Tuesday, December 24, 2013

christmas eve wishes

After having a very relaxing Christmas Eve of getting my hair done and having a good dinner of homemade salmon-en-croute (yum yum yum) I am painting my nails all festive and watching the christmas episode of Made in Chelsea and just feeling quite cosy and such. I just thought I'd post some pictures of the kind of Christmasses that I aspire to have: a mixture between something homemade and vintagey and bright, and something natural and yule inspired and still homemade. All the pictures and the relevant credits and such can be found on my Pinterest if you're interested! I probably won't be around much tomorrow - except maybe on twitter - so I hope you have a lovely Christmas and have a wonderful day, whatever you're upto! I'm off to Church shortly for midnight mass, so I should probably get ready..

 merry christmas everyone 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

the christmas tag!

favourite christmas film?

It's a bit of a silly one actually, but I really adore The Snowman. I used to watch it every year when I was little and get really upset if I accidentally missed it. It used to be on on Christmas Eve, but when I started working a lot I would always miss it, so my mum bought me it on DVD a few years ago and I really love watching it. Don't even talk to me about the Snowdog though, that gets me all angry!

favourite festive colour?

As a general rule in life, anything green and shiny.. green glittery baubles and such. Also anything silver and shiny. Actually, scratch that - shiny is colour right? Shiny.

do you open gifts on christmas eve or christmas morning?

Christmas morning, definitely. When we were little we were allowed to open one from a particular friend of the family on Christmas eve because that was when she dropped round. Now we're older we pretty much just have to wait! 

favourite winter fragrance?

I don't have a particular scent that I wear in the Christmas - (though I have my eye on Spicebomb by Viktor and Rolf something shocking! I know it's a mens fragrance, but that doesn't bother me..) but I do have a perfume that I was given at Christmas a few years ago, and as such it always remind me of Christmas - that's Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche.

real or fake christmas tree?

Real real real! Nothing beats a real christmas tree. We were never allowed them when we were little - too much mess, my mum thought. Up until about six years ago I would say, when we were all finally deemed old enough not to knock it over or fight near it (I have two brothers.. haha) and we started getting real ones. Yes, they can start to look a bit sad by January 6th, but the smell of them is so much better, and I like the wonky charm they have when we can never get them to stand up straight, haha.

favourite festive drink?

I do love a big mug of hot chocolate at Christmas - but I'm also particular partial to a glass of mulled wine. I love the spices and cinnamon and orange and the cloves - such a perfect smell.

favourite food?

I'm not a massive fan of Christmas dinner, I'll be honest. I don't like turkey or Christmas pudding and I don't like sausages wrapped in bacon so it always leaves me a little lacking. There's become a sort of tradition that after midnight mass on Christmas Eve, me and my family always come home and have a little supper of sorts. I think it started as us having a bite to eat before we headed to bed as it can sometimes go on quite late, mass. Then gradually it evolved into my mum doing a little platter of cheese, cold meats, olives, nuts, smoked salmon and such, usually accompanied by wine or beer. That is my favourite festive meal!

favourite scent?

I think I mentioned it before but basically anything spicy or mulled wine-y. My two current favourite candles are Yankee Candle's Kitchen Spice and Mulling Spices by Kringle.

favourite christmas music?

I am a big lover of old carols - one of my favourite albums is Carols at King's because they just sound so beautiful. Also, absolutely anything Christmassy sung by Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald (her Christmas album is so good!). I also really like Carol of the Bells.

what is most important about christmas to you?

It sounds bad, but I never really appreciated how much I enjoy having all the family around at Christmas. Last year there was a scare with my grandmothers health (which I spoke a little about here) and my parents were not really around for the Christmas period for obvious reasons. So with all fingers and toes crossed, everyone will be okay this year and everyone will be around!

I saw this tag over on Sailor Jennie's blog (which I absolutely adore, her posts, and bunny, are really cute), and I liked the idea of it, adding a few questions I saw on a different Christmas tag post.. I'm currently curled up on the sofa after my final night shift, waiting for some friends to come over for a Christmas get-together/dinner. Anyway, I hope you do this tag too - I'd love to see your responses. Let me know in the comments if you do this too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

step forward, bloglovin'

Hello all - just a little post to everyone today, to remind you readers that Google Friend Connect (which I used to use to follow blogs!) has now gone to the computer in the sky, or something like that, so you'll need to find another method to follow me! I recommend Bloglovin, and you can find mine here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

do-it-yourself gifts - part four

This year, I want to try and make as many presents as possible, because I want to give nice things to my friends and family even if I am a bit poor this year, because they still deserve nice things. Over the next two weekends I am going to show you some of my favourite items you can do for friends - that will cute and thoughtful, and won't break the bank. This is my last edition of these gift ideas - because I hope you're all sorted now, and I am working like mad up until Christmas now!
These are last-minute-gifts - things you can throw together at home and have ready just in-case anyone unexpected pops round.
  • Jar mixes; cookies or biscuits or sweets, anything will go down well with my friends! You could make them yourself, but I know a lot of my friends enjoy baking, there are. Allrecipes has a lot of things that you can try, I think the best involve chocolate, really. Add a little label that says what else they need to add (usually butter or eggs or maybe a little milk) and the instructions (mix everything together, pretty much!) and tie a ribbon or some twine around the top and they look really cute, I think! Very easy to throw together at the last minute, all you need is a jar that you probably have knocking about the house.
  • Chocolate, sweets, etc; I've made chocolate truffles and peppermint creams in the past, this year I think I'm going to try my fudge recipe because it went down so well with my family earlier in the year, but they make really lovely gifts, much better than a store bought box of chocolates, I think. Put in cute bags or jars and it will look really sweet, I think. 
  • Flavoured alcohol; these are even quicker to make than anything else. Buy a cheapish bottle of vodka or gin and add a fruit of choice - I've made raspberry vodka, tangerine vodka and sloe gin this year. All you do is add the fruit directly into the vodka with some sugar and then leave to sit for as long as you can. Strain out the fruit when you're giving it to someone, and it tastes fantastic. Nigel Slaterhas a good sloe gin recipe if you want to stick to one!

Friday, December 13, 2013

light up light up

I had a very dull day of 'errands' yesterday - I had to go and do boring things like get my teeth cleaned and buy stamps and I was given the arduous task of buying the turkey and getting some things for the fish and going to B&Q and and and I could go on.. Anyway, I finally got home after spending a fortune on nothing, really. Nothing fun, at least. Anyway, as a treat I popped into one of those shops that sells really cheap stuff, and found a set of 40 LED battery lights for £3.99, which I thought was a good bargain and now my room looks even more cosy. I put on my mulled wine candle and wrapped all my Christmas presents, and now I feel very satisfied and happy. Then I had a little nap. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

continental jaunt - bruges

(all photos are mine, not to be used without my permission)

Last Friday me and some friends went to Bruges for the which was perfectly Christmassy and just lovely. Cold, and a long travel and a very early start, but worth it for the beautiful architecture - I've never been further north than Paris, so I haven't any German, Dutch or Flemish cities before, and I think I'm completely hooked, I have to say. Whilst Italian and French towns have a certain distinct beauty, there is something about the Gothic buildings there that I really loved, and the gabled buildings they have that look just like those in Amsterdam. Anyway, we had a great time, visiting the chip frites and chocolate museum and walking along the canals and looking in an amazing Christmas store that had the most fantastic baubles and eating frites and drinking gluhwein.
Anyway, I highly recommend it if you ever go - I don't think you could spend very long there but it would be a beautiful weekend away or something, so definitely worth a look!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

beginning to feel like christmas

The tree is up and lights are on in my bedroom.. it feels more Christmassy now! I lit every candle in my room last night and and my room smelled like the most Christmassy heaven of cloves and cinnamon and ginger and I got under my quilts and watched Elf. Felt myself fully relax for the first time in such a long time! How cute are these Christmas lights by the way? They're teeny little lanterns, they used to belong to my Grandmother but a few years ago she decided to stop having a Christmas tree, and donated them to us. They're lovely and really sweet, I have them around my desk after they kept falling off my mirror.. haha.
How are you enjoying Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the bigger fish

There is not much substance to this post except to say - look how beautiful my fish are getting? They're growing so fast and they all have their distinct personalities now, I am so, so, so attached. I have to say to anyone who is thinking about goldfish; as long as you're willing to spend a lot of money on a proper tank and a fancy ass filter: get them. They're so beautiful to watch and really calming, too (well, my mum says watching them when they're about to be fed tires her out cause they're so dappy and manic). 
I feel like a proud mother. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

do-it-yourself gifts - part three

This year, I want to try and make as many presents as possible, because I want to give nice things to my friends and family even if I am a bit poor this year, because they still deserve nice things. Over the next two weekends I am going to show you some of my favourite items you can do for friends - that will cute and thoughtful, and won't break the bank, particular now we're into December and time is running out to gather fancy ingredients.
Todays recipes are for those amongst you who have friends and family who are - I hate to say this word because it's a little cringey - foodies. My brother and his girlfriend love fancy restaurants and such, so I always think that if they would like any of this, I'm on the right track. These can also be done in batches, or would be great to fill out a hamper.
  • Chili oil or chili jam; or any other kind of flavoured oil or jam. I just know that a bottle of chili oil goes down very well, and isn't that hard to make. It goes well in cooking or as a dressing for lots of things, and very nicely in stir-fries. The BBC have a good recipe for both oil and jam and so does thanksforthefood.com. However, you can do regular jam or marmalade, or something similar if the chili-thing won't go down well.
  • Cranberry chutney; nothing, and I mean nothing feels like Christmas until I have had a brie and cranberry sandwich. There is something so perfect about gently toasted bread and melty brie with a sharp bit of cranberry chutney. It's also really good with ham and other cheeses and there is something about the fruity chutney that just tastes so good. I give you only one recipe: Delia's, because my mother only really trusts Delia! Of course, you could do thinks other than cranberry, or mix things with the cranberry if you're feeling adventurous. 
  • Flavoured butter; this is a bit harder to gift, as it needs chilling, but it would be great to give to something who loves a bit of flavour. Baked in a foil bag with some fish, these can be really great to have in the house, ready to go to spice up any boring dish, so I think some people would really love them. Wrap in wax paper with some twine around the ends like a cracker, and make a little label, and try out these recipies from here and here.
gifts - part one
gifts - part two

How is your shopping getting on - getting there? No, me neither.. haha. I thought I was so organised last week!

    Thursday, December 05, 2013

    bedroom snippets; greenery

    I've recently put a lot of effort into re-decorating my bedroom, and getting my bits and bobs sorted - I'm hoping to make this into something of a feature, because I have lots of nice things that I want to show someone, as I'm quite proud of what I've done with the place. My room has had a few incarnations and I promised I would show you when it was done.. So here we go! 

    First to show you is my small collection of plants.. I love houseplants and cacti and succulents and they improve the air quality (particularly spider plants and such) so I really love having them around. I have all sorts scattered around my room, and the house actually, but these are my favourites. I think I'm pretty good at growing them too, as the spider plant on the left in the bottom photo was a 'baby' that a friend had given me, and now has tiny 'babies' of its own. Pretty neat. (Cat ornament is something my mum had when she was kid and I love it haha.) 

    Tuesday, December 03, 2013

    vintage tins

    I have a thing for tins. I'm not sure why, but I like little tin cases I can squirrel away little bits in. Like who'd have thought an old Elastoplast tin was the perfect size for my business cards? It's werid how things you have lying around forever suddenly become the most perfect vehicle. 
    I picked up these awesome little tins at a car boot sale about a year ago, and now they all have inhabitants. I used to have lots of little plastic pots of pins or needles or things like that lying around my room - but since I've put them in these I display them a lot more. In the sellotape tin I have a load of fine pins and drawing pins and such, the blackcurrant tins has big magnetic nails for hanging my artwork in, the cinnamon tablet tin holds post-it note highlighter things. I have an old Paprika tin that houses ink-pen nibs too. 

    Saturday, November 30, 2013

    do-it-yourself gifts - part two

    This year, I want to try and make as many presents as possible, because I want to give nice things to my friends and family even if I am a bit poor this year, because they still deserve nice things. Over the next three weekends I am going to show you some of my favourite items you can do for friends - that will cute and thoughtful, and won't break the bank!
    This week we have things that we have enough time to get making, and can be churned out, so to speak, if you have a lot of friends and relatives. 
    • Knit or crochet headbands; my girlfriends have loved these as presents in the past, and I think I'll be utilising them again because they're really quick to make and, in my opinion, much much nicer than the ones you get in Primark that are probably made somewhere horrible and will fall apart in five minutes. I would love to receive one, I know that! There are lots of variations on this theme, like the braided one above, and this Antropologie inspired version, progressing to something to something a little more complicated like this one called Saving Grace, or a real cute seed-stitch bow-headband. Failing that, get a free account with Ravelry and browse their archives, there are loads!
    • Handmade cases; this is a sort of catch-all image, but there are all kinds of patterns out there, knitted, crocheted, sewn - hundreds. Search on Pinterest for Kindles/iPad/iPhone case, and there are loads of really good ideas. I love this step-by-step tutorial from tutsplus.com in a self-striping yarn that is really cute, and in the right kind of wool it would be good for guys as well. Here are some great ideas for crocheted iPad cases, or handmade Kindle cases. Find a cute fabric and basically sew an envelope - maybe with some foam in -  for a good protective case.
    • Homemade beauty products; obviously, everyone loves something for a good soak and everyone loves getting bath stuff for Christmas (or I do, at least). Giving a home-remedy bath scrub or cleansing balm gives it a great little twist, particularly if you find a cute little vintage jar or Kilner jar to tie a bow around. I would be sure to write a little list of ingredients just incase the recipient is allergic or sensitive to anything. OF course, there are thousands of recipes for all sorts of bath and beauty products out there, I've been making a cleansing balm of Coconut oil and Vitamin E oil of late, and I am really loving that. However, I have rounded up some of my favourites: Gemma has a very similar balm cleanser and Meg has both a cleansing clay masklavender bath soakk and a suitably Christmassy vanilla chai body scrub. Bow Tied Beauty also has a wealth of information about making your own products, which may come in useful and I love this mint milk bath from Julie Blanner, but she has a lot of other amazing sounding things which I suggest browsing if interested. 
    gifts - part one
    Have you started thinking about presents? I know that now I've been paid I'll have to gather my bits and bobs - I think that hopefully I have got all my immediately family sorted, now just a few friends to think about! Attempting to be a bit more organised this year - how about you?

    Thursday, November 28, 2013

    i want to go to there: the grant museum of zoology

    File under: places I must go to. How have I never heard of this place? It looks like the perfect museum I went to in Florence, but with more squicky things in jars, oh gosh.

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    quilt life

    So here is a thing that I did: I made a quilt. Bit weird, I know, but let me explain. 
    My mother has always sewn or knitted or stitched or quilted - as long as I can remember there have always been bit of thread or wool strewn around our living room and we frequently stab ourselves with needles or pins left on the floor.. But it's something that the women in my family have always done on both sides - one of my grandmothers worked as a dressmaker for a long time, and the other made clothes in a factory during the war, and I think it's just one of those things that has been passed down to my mum, and to me. That said; I drove my mum to a fabric shop to look for something she needed a few weeks ago, and this pack of pre-cut quilt squares caught my eye - some of them had bears and reindeer on and leaves and things, plus they were made out of flannel, so unbelievably soft! So my mum sat with me and showed me the best ways to sew them together, and how to quilt it by hand (that's sewing through all the layers by hand - the diagonal lines you can see) and do the binding and such. It didn't really take me that long, but it's not very complicated. You should see some of the things my mums friends do, they're absolutely mad. 
    I am VERY pleased with my little quilt, it's super soft and even though it's quite thin and lightweight, its very cosy and comfy and I just love it. I know a few people in the blogging world are getting into crochet and knitting and such and so I thought I would share this! If you want any further details I'm sure I can do that , but please let me know what you think. (: 

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    do-it-yourself gifts - part one

    image from wit and whistle, rowan

    Christmas is coming, as I'm sure you're sick of already! I don't know if you're like me, but my cash isn't stretching as far this year, unfortunately. I've seen a lot of posts already about gifts for him/her, even a stocking fillers under £50 (I don't have that kind of money?! I wish I did!)..  This year, I want to try and make as many presents as possible, because I want to give nice things to my friends and family even if I am a bit poor this year, because they still deserve nice things. Over the next four weekends I am going to show you some of my favourite items you can do for friends - that will cute and thoughtful, and won't break the bank!
    • Handmade candles; now this might not sound so cheap, because you do need to buy a few things for it- the wax (I recommend the soy container wax, that melts in the microwave) the wick tabs (get the premade wicks!) and some glue dots to stick the wick down. Whilst this might sound like a lot, you can make a lot of candles from one bag of wax - making it very cost effective. Then you have to scour charity shops for some cute little cups and jars (or you might have some around your house) that you can use. There lots of variations on how to make them, but these are the two simplest methods to follow: here and herePerfect for: girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers.
    • Hand-decorated sharpie ceramics; this is something that all over Pinterest at the moment, drawing on plain ceramic with black sharpies, that you then bake in the oven and it 'sets' it onto the mug! There are two ways to gift this cute little gift. You could draw it on first and do a cute design, or give it to the person with instructions. Get some cheap mugs from Tesco and go crazy. This blog tells you exactly how to make them, or search Pinterest for ideas (search; sharpie mug). Perfect for: couples (do his and hers mugs), teenagers or adults who like giving-things-a-go and are creative.
    • Hand-knit hats; now if you can't knit already, I probably suggest missing this one out, but if you have some skills in the department, brush up on them and find some easy knit hats on Ravelry (there are hundreds!). Everyone loves knitwear at Christmas, and you've probably got yarn that you haven't touched that is suitable in your stash! The hat pictured is from a Rowan Easy Winter Knits catalogue, but there are lots of free ones: beginner hat and scarf and ridged pom-pom hat are two of my favourites. Perfect for: anyone really! Plain beanies for men in blue, green or grey go down well, or in bright neon colours for fashion-conscious friends.

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    my innocent big knit contribution!

    So I'm sure you're all aware of the teeny knitted hats that are littering supermarket shelves at the moment are part of Innocent Smoothies' Big Knit campaign, which donate 25p of the sales of their drinks to Age UK. I really wanted to get involved with it this year (even if I did leave it a bit late) because of a bit of family scare we had last year.. 
    Two nights before Christmas, we received a call saying that my Grandmother had fallen down the stairs (she's almost 90!) and had broken her wrist and hit her head. After the initial shock of it all, we had a horrible few months where she was in and out of hospitals, catching infections and organising carers and the trouble of finding a safe home for her (which turned out to be not nice at all). It made me realise that even though I see my little Grandma as this very stubborn, strong willed person, she was very frail and if she didn't have such a good family.. well, I don't like to think about that. That said, I wanted to get involved because there are a lot of old people who suffer alone, particular in the winter when they can't get out as much because of the weather, or suffer because of the fuel prices being so high at the moment, can't afford to put their heating on.
    I posted a few snaps of these on my Instagram whilst I was doing them and got great responses, and I got to see quite a lot that people had made, too. Mine weren't the most complicated, purely because I only started the fortnight before the deadline, so wanted to make as many as I could in that time, but there are some amazing ones out there! I picked up one yesterday that looked like a bunch of grapes..But if you see any of mine in the shops, let me know - and show me any links to ones that you made! And if you can't knit, go and buy a smoothie, because you're still helping. (:

    (PS: Two of these were made by my brothers girlfriend, and one my mother, so I can't take all the credit! Most, but not all.)

    Note: This post isn't sponsored or anything, even though it sounds a bit like it is, I just think it was a good thing for people to get involved with, and I'm glad I did it.)

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    current flame

    My favourite thing at the moment, now that it is dark in the evenings is to tuck myself up in my room with my quilt and my knitting with all my candles lit - it's really nice and relaxing, having wintery scents around, I think. I thought I'd show you some of my favourites at the moment...

    Wax Lyrical Red Berries
    Waitrose Christmas Spice (A bit like this one.)

    Saturday, November 02, 2013

    halloween watch: films to make you jump in the night

    So I know it's technically November, but I sort of space on the last installment of this post! I had a busy few days and I wasn't feeling 100% so I had written it and everything - just forgot to post it.. Ooops. So hopefully you don't mind me posting this this morning, as I know there were a lot of Halloween parties last night/tonight. Continuing from earlier in the week where we covered funny-horror films and Witches, these are films that make me scared, every time.

    I have a bit of a thing for Spanish made horror films - there was a point a few years ago when they were producing really interesting things (see Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone, The Orphanage, Timecrimes, etc). This still gets me, even though I know what's coming - it's filmed in that hand-held, first person style, (Also, I know the remake is not that different, but you should definitely watch the original, the girl in it is much less irritating!) 

    The Exorcist 
    This is a strange one for me, as I don't find it that scary, but some of the scenes make me very uncomfortable (which is weird, looking at how tame it is now). I think there is something to do with the fact my mother forbid me to watch it, yet I snuck out to a friends house to see it one Halloween, which made it feel all that much worse. 

    Ju-on (The Grudge) 
    The original Japanese film, I mean, not the remake. There is something so spine-chilling about the noise (if you have seen it, you'll know what I mean) that gets me every time. Good one to watch with friends, I think, so you can all scare each other stupid. (Even looking at google to find an image for this post has made me shiver!) 

    My first foray into a Lars von Triers film was Antichrist, watched alone in the house and night - a giant mistake. It is a very compelling, atmospheric film, with some very intense scenes. I adore the actors in it, and it gives me a chill every time. I know a lot of people think it isn't very good, but I find there is something interesting in the parallels between the animals and the nature of people and everything.. I don't know, I just think it is a good film! 

    This is one of those films I found very hard to watch - I had heard of the premise and thought it sounded interesting and probably didn't read enough reviews before I watched it! It is graphic - violent and graphic and probably much further into the realm of torture porn that I would like to go! It's got an idea behind it that intrigues me, but if it's gore you want, I recommend. (Also, trying to find an image for this that isn't completely graphic was so hard! haha) 

    Honourable mention: The Woman in Black, it's not as scary as the stage play that i went to see (which was truly terrifying to a 13 year old me) but there are a couple of moments (well, one) that makes me damn near wet myself every single time, which I think makes it worth a mention!