A little self indulgence…

I’ve written before about how I think it is so important to squeeze in time for ourselves. Sometimes we get so caught up in life, prioritising others and their needs, leaving our own at the bottom of the list and I think that it is of upmost importance that we try and squeeze in some time for ourselves.

I’ve developed a guilty pleasure in going to the cinema. I love picking out which movie I want to watch and meeting up with my friend Debbie. We have a little chat before and after the film (usually over food) and treat ourselves to a sweet treat for in the cinema (I usually have popcorn, chocolate and pick n mix!). We’ve seen all of the greats together and we love it. It’s always nice to catch up, but the reason we adore going to the cinema is simply to just be. To just exist for a couple of hours in this manic world, the fast paced streets of London outside a far cry from the fictional world that we have been swept up in. Yes, I may sometimes be on the edge of my seat wondering if the lead character will survive, but ultimately I’m switched off from the world. Phone on silent, darkened room… Blissful. I feel like it’s such a self indulgent thing, but I always feel so relaxed after a cheeky trip to the cinema, like I’ve had a mini break from life and it’s just brilliant. 

I love seeing the movies too, of course. This week we saw The Revenant. I was really excited because there was so much love emanating from people who had seen it and there are worse things to do than watch Leonardo DiCaprio for a couple of hours (he had my heart at Titanic). It was all in all a great film, beautifully shot and edited. The storyline is a little predictable at times and I did start to find it amusing that nothing would kill off Leo’s character (it’s as though the One Direction song ‘Drag Me Down’ was written for him). There are also some gruesome scenes of him in a few scenarios that Bear Grylls would be right at home in. Anyway, all in all it is a great movie and I would definitely watch it again.

Have you seen any good movies recently?


Posting Schedule…

I’ve always used this little blog to express myself, to talk about things that I’ve become excited about or to simply ramble about life. It’s starting to really grow and part of that means that I need to evaluate where I want to go with it and how I want to manage it. This has meant that I’ve set up a Facebook page and have started to roll with it as my little audience increases. I’ve also had a good old think about when I will post so that we all know where we stand and I’ve decided to pop up a new post every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Three posts a week. I think that this is manageable although there may be an odd week where it isn’t possible and you never know there may even be a week where I post more than that. I’m really enjoying my blog and love moulding it into what I stand for and who I am. I’m not big on edited pictures (although I love beautiful photography, it’s just not me) and I want to maintain honesty. I’m quite transparent and I don’t want to be playing make believe in my blog. So there you have it, three posts a week and all from the heart.

L x

The Girl on the Train…

As part of my Reading Challenge this year, I am attempting to read one book a week in order to hit my target of fifty-two books this year. This weeks’ book was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which was a birthday gift from the hubby! There is so much love bouncing around the universe regarding this book, which can either be a really good thing, or a really bad thing. Thankfully, this book is absolutely marvellous and definitely lives up to the hype. From the moment I picked it up I was hooked. It’s incredibly well written and my interest only escalated as the story evolved. Paula takes you on a journey where you will cringe, worry, ponder and become completely committed to the characters (although by the end the only one I liked was Evie!). The way that they are developed is brilliant and there is a part of me that won’t accept that they are fictional. I pretty much read anything from romantic novels to biographies and this thriller had me talking myself into reading ‘one more page’ every time I picked it up.

Read it if:

  • You love a thriller
  • You enjoy drama
  • You like to be taken on a journey 

Best bits:

  • The development of the characters
  • The twisting storyline
  • The flow

Worst bits:

  • I did find Rachel a bit annoying at times (although it’s all part of her character)

I’ve heard on the grapevine that there will be a film based on this book that is out later this year. I can’t wait to see it!

Have you read anything that’s excited you recently?


Finally on Instagram!

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally succumbed to the world of Instagram.

At first I didn’t want to embrace it because I feel like life is cluttered enough with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and I wasn’t sure if I had room to commit to another social networking platform. Then I remembered that I can post to both Facebook and Twitter with ease through Instagram. I then dug up my account (which had one photograph from when I signed up years ago!) and now I’m hooked.

Hit me up if you are on Instagram too – louisehargestkemp

L x

Are you winter ready?

There is such a divided opinion over the unseasonably warm weather that we were experiencing right up into the New Year. Some people were glad to leave the can of de-icer in the boot, whilst others were dreaming of waking up in a real life scene from Frozen. I was most definitely enjoying the freedom of throwing on a coat and not having to really layer up. Having said that, there is something rather charming about a ‘real’ winter. Anyway, the mild spell appears to have vanished into the horizon, meaning my morning commute now starts a few minutes earlier with my must have accessory – the ice scraper and praying that I don’t have inches of snow to contend with.
It’s around December that my fear of snow starts to kick in. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the purity of snow. The lush cloud-like blanket that covers the ground looks beautiful and I would welcome snowfall with open arms if I didn’t need to travel in it. I hate the Russian roulette of ‘will I be able to walk to X without falling over and making a complete wally of myself’, coupled with ‘will the roads be gritted? Or am I going to spend my entire journey clinging onto the steering wheel like Kate clings onto Jack in Titanic?’. The local council are pretty bad at clearing snowfall where we live in surburban London. They don’t even bother looking at my road. Sometimes they send a snow plough onto the main road if it’s really bad, but aside from that it’s all wellies, shovels and hope. It’s also really hilly where we live and the snow settles quite easily, which makes it like a giant ice slide in the bad weather. I really despise driving in the snow because I worry about losing control or someone else losing control and causing an accident. It pretty much terrifies me!

We are all so busy, rushing around from here to there that time has become so precious and it’s often easy to forget the simple things such as checking the car is in top shape. In winter I think it’s really crucial to ensure that we are being as safe as we can. We are often met with unpredictable situations such as flooded roads, icy patches and snow flurries and these situations can really impact the way we drive. I was driving home this morning and out of nowhere flakes of snow started falling. Even though I checked the Met Office’s website for an update.

A friend of mine once skidded on an icy patch whilst trying to stop at a red traffic light, which sent her ploughing into oncoming traffic. Fortunately she was fine, however her car wasn’t. It could so easily have been a different story. Whilst I think that there will be times when you will lose control of your vehicle if the conditions are dangerous, there are ways in which you can help yourself be more prepared. 

Here are my must have winter driving accessories:

1. A can of de-icer and a scraper. You never know if the temperature drops whilst you are out and having them to hand is really helpful.

2. A blanket. This is mostly incase I need it for the dog, but also beneficial if I find myself broken down in freezing temperatures.

3. Tyres inflated to the right pressure. It’s super easy (even I can do it!) and not only will help keep you safe, but also save you a few pennies in fuel. Hurrah!

4. Winter Tyres. A lot of people feel that this is a waste of money, but using the right tyres can have real benefits. It can improve your safety on the road and make your journeys easier. I have everybody from children, friends and the dog in the car, so like to make sure we are all as safe as can be!

5. A small shovel. I used to have a convertible and whilst it was a dream in the summer, it morphed into the worst car known to man in the winter. With its low suspension, it always got stuck whenever it snowed. Once I even had to be dug out by the bin men! My little Mercedes A class has a higher suspension, so hopefully it won’t be as much as a problem.

6. Anti freeze. It’s really helpful because the last thing you need is for the fluid to freeze up.

7. Fully functioning bulbs. Luckily, my car flashes a warning sign when one of my bulbs blow, but not all cars do and with the darker evenings, it’s important to be seen. I really hate it when I see people driving around with a light out. Partly because it looks terribly unsemitrical and also because I think it’s super dangerous! 

8. Sunglasses. Maybe it’s because I am constantly lusting after summer (even when it’s supposed to be summer!), but I always have a cheap pair in the car. They are especially helpful in the low winter sun, which I think is exceptionally dangerous. You only have to turn a corner and bam! It’s right in your face like the new Adele track.

I’ve mentioned the tyres twice because I really do feel like it’s so important. They are what’s ultimately between you and the road. Not to mention what will stop you from sliding into things. It can be a niggly process when buying new tyres, checking if they have the one you need, comparing prices etc. There is a company called Point S, and their website
can point you in the right direction when choosing tyres. It’s so easy to use and really convenient. You don’t even have to remember the exact tyre size code because you can pop in your registration plate and they present you with a variety of tyres for all price ranges. My husband was quoted over £200 for a new tyre from BMW, but he can get one for under £80 just by doing a simple search on there. Better than that, enter your postcode and voila! You can reserve it at your local fitter straight away.

How do you find driving in the winter months? Do you have any handy tips?

L x 

*Disclaimer – This is a collaborative post with Point S.


A very merry unbirthday…

As some of you may already know, last week it was my birthday. I normally love having a birthday, not for the fuss, attention or gifts, but just because it brightens up January for me, which, let’s be honest is a bit of a pants month for most people. This year was a little different. I woke up feeling terribly sad and couldn’t shift it for the whole day. I’m normally such a positive person and it really surprised me. My Grandad’s birthday is two days’ before mine and we have always had some sort of celebration together. It also happened to be exactly one month since he passed away and whilst I thought that I would be okay about it, I clearly wasn’t. I literally felt like I could burst into tears at any given second and it was a bit rubbish to be honest. I think that it was just another reminder that he’s now missing from my life and that life is continuing without him. This is all obviously fine, but I just wasn’t vibing it that day. Phil had taken the day off of work to spend it with me and I had reservations at The Ivy (my most favourite restaurant) for breakfast and was thinking of mooching about in central London for most of the day. Given my mood (which wasn’t helped by the heaviest rain I’ve seen in a while), I decided that I didn’t fancy it and traded breakfast at The Ivy for breakfast at McDonalds (a sentence I never thought I would write!). We then went and saw The Hateful Eight at the local cinema, which was both brilliant and incredibly long (it had an interval people, an interval!!). We had a nice time together and I tried my hardest to mask my gloomy mood. In the evening my family came over and we had Chinese take out and played games. Phil also played guitar and I sang along, which I love, so all in all it was a good day.

Seeing as my birthday fell on a Monday this year (I know, right?!), I decided to celebrate with my friends on the following Saturday and thankfully, I was back to feeling like my usual bouncy self.

I was a bit stuck as to what to do, but at very short notice decided to have a private dining dinner with an Alice in Wonderland theme as I wanted it to be fun and different. Plus, after all of the wedding planning, I am so used to detailing everything that I don’t think a traditional dinner would have sufficed!

My friend is an amazing baker and she baked the perfect cake for my birthday. I think that right next to the word ‘cake’ in the Oxford dictionary, should be a picture of my cake because it was just that blimmin’ magnificent. It had a gorgeous pink ribbon and rose with KitKats around the edge. The sponge had three layers, two chocolate with a red velvet layer in the middle. The top was covered in revels, with some cascading from the packet and sprinkled with glitter sprinkles. The piece de resistance was the smarties centre. Yes, when I cut into this masterpiece that had been crafted to perfection, I was greeted with a plethora of rainbow coloured, chocolate goodness. I really do think that my friend Rachel is the Adele of the cake world. It was awesome and I’m very lucky!

As it was such short notice, I scrambled around finding anything that could resemble Alice in Wonderland. I scoured the Internet, choosing next day delivery and scuttled around the shops perusing party supplies. Luckily, I managed to find props for everyone and quite a few decorations for the table – hurrah! 

I had already bought a Jack Wills play suit that I had fallen in love with and thankfully it was blue and white – Alice colours! Sadly, I have packed most of my shoes, so had to rely on my trusty Chelsea boots for footwear!

My end of the table was a tea party and the other end was dedicated to the Queen of Hearts. We covered one end in little pots saying ‘drink me’, tea cups, bunting, pretty napkins, cute straws and quotes from the book. The other end had huge playing cards, actual playing cards and a sparkly centre piece. I was really pleased with how it turned out, not too subtle and not too cluttered. 

We all had such a lovely evening in each other’s company, stuffing our faces and catching up. I also got completely spoilt too by our wonderful friends.

Now to think of a theme for next year!

L x

Find me on Bloglovin’

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14636069/?claim=edufskh5kxa”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>
I wrote earlier in the week about the new Facebook Page that I have set up and now you can find me on Bloglovin’.

Quite a few of the blogs that I really enjoy reading can be found on Bloglovin’ and thanks to a little advice from Amy , I’m now good to go.

So make sure you get liking and following guys!

L x 

Live on Facebook!


So I’ve finally sorted out a Facebook Page for Lulubellelife. This little blog has grown quite a lot recently and so I felt that it was time to expand and connect. I was very apprehensive about it as I haven’t really shared this blog with many of my friends and family, so putting it out there amongst folk I know was a tad nerve wracking. 

I’m really looking forward to expanding the blog this year and I feel like Facebook is a great platform to reach out to new readers. So feel free to have a nosey and like ‘Lulubellelife’ on Facebook!

L x

Quick and easy bacon and leek risotto…

I’ll be honest, if you said to me a couple of years ago that I would be writing a blog post containing a recipe I would have laughed so hard and rattled off a line about how there is more chance of the Spice Girls asking me to join them for a reunion tour. Flash forward a couple of years and here I am typing away after consuming a delicious risotto. You see, I only started cooking towards the end of 2012 after finding myself in a position where I needed to at work. My Mum has never been into cooking and when we moved home in 2005, the new place didn’t come with an oven and we happily left our old one behind. We ate out or ordered take out most days and if we fancied a change we would devour a micro meal. We didn’t really use the oven when we did have it (it actually was from the 1970’s and didn’t warrant an upgrade due to it’s under usage), and Mum seldom made anything from scratch. My Grandad used to cook everyday and provided our small family with a huge roast dinner every Sunday. He also used to make steak pies from scratch, but I used to prefer to watch and eat rather than contribute, so when I found myself in a situation where I needed to learn to cook, Google became my best friend. Google and I enjoyed many meals together from sausages to Japanese curries. Google provided the answer to pretty much all of my cooking questions. I don’t know what I would have done without it! I also began to watch Jamie Oliver shows to pick up tips. By the time we moved into our own place, I was ready to cook for us every evening without us finding ourselves in a&e. Anyway, here is what I served us for lunch today…

Bacon and leek risotto!

You can’t go wrong with an Italian dish. Simple, yet full of flavour, Italian food is often also quite quick to prepare and cook. Handy if you don’t have an abundance of time (who does?!). This recipe is one of my favourites as it is quick, easy and tasty. It’s my own take on a bacon risotto,  perfect for a lunch. 

From prep to plate in under thirty minutes, it’s a great choice for everyone.

This recipe will serve 2-4 people depending on how generous you like your portions!

What you will need:

  • Bacon – I use eight rashers
  • Mushrooms – I use approx 225g of button ones
  • One large leek
  • Grated cheese 
  • Risotto rice – approx 350g
  • Water – approx 2 pints
  • One chicken stock cube
  • Garlic
  • Mixed herbs
  • Black pepper

How to cook it:

  1. Set your grill to 240 degrees and grill your bacon until it is just how you like it. I like it a little crispy, but not too much.
  2. For quickness, I always boil the kettle whilst preparing the other ingredients.
  3. Put your risotto rice into a saucepan.
  4. Add the garlic, crushed stock cube and mixed herbs.
  5. Pour approximately two pints of boiled water over your risotto rice and give it a stir.
  6. Chop your leek and mushrooms and add those to the risotto saucepan.
  7. Give it a good stir and leave it to cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. 
  8. Take the bacon out from the grill and chop it into pieces of your own desire (I like mine quite chunky!) and add to risotto.
  9. Keep stirring and allow the rice to absorb all of the water until it is full and tender. 
  10. Stir in a handful of grated cheese (I use either cheddar or mozzarella).
  11. Serve and enjoy!

What recipes do you find quick and easy?

L x

Sunday stroll attire…

Remind me never to book a hairdressers appointment for first thing on a Sunday morning. Especially if I’ve had a late night. Dragging myself out of bed was almost painful in itself, followed by blow drying my hair so quickly that I burnt my scalp from using the hottest setting whilst simultaneously willing my hair to dry instantly. I’m not one for taking an age to get ready, but I went from shower to car in fifteen minutes.

At least I squeezed in a manicure whilst waiting for the hubby at the hairdressers, so my nails are presentable!

I always feel a bit silly when writing an ‘outfit’ post, because in all honesty, I am simply not cool enough to be a fashion blogger. Spending hours finding a beautiful location and posing around isn’t really me. I thoroughly enjoy it when other bloggers put a lot of effort in to make their posts resemble the constitution of a holiday brochure, but it’s just not something I’m into myself and I want this blog to be a genuine representation of me. I do, however, love fashion. I’m not fixated on particular trends and I actually rarely venture out to the shops. I buy most of my wardrobe online and once I have an inkling of what I fancy (I recently decided I needed a pair of over the knee boots – cue hours of searching the entire world via the Internet before settling on a seemingly gorgeous pair in the Kurt Geiger sale), I will hunt it down and be sporting it a couple of days later. I’ve had things shipped from all over the globe and am a huge fan of Internet shopping. I just find it so efficient and you know straight away if they have your size etc. I think it’s just blimmin’ brilliant!
Anyway, here I am currently waiting for the hubby at the hairdressers and thought that I would write about some of my favourite items for a Sunday stroll around our local town.

I could not be more in love with this Coat. I adore the colour and the cut. You can wear it pretty much anywhere. The huge pockets are very practical and I think that the gold zip detail is very sweet. If I could choose a coat that I think has been created to perfection, this coat would be it. Well done Topshop!

My Jumper is from Hush and is absolutely divine. I love the grey tones and it can be worn with jeans or a skirt. Hush is a brand that I discovered towards the end of 2015 and became obsessed almost instantly. I bought this jumper a couple of months back as a treat. Their products are a bit on the pricey side, but it’s almost justifiable by the quality. I love the simplicity of their designs and know that each item will last me for quite a while. I’ve collected a few pieces from Hush, jumpers, scarves, hats… They always arrive beautifully packaged too. They have an amazing sale on at the moment and I snapped up these gorgeous pyjamas. Can’t wait to lounge about in them!

 I always buy my jeans from Uniqlo because they are great quality and most importantly they are (probably) the comfiest jeans in the entire universe.

My Chelsea boots are old and from BHS. You can find similar ones here. I love a good pair of Chelsea boots. They go with pretty much anything and are great for winter. 

My scarf is so old that I can’t actually remember where it came from. I do, however, know that it is really soft, long and warm. It also adds a splash of colour to a fairly neutral outfit. 

I have been lusting after a Kate Spade Cedar Street Maise for just over a year now and dragged my poor husband in and out of every single Kate Spade shop that we came across whilst on honeymoon, each time groping their handbags and contemplating purchasing one. I was completely over the moon when my husband spoilt me with this gorgeous handbag and purse for my birthday. It’s such a classic bag that will take me from work to a dinner date with friends. It has a long strap too, but I think it looks much more elegant hanging on to my arm. The colour is perfect as I have been carting my black Michael Kors number around for a while now, so this is really refreshing and it will go with most things. I love the attention to detail that goes into a Kate Spade product, cute little quotes and wonderfully crafted into a paradigm of beauty. Needless to say I am thrilled with my gift and feel very lucky indeed. Well done hubby! 

Are there any items of clothing/accessories you are enjoying at the moment?

L x