Home Sweet Home

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Today marks a very major milestone for me: the Clever Boyfriend and I just bought our very first house!

Well, ‘house‘ is probably a polite exaggeration. Really, it is a teeny tiny apartment (which by Cambridge standards probably equates to a sprawling estate in other, less spatially-challenged cities), but it is right in the city, on the top floor, filled with light, minutes from the station (so I can be in central London within the hour), and even has a little balcony (roughly the size of a postage stamp) for planting herbs and having morning papers and brunch outside on weekends.

But, most importantly, it is all ours!

As a compulsive over-sharer, it has taken all my restraint to keep this quiet until now. But conscious of how drawn-out and boring these things can be, and for fear of things falling through at the last minute, I didn’t want to share the news until we’d signed that big stack of paperwork (so.much.paperwork).

We complete and collect the keys next week, and then have less than a week to move, set up, and gather an entire house worth of furniture, fittings and accessories before we leave our current place (all while holding down our day jobs). The timeline and ‘to do’ list gives a mild control freak like me palpitations (eg. I don’t even know where to start with setting up a wardrobe system to fit the space…), but I am so excited to get stuck in and to turn that blank, empty canvas into a cosy little space that feels like our very own home.

I hope you won’t all mind me adding a new interiors section to the blog (to share the stages as I go, as well as new treasures I discover and love), but please do let me know if you have any comments, questions, suggestions for wonderful places to buy treasures for the home, or first-house-buying wisdom of your own!

Love, Miss B xx

 

The 30 Best Things I Did Before 30

A Girl, A Style _ Best Things Before 30

Today is my birthday, which means I get to eat cake for breakfast, drink pink champagne and get spoiled by people I love. In the year since I reached my 30s, in thinking about what I hope to achieve this decade, I’ve been reflecting on the best things I’ve done so far (and the lessons I’ve learned). Here are my favourites:

Fell in love. No explanation required, but without a doubt one of my favourite things yet.

Travelled the world. I’ve seen the sun set over the pyramids of Giza, climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, seen the cherry blossoms in Japan, slept under the stars in the red dessert in Australia, visited temples in Thailand, explored the souks in Marrakech, swum with rainbow-coloured fish in the Great Barrier Reef, and walked through a snowy Red Square at nightfall. I am so grateful for the adventures I’ve had seeing this incredible world of ours, and can’t wait to keep exploring.

Graduated from University. 3 degrees, 8 years, and countless essays later, I am thankful for the knowledge, experiences and life lessons I came away with.

Worked overseas. Half way through University, I went to Washington to intern with a Senator on Capitol Hill. It remains one of the best experiences I had, and was the catalyst for my career in my politics.

Moved abroad. Leaving behind people I love and moving my whole life to the other side of the world (with nothing but 2 suitcases and my boyfriend by my side) was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the best. I see the world from a new perspective, made wonderful new friends, and had opportunities and adventures I never would have otherwise.

Learned to accept and value myself. Like anyone, I am certainly flawed and wish I could change some things about myself, but I’ve learned to make peace with my flaws, appreciate my differences and make the most of my strengths.

Built a circle of friends and loved ones I treasure. I am so lucky to count some incredible people all around the world as my friends and family, and try to make sure they know how much I adore them.

Stretched my talents. I’m still horrible at karaoke and team sports, but I’m grateful I learned to tap dance, took ballet classes, performed Shakespeare and trained in classical piano.

Earned my career. By no means do I have it all figured out, but I’m proud I worked hard to build a career I value.

Ran for Parliament. Even if you know you’re going to come in second place, it’s pretty wonderful to be a part of the democratic process and see your name on a ballot paper.

… And drafted a law. I’ve done many things that I’m proud of, but negotiating a piece of crime legislation through Parliament is up there.

Volunteered. I’ve learned that helping a worthy cause is one of the most valuable uses of my time, and helping others always helps me get perspective on what really matters.

Invested. I don’t yet have a mortgage or own a house, but I’m pleased that I have savings, investments and no debt.

… And learned how to spend my money. When I first moved out of home and started earning money, my approach to shopping was more about quantity than quality. But as I now know the reverse to be true, I know when to save my money and when it’s ok to spend a month’s rent on a bag (hint: only if it’s something you’ll keep for a decade).

Achieved goals. Whether major life goal or small achievement, it’s an incredible feeling when you reach what you set out to achieve.

… And learned it’s OK if life doesn’t work out as planned. When I was 20, I mapped out my next ten years in silly detail, but life sometimes has a way of taking you in a completely different direction. And that’s definitely OK.

Learned to say ‘yes’. Because sometimes the best adventures happen when you’re willing to depart from your comfort zone and accept the opportunity.

… And also ‘no’. I will always have an urge to please people, but it’s important to know when to politely decline that which does not bring joy.

Started this blog. Unquestionably one of my favourite pursuits yet. I’m eternally grateful for the people I’ve met, the adventures I’ve had and the opportunities which have presented themselves as a result of this blog.

Appreciate small pleasures. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned not to place all my emphasis on those big life events, and instead to also make time for those small pleasures (buying myself flowers, skipping lunch to have afternoon tea with friends, a spontaneous kiss or a trip to the theatre) which make every day a little more wonderful.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned or experienced? Please do share your wisdom below.

Love, Miss B xx

 

Summertime Pursuits

Here in England, we have been blessed with the longest, warmest summer I can recall since I moved here. The sun has been shining solidly for a month, the days are long and hot and the balmy evenings are made for languid, outdoor lazing in parks or by the water. Many of my happiest memories have been made in golden summer moments, so I plan to make the most of every sunny day for the season. Here are a few of the ways I’ll be spending the summertime:

1. Take a trip to the seaside. Growing up in Australia, most mornings started with a swim in the sea or a weekend at the beach, so to me, it just wouldn’t be summertime without a few seaside adventures. If you don’t live near the coast (as I don’t in Cambridge), then make a road trip out of it and take a weekend trip to the seaside for sunshine, sand and ice cream.

2. Throw a garden party or picnic. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden of your own, then gather all your friends and throw a summer garden party. Otherwise, pack a basket of snacks, a bottle of champagne and some fun activities and head to the park for a fabulous picnic. Bonus points for a round of croquet or bocce on the lawn.

3. Master a signature summer cocktail. You don’t have to be an expert mixologist, but everyone should be able to serve up at least one signature cocktail. Master a drink or two that you love (mine is a rosewater and lychee or pear and elderflower martini) and have your friends around for a summer cocktail party.

4. Wear bright lipstick. Summer is the perfect time to have a little fun with your makeup. Move on from Spring’s pastels and try bright colours you wouldn’t normally wear. I’ve been playing with bright pink lips or cobalt mascara paired with dewy sunkissed skin, messy buns and my favourite summery perfumes.

5. Go on a boating adventure. When the sun is shining, there is nowhere more pleasurable to be than on the water. If you don’t count someone who has a yacht among your friends (and if you do, lucky you!), then hire a rowboat or a punt, take surfing lessons or go wild swimming in a lake for an adventure on the water. If all else fails, then don your favourite swimsuit and your biggest shades and spend the whole day at the best pool you can find. I’ll be punting in Cambridge, rowing on Regent Park lake or having a pool party in Cambridge.

6. Have fun outdoors. I figure that when the temperatures are soaring, exercise might as well be fun. Learn to salsa dance, play tennis, take up surfing or go for a hike. I’ll be taking my Pashley out for long bike rides around Cambridge.

7. Watch jazz or theatre in the park. In summer, I’ll take any excuse to be outside on balmy evenings, so I include my cultural outings in this. Most cities have a wonderful programme of outdoor cinema, jazz, theatre, performances or festivals in green spaces. I’ll be going to the rooftop cinema at The Varsity by the river in Cambridge, jazz on the lawns at countryside estates with my family and watching Shakespeare in the gardens.

8. Pick your own strawberries. To me, one of the best things about summer is the abundance of delicious fresh fruit and produce (I’ve been practically living on a diet of cherries and nectarines the past few weeks). Head to a pick-your-own farm and fill a basket with sun-ripened berries or cherries and eat them just as they are or turn them into homemade jams and tarts.

9. Go to the zoo. Spend a day doing the things you used to love doing as a child. Go to the zoo, the aquarium or the funfair. Buy an ice cream, go on the rides and smile at the animal enclosures. I’ll be going to the Friday night lates at the London Zoo for monitors and monkeys.

10. Eat lobster + champagne. Head to the coast or marketplace near you for the freshest summer seafood, then throw a simple yet luxe lobster and champagne dinner party. Perfect!

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be having a picnic in the garden…!

What are some of your favourite activities to do at this time of year? I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer so far!

Love, Miss B xx

 

Springtime Pursuits

Here in England, it feels as though spring is only just bursting forth from the drabness of the last days of winter. Yet in truth, there is less than a month until summer begins, and I’m determined to squeeze in all my favourite spring activities before the new season begins. This is my favourite time of year; all fragrant blossom-lined streets, long days and golden sunsets, spring cleaning and fresh new beginnings. Here are a few of my favourite spring pursuits (or how I will be spending the next few weeks before embracing the glory of summertime):

1. Be a flower girl. More than anything, I love springtime for the beauty of nature’s grand explosion of flora. The first fragrant narcissus and jonquils, pretty puffs of cherry pink blossoms on the trees, carpets of sweet bluebells on woodland walks, streets lined with heady lilac trees, and the English gardens coming alive with the sweetest-smelling blooms of every colour. I’m going for sunset walk to see all the prettiest flowers in the neighbourhood, picking handfuls of wild daisies, buying myself (or someone I love) a bunch of the most blousy pink peonies I can find just because, fill my house with flowers and stop to smell the roses, always.

2. Love where I live. I can’t think of a single place that isn’t improved by the beauty of late spring, and there are few better times of year to fall into a deep love affair with your city. I’m vowing to explore new neighbourhoods where I live, try a new place for brunch, try to find the best coffee (or eggs florentine, martinis, ice cream, live jazz…) in town, take long walks past all the prettiest places, take photos of my favourite sights in all their spring glory and play tourist for a weekend (and when in doubt, pretending I’m playing out the opening scenes of a Woody Allen film).

3. Freshen my look. In my book, it’s entirely acceptable to float through spring in a wardrobe of white dresses, tanned skin and pastel hues. I’m packing away the coats and cashmere for the season, swapping my burgundy lipstick and dark manicures for a dewy glow and pink cheeks, adding a pop of colour and pretending I’m the girl in a Coppola perfume commercial.

4. Spring cleaning. Whether you approach the act of spring cleaning with satisfaction or disdain, there is no denying the pleasure of a freshly-spruced home that sparkles from top to bottom. I’m throwing open the windows, putting on my favourite tunes and spending a day cleaning, scrubbing, dusting and polishing everything in sight. I’m sorting through my wardrobe, bathroom cabinets, and cupboards and culling anything that isn’t loved. There’s is something so liberating about getting rid of anything that makes you feel drab.

5. Primp my place. After all that sprucing and de-cluttering, I’m taking the time to add a few things that make me smile; a beautiful new lamp, some crisp new linen, a few new Diptyque candles, some statement pieces and finally hanging some pictures on the wall.

6. Go outside. When the weather is this perfect, it feels a terrible shame to waste a moment of it indoors (especially in England, when you never know when the blue skies might suddenly turn drab). I’m meeting friends for al fresco picnics in the park for dinner with a side of sunshine, going for bike rides down country lanes, heading to rooftop bars in town for after-work cocktails with a view, and taking a rowboat out on the lake (you’ll find me rowing on the Serpentine).

7. Spread a little sparkle. Everyone seems to be a little bit friendlier when the sun is shining. Amplify the happy feelings of spring by trying to do one good deed everyday for no reason other than to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Smile at strangers you pass on the street (because happiness is infectious), send a ‘just because’ package to a friend that you know will make them smile, volunteer for a good cause, pay a compliment to someone, and practise random acts of kindness often.

8. Try something new. What is something you’ve always wanted to try, but have never quite got around to doing? Why not revisit your ‘bucket list’ or New Year resolutions to master one skill or another and tick at least one thing off. Enrol in a language class, try a completely new cuisine, ride in a hot air balloon, learn to dance the meringue, go to a polo match, learn to bake macarons.

9. Watch the clouds float by. Luxurious lazing, or taking time to dream, is highly underrated. On a glorious spring day, I just want to lay under a canopy of trees on a sunny day and soak in the loveliness of spring. Because sometimes the best plans are no plans at all.

10. Have an adventure. Where do you want to go this weekend? Gather up your friends and take a fabulously weekend trip somewhere. Plan a scenic route, compile a playlist, pack some snacks, put down the sunroof and just drive off into the sunset (bonus points for ‘glamping’ under the stars at your destination). The only rules: a sense of fun and adventure! I’m heading to Brighton for fun fair rides, striped deckchairs and ice cream beside the seaside.

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be punting on the River Cam

What are your favourite things to do at this time of year? I’d love to hear!

Love, Miss B xx