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Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

Boydens Kitchen Review Barnet

Cinnamon French Toast

Cuisine: British Artisan Cafe

Location: Barnet (Friern Barnet Rd)

Food: ★★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★★★
Setting: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★☆☆

Boyden’s Kitchen is the definition of homely and quirky. The mismatched tea cups, board games and knitted dolls for sale all add to the charm of the place, but it’s the food that will keep you going back.

Their breakfast/ brunch style menu has every food lovers essential from cinnamon french toast to pancakes, poached eggs, salmon, porridge and eggs with soldiers. The green tea with mint and rose tea is particularly memorable, as in fact is their Monmouth coffee.

Fresh home made cakes pastries boyden's kitchen

Fresh home-made cakes & pastries

Their selection of home-made cakes and pastries changes on a weekly basis and serve to add to the already fabulous menu.

Boyden's Kitchen Knitted Dolls

Boyden’s Kitchen Knitted Dolls

The itself menu isn’t extensive, but what they lack in variety they make up for in quality; the food is fresh and arrives quickly despite the cafe always being busy. The dishes are every Instagramers dream, as each plate is beautifully prepared so that it looks as good as it tastes and the portions are what every food lover hopes for: hearty and inexpensive.

Fluffy Pancakes

Fluffy Pancakes

The staff were helpful and accommodating with order changes and substitutions and there are newspapers, magazines and free WiFi to keep even the most impatient diner occupied until the food arrives.

The decor is charming and haphazard and is the perfect place to visit on a lazy morning. The only criticism I could give Boyden’s is that you have to go to the counter to pay and they’re only open until 5.30pm.

That being said, the parking is free which adds to the already extensive list of pro’s and tips the scale in favor of making Boyden’s your next must visit place.

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The Season Of Earmuffs Is Upon Us

The Season Of Earmuffs Is Upon Us

It’s here, whether we like it or not the season of ear muffs and grandma type jumpers is upon us. To some it’s the season to be jolly, but to most it’s the season to wake up at 7am and chisel ice off your windshield in minus temperatures.

The days are shorter, working hours seem longer and if the sun ever does decide to make an appearance, most of us miss it as we’re chained to the confines of our office until past sunset. As if being pale from sun deprivation wasn’t depressing enough, most of us also have to deal with weight gain and increased lethargy.

Hibernation being the obvious solution to this chilly problem, it’s a shame taking a 3 month nap-break from work isn’t an acceptable way to deal with winter.

When it comes to advice on dealing with the winter months I’ve heard it all: buy a vitamin D supplement, take up ice skating, invest in some cosy mittens and my personal favourite… invest in a light box which simulates the suns natural rays and trick your body into thinking it’s day light when it’s not.

If you ask me it seems like a lot of effort with minimal results. No amount of sitting under a really bright light bulb is going to make me forget that summer is another 240 days away.

So other than moaning about it (which granted is a mini therapy in itself) is there anything that can make us warm to winter? These are my tips: tried, tested and not yet rejected.

How I Feel Every Morning

How I Feel Every Morning

1.  Invest in a heated blanket. It’s a given that during winter you’re more and more drawn to your bed and since we’ve already accepted we’re spending most of the live long winter there, optimizing duvet time is sure to increase happiness levels.

Throughout summer people speak of how amazing it is to get into a nice cool bed… that feeling of crisp sheets and cold pillows. In the winter that sounds about as appealing as getting a face full of rain on your way out your front door in the morning. Warm and snug is the way forward, ditch the hot water bottle and heat your bed up with the click of a button before you jump in and re-think that hibernation idea.

2. Use your gym membership (you know… the one you signed up to four months ago and used twice in the week leading up to your summer holiday). It’s a common misconception that summer is the season of working out and winter is the season of food. Well, not a total misinterpretation, the latter is true, but the season of food comes at a heavy cost (heavy being the operative word).

Two consecutive months of baggy jumper and legging combos and the weight creeps on without you or your skinny jeans being any the wiser. I’m just saying, the person with the biggest belly at your work Christmas party should technically be the guy in the corner who came dressed as Santa. Don’t pass up on those mince pies just yet however; there’s nothing a few work outs won’t work off.

3. Go Out. If I can still make it to the pub in 6 inch stilettos over a floor full of ice, you can too (the 6 inch part is optional, but the socializing part is not). I often find as soon as the temperature plummets below 10 degrees, people will find any excuse to stay in on a Friday and Saturday night.

Don’t get me wrong; when they invent a bar which I can shuffle on down to in my onesie and bath robe, I will be the first one there. Until that day comes however, putting on (three layers) of real clothes and going out with your friends really is the most effective way of forgetting we’re only half way through what feels like an ice age.

Plus, nothing warms you up mid-winter like a large glass of wine.

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Not Quite Resolutions

Image From http://therichkidwannabe.blogspot.com/2011/01/resolutions-for-new-year.htmlI’ve never much believed in New Years Resolutions, mainly because the turning of the year is no more likely to get me on a treadmill than bikini season or my gym instructor’s scornful “I haven’t seen you here in months” eyes. So just to be clear these are not resolutions. It’s two weeks into 2012, so we can agree that I’ve definitely missed the resolution making portion of the year.

These are not so much ways to improve myself, and lets face it why would I want to (don’t answer that) but instead, more ways to ensure I don’t reach 2013 without a single thing to show for myself aside from that increasing Jack Daniels dependency. And shoes, far, far too many shoes.

1. Get a job, one which pays more than the most minimum of wages. As much as I love my mum, I can’t spend the next 27 years living at home, which incidentally is how long it would take me to put a deposit on the very shittiest of flats with my current salary.

2. Sky dive, or bungee jump, or take up aerobatic flying lessons or pretty much anything in this general category that is guaranteed to make me pee my pants a little bit. You’re never going to be amazed in life, unless you do some things, which are a little bit amazing.

3. Succeed in getting George Michaels “Faith” out of my head. It’s been stuck there for approximately 3 years, and whilst before it was bad, now it also comes with the accompanying dance moves compliments of J.D. No not the liquor, the character, in Scrubs.

4. Visit a county, where the rain is warm. Or perhaps before I get ahead of myself, I should aim to visit a country which is not Cypriot, Greek, Greek-Cypriot or any other variation which results in me eating Feta in the village tavern owned by Stelios.

5. Slow dance. Not jokingly. Not with my God-sister while drunk. Not with my dog (who for the record does an excellent Waltz) and not with my fingers on the steering wheel whilst bored in traffic.

The list could go on. A result of a very unproductive 2011 no doubt, I am left with a million and one things I was always meant to, but never quite got around to doing. I guess I could add teaching my dad how to text to the list and losing that last pound that just won’t budge from my thighs, but like I said these’s aren’t resolutions, and I am not a miracle worker.

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Image from: http://longwood-house.co.ukSmile. No a little bit wider. Show me some teeth. Thatttts it. Feeling better
already are you? What do you mean ‘no’? You mean to tell me that grinning and bearing it doesn’t make all your troubles go away? Well there goes my theory out the window.

So what exactly does make us happy? Bucket of chicken? Sometimes. Glass of wine, or in my case make that seven. That usually works. Falling in love? Unlikely to be honest, you spend half the time extatic and the other half suicidally depressed. Or maybe that’s just me again. Watching your team win a match? Though I’m not sure if that’s so much happiness as it is momentary elation.

Money might help. I know they say it doesn’t, but perhaps whoever these ‘they’ are have never owned an Audi R8. Don’t be under any illusion that I have, but take it from me I’d find it pretty hard to be depressed in one of those babies. Maybe I’m just more shallow than your average person (or more honest, I’m not sure).

Expensive cars aside however, I think we’ve got this happiness business all wrong. Most people seem to think we have to be happy all the time, well I personally can’t think of anything more exhausting. See what you’ve actually got to do is make sure you have enough good moments in life to out-balance the incredibly (excuse my language but it’s needed) shit ones.

These days everyone thinks to be happy we need to prove how great our lives are all the time. Its common knowledge if your facebook, twitter, bbm and linkedin statuses don’t indicate what a blast you’re having, the chances are you’re probably at home bored. And if you’re not, well everyone else thinks you are, so you might as well be.

Now call me crazy but maybe, just maybe if everyone spent a little more time living life instead of updating about it, we’d start noticing how great we’ve all really got it.

And what really makes me happy? The little things. Going to buy a pair of shoes and my debit card not being declined. A guy I like texting when he says he will. McDonald’s accidentally forgetting to charge me for my chips. Making my friends laugh, (with me, not at me). And of course, eating half the contents of my fridge and still being able to wear skinny jeans without it being ironic.

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First of all, let it be known, I can be pretty stupid sometimes.

I mean I can’t spell to save my life (in fact I have spell-check to thank for my degree) and just yesterday I had to ask my mum if Capers were those little fish things (turns out I meant sardines). So perhaps I am being slightly liberal by putting myself in the ‘Brains’ category, but for the sake of my argument, lets just go with it.

Now I’ve done my research. And most guys want both: Brains and Beauty. I don’t blame them, hell I agree with them. But let’s be honest sometimes the world’s just not that kind.

When forced to make a choice, general consensus was (insert manly voice here) “brains every time because we love a girl who can carry a conversation”. I can almost hear the world-wide sigh of relief while mascara wands are being put down the nation over. So being able to carry a conversation is sexy now? 1 point to me.

Of course that’s all very well in theory. And I know the female population isn’t exactly divided into two categories ‘hot’ or ‘not’. One man’s Angelina Jolie may be another’s Susan Boyle (sorry Susan). But the fact of the matter is I’ve never heard of a model or an actress incapable of finding herself a boyfriend. But a doctor, a nurse, a female comedian? Different matter altogether.

Sometimes we like to flatter ourselves and say that men can’t handle strong opinionated women. But then I remember my mum’s married, and they don’t come much more opinionated than her. So that definitely can’t be the problem.

The real issue is, that the men who claim they don’t like beautiful girls probably feel this way because they think, they’d never be able to get one anyway. As for the rest of them? These men who say they like to be ‘intellectually stimulated’. Well lets face it, when you’re talking to a group of girls on a night out. Which one do you remember? The one with the banter? Or the one with the great face and huge tits? Say it. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. If I was standing next to someone with a face like Jesse Williams, no amount of wit and charm would distract me either.

You see in theory most guys do want a funny girl they can talk football to and argue about which Lord of the Rings film was better. In practically we haven’t evolved all that much from the caveman days. And nothing gets those clubs swinging like a sexy little slave girl who knows her way around the cave. And by cave I mean bedroom.

Of course none of us would ever admit to being this fundamentally shallow. When asked, 90% of us will pick ‘personality’ over ‘looks’ every time. Which is lovely. And would be even lovelier if it were true.

In actuality, pre-marriage, people don’t pick their partners based on their mutual liking for late night spooning sessions and staring into each others eyes. You pick them based on how much of a sexy-beast you’d look, standing next to them. But don’t worry about it. You can all continue to chat up the sexiest girl who’ll listen. And in turn we’ll all continue applying make-up and wearing push up bras and pretending we’re naturally this pretty.

I mean lets face it, when you start dating a new girl, your friends will ask to see a picture of her. Not hear a recent joke she’s told you. And whether you want it to or not, it starts to matter.

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Me in 5 Years?

I actually picked up 20p off the floor today. It’s come to that.

Before you judge me, let it be known I gave it a hand sanitiser bath before popping it into my purse next to that losing lottery ticket I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw away.

Who knew you can’t get a loan for a Masters? Not me. Hats off to NatWest really for allowing me an overdraft the size of Brazil. Not that I’m worried about it or anything, I love a good challenge, and digging my self out of that one, is going to be just that.

I remember earning some money somewhere along the way, but since the only thing I ever invested in was my feet, we’re back to square one. My maths is rusty at best, so correct me if I’m wrong, but with the help of my blackberry’s calculator I worked out that over the years, I’ve spent approximately £3000 on shoes.

My next pair perhaps?

Now, I didn’t want to have to whip out the finger of blame, but I’m convinced that my parents have been encouraging this unfortunate obsession on the basis that without savings I’d be forced to live with them until the age of 35.

To any other culture this would seem an inprobable explanation, but us Greeks like our kids where we can see them. Where we can ensure they are eating four square meals a day, and only bringing home acceptable suitors (wealthy bankers who grown their own tomato plants and are in possession of a stereotypically Mediterranean  long baby finger nail).

“Love grows” my Grandma tells me, “what you need is stability”. They may as well give up this pretence of happiness altogether and nudge me down the aisle, to Abba’s Money Money Money proving my fellow students right once and for all.

I should elaborate. Way back when in sixth form, I had been voted “Most Likely To Marry For Money”. I personally don’t know where they got such an idea.

Yes I’d like to be rich, who wouldn’t? (Walk in wardrobe’s don’t build themselves you know). And yes it’s probably going to take me a while (because as I’ve discovered, working in the media industry involves a lot of working for free). And okay, if I were the “sleep your way to the top” type of girl I’d probably get there a lot faster. But damn it my morals are always getting in the way of an easy life.

So until success busts a groove over to my ends, London keep dropping those 20p’s and I’ll keep picking them up. And one day, when I can spare them, perhaps I’ll drop a few back.

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How To Be Happy.

I took an online optimism quiz the other day which informed me I am a pessimist (as if I needed a quiz to tell me that).

What threw me off was the little encouraging note at the bottom of the page saying “don’t worry you can change!” Never a good sign when you’re computer starts giving you life advice is it? I am only left to wonder if the subsequent pop up I received 30 seconds later entitled “stress management” was a coincidence.

I remembered someone once told me, if you smile for one minute every morning, it tricks your body into releasing happy endorphins into your body and in turn makes you happier.

Having been struck down with a momentary bout of optimism (and wanting to put my computer in its place) I decided to attempt a one-week trial. And it seemed to work well enough until one morning I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, un-brushed teeth, frizzy hair, pink fluffy bathrobe and a Cheshire cat smile. I looked insane (a look I’ll admit I’m not totally unfamiliar with, but not one I’d ever want to be optionally submitted to again).

In fact I’m convinced the person who came up with this theory worked as a secret spy for crème-de-la-mer or Olay and whose job is to provoke the production of deep-set wrinkles. The only thing better than unhappy women, are unhappy women wanting to spend a fortune in eradicating their new smile lines.

Someone else once informed me eating a chocolate bar a day helps with inner happiness. Their explanation involved something or other about neurotransmitters and mood levels influenced by chocolate, I phased out almost immediately, they’d sold me at ‘chocolate’. Come on now, using chocolate as a mood elevator, yes please, what next, fudge cake for toothache? Because you can sign me up for that trial too.

And while the Mars bar solution to life made me happy for a while, the subsequent £100 gym fee I had to pay so I could fit into my jeans again did not make me happy at all. In fact the opposite, I wanted to find the person whose great idea this was and ram an airport sized Toblerone down their throat. Somehow, I refrained.

Then, upon my quest for permanent happiness, I stumbled upon this thing called optimism; rumour has it, it does wonders for the heart. So if you happen to be a glass half empty kind of person, take note:

If someone knocks off your wing mirror on the way to work, the world isn’t against you, you just happened to cross the path of moron. You go on a bad date… you’re not going to end up a spinster and this isn’t a sign that you should stop wearing makeup and shaving your legs- you simply need to think of it as one frog closer to your prince. You’re best friend hasn’t returned your call in three days and your convinced he’s found someone less mentally imbalanced to watch Match of the Day with? No, he just has the memory of a goldfish.

Why none of this had ever occurred to me before, I’m not quite sure. Forget mood elevators and Jack Daniels, the solution to all of life’s problems is a lot of optimism with a pinch of denial.

However before we get too ahead of ourselves with all this glass-half-full business, I’d like to make a point that a little cynicism never did go completely amiss. Floating away on a little bubble of optimism just sets you up for disappointment: and that if you ask me (which I think you should), is the worst kind of unhappiness.

The best way to live is with a lot of ambition, and not too many expectations. And while apparently money can’t buy you happiness, as a lover of high shoes and fast cars, I’d tend to disagree. But for those less materialistic seekers of joy I suggest you wake up every day, and aim to do at least one thing that is guaranteed to make you happy; be it eating 4 custard doughnuts in a row or listening to David Guetta’s new tune twenty times in row – because everyone knows butchering is a song is the only way to show your love for it.

But whatever it is you do that makes you happy, for goodness sake don’t smile too much, because those wrinkle creams do not work at all.

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