Blogmas #8: A Festive Saturday

* Just so you know, my internet is being appalling at the moment, so if any Blogmas posts go up late, it’s probably because I CAN’T LOAD THE BLOODY PHOTOS. *

I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again: Daily Blog posts are my absolute FAVOURITE to read. And now that I’m trying my hand at December Daily – which I’ve found has made me consciously plan to do Festive things JUST so I have something to scrapbook about – it was kind of inevitable that I’d have another go at blogging my very own day.

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8:00
I ACTUALLY HAD A LIE IN! (Believe me, that is unheard of!) We celebrated by eating our Advent calendar chocolates in bed. It was a pretty good way to kick off the weekend, actually!

10:00
We went Christmas shopping (more on that later…) and stopped off at Marks and Spencer’s for a salted caramel latte (me) and a luxury hot chocolate (him). Aren’t those teeny tiny shortbread Christmas trees the cutest things EVER???

11:00
We came back home and got on with chores… Oh the joys of homeownership!! On a slightly more interesting not PB cooked his Christmas puddings and they made the house smell of old tea bags. NOT A FAN.

12:00
We finished decorating our Christmas tree! I’d started it Friday night but got bored, so PB took over.

1:00
The boy cooked lunch; I finished re-reading Throne of Glass. Then I spent most of the afternoon painting the spare room. Fun fun fun!

5:00
FINALLY finished painting the first layer, I decided to reward myself with a spot of blogging. These Blogmas posts don’t write themselves, you know!

6:00
I made a sort-of gingerbread-shortbread thing. I don’t know what it is, but it’s my favourite biscuit EVER (maybe I’ll share the recipe soon?).

8:00
Started working on my December Daily scrapbook… all of my photos needed to be edited to 4×4/2×2, which took hours. At least I made the front cover look pretty though!!

11:00
Rewarded myself with a bath, a glass of prosecco and Crown of Midnight. Until PB came home five minutes later, that is!

 

What did you do at the weekend? Get up to anything festive? And what are you planning to do this weekend – I’m already running out of ideas!!

Blogmas #6: A Christmas Self Care Kit

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With the nights getting ever-darker and the days ever more cloudy, I think self care has taken on even more importance to me. I’m pretty sure I don’t have SAD – I tend to long for Autumn and Winter in the warmer months! – but there is something so… monotonous in the December weather. And then there’s Christmas, which I LOVE – but let’s face it, it does add an awful lot of unnecessary pressure to everyday life…

But enough with the complaining! Whenever I feel miserable I’m too busy wallowing in self pity to do anything constructive, which is the biggest waste of time EVER. Which is why I made my self care kit – a box of things that I love/will distract me from being grumpy/will entertain me/I NEED (helllo hot chocolate!), that I can keep on hand to help me through these darkening days.

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Bath Stuff – as I’ve said before, the first thing to disappear when misery comes a’knocking for me is hygiene (I sound really grubby, but I promise I’m not!!). Bath lotions and potions prompt me to snuggle down in a bath, clean myself and FINALLY FEEL WARM!

Hot Chocolate – There’s something about hot chocolate that immediately relaxes me. I have my own rather fabulous recipe, but sometimes it’s just easier when it’s ready made for you! This Hotel Chocolat sachet was a free gift that I squirreled away – you never know when you’re going to need a sweet, warm, mug of comfort!!

Nativity! – This is undoubtedly my favourite Christmas film – it has Martin Freeman! It’s set in a school! It’s about a school play! As a preschool teacher, I’m in charge of the Nativity in my nursery, and while it’s incredibly rewarding, it’s HELLA hard. Anyway, Nativity! just makes me smile. Love love love. (The sequels are naff though… just saying.)

My True Love Gave to Me – I bought this festive collection of stories a few years ago, and it’s still my favourite Christmas read. Every story is so happy and cheerful and lovely; it’s one of those books that guarantees a smile!

Pyjamas – I absolutely ADORE pyjamas – they just speak of comfort and loveliness to me! This pair is actually my Christmas set for the year (anyone else buy themselves festive jim-jams every season? Just me??), and just looking at them makes me smile. While I’m SUPPOSED to wait until Christmas Eve to put these on, they’re such a special little treat that I HAD to include them in my self care kit!

What would you include in your festive self care kit?

Blogmas #5: 3 Festive Breakfast Ideas

152-made-mincemeat-bircher-13-11-16I don’t know what’s going on this Christmas, but for some reason I’m feeling Christmassy to the EXTREME. I LITERALLY want to eat, drink, read, sleep, watch, wear Christmas. It’s wonderful – if a little annoying for others!

Anyway, I figured I’d make the most of my festive feelings by turning my attention to breakfast. I’ve mentioned it many, MANY times on here, but I am terrible at breakfast. I LOVE the idea of it, but I hate the reality. Washing up in the morning? Waking up earlier? Nah, I’ll stick to my coffee, thanks!

BUT I’ve been eating particularly rubbishly (yup, made up that word) lately, and I do so want to start nourishing my body more, so… breakfast it is!

Hey, anything that makes me happy to leave my bed in the mornings MUST be worth a try, right??

(Overnight) Porridge with Mincemeat 
So this came about last year – I saw THIS photo and could NOT get the idea of a deep, dark, spicy jam contrasting with the bland, creamy stodge of oats out of my head! Let’s be technical, what is mincemeat if not the most festive, fancy-schmancy jam ever? This breakfast is so quick to prepare, but warming and filling and wonderful. TRY ITTTT!

Last weekend was Stir Up Sunday, so in true traditional form I whipped myself up a batch of Mary Berry’s mincemeat. I then made myself a batch of simple overnight oats – LITERALLY just some plain natural yogurt, oats, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a drizzle of honey – and left it to set overnight. In the morning I heated up a few spoonfuls of my mincemeat and just stirred it through the oat mixture. Simple, but oh so satisfying – AND it helps use up the glut of mincemeat I have in my fridge now!

Side note: I personally don’t like porridge (not strictly true, but I am too scared to try it… it might be soggy!!!), but I think this would be AMAZING with warm, creamy oats. YUM!!!

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Gingerbread Granola
For a lighter, but still indulgent feeling breakfast I opted for homemade gingerbread granola and yogurt. Normally my granolas are nut based (because I’m an insanely fussy eater and don’t like dried fruit), but PB used up all of my pecans in his Christmas puddings… so it made sense to use up his raisins and dates in my granola!

The granola itself is soooo simple to make, and is open to adaptation depending on your needs. Simply melt about 30g butter, then add 1-2 tbsp golden syrup (you could use treacle if you can cope with how disgusting it is… it’s the Devil’s food, I tell you!!) and stir until combined. Add about 1tsp ginger, 1/2tsp cinnamon and 1/4tsp nutmeg (or more, if you like stronger flavours!), and mix well. Then pour the mixture over 300g oats and stir until the oats are covered nicely. Mine looked a little dry at this stage, so I chopped up a handful of dates for extra stickiness, mixed them through and then poured it all out onto a lined baking tray. Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes. Give the granola a stir to make sure it cooks evenly, then add a handful of raisins before returning to the oven for 10 minutes.

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Orange Cinnamon Rolls
For a more luxurious weekend breakfast, you should TOTALLY make THESE cinnamon rolls. Not only are they super easy and quick to make, the whole batch will only turn out 4 rolls, which means you won’t be eating cinnamon swirls until you’re sick of the sight of them. (Yep, it happens. Believe me!)

This is the third time I’ve made these rolls, and each time they’ve been lovely. I usually tweak the recipe a little – last year I made espresso cinnamon rolls, for instance – and it always turn out well. This year, inspired by Caffe Nero’s spiced orange latte (ZOMG SO GOOD!!!) I added clementine juice to the wet mixture; clementine zest to the cinnamon sugar filling and then used MORE clementine juice in the frosting.

It’s Christmas in kinda-cake-kinda-pastry-kinda-bread form!

 

What do you usually eat for breakfast? Do you ever Festive-up your breakfast foods??

Blogmas #4: December Daily #1

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I have this love-hate relationship with scrapbooking. I LOVE the idea of documenting life and all of the simple happiness-es that come with it, but as a perfectionist I have a maddening tendency to be too scared to commit to a scrapbook layout. Yes, I’m weird.

Anyway, I’d really love to actually USE my Project Life album in 2017, so to ease myself in I figured I’d try out December Daily. For those of you who don’t know, December Daily is simply a daily (in theory) scrapbook where you celebrate all of the small festive things you do in December – kinda like Blogmas, but in paper form! You can buy December Daily kits, which include things like festive sayings and whatnot, but for whatever reason I decided to freestyle my first EVER attempt at scrapbooking. Whoop!

I thought that instead of a weekly review style post it might be nice to share some of my scrapbook with you each Sunday… except I can’t, because my photos haven’t been developed yet. Which is annoying.

So instead I thought I’d show you my homemade December Daily kit – a festive scrapbook put together on a budget, using items available in local supermarkets. Yay!

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I bought my album waaaay back in June, but it’s so gold and shiny that I thought it would probably count as festive! It’s a 4×4 D Ring album from Becky Higgins – that and the corresponding packs of inserts are the only things I had to order online.

Most December Daily albums use a mixture of journalling cards and entries written straight on to photos, which is something I haven’t tried before. I do have a set of Project Life cards but they’re nowhere near the right size to fit in my tiny little pockets, so I picked up some gift tags instead! I figured I could either lay them on top of each layout as a kind of title, or snip them up and use them as backgrounds… the best part is they were less than £1 per pack!

I also picked up some Christmas cards for the same reason; these are bigger so should fit well into the larger pouches, and also have designs I could cut up if I chose to. My favourite piece of kit is this gift wrap set from Next – it includes a pom-pom trim, ribbon, and lots of little attachments that should add a bit of texture to each layout. AND it was only £3.50, so not too expensive at all!

I’m so excited to document the run up to Christmas this year – it’s such a magical time, and my December Daily album will hopefully let me relive all of those happy memories again and again!

 

On another note: IF YOU THINK THIS READ WEIRDLY, I’VE LOST MY BLOGGING VOICE. Writing is hard guys, and I think I’ve forgotten how to do it. Here’s hoping I recover my blogging voice before next year…!

 

Are you December Daily-ing? What are your thoughts on scrapbooking/scrapbook kits?

Blogmas #3: Festive Baking List

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So if you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably gathered by now that I love me a bit of baking. What I DON’T love so much is eating it, because I am apparently insanely fussy.

Whatever. Just because I don’t like cake or meringue or bread or most biscuits or pies or tarts or… Yeah, okay, I’m a fussy eater.

BUT I do still love baking, which can be problematic, ’cause wasting food is just not okay. Normally I have to limit myself to two bakes a month, but now we’re in December I feel like I have an excuse to go crazy. Hey, Christmas is all about loving and giving and food, right? I’m sure my boyfriend/family/not-quite inlaws/colleagues/colleagues’ families/clients/neighbours/random people/animals I happen to meet on my travels will LOVE all of those extra calories I’ma sneak on them…

Anyway, this Christmas I’m hoping to make:

Macarons – I’ve wanted to make macarons since I first got into baking, but I’ve… kinda always been too scared. WHAT? Those little almond meringue things are scary delicate and I’m a perfectionist and this can only end badly. Also I don’t actually like eating macarons, soooo… that’s awkward. I’d LOVE to make a strawberry and champagne or a Chai spiced salted caramel batch, because that sounds so refined and sophisticated – but let’s face it, Nutella will probably win.

Nutella ALWAYS wins.

A non-Christmas Pudding Pudding – My boyfriend and his Aunt celebrate Stir Up Sunday each year, which is lovely except we all know that Christmas pudding is revolting. BUT HOW GLORIOUS DOES THIS MALTEASER CHRISTMAS PUD CAKE LOOK??? Even I would devour a slice of that… I’m thinking it would go down well with the girls at work…

Christmas Pud inspired biscuits – along the same theme, but most years I have a bash at decorating cookies to look like Christmas Puddings. I’ve finally settled on my favourite cookie recipe, and topping it with a layer of white chocolate and some teeny tiny icing leaves should just be the icing on the cake. Biscuit. Thing.

Spiked Coffee – Would you believe me if I said I’ve never ever ever had alcohol in my coffee? I only started liking Baileys last year, so I’m thinking now would be a good time to experiment a little more. Oh, and I’ll probably be drinking copious amounts of my favourite hot chocolate, too!

Gingerbread – One of my goals this year was to build a gingerbread house, but now that it’s a socially acceptable time to do so I’m not loving the idea. Mostly because I don’t like gingerbread very much, but also because they’re just soooooo unnecessarily big. I do quite like the look of these mini houses though… hopefully my go to biscuit recipe will stand up to the challenge!!

Mince pies – Oh, this is just too obvious. I’ve already made my mincemeat, and I need to do SOMETHING to use it up, so… I’m probably going to go down the untraditional route though – maybe mincemeat strudels instead of pies?

Pecan Buns – We have a tradition where I always bake some sort of swirl for breakfast on Christmas morning. This year I’m thinking of sticky sweet cinnamon pecan buns – add a glass of Bucks Fizz and we should be set for the present opening session!

 

Do you plan out your festive bakes?? What are you hoping to bake (or eat) this Christmas??

Blogmas #2: A Christmas Bauble Haul

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2016 is our first Christmas in our own house (HOW EXCITING!!), which means we’ve started from scratch with EVERYTHING. New Christmas tree (who knew they were sooooo expensive??? We ended up buying this one, but we haven’t unboxed it yet… I’m nervous!). New fairy lights (whoop!). New baubles.

And there’s the problem.

You see, PB comes from a family who’s Christmas decorating can only be described as ‘traditional’ (think: tinsel and tassley things and CEILING DECORATIONS. The horror!!!), whereas my mum has always had a fashionable, very coordinated tree. Both beautiful, but very different.

In an attempt to stop arguments, we decided to create our own, brand new theme by only buying baubles that we adored. After many a Saturday spent buying baubles here and there, we  are finally the proud owners of a set of mismatched-but-loved decorations that kind of represent us as a couple.

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Gold Glitter Pinecones – John Lewis | ‘Joy’, Glitter Star, Peach & ‘White Christmas Pudding’ baubles – Wyevale Garden Centre (not all sold online) | Snowy Owl, Twig Owl, Snowflakes – ASDA (not all sold online) | ‘Meet Me Under the Mistletoe’ bauble – SainsburysSilver Snowflakes, Santa Head – Marks and Spencer’s |

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They’re not particularly traditional. They’re not particularly fashionable. But they’re us, so to me, they’re perfect.

 

Tell me about your favourite bauble! Do you prefer traditional or fashionable Christmas decorations??

Blogmas #1 | December TBR and To Do List

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Soooooo you may have noticed, but my December TBR is basically IDENTICAL to my November TBR. THERE IS A REASON FOR THIS (I feel like I’m shouting at you a lot in this post. I’m not trying to be shouty, but I haven’t blogged for a while and it’s all feeling a bit rusty…). You might recall that my November TBR involved FINISHING one series and starting another… but it turns out that it’s difficult to finish a series when the last book is being read by your sister, and it’s even harder to start re-reading another series when the FIRST book is being re-read by your friend.

(Okay, so it was my sister’s friend. I don’t have friends.)

BUT the good news is that I read magnificently in November, so now my TBR pile is literally just the Throne of Glass, which is cool. I actually can’t think of anything better than marathoning ToG right before Christmas, can you?

As for my to do list, OBVIOUSLY I’m going to attempt Blogmas. I’ve daily blogged quite a lot this year, but I do worry about the quality of daily blog posts, which is why I’ve decided to treat Blogmas as more of an online diary of the festive memories I’d like to cherish. Some posts will be long. Some will be short and picture heavy. It’s kind of a warm up to TQP in 2017, if I’m honest. On top of that, I’ll be attempting a version of December Daily for the first time – again, I’m planning to use Project Life and maybe attempt Project 365 next year, so hopefully this should be a good warm up!

In terms of my real life, I’m just planning to celebrate Christmas as much as possible. It’s our first ever Christmas in our own house, so we’ve been buying up all the baubles and decorations, which has been SO MUCH FUN. I love me a shiny sparkley thing! Anyway, when I’ve finished decorating I’ll be sharing my hardwork with you. And there’ll be food. SO. MUCH. FOOD. Eeeeep can’t wait!!

 

Are you doing Blogmas? Link me below if you are – I LOVE reading festive posts SOOOOOOOOO much! And what are your Christmas reads?

November Recap

I know, I know, long time no blog. Soz for the virtual silence, guys, I’ve been planning. But I’m back now, and I’m pretty much sorted for Blogmas (HAH I WISH). Let’s catch up on what happened in November first though, shall we?

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Dressed up for Halloween. | Completed 6 reading challenges. | Took part in a 24 hour readathon. | Read a new-to-me Charlotte Bronte novella. | Tried all of the festive Costa drinks. | Finished my mindfulness workbook. | Sketched something. | Bought a new Disney DVD. | Watched fireworks. | Made mincemeat. | Made mince pie bircher. | Completed an ecourse. | Updated TQP’s header. | Had a day out with my Mum. | Had a day out with my sister. | Finished the The Mortal Instruments series. | Bought a new Disney toy! |

Goals Achieved: 154/366

 

Self Love Journey | 30 Days of Yoga

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I’ve always loved the idea of yoga. It’s the calmest (read: EASIEST) form of exercise AND you can do it in your pyjamas. I’ve been trying to get in to yoga for years now – partly because it’s been recommended as a way to manage my yoga, and partly because I REALLY love the idea of it. I’ve started 30 Days of Yoga series countless times, but this is the first time I finished it.

And wow. Let’s just say, I was not expecting that.

30 Days of Yoga has really changed the way that I view my body. The different stretches and balances reveal your strengths and weaknesses, and I love that. For instance, I had no idea that my back and arms were so bendy – I do have hyperflexible joints, but in day to day life you don’t notice it. When you can more or less perfect an ‘advanced’ yoga pose the first time you try it, it becomes much more apparent, and that’s such a buzz! I also learned that I am appalling at balancing; not only do I wobble EVERYWHERE, my feet hurt like mad. Tree pose is not for me (yet)!

While I can’t say I looked forward to my daily yoga session (and skipped more than one or two…), I always felt better after each video. I can see why yoga is addictive – there’s something indulgent about taking that time out to improve yourself, and you do see changes in your flexibility immediately (which is great if you’re goal oriented like me!).

Also, can we just talk about Adrienne? I wasn’t sure that video-yoga-at-home was for me, but she was just the best instructor. Considering she was just speaking to a camera, everything she said was so supportive and comforting and encouraging and funny – her personality was a massive reason I managed to complete the series, to be honest! And her set up… I loved that her yoga room was so simple – hopefully I’ll be able to recreate it at home!

While I’m not sure that DAILY yoga sessions are for me, learning more about my body has been an invaluable experience, and it’s something I’d certainly like to take more seriously in the future. I’m not that great at it yet, and I’m utterly USELESS at paying attention to my breathing, but for once my inner perfectionist is satisfied to focus on ‘improving’, rather than ‘perfecting’. That, for me, is priceless!

 

Have you tried yoga? Do you prefer classes or at home practise? What are your thoughts on daily yoga for self care?

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