This week Christmas got REAL!

Last week was jam-packed and I was very grateful for a quieter weekend to recover. But all the busy stuff was worth it as last week it felt like Christmas really kicked in, hooray! So what was I up to last week? Well check out this weeks photo montage!

First up I headed to m&m’s world in Leicester Square to stock up on peanut m&m’s before watching the latest Twilight film. FYI the m&m’s were Christmas coloured and yummy; the film was horrendous. p.s. who doesn’t love a dancing m&m?!
We got the night lights out! I love the smell of night lights and I find the light reflecting on the walls from the flames so relaxing.

I attempted to make rocky road. They were yummy just not quite chocolatey enough.

I’ve finished Izzy’s advent calendar, including handmade tags for the four presents – what do you think?

A Belgo waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce, um delicious! Pudding during a lovely long dinner catch-up with a great friend from Uni.

Listening to Christmas carols while doing Christmas shopping at Peter Jones – great idea!
Christmas decorations on the Kings Road

First day back at work means a lot of Disney Pixar desk calendar days that need removing.
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Christmas loveliness

I had big plans for today, I was going to wrap up and post numerous presents, write Christmas cards, organise and print photos for my Nanna’s Christmas present and perhaps most importantly do a couple of hours of work. However, instead of doing any of those things I’ve been perusing the web for festive goodies, so here are the things I wish I could treat myself too. However, with Christmas coming I don’t think my credit card company would appreciate that! I well, I can always dream can’t I.
                                   Felt Reindeer Head                  Christmas Pudding Bin Bags

 
London Snow Globe Print      Merry Christmas Cushion Cover        Kissing Stag Mugs

 

       Hot Cocoa Tea Towel                      Christmas Tin                      Winterland Tealight Holder

advent calendar love

Now I love an advent calendar, for as long as I can remember I’ve used one to count down to the most magical of all days. I was lucky when growing up that my Mum was just as obsessed with Christmas as I was as she went all out when it came to advent calendars. Not only did she buy us the obligatory Cadbury’s Chocolate calendar which I still to this day love, she also filled a fabric masterpiece for my sisters and I to enjoy! Each day we would gather together and take it in turns to pull out the gift tag bearing one of our names, and if we were lucky enough to be chosen we got to delve into our very own mini stocking for a present. These presents weren’t expensive or anything crazy, often there would be a pair of earrings, some chocolate, a pen and the like, but it was always a special part of our Christmas tradition. Even when Lau and I went away to University we still got our own mini stocking and would await Becca’s text at 8am to see if it was our turn to open a present. Strangely enough we have never been tempted to sneak a peek to see when it would next be our turn or open a present early. I think that’s probably because we feel it would ruin the fun, as it’s all about the anticipation really isn’t it!

This year I’ve already been given my bag of presents and my Cadbury’s chocolate calendar and I can’t wait until December 1st when I can get stuck in to it! This year we’ve got a different fabric creation that Mum has made, yes MADE from scratch. Isn’t it amazing? I love the different pockets and the little Christmas buttons all over it – super cute!

This year I’ve decide to continue the fabric advent calendar tradition by creating one for my four year old god-daughter. I haven’t done it before as I thought she was a bit too young and I’ve never thought about it early enough, but this year I was determined to do it! I’m sure I’ll share the final calendar before I post it off to Manchester but in the meantime here are a few of my favourite advent calendars which I’ve spotted during the preparation of my own!

I love this really simple red and white one from H&M which is only £12.99, bargainacious or what! I am a bit of a sucker for anything red and white at Christmas time as it automatically feels so festive. I also love the different fonts used for the numbering on this advent calendar, I think if the font was all the same it would look a bit boring!

The next advent calendar I was very tempted by was this one from the Biscuiteers, isn’t it fabulous? I love the Biscuiteers biscuits as not only are they delicious they are also incredibly beautiful. I’m always amazed at how perfect each biscuit is, how do they manage to do that? However, at £65 for the cloth and biscuits this one is a little out of my price range!

I really like this wooden reindeer one with little drawers, isn’t it cute? Again red and white, my favourite Christmas colour combination! However, this one would only work if I was just giving her chocolate as the presents and gift tags I’m planning won’t fit in the drawers. But it’s still lovely, and it would be cool to hang cute decorations on the antlers.

 

This hessian bag garland one is brilliant, I love the idea of stringing this along a mantelpiece  it would look so lovely. I especially love the little shaped pegs, the Santa Claus is so cute! Unfortunately the hessian sacks are a bit too big, I think my little gift tags will look a little lost if I go for this one!

The final advent calendar I looked at was this Christmas tree one from M&S. The Christmas tree shape is a bit more interesting than the other two fabric ones I looked at, I mean can you ever beat a Christmas tree? I also like the fact that it’s fairly cheap and made of felt.

So that’s a round up of the best advent calendars I’ve found so far, now I just need to get organised on my one! I still need to buy the presents, organise the tags and wrap everything up, no pressure then! What about you what are you planning on doing for your Christmas countdown?

Run, run, run!

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before I’ve recently started running properly. For my whole life (well the last 10 years or so) I’ve dreamed of being someone who runs for fun and not just for the bus. But I’ve always assumed I’m just one of those people that’s not cut out for running, when in reality I hadn’t really ever really tried it! Don’t get me wrong I’ve always been quite sporty, I loved sport at school and was part of the hockey, rounders and netball teams. But the one PE lesson I hated throughout my whole school life was the 1500 metres, I learnt to dread that running track. Running round it three and a half times felt like a lifetime – those were the longest 15 minutes of my life!
But last year I stopped and thought: ‘No I can be one of those people that chooses to run for fun’, I knew I’d just have to start and finds some willpower!

So back in March last year I signed up for a 5k (A Race for Life on Clapham Common), bought some new trainers and downloaded a 0 – 5k app and off I went. Miraculously just four months later I ran a 5k in 35 mins, hooray! And the key part, I didn’t stop once. Double hooray. I have to say the app was a lifesaver as it helped me slowly build up to 5k in a manageable way, otherwise I’m sure I would have given up before I’d even really started – yep my willpower is that bad!

But it wasn’t just the app that was integral to my running revelations, it was music too. I wouldn’t have got anywhere without my amazing music, my running playlist really pushed me through every time I wanted to stop. I would never have thought one song would have made a difference but it totally did. So with that in mind Ithought I’d share my top five running songs with you. These are the five songs that push me to continue when I think I’m about to die. Now they are in no way a failsafe, as I’ve certainly given up during these songs, but more often than not these songs have got me through a particularly tricky run!

The Climb, Miley Cyrus – Now I know this song says a lot about my musical tastes (cheesy rather than sophisticated!), but I just don’t care. This song is such a great tune and always pushes me that bit further. I think this is mainly down to the lyrics

There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb.‘ 

There’s no way, when I’m plodding along, that I can stop once this song is on, it just forces you on as like Miley says, in her infinite wisdom, it’s the climb that matters, not the speed or how you’ll feel after it but the fact that you’ve achieved something. Or at least it is for me.

Just Stand Up!, various – I can’t remember how I discovered this song but I love it and it’s the first song I flick to when I’m starting to flag. It reminds me that completing my run is not that hard to do in the grand scheme of things, not when there are people out there fighting for their life day after day. Plus the lyrics are inspirtional to:

‘Things get better through whatever, if you fall dust it off don’t let up…if the mind keeps thinking you’ve had enough but the heart keeps telling you don’t give up…through it all just stand up…you got it in you, find it it’s in you.’ 

Iris, Goo Goo Dolls – Another brilliant song, not just the lyrics, but more the melody. I love this song and I can’t help but run faster when it’s on. Although signing along at the same time, is not to be advised!

If I Were a Boy, Beyonce – Always guaranteed to get me lifting my head higher and pound my footsteps faster this is just a classic running song. Perhaps not your usual running song as its quite slow at times but I love a song that’s got a slow build and a really rousing chorus!

What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger), Glee Cast – Now I’m a huge gleek, and there are an awful lot of the Glee songs that make absolutely perfect running songs. They’ve got strong beats, are cheery and are easy to sing along to (in my head anyway). But this is one of my fave running songs, because of (again) the lyrics. I think you’ll agree that when the lyrics are What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ there’s no way you can fail to be spurred on. Plus those lyrics are accompanied by a particularly upbeat moment of the song, making it ideal for when I’m struggling!

So those are my favourite running songs, I’m sure there not much use to anyone who isn’t obsessed with cheesy pop but they certainly spur me on when I’m trying to run 5 or 6k, or let’s be honest 3k at the moment! I do think I’ll have to compile a longer list soon as I’m training for a 10k, so lots more songs will be needed. Any suggestions?

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet….

Well I’ve been quiet over the last few days, sorry about that! I have a fairly good excuse, I was in Portugal for a long weekend and it was fabulous! It was so nice to properly relax and not have to be anywhere or do anything but eat, read and chat! I’m lucky enough to get to go to Portugal fairly regularly, I’ve been twice this year, so it allows me to really relax when I’m there as I know where everything is, how things are done and I don’t have to worry about working it all out from scratch like you do when you head to somewhere brand new.
 

We stayed in this lovely apartment which is a 15 minutes amble from this gorgeous beach and near lots of nice restaurants and lots of golf courses and a tennis club. I went with three other friends and we were in the mood for yummy food, board games, walks, lots of reading, cheesy pop (and Christmas) songs and paddles in the sea, which is exactly what we did and it was pure bliss! Although the 4am start last Thursday to fly there and the midnight arrival home weren’t ideal, but they sure beat being at work by a country mile! Rather than regaling you with a blow by blow account of the entire trip I’ve just shared a few of the best/most interesting moments below as well as some pictures. I hope I haven’t made you too jealous!

Weather – we had three days of torrential rain, thunder storms and grey clouds, which you wouldn’t think would be that great. However it gave us the excuse to sit and really relax, plus we got a great view of the sheet and fork lightning out of the French doors. Thankfully the weather perked up and the last two days were glorious, so at least I got time to properly soak up the rays and my freckles have appeared!

Board games – we played a lot of games, I mean a LOT of games! We had tournaments in everything from the Penguin Book Chase game, UNO, Trivial Pursuit (the 20 years one not the super hard Genus one), normal cards, Pictureka and Inspeakquence. I can highly recommend this as a holiday activity – great fun!

Scrummy food – we were fairly sensible and ate out just as much as we ate in, but at least when we ate out we went to lovely places, including two places overlooking the sea. I also fed my obsession with chocolate sandwich biscuits, Oreos covered in chocolate and Sumol, yummy!

Books – just before I went away I finished a fantastic book, Gone Girl, which I’ll write about another day, so it meant I had the joy of starting a brand new book while away, hooray! I love starting new books – the anticipation of a whole new world to be discovered is so so exciting! The new book I read whilst away was Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind, which was absolutely fantastic. Not only was it beautifully written with great characters that you could empathise with but it was also simply fascinating as it was about an occupied French town during WWI as well as the difficulties of  recovering art stolen during that period. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as enamoured by The Great Gatsby, I was certainly expecting a lot more from it. However, I found it fairly boring and maybe a bit too up itself, to be honest I was very thankful it was only 150 pages long. As for my current read -The Secret Keeper I’ll let you know….

Wintery covetables

With winter slowly slowly closing in I’ve realised that I’m completely unprepared for the cooler weather, so my response to this? To hunt for the  perfect winter wardrobe of course – you know me, any excuse!!

My first coveted item is an item that’s more practical than stylish, and that’s these gloves from Muji. These would be absolutely perfect for when I’m running in this cold wintery weather and want to check the time/my progress/flick to the next track. As with my current gloves it’s impossible and I’m always fumbling with my phone, or losing a glove or just generally making a faff of everything. So it would be nice to have these for ease really – plus I quite like the fair-isle pattern.

I’m a bit of a fan of jumpers, so when I saw this one I fell in love! I love that this would be perfect for any occasion – for a day at work, out with friends or even just snuggling up on the sofa, plus the navy colour means it’ll go with anything and everything. The bows at the back are a really nice detail too, they make the jumper a bit more interesting. And what makes this jumper perfect – it’s only £20, bargainacious!!

Recently I’ve noticed how lovely the clothes are in Joules, I’ve never really been a fan in the past but recently I’ve become a bit of a fan of their stuff. sadly I think it’s all a bit too expensive for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ogle all the clothes right? So as well as loving jumpers, I also have a think about cardigans, and this grey wool cardigan just needs to join my collection! I love the bunny motif on the bottom of the cardi and the random pink button, both these elements just add a little something to it without it becoming an item that doesn’t go with everything in my wardrobe! But for just shy of £50 I think I’ll just have to dream about it for a while longer!

My final coveted item (for now at least) are these gorgeous fluffy slippers, aren’t they just wonderful? I just love the colour, knitted pattern, fluffy inside and buttons on the side, they’re so lovely I could just squeal!! They are from Accessorise, which is where I got my last pair of slippers from and which three years later are still in one piece and keeping my tootsies warm. Sadly, that means I don’t have a need for buying these lovely creations, but that doesn’t stop me from lusting after them!!

So there’s my list of coveted wintery items, now I just need to win the lottery so I can buy everything. A girl can dream hey?

A week in pictures

I just thought I’d share some of last weeks shenanigans, via the medium of photography and good old Instagram. Last week was a good week! 
Mum’s fabulous birthday cake. She’s a fan if giraffes in case you were wondering!
Chilling in front of a cosy fireplace.
Emile Sandé and Professor Green at the Royal Albert Hall.
Stephen Fry racing Kelly Holmes in Trafalgar Square – on a treadmill with wheels like you do!
Afternoon tea with Mum and Lau.
My favourite poem from childhood.
Free goodies from a work meeting, who doesn’t love Me Men and Little Miss stationery!

Oops I went on a bit of a spending spree….

Oh dear, I totally broke my shopping amnesty this weekend, oops. But in my defence I bought lots of things that I needed, (and some things that I didn’t!) so it wasn’t all unnecessary stuff! But it has got me thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so ridiculous and silly about this shopping malarkey. Maybe instead I should just be more sensible from now on and not get too carried away and quite so often!! Anyway so what did I buy, well here you go….

1. A brand new stripy snood. I had to pop to Primark to return something and whilst there I fell in love with this snuggly scarf. I was in dire need of a new scarf as I either have a super thick scarf that boils me alive or a really thin scarf that causes me to freeze, so I’m so thankful I found this. Not only is it the perfect thickness so I am nice and snuggly but it also wraps around my neck three times and isn’t too bulky under my coat – perfect! Plus it’s a gorgeous colour combination and has stripes, what more could I need!

2. A brand new phone, the iPhone 5 which I’m a little in love with, it’s so sleek and pretty and light and just perfect! I’ve been waiting to upgrade my phone for ages and it’s so good to finally have a phone with buttons that all work perfectly and that doesn’t need recharging every hour or so! The only issue is that I’m concerned about dropping it and breaking it, so I’m now on the lookout for a new phone case, has anyone seen one that’s nice and won’t break the bank? As my old sock is not really that stylish….

3. Um I’ve only gone and found my Christmas jumper, and it’s still 6 weeks until Christmas too, hooray! I’d heard rumours that Primark had some pretty spectacular Christmas jumpers so I knew I just had to check it out for myself as I haven’t had a Christmas jumper for ages and ages. Anyway once I got there I found this spectacular red Christmas pudding jumper, I think I’m in love with it! There were lots of other options – Snowman, turkey and presents – but I personally think my chosen jumper is the best one! It’s just a shame that I can’t yet wear it, unless maybe six weeks before Christmas isn’t too early?

4. Christmas Cake decorations. I picked up these cake sprinkles at the weekend and I can’t wait to try them out on some Christmas cupcakes. Aren’t they brilliant? What a perfect way of making cupcakes just a little bit Christmassy with minimal effort – I can almost taste the deliciousness of them!!

That’s quite a successful trip I think, although I fear it’s a little bit too Christmas themed for seven weeks prior to Christmas!!

Weekend lately

This weekend I’m back at my parents’ house in beautiful Surrey as it’s my mum’s birthday and my little sis is back from uni, so it’s been a fabulous weekend of family time, good food and serious relaxing! One thing I’ve noticed, by spending the last 24 hours in the relative countryside, is that the Autumn colours down here are far more spectacular than anything I’ve seen in London recently. I can’t get over  the sumptuous reds,glorious purples, bright greens, stunning yellows or warm orange hues that are on the leaves and bushes. It’s truly stunning. I feel like the last day or so has been in technicolor rather than muted browns and greens, like in London town. I think it’s to do with the vast number of different types of tree that grows here compared to the relativly small number in London. But whatever the reason the colours are absolutely stunning, and I only wish I was a better photographer as my picture has certainly not done the view justice.

Whilst back for the weekend I’ve consumed a horrendous amount of food, I’m surprised that I’ve not gained two stone whilst here, so far I’ve had a delicious Chinese – complete with a starter of prawn toasts, spring rolls, satay chicken, seaweed and deep fried prawns, duck pancakes, rice, lemon chicken, prawns in black bean AND not forgetting half a tonne of prawn crackers – afternoon tea, steak and chips, cupcakes and the most scrumptious hot chocolate brownie pudding. And it’s only Sunday morning. There’s still loads in store for me: roast dinner with bread sauce, stuffing, roast potatoes, etc, birthday cupcakes and a picnic at the RAH which will include Christmas sandwiches. Uh-oh!

But I think the best part about this weekends trip home has to be last night and sitting in front of the open fire just chatting, reading and watching tv with my family. It was just so relaxed, there’s nothing quite like being in front of the warm fire in a little bubble of warmth with your favourite people. It was bliss. It makes me wish we had an open fireplace in our flat in London, although its a flat so not very practical but it would be amazing!

Anyway I suppose I’d better move soon, or else I’ll spend the whole of Sunday in bed!

So, what have I been doing lately?

Last week I had the best week ever! I did so much stuff that I don’t even know where to start when it comes to sharing it with you, so as a line in my all time favourite film goes…let’s start at the very beginning, that’s a very good place to start!!

So last Monday I had the day off, hooray! So I had such great plans for my day off, I was going to be super organised, tick off so many jobs and even do a big Autumn clean…instead I sat on the sofa and went for half a run – oopsy! But on the plus side it was lovely to do nothing while knowing that everyone else was hard at work *evil cackle*. In the evening I headed to Kings Cross for a Tyler Hilton gig which was loads of fun! It was very weird to see him on stage only about 10 metres away from me after seeing him on TV on One Tree Hill for years, surreal indeed! But it was a fantastic gig, Tyler’s voice is brilliant and he played all my favourite songs, so I couldn’t have asked for much else!!

As you know last week was Halloween, now I’m not a big fan of this holiday, I think it’s probably because I never really celebrated it while growing up. So it’s hard to really get behind it now, when all I really see is the money making side of it. So instead of a big celebration we had friends round and cooked yummy food – sweet potato piled high with chicken tarragon and Halloween gingerbread biscuits. They were halloween biscuits as they were in the shape of tombstones, bats, pumpkins and cats! They were truly scrumptious and I think it was the perfect way to spend a Halloween evening I think – plus even better we weren’t accosted by too many trick or treaters!

On Thursday I achieved one of my long-held dreams, I finally went to see Les Miserables at the theatre and oh my goodness it totally lived up to my super-high expectations. It was phenomenal, the cast are fantastic. I can’t believe how amazing their voices, I mean some of the notes they hold and for that length of time – wow. Also the set was superb, I love when the set all fits together, and surprises you, which is what happened with this set. In particular in the barricade scene. Having never watched the musical before or listened to the music I was surprised by the number of songs that I knew already, obviously aside from I Dreamed a Dream. Strangely I didn’t find this as sad as I anticipated, in fact I found it strangely uplifting. I’m not sure it quite beats Wicked or Billy Elliot as my favourite musical though! This theatre trip all stemmed from watching the trailer for the brand new Les Miserables film, which made me super emotional even though I didn’t know the story. So if you’ve not watched it you must asap and then let’s start the countdown until January 10th 2013!

Our Diner leftovers!

I also paid another visit to the brilliant Diner on Shaftesbury Avenue, I love this place so much. Thankfully my cheese burger with mushrooms and sweet potato fries with a pot of BBQ sauce was just as good as usual. Although I couldn’t move properly all evening as I was so full. I think next time I’m going to have to have one of their vanilla milkshakes with a shot of peanut butter, as it’s so delicious. Alhtough how I’ll fit it in I’m just not sure!!

Finally to finish off my weekend Lau and I header out to lunch on Sunday at The Pepper Tree in Clapham, having never been there before I was very pleasantly surprised by the delicious and cheap food. If you’re ever in need of tasty chinese this is the palce to go. We had a veritable feast of prawn crackers, chicken satay, prawn toast, thai green curry and more, and it was all thoroughly delicious. I can’t recommend it highly enough! On our walk back home we stopped off at Starbucks and had our first Starbucks Red Cup drinks of the year – yippee!! That’s always the true sign that Christmas is on it’s way!! I went for their new Praline Mocha and oh my goodness it’s scrumptious, it was like melted Guylian chocolates, wow! I think it’s going to be tricky not to have one of these everyday!!

Happy Friday everyone. Fi xx

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