Every year it’s the same old thing: you make new year resolutions that you intend to keep, and a couple of weeks in you’ve already failed to maintain them. Well, I am determined that this year be different, 2014 is going to be full of adventure. I want to start the year on a positive note – one that celebrates and rejoices in the little moments instead of focusing on changes that need to be made. So here are a few of the things that I’m looking forward to doing this year:
1. Visit Ireland
2. Plan a reading weekend in a cosy country pub
3. Get a new tattoo..or maybe two
4. Take one photo/video a day, for a year (inspired by this)
5. See more bands live and attend some music festivals
6. Try a new recipe once a week, everyweek
7. Experiment with different hair, makeup and style
7. And finally, say yes more
The songs that are on repeat right now…
Kodaline- High Hopes
Katy Perry- Roar
Arctic Monkeys- Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Ellie Goulding- Burn
Counting Crows- Colourblind
Frank Ocean- Lost
The Wombats- Our Perfect Disease
Sade- By Your Side
Kings of Leon- Fans
Ben Rector- You and Me
Andrew James and Paul Johnston- Free Falling
Kodaline- All Comes Down
The ultimate investment piece, leather is the trend that just keeps on giving. For autumn/winter, think less beaten-up biker and more luxe appeal as seductive dresses, sleek separates and trim-detailing take our love of leather to more sophisticated territory. I am having a serious love affair with leather right now, some of my favourite pieces, below.
Topshop dress £120.00
Accessorize scallop leather gloves £22.00
Alexander McQueen double wrap leather bracelet £135.00
Reiss Fante navy leather sleeve coat £295.00
Marni gold-plated, woven leather necklace £195.25 (on sale)
House of Harlow 1960 Jade clutch £143.53
The Kooples tweed and leather skirt £145.00
I have recently become obsessed Letters of Note, a website that aims to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Today’s letter resulted from a group of students from Xavier High School in New York City writing to their favourite authors asking them to visit the school. This was an exercise in persuasive writing, but what resulted was something very special. Five students wrote to Kurt Vonnegut, and Kurt Vonnegut wrote back.
Here’s what he said.
November 5, 2006
Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!
Inspired? You will be…more here.
2. Host a wig party (something my housemate and I have wanted to do since we moved house a year ago!)
3. Make my own spiced apple cider and mulled wine
4. Read the six shortlisted books on the Booker prize
5. Make, try or see something new every weekend
6. Plan a trip to New York and Portland for 2014
7. Run a 5k
8. Go to yoga and pilates 3 times a week
9. Have a scary movie marathon with friends
10. Start posting regularly to the blog again
I had two friends over for dinner last week and after scouring BBC Good Food for a new recipe, I opted for this Hungarian Beef Stew. It turned out to be one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made, if you happen to be throwing a dinner party but don’t have time to spare to faff around in the kitchen then this is for you. With minimal preparation needed it really is a case of throwing all the ingredients together in a pot and leaving to cook for 3 hours (in the over or on the hob).
You’re going to need…
- 500g braising beef
- 1 tbsp flour , seasoned really well
- olive oil
- 1 large onion , halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves , crushed
- 250g chestnut mushrooms , halved if large
- 1 red pepper , sliced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp dried chillies
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 300ml beef stock
- basmati rice , to serve
- soured cream , to serve
Simply toss the beef with the seasoned flour in a large pan and brown all over in 1 tbsp oil. Scoop out all the beef, then add the onions and cook really well until soft and browned at the edges. Add the garlic, mushrooms and pepper and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Return the beef to the pan and add the spices, tomatoes and beef stock. Put on a lid and leave to simmer for approx three hours until the beef is really tender and sauce thickened.
Serve with rice and soured cream. It’s as simple as that!