28 December 2015

TAKING STOCK | DECEMBER 2015

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Making | an effort to exercise through Christmas so I don't feel totally gross the whole time.
Cooking | cupcakes and Christmas treats. 
Drinking | more tea than in warmer months (and a teeny bit of vodka with my lemon sorbet on Christmas Day).
Reading | 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert; one of my pressies from Joe :-)
Wanting | a new handbag. I have my eye on this one from Zara.
Looking | more tired than before my time off, due to my sudden and severe inability to sleep.
Playing | Articulate and Cranium - oh, the stories I could tell! (E.g. my dad acting out a film he thought was called 'The Silent Lion', even though it was 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' - for heavens sake!).
Deciding | when we should go and see the new Star Wars film.
Wishing | I could have January off work too.
Enjoying | yummy food I never let myself have any other time of year. Chocolate biscuits are wonderful inventions aren't they?!
Watching | lots and lots of Tudors episodes since Netflix brought it back.
Waiting | to book a February holiday.
Liking | the fun I have had doing 'Snapmas' this December. I may keep snap-chatting anyway as I do love it! (My username is 'lucycarterart' if you want to add me).
Wondering | what 2016 will bring.
Loving | my new computer speakers from the hubby - I mean, I even have a sub-woofer, whatever the devil that is! ;-)
Hoping | I can launch my new business this coming year.
Marvelling | over some amazing people in my life. I am very lucky.
Needing | nothing right now but sleep... and a month at a spa perhaps!
Smelling | wood-smoke outside. Such a wonderful, nostalgic smell.
Wearing | onesies and pajamas's... a lot!
Following | too many vlogmas videos to keep up. Been loving YouTube this month.
Noticing | that it is warmer outside than in. The planet is confused again.
Knowing | I am not the same person now as I was this time last year (in a good way).
Thinking | that, this December has been the first one in years that I have felt more 'me' and less down. I have medication to thank for that but, either way, it is a very good feeling.
Feeling | like a more well-rounded person going into the New Year.
Opening | surprise packages from a lovely friend. Thank you Helena for our gifts xxx
Giggling | a whole lot more this month.

I hope you have all had a wonderful month and I am really looking forward to sharing the New Year with you. Thank you for all of your kind words and support this year xxx
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17 December 2015

A LIST OF (MOSTLY) CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

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^^Image taken from Pinterest | Original found here^^

Every household has it's own Christmas/New Year traditions. I always find it fascinating to hear what people do each year, so I thought it would be fun to list out a few things that I enjoy doing each year, along with some of the traditions we have had every year. Feel free to list some of yours in the comments too!

Things I look forward to at Christmas...

:: Getting up super early, sitting in the lounge under the magical light of the Christmas tree and watching cheesy Christmas movies. This semi-tradition started a couple of years ago, when I was super poorly with bad flu and couldn't sleep. Nowadays it's sort of a 'thing' to wake up at silly o'clock and go downstairs for tea and a Christmas film (followed shortly by a nap of course!).
:: Cooking festive treats whilst listening to a Christmas playlist on Spotify. Can you really beat yummy cooking smells and Wham's 'Last Christmas'? I didn't think so!
:: Having a Christmas Eve buffet meal. This has become something that Joe and I do each year (if we are home obviously). This year we are heading to the gym first so can enjoy this treat even more. It doesn't really matter what night we do this on, as long as it is near the big day itself. We just enjoy treating ourselves to posh small food from M & S (or somewhere similar) and stuffing our faces. Last year we had mini beef-wellingtons. Who knew they could be made so small!
:: Spending lots of time on my hair and make up but still wearing PJ's most of the day. You can tell we don't have kids can't you?! I'm pretty sure if we did there would be no time for pampering on Christmas morning but it is just something I like to spend time on. This is mainly down to the fact that I will be feeling like an over-stuffed whale by 11am (blame the chocolate breakfast) - at the very least I will know that my make up is festive, even if I do have a onesie on :-)
:: Kids films and naps. Post Christmas dinner dozes are the best. All day long you look forward to that film you've all been wanting to see (and maybe even circled in the Radio Times!). As soon as it comes on Dad is snoring, mums head is flopped over to one side and we are sleeping on the sofa, dreaming of cold meat sandwiches...

In our house it is tradition to...
:: Open one present on Christmas Eve. We have done this since I was a child and it has stuck with me all these years. 
:: Have lemon sorbet with vodka 'gravy' (my dads words!) in between the Christmas Day starter and main course. I am told it 'cleanses your palate ready for the main meal' (!)
:: Play games on Christmas Day. This is one we probably all share. It is always funny playing games with mum and dad. Dad inevitably reads the card wrong and starts acting out something for us to guess which is nothing to do with what he should be doing. Always a winner!
:: Have a take-away curry on New Years Day. This is another tradition that started with Joe and I. It marks the end of the rich food and the final meal we pig out on. I am all for this one, the curry place near us is phenomenal and we probably only get take out twice a year anyway so I'm really not going to feel guilty about it! Plus, it makes a change from all the left over turkey doesn't it?

Maybe these things are kind of normal (except for the vodka and lemon sorbet perhaps?). Let me know some of your traditions below! 
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13 December 2015

UPCYCLED CHRISTMAS DECORATION (WITH PRELOVED ADVENT)


Those of you that have followed along with my blog for a while will know I am a little bit nuts about crafts and anything to do with making things. I always get the bug to create around this time of year so thought I would enter something into the Preloved Christmas Advent challenge. The challenge is to make a Christmas decoration out of things you have lying around your house, ideally for under £5, and then tweet a picture of your entry to @Preloved and/or Instagram your entry to @Prelovedofficial. I adore taking part in things like this so jumped at the chance to get crafting (and slightly sticking my fingers together with super-glue (doh!).

For me, there is something about working with paper that really interests me, I love its texture and versatility, so I set to work thinking and researching what I could make out of a large stack of old magazines. In the end I came up with this decorative bauble. Although I have only pictured one, for the sake of this post, I think I am going to make a few more in a variety of sizes and display them together so they hang at various lengths, I think that would look pretty eye-catching. Obviously, if you didn't want to make it out of old magazine pages you could buy some pretty paper, or just be more selective about the magazine pages you use; e.g. wedding magazines have a lot of pastel colours that would look very cute when folded up together.

Enough waffling from me, let's get onto how I made it shall we?!



Here's what you will need:
:: Stack of old magazines (to make one bauble you will need 30 pages, plus one extra as a template)
:: Bowl or plate to draw around
:: Marker pen
:: Scissors
:: Stapler or thread and needle
:: Hot glue gun or super glue
:: Ribbon



^^Step One^^
Take your spare piece of paper and draw around your plate or bowl. You are going to use this as a template for your bauble. Cut it out as neat as you can.



^^Step Two^^
You now need to fold your template into 12 pieces. Fold in half, in half again (to make a quarter size) and finally fold the quarter so that it is split evenly into three triangles.



^^Step Three^^
Holding the folded template tightly, chop off the two corners. You can then unfold it and lay it flat - you should then have 12 triangle shapes cut out at equal intervals around the circle.



^^Step Four^^
Now you have your template complete you can start working on the bauble itself. To start with take 15 sheets of paper stacked together (this makes one half of your bauble) and draw around your plate or bowl. Once you have your circle on the top sheet, fold your template in half and mark in a centre line through your circle. Next, open up the template and line it up in the circle and draw in all 12 triangles.



^^Step Five^^
Cut out around the circle and cut out all the triangles, so all 15 sheets are the same (hold the layers super tight otherwise they start to slip about). It doesn't have to be 100% perfect, but the neater you make it the better the bauble will look!

After cutting out everything you will need to either staple all the sheets together along the centre marking you have made, or sew two to three big stitches along to join all 15 sheets. This doesn't have to be from end to end, just through the centre area to secure everything together. I chose to stitch mine as it was neater and more secure, but staples work just as well. Once you have done this step fold all 15 layers in half.


^^Step Six^^
Now for the slightly messy part - gluing! Be very careful here - you need to glue underneath the points of the triangles (about 1.5-2cm below the point), alternating between each one.

Start by opening the folded circle as if starting on page one of a book. On my picture above I have just one sheet on the left of the fold and the rest of the pages on the right of the fold. You then need a tiny dab of strong, fast drying glue on every alternate point - on the image above you will see that is three places.

Fold over a page on the right and stick it on top of where you have glued.



^^Step Seven^^
On the new 'page' you now need to glue on alternate triangle points (see the difference in the two images). This pattern is repeated throughout the entire process, so one page you will glue three places, the next you will only glue two and so on. This took some concentration on my part as I kept wanting to glue under each triangle!



^^Step Eight^^
Once the glue is dry you should be able to fan-out this half of the bauble so it starts to take shape. If any places have come un-stuck just add a dot of glue and hold until it is set. That is one half complete - just repeat that whole process on the other stack of 15 sheets of paper!

When both halves are ready to go place a generous amount of glue on one side, line up with one edge of the other half and stick together. Repeat this to complete the bauble.



^^Step Nine^^
Attached your ribbon or string to the centre of the bauble, securing it between the two halves. Use plenty of glue and hold in place until completely dry.

All done!

The first one will take the longest but once you have gotten the hang of it you are on your way. Let me know how you get on if you decide to make something similar! Why not enter the competition yourself if you have something you want to make? Entries need to be in by the 16th December, so you still have time! For more information, and to see some other peoples entries, see the Preloved site!
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11 December 2015

FIVE THINGS I'M GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #37

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^^A mint green tea selfie...just because of the Christmas cup really! / Anniversary flowers <3 / Little Bear being all cute as usual / Mum and Dads tree, complete with presents already!^^

This week has flown by in the normal fashion but with a bit more sparkle thrown in as it is nearly Christmas! Somehow I have completed almost 11 full days of 'Snapmas' - a miracle in itself! To say I am enjoying it is an understatement because I am loving it! I am doing this little challenge all the way through to the New Year so, if you are on Snapchat, or fancy the task of learning how to use it (I have heard that children can be useful teachers when it comes to this app!) then just search for my username: lucycarterart. It would be fab to see you over there and to follow you too of course!

Back to what else has been happening this week...

Work is becoming more and more festive every day. The kids are ready to break up for their holiday and so are all of us. It has to be said that working in a school is equal amounts amazing and tiring but there is never a dull moment! This week I also had to suffer rather a horrible procedure which has left me feeling worse for wear but I am on the mend. Enough rambling, let's get on to the stuff that made me super-grateful and happy this week...

1. TLC from a very lovely husband. He really is my best buddy and takes such good care of me. When I came home (post horrendous procedure) on Wednesday evening, he was ready with a cup of tea and a hot water bottle. He made dinner and put a Friends DVD on and just sat with me (and Gizmo too) all evening. Love him. I should also add that I am grateful for my mum who chauffeured me to and from said appointment, and I am grateful she was there because driving after flaking out is never a good idea! Thanks mum! (xxx)

2. An anniversary burger and fries! I can't write my Friday post without mentioning food can I? We are creatures of habit and ventured to Bills in town and gobbled down a yummy burger each. We would've done dessert too but we had already treated ourselves to After Eights (very retro huh!?!) and they were readying themselves in our fridge at home, waiting to be enjoyed with a cup of tea. Wow, it's only typing this up that I realise that I sound like a proper old dear! Does anyone else do After Eights and tea? They have to be cold first though - this is a must for all chocolate in-fact :-)

3. Boden discounts. Despite promising myself that I wouldn't spend anything on myself this month I have gotten beyond desperate for a new pair of skinny jeans. I had two pairs which I kind of liked (they were cheap and cheerful and went out of shape after a few hours wear each time) but they thinned out in areas I won't mention on here! On Thursday I was innocently minding my own business when an email arrived offering my some money off on some decent jeans, so I ventured onto the site and went for it! I always prefer to invest in higher quality jeans if I can, and the discount made it more acceptable! Thanks Boden (if they fit of course...that is the next battle!).

4. Funny cat moments. Joe and I laughed for hours after I accidentally caught Gizmo with 'laser eyes' on Sunday night. I uploaded it to my YouTube channel just because it made us laugh so much. Check it out!

5. You know sometimes you stumble across a blog post and you just think 'Yes! Thank you for that, it's just what I needed!'. Well, that is what happened to me when I read Sarah's post '101 Ways to Find Inspiration, Stay Motivated and Achieve Your Goals' (from the blog XO Sarah). It was part of a wider blog post she had compiled called '21 Ways to Help Your Small Biz Blast Off in the New Year' which is a post made up of 21 of her own posts that have been popular or the most useful. I found quite a few of them really inspiring. Definitely check it out if your interested or looking for some motivation for your blog or business!

How has this week been for you guys? Come and say hi in the comments or over on Instagram or Snapchat!
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4 December 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #36

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^^Our pretty little tree, actually it's kind of gigantic! / The London design on the Ciate calendar is so gorgeous, I love it / Our 'Bear' / Yesterday's lunch (to even out the chocolate's eaten obviously!)^^

Happy December everyone! Honestly, I love December, with all its fairy lights and magic in the air. I swear I still get butterflies in my stomach throughout the whole month because it just feels so special. For me, the build up to Christmas is all about reflection, sometimes it can be a little emotional because, and I feel we all experience this, old memories will naturally pop into our thoughts at this time of year but I don't think it is a bad thing to have a bit of distance and realise why you are where you are now and to think about all the exciting times ahead.

This week we put up our Christmas tree, so our lounge is now fully festive and cosy. I love nothing more than being cuddled up on the sofa surrounded by twinkly lights and sparkle, it makes working in there seem one hundred times easier too :-)

All in all this week has been a really lovely one; here's why...

1. Support from all you guys! This week I made the decision to give myself a little challenge to do 'Snapmas' - not sure if it is actually a 'thing' but as I just don't have the time to edit and post daily 'Vlogmas' videos onto YouTube I figured 'Snapmas' would be a fun alternative. You guys have been super supportive and even learnt how to use the ridiculously difficult app to get on board and watch the madness! Thank you all for that, I really appreciate it! If you are yet to follow along, you can find me by searching for 'lucycarterart' on the app! :-)

2. On Saturday evening Joe surprised me with the Ciate nail polish advent calendar! It came from Selfridges and I have lusted after one for ages but it just isn't the sort of thing you ever get around to buying for yourself is it?! I love it so much and am enjoying my daily door opening to see which gorgeous colour I have in there. We also have traditional chocolate calendars that my mum always gets us in about November! <3

3. An invitation to guest post. You guys may already know about 'Life Outside London' because I have certainly mentioned it before, in-fact it is top of the list on my 'Blogs I Love' tab! Michelle, who is one of the most awesome bloggers ever, I just love her writing style and sense of humour, emailed me this week to ask if I would like to guest post next week and I said 'hell yeah!'. So, towards the end of next week there should be a post up on her blog from little old me. Thanks Michelle, you lovely human you!

4. Inspiring words...You know that moment when you hear words that just resonate with you and kind of kick you up the butt? That has happened a couple of times in the last seven days, one of which I will be doing a whole separate post on so won't go into details on that but I will say that it was an awesomely creative event that I went to, with my fab friend Helena - more to come on that very soon. The other thing was a podcast that I listened to this week. I have mentioned it before, more than once I think. I subscribe to the 'Being Boss' podcast, by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson, because it kicks my arse weekly with business tips and inspiration. Sometimes the topics are very business specific but other times it doesn't matter who you are you could get something from it. This weeks podcast is featuring Kathleen's business/life coach, a guy called Jay Pryor, and it is all about the subject of integrity. It really is a good one. They talk about a whole variety of things and Jay shares a very personal experience that really gives an interesting insight into the differences experienced by men and women in every day life. He also discusses the law of attraction and how clearing space in your life for other things can attract what you want - it is an interesting one for anyone looking to push ahead with a business, blog or general life goal I think. I highly recommend you subscribing to the podcast though...these girls seriously rock! Rant over!

5. Lastly, one word... 'Heroes' (Cadbury's not Super...). My mum thrust a tin of the chocolaty delights at me this week. She bought them for us in November (along with the advent calendars I think!) but I have been keeping them at her house so we were not tempted into cracking them open immediately to 'check' they were ok, you know how you have to 'test' chocolate?! Well, we have them now and, yes mum, we have opened them! Can I also add right here that I have upped my exercise for December? I was up at 6.30am this morning to do 40 minutes of cardio for heavens sake, now give me a chocolate!

In other news: 
I have been slightly overwhelmed by how many Vlogmas videos have popped up in my YouTube feed this week! But I have got a few favourites including: The Michalaks, Jessica Beautician and  I Covet Thee - but there are so, so many others to choose from! / Yesterday I read on our local radio stations website that Salisbury is getting a Tiger store... I have never been in one but I am super excited as I am always seeing things in magazines or on-line that I think are super sweet so looking forward to that opening soon / Tomorrow is Joe and my anniversary (when we first met) so we are heading out to dinner to our usual haunt for delicious burgers and yummy starters to share! Sooo looking forward to that!

I hope you have a fab weekend everyone. Don't forget to hop on over to my Snapmas, it'd be great to see you there!
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1 December 2015

A CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE

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{Image sourced from Pinterest | Original from Love My Dress}

I am going to start this post by saying this: as a YouTuber I would love to do Vlogmas, but I have many, many reasons for not doing it. One is because of the time it takes to film, edit and upload a daily vlog and one of the others is because my life is just not that interesting! That said there are some moments that I think would be nice to share with you guys and so, because of that thought, I have come up with a slightly mental plan, which is this: 'Snapmas'! In other words, I am going to stop just watching other peoples Snapchat videos and pictures and actually do my own (*gasp!*) for the entire month of December. Well, that is the current plan anyway.

As someone who has merely been a Snapchat observer, never a Snapchat uploader,  I am planning on experimenting this evening, using day one of Snapmas to actually check I know how to work this new funky medium, but I thought it may be a nice thing to do and may even be fun! I may not commit to a huge amount every single day of the month, but there will be something... hopefully! If you like cats, random chatty nuggets of waffle and the occasional festive thing then why not add me and brace yourself!

You should be able to add me by searching for 'lucycarterart' on the app (which is free by the way), and I also have to say this: if you haven't got the app yet, decide to join in this madness and are over 30, please let me know how you found your first 10 minutes looking at it because I had to watch a YouTube 'How To' video! It was all such mayhem to me that I almost deleted it immediately but once I found some other people to watch I got kind of hooked! 

If you are a blogger/YouTuber why not join in with Snapmas?! Let me know your user name in the comments below and we can be buddies :-)
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26 November 2015

TAKING STOCK | NOVEMBER 2015

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^^This beautiful image is from Pinterest^^

*Insert box-standard 'I cannot believe it is the end of another month' jibber-jabber here* (seriously though, it's almost Christmas!).

November has been a month of a variety of emotions for me. Personally speaking, I have been extremely up and down but I am trying to keep focused on the things I want to do and look forward to the festive season and the New Year ahead and all that it will bring. This time of year is my absolute favourite, it feels incredibly nostalgic and magical to me and I just love it as wintry smells fill the air. Here are the things that have made my November particularly special...

Making | my very first printed watercolour reproduction in the shape of a Christmas card. I was really nervous to approach a printer to get it done and I am hoping it will come out ok, but it one small step towards bigger goals for 2016.
Cooking | late. Now Joe and I are gym-ing it in the week we are finding ourselves cooking a little later than normal and not being too enthusiastic about it also!
Drinking | a highly recommended pre-workout drink. I was told that it would make me feel 'like a hulk' but it literally didn't make me feel any different. Not too sure what that says about my body. Immune to super powers clearly.
Reading | 'How to Style Your Brand' by Fiona Humberstone - it's awesome!
Wanting | to book a holiday to Cornwall for 2016 pronto. How did we used to get to go twice a year?
Looking | at a sweaty reflection in the gym (but it is good to be back!).
Playing | lots on Spotify, including a Christmas playlist and a little playlist I put together for fun, un-creatively titled 'Autumn 2015' - it's full of cheesy oldies and one or two new-ish tunes, check it out if you dare :-)
Deciding | which Christmas 'do' to go to this year. Last year I went to every one I was invited to and ended up skint as a flint, but this year I am old, grumpy and worn out so am picking one and one alone!
Wishing | burgers were calorie and fat free.
Enjoying | my new computer!
Watching | new Peep Show. Joe loves it, I'm still not quite sure but am giving it a good old British try for the sake of our marriage ;-)
Waiting | for advent calendar day. Yum!
Liking | all the Christmas jumpers I am seeing in the shops, especially this one from Dorothy Perkins.
Wondering how on Earth Snapchat works.
Loving | my hubby more and more. He is just the best human :-)
Hoping | for a little bit of snow soon!
Marvelling | over how the world can really pull together sometimes. Can't we just do it all the time?
Needing | speakers for the new computer. Although, the headphones I am currently wearing whilst typing this post are pretty darn groovy!
Smelling | mulled wine and roast chestnuts at Winchester Christmas Market.
Wearing | more layers.
Following | more fabulous creative people on Instagram. Instagram's my favourite social media ever <3
Noticing | that my mum is saving up enough Christmas food to feed an army this year. Better exercise three times a day in the lead up to going over there this year!
Knowing | I need more winter gym wear. I seriously shiver when I leave the place in the cold. 
Thinking | about it only being a few months until I turn 35 years old...say what?!
Feeling | warm and snuggly in the evenings again now that I have rescued my onesie out of the wardrobe.
Opening | fabulous art-related parcels, filled with gorgeous watercolours that dreams are made of.
Giggling | at getting ID'd for buying Joe some beer, and loving it (a bit too much possibly).

I love reading other peoples 'Taking Stock' posts, so if you have one on your blog please let me know in the comments! :-)
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20 November 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #35

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^^I was so cold on Monday night that I borrowed my mums onesie...she has such a festive one too! / I am kind of obsessed with my new office plant / work in progress in the studio / our little bear all curled up is the best thing ever^^

I bring this post to you fresh from my NEW COMPUTER!! The day has finally come and I am back up and running, after months without something of my own. I feel it necessary to do a mini Oscar-style thank you speech here because without a very generous contribution from my mum and dad and my lovely hubby I would not be in this position. It is an early Christmas present from them and I couldn't be more grateful for it {big old internet hugs to you all for getting me back on-line again}

Obviously the computer is the thing I am MOST grateful for this week but it deserved a paragraph at the top rather than a place in my usual list so I hope you don't mind. Let's get on to the other stuff that has made this week so great...

1. A delivery from Cass Art. If you know of Cass Art, you will know how wonderfully exciting it is to get a parcel from them. I didn't even realise, until last week, that they did on-line orders these days. For me, Cass Art represents a trip to London, as I would always pop in the little Aladdin's cave of artistic wonders after a trip to The National Gallery. Their stuff is usually much, much cheaper than anywhere else so it was a no-brainer for me to go to them when I needed to buy some new watercolours. I came home from work on Wednesday to a box of goodies including the best watercolours I have ever had, sketchbooks, brushes and some metallic ink, which I have been lusting over for a while, and could not be happier with my purchases. Happy arty days ahead.

2. Seeing the most amazing sun-rise on my early morning drive to work. There is something about a wintry sunrise that really is phenomenal.

3. Another surprise from the Nutella fairy! You may remember, several weeks ago, that a certain fantastic colleague of mine left a 1kg tub of Nutella on my desk to make me smile after a particularly bad week at work. I happened to mention to her last week that I had managed to almost finish it and, despite the fact that I was not hinting to be stocked up again, stocked up again I was! On Monday I unlocked my office door to discover an entire family of Nutella jars, from big to small. I don't think I will be getting through that lot any time soon!

4. Joe's Christmas CD. I know, I know, it is still November! We drove to the gym last night listening to all the best Christmas tunes and it made me feel all festive an happy.

5. The constant entertainment from the students at school. If you have ever worked in a school you will know that it can be equally frustrating and hysterical. But what you can guarantee, on most days, is that you will hear something that makes you laugh so much you feel like your going to pass out. This week I have managed to get the nickname 'thunder thighs' (in the nicest way!) from a Year 11 girl, after she witnessed me breaking a key that was attached to a filing cabinet...with my leg. I was also grilled by a Year 8 student about everything 'I'm a Celebrity...' and 'X-Factor' related, which I failed miserably, gaining me the title of 'old and uncool', as we watch neither of those programmes. In contrast, I was told I was 'awesome' for knowing who Bruno Mars is. They are a funny old bunch but they are okay really...most of the time!

I hope you have all had a fun week. Enjoy your weekend and come and say hi over on Instagram if you fancy!


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6 November 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #34

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^^Image sourced from Pinterest - Happy Bonfire Night everyone!^^

Happy first Friday in November everyone! November is one of my favourite months; the smell of bonfires in the air, beautiful coloured leaves creating a carpet of colour (before they turn all slimy and become one big slip hazard of course!) and the excitement of Christmas starts to filter through, which I know can drive a lot of people crazy, but I love it!

Last week Joe and I had a week off together (you can find a little vlog here or linked in the sidebar and a blog post here if you haven't seen it yet) - in the interest of honesty I have to say that my health was at a bit of a low, so it was a tough one for me but I am just starting to feel a bit brighter in myself and, hopefully, it will remain that way for a bit longer.

Because I haven't done this post for a couple of weeks I figured I would wrap my 'Five Things...' into one to cover those two weeks because, let's face it, more things happen when you are off work then when you are at work! So, here are some of the bits and bobs I have been grateful for of late...

1. Rediscovering my Friends box-set. Perhaps 'rediscovering' isn't exactly the correct word as Friends is a classic and, I must admit, 80% of my vocabulary probably stems from my years of watching the show (that and Fawlty Towers of course!). Seeing as Netflix has taking off the majority of things I enjoyed dipping into I figured I would go all old fashioned and put on a DVD! Friends is, hands down, the show that cheers me up the fastest (maybe The Inbetweeners is close too). I never fail to laugh at Ross yelling 'PIVOT!' or the fact that Monica and I are practically the same human (Joe may roll his eyes and smile when he sees a similarity, which is often!).

2. Lifting weights. I've had almost one whole year out of gym training and have been doing everything at home, which has been fine, but when Joe said he wanted to go to a gym I thought I would seize the opportunity to go with him so that we can at least be in the same room. I stopped before due to injury but a big part of it was because I would come home from work and then go straight out for another couple of hours. It is so good to be lifting heavier weights again. Lifting and challenging my body that way is something that makes me feel so good inside. I am spookily strong for a girl (genetics I guess), but that aside, whatever you can lift is a good way to increase confidence and give your body a buzz. It's good to be back!

3. A new, inspirational book. I cannot remember for love nor money how I discovered Fiona Humberstone's Instagram account, it was probably one of those things where she was tagged into another picture and I clicked on it, but I am so glad I found her. Fiona is a specialist in brand styling and many creative bits and pieces and, when I stumbled upon her account, I saw that she had a book out called 'How to Style Your Brand' and I immediately purchased it. With my slow, but gradually progressing, small business idea I need more guidance about branding and design but I need it from a source that I can relate to: a.k.a something pleasing on the eyeballs - this book is mega pleasing on the eyeballs! If you are a blogger or a creative entrepreneur I would highly recommend it.

4. A muffin (chocolate), a coffee (my first coffee ever) and a chat with friends.

5. Receiving a lovely card from my even lovelier friend Helena. It is so nice to get a surprise letter or card through the post but hers couldn't have arrived at a better time for me and was filled with kind words to make me smile too. Thank you lovely lady - see you soon :-)

In other news:
After months of not being able to access my iTunes account, due to a lack of computer, Joe kindly put mine onto his laptop so I can finally change a gym playlist I have been training with forever! It is so good to rediscover old albums I had stored on there and to download new stuff that isn't restricted to my phone, happy days! / Speaking of computers...I am finally getting one. My fab parents are clubbing together to help me out and I could not be more grateful - when I get it you will know because there will be more action here and more YouTube videos again, hurrah!

I hope you all have an amazing weekend and enjoy the firework celebrations (if you celebrate November 5th of course!) - we will be in doors looking after the cat, although, to be honest, she really isn't bothered - we are lucky!

xoxo
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30 October 2015

A DAY IN BATH

On Wednesday Joe and I popped out of town to visit Bath. I thought I would just share a few pictures of the day with you today. We were lucky with the weather and had a nice blue sky for the majority of the day so we managed to do all of the things we had planned without getting soaked through, always a bonus! 

On the top of our list was visiting an exhibition by one of my favourite (Cornish) artists, Kurt Jackson, who rarely shows work anywhere local to us, so we were excited to see some of his latest pieces from a collection titled 'Place'. I have adored Jackson's work for almost ten years now and seeing it in the flesh always sparks fresh inspiration for my own creativity.

Before wandering round to the Victoria Art Gallery we sat outside a coffee shop, enjoying hot drinks (a mint hot chocolate for me and a black coffee for the hubster) and watched the world go by, which is, by far, one of my favourite things to do as I hate crowds of people and would much rather be spectating then walking amongst them. In all seriousness though, I really enjoy just sitting back and watching everyone go about their day; the tourists, the frustrated locals, the tour guides and the street entertainers, all with their own agenda, it is fascinating stuff and something I could pass many hours doing (perhaps I should be a spy?!).

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^^'Smile!...Don't pull a face, you looked nice until you pulled a face!' Gee, thanks hubby!^^

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^^We have had worse views from a coffee shop that's for sure^^

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^^I couldn't stop perving over this chandelier, it was so sparkly!^^

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^^We made the decision not to go and visit The Roman Baths as a) it was fairly pricey and I was on the very wrong side of pay-day and b) we were more interested in the abbey just next door^^

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^^A rather beautiful sight don't you think?^^

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^^Autumn sure knows how to be utterly gorgeous doesn't it? The colour of these trees contrasted with the city was stunning^^

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^^The Royal Crescent. We didn't venture too far round because it was beyond heaving with people, but it is something to see for sure^^

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^^Bath Abbey. There is something about churches and abbey's that I cannot resist, perhaps it is the peacefulness they exude. This one is up there with the most beautiful I have visited^^

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^^I hope the gentleman in this picture doesn't mind being featured (a bit late now I guess), I just love this image of him reading peacefully^^

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^^My obsession with stained glass windows continues. This is one of the most impressive I have seen I am pretty sure. It is incredibly intricate and wonderful to see in real life^^

Stay tuned for a bit more on Bath, and this week generally, as I am in the process of editing a vlog, so may get that put up in the next few days :-)

Have a fab weekend everyone xx
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16 October 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #33

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^^All the reasons in the world to be grateful^^

I'm sure you guys know by now that this space of mine (*points at screen and waves hand about at blog*) is not somewhere to come if you want to see life-perfection and you (hopefully) know that I am always honest about things and won't post for the sheer hell of it? On that note I didn't post a 'Five Things...' post last week because I just felt to overwhelmed by life. I've felt similar this week, but slightly more capable, so I am here and am writing this to remind myself that there is always something to be grateful for.

1. Lazy pizza-eating afternoons. I seem to be writing a lot about treat meals on here. I am so grateful for treat meals! Last Saturday Joe and I decided to utilise a voucher we had seen for a pizza in Salisbury. I hadn't eaten pizza in forever, as once I start I can't stop, but it was so yummy and so lovely to sit in a quiet restaurant and enjoy the company of my best pal and my husband (see what I did there? Never mind!). I may have also treated myself to a couple of new jumpers from H&M including this turtle neck one (I got a lighter grey) :-)

2. My office space. The room I have for my studio space/office space is somewhere I find so calming. I am one of those people who will walk into a room and get a 'feeling' from it, which I know annoys some people as it is a bit woo-woo! Luckily, our whole house feels lovely, but my office space specifically feels so calming and relaxing. It is somewhere I will just go and sit if I feel upset or stressed and is heaven to work in. I am so grateful to have somewhere I enjoy being and cannot wait to get more time in there.

3. A delivery of a new diary. Generally I am not too fussy about notebooks and paper for blog scribbles but what I am super fussy about is what type of diary I have. This week I bought myself a new Moleskine diary. My current one is a bit bedraggled and as I managed to find one starting from this summer all the way through to next December I quickly picked it up (for the bargain price of £8.99). I got the extra large weekly planner, which I love because it has the week on one side and a notes section on the other. Why am I so hung up on Moleskine diaries? The paper is ridiculously fabulous to write on! I will use it so much more because I enjoy the experience of writing in it.

4. Rediscovering a cute little wintry bracelet Joe bought for me last year. I remembered I had put it somewhere safe and when I saw it I was so happy to have it back on my wrist! It is a cute, very fine gold chain with a teeny-tiny squirrel on it. We got it in Joules last autumn and I just love it!

5. Yesterday someone I follow on Facebook shared this little video (I couldn't find a direct link but hopefully you will be able to view it if you are on FB). It is a short video about being creative and encouraging women to believe in their ability and to keep pushing on, regardless of the outcome of what they are making or doing. It is simple, but oh so inspiring.

In other news...
I have been making an autumn playlist in Spotify full of old songs that I love (I am listening to it right now actually!) - are you on Spotify too? Let me know below so I can follow your playlists! / Following three attempts at blood-taking by a nurse I looked like I had been beaten up all of this week, the bruises are just going on my wrists...thanks a lot nurse-lady! (To be fair, getting blood from me is quite literally like taking blood from a stone!) / I listened to this Being Boss podcast on my way home yesterday all about social media and newsletters - it was definitely useful so I thought I would mention it! If you blog and are struggling to keep up with social media or can't decide which channel to concentrate on then give it a listen, those ladies are so awesome!

I hope you have all had a brill week. Enjoy your weekend xx
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11 October 2015

AUTUMN WISH-LIST

Having had the biggest wardrobe clear-out I think I have ever had, I have been day dreaming about what bits and bobs I could add in to turn my clothing frown upside down! Whilst I most definitely cannot afford most of the things below, a wish-list is just that, a 'wish', so let me pretend for a while...although, may I just add, that I would give my cat to have this lot, actually, that's not true...just my husband ;-) *
*Joe, if you're reading this, I am only kidding of course :-)
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::1 Skinny jeans | Boden
I had quite a few pairs of jeans but most had worn out so much that I just had to get rid. I am now on the hunt for a well-fitting pair of skinnies to wear with boots in the winter and have had my eyes on these for a long time.
::2 Boyfriend style shirt | Boden
I have a long-line white shirt which I love, but this blue one would definitely be a welcome edition. It would team up well with a few items that are currently still living in my wardrobe and is also a classic piece to wear for work too. An all round good egg really!
::3 Coatigan | Boden
It is pure coincidence that the first few items are Boden but, what can I say, I adore 80% of their new catalogue so it really cannot be helped! This 'coatigan' is something I would get so much wear out of. It is perfect for wrapping up warm with a hat and a scarf, when it isn't quite coat weather, but would look equally good over a dress or skirt. It comes in three classic colours too (is it wrong to want the lot?).
::4 Ankle boots | Hush
Having been on the lookout for some brown ankle boots for a while I was over the moon to see these. They look like they have the perfect heel height for work or for going out and the shape of the boot itself would look fab with dresses or jeans. 
::5 City bag | Zara
Every girl and her cat seems to own a Zara city bag but I have never jumped on that specific band-wagon...however (!) these days I don't travel light (mum, you know that's true) and my handbag only has the one compartment, which can be utterly frustrating. This bag would just make my life better :-)
::6 Breton top | Boden
This is a stripy top, I love stripes. That's all!
::7 Grey cowl neck jumper | Marks and Spencers
Long jumpers with skinny jeans and boots are a bit of a winter uniform for me and I love the look of this one from good old M & S. I saw it in store about a month ago and should have got it then as I don't often see ones I really like. I will be hunting this one down soon.
::8 Long-line pine-cone necklace | Hush
I don't own any longer necklaces but this one is adorable and would look so pretty with a plain t-shirt or dress. It's not often I fall in love with jewellery but this is beautiful.
::9 Nail polish | Autograph by Marks and Spencer
I thought both these shades had autumn/winter written all over them. I haven't seen anything quite like the grey/silver shade before so will certainly try and pick that up soon.
::10 Cardigan | Boden
Oops, another Boden one. This 'off-duty' cardigan looks so up my street. Oversized? Check! Bright? Check! Cover all lumps and bumps? Check!
What is on your wish-list this autumn? Mine is not overly exciting but I know what my 'style' (I use that word loosely!) is these days so I know I would wear all of these things to death. I have gone past just buying a shit-ton of stuff and have it just sitting there gathering dust. So, Mr Boden, if you could kindly do a 90% off sale I would really appreciate it! (They actually have a sale on right now peeps - head there now...just not enough money off my list unfortunately!).
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9 October 2015

AN AUTUMN MORNING

Last weekend the husband and I, being all grown up and having a National Trust membership now, hopped in the car and travelled back to one of our favourite NT places near our home, called Mottisfont. I did a post about it earlier on in the year, which you can find here. When we first visited the beautiful (and ever so grand) 800 year old house, with it's magical walled garden and welcoming atmosphere, we instantly fell in love with it and knew it would be somewhere we would be returning to over and over.

Having been there in June I really wanted to see it when the beauty of autumn was taking over, so we went back for a morning amble around the gardens and to see an exhibition about one of my favourite parts of nature: trees...

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^Leaves before they turn all wintry and mushy are my favourite^
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^It is amazing to think that parts of this beautiful house have stood for 800 years...if walls could talk!^
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^The story is that James Bond writer, Ian Flemming, came up with the character in these very walls^
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^I find the servants quarters the most interesting as their whole worlds were crammed into one space^
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^If you get a chance to visit first thing in the morning head straight for the gardens, it is incredibly peaceful^
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^Not sure who these two are...^
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^If you have the time you can stroll along the little stream right out into the wider landscape and see the house from far away...it looks gorgeous at every angle^
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^Reflections^
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If you get a chance to visit then I would highly recommend it, it is seriously stunning. Plus, they have a beautiful gift shop (always a winner with me!). Let me know in the comments if you have been - also, tell me what your favourite historic location is too - Joe and I like a good old road trip to visit some place new :-)
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2 October 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #32

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^^I had to pop this picture up because it is so beautiful. Joe took it one evening this week outside our house and I love it. You can't beat a clear autumn evening^^

Oh guys, October is here, and I couldn't be more pleased! I love October so much, what with the promise of bright days with chilly breezes and pumpkins appearing in the supermarkets (specifically those really cute mini ones!) - I just cannot get enough of this month!

The down sides to this time of year are the dreaded spiders...everywhere. Our garden is filled with garden spiders right now, highlighted even more on a slightly colder morning, when the dew catches on each little home and slightly freaks me out. But, I am a believer in leaving them alone, and would never be found jumping on one or squishing one. That said though, we occasionally have to  use a stick to take down a web or two, carefully relocating the owner into a tree as Gizmo will not walk through certain areas when there are webs...she is scared too!

Back on topic then and to the things I am grateful for this week...

1. Being gifted an album on iTunes. I saw L on Sunday and we were chatting about Taylor Swifts album, like you do, when she mentioned Ryan Adams had covered it. L is into a bit of Ryan (oo-er!) but I don't really know much about his music (I am more old school Bryan Adams myself!). Anyway, L was saying how beautiful the cover album was and when I got home I had received and email to say it had been gifted to me. I have to say that I really love it. It is so much more chilled out, perfect for having on in the back ground when I am working. Thank you L, so sweet of you xx

2. Coming home to a cuppa and a steak for dinner. Wednesday evening I came home feeling poorly...again (I need a holiday!) so my lovely husband popped out to the shops to be a hunter gatherer and returned home with a steak. It certainly hit the spot. He is a keeper ladies.

3. Speaking of the hubby, he really is building up his man-points this week. He decided we needed a night away soon and booked us a night in Bath for later this month. Yesterday he called me at work to say that he had also checked Gizmo in to her little cat-hotel too. What a man I have. He is just the best. It is so nice to have something to look forward to because we don't do stuff like this very often all. I can't wait!

4. A giant nutella delivery. It is safe to admit that this week has not been the best, but a slightly bonkers (and very lovely) colleague of mine managed to cheer it up very quickly yesterday. I usually spend the first hour and a half of every day out of my office to deal with a job at reception. When I returned yesterday morning there was a colourful gift bag on my desk. It contained a 1kg tub of nutella, a lovely card and a packet of plastic spoons (in case I needed to delve straight into the jar!). C, thank you, you are wonderfully mental xx

5. A trip to the cinema. Well, technically, this was last week as we went on Saturday evening, but I have to mention it because it was an amazing film. Last time we went to see a movie was a year ago as we only go when there is something we really want to see. When I watched the trailer for 'Miss You Already' I was desperate to see it. Guys, seriously, you have to see this film, it is gorgeous. Obviously the story line is ultimately sad, but it is funny and emotional and frustrating and beautiful all at once. We both enjoyed it. Top tip ladies, wear waterproof mascara. Let me know if you have seen it in the comments.

This weekend we don't have many plans, other than the exciting task of running to the post office to send back a Boden dress that made me look like I was smuggling tyres under it... *insert grumpy face here*. Whatever you guys are up to I hope it is a good one. Come and say hi over on Facebook or Instagram if you fancy!

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29 September 2015

TAKING STOCK | SEPTEMBER 2015

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^^This gorgeous picture is taken from Pinterest, original here^^

As another month comes to a close I thought I would take the opportunity to think back over the last 30 days and remember what has been going on (considering I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday this is not an easy task). September is a month I always enjoy as it marks autumn and I seriously adore autumn. There is the poetic mix of warm sun and cool air that fills me with nostalgia and just enough heat to keep the coats in the cupboards but just enough cold to warrant a scarf. Perfect.

I hope you all have had a wonderful September. What has been the highlight for you?

Making | an epic mess in my home-office space. Watercolours everywhere, scraps of paper everywhere (but this means that there is creativity everywhere, which is goooood!). Oh, and a YouTube video...at last!
Cooking | mixed bean and vegetable soup in batches. Autumn is here!
Drinking | the usual amount of water and the occasional green tea with mint.
Reading | my own notes and scribbles. Business stuff is happening and I am trying to get all my notes together for my website, so my focus is certainly on that (and a couple of new magazines).
Wanting | a whole new winter wardrobe including these gorgeous beauties.
Looking | for super thick, warm tights.
Playing | my hubbies album.
Deciding | whether purchasing more Nutella is a good or bad idea.
Wishing | Nutella was calorie free and good for me.
Enjoying | the lovely smell in the air from the change of season (er, and Nutella obviously!).
Watching |'Doctor Foster' on BBC One. I am not usually one for dramas but I got totally swept up in this one and had to binge watch the previous episode that I missed.
Waiting | patiently for technology to sort itself out.
Liking | navy or deep red nails.
Wondering | how to do a whole load of things on Square Space!
Loving | shimmery bronze eyes and rosy pink cheeks.
Hoping | to have a day out here again soon so I can see all the autumn colours everywhere. They also have a fantastic art exhibition themed around my favourite things in nature...trees.
Marvelling | Over the beauty of our universe. Joe and I set a 3am alarm in order to see the lunar eclipse on Monday night/Tuesday morning. The stars seems super sparkly because the sky was just so clear. Simply stunning.
Needing | this gorgeous dress from Hush. I have fallen in love with it (and these perfect ankle boots too!)
Smelling | the last of my lavender pillow spray. It has been heaven and I shall be buying more soon!
Wearing | pyjama's and over-sized jumpers (far too often for my own good). 
Following | instructions from the vet to look after Gizmos poorly eye.
Noticing | it is getting darker very fast at night and is dark when I leave home in the mornings too :-(
Knowing | half term is coming up soon (it can't come along quick enough).
Thinking | I need to get back to a bit more relaxation and yoga as my body is hurting all over.
Feeling | emotional.
Opening | old boxes of clothes and realising I don't need any of them anymore.
Giggling | watching the cat hunting leaves in the garden and pulling faces when she comes close to a spiders web! She hates those!
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