A Year in Review…

I can’t believe 2012 is coming to an end. Wow what an amazing year it’s been. I feel like I need to talk about everything that’s happened to me this year, it’s been a year of wonderful friends, fabulous holidays, glorious weddings, many laughs and achievements, along with sad moments too.

Run Laura Run…

This year I properly started to run, no more occasional quick jogs that turn in to walks, this year I set myself the challenge of a 5k run and dedicated an hour each Saturday and Sunday to follow the Couch to 5k app. And it worked, surprisingly well and, dare I say it, I enjoyed it. I like getting out in the fresh air and clearing my head and forgetting everything else. For that small amount of time I feel truly calm and relaxed, odd I know as I’m usually boiling and my legs and lungs are burning, not to mention that my legs feel the pain for a least 48 hours after the actual event! Also through running I’ve been able to explore my city so much more. London is so diverse. Even in the small area around me I can run through the parks of Clapham, along the roads of Stockwell and Brixton or enjoy the views of both the Southbank and The Embankment alongside the River Thames, perfect. Another plus side is that it has helped me lose weight, but more about that later. I completed my planned 5k, a Race for Life on Clapham Common in July (the below pic, shows myself and my sister Fi pre-run), and since then I’ve been trying to increase to 10k. In all honesty I’ve got a bit stuck, so part of 2013’s plan is to get the 10k done asap and move on to further distances. I’ve even signed up for updates for the Royal Parks half marathon as I plan to run that, I’ve realised that I run better when I have something to work towards.

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Race for Life 2012

Birth(days), death and Australia
In April it was my birthday, and also the month of my three week trip to Australia. I have lots of family over there you see as my Mum’s brother, sister and parents emigrated there in the 70’s. So now there is a whole legion of relations along the east coast. My cousin was getting married so it was the perfect opportunity to hop on a plane and see everyone. Unfortunately I didn’t get there in time to see everyone. You see my beloved Grampy died one week before we arrived, in fact it was the day before my birthday – crappy birthday for me, you could say. He had been battling cancer for a few years, so it wasn’t a shock but there was something so cruel about being so close to seeing him, but not getting the chance. I also missed the funeral by three days, some stupid rule in Australian morgues apparently so part of him being gone still doesn’t seem real. Anyway it was a slightly more subdued arrival than I would have liked, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was lovely to spend time with my Nanna, Aunt’s, Uncles and cousins. I was able to meet cousin’s children for the first time and visit great places. My Mum, sister and I even spend a couple of days in the Hunter Valley which was so relaxing. I visited friends in Sydney and also headed up to Bundaberg to see all my northern cousins. They are so lovely and the wedding was a gorgeous day, so relaxed and family orientated and in a stunning garden setting.
Here’s me being eaten by a parrot…

Making friends with a parrot

Rule Britannia
How brilliant was the Queen’s Jubilee? Living in London meant that I was surrounded by all thing British from May onwards and I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. There was such a feeling of Britishness around, there was tons of bunting everywhere and it was okay to make cakes and drink tea. I loved all the paraphernalia that the shops had in and I especially loved the extra bank holiday. I enjoyed the celebrations at my parents house with a barbecue and I even watched some of the river pageant. My family and I of course got our bake on and made some jubilee biscuits…

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Jubilee biscuits

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Jubilee Bunting biscuits

Olympic and Paralympic London
Most of my summer was taken up by the Olympics and Paralympics. I certainly understand how lucky I am to have these two great sporting events in my home city and therefore I made sure to make the most of these. I watched countless hours of sport on the TV – I love sport so it was hardly a hardship! But I loved how having the Games in London got literally everyone talking about and watching them. From young and old, it seemed that everyone in London knew exactly what was going on in each event and we would all join in the excitement of any medals that Team GB would win. I love that as Britons we have such a funny way of dealing with competitive sport. We don’t expect people to win so when they do we get so excited, and for most of us any type of medal is enough! I love it. I was lucky enough to get to a few events, some won through the ballot and others booked only weeks before the event. I watched the men’s road cycling event for free as it went (almost) past my parents house. I was fantastic to see everyone lining the roads with flags and the cyclists were so fast, they whizzed past super fast.

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The Men’s Cycle road race in Ripley

My sisters and I went to see a morning’s field hockey on the first day, the arena in the park was amazing and the view was fantastic, we could see the rest of the Olympic park and the Canary Wharf behind it.

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Early morning hockey at the Riverside Arena

Then there was a night of Olympic volleyball at the superb venue at Horse Guard’s Parade. Followed by the first night of athletics with the whole family at the Olympic Stadium.

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Sunset over The London Eye from the Volleyball stadium at Horse Guard’s Parade

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An empty Olympic Stadium

I also managed to get tickets to the Wheelchair basketball, which was absolutely brutal and a fantastic way to round off the weeks of sport. Once everything was over life was suddenly quite boring!

Weddings

Unusually for me I’ve been to three weddings this year. First a garden wedding in Australia. Then a friend of mine got married in Kent, queue an action packed hen weekend, followed by a lovely church ceremony and a gorgeous house & garden reception venue. Think fairy lights, vintage teacups and sculptured gardens. And of course the photo booth – fabulous! The final wedding of the year was a Christmas wedding, taking place on the Saturday before Christmas. The church was decorated with Christmas trees and the reception, in a gorgeous old school featured mulled wine, roaring fires and a hog roast leading to a very relaxed affair, which is just what you need so close to the mania of Christmas. I can’t help but finding it surprising that all three weddings were so different from each other but then I suppose that’s the point of weddings, each couple put their own stamp on their day.

Things to be proud of – 
My brilliantly brainy younger sister got into Sheffield University and I could not have been more pleased. She’s work so hard that to see her getting there is brilliant. Plus it means I have an excuse to head up to visit her all the time. I’ve only been to Sheffield once so far, but it was brilliant. Plus you’ve got the gorgeous Peak District nearby, perfect for long lazy walks.

The Peak District

The Peak District

Holidays
As well as my trip to Australia I’ve managed to get out to Portugal twice this year. The perks of having parents with an apartment share means I can enjoy a relatively cheap jaunt to sunnier climates. UTTER BLISS!

Becoming a better me

Through a combination of running, walking, less snacking and smaller portions I have managed to lose just under 3 stone (or at least I had until Christmas happened, I don’t dare go near a scales at the moment!). And honestly, it hasn’t been as hard as I expected. In February I had this idea that I wanted to try and eat more sensibly and maybe drop a bit of weight. Or at least not put any more on, but I don’t think I ever believed that I would make such a huge change in less than a year. Saying I feel like a differnet person is a cliche, but I kind of do. But now that I’ve done what I have, I’m determined to finish the job. In fact for 2013 I have three fitness goals (not resolutions, I hate that word); I want to lose a bit more weight, I want to tone up a bit and I want to run a half-marathon. Easy right?!

And in between all of that there’s been Karaoke sessions, baking, trips around the country with friends, lovely food and wine, country walks, fun at work, trips to the theatre, broken toes, hen weekends and hen nights, countless barbecues, numerous Starbucks cups and lazy evenings in front of the fire. I seriously hope that 2013 is just as good.

Lau xx

p.s. Have a Happy New Year everyone

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Sales window shopping…

I have to admit that this time of year sales shopping is my weakness, okay so really shopping is my weakness. But each year I tend to make the mistake of ‘checking out’ the sales which invariably leads to me buying lots of things that I don’t actually need. So this year I’m approaching things a bit differently, my cunning plan is to avoid the shops altogether. I figure that if I don’t go shopping then I wont find anything to buy and therefore I can’t spend too much money. Great idea right? You’d think so wouldn’t you. But in actual fact it’s not, you see I managed to find lots of things online that I really really want to buy, I’m trying to be good and ignore these tempting delights – so far, do good. Here’s hoping it stays this way.
So what have I found? Here are a few of the things I’ve found…

This Pieces laptop case from ASOS. It’s down to just £4, talk about Bargaineous!

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Then there’s this gorgeous dress from Oasis, it’s down to £52 now but I still can’t justify buying it as I don’t have anything that I need a dress like this for. Although thinking about it, there is the sales conference at work in March down in Brighton. This could totally work…

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Something else from Oasis that I’m currently coveting is this gorgeous heritage flare skirt. It would be perfect for work and would be great paired with my new brown boots. Its even got tweed in, how fabulously British!

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This bag has been in my ‘save for later’ bag on ASOS for ages, it’s a Mischa Barton number and I love everything about it; the colour, the shape, the size. Want it, want it, want it! But £55 for a bag…I feel guilty spending that on a bag that I don’t need…

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There’s also a huge number of books that I’m itching to download to my kindle. For someone who absolutely loves reading, it’s remarkably surprising that I didn’t get one book for Christmas. Unfortunately that means I have a list a mile long that I NEED to buy. Top of said list is JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy and James Patterson’s two latest titles.

Honestly I have a feeling that some (i.e. all) of these items will not be on this list for that much longer. Watch this space…

Lau xxx

Christmas Time

So the Evans family Christmas is almost over for another year as tomorrow (Friday) I am leaving the family home and heading back to London town to return to my normal life – sad times, I honestly wish the festivities could last a lot longer! Luckily I’m not back at work until the 2nd Jan, so I’ve got a few days to get everything packed away and sorted for 2013!
I just thought I’d share a few pics of my Christmas celebrations with you. It’s an early My Week in a Pictures if you like.
Here’s my Christmas wrapping, the paper is from good old M&S then I added some bakers twine and attached some jingling bells to finish them off.

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Here’s our five stockings (pillow cases) on Christmas morning filled by santa and the colouring book is just one of the present that Santa gave me, he knows we so well!

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Here’s the turkey during cooking, isn’t it huge? We hardly made a dent the fist day. But that’s okay as we’ve been feasting on cold meat and/or christmas soup for the last two days. Completely marvellous if you ask me.

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And here’s the Christmas cake – I don’t like Christmas cake – it’s the fruit you see, but I do think it looks good enough to eat, Mum was in charge of decorating and she did a lovely job.

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Now onto the presents, in our family we always open our stockings in the morning then go for a walk -this year it was a very soggy one- before having our turkey lunch and then opening our other presents. This is also the one day of the year when my sisters and I do not have to help with the clearing up after lunch, instead it’s our job to get the presents ready, we divide them up and pile them by people’s respective chairs. Here’s my pile waiting for the unwrapping to begin. As you can see I was completely spoiled by everyone this year! The next photo shows all the paper after we’ve unwrapped!

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Here’s a quick snap of all my lovely presents. I can’t decide what my favourite thing was. There’s my gorgeous new shoes, slippers and boots, then there’s all the sparkly nail varnishes, the Avengers Assemble DVD and yes that is a pile of running clothes there, seriously who’d have thought that little old me would ever want those for Christmas. How times change! There’s also the beautiful grey bag from Oasis that I’ve been coveting for ages. Plus I was also given a cooking stone from family friends, which included their family welsh came recipe. I’m very excited to try that out as they’re the most delicious welsh cakes I’ve ever tried. Although I am worried about where I’m going to put everything in my little flat, I think I may need to have a bit of a sort out.

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Once all the presents were opened we settled down to an evening of board games and card games. It’s somewhat of a family tradition that we spend hours having fun together. The evening of games normally ends with slight hysteria, someone will do something incredibly silly and then we’ll all dissolve into peels of laughter. I blame the copious amounts of alcohol that generally gets consumed during the day! My favourite of the day, has to be Don’t Get Mad (pictures), I’d not heard of it before, but it was a thrilling game, so much fun and very clever.

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How was your Christmas? I hope everyone had a lovely day and got some wonderful presents.

Lau xxx

Decoration wars

It could be said that in my office this year there’s been some what of a Christmas decorations war. You see my department has recently moved up 6 flights of stairs to a new floor, and with that brings new neighbours. When the 1st of December came round myself and some colleagues set about creating a festive space to work. Lots of sticky tape and a quick scale up the cabinets later we had lights and tinsel at the windows and baubles hanging off the evergreen plants. These are the same decorations we’ve had for the past 3 years, and we’ve decorated in the same way too, because if something works why bother changing it. We realised quite quickly that maybe these kind of decorations weren’t a normal 6th floor thing to do. You see each time people walked past they did a double take and stared in awe at the decorations. Then there were secretive whispers from our nearest neighbours and suddenly over the lunch hour a forest of snowflakes sprouted from the ceiling. And not just any snowflakes, but gorgeous blue and white origami snowflakes. Almost instantaneously I was jealous, I wanted these snowflakes, I wanted to know how to make them, but more importantly I wanted my very own forest of snowflakes hanging from my own ceiling. So predictably I took to the internet to discover how these are made, and guess what I found? Yes, that’s right a whole plethora of different origami snowflakes. These are the ones hanging in the office, i can’t believe how easy they are to make. Take s look here – How to make Origami Snowflakes . I’ve got big plans with these this weekend once i’m back at my parents house. I think i’m going to decorate the whole house, it’ll look so pretty.

Lau xx