Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Blogger Book Club TONIGHT!

It's that time again!

Tonight, we will be discussing The Husband's Secret over on Skype as part of the Blogger Book Club. Your readers-in-chief (jenny and I) have both finished the book MORE than a day in advance for the first time EVER, and we'll be there ready and waiting with tea and cake (BYO, sadly) ready for a good natter. 

We'll be meeting on skype just before 8pm and will probably chatter for an hour or so. If you don't have mine or Jenny's skype names, send me or Jenny a tweet (@cupsaucerblog or @sunnysweetpea) and we'll be happy to let you know!

It was a really interesting read, and I'm definitely looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. So come join us!

If you haven't read the book, but would be interested in joining in with a future Blogger Book Club chat, then you can sign up over on Jenny's blog. We're all lovely, promise! And we're hoping to have a face to face chat sometime soonish, so keep your eyes peeled for details of that.

And if you have any suggestions for future books we should read, then let us know! We're always keen for suggestions, partly because I'm a terrible decision maker. 

Speak to you all later!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Happiness Is.... (vol. 95)

I'm absolutely exhausted as I write this, at 8:15pm on Sunday. My weekend went from being completely empty on Wednesday night, to being really rather full by the time it actually swung around. I am totally baffled about how this happened, but it was such a good one.

As a result, I've found it completely impossible to cut list of things that are making me happy down to five things, like I normally do. Instead, I have a list of ten happy things- aren't you lucky!?

Life is good at the moment. It's a little complicated still- but I'm generally speaking in a much, much better place than I was before Christmas, and that's a really great thing. I've been cooking, running, laughing, listening to London Grammar and Taylor Swift, and I've found myself surrounded by some pretty damn incredible people too, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Anyway! Enough waffling, there's a load of that to come. This week, happiness is...

... the man who let me have his leaning spot on the tube when I was struggling to carry two boxes of cupcakes to work on Monday morning. The tube was so much busier than normal and I was clearly having a tough time trying to balance- so he tapped me on the shoulder, and let me have his leaning spot. What a sweetheart!

... my work colleagues, who do things like bring me superglue when I break the handle off my work mug (an Emma Bridgewater beauty in a discontinued pattern!); buy me flowers on my birthday; compliment me on my dresses; shout at people down the phone to tell them that the work I do is "absolutely f**king business critical"; and generally keep me entertained throughout the working day.

... eating pizza for supper two nights running and not really caring about it. Once with N, and once with A. Both are really rather lovely company.

...drunk texting in French. Or québécois, depending on who you ask. Turns out, we were both rather good at it, and it made me chuckle.

Taking a seriously hot shower with the window a little open so I can look out at the frosty street and feel knife slices of cold air against my skin. It's one of my favourite ways to start a morning. Perfect for this time of year too.

... wedding chatter with Jenny and Charlotte. My heart is singing for these two girls, and I adore hearing all about their plans for their respective special days. I love that they run ideas past me (and each other)- honestly, they are both going to have the most exceptionally beautiful weddings ever.

.... seeing my university friend L after eighteen long months and things being exactly the same as always. It honestly felt as though I'd seen her just days before, and that made me so happy.

... scoring my first ever goal in a competitive korfball game. I've scored in training before, but never in an actual game- and this was also while playing for the squad higher than the one I normally play for. I was deliriously happy, even though we lost the game...

... coffee dates early on a Sunday morning. Becca and I went for tea and croissants at a little coffee shop near our houses at 9:30 on Sunday morning. And while I then spent the rest of the day running from pillar to post around social engagements, it was a wonderful, peaceful way to start the day.

... making plans. I have next to no free time over the next two weeks, but that's okay because every plan I have is with someone I care deeply about. And I also made plans for a Pancake Party on Shrove Tuesday this week, and I'm already excited about it.

.... chatting to my brother on the phone at work. He called me on my work number, and we sat giggling at our desks, 215 miles apart, feeling like naughty school children. My boss just had to laugh, because he could see how happy it was making me to chatter to my little brother about wedding favours and stag and hen parties, and the logistics of getting my new iPad (!!!!) to London.

... a new teapot. At the time of writing, I actually haven't used it- but it's a pale blue Le Creuset beauty that I got for £13 in TK Maxx. It would have been rude not to really, wouldn't it!?

What's making you happy this week?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

25 Things I Know At 25

So I'm a week into 25. And it's actually been a hell of a week. Its involved dates and dinners with friends and korfball training and work dramas and drinks with work colleagues and laughter and all manner of other wonderful things. 

I was thinking this morning that I feel like I know myself better now than I ever have before. I know what I like, what I don't like, who I am, what I want out of life... I know how to deal with difficult situations, I know how to be silly, I know how to laugh at myself. I know how to fall in love, and I know how it feels to have my heart broken. I know who I want in my life, and I know who I don't. 

And I know all manner of other things too. So I thought I'd share- so here we go. 25 things I know at 25.
  1. Hangovers change as you get older. For me, this has gone from feeling nauseous and like death to just having a headache. I'm actually quite happy about this.
  2. There are very, very few things that cannot be made significantly better by tea, sleep, or exercising.
  3. Never underestimate the importance of having good manners and being kind to people.
  4. As you get older, friendships stop being about proximity, and become about actually being similar. This means that some of your oldest friends will exit from your life- but it also means you'll end surrounded by some pretty incredible people
  5. Having goals of where you want to be by the time you're a certain age is a fast track to misery. Just don't do it.
  6. You are far, far braver, and far, far stronger than you think you are.
  7. Playing dumb doesn't impress anyone. Or rather, if you acting stupid impresses someone, they aren't the sort of person you should be trying to impress.
  8. Champagne is always a good idea.
  9. Dancing in the kitchen, whether that is crazy solo dancing to Uptown Funk, pirouetting to Chopin, or slow dancing with someone you love, is one of the best things you can do.
  10. Things are sometimes unbelievably awful. But most of the time, they do get better. I promise.
  11. Your mum doesn't get enough credit for being as incredible as she is.
  12. Age really is just a number.
  13. Good people do stupid things sometimes. This doesn't make them bad people.
  14. I am clumsy and bruise like a peach. This is a very, very interesting combination.
  15. Love is never the same twice. But if you love someone, tell them. Every. Single. Day.
  16. Never let anyone tell you you can't do something.
  17. However bad you feel, get up, show up, and keep your chin up. This too will pass.
  18. It's okay to be selfish sometimes. Putting yourself first on occasion is 100% the right thing to do
  19. It's okay that I'm competitive and a perfectionist. 
  20. Being a morning person is brilliant. There is no better way to start the day than quietly sipping tea while you listen to the rest of the house wake up
  21. I will always be a Devon girl at heart- cream first, then jam; Dartmoor; proper cider; wild beaches and seas; and wide open spaces will always make me happier than anything else.
  22. The best way to have a happy relationship with food is to live by the motto "everything in moderation, including moderation", and to eat your five-a-day every day.
  23. Life is hard, and messy, and unexpected, and complicated, and that's actually okay.
  24. It's important to love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.
  25. You are important.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Happiness Is... (vol. 94)

Oh, I had the loveliest weekend! It actually felt seriously, seriously long, as I started my birthday celebrations (I turned 25 on Saturday! I feel so old!) on Thursday night with drinks with my work favourites. My "just one or two in the pub" turned into me drinking two glasses of wine, two glasses of prosecco, and three gin and tonics, getting home at midnight and walking into a lamp post en route. My boss kept me company all evening, and needless to say, neither of us felt particularly clever on Friday morning. 

But by Friday night, M, A and I were drinking wine again, so it couldn't have been that bad. I've definitely drank more than I should have this weekend- I have to be quite careful of the cumulative effects of alcohol, even with my medication- so I'm thinking this week will be a much drier affair. Until Friday, that is, when I have leaving drinks for one of my favourite colleagues. Sigh. It's a hard life, isn't it?!

There's an awful lot keeping a smile on my face at the moment, to the point that it was hard to whittle down this list. But this week, happiness is...

... giggly birthday brunches with some of my absolute favourite people in London. We ate croissants and hot cross buns, nibbled berries and sipped juice, while talking weddings, boy gossip, and trying to establish just what is actually meant when someone tells you they are in a "monogamish" relationship. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday morning (and early afternoon. Because the best brunches just run on and on, don't they?).

... champagne afternoon tea. M and I celebrated my 25th with champagne afternoon tea at The Wolseley on Friday afternoon. I honestly cannot recommend it highly enough. Delicious sandwiches, scones with DEVON clotted cream (the best in the world), and the most beautiful, delicate cakes that we were too full to finish, so they boxed them up for us. We were thoroughly spoiled, completely charmed by the beautiful art deco interior, and pretty damn pleased with the final bill. I'm excited for my next visit- if you have an occasion and you're looking for a reasonably priced, delicious, and special afternoon tea, The Wolseley is your place.

... being given flowers. Flowers are my absolute favourite thing in the world ever. So to receive beautiful roses from Charlotte, gorgeous tulips from Becca and the prettiest arrangement from my incredible work colleagues has made me incredibly happy. Can it be my birthday all the time please?

... important conversations. Maybe these aren't actually making me feel happy, but they needed to happen and I feel so calm as a result. Last week, I had a really, really important conversation with someone important, which we'd been putting off for about a month. We both explained our points of view, worked out a way to move forwards, and I for one left the conversation feeling incredibly emotional, but much more settled and comfortable with our resolutions. As a result, I know that we both will be able to go forward in a really really positive way, and maintain our great friendship. And that's the thing that really makes me happy, actually.  (Maybe I'll go into this situation in a bit more detail another time. But for now, suffice to say it' was complicated and messy, but I'm fine.)

... unexpected presents and kisses that make you forget how to breathe. Both of these things have made me super happy in the last week. Particularly the fact that the unexpected present was a Nigel Slater recipe book, and I adore him. And the kisses were pretty damn incredible too.

What's making you happy this week?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Getting My Sparkle Back

Found here
I’ve decided I’m going to get my sparkle back.

It’s taken three days at work, multiple whatsapp conversations with Jenny and Charlotte, Ellie, and Charlotte, and a whole lot of Taylor Swift, but I’ve decided that I’m completely fed up with allowing others to bother me. It’s not that I’m going to become hard and callous and selfish- but rather, not let the things that are outside my circle of influence bother me. So that thing that has been leaving me feeling adrift and confused and pissed off? It no longer has my permission to make me feel that way. And all of a sudden- I genuinely don't feel like that. It's like magic.

I was texting A the other night, and mentioned that I had been in a bad mood earlier, and he asked why. Of course, readjusting back to London life always leaves me feeling a bit adrift- meaning that I fill up my time, leaving people wondering if I’m trying to run away from things- but really, I couldn’t precisely explain to him just what had left me feeling so off. But I was texting him after a two hour korfball session, and I realised I was feeling so completely like myself again, to the point that I was able to laugh at my silly mood earlier in the evening, and suddenly see basically everything that has been bothering me since before Christmas in a perfectly clear light. I kind of realised that there are very, very few things that can’t be diminished by tea, a good night’s sleep, and exercise. And if they fail, salt water- in the form of tears or the sea- will almost certainly help.

Found here

I’m being more me focused now. Last night was spent running and baking cupcakes as  a practice run for my brother’s wedding favours. Tonight will be spent eating pizza and drinking wine with Charlotte- healthy January be damned. And I’m going to be happy and sparkly and no one is going to take that away from me. I’m far too super awesome to let things I can’t influence, and maybe don’t even want to influence, bother me. No regrets. No tears needed.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happiness Is... (Vol. 93)

Two weeks away, feels like the whole world should have changed, but I'm home now- and things still look the same. 

Yes, I'm quoting Dido, but she's right- I've spent two weeks away from London, I half expected everything to look different and feel different when I got back- but it is, of course, as it always is. I'm back at work today, inevitably spending my day sifting through a small mountain of emails and cringing while someone tells me about things that happened at the Christmas party a fortnight ago.

I had the loveliest time at home. Two weeks of relaxation, Mama's cooking, kitty cuddles, fresh air, deep silence- it was wonderful. But I think part of it is the dichotomy between my London life and my Devon life- one is hyperactive and chaotic and the other is calm and quiet. I like the calm as a counter to the chaos and vice versa. 
But as I said, I'm back and I'm pleased in many ways to be here. And this week, happiness is...

... Having a stonking New Year's Eve. I know we all hate NYE, with the expectations and pressure it brings. So I invited J, N, and A for supper. We ate beef bourguignon and drank two bottles of prosecco and three of red wine before stomping up the hill to my local, where we heard a fantastic band play and caught up with people I've known since pre-school, before coming home for cheese and the After Eight game. I may have smashed my phone on my way home, but all in all it was a cracking night with three of my favourite people. This is what we looked like. Messes.

... The Sherlock Holmes board game. J, N and I spent HOURS playing on New Year's Day. It perhaps was a bit too much for our hungover brains, but it was so much fun. I'd highly recommend, it's like Cleudo on steroids. 

... Friday morning, when I was in bed with the cat purring on my feet, a cup of tea in one hand and Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane in the other. It was so perfect!

... Giving my hair and face a break. Normally, I blow dry my hair and put make up on pretty much every day. But over Christmas, I put make up on a grand total of twice, and blow dried my hair only a handful of times, and both are looking far less frazzled as a result. It's lovely!

... the roast I returned to on Sunday night. My housemate S cooked up a storm and made sure five of us are going into the new week well fed. We discussed Christmas, new year, dramas, non-dramas, and everything in between. It was a lovely, lovely return.

... fresh starts. It's 2015, and I am going to be awesome this year. Who's with me?

What's making you happy this week?

Friday, 2 January 2015


And so another year begins. I hope you all had a happy (and safe!!!) New Year's Eve?

I say to people "I just have no idea where last year went!" but looking back through my diary the other day, I realised that 2014 has possibly been my busiest year ever. It wasn't the best year on record- though I'm not sure which year would be the best year on record- but it wasn't 2014. It also wasn't the worst year on record- I'm about 90% certain that dubious accolade would go to 2008- but it was tough, and I'm proud to have made my way through it in pretty much one piece.

I learned a lot last year. I did a lot last year. And it has been good. Really good. And now I'm just hoping that in 2015 I'll have just as much fun as I did last year.

But before I get too carried away with hopes and plans for the year in front of me- here are fourteen amazing things from 2014: 

1. My little brother and his long term girlfriend getting engaged
2. Moving jobs and cities. Twice. I lived with nine different people in 2014. I'm kind of hoping that 2015 is a liiiiittle bit quieter on this front...
3. Making and developing some incredible friendships. There are a group of girls- who hopefully all know who they are- whom I have met through this space, and I am so grateful to have them in my life. 
4. Developing my korfball skills. I'm still pants, but I'm less pants than I was!
5. Being brave enough and knowing myself well enough to go and get help when I needed it
6. Making my first wedding cake. Bonus points for having a guest say to me "You know, we could do with a beautiful young chef to make cakes for us in Colorado...." (I was very tempted. Shame he was joking)
7. Going to Barcelona with Mama- her first trip abroad in seven years
8. Celebrating my aunt's wedding in September with my family
9. Being really well thought of at work. It sounds cocky- but it turns out, people seem to like me and think I'm good at what I do. 
10. Following my heart, and telling people how I feel- drunkenly, soberly, in ways people liked, in ways people didn't. I may not have been massively careful with my own heart- or perhaps other people's- but I have been honest. I know I did things that hurt people last year, but my own heart didn't spend as much time hurting in 2014 as it has done in previous years.
11. Reconnecting with my childhood bestie. Z, you're awesome. 
12. Celebrating my Grandad's 80th birthday. He's one of my favourite, favourite people and I love that I was able to celebrate with him.
13. Many, many weekend visits with and to see friends. I went to Kent, Norfolk, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Wales, had people to see me in London... it was all magical.
14. Starting to feel a little bit like an actual grown up. Not completely- but I'm starting to feel a little bit in control of my own destiny. Maybe I'll get a bit further with this in the coming year...

And because January is sometimes thought to be named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, who has two faces (one facing forward and one facing backwards), I'll look forward too. Here fifteen things to look forward to in 2015:

1. My brother's wedding! Honestly, it's come around so soon and I am SO excited. Expect many posts about it in the run up, okay?
2. My 25th birthday in just a few days! I have no plans at all but that's okay. I'm mostly just looking forward to ticking the 25-34 box on multiple choice forms for the next nine years. 
3. Celebrating my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary in November. I hope I get to love someone as long as that. 
4. Job hunting. My current contract is only until August, and at the moment I have no idea what will happen at that point. I'm not convinced that job hunting will actually be enjoyable, and the thought of leaving my current job is kind of breaking my heart already- but new adventures are always exciting, right?
5. Taking a trip abroad somewhere. I have no idea where, and no idea when, and no idea who with- but I WILL be taking a little trip at some point in 2015. 
6. Getting into super awesome shape. I have weddings to attend and people I want to look great for- so exercise and healthy eating is GO. This includes getting really into running. I do love it already- but I'm really hoping that 2015 will be the year I actually run races and run regularly all year. 
7. Scoring a goal in a korfball game. It has happened in training games but not in actual ones just yet. In 2015, this WILL HAPPEN. 
8. Exploring more of London. I've not done as much exploring yet as I could have, so I'm excited to do more. 
9. Really pushing myself with baking. My oven is slightly dodgy, so it isn't the easiest thing in the world, but I'm excited to try out some new bakes. My work colleagues are excited too...
10. New work successes. I have no idea what they'll be, but I've decided I'll be having some. Gotta keep up that reputation, eh?!
11. Hopefully vlogging more! I'm keen to try some new creative mediums, and vlogging seems to be a nice new one to try.
12. Spending more time with my favourites. Weekend trips, leisurely brunches, quick coffee dates, and wine-fuelled suppers- come at me. 
13. Spring mornings and long summer evenings, Easter and birthdays, 3am conversations and laughing down the phone. And (I'll say it quietly) Christmas. Just the everyday, actually. 
14. Reading more. I feel like I kind of lost my reading mojo in 2014, but now my mental health is getting back on track, my focus is much better and I can settle to a book. So if you have any great recommendations, please send then my way!
15. Getting to know myself even better. I feel like I grew an awful lot in 2014. So in 2015, I want to carry on with this personal growth and learn even more about myself. I now know that I'm stronger than I thought I was, braver than anyone thought I was, reckless and silly and loving and kind and sarcastic and so many things. At the moment I'm just Alice- I'm not known as somebody's girlfriend or "his sister" or "her daughter", and I love that. I'm so interested to see what I learn about myself next year. 

What about you? What were your favourite things about 2014? What are you looking forward to in 2015?