Book review: Reader, I Married Me!

What would you do if you took your dog for a walk and he unceremoniously shit out another woman’s g-string? I personally would’ve throttled my boyfriend with it and had a quarter-life meltdown, but then probably would’ve picked myself right back up and cracked on with my life, probably lunging into another relationship within weeks because I have always been a ‘boyfriend person’. Obviously, I’m happily married now so it has worked well for me, but my first thought when it came to reviewing Sophie Tanner’s fabulous book ‘Reader, I Married Me’, was that I never really was single after getting my first boyfriend in high school. Chloe Usher, the main character in the fantastically feminist plot, didn’t do the obvious. Instead, she married herself on Brighton beach in a kitsch ceremony full of self-worth and happiness – sounds pretty out there, no?

Reader, I Married Me!
In her semi-biographical debut novel, Sophie Tanner writes about the story of a young woman called Chloe who has had enough of men, had enough of the seemingly perfect couples who think anything other than the ‘normal’ family set up is obviously not what a woman wants and she had certainly had enough of people telling her what she could and couldn’t do.  I found ‘Reader, I Married Me’ a funny and charming way to put the microscope over the way we live our lives, obsessed with finding the perfect partner and almost always losing a piece of ourselves in that process. The book makes you want to celebrate YOU in all of your glory but not only that, it reminds you of the importance of friendship as a form of love and that it is one we should value just as much as romantic love. Continue reading

Reclaiming Interiors

The end of a job, a wedding, and an imminent move – it’s safe to say that I’ve had quite a lot happening in the past few weeks and there aren’t any signs of it slowing down. It’s likely that I will have relocated from Norfolk to Scotland by the end of the year (if you don’t follow me on Instagram you may not know this, but we are moving North for my husband’s job). I’m one of those people who really embrace change, and I’m really excited to begin this new chapter in our lives. And that is what this is, a brand new chapter as husband and wife, out in the world by ourselves making a completely new life just for the two of us. Preparation for this new life for me is not only practical things such as bills, finding a new job and anything else a big move entails but sorting out my possessions too, and thinking to myself ‘what do I want the new Hollie to own’? I don’t know the reason why but I really feel like shaking life up and using this as a chance to be the person I really want to be – a new and improved version of Just Hollie if you like. I’ve always known how I want my life to look but now I really have had a kick up the bum to not settle for less.

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Wedding series, 4: THE WEDDING!

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Credit to a wedding guest – our photographer is doing her thing in the background!

Hi, hello, bonjour. Just me, Hollie, a married woman here. Yes, you read that right – I GOT FUCKING MARRIEDDDDDD!!!!!!
To say I’m still not over it is an understatement, newlywed highs are 100% a thing. I thought I better round off my wedding series by letting you all know how the day went and I also really wanted to give a shout out to my amazing local suppliers – so if you live in Norfolk/Suffolk and are getting married I hope you find this helpful (list and links at bottom of post).

I’ll begin with a little play by play of the day, because we were the luckiest couple ever and everything went perfectly. This includes the weather as the very next day it absolutely TIPPED it down – I’m sure you saw the reports of flooding last Sunday and probably had a back garden like a pond yourself. Could you imagine if that was the weather on your wedding day, someone was definitely looking down on me for sure!
I got ready at my home with my mum and my best friend who was also my bridesmaid – I had one adult and two gorgeous nieces walk down the aisle with me, the little ones met me at the church as my sister in law is an absolute legend and got them ready for me. The morning was chilled and calm, with me surprisingly a lot less nervous than I had anticipated being, I think when it came to the day I was actually just really excited to get going and see Daniel at the church. They won’t thank me for saying it but I think my mum and bridesmaid had more nerves than me – I found myself trying to assure them that it was going to be a fabulous day and nothing to worry about! I feel honoured that so many people close to me cared enough to have such strong emotions about our day, something I will never forget. Continue reading

Bee Natural Wax Melts, Suffolk

I had absolutely no idea what a wax melt was until the start of this year, but then I started following Mrs Hinch on Instagram; Like many others, I instantly went out and bought a burner, I was hooked. I bought a couple of Yankee Candle melts to begin with and I also purchased some of the infamous Ava May Aromas melts, both lovely but I really am trying to buy local where possible, and knew there were a few small companies in the area making gorgeous wax melts. Like some sort of internet magic, one night whilst scrolling through the ‘gram, I came across Bee Natural Wax Melts. Bee Natural instantly drew me in, they made a product I wanted, were local (Lowestoft) and their branding is absolutely a bit of me!

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Unruly Print – ‘Learn to Lino’ workshop

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Last Friday night I was sat on the A14, stuck in traffic whilst rainclouds loomed above, but what awaited me was worth it; I was on my way to attend a ‘Learn to Lino’ lino printing workshop hosted by the talented Andy aka Unruly Print. This isn’t a usual Friday night activity for me, I haven’t done anything arty since I was allowed to drop the subject in year 9 at school, and even then what I produced was reminiscent of someone giving it a go with their eyes closed, so I was slightly apprehensive that I would be no good at lino printing. I needn’t have worried, as Andy was a brilliant teacher and actually the beauty of lino printing, I found anyway, was that the imperfections translated onto print as interesting detail and I don’t think you could really get it too far wrong.

The workshop began with Andy telling us a little about lino printing and the different tools and materials which can be used, and gave us a tour around our workstations so we could work safely and choose the type of lino we liked best to work with. It was so interesting just having a little play around with the different types of lino and the different tools you could carve your design with, the variations of designs you could make were vast! I decided to use tracing paper and trace my blog logo – forever trying to get my name out there 😉 It was fairly difficult for me to get my head around the whole concept of whether to write my words normally or back to front, because obviously you’re going to use the lino to then print your design in reverse, but luckily for me Andy is an expert and was on hand to help! Continue reading

New friends in old places

Anyone reading this over the age of around 23/24 will almost definitely agree with me that it is hard to make new friends. You’ve long since left school/college/uni where you’ve either kept in touch with the friends you’ve had or you don’t (personally I have 2 people who have been my best friends since year 9 at school and everyone else are really more acquaintances). I work in an office where again, I have 2 people who I spend time with outside of work but everyone else, although lovely, live their own lives as soon as 5.15 comes around.
Don’t get me wrong I love everyone in my life, my existing friends and family, but sometimes you just think to yourself ‘is this it?’ As you grow through your twenties and early thirties I feel that you change a lot as a person and maybe the people you’ve always known aren’t quite enough anymore. People move on, move away or simply don’t share the same lifestyle as you (children, jobs etc.) so when that happens, what do you do?

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If it was a partner you were after, you could simply get yourself on Tinder, go on a few dates and eventually you’re probably going to bag yourself a new boy/girlfriend. But there is no Tinder for friends, so how do you meet people? I think if you’ve got children its slightly easier as you’ve got other mums/dads at school, at play dates and your children make friends bringing you naturally together. But I’m 26 with no children and I’m really quite shy – without putting an ad in the yellow pages I was stuck for ideas.  Continue reading

A rainy bank holiday in Lavenham

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Happy Easter everyone!
I cannot believe it is the 2nd of April today, where on earth has the time between New Year and Easter gone? I hope you’re all filling your faces with chocolate, I’m currently face down in a vegan chocolate cake (you can see a pic on the ole ‘gram) – it’s the first vegan baking I’ve done and it turned out really well so expect to see more of that going forwards! Also I have to share with you lovely lot, I’m currently listening to The Weekend’s new EP ‘My Dear Melancholy’ and it’s absolutely wonderful, I’m obsessed with his music.

Anyway before I veer any further off topic, Lavenham. I don’t know if you know, but I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I have been since that first book was released and I can’t step foot in Primark without leaving looking like I’ve been to some sort of convention. This was my initial reason for wanting to visit the small Suffolk town of Lavenham on Saturday. I don’t know about you but I like my Easter bank holiday weekend to be filled with walks, exploring and relaxation – often myself and Daniel will take ourselves off to a random town/city we haven’t been to before and go exploring. I had seen an article on Lavenham a few months ago and the topic was the Harry Potter film set.
The scenes in Godric’s Hollow, Harry Potter’s birthplace and house where he gained the infamous scar, were filmed in Lavenham! If you’re a fan you will know what I’m talking about, apologies if you don’t. Naturally anywhere which is anything remotely to do with Harry Potter draws me in, but it also was the pastel coloured medieval houses which I wanted to visit to see – hopefully you can tell from the pictures throughout this post why! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best for our visit so I will be making a beeline back there in the summer as the colours will look even more amazing in the sun. Continue reading

The best dairy free mac ‘n’ cheese

Gooey, comforting, delicious, sexy (?!) – All words to describe the joy that is mac and cheese. When I decided to stop eating meat and dairy, I started researching alternatives to the usual comfort food I enjoyed as I wasn’t prepared to live a life based purely on insta-gorgeous salad and lentil concoctions. Don’t get me wrong I am healthier, eat a wider variety of foods and am loving that veggie life – but sometimes you don’t want a saintly dinner and you want stodge. Essentially, that’s what you’re getting with this recipe – filling, creamy goodness – but it’s still better for you than the real cheesy deal so no guilt here!

Below you will find my favourite recipe for dairy free macaroni cheese, but this is by no means the only recipe out there. You will find variations made with cashews, butternut squash, different herbs and flavourings and made with different types of milk/dairy alternatives.

If you are vegan or thinking about trying it out, I would definitely say that I have found any of my old favourite meals can be made into a plant based recipe. There are SO many great alternatives ingredients out there, give some of them a go and play about – you’ll be amazed at what you can make without dairy or meat but still get a similar flavour.

SO, here is my recipe, apologies I haven’t taken more Nigella-esque pictures, but I’m certainly not a glam chef so best keep the paps on the food.

Ingredients:
Plain flour
Dairy free butter/spread (I use the Flora one pictured below)
Marmite
Non dairy milk (I use Oatly Organic)
Mustard powder (LONG LIVE COLMAN’S OF NORWICH!)
Macaroni pasta
Salt and pepper
Chives and breadcrumbs if you’re feeling fancy
Nutritional yeast
Nutmeg
Peas

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Wedding series, 2: The planning begins…

Happy Sunday! I hope you’re all enjoying this cold but gloriously sunny day, how rubbish is it that it’s meant to become virtually arctic next week – I am SO ready for spring to rear it’s beautiful head already.

Anyway, this isn’t the BBC Weather website, I’m back with the second instalment of my wedding series.  I hoped you enjoyed reading about my engagement – now is where it starts to get serious and the seemingly enormous task of planning the damn thing begins!

It is so hard to know where to begin when planning a wedding, there are a million and one things to take into consideration and knowing which order to do them in isn’t obvious. With the logistics of it all, the colour scheme, the budget, the timeline – it can all get a bit much and you do have to be super organised. My best friend Lauren has just bought me one of those cute wedding planner books and I feel it will super seed her in the best friend stakes and not leave my side! I’ve left a few links to ones which I like below (all Insta worthy of course!) Continue reading

A love letter to Amsterdam

Amsterdam I love youuuu, oh yes I doooo.

This week I was lucky enough to have my day job fly myself and around one hundred colleagues out to the Integrated Systems Event at the RAI, Amsterdam. (I work in the professional AV industry). Whilst this doesn’t immediately sound riveting, it did allow me to pop my Amsterdam cherry so to speak and I reallyyy liked it there.

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If you’ve ever been to the ‘dam I’m sure you will agree with me that it’s easy to fall in love with; Tall beautiful buildings, canals with picturesque bridges around every corner and leggy sophisticated women on bikes gliding effortlessly on every road. The tulips, the boutiques, the coffee shops (and I mean the legit coffee shops where you drink actual coffee, I’m not into the green stuff!), the glowing red streets at night and more food than you can shake a stick at.  Continue reading