• New Year, New Beginnings
    BLOG,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE,  TRAVEL

    Life Update: New Year, New Beginnings

    Happy New Year!

    Can you believe we are two weeks into 2020 already? It’s been a whirlwind from christmas shopping to buzzing around running running christmas markets with Frame Your World, and taking up opportunities in London and speaking opportunities in Oxford.

    LIFE UPDATE

    I am still working on filling out the reflect part of my new 2020 bullet journal, and working to build in some exciting goals for me to form habits around this year. This is something I’ll share a lot more of in the future weeks and months as my new self care plan unfolds.

    MY PLAN FOR THIS BLOG

    I have so many platforms and channels going on at the minute that I just wanted to let this be a place where I pop in every so often, and let you know what I’m up too. If you’d like to be kept in the loop just enter your email in the newsletter and I’ll keep you posted.

    Being creative and entrepreneurial means I’m always up to something so I hope if anything you find some entertainment and at times inspiration as I share some insight and real transparent thoughts around life and my journey.

    LESSONS AND REFLECTIONS FROM

    One of the big things I’ve discovered about myself in 2019 was how much I loved the sea. Upon landing myself the best boyfriend in the world (I know I’m bias), I got to spend a lot of time last year near or by the beautiful scenery of Dorset on the South Coast. I find it so nourishing and recommend that whether you love to get lost in a field or go hiking on the mountains, to find something this year that inspires you and allows you time to reflect and reset.

    NEW YEAR 2020

    This year I spent christmas with friends and family back home in Scotland, and for new year returned to spend time with Matt and recovering from the hustle and bustle that December consistently brings with it. For new year I opted to stay home and make a buffet and watch the London fireworks from the comfort of my own sofa. It was delightful but I was also still recovering from the drive and busy period that it was touch and go whether I would even stay away to see the bells or fall fast asleep as I’m in the habit of doing right now, on my couch.

    Due to last year’s epic New Year that led myself and Matt pop down to the sea and stroll around his local town whilst everyone was still strolling home or fast asleep from the glitz and glamour of new years eve, I just had to long to capture that moment once again.

    ROAD TRIP

    We started off on a different route this year, and since we weren’t as close to the sea we drove down from Oxfordshire to the New Forest and Matt took us along some of the new villages and back roads to get a bit of something new in our new years day. It was a little rainy but in the end we had a lovely day. I stopped by a cute little cafe called the Beachcomer Cafe in Barton On Sea New Milton, and it was jam packed! It felt magical to watch the different conversations and taking in the wonder of a fresh new year and new decade. Despite tradition and plan to head home in time to make traditional Scottish steak pie, we ended up grabbing food from Turtle bay, which is one of our favourite date spots and headed home in time to watch the football. I still can’t believe how much I have grown to enjoy watching the Premier League on special occasions.

     

    Scottish Breakfast

     

     

     

     

     

    P.S. I didn’t get to make steak pie, but I did make an epic Scottish breakfast.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Spring into Easter

    Ok, so perhaps the title is a little off. Spring may make me happier, which in turn makes me a better person, right? Anyway, it’s been a minute since I’ve had a moment to upload and share some of my fabulous views and several mouth watering food sampling experiences.

    We’ve now crossed over to British Summer Time, the cherry blossoms are out, and my furry white hot water bottle is being used less these days – thank goodness! Winter feels long at this point, and have you noticed how everyone has bloomed like a bud in season, as the UK begins to waken up from it’s winter sleep.

    If you don’t already know, I am a Scottish chick living in the southern parts of the UK. I’m obsessed with cherry blossom trees (and sometimes trees in general), flowers, food and blue skies. I’m known for bursting into song (in appropriate moments) and I love tea, coffee, cake and cocktails! Not all at the same time, of course.

    Pause. Gosh, so much to update you on. Ok, here’s a few snaps from my trip into the city that is London, last week. I’ve definitely improved my photography skills over the years, and without blowing my own trumpet I am pretty happy with how these turned out.

    First up, I got a new dress! I love it! I am drastically needing a wardrobe update and this sweet piece from Zara was a steal for £29. I’ll update the link to this dress shortly. First time this year that I’ve been able to wear a denim jacket too. Thanks to the 23 degree heat that happened in London last Sunday.

    Popped into the new Chicken shop in Ealing with my friend for a bite to eat. We were pretty hungry, and the kind German waiter took his time to explain what was meant by a dirty burger. After a whole 5 minute chat about the thickness of bacon (my friend was affronted) I settled for a dirty bacon burger and my friend went for the dirty chicken burger. I forgot to take a picture of the food I was that hungry, but here’s a clip of pre-burger.


    If I had to rate this place, I’d give it a good 8.5 out of 10. Almost a s good as Honest burger, but the only thing I felt this place lacked was virgin mojito’s. I had just been out for some light drinks with friends the night before, and so these were firmly on my mind.


    OMG those olives though, with garlic were AMAZING. This was such a great night.

     

    Finished off the meal with ice cream in my favourite park. Who doesn’t love a Mr Whippy with raspberry sauce and a flake?
    Daisies for days…


    What a beautiful weekend. It felt light summer had arrived. A little bit of a different picture to this Easter weekend, but never let the quality of your weekend be determined by the weather!

    Happy Easter everyone! I’m about to take a load off, drink some tea and eat some chocolate big week with Frame Your World – we have two new stockists and fresh orders online. Then of course church on Sunday. Hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you decide to do.
    P.s I so wish I could have gone to the Easter Egg hunt in West London, but ran out of time.  If you can go, go

  • BLOG

    Oprah’s top tips on how to stay positive

    I loved these top tips from Oprah on how to stay positive!

    What are you passionate about? What makes you come alive? When you are in your highest positive state you are free to create, to build, to grow whatever is in your hands.

    I don’t know about you, but I think it’s so easy to get so caught up with life and the day to day situations that they become a distraction (sometimes a steadfast distraction at that) to who we really are, and what we are on this planet to do.

    She hits on a great point that we all want to be seen, but the true reality is that until we truly take time to discover ourselves, love ourselves, and develop our gifts and talents, then we will always be chasing empty shadows. It’s not what ‘they say’ about you that counts, it’s what you say about yourself. And people will ‘see you’ when you see yourself. It’s too easy to focus so much on the external situations and circumstances that are constantly changing, and neglect looking after and nurturing our own souls. It’s ironic when the reality of it all is that we really only have the power to change ourselves.

    I’m probably going off on a rant here, so I’ll stop, but it’s so refreshing to have this conversation on British TV. I feel that it’s an area we seem to shy away talking about on our daytime chat shows.

    I’ve been doing some self-evaluation recently on a few areas of my life, and if there is one lesson I can say that has stood out for me this year is to stop running from what we fear. To stop running from what we think we cannot handle, because we cannot overcome what we will not confront.

    Ok so a deep topic for Saturday morning, but I hope it encourages you to enjoy yourself today and take off some of those pressures your shoulders to be seen. Just be you beautiful!

    It’s bank holiday weekend, and I am off to visit the market! Do share if you like the post, and image I created. I’ve been teaching myself Illustrator lately, and it’s so much fun. I love this colour of pink in the quote above.

    Do let me know what you think about Oprah’s comments below, and have a fantastic day!

    Love ya!

    xox

     

     

     

  • COMMUNITY,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    Who does the best hot chocolate?

    Whilst we strive to get the best value for our money, and move into a more flexible working environment. I got the idea to write about hot chocolate during one of my regular working sessions from the local coffee shop.

    Living in West London we have everything from Pret, Starbucks, Costa, Cafe Nero and even a few specialist coffee shops such as Harris & Hoole, Artisan and a few others that I couldn’t mention because there are way too many for me to handle already.

    I’ve reviewed a few and I thought I’d give you my recommendation by reviewing each one. Let me know if you have a favourite hot chocolate spot that hasn’t been reviewed in today’s post. I’d love to give it a go!

    1. Pret

    It’s ok. Powder based chocolate but for £2.40 it’s pretty sweet. They recently began stocking whipped cream as an extra at no extra cost. The only thing that bugs me is when barristers carelessly get the balance right and if you opt for cream in Pret you might find you’re cup with half a cup of hot chocolate instead of a full, or third at least.

    2. Starbucks

    To be honest I feel like most drinks are over priced here, and I am a loyal customer. The hot chocolate  is ok, but I tend to go for a peppermint option here as I find it increases the appeal and taste of their original hot chocolate drink. I’ve also enjoyed their seasoned flavours including their Autumn Salted Carmel flavour.

    3. Costa

    A solid performer. Chocolate milk from what I can see, and I’m sure they use Cadbury. One of my favourite hot chocolates that I like to order with cream and fat free marshmallows. A little more expensive than Pret, but still cheaper than Starbucks. 

    4. Cafe Nero

     These guys are not great at customer service, but their hot chocolate isn’t too bad in comparison to tasting other vendors. I like the chocolate sprinkles that appear on top of the cream. 

    6. Artisan

    Great hot chocolate and smooth milk. No cream and no marshmallows. Portion size is considerably smaller than others and price is around £2.70 mark for a regular drink.  

    And my winner is… Costa coffee! It is hands down good value for money, quality hot chocolate, and even though it’s powder based chocolate, they are the only one of the 6 that offer marshmallows, which I believe makes the drink sing! 

      

  • FOOD

    Saturday kitchen: chilli con carne  

    There’s nothing better than a bowl of homemade chilli when it’s cold and grey outside.

    Thanks to my friend I managed to make the best chilli I have ever had to the joy of making. I had to make a few adjustments as I didn’t have 500g of mince, so here’s what I went with.

    250g mince

    2 cloves of garlic 

    1/2 chopped onion

    1 chopped pepper 

    1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes 

    1/2 tin of kidney beans 

    1 beef stock cube 

    300ml boiling water

    1 tsp chilli powder 

    1 tsp coco powder

    3 tsp tomato purée 

    Pinch of cinnemon

    Chedder cheese to sprinkle 

    Basmati rice 

    Voila! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you did, please let me know me@leannemacduff.com, and also any other variations of this yummy Mexican dish then please do share!  

     Enjoy! Xox

    Oh I took a snapchat too. ?

     
      

  • BLOG,  LIFESTYLE

    Celebrate everyday

    I’m not really a big birthday person. I like them, but I tend not to focus on them much. However, it is nice to mark the occasion when it comes and I love the idea of doing something cool and different. Thanks to a close friend this year will be spent eating Spanish food, and jumping on trampolines! Yes, I am 31 years young today.

    I write this post as I wake today with a slight cold, and waiting on the train into central London, with a thought on my heart to share. 

    I’m still here! I woke up today! I’m alive and I have so much to be thankful for. 

    After spending a portion of yesterday trying to avoid this day, which for me feels like it comes round too fast, with too much pressure, as if I were in a race to accomplish the world in one year. Instead today I woke up thankful. I have lots to be thankful for too! Feelings are fickle and it’s not hard to become clouded in thought by the distance we have yet to travel to achieve our dreams, but like someone once said, “wake I and smell the roses.” We made it into another day. 

    So in true birthday fashion I decided to allow myself a treat! Do you want to see? Okay, check out the pics below!

      
    I used to get candels for Christmas and birthdays and never ever use them. These days I can’t get enough of them. They’re perfect for setting me in the mood to write or sleep. This one was smells amazing too! I love the black and white branding. 

      
    No birthday would be complete without cake or macaroons, and since I’m not near Costco this year… Ladurer it is! They only make world famous macaroons! 

    FYI Rose petal, and Pistasio are my personal favourite. I recommend anyone visiting London to pop by the Covent Garden store. You may need to queue behind some indecisive guests though so don’t be in a rush when you do go.

      
      
    Thank you Paperchase for £5 off today’s purchase as a birthday treat. I love these designs, and couldn’t wait to get home to take this picture:
     

       

    This is one of the most exciting seasons I have ever lived. Besides pursuing my dreams, and chasing the vision I am learning so much about myself and the importance of being ground in the who I am. The outside pressure of preforming and conforming is strong, but I no longer wish for that to be a root of my life. 

    *Tip* If you’re going to want to reap oranges, then make sure you’ve sown the right seed to produce the right fruit. 

    Remember who you are!! Remind yourself of what makes you tick, by surrounding your life with the things you love. 

    I’m off to finish my honey and lemon tea before I continue to do the only acceptable thing this evening, which is to jump, be happy and eat! 

    Much love xox 

  • BLOG,  LIFESTYLE

    Where’s our great British summer?

    You could say this is the question on everyone’s mind? It’s not exactly been the Indian summer we were promised, but then again I am Scottish and I come from a land where the sight of grey sky, rain and wind is of regular occurrence.

    Sorry to my Scottish friends, and family out there! 🙂 I love you all dearly, and truth be told it sounds like you have seen more of summer than London this year!

    Still, as it is Wednesday and I missed the Great British Bake Off tonight. #GBBO I’m going to have to watch that one on catch-up, so  I thought I’d share some of my favourite pictures from a moment of sunshine in one of my favourite spots in London… the park.

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    This spot in particular was stunning. Despite being deep in conversation, eating M&S cake and drinking coffee – The sunshine, blue sky, park buzz and sound of birds singing softly in the background was bliss. I took a Vine of this moment too.

    *Warning* I hear it’s not good to tilt the camera, so sorry in advance. I was a little excited.

    https://vine.co/v/eTqUp176vI5

     

    I think I have a filter on my iPhone 6 phone…
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    I had a really cool picture of the sunset from my room window tonight. It’s not been as warm as it looks, but I feel these pictures have brought back a moment of sheer bliss and cheering me up this evening.

    So that’s it for me today. These are just a few of the beautiful moments I have captured recently. I’m not sure where the great British summer has gone this year, but if all I had was this one snapshot, I’d be pretty chuffed with this one.

    I hope you’re having a good week. If not, make sure you stop and look for the opportunity in your week and day to appreciate. If the dream or circumstance you’ve been waiting to see seems slow to turn up. Remember the process of growing like the tree above. As long as you’re sowing the right seed into good soil, the harvest will come.  As one of my hero’s today said, “You can’t sow a seed and reap a harvest at the same time. There is always a natural delay in between.” Just because something hasn’t happened yet, or fallen into place, doesn’t mean it won’t.

  • BLOG,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    The randomness of my day

    I cannot begin to tell you, or share the most amazing season of my life. 2015 has been nothing short of a miracle, and a so many stories to tell and share. Much of which will remain undercover for now, but I just want to share a little bit of my heart today.

    First, let me introduce you to this fantastic album, and one of my favourite songs right now. Hillsong United from their album Empire.

    Summer is making a subtle appearance. Today’s temp reached 18 degrees! We’ve just had a bank holiday weekend in the UK, and besides having a fantastic weekend, I was happy to go back to work today. I’ve recently discovered that I get more done when I’m under pressure with time. Spending most of my day in meetings, and checking various social media channels for updates, I did stop for a quick bite to eat for lunch – homemade curry from scratch! I don’t really have a picture to show you. :/ Darn it! Next time.

    Then today there was a mass of black cabs blocking the roads around Victoria. The word on the street is that they are not happy with TFL and protesting against Uber. I’m not a Uber customer, but I hear a lot of people use them because they’re cost effective and convenient. I caught the guys on camera. And I thought it was pretty cool.

    On other news today, I picked up my favourite magazine on the way home from Charing Cross.

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    Oh yes, I have the luxury of travelling anywhere between zone 1-4 this week! It’s pretty sweet not having to think too much about the cost of my route! This week I can pretty much travel whichever way I like. My fellow Londoners will understand my pleasure. Time really is money in this city.

    Returning to the subject of the Stylist magazine for a moment. They’ve recently updated and changed their font, which I’m really sorry I don’t like. I get it must be boring for them to have to work to the same template for so long, but the smile on my face dropped when I opened up the pages. #justsaying

    How awesome are the light nights. I can hear the birds singing outside as I type this. I’m so excited. I need to go. Just made the most scrumptious salad. See photo above. MasterChef eat your heart out! ;)Now I must go prepare some strawberries and cream before settling down to do a little bit of work. Family are in town this weekend, so lots of planning to do in between. It’s another big week, but these are the best!

    Au Revoir!

    Xox

  • LIFESTYLE

    It’s all about that teapot

    I am on the look out for a teapot, but not just any teapot. I want this teapot!

     

     

    However, as £70 is quite a lot to spend on a teapot, I am looking around for other options. It all started whilst home at Christmas, when I fell in love with the rather plain teapot he bought for his new house. I used to think teapots were old, and not very exciting; however, since almost freezing to death in this cold winter I’ve found that teapots come in very handy when at home, and significantly reduce multiple trips to the kettle.

     

    The thought of having one next to my computer, on my new desk, whilst creating something makes me very happy.

    So I thought I’d share some of my contenders for the spot of top teapot.

    1. This is my budget pick. It’s only £10.99 from Amazon – what a bargain!
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    This one has been my closest winner for about two weeks now. It’s Cath Kidston… This one creeps up to £25 on Amazon.51XXwjXgPrL._SL1000_

     

    As pretty as it is. Why couldn’t she make a teapot like this gorgeous mug…

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    Then I stumbled across this cute little vintage showstopper… It’s around £60 and has a royal china feel to it.

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    Unfortunately, in true Leanne fashion, I can’t seem to get away from the beauty of this Royal Palace teapot. Yes this is £70, but it’s simple delectable. …as far as teapots go anyway.

    Ta-dah!

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    So there you have it… an insight to my thought life. It’s all about that teapot. Tea! Tea! And more tea!

    Do you have a favourite out of the bunch? Do you know of any cute teapots looking for an owner. Drop me a comment below!

    Xox

     

     

  • LIFESTYLE

    Sunset adventures

    Hello,

    Sorry it’s been a bit quite on the blog front. I’ve been busy writing, and working on a few new projects. After a busy Christmas break back home, I’ve been catching up on some sleep and working hard to finish editing my long awaited novel. Thanks to a generous gift from mum and dad, I’ve been blessed with a rather nazi DSLR, which has served as a great distraction and fuelled my passion for taking pictures to a new level. I can’t express how much I love this camera, and how excited I am to have just received my tripod and light box, (which I still have to set up).

    Until, I get round to that I wanted to share a few of my first photographs. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I love a good sunset, or landscape photograph. Often these photo’s inspire me to write. I took the next two pictures whilst on a cold crisp Saturday afternoon. The third picture down was taken at a bus stop near Victoria Station, Oxford bound. I can’t wait to share more of my life with you as I continue to grow my blog/vlog this year.

    So far 2015 has been a year of new starts in many ways. I’ve set my goals, which I’ve decided to go along the route of routine this year. On Friday, I got word of a new job, which I am super excited about. I get to spend more time writing, working on perfecting Vines, Instagram and infographics for a fantastic community online. Stay tuned for more info on that.

    Oh, and I turn 30 years young in 16 DAYS! I don’t quite know how I feel about that, but I’ve just discovered my friends are flying me home to celebrate with them Scotland. It’s been a week of turn around, from distraction and challenge, to seed and fruit. If that doesn’t make sense to you, sorry; maybe I’ll get to expand and explain one day.

    l hope you enjoy my photography below. I’d love to hear what inspires you to do what you do in the box below.

    Xox

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    I love this picture. It makes me think of New York, and I feel like it would be a great shot for a scene in a movie. Perhaps, it will feature in my own movie one day. It may just look like any other building to some, but to me it gave me inspiration for a new story. They say a picture holds 1000 words, I say a picture sparks a 1000 words…