One Pot Pasta #BEDM

Last weekend, after getting told off one too many times by Tao, I realised that when I cook or bake, I use allllllll of the utensils possible. Pots, pans, plates, chopping boards, every piece of cutlery possible… messy Kat!

So, as I watched him do the dishes for what felt like the five hundredth time in a weekend, I promised Tao I’d cook something minimally messy next weekend. That time is here, and it means its time for one pot pasta.

You heard right! I’m going to cook a meal for two, in one pan, and no longer will anyone be able to say that every time I cook, I leave a trail of destruction.

Now I’ve made one pot pasta before, plenty of times, but this is the first time I’m really thinking about it properly. It’s not a case of boil some pasta and add a jar of sauce. This is from scratch baby, from scratch.

To serve two hungry pandas, you’ll need:

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350g of uncooked pasta (we had fusilli)
2 chicken breasts, cut into little bitesize pieces
100ml of double cream
1 red pepper
1 litre of chicken stock (or broth if you prefer)
a little bit of oil or frying spray
garlic – I used minced garlic from a jar
80g of parmesan – I prefer chunky slices for this dish, but finely grated works too

Start by cutting your chicken and red pepper into little pieces.

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Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, and pour in around a tablespoon of oil, or a few spritzes of cooking spray – I used a mix of sunflower oil spray, and garlic oil spray.

This is my garlic secret weapon though:

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Fry your chicken and red pepper, with the minced garlic, in the pan until both are cooked on the outside. The chicken doesn’t need to be fully cooked through – it’ll continue to cook as you cook the pasta.

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For the stock, I tried out 2 of these stock melts in a litre of water, and they worked pretty well!

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When you’re happy with the colour of chicken – lightly browned – pour in your chicken stock, double cream and uncooked pasta. Turn the heat up so it starts to boil, then cover with a lid and turn down to a simmer.

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Now just sit back and let that baby simmer for 15-20 minutes.

The stock and cream will thicken, the pasta will soften, and it’ll all come together in a delicious creamy sauce. For the last 3-5 minutes I like to take the lid off the pan, to let a liiiitle bit of liquid evaporate – makes for a thicker sauce.

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When your pasta is soft and your sauce has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan. Then bask in the beautiful creation you’re about to devour.

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Serve with a fresh crisp salad if you can be bothered, or just heap it on plates to feed hungry people as it is!

Enjoy!

Mini strawberry pancakes #BEDM

Brunch is one of my favourite meals – of the day, of the week, in general. (Although my new favourite answer when I’m asked what my favourite food is? Buffet.)

This weekend, I decided on a leisurely Saturday morning brunch, where the star of the show would be strawberry pancakes. Inspired by Dutch poffertjes – mini, fluffy pancakes – I started playing with a recipe of my own.

To make a pile to feed an army (or two hungry pandas), you’ll need:

  • 170g of all purpose flour
  • 30g brown sugar (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of oil – vegetable or sunflower works great
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract – better than essence, but if you can’t get it, not a deal breaker to go with essense
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries – around 10-15 medium sized strawbs, cut into little chunks

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To make the batter, first mix all of your dry ingredients in a bowl.

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Then add all of the wet ingredients (minus the strawberries), and beat together until everything is mixed it – we’re going for light and fluffy, if liquid could ever be such a thing.

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Chop up your strawberries into little chunks:

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At the end, add your strawberries and mix through, but be careful not to completely smoosh them.

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Heat a large pan on a medium heat, and add a little bit of oil or a couple of spritzes of cooking spray (ala FryLight).

Top tips – don’t make your frying pan too hot, and remember we’re going for mini pancakes here!

When the frying pan is hot, pour dessertspoon size little pools of mixture in, aiming for 2-3 strawberry chunks per pancake.

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Cook each pancake for around 3 minutes on one side, until little bubbles appear on the top, then flip that baby over with a spatula and cook the other side for another 2 minutes. Obviously timings may vary, but we’re aiming for a golden brown colour.

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Serve with more fresh strawberries (if you have any left), maple syrup, whipped cream – whatever floats your boat.

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Birthday girl

It was my birthday last month, and I was fortunate to be able to take some time off work for it.

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My brilliant parents decided to come down to London for a couple of days to see me, the weather was perfect, so I decided to have a brunch picnic in the garden.

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I bought a ton of nibbly snacky things, but also decided to make some food. Two of my favourites – sweet potato and sausage hash, and homemade sausage rolls.

A quick rundown of the hash:

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Whack some sweet potato, sliced onion and rosemary into the oven

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Until it looks like this! (Roasted sweet potato has gotta be one of the most delicious things on earth)

In the mean time, prep some tomatoes (I went for little plum tomatoes) and garlic

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And fry some sausage meat – this stuff looks so gross at first. You can buy big tubes of sausage meat (less faff) or buy actual sausages and squeeze the sausage meat out (I did this for the sausage rolls… it was icky, lets just leave it at that).

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When it starts to look like mince, its good to go. The sausage meat adds a wonderful flavour, and the texture is sticky and smooth, rather than more obvious like mince would be.

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Pop everything into your baking tray, and back into the oven until its all golden. I also chose to crack a few eggs into it, and bake them. Job done.

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Pretty simple, bar some prep time!

I also made sausage rolls – like I said, this was the less glamorous bake – squeezing raw sausage meat out of the casing isn’t as phallic as you’d think. It’s just gross. But! Good sausages, plus some more rosemary, garlic, and some dried herbs, made for delicious sausage rolls. Homemade is always better.

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We ate at the end of the garden in the shade, with hummus, pitta bread, a bottle of fizz, and a huuuge jug of smoothie that I’d made. Perfect.

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My sweet, lovely parents were in fine form

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We sat and ate and chatted for the best part of the afternoon, before moving onto Eton Mess. Luxury Eton Mess, if you will, made with meringues from the Meringue Girls.

The Meringue Girls are a brilliant pair of ladies who’ve created some seriously delicious treats – regular size, and mini size, in some fantastic flavour combos. I first discovered them when I bought their recipe book on a whim, and their love of colour and their outstanding creativity won me over.

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I got a jar of minis with strawberry, raspberry and coconut, and then a box of the regular size

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Gin & tonic, hazelnut, dark chocolate, passionfruit, and pistachio.

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Everything got thrown into the Eton Mess, which didn’t photograph well, but in our defence we’d had a few drinks at this point, and it tasted delicious, which is what matters.

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Happy birthday me! 🙂

Warsaw eats

Hello from (my garden in) Warsaw!

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I actually have a backlog of blog posts to write about my travels in Bordeaux and Berlin, but those posts require some serious photo editing (weddings in both cities mean I have so many pics!) but in the meantime I wanted to share a couple of foodie places I tried in Warsaw over the past few days.

Let me say now that one is very typically Polish in general, and the other has a hint of Polish misogyny, but that’s about it.

On Sunday night, we went to a place called Rybna Chata – basically, a fish hut. On ul. Piaseczynska, in Prace Duze (outskirts of Warsaw, to the south), it’s a very sweet new little place, built in traditional Polish style, serving a fresh and changing menu. Prices are per 100g, and range from 11zl to about 15zl per 100g.

There are some simple side salads (all traditional Polish), some basic drinks, but the real stars of the show are the fish – there’s no guarantee of what they’ll have, but when we went there was cod, whitefish (whitebait?), carp, pike perch, halibut, trout and salmon, amongst others. We got a couple of portions of code, a portion of whitefish, some fries, side salads, beer and wine.

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Freshly fried cod with garlic butter, and fries. This was really delicious, and miraculously for me there were no bones in it!

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This was the whitefish – also apparently delicious, but it didn’t fancy wrestling with fish bones to try it!

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We ate outside on the terrace out back which was lovely – pretty unspoilt at the moment!

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But I can imagine it being a really lovely place in the winter too – really cosy and warm!

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It was relatively expensive for Polish roadside eating – not crazy expensive, but not knowing the weight of the fish you get can give you a surprise when it comes to pay!

The other new place I tried out is an American diner on Zwirki i Wigury road in Mokotowskie. Apparently it’s been open for a couple of years (Foursquare tips told me a lot!) so I went in for breakfast.

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The breakfast menu is pretty short – a full fried breakie, a Jeff’s version with steak, muesli, and pancakes with either butter, bacon or syrup (you could buy more extras).

I went for the pancakes with syrup…

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Three thick American style pancakes, with a dusting of icing sugar, a pot of syrup, a slice apiece of grapefruit and orange and.. a lettuce leaf.

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They were… okay. They weren’t anything amazing, the portion was fine, but given how much I love pancakes from The Breakfast Club back in London (a tower of delicious thick fluffy pancakes, with a wonderful syrup/berries/whipped cream explosion on top!) these were just okay. Filling, and pretty cheap – 11.90zl for the portion (about £2.40).

Weirdly, they were the same price as a cup of coffee – I got a latte which took a while to arrive:

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Coffee and pancakes for a fiver ain’t bad I guess.

A couple of things kinda bothered me about Jeff’s though – first up, the decor is SO forced American – it’s so busy, it could be headache inducing after a while. Secondly, the service was pretty crappy – this was 10am on a Monday, there were more employees wandering around than customers but it still took a while for me to get service.

But my biggest bugbear was the fact the waitresses were in uniform that consisted of a very tight football shirt, knee high socks, and tiny denim hot pant shorts with butt cheeks hanging out. The waiters? They were wearing jeans and tshirts. For me, this gave such a crappy message and reinforced shitty misogynistic tendencies I’ve experienced in Poland. Not cool.

Finally, this evening we went for dinner in our regular haunt, a brilliant homemade pierogi place. Except it wasn’t brilliant tonight, I was pretty disappointed, and won’t bother reviewing it. C’est la vie.

The brunch that grew and grew

I’ve been lucky enough to have a week off work for Easter – my first longer period off work this year. My first port of call when having so much time off is to come north and see my best friend and my parents. So on Wednesday I trekked up and got together with Lauren for first a gig, and then a day-long brunch on Thursday.

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This isn’t a recipe post really, it’s too simple to justify calling it that, it’s just a ~look at beautiful foodstuffs~ post.

We started off by doing a lot of shopping the night before… adding more and more food to our baskets, without a clear idea at first. Ultimately, we decided on a biiig frittata, a brioche bread and butter pudding, a meat and cheese platter with crackers, crumpets and snacks, and we did buy some other snack foods that thankfully lay unopened.

It was definitely a case of eyes bigger than our bellies, and we did NOT eat all of the food… Just a lot of it…

Frittata is the easiest thing to make, but in case you’re interested, we used:

1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
2 small sweet potatoes
2 small regular potatoes
bacon (enough for a small army, or however much you want really)
1 bunch of spring onions
5 eggs (3 pictured, because this is a play-by-ear thing)
milk
garlic (we used crushed garlic from a jar – about 2 cloves worth)

For both dishes, preheat your oven to 180c.

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It really is very simple…

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Chop all of your veggies…

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Cleaning the ones that need cleaning…

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Peeling the ones that need peeling…

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Beat some eggs and milk together – we started with 3 eggs, but added 2 more, so 5 eggs + about 170-200ml of milk, a pinch of salt, and your garlic (it’s way better to get the garlic into the eggy-milk mixture, because it’ll be distributed more evenly)

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Chuck all the veggies, and chopped up bacon, and whatever else you want to add, into a dish, pour on the eggy-milk mixture, and top with cheese…

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Into the oven it goes! About 30-40 minutes, until the cheese is more crispy than gooey!

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We also decided to make a little somethin’ somethin’ sweet – a chocolate and cherry brioche bread and butter pudding. Calm your artery-clogging boots – it’s naughty, definitely naughty, but it’s not the worst thing in the world… That’s how I’m justifying it!

If you’re interested, to make what we did, you’ll need:

1 large-ish chocolate brioche
Butter (not a little, little blobs here and there)
Nutella
Cherries
4 eggs
Milk (about 150ml)
A little bit of sugar

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Start by slicing your brioche into 1-2cm slices, spreading with a little bit of butter, and a healthy dollop of Nutella, before lining the slices into a baking dish, slightly overlapping…

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Fill the baking dish with slices, stud with cherries, and make another eggy-milk mixture (NO garlic this time – add a little bit of sugar if you like!), pour onto the slice brioche, add a couple of blobs of butter around the dish, and a little sprinkle of sugar for a crispy top. Into the oven that goes! About 35-45 minutes should do it!

Brunch with Lauren

While that’s cooking, go and indulge in other food, because that’s what sensible people do, honest… Make some coffee, get some juice, light a candle, snuggle up. Anything to pass the time before this guy is ready…

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Isn’t he handsome?

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What a babe!

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Brunch with Lauren

At this point, you can stop waiting, put down the camera, and forget all dignity. Just eat, nobody needs to know that you have seconds, thirds or mores.

My life definitely needs more brunches – especially with my best friend.

Bonus pic – we have matching Mailchimp tshirts, you can join our snugglefest food parties if you have one too! (I may or may not be kidding)

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Project 365 – part 4

The final chapter.

This is the part that feels most relevant to my life at the moment – that might be because the last photo was taken 6 days ago, so it’s not that surprising. But this final quarter starts at the beginning of December, and actually, it’s a pretty good quarter.

December through to February saw me do some more travelling (Warsaw, Jersey, Cannes, Manchester), spend super happy times with my family and best friend, throw some colour into my life, and learn some new stuff.

Festive December…

December saw a lot of pre-Christmas crafting, my nails snapped (need moar calcium?), I got a new iPhone, I had another trip back to my parents (see photos with my mama and my Lauren), I acquired a super sassy hat (blue glittery tophat!) and sated a work-Christmas-party hangover with a trip to Five Guys. Christmas was spent in Poland which was relaxing, with board games (including a Polish game about queueing in front of shops in the 1980s) and walks in the forest. New Year was spent with my best friend, eating a lot of Turkish food, playing with sparklers and having sekrit times.

New Year – January…

The New Year continued with time spent with my best friend – on the first of January we went on the London Eye, which I absolutely loved. We also visited Winter Wonderland (btw HOW BIG is the German Beer Hall there?! it’s amazing!). In contrast to last month, my nails were now screwed because of wearing false nails. C’est la vie! This month also saw me get my bangs cut back in, travel to Jersey for a beautiful few days for work, try a street dance class and do Fire Marshal training for work.

The final month – February…

February was the final month of my Project 365 – by now, it was completely ingrained in me to photograph something everyday. The month started with a weekend in Cannes for the Midem music hack weekend. Such a surreal weekend, I loved it. I also became a qualified First Aider (spent part of the afternoon flouncing around pretending the mannequin was my boyfriend.. I thought more people would do this, apparently not..). I travelled to Manchester to see Childish Gambino, ate the biggest pancake ever at My Old Dutch, received the most beautiful flowers for Valentines Day, went to a London Fashion Week event, visited Greenwich, bought a dress, and generally continued to love London.

Phew.

Once again, I have to say thank you so much to you guys for reading and revisiting my year in photos with me. Part of me looks back and thinks not much has changed, but a bigger part of me is amazed at how far I’ve come. I’ve loved looking back at the little details in my life, laughing at how silly things have been, seeing myself move on from sad times and throw myself into the good times.

I’m already 5 days into my next 365, and can’t wait to share that with you.

Project 365 – part 3

First up, I want to thank you all for reading my garbled round-ups of the first half of my Project 365, for clicking through my snaps, and for putting up with my constant banging on about how great it is.

I especially loved the comment from one of my mama’s friends, that she enjoyed looking at the randomness of the photos.

That’s how I like to see it myself – even during the most mundane of days, where I stayed in bed ‘cos I was sad, or said very little at work ‘cos I was uninspired, I still think documenting the little details, and remember why they were important enough to photograph (or conversely, why my day was crappy enough to warrant a photo of an apple), is important to me.

The next quarter covers September through to November. This was as rocky as the previous months, in all honesty, and my closest friends were there for me a lot. This quarter spans heartbreak, mistakes and distracting myself from that, but also some brilliant times spent my best friends and parents, Christmas cake and seeing Newcastle play.

September up…

September started with Patrick and I going to London Mela, a huge south Asian festival in west London. This involved dressing up and eating a lot. September also saw some crazy rain vs crazy sun, spiderwebs, a new passport and some vegetables. This is the month I started my hexagon quilt, which grew rapidly; but probably the real highlight was a weekend in Amsterdam with my best friend – one of the best trips ever, I’m still so happy from it.

October here…

October saw me leaving my job at Reading Room, an agency I’d worked at for 18 months. I left behind some brilliant colleagues and clients, and a social life that will never be beaten. I also spoke at 2 conferences (The Digital Barn, and 12 Devs), which were so much fun. Thank you to the people who listened to blahblahblah on! In between leaving my old job and new job I went home to my parents for a week, which saw a haircut, dancing with my best friend, and cuddles with my mama bear. I also baked Christmas cakes this month, including the little mini cake shaped like a rose. A pretty good month actually.

November saw the suckiest moments of the year, but also a great big whopping highlight – I started my new job at feelunique.com – as witnessed by photos cropping up of freebie products, and dressing up for the COPRA ball (an annual ball for retailers in the cosmetics/perfume industry). I spent more time crafting, took a late-night rickshaw with Patrick (drunk + G.A.Y = makes sense), and went back to my parents for a weekend where we ate a lot of Christmas cake and went to a football match.

All in all, a successful autumn.

Project 365 (part 2)

So yesterday I posted the first quarter of my Project 365 (a photo a day for a year). I humblebragged about how proud I was, and going through the next section of photos has been no different. It’s so interesting to see how far I’ve come, in the space of a year – how much has changed, how much I’ve done, and it’s really lovely to look back on photos of relatively insignificant things and think how fun they were.

The whole process is making me realise how much I value the little details in life, which has made P365 so worthwhile.

So here’s June…

June was the start of the summer heatwave – it saw me eat at some goooood places (Hache burger, Meat Liquor, that fancypants 1920s stylee French place near Piccadilly.. name escapes me..), also this was the month I hung out with the Queen at the trooping the colour, tear a ligament in my foot, and finally spend a lotttt of man-hours making origami hearts. They were made for a summer garden party for my parents in July, and I still love looking at the progress of the hearts – I made 400 of them in less than a weekend. It. Was. Glorious.

July was this…

The heatwave continued, London was a sweaty mass. The month started with a sciencey event where I learned about alcohol (by drinking a fair amount of free booze… all in the name of science!), a trip to Poland for the aforementioned party – look at those hearts in situ! I was in love with them! July was also my birthday (the 17th! represented here with a chocolate ball and raspberry sorbet ball.. heheh balls..), the month my hair kinda exploded with volume, there was free Eton Mess in Soho Square, and I bought kabanos.

August was good…

It started with a little photo-montage of how I made origami stars (which I then didn’t blog..), and my new camera arrived! What a little babe! I had lunch with a dog in a pub; Patrick and I got hammered and barged into Ed’s Diner for the most amazing chips; I worked on my portfolio site. I also flew to Berlin for a long weekend – another garden party, plus boardgames and photobooth fun! Lauren came to visit, we played Guess Who! amongst other sekrit activities. This was also Notting Hill Carnival month, where Patrick and I accidentally joined the parade and shook our booties.

I’m getting all nostalgic looking back at these photos – for about 90-95% of them, I can still remember exactly what I was doing, how I was feeling, why I snapped that photo, what it means to me. My actual memory is pretty shoddy, and I’m a sentimental person, so being able to flick back on photos and remember every feeling (good and bad!) is a novel experience. My next post will be autumn, which holds some sad memories, but also some exciting changes. More tomorrow.

Project 365 (part 1)

Friday (Feb 28th) saw the final day of my first completed Project 365. P365 is a photo a day for a year. Sounds simple, and it’s something I’d actually attempted to do a few times previously, but my god is it difficult.

My previous attacks at doing it always faltered after a couple of weeks, then I’d forget a couple of days and suddenly BAM! its 6 months and I’ve forgotten it. But not this time.

Let me just preface, this is a bit of teeny tiny humblebragging – I am So. Damn. Proud.

So because there are 365 photos to share, I figured I’d do separate posts and split it down – so there are 3 months at a time.

Here are some facts, who doesn’t like facts…

  • There are a fair few selfies. Sorrynotsorry.
  • There’s not a whole load of pattern, consistency, rhyme or reason to the photos taken – basically like me – I very little pattern, consistency, rhyme or reason.. yeah..

These photos chronicle my life for a year, which has had ups and downs, and snaps include…

  • Food. A lot of food. The naughty food crops up more often than the healthy food – let’s be fair, these things photograph nicely. But rest assured I ate plenty of veg in between the junk
  • Booze. It was a summer fuelled by Pimms, I’m surprised it doesn’t feature more
  • Boyfriends, break ups, sad days, good dates, bad dates, and mistakes I’ve made
  • Mundane life – sometimes a photo of a streetlight, at 11.59pm when I haven’t taken a photo of anything else that, seems like a good idea
  • Travel – one of the best things about the past year, starting with the kickstarted my 365, Lisbon, Newcastle, Devon, Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Jersey, Cannes and Manchester(!)
  • Health, weight gain, weight loss, an indulgent summer followed by an autumn of mistakes followed by a winter of hibernating
  • Happy days – seeing my parents, my best friends, feeling safe

Images are clickable and make a nice little slideshow, thanks for that one WP

So hey, here’s March 2013…

March started with a trip to Lisbon, saw some flowers bloom, legs bared (…then the snow came), and Easter, which involved a visit home to my parents and egg painting/dying.

April 2013

April saw more sunshine, the London Marathon, ice cream, more flowers and going to the gym a lot.

May 2013

May was a mellow month with some good cocktails, a trip to Devon, pancakes, cameras and seeing The Book of Mormon.

My next 365 has already started, with a trip to Birmingham yesterday, which deserves its own blog post really.