a glass of champagne on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller centre in Manhattan, only a handful of hours after we'd met in Costa coffee in Bank and he'd been all like “why have you packed a whole suitcase for 1 night in a spa” and I'd hyperventilated, “because it has got 4 nights worth of stuff for you and me because we are going to New York. Now!” Oh the thrill of it all. Ever since then I have been trying to find any excuse to plan surprises. “Your work colleague's mum just bought adopted a kitten, aaaah let me throw her a surprise cat christening!” Too much. But the New York time it was one of the best things I've ever done, and I fully recommend splurging on someone you loves’ special occasions once in a while. I know we'll be talking about that trip for all the landmark birthdays to come.

As you may be able to tell by the fact it has taken me 4 paragraphs to get to the point of this post, I can easily be driven off course in a blog post and fill it with waffle. Thus to keep myself on track, rather than listing recommendations, what I liked what I didn't like yaddy yaddy yadda, I've planned a little day itinerary with my faves. Because also I bloomin love an hour by hour itinerary, I pretty much do one every day, normally filled with working on a spreadsheet in the office/life admin/going to the gym rather than pasta tasting menus and Brooklyn pizza tours, but the former would make for a less fun Sunday morning post…

Now a final disclaimer, I didn't do all of this in 1 day, I would defo have broken around the 2pm mark and needed to retreat to my hotel bed with a belly full of beer and pizza for a nap, but I did do everything recommended, and these were things I particularly loved, and aren't just me copying and pasting the top 10 activities in New York from the Lonely Planet. I don't live in New York, this was only my second time there, and I am not travel writer, but I just think if you were in New York for a few days, all of these are insert the emoticon of the hand making the a-ok sign here things to do, and I recommend you squeeze some in.

9:00 - Up and at em!… as New Yorkers, or indeed any English speaking people may say. Start the day with a cycle all the way central park. Rent a bike from a nearby place (we used Central Park Bike rental which were around $20 for 2 bikes when we booked about 20 mins ahead online). You can also pick up the NY equivalent of Boris bikes, but I think they may be tricky with some of the hills. It only takes around an hour to an hour and a half to ride round the whole park at a leisurely pace, and that includes time to stop and eat pretzels and drink coffee, take pictures, and push your bike up some of the aforementioned hills. (My handbag was in the basket and it made the bike heavy ok).

11:45 - Catch the subway, or a yellow cab south to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn for Scott's Brooklyn Pizza tour. Hells you may even want to get off the subway early and walk over Brooklyn Bridge if you've pedalled extra fast, or you got up and out the hotel before 9am, though goodness knows why you would do that, you are on holiday. My colleague recommended this tour company to me, started by Scott who is a pizza obsessive (and holds the record for the most pizza boxes in the world). We chose the Brooklyn one, as I wanted to channel my inner Lena Dunham and gallop around Brooklyn, but didn't know where to start. This tour was great: we were the only non New Yorkers on it so even the locals do it. We got 3 delicious slices of pizza from 3 different only-in-Brooklyn places, our guide was rofls o' clock and I learnt a bit more about the second most famous borough in NYC. Following on from this, have a wander around Brooklyn, and pop into all the lovely boutiques, craft beer and cocktail bars and brunch places, and hang with their patronswho give Shoreditch hipsters a run for their money.

16:00 - Head back to Manhattan and walk off some of that pizza and booze on the New York Highline. This was recommended to me by everyone I know who has walked it since its opening in 2014, including by a native New Yorker I met at a wedding in the Phillippines last December, as her one must do thing in New York. This may indeed be in Lonely Planet’s top 10. Cripes so is most likely Central Park. Oh gosh. Anyhoo, the Highline is an old freight train railway which has been turned into a garden walkway above the city. It means you get lovely views of the classic NYC blocks, and just as importantly get to see right in to lots of cool NYC-er's apartments. It runs all the way through Chelsea from the southern part of Hell’s Kitchen down towards the Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village, but if you are running short of time or your legs are sore from all the cycling and pizza walking you can just pop up, with entrances at several blocks. We walked through it leisurely, just stopping for photos and it took around 45 minutes - 1 hour.

18:00 - Completely nicked this from one of my favourite bloggers and native New Yorkers, Joanna Goddard, from Cup of Jo, who is unbeknown to herself, one of my life gurus. Going to New York, one of the first things I did was check out her NYC guide, which has so many more great tips in it, and I am so sad we didn’t manage everything. The thing I loved about Babbo, was that apart from being delicious it was so classic New York. Will and I enjoyed the traditional tasting menu with matched wines (I tried to convert him to the pasta tasting menu, but we ended up with 2/7 pasta courses instead of 5/7, it wasn’t all bad). I can’t think of anywhere in London that would have such an Italian tasting menu, that was so relaxed whilst having that formal tasting menu quality. It was delicious. Bookings open 1 month in advance, and you have to be there right on the day to secure a table, this place is popular with New Yorkers too.

22:00 - There are plenty of bars round Greenwich Village so maybe it makes sense to hang out there, rather than head uptown, but then this is mean to be “the perfect tourist day” and I really don’t think a perfect tourist day would be complete without a visit to SixtyFive, the bar on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller centre.

Last time I was in New York, with my family about 7 years ago, we went up the Empire State Building. This time I researched Top of the Rock (the 67th floor of the Rockefeller) vs Empire State Building to help me choose which high building to go up. I’d decided on Top of the Rock, on the basis that although the Empire State Building was quite literally something out of Sleepless in Seattle and the Mindy Project, Top of the Rock was less crowded, had shorter queues and provided arguably a better view - one with the Empire State Building in it. Then a couple of days before I found a recommendation (cannot remember where) for bar Sixty Five, two floors down from Top of the Rock, with its own private terrace. 

And so after checking in at our hotel, Will and I turned up (un)fresh from the plane, and without reserving, or queuing or buying any sort of ticket, walked straight into a lift, went up 65 floors and were plonked on a table next to a window with all of NYC right there. For the price of an observation deck ticket, we bought a glass of bubbles and cheered in Will’s 4th decade….

00:30 …before heading slightly tipsily to Katz Deli. The classic New York deli is famous for being the place where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in When Harry met Sally, and for serving the best hot pastrami sandwiches in town, albeit massive ones. (You can definitely share one). What is a holiday without 4 square meals a day ey?

Hope you have a fabulous lazy Sunday, with no smashed phones, and pancake batter only falling into hot frying pans.

Vicky x

5 books to breathe life into forgotten new year's resolutions (or to help start some spring ones)

 Hello again. 

Woops I fell out of bloggersphere for the third time, but now I am (hopefully) back for the foreseeable future with some photographs I took of some recommended books (and flowers and designer scented candles, obvs, this is a blog post) in case your new year's resolutions have fallen off the back end of a lorry with mine. Because it is the beginning of spring y'all, and (apart from Jan 1st, and maybe your birthday) when is a better time to turn over a new leaf than when lambs and daffodils and blossom is springing up everywhere cos mother nature is turning over a new leaf too!

I ummed and arred and toyed with what to put as my new year's resolutions - narrowing it down to a short list for me is tricky, as my brain naturally constantly whirs with ways I could be better and do more. My nature is to make every day (Jan 1st or not) a pretty much a constant battle to live more purposefully, time manage myself better, be less anxious, well just live and be and do more really. It isn't a stressful way to be at. all.

Here are some scrawlings I made on a plane to the Phillippines on Dec 28th (fyi if you clicked on this post to for some pleasant book recommendations, please scroll past this waffle to the next picture, if you enjoy some reflective waffeling, please continue. Oh gosh now I want a waffle. Anyway, resolutions:)

1. Learn to drive
2. Go to the dentist!!!
3. Start giving blood again
4. Get up earlier and do some productive tasks before work. Be a lark, not an owl.
5. Exercise more per week
6. Find more balance, and give myself more time to reflect and not rush
7. Manage my finances better, stop flittering it away on cocktails and pret lunches and save it for special memories and things from Anthropologie and classy and cool independent “boutiques”. Which yes, is technically comes under the umbrella on flittering, but if I am going to spend my money on stuff, I want it to be really beautiful stuff which gives me a wave of “gees louise I own that material good!” every time I see it.
8. Say yes to my friends more, see my friends more (slightly at odds with 6 and 7 - attempts at which have sometimes got in the way of 8)
9. Be thinner. Or at least a lower percentage of body fat.
10. Read more
11. Take up squash or some sort of healthy game I can play with Will. That sounded like an innuendo, but I read in the Happiness Project (see below for more on that) to have 1 indoor game and 1 outdoor game as a tip for happy couples and I am really struggling to find a good game to play with a man 1 whole foot taller than me, where I can actually win. Again, sounded like another innuendo, sorry.
12. Be mindful.
13. Eat less processed sugar.

Etc etc yaddy yaddy yadda.

Eurk just writing that list is exhausting, and so far apart from an attempt at 4 and 7, the list is not doing so well. (Last minute edit, I have now accomplished number 2, wahoo!)

So I've tried to narrow all of those down to one I can stick to, and I've decided it is this space. A bit like my about page, where I proliferate that this blog will solve all my life problems, now I am saying it will support all my new year's resolutions. A lot to expect from one little blogspot I have a history of abandoning for months a time, and do nothing to promote... but positive thinking people!! Also, lets just disregard the fact it is mid April and this is the first time my presence has graced this corner of the internet in 2016. Ssssh.

Because actually, when I do bother to use this space to reflect on my lifestyle and the world it really does make me a bit happier, and feel like I am getting more out of my life. This space helps me live more on purpose - to be more active in the choices I make in my life, take time to reflect, seek out new experiences and opportunities. So more of that in (the rest of) 2016 please.

If you need a little inspiration here are some lovely books that might help boost a forgotten new year's resolution of yours, or if you are more of a spring time resolution person, some handy books below, which aren't too self helpish to read openly on the tube.

1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
Oh what you've heard of this one already? Ok, so this is hardly a well kept secret, but if you haven't read it yet, it is worth the hype. I haven't even finished it, but a few chapters in I was so inspired I spent a Saturday reducing my wardrobe by a 1/3, something I haven't done since I wore size age 7-8 and got rid of all the age 5-6. And really that was mainly my mum attempting to clothe my sister.

2. The Happiness Project by Gretchin Ruber
I read this last year, and it really makes you want to go out there and big up yo bad self. Yeah I have no idea what I mean by that sentence either. The pursuit of happiness has possibly never been as well documented as it is today, I devour blog posts on how to be happier whether that is a list of favourites or grateful things, or a way to squeeze an extra hour in your day to live a more mindful life. This book is like all the best blog posts you've ever read on being happy rolled into one.

3. What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami, the Japanese author better know for his acclaimed novels like Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore, is also an ultra marathon runner. An ultra marathon, in case you didn’t know is any race longer than a marathon, but many ultra marathons are like 50 + miles. Ran all at once. But for an ultra marathon runner, Haruki Murakami makes long distance running very accessible and also very inspiring, and points out all the great things for the mind as well as the body. As he says, he doesn’t think he would be a writer if he wasn’t a runner as it allows him the time to have a good think. (Think he puts it way more eloquently than that).

4. How to stop worrying and start living by Dale Carnegie
Ok, so this one is a little less conspicious on the tube than the others, but that is what kindles were made for. Self help books, and the 50 shades of grey trilogies. Dale Carnegie was the first real self help book writer, and his case study supported tips for worrying and just living a happier life makes this one of the easiest to read and most useful self help books I’ve ever come across.

5. Poem for a day edited by Nicholas Albery and Peter Ratcliffe
I have the e-book version of Poem for a day 2 on my phone, and like to read it when I am waiting for my packed tube to draw in, it chills me out, puts things in perspective and makes me feel like I have already done something super smart and intellectual that day, and hey it is not even 8:30. Last year, I kept the paperback version of poem for the day 1 on my kitchen shelf with my cookbooks and would read it whilst the kettle was boiling, or the bread was toasting to the same affect.

Happy Sunday everyone! My resolution is to post something around this time (may become more precise but I am setting a low bar for now) every Sunday, because it is the perfect day for lazy blog reading. Hope you have a wonderful day full of waffles and naps (sorry got waffles on my mind, my mind on my waffles), and an exciting week.

Vicky x

PS. Running. 50 shades of Grey. About.