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)

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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?!

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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

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^^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.

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^^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.

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^^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.

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^^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.

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^^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.

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^^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.

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^^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!

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^^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.

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^^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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