Festive Fun

So this weeks round-up is going to be all about festive frivolities, hooray! I promise I’ll try not to bore you with too much waffle about presents and scrumptious food, but I might not have any other choice as apart from those two things and lots of TV that’s pretty much been my week, and it’s been fabulous! It’s just been so nice to sit and veg out, playing games, spending time with family and not have to worry about work.

So Christmas Eve was really relaxed and revolved around present wrapping, biscuit baking (check out our slightly burnt shortbread – I think they resemble Gingerbread more than shortbread to be honest but at least they tasted scrumptious!), a fish and chips dinner, The Snowman and The Snowdog and board games galore.

Once we were all up on Christmas morning we discovered that Santa had been – phew! – and all tucked in to our stockings. My sisters, Mum and I all wore our penguin onesies, aren’t the feet amazing!! We then watched brilliant Christmas TV and went for a freezing cold, rainy walk where we got absolutely drenched but it was fantastic anyway and made me very ready for my massive Christmas lunch, hooray! It was scrumptious, as per usual, although we did almost forget the sprouts, oopsy. Thankfully we remembered in the end and we were able to eat them and dinner wasn’t ruined.

After lunch we opened our Christmas presents and everyone was so so generous this year, I was blown away! I got lots of lovely things but I think my absolute favourites were the gorgeous Rob Ryan plate, our family friends’ Welsh Cake recipe, the below gold whale necklace and these scrumptious dark chocolate m&m’s. Everything was just perfect! After some Christmas TV we played more board games, even one that was about English Train lines courtesy of my Dad which shockingly was brilliant, and I ate my first slice of Christmas cake – yum yum.

Boxing Day started in a very crazy non-relaxing strenuous way with a walk followed by a run in the woods. This run in the woods was meant to be all downhill and only half an hour. It ended up having 6 (yes 6 hills!), being 45 minutes long and over three miles long. But I’m impressed with myself for doing it all in the end, even if I did have to walk some – okay a lot of it, simply because of the amount of food in my stomach after Christmas Day! In the afternoon I watched crappy TV (Muppets Christmas Carol – brilliant!) and painted my nails with all my new nail varnishes – what do you think of the dotty designs? In the evening we went to watch The Hobbit which is absolutely fantastic, I can’t do it justice at all in my description. It was great to see favourite characters from the last films, Martin Freeman was superb, the dwarfs were hilarious, Richard Armitage was gorgeous, moody and excellent and it ended brilliantly – I can barely wait for the next one, roll on December 2013!

Thursday involved schlepping (what a brilliant word) around town searching for a new bed for Lau, sadly we didn’t find anything but we did at least narrow things down for her – hooray! After a stressful morning we watched movies all afternoon – Brave is just so brilliant – followed by an entire evening, yes an entire evening of board games. To be fair you can’t go wrong with board games they are the best things ever!!!

Friday saw us driving home to our lovely flat and having a massive moment of organisation – we managed to fill 8 bags of charity shop stuff, amazing! The flat is nowhere near done but it’s starting to look better and better already AND I’ve almost put all my presents away, hooray to me! After our mammoth clear out there was shopping to do and a cinema trip was in order. The shopping trip was massively successful – new turquoise jacket, new pink cardi, new vest tops, new breton stripey top, new dress and new silver star jeans – hooray to me and my new wardrobe! And Pitch Perfect was a brilliantly hilarious film, I highly recommend it to one and all. It’s a little disgusting at times but I defy people not to leave the cinema smiling and humming along to the soundtrack. It will certainly make every smile through the January blues!

Saturday saw us heading to St Albans (with grande Starbucks drinks for the journey!) for a belated family gathering, which was full of scrumptious food (yes I did eat four honey and mustard sausages and yes there are three puddings on that plate, I hope you’re not judging?!), an epic quiz, which my team scored full points in one of the rounds, yeah!, and good old nattering which was all topped off by our car headlights breaking so we had to get the train home – joyful!! Thankfully we finally got home and were able to enjoy Return of the King and Love Actually and eat Christmas chocolate to round off a lovely day! p.s these mint chocolate twigs from m&s are my new favourite snacks, they are delicious

On Sunday everything started well, I had a massive lie-in, read loads of my book, and sorted my room. However at about 1pm we found out we had a leak that was eeking it’s way through to the flat downstairs and it cost us £150 (!) to fix, fun times! To top it all off we then found a humongous spider in our bathroom with the hairiest legs I’ve EVER seen – I’ve got the collywobbles just thinking about it – eurgh!! So not the best end to the weekend, although a Private Practice marathon accompanied by Christmas cake and peanut m&m’s has certainly helped the evening improve!

So there we have it, that’s how I spent my last week of 2012, not such a bad way to end the year I don’t think!

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Making my lovely photos even lovelier

I take a fair few pictures each day using my iPhone either with Hipstamatic or just the camera function and then I improve my snaps using Instagram. But lately I feel like my pictures have started to become a bit samey and boring. By ‘samey’ I basically mean my iPhone photography consists of three main themes – the food I’m eating, my latest nail polish designs and the clothes I’m wearing!

So I feel I need to challenge myself a little in the New Year to improve my photography, not just what I’m photographing but also how, the colours and the style. So hopefully the January photography challenge I’m starting will steer me in the direction of more exciting pictures! I’ve seen quite a lot of different challenges online – there’s the Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day Challenge and also Capture your 365 – but none of them are quite what I want to do, so instead of joining in with one of those I’ve made up my own list of 31 things to photograph in January. I’ve provisionally assigned each one to a specific date in January but I can’t imagine I’ll stick to these dates for the entire length of the challenge. As it’s all about creating the best images, so if I’m doing something one day that works best with the ‘life loves’ challenge I’d be silly not to use that image then!

1 – Life loves
2 – Smiles
3 – Blue
4 – Time
5 – Shapes
6 – Lonely
7 – Letters
8 – Texture
9 – Morning
10 – Treats
11 – Darkness
12 – Sound
13 – Feet
14 – Movement
15 – Landscape
16 – Spots
17 – Something beginning with ‘J’
18 – Weather
19 – Buildings
20 – Three things
21 – Scrumptious food
22 – Self portrait
23 – Work
24 – People
25 – Rushing
26 – Up or down
27 – Nature
28 – Comfort
29 – Happiness
30 – Something you own
31 – Repetition

So there we have it my list for January. Hopefully these 31 photos will help me photograph some more interesting things and improve my iPhone picture taking abilities. I’ll let you know how it goes…

25 classics films I MUST watch

So here it is. My list of films to watch over the coming year, as I’ve already mentioned these are the classic films that I’ve yet to watch that apparently are absolute classics and I’m crazy not to have seen! Hopefully I can watch all of these in 2013, I mean that shouldn’t be too hard to do after all as it’s only one every two weeks – easy peasy! That should even leave me time to watch some of my favourite films like Mulan, The Lion King and Crazy, Stupid Love as well – I can’t become too cultured after all!

An Affair to Remember
Annie Hall
Born Yesterday
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The Breakfast Club
Brief Encounter
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cabaret
Casablanca
Cocktail
Die Hard
Doctor Zhivago
Gone with the Wind
Goodfellas
Heat
Kramer vs. Kramer
Lawrence of Arabia
Once Upon a Time in America
Rain Man
Rocky – all of them
The Godfather – all three films
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Great Escape
West Side Story
The Wizard of Oz

Christmas Wrapping

So this is a slightly belated post seeing as Christmas was nearly a week ago, but I still wanted to share my Christmas wrapping as promised as it’s technically Christmas until I go back to work! As I mentioned in my Wrapping Love post I’m a sucker for brown paper packages, so that’s the route I went down this year with wrapping. However it wasn’t boring, no way josé, my wrapping was still bright and colourful. I hope you like it!

1) A pile of presents with my gorgeous timbergram cards – they are made of actual wood!
2) Gold ribbon accessorised with felt Christmas trees from Hobbycraft and ‘no peeking!’ gift tags from eBay
3) Pretty silver ribbon and ink present decoration – the stamp was from Papermash, and I also got the Christmas tree stamp there too
4) Pink ‘Merry Christmas’ washi tape from Paperchase and left over tags from last year
5) Green ribbon and a red felt bauble
6) Red and white ribbon with brown paper – a classic combo!
7) Wise words on this tape from East of India
8) & 9) Coloured ribbon goes with all types of paper, boxes and even sticker tags you steal from family!
10) Ribbon and black ink stamps
11) My green washi tape – a perfectly simple way to improve brown paper
12) A present for mum wrapped in Caroline Gardner Christmas pudding tissue paper. Finished off with red ribbon and a ‘No Peeking!’ tag. I fell in love with this paper as soon as I saw it. I just had no idea what I’d use it for. Thankfully when I was wrapping Mum’s presents inspiration struck and I had the perfect solution!

New year, new resolutions

So it’s that time of year where you sit down and make resolutions about how you’ll make you life better over the coming year. Usually they’re food and exercise related (i.e. eat less and run more) or money related (spend less and earn more)! I have to admit I’m not usually big on resolutions as I think if something needs changing then just get on and do it, why wait for a new year to begin? However, this year I’m feeling a bit differently about it all and see that it’s a good time to make a few changes; although I’m not going to make drastic changes or unrealistic promises, instead I’ve considered carefully the things that need amending and what I want to achieve over the upcoming months. I’ve shared my five resolutions for 2013 below and I think they sound manageable, there’s nothing too huge that needs doing on this list. It’s more about making a few changes to what I already do, at least I hope so…. I’ll keep you updated regularly on here so you know how it’s going and here’s hoping my willpower holds out!

Lose those last few pounds – Since I started losing weight back in March I’ve had a goal in mind for the new me, this is a goal I’ve shared with no one and never really considered meeting, it was more of a pie in the sky idea in my head! However, I’m now thinking that it might be a good new target for me, as I need something to get me out of the lull I’m currently in and it’s nothing compared to what I’ve already achieved!

Mix up my outfits – I feel like I always grab the same outfits each morning and accessorise them in the same way. So I’ll be trying new combinations of clothes and accessories over the coming year. This should be fairly easy as I have a shed load of jewellery, belts and shoes which I just don’t wear and plenty of clothes that I can mix and match quite easily, so it won’t cost me anything. I really just need to get my arse in gear and come up with new outfit options – fun times!

Eat more fruit and vegetables – A boring resolution I know but I’ve realised I definitely don’t eat anywhere near the recommended five a day when it comes to fruit and veg. Take today as an example I’ve only had some orange juice, half an apple, some tomato soup, a bit of avocado and some roast parsnips and potatoes and today was better than normal. Hhm this is not ideal! Not only will this be good for my health and teeth, it’ll be great for my bank balance as a banana is far cheaper than a Wispa bar!

Visit more places in London – I’ve lived in London for almost three years now yet there are still loads of places I want to visit and things I want to do. Like go to the National Gallery, visit Kew Gardens, wander through Regents Park, ride Boris Bikes in Hyde Park, explore Islington, shop at Fortnum and Mason or have afternoon tea at The Ritz – the list goes on and on. So 2013 is the year that this will happen; I WILL branch further afield than normal and go to other places instead of just sticking to my south and central London bubbles! ps any suggestions of places to visit are more than welcome!

Familiarise myself with more of the classics – Be it classics films or classic books, I want to know what all the fuss is about when it comes to classics like Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Godfather, The Catcher in the Rye and many more. You can follow my foray into these books through my 2013 book challenge posts or the film ones at my soon to be created 25 classic films I MUST watch page.

Doing a little jig!

Today I found myself in Gap doing a little jig in full view of all the other shoppers. As you do!

The (very logical) reason for this lovely jig was that I had tried on a pair of jeans that were UK size 12 and they fit – miracle of miracles! I don’t think I’ve ever worn a size 12 pair of anything in my life, so of course a dance was necessary – I’m sure you’ll agree!!

To give you some context as to how/why this happened and why it’s so exciting we’ll need to head back in time to March 2012. Once there you’ll see me buying jeans that were size 18, so that’s three sizes difference!! Since then I’ve changed my eating habits (less crap & normal portions), learnt how many calories are in a tbsp of peanut butter (95 FYI) and improved my exercise regime (running, exercise DVDs & walking to work compared to zilch), which has resulted in the size 12 jeans and dance!

After this jig in Gap I obviously purchased said jeans, I really didn’t have any other choice. And here they are in all their glory, what do you think of these glorious star patterned skinny jeans? I for one am in love and I’m outfit planning as we speak…20121228-230321.jpg

Star Shop #1 – Mozzypop

I recently stumbled across Mozzypop a brilliant online boutique that sells jewellery and accessories. I can’t really remember how I found it but I’m so pleased I did. I’m just sad I didn’t find it in time to buy christmas presents for my sisters, as I’m sure they would have loved what I found for them! For starters I would have got this gorgeous swallow ring for one of them and then this cute bunny ring for the other. And then I’d have to find someone to give this toy soldier necklace to, isn’t it sweet?

This site is great, everything is beautiful and VERY reasonably priced, I mean £4 for a ring – bargain! If I won the lottery then I think I’d buy up the whole site! Below are some of my favourite items off the site, I think it’ll be a miracle if I don’t buy the bag before the end of January!

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Satchel – £28

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Turquoise Arrow Head Necklace – £5
Sausage Dog Necklace – £5

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Swooping Swallow Stud Earrings – £4

Pinterest Corner #1 – A Cloche Christmas Decoration

So I recently shared my intentions to post one thing a week in Pinterest Corner… and at last I’ve written my first post. Woohoo, three cheers to me hey!

Of course the very first post HAD to be Christmas related(!) and it’s based on this brilliant cloche and baulbles decoration I saw on the I heart organizing blog and pinned to my Christmas Pinterest board.
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I love the simplicity of this decoration and the fact that it instantly adds a splash of colour to any room. It would also be really easy to adapt it each year with new colourful decorations and a different colour or design of cake stand – so there’s no way it would get boring.
Also one of the annoying things about Christmas decorations, which is not the case for this, is that you spend loads of money on them and then they’re only up for a few weeks. With the cloche and cake stand combo though you could display cakes or candles throughout the year so it’s not such a waste, win! If I owned this I’d definitely switch the baulbles for candles in the new year, maybe a selection of ten candles all different thickness’ and heights, that would look absolutely lovely I think.

Sadly for my version of this lovely decoration I had to amend it as I don’t own a cloche. I did browse some online but the cheapest one I could find was only 16cm in diameter and over £40! So I soon reconsidered my plan and instead used a big glass jar that my Mum has and filled that up with all the spare ornaments and beads I could find.
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Whilst I would have preferred to copy the I heart Organizing one exactly I think my attempt is quite good and lovely in it’s own way and it’s certainly added some extra colour to our decorations! Plus it was really simple to make as we had all the bits and pieces already in the house, as I’m sure most people do!

So there we go my first Pinterest Corner post, let me know what you think and if I’ve inspired you to start looking at your own Pinterest boards and giving some of the pins a whirl!
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Christmas Traditions (Part Two)

So the big day is almost here, is anyone else counting down the days, hours and minutes, or is that just me?! As the countdown is almost over I thought I’d best post part two of my Christmas Traditions post as promised. This post covers the day itself (squeee) and beyond. Don’t forget to read Christmas Traditions (Part One) if you haven’t already and as always please do share you’re Christmas traditions below.

Stockings – As I mentioned in Christmas Traditions (Part One) everyone in my family gets their own stocking on Christmas morning. What I failed to explain is that these are all opened at the same time and none of us are allowed into the room that houses them until we’re all up and about. We generally agree that 8am is the earliest we can wake one another, a lot of people thinks this is incredibly early but this is a lot later than when I was growing up! And also it’s Christmas day, why on earth would you waste it sleeping, that’s what the other 364 days of the year are for! This year we’ll all be in festive attire when we do our stockings – namely spotty onesies with penguin feet – except for Dad who’ll have a new knitted jumper featuring Snowmen, basically any excuse for festive items!

Christmas walks – Christmas is all about the walks in our family and the first one of the holiday happens on Christmas morning before lunch, usually with us all sporting Christmas hats. There are some woods and fields across from our house, so we head out there for an hour or so ramble. It’s the perfect way to feel less guilty an hour later when you proceed to eat your own body weight in turkey! It’s also lovely to see other people out and about,  running or walking their dogs, and everyone’s always very cheery when it’s Christmas Day, there’s none of this typical Englishness of keeping to yourself.

Christmas lunch – This is perhaps my favourite part of Christmas as my parents make the best Christmas dinner. I know I’m biased as it’s what I’ve grown up with but it’s truly scrumptious. We’ll have a massive turkey (usually enough for 10 people), lots of roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and home-grown parsnips, sprouts, leeks in white sauce, carrots, bacon, homemade stuffing pork sausages, two bowls of homemade bread sauce and cranberry and gravy to accompany it. It’s tradition that you have to have at least one sprout with your lunch, or else you aren’t allowed to open any presents. Such harsh bargaining was the only way my sisters and I would ever eat vegetables when we were younger and it seems to have stuck! But I enjoy sprouts now so you won’t hear me complaining!

Presents – After lunch comes present opening! Yes that’s right we leave our pressies until the afternoon!! It’s tradition to take it in turns to open our presents, working through our family from youngest to oldest, one present at a time. This might mean it takes about three hours to do, but it’s so much nicer than us all unwrapping stuff at the same time and missing everyone’s excitement about their gifts.

Christmas Night – This is all about board games and Christmas TV! We always play Articulate, Scrabble and The Logo Game followed by a dinner of cold meats (turkey and ham) and potato salad, before collapsing on the sofa and watching the recorded Doctor Who Christmas Special and hopefully this year the Downton Abbey Special.

Boxing Day – For as long as I can remember we’ve always had a family Christmas with my dad’s family on the 26th or 27th. It’s always very loud (there are 13 of us) and it will involve a lot of food and an awful lot of fun. Dad always does a Christmas quiz for us all and this gets VERY competitive and usually ends in an argument and accusations of cheating! Ah Christmas and families you can’t beat it!! This year we’ll be heading to my uncle’s house for the celebration but I think I’ll still make my Ginger log as is the custom and we’ll force Dad to do the quiz still!

Food – So apart from the Turkey at Christmas lunch there is a whole host of other food that we make and bake over this period – some of which doesn’t make an appearance at any other time of the year! First off is the Christmas cake. My mum makes this every year and it’s usually a slightly altered fruit cake as I’m not a fan of proper Christmas cake – I find it far too rich. Dad always makes sausage rolls and Mum the mince pies and a sponge cake for my sisters. And it’s my sisters job to do the gingerbread and shortbread. This year I might instigate a new tradition of Sticky Gingerbread Cake which I made recently and it was truly amazing and basically like eating Christmas!

So there you have it the rest of our Christmas traditions. We really are quite obsessed with having Christmas how we always have, but when it’s so much fun, why would you even think of changing it!!

Sunday round up

This week has been brilliant! I don’t know if it’s just that I’m writing this with over a week until I have to go back to work and therefore I have rose-tinted spectacles firmly on my face or whether the entire week was really that good. But who cares! Annoyingly I didn’t take that many pictures, but hopefully the below isn’t too boring thanks to the lack of images!

Monday – Homeland Series One free from work, Arthur Christmas, Christmas nails and an Indian takeaway with friends

 

Tuesday – Very unhealthy breakfast, lunch with friends and making a start on my wrapping

Wednesday – Afternoon off, baking reindeer cupcakes & cake pops, ice skating and dodgems at Winter Wonderland and scrumptious tapas at Carmen

Thursday – Lunch at The Southbank Market, Gossip Girl, Grey’s and a lazy night on the sofa

Friday – Last day of work, stroll to Trafalgar Square, a Naked Burrito, Quality Streets, driving home for Christmas and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Saturday – Christmas food shop, last minute present shopping, homemade mince pies, glittery nails, snooze on the sofa and Merlin and Dreamgirls on TV

Sunday – Warner Bros. Studio Tour, BBQ pulled pork sandwich and Costco. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour was unbelievable and I’ll definitely be posting about it properly in a few days (once I’ve got my head around all of it’s awesomeness)!

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