Rae Morris

Less than a year ago we were lucky enough to see Rae Morris support Tom Odell at The Birmingham Institute. She stole the evening for us with her amazing rasping voice, soaring tunes, beauty (such hair) and unassuming manner. Imagine my excitement  to discover that the haunting female vocal on Bombay Bicycle Club's new single Luna is indeed the amazing voice of singer songwriter Rae Morris. This track is from the band's upcoming fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow (release date February 3rd). Rae will be supporting the band on most of their tour dates including Birmingham's O2 Academy (unfortunately for us sold out - any spare tickets welcome). 

Rae's latest track can be downloaded for free here And if you haven't heard Luna then here's a chance to listen to the most excellent combination of Bombay Bicycle Club and Rae Morris. Enjoy and look out for the release of Rae's debut album later this year.



Minimalist Monday: Colourful Minimalism

Who says a minimalist home can't be colourful and comfortable? This house is a styling masterpiece. A new build devoid of period features yet oozing character through its bright pops of colour, select retro furniture pieces and playful displays of collections that have meaning for the owners. The white backdrop, lack of clutter and sleek kitchen shout minimalism yet there is a warmth and an ambience that suggest cosy homeliness. Piles of cushions, carpet and a rainbow of colour in a minimalist home? Yes it's possible. And...  that curvaceous ampersand? There are ampersands and then there are ampersands. I love this couple's confident style. Go and have a look at more loveliness over at Design Sponge here



On a January Weekend


♥ made these yummy jammy heart biscuits
♥ took my eldest back to uni - after a bacon sandwich of course 
♥ dodged the downpours and discovered hellebores and this beautiful family of swans
♥ salvaged a favourite painting from the loft (gradually being decluttered) and hung it in the hall - the greys seem to echo this weekend's weather
♥ put the fairy lights on in the kitchen at breakfast time for some January cheer

 I do hope the blustery weekend didn't dampen your spirits too much. 

Thank you for reading, commenting and following this week. 

Be happy xo



Three Simple Wardrobe Additions

Hello! A belated post... a post that I was meaning to write for Minimalist Monday but it got squeezed out of my day when student son decided to come home Monday evening for a few days, post exams and pre start-of-term-proper.

Ah well!

This week, feeling locked in midwinter, I decided to lift my spirits by spending my Boden Christmas vouchers (thank you parents-in-law) on something new for spring/summer 2014 (just writing that warms my cockles). After being distracted by autumn/winter sale items - a scandi style jumper did lure me for longer than I care to admit - I consulted my filling the gaps in my wardrobe list determined to nail some basics.

Luckily Boden did have some plain lightweight v neck t shirts including grey, black and white which were in stock and arrived less than two days later. 

At £16 per garment (after discount) they aren't the cheapest cotton t shirts available but they look good quality and are a comfortable fit. I'm confident they'll give me good price per wear. 

Writing a wardrobe gaps list has been a useful lesson in discipline and budgeting. How many times have you bought something in the past (often in the sales or on impulse) only to regret it soon after? A wardrobe gaps list can help steer new wardrobe purchases in a more mindful direction. 

Why not write one?

In 2014 I'm liking the security of my list. 

My wardrobe gaps list

plain v neck jersey tops in black, white and grey
t shirts in black, white and grey
cotton camisoles in black, white and grey
black socks
underwear in black and white 
new black flats (patent?)
black/grey ankle boots
a dress for autumn/winter (smart day wear)



A Chilled One

Today has been lovely. A chilled day. A day where we did just as much as we wanted and as little as we wanted too. Most weekends there are commitments and yesterday was busy with volunteering at our local beer festival, domestic tasks, seeing family, church and so on but today has been a free day for us. And I've loved every moment of it. Tea and toast with real butter for breakfast. Roast pork for dinner with homemade apple sauce, a dollop of which was added to the gravy - yum. Watching our youngest tuck into extra roasties and bread and gravy when we were completely stuffed. Finding a new place to go for a walk. Squealing as I squelched along a very muddy canal path before hitting the woods in search of a dry path. The sun sinking behind the trees. Beautiful blue sky, birds flitting and tweeting but too flighty to be caught on camera. The stillness of the water disturbed only by the chugging of a barge. Woodsmoke lingering on our clothes.

Feeling free of commitments, new horizons beckoning and signs of spring appearing (I may be getting carried away now). Arriving home to put the kettle on. Looking forward to the evening and week ahead. 

Nothing special - just a simple, chilled and happy day. 

Hope you have had a chance to chill too.

Be happy this week xo 



Winter Warming Cabbage and Bacon Soup

Here is my simplified recipe for savoy cabbage and bacon soup. This soup came about from an urge to abandon our menu plan one teenager-free-teatime in favour of a warming substantial soup (our boys don't quite get the joys of soup). I knew I had half a savoy cabbage loitering about (currently an Aldi's super 6 veg) but did I have any other ingredients that could magic a soup? Checking online I discovered savoy cabbage and bacon soup recipes aplenty but requiring streaky bacon, celery and leeks  - none of which I had. However, I did have ordinary back bacon (everyday value), a few carrot sticks, onions, potatoes plus some forgotten ham stock in the freezer left over from Christmas. 

Some cabbage and bacon soup recipes call for blending the ingredients before adding the cabbage to produce a thin soup - I made mine quicker and  easier by sautéing the cabbage with the other veg at the onset and keeping the consistency chunky. I experimented with cloves and bay leaves which I think added some depth. I also put the outer darker green leaves aside to fry with a few strips of bacon and garlic for an easy but cheffy garnish, but this is entirely optional.

So here's my winter warming soup using the classic combination of cabbage and bacon - simple, tasty and very satisfying. As long as you have onions, cabbage, ordinary bacon and some stock (chicken or veg) this recipe will work. Extra veg (leeks, carrots, potatoes) are optional. Potatoes bulk this soup out and adding more potatoes and stock would stretch this soup even further. After all frugality reigns in January!  

You will need

approx half a savoy cabbage shredded quite finely
1 onion chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped or crushed
I carrot chopped
2 medium potatoes diced into small cubes
2 slices back bacon chopped
1 or 2 bay leaves
3-4 cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre vegetable stock or ham stock (or use a combination of both as I did)


Gently fry the chopped veg (but not the potatoes) in the olive oil until softened. Add the bacon pieces and fry lightly. Add the stock together with the potatoes, cloves and bay leaves. Simmer for  10 -15 minutes until the potatoes are softened. Towards the end of the cooking time, in a separate pan, quickly fry the dark green cabbage with slices of bacon and a tiny amount of bacon until crisp. Ladle the chunky soup into a bowl adding a sprinkle of the dark green cabbage and bacon strips for garnish. 



Minimalist Monday: My Word for 2014

2013 was a monumental year for me as it ended with me leaving my permanent job of twenty-plus years with the determination to seek a more balanced life. Choosing focus as my word/theme for 2013 helped me to realise that my job had become overwhelming and was never going to give me the work life balance that I so desperately crave.

This year I find myself starting the year with increased energy, greater resolve to carve out a life built upon my dreams and values and increased levels of self-acceptance. 2014 has started positively for me but I know it's going to be challenging along the way as I work out my new direction.

After much dilly-dallying I have chosen the word purpose for 2014. I hope it will guide me in the direction of a simpler and more meaningful life.

Purpose is defined as:
1. the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. 
2. a person's sense of resolve or determination 
3. one's intention or objective 

In 2014 I am hoping to

- find purpose in new work that I take on
- have more time to offer for voluntary work that I believe has purpose
- downsize my possessions and wardrobe further considering the purpose of all that I own - what do I really need?
- give more of myself to relationships and realise the purpose of my interactions with others
- use my time purposefully so that I can 'be' as well as 'do'
- live purposefully on less and reduce unnecessary spending

Over to you

Can a simpler less materialistic life be purposeful and happy? 

Care to share your word/theme for 2014 ? How's it going so far?



At the Weekend


♥ enjoyed a meet up with fellow arts association volunteers on Friday evening with in-house entertainment
♥ awoke to blue skies on Saturday and a crisp frost on Sunday
♥ walked  through Shugborough estate on the edge of Cannock Chase taking in the canal, stately home, grounds, farm animals and the longest packhorse bridge in England
♥ ate delicious Indian cuisine at my book club Christmas (belated) meal although the restaurant was rather rowdy 
♥ failed to disprove the theory that Christmas leftovers - cheeses, red cabbage, chocolates, Christmas cake and mince pies from the freezer - are decadently moreish
♥ bought thank you cards and stamps but didn't galvanise the boys into action
♥ did just enough ironing to see us through next week
♥ abandoned all thoughts of a run 
♥ are looking forward to the wonderful acting and intrigue in tonight's episode of Sherlock

Not bad for the second weekend in January. Hope you all had a good weekend too xo 



January Nights

Fortunately here in the UK the weather warnings have now eased, although flooding is still a problem in some areas, and temperatures remain mild unlike the Arctic-like conditions of America and Canada. However, it is still very much winter and very dark - very, very dark. 

This first full week of January it's been all about trying to get outside each day for a walk to catch some daylight and exercise, even if it's raining, and then embracing the slump into twilight with candles, soft lighting and pjs. 

Early bedtime is very tempting as is the desire to get lost in a good book. I've been drawn to reading Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier - must be all this stormy weather (it's going to serialised soon by the BBC if you're interested).

How do you cope with shorter daylight hours? Do you find hibernation your natural state at this time of year?