The Bucket List: Revisited

While I still have a few months until I turn 26 (sorry Keeling!) I thought I would come back to the bucket list and see what I have achieved this last year. Depressing as it seems, the older I get the quicker time seems to pass me by. Of the 13 items on last year’s list, I have only managed two of them: 1. Seeing the New Year in Sydney sydney nye 2015 the royal botanical gardens the point view111 In last year’s post I used a stock image, this one here was taken by me. 2. Dive the Great Barrier Reef IMG_1672 Again, this beauty was taken by me, but for illustration purposes this was actually from diving in Fiji – we weren’t allowed to take pics at the GBR, boo! As incredible as it was to be in Australia as the New Year started, I still felt like I was in limbo. Although I am luckily on the right side of 30, there are still so many things I want to do, sooner rather than later. As you will see in last year’s list there was a lot of focus on travelling, and well basically, being anywhere but here in a small town, in the Midlands, under what feels like a near constant cover of cloud. I have decided to make some decisions, and I think it is time to start living my life. I am not reckless enough to just up and leave, but I am going travelling, and I am spending the next two years planning a trip that could last for just as long, or even longer. What got me thinking was a story I read recently about a nurse who worked in palliative care whose patients basically went home to die. She asked them if they had any regrets or anything they would have done differently with their lives. There was a common theme amongst the answers, and out of the top five, these three stood out to me: 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 3. I wish that I had let myself be happier. I think society has a lot to do with these responses, given that these people would have been teenagers in the 40s and 50s – a time where it was normal for a woman to be a housewife, cook, clean and breed, while the man of the house went out to work. We all know that in 2015, things are not what they were, or are they? At 25, having been with my boyf. for nearly five years (literally don’t know where the time has gone), I am hit with many questions about starting a family, getting married and “settling down”. Erm, no. While I am truly happy for anyone who wants that life, it just isn’t on the cards for us right now. I mean, it scares me that I am at an age where if I were to get pregnant my mom would be HAPPY! My ID may say I’m 25, but secretly I’m still 15. So I will start with point one, having courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expect of me. I’ll say it now, I am not having kids any time soon! I look on Facebook and there are so many people who post a million picture of their kids, or rant about their wedding plans, and I am over here like “I’m watching a DVD in bed with my cats” and I am cool with it. They have their lives, I have mine and I am happy with not procreating or making vows right now. My aim is to be happy, to do what drives me, and not what is expected of me. I want to see the world, meet new people, discover new things – I might even manage to write that book I have been talking about for so long. Believe me, I am not one of these people that is running away travelling to “find” themselves, ‘cos I ain’t lost. Life is for living – and that’s what I intend to do. So here it is, a bucket list that I intend to fulfil: 1. See the Northern Lights – I just don’t think there will be a sight more naturally beautiful than the lights. Unknown 2. Party at Carnival in Rio – Because deep down I am still a party girl. riocarnival460 3. Live in Australia – Having had a taste for the Aussie way, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. 4. Go to Base Camp – Just so I can feel like I am on top of the world. However, not looking forward to the two weeks of camping to get there. 5. See the Statue of Liberty – I have already been to New York, and we managed to do everything else on the list but that, and I always promised I’d go back. 6. Go dancing in a jazz club in Manhattan – Because last time I went I was only 19, and while I was hungover on the flight from a night in the Student Union, once we landed I was officially two years underage – boo! 7. Drive Route 66 in a Mustang – Because I have heard you just should. 8. See lions on safari – I love cats as everybody knows, so to see giant ones in the wild? Yes please! 9. Visit the Great Wall of China – Because I am a tiny little culture buff really. 10. Learn a new language – French has always been at the top of my list, I just wish I’d have paid more attention in school… 11. Visit Antarctica – The frozen continent at the end of the Earth that is only accessible a few months of the year? Man will never permanently occupy this beautiful place. 12. See Pearl Harbour – For the history 13. Write a book – Always wanted to, hopefully travelling the world will give me a story! writing 14. Niagra Falls – For the beauty. 15. The Maldives – I hear if global warming continues the way it is the Maldives will be underwater in my life time. 16. Bali – For the culture. 17. Drive the Great Ocean Road – It is supposed to be quite a journey. 18. See the Vegas Strip – I also need to see Britney (bitch) while I’m there. 19. Party in Buenos Aires – like Serena Van der Woodsen when she ran off in Gossip Girl. Not even ashamed of that reason. 20. See the Taj Mahal – being half Indian I should probably include some of my own heritage somewhere in the mix. I’m not going to lie, this list came out so fast I didn’t even have to think – there are so many other things I want to do that this list is just the start. I love the idea of going some place amazing, and sticking a pin in a map to decide where to go next. Lucky for me I will have my boyfriend and partner-in-crime with me – I wouldn’t do it without him. So while yes, we are purchasing our first house together like society says we should, it is a mere investment to fund us on our journey, and honestly, I can’t wait to see where we end up. Have you travelled the world? Tips would be greatly appreciated! – love Carla x

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Things I’m Loving: Home Decor

I am very excited to announce that I am in the process of buying my first home, but to my dismay my boyfriend really isn’t in to pink. I’m no girly girl, but I do love me some pretty pink floral beauty – think romance and Paris if you will.

Since I am yet to really open his mind to home decor (and cleaning) I can but create a wish list, and slowly (or secretly) bring them home. If I put the telly on surely he won’t notice, right?

So here is what I am lusting after, while slowly pulling my hair out at the thought of living with a boy…

Home Decor

– love Carla x

SJP: Fifty and fabulous

SJP at 50

It probably comes as no surprise that my ultimate inspiration is Sarah Jessica Parker, and on 25 March, my idol turned the big 5-0.

Hard to believe really, and although this incredible woman has had to compete with an alter ego that has somewhat overtaken her, my affinity with SJP does actually go beyond Carrie Bradshaw.

From playing Annie on Broadway, dating Robert Downey Jr (*drool*) and luring children to their deaths in Hocus Pocus, to marrying Ferris Bueller, introducing the world to Cosmopolitans and creating her own shoe collection – SJP is my favourite female.

So, happy 50th birthday Sarah Jessica Parker – here’s to the next 50.

– love Stef x

Recipe: Lemon curd Swiss roll

I adore the annual delight that is The Great British Bake Off so taking part in a monthly version at work was a very easy ‘yes.’

That was until I thought about it and realised that I then had to make the various desserts listed… But hey, I made calzones – surely I can whip up a pudding?!

Turns out I can (to an extent) – here is the recipe for my first bake-off challenge, the Swiss roll:

Swiss Roll

Ingredients:

  • Butter (for greasing)
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 115g caster sugar (plus an additional 4tbsp)
  • 115g plain flour

Method:

1. Grease a 13″ x 9″ tray with buttered baking parchment

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

3. Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water

4. Whisk until pale, creamy and thick – the mixture should leave a trail when the whisk is lifted

5. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for a further 5 minutes

6. Sift the flour and use a large metal spoon to lightly fold in the mixture half at a time

7. Pour the mixture slowly into the tray using a spatula to evenly cover the base

8. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until well-risen, pale golden and firm to touch

9. Place a damp tea towel on a flat work surface and cover with baking parchment

10. Dredge the parchment with the 4tbsp of sugar (dredge means chuck the sugar all over the parchment), turn out the sponge onto the paper and remove the buttered parchment from the sponge

11. Cut the edges of the sponge off from each of the two longer sides

12. Roll the sponge tightly from the short end with the paper inside, before leaving on a wire rack to cool

13. When cold, unroll (but not flatten) and spread the lemon curd filling all over the sponge, leaving a 1cm border

14. Roll up and dust with icing sugar

Et voila! A Swiss roll that’s almost as easy as the pushing down a hill method!

*DISCLAIMER: Yes, I didn’t make the lemon curd, but what do you want from me? Do I look like Mary Berry? Baby baking steps people, baby baking steps…*

– love Stef x

Things I’m Loving #4

Things I'm Loving 4

1. 30 Day Butt Lift Challenge – with a hen do, birthday and wedding coming up, I wanted to at least attempt some form of toning. These various 30-day challenges have been the subject of many a SWHH post, but it’s because they’re amazing. Easily doable, I find that I can always stick to it for the full duration and it actually produces the desired results. (NOTE: You may end up walking like John Wayne by Day 3 but hey, no pain no gain. Yes, that sentence just happened…)

2. Johnson’s Holiday Skin – again, with all of the events that are due to happen, I wanted to make a little bit of effort and make my legs appear to be the same colour as the rest of my body. I’m massively against fake tan as I’m ridiculously lazy, so thanks to this brilliant moisturiser, a gradual skin-coloured tan builds of its own accord.

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman – I received this book for Christmas after I went wild (yes, wild) in WHSmith. I read it in a day and a half as the story completely captivated me. I’ve bought the sequel Where She Went  and I’ve asked for the film for my birthday. It may aimed more at a YA audience, but I like to think I’m on the cusp of that category still…

4. Avon Truly Radiant – again, my body is a variety of different colours so to help in making myself just the one shade, I’ve been turning to this Avon beauty. It’s a tinted moisturiser , but one that actually produces a good colour and coverage, especially as we edge ever closer to sunnier climes. Being an Avon lady has its perks!

5. Momma Keeling – okay, she may not be too happy about being referred to as a ‘thing’ that I’m loving, but the fact that she’s got a mention should be more than suffice. It was of course Mother’s Day on Sunday, so an honourable shout out to the lady that gave me life had to happen. Thanks Mum!

6. Statement necklaces – my fashion sense (or lack there of) leaves a lot to be desired. But, I have found a deep love for statement necklaces (or ‘gypsy gold’ as the boyf. likes to call them). My collection is quite substantial and I’ve found that they can actually make an outfit appear different depending on which one I opt for. They also help in making me pass for a slightly fashionable person, woop!

7. Rose gold shoes – or just rose gold anything. I have an affinity for the pinky-toned metal; watches, earrings and now shoes. The beauts pictured are from Topshop, although the pair I purchased were extremely similar from Sole Trader, and were a bargain at £10 *drool*

– love Stef x

Music Monday #4

A week after International Women’s Day, we celebrated the most important women in our lives – our mommas.

So, to pay tribute to the mothers everywhere (with a special shout out to the amazing Momma Regan and Momma Keeling), here’s your Music Monday the Mother’s Day edition:

Mama: Genesis

Your Mother Should Know: The Beatles

The Best Day: Taylor Swift

Mama’s Song: Carrie Underwood

Mama: Spice Girls

Mother: Blondie

Let It Be: The Beatles

Miss Jackson: OutKast

– love Stef x

25 facts

In just under a month I will be what I describe as, ‘officially old’. Or in other words, 26.

To celebrate commiserate this, I thought I’d jump on the recent blogger bandwagon and share 25 facts about me:

1. I was named after tennis legend Steffi Graf, which has led to me being the awkward person who has to introduce herself as “Stefanie with an ‘f'”

2. Although Momma Keeling’s first knowledge of this spelling was thanks to 1970s page 3 girl, Stefanie Marrian… I don’t take after my initial namesake, but I’m not too shabby at tennis – swings and roundabouts

3. I don’t have a middle name, so to correct the matter, in primary school I gave myself two – Olivia Louisa

4. I rarely cry about anything to do with real life, but films, TV series and anything animal-related (dogs especially) can make me sob in a second

5. Because of 4. both Eight Below and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale made me cry so much that they had to be turned off for more than an hour until I had calmed down

6. My geography is appalling – I was convinced Carlisle was in Scotland purely on the basis that Robert Carlyle was Scottish, Durham was the capital of Newcastle, and may have even asked what county I was in at uni while wearing my Staffordshire University hoody

7. Because of 6. I taught myself all the states of America and am currently attempting to learn all of the counties in England

8. I’m an extremely nervous critter and suffer from mild anxiety, which led me to have a panic attack on a night out in Birmingham because there were too many people in the club

9. My food heaven would be either seafood or steak (or both together) and my absolute food hell is fruit – I will not and do not eat any of it. Ever

10. I once asked a worker in a Tesco in Weymouth where the oatcakes were and only then realised that they were a Stoke delicacy

11. Apparently I say ‘cookie’ in a very amusing, Stokie way

12. I am amazing at doing a scouse accent and have a tendency to go slightly Liverpudlian when angry

25 facts

13. My favourite tipple (apart from champagne) is the ever so classy Blue WKD. I’m now in my mid-twenties but still love it

14. I have only been drunk around five times (if that) and my first ever hangover was last summer. I was convinced I was going to die – how do people constantly do it?!

15. I met Jimmy Carr when I worked as a Christmas temp in HMV and have interviewed McBusted, Simon Webb, Ritchie Neville, Adam Rickett, Gareth Gates and Suzanne Shaw

16. I chose to study Journalism on a whim when filling out my UCAS form. I originally toyed with the idea of being a barrister or in the police

17. I had a gap year before university, but instead of going travelling and/or finding myself, I worked as an administrator for a drain company – Eat Love Pray your heart out

18. The day I left Phones 4u is still up there as one of the saddest, most shocking days of my life, but I believe everything happens for a reason and life goes on

19. My icon is Carrie Bradshaw – writing a column in a New York apartment surrounding by lots of shoes is the dream. But with a Miranda personality instead. And Berger

20. Although my other icons are Joey Potter and Ally McBeal – deep aren’t I…

21. My biggest fears are clowns and sharks. Or any situation involving both. I have been known to scream and run away from clowns, and I don’t go in the sea or get into empty swimming pools in case the hotel has a pet shark (you never know)

22. I am exceptionally foul-mouthed. Swearing is a very large part of my vocabulary, despite it not becoming of a lady – f*@k it

23. I’ve very particular about the order of things – everything has to be either categorised into rainbow, alphabetical or chronological orders. I think it’s an only child thing… or a psychopath thing

24. My temper is extremely short – I have been known to stomp my feet in a rather fraught argument with a lecturer, use a fork as a weapon, and bounce a ballpoint pen off somebody’s head. I am, however, much calmer nowadays. Ish

25. I am happiest when I’m in my pyjamas , watching horror films on Netflix with the boyf. and the dog, and pigging out on sweeties. In other words, I’m a simple things in life kinda gal tramp

And there you have it, 25 facts about me. Now, does that count as enough to stop me from turning 26?

– love Stef x