Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Instagram: December 2014


lazy mornings reading about paris • pocket of poems • the importance of a cheeseboard at christmas • my go-to december shower scent • little gingerbread people • jingle-belling • desire for real christmas trees • simple gift wrap is the best • mine and baxter's first meeting • rosemore throw and tea • the gorgeousness of this dining room • lovely my little box delivery • bacon sandwich in bed • stormy seas, nice weather for windsurfing • coffee waffles please • winter wonderland

This is it guys, the end of 2014... I can't believe how fast this year has gone and it's certainly had its ups and downs. I'm glad to say it's mostly positive - I passed my driving test at the start of the year and cemented the year by graduating from university. Those were two huge achievements for me - both are pretty much the ultimate rites of passages aren't they? And I managed to do them in the same year!

December was a good month for me. All that excitement and build-up to Christmas happens the minute that clock strikes midnight on the 1st and it won't end until the New Year hits. Still, I already miss it. There always feels like such hole has been left straight after the decorations come down - everywhere just feels so empty. I never look forward to that part. You'll be pleased to know that catering for 20 this past weekend went well but it turns out that we didn't even need one of the 4kg turkeys we cooked. We decided that there were only so many turkey sandwiches one can endure, so we took the other whole turkey to our local homeless shelter. They were really happy to receive it and said that it would be their feast for New Years Eve. It made me feel so humbled and good about myself for once. I think that was a nice way to end the year, and I'm now hoping that karma works in my favour for 2015...

I also got to meet my brother's new addition to the family: 14-week-old ragdoll kitten Baxter! He's the cutest, fluffiest, softest thing but my goodness he's a right little rascal. He climbs the Christmas tree, claws up your legs to sit on your lap, scratches presents open, hides under the sofa and pounces when you least expect it... And you'd think a kitten's bite would be full of playful nibbles but no, this little monkey has needle-like teeth. Despite all this, he was my buddy on Christmas Day and we played all afternoon until he fell asleep in my arms. Bless!

I've been on holiday from work since the 23rd so I've had a lot of time to spend with my family, get into the festive mood, and most importantly have a bit of rest and relaxation too. You guys know how much I love my marshmallow bed and I've been spending a lot of time there. It's so nice going to bed, knowing that you don't have to set an alarm for 6am! I'm not looking forward to going back to work in the new year after all this lazing about. Anyone else in the same situation?

So what are your plans tonight? I'm being really boring - bath, pjs, London fireworks on the television. You can probably tell I'm not much a party animal anymore, plus my poor dog hasn't been very well recently and she's terrified of fireworks so the night will probably resort to us trying to calm her down! Whatever you're doing I hope you have a fabulous night and ring in 2015 the way you want.

And hey, I'll see you next year!
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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Tis The Season... To Be Crafting

Happy Christmas Eve!

The turkey has been collected early this morning, the presents delivered, I have festive heart-shaped brownies and mince pies baking in the oven as we speak... Ahh I just love this time of year! 

For my final festive post in this series, I thought I would show you guys exactly what I've been up to in regards to the crafty side of Christmas. This is the first year that I've really been bothered to make the Christmas table a little more unique and personal, so I've put together a couple of table decorations for you. And where do I go for inspiration? Pinterest, of course!
Way back at the start of November we went on a dog walk and found a huge pine tree. It was then we had the idea to collect a load of them and take them home to get creative. Little did we know just how massive these pinecones would grow once they had dried out. So with their lovely Autumnal colours and mismatched shapes, we decided we would make them into place settings. We bought some cheap metallic gold spray paint from our local craft shop (toy shops sell them too, I found), grabbed a box and some latex gloves, and sprayed until our heart's content. Left for 30 minutes - with a window open, fumes are a killer - and we had some lovely golden pinecones, ready to pop onto our white and gold themed tables! The place cards were created on Photoshop and simply printed onto white card. If you're catering for a large brood (we have 20 on Saturday, eek!) then this is a cost-effective way to organise your tables.
A spur of the moment idea, we decided that with all the huge pinecones, wine glasses, dishes of vegetables, sauces and gravy boats on the tables, we definitely wouldn't have enough space for elaborate centrepieces on every table. We came up with these little votive dishes, stuffed with fake fir and sprinkled with raw cranberries for a different take on the candleholder. We're also planning on using floating tea lights and filling mason jars up with water and cranberries. They're small enough that they're not in the way, but a good size to create a little festive atmosphere on the dinner table. 

So I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you really spoil yourselves this festive season! 
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Thursday, 18 December 2014

SPICY TOMATO SOUP


I like my lunches to be fuss-free, and soup is the epitome of simple snacking. It's quick and easy to make, flavoursome and (mostly) healthy. Not only this, but the varying ingredients and textures make for a different soup every time. Personally, I enjoy creamier, smoother-in-texture soups. I think it stems back to when I was a child; whenever I got sick my Mum would always heat up a can of Heinz Tomato and cut buttered bread into soldiers, served up with a small glass of original Lucozade for my poorly throat. It's a childhood memory that is always evoked whenever I taste any soup. And this version is a lot bolder, and much fresher - nothing is better than homemade.

If you're looking for a smooth, rich tomato soup which involves no blender action whatsoever then do keep reading.

INGREDIENTS
(serves 2)
500g passata
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup double cream
fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the minced garlic over a medium heat until golden. It will take no time at all so keep your eye on it; no one likes that horrid bitter garlic taste. Add the passata, seasoning (go easy on the salt as the passata is quite concentrated!), smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and chicken stock to the pan - mix well to heat through. Lower the heat and add the double cream, stirring until fully incorporated. Finally, add the fresh basil so it keeps its colour. If you prefer a chunkier soup, you can always roast some tomatoes in the oven, remove the skins, chop them up and add them to the saucepan too.

Serve the soup hot with warm crusty sourdough bread or, as the Americans do, grilled cheese. 

How's that for a winter warmer?
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tis The Season... To Be Wrapping

Like the almighty brussel sprout, gift-wrapping is one of those things that completely divides people at Christmas. I recognise that for some it can be a chore, especially if you have a lot to wrap up but, personally, I love it all! I love picking out the paper, the gift tags, twine and ribbons. I love being alone in the house and being able to spread out everyone’s unwrapped presents, deciding who would suit what paper. I love listening to festive music, or popping on a Christmas film while I work on making everything look pretty. It has become a welcome tradition to litter the living room with paper cut-outs and Quality Street wrappers, and pack the finished products carefully into Christmas bags ready to deliver or lay them out under the tree for the family. To me, it’s an occasion - one that I cannot be without.

Whenever I think about “the art of gift-wrapping” it always reminds me of that infamous scene in Love Actually, where Rowan Atkinson dilly-dallies over wrapping up a gold heart necklace for Alan Rickman’s character. But don’t worry, there will be no clear plastic bags sprinkled with roses and sprigs of lavender, nothing tied up with cinnamon sticks, nothing dipped in yogurt and covered in chocolate buttons… When it comes to gift wrap, I thrive on simplicity (tis but the work of a moment). This year I’m embracing the humble brown paper and twine, and there are so many ideas on Pinterest on how to make your gift wrap into something amazing.
Brown paper is one of my favourite options for gift wrap. It can be found in most supermarkets and craft shops. I got mine so, so cheap from a local odds-and-ends shop in my village and it has a lovely grained effect on it. I think brown paper is pretty timeless, and can be used on its own with simple ribbon, or jazzed up with your own patterning. I like the idea of silver polka dots or hearts all over - it's definitely something you can do with the children, Mamas! Paired with simple household string, Christmas twine, or a colourful ribbon and you've got yourself fetching, cost-effective gift wrap.

I was very adamant about having red and white involved this year as well. I bought this gorgeous Emma Bridgewater Christmas Town gift wrap from Amazon, which I think looks great contrasted with white satin ribbon. I've also turned to notonthehighstreet.com for all my other gift-wrapping needs - the sellers on there are brilliant for fast dispatches and delivery. The snowflake and reindeer gift tags are handmade from Yatris Home and Gift; the satin ribbons are from Sophia Victoria Joy (and extra from my local bookshop, of all places!); and finally the red grosgrain stitched edge ribbon and Christmas twine were both from Peach Blossom.
I can't be the only one who loves wrapping up presents? I hope my ideas give you a little bit of inspiration!
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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Tis The Season... To Be Buying (For Her)


Right about now you've probably seen a billion Christmas Gift Guides, especially for her, but I figured I would put my two cents into the mix anyway. All of the items listed here are things that I would love to receive come Christmas morning, whether that's wrapped up beautifully under the tree or nestled in my stocking. I could've made tonnes of gift guides but I've managed to narrow it down to just these few pretty things. 


I'm not all that great at buying cheaper meaningful presents at Christmas. I like to treat people, and I guess that means I like to be treated too! So most of these suggestions are at the higher end on the cost spectrum but not so much so that they'll break the bank (I could've easily added a KitchenAid mixer, a Mulberry handbag and Christian Louboutins onto the list, haha).

As a beauty blogger first and foremost, I just have to talk about the gorgeous Charlotte Tilbury Mesmerising Eye Kit. It includes the Dolce Vita palette, Full Fat Lashes mascara and the Rock n Roll Kohl Eyeliner in Bedroom Black - swoon! The Zoeva Rose Gold Brush Set is one that's been on my personal wish list for ages, and unless you've been living under a rock then you'll know how coveted it is in the beauty world. OPI's Trend on Ten gift set contains ten beautiful mini nail polishes in classic colours such as Malaga Wine, Big Apple Red, Bubble Bath and Alpine Snow - lovely shades that will surely see you right through 2015 and beyond!

I thought it would be sweet to include some bedtime bits into the guide too. We always have new pyjama sets to pop on for Christmas Eve and this teddybear robe from Topshop looks like the cutest, softest bathrobe I've ever seen! Speaking of cute, bunny slippers are a must. I have the exact ones from Boux Avenue and I can confirm they are as comfy as they are adorable. Then of course with all the excitement and anticipation of Christmas comes the inability to settle down and sleep. That's where this lovely little Dream Team gift set comes into play, paired with a delicious-smelling Jo Malone candle - the one I've singled out is Sweet Almond and Macaroon, but the Wood Sage and Sea Salt scent sounds equally pleasing.

Then there's the odds. I love the classic look of the Bristol watch by Daniel Wellington; for the budding cook, the Le Creuset petite casserole dish could be ideal for individual portions (I'm thinking cinnamon apple crumble, mmm!) and how adorable is the little heart egg house from Next! Finally, what Christmas is complete without a new calendar? This Les Femmes calendar by The Rifle Paper Co. is so classy and Parisian-esque that I just had to include it. See in 2015 in effortless style, right?

I know there are so many gift guides out there but I hope something here catches your eye!
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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Philosophy Christmas Cookie

"Capture the essence of Christmas morning with Christmas Cookie shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath. Feel wrapped in warmth and comfort, as the moisturising formula gently cleanses and conditions skin and hair. The buttery, sugar cookie scent is sure to bring back childhood Christmas memories."

Taking a slight break from my 'Tis The Season' series, but still keeping with the Christmas theme (it is December after all...), I couldn't not share this gorgeous bubble bath that I've been obsessed with so far this month.

I talked about how much I loved Snow Angel last month (link here) and while I'm nicely 3/4 of the way through that particular bottle I decided that it was time to switch it up and whack out the Christmas goodies. Now I know most people prefer more spicy scents during the festive season but I'm a sweet girl through and through - I just love vanilla. I'm strictly florals for Spring (groundbreaking) and then every other season it's all about the sweet tooth.

Christmas Cookie is just what I was looking for in a festive shower gel/bubble bath/shampoo. It's packed with vanilla and other sweet sugary notes that are such a treat to indulge in. The moisturising formula is thick and luxurious, lathers well, and the scent lingers for hours after showering. It also has a lovely pearlescent sheen to it, much like Snow Angel. The bottle even contains a sugar cookie recipe, which is obviously very handy for this time of year!

What are your favourite bathroom products at Christmas?

Philosophy Christmas Cookie retails at £14, and is available from the Philosophy website.
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tis The Season... To Be Buying (For Him)

I don't know about you, but I find the men in my life notoriously difficult to buy for. And not just for Christmas either; birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions - you name it, I'm wracking my brain as to what to get... This is mostly down to the men though - the women are never to blame, are they? Guys are indecisive closed books and, in my experience, are never any good at telling you what they truly want over the festive season.

Still, let's see what you make of these!


I know what you're probably thinking: some of these are playing it a bit safe. But my dad and brother always moan about having holes in their socks and needing new ones, and you can't really go wrong with a good old Christmas jumper. This one from River Island is not too in-your-face and can be styled up nicely for a night down the pub. That leads me onto the Hungover Cookbook which is such a fun little gift - it has recipes like English breakfast tortillas and Mexican ranch-style eggs, which sound delicious. Cards Against Humanity is one of the funniest games you'll ever play if you have a dry sense of humour. I played it at a housewarming party - drunk, mind - and everyone really enjoyed themselves. It's actually on my own Christmas list as I'm hoping to play it at the big family gathering on the 27th!

For the gadget man I've opted for three cool presents: the Star Wars Lightsaber portable charger is a fun one for any budding tech-savvy Jedi, the Lomography Fisheye2 camera is currently on offer over at ASOS, and a new game for the games console is always a winner. I also thought the mason jar cocktail shaker would be good for a little Christmas apĂ©ritif. The best offer up there has to be the Birchbox deal. £25 gets you a selection of premium skincare, haircare, and of course a pair of socks!

And the bacon candy canes are featured because, well, who in their right mind doesn't like bacon? I have yet to meet a man who doesn't like it!

Anything tickle your fancy?
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Friday, 5 December 2014

Tis The Season... To Be Decorating

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that The White Company is fast-becoming my favourite luxury shop. My love for white interiors is quenched whenever I visit the website or, when I'm feeling particularly spendy, whenever I go into my local outlet with my hard-earned cash. When a new catalogue drops through my door I get a little quiver of excitement, especially when it comes to Christmas.
In our household, we usually get the Christmas decorations on the first of December and no later. We absolutely love the holiday season, and always decorate the house as a family. Ah, it's all so exciting! There are so many beautiful decorations, table settings, gift wrap, winter scents, lights... Oh I could go on and on! I'll let these gorgeous pictures do the talking, shall I? Although I will tell you that I may have already bought the pinecone fairy lights and the knitted stocking - which is absolutely huge by the way!

Frosted Pinecone and Fur Garland - £70
Winter Signature Candle - £20
Frosted Pinecone and Fur Wreath - £50
Snowman Crackers - £20
Red Ribbon Set - £14
Glitter Star Garland - £18
Chunky Knit Stocking - £32
Pinecone Bauble Fairy Lights - £35
Knitted Owl Decoration - £10
Slate Heart Cheese Board - £25
Small Glitter Stripe Baubles - £12
Felt Father Christmas Gift Tags - £6

Everything you see here can be found from The White Company stores and online.

THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST.
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