Soundtrack :. Spectrum by Florence + the Machine

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I have had one album and one album only on repeat the last few days… It seemed only fitting that returning to my motherland should be accompanied by a British soundtrack by one of my favourite artists (I’ve already extolled my love for her here).

The new album, Ceremonials, is just as fantastic as the first one. Am torn between a few different songs for my favourite – up there are Spectrum, Never Let Me Go and this one, Only If For a Night. For people in the US the album is now only $5 on Amazon (click the link above). Naturally I paid $11.99 for it and saw it had more than halved in price two days later!

It’s Been A While!

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So after my two-week sabbatical (sorry about that one!) I am finally back in business. The last two weeks have been pretty hectic as I decided to leave my beloved SF to move back to Europe (better job scene, family and friends in the same time zone and 3 hours away tops as opposed to 12!). I spent a lot of time doing all the usual boring moving stuff but am now ensconced back at home, spending lots of time snuggling with my puppies and enjoying catching up with people!

Posting should become more frequent again and now I have a lovely big kitchen to cook in (as opposed to my teensy studio one!) keep an eye out for some more recipes soon.

In the meantime I saw this amazing hair tutorial on YouTube – how gorgeous are these curls?! The girl doing the video is a singer who performs some amazing covers that are also worth checking out. I am inspired to grow my hair super long after seeing this!

Holiday Excitement :. Halloween

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The US definitely goes in for all of the holidays way more than the UK – I kind of like this although I can also see why some people complain about the commercialization of this time of year. It basically goes from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas (then to Valentine’s Day) without a let up in the shop displays. I personally think it’s pretty fun to see all the windows in Union Square done up though 🙂

My friend came over for dinner the other night and brought me this Halloween cookie – pretty awesome right? Other celebrations for the occasion include a vampire-themed party I’m attending next weekend, where apparently dressing as any character from Twilight will result in refusal of entry, although True Blood homages are encouraged 🙂

Life Lately

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Has consisted of being a full-time job hunter, which basically involves me hanging out in a variety of different cafés in my neighbourhood, applying to jobs like a demon. Then I get mega-bored of staring at my computer ALL DAY so around 5pm when I’m about to turn into a basket case, I head out running… Which has been a high point of most days thanks to San Francisco’s Indian summer. The other night my run scenery looked like this – not bad hey?

That’s the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and it’s not obscured by fog which is pretty exciting. I took the picture on my iPhone at the top of a hill I was made to run up by my male running buddy. He wanted to stop for a walking break when I was happy to keep running, then when we reach the foot of the hill he decides he’s ready to start sprinting. I might have used some bad words at that point 🙂

Bag Crush :. Morning After Clutch

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I have a serious case of bag lust at the moment, for the Morning After Clutch by Rebecca Minkoff…

Why? It’s a pretty great size as you can get a ton of stuff in it during the day but it’s not too big to take out at night. I think an iPad might even just fit. And you can either wear the chain strap long, across the body, or double up the ends to wear it over your shoulder, or remove it entirely. Genius. Now I just need to find a job to make this happen 😉

Achy Times :. Essentials!

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One of the downsides of doing sports/athletic activities in general are the associated aches and pains that often go alongside. As I write this I have a stunted big toenail thanks to someone stepping on it playing netball and it breaking, it’s very attractive. However I have a little arsenal of helpful products that I rely on for alleviating the ouch!

Ice Pack – If I’ve been running or playing netball (and I can be bothered!) I usually ice my knees afterwards. I had a nasty run-in with shin splints years ago and I have found icing to be really helpful in managing these.

Icy Hot – This is my latest addition to the collection and I can’t believe I waited so long to get some! We don’t have this in the UK (I think), we have something similar called Deep Heat instead… After Bikram my hamstrings were killing me all week and this really helped!

Neosporin – Useful for when you wipe out, which seems to happen to me relatively frequently, unfortunately!

Arnica Cream – I bruise really badly and if I put this on just when I’ve bumped something, it stops the bruise coming out for the most part. Genius!

Wish I was less accident prone so I didn’t need these things but they’re pretty dang helpful 🙂

F21 Is The Jam :. New Necklace

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As if my love for the cheap and cheerful Forever 21 accessories wasn’t already evident, a friend of mine bought me a gorgeous necklace from there last week…

I love this necklace as it combines two of my favourite things – gold costume jewellery and pearls! Since I got my Michael Kors watch I’ve been wearing more gold items (although I did revert to my ‘proper’ watch for a couple of days last week and went with silver!), and this is perfect for jazzing up an otherwise plain outfit. It’s nice and long but still very delicate… Love my friend’s pick 🙂

More Birdy :. People Help the People

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So I know I’m slightly obsessed right now but here’s another Birdy video. This song hasn’t been released yet which is vexing me as I’d like to buy it! It’s a cover of a Cherry Ghost song which I also liked but this is so much prettier and the video is really sweet. I love the lyrics, and I think it suits her voice much better than the male singer that did the original.

In other news my friend made me an amazing dinner last night which included S’mores Cookies. So delicious! She also sent me home with a goody bag of them, which brought a big smile to my face! And I *might* have had one before breakfast this morning… I’m trying to make her put the recipe on her blog, when she caves I’ll put the link on here 🙂

These Boots are Made for Walking :. Frye

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San Francisco has shared some delightfully crappy weather with us of late, including an absolute monsoon yesterday which started after I’d left the house. Naturally. And was wearing completely inappropriate clothing for said monsoon. When I’ve planned ahead for inclement weather lately I’ve been wearing these boots loads… I only really have one pair of sensible shoes with me here that aren’t sports shoes of some description and these are they!

I bought these boots years ago during a holiday in the US (back in the good old days when £1 was worth $2) and they were a great buy. They’ve been worn to death and are still holding up pretty well. The closest thing I could find to them now is the Jane Strappy style…

I also love their Dorado style – more of a classic riding boot look.

Anyone else with a passion for Frye boots?

Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot :. Bikram Yoga

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So I tried my first ever Bikram class yesterday – after taking a brave pill! I like trying new activities but I find running in hot weather to be generally pretty miserable (as shown by me whinging around 5 miles with my friend on Friday, oops) and was a bit daunted by the prospect of 90 minutes in extreme (for me) heat.

A friend had given me a free pass for a month at the Funky Door studio – my nearest is the one on Polk Street. I’m so glad she did, my instructor Ryan was amazing and super welcoming. I’d read Bikram horror stories of newbies being shouted at for drinking water when they’re not supposed to and so on, but Ryan said I could drink whenever I wanted, sit out a pose if I was feeling a bit light-headed and told me that it was totally normal to feel a bit weird during your first few classes while you adjust.

It’s a set sequence of moves, all of which are repeated twice. I liked that everything was repeated twice as you can figure things out a bit as you go along, and I tried every move (sitting a couple of the repeats out). I felt pretty good through the class, just missed a couple of repeat poses about a third of the way through when I was feeling the heat a bit. After a little sit-down I was ready to go again, and one of the nice things about this class was that quite a few people sat out the odd pose. It didn’t feel like there was any pressure to do everything perfectly.

Things I found helpful for surviving my first class:

  • Get there nice and early. The studio says to do this and it was good to acclimatize to the heat a bit before launching into the moves.
  • Wear something small and wicking! I wore Lululemon running shorts (my favourite Speed Shorts), a sports bra and a thin tank top (which I ended up taking off halfway through). Lots of the girls were just in sports bras and hot pants. One middle-aged, tattooed guy was in Speedos. Fortunately I wasn’t behind him 😉
  • Don’t eat too soon before – consensus seems to be at least 2 hours. I’d had a big breakfast then snacked later in the morning so I felt good by my 3pm class. And drink lots of water before too!
  • My studio gave me an Emergen-C sachet as part of their welcome package; I’d also shoved a box of Nuun tablets in my gym bag before class. I drank the Emergen-C during class breaks and had a Nuun tab afterwards.
  • Don’t expect to be amazing 🙂
I had a great time and will be heading back soon. Having run lots lately, my hamstrings and quads were feeling the burn so I think it’ll be good for me to do some enforced stretching!
*Pics from the Funky Door site.