23 September 2017

25 things you can do this autumn


Hello!

I'm going to be honest with you, I'm pretty bloody excited right now. Why? Because it's officially autumn!

I've been waiting patiently for that familiar chill in the air, for the leaves to start turning beautiful colours, and for the darker evenings to start creeping in.

I know there are a few of you who are with me on this, and a few of you will be mourning the loss of summer. Whatever side you're on, here are 25 ways to make the most of autumn:

1. Go stationery shopping

To quote Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail: 'Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address'. I love this so much it's almost sickening. And he had a brilliant point: New York or not, there's something rather delicious about treating yourself to a nice, new notebook in September, right? And who knows, it might be the notebook that captures a life-changing idea.

2. Listen to an autumn playlist

For the last three years, I've been curating this autumn playlist on Spotify. It's honestly one of my most treasured possessions, and I really only let myself listen to it from 22 September-1 December so I'll never get bored of it. There are enough songs for several indie movie soundtracks here:

 

My compilation of plinky piano and acoustic guitar might not be your thing, so why not make your own?

3. Make a change

There's something about autumn that feels like a chance for a fresh start. Try a new hobby, learn something new, or switch up your routine. Right now, I'm taking a couple of online FutureLearn courses (one in fiction writing and one in scriptwriting) and I'm waking up earlier to do some pre-breakfast pilates. I shall thank myself when I'm a super lean, award-winning writer. 

4. Buy a candle

Preferably in some delicious autumn fragrance, like apple pie or blackcurrant or cedar and pine. A Yankee candle store just opened in my local high street, which I'll pillage every lunchtime. I've also been eyeing up these organic Cosy Glow candles, which come in loads of different scents. Mmm, fresh linen.

5. Go pumpkin picking

I had such a fun time pumpkin picking with Jasmin last October. I am absolutely going again this year! 


6. Carve a pumpkin

I suppose you could go full-blown Pinterest and paint your pumpkin white and gold, and turn it into a beautiful decoration. But there's something oddly satisfying about crafting a slightly shit scary face for Halloween. Last year's effort was Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas.


7. Go to a fancy dress party for Halloween

This year, commit to Halloween. Dress up, eat too many spooky-themed sweets and have a lot of fun!

8. Plan some autumn dinners

Autumn/winter food is just the best. Roast dinners, casseroles, stews, soups, mac and cheese. Everything with sweet potato and butternut squash. Gravy. It's comfort food that warms your belly and soul. 


9. Get yourself an indulgent hot chocolate

Because why the hell not?


10. Make an autumn film list and watch every last one

My list includes: You've Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Practical Magic, Dead Poet's Society, Hocus Pocus, The Craft, Little Women, Corpse Bride, Halloween Town, and Nightmare Before Christmas. 

They're mostly old favourites that feature Meg Ryan and 'fall in New York', Halloween films, or witchy films (which, in my book, is not the same thing as a Halloween film). 


11. Go on a long walk

I hope there are crunchy leaves everywhere, I hope there's a crisp chill in the air, and I hope you're wearing a fun pair of welly boots. 


12. Read a book

You get bonus points if you're reading: a) in a den you've concocted with blankets, or b) by a fireplace, or c) in a cosy armchair.



13. Get some new pyjamas

I searched the internet for the best jammies, here they are: 

14. Hunt out some autumnal bedding

Two words, babes: brushed cotton. If you can find that, you're in for the softest, cosiest dreams. Even Primark sells it. Grab something nice in burgundy, navy or dark orange. Possibly with some sort of woodland creature motif.


15. Decorate with twinkle lights

To me, nothing says autumn like a string of fairy lights. It makes everything seem much more cosy and magical. I blame Gilmore Girls for this obsession, they do it oh-so-well.

16. Make a note of all the great TV heading your way

Whether you're all about Strictly Come Dancing and Great British Bake Off or you're counting down the days until the latest seasons of Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Riverdale or Stranger Things, there's something to get excited about. Oh, and let's not forget Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams, Gunpowder, and Britannia.


Or, y'know, stick on a Sabrina the Teenage Witch boxset. No? Just me?

17. Put on your cosiest socks

You know the ones I mean. They're super warm, thick and probably fluffy. If you don't have them, get some. 

18. Bake yourself a treat

Autumn: the season of salted caramel, of gingerbread, of cinnamon! I saw a recipe for chocolate orange brownies that made me say: 'oh my!'. 


For a super easy bake, try my recipe for classic choc chip cookies (they've been getting rave reviews).

19. Play with sparklers on Bonfire Night

In fact, this November, watch a fireworks display, eat a toffee apple. Go nuts!

20. Update your autumn wardrobe

Any excuse for shopping, right? This autumn I'm looking for cosy knits, stylish ankle boots, berry-hued pleated midi skirts, pinafores, and big scarves. Take a scroll through below:


(TOP TIP: just buy new tights. Forget about the bobbly, laddered ones lurking in your drawers)

21. Go to the theatre 

The theatre is good at any time of year, of course, but something about sitting in those red velvet seats while it's chilly and dark outside is extra exciting. I don't know why, it just is.

22. Set yourself a goal 

What can you achieve by the end of the year? Or, if it's a long term goal, by next summer. I have a few things on the go, from creative projects to my plan to get fit (I'm currently writing this in gym clothes, so I'm officially Taking It Seriously).

23. Bust out your big, cosy jumper

Whether it's a cream cable knit or a colourful fuzzy creation with a cat on the front, grab it. Treasure it.


24. Try a new make up look

That plum/berry colour you haven't been able to wear for months? It's time. Wear it, and wear it with confidence! Team with a golden smokey eye for 10/10 autumn goddess vibes.

25. Craft something

More evenings in? More time for crafts! Cross-stitching is my craft of choice and it's basically therapy. You can't worry or overthink while you stitch, you're totally at peace for an hour or so. And you get a nice little gift at the end.


So, that's my rather exhaustive list! What are you looking forward to this autumn?
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17 September 2017

The awkward inbetween




Skirt - Dorothy Perkins | Top - Dorthy Perkins | Bag - Cambridge Satchel Co | Boots - Office (similar) | Watch - Olivia Burton 

It definitely feels like autumn, doesn't it? Chilly mornings, darker nights - and I'm pretty sure I've already spotted chestnuts and conkers on the ground. Yet, it's not quite the cosy jacket, thick tights and tartan scarf kind of weather I've been craving. Personally, I can't wait to start sipping hot chocolate and wearing bobble hats and coats again!

This inbetween weather is always a bit awkward to dress for too - every morning I regret my decision to leave my leather jacket at home but by mid-afternoon I'm boiling and wishing I hadn't worn a jumper. When will I learn to layer properly?

This roll neck top and leopard print skirt combo from Dorothy Perkins makes for a pretty perfect addition to my transitional wardrobe. Even if I look like a bit like a sassy Steve Jobs. The top's thin enough to stand the warmer afternoon temperatures, but looks super smart (and has a nice vintage vibe) when wore beneath a jacket or coat. And the skirt can be teamed with tights and boots, or a pair of flats. I nabbed both pieces in a sale too, which is even better!





SHOP THE LOOK


Stay tuned, because I'll be sharing an autumn-themed post soon! Can you tell this is my favourite season? 
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1 September 2017

The world's best cookies


This is not a hyperbole, I am completely serious. I can almost guarantee these will be the most delicious cookies you'll have ever tasted.

Really?

Really.

About a decade ago, I'd bake these bad boys for my school chums on the regular - but then I lost the recipe and never worked out where it was from (I spent hours mining the internet to no avail). Thankfully, during a recent deep cleanse of my bedroom, this dirty, scrunched up piece of paper fell out of a book - and there it was! My old cookie recipe!

I whipped up a batch yesterday and was very relieved to find they tasted as good as I remembered. In fact, today was spent dolling them out to my friends across Dorset and Hampshire (nothing says 'have a good day!' like a cookie, right?).

I wasn't planning to blog this (hence the lack of blog-worthy snaps) but after uploading a picture on Twitter and Instagram, I was surprised to find a few of you asking for the recipe. It's sort of a big deal that I'm sharing this - because, honestly, once my friends can make these themselves they have no incentive to hang out with me anymore.

So, selflessly, here it is: the recipe for the world's best cookies.

The ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 120g unsalted butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 215g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 120g granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 200-300g* chocolate chunks (chunks are better than chips and that is a fact)
*depending on how chocolate-y you like your cookies! I'm a 300g kind of gal. You can use whatever chocolate you like - plain, milk, dark, or a combination.

The method

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugars, vanilla extract and eggs. 
  3. Add the butter/sugar/egg/vanilla mixture into the large bowl you set aside earlier. Stir until it's all mixed together (and looks like cookie dough). 
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Make sure they're evenly distributed! 
  5. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it to chill in your fridge for an hour (this is the hard bit).
  6. Once the hour is up, pre-heat your oven to 190c/170c (fan)/gas mark 5.
  7. Mould your cookie dough into slightly flattened balls (imagine you're doing an 'ok' sign - they should be roughly the size of the gap between your fingers) and put onto a greaseproof paper-lined baking tray. I can usually fit five on: one in each corner and one in the middle. 
  8. Bake for 10 minutes (or until the edges start to look golden). The cookie might look a little underdone but trust me - it's not. 
  9. Let the cookies cool on the tray for a minute before transferring to a wire rack (I like to transfer them with the baking paper still underneath, I'm quirky like that). 
  10. Bloody well enjoy that cookie. 
Let me know if you try this recipe, I'd love to know what you think! Warm cookies are the perfect accompaniment to a cosy, autumn day - and so fun to make!
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