When In Rome

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (hi guys!) you’ll know I recently took a 5 day trip to Rome.

It was the first time I’d been to Italy and I was really excited to see what it was all about. I struggle with travel anxiety and especially in places where I don’t speak the language, but G Man had already been and had been fine so I was pretty chilled about this trip.

I’m used to long haul flights so the 2.5 hr flight seemed like a breeze. I was able to listen to the second and third Childish Gambino albums in full from take off to landing perfectly!

We grabbed a shuttle bus with a very friendly driver to our hotel and checked. The River Palace hotel is situated just off the Piazza del Popolo so was in a great location for walking to all the places we wanted to visit.

We arrived pretty late in the day so headed straight out to grab some dinner. We found a lovely little place and sat inside because it was a tad chilly. I had a great bowl of spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce. I wasn’t majorly hungry and the serving was a perfect size. I hadn’t expected this, but it seems in Italy you eat a starter, 1st course of pasta, 2nd course which is your main course and then desert. I couldn’t work out how everyone wasn’t the size of a house!

Back at the hotel we slept badly and we had decided the room as way too small (you couldn’t actually fit into the shower and my knees butted against the sink when I sat on the loo) so we upgrade and moved our belongings into our new room. The second room was much better, we even got an extra pillow each!

I was very impressed with the breakfast in this hotel, which comes as part of your room. There were pastries, pancakes, fruit, cereal, meats and cheeses, bread and hot food (scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon) and coffee with juices. All of this was buffet style so you could have however much you wanted, and the dining rooms were never too busy.

Over our stay we visited the Pantheon, The Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and of course the Piazza del Popolo, amongst other things we passed by. We also ate in some amazing places, one of which was recommended to me on twitter, Di Qua.

We actually ate here twice and I really liked the modern feel of the restaurant mixed with the traditional cuisine.

The other thing I hadn’t expected from the food was that the only things you can eat are pasta and pizza – like every restaurant had the same menu. So it then boiled down to quality, price and ambience. I think we chose pretty wisely!

We also wanted to hunt out a good gelato place, and after searching on Pinterest I saw Giolitti recommended a couple of times. When we arrived we joined a line of people to pay – you pay for the size of gelato you want, and pick up a ticket. You then take your ticket to the gelato counter, where it’s every man for himself (think Brooklyn meat deli) – I noticed whilst we were waiting that they had milk-free options and when we requested these our server was awesome. We specified that we wanted milk free and chose our flavours, and he immediately put down the cone in his hand and said we wanted a cup (I assume the cone had risk of dairy) and then went out the back for a brand new paddle which he scooped my gelato with. I really appreciated how he took my intolerance seriously without being told – much better than here in the UK. We then went outside to eat! I chose Melon and Wild Cherry flavours and they were both out of this world. As we ate the line outside for ice cream snaked out of the door. I think we chose a perfect time to go in!

Another thing I noticed whilst we were there was that people ask for their gelato in a cone, use a spoon to eat it with and then throw the cone away…. Very confusing.

We did a huge amount of walking on this trip – we hit 23k in one dayย alone. I’m so glad I took my Sketchers and Tevas. I also sunburned by face quite badly on one of the days…. I’m such a sunshine novice!

I took loads of photos on this trip, so here’s a selection of some of my favourites!

It was an awesome trip and although I was tired by the end, I’m very glad I visited. I’d like to see other parts of Italy now, as I now don’t have the anxiety of the language barrier. If you can recommend other parts of Italy, then please go ahead in the comments. Where should I go next?

November Favourites

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It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year, which means everything gets sparkly, festive and full of yummy foods.

But before then, we need to round-up November, which has been cold and rainy for the most part and some people have even had snow.

My favourites this month have mostly been of the non-beauty variety. I haven’t really tried anything new other than one or two bits, but I’ve still been enjoying things from last month (including my amazing Charlotte Tilbury lipstick!) But I’ve definitely got some great things to show you nonetheless.

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Firstly let’s talk about some books I’ve been loving this month.

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A Year Between Friends (the sequel to A Year Of Mornings) is a fabulous book full of photographs, craft projects, recipes and letters between the two authors. Mav and Steph are two friends who met via Flickr and live 3191 miles apart in their respective Portlands. The original book, simply photographs, is one of my all time favourite security blanket books. Their photography never fails to inspire me, and this second book didn’t disappoint.

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Second on my book pile this month is Through a Glass Darkly by Jostein Gaarder. I may have mentioned this book in past blogs, because I read it at Christmas-time every year. It’s about a young girl who is critically ill and her conversations with an angel. It’s a wonderfully philosophical book, beautifully written and though it’s not the most joyful of books it’s still fantastically Christmassy. I missed reading it last year as I just didn’t give myself enough time to get through it, but it’s short and sweet and always makes me feel.

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I’ve been finding some real gems in TK Maxx this month, and had to mention this American Starbucks Peppermint Hot Cocoa I picked up. It’s dairy free which works well for me, and tastes lovely mixed with soy milk. I love how the cap of this can is like a paint can/golden syrup can and you have to open it with the flat of a spoon. They have lots of other flavours but some of those contained milk so I went with this one. It’s not too rich, and give you a yummy dry chocolate flavour with side notes of candy cane. Yummy!

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TK Maxx also have a good range of Nip+Fab products depending on when you shop, and I picked up this Viper Venom frown fix. I actually bought it for the deep lines that are forming on my under eyes. I do have very sensitive under eyes, but thought I’d give this a crack. I use it twice a week, or so, after cleansing but before moisturiser. It sometimes stings a little, which is why I don’t use it more than a few times a week, but I do notice the lines have plumped out enough to make a difference. I don’t know if I’ll buy it again but it was under a tenner so I’m glad I gave it a go!

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To banish the winter chills I’ve been enjoying wearing my double-sided blanket scarf that I bought last year from River Island. It’s thin enough that you can wrap it as a scarf and it’s not overly bulky, but thick enough that you can wear it as an actual blanket and it’s so cosy! Plus it’s tartan and dog-tooth and I love both of those prints!

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As a massive Gilmore Girls fan I was ecstatic to find out they were filming 4 feature-length additions to the series, and last week they appeared on Netflix. I’ve seen all 4 episodes now and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Such an emotional roller-coaster. I really hope they make more!!

Lastly, but most definitely not least is this bad-boy:

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G-Man surprised me with a Liberty advent calendar, which he had pre-ordered for click and collect on release day! He’s an amazing husband – I didn’t even know Liberty did click and collect!

I have no idea what’s inside and am avoiding all spoilers because it’s my understanding that the contents has been widely reported – so I’m hoping I don’t accidentally find out.

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Inside the magnetic folding doors are 25 beautiful Liberty printed drawers, that remind me of William Morris print. I cannot wait for December 1st when I can begin opening the drawers and I have a feeling I won’t want to get rid of the calendar when it’s all opened. Maybe I can reuse it next year!

December promises to bring festive fun and cheer. Lots of friends and family and obviously Christmas. I have a few festive YouTube videos up my sleeve too! December is also bringing the arrival of my new MacBook (hopefully!) at which point I will be editing my long promised Disney World footage  – so keep an eye out for that!

I hope you’ve all had a fabulous November! Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog if you’ve liked this post, and want to be notified each time I publish. You can also follow me on twitter @Shutterbug_Blog and on YouTube at Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug’s YouTube channel!

This Week I Have Been Mostly

this week i have been mostlyLast weekend I had the pleasure of taking family photos for my good friend Caroline, with her husband Chris and their baby Leo. It was a lovely afternoon and the weather held off for us, meaning we were able to utilise their lovely garden and the natural light of the sun, which had decided to grace us with its presence.

13We got some lovely photos, and having sent them over, Caz and Chris seem to like them too! So I’m very pleased ๐Ÿ™‚

On Wednesday I headed over to Amy’s house for a Bridesmaid dress trying on session. Sarah’s getting married next year and the dress samples had arrived to we piled into Amy’s house, ate fajitas and tried the dresses on. It was good fun to try the different styles on and get our first bridesmaid fix!

Yesterday I turned 32 and we had a nice relaxed day. We headed to Bicester Village for a browse and I got some amazing presents from friends and family. I have some awesome new things to take to Ibiza in 3 weeks and one of my friends even gave me some Euro to take. I’m a very lucky girl!

I also let myself go a little, diet-wise, so this week I’m going to begin training again. Now that my injured hip seems to have recovered, and my tattoo has mostly healed I have no excuses!

Shutterbug Wears Lexie

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I’ve spoken about Lexie in the past when I told you all about the time I visited their pop up shop at Boxpark. Well, during that visit I spotted a lovely long sleeve sweat top in one of the promo photos. I was told by Lexie’s founder Lily, that it would be available soon and to keep an eye out.

At that time I bought one of their t-shirts and I have to say it’s absolutely one of my favourite work out tops. Not only is it comfortable and soft, it looks great on. It accentuates all the curves you’d want it to, and I love the sexy black mesh panel at the back. I love to wear my neon orange sports bra with it because the contrast works really well.

Lily contacted me a while back and let me know production hadn’t begun on the long sleeved top I wanted but she offered to let me get my eager little hands on the sample I’d seen in the promo shot on my original visit.

I jumped at the chance and soon it had arrived. The top is mostly a similar black mesh to the tee I bought but a little thicker, so a little more robust. There is a waffle t-shirt panel across the front with Lexie’s great triangle logo embroidered and then another panel of the same fabric down the inside of the arm.

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Now that the weather is getting a little autumnal this is going to be my perfect work out top. It’s ideal with just a sports bra underneath when I’m doing a weights session, and it’s great layered on top of a sports vest when going between classes at the gym. I’m in love!

A huge thank you has to go to Lily at Lexie for giving this huge Lexie fan the opportunity to get her mitts on something she’d been lusting over for a while! I feel special when I wear it knowing that, for the time being at least, I’m the only one that owns this amazing bit of workout kit.

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If you hadn’t heard of Lexie before, I recommend you head over to their website and check out their current collection. They’ve been featured in loads of articles over the last few months, and Kimberley Wyatt even wore their wonderful leggings in a recent shoot.

Aren’t they amazing? I can’t wait to see their next collection!

This Week I Have Been Mostly…

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  • Massively enjoying the sun. It’s wonderful that the warm weather and sunshine has stayed with us this long. I must say I’m hoping that it continues this way. I’m getting rather a nice tan too for the first time EVER!

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  • Missing my parents. They’re away in Canada and come back on Tuesday. It’s going to be good to have them back. It sounds like they’re having an amazing time!
  • Watching Veronica Mars. Having only ever watched 3 episodes, randomly and out of sync when they used to air it around 11am on E4 I knew it would be something I would enjoy. I’d never expected it to be so adult though. It’s wonderful, I love the characters, the story lines and the music. I’m now on season 3 (the last season) and I don’t know why they’ve changed the opening credits music, but I’m starting to feel a bit sad because I know it’s going to be over soon. I’ve been watching it on my laptop with headphones in while Gary has been watching the World Cup and apparently I’ve been gasping with surprise a lot. It’s that kinda show, folks. I can’t wait to see what happens – no spoilers now please!

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  • Prepping my hair for some changes. I bought a highlighting kit recently and it’s going to hopefully bring back my old gingery slices, so I’ve died my hair in preparation for testing it and working out how long I want to leave the goo on it for the right shade. Exciting! It should hopefully end up much like it is in this photo:

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  • Planning the week ahead since I’m now on holiday until the 2nd of July. I have some really fun things planned and I can’t wait to get on it!

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Overnight Oats

I’m a little late to the party when it comes to overnight oats. I am aware that I seem to jump on the food bandwagon quite some time after everyone else. I hear kale is all the rage so I’ll probably start meddling with that in the autumn….

I decided it would be cool to try overnight oats after spotting a bag of Quaker rolled oats for 99p in my local Asda. For that price if I hated the result it wasn’t a huge loss. I’d seen a load of recipes on Pinterest and knew I had the ingredients to give it a go.

The first one I tried was oats, coconut milk, maple syrup and I topped it with blueberries the next day. It was immense. I made everything in about 3 mins the day before and the next morning I had a loose, cold, porridge like substance that was delicious and fresh and just what I needed.

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Since that day I have tried loads of different alternative mixes, using a basic 2/3 cup of oats, 2/3 cup of milk/coconut milk and 1 tbsp of something flavourful. So that might be maple syrup, nutella (delicious!) or pumpkin. I have also chucked in some chia seeds when I’ve fancied it for a little texture and additional protein. I tried my oats with greek yogurt and honey once, but I’m not sure I got the quantities right and it was a little thick. I’ve used different toppings too; blueberries, bananas and strawberries (these on the nutella oats were amazing!) I want to try some pecans on top soon.

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I also tried my basic mix with some lovely Drink Me Chai spiced chai latte powder and vanilla chai powder. I varied the amounts to get the right level of flavour for me, but they were a mellow and really tasty addition.

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The one I’ve made the most has been pumpkin spice, since I had a whole can of pumpkin to use once I’d opened it. This mixture consisted of the normal amounts of oats, coconut milk, maple syrup, a tbsp of pumpkin puree (or however much you want and how thick you want it to end up), half tbsp of chia seeds and 1/8 tsp of pumpkin spice (dependent on how strong you like it.)

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It tastes amazing. The oats take on the spice flavour and the pumpkin adds flavour and thickness. I can imagine adding pumpkin to hot porridge would be amazing too. I love porridge but as the weather turns for the better I prefer a cold breakfast. I’ve started making these oats just before bed and mixing it in a Sistema Breakfast To Go box, then just grabbing it out of the fridge in the morning to take to work and eat there.

 

I take out the part that sits on top because the level of the oats is too high to keep it in, but if I put less in I would be able to add the topping I want the night before and it would be kept separate and then just toss it on top before I eat it. It also has an in-built spoon! Perfect.

I’ve been a bit of an overnight oats bore to my friends and twitter followers of late so it was only a matter of time before I wrote a post about it. I really recommend it as a quick, easy, healthy and so versatile breakfast. It fills me up and I could never get bored with it since there are so many possible variations. I really want to try it with jam next!

Have you tried overnight oats? What are your favourite variations?

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Good Friday Fun Day

On Good Friday I woke up stupidly early because that’s what my body clock now does! I forced myself to stay in bed and had a late breakfast. Then I got ready to head out because I was going to lunch with two of my favourite girls!

After a cuppa and a chin wag at Jen’s we made our way out to Buddies Diner. Jen’s training for a bikini comp and so is following a strict diet. This would be a carb day and so she was looking forward to digging in, as were we all!

Having arrived we perused the mammoth sized menu, trying to decide what to eat. It was very tricky!

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We decided to share a ‘mountain of nachos’ to start.

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It was seriously good. I’m not a starter and pudding kinda person so I filled up rather fast on these. But they were amazing!

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Then the mains arrived and we’d all gone for burgers. This photo shows us all taking pictures of our food for instagram….. yes, we’re THOSE people!

It was amazing to spend time with these lovely ladies – chill and eat and gossip. It’s always a pleasure.

After our burgers we were stuffed but Jen still found room for a milkshake!

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By this time we were all feeling rather full and sleepy, so we headed to a local lake for a walk and a sit down. It was a tad breezy and a bit chilly so we didn’t stay for long but it was lovely to get some fresh air after all that lovely grub.

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We headed to my house after this for a cup of tea and a brownie that Sarah had made. She hadn’t seen my new house yet so it was lovely to have them both over. It was a perfect bank holiday outing with two of my besties!

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A New Home

Along with the lovely Spring-like weather has come an abundance of light, something which was severely lacking in my last house. I promised I would add some photos of the house a while back, so as I have some natural light coming through I thought now would be a good time. There’s still a huge amount to do to the house before I want to take full room shots, but I’ve taken some pictures of some of the pretty elements as they are.

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The previous owners left some things in the house when they moved and we’ve kept some of them. Apart from things like mirrors and a lovely large deep freeze they also left a couple of really pretty Tiffany-esque lamp shades. They are so pretty we kept them!

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Yes, I know there’s a hair on the one above. I don’t know how it got there…. It’s above the stairs and very high up so the dust can stay ๐Ÿ™‚

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We’ve got a couple of these radiator covers around the house. This one is fixed in which is a little annoying because the heat struggles a little to get out but it’s really pretty so we don’t mind so much.

Then we get to the bathroom. We have the pleasure of being the brand new owners of a 1970’s avocado bathroom suite. We do have big plans for the bathroom, especially as the toilet is currently in a separate room and we want to knock it through, but until the point in which we can make these plans a reality, we have to make do with what we have. I decided a long long time ago, before we had even seen this house, that I wanted a nautical themed bathroom. So when I saw a little avocado striped beach hut in a gift shop it gave me inspiration for our bathroom. The side panel on the bath was already panelled with vertical strips running down it, so it was a no brainer. I bought a tester of some paint and gave it a crack.

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It’s not an amazingly neat job but it works for now. Makes my bathroom feel a little more like mine until I can do something else – like rip the whole lot out!

It’s going to be a big job to get all the rooms how we want but it’s going to be fun doing it and when we’re done we’ll have an amazing home!

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Mini Catch Up

So I’ve completed a week and a half of my new job and have ridden to work on my bike 3 times so far. Both are enjoyable though I’m enjoying the job more than the biking. I just get quite tired legs and I’m worried how it’s effecting my running.

The job is really good though. I’m learning a lot and feel this week that I’m getting the hang of stuff I learned last week and putting them into practice. I can see a plan for my job going forward and feel like I can really take control of the areas that I need to. It’s all good!

I’m loving working with my bezzy friend again and the other people in the office are really nice and I get on with them well. I’m even bonding with the office dog ๐Ÿ˜€

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My latest runs have been disasters. I have been so tired and my brain hasn’t been into it, and I’m starting to get a little concerned about my 10k which is looming. But Gary’s really supporting me and has devised a plan for me to follow. And he’s going to follow it with me as far as I can tell! I couldn’t do this without his support.

Last night we went to Willen Lake Peace Pagoda for a Hiroshima Day memorial. It was very calming and interesting and at the end lit lanterns were floated onto the lake. It was really nice to watch.

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The coming weekend is packed full with stuff to do and get done so I’m sure I’ll have a fun-filled blog for you at some point on Sunday!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

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This Week and TMI

I shall prepare you now, that parts of this post are going to be a bit grim. I’ll refrain from posting pictures but I had an injury that wasn’t pretty. You have been warned!

So this weekend was the first of two whole weekends I’m working and also my penultimate weekend working in retail. The weather meant that it was a heap quieter than normal but still busy as my shop had a sale on. Early on in the day I dropped a metal bar onto my left big toe and it made an amazing bruise immediately. Sunday was agony but it didn’t throb so much and Monday was less painful – I could almost walk on it. But I had to cancel two planned runs because I could barely put my foot down let alone put a trainer on. On Monday I went to the pharmacy and bought various different toe covers, convinced I would be able to run in a few days. Tuesday was my day off and I managed to stick on a pair of old loose trainers and mow the lawn. Thinking my toe was fine I was willing to just wait it out and prepared for the possibility of my nail coming off. Ick! After my stint in the garden I came inside and realised that the pressure in my toe was still increasing.

I was starting to worry hard by this point and decided I needed to do something about it. So I called my Mum and she was able to re-arrange her day and take me to the local NHS walk-in centre. I was seen really quickly. The nurse told me my toe wasn’t broken but that she would need to bore a hole into the nail and let the blood out. It took 45 minutes – she said she couldn’t believe the amount of blood that came out. The release of pressure was amazing and my toe became toe-shaped again! The procedure was totally painless which was great because I’m a total wimp! Thank heavens for the NHS! – and for Mum for taking me!

Home again and I could stand and walk on my toe – which was very bandaged up! That evening Mum took me to her Rock Choir class as they’d been told they could bring guests for their end of term session. I’d seen them sing once before and heard Mum practicing but didn’t have any idea of what it would be like to take part. I had a blast! We learned a new song and then sang some old ones, which I just had to pick up as they went along. It took me back to my school and Gospel choir days when I was younger. I’m so glad my Mum has a ‘club’ like this to take part in.

Back to work yesterday and I was able to walk properly on my toe (bandaged up a little of course) and today it’s still weepy but I’m hoping to run on it tonight.

Incidently, Gary has done 7 runs since he started training and last night he ran a full 5k without stopping – and felt great! I’m so proud of him! I wonder whether he’ll decide to sign up for the 5k Fun Run I’m doing in a week and a half. I think he should ๐Ÿ™‚

I worked until 10pm last night doing a new season launch – my Visual Merchandising is ropy at best so I’m expecting changes to be made when the store manager comes back but it was planned and executed well and hopefully the decisions I made were okay….. I’ll find out next week!

I had an email this week from RedBubble letting me know that they have featured one of my photographs in their latest blog. Take a look! There’s some amazing art featured in there alongside my photograph.

Today I have another day off because I’m working the whole weekend again. Plans for today are rest and relaxation followed by a house viewing and then hopefully a successful run! Wish me luck!

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