Scandinavian Home Wish List

As the leaves start to burst into the colour of flames and the nip of the chill air forces me into jumpers, all I want to do is nest. For home ware inspiration I've been looking North to Scandinavia - and also to Pinterest. Interiors filled with a mix of monochrome furnishings and natural materials have won my heart.

I've been drawn to furniture with the clean lines and minimalism of mid century design. This G Plan sofa from John Lewis would be the focus of any room. Soften up the look with chunky textiles and some bold geometric patterns. This cushion cover from H&M is perfect. Moss stitch knits give great texture and I'm keen to get my knitting needles out but for now this grey blanket also from H&M is a great addition.

I love the industrial feel of this Next tripod lamp. I've seen a few that I really like but this one just has a bit of attitude that I couldn't resist adding to my wish list! Next also have a great range of geometric vases in different shapes and textures. I can imagine this large cream vase being great on its own or filled with fresh flowers.

IKEA is the obvious choice for Scandi interiors and this woven water hyacinth plant pot adds warmth with natural materials to the monochrome palette I've been coveting. I think it would look fantastic with a giant sculptural plant in. Lastly, it wouldn't be a home wish list without a candle. Orla Kiely's designs are ideal for the overall look I want to create - I love the jar of her Earl Grey candle. What Autumn home trends are you loving at the moment?

Itsu, Reading

Itsu is one of those much coveted eateries that I thought was reserved only for those living in London. Their Reading branch opened at the end of August and I couldn't be happier. I've been really exited see their Eat Beautiful ethos put into practice.

 The new Reading Itsu store is located on the corner of Broad Street and Queen Victoria Street. The interior is in-keeping with the existing 50+ stores. It's bright and clean with elements of traditional Japanese buildings. The chain is owned by Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret. There is a similar importance about the freshness and nutritional value of the food on offer. You can expect to find salads, sushi and bento boxes that pack the protein without the calories or saturated fat. There's a great selection of healthy snacks too. It's also perfect for those of us who want to cut down on the wheat and dairy that we eat.

 Itsu's beauty smoothies are packed full of goodness and look so beautiful on their shelf. I like that you can see exactly what's going into your drink before you take it to the counter to be blended with ice. I went for the dairy free fruit superseed beauty smoothie, a heavenly mix of coconut milk, dates, apple, strawberries, pineapple, banana and seeds. For food, we both decided to have one of the 'on a bed' bento boxes - different toppings on a bed of seasoned sushi rice. I chose the Salmon and Tuna Tartare and Mum went for Tangy Tuna. Mum's was rather heavy on the ginger, which I'm not a fan of, but I was assured that it was delicious. Mine was equally as tasty. Sashimi grade salmon and tuna, topped with chives and a side of teriyaki sauce is definitely a new favourite for me!

It's really refreshing to finally find somewhere that offers lunch which fills you without feeling full. Everything was delicious and tasted incredibly light and fresh. Its great knowing that you can eat out and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I'll definitely be back for another of those beauty smoothies and I'm dying to try the Eggs Benedict from their new breakfast menu!
I was kindly provided with a voucher for Itsu for this post.

6 Things You'll Learn at Uni

Naps are essential, and also special and lovely and glorious things. There's nothing better than crawling back under the duvet after a 9am lecture.

It's completely acceptable to buy every pack of novelty sticky notes you see. The same goes for cute pens, stickers and notebooks.

If you're walking or getting the bus to the supermarket, NEVER use a trolley when you're there. Carrying home 13 bags of value vodka and frozen potato shapes is not fun.

Regardless of whether you think they're disgusting or not, that Pot Noodle that you found in your Fresher's goodie bag will be eaten at the end of term when you've run out of money. Don't throw it away.

Setting an alarm on your phone so that you reach the nearest supermarket in time for them to reduce their bakery items is just common sense.

You come to realise that your selection of dressing up outfits is more impressive than that of the average four year old. Hairbands with ears attached are now your most worn accessory.

What I Read In August

 THE PAYING GUESTS by Sarah Waters ****
Set in 1922, Frances and her mother are forced by their economic situation to take in lodgers. Lust, intrigue and drama intertwine in this novel of interwar domesticity. There are all the elements that you would expect of a Waters novel - crime, murder and lesbian relationships. But alongside the sensational events is a reminder of everyday ordinariness. Mundane daily activities underpin the plot and at a few times in the book I was reminded of Virginia Woolf's writing. The scenes in which characters are walking alone through the London streets are very Mrs Dalloway-esque. I really enjoyed this novel and the way it dealt with the changing times and attitudes towards class and sexuality.

ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT by Jeanette Winterson ****
I was given a reading list at the end of sixth form by my English teacher and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit was on it. It's been a long time coming but I've finally read Winterson's semi-autobiographical novel. It is a coming of age story in which Jeanette finds her own voice and forms her own opinions. She challenges all she has been taught by her Pentecostal mother. This is a difficult book to read at times, but Winterson's prose is poetic and witty. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Toibin *****
I'm always enchanted by Irish authors and the way they write about the family and memories. Toibin's writing is so beautiful and I was deeply moved throughout. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a given a voice and human sensitivity. She is brought to life through the account of her grief. This contrasts greatly to the stark and silent representation of her character that I have been used to. This very short novel is absolutely stunning and I would highly recommend it.

BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent ****
Agnes Magnusdottir was the last woman in Iceland to be executed. In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent imagines her last months. The imagined tale is a gruesome, atmospheric snapshot of a country in the grip of patriarchy and historic superstitions. The narrative is split between three characters and Agnes' sections are brilliantly haunting. I found myself re-reading the beautiful sentences and becoming more and more attached to the story with every turn of the page. This is a fantastic debut novel and I'm eagerly awaiting news of a second.

  MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides ****
Eugenides is a master of story-telling. Although worlds apart from The Virgin Suicides, I thoroughly enjoyed Middlesex. It tells the epic journey of three generations of the Stephanides family, Greek immigrants now settled in Detroit. Greek history and mythology mixes with the aspirations of the American Dream in conveying to the reader how our narrator, Cal, is now living as a male despite being brought up as a girl. War, desire, family, sexuality and gender are all themes that jostle for attention in the novel. They mingle together so well that the book made me laugh out loud one moment and be desperately sad the next. Despite having a few issues with the ending, Middlesex is a book that I'll find hard to forget.

STANCLIFFE'S HOTEL by Charlotte Bronte ***
The Bronte siblings had invented imaginary worlds as children and written about them in teeny tiny books. Charlotte extends on her and Branwell's world of Angria in Stancliffe's Hotel. The writing is witty, political and has a certain masculinity about it. It's interesting to see into the Bronte's private life - these writings were intended for the enjoyment of the family alone. I really want to read more of these early writings having seen the originals at the Bronte parsonage in Haworth earlier this year.

I really don't know how I feel about this one. Although it's well written and funny I felt uncomfortable reading it. The control Miss Brodie has over her six favourite students is disturbing and I just wanted to be finished. I do want to give Spark another chance and have my eye on A Far Cry from Kensington.